Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Life Lately, Dancing in the Rain

A little daily life catch up...

Last Sunday we went for a family walk (the heat wave hadn't hit yet!) on a beautiful shady trail Abi and I found when Alex was in Portland. It was just as nice the second time! Mia was so friendly to everyone who walked past, one couple named her the new Mayor of Bel Air haha! It's so cute to see Nathan and Amelia playing with each other. Mia really wants to do everything Nathan does and for the most part, Nathan is a really good sport about it.

We tried a new indoor play space that we had coupons to, and it was pretty cute! The kids loved being in a new place and playing with new stuff. The lady who owns the place was so hands on and was playing with all the kids which was fun. She was "burying" some kids with necklaces, and Mia watched very attentively. When the kids were bored with that game, Mia laid down and instructed me to do the same thing with her haha.

Nathan dressed himself in all his Utah State gear and proclaimed that it was because he "loves his Pop Pop". So I took a picture of him to send to my dad and then Mia wanted a picture too, of course. Neither of them really stand still for pictures, so I have to snap a billion and hope one magically works out haha.

I've been telling Nathan we would go check out the local mall to see if they had a kids area to play in because it's seriously so hot outside all the playgrounds are off the table. So we cleaned the house, mopped our floors, and then got dressed to go to the mall. It was already pretty late in the afternoon, so I was hesitant about going because I should have probably been thinking about dinner haha, but Nathan and Mia had been such good helpers I decided we should just do it! We were all ready to go and I threw open the door only to find that it was a torrential downpour outside! Raining so hard that we would have all been soaked through if we tried to get to the car. I told the kids I thought we'd better just stay home. Nathan thought for a minute and then said, "I know! We just need our rain boots and jackets!" And I had no argument for that. So we threw them on and ran outside!

The kids had some fun playing in the puddles and then we got in the car and went to the mall. There was no kids play area. :(

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Soul Food: Coming to know Christ

This year in church we have been studying the New Testament, and we just finished studying the four gospels a couple weeks ago. Every time I read those books, I am so drawn to the story, and to learning more about my Savior and forming a stronger relationship with Him.

There was something that really stuck out to me this time that for some reason I had never fully grasped. Maybe everyone fully understands this and I was the only one confused, but that's ok. I'm ready to admit I don't know everything.  I had never fully understood how mortal Christ was. In my mind, He was his heavenly self in a mortal body, but still with a full knowledge of the plan. I thought He was aware completely of His role from the minute He was born (which was always confusing to me... like, what would it be to be a baby who knows you are going to save the world??). Because of this mindset, there were some stories that didn't fully make sense to me. For instance, how could Christ be tempted by the devil? Why would Satan even try?

Christ did not remember. Just like we don't remember. He made the plan with our Heavenly Father, and he chose to come to Earth and atone for our sins so that we could come back to live with God again. So, He was given a mortal body and He came to Earth. Just like the rest of us, the veil shielded his memories of Heaven.

This new insight was fascinating for me because it changed my whole paradigm. It helped me feel closer to my Savior. If He, as a mortal being, could fill His roll here on Earth, certainly the rest of us can. And how did He do it? He wasn't an all knowing baby, child, teenager, or adult. He was very in tune with the Holy Ghost and with His Father in Heaven. He put Himself in the right places, He made the right choices, He prayed and fasted and received answers to His prayers.

And His ultimate sacrifice of His life suddenly became more of a sacrifice once I had this knowledge. The fact that He knew, because He was in tune with Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost does not take away from the stress and pain that certainly must have been a part of going forward with the Atonement. Our instincts as mortals are to stay alive, to protect our bodies, to flee or to fight. He had to go against His mortal body and completely trust in His personal revelation. He definitely had to feel the infinite love for every single one of us. What else could have propelled Him through that harrowing experience?

This knowledge of Christ's mortal life has left me feeling closer to Him. Now that I more fully understand how much He gave for us, How much he sacrificed, how much He suffered as a mortal being, I see Him more clearly as a spiritual being. My Savior, yes, and also, my King.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Happy Birthday Alex!

Alex had a birthday. I love birthday and think they should be a very big deal. Alex thinks birthdays are ok and doesn't like being the center of attention. I am working on Alex. 

This year, it took him until the night before his birthday to decide what he wanted to do, but in the end we decided to spend the day in Washington D.C.! We drove down to Virginia and met Abi and Jake at the metro station. I love the metro. Why can't everyone have awesome public transportation?? It's so nice to not have to decide where to park or pay for parking! Parking is a big stress for me. 

Anyway. Here are some photos of us loving the metro.

 (Sometimes Mia just randomly attacks Nathan and thinks it's hilarious. Is this normal? She'll grab chunks of his hair or - pictured - chunks of his face???)

They look so grown up!!! (brb crying right now)

Once we got to D.C. we went to find a place to eat lunch and settled on some food trucks at The National Mall. We sat in the shade on the grass and it was a great time! Also, we were rookie parents and somehow forgot our STROLLER. What the heck?? We borrowed Jill's umbrella stroller, but I was missing my UPPAbaby the whole time. Never. Again.

After lunch we were going to go to the Air and Space museum which was right next to us on the grass, but when we walked over to the entrance, the line was out the door! I don't know if there was an event or something? Online all I could find is that they do story time around the time we were there. (Which, seriously?? I want to go to story time at the Air and Space Museum!!) We were sad, but we decided to head elsewhere.

We first went to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution! That museum was actually really cool. They had a lot of interesting stuff about immigration, civil rights, and women's rights which I feel like is all a hot topic right now! After checking out all that stuff, we walked up to the big room to see what we came for. It was really cool to see those documents in person! Just knowing how old they were and how much they meant and still mean. All those people started this country! Just amazing. I'm glad I've seen them in person now. (You can't take pictures at the National Archives.)

After that the kids were pretty antsy (note: National Archives is not fun for toddlers) so we tried to find a kid friendly space for them and ended up walking up to the National Building Museum. Mia fell asleep in the stroller on the way there, and when we got there we found out it closed in two hours and was NOT free like we thought it was, but we decided to purchase tickets anyway because there is a pretty cool installation there right now and it would be fun for us and the kids.

Strollers were not allowed in the installation, so while Alex, Abi, Jake and Nathan went up, I pushed a sleeping baby through an exhibit called "Secret Cities" all about the Manhattan Project. Honestly, I was amazed at how peaceful it was to browse in a museum without kids haha. (I mean, Mia was there, but she was asleep, so I could spend as long as I wanted!) There were some other rooms called "building rooms" for kids but they had a capacity and they guy said I couldn't go in, which was fine because Mia was asleep, but when I was done in Secret Cities she woke up and I walked out and bumped into Nathan and Alex just as the guy was going to let them in! He let me go in with them too and the kids had lots of fun.

Mia immediately wanted to dress up and requested the pink hat.

That room closed earlier than the rest of the museum, which I think is why the guy let us in because we only had like 20 minutes. After it closed, we went back to the installation called "The Lawn". It was so cool! It was just this giant lawn they had constructed that was a huge hill! They had tons of hammocks hanging from the ceiling and games of corn hole to play. Kids were rolling down the hill and running around freely. We snagged a hammock and just camped out for an hour and it was seriously so relaxing. They had speakers above the hammocks that had people talking about their childhood experiences playing on the grass and it totally made you just want to go back to that time haha. 

Just in heaven.

After the museum closed we went to dinner at a BBQ place that none of us were impressed with. It was Texas BBQ, which Abi later told us if she had known she would have told us not to go haha. She served her mission in Texas and is unimpressed. We now all agree! So after that we decided to walk to Milk Bar and get a birthday treat! It was very expensive, but very delicious! I would go back.

All in all it was a really fun day of exploration and celebration. We sure love Alex. He brings a lot of fun into our lives. The kids are obsessed with him and everything is just more fun when he is around! Happy Birthday, Alex!
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Sunday, July 14, 2019

SOUL FOOD: Testimony

I guess I'll let you all know a little something about me here - I am not good at studying. Any kind.  I remember teachers telling us we needed to study hard for tests, and I was always so stressed about what that even meant. Now that I'm older I get the concept, but I still have a hard time with it. Scripture study is one of these things. I enjoy reading the scriptures and listening to talks, but I do find my mind wanders. I know all the tips and tricks of scripture study - journaling, taking notes, reading certain topics, etc. I just have yet to put any of it to consistent practice.

All this to say, one thing I try to do each morning is listen to a conference talk while I get ready for the day. Normally, I listen, I feel uplifted, and I move on. (I know! It's a goal I have to make this more purposeful. Don't judge.) This week one of the talks I listened to was Build a Fortress of Spirituality and Protection by Elder Ronald A. Rasband. Near the end of the talk I felt the need to pause and highlight the paragraph he was saying, so I did, and that's what I'll be sharing this week.

"When we live the gospel of Jesus Christ, when we draw upon the Savior's Atonement and press forward with faith, not fear, we are fortified against the wiles of the adversary. Our testimonies connect us to the heavens, and we are blessed with 'the truth of all things.' And, like pioneers protected by a fortress, we are safely encircled in the arms of the Savior's love."

Ok, time for some vulnerability here - I do not have the absolute 100% strongest testimony. I often have questions and doubts. I wonder why things are the way they are or were or what will happen in the future. I see others with questions and doubts and the paths they take and it leads to more questions. 


I remember a time in my life when I did have that testimony. I remember the joy I felt. I remember knowing.

I think it's really interesting that testimonies are such a roller coaster. How can it be possible that we can feel so strongly up and down and through twists and turns and loops. Positive, negative, in between, fear, faith, questions, certainty. Why can't you just know and then never stop knowing? A testimony does not have to be a perfect knowledge. When I was an EFY counselor way back in the day I remember always teaching my youth that a testimony could also be things you simply believe, or what you hope to believe or know someday. I have kept that with me.

I'm still figuring it all out, but it probably has somewhat to do with my last post on repentance and self-improvement and all of that.

All this to say, there are a few things my mind and heart will not refute. It makes absolute sense to me that there is a Heavenly Father and Mother. The Plan of Salvation makes sense to me. Without those things, I don't know why any of this whole life would exist. I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. It's been really quite good for me to study Come, Follow Me and learn more about Christ (I may elaborate on this in a future post). I love the gospel. And I have come to find that what Elder Rasband says is true. When I live the gospel of Jesus Christ and draw upon His Atonement - when I repent, when I focus on drawing nearer to God, and I strive to become the best version of me - I feel protected. I feel safe. And I feel inspired! I do not know "the truth of all things" yet. I hope to know. I hope to be more connected to the heavens. I have chosen to press forward with faith. My choice is to work from within. My relationship with this gospel, my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is my own. No one else is responsible for it, and no one else can influence it.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Independence Day 2019

We had so much fun this year for the fourth of July! Honestly, it was a hard choice about whether to go in to D.C. or not for the day... what better place to be on Independence Day? But in the end my sister convinced me the crowds would not be worth it. I think if it was just me and Alex I would still have tried it, but I can't imagine it would have been that fun for the kids. Maybe another year! This year, we decided to go to Virginia and BBQ with Jake's sister and her husband and Abi and Jake. 

 (A couple days before the fourth, Nathan and Mia picked out their own outfits, and I was laughing about how silly and also how festive they were!)

It was so nice of Jill and Fred to invite us to their home for the fourth! Nathan and Mia love their kids, so they were extra excited to actually have some children to play with, and of course have Abi to play with. 

The BBQ was great! Afterward we hung out for a while waiting for it to get dark enough for fireworks to start. Nathan has been afraid of fireworks in the past, so this year I prepped him with some youtube videos haha. Once we started hearing fireworks go off outside, we ran out to find them! Amelia was surprisingly terrified. We couldn't see any fireworks at first, we could only hear them, and she was acting like I was a crazy person for taking her outside. She kept yelling and pointing at the house asking to go back inside haha! I cuddled her and calmed her down, and once she realized none of us were worried she was fine. And then once she saw the actual fireworks she was happy!

After fireworks we went back to Jill's house and the kids threw some pop-its. Then we all got in the car and headed to Abi and Jake's house to spend the night! Abi and Jake have a one bedroom apartment, so it was crazy fitting us all in, but we did it!

The next morning Alex and I left the kids with Abi and went to see Spiderman. It's important to take advantage of when we have babysitters haha. The movie was good and it was fun to get out! Alex was very inspired.

The original plan was to stay at Abi and Jake's for one or maybe two nights and then head back up to Maryland, but we ended up having so much fun with them we stayed the whole weekend! We spent time swimming at the pool, eating District BBQ, and most importantly - binge watching Stranger Things season 3.

It was such a fun holiday weekend! Special thanks to Abi and Jake for letting us crash in their apartment for several days, and also to Jill for sharing all her baby stuff with us.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Weekend Adventure: Shenandoah National Park

We got our National Parks Pass last year in June in Albuquerque, so we knew we'd better use it at least once here before it expired! Shenandoah National Park is about 3 hours from us, and Abi and Jake said it was beautiful, so we decided to head there the last weekend in June. We got up early and hit the road. We picked up AbiJake on the way and made the scenic drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains! Oh, how I love the mountains. This part of the country is so beautiful with the rolling hills and lush forests, so it just added another element of gorgeousness to see the mountains as well. I'm a big nature lover! 

It was fun to pull out the hiking gear again since hiking was basically our life last summer. Remember that tiny women's running vest my parents bought for Nathan? It was so cute to see him wearing that again. And it's the brand Nathan! How perfect can you get?

We originally were planning on two shorter hikes, but we had no idea that driving through the park to those hikes was like 40 miles. Seriously, that's how big the park is. So we pulled off at one of the more popular hikes that promised waterfalls and swimming and hoped for the best! We thought it was a little less than 3 miles round trip, but that was actually only one way. So it ended up being a pretty long one!

Mia fell asleep for part of the hike, and Nathan was such a trooper. In the end, he probably walked about three miles all by himself! We only carried him for the last bit. I am always so impressed with him!

After hiking down the mountain for a while, passing quite a few fun looking spots to pull off and swim in, we chose a place. The water was so cold! Alex and Jake had fun on a rope swing into the pool, and the rest of us pretty much just dipped our feet in the water. Watching the kids was the ultimate priority because the water was deep, cold, and could easily suck them under because of the waterfall... but hey, it was still really fun! I thought about going farther into the water, but I saw a crawdad and decided it wasn't worth it haha... I'm not a huge fan of potentially stepping on creatures!

Funny story: Mia was eating this apple the whole time and was in heaven, but once we got to the waterfall she dropped it a couple times. The first time I was like, meh, whatever, it wasn't on the ground that long, it's ok. But the second time I just couldn't justify it, so I took it and threw it down the waterfall behind us and Mia looked so shocked! She stuck her hand out and yelled, "MY APPLE!!!" I felt kind of bad...

Once we decided to head back up, we were all a little worried because it had been pretty much straight downhill so we knew it would be a long way up. It was long, but not as bad as we thought!

On the way to the hike I kept wanting to stop at all the scenic overlooks, so Alex stopped at one on the way out and told me to get out of the car so I could get some pictures haha. He just wanted to be my instagram husband!

But seriously, look at those views...

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