Happy Birthday Lily!!

Happy Birthday Lily!!!

Lily turns 34 today and I just want to post a few birthday wishes and thoughts for this magnificent woman in my life.

I met Lily almost 8 years ago in Hyde Park.  We both felt a divine force (and chemistry) bringing us closer and closer together until that blessed day when we got married May 29, 2010.

In many ways, that is when my life really began. Lily has introduced me to so much and given me so much in our time together. I’d like to share a few thoughts:

Lily LOVES to read: For anyone who knows me, you will know that reading feels like work and it can take me years to get through a simple novel. Yet, Lily can chew through a large volume in an afternoon.  Every time Lily reads a book and tells me about it, I feel I’ve read it too. I often find myself discussing books in social situations that I haven’t read……haha! Lily has enabled me to posture as someone who is well-read, cultured and knowledgeable. Really though, she is the one behind the scenes who brings culture, knowledge, literature, music, art and history into our home.

Lily thinks, feels, loves, and worships DEEPLY: I feel safe in saying that Lily is the most authentic person I have ever met. Her desires are deeply good and her form of worship is detached from wanting praise from others, worldly vanities, or box-checking. She has a deep, thoughtful and personal relationship with God. She is such an individual, marching to the beat of her own beautiful heart. She will go months praying for things unbeknownst to me until it comes out in a conversation.  She’s not showy with her faith. She is always in pursuit of understanding what is God-made and what is man-made, and in that pursuit, she has formed a way of life and a way of worship that is deeply authentic and inspiring.

Lily CARES about the underprivileged: Lily is constantly praying for, talking about and helping the underprivileged. Whether it is donating to the fistula foundation, asking me to watch Half The Sky with her and having her book club read it (remember, I don’t read much 🙂 ), or giving food to the man with a sign at the street intersection, or asking to not receive Christmas presents, but for loved-ones to donate to causes in-stead, I am amazed at how much Lily authentically cares about the unseen, the downtrodden, the underrepresented, the oppressed and the misunderstood. It is a part of her worship that I have been inspired by and completed by.

Lily LOVES God: Lily was raised in a Presbyterian church that always sang enthusiastic songs of praise about Jesus.  Those days made a deep imprint on Lily and she continues to live her life with a deep happiness, and joy about her savior. I love rocking out to K-Love songs about Jesus with Lily. It is a joy beyond measure to walk hand in hand with someone who shares with me a deep love for God.

Lily sacrifices to show love to others: Father’s day was a perfect example of the way Lily sacrifices to show love to others.  Many people don’t know that Lily’s doctor has asked her to refrain from walking (essentially have bed-rest) for six weeks because she has pulled her groin muscles during her pregnancy, and they are not getting any better.  Despite doctor’s orders, Lily got up early on Sunday to make me a Father’s Day breakfast, got me Father’s day gifts, crafted Father’s Day “Super Dad” chocolates with the girls, made an incredible Father’s day dinner, bought me a cheesecake and even offered me a massage at the end of the day (which I turned down because I was too tired and frankly concerned for her).  This has been a theme in my marriage with Lily. On my first Valentines day with her (while we were engaged), she made me steak and shrimp, and it was one of the nicest meals I’d ever had.  She has such a capacity to give gestures of love to people, even if those gestures require personal sacrifice on her end.

Lily sacrifices for our family: As I mentioned, Lily SHOULD be on bed-rest, but she is not. She cares too much about our children’s development, experiences and musical training. So every day, she’s practicing instruments with the children, taking them to fun places like the pool, driving them to their summer camps and activities and making nutritious meals.  She’s so driven by what she wants our children to become.  Sometimes harp practice with Lydia is a 90 minute level of Dante’s Inferno (with Lydia screaming, kicking, protesting, etc), and Lily hates it too because of how on-edge it makes her, but she consistently does it, because she cares about Lydia, and she wants her to be a harpist. Her commitment to our family DEEPLY INSPIRES ME.

Lily gets me, understands me and is patient with me: Sometimes when my mind is lost in space AGAIN, and I’m about to miss the turn RIGHT BY OUR HOUSE again, and Lily has to gently remind me where to turn AGAIN, I become aware that there are things about me she has to put up with. My forgetfulness, or ability to be preoccupied with worry is not the only thing she has to put up with. Like anyone else, I can be self-centered, arrogant, opinionated, and insensitive at times.  Yet, Lily has seen all of that in me, and loves me deeply through it.  She knows exactly who I am, with no secrets, and loves me immensely, and the same is true for my love for her.  I tell Lily all the time that she is my oasis.  My work is incredibly demanding and grueling right now.  Sometimes I feel very oppressed by all the work troubles, but when I think about Lily and the fun, joy and love that I experience with her, I feel a ray of sun in my heart, and it gives me courage to fight through the hard parts of my life.

Lily is FUN!: Just the other night, Lily said something before we went to bed that had me laughing so hard I could barely take it. Because of Lily, I watch cool TV series, like Sherlock, I go on amazing trips to the Pacific Northwest and Disney Land and I wear cool clothes she picked out rather than my old high-school duds (they are good until they have holes right?…..well and even then you can wear them…..or at least I do……).  Lily helps me to focus on the joy and experiences available to me in this life, and worry less about my work and troubles.

Lily is extremely humble: One of my favorite things about Lily is how humble she is. Arguments never last, and peace regularly abounds because of how quickly she is to assume fault, or humbly reflect on her behavior even when it is I that am at fault.  One drawback of this extreme humility is that it has made it difficult for Lily to see how good she is.

Sweetheart, since you never talk about your virtues, since you are too humble to even notice them, I am going to take this chance on your birthday to put in writing how wonderful you are so that friends and family can celebrate you with me, and so our posterity can have this record of what a remarkable Wonder Woman you are. If you could grasp this day how much I love you, how good, loving, kind your heart is, and how beautiful you are, then I would be a happy man today. May you have the most beautiful of birthdays.

I love you!!

34th Birthday

Abe stayed home longer than usual in the morning to make me a delightful acai bowl for my birthday. It was delicious. I was also greeted in the morning by a bouquet of birthday balloons. These proved their value throughout the week. The kiddos loved them!

Then Lydia did her harp practice and completely forgot it was my birthday. It was kind of a terrible one. Mary had a great piano practice, though! We then packed everyone in the car and headed to the Provo Library to drop off stuffed animals for the annual stuffed animal sleepover. Ammon wept when he parted from the giraffe (an animal he has no emotional attachment to whatsoever).

Then we headed upstairs in the library to complete their weekly craft project.

When we finished our crafts, we picked up some Jimmy Johns and headed to the park for a picnic and some play time.

After our picnic, we dropped off Abby and Soren at home and then dropped off Lydia at robotics camp.

I then headed to Rubio’s to meet my visiting teacher and another friend who wanted to meet up on my birthday for lunch. It was such a sweet idea, except that I had forgotten we had the appointment and accidentally had a veggie sandwich from Jimmy Johns at the park. Oops! The restaurant we met at had no air conditioning, so we ended up heading back to my visiting teacher’s house to visit. I enjoyed visiting with my visiting teacher and our other friend (a former visiting teachee of hers) a lot–I even lost track of time and was a wee bit late picking up Lydia and Eli from robotics!

After picking up the kids from robotics, we came back home. Abe had sent me a bouquet of gorgeous flowers and such a sweet note to the house.

I then lay down for twenty minutes, but my mom’s visiting teachers were visiting and our house was waaaay too chaotic for them to have a good visit. I packed up the kids, including Eli and the afternoon babysitter, Katie, and headed to the pool.

Ammon and Soren had a great time at the pool imitating each other. I was so happy when they decided to play with each other. Before that Ammon kept trying to drown himself by walking straight into the deeper parts of the kiddie pool. Even when the water was over his nose, he did not want me to help him turn around or head to shallower parts of the pool. I was scared he was going to dry drown.

It felt like our whole ward was at the pool–it was so crowded, and we kept bumping into church friends! Because of the crowds, I went a little nuts trying to keep track of all five kids at the pool. I could not have done it without Katie, who stuck right with Soren the whole time and made sure he didn’t drown!

Then Abe brought some salads from Cafe Rio for dinner, after which we turned the kids over to babysitter #3 for the day, Liza. My mom helped put Ammon down and Liza took over while we headed to the movie theater to meet up with our friends, the Harmons, and watch Wonder Woman. We enjoyed it a lot.

Blair, my friend, is a dietician who specialized in gestational diabetes, and she gave me wonderful advice. I had been avoiding sugar in anticipation of my three hour test on Friday, but she said that the sugar would clear out of my system before Friday, and also that there was nothing I could do if I actually have gestational diabetes. In light of that good information, we headed to the bakery and I finished the day by eating sugary treats for the first time in over a week and a half.

It was such an action packed birthday, filled with sunshine and all sorts of fun activities. I hope I don’t end up permanently disabled from this pregnancy so that I can continue the pace for year 34!

First week day with Soren! (And Clark!)

I have a lot of pictures from today that I will throw on here tomorrow. Right now I am just too tired to go downstairs and get my phone. We had a full, fabulous day!

I got up early to take the kids to their 8am swimming lesson. Then we came home, got ready for the day and fit in harp practice before heading out for morning outings.

First we dropped the girls off at summer camp. Then Soren, Sophie (his babysitter), Ammon, and I all went to the library for Music and Movement. It was such a great program! Chelsea told me how great it was years ago, and it took me years to finally attend. Ammon ended up wandering around the library after a while, but Soren was absolutely perfect. He did everything he was supposed to and snuggled Sophie in between.

Then we headed straight to the girls’ dance studio for Mom and Me dance time. Again, Soren was completely perfect! He did everything the teacher asked and stayed perfectly in place the whole time. Meanwhile, Ammon was running around like a crazy child, swinging off of the barre, banging on the mirrors, testing the doors, and crying whenever I tried to corral him.

After Mom and Me, we raced to pick up the girls and then swung through Chick Fil-A for lunch en route to robotics camp. After dropping Lydia off at camp, Sophie and I came home and tried to feed the boys some more before putting them down for naps.

Then Sophie and I watched Sherlock until Lexi came to take over babysitting. I drove Sophie home, picked up Lydia and Eli from robotics, and came home. An hour later, we packed everyone (including Eli) into the car and headed to the Riverwoods splash pad.

Abe surprised us by showing up and letting me go birthday shopping while he took over with the kids. I bought a lot of melamine dinnerware to replace the decades old, plastic, BPA-laden dishes we have been using for the kids, and I got extra for the grown-ups too.

Then we headed home, cooked and ate dinner, sat outside for a bit, got everyone ready for bed, held FHE, and tried our best to make the girls stay in bed. They are still awake.

We have a pretty packed day tomorrow, too, so I am going to sign off here and meditate on how it’s all going to flow. I love summer, and having Clark and Soren around has made everything seem like a fun adventure.

Father’s Day

We were so excited to celebrate the two wonderful fathers in our home today, Abe and Clark. They are phenomenal. In between opening their gifts, both of them were busy attending to the extreme demands of feeding their young sons. Both of them played with the kids throughout the day, and both of them ended the day by doing the bedtime routine for their kids. They are amazing!!!

opening gifts.
dance party.
The kids (and neighbor kids) and I made superhero dad candy bars for the dads in our lives.

We ended the day in our favorite way: eating dinner outside and lingering for a loong time in the beautiful evening air. It was a beautiful day to celebrate how wonderful these good men are.

Clark and Soren arrive

On Saturday, Clark and Soren arrived! We spent the day getting ready for Father’s Day and for their arrival. We were so happy to see them!!!

Cousins!

Breakfast in bed

On Friday Ammon slept in until 10am, so I stayed in bed registering for and planning out the kids’ fall activities. While I was typing away, the girls surprised me with breakfast in bed!

After I ate my delicious breakfast of yogurt, granola, raisins, ice water, burnt toast and broken graham crackers, we got everyone ready and headed to Lydia’s group harp class.

Ammon, Mary and I went to Target for diapers while she was at her lesson. We found an exciting kid cart. Ammon had to move to the regular toddler seat after one minute because he kept trying to jump out of the seat.

Abe and I went on a date in the evening. First we went to the library. Since I am sort of on bedrest, I checked out a stack. Abe explored the stacks while I hunted down my call numbers. He learned a lot about Buddha in his exploration.

Then we went out for Thai food, and after that we finished at Barnes and Nobles. I picked out a birthday cookbook and Abe picked out his anniversary and Father’s Day gifts.

It was a great start to the weekend.

temple

This morning Abe and I got up at 5:30am so we could attend the temple. The first temple we drove to was not operating yet, so we went to the Provo City Center Temple. We had a great morning there.

Then we came home to a pretty normal day. Abe got this great picture after work:

Eli, the neighbor, was driving Mary to “Princess School.” She kept repeating that she was late, and so he hustled.

Summer Wednesday

This morning the girls’ music practice took two and a half hours, and so we ended up skipping summer camp. That was actually a really great thing for me because it meant a lot less walking and carrying Ammon around, and this is the first night in a while that I don’t feel pain. Yay!

We had a pretty typical day otherwise.

Reading to Mary while Ammon napped and Lydia was at robotics camp.
The kids played outside all afternoon, as usual. They are really into making “beds” out of leaves, flowers, pinecones, and rocks lately.
Crowding around a baby rolly polly

Dinner.
Ammon eating outside. It is a JOY not to have to clean the floor (even if I do sweep the basketball court afterward) for at least one meal a day.
Abe is writing a fantasy novel and told the girls a new chapter tonight. This is my favorite picture of the day.

chair contest

This morning I took Ammon on some errands with me.

I took him to refill some olive oil containers we have and then to the store. I initially felt bad for not taking him somewhere specifically for kids, but he thought the grocery store was the best. We got a cart with a kiddie car on front, and then on top of that he got a free cookie from the store. He kept standing up, leaning out of the front window, and twisting himself around to flash me giant grins. He had a great time.

After we picked up the girls from summer camp and dropped off Lydia at robotics, I put Ammon down for a nap and finished my book.

In the evening, Abe and I sat outside with the kids for dinner and a couple hours beyond that. Some of the neighbor kids joined us for dinner, and after they wanted to have a contest decorating our chairs. Abe napped on the grass until they called for us to judge their creations.

The kids said that Abe had to take pictures of both their chairs and of one of them sitting in their chairs so that he could make a fair decision. He awarded Lydia and Liberty “the most flowery” chair award.
Anabelle and Mary were awarded “the most creative” chair award.
I actually thought Anabelle and Mary made the chair look beautiful.

Afterward all of the kids worked hard to clean up their mess. They did a great job and we were so proud of them.

Ammon’s new hoop

The highlight of today was family home evening. Abe has been dreaming of getting Ammon a mini-basketball hoop for a loong time, and he finally found a good excuse. He taught a lesson on the joy of making others happy, and then we all piled in the car and picked out a hoop for Ammon. When he explained the lesson plan to me, I was expecting Abe to say that we would all go get a toy for the homeless shelter or volunteer at a food pantry, but he cheerfully proposed that fulfilling his own daydream would be a perfect way to teach the girls the joy of making others happy. 🙂

After we went to pick out Ammon’s hoop, we swung by IHOP for dinner.

As I type, Abe has the girls on his lap and they are all watching Ammon run around manically throwing ball after ball in the hoop. He is literally panting with joyful excitement. The girls are grinning too, so I think Abe was right. They are finding joy in their little brother’s happiness.