Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Little Bit of Christmas

I absolutely adore Christmas.  This year was no exception.  There was so much more that I wanted to do, but sickness came to our house and hindered quite a few of my good intentions.  But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day... wonderful.

This was our first year celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our own home.  We didn't pack up our gifts and head out of town.  We got to set up Christmas under our own tree.  On Christmas Eve we delivered goodies to our neighbors and wished them well.  We sang Christmas carols and read the Christmas Story from the Bible.  We got ourselves in our matching pajamas and enjoyed the magic that surrounds this time of year.  We watched "It's a Wonderful Life" after setting up Christmas around the tree and then snuggled up together awaiting the coming morning.

Christmas is magical.  The feelings of warmth and love that come without packages and bows are even better than the Christmas morning surprises under the tree.  After opening gifts and taking the time to relax and let everything wash over us, we headed to my mom's house and spent time with family.  Laughing, eating, playing games.  The kids entertained each other.  The fire burned warm and bright.  We talked and laughed late into the night and enjoyed every minute of it for these times don't come nearly as often as we would like.  These times of unrestrained laughter and good feelings despite the late hour, usually only come once a year.  It's the only time where whole communities shut down the daily grind and enjoy giving to each other, relaxing with each other.

May we each try to keep the feelings of good will towards men going longer than the holiday.  Longer than the calendar dictates.  You don't have to have Christmas music to have the Spirit of Christ in your home.  You just need Christ, and he can be with you always.

Merry Christmas my friends.  May the coming year be wonderful.














Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Glory of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies straight from the freezer for dinner.  And Ben’s leftover chicken and rice.  He had the peaches all to himself, and all over himself come to think of it.  Accented with a splash of milk right in the eyes.  Self-inflicted of course.

It’s one of those days.  The days where the dishes from last night are still in the sink.  Oh and the dishes from this morning, this afternoon, and this evening.  There’s even toast still on the table.  It’s dry and crusty to the touch but still looks appetizing to an almost 2 year old.  So does the dried bit of fried egg from breakfast.  To my credit I would not let him have it no matter how much he asked.  I simply pushed it aside to add another layer of dishes in order to feed my son.

I did clean up his room though.  But mostly so I wouldn’t trip over anything in the middle of the night should there be a need to come to his rescue over something dangerous like a shadow.  I really wonder what he sees there.  I'm considering tackling the living room as well.  

I’m trying hard to find balance these days.  Sometimes it comes at the expense of letting all the “important” things go and actually focusing on the really important things, like taking care of yourself.  It’s something that I have neglected lately.  It’s like you get going along in life, everything working out well, and you forget that part of the reason it’s working out so well is because you have taken time to get your own cookies in a pile.  Consistently.  And then you stop.  Not intentionally.  Your routine just gets interrupted.  A family party.  A trip to Salt Lake.  A sick child.  What’s one day going to hurt?  What’s two days?  What’s… how many days has it been?  Why am I feeling overwhelmed with things that shouldn’t be overwhelming?  Oh yeah, because I forgot to keep breathing.  I forgot to do those things that help me be awesome.  Those things that fill my cup and allow me to have something to give to my child, my husband, and others who may or may not need it at the time.  That allow me to give to myself. 


So today, after a wonderful but exhausting yesterday, I decided to call it quits.  The dishes can wait.  My peace of mind cannot.  There are leftovers in the fridge so those who want to eat can.  There is plenty of hot water that can be used tomorrow on the dishes.  Today, right now, I need to breathe.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Little Chocolate Goes a Long Way

I went grocery shopping today.

Naturally the aisles are filled with "holiday cheer" as Christmas is drawing every closer.  Bins of toys and crayons and ties that aren't usually found in grocery stores are now there for the duration, hoping you'll impulse buy.  Sparkly ornaments are hung from the ceiling even as the massive pile of frozen turkeys are waiting to be purchased for the Thanksgiving feast.

I make it a practice to bypass the seasonal aisle because I know that I am weak and mint M&Ms call my name starting the very day of Halloween.  In fact this year I had Christmas music playing while I baked our Jack-O-Lantern pizza.  My husband was ashamed.  I didn't care.  I liked the way the music made me feel, and that particular day I needed the way that Christmas music makes me feel.  All good and warm inside, like all is right with the world.

But back to today.  Saturday.  The Saturday before Thanksgiving with the aisles packed with feast shoppers and people in line anxious to get checked out and on with the day.  Today I saw the display for Sweet's Orange Sticks.

And I cried.

Well I started to and then remembered that I was in public.  That I had to talk to the cashier to let her know that I am fine and then let the bagger know I wanted paper instead of plastic.  No cash back.  Yes I found everything just fine.  No, there are no special plans for today.  Just the box of orange sticks stuck in the cart at the last minute that I'm not even sure I'll eat.

The box of orange sticks that made me weepy.  That reminds me of the holidays because we always had them.  They were special.  They were a treat.  They were Dad's favorite. He always had them during Christmas.  Stashed away in a drawer or on a shelf.  As soon as they hit the shelves dad would get some.  We always knew they would be appreciated as a supplement to his gift.  A gift card to the movies taped to a box of orange sticks.  A box stuffed into his stocking because no one is too old to hang up a Christmas stocking.

A Christmas stocking that won't be hung up this year.  A stocking that won't have a box of orange sticks in it.  Or anything else.

I don't talk about it much but I miss my dad something fierce.  If you ask I'll say I'm doing well.  And usually I am, at the moment.  It's the little things.  The box of chocolates.  The John Deere tractor that has become a favorite toy for Ben.  Sorting photographs and finding one of the last taken of him.  Wishing it were a better one.  Wishing you had tried harder, been a little more insistent that he smile at the camera instead of trying to get one on the sly.  It's the pair of reading glasses that sit in the guest room that belong to him... the ones that I carefully dust around and then put back.  The stupid half roll of Certs that is still in my laundry room because mom washed some of his clothes here while he was recovering from a procedure.

So today I bought a box of orange sticks, set them on my counter, and cried.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All that schtuff...

I am done.

Done with the clutter.

Done with the stashing of things to get to them later.

Done with the stashing of things and forgetting about them till sometimes months later.

Done.

There's no time today.  I have a list of things to do.  People to see.  Groceries to shop for.  I need to get ready for the evening.  I need to get food prepared and stuff ready for Sunday.  I need to ignore the clutter and put my energy into things that need to be done today.  That need to be taken care of for the basic necessities of life.  Ignore the cars everywhere.  Ignore the piles of papers.  Ignore the drawers where things have been shoved because they don't have an actual "spot" in my house.

But I can't.  Today I can't.  While waiting for my husband to get ready to help me with a photo shoot, I took the mail filing system that I carefully crafted two years ago to help organize the madness and I tore it apart.  I ripped the folder out and gutted the black wooden box that housed it all and hung it back up.

I felt better.

The box that had stopped being used for mail and had simply become a place to catch wandering bits of stuff, is empty.  Forever.  I like the way it looks all gaping and open on my wall.  I actually like it again.

I wish that were the only spot.

The thing is, I'm not really all that cluttered.  I mean I have my fair share, but comparatively speaking I'm not bad.  I only have two drawers of chaos.  Only a few surfaces to collect the leftover whatever it is that needs to be looked through, sorted, organized, thrown... processed.  The rest is pretty good.

But still it bugs.  I want everything to have a place and those that don't, I need them to go away.  Forever.  So today I'm ignoring chunks of my official list.  Moving those items to Monday.  Some maybe never.  Today I'm finding things.  Like surfaces and peace of mind.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gratitude Lately

New Years Day 2013

My word of the year was chosen and it was Gratitude.  I wrote about it here. It felt right.  It felt like something that I needed to do.  But lately I have completely neglected it.  The entire month of September is missing and half of October.  You can find my list here.  I just updated it from my journal.  The one that I used to write in daily.  The one that I recorded my thoughts and feelings in.  The one that helped me take stock of the day and find the gratitude.

I stopped writing there as well.  No lists.  No reviewing of the day.  Just blank space.

I had not updated my online list since June.  So today with a little bit of free time on my hands, I got it done.  As I reviewed my paper list and transferred it to digital, I saw the whole Summer pass by.  Some of what I wrote surprised me.  I was also surprised by some things that were missing, things that I thought for sure would have made it on the list.  Particularly my Dad's birthday.  On that day I wrote that I was thankful for my home and my bed.  

This year of gratitude has brought so much more than anticipated.  Events have transpired that have helped me see so many things clearly.  Have helped me become more aware of what is important.  Though I do like my home and my bed and am thankful for both, I'm ever so much more thankful for the people that are in my life.

What I wish I had done with my list was be more specific.  Rather than reference the vague "someone" who helped me or said something or did something, I wish I had called them by name. I wish that I had written a bit more about why I was thankful for these things, these people.

My year has been full.  So very full.  I can't go back and fill in the blanks, but I can look back and see what stands out to me above all else. Here's my list, in no particular order.

I am ridiculously thankful for:

* The Robbins Family. My mom's family.  The people that I can count on to put our crazy loud-mouthed irreverent family group above everything else.  I love you because with or without skit or side dish, you come and talk and laugh and just be together. You show your love through your support and shared laughter.

* My wonderful high school group friends.  Leslie, Tonya, Connie, Angie, Lisa. How on earth did we come together?  I'm so grateful that we did. I'm grateful that we could come together again after this ridiculous amount of time had passed and talk and laugh and not want to leave each other's company.  You truly make my heart happy.

* My single-hood friends from days gone by.  Marissa, Tiffany, Krista, Justin, Tyler, Stacy, John, Kacey, Kristi, Lori, Dan, Kristin, and all those who weren't able to come to the "almost didn't happen" get together.  Thank you for bringing your sense of humor and making the day fun.  Thank you for the good memories of the "glory days".  For hoppin' cars, hacky sacks, Central America, the sign game, Lundstrom central, homemade Star Wars movies, the Mt. Air pool, hammocks, cabin sleep overs, Snake River trips, Merry Christmas Eat Beef, Bob Marley (as opposed to Jacob Marley) snow football, and a plethora of fun and precious memories.  You guys rock.

* The Hubbard Family.  My dad's family.  Some of you I know so well, others not so much.  But for some reason I can't get you all out of my head.  Words can almost not express how grateful I am to have seen so many of you supporting my family when Dad passed away.  In the hustle and bustle of life I actually forgot how many of you there are.  Our shared history, our shared heritage is strong.  Our ties are strong.  I am so thankful for that and for you.

* My Logan friends.  Whatever would I do without you.  Seriously.  You know who you are.  My collection of friends from my current ward and those of days gone by. Book clubs, play groups, therapy sessions of all kinds. More shared laughter than I know what to do with.  Shared tears as well.  Thank you you wonderful women.  Diamonds in the rough.

Thank you all.  You've made my list.  It may not mean much to you, but it does to me.  You bring the spots of glorious color to what could have been a very dreary time.  The sunshine in the rain, the silver lining on those clouds that have been hanging over my head. 

You have my gratitude.




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

A little bit of the view around here lately.  There have been so many things that just make my heart happy lately.  Here's a few of my favorite things for your looking pleasure.

Show down at the OK Crib, high noon.  Who will the winner be?

I just can't help but love the Little People Green Lantern.

Every day about 3:30 is popcorn time.  A little Phineas and Ferb to go with and the boys have themselves the perfect afternoon break.  Seriously so many perks to having David work at home.


The favorites.  Sock Monkey rules them all, but each takes a turn being the favorite.


This is the sign I made for my bedroom during Scout Camp week. 

This is the window that hangs to the side of my bed.  Perpetual spring is a lovely thing to wake up to.

I gave this to David for Christmas last year.  It still makes me giggle.

A good book and chocolate chips... why yes please.

Happy Wednesday to you all.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Small and Simple

A few weeks ago I broke.  I ran away from home.  I left David with Ben and got in the car and drove away.  I ended up spending the afternoon at Tony Grove in Logan Canyon.  It is one of my all time favorite places.  I used to spend so much time there back in my single days.  It's peaceful there.  It gave me a chance to think.  To think without the needs of others getting in the way.  To think without limitation.  I had nowhere to be.  Ben was in good hands and I just could not handle anything or anyone anymore.

I took my journal and this is part of what I wrote:

   "Is is possible to feel lost and trapped at the same time? I feel pushed into corners.  Corners of habit and routine.  The needs of others.  Expectations, realistic and otherwise.
    I've been burying my feelings with books and television.  Numbing myself with the internet and a full schedule.  Does it make sense now? Lost and trapped?"

 I felt trapped in this life of mine.  Trapped by the routine, the necessary chores, the day to day needs that could only be filled by me.  I felt lost because I didn't remember who I was.  What makes me tick.  I didn't seem to have time to remember that I actually like my life.  That a lot of the life I live is by choice.  My choice. A choice that I honestly do not regret.  So what was the deal?  Why did I break?

I ran with the intention of not coming home until I had something figured out.  I told David that I didn't know when I would be back but I wouldn't be out overnight.  I just didn't know if I would be home at 4 pm or 12 am.  Thankfully my husband is a saint who recognizes a cry for help when he sees it.  He let me go.  I don't think he could have stopped me, but it wasn't a fight.

As I walked around the lake my mind was working overtime.  I was making lists of things that could be lending themselves to my current state.  Dishes, laundry, being in charge of the house, meals, recreation, learning, health, sleep, cleanliness... and on and on and on.

I wrote in my journal.  I escaped into a book.  I walked around the lake and then wrote some more.  What it all boiled down to was 30 minutes.

Before Ben was born, David and I talked about a few things.  I made him promise me that all of our conversations would not revolve around diapers, bottles, etc.  We would talk about politics and world news, books, movies, art.  Of course we talked about diapers and bottles and all the fun baby stuff that comes with the territory, but it was important to me to not be completely consumed by it that I didn't know how to have a regular conversation.

I also made him promise me 30 minutes a day.  30 minutes in which I was not responsible for our son or the house or anything else.  30 minutes that I could use to read or write or just get out of the house.  30 minutes to remember who I am and that I actually like myself.  30 minutes that had not happened in ages.  30 minutes that I stopped taking, I stopped asking for.  There seemed to be too much to do.  To much that had to be done.

I wrote this passage later on in my day of running away:

"I'm sitting by a little stream, listening as the water pours itself over the rocks.  A dragonfly flies by.  The stream is clear and everything is green and lush around it. It finds its way through the obstacles in its path and leaves some of itself behind.  Beautifying things wherever it goes."  

I thought a lot about that stream. Even the obstacles were made better by it.  It gave life.  I want to be that way.  I want to leave things better than I found them.  I want to find my way around the obstacles.  But what happens if the stream dries up?

If you go to Tony Grove early in the Summer, there are streams everywhere.  Especially on some of the hikes.  White Pine was and is a favorite of mine.  Depending on the time of year, you could easily cross 6 or 7 streams on your way.  They are beautiful.  Surrounded by fields of wildflowers.  As the season continues and the heat rises, a lot of those streams dry up.  The vegetation turns yellow and brown and crunches beneath your feet.  The water source dried up.  No more life.

It's pretty simple really.  If you let your water source dry up, if you forget or willingly stop taking time for yourself, instead of being able to beautify things around you just might end up making things crumble instead.

I don't take 30 minutes every day.  With David's work schedule it just wasn't practical anymore. But I do take some time every week.  I'll replace something good (folding the laundry) with something better (take a nap and then fold the laundry with Ben).  Little course corrections to make sure that I don't push myself to the breaking point again.  To make sure that I don't have to run away from everything that I love to remember that I love it.

"...by small and simple things are great things brought to pass"* and at the same time, by small and simple things are great things brought down.  Make sure your small and simple are where you want them to be.

Happy Wednesday my friends.


*Alma 37:6 (Book of Mormon)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Little More Hope


A good friend gave me this necklace at the perfect time.  It was during the many many doctor visits that my husband and I went through in order to get Ben.  I clung onto this gift like my life depended on it.  For so long I had lived without hope, mainly because hope had become something painful.  Something that seemed to always bring disappointment.

I would sit in church and absently play with the necklace.  Opening and shutting it repeatedly, taking comfort in the click of the clasp.  It was my worry stone.  It was my good luck charm.  It was a reminder that someone besides the requisite few was thinking of me.  Had thought of me enough to let me know she cared.

I had put the necklace away for awhile.  Not because I didn't like it anymore, but I no longer needed that life line.  I had little hands to hold and cheeks to kiss that were reminder enough that hope had paid off.  That prayers were answered.  That we, I, was so very blessed.

I found it again.  Sitting in my jewelry box with all my other things, waiting patiently for me to stumble across it.  It was like finding an old friend.  I put it on and have once again taken comfort in the click click as I open and shut it.  A reminder to hope once again.

Hope this time is for the future.  For plans to work out, for patience to let them.  Hope that there is good in this world.  Hope that I can make it through the bad times and enjoy the good times.  Both are plentiful, but hope puts a positive spin on even the worst of times.  Hope says there's something more, something to be learned from all this.  Hope that one day I'll look back and mostly see the good.  That the smiles will outweigh the frowns.  The laughter will outshine the tears.

Thank you once again my friend for this needed and treasured reminder.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A List

1.  Each year I think that the summer is going too quickly, and each year August comes and I wonder if it will ever be cool again.  Will the nights ever cool off quickly enough?  Will I ever want to go outside again?  Because frankly, right now I don't want anything hot... at all.  I want that crisp chill in the air that Fall brings.  I want the season to change and Fall to last longer by starting it earlier.

2.  Checking out ebooks from the Library for my Nook just might drive me to drink.  I have two brave souls who powered through the process and passed the information on to me.  I followed the instructions.  I made it past the error messages and thought that I was in the clear.  But no.  Oh no.  The fates have conspired and I still can't get it to work.  Fortunately I have in home tech support who will hopefully figure it out for me because frankly my head hurts.

3.  My son is a jumper.  He's jumping.  On things, off things, from the floor, from the couch.  It's a good thing 911 is easy to remember.  I haven't had to use it yet and hopefully never will. Oh my brave and scary boy!

4.  I have been going through Ben's old clothes again.  I figure it was time since I had boxes stuffed to over flowing.  What surprised me was that some I just could not give up.  Even though they are all going to a good home and they don't fit him anymore at all.  Even though having them around for the "maybe we'll get another one" kind of breaks my heart a little.  I just couldn't give them all.  It's not so much the hope that there will be another as the inability to let go of the little that my little one used to be.  In short, I may be in denial.

5.  My baby is 18th months. 18 months!! When? How?  He used to be this:


Now he's this:


That is all.  The end of the list.  Mostly because my baby who is not much of a baby anymore is up, and needing me, and I'm gonna try to enjoy every minute of it.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Words Cannot Express...

...  how long I've been trying to post.

How many times I've been thwarted by technology and it's quirks.

How many episodes of Gilmore Girls have gotten in my way...

But here I am now.  Today.  Well, at the end of the day but it still counts.  Ya know, because we're all keeping track of these things.

And now for an update...

Last post in the saga that is my life, I was a scout widow.  I had a list.  A long list of things to get done.  My hopes were high, my reality not quite as.  However, I did get some of the things done.  Let's review.

* Clean the house from top to bottom.  Really clean.  Vacuum under everything, clean the curtains, dust the world.  (This one got done!  Well, more than it had been done before even though it only lasted a day.  It was a good clean day.)

* Make a wall hanging for the bedroom.  (Totally did it!  Wood cut, nailed and glued together, painted and everything!  And when I get my room cleaned again I will take a picture of it hanging in all of it's glory over my bed.  I kind of might be in love with it.)

* Finish the pictures I started to frame and get them hung.  (Done and done!  I had 4 prints that were waiting for their home and it finally happened.  We won't discuss how much dust had collected on them while waiting for said home to appear.)

* Paint the downstairs living room. (Yep, done!  Thanks again to Sharon and her excess of paint, I had the color I wanted and my sister came and did Ben interference while I painted the living room walls.  As an extra added bonus I rearranged the furniture to just get David good and confused when he came home.  And as far as a picture goes, see above wall hanging for excuse.)

* Make a wall hanging for the kitchen.  (I got this a third of the way done.  I painted the platter that will have some witty kitchen saying that has nothing to do with love and more to do with death... you are so curious now aren't you!  Just wait till my ambition hits again and you'll know how awesome it really is.)

* Paint the laundry room so that it no longer feels like the orphan room of the house.  (Not even a little bit close.  In fact it looks worse than when I put the list together.  Might have something to do with my inability to really clean up after a project.  So much easier just to throw it in the room that has a door to hide it.)

* Organize Ben's room and get rid of what we're not using for him.  I have a bajillion pairs of pajamas that are all too hot for his size stuffed in drawers and shelves to get them out of the way.  (Room... not so much.  2 drawers totally done though!  Baby steps right?)

* Go through my clothes and get rid of things that I don't wear anymore.  (I pretty much spent time in my room when I slept... that's about it. So no, that did not get done.)

*Organize the kitchen drawers and shelves.  I seriously wish I had time to take every little thing out of every little space in my whole house and place it with purpose.  (Next scout camp maybe?  Not so much on the done or even started part. More like the laundry room.  It just got messier.)

Well that about sums that up!  David was surprised when he came home.  So was I!

Since then I've really hit things hard.  Things like Star Trek (I'm on a Star Trek kick that I'm not sure I completely understand.  Perhaps I have been neglected my inner nerd/trekkie?  I'm watching the old series and the old movies and enjoying them thoroughly despite the obvious sexist nature of the uniforms for women. Can we still be friends?)

I've also made pie, fudge, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and brownies.  I even gave some away!

Yesterday I mowed the lawn and rewarded myself for my hard work with several back to back episodes of Gilmore Girls.  I'm concerned I may have a problem but not enough to really do anything but hit play for the next episode.  Today I made breakfast and lunch and rewarded myself accordingly.  It's a good thing I have a patient husband who loves me in my times of productivity as well as gluttony.  

With that said, happy Wednesday my friends.  May your Thursday be wonderful, however you define it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Today I'm a Widow...

Today David left at 5:15 am to load up the scouts and head to Scout camp.  Today at 5:15 am I became a widow.  A Scout Widow.  A single mom with a 1-year old boy with way too much energy sometimes.

I have been looking to this time with my fear, trepidation, and just a bit of excitement.  While I really like my husband and enjoy having him around, it will be kind of nice to just cook for me and Ben.  I eat simply.  I don't require a set table and neither does Ben.  If I don't do the dishes right away there is no one to notice but me.  If the house is a mess, no one cares but me.  My mess will not get in anyone else's way.

That's kind of a good feeling.

What I am worried about is Ben.  I have my doubts whether I will be enough for him this week.  He usually has us both at meal times and some good one on one time with each of us while the other is getting things done.  It works well for us.   It works well for him.  But just me?

I have also been thinking of all the things that I want to do while David is gone. Things like:

* Clean the house from top to bottom.  Really clean.  Vacuum under everything, clean the curtains, dust the world.

* Make a wall hanging for the bedroom.

* Finish the pictures I started to frame and get them hung.

* Paint the downstairs living room.

* Make a wall hanging for the kitchen.

* Paint the laundry room so that it no longer feels like the orphan room of the house.

* Organize Ben's room and get rid of what we're not using for him.  I have a bajillion pairs of pajamas that are all too hot for his size stuffed in drawers and shelves to get them out of the way.

* Go through my clothes and get rid of things that I don't wear anymore.

*Organize the kitchen drawers and shelves.  I seriously wish I had time to take every little thing out of every little space in my whole house and place it with purpose.

I know that I should schedule in some downtime but right now that feels like the last thing I want to do.  I just want to take advantage of this time and accomplish great things while there is no other adult around to... well get in my way. 

At least that's the wish... reality usually tells me differently.  Reality says I'm trying to do more than is possible.  Or am I?


Taken on USU campus at the top of the amphitheater.  I love the gnarled roots with new life.
 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Thought



Sometime I wish I could photograph feelings.

A touch, a smile, laughter, smoky fire.  

Completeness.  Wholeness.  Love.

I can see things.  I can watch them happen.  But how do I capture the feelings that rise up in the heart?  How do I take a perfect and complete moment and transfer it to something visual.  Something to help remember a perfect moment in time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Too Much Information

That isn't a warning.  Or maybe it is.

Lots has been happening around the Sullivan household.  One of the many is that we made the mistake of watching these two documentaries on food.  "Hungry for Change" and "Forks Over Knives".  I say mistake because now I know too much.  Now if I choose to ignore the information I have been given... well, I'm kind of stupid.

Since watching these two documentaries, which can be found on Netflix streaming, David and I have tried to incorporate more healthy choices into our meals.  We've been trying to make our food count for something besides filling up our stomachs.  I have signed up for Bountiful Baskets.  My grocery list has more fruits and vegetables on it than ever before.  My fridge and counter tops are filled with fresh foods and I am trying to figure out how to use such things as fresh brussel sprouts and kale.

We now have a juicer which is great for helping us get our fruits and veggies in.  Especially the ones that we don't really like or know what to do with (kale, beets, etc.).  Or for me, those that I will only eat with Ranch dressing.  Carrots, apples, and tangerines make a great breakfast juice by the way.  You can even add celery (which I will not eat fresh because I don't like it) and lime juice for a little zip.  In fact you can add just about anything and get all those good nutrients that you normally wouldn't because you just don't. 

We also have a counter top pressure cooker which is quickly becoming a favorite item.  This one I entirely blame on Tawnya and Isaac because they got one and preached of its loveliness.  And it is lovely.  Rice and beans and other things cook so fast and... perfectly.  Sigh.

There are more reasons behind this change than just watching documentaries.  Our health for example.  We have private health insurance with a high deductible which means that a whole lot of money will be coming out of our pocket before that deductible is met.  Oddly enough we don't have a whole lot of money sitting around waiting to come out of our pockets.  So the healthier we get, the better off we are. 

Other benefits are there too.  Eating more fruits and veggies has actually given me more energy than before.  I have been able to do really dang stinkin' hard workouts and do them well!  I haven't gotten quite as sore and I feel like I have more energy.  I LOVE it.  I Love being able to do more with my body.  To feel capable.  I'm not talking marathons or anything, but one of my main goals has always been to be able to move the mass I've got.  I may not be able to lose the weight that I want, but I wanted to make sure that I was active enough to move it around and do what I want. 

I feel good.  I mean good.  It used to be that to have a day, a full day where I actually felt all the way "good"... no bloated feeling or cramping or blahness that I have completely gotten used to as "my normal", was unheard of.  I never ever felt "good".  "Fine" sure.  "Okay" you bet.  But "good" really and truly "good"?  Now in fairness it's not all the time, but I have had more good days than not so good days.  So I call that a win.

It also does not mean that I will never have another dessert again because that's simply not possible.  It just means that perhaps, just perhaps I won't be so addicted to them.  And if I'm not so addicted to desserts, then perhaps I actually will lose weight.  Hmmm.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
(You're welcome)

So that's what's been happening here in our neck of the woods. Between the deforesting of our forest and the state of our bellies, I think we're having a pretty successful Summer.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Out of Retirement

I know, you didn't know I was in retirement right!?!  Well it was one of those things that sort of befell the blog.  It was neglected.  It was forgotten.  I apparently retired it and didn't tell anyone.  I was content to let it go.

But like actors, ball players, and musicians everywhere, I've decided to make a comeback.  I should start with something big, maybe with fireworks.  So here you go.


Okay, now that that's taken care of.  On to the blogging.  I've had a busy Summer.  A good chunk of it has been spent on the yard.  I've made three flower beds where there were none before.  I have planted the garden, mowed the lawn faithfully, and tackled the plethora of tree stumps in our yard.

When we moved in three years ago, this is what one section of our yard looked like.  I wish that I had a better shot of this.  Something that could show the whole thing top to bottom. It was just...well amazing.  Impenetrable.  A section of forest.  Someone could have set up camp back there and we'd have never known.

It happens to be the section that I have been removing stumps from.  I have taken out no less than 23 stumps from our backyard.  Some big, some small.  Some will have to be professionally removed because they are just too big.  So of the ones that I can do myself I have 5 to go.  This has taken me all summer thus far and I honestly can't wait to get the last 5 out and gone.  Some tricks that I have learned about stump removal:

1) If at all possible, don't cut down the trees, get a truck and a chain and pull them out because then the stump comes with it and no need for removal or buckets of sweat for years to come.  Had I known this three years ago when we moved in... Oy.

2)  Since I didn't know about the glory of tree removal by truck, we had lots and lots and lots of stumps. So the next step, or first, is to prune the snot out of it so you can see where the stump actually is without the camouflaging effect of wannabe branches.

3)  Next dig all around it, nice and deep.  Depending on size you can start prying them out with your shovel and some of them will actually come up!  I think 2 of mine did... early on so that I thought it was easy and would keep going.

4) After you've dug and hopefully located the major roots get your handy dandy pruning sheers and clip em!  At first I just tried to chop through them with my shovel.  That is stupid.  And hard.  My pruners are much sharper than my shovel and it goes much much quicker.  I'm pretty sure I had 7 stumps under my belt before I learned that little trick.

5)  Now that you've cut the major arteries, pull the sucker out!  If it still won't come then position yourself ground level, feet towards the offending stump, place your foot (either one, I prefer my right foot) on the stump and start kicking the tar right out of it!  This does 2 things.  First it helps you get some anger out at having to still deal with the stump and your own stupidity at not getting a truck and a chain in the first place; you can even grunt if you want to.  Second, it shakes more dirt loose and you can often find the one major artery that slipped by the clippers making it impossible to pull out.

6) Now you can truly remove the stump! After clipping the artery, stand yourself up, brush yourself off and pick up that stump.  Hold it high for the world to see and declare your victory!  "Down you offending and badly placed tree!  May your remaining roots rot!"

Too dramatic?  Well it's kind of what I felt like doing.  But mostly I just threw the stump to the side and laid on the grass while I caught my breath.

This is what that section of yard looks like now.

So how there's a fence?  At the tops of the pine trees that you saw in the first picture, well there are three of them.  Well actually there were 4 but we took one out last year when we FOUND it!  That's right, entire trees were living in our yard that we didn't know where there.

Here's another shot.

It's not really all that great still, but before the summer is out we hope to have most of that area under the trees converted back to grass with a bench seat underneath the pines and maybe some Virginia Creeper along the fence line for a bit more privacy (since we cut the privacy right out).  Which means 5 more stumps and a whole lot of digging and tilling the ground to get things evened out.  Oddly taking out 23 stumps leaves a few holes.

What have you been up to?  Any cool gardening tips?  I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Is it really Tuesday?

Today feels like Wednesday.  Like I should be doing Wednesday things instead of whatever it is I do on Tuesday.  Usually that entails getting all dolled up in my husband's old work clothes, forsaking makeup, and hitting the yard hard.  But today?  Today, not so much.

Today started on a bad last night.  My son has been having trouble sleeping since Saturday night.  He's got a dang cold (grr!) and because of my stellar parenting, he had heat rash.  We were at a BBQ with friends and spent a good chunk of time in the great outdoors.  Neither one was completely evident till Sunday.  In fairness I have never had heat rash myself so I wasn't so much on the lookout for it.  And we did put a hat and sunscreen on the little tike.  But that's neither here nor there.  What is here and there was the fact that due to both (and teething, I almost forgot that never ending saga!) so due to all three, my son has not slept through the night since Saturday.  And not just a little wake-up cry and go back to sleep, but a "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth hold me till I calm down and I'll see you again in a few hours" kind of wake-up call. 

Fortunately, he is taking naps and little by little his cold and the heat rash are subsiding.  In fact, last night he was not up again after 2 am.  But me?  Oh no, not me.  I woke up at 2 to his cries, gave him a little cuddle and sent him back to bed and then couldn't go back to sleep myself!  In fact I was awake till 4:30 silently weeping and wailing and gnashing my teeth because sleep would just. not. come and I was so very tired.  Even after 4:30 it was a fitful sleep full of tossing and turning and thinking that I could hear Ben crying again.

So today.  Tuesday.  The day that was scheduled for productivity and one more section of yard cleared by the sweat of my brow... well, it's kind of been a bust. And I'm okay with that.  There's still tomorrow to mow the lawn.  The tree stumps can wait another week, heaven knows they'll still be there.  (Did I tell you that I have dug out 17 stumps all by myself this year? 17!! I feel pretty good about that.)  Instead I took a nap.  I went for a walk with Ben and let him play at the park for a bit.  I pretended to do the dishes and have opted for salads for dinner because then I don't have to cook.  I will still forsake the make-up because it's almost 3pm right now and what's the point.  I will let go.  I will be content to do the bare minimum.  I will let my mind wander and should it start making lists of what "should be done" I will make it stop.  Today I will be okay with what has been done.

Today I will just be.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taking the Plunge!

I've done it.  I've created a photography blog with samples of my work.  Not all of it, but some of it.  Check it out here:  http://mothernatureslight.blogspot.com/

I'm also offering my services for hire.  And I'm cheap. Not in the trashy kind of way but in the "hey, I could actually afford to hire you" kind of way.  So if you want photos taken of your kids, or you and your kids, or your kids prom dates, or even an event in your backyard, I'm your man... well woman.  And if you know someone who would like my services, feel free to pass it on.  Contact me via email: mdmarian02@hotmail.com or phone 435-760-5639, or comment on this blog.  I'm easy. But not in the trashy kind of way.

Now, get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Breaking the Silence

I have been silent for a long, long time.  I thought I was dealing but a few events of the past week have shown me that I'm not.  I haven't been running, just ignoring it. Hoping it would go away.  Hoping that it really didn't happen and that if I just went on with life as "normal" then it would all be as it should.

It just doesn't work that way.  Life has presented me with a new normal and though it resembles the old one, it is different.

The passing of my father was so very unexpected.  So blinding.  So harsh.  I thought we'd have at least another 20 years together.  He was on the mend.  The surgery was a success.  He was up and moving and spending the night in his own bed in his own home.  He was supposed to see my son grow.  He was supposed to stay at my house several more times.  He was supposed to laugh and heal and be happy again.

It's been three Sunday's since he passed.  Since the phone call that gutted my soul and left me a sobbing mess.  For a week I was transported somewhere else.  Somewhere where funerals were planned, stories were shared, tears were shed, and many embraces of comfort were given and received.  And then... back to life.  Back to Logan where everything looked the same.  Back to laundry and dishes and meals.  Back to getting things done.  Routine.  The sweet comfort of routine.  The past week to be forgotten.  Moving on. 

I thought I was dealing.  I had moments in private where I remembered.  I got past it.  People ask how I'm doing and it takes me a minute to realize what they are really asking.  Not the "how are you" but the "how are you".  Fine.  Really and truly fine.  Doing better than expected.  Taking comfort in the gospel.  Going forward.  Realizing that life is really really short.  People deal with this every day.  It's the order of things.  I'm not the only one who has lost a father and no special treatment is expected.  I'm fine.

But...

I didn't realize until Sunday, Mother's Day, on the way home from my mom's.  I wasn't doing fine.  I wasn't dealing.  I was pushing those emotions away, unsure how to deal.  Unsure how to feel.  Unsure whether I should be worried that I wasn't a messy pile of goo on the floor at least some of the time.  Should I have worse days?  Am I emotionally stunted?  Do I laugh anymore?

I was talking with David on the way home and voicing these thoughts for the first time.  Conversations with friends felt forced and uncomfortable.  Was it me or them?  Did I forget how to talk or do I just make people uneasy because I'm not talking about it?  Neither one of us knew the answer. 

Then I told David how mad I was because of the things that my dad didn't do.  The areas where I felt I had gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop during childhood through to adulthood.  I felt angry that there was no more time to "get it right".  No more time to work on our relationship.  No more time to express my love.  No more time to get the conversation right, to get over the awkward stage of starting it.  And I felt guilty for being angry.  Guilty for daring to even think something negative about the man who has moved on from this life.  I did it anyway.  I listed all the things that bugged me and I dug deep.

Funny thing is that the deeper I dug into my past, determined to prove that this man had done a bad job, I couldn't hold on to my steam.  My anger was curbed and even dissipated as I realized how many more good things there were.  How many times of kindness, laughter, fun.  Tender moments that stand out more than all the rest.  Counsel given, love shown.

I've been putting off writing about my dad because I didn't know how to say anything.  I didn't like the picture my mind created of this event.  I could only see myself blubbering uncontrollably as I attempted to put into words the things that were happening in my life.  And yet I couldn't write anything else either.  Anything else was so... trivial.  So unimportant.  How could I just skip this life changing event and write about things like my gardening attempts or the increase in potted plants due to the funeral without actually talking about the loss?  It would have felt like a betrayal to my soul.

I am doing better.  I am thawing out.  Writing this is a big step for me.  It's one thing to have it written in the privacy of my own journal.  I can say anything I want and no one is the wiser.  But here.  Here is different.  Here is admitting that something happened even though all those who read more than likely know already.  Writing it down and sharing helps me deal.  I am dealing.  And now it's mostly good although I miss him terribly.

This picture was taken on July 14, 2012  Dad's 62nd birthday.
He passed away on April 21, 2013 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Which one of these things is not like the other?


One of the things that Ben really enjoys is sitting in his chair and being stuffed in it with all his stuffed animals. This was a lucky picture from my phone since the minute they are all on top of him, he usually just starts to push the animals off.  I really love the expression.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A special little rant...

Dear friends,

It's been awhile.  I gave my laptop a home in the basement and it's been good mostly.  Good because I'm not spending nearly as much time checking email or facebook or anything else.  It's given me some breathing room that I needed.  You see it used to be in the kitchen and it was just too easy to check something "real quick" while making breakfast and then get myself trapped, and off schedule and behind in every other part of my life.

The bad part is that now I have to intentionally get on the computer.  I have to make time instead of stealing it.  Not the easiest thing to do sometimes.  But occasionally, something so... amazing? happens that the time is made.  Like now.

Last Saturday we went to the park as a family.  David's parents and brothers were up for Easter and we were all enjoying the sunshine.  It was also Ben's first experience at the park and there were a gazillion kids, as we knew there would be.  But it was fun.  David and I were experiencing things through new eyes and were excited to introduce Ben to the joys of slides, which he cried on, and swings, which he loved, and walking on the grass, which he barely tolerated.  Being unsure how he would handle it, we were understandably very close at all times, especially when he was going up the stairs on the playground equipment, scared to death that he would trip and fall out the open sides.

There was another couple watching us.  They were younger, as most people with small children are.  They were friendly enough though.  After a little small talk the mother asked "Is he your first?"  We beamed proudly and answered in the affirmative.  She replied "No wonder you still act like he's special. After two or three you'll get over it."

Neither David nor myself knew how to respond to this.  We must have said something, or maybe just laughed a little awkwardly and then made our way away from her and her three children who apparently are not special anymore because she's gotten over it.

Perhaps it's weird but I felt a little wounded.  Like I had been weighed, measured and found wanting.  Like I obviously did not "get" what this parenthood thing was all about.  That I must not have enough experience with children because if I did I would realize that I didn't need to treat my kid like he's something special because after three they are all ordinary.  Same.  Nothing to be celebrated.

This experience reminded me of that of another friend.  One who also has an only child.  She was told that she wasn't a "real" mother since she only had the one.  Weighed, measured, and found wanting.  Like she hadn't carried her son for 9 months.  Like she didn't love him and worry about him and lose sleep over him the way a mother does.  Like if you don't have at least three or four munchkins running around creating havoc then you aren't a "real" mother because it's all about the battle scars and the more you have the more qualified you are.  What a load of crap.

I sat down with my mother-in-law and told her about this little one-liner experience.  She was a bit taken aback as well which made me feel better.  I wondered what the woman would have said if I had responded with something like: "I'm sorry that your children are no longer special, that must be difficult for them." or "I won't have to worry about two or three since I'm barren and it's a miracle we have this one." Toss a little awkwardness back.

In fairness to the mom at the park, she may have just been tired.  She may not have realized how her words would sound when she said them.  I know that she didn't know us and our situation.  She may have just seen an overprotective set of parents following their child around the park desperately wanting him to have a good time and not get hurt. 

In fairness to me, my child is special.  Every child is special. Each little spirit has something to give to this world.  That does not mean that my child is perfect or that he will get away with murder.  Because he doesn't and he won't.  I want to be able to enjoy every minute of his little life, but that's just unrealistic.  I love him with all my heart, but sometimes naptime can't come quickly enough.  I also believe that part of my job as a parent is raising a child with enough discipline that other people will like him too.  That is not an easy task either.  But even in the midst of a meltdown, my child is still special.  If the Lord sees fit to bless us with another little miracle, and rest assured a miracle it will be, then I plan on treating that new little spirit as special and welcome and joyful and delightful as my first.

So.  Moral of the rant?  Be careful what you say.  Be careful how you react.  And for goodness sake remember that your children are special.

Bringing in April with a bang,

Lora

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dear Friday...

Dear Friday,
I'm so glad that you are here, but why did you have to bring snow too?

Dear David,
You are the love of my life.  Sometimes I forget that and sometimes it comes rushing back with full force.  Thank you for being the man that you are.  The one who helps me, listens to me, and loves me despite me.

Dear Ben,
I love your stinkin' guts! Your twin drool lines down your face crack me up. I can't get over how big you are getting and I would like you to slow it down just a bit.  At least until I can relish these moments a little more.

Dear Flowers,
I know you are getting another layer of snow but please do not let this deter you from showing yourselves.  I have been looking forward to your arrival for months now and I am ridiculously excited for your color and life.

Dear Quilt,
I'm almost done with you.  Did you ever think it would happen?  Me neither.  Thanks for hanging in there through it all.

A lovely weekend to you all,

Lora

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Coming out of the dark...

Ages, that is.  The dark ages.  You know, those times without computers. 

We were down one in our house.  And since the hubs was the one looking for work and all, we thought it best that he use the laptop that I had mostly claimed as mine while I used... nothing.  Which meant that I could only get on the computer briefly.  For quick FB updates and no blog reading whatsoever.

I gotta be honest, the reprieve was quite nice and I did get a few other things done, like quilting and laundry.  I even played with my child! Oh the benefits of being unconnected!  I rather enjoyed it.  It was nice not having the computer so... available to my every whim.

But lest we get carried away and think that I would give it up forever, I am back.  With good news too!

1.  David got a job!!  He starts Monday and will be working from home.  This will certainly be a new and exciting adventure for us that will save on both the gas for the car bill and on eating out.  Commute time is great as well.

2.  Due to new job, new computer.  Which means that my laptop really has become my laptop!  And I have a desk which I am ridiculously excited about.  Since David needed an office to make this whole work from home thing actually, well, work, we converted the downstairs front bedroom which was doubling as a disaster area complete with old empty boxes and broken things shoved in every corner into an office.  Complete with a newly painted D.I. desk and wall art  I took before picture but am waiting for the finishing touches for the after.  So I now have sole possession of the other reclaimed desk that was so graciously bestowed upon us by our neighbors who moved and are still mourned.  I painted it black with a light green top.  David never knew what to think about the green. I fell in love with it immediately.  I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have fit through the doorway of his office without some creative sawing.  So it was pretty much destined to be mine.  So happy!

So.  New job, new workspace, new adventure.  Life is pretty good my friends.  Happy to be able to stay in Logan and share.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CY365: Tree


The trees outside are frosty and cold.  The tree in here seems much more inviting, even if it is vinyl on the wall.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Catch Up Time

It's CY365 catch up time.  I've been missing in action, at least in the blogging world.  And well... here ya go.
 
February 13: Swing
 
I opted not to do this one because a) we don't have a swing b) the swings we have access to are covered with snow and c) the only alternative I could thing of was "mood swing" and no one wants to see that.  You're welcome.
 
February 14: Love
 
Nothing says love like heart shaped bacon... nothing.
 
February 15: Pride
 
I bought Ben a pair of church shoes so he could look all stellar and stuff. I just thought they would look so cute on his little feet and we could go to church all proud of our well dressed little boy. There was just a slight problem. He HATED them. I mean hate. I put them on and he actually threw a fit! Being a good parent I laughed as he stomped around trying to get the offending things off. Oh we have a lot to learn!
 

February 16: Emotion
 
Nothing could have prepared me for the unexpected Valentine that showed up in my mailbox. It made my week!  No offense honey, but this... this... was just awesome.  Emotions? I think so.
 
The inside says "... to tell me that you've stolen my heart."
February 17: Color from the Garden
 
Clearly the people making these prompts live somewhere much different than here.  And because this is my photo capturing tour, I decided to take this one literally.  So here is exactly what my garden looks like right now.
 
 

February 18: A Favorite Snack
 
Favorite snack? Anything chocolate.  But it was not nearly as photographable as my little guy enjoying his favorite snack.  There's a whole ritual involved.  He talks to it, he holds it up to be praised by all, he rubs it on his face, and finally he eats it.  Behold the graham cracker.
 
 
 
On an non-photograph related note, I am really quite enjoying this project.  Especially when I gave up on the "artsy" side that I wanted to pursue.  The title is Capture Your 365.  Well this is it. My life.  My people.  Exactly what is happening. 365 days of the year.  Or at least the 28 days of February.
 
Happy Monday everyone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CY365: three days worth!

February 10: Garage

I wasn't quite sure what to take for this picture since we have no garage.  I thought perhaps I could take a picture of everything that would go in the garage should we actually get one, and I'm not just talking about the car.  Camping equipment and random things like sanders and jigsaws.  All stuff that a garage would welcome.  Then I thought perhaps I could have a little fun with Ben and make a garage for his many cars and trains.  Then I stumbled upon this beauty just proving that my "forced play time" can never make up for what he does on his own.

I literally stumbled upon this and knew it was the perfect "garage" shot.

February 11: Entertain

Sometimes nothing brings quite so much entertainment to both young and old than a simple balloon.


February 12: Celebrate

This is for David. A true celebration.  We have some daily goals that we get points for.  When we reach 200 then the other person has to do something for us.  I get a massage and David gets pie.  This is a Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie that turned out pretty darn good. And the cheesy look on his face says it all.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

CY365: Through the looking glass


I had so hoped to capture an Alice in Wonderland experience but I completely lacked the white rabbit with the pocket watch and there was certainly no magic hole or burrow or whatever it was that he was supposed to run down.  If there was, then it is most definitely covered with snow and I'm fairly certain I would have had to send Ben.  And then he would have just got caught up with the Mad Hatter and forgotten to take pictures.

So instead you get me.

What do you see through the looking glass? 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bare

I've missed sharing my words, my soul, myself.  I feel kind of empty and bare which is odd because my life is so very much not empty or bare.

I got sick this week and it took two whole days out of me and threw off the entire rest of everything.  I keep on waiting for Monday to show up again so that I can have a do-over.  And fresh start.  A chance to do the week better.  A chance to get my Wednesday back in all of it's friendly glory.  A chance to get things taken care of so that the weekend plans aren't thrown off.

But it doesn't work that way.  Today my husband is at home and the plans that were for tonight got changed this morning and I'm still struggling to adjust.  Part of me is glad of the change in plans, but part of me was honestly looking forward to the event.  Even though the event leaves me at home and takes my wonderful David away for the night.  I was looking forward to a gluttony of downtime completely guilt free.  What is it about having someone else at home that makes me question everything I do?  Like it's not good enough or hard enough to be worthy of the precious minutes out there to be taken.

Sigh.

Do you ever feel like this?

CY365: More than one


I loved this prompt.  It make me think about my single days and then the early married days and then now.  How much different life turned out than I had planned!  Different in a good way.  Different in ways that I never thought I would end up appreciating.

Those of you who know my story, or rather our story, know that David and I had a difficult time finding each other in the first place.  Then we had an even more difficult time getting Ben.  In fact we didn't think we'd get him at all.  I never want to forget those struggles because they helped us become who we are.  I never want to forget because trials teach compassion.  Because empathy goes a long way.  Because I never want to take for granted the more than oneness that I have.

Happy Friday.  May your weekend be just what you hope for.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

CY365: Use Your Senses


I have a ridiculous love for my child.  And I make no apologies.  He delights me so much.  He makes me laugh all the stinkin' time and I just can not get enough of his smiles and giggles and facial expressions.  Today the picture topic is Use Your Senses.  There are many things that I could have taken.  But most of those involved way too much effort and at the time I was taking these I just was not feeling all that hot. 

But Ben? Oh Ben.  Whenever I do laundry his favorite thing is to walk around with a pair of silky underwear on his head because he can see through them and loves the texture.  It totally cracks me up.  This is an old curtain that I cut up for him to walk around with instead.  He LOVES it.  Gets a giggle out of him every time and lots and lots of hugs.  He thinks it's the bees knees and so do I.