What am I doing in my 30's?

In the age of social media it is impossible to avoid evaluating your life against the reports of others.  While it's easy to feel jealous of or discouraged by all the different lifestyles represented in my facebook feed and Instagram, I find the diversity of daily life amongst my peers fascinating. Some of my friends travel every week to exotic places, I haven't left the country in five years.  Some of them have outlandish hobbies like roller derby and running marathons, I use my free time seeking silent alone time.  Some of my friends can hear their own thoughts all day long, I can't remember what my inner voice sounds like.  
Nearly every day when we look at the vacations and accomplishments of the online personas we consider our own lives.  Rather than feeling jealous, I feel validated in the path my life has taken.  I'm having excellent thirties too. 

1. In my 30's I have amassed the basic required baby accoutrements and can buy the silly extraneous things like fabulous bows.  I know what to spend money on and what is useless.
2. In my thirties I know how long a mattress lasts.
3. Because of my labors at 27, 28, and 29 I now have three proficient helpers that I've trained. I have a posse that I'm proud of and who I get to teach things that they can be proud of.  Mimi reads the directions while Jude carefully stirs the chocolate pudding for our haipua pie.  Because I have experience I know their ability levels -- Silas can't be trusted with large bowls of liquids, Jude can.
4. In my thirties I have learned to seek out friends who are happy in their own lives.  I've learned not to spend time and energy on girlfriends who take more than they give.  I've found my people with similar interests, educations and happiness levels so there is little to no competition and life comparison between us.
5. In my thirties I've found the balance between my children and my spouse. Parents upstairs, kids downstairs. Us against them.
6. In my thirties I have abandoned any attempts to eat like an adult. I live on candy and veggies, just like I always have. It's just who I am. Also I only buy pink and cheetah.

7. In my thirties I am planning for my future.  This is my fourth baby and, God willing, I ain't done yet. When I'm in my sixties my brood will hopefully have doubled, then shortly thereafter multiply by family. My life will be full of the family of my own making. That, to me, is wealth.

8. In my thirties I am volunteering in my kid's classroom and marveling at what they're teaching children these days. Algorithms?!  I get to see what type of learners my kids are and think about how to cultivate their talents.  This keeps me mentally stimulated.

9. In my thirties I've learned about juicing. It's weird and usually yucky. But pulverizing that produce is so satisfying.

10. My thirties have brought me to an area of unusual diversity in Utah. The above photo shows an assembly and I count at least six different races of children.  The values I developed in high school are realized here. Our elementary school focuses on the things that are important to me: music, dance and arts. I will never tire of watching my children imitate volcanos and dance to weird drum beats. P$, this school is free.

11. In my thirties I can feed people by the dozen.  I'm good at preparing menus and making all the food.  If your kids are over I'll feed them.  It won't be fancy sustainable or anti-biotic free, but it will generally cover the food groups and be edible to children.
12. In my thirties I have learned to not only tolerate but welcome large groups of children into my care.  We had a ten person play date last week and it was great. I got a ton of work done and it didn't stress me out the way it might have in my twenties. I've practiced at managing people, I'm good at it.

13. In my thirties I've cultivated the humor in my children.  In our family it's better to be funny than pretty much anything else. It's the highest compliment you can get. Here Jude is giving crazy eyes while pretending to drink a Redbull and wearing Mimi's cheetah vest just for laughs. 
14. In my thirties I have permanent stuff. Like paint colors. I'm paralyzed by the fact that because we own this house I have to set it up assuming I'm going to live in it forever. I had one wall success with the masculine pink, but now I'm stuck and I don't know what color to paint my room.
15. And yes, in my thirties I still have pink hair. Hush asked me the other day when I will change to my lady hair -- like the hairstyle all of our mothers adopt permanently at some point. My children have no memory of my normal hair, it's been pink for four years now. Hush obviously hasn't ever seen it au natural.  Pink IS my natural color. I don't think I can grow out of it. I don't care about "pulling it off" at any age.  It's just what is: not a statement, not a rebellion.  It's just  what I like when I look in the mirror.  It starts out super bright and then fades intentionally to my preferred pale pink. It's irrelevant.
My thirties are everything people said they would be: that time in ones life when you know who you are, are fairly secure in your career, and are generally confident in your decisions. Thirties are good.  I don't think I'm going to need a midlife crisis next decade.


Off to See the Wizard

If you don't see Pam's plays (my mother directs children's musical theater) you are disowned.  So we flew out the week before Thanksgiving to enjoy The Wizard of Oz.
I am a terrible parent who doesn't allow Legos at my house, so the boys get their Lego fix at Grandma Pam's house.
As soon as we arrived most of my siblings descended on Pam and Jim's house to meet Bettylou.  
My sister Ellie and SIL Aubrey both brough their babies to meet their new best friend LouLou.  Babies look good, we do not. 
The only way I'm able to snuggle Ellie's Abe is by switching babies with her.  Abe is 5 months here and we are pals.

Of course we needed to put all of our precious naked babies together for maximum cuteness.
Mornings in the big red chair.  It's pretty rad introducing BL to all of the normal traditional things that the big kids already are so familiar with.
LouLou and Grandma Pam. Yes they both look this good all the time.  Praying I age like Pam.

At the play, which Mimi saw three times.  Bea and Griffin's first show.
Mark in baby bliss.
LouLou was a perfect baby on the airplane and the other kids were excellent. I'm much better at going places with my kids than I am staying home.

New House Orders of Business

We bought a house!

We are thrilled to have bought our first house in SLC.  Why didn't anybody tell us what a grueling process buying a house is?  Thankfully we did it while we were new baby sleep deprived so it's likely we won't remember anything about it and now we have the best house ever! Our home is directly across the street from the school our kids went to last year.  Like I can watch them walk into their school from my bed.  It's a whole new level of amazing.
We got all of our friends back, but none of them knew where we lived. So first order of business, 
Throw a Party!
Rather than invite kids over one by one I sent Mimi, Jude and Silas to school with invites for all of their friends over one day after school.  It was the play date to end all play dates.
It was pretty fun rounding up 25 kids and marching all of them across the street.
Parties mean dancing, of course.

Second order of business:
Paint it Pink!

Thank the good lord for a husband who not only condoned but picked out and assisted the painting of our new pink wall.  It's a manly pink, is it not?
Hi from Loulou, 11 weeks.

Next order of business, decor. 
 Of course everybody sinks every dime into buying a house so we're doing one room at a time.
Front room, shot at night.
Just come over and see it. 
When you have a new house having a handy husband around who knows how to do the hard stuff is a relief.  I "installed" that chandelier the day before and we'd still be living in the dark without Hush.

The snow waited until we were somewhat settled and we've been able to start our lives again.  Teaching, catching up on sleep, getting into a regular daily schedule have all been on our agenda the last two weeks.  
And at last this little girl is sleeping ok, fussing a whole lot less and finally allows me to put her down once in a while.
And she's finally fitting into 0-3 month clothes! The babe is getting mass!

You'd think that life would be slowing down, right? Nope. On to the next life events!


Bettylou Newborn Pictures

Baby Bettylou
One week old newborn pics by Mary Clark Photography

My baby my baby!!


Baby Lou, 7 weeks and Hello my House!

We've been listening to lots of Lou Reed around here lately.  Bettylou is called alternately Betty, LouLou, BL, Beelzebub, and BOB.  Although officially her name is Betty Lou, we usually write it Bettylou. Whatevs. A rose by any other.
One of my arms, the other is Jude I think.

This little rosebud had some major weight gain problems in her first month.  By the end of month one she had not regained her birthweight.  Cause you know, having four kids wasn't enough, I had to have feeding problems.  She was nursing, I was pumping, she seemed satisfied but she just wasn't growing.  My doctor determined that my milk was low calorie.  Apparently I make fat free milk.  So we had to go to the doctor a lot for weight checks and our doctor happened to be in my old neighborhood.

When BL was two weeks old I was heading to her doctor appointment and drove by the kid's old school.  Across the street was a house for sale. I knew as soon as I saw it God had put that house for sale just for us.  There was our home.  Don't care how many hoops we have to jump through, like meeting a child or a husband you see the place and your heart just says, "Oh, that's mine.  Hello, my house."
Maybe more pictures when we're more settled. 

After three weeks of completely annoying and unnecessarily stressful home buying, we suddenly packed up our house in Utah County and tada! dumped off our stuff in our new house.  Now we are in our forever home.  It is three blocks away from our sewage house and literally across the street from the elementary, I wave the kids to school and can watch them go inside from my porch.  My friends, all the amazing women I've met through neighborhood, school and ward are all just a few streets away.  My kids got into the original programs I planned for them, though they had given up coveted spots (we have all day kindergarten AND pre-K for Silas!). I got my entire life back, just better. Thank you for praying!

Now I've said this before, but here I am again feeling a lot like Job.  All that I lose I regain, but better. I am tried and tried, confirmably more acutely than is generally reasonable, but then my life doubles in perfection in ways I'd never have imagined. Had a good house, lost it, got a better one. Had an eternal husband and family, lost it, got a better one and I get to have my kids 100% of the time.  It's like God just has his foot on the trials accelerator and then lets up all of the sudden.  I'm too nervous to be this happy. I walk around marveling.

Now we are 2/3 moved in and our sweet baby girl is gaining weight.  She just had a growth spurt (7 weeks) and is now transitioning out of the newborn phase and into infant.  She grew out of newborn size diapers last week. 6 weeks in newborn size!  See, that's a little tiny baby.
First smiles and starting to coo!

Oh, and I also started teaching a class at the community college right in the middle of all this.  It's only two days a week and it's a half semester class, but that means I have to leave all my people for four hours in the afternoon.  I love it but it's hard.  I may need to retire.  
7 weeks Bettylou, finally getting some mass.

My life has big highs and big lows, it's exciting but hellish to live through.  Right now I feel like we're cresting, but I hope it's a permanent plateau.  Thankfully we have so many wonderfully supportive people in our lives, including in the blogosphere.