Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gabe's Blessing

We blessed Gabe on Sunday, March 25th.  It was a beautiful, simple blessing, and a beautiful, simple day.  I wish I could have had more of my family there, but at the same time I loved being able to focus on my baby and his blessing rather than stressing out about preparing a luncheon or anything.

His name is Gabe Martin Johnson.  We wavered back and forth between Gabe and Gabriel for a long time, but in the end decided we would just name him what we were actually going to call him, which is Gabe.  Gabriel is a family name from one of my incredible pioneer ancestors who came across the plains at the age of 8, with only his sister Harriet who was 17.  The rest of the family died along the way, but when given the choice of going back to live with some wealthy family in Alabama and continuing on the trail, they kept their mother's dying wish:  "Keep the children in the church."  We also think of the angel Gabriel, who was Noah - a courageous man who stood in perfection before the Lord.  Martin is his Daddy's name (obviously) who got it from his grandfather, Martin Ostvig.  So there are two more amazing men.

Are you prepared to live up to this name, dude? :)

Marty's dad was able to fly out early Saturday morning, which ended up being quite the fiasco for poor Neil, but I am SO glad he was able to make it!  My kids (and I!) absolutely adore him and I am so glad he was able to be a part of the circle.

 Sigh.  I love you, Marty.  Thank you for honoring your priesthood.  You are such a wonderful father.

 One very blessed, very grateful, very happy mommy.
And THANK YOU so much for the pictures, Darcine!

Oh, and to make the day extra special (and to show off for Grandpa), Gabe decided to roll from back to front and then to back again for the first time!

Want to know more about my church?

Kids, let me explain something about sleep...

Just do it when you're supposed to, mmkay?  Okay then.

Here is our house during nap/quiet time yesterday. 

Oh, so that's why Brynn was searching for hairbands.  Ok, Daytime Emmy.

Bryce, when he was supposed to be sleeping, was caught not only out of bed, but using the camera he is now forbidden to use.

After a while I gave up on the nap idea, but I guess Bryce's poor tired body didn't.  I finally found him behind the curtains in my bedroom (which the goldfish crackers, of course, everything about that makes perfect sense to me).

Gabe was being a perfect sweetie on the bed as I rushed to get everything ready to teach piano.  Of course this crazy day Marty forgot about piano, so I went up to grab Gabe to bring him down with me, and this is how I find him: (check the diaper)

 So, guess who taught half of her first lesson with a naked, towel-wrapped baby on her lap?

I did find time to snap a couple pictures.  I swear, it's like he thought it was hilarious to have a diaper explosion at the least convenient moment of the day.

I must say, he definitely has his own look in these pictures.  Usually I think he's a clone of the other two, but maybe not...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Every family needs one of THOSE vacation stories...

 What?  Doesn't every family drive over three hours just to climb trees and play on basically the same playset that is in their own back yard?  And then COME HOME?

Over Spring Break we decided to visit the Grand Canyon.  The plan was to camp, but we were worried it was going to be too cold at night (especially for the baby), so we reserved a cabin.  Basically, it was cheaper than a hotel and warmer than camping. :) 

We drove three hours, arrived at the KOA, unloaded our stuff into the cabin, had a cute picnic lunch, then piled back into the car to drive just 20 or 30 minutes to the canyon.  Five minutes into that drive, our van went crazy and the malfunction indicator light went on.  Marty dropped the kids and me off back at the cabin and went into Williams to have the car diagnosed. 

That is where these cute happy pictures of these cute happy kids come from. They were as happy as can be to skip out on whatever the Grand Canyon was and to just go climb trees and play at the KOA. But a while later Marty came back with a worried look on his face. The transmission was shot. I may not know a lot about cars, but I do know that transmissions = $$$$$. On top of which, the van is not driveable, so we are now stranded in Williams Arizona. Poor Marty. He spent most of the night making phone call after phone call trying every possible option to get us home. Most tow trucks couldn't fit our family, we couldn't get a one way rental car, the shuttle wasn't working out. My mom actually offered to drive all the way down from Utah to pick us up and drive us to Queen Creek!  On the last phone call of the night, we found a guy who could tow our van and our family back home the next day.

We decided to try and make the most of things.  We roasted marshmallows around the fire and had lots of fun in the cabin.  It was TINY, just a queen bed and some bunk beds with barely enough room to squeeze the pack and play!  But maybe that's part of what made it so fun for the kids - having our whole family in such close quarters for the night. 

We got up the next morning and made pancakes on our little propane stove.  That was about 8:00 in the morning, and we were expecting the tow truck at around 11:30 or 12:00 (he was coming all the way from Mesa).  So imagine our shock when he pulls up at around 8:15.  He had just called an audible and decided to leave at 5 a.m. to get there early and...didn't call?  So trying to pack up the five of us, all of our breakfast mess, and getting kids to the potty, nursing a baby, etc, etc, was CHAOTIC. 

Bryce took one look at that big, red, shiny tow truck and was smitten.  He was so excited to ride in Mater.  That's about all we heard the whole way home:  "Mater is pulling our VAN!"  Yes, the "vacation" was a big, expensive disaster, but we also had some tender mercies.  We had three kids running on no sleep, squashed together in a tiny cab of a truck and not a PEEP.  Not a whine, not a complaint.  For THREE HOURS.  Which wasn't the end of it!  After we got the van into the shop, we still had to climb into someone else's truck and drive from Mesa to Queen Creek.  Same thing, not a peep.  And the baby who thinks he has to eat every two hours miraculously decided to seriously space out his feedings that day.  And a small tender mercy for me:  We were towed by the nicest guy who said, "You guys are in charge of the radio, but THIS is what I usually listen to."  I'm thinking "OH no, old twangy country?  Hard music with icky beats?  WHAT?"  Then I see "symphonic orchestra" scroll across his radio and I try to dash my hopes, because of course it's too good to be true that we have found the one tow-truck driver in the state who listens to classical music.  But it was true. :)  Classical music is my passion, so of course Newell and I got along just great. :)

The best part?  Seeing the magic of childhood.  This was the dreaded conversation Marty had with Brynn right after we had the van diagnosed:
Marty:  Guess what guys?  Our car is broken, so we won't be able to see the Grand Canyon after all.
Brynn:  Can we still stay in the cabin?
Marty:  Yes...
Brynn:  Can we still roast marshmallows?
Marty:  Yes...
Brynn:  Can I still sleep in the top bunk?
Marty:  Yes...
Brynn:  Ok...(confused look)...Can I go back up the tree now?

Thanks to the sweet innocence of childhood, we realized we could still make the most of the weekend.  Kids, if you read this in 20 years - THANK YOU for helping us salvage that Spring Break!  I am sooooo grateful that I get to be your mom!!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012


 The kids have been surprisingly into robots lately.  So as I was at the end of my rope trying to referee fights between the kids, I realized they were acting like that because they were bored.  We pulled out the playdough, and then I dumped a bunch of small tools and office supplies on the table and told them to build robots.  We had so much fun!!

Below is Brynn's first robot.  It was interesting to me that she had a hard time getting her brain to build anything other than a two dimensional robot (like drawing a picture).  Kid's brains fascinate me. :) 

 Bryce took a break from robot-building to ask me to braid Rapunzel's hair.  Really, Bryce?  Ok....  But as soon as I gave him back my beautiful braid, he got this evil look on his face and said, "I CUT your HAIR, Rapunzel!  HA!!"  That's more like it.

 Ta-da!  She caught on by the end!

 "Fixing" her robot...
 Sweet Baby Gabe kept us company. 
Yes, there is a sticker on his shirt.  He would only turn his head one way, so we were trying to stretch out and strengthen his neck muscles. I told the kids that whenever they wanted to talk or play with him, to play with him over on the sticker side.  Come to think of it, I'm surprised that never backfired on me and that I never came into the room to see Gabe covered head to toe in stickers.  It did suspiciously end up on his face once....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New shelves for all those books

Books are really important in our family.  I guess that's what's happens when your mom is your school librarian.  I used to spend time each day after school helping my mom in the library.  Up until my mom was hired, I didn't care much for reading (mostly I resisted learning how).  But eventually the books in that library got the better of me, and from that point on I just haven't felt complete without a book in my life. :)  I really want my kids to feel excited and passionate about reading.  Brynn came along and I began reading to her from day one (literally) at our house.  She loved loved loved books and I thought I was such a good mom.  Well, that's not allowed, right?  So then Bryce came along and I did the same thing with him.  Whenever I read to Brynn I'd just get him up on my lap, too.  Different results - he didn't care about books or reading for the first couple of years.  He'd fight and squirm and couldn't wait to get away from the book.  Then a while ago he finally settled down enough to give them a try, then enjoyed them, then (hallelujah!!!) started bringing me books and asking me to read to him.  I was excited, and relieved, honestly.  Then recently, BOTH of the kids' interest has declined.  I'd pull out a book for them and offer to read it, and then feel SO DEFLATED when they'd say, "Nah." 

Enter the rain gutter book shelves (cheap white rain gutters from Home Depot).  They are all over the web right now, so I'm not clever at all.  But so far, these shelves have done the trick.  It doesn't hold a ton of books, but the ones that are in it are so much more visible and right at their level.  So they'll see a favorite book they had forgotten about and ask me (can I get another hallelujah??!!) to read it with them.

I think one problem was that we had too many books.  I brought a lot of mine with me from when I was little, my mom gives the kids a new book pretty much every time she sees them, plus we get some of her discards.  But I didn't want to get rid of any because I'm very sentimental about books, and I want our house to be like a library.  So, I organized our books (one of the VERY FEW times I've actually had fun organizing anything - organizing is not my thing).  The bottom shelf of books I get to pick out (right now they are all our counting books) and the kids get to pick a stack to put on the top shelf.   This time they decided to go by themes too, and Brynn picked all the "feelings" books and Bryce picked all the "diggers and dumpers" books.  There's still another book shelf in their room they can pick books off of, but usually when they want to read something, it comes from this one.

I didn't mean for this post to be so long, but since Marty is happily enjoying the march madness BYU game, here I go. 

Side note 1)  One guess on which category of book was our biggest one after organizing them (cue the Jeopardy music)....yep.  Princess books.

Side note 2)  Marty and I get a big kick out of the sign hanging on Brynn's doorknob (you can just see it on the first picture).  It says something like, "Shh, Princess sleeping inside" on one side and "The princess will see you now" on the other side.  Brynn's had it since her birthday in December and I don't think she's ever missed a single night or morning of turning that thing to the right side.  Funny how OCD five year olds can be about certain rituals. 
Side note 3)  Best book ever:  "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons."  Brynn's not totally there yet, but getting close.  She can read most of an easy book like "Hop on Pop."  Although right now we are SO into...

Side note 4)  Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems!!!  Thank you so much for the tip, Jana, they are so funny and the best beginning books ever!  Our personal favorite:
We laughed our heads off in this one and now will randomly burst out, "Banana!"  It's so fun that Brynn is old enough that we can share inside jokes with each other!

Ok, so reading we are doing ok on.  So far my kids seem to love music.  Now on to getting Brynn to run (or do anything even remotely athletic).  But that's a topic for another post....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I figured it out

Sweet Baby Gabe is already sleeping through the night.  I've been doing quite a bit of sleep training with him since he was just a few weeks old and I've been more consistent about it than with my other two, so I'd been hoping for this, but not knowing what to really expect.  The real mystery to me was the timing he had chosen to begin sleeping through the night.  In Utah, he slept in my room (which he hasn't done since he was two weeks old) and he thought it would be really funny to want to eat at least every two hours at night.  By the last night there I think we were up together more than we weren't.  Then our first night back in Arizona I was expecting him to remain spoiled, but he slept through the night.  I figured he was probably just tired from the big trip home.  But now it's been over a week and he's slept through the night all but once.  He's even been sleeping later than I've ever had a baby sleep (or toddler or child, for that matter).  So a couple of mornings ago I started getting nervous around 7:30 so I crept in his room to check on him.  Now I understand the strange timing he had for sleeping through the night.  In Utah he discovered his hands.  Apparently he's also discovered his THUMB!!  My mom always said thumb-suckers are good babies.  Now I can agree with her. :)

And here he is in the Bumbo chair.  Thanks, Great Grandma!  (Anyone else think his hair is going to be FLAMING red?)

This was totally Bryce's idea.  I hope these two brothers can have many many more days up in the loft playing trains (or whatever) together.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

"My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys"

My Grandpa Peterson passed away on February 24.  As much as I am happy to know that he is finally out of pain, comfortable, and at peace, I will also miss him like crazy.  My mom called on that Friday to tell me that he was slipping away.  I packed in an hour, hoping to head out around 4:00ish the next morning and make it in time for him to meet Gabe and to hold his hand one last time (he used to hold my hand in both of his and never let go until I did).  Sadly we didn't make it in time, but again, I'm so glad he didn't have to suffer through another night and it was very peaceful.  So grandpa, here's to summers together in Boulder, horseshoes and shovels, whittling marshmallow sticks, popsicles on a hot summer's day, and some good old fashioned country music.

Bert Darwin Peterson

"Gone to Boulder"

Bert Darwin " Dar" Peterson, Beloved husband, father, grandpa, great-grandpa, brother, uncle and friend passed away peacefully with his family by his side February 24, 2012 in Spanish Fork, UT.

Darwin was born June 15, 1925 to Bertrand and Rosa Goulding Peterson in Boulder, UT, where he worked on the family ranch from a very young age. He grew up working on horseback in the high desert country that he loved.

He served proudly as a Marine Medic during World War II. He was on the first wave of Marines to invade Okinawa and fought in operation Iceberg.

Dar married his eternal sweetheart, Flora Robison, on July 5, 1949 in Salt Lake City. In 1955 they left Boulder and moved to Salt Lake City to raise their family. He was the best father ever to his son and two daughters.

Darwin was a man of integrity with a strong sense of right and wrong, and was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was good-humored, affable, and always made people feel welcome and at ease. Some of his happiest times were spent returning to Boulder with his family. Dar was a special uncle to many nieces and nephews whom he dearly loved. He and Flora enjoyed camping with dear friends Norris and Barbara Lewis. He was excellent at whittling, could fix anything, and loved his country music.

He is survived by his wife Flora; daughter Debra Oldham (Allan); son Rod (Linda); daughter Michelle Sparks (David); grandchildren Corey, Justin (Helen), Emily (Marty), Dylan, Damon, Carter, Mikayle, Nicholas, Madison, Gabrielle; great-grandchildren Brynn, Bryce, Gabe; brother Garth (Lois).

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 3 at 11:00 a.m. in Spanish Fork at the Aspen Meadows LDS Chapel, 1660 S. 1400 E. Friends may call Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Interment will be in Boulder Cemetery. To send the family a condolence visit

His family extends its deepest gratitude to neighbors Bud and Sandy Bittle for their kindness and support; everyone at Hearthstone Manor for their gentle care, compassion and love; and Marlene Oaks who far exceeded her duties as hospice nurse.

A Cowboy's burial

It was a beautiful funeral service and graveside service.  As I looked around the immense natural beauty around us, I felt so good about bringing him here.  He was always so at one with his beloved Boulder land, it just felt like we were bringing him home.  My brothers and I played and sang a song, "Hard Times Come Again No More," that seemed very fitting for this man who had suffered so much, and would now be resting in such a peaceful place.  By the way, that's Brynn in the background with the black and pink cowgirl hat, given to her by Aunt Helen and Uncle Justin.  Since then she's been VERY into being a cowgirl.  I'm happy about that.  After all, "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys."

Memories of Grandpa:

*I went with him to see the Olympic torch pass.  It was a freezing cold day and it was snowing.  That day I was glad he was so affectionate.  He kept me warm with his arm around me.

*Dylan, Damon and I made a little “Happy Anniversary” program one year for Grandma and Grandpa.  I don’t remember exactly what we did, but we practiced hard and set up chairs for them when we were ready to perform it for them.  I do remember at the end we fell into the kiddie pool behind us and thought it was hilarious.  They clapped and clapped and told us how much they loved it.  Since then I have always remembered their anniversary was the 5th of July.

*On that same trip to Boulder, a stray dog followed us home.  We tried to lose it a couple of times, but it always followed us back to the house.  Then one day we lost him somewhere around Pole’s Place.  Grandpa bet us each a quarter the dog would come find us again before we left.  Days later as we were packing the car to leave, we told Grandpa to pay up.  Then JUST as we were pulling out, there came that mutt happily trotting back.  We tried to give the quarters back to Grandpa, but he wouldn’t take them.  It became a little game on the way home – we’d hide them somewhere for him and he’d always find them and give them back.  I remember I didn’t want to spend that quarter.

*He’d always say, “You’re a beautiful girl, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re not.”  You know, when you hear something enough times you start to believe it.  Which is a pretty big achievement for an insecure middle-schooler with a pop-belly and headgear.  Years later, I was being interviewed for a pageant and someone asked me, “Do you think you’re beautiful?”  I told them about my grandpa and his constant reminders to me that I was beautiful.  And I told them that it was because of him that I thought I could answer “yes” to that question.  The interview was recorded, and one day when he was at my house, we played it for him.  It was after his hearing had long gone and I wondered if he’d actually heard it.  But when I looked over at him and saw tears streaming down his face, I knew that he had.  Even still, I’m sure he had no idea how important his constant reminders were to me.  He sure had a way of making each grand-kid feel special.

*He was so proud of me.  I was so embarrassed when he’d pull out a picture of me from his wallet and show it to people right in front of me.  I loved making him proud.  He had a distinct smile he’d use when he talked about his grand-kids.  When I was in college, I was privileged to be able to go to the World War II memorial in Washington DC with him.  My favorite part about that was having the tables turn and being able to show him off to perfect strangers rather than the other way around.  The Sparks girls and I absolutely mauled him.  We all took turns holding his hands.  I swelled with pride whenever someone came up and thanked him for his service to his country or asked to shake his hand.  From then on, I haven’t been able to contain my pride whenever I tell someone about him.

***Miss you, Grandpa***

Friday, March 9, 2012

3 months

 Well, Gabe is growing like a weed.  He is out of most of his 0-3 month clothes and is already wearing some 6-9 months outfits and jammies.  He has discovered his hands and if you really work at it (usually pat-a-cake does the trick) you can get a giggle out of him.  Here is his first big-kid bath.  He loved it of course, but I would expect nothing less from this baby.  He is still so mellow and sweet.

It was hard to get a picture of him, and hard to get to him with the soap because of....
these two.  They are still infatuated with the baby.  Mostly it's adorable, but they can get a little too helpful.  Here is a picture of Brynn washing his tummy, and Gabe looks a little unsure of the whole thing. He's too used to his sister to fuss.  He just shoots me this look and I understand he's had just about enough.