Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Brothers Update: September 2014

They are the best of friends, they are the worst of friends.

Thing #1: I would say that they play and laugh together really fabulously about 70% of the time. The other 30% of the time, Soren is either unnecessarily persecuting Liam or Liam is intentionally irritating his brother. Both scenarios generally end in loud, prolonged wailing from one or both parties. 

Thing #2: One morning while I was getting ready for work, Liam's siren-like wail erupted from the boys' room. Apparently he wanted to play with Soren and Soren didn't want to play with him. Violence had ensued. I pulled the injured Liam onto my lap and when he had calmed himself enough to speak, he said, "I hate you, Sowwen." "Well, that's just fine," replied Soren. "I don't particularly like you, either." I stroked Liam's hair for a moment and then said, "It breaks my heart to hear you two talk to each other that way." Soren's face crumpled. "Is that why I feel so bad inside?" he asked, and, crying, ran over to Liam, "I'm sorry, Liam! I'm so sorry! I love you!" The three of us hugged it out for a while.

Thing #3: Soren entertained Liam on an hour-long drive to Darby Canyon by telling him stories in the back seat. There were lots of monsters and dinosaurs and dragons and explosions. Liam was enthralled.

Thing #4: One sunny Saturday morning, three imaginary friends joined us on a walk to the park: Boer (who is kind of a stinker), Blangerine (female), and Isa (Liam's girl) came along. The boys played with them very nicely. And then they disappeared.

Thing #5: While I hid in my room after church (I always have to spend some time decompressing from the social anxiety horror of church), the children played and laughed outside my bedroom door. Pleased that they were playing so well together, I let them be. When I emerged a while later, I discovered that they were creating piles of spittle on the hardwood floor.

Thing #6: One Sunday morning the boys accidentally switched their church pants, leaving Soren wearing pants that stopped mid-calf and sleeves that ended well above his wrists. The boys thought this was hilarious, and giggled drunkenly about it for quite a while.

Thing #7: Soren left for our family reunion in Cedar City a day or two early with Grandpa and Grandpa, leaving Liam temporarily an only child. This is how a phone conversation between the two brothers went:

"I love you, Liam!"
"I wuv you, but I miss you!"
"I miss you too!"

Thing #8: One early morning in New Hampshire the kids barged into the bedroom with something special to show me. "We made up a song!" They proceeded to sing the following song, complete with choreographed hugging and other actions: 

We're brothers,
We're brothers,
We love there chother (each other)
We don't wrestle anymore,
We don't do weird annoying things, 
We just do fun weird things.

Thing #9: After school one afternoon, Soren had to tell Liam something very important: "Liam! Guess who comes to my school? Star tutors!" Liam immediately burst into wild laughter. I was flummoxed. What was so funny about star tutors? Then Soren said it again. "Star tutors!" And Liam laughed anew. "Star tutors," I thought to myself. "Star tutors.... Star ...." And then I got it. I couldn't help but giggle a little too.

Thing #10: The ride from the Manchester airport. Two little boys, one pillow on my lap. Their little heads nearly touching while they slept. Streetlights shimmering across their soft hair.

Thing #11: Liam threw up in the night. (He just does that sometimes.) While I was scraping barf off his bed, Soren--apparently grateful for my service to his brother--said, "I love you, Mommy."  The next morning, Liam cheerfully recounted, "Last night I throwed up and you cuddled me and Daddy too-- and that's nice!"

Thing #12:  
Airport Shuttle bus.
Liam's little face beaming with excitement.
Soren's little hand holding onto a pole, bright eyes trying to see everything.
Both boys. Cerulean eyes.
Flanking their handsome daddy.
So little. So precious.

Thing #13: A conversation: 
"Oh, Liam, I just love you!"
"I wuv you too, Sowwen."
"We 'besfwends," right, Liam?"
"Right, Sowwen!"

The boys all burritoed up with their friend Adaineh. These three play adorably together. One day they pretended to be baby triplets. Another, they were a queen and knights with special powers.

One Saturday morning Soren kept hollering under my bedroom door. "Mommy! We have a surprise for you!" I felt fairly confident that my pillow was a much better surprise than anything outside my bedroom door, so it took me an hour or so to drag myself out of bed.
When I finally emerged, I found this tray waiting: breakfast in bed for me (there's some Cocoa Pebbles in that brown paper bag), along with love notes from the boys. The "MR" stands for Mommy Rachel.

Chillaxin' in our eternally cluttered front room.

Just three cool dudes hanging out by the movie theater.

These boys were exhausted and ready for bed.

Superhero fight. 


Mother's Day 2014. One happy mama with her two adorable boys. 
Note the heart sculpture hand-crafted by Soren.

Twenty-five cent garage sale finds made these kids very happy.

These boys fit very nicely into the scoop of a front-end loader at the fair.
But watch out, children! Soylent Green is people!

Going for a ride on the Daddy Machine.

Soren's first day of second grade.

Soren reading to his brother.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Liam Update: September 2014

"I wish I could bottle his cuteness up and keep it close for centuries." - My bestie Holly, about Liam

Thing #1: This morning we were driving to a physical therapy appointment. To pass the time (it's a half hour drive), Liam asked me to sing him "a Lightning McQueen song." So I sang the two stanzas of "Life is a Highway" that I know. It was a big hit. (This pleased me immensely, as Soren generally plugs his ears and begs me to stop whenever I sing.) So I sang it again, at his request. And again. And again. Pretty soon he had added in percussion, drumming in perfect rhythm on the cover of a book. Then he took a turn, singing what I think was "Demons" by Imagine Dragons (he and his daddy like to listen to the Jasmin Thompson version). Then together we sang the theme song from Spongebob Squarepants. Repeatedly.

Thing #2: He's taken to using the word "whatever" in the way a bratty teenage kid would, except that it's freaking adorable when it comes out of his mouth. Like this:

"Why do I have to wash my hands?"
"Because you do."
"Siggghhhhh....whatever." (Washes hands.)

We had drive to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City for a consultation with a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. We were late and it was hot and I was super stressed out about finding a parking space and when we finally pulled into one, he said something that sounded to me like, "The lights!"

I was like, "Yep! There are lights here in this parking lot! Sure thing!"

And he was like, "No, Mommy, the lights!"

And I was like, "Do you mean the sunlight or the overhead lights?"

And he was like, "No, Mommy. The. Lights."

And I was like, "Yep! Lights!"

Finally he heaved a great sigh. "Whatever." Mom was just too dense to get it.

And it was then that I realized he had said, "High fives!" He was trying to give me "five" for finally making it! We slapped a quick high five and then ran into the hospital to beg for mercy for our extreme lateness. (Mercy was granted, may peace be upon that sweet doctor for ever and ever.)

(The reason we were so late is that I forgot my wallet and realized that I had forgotten my wallet when we were halfway to Salt Lake. We had to turn around to meet Abe at Fort Hall to retrieve it. While I was weeping over the discovery of my lost wallet, a sweet voice from the back seat said, "Don't worry, Mommy. It's okay")

Thing #3: At bedtime, I give both the boys a piggyback ride to their beds, but Liam and I play a game where I pretend I don't know where his bedroom is, and he keeps pointing to various rooms, "tricking" me into going in there. "That's not your bedroom!" I'll exclaim, after we've entered the room. "This is the kitchen!" "That's not your bedroom! It's MY bedroom!"

When we finally make it to his room ("THIS is your bedroom!"), the child loves himself a good bedtime story. I'll lie down next to him and ask what he wants it to be about. "Lightning McQueen!" he'll request. Or "An airplane!" Or "Spiderman!" Or "Monster trucks!" The stories always have to include all of our family members, with Liam starring as the hero. He gets so excited during the parts when he does something strong and heroic. He'll exclaim aloud and his eyes will sparkle.

After the story, I am required to give him five hugs and five kisses. We count these, and we must count together, or we have to start over again. Then we do an extra hug and kiss. Plus another hug. Plus another kiss.

(I love me some little boy hugs and kisses.)

Thing #4: We were able to take the kids on a couple of hikes this summer. Liam is a natural hiker. He just loves it. He'll run up ahead of the rest of us, delighted. Abe thinks maybe we should add some weights to his backpack to slow him down a bit.

Thing #5: This summer we visited Abe's family in New Hampshire. It was Liam's first conscious time making the journey, and he loved everything about it, from the parking lot shuttle bus to the moving sidewalks in the airport, to the moment when the plane lifted off the ground (he actually shouted and cheered with delight every time.)

The last time we flew with the boys, Soren was a pain in the butt and Liam was pretty easy. This time, Soren was easy and Liam was a huge pain in the butt. At airports, he took every opportunity to escape from the family unit, running wildly down the length of one moving sidewalk and then quickly hopping onto the one moving in the opposite direction, giggling madly while a frantic and exhausted parent chased after him. On the airplane, he was wiggly and impatient and had a tendency to kick the seat in front of him. It made for some long hours, but we did finally make it.

Thing #6: Liam's favorite Family Home Evening activity is a charades-type game that involves drawing a card and acting out the picture on it for the other family members to guess. He gets super excited when someone figures out what he's miming, shouting, "Yes! You got it!" And he bounces up and down with delight when he figures out someone else's acting.

(Soren plays this game a little differently . . . on his turn, he'll draw a card, look at it, and then proceed to launch into a series of completely unrelated and totally spastic body movements and sounds. It is exceedingly difficult to guess his correctly.)

Thing #7: Liam played T-ball this summer and LOVED it. At least, he loved hitting the ball and running around the bases. On the occasions that someone managed to get him out ("outs" are a pretty rare occurrence in t-ball), he'd slump sadly back to the bleachers, head hanging low. When he made it to home, he would do a happy strut and exclaim, "I won the race!" When it was his team's turn to field, however, he would reluctantly walk out to his designated spot and completely ignore what was going on with the game. Instead, he dug in the dirt like a puppy, drew pictures with a stick, chatted with kids from the other team, and chased strangers walking behind the field.

Now whenever we drive past the park, he exclaims, "Hey! I go there! That's my home! My friends go there too!"

(I took a bunch of pictures of all his t-ball antics, but heck if I can find them now.)

Thing #8: We went for a walk--me, Abe, and both boys. My favorite part was watching Abe and Liam walking a short distance ahead of me and Soren. They were holding hands. Liam's free little arm swung enthusiastically at his side. I could hear them conversing, though I couldn't make out the words. Liam's fuzzy head barely reached Abe's elbow. Abe looked handsome and strong, his little boy sweet and innocent and safe with his daddy.

Thing #9: Liam is his Grandpa Hanson's boy. On days that the boys are at their house while I work, Liam sticks close to grandpa. They run errands and do yard work together and Grandpa always buys him something yummy to drink. 

Thing #10: One day Liam asked me for something. "Well . . . " I said, deliberating. 
"Pleeeeaaaasssee?" he begged. 
"Oh, okay," I answered. 
"Yesssssss!" he said, and began happily singing what sounded like the Superman theme song. 

Thing #11: I was making jam thumbprint cookies with Liam. We made the cookie balls and placed them on the baking tray. Then I started pressing in the centers. "Oh! Nests!" said Liam. He snatched up a ball of dough and started breaking it into little pieces, rolling them into tiny eggs to fill the nests. 

Thing #12: He often says, "Oh yes!" instead of just plain yes. And when we're reading stories, he'll watch for signs of impending plot complications and note, "Oh dear!" when he sees that the characters are heading into trouble. 

Thing #13: An instant message I got from Abe one night: "I was holding Liam in my lap and cuddling him when you were reading to Soren and I was asking him questions. I was thinking I would talk to him about career paths, so I asked him, 'Liam, what are you going to be when you get big?' and without any hesitation he said, 'Big.'"

Thing #14: Liam loves the song "Let it Go" from the movie, Frozen. This is how he sings it: "Weditgo, Weditgoooo! Weditgo, Weditgooo!" And then he'll explain, "That's from Freezer!"

Thing #15: Liam loves to talk about things that have happened in the past. "You nember when I turned into a baby? You nember that? And I pooped in my diaper!" Hilarity fills his voice. "You nember that?"

Thing #16: He also loves to whisper secrets into my ears. I never had any idea what he's saying, but the whispering can go on at length and is adorable. Also, it tickles.

Thing #17: I was standing a few feet behind Liam in WinCo when he started to look around in a panic. "Mommy? Mommy??" Then he caught sight of me. "Phew! That was a close one!"

Thing #18: While I'm working out in the mornings, Liam will sometimes work out with me. He tires of the exercise pretty quickly, but will sit down on the recliner and cheer me on. "You strong, Mommy! You tough!" And he'll watch my form to make sure I'm doing things right. "She said go lower, Mommy!"

Thing #19: Liam loves to race. He makes pretty much everything into a race (exulting when he wins, sinking into despair when he doesn't), but he particularly loves footraces. "Start your engines!" he'll shout when we step into line to start the race, making engine revving noises. Then, "Ready, set, go!" And he's off.  If I try to pass him, he'll giggle and swerve to blog me. I'll huff and puff and swear that I'm going to win this time, but he always beats me, much to his delight.

Thing #20: Liam is a very picky dresser. He only likes pants with an elastic band (he calls them "mysize pants," a term that originally was created to differentiate them from SHORTS with an elastic band, which are clearly not his size, as they are too short). And he prefers shirts that are red or that contain a superhero image or logo.

Yeah, he is freakishly adorable. Yep, I'm the one that gets to hear him say, "I wuv you, Mommy" every single day. Yes, I'm really, really ridiculously lucky. Precious boy.

Taking a quick pre-Sunday dinner nap with Grandpa.

Delighted at the structure he made out of cleaning supplies (instead of cleaning).

His first day of school at Sunny Times Preschool! 
(He calls it "the red school" with "the nice teacher" and loves going there.)

Another "first day" shot. It was hard to get him to look at me because there was a BABY nearby that he couldn't peel his eyes off of. 
He LOVES babies. 
Our neighbors have a baby that visits sometimes and you can bet your booty that he's over there playing with him whenever he can.  

He's holding his toy cell phone in one hand. He likes to walk up and down the sidewalk with the phone pressed to his ear. 

This reminds me of a page in Aliki's book Feelings
"Feeling quiet."

They found EIGHT cavities at his last dental checkup. We had to go back four times for fillings. Needless to say, he got pretty comfortable at the dentist's office. 
(So comfortable that he actually fell asleep in the chair once.)

We went a little crazy with the underpants one night before bed.

Milking a "cow" at the fair with his cousin Sylvie. (A baby!) 

Two sweet little lambs.

Cuddling with his stuffed animals. His favorites include "Bucky" (the little white duck in the front), "Color Bear" (I think he's squished at the bottom of the pile), and "Harry and the Purple Crayon" (a bear who is acting as his pillow in this shot.) 

Posing in the hospital during a visit with Uncle Dewey (who is now home and recovering from surgery.)

Just being silly. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Soren: September 2014

Dear Soren,

This is always such a daunting task for me. Trying to capture the whole essence of a child's life over a vast period of months seems almost impossible, especially when my precariously maintained notes are lost and I have to recreate the nuances of your character from memory.

So that it gets done, though, I'm just going to write the things that come to mind, in no particular order and in no particular format. Just remember: your childhood is better-documented than most, so I'm expecting you to be grateful no matter what. 

Thing #1: You'd taken to using the word "ain't" recently. I suspect your usage is ironic, but I can't tell for sure. 

Thing #2: Daddy woke up on a Sunday morning in May and stumbled into the kitchen to wish me a happy Mother's Day. Your eyes grew wide and you ran off to your bedroom, where I could see you standing in the center of the room, looking around frantically and exclaiming to yourself, "It's Mother's Day already and I haven't done a thing!  What am I going to do?" (You ended up making me a Lego heart sculpture, Well played, my child. Well played.) 

Thing #3: You are a marketing professional's dream. You LOVE and BELIEVE everything you see in television commercials. Over dinner, you'll casually ask, "How much are we paying for car insurance? Because you can save 15% or more with Geico." One day you spent a significant amount of time describing to me an amazing new invention called "Snackeez" that you had just learned about. "You can have a snack and a drink in one cup!" you explained. And then added, "After people know about it, Snackeez will be a big hit." 

Thing #4: You're a second grader now! All summer I had some anxiety about your going back to school (concerns about the factory-style educational system squashing your spirit, confidence, and creativity), but so far, so good. You have an amazing teacher, Mrs. Miekle, who makes learning fun and interesting. You even sang me tidbits from a few of the songs you've learned in her class, which I loved, because I can't often elicit music from you. 

Thing #5: One afternoon I noticed that you were wearing baggy red pants and a bleach-stained black shirt. You looked pretty homeless and I was like, "Soren, please tell me you didn't wear that to school today." "I did!" you said cheerfully. "And guess what? It was picture day!" Then you burst out laughing. "Guess I'll have to hide my pictures under the bed to scare away monsters!" (The latter statement was inspired by a favorite fictional character, Junie B. Jones.) 

Thing #6: You are my favorite reading buddy. I love reading chapter books with you and am always so delighted by your responses to stories. We've recently read Henry Huggins, by Beverly Cleary, Soup, by Robert Newton Peck, and Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, and innumerable Junie B. Jones books (Barbara Park). With Grandma Hanson you have read Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Thing #7: You often use the phrase, "I know, right?" I just think it's so cute. 

Thing #8: Out of the blue one day, you started talking about how a single, simple decision can shape an entire future. You were intrigued by the notion of creating a variety of alternate futures by making small changes in the present. 

Thing #9: One afternoon you spent about 45 minutes riding around with Grandpa on his lawn mower. Afterward you told me, "It's kind of boring to do that, but I don't want Grandpa to get lonely." 

Thing #10: On a sunny Saturday you expended some serious effort toward achieving your dream of flying. First you tried jumping off furniture and stairs. Then you started strapping on plastic bags to create some air resistance. You finally attempted to utilize the power of positive thinking, chanting, "I know I can! I know I can! I know I can!" throughout your various attempts. Later that evening you made up a song about flying that you sang to yourself while picking up for the night. 

Things#11: When I came home from work one day (only to scoop up Liam and leave again for a t-ball game), Briar had shown you how to make cardboard eggs out of an egg carton. While Liam and I were gone, Briar filled your eggs with candy and you had an Easter egg hunt. 

Thing #12:  I'll be innocently minding my own business when all fifty pounds of your enthusiastic self are suddenly and unexpectedly flung at my body. I'll be struggling to catch my breath while you shout,  "OH! I JUST LOVE YOU!" I'll laugh and nod and hug you back as you ask, "You know how you just get 'that feeling' sometimes?" 

Thing #13: Every night before bed I used to give you 7 hugs and 7 kisses (one for each year of your age). You've decided that kisses are gross, so now we always do 14 hugs. I have to make sure that you're paying attention while we're hugging, however, or else you'll claim that the hugs never happened (I honestly think you don't remember) and request 14 more. At the end, it is our ritual for you to steal a few extra hugs while I tickle you and declare you to be a "stinker." 

Thing #14: Your friend Aidaneh was over visiting one day when my phone alarm went off to remind me to take my daily anti-depressant. "Why do you have to take medicine?" she asked with concern. "Oh, it helps me keep from getting too sad," I told her, and you added, "And it keeps her from getting cry-y and angry!" (I suspect you were hearkening back to a time last winter when I tried to wean myself off my med, with undesirable results.)

Thing #15: Homework. I hate homework. I don't think you should be doing it at your age (though this is an opinion I keep to myself when you're around). You are also not a big fan. And so every evening we sit down ploddingly to tackle your pages of math and spelling and reading. One night you did two problems and then started to get distracted.
"Hey Soren!" I said. "Do this math problem." I pointed at a problem on the page.
You looked at it for a second. Then, cheerfully, you said "No." 
And we both cracked up. 

Thing #16: When it's not you who has afflicted suffering on your brother, you usually respond to his crying with a burst of empathetic tears/wailing of your own. 

Thing #17: If I were an old man, I would say that you could "talk the hind leg off a mule." 

Thing #18: Once you said this: "This bathroom smells like something that would come out of a dead ferret." I had to applaud the metaphor. 

Thing #19: You love to make me laugh and will engage in all kinds of strange slapstick antics to elicit laughter from me. 

Thing #20: You are your Grandma Hanson's boy. While Liam is always excited to join Grandpa while he runs errands and does whatever other things he does, you're always contented to stay with Grandma. 

And those are all the Things I can think of, though I'm sure there's much more that I'm forgetting.

Child, I love you. I love watching you grow and unfold into the person that you are. You are a delightful human being, and I'm so grateful that I have been invited along for this crazy ride called your life. I dearly hope that you know that I will always be here for you, through all the ups and downs and detours and fender-benders and smooth riding and roll-overs and scenic routes and pit stops. 


(^^^^^^^ Just hugs. No kisses.) 

Love, Mommy

You couldn't even make a normal face for your first-day-of-school picture. I attempted to give you a Justin Bieber-style hairdo.

Another lost tooth. No, I'm not sure what's going on with your hair.

Milking a "cow" at the fair. 

Lounging on your bed with your collection of one gazillion stuffed animals.

Just the gazillion. 

Wrapped up in a burrito with your newly acquired giant bear, looking (literally) insanely happy. 


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