Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I love my job.  I was finishing up some things around the house this evening after I put the girls to bed and I just had an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude for what I do.  I also had the feeling that there maybe a time in my future (who knows maybe it will be tomorrow) where I need a slight reminder of this which is what prompted me to write this down.

It is currently 8:35 p.m.  Esther has been asleep for the last hour and Nora fell asleep about 15 minutes ago.  My day was full.  Here it is in review.

Today I cuddled in bed with my girls; got myself and two other human beings dressed; dusted; did laundry (and our dryer is broken so I dried things the old fashion way); cleaned the kitchen multiple times; played blocks; colored; sang ridiculous songs about spiders, monkeys and crocodiles; had a tea party; read picture books; watched cartoons; had one of Esther's friends over to play; scared a pigeon out of its nest (which was on my balcony); changed 8 plus dirty diapers; helped Esther go to the bathroom x amount of times (have I mentioned she's potty trained...yay!); visited with a friend, teared up while peeking in on Esther "reading" her scriptures in her room by herself; cheered audibly when Esther pooped in the potty...twice; breastfed Nora a bajillion times; had meaningful conversations on the phone with 3 women I love; stared adoringly at my baby x amount of times; took 20 plus crappy quality pictures of my girls on my phone; gave my baby a bath; made breakfast, lunch and dinner with one hand; and felt grateful every (not every) minute of my day.

Does it get monotonous at times? Yes. But what job doesn't. And I am with my girls. I get to literally watch them grow, hear them coo, wipe their tears, teach them, praise them and love on the full time.  Do you know how beautiful that is? Sometimes I have to remind myself but when I remember all of the tantrums, messes and stress filled days seem worth it.

The other night, as I was drifting off to sleep, my day played through my mind and I saw my girls' faces.  I imagined Esther at Elinor's age and thought of how quickly we've come to potty training, full sentences and playing make believe and I realized that I don't want to miss a moment of it.  I realize that this sounds like a romanticized version of motherhood, but aren't moments like these the ones that keep us going on the hard days?

I thank God (today, not every day) that I am able to stay at home with my babies. And I hope that I will always remember the meaning in what I do. How often when asked what one does do mothers' respond, "I'm just a stay at home mom," (actually I don't think I ever use the word just in my response) but tonight I say, "hells yes, I am a stay at home mom" and nothing could make me happier!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Topsy Turvy World

Tonight I found my 9 month pregnant body crouched in a corner by the door of the room that my daughter was struggling to sleep in.  As I squatted there occasionally making comments like, "stay still" and "lay back down" I started wondering where my good little sleeper disappeared to in the last few weeks.  I've been getting really irritated with her lack of cooperation around bedtime, especially since Jackie has been in Arizona the last 3 weeks and I've been doing all of this on my own.  As I stopped thinking for just a moment as I sat in my awkward position in the corner, I gazed at that beautiful girl and felt so grateful.  I have less than 3 weeks before the world as we know it becomes even more topsy turvy than it already has been lately.  I have a mere 3 weeks left of time with just me and my girlie before we add another sweet baby into the mix.  And as excited (really really excited) as I am for Baby Elinor to make her debut I realized these are the moments I need to be savoring.  Rather than looking forward constantly to Jack being back from Teach for America training, Baby Elinor being here, and us finally being in our own space in Denver, I need to relish the time I have with my sweet Esther.
  • Before the crouching began I laid next to her as I sang her songs and she wrapped her arms around my neck and covered my face with her hair as she giggled and made sing song noises with me.  
  • A little before we went upstairs to go to sleep she brought me an assortment of fake food "din din" to eat and empty play cups filled with imaginary chocolate milk, juice and soda.  
  • When she tripped while playing at her little kitchen she immediately called for me and reached up to be comforted.
  • I found her sitting on a very sweet Jimmy Jasper's back (Grandma and Pa's dog) holding onto his collar like she was riding a horse while he patiently looked up at me with eyes that said, "help...please, help."
  • She jokingly said over and over that Sharekhan the tiger was nice and that Mogli was nasty, giggling and smiling each time she made the statement.
  • While driving up to Salt Lake Valley from Spanish Fork this morning she sat in the back for the entire hour having her dinosaur toys talk back and forth to each other in the limited conversation vocabulary and known topics that she has readily available.
  • As I walked her upstairs for her nap this afternoon she placed her head on my shoulder and tickled my back.
More than anything, this little girl is so good and so sweet.  I am immensely grateful for the almost 2 1/2 years that I have spent playing with her, loving on her, and being her Sausha (yah, she calls me both "Mama" and "my Sausha").  I'm especially grateful for her patience and forgiveness as I snap at her when I am ornery or overreact to little things.  I can't tell you how many times I've already made mistakes as a parent, but she shows me compassion and forgiveness over and over again.  I always had my opinions about other peoples' parenting habits and abilities and a long list of things I wouldn't do when my turn came.  Well, you see your own parenting flaws and weaknesses every day as a parent.  You realize that sometimes you turn off the logic and roll with survival.  But I'm learning.  Everyday I learn.  And as silly as it sounds, my 2 year old is my teacher.

President Packer (an apostle and leader of the LDS faith) recently stated, "One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about what really matters from our children than we ever did from our parents.  We come to recognize the truth in Isaiah's prophecy that 'a little child shall lead them'".  Knowing how much I learned from my own parents, this is a bold statement, but your perspective of things becomes clearer with a child of your own.  Things that your parents taught you seem to finally sink in as you watch and try and teach your child, and you become keenly more aware of the sacrifices and decisions of your own parents and how those things shaped your life and character.  

Before I ramble any more, I'll end this by just saying I am so grateful to be a mother.  And to be a mother of such a sweet beautiful girl.  I am so excited to meet Little Nora and to be taught by her as well.  I was happy before Jack and I had children.  I knew what love was and life was good then too, but my understanding of love and joy have deepened so much since becoming a mother (clique, I know, but so true).  And I'll always be grateful to God for giving me the chance to be a mother.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

And just because it has been a while....

Some pictures from the last few months.
Visiting the new Natural History Museum of Utah. Amazing. What an improvement!
Nana with Chase and Esther. Esther adores her Nana! And she also loves Nana's ipad which makes what is happening in this picture a win win for girlie.
Making Daddy so proud by playing with a light saber.
Possibly Esther's favorite person in the world. Anytime Grandpa is home she runs after him yelling, "Pa!". It's really sweet. Grandpa is equally enamored with her.
Dressing herself. She rather enjoys doing this. Please notice her crayons that she has shoved in her sock too.

Playing with some of her loot on Christmas. She also stole two of Aunt Cassie's new socks which she is sporting under her dress here.
Christmas morning on our way to church with Grandma. (Grandma wasn't actually ready for church yet. I promise she doesn't wear bathrobes to church).
A new hat from Aunt Sharon.
A new hat made out of whatever she wants to put on her head.
And spending time with Great Grandma Mare.

The Times They Are A-Changin

The gales of change have begun to gust in our lives. We knew this year would be full of change, but until recently we weren’t sure as to what those changes would be. Although many of the transitions that are coming are not quite here yet, we are looking forward to all of them with enthusiasm. So, what are these changes I am talking about?

*Student teaching. Jack is currently student teaching at Copper Hills High School. He is mainly student teaching in English classes but has a period of Spanish as well. When he finishes up in about 6 weeks the last thing he’ll have in his way to graduation is an international trip to Nicaragua with his cohort in April. Really, he is getting school credit for that.

*After a long grueling process of interviews and online assessments Jack was accepted into Teach for America. It is an extremely competitive program and only 11% of their applicants are accepted. They assigned us to Denver! So, come May, we are packing up and relocating our little family.

*Jackie got a job! KIPP Collegiate High School, a school that often uses Teach for America teachers, contacted Jack at the beginning of this month. He had a phone interview and then was contacted about a week later to fly to Denver and do sample teaching with a Spanish and English class of theirs. They had initially told him that they would get back to him the following week but by the end of the day they had no doubt they wanted him in their school and offered him the job on the spot! These schools are all over the nation and are doing amazing things for low-income students.

*Last but certainly not least, we are expecting Baby #2. I’m 15 weeks and due mid-July. We are planning on having the baby in UT due to insurance reasons, which means that there is a possibility that Jack may not be here for the birth of #2. Not ideal, but it could definitely be worse.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Again....

Six months have slipped away from me since I last updated my blog. I'd like to promise to be a better and more diligent blogger, but I'm afraid that promise would be in I won't make it. But who knows, maybe I'll try a little harder...for a while...until I forget that I was going to try a little harder on the blogging scene.

Well. As assumed, a lot has happened in 6 months. Such as....
I finally graduated from college (actually finished in Dec. 2010 but didn't walk until May 2011) with my bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the University of Utah. It only took me 8 years too! Ha. In my defense, during those 8 years I did take a semester off to work, take a semester off to teach English in China, serve an LDS mission, get married, take a semester off to have a baby and then finally finish.
Me and my Dadman. All 5 of my parents' children finished their undergraduate degrees and 4 out of 5 have either finished (3 have finished) or worked on their master's degrees. I'm not in that second category.

May also brought a new program for my husband. Jackie started in Westminster's Master's in the Art of Teaching program and has loved it! What a change from the program at the U! Because of the cost of tuition though, this program also brought about another change...we moved in with Jack's parents.

I'm not going to lie, I was a little worried about the move. Living in somebody else's space is never ideal. But it hasn't been bad. Bill and Karrie's house is big enough that we do feel like we have a little bit of our own space and they are so laid back that it really has been okay. I think Karrie loves having Esther around all of the time too. But how could you not, right?!

July's biggest event was a trip to Oregon. My family had been planning it for over a year and it turned out to be so much fun! Unfortunately, because of Jack's program he wasn't able to go with us. He was definitely missed, but we still managed to enjoy evidenced by my daughter's huge smiling squealing face in the picture below.

Enjoying the sand in Cannon Beach, OR
Giving a big cheesy smile after smelling the flowers at my Uncle Brent's cabin in Meacham, OR
(the 3 pictures above were taken by my brother Zach)

We did what Fife's generally do in Oregon: visit a lot of extended family members, go to the beach, whale watching on the ocean, lots of salt water taffy and last but not least, go to the Tillamook cheese factory in Tillamook, OR. Esther had been relatively good on the way to the coast, which is saying something because it took us 3 days of travelling in the car for at least 5 hours a day, but it was exhausting to entertain her on the drive. Especially considering the fact that she wouldn't sleep in the car. Literally wouldn't sleep. So, on the way home I talked my sister into using her free flight benefits and flying home with her baby and mine and I drove her car home by myself. 15 hours makes for a long day of driving, but at least it wasn't 15 hours with a toddler.

Some other favorites from this summer...
*Esther's new favorite person in the world, Ollie. A family moved in next door this summer who have a little boy 3 weeks older than Esther. They have a complicated relationship. Esther loves him and he loves Esther, but he mostly loves her when she isn't around. :) He will call for her when we are at home but when we get together to play he is pretty indifferent. It is actually cute and funny.
*Esther's first pony ride. She loved it!

*New bike, which she loves to ride and hates to share.

Unless it is with Daddy...
*Lots of reading with Dad and Mom.

*Lots of hiking with Tif and baby Cole

*And a new obsession...Batman. Really Batman.

She sleeps with a Batman doll at night. She watches the opening credits of the old Adam West Batman show over and over. She picks up phones and acts like she is talking to Batman (she even uses a raspy voice when she says his name on the phone "Bat bat") It is pretty adorable. Her favorite Batman activity has to do with her grandparents' bed. She acts like it is the Batmobile.

Here she is playing with Grandpa...and then Grandma joined in the fun.
All in all we have had a really fun summer. Life is good. I love my little family and really feel blessed for the experiences we are having and the people who surround us.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


As probably all of you know I have many ties to the Chinese people. When I was 20 years old I taught English in Wuxi, China for a semester and later that year was called to the Taichung Taiwan mission (speaking of that mission, for any of you mission friends who don't have facebook, did you hear Alicia Watterson is going to Taichung on her mission?)

My brother moved his family to Guangzhou 广州 last October. Both he and his wife served in the Taibei mission about 10 years ago. Zach was offered a great job at an architectural firm. They are currently contracted with Brunei government and the Chinese government to build airports. I guess they will soon be working on improvements to the Taibei airport as well. He really loves his job and I don't know that I have ever seen him happier.

With family in China Jack and I had an excuse to visit China that was hard to pass up. Although they plan on being there for some time, we decided it would be best to go before Jack starts his new program at Westminster. Having a brother-in-law who works for an airline also helped (yah for cheap stand-by tickets! Thanks again Kevin!).

I was having some serious anxiety about leaving Esther for 9 days. But I knew that she would be in good hands. And she was. She did great! Other than being a little shy the first morning we were home, I have to say she was a champ about the whole situation.

So, April 15th Jack and I woke up at 4 am and got ready to catch a flight to Chicago. Stand-by is a nerve racking process in and of itself. Both the flight to Chicago and from there the flight to Hong Kong looked great. But after we were boarded on our plane, we sat for about 30 minutes before being told that we needed to unload the plane and reload another plane. They asked any of us with a connecting flight to speak to the attendants at the desk. Chicago only has one flight in and out of HK each day. Did I mention that we initially only had an hour between flights? We were seemingly screwed. But immediately after unloading from the plane we were reloaded and some how made up for lost time in the air.

Have you ever seen Home Alone? The McAllister's running down the hallways of the O'Hare airport? Yeah, I've lived that. We arrived in Chicago and heard the final boarding call of our flight. I ran ahead to check in with the desk attendants so they wouldn't leave us, and Jack stayed behind to grab our carry-ons that had been placed below on the aircraft. The attendants were really nice but said Jack had to get there in 3 minutes in order to make it. I went to the hall and waited. My hands were shaking so badly. And then I saw him. A tall skinny breath of fresh air running down the hall with two roller suitcases following behind him. His hair was frazzled and his face was panicked, but we made it. Even if we were literally the last two individuals on the plane.

The flight was, as it always is, long. A little over 15 hours after we boarded in Chicago we landed in Hong Kong. Zach met us at the airport and we headed for the train station. When we reached Shenzhen we had to go through customs again. It was funny how it was clean and well maintained on the Hong Kong side of the the customs building. And as soon as we crossed the border it was dirty, smelly and packed with people! I laughed to myself a little bit and couldn't get a huge grin off of my face. I turned to my sweet husband and said, "Welcome to China!" He responded by saying, "It reminds me of Japan. There was this one street that looked like this." My brother and I both laughed and assured him that it was not just this one area, this would be all of China (minus the parks and historical sites).

The next day after church Jack and I were off. We hopped in a taxi and headed to White Cloud Mountain 白云山。We took a tram to the top of it and attempted to see the view of Guangzhou through the smog. The smog was especially thick because the clouds were ready to burst. We made it half way down the mountain trails and through a beautiful Buddhist temple before they split at the seams and drenched us from head to toe. I can't say I minded. It reminded me of Taiwan and it is always fun to watch the Chinese people scramble to safety. They hate getting wet.

Above: View from the tram to White Cloud Mountain
Below: View of a Buddhist temple from the tram

Above: If the smog weren't so thick you'd be able to see Guangzhou behind Jackie.
Below: Ginormous kissing bunnies. Who doesn't love ginormous kissing bunnies?

Above: Me outside of the previously pictured Buddhist temple
Below: Inside of the Buddhist temple

IKEA was also on the agenda for the day. I know, right? Who goes to China and visits IKEA? We do. It was one of the most bizarre places I have been in my life. There were so many people there. And what were they doing? Not shopping. They were sitting on furniture, using laptops, playing on their phones and napping. Seriously. Napping. I did not see one single bed that was still made because there were people laying in them. Bizarre I tell you. I guess the Chinese also love soft serve ice cream because there was a line that went half way down the block of individuals waiting for their IKEA frozen yogurt.

Below: Look closely for the skinny white guy participating in the IKEA atmosphere.
The man pictured below is literally under the blankets. Can you imagine seeing that in the states? Never!

After spending quite some time finding a taxi and meeting up with Zach and Meredith for lunch, we headed back to their apartment and packed our backpacks for an excursion. Meredith, being 8 months pregnant, wisely decided to stay home while the rest of us caught a 12 hour train ride to Guilin 桂林. Trains are really a fabulous way to travel and it is sad to me that they aren't more heavily used in the US. We had soft sleepers, which means that there are four beds in a compartment. Two on the top bunk and two on the bottom. We bought tickets a little late and so Zach and Royal were on the top bunks in one compartment and Jack and I were on the top bunks in another compartment.

Mine and Jack's compartment buddies ended up being so sweet. They were a married couple from Guangzhou. The wife was 8 months pregnant and her husband was accompanying her to her parents' so that she could have her baby there. I sat and talked to them for a little over an hour the following morning before we arrived in Guilin. I have heard so many accounts of female infanticide in China, especially in my anthropology classes. One of the most refreshing things that I heard that morning was when they told me that they thought they were having a boy. But immediately after the husband said, "But we don't care one way or another. Boy or girl, they will be our child and we will love them." Then he stood up and placed both of his hands on his wife's stomach while crouching close to his baby inside of her. I loved it! On a side note, it was also refreshing to know that I could still carry on a conversation in Chinese without problem for over an hour. Jack did a great job at smiling and nodding.

Guilin was instantly a favorite. I know you've seen pictures of it. Seeing the mountains in person was unreal. They were majestic and beautiful in a completely foreign way. It was like Dr. Seuss meets J.R.R. Tolkien. We took a motorized covered raft down the river. I took a lot of pictures but it just doesn't do it justice.

After about an hour and a half on the boat we came to the end of our river tour. We walked about 2 miles to a little village and wandered the streets. Jack felt like he had just walked into Paraguay. Cobblestone paths, buildings standing that by all logic shouldn't have been. It was like walking into the 18th century. Following our stroll around the village, we hopped on a bus and spent a few hours heading back to Guilin.

Above: Please notice the purple penguin seat covers. Not only were they covered beautifully but the seats weren't bolted into the van. They were moving with each turn and stop.
Limestone mountains from the Li River
Above: Zach behind his camera

Above: This was initially a jumping picture but I was a little late in taking it. Therefore Jackie just looks a little queer.

Above: A pretty bridge leading into the previously mentioned village.

Tuesday we woke early and headed to Long ji. Hands down the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. Mountainside after mountainside of terraced land. It is home to the Chinese Red Yao, known here as the Hmong, people. The women wear black skirts and bright red or pink tops. The women also only cut their hair once in their lives, around 16 or 17, and the hair cut is weaved back into their remaining hair. They wrap it around their heads and wear it in a large bun on the top of their foreheads. Another interesting thing that Jack was fascinated with is the way they build their homes. There is no metal at all. Rather than nails they use wooden pins.

It was undoubtedly the worst time of year to go, merely because there wasn't much growing, but it was still beautiful. Usually the terraces are filled with rice, vegetables and flowers. We were there all day. Royal was a good sport about climbing up steep paths to the top of one of the mountains.

The ride to and from Long ji was also worth mentioning. Driving in China in general is terrifying. Traffic laws aren't really followed. As we were on our bus, the driver would literally swerve from our lane and go into oncoming traffic to pass someone. That may sound normal, but when you do that in America, there aren't cars coming at you. As long as the driver honks the oncoming cars will pull slightly off the road and drive half on half off the highway. It is constant honking, swerving, and "I'm about to die" adrenaline rushes. But on the positive side, the landscapes that surrounded us on either side were breathtaking. It was exactly what you would imagine a Chinese countryside to look like, water buffaloes and all.

Above: Entering Long Ji
Below: Jack and me in the lowest village before hiking up.

Above: Jack and the Beatles enjoying the landscape
Seriously, Pleade slow down!

Above: Royal was really such a good sport. We hiked a mountain and although there were a few complaints, he is 3, he is entitled to a few.
Below: Look closely, all of the mountains that are in this shot are terraced. Can you imagine doing that without modern machinery?

Beautiful, right?

Above: Me and Jackie at the top of a hillside.
Below: Look closely, you can see a man working the land.

That night we took another 12 hour train ride back to Guangzhou. For the next few days we didn't see much of Zach. He was working like 16 hour days. But it was really good to spend time with Meredith. She took us to some great restaurants and took me SHOPPING! Unfortunately they haven't found a good DVD provider, but I did buy some knock off purses.

Now, turning it over to Jackattack....

As previously mentioned, we stayed with Zach and Meredith at their apartment. When we returned back from Long ji little Royal was a bit worn out to say the least. He fell asleep quickly the evening after we got back to Zach and Meredith's. This sounds rather benign up to this point but, it turns out in China door locks are a little different than the ones here in the states. So in Zach and Meredith's apartment their bedroom doors have actual locks that require a key, not a fingernail, to open. Unfortunately, when they moved in they were never provided with keys. That doesn't sound like that big a problem, all you have to do is leave the doors slightly ajar. Unfortunately, the wind blew the door shut to the bedroom that Royal was sleeping in. We knew that Royal was tired but we hadn't anticipated the Zen like sleep he was in. We pounded on his door to try to wake him up and have him open the door, but to no avail. Despite our shouts and assurances that if he "came to the door he wouldn't be in trouble" Royal didn't respond. After about 15 minutes of shouting and pounding we all started to worry about whether or not Royal was breathing; for surely no human could sleep through the racket we were making. After a time, we became so worried that Meredith insisted we hammer off the door knob. So, with her approval I pounded the knob off the door. This by itself had to have reached several decibels. However, when we entered the room Royal appeared not to have budged. Soooo tired.

We all had a good laugh about it. But, laughed again when Zach got home late at night and closed the door locking himself, Meredith and Royal in the room again. So, at 4am when Meredith's pregnant bladder awoke her she had to pound on the wall to wake Sausha and me up. We had to pound in the remnants of the door knob again in order to rescue them. The fact that this process happened not once but twice was to all of us quite humorous.

The next day Sausha and I went to the natural history museum. The building and exhibits were neat but it's unfortunate that the Cultural Revolution left so little culture behind. For as huge as the museum was and the richness of the Chinese people's heritage the museum was relatively bare. On a side note, the Chinese may be better at math and science than the U.S. but we have them beat in the taxidermy department. Their stuffed animals are losing a bit of stuffing to put it nicely.

When we returned from the museum Meredith, Royal, Sausha, and I went to a place called Beijing Lu, which is a giant shopping

Above: Guangzhou T.V. tower
Below: Guangzhou Opera House, followed by the Guangzhou Library

Below: Jack and his goat
Below: Please notice Jack is making the same face as the shark hanging above him.
My eyes are closed in the picture below, but the scenery was too pretty not to post it.

This is Sausha again.

We spent our last day of our trip in Hong Kong. But not even the whole day. By the time we took a train and went through customs and took another train, we checked into our hotel at about 4 pm. We didn't have a lot of time so we were only able to hit Nathan Road, Hong Kong Park and Victoria's Peak. I cannot express how crowded this city was. Unbelievable. And there were so many people from all over the world. It really is an international hub.

Above: Me at Hong Kong Park
Below: View of Hong Kong from inside of the tram going up to Victoria's Peak.

Above: Jackie looking out over the view from Victoria's Peak.
Below: Hong Kong! Wow! Can you believe Batman jumped off one of these buildings? He is pretty bad A.

It was nothing short of a miracle that we made our flights home. We were the last two listed on stand-by and I only saw one empty seat on the whole plane. But I must say, I was so happy to see the little face pictured below when we came home. What a trip?! Maybe I can convince my husband to move there one day.

I realize that this is the longest post ever. But it does cover most of the events of an entire week.