Friday, December 12, 2014

Welcome Home Elder Shaw!

I know I haven't posted anything about Disney World. I have a bazillion photos to go through and edit, etc. But it's coming! I've been a bit slower these days due to baby #3 and the "awesome" exhaustion, nausea, and vomiting that accompanies early pregnancy. It rocks. NOT. Good thing these kiddos are worth it, right?

Feeling good tonight, though, so I'm taking advantage. I picked up and vacuumed my front room and cut B's hair and now I'm feeling motivated to blog on. I juggled with posting on WDW or my missionary brother coming home. Missionary brother it is.

Elder Shaw came home on Wednesday! The whole family cheered as he came down the escalator and lots of happy tears were shed as we hugged our brother/son after serving in Mexico for 2 years.

He was the missionary I always wanted to be and when I had the opportunity to attend his release last night, I couldn't help but reflect on my own missionary service and what a unique and incredible opportunity it is to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ literally change lives...including, and most importantly, our own.

When Parker left, Liam and Finn were a few months old. I wondered what their reaction would be to him when he came home. They have pretty much attached themselves to him since that first night. They love their "Un-ko Pau-ko".


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!

This year, in honor of our upcoming Walt Disney World trip, 
we decided to pay homage to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse- a Johnson Twin favorite. 
Besides the fact that Finn got complimented as "The cutest little girl!", our costumes turned out pretty good. Almost every item we wore came from Savers. My dress was made from a pink polka dot duvet cover I found for 7 bucks and I knew I couldn't pass it up. That means...yes, I made it. I MADE A DRESS! It's not pretty. In fact, it's pretty ugly. But, it worked. B is such a good sport and "played along". I took the boys out to both grandma's workplaces and they got to "trick or treat". This is a new stage for our family and it was pretty fun! We decided to take the boys trick or treating around our little neighborhood and the minute we stepped outside, Finn found a costume he didn't like. Hence, the scared face in this picture and the hiding on Daddy's shoulder in the next. It left us wondering how "fun" it will be to meet some Disney characters in a couple weeks! ;)


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Upcycling: DIY Halloween Banner

Upcycling. Love everything about it. Of course, I'm not a professional crafter and decorator and will never profess to have the "gift", but I do like cute things, I do like to be creative, and I do like cute and creative things that don't cost me a bundle. As Halloween approaches, I've been on the lookout for some new decorating pieces at the thrift stores. I found a few and tried to figure out ways to make what I already have work. Pinterest inspired me to make a little DIY Halloween banner for my fireplace mantle. I went into the craft room and looked at what I had:

I tore out 6 pages from the old book and cut out a triangle on the bottom of each page, using a ruler to measure evenly and cut straight. Next, looking at what letters I had left over, I decided to spell out the word "Boo!". I peeled off the stickers and placed them on the different pages/flags. I measured my string on my mantle and then cut the desired length. I turned the pages over and taped them to the string, then took two small pieces of tape and taped the banner to my mantle.

Finished Project:

Sorry, this is a terrible picture. I was in a hurry, mostly because I had two little boys crying and throwing toys across the room and causing all sorts of mess and stress. All the other pieces are things I've gathered over the years, except the painting on the right. Last night, I found a picture on Pinterest, grabbed a left-over canvas I had in the closet, and headed to a friend's house to get my acrylic painting on! It turned out better than I thought it would- considering I have zero artistic ability.

Also, you'll notice the crate of books on the bottom. The children and I picked up some Halloween picture books at Savers for $.69/each It's fun and festive to have them out and accessible to read throughout October! I also found my stash of Matthew Mead Halloween magazines and placed them on the side table for a little more decor and inspiration. Please don't mind the empty Nate Berkus frame (Target clearance find) sitting behind. I have yet to fill it with a picture of my scrumptious monkeys. :)

Speaking of Matthew Mead, here's some lovely decorating advice:

"I love to poke through my craft supplies, unearth items in the basement, and rediscover cast-off pieces in the attic. And because my home is always in design transition, I like to repurpose items as something new and different." 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When I put the diaper back on.

Warning: This isn't going to be your normal potty training post. 
It's probably not what you expected. 
Which is exactly why I have to write it. 

Potty training. It's a major source of conversation among mamas with toddlers. We dread it. We don't look forward to it, yet we read and prepare and ask our friends and family how and when we should start. Of course, we receive many opinions, advice, and a book on 3-day potty training that promises your 26 month olds will get it by the end of 72 hours.

B and I read and read and read. We reviewed and reviewed and reviewed. We set aside our Labor Day weekend solely for potty training our 2 year old twin boys, with hopes and pretty strong expectations that if we did everything that was spelled out in the book, we would find great success! We prepared. We prepared well. We ordered the highest ranked potty chairs and picked up stickers, gum, fruit snacks, lots of juice, dollar store toys, 47 pairs of underwear, and a Costco-size box of flushable wipes. We set our alarms and got up early to shower, have breakfast, and be ready for a full, intense, focused day of potty training. We each picked a boy to focus on and went at it!

The first day was rough. Extremely rough. But, we were told to expect this. The second day was a tiny bit better, but no real progress. That night, we told ourselves "They have to get it by tomorrow!" We even prayed together that things would "click" and we would be on our way. The next day, things were a little better. The boys were doing better about warning us when they were about to "go" and there were definitely less accidents than the first day. Yet, it still wasn't clicking. We were advised that twins may take a little longer, just because it's hard to give full attention to 2 kids- even when you have 2 parents, because 1 is rushing a kid to the bathroom and the other is wiping up the floor. Yet, B and I feel we were pretty focused and catching a majority, if not all of the accidents when they happened.

By the end of day 3, we reassured ourselves that it was okay if it took a little longer and hopefully by the end of the week, we would be good to go. B went back to work, so it was just me and the children all day- potty training. Each day seemed to get a little better. There was a day that Finn had no accidents and I was so thrilled and excited and overjoyed and I clapped my hands and did a little jig! I posted it on Facebook. I posted it on Instagram. I honestly felt like I was the best mom in the world, having accomplished such a feat. I was positive things would just keep getting better and better.

Then Friday happened. Accident after accident. The boys became scared of the potty, in a way. This surprised me, because we never shamed them or were negative or pushed them to go to the potty. The whole purpose of the method we were using, is to help the boys recognize when they have to go on their own. There was never any "trying" or sitting on the potty for a long period of time. We were so positive and upbeat, I was confused why they fought me hard, even if they really had to go. They also were wet and poopy EVERY time they got up in the morning and from their naps. I even started to sit by their door after they went down and if I heard one peep, I went in and reminded them to tell mama if they needed to go to the potty and I rushed them in if they said "yes". Yet, this still didn't prevent another load of wash and cleaning poop-filled underwear in the toilet. We followed the advice to wake them up 1 hour after they go to bed and 1 hour before they get up in the morning to help keep things dry. This did more harm than good. We were worried they were starting to associate going to the potty with being woken up from sleep and sat on a cold seat- which I wouldn't enjoy myself!

By the time yesterday morning rolled around, things were basically the same as Day 1, except a few less accidents. I was so frustrated. I felt so defeated. More than anything I wanted to take a break and try again later, but I kept hearing the words "Don't look back!" "It's not when they're ready, it's when you're ready." "They are old enough to be potty trained. Keep at it." For whatever reason, I had associated successful potty training with being a good mom and if I failed at this- I had failed as a mom.

Then I talked to Becky.

Becky is a mom of four, including twin boys. Her boys are about 15 months older than mine, so we have this great deal that I buy all their clothes at a huge discount when her boys outgrow them. It really is the bomb-diggity. The first time we did a clothes "exchange" was when we were both really pregnant- me with the twins and her with her baby girl. From there, she's become a friend and a person I trust to talk "parenting" with.

When I got to her house yesterday afternoon, she asked how I was doing. I basically vented all my frustration and discouragement from the past 10 days and desperately asked her what she did. Her answer surprised me. "I don't potty train." I gave her a weird look and asked "You don't potty train?" She explained that with her first child, a boy, she tried potty training, but it wasn't happening. So she got this idea "I'll let him tell me when he's ready to use the potty." And that's exactly what happened. One day he came up to her, told her he wanted to use the potty, and he was trained over night.  He has never had an accident. Then, when her twins came along and it got close to that magical "time", she decided she was going to try the same thing and see if she got the same results. Sure enough, one of her twins came to her and said he wanted to use the potty. She sat him down and he was done with the diapers after that. After seeing brother use the potty, the other twin decided he wanted to do it too and....Voila! Her twins were toilet-trained. Each of her boys was bout 3-3 1/2 when they used the potty.

I was shocked, yet a feeling of relief came over me. It was like everything clicked and I heard the words of my pediatrician in the back of my head "Sure, you can try to start potty training, but just remember- it's when they're ready." As I left her house and drove home, I started to cry. For some reason, I was worried that if I followed my instincts and put the diaper back on, I was giving up. I was failing. I was going to lose all the hard work I put into the past 10 days. My children would be behind. I would be a complete failure.

At that moment I listened to the voice in my head and thought "What a stupid thought!" My children are happy. My children enjoy exploring, learning, and talking to me. They are active and healthy- especially since we haven't been to nursery in 3 weeks! ;) They are smart. They love to read books. They love to play games. They love to sing songs. My children are LOVED.

Is this the result of a failing mom? NO.

Even as I write this, I can't help but feel emotion as I receive a witness that this decision IN NO WAY reflects my failing as a parent. I feel so strongly about this and I want all of you mamas out there to understand as well. Why do we do this to ourselves? It's damaging and completely un-necessary. So, I'll tell you what I keep telling myself -STOP IT.

I am a STRONG believer that every mom knows her child and has instincts to what that child needs. For some moms, I know the 3-day potty training of their 22 month old is right and they find great success. For me, I think I needed to go through this process to learn this principle, and, as B and I have discussed, our boys now have a better understanding about what using the potty is all about. We will continue to read potty books, take them to the bathroom while we use the potty, explain what the potty is all about. But, we both agreed we are going to let them tell us when they're ready.

This post is not meant to convince or advertise to anyone that this way is better than any other way to potty train...or not potty train. My purpose is to hopefully help any mama out there who is struggling- with potty training or whatever else. Because your child isn't doing algebra at 4, reading at 3, or isn't potty trained at 2 does not equal failure on your part. Look at your child. Really look at them. Watch them. Pay attention. Are they happy? Are they loved? Are they being taught correct principles? If the answer is yes, chances are you are DOING JUST FINE. End of story.

For B and I, our parenting style is very parent-directed. But we both agree, this is one thing we're completely okay with being child-directed. I've had a couple friends ask if I'll blog about potty-training and I know this probably isn't what they wanted to hear or expected. But make sure, if you've already started or about to start, that you remember it's okay to take a break. It's okay to reassess. Do not put added pressure on yourself that is completely useless. You have enough stress in your life! I know I do. :)

I can tell you, though, the anxiety and frustration is basically gone from our house. My boys are happier. I'm happier. I am more confident and peaceful- as a mother, as a wife, and as a woman.

Just some things that happened 
when I put the diaper back on.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Beach Day: Bear Lake

For my mom's birthday, we promised her a beach day with us and the kids.
So this morning, we packed up everything, including a potty 
(Another post on this coming. Get excited.), 
and headed to Bear Lake to spend a day at the beach.

Here are some of my favorite pictures:

(My sweet little Liam is always a bit cautious. 
I love how he watches daddy and brother, 
wanting really bad to join them, but so worried.)

(Boys love rocks. Boys love dirt. Boys love throwing rocks and dirt. All you need to know.
Oh, and they love kisses from their mama. I hope this never changes.)

Hope you enjoyed your belated birthday gift, Grammy!
We loved playing with you today!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A 28th Birthday for Shane!

Yesterday, we had a little par-tay for B's younger brother Shane.
Let's be honest- celebrations are amped whenever Liam and Finn are involved.

What's a party without some music to jazz up the mood?
Liam and Finn are sure to bring you exactly what you're looking for.

Finn would like you to know, he was planning on entertaining with his light-flipping extravaganza and crawling routine up and down the stairs. Unfortunately, due to creative differences between he and daddy, the plug was pulled. 
He is sorry for the inconvenience...because it's really inconvenienced him.

Liam is the greatest wrapping wizard. Plenty of practice within the last month behind him, he is sure to get that paper off in a matter of minutes seconds, allowing you ample time to enjoy your gift. He will also let you know if your gift is play-worthy. Unfortunately for Shane, clothes do not fall in that category. Sorry Shane.

Last, but definitely not least, quality assurance is included in the Liam and Finn Party-Animal package. Before you put that first bite of Birthday Cake in your mouth, be sure to let our certified taste-testers make sure you're getting the best! If you opt out of this feature, please note this does not prevent little fingers from swiping at the frosting anyway.

It's easy for B, Shane, and I to remember how old we are.
Just take Shane's age, add a year for me, and then add another year for B.

Wait...did I just say how old I am?
Well, B will always be older. ;)

We love you!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lagoon Firsts

Lagoon is Utah's biggest amusement park. As a kid, it was a yearly tradition in our family to come for a day in the summer. My birthday is in June, so I was even lucky enough to spend a couple birthdays here. This year, B's company held their summer party at Lagoon, so we decided to "try it out" with two toddlers. It was a good trial run for our big Disney trip in November. :)

Our first stop was the carousel. We've been on the carousel at the zoo, so we thought this would be a good ride to start out on. While in line, Liam started to get a little anxious. Then, once we strapped them on an animal, he was screaming and clawing at me. Images of a screaming kid the entire day filled my head and I started to get a little apprehensive about...a lot of things!

We entered Kiddieland and showed them all the 
helicopter, plane, boat, and car rides. 
We got in line and the boys seemed pretty interested- including Liam.

Then we put him on the ride with brother.
This picture says so much.

I shouldn't laugh, but B and I couldn't help it 
every time they passed by us and Liam was just falling apart. 
I love Finn turning around to comfort/encourage his upset brother
...trying to convince him it really is fun!

Okay, not all the rides were a complete disaster.
They both really enjoyed this little car ride
and Liam did pretty good on the boats.
You can see he is pretty serious, though.

Liam did A LOT better when we rode with him.
This is Puff the Dragon roller coaster. I remember riding this when I was little.

I had to take pics of these two trying to figure out the drinking fountain.
Poor boys have my red face when they get hot. And it was really hot!

We decided to take a little break and share a cool treat.
I mean, what is a day at the amusement park without an ICEE?

After our treat, we went on the train and saw all the animals.
Liam loved it. Finn was a little impatient because it wasn't going "fast" enough.

At 5:00 pm, it was dinner time at the Maple Pavilion.
B's company fed us dinner and had a raffle.
This is Finn really enjoying B's lemonade and Sprite mix.

After dinner, we decided to do a couple more rides.
By this time, Liam was pretty calm. He quite enjoyed Bulgy the Whale- 
another old ride I enjoyed as a kid as well.

The last ride we went on sprayed water.
While in line, we let the boys play in the little stream surrounding it.
Also, Liam got a balloon at dinner 
and he seriously carried this around EVERYWHERE.
That boy.

So, what is our consensus?
The day was pretty successful.
We realize we might have to take it slow with Liam.
But throw Finn in, because he could do this everyday.

Thanks Lagoon!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Family Day: Skyline Mountain Resort

Yesterday, B's family invited us to their property in Fairview, UT. 
We spent the day playing on 4-Wheelers, swings, 
eating yummy food, and running around in the rain. 
My boys were in heaven.

(B's Uncle Scott trying a helmet on Liam. He felt so big.)

The minute Finn saw this 4-Wheeler, he had to climb up and play. B's cousin showed him how to turn it on and rev the engine. He had a perma-grin the entire time. After, we went on a little hike around the property and Liam stuck with Grandpa J.

Towards the end of lunch, it rained...and poured.
The boys insisted on playing in the rain.
They were completely soaked, 
especially after running under the drips of water from the trailer awning.

The boys laughed and laughed at cousin Ashley as she danced in the rain with them!

When the rained stopped, Uncle Darin and Uncle Scott started a fire. 
Liam went with Grandma J to watch.

Pretty soon, Aunt Lisa's homemade ice cream was ready.
She even let Liam lick the mixer. :)

After a treat, we went on a ride with the 4-wheelers and side-by-side ATV.

First stop was the Tree Swing.
Remember this from the last time we were here?
This year, I hadn't just given birth 3 months earlier and decided to try it out.

After watching everyone else, 
Liam was insistent about sitting on the swing as well.
Even with some help from Grandma, 
he ended up with his feet over his head.
Maybe next time.

Next stop was the overlook.
The boys enjoyed looking out at the 
beautiful mountains with their cousins.
For about 5 seconds. :)

They were pretty vocal about letting us know 
they wanted back on the "trucks" or ATV's.

(Liam with Landen and Finn with Jenna.)

The day at the property ended with a sit around the campfire and

The boys were pretty impressed.

Thanks to the Birch Family 
for hosting us at their beautiful property!
We love you!