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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Christmas 2014

Why yes, Christmas 2015 IS just around the bend. What of it?

The usual visit to Santa:

Liam told Santa he wanted a coloring page for Christmas. This may have been influenced by the fact that Santa's helpers were handing out coloring pages. 

Soren told Santa he wanted a remote control truck that wouldn't break. Santa informed Soren that he needed to be careful with remote control cars--and then they wouldn't break.  

This is what our family room looked like after Santa came.  

And this is all of us opening presents. My favorite was when Liam opened his Spider Man pajamas. He just looked at me, then ran over with a big hug. "Thank you!" He then put on the jammies. He was similarly grateful for all his gifts.  

 ...And this is what the family room looked like after the kids came. It was, as usual, a good Christmas filled with visits with family and delicious food. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Liam Update: August 2015

My Littlest Love,

One evening I was sitting on the porch swing with Daddy when the kitchen door opened, just a crack, and then slammed shut again. Next there was a little face at the window: a mischievous smile, two rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes. You were supposed to be in bed, but there was no resisting that face.
"You can come outside and sit with us," I said. The beaming face disappeared and the kitchen door opened yet again. You were smiling, holding a bag of raisins as you climbed up on the swing next to me and snuggled in close. Daddy left us to be alone. I already had some potato chips, so we shared snacks and visited. You remarked on the beautiful sunset. I told you about the movie we had watched. You told me a about a time you had woken yourself up with a burp. We laughed and laughed. We sat on the porch swing and rocked until the sun had disappeared completely below the rooftops of our neighborhood. Then I took you by the hand, walked you downstairs, and tucked you in bed. "I love you, my little boyfriend." "I wuv you too, Mommy."

When you laugh--when you REALLY laugh--I can't help but laugh with you. Your laughter comes from deep inside and it rolls out in peals of unrestrained, infectious energy. One night we had Uncle Seth and Auntie Karen and Sylvie and Gavin over for dinner. Sweet, pretty Sylvie passed some rather noisy gas--a thing that touched your funny bone. (You are in that inevitable growing-up phase of boyhood when the best joke goes like this: "Poop comes after poop! Hahahahahah!") But anyway, you laughed, your unrestrained howl of delight, and I joined in. We laughed and laughed, despite Daddy's disapproving glower.

One day you told me a story about a boy who had a flower face, an applesauce nose, paper hands, paper eyes, a candy jar butt (which one could, of course, fill with candy), and candy jar ears (one large, one small). We never did get past the description of the main character and into the plot. Maybe in a past life you were a 19th century author?

Sometimes at night I am awakened by two animated eyes peering over the top of my mattress. "Can I sleep with you?" you will ask . . . "I brought you Sally." You will hold out the stuffed blue car and show me that you had brought her counterpart, Lightning McQueen, for you to cuddle. You are irresistible, with your nighttime offerings and gleaming smile, and I let you climb into bed with me.

You know some stories by heart, my favorite of which is The Little Red Hen. I love to turn the pages of the book and hear you tell the story in your own sweet raspy voice. You will do this with Sandra Boynton's book "Green Hat, Blue Hat" and ask, each time we see the mis-dressed turkey, "Why that chicken get it wrong again?"

It's interesting to me to watch your language development. You are very good at categorizing things, but struggle with discerning between items within a category. For example, all meat is chicken. All plush toys are stuffed animals. All human settlements--cities, towns--are "earths." "He" and "she" are interchangeable. One day while we were watching your baby cousin Rebecca, I remarked that she was so cute I wanted to eat her. "Mommy," you said very seriously. "He is not really chicken. Do not eat him."

You continue to have a knack for making friends at every turn. You enjoy running around with the neighborhood children. One day you disappeared for several hours. I thought Daddy was watching you. Daddy thought Asa was watching you. Asa figured you were someone else's responsibility. By the time we realized you were missing, it had been a long time since anyone had seen you. We frantically knocked on neighbor's doors, knowing you could very well have made yourself at home anywhere. Pretty soon the neighbors were helping us find you. We finally located you at "the yellow house," the home of your friend Miles.

This reminds me of another occasion. I was shopping at the scouting store for a few items. You were upset because I wouldn't let you go down the stairs. You slunk off to feel sorry for yourself, and I had the cashier ring up my items. When I turneda round, you were missing. Sure you had gone downstairs, I traversed thebasement hallways, but you were nowhere to be seen. I had the front desk page you. No answer. Finally someone suggested I look outside. I thought it was highly unlikely that you would leave the building without me, but desperate, I checked. And there you were. Across the street. Buckled in your seat. Pouting. With all the energies of a concerned parent, I told you never to do that again. That I had been worried. That you could have been squished by a car. You burst into tears. "I sorry, Mommy! I sorry! I never do it again!" Not three hours later, you disappeared in the grocery store. I immediately ran out to check the car. Not there. A friendly shopper found you in the produce department. "Good hiding, right Mommy?" you asked. Sigh. So much for never doing that again.

One day I was sitting with you in Primary, where you sometimes struggle to sit in one spot. Randomly during Sharing Time you raised your hand. The primary president called on you. "Um, excuse me?" you said. "My brain just broke."

Periodically you will burst out with the following, each successive "I" growing louder and shriller.

"Mommy, I need to tell you something: I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . LOVE YOU!!"

Briar told me that one day you caught a ladybug. It escaped from the jar, but you recaptured it. Then she caught you tearing off its wings. "Why are you doing that?" she asked. "So it not fly away again," you explained matter-of-factly.

This summer you played soccer for the first time. You are a fast runner, but it was hard for you to keep up with all the other kids, and even harder to shove your way into the fray to get at the ball. As a result, you mostly just ran energetically up and down the field. But everyone once in a while you'd get in a kick. And when you did . . . OH BABY. You'd run over to me with the thrill of success written all over your glowing face. You'd give me high ten, low ten, wiggly ten. You'd let me give you a kiss. And then I'd send you back out to see if you could get your foot on the ball again. At the end of the season, every kid on the team got a medal. You kissed yours and quietly whispered to it, "I love you!"

Sometimes you and I will slow dance in the kitchen. You'll put one hand on my waist and hold the other one. Then we "spin" each other a lot.

Often when you get a favorable answer to a question, you will respond with a half-whispered, "Yes! I knew it!" I always laugh, which motivates you to immediately begin talking about how funny it was when you said, "Yes! I know it!"

You are my song-singing buddy. I'll make up the words to a song, then you'll sing a phrase or two, then I'll take over, then you'll go. For example, our family hiked up the Menan Butte earlier this summer, and we sang about how fast and strong we were.

You are enthusiasm and joy. You are friendship and laughter. You are (as you would insist) Liam. Liam Skousen James. My little boy. My sweet precious.

I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . LOVE YOU! So much.

Love, Mommy

Pictures taken during a Mommy/Liam walk around the greenbelt in Idaho Falls:

Shots from your T-ball experience, which was last summer, actually, but I finally found the pictures just recently. Pictures from this year's soccer season will come . . . later. 

Triumphant after a home run. 

About to whack that ball out of the park. 

Dawn Lloyd carrying you over a potential out and onto home base. 

Playing catcher. 

Posing in a Lightning McQueen chair at Furniture Row. DREAM CHAIR!

Sledding in Pillsbury park. You loved to go backwards. 

Smiling during a lunch date with some friends. 

Posing with a self-decorated Valentine's cookie. 

Bathtime art. 

Punkin' head. 

A poster we made for your preschool spotlight. 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Soren Update: August 2015

My Handsome Son,

It has been almost a year since I have done one of these. I am so sorry. I know that I have forgotten hilarious anecdotes and tender moments, and that is a true shame. But I'll tell you as much about the past year of your life as I can remember. 

First of all, the second grade. This was such a great year for you, academically. Mrs. Meikle is an INCREDIBLE teacher and just positively perfect for you. You would come home and tell me all about all the things you had been learning at school--everything from a list of endangered animals to a lengthy narrative about the pirate Black Sam. You learned and used words like "inference" and "prediction" and "misconception" (though you pronounce the latter, "miscopception.") One morning on the way to school you sang me an entire song that you had learned in class. 

Socially, you spent a lot of time wandering from group to group, trying to find a place where you fit in. Sometimes at bedtime you would tell me about playground politics. I don't think you ever did find the perfect place, but maybe this next school year will be better. 

The above image is pretty typical of the doodles I'd find on the back of school papers you'd bring home. This one bears a strong resemblance to some of the artwork that Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) often produced.

You have developed a serious love for computer gaming, which development, as you know, causes me some concern. I love that there is something in your life that you are passionate about and interested in, but I have seen too many people toss away real life in favor of the counterfeit provided by a flickering screen, and that is the last thing in the world I want for you. I want you to feel the sunshine on your face every day, to have muscles ache from hard physical labor, to laugh and jump and explore and make friends with whom you do fun things in the real world. So for now I am trying to teach you limits. That there is work to be done first, and there is life to be lived after. That there are rewards much greater than loot dropped by bosses you've finally conquered.

But boy oh boy, do you love your games. You'll follow me around for hours, prattling on and on and on and on and on and on and on about Minecraft and Terreria and levels and monster types and bosses and shields and weapons and health and durability and damage and things you would do in a mod of your own and things you have done in the versions you've played. You are nothing if not excited about these worlds you have discovered. 

You have matured a great deal in the past year. You have calmed down considerably. Though there are still certainly moments of dramatics (let's not talk about what happens when I ask you to empty the dishwasher, Liam annoys you, or, much worse, a dog comes within 100 yards of your person), there are also many moments in which you are happily curled up with a book, calm as a lake. In fact, you've become the child I prefer to take on shopping expeditions, because you never ask for anything. It is a very strange turn of events, but one I will definitely accept. You are also very good at remembering your manners. 

Your sense of humor continues to grow and develop, and your sense of irony has even begun to bud. One day you grabbed a plastic bag of baby carrots and pointed something out to me. "Look, Mom! This has a Box, Box, Box, Box, Box, Box, BOX, Boxtop on it! What in the world?"

This year you turned eight and were able to get baptized. Brother and Sister Polson came to our home to help teach you about the significance of the covenants you were about to make. Those were tender moments, watching you solemnly listen to them and answer questions, feeling their love for you and your deep sense of the reverence required for the situation. Your baptism day was very lovely (but heck if I can find any pictures). Grandma and Grandpa Hanson both spoke, and you could feel their love for you and their love for the gospel. Two of your former primary teachers, Brother Oliverson and Brother Johnson, Brother Polson, Bishop Shaw, Grandpa, and Daddy stood in the circle as Daddy confirmed you a member of the church.

(Speaking of Bishop Shaw, you remember him and his fight with cancer every time you pray.)

Recently you have been begging me for a baby brother or sister (your preference is for a sister). You love to have your 8-month-old cousin Rebecca come and visit, and you are a wonderful help when I need someone to keep an eye on her for a minute or two, or a couple of extra arms to hold her while I do something quickly with my hands. I would love to give you a younger sibling, just so you could have that special bond of love with a little person that you could guide and care for and teach. But we'll see. We'll see.

You love your Auntie Briar and always wait impatiently for me and Daddy to leave on our Saturday night date so you can enjoy some time with her. "Can you guys go on your date at two today? Please?"

A few other notes:

One day I offered to teach you how to make yourself a sandwich. "No thanks," you said. "After you taught me how to empty the dishwasher, my life got a little bit worser." You remained unconvinced by my arguments about the value of independence.

One morning over breakfast, you cheerfully remarked, "Ever since Tuesday [the previous day], you've been cooking really good food. Keep up the good process!"

As I was helping you with your boots before school, I grumbled about how, because they were made in two pieces,they were extra awkward to put on. But you said, "I am thankful for my boots. They keep my feet warm. They may not be the best boots, but they're the boots I have."

You've started reading these updates, the ones I wrote about you when you were younger. It makes me happy to watch you learn about your younger self, laugh at your antics, and smile about the cute things you'd say and do.

Sometimes I will say to you, "Have I told you lately that I love you?" And you'll smile and say, "No, but I know you do." I hope you always do, my sweet darling. Because I always will.



Taking time out for a snow snack during a sledding adventure at Pillsbury Park. 

Giving your little man a giant hat. 

You do love your stuffed animals. 

Bathtime art. 


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