Friday, September 19, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name. . . 3rd Edition

Laura Jane - 1 year photos
I have been meaning to write this post since Laura Jane was tiny.  Now 18 months later I am finally getting around to it.  Once again the curse of being the 3rd child becomes evident in my blog posts.

Naming our babies is important to us.  We try to name our children after family members or give them names that have special meaning.  We want their names to be something to which they aspire.  And more importantly, they just have to "feel" right to us.

Laura Jane Beverly is our little one with lots of names.  A handful of family and friends teased us when we told them our chosen name.  Asked us if we were from the South.  Or if were of another ethnic origin who gives multiple names to their children.  It doesn't bother me though, especially considering who she is named after.

Kristi Amundson and Laura Virki-Kosonen
Laura - While serving our mission in Finland, both Lance and I had an opportunity to get to know a member of our church named Laura Viri-Kosonen.  (Pronounced lao-rah).  She is the most Christ-like woman we have ever met.  Generous, kind, spiritual, soft-spoken, and loving.  A dear, dear woman who dedicated her life to the Savior and the kind of woman I aspire to be.  The kind of woman I would love for my Laura Jane to grow up to be.

Jane - As a Jane Austen lover, Jane has always been one of my favorites.  We have an Elisabeth.  Why not a Jane?   Plus I have two friends who named their daughters with two first names - Emma Jane and Sally Jane.  I'm not sure why but these little girls with two names seemed so charming to me.  What convinced Lance, who was resistant to the baby having two names at first, was the meaning of the name Jane. Jane means "God is gracious."  Laura Jane was our first "surprise" miracle baby and is a testament that God is indeed gracious and kind.

Laura Jane meeting Grandma Bev for the first time.
Beverly - Beverly is Lance's mother's name.  Beverly has been an amazing example to him his whole life.  She is hardworking, selfless, unfailingly generous with everything she has, faithful, loving, devoted to her family and has undeniable strength.  We wanted to honor Mother for all she has sacrificed for her children by naming our baby girl after her.  And like Laura Kosonen, we want nothing more than to have Laura Jane emulate her grandmother's strengths as she grows.

Some day Laura may shorten her name.  In the meantime, please don't call her Laura.  It doesn't sound right to us because that isn't her name.  We sometimes call her Laura Janie.  And much of the time "Baby."  But never just Laura.  Laura Jane continues to be such a happy blessing in our lives and is adored by every family member.

NOTE:  You can see the meaning behind Elisabeth's name here.  I was surprised to see I never did one for Carsten.  Oops.  I better get working on that entry as well!!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Now wait just a minute. . .

This kid cracks us up constantly with his high pitched voice and insights on life.  (When we aren't ready to lose it from how much he picks on his little sister. Those two have the worst rivalry going on.)

His new favorite ways to start a sentence:
- Now wait just a minute. . . 
- Actually. . . 

He is turning into quite the train engineer and almost daily wants me to take a picture of his handy work to send to someone.  At random times he will bring up a certain design with pride.

He is obsessed with Jesus and trying to figure out the secrets of heaven.  I am amazed at how much he does internalize from church and things we say. 

By far the most endearing quality is how he asks for about 10 signs of affection before bed every night.  It started with a snuggle and he has gradually added loves, kiss, hug, sugar, gentle, back scratch, leg rub, Eskimo kiss, bottom tap and bottom pinch to this nightly routine. 

Part of me wants this sweet boy to stay this young lover forever.  And the other part can't wait for him to grow out of the spitting, hitting, gross, pesky stage in which he is.

Oh the dichotomy of parenting a preschooler.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Be your own kind of beautiful

Anyone out there have a constant battle with weight?  I know there are a few of you out there who can relate to me and what I am about to say.  I'm not talking about the tiny little pooch you might have left over after giving birth 6 months ago or the love handles that showed up at 30.  I'm talking about the need to vigilantly watch what you eat constantly or you will pack on 10 lbs in a few weeks.  Those of us who are addicted to food and eat our feelings.  Weight Watchers and I have had an on again and off again relationship for years.  I manage to maintain my weight well usually with a little fluctuation but after having baby #3, I found it hard to lose the weight.  Age, stress?  Who knows.

So imagine how the inner turmoil I am facing now - 25 lbs heavier than I have ever been and pregnant.  I know, I know.  Having a baby is a miracle.  I am grateful for that.  But having to go out and buy new maternity clothes because you can't fit into the ones you wore your last three pregnancies is depressing.  And knowing you are about put on at least another 25 lbs is even more disheartening.   I know how my body works and even if I give up sugar, eat super healthy and exercise 5 days a week, I still pack on the weight.

Add to the discouragement the fact that I have two thin sister-in-laws expecting along with a few friends.  You know the kind who only look pregnant from behind?  Or who lose all of their weight after about 5 months?  It's hard not to compare.

I can already hear the comments for others.
Are you having twins?
You must be having a girl because you are carrying the weight all over!
When are you due?  Soon? (when I'm 25 weeks)

I just decided today while at church that I just have to let it go.  It is what it is.  God made my body a certain way and it knows what to do so it can grow a child and then be able to feed that baby for at least a year afterwards.  This whole journey is quite miraculous - who would have ever guessed I would be having baby #4 and so far my body had done an amazing job at creating life!   Some people are going to make insensitive comments (because they always do) or compare me to other pregnant people  (because that happens naturally.)  But I can't care. What I look like on the outside does not matter.

The number on the scale does not change who I am inside.
It does not make me less beautiful.
It does not minimize the many talents I have.
It does not make me less of a mom, wife, or friend.
It does not have to take away from the true miracle and blessing this baby is in my life.

So pass me the muumuu.  I'm ready to do all in my power to be healthy in my life and just accept whatever size I am.   And enjoy an occasional Dairy Queen blizzard.

No make-up?  Not the most flattering pic of my arms?  No problem. Embracing the moment to take a pic on the first day of school.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sweet Surprise

Sweetheart #4 due to arrive Valentine's Day 2015.  Surprised?  So were we!!!

In fact, two weeks before I took the pregnancy test I told Lance that I thought we could be okay with only three kids.   I had just begun to feel like I am getting the hang of the craziness three kids six and under brings.  But, as always, I am reminded yet again that God has a plan that doesn't necessarily fit my own.

I have been more sick around this time and have spend most days barely functioning.  For the first time in my life I had to cancel giving a talk in church because I have been so sick.  I think the fog is beginning to lift, though, and that I am returning back to my normal self.

One thing is for sure - I can safely say our "infertility" is cured after having two "surprise" pregnancies in two years.  We feel very blessed indeed.

Now come the prayers for a healthy baby.  I really feel like I am getting too old for this!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Worm, 3rd Edition

This baby could read books all day.  I finally weaned her this week.  She has been my hardest baby to wean (thus by far my longest nurser) and I was sure she would protest loudly.  However, she has decided she prefers "bah!" After "bah!" And "no-noak" is no longer needed.  

We all love reading to her.  There is something about the way her eyes light up when we read a book she has chosen or how she knows exactly what book she wants.  The kids flock to her room before naptime/bedtime and clamour to be able to read a book to her.  She tolerates them.  Sometimes.

Every night I spend time reading to each one of my children and I treasure that time with each of them.  Carsten's newest fav is Maybe a Bear Ate It.  Elisabeth jumps back and forth between books she can read, chaper books, and other picture stories.  Laura Jane loves Goodnight Gorilla and Susan Boynton's The Going to Bed book.

Books open up worlds of imagination to my children and allow me to see and experience tender parts of their soul as we snuggle and read together.  

Proud to be a family of bookworms!

Friday, June 13, 2014

From one mother to another

To the moms who were publically criticizing me in Target today:

You know who you are. The two who were scoffing at me as I was trying to deal with the biggest melt down in discount store history.  The ones who commented how you never have seen kids misbehave so badly or how you would have NEVER responded the way I did as I was standing at the end of your aisle. With your older kids standing and observing nonetheless.  The ones that I curtly asked "Do you really not have any compassion for a fellow mother who was obviously struggling at the moment?" before I started sobbing and then dragged my screaming son and baby out of the store, leaving my full cart of unpurchased merchandise at the front of the store.

I just am floored by your rudeness. And lack of understanding and support.  Maybe my child is the worst behaved preschooler that ever entered a store.  And there is no "maybe" about it -  it is a proven fact I am less than perfect with my mothering skills.  But aren't we all?  Isn't parenting one of the most difficult things you have ever done?  Haven't you ever had a moment of pure desperation when you have no idea what to do?  Aren't we all just trying our best? Didn't you have terrible, horrible, no good days?    Aren't all of our kids learning and growing and making mistakes?  Didn't you realize you make mistakes all the time?

There are many things I want to say (lots more telling off and scolding) but the most important is this:  Let's, as mothers, stop criticizing and start supporting each other.  Let's not under estimate how a compassionate glance can ease each other's burdons or a kind comment can ease the heart of a stressed mother in a difficult situation.  Let's keep negative comments and criticism to ourselves.  Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt.  Let's whisper a prayer for each other for strength.  Let's never forget we are all part of the same club, trying our best to love and raise our children.

Please.  I beg of you.  We all could use more helping hands and understanding allies as we strive to do the most important job.  I think teaching our children through our own actions to be compassionate will do more for them in their lives than how we deal with tantrums in Public places.

Thank you,
A frazzled mother just doing the best she can

Picture of Carsten and I after he "worked" out with me this morning.  A sweet moment before the craziness of Target unfolded.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dear Girl

This 6 year old left her Cinderella doll in a hotel room in Florida by accident.  The hotel graciously sent it to us and she waited every day, checking the mailbox frequently for its arrival. She has not let it out of her sight since it arrived.

Parenting my children is tough. So incredibly hard and overwhelming to me. The thought of having to mold them into good people, raise them in a house of faith, help to stamp out bad behaviors, and just take care of their everyday needs is all consuming.  I never feel adequate enough.  

But then there are these moments, like tonight, when she lays out her dress for her kindergarten program, helps her brother get his jammies on, and makes a bed for her doll and my heart just melts.   I wish I could burn this night into her memory.  Of her helpfulness, pure innocence, and genuine excitement to perform for us and please her teacher - all reflections of the dear girl she is inside.  So she could know, despite my weaknesses, how much I love her and wish that these weaknesses weren't there.  And more importantly, have her realize that her heart is her best part of her.  Nothing else in this world matters to me - not her grades in school, how well she plays sports, nor  her musical talent. It's the sweet girl she is and her desire to follow God.

I purposely am keeping her little as long as I can.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Girl's Got Skills

15 months old and becoming very talented.

Eats Magnum Doubles like a seasoned pro.  

Figured out how to climb up onto chairs all by herself.

This is my favorite.  Ms. Houdini here learned how to break free of the straps in her high chair and figures the tray is a much better place to eat her pizza.

and the Grand Finale. . . .Started walking on April 1st (14 1/2 months old).  For some reason Blogger won't let me upload the video so you will have to click on the link.

I'm not ready for toddlerhood.  I'm not sure why but I find I am thoroughly enjoying this baby more than my other two and want nothing more than her to stay the baby.  Maybe it is because I am a more seasoned mommy but I just relish each moment with her.   I am not one to rush my children to grow up.  I strive to keep them as sweet and innocent as long as I can.  

 I'm not sure there could be a more perfect little baby girl.  (Which means I need to remember this when she is 14.)  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thankful for the Ride

I wrote this post in November 2013.  I thought it was well worth posting months later!


Christmas 2013.  Love the girls in their matching dresses and Carsten with his bloody nose.  
When ever anyone asks how life is with three I almost always instantly reply that having Laura Jane was the "Game Changer" in my life.  Though she is a practically perfect baby, the transition has been and still is a bit rocky. Three kids has been a really, really hard adjustment.

I find it hard to describe in words the drastic change that has occurred in my life.  Every moment is now consumed with the rearing of my children.  Even more than with two.  With two I felt confident in my mothering skills much of the time.  I could work part time.  I volunteered outside of home and church.  Going shopping was possible (not always easy or episode-free but still possible).  I ran races and lost a lot of weight with little effort.  I was able to swap babysitting with the best of them.  With two I felt like an accomplished, capable woman.

With three my confidence has dissipated rapidly.  Going to the store to buy groceries?  Absolutely impossible. Volunteering?  Only at the minimum.  Working?  Can't even fathom doing that right now.  Watching other people's children?  Gives me an anxiety attack just to think about adding another kid to the mix.  And beyond the loss of easiness of the day-to-day tasks I used to take for granted before Laura Jane arrived, I realize my opinions about rearing children have changed.  For example I used to swear I would NEVER carry around my baby in a carseat everywhere.  Babywearing is what is best for the baby.   Or give my baby sugar before her first birthday.  The car seat was my best friend - it kept the baby safe and was so much easier to juggle everything.  And sugar?  I'm sure she had a taste of chocolate cake as soon as she was eating solids.

I won't even delve into how I wonder how I am going to survive the terrible threes with a baby and a kindergartener in the mix.

These challenges have lead me to two stark realizations.

1. My sole purpose in this season of my life is my children.  Most days I am in complete survival mode.  The goal of everything I do is simplification. The every-day phrase my children hear the most is "It's so-and-so's turn.  Your turn is next."  Laundry is the bane of my existence.   Somedays I am not the best mom, friend, or wife in the world.   My dog doesn't always get walked everyday.  My mini-van is so messy I always hope I never park by anyone I know.  But every decision I make and everything I do is to provide them a loving home in which to grow up with parents who not only love them but do all they can to teach them to follow the Savior.  They are my life.

2.  This is just a phase in my life.  Soon my kids will be more independent and need me less.  I will have time to scrapbook, pick up groceries like I don't have a care in the world, and walk my dog after I just spent hours at the gym.  I can devote a lot of my time again to serving others.  The isolation will end and I hope I will look back on these formidable years with fond memories of the tender moments I had with my children and be able to laugh about the even more difficult moments.

The best way to describe how I am feeling is in the words of Gordon B. Hinckley, one of our modern day prophets.

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
This crazy baby loves any thing she can ride on!

What a crazy, hard, yet rewarding ride it is.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Today was a normal, busy day filled with school pick ups, making meals, dishes, laundry, naptime, homework, piano practice, working on my Sunday School lesson and the always draining bedtime routines.  As I sat down to unwind tonight, I was overcome with a feeling of contentment and joy.  I think I've finally found my groove as a mom of three little ones.   I find comfort in our daily routine and joy in my babies despite the many challenges and my inadequacies. 

 I've experienced  a few storms in life and have seen them all around me in others lives. Mortality feels more and more real to me with every year. Which is maybe why these calming moments are ones that I cherish.  

Besides- how could you not be blissfully happy spending every day with this little cutie pie?  She radiates joy.  

Friday, January 31, 2014


I am THIRTY FIVE this year.  3.5.  Should it feel monumental?   The best thing about 35?  I have three beautiful children and the best hair I have ever had in my life.

Birthday celebration at Benihana.  Love sharing a birthday month with my baby girl!

Reflecting upon my life and where I am now, I struggle with the concept of belonging.  There are two things I know for sure:

1.  I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Gospel is true and membership in this church has brought me peace, joy and comfort.  I may have confusion in my life but my beliefs always ring true and provide me a foundation I can trust.  

2.  I belong at home with my children.  I know this without a doubt.  They need me home and I need to be home with them.

The struggle lies in #2.  I am not exceptionally good at being a mom or a homemaker. My mother-in-law is appalled at my laundering skills (As she should be.  It's never done.  EVER.)  No matter how hard I try the clutter is always there and there is always something that needs to be cleaned.  I LOVE going out to eat and am not a huge fan of cooking.   I am amazing at organizing things but can't seem to keep anything in my house organized.  I want to spend time quality time with my children but life just gets in the way. (If I had a dime for every time I heard "You NEVER play with us mom!")  And let's not even address the loss of temper and yelling.  I see so many articles floating around on Facebook about parenting - face your kids backwards in their carseat until they are four, you should wear your kids until they are preschoolers, stay away from GMOs, never yell at them, validate their feelings, don't put them in timeouts alone - that I have just stopped reading them because I don't need another thing to feel guilty or overwhelmed about.  Ignorance is bliss.  Bottom line - I know I belong at home but am struggling to find peace with not excelling and doing well at my current profession.  I am used to doing well and excelling at anything I put my mind to in life.  

I am an exceptional instructional designer, project manager and educator.  But I don't belong at work anymore.

I am a great leader and have really enjoyed being a leader of a non-profit organization.  But I can't stay on top of my home life much less add another thing.

So I struggle at 35 to find peace in the roles I know are meant for me.  I struggle to scrap the high expectations I have always had of myself and accept a realistic standard.  Overachieving moms out there - How do you that?   

Maybe it lies in celebrating my strengths in my home life and having a sense of humor about the rest.

1.  I am good at celebrating holidays and making traditions for my kids.  Some bloggers have written verbose blog posts AGAINST how I celebrate holidays but who cares.  It brings me and my kids happiness.  So there.  Santa is real.  The tooth fairy brings sparkly dollars.  The leprechauns come and wreck havoc on my home.  And I do it so very well.

2.  I am an AWESOME baker.  Ask my Sunday School class.

3.  I am good at remembering others and doing small acts of kindness for them.  My kids are the same and it makes me proud.
4.  I take my kids to the library and read to them each individually every day.  
5.  I love my children unconditionally and they know that it is ok to make mistakes.  We practice loving and forgiving each other and applying the atonement in our lives.  Daily.
6.  We read the scriptures and pray together as a family every day.  Followed by family hug and family kiss.