Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fun in Utah Part Dos

First of all, the house they are renting in Orem for the school year is huge! They have two living rooms, a big open kitchen, 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, a downstairs play room, sewing room, and garage! It felt 
so good to see where they are living, since I talk to Brett almost daily while she's in this house :)

This is the gorgeous view from the large glass doors off of their dining room.  Just beautiful!


I was in town for one of the two Fridays a month that Brett and Ben get a date night thanks to their MBASA 
babysitting group! We had planned to go indoor rock climbing, but decided on cross-country skiing
at the last minute.  It was on BYU's Aspen Mt, and was so much fun at only $7/ person! 


That's right, Baby, you've been cross-country skiing. 




I've been skiing a couple of times and cross-country skiing just once, but, somehow, my muscles still remembered what to do! I had so much fun, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for me.  
Brett and Ben (I know... that's not confusing at all.) had never been before and are still getting used to the cold/ snow of UT, and were so hilarious! We all just laughed the whole night and had a great time! 

I just wish my Ben had been there.  We would have had so much fun all together! But I pretty much thought that the whole trip :)


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fun in Utah Part 1

I had an incredible week visiting my sister and her super cute and fun family in Utah.  Brett is definitely my best friend, and her children are some of my favorite people in the world, so they were the perfect people to hang with while Ben was in China.  I missed Ben so much, but Brett's crew provided a great distraction!

We were busy from morning to midnight.  Every day.  Literally.

My first morning in town Brett and I went to the Mt. Timpanogos (sp)
temple together! I love visiting new temples.  



This temple trip was especially meaningful.  We weren't sure how much we had time for, so we opted to do 
an initiatory session (wow... they have a revolving initiatory session! It was so cool!). This was my first since Eleanor was born and my 2nd pregnancy, and it was incredible to hear the blessings available through that ordinance.  I couldn't stop crying! There's nothing like being touched by the spirit at the perfect time ;)

This is me at almost the same gestational age this year in Orem and last year in St George :)
My children have already been to the temple! Hahaha...

 They moved to Orem so my BIL could get an MBA from BYU, so Brett has made great friends through the MBA Spousal Association.  These families are usually young, like them, and have moved from all over the country.  They offer classes and field trips to each other to help with their kids or share their talents.  We spent a few nights at different activities sponsored by this group.  They are such fun, intelligent women!

One of Brett's friends is an incredible cake decorator.  She had us over (for 4.5 hours!) one night and taught us all about cake construction and decorating with fondant or buttercream frosting.  It was so much fun, and I can't wait to use my new skills at home! 
Mine and Brett's cakes

 Can you see the shimmer dust on my dots? It looked so cool! 


Cat desperately wanted to eat Brett's fondant bow, but it got passed 
around to all 3 kids and still not eaten! 

Jack insisted he eat a piece of the polka dot cake, even though both were made exactly the same... 

We spent a good portion of the cake-decorating class learning how to construct and decorate this 9x13 yellow cake to look like this amazing shaggy dog for Eliza's birthday party.  It looked so good, and tasted way better than our fondant cakes! But that's butter cream v. fondant for you!



We also spent Eliza's birthday at this really fun indoor playground made to look like a treehouse!

Jack is wearing a shirt I made for him that says "All good things are wild and free -Henry David Thoreau" on it. I just love it! It's so true for this little boy, and I'm excited to make one for my little boy one day!

This is a shirt I made for Eliza's birthday with a dauchsund wrapped around the bottom in dark pink. She loves dogs right now, and had a dog-themed birthday party.  She kept asking to wear her doggy shirt! I love that she loved it :)

I L.O.V.E. these kids! Words just can't express... (I love Cat, too, but she was at school)


 More to come!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Where are your babies???

It's one thing to feel awkward when strangers in my life ask if I have any children.  I do, and I'm proud of being a mother, yet one child is in heaven and another is still growing... How do I explain to those people that I have two children, neither here right now, whom I love?

But when children get excited to welcome another playmate to the family and one doesn't materialize I get really confused.

A conversation with my sister and her children this afternoon:

Brett: "We're going to a cake decorating class tonight."
Cat: "I want to go!"
Brett: "Sorry, it's just for mommies."
Suz: "And aunts."
Brett: "You're a mommy."
Suz: "Yes, I am."
Cat: "You're a mommy? Where are your babies?"
Suz: "I have two babies.  You just can't see either of them."

I realize it's a terribly confusing concept for children, especially those who have siblings, to consider a woman to be a "mommy" when she doesn't tote around a baby.  But yes, I am a mother, and I think it's important for the children in my life to understand that not all children can be seen, and that we are sealed as families so we can live together eternally if a loved one passes away at whatever age.

Even though I don't mind talking about Eleanor or Baby Boy to anyone, and I do want the children in my life to know what has happened, that doesn't mean I know what to say.

Over Christmas break we flew into Milwaukee to spend a week with Ben's family.  His brother picked us up from the airport.  In the car our 3-yr-old niece turned to me and said, "Do you have a baby in your tummy?" I was pregnant with #2 already, but I knew she was remembering my first pregnancy. I said to her, "Yes I do.  But it's a new baby.  My last baby was a girl named Eleanor who is living in heaven right now." She had a hard time hearing that Eleanor was a little girl in our family, and that they would meet and be friends one day, but that she couldn't play with Eleanor right now.

I realized that I need to be prepared from now on with what to say to children, as the concept of once being pregnant and the child living away in heaven is hard, and hearing that the same woman is pregnant with another baby when they never met the first adds to the confusion. 

When Brett picked me up from the airport on Tuesday 3-yr-old Jack was in the back seat and hear us talk about Eleanor.

Jack: "Who is Elmo?"
Suz: "Not Elmo, Eleanor."

We had 3 short discussions during that drive about her, not Elmo, and who and where she was:

Trying to explain to a child about a loss:
video

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Are you afraid of a plane crash?

  I never have been.  But I am now.



Monday afternoon a friend of mine took me to the airport for my afternoon flight from Greensboro to Atlanta to SLC for a week visit with my sister's family while Ben is out of town. As I got out of the car she said, "Call me if anything happens and I will come back and pick you up- no problem!" OK. I thought. Nothing will go wrong, but I appreciate your offer. 

After a struggle to get my boarding pass and make it to the gate, we boarded our flight with no problems. I was sitting in the back of the small plane, and was actually annoyed when a pedantic flight attendant insisted on making notes on all passengers who switched seats, double checked that all were wearing seat belts, and asked me to push my purse even farther below the seat in front of me.  I asked my neighbor what the time was, as I was getting concerned about making my connection in ATL.

As soon as we took off a terrible noise accompanied us. It was a rotary-style thumping, like when you drive on a flat tire, with the ebb and flow of varying gas pressure.  It felt rocky, sounded terrible, and sparked fear in all.  I had a window seat and kept looking outside; I was waiting to see the ground coming closer and closer.

There was no doubt in my mind that our plane would be crashing.  My neighbor looked at me and said, "I think you're going to miss your connection." and I thought how ironic it was that I was frustrated with the flight attendant earlier.  Now I was grateful he'd taken such precautions.

I was concerned, of course, just waiting for the moment that the plane would start to spiral, but eerily calm to know I was going to die.

My first thought was that dying was ok, because it would mean I'd get to be with my angel, Eleanor.  Had Baby Boy developed enough to meet us in heaven, too? Oh wow, I could be raising two children at the same in heaven... I do want twins, but not alone! What would I do without Ben? What would he do without me? Without us? He is in China... How and when will he be notified? He'll  hate that he was out-of-town. I'm so glad I told Ben I love him. At least I didn't bring anything valuable with me.  I have my new phone, a library book, and the latest sonogram images.  Oh why did I bring all the pictures? Ben will want one! And he won't know I rented a library book.  I hope they aren't mean about collecting fines with him. 

Luckily they recognized a mechanical issue and turned right back around to Greensboro within a few minutes, so we were left unharmed :) All departing flights were already filled for that afternoon, so mine was rescheduled for the following day. As compensation I was given a night at the Marriot and 4 meal vouchers (good at the airport or hotel.)

It turned into a pretty luxurious night! I have to say it felt pretty indulgent to get free food and hotel stay in my own city!

I got checked in just in time to watch Ellen :)

I used a meal voucher for chocolate cake... YUM!

My 7:00 am flight the next morning also had mechanical issues...just my luck... but it was
handled in about 1.5 hours so we were able to leave and I had just enough time to 
run for my connecting flight: )

I have always loved looking out of plane windows, and was just mesmerized this time
by these beautiful clouds. I felt very close to Eleanor, as if she were sitting on one of them :)


Just to end the suspense, I did make it safely to Utah on Tuesday afternoon.  My niece, Cat, said it wasn't fair that they'd missed a day with me, but so far we are having lots of fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baby's first Circus!

In January I asked Ben what he wanted for his birthday (he is so hard to shop for!), and also casually mentioned that I'd seen a commercial for the circus.  Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!

I have never liked the circus, but I can understand what's fun about it and I know Ben enjoys really fun, carefree things like that.  I'm just not a fan of animals. It's not even for a noble reason like animal rights and the inhumanity of training an elephant to stand on his hind legs on command-- believe me, I've seen lions, elephants, and monkeys in the wild and they are vicious and largely superfluous animals. In my opinion.

I actually dreaded going and even tried offering to buy Ben another flight lesson or something else for the same price of tickets.  It didn't work.

But I was so happy to be there the moment we entered the Greensboro Coliseum.  Maybe it was because I knew I was doing something for the enjoyment of my husband I knew he'd have a better time if I enjoyed myself.  Maybe it's because of all the bright lights and flashy costumes (I do love a man in purple sequins!).  Maybe it's just fun to feel like an 8-yr-old again.



My favorite treat: Cotton candy! Every time I see it I'm reminded of the machine we rented for our wedding reception :)
Bags were being sold for $12 at the circus.  Do people realize they could wait an hour and get it for $1.3 at the Hess station? 


Notice the guy in front of Ben at the ticket counter... awesome hair, no? 


Waiting for the show to begin...

 It was fairly impossible to get a good shot together! But I tried :( 

Baby's first circus! I felt him kick a ton when he heard the noise of 8 motorcyclists inside a steel globe. 
Future motorcycle aficionado? 

 Clowns threw beach balls into the audience to get everyone excited.  It worked! 

It's hard to see, but the elephant in front had lost hold of the tail of the elephant before him.  He was trotting 
to catch up to that elephant and grab hold again-- Ben loved it! 

Everyone's a clown at the circus :)


Highlights:
  • The theme of the circus was "Year of the Dragon" (think Chinese calendar.) The songs sung by the ring master between each performance were Dragon-themed.  Our favorite was "From the north to the south to the east to the west the spirit of the dragon is the best of the best!" We sang it at the top of our lungs for the rest of the performance. 
  • Another song was "Do you have the dragon in YOU????" repeated over and over again.  I would sing along then yell, "YES!" because our son will be born in the year of the dragon! How many people can actually go to the dragon circus and say that they do have a dragon in them?? Hehehe. 
  • We bought the cheapest seats available the night of the performance (we paid for parking without knowing that we'd even get in), which was an awesome move.  It was only half full, so we stayed in the upper level but chose seats right at the front and completely deserted.  It was the perfect vantage point, and we got to be as silly and loud as we wanted without disturbing anyone else. 
  • Watching that elephant try and grab the other elephant's tail... hilarious. 
  • We loved the male acrobat teams. They did incredible stunts! Forget gymnastics-- Being flung backward to land vertically onto a pillow mat while wearing 10' stilts should be an olympic sport! I'm embarrassed to say that seeing a few tricks end haphazardly was pretty entertaining, too :)
  • Two words: Kitten acrobats.
  • The ring leader called out leading questions for the audience to guess which animal a group of Chinese contortionists were going to act out.  When he yelled out, "What is the largest animal on Earth?" Ben and I both yelled out "BLUE WHALE!" at the exact same time. I LOVE BEN! The ring leader later changed it to "What is the largest animal that walks the Earth?" or something like that... Hehehe :)
Maybe you can help settle a dispute: We tried to think of who in the circus gets paid the most.  We agree that clowns are probably low on the totem pole, but Ben thinks the gymnasts/ aerialists get paid the most, I think either the ring leader or animal trainers. Thoughts?

Ben, this was truly one of the most fun nights we've ever had together! I am so glad we went.  I know I loved it because you are my very best friend and you bring out the fun, carefree side of me :) Thanks for singing out loud, dancing, and acting like a fool with me! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Doing Valentine's Day Right!

Before getting married I thought Valentine's Day was a silly holiday.  It was fun in grade school, but when it started to prove something between two people I stopped seeing the point. I was one of those people who believed you should show your love every day, and that the actual holiday was created to increase commercialism.  In recent years Americans have been reported as spending $100's on this holiday... I mean, are you kidding?!

Then I got married.  Valentine's Day was no longer an obligation but a right.  Not a day to show your love, which I still think should happen daily, but a day to go above and beyond in the name of your relationship to the rest of the world. Unfortunately I didn't tell Ben I felt that was (because I didn't realize it, myself) until just a couple days before V-Day last year.  I'm not ashamed to admit that Ben and I had a sincere disagreement over how to celebrate on short notice. I'm sorry, but celebrating on Feb. 15 because everything is 75% off is not romantic to me! 

Learning from our mistakes, we planned ahead this year. Having our anatomical ultrasound and learning the gender of our baby was not originally planned for Valentine's Day-- that turned out to be a perk-- but I thought it was perfect. What better way to celebrate our love than reveling in the health of our child? 


But we didn't stop there. 

I felt sensitive to the fact that the baby has been getting a lot of attention lately, especially with the ultrasound, so I wanted V-Day night to be about how much I love Ben. 

I made shrimp (which I generally don't like) because Ben really likes it.  I used an amazing and easy recipe that we both loved! 


Fondue alfredo using the "Chocolate Heaven" fondue and candy making set I got as a teenager for the first time... (Isn't fondue romantic? There's just something about using your hands to dip in the same bowl as the one you love!)


I made a great desert for Ben with one layer of white cake, another of Devils's Food cake, with buttercream frosting and crushed Oreo in between and around the sides. I actually haven't had much of a sweet tooth so I haven't tried any, but Ben loved it!



And a special beverage: Blood Orange Italian Soda! I met Ben at the door with a glass, just like any good wife should! Hahaha.... 


I decorated with some special LOVE crafts I made with a few friends earlier: 




I saved the sealed envelope of our baby's gender from the hospital to open together
so we could still have a special, private moment in the process of learning the gender. 
(There are clay balls with "Love" and "Always" stamped on them inside)


I told Ben about a week in advance that I would be in charge of dinner, but I had a request for a gift.  I know that if I expect something I need to give Ben clear directions! I don't usually want chocolate, but it just sounded good for Valentine's Day.  I asked him to come home from work with a box of chocolates for me, and he ended up hiding packages of chocolate around the house! 

Here are 3 boxes (Ben wants me to try 3 different brands and then tell him which was my favorite for next year) and a chocolate orange.  How thorough! 

Plus this: 
Yes, my husband gave his pregnant wife 4 boxes of chocolate and exercise equipment.  But don't read anything but kindness into this gift- I've been wanting one for a long time, and I was so excited that Ben remembered and wants to help me get in shape for this baby!

I love you, honey! This was the best day :)







Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Balloon Baby Gender Reveal

Thanks, Art by Ashley, for the really fun photo shoot!

Enjoy!



















This is what we expected, but we still couldn't be happier to start saying "he" instead of "the baby!"

We love you all.  Thanks for all of your well wishes and good thoughts through this process! The anatomical ultrasound went perfectly, and we expect that the rest of the pregnancy will go smoothly, too :)