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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mostly just about kids. You're welcome.

Jessa ~

Photo by Travis Lovell Photography
 Today is Abby's birthday!  Can you believe that she's two?!  Insane.  2 years ago today I was having the most empowering high of my life.  You were there!  Can you believe that's been two years?

Photo by Travis Lovell Photography
Goodness.  That girl.  I love her.  She drives me insane.  She's adorably cute.  She can make me laugh like crazy.  She can also wear me out in record time.  She continues to be diva to the core.  Just tonight she spent at least an hour walking around with a wet washcloth on her head.  We FaceTimed Grandma and Grandpa Lovell and she spent half of the conversation unable to focus on talking to them because she was too busy watching herself in the little video, putting her head down, covering her face with the washcloth, then popping back up to see her face, etc.  It was funny.  She's getting to the point that she wears three dresses a day.  Sometimes on top of each other.  Sometimes she'll agree to take the old one off before I put the new one on.

When Abby sees lotion, she wants it. I put it on her hands, then she immediately sits down and rubs it on her legs (because, of course, she is wearing a dress.)

 When she sees chapstick she yells “lips!” and has to put it on. By herself. For at least the next half hour. And if you take it away from her before she is done, she screams for the next half hour.

Like all foods, she prefers to eat from the face down.
Photo by Travis Lovell Photography
When anyone washes their hands she yells, “Soap!” and won’t be pacified until she has gotten to wash her hands with soap.

She begs to brush her teeth and gets mad if we don’t put on toothpaste (because it’s the third time that day). 

Who is this girl!?

She insists on watching Baby Signing Time.  A lot. She doesn't sign a whole lot, though.  I think she uses it to build her vocabulary.  A lot of times when we go outside she'll tell me it's windy.  (Even though it's not.)  Her next favorite show is "Jesus Mary"  Over Christmas that meant the Nativity movie.  But they don't have that one on the Bible Videos app for the iPad, so instead it now means a short, maybe 3-minute show, about Mary.  She'll watch it over and over again.  She also has no patience.  When it gets to the end, it shows a scripture.  And the words are up there long enough for you to read it.  Which usually means enough time for her to run up to me, pleading look on her face, holding out the iPad to me, saying, "Help!  Jesus Mary!  Help!"  And then the video finishes and she can start it again.  She's been starting to break out and try other movies in the app, though.  She'll pick random girls in the other shows and declare them to be Mary.

Photo by Travis Lovell Photography
Yesterday we moved her into Kessa's room.  We wanted to give her enough time to warm up to it and be comfortable there before we started taking away her binkie for good.  We want to give her enough time sans binkie that there won't be fights when the new baby comes.  I was really worried about this transition.  She surprised me at how well she transitioned to the crib becoming a toddler bed, but switching rooms?  That seemed like a much bigger deal.  New toys.  New things to look at.  Could she really sleep?  And I couldn't help but remember that when Kessa first switched to a toddler bed, she got stitches in her eyelid that first night, then started the whole fight-to-go-to-bed phase that still hasn't really passed.  It takes an hour to get to bed because she's so easily distracted and we have to read stories and sing songs and then convince her that yes, it really is time to go to bed and yes, Daddy really has to leave.  And then there are tears.  And it's just really, really long.  And I was not looking forward to having Abby do the same thing.

I shouldn't have worried.  Yesterday's nap was shorter than normal, and thanks to Dropcam we were able to watch for awhile as she just played around the room.  But then she found the camera (it was just sitting on Kessa's bed temporarily) and moved it so we couldn't see anything.  (We've since moved it to the top of the dresser.)  But she stayed in there, silent, for over an hour, then was happy afterwards, so we assume she eventually fell asleep.

Last night was the best, though.  She went down and slept without a problem.  We let Kessa stay awake for awhile to let Abby really fall asleep, then BJ took her up to bed (she was all ready for bed at this point) and told her that she had to be really, really quiet so she didn't wake up Abby.  So Daddy couldn't even sing.  Kessa was so excited to have Abby in her room, that she didn't make a single complaint.  She just went to bed.  They both slept all night.  Then this morning we heard talking in there, so BJ opened the Dropcam app and we watched as Kessa showed Abby pictures in a book.  Then Abby found Kessa's water and wouldn't give it to her.  And then just laughed and played.  It was such a refreshing change for the morning.  Then Kessa opened the door and they both came in to find us.  I really hope this is a good omen for the rest of the year.  Today she went down without a peep for nap time, then again for bedtime.  IT'S A MIRACLE.

I've decided that it's either because Abby and Kessa are so opposite that of course Abby would handle something so well that is a weakness of Kessa's.  (If this is true, I suddenly have more hope for potty training Abby.  Currently my plan is to not potty train her until she's in 2nd grade and begging to have panties because she's so embarrassed to go to elementary in diapers.)  My other theory is that it's a tender mercy from Heavenly Father, to show me that having more kids isn't going to kill me.  And that even though Abby may have a lot of energy, she's also super sweet.  And a third child will be doable.  Maybe it's a combination?

We had two birthday parties for Abby.  One was last night.  I tried to think what she would think is fun for a party and decided trampoline jumping.  She currently satisfies her craving for it by having us take off the couch cushions, at which point they become, "Jump trampolines!"  There are some weeks they're off the couch more than they're on.  Our friends, the Harris' have an indoor trampoline in their house, so we went over there and had cupcakes and ice cream.  They also have twin boys about 5 months younger than Abby that are probably her closest friends, inasmuch as you can have friends at the age of 2.  So that worked out well.  Travis and a friend of his, Brenda, came to that party.  They actually came earlier and ate dinner with us, then stayed later and learned Kingdom Builder with us.  So that was fun.

Then today was 4th Sunday dinner, so we went to your parents' where we ate opened presents and ate more cake and ice cream.  (And played with marbles and legos and all the aunts/uncles (including Chelsea), grandma/grandpa and Brian Adams and his girlfriend.)   By the time we got home she was so exhausted that she just went straight to bed.

Ok.  Let's take a break from Abby for a little bit and tell you more about Kessa lately.

We watched the new Disney movie, Frozen, last Saturday.  We took Kessa.  It's only her second theater experience, and the only one she remembers.  She loved it.  So much.  Our house has been a musical ever since.  BJ plays the music on the piano often.  (Of course just making it up. He's never seen actual sheet music for it.)  He really loves the music because there are a couple of duets that are full of emotion where one character is happy, singing in a major key, where the other character is sad/fearful/scared and singing in a minor key.  At the same time.  He's really quite obsessed with them.  :)  It's cute.  Kessa loves all of the songs just as much.  She's really turning into quite the musical smarty pants.  BJ will hum a piece of a song to himself, almost under his breath, and she'll hear him across the room and start singing the song.  She'll walk around singing a random piece of a song out of the blue.  There's one song at the beginning that isn't as popular, so we don't sing it as often, but she really likes it.  Well, during one of the popular songs there is a musical interlude in which it plays a piece from that song.  They were listening to it once (we bought the soundtrack) and when Kessa heard that she said, "Daddy, I really like that song.  We should listen to it next."  She totally picked it out!  I didn't even pick it out!

She's also showing a lot of promise at the piano.  She can play Mary Had a Little Lamb like a champ.  BJ's even taught her to play two-handed.  Of course, her left hand is just playing middle-C over and over and over again.  But she's so proud of herself for playing two-handed.  The other day she told BJ that she wanted to learn something hard for her.  So he taught her to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  She had a good grip on it within 20 minutes.  The other day she was singing a song, stopped, went to the piano and tried to pick out the notes to play it.  WHAT THE HECK!??!  She is so smart!

Kessa happily learning to scrub toilets for her daily chore.
She's still progressing like crazy in reading, too.  We had to buy a new set of books at school because she's almost finished the short vowels and long vowels books.  Both her teacher and the front desk ladies gushed and praised at how fast she's learning to read.  Today her Primary teacher stopped us and commented on how smart she is and how none of the other kids in her class are even close to being able to read.  "But even when she doesn't know a word, she can sound it out!"  [beams]  She really is amazing.  We've been calling her smart a lot lately, so we've been trying to talk about how "smart" really means "willing to learn new things" and "willing to do hard things".  We're trying to teach her that smart isn't so much inborn as it is an attitude towards learning.  We praise her when she works hard to figure something out, even when she gets it wrong.  We gush when she says she can't do something because it's too hard, but then she does it.  (Usually with encouragement from us.)

Of course, she's not perfect, but there's no reason to point out her weaknesses right now.  Let's keep this a gushing, my kids are amazing, kind of email.  Ok?  :)

Baby 3.0 is a mover.  Even BJ has felt him move once or twice.  It's fun getting to the point that I can feel him move a lot.  I've been trying to wean myself into being super excited about having a boy.  So the other day I went shopping for something else and detoured through the baby section and bought two new outfits.  I figure I have to stock up a whole new wardrobe, so I should be on the lookout for good deals now, right?  Plus, it was exciting looking at a whole new section of the baby section.

Kessa is really concerned lately.  "But Mommy, we have to buy trucks before the baby is born!"  She's really on a trucks kick.  I finally had to explain the other day that when he's first born, all he will do is eat and sleep.  And won't care about trucks one whit.  But as he gets older, then he'll care.  So then we can buy him trucks.  She seemed satisfied.  But now it's got me thinking about maybe actually decorating the nursery this time.  With trucks.  That could be fun, right?

Shawn has decided that we need to name him Melvin William Homer.  Melvin W. Homer.  He'd be guaranteed to become an apostle with a name like that!  Haha.  Seems like perfect motivation for a name, right?  But... that is better than some of the names your mom has come up with... ("Justin Bieber Homer"???) We've pretty much banned either of them from having legitimate input on this baby's name.  It's for the best.  I'm sure you understand.

Baby 3.0 is now about the length of a carrot from head to heel and about 3/4 of a pound.  He's getting big!  Kessa keeps saying, "I think the baby will be born tomorrow."  And then we have to remind her that he's not coming until summer.  Until her birthday.  Which is still several months off.  She accepts it, then a few days later makes the same assertion.  Maybe she doesn't understand what "tomorrow" actually means?

He's been doing a number on my hip, though.  I'm not pleased with that.  I finally went into a chiropractor who adjusted me, then told me everything I need to change about my posture.  Like I can't sit on my legs (I might be doing that right now.  Don't tell!  IT'S HARD!!!!), or cross my legs at the knee.  I can't stand with all my weight on one leg.  I can't hold a child on my hip.  I can't sit for more than 20-30 minutes without taking a 3-5 min break to walk or stand.  I can't sit or kneel on the floor.  ("Get a low stool to sit on when you have to be down low.")  THIS GUY IS KILLING ME SLOWLY!  Try going to 5 hours of church (I had another ward conference today), two of which on a hard folding chair, and be comfortable with all of those restrictions.

(Interruption: Kessa just went to bed and less than 5 minutes later we heard talking.  So we turned on Dropcam and they're totally talking to each other.  Kessa is telling Abby that when she turns 8 she'll get the holy spirit, which is God, and she'll get a blessing, and she'll get baptized.  OH MY GOODNESS THESE GIRLS ARE SO CUTE!  I can't handle it.  And now Abby is singing Twinkle Twinkle.  But... we also want them to sleep.  So BJ's turning on the microphone to start singing to them.  I love this device.)

(Of course, now that I've bragged, they're both awake and trying to get Daddy to sing through the camera again and ... [sigh]  Now BJ is upstairs singing through the door, Kessa is trying to sleep, and Abby is standing on her bed trying to get Kessa's attention.  Thankfully, thus far, Kessa is ignoring her.)

(Ok, we'll end the bedtime commentary here.  Abby managed to find a box to boost herself up onto Kessa's bed and BJ's back in the room putting them back to bed.  Again.  So... clearly tonight isn't the best example of how awesome this arrangement is working at bedtime.  But all things require an adjustment period... right? :D)

  • Kessa: Daddy, could I learn something that’s hard for me? Because if I don’t, how will I ever learn?
    Solution: she’s now learning Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on the piano.
  • Me, in a moment of frustration: I feel like I'm doing all the chores myself. You used to want to help me, but now all you want do is screen time and games.
    Kessa: No. I like crafts, too.
  • Kessa: You have to give me $15 and 100 quarters. Because that's how much it costs to buy my powers.
    Between magic from Frozen and buying things from Super Mario Galaxy, I think this girl has gotten some insane ideas.  Like the idea that we'd buy a lightsaber off of her so that we could "draw hearts in the dark".  I can't remember all her other magical powers.  There were many.  It was an entire evening of imagination.  I remember it changed her baked ziti into pizza and cheese sticks so that she'd want to eat it.  And it made her invisible at one point.  And she told us that if we stole her magic instead of buying it, she would never play with us again.
  • Kessa: Daddy, why did you open the front door so coldly?!
  • Kessa: Do you love Heavenly Father, even if he's in a house and there's a box outside? What if he has a sock on his head and can't see?
~ Tianna and Co.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Drunk Up

Jessa ~

This week I thought was going to be a lot more chill, but turned out to be busy anyway.  Haha.  Such is life, right?  Kessa had swimming lessons every evening, just as BJ got off work.  Bless him, he took her each night so I could do dinner ... or other things.  

Tuesday evening I had to get a babysitter for Abby while BJ had Kessa at the pool, because I went to the temple to be with one of my counselors who was being sealed to her recently-adopted 2-year old from China.  It was so sweet to be there.  (And fun fact: Jon Schmidt was there.  And my entire presidency, minus the one who knew him, were all star-struck and we acted like teenage groupies.  Even the one that could be my mother, age-wise.  Looking back it was a little embarrassing, but as all of us did it, it was also fun.  Hah!) And then right after that I had two stake meetings, so I didn't get home until well after the girls went to bed.
Kessa was quite proud of her trampoline tower.
But very upset that it wasn't "perfect"
Thursday I had to get a babysitter starting right after lunch because I was invited to wedding sealing for an old friend of mine, Taralyn (she was my roommate 5 times!) I was endowed in 2006 and this was my first sealing outside of my own I've attended!  Insane, huh?  (Now just to get you and your siblings and my brother to get married so I don't have to wait another 7-8 years...)  It was beautiful and I couldn't keep my eyes off of her, because she just looked So. Happy.  But the problem with having not spent much time with her over the last several years is that I didn't really know many people there.  And it was during the day so BJ couldn't come.  So I felt a little lonely.  But I attribute part of that to the fact that I drove around my old neighborhoods beforehand and I was feeling nostalgic and wistful even before the sealing.  And then I stayed down there and went to another friend's reception in Orem, so I drove around our old condo.  And then went to Travis' house and I hadn't been there for awhile.  And ran into an old neighbor at the reception.  Just so much nostalgia.  I guess it was just a little hard to handle all day, on my own.

Friday night my brother, Damian, and my dad came down on some carpet cleaning business, so we went out to dinner with them.  (Including Damian's three boys.)  Do you remember me raving about Cafe Paesan in Orem?  The Cafe Rio-style italian place?  Did I ever tell you it closed and how sad I was?  Well, turns out, they just changed their name to Wild Zucchini Grill and moved to American Fork!  Right by me!  Clearly they can't live without me and we're meant to eat there all the time.  ;)

Karl, the hamster, continues to be a hit with the girls
And then the week became blissfully peaceful. Though, we still managed to stay busy.  BJ taught Sunday School today and so many people told me he did a fantastic job.  I missed half of it, because it was another ward's ward conference today that I went to.  So I got 5 hours of church today.  But the last half of the class was really good.  He mostly raised questions and let people answer.  There was a lot of group discussion.  Which I love.  RS was the same.  Which was nice, because after I'd already been to 3 hours of church, it was nice to really enjoy the last two hours.

We got some new books for Christmas.  I may have told you about them?  They're the Little House on the Prairie, but written and illustrated for kids.  We got three of them.  The girls love them.  Abby especially.  There's one she's latched onto, called Winter Days in the Big Woods and she doesn't really let us read anything else these days.  Which surprises me, because it's a big paper book, and I thought she'd still be loving the board books more.  There's a page in there that says, "But the best time of all was at night, when Pa came home.  He would throw off his fur cap and coat and mittens and call, 'Where's my little half-pint of sweet cider half drunk up?' That was Laura, because she was so small."  Abby loves that page and because of it calls the book, "Drunk up."  It's funny when she wanders around to find it saying, "Drunk up?  Drunk up?"

Kessa's favorite part is when it talks about the work that belonged to each day.  Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, etc.  So we came up with our own list of daily chores.  She helped me.  We first went through their list to see what things we do the same, like washing clothes.  But there were a lot that we don't do, like churning butter or mending clothes, on a regular basis.  So then we substituted our own.  So here's our new list:

Wash girls' clothes on Monday
Gather and take out garbage on Tuesday
Organize toys on Wednesday
Clean the hamster cage on Thursday
Wash mom and dad's clothes on Friday
Vacuum on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

We've done everything from the garbage on, so far, except organizing toys. But that's because we started on Wednesday with garbage and didn't get both tasks done in one day.  Kessa has been surprisingly excited to help get everything done.  Wednesday was actually a really great day for her ego.  It started with taking out the trash.  It was her job to gather all the small garbages, dump them in a bigger garbage, then replace all the small liners (with grocery bags).  She did really well, but had a hard time opening the knots that we tied the bags into, so I did it for her.  At one point I put Abby down for a nap and by the time I got out, I found her studiously trying to figure out how to open a bag.  She tried it the way I showed her, but it wasn't working, so she figured out a different way!  She was so proud of herself.  She had no idea I was watching, but her grin was still huge.  And then she got up and emptied the trash and replaced the liner, then saw me.  It was a very proud moment for me.  And then later at Preschool they told me that she was almost done with the red books (which are the long vowel sounds) and we needed to buy the next set of books (which we did).  Both her teachers and the front desk ladies gushed over how well she was reading and how fast she was progressing.  I think we both beamed brighter than the sun for a moment.  She is just doing so great in so many ways.  I love it.
Kessa built 2 Lego towers, one for her and one for Abby.  She wanted to display them in her room, soon to be their room, but I convinced her that she needed to take them apart so we could play with those pieces again.  We compromised with a picture, so the towers could live on in memory.
I've been getting more and more into family history.  I still don't do it often, but when I do, I usually get sucked in for hours.  It's bad.  But Jessa, there are so many broken things out there that I can fix!  The latest one was my great-aunt that died last month.  Within days her temple work started being done in Brazil, but on a duplicate record.  Which is bad, because she hasn't even been dead a year yet!  So I had to contact the church to bring it to their attention.  (When I merged the two duplicates, it made it clear that this was Not Right.)  And to add some sadness to it, her brother promised he'd do her temple work, and if this work is considered legit, he won't be able to.  :(  So hopefully we get that all straightened out.  But the good news is, I fixed a lot of broken, have learned way more about my great-aunt than I ever did during her life, and everything I couldn't fix, I brought to the attention of someone who could.  Hooray!

Oh, and for part of Kessa's resting activities today, she wrote you a letter!  

Translation: Dear Jessa! I love you... We got a globe for Christmas. We found Cambodia on it ... it is vere [very] foor [far] away!

  • I was dictating a Facebook comment to my phone, so I was saying the punctuation out loud.  When I finished Kessa looked up, grinned, and said, "Mommy, I love you.  Period."
  • Me: There are still several things we need to do before the baby comes. Like figure out his name.
    Kessa: And get him trucks. And tractors.
  • Me: Oooh. You can get a free 100th anniversary Sun-Maid e-book.
    BJ: Just what I've always wanted.
    Me: Maybe I'll get it for your birthday.
    BJ: Correction: Not what I always wanted.

Have a wonderful day!  Hugs and prayers,
~ Tianna and Co.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

4 major things and however many minor things as I have time for

Jessa ~

I feel like the past week has been as eventful as the previous 3 weeks combined.  Oye.  So hopefully I get this to you on time this week.  Because you want to hear all our excitement.  (Which means you'd gosh darn better not rush out this week!  I had the whole blog written when you ran in and ran out!  We were just adding pictures!)

So, let me list the four major things first, then I'll go into more detail below.

1. Abby started sleeping in a toddler bed!
2. Kessa lost her first tooth!
3. We found out the gender of our baby!  (Haha.  I'm gonna make you wait till the detail paragraph below.  I'm so mean.  I know.)
4. We rather unexpectedly inherited a hamster.

Ok.  Onto details.

1. Abby started sleeping in a toddler bed!

We want to eventually move her into Kessa's room to free up the nursery for the new baby.  But we figured changing to a bed AND changing rooms at the same time might be a little overwhelming.  So we just took off the side of the crib and let her sleep on the toddler bed it made.  (Same as Kessa did.)  The first few naps/nights she would get up and wander and play for a long time, then come sit by the door and poke her fingers underneath, and then eventually start crying, usually saying something like, "All done, mommy!  All done."  But I found that if I sat outside her room and sang, she would calm down immediately and eventually fall asleep.  In front of the door sometimes.  Yeah... that's not a fire hazard, right?

One night BJ was putting Kessa to bed.  Which takes a bit of time these days.  I was downstairs sewing and was trying to finish so I could have the table cleaned off before some friends came over to play games.  And Abby started crying.  Of course.  Well, BJ's work gave us a toy called a DropCam for Christmas.  Did we tell you about that?  I don't think we did.  It's basically a small video camera that you can use as a baby monitor or a surveillance camera or whatever.  And you can see the video from your phone.  Awesome.  So I pulled out my phone, opened the DropCam app, saw her wandering around her room crying, so I turned on the microphone (yes, I can talk to her through the device) and started singing songs to her.  As soon as I started singing she immediately stopped crying and within a verse or two went and laid on her bed.  When I'd stop singing she'd start whimpering, so I would start singing again.  (Btw, it has infrared lights, so all she sees is three tiny red dots that aren't bright at all, and I can see her in the dark  Again, awesome.) The whole time I was singing, I was also measuring and cutting fabric. After about 5 or so minutes I stopped singing and she didn't whine.  So I turned off the microphone and watched her sleep while I sewed.

Jessa, we live in the future.

But since then she has done an awesome job of staying in her bed after we put her down and just going right to sleep.  I think it was just novelty the first few days and now she's like, "Yeah, it's cool that I can get down, but I really just want to sleep."  Which makes me happy because I feared it would be a rough transition, resulting in less sleep for us, and I'm already super exhausted and need extra sleep.  So yay for Abby!  I hope the transition to Kessa's room goes equally smoothly... [crosses fingers]

2. Kessa lost her first tooth!

Wednesday night BJ was helping Kessa brush her teeth and noticed that her bottom front tooth was loose.  And by loose I mean, about to fall out.  It almost laid flat down (when she'd let us wiggle it, which wasn't often).  Now, I did not expect her to start losing teeth for at least another year or two, so it hadn't even crossed my mind to prep her for such an eventuality.  (I googled it.  Average starts from 5-7 years old, but it's perfectly normal to start anywhere from 4-7.)  Kessa thrives on the known.  If we prep her for things, she does well.  If we don't prep her for things, there are tears.  Needless to say, there were tears.

Things she was afraid of/nervous about while it was loose:

  • It would fall out while she slept.
  • It hurt to eat.
  • She didn't want to touch it, so she'd keep her tongue pulled back, resulting in drooling and a sore tongue.
  • She was afraid of anyone else touching it.
Things she was afraid of happening after it fell out:

  • She wouldn't be able to talk anymore.
  • She wouldn't be able to eat anymore.
So basically she spent a lot of the next few days either being excited because her tongue touched her tooth and miraculously it didn't hurt! or crying because of any of the above.

Then Saturday she was eating a cake ball when it fell out in her mouth.  She freaked out and started whining.  We've been trying to work with her about talking when she wants something instead of just whining or grunting or pointing, so BJ tried to get her to use her words, but clearly she couldn't, so she just spit the whole thing out on the table, and there was her tooth.  So BJ hollered for me and I came in and immediately noticed there was blood pooling up where the tooth was (which is what I remember most about my teeth falling out... cold washcloths in my mouth to stop the blood), so I ran up, got a washcloth wet, and ran back down to give it to her.  She was still freaking out and wouldn't take the washcloth out for like 15 mins or more, even though I offered her a popsicle instead!  And once the bleeding stopped, she still turned down the popsicle because "it's not bleeding anymore!  I don't need it."  (On the one hand, what the heck child is this!?  On the other hand, way to go child of mine!)

Now that it's out she's super excited about it and likes showing off the lack of tooth to everyone.  Though, just tonight she came down from brushing her teeth to show me a new tooth is coming in!

Funny story, though.  Back story: I made her a tooth pillow.  It's not quite done yet, so no pictures.  Next week.  Hopefully.  But it makes it way easier for the tooth fairy to find the tooth and put money in it.  Digging under pillows?  Bad idea.  So I took Kessa to the store and she picked out fabric and lace and embroidery thread for her name and everything.  It's cute.  And loud.  Bright pink.  Anyway, so BJ put her to bed and helped her put her tooth in the pillow (it has a pocket on it).  Later we were going to bed and I got ready first, so I figured I'd do the deed.  I walked into her room, it was pitch black, and I didn't want to wake her up while searching for the pillow, so I came back.  The following conversation ensued between BJ and I:

  • Me: I just went to play Tooth Fairy, but it occurred to me that I have no idea where the tooth pillow is. 
  • BJ: It's tucked under a blanket on Abby's [future] bed. 
  • Me: Ah. I never would have guessed that. Thanks. 
  • BJ: Watch out for the jump rope. 

It was stretched across her room, tied to her bed and stuck in a dresser drawer on the other end. Never thought my first night as a tooth fairy I'd be booby trapped.

3. We found out the gender of our baby!

Any guesses before I just tell you?  If you did, let me know if you were right or not.  But... we're having a boy!  Insane, I know, right?  I don't know how to do boys.  He'd better have BJ's temperament if we're supposed to have more than 3 kids.  I don't know if I could do more than two with the energy of Abby in a row.  Yipes!

No names yet.  Remind me what my off-limits boy names are?  I can't promise not to take from the list, but I'll try "to not to."

I'm 19 weeks now, and the ultrasound confirmed that.  So we're still looking at late-May, but probably early-June.

4. We rather unexpectedly inherited a hamster.

So remember last year at the Homer Christmas party when your family brought a live mouse?  The tradition continues and this year Barbara brought a live hamster.  This time, though, it had been a pet that they were done with.  Megan and Tyler's boy got it and Tyler was very clear that if it stayed with them, it wouldn't be alive when they got home.  And no one would steal it from him!  I was near the last, and fearing for its life, I stole the poor guy.  I figured I could offer it up on our neighborhood Facebook page and give him to someone who wanted him.  But when Kessa realized it was ours, she was ecstatic.  So we told her that if she'll take care of it, we'll keep him. But if she stops being responsible, we'll give him to someone who will be.  Oh, his name is Carl.  Karl?  Maybe we should do Karl to fit in the family?

So far he mostly just sleeps in the corner of his cage and runs around whenever the girls talk us into letting him run around in the hamster ball.  I have yet to see it, though.  Today after church we had a babysitter because I had to go to a ward conference and BJ had tithing.  And I guess Kat (the babysitter) let the hamster run up and down Kessa's arms.  She must have experience with pets like this.  I do not.  But Kessa loved it.  I fear it escaping and going to live in my couch.  I guess I'll have to get used to the guy.  But so far he's fitting in well enough.

Ok... done with major things.  Quick list of minor things because you're online!

Your dad got ordained a patriarch today!  That's not minor in and of itself, of course.  But I assume your parents will go into more detail for you.  But it's exciting!  Did you know that even when he's no longer actively serving as patriarch, he can still give blessings to his direct descendants for the rest of his life?  That's cool.

Kessa's taking swimming lessons again. There's a girl in her class named Jessa and she has long dark hair.  Go figure!

Kessa has almost learned my phone number for a Joy School goal.  She's also done an excellent job of staying dry in order to earn Peach coins, that I don't have time to describe in detail, but they give her Wii time to play Mario Galaxy.


  • Kessa, “It's kind of sad that Jesus died, isn't it? But then it's happy because he came alive again after three days!"
  • Kessa: Make sure it’s colorful.

    BJ: Colorful?
    Kessa: I mean brown.
And with that, I bid you adieu!  In the hopes that you'll actually get this while you're still there this time.  Toodles!

~ Tianna

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hymns: The Beesley Project

In the days leading up to Christmas, one of our friends (Sam) posted on his blog about all the Christmas hymns in the LDS hymnbook. He talked about what he likes about each one, what the lyrics are talking about, why they're related to Christmas, etc. It was nice to take some time to really think about these carols, and not just sing them on autopilot.

People liked the series, and gave a lot of positive feedback. Sam thought it would be fun to expand it into a year-long series examining all the hymns in the hymnbook. That's a lot of work, though, so he invited a few friends to help out. I (that is, BJ) was invited to participate, and my first post is tomorrow!

Since it wasn't just a Sam thing anymore, we decided to make a new website for the series. We're calling it The Beesley Project. It's named after Ebenezer Beesley, one of the more prolific early LDS composers. He's credited with composing the music for 12 hymns in the current hymnbook, and I know of at least one more where he arranged the music a bit. (Check the website tomorrow morning to find out which one.)

So far, the posts have been excellent. We sing these songs in church every week, and they're supposed to be part of our spiritual nourishment, but so often we just sing them without even thinking. I've enjoyed reading everyone else's thoughts about these hymns, and I'm honored to be taking part in this project.

I'd love to hear your feedback on the series, and I hope you'll read it when you get the chance.

Happy New Year!

Christmas and other catchup

Jessa ~

Ok.  Big catch up session.  Here we go.  First...

Pre-Christmas break
It was a long time ago.  So here's the brief rundown:

  • We went to Resa's madrigal's concert.  She did a great job.  The girls, especially Abby, spent the majority of the time running around and laughing.  So that was fun.
  • The next night we did our sibling ornament night.  I think we only showed you yours, though... or did we show you all of them?  The boys did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (green ornament balls with a colored ribbon around and googly eyes glued on).  I printed something on my Silhouette—a snowflake in a ball.  Teresa did a snowflake on foam.  Kessa and Abby made candy canes out of those triangle beads on pipe cleaner.  Kessa did a pattern (red, white, red, white, etc.) while Abby grabbed one randomly out of a pile and I strung it on for her.  Hers was remarkably shorter.  Because it was turning into a game of grab a handful of beads and throw them.  I decided she was done.  I didn't want you to get left out just because you weren't home, though, so I painted a missionary peg doll!  With freckles!  And your skirt was purple!  (And then I hung you by the neck... sorry about that.  I at least did it with fishing line so it was less visible.)
  • Saturday, Kessa had a Primary party where she got to meet her new teachers. Meanwhile BJ donated blood, and I frantically packed.  The Goddard Christmas party was that night, but there was a storm predicted and we decided it would be better to not drive Malad Pass in the dark, so we left significantly earlier and got to my parents' house around the time that we would have been leaving the Goddard party.  The roads were clear, but I think we still made the right decision, though we were really sad to miss the party.
Christmas break

Most of Christmas break was actually rather quiet and uneventful.  Most of it was spent at my parents' house with just them and us.  It was really nice.  It gave the girls a great opportunity to really get to know Grandma and Papa Lovell.  It gave me a chance to take lots of long naps.  :)  And to stay in my pjs a lot.  Hah!  BJ got involved with a project that will blog something about every hymn every day this year.  I'm sure he'll tell you more about that.  But that kept him occupied.  

Christmas Eve we went over to my brother, Damian's, house for dinner.  Then all the kids (and BJ and I) got to open our Christmas Eve presents.  We all got pajamas except BJ, who didn't want any new ones.  He got Steelheart, one of the new Brandon Sanderson YA novels.  We've been wanting it (and have read the Kindle version), but our Barnes and Noble doesn't seem to carry it.  I've looked twice.  So I saw it in Idaho Falls and got it for him so he wasn't left out.  :)

We got home, got the girls to bed (relatively easily), then played elves all night.  Which was fun.

The next morning I kept waking up early, and it was bugging me, so I kept hoping the girls would wake up early, but no.  They decided to sleep in.  Go figure.  And by sleep in, I mean I think they were awake by 7:30 or 8:00... We made them sit on the stairs and get my traditional stairs-before-presents photo.  (It's a split level, so they still couldn't see the presents.)  Then we went down and pretty much let the girls take turns opening their presents, interrupted only by one of the adults opening one of our family gifts in between.  After they were done the adults started opening their gifts, but turns out that was a bad idea to save them, because Kessa was upset that we were still opening presents and she was done.  Greedy little girl wanted more!  And then we opened our traditional cereals and all of us got a sugar cereal to start our day on.  Mmm.  

The day was spent packing up again, playing with toys, and a bit of playing with cousins (Damian's kids).  And then playing Mario Kart with Travis (he stayed home because he flew out to Samoa the next day on a humanitarian trip).  We taught my mom how to play and it was the most hysterical thing ever.  It was so great that before we left we bought her the game so we could play online with her later.  And so she could practice.  ;)

The girls like the iPad
Then we went and picked up Chelsea and headed up to Island Park.  We ate dinner, talked to you, (then Resa cried for like the next hour.  It was so adorably sweet.  Though, I liked to tease her that she couldn't decide if it was because she missed you or because she realized this is her last Christmas with you gone and her time was running out.  Haha... sisters...)  After that we opened all our family homemade gifts.  We made Shawn a full-sized guitar out of cardboard, push pins and rubber bands.  Then stuffed the inside with a CostCo-sized box of fruit snacks.  80 bags.  That's right.  We win.  Your dad had us again (poor guy.  I think that's 3/5 years now).  He gave us the life history that he gave Resa last year.  And also a children's book about Russell King Homer that the Russell King Homer Foundation just put out (I had no idea that even existed.  And apparently your dad has been president of until just recently. Huh).  It's adorable.   Stories of him, written in children's vocal.  With cartoon drawings.  Love.  And then the best part, he had someone put home movies, starting when BJ was 8 months old (his first Christmas), onto DVD!  We got 5 DVDs of home movies!  It's great.  We've watched two of the DVDs so far.  They're fun to just pop in for a little bit here and there... whenever there's a little bit of downtime.  BJ is adorable, but totally doesn't look like himself.  There's a shot of him and Nick in the bathtub and I can only tell which is BJ because Nick is so distinctive.  Hah!  I'm a great wife.  :D

We played up in Island Park for two days.  Wednesday night to Friday night.  Kessa went snowmobiling twice and loved it.  So much.  Abby went the second time and thought it was great, too.  No surprise there.  Hers was shorter due to lack of helmet, though.  She wanted to spend half her time outside.  When we walked from our condo to your parents' she would cry upon entering because she wanted to walk outside!  Nick and Chelsea usually saved the day and would take her out on a walk, though.  They (mostly Nick) liked to joke about needing to adopt her so she can get the outdoor time she needs.

We got three new games for Christmas: Mindtrap (which ended up mostly being played by Chelsea, Nick and Shawn), Evo (which we've played lots before, but didn't own yet), and Kingdom Builder.  It was BJ's gift to me.  It was kind of a risk, because neither of us had ever played it before, but BJ got lots of recommendations and it ended up being a hit.  It's really simple to learn, the board and scoring rules change every time, and you can still do pretty well without thinking too hard about strategy.  I love it.  Oh, and it's just as great to play with 2 players as it is 3 or 4.  Which is always a bonus when you only have small kids.

Between games and food and snowmobiling, there wasn't much time left for anything else. Except Resa getting addicted to my Kindle and trying desperately to claim it for herself.  TOO  BAD, SISTAH!  We took it back.  But let her borrow the physical copy of Steelheart (which is what she had been reading on the Kindle) instead.  So Friday night we left to come back home.  It was my parents' 45th anniversary!  Happy anniversary!

The next day I went and had lunch with three of my high school girl friends who still live in the area. We went to a place called Rusio's, which is totally a Zupas ripoff.  Right down to the names of some of their food.  It's great.  :)  The rest of that day was pretty chill.  Sunday was my nephew, Parker's birthday, so we had them over for dinner.  Kessa learned what a spanking machine was and told me she wanted to do that for her birthday.  Uh huh.  

Monday afternoon BJ and I went on a spur-of-the-moment date.  We left the girls with Grandma and we went to lunch at Johnny Carino's, then went craft shopping (for my mom) and grocery shopping.  BJ's idea of the best date ever, I'm sure.  ;)  But it was really nice to get out by ourselves for awhile.

Monday evening we did our traditional "Christmas Eve" dinner with international foods.  This year instead of a theme we did a potluck.  We ended up with Swedish meatballs, funeral potatoes, green salad, fruit salad, latkes (which ended up being a hit, so I'm glad we decided to do those), pulgogi , and Norwegian Rice Pudding. (Darn, that just reminded me that I was gonna make that tonight.  Alas.)  It was So Good.  All of it.

Abby was on a "give everyone hugs" kick. It was adorable.
Then Tuesday was New Year's Eve.  We put the girls down and BJ caught up on dishes while I sort of cleaned out/rearranged the fridge to fit all our leftovers.  Then BJ and I played Kingdom Builder while my mom sewed the girls' pajamas (her Christmas present to them) and my dad indexed.  Then we made red velvet hot cocoa and got everyone together to drink it.  My dad started reminiscing, so I pulled out my phone, opened Voice Memos, then started recording.  We ended up talking the rest of the night.  I got about an hour worth of recording in, everything from his childhood to his mission with my mom.  But I was So Tired by the end.  The last 15 minutes before midnight I lay in a recliner with my eyes closed.  I opened them just in time to see it hit midnight and announced, "It's time!"  So BJ and I kissed ... and we went to bed.  No way was I staying up any later.  (I am so getting old, Jessa.  It's true.)

Then Wednesday we packed up and came home.  Your parents had one of our gifts at their house, so we stopped by and they ended up having Butter Yaki that night instead of New Years' Eve.  Convenient, that.  So we stayed.  Free food!  Family time!  Hooray!  And we played a few games while we were there.  (Probably the one bad thing about staying at my parents' house for the majority of the time was I didn't get nearly the amount of game time in that I wanted.  There just aren't as many people available for games at any given moment.  Nor as many babysitters.  Alas.)  So I had to sneak in a few more.  And the next night we had neighbors over for games, too.  I'm feeling a little better about my game quota, but I wouldn't mind a few more game nights...

Utah Christmas Break
So BJ told work that he was going to be gone for 2 weeks.  As we were packing to go to Idaho he realized we would only be gone a week and a half.  So he decided to still take the 2 weeks off and stay at home for Thursday and Friday.  Best. Decision. Ever.  (Next to marrying me, of course.)  I was so, so, so tired.  I spent most of the day on the couch, honestly.  But with his help we took down Christmas, unpacked most of our stuff, did some laundry, rearranged the office (we're turning it into the play room), and rearranged Kessa's room (to get ready for Abby moving in at some point.)  Plus time to take the girls to the park, play Mario Kart, and just otherwise relax.  It was wonderful.

Thursday night and Saturday morning were taken up, for me, with baptisms.  We had 12 baptisms this month!  It was great.  Saturday night Resa babysat and BJ and I went on our first date of the year.  Hale Center Theater!  Remember how we got season tickets this year?  Huzzay!  They were doing The Foreigner which your mom thought was weird, but both BJ and I thought it was great.  Maybe it just depends on your sense of humor?  I know there were other people there the night we went who didn't love it.  But I laughed through the majority of it.  We went with Jared and Megan Moench, so we went and got dinner afterwards at Applebees.  I got a Philly Cheeseburger and it was so good.  Seriously.  Try it sometime when you get home.

And then there's today!  Church started at 11, which was nice and relaxing.  Slept in, had ample time to do hair, and we even considered walking.  But then I remembered that I had to bring the kids home by myself and if Abby was cranky, I didn't want to carry her all the way home.  So we drove instead.  Kessa did great in CTR 4.  Abby did great in nursery.  And during the sacrament Kessa and I had a great lesson about the atonement and resurrection using the pictures in the Gospel Art Book.  And talking about why the sacrament is important and why we should be reverent.  Later tonight the girls were watching Bible Movies from the church and Kessa picked the Crucifixion.  When they put him in the tomb she excitedly told us that he was in there for three days and then he was resurrected!  I was so proud of her!  She listened and remembered!

Sunday School was PACKED by the time we got the girls dropped off.  Which made me sad because it's Old Testament this year!  I love Old Testament!  But our best options for seats were in the front... facing the class.  So we opted to go to the family history center instead (which is in the same building and is a legit Sunday School option).  Usually BJ does stuff on his line, but he thought it was time I got into it, so he made me do it.  The internet/Family Search was slow, so I had enough time to find a big problem and start to fix it, but then Sunday School was over.  We had a combined meeting and we learned about... Family History!  So I was guilted enough to come home, put Abby down for a nap, give Kessa the iPad, then do family history.  Where I sat for the next 4.5 hours (interrupted only to eat dinner, of which BJ cooked the majority of it).  Fixing duplicates.  It was Ridiculous.  And the worst part?  I'm not done yet!  Every time I finally fix one little section, I find more people linked to them with duplicate issues.  I WANT TO SCREAM!  Why do people like doing this?  And yet, I can't just stop.  Because someone is wrong on the Internet!  They must be corrected!

But I did stop.  Why?  Because I knew I needed to write this novel to you.  :)  Thanks for being my reason for ending the insanity.  :)

Ok... what else... 

There's lots of little things I could tell you.  Like how I forgot to pack Abby any pants.  Or how we ate roasted chestnuts for the first time.  Or how Kessa is working on eating her fruits/veggies more.  Or how Kessa is earning "Peach coins" (that she designed!  And wrote "Lost Princess" on... because she's obsessed with Tangled) by staying dry all day so she can earn time playing Mario Galaxy with Daddy because Bowser stole Peach and locked her up! And now Kessa is all invested in playing the game and saving Peach.  Yessssss.  But... I feel like this is plenty long already.  So I'll just leave you with kiddisms instead.

  • Kessa: you yelled at me!
    Me: And you whined at me. We're both guilty.
    Kessa: no I'm not because I don't know what that means!
  • Abby wanted Baby Signing Time or Jesus. I told her she’d had enough screen time for now so she needed to take a break. Of course that made her mad, so she started scratching my neck. I warned her to stop or she’d get a time out. She did not stop. So I took her up to her crib. The entire way she was leaning back, arm outstretched, crying, “Jesus! Jesus!”
  • Kessa, as we were trying to get her to get ready for bed: No, you have to tell me something that I can't do that I really can.

    I guess we use the whole, “Kessa doesn't know how X. Nope. No way she'll ever get it done” routine a lot. And apparently it works.
  • Kessa: “Daddy, I just want to remind you: It's Christmas. Don't ask questions.”
  • Kessa in the breakfast prayer: Help us be safe when we drive to Mama Lovell's for Christmas and help us to have a good time there. And help us to not whine when it's time to leave because we had so much fun.
  • Kessa, showing me a ring on her (right) ring finger: Look! I'm already married to you guys!
  • Often when Kessa writes her name, she finishes it with "…?" I don't think she knows what that means. I think she got the "..." from when someone is typing to you in Messages, maybe.

  • Abby has learned the word “sorry.” But not it's meaning. She will say it, full of emotion in her voice, at seemingly random times. I'm starting to think she says it at situations similar to when she's heard us say it. Like when I change her stinky diaper. I open it up and start to wipe (which she hates) and she very sadly says, “Sorry!”
  • Abby thinks if she hides something behind her back then we can't see it. Even if her back is towards us. No, Abby, you still can't take that food with you out of the kitchen, even it is still behind your back.
  • I was singing Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains. When I finished Kessa asked, “So is that good for man?” “That Jesus was born? Yes. That's very good for man.” [pause] “Like Travis!”

    And then she started singing, “Peace on Earth, good manners to men.”
  • Kessa, with a big grin on her face: I'm very grumpy and I'm not getting my jammies on.
    Me: You're… grumpy and not getting jammies on?
    Kessa: I'm definitely not getting my jammies on.

    (And then she went and got her jammies on.) All this helped on by BJ. I think I'm getting reverse physiology worked against me.
  • Kessa was being grumpy at the condo, so I cuddled her on my lap for a bit, then asked her if she was sad or tired. She pondered a moment, then said, “Foxy!” [blink] “You feel foxy?” “No! I want Foxy!” And then pointed to the stuffed wolf Resa gave her for Christmas, which she apparently forgot that she had named Wolfie.
  • BJ, about the girls who are up an hour late, running in circles and giggling like crazy: All it will take is one of them to bonk and then they'll be crying and then they'll go to bed. I'm almost tempted to trip them. 
  • Mom Lovell: I wouldn't consider myself technologically savage.
  • Kessa: Oh my goodness. Oh my son.
  • Kessa: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Help us to drive home safely tomorrow and help us to love snow even though it is cold.
  • Kessa, wanting to go get her water while in bed:
  • I promise I'll come right back 
  • I promise I won't get distracted at all
  • I promise I won't even do anything else, I'll hold your hand the whole time
  • I really, really want to, daddy
  • Daddy, if you let me go get the water, I'll be really obedient all day tomorrow.
  • I'll be really obedient all day tomorrow and I won't eat any candy all day.
  • Daddy, if you don't let me go, I'll be won't be obedient at all tomorrow, and I'll eat lots and lots of candy.
  • (after daddy gets the water)  <crying> Daddy, now I have to be disobedient all day tomorrow
  • A girl in our ward was being recognized on the stand for being baptized, so to get Kessa to pay attention, I told her to look at the pretty dress. Kessa, “Is she getting the priesthood?”
  • Kessa: Mommy, I'm keeping my eye on you.
  • Kessa is mad at me because I won’t leave the office to take her a pen and want her to do it herself. Some great responses she’s given me so far:
  • But Mommy, I can’t because I’m stuck. Doggy is on my lap.
  • Mommy, you’re adorable. Just go get me a pen.
  • Mommy, you’re a big girl!
  • Mommy, you’re freaking me out.