Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our little garden fairy

On Sunday, Alli asked if she could take Cora outside.
A few minutes later, she came back in and said, "Come look at what we did to Cora!"
And here is what I found...

The girls made a crown for Cora out of a chive, lavender and flowers.

Clearly Cora is okay with all her sisters do to her.  The crown didn't bother her one bit.

Or maybe it did?
Ha!  Love this face!  I hope Cora is always patient with her sisters.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Life. And all we know about caterpillars.

This story begins with Bob.
Bob is a black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar, and we found him in the garden munching on dill.
We potted a dill plant and brought it in the house... along with Bob.  Bob ate and ate and ate.  When he wasn't stuffing his face with dill, he rested until he was ready to eat some more.
He grew very quickly.  His wrinkles filled in, and then out!  He got pretty chubby until one day, he spun some silk and started on his chrysalis.
Here is the sad part... Bob died.  He started the chrysalis phase, but he didn't progress past the picture above... and then he turned kindof squishy and brownish and stinky... and then we knew Bob would not be a butterfly.

But then there was a happy twist...
On the dill plant we brought into our house, there were three tiny butterfly eggs.   So tiny we didn't really notice them until there were three tiny caterpillars munching away on the dill!

These caterpillars were names Stoneteller, Hailstar, and Brambleberry.
Just like Bob, they ate and grew and ate and grew and rested and ate and ate and ate and grew!
They were so big and plump!
Then one day we found Stoneteller running (as only a caterpillar can) across the kitchen floor.  We picked him up and put him back on the plant.
An hour later, he was gone.

And then Hailstar disappeared.
And then I put Brambleberry in a jar!
The next day there was a beautiful green chrysalis in the jar...

I spent about two weeks looking around our house for chrysalises.  And then one day after school, there was a butterfly by the back door!
 Stoneteller was a boy (you can tell by the prominenty yellow bands on the back of his wings).  We were delighted that Stoneteller made it to the butterfly stage (and was found at last!!!).  We let him out and he flew away.

We did find his empty chrysalis on the side of our little plant table in the kitchen.

Here is a better look at the empty chrysalis...

The next morning, we noticed that Brambleberry's chrysalis was darker than normal.  And while we were looking, it wiggled and split open!  
I ran to grab the camera!  
By the time I got back, Brambleberry had wiggled out and was lying on the bottom of the jar.  Look at those tiny wings!  (And that big bottom!)
The kids were already off to school... which was sad.

I got her out of the jar...

And I put her on a plant near the window.  It didn't take long for her wings to unfurl.

She gently flapped her wrinkled wings and they smoothed out and grew and grew.

Her body seemed to slim down too.

Here is Brambleberry's empty chrysalis...

Before long, she was all stretched out and ready to go!  Brambleberry is a female.  You can tell by the prominent blue on the bottom of her wings.

It was a very rainy day, so Brambleberry stayed inside until the girls came home from school.  She just rested on the plants by the windows.
 The girls got a good look at her and then we opened the door, and she flew right outside and fluttered away.
They grow up so quickly.

If you have been keeping track of the numbers, yes, there is still one missing.  Hailstar is likely somewhere in our house.  Hopefully he/she will appear very soon.

 To see some of our previous caterpillar adventures, click here, and here, and here, and here.  Yes, we do this often (yearly or so).  Black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on dill, parsley and fennel.  We plant those things in our garden to attract the butterflies.  And every summer we find caterpillars!  Watching tiny caterpillars grow and change and become butterflies never gets old!  It is magic every single time.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Go Cougars!

If you follow BYU football, you might have heard about their countdown to game day (search #BYU50 on Facebook).  For the 50 days leading up to kickoff, a box of BYU football goodies is hidden in each state.  A picture of the box in a certain location is posted every day.  First person to make it to the box wins it.
So Andy has been following the progress of this countdown, and waiting for Ohio's turn (they are going through the states alphabetically).
Yesterday was Ohio's turn!  Andy was at work when the picture was posted.  The big blue box with the "Y" logo was in front of the Arnold statue... just a few blocks from Andy's work!  Guess what?!  He was the first one there!
I was at the elementary open house when Andy found the box.  He called to tell me the good news.  I thought he was joking at first.  Nope.  He came straight to the school.  
When we got home, we opened the box and checked out the fun stuff... there was a jersey, t-shirt, stickers, license plate frame, end zone pylon, a football signed by all the great BYU quarterbacks, a bag, sunglasses, coupons, posters...
I'm not gonna lie... the kids were a little disappointed.  They were hoping for candy and stuffed animals.
(I was hoping for four scholarships.)

 And so we donned our most festive true blue attire and had a little family photo shoot with our box of stuff...

Our littlest Cougar even has blue eyes!  That is TRUE BLUE!

We made some awesome cheer formations!  Go Cougars!

This season is so bright... gotta wear shades!


Rise and shout the Cougars are out!

What do you think?  Is this a Christmas card photo or what?!

Thanks BYU Football for the box of fun stuff!  Go Cougars!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bob the Caterpillar

My grandma wrote a book called "Please Don't Step on Me."  It is about bugs and the things they do to help us.
Grandma passed away when I was pregnant with Alli, so my girls never got to meet her.

But I think they share her love of little critters.

Ruby and June found this guy outside... This is "Bob."  Bob will become a black swallowtail butterfly soon.  Bob eats dill... lots of it!
We dug up a dill plant and potted it and brought it in the house.  Bob is devouring that plant.  He is getting bigger and shinier and smoother every day.  The girls love to check on him and see how he has changed.
Stay tuned... hopefully we will have a butterfly in a few weeks.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cora: four months old!

Time flies... seriously.
Our Cora is already four months old (okay, that happened a few weeks ago... sheesh.).
At four months, Cora weighed in at 15 pounds 7 ounces.  And she was 24.6 inches tall.  Not bad.
I wrote this blog post when June was 4 months old.  Check it out for comparisons.  Who do you think Cora looks like?  (I can see similar features from all of her sisters.)
This was Cora's blessing day at church...  Ruby was baptized the day before.  It was really a great weekend.  Grandma Utah made Cora's blessing dress.  It was gorgeous.  Grandma has made a dress for each of the girls.

This month Cora had her first pony ride.  :)  Grandpa Ohio helped her ride "Mindy" at our friends' home.

Cora definitely has blue eyes like her daddy.

She looks like a Hershey Kiss when she sits.

And her hair is thickest in the middle, like a mohawk.

Cora has adorable "triangle legs."  You know, her legs are shaped like triangles... nice and chubby up top and cute little ankles at the bottom.  (Alli coined that phrase.  Brilliant.)

I think Cora will have curly hair.  Her mohawk gets rather unruly and curly, especially when wet.

Cora's unique thing is the way she sings herself to sleep.  She is our loudest/noisiest baby...  probably out of necessity.  Being the fourth girl is tough.  When Cora gets tired, she starts singing to herself until she falls asleep.  Pretty adorable.

(I was going to post the video here, but it is not working currently... I will try to add it soon!)

Sleep.  Cora was sleeping pretty well at night, but not the past few nights.  I am trying to remember the last time I slept eight hours without interruption... or even six hours... sigh.  Eventually, I will get to sleep through the night again.  No worries.
Cora is absolutely a delight.  We all love watching and helping her become someone amazing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

a minute in the life of Cora

Our dear little Cora is two months old.  
She is a joy to have around.  She is so tolerant of the love and attention she gets ALL THE TIME.  She is cooing and smiling now.

What do we love about Cora?  Everything... but here are a few of the favorites...
 I think Cora will have curly hair.  Her hair has a will of its own... usually it is sticking straight up on top.  And she has beautiful blue eyes accented by stunningly long eyelashes.  We all love squeezing Cora's chubby cheeks.  They are luscious.

These girls have their daddy's eyes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day!  This year there was no breakfast in bed because I was the first one up.  I was asked to speak in church on Mothers Day... so I was up early going over my talk, getting dressed, nursing Cora, etc.  Andy and the girls did make me a fancy breakfast (which included a little ice cream).  I was nervous about Cora.  Because I was speaking in sacrament meeting, I would be sitting on the stand in the front of the chapel... not with the family.  Cora is a breastfed baby.  I was afraid she would start crying during the meeting and my milk would come in, and ... well, you get the idea.  Anyhow, she slept like a champ.
Here is my talk from Sunday... enjoy!

My most memorable mother’s day so far was a few yearsago.  I was awakened in the early morning hours by one of our young daughters.  She climbed into our bed and snuggled up close by my side.  A warm feeling spread over me… and then that warmth registered as wetness!  The warm, wet feeling quickly spread up and down my side… the side where my sweet daughter was already sound asleep.  I did not have breakfast in bed that year.
I was asked to speak today about mothers and motherhood.  This is a really hard topic to cover.  I have an amazing mom.  I know lots of mothers.  I have been a mother for over ten years.  But I don’t feel like an expert.  In fact, the deeper I get into it, the more I realize how much there is that I don’t know! 
But let’s start with the stuff that I know.
We are all children of God.  He loves us all and wants us to learn and grow and be happy.  Heavenly Father designed families as a place where we can find joy, and help each other learn and grow.   From the beginning, woman was chosen to be the mother.   And she was given divine power and authority to create and nurture Heavenly Father’s spirit children.
In his April 2014 General Conference address, Elder DallinOaks said, “The greatest power God has given to His sons cannot be exercised without the companionship of one of His daughters, because only to His daughters has God given the power  ‘to be a creator of bodies… so that God’s design and the Great Plan might meet fruition.’ (And there he is quoting President J. Reuben Clark.)
From the Family Proclamation we read:  HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
God has given mothers a great responsibility and a great opportunity.  What is the opportunity?  Motherhood teaches divine qualities: humility, patience, love, and faith.   As we love and nurture our families, we can become closer to our Father in Heaven and develop divine attributes. 
I saw a meme on the internet this week.  It said, “Behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.”
In preparing my talk today, I posted a few questions about motherhood on my Facebook page.  I started with the question, “What is the most difficult part about motherhood?”  Several women answered.  The answers ranged from:  the pressure to teach them everything, to not being able to have children, to watching kids make mistakes, to dropping off an unhappy preschooler,  to feeling judged,  to not having answers, to losing one’s sense of identity,  to putting kids to bed…  There were lots of answers, and there were hints of insecurities in them all.
In motherhood, just when you think you have it figured out, everything changes.  It takes a lot of faith to keep going.  There is so much uncertainty as you face new and challenging experiences.  Mothers know the enormity of the task at hand, and often feel inadequate. 
Elder Jeffery R. Holland teaches, “The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust our Father in Heaven has in you… If you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do.”
There are many times, when as mothers, we don’t know what to do.  We must remember that we are not alone in this adventure called parenthood.  We are partners with our spouses and with our Heavenly Father.  We are stewards to the little spirits that join our families.  It takes humility to recognize that we do not have all the answers.  And it takes humility to ask the One who does have all the answers.  Our Father in Heaven has charged us with the nurturing and raising of His little ones.
We must remember ...  “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”  Luke 1:37  That is what the angel Gabriel told Mary when announcing her divine call to be the mother of Jesus Christ.
As we seek help from Heavenly Father through prayer, answers will come.
The divine work of motherhood is done by imperfect people.  As we turn to the Lord, He can bless our righteous efforts.  As we lay our weaknesses and flaws before Him, he can strengthen and magnify us, so that we can do this great work.
Elder Jeffery R. Holland says, “Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more that you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.”
It is impossible for mothers to measure success for an eternal responsibility based on a day, a week, a month, a year, or even a decade.  And we cannot measure success by worldly standards.  The car you drive nor the clothes you wear,  nor amount of toys your kids have indicate the kind of mother that you are. 
The moments moms feel success are often fleeting, sometimes ordinary moments.  One of my friends said it this way, “ I have these moments with my boys when the world just stops in its tracks.”  She describes seeing her son in a Scooby Doo costume, running down the sidewalk.  And laying out on a blanket  watching the stars twinkle in the night sky.  She goes on, “Why those moments?  I have no idea.  They weren’t profound milestone moments.  I think it is the simplest moments that are sometimes the most profound of all.”
In those simple, quiet moments, the Spirit can touch our hearts.  We feel divine joy and great love.  Those are truly the best moments.
Motherhood teaches love.
In the movie Dumbo, a baby elephant is delivered by a stork to a mommy elephant.  The other elephant ladies look on adoringly at the baby, until he sneezes and Dumbos oversized ears are unfurled.  One of the onlooking elephants says Dumbo has ears only a mother could love.
A mother sees not only what her child is, but what that child can become.   A mother loves her child when the child is good and when the child is incredibly naughty.
At the birth of each of our girls, I have been struck by the instant feelings of love that sweep over me like a tsunami.  I want to care for and protect each one of them.  I want the best for each child, and I would do anything for them.  That loves continues and deepens… even when they make bad choices.  I love my girls so much.
“Charity is the pure love of Christ,… and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moroni 7:47)  Jesus Christ is the perfect example of love.  He loves unconditionally.  Mothers know unconditional love. 
There is great power in a mother’s love.
Mothers show love by nurturing.  Mothers show love by forgiving.  Mothers show love by discipline.  Mothers  encourage and inspire.  Mothers help with projects and lend a listening ear.  Moms kiss boo boos and wipe away tears. These expressions of love accumulate day after day, year after year.  The steady stream of love from a mother blesses her children.
 President Abraham Lincoln famously said, “ALL THAT I AM OR EVER HOPE TO BE, I OWE TO MY ANGEL MOTHER.”  
Abe didn’t become Honest Abe overnight.  Honesty was taught at a young age, and taught repeatedly, until it was a part of his soul.
There is little instant gratification in mothering.  Much of motherhood is planting seeds, cultivating, and waiting and waiting and waiting for a fruitful harvest.
Motherhood is a very dynamic process.  Mothers help their children become.  Children change and grow and learn and develop.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  Mothers change and grow and learn and develop right alongside of their children.  We are all works in progress.
My mom reminded me that having an eternal perspective changes everything.  My mom has ten children.  She said that sometimes she felt like eternity was the amount of time it took to potty train certain siblings of mine.  Now her nest is empty… sort of … she is the proud grandma to over 30 grandkids.  She will tell you that she loved every phase of parenting, but I am pretty sure she loves being a grandmother best.
In a recent Mormon.org mothers day video, mothers are the "chief inspiring officer."  I love that title.  It is certainly a perfect title for my mother.  She inspired us all to do great things, and she supported us in our many interests and activities even though she rarely had time to pursue her own hobbies, or read a book, or put her feet up.
Motherhood teaches faith.
My first motherhood experience came long before our girls were born.  When Andy and I were married in the temple 13 years ago, a feeling come over me, and my perspective of that moment changed… I could imagine our parents and ancestors behind us and our future posterity ahead of us… and there we were kneeling across the altar, covenanting with God, beginning our marriage.  We were part of an eternal family and starting our own eternal family.  That is where motherhood started for me.
I love the story of the 2000 stripling warriors.  Their parents had changed their hearts when they were converted to the gospel.  They covenanted to live in peace… never to go to war again.  When their land was threatened, the sons, knowing the importance of keeping covenants, refused to allow their parents to go to war.  Instead, those young men defended their families and their country.
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their own lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.  And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers know it.  (Alma 56:47-48)
The repeated testimonies of their mothers were ingrained in their hearts.  Their mothers’ strength blessed and strengthened those young men.
We are a covenant people.  We work with the Lord in accomplishing His work, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  When we do our part, the Lord does his part.
Jefferey R Holland said, speaking of mothers, “cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones.”
There have been moments in our life that I know angels have watched over us.  Our family has experienced miracles that testify of Heavenly participation in our lives.
The Lord blesses us with tender mercies and miracles as we put our trust in Him.  I know that with all of my heart.

 If you read this whole thing, you get a gold star!  Whew!