31 August 2014

The Highlight of the Summer

"Am I bad if this is going to be the highlight of my summer?"

"Really, Curtis? Let's just see . . . this summer you've had a baby, moved across the entire countryfed giraffes with your bare hands, explored Washington, D.C., drove 18-plus hours to Kansas City, relived your love story, and next month we are going to the beach. It might make you bad, but I can't judge you."

So, let me give you a recap of some of the other summer activities. Which one is the guilty highlight? I'll let you be the judge.

Airport Overlook
Since we've driven so much already this summer, our rental car was due for an upgrade. The rental agency is located near the airport, so we decided to make a day of the 40-minute drive and exchange at Airport Overlook Park. This gem of a park is situated at the end of the busiest runways Charlotte Douglas Airport. We arrived at peak takeoff time in the early evening to see a long line of a variety of airliners ready to depart. The runway ran parallel to the overlook area, so we got to see and hear the acceleration in an exciting way! I had to cover poor Livia's ears, but Sebastian just adored seeing these flying cars up close. We've always known that Sebastian did not receive his mother's poor eyesight because he can spot a plane in the sky before anyone else. Whether we are out on a walk, playing in the pool, or just driving to the store, Sebastian will shout "ah-peen!" before we even notice the faint roar of the engine that's been humming in the distance. The sky might clearly showcase a small airplane, a tiny glimmering light, or a simple streak of exhaust, but Sebastian always knows. We were amazed the day he bit his pretzel into a "t" shape and called it an airplane. What imagination. So this was the perfect place to take our boy . . . until we take him to Dad's truck plant (one day)!

Cow Appreciation Day
For the last few years, Curtis and I have tried to take full advantage of the free Chick-fil-A on Cow Appreciation Day. This summer was no different! Chick-fil-A offers customers a free meal during July when customers dress up as a cow (!!!). We really do love Chick-fil-A. It's clean, family friendly, real, and delicious. So how could this list of summer highlights feel complete without this?

Park Serendipity
Moving to new cities every few months doesn't give us a great chance to become experts in the area, so one of our new favorite pastimes is exploring by car. We love driving around both historic and new neighborhoods, dreaming of our future in a Southern Colonial, a natural Craftsman, a fun Mediterranean, or charming cottage style home. As we have driven around, we have found some fun parks to stop and enjoy. Even though Sebastian loves driving around, he loves climbing and jumping and running and sliding even more.

Summer Splash Pads
In addition to finding creative playgrounds to explore, Sebastian has loved the variety of splash pads around the area. We have a pool at our apartment complex, but who wants to jump into thousands of gallons of water when you can jump through a set of extreme sprinklers.

Great Wolf Lodge
Earlier this year, Curtis and I got suckered into listening to a 3-hour timeshare presentation. Free rewards for the long and painful sales pitch: an extravagant vacation to the Mexican Riviera, an exotic cruise, or a family-friendly stay at the Great Wolf Lodge. We were living in Texas at the time, not quite certain if we were soon moving to Portland or somewhere else later in the year. Oh, and we were secretly pregnant. As awesome as it would be to be take our much-deserved vacation, we just don't think this is the year to go all out. Timeshare people: The popular Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas, is very accessible, very family friendly, and very close by. Well, we're likely moving to Portland soon. No worries—another Great Wolf Lodge is located in the lush mountains of Washington. Oh, but we might be traveling for work to North Carolina. And we aren't sure when. There's another Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte!

Basically, fate made us take this vacation. And Sebastian sure is glad we did! He had a blast at their indoor water park, jumping through man-made waves, climbing up and sliding down Sebastian-sized water slides, running through falls, and wading through fountains. Livia wasn't quite sure what to think about all the spray features and splash landings, but because she's perfect, she never complained. Curtis and I took turns going down some of the grown-up slides. We invaded some families' fun to ride 4-person tubes, but we both loved the mat racer. We would totally come again—for free, that is. Guess we need to find another timeshare presentation!

Pig Pickin'
When Curtis and I were touring the East Coast together with the BYU Wind Symphony seven years ago, we were treated with a traditional Southern pig pickin'—twice. And we LOVED them. Don't ask me why. So when our ward announced that they were having their annual pig pickin' while we were still here, you can bet we were excited.

My first pig pickin', May 2007.  Excuse my chubby cheeks.
A pig pickin' usually includes roasting an entire pig, then picking—literally—the meat off its bones. Unfortunately pig was about three times more expensive this year than it was last year, so our ward budget could only afford three pork butts instead of "the whole hog." I crack myself up. The barbecue was still delicious, of course, featuring a smorgasbord of picnic sides and dessert—which was probably the best part this go around. Not the dessert. But watching Sebastian snack on the dessert. After we were finished eating, Sebastian ran off to play. At one point, I didn't see him on the playground . . . but that's because he was strategically choosing which dessert plate to devour. Grandma Dalley used to make reference to babies having periscope eyes. She's totally right. I bet Sebastian stood by that dessert table for a solid twenty minutes. Did I try to stop him? It would have been utterly futile, so, no. We rarely eat sweets at our house, so we thought the boy deserved some cake, especially since he was demonstrating such independence.

22 August 2014

Trent, The Fashion Designer

He would cut the felt carefully into the shape that most resembled the model—a Tamagatchi, the latest trend in digital pets for kids in the late '90s. He carefully stitched the two tan pieces together with spare black thread, stuffing it with bits of cotton. I remember knowing exactly what it was when he was finished. Trent was always creating: forts with blankets and fake plants, lego masterpieces, models with detailed paint jobs. I was never that way. I could follow directions. I could copy others' good ideas. But Trent created things almost out of thin air. And he has been ever since.

Trent graduated from Brigham Young University–Idaho in business and clothing construction. On December 10, 2011, Trent's first complete line of jackets, End of Line, were featured in a BYU-I fashion show called Showcase Runway. Trent's inspiration for these jackets came from his childhood passion for Gundam robots and other anime characters, decked in sharp angles and intense lines. These jackets are immaculate. Now Trent, the lucky dog he is, also happened to meet his wife that same day—the highlight of his fashion designing career to date.

The Designer with Mammaw before the show
The Designer's designs
The Designer on stage
The Designer with his models
I just can't tell what is better looking in this picture: my husband or that jacket.
The Designer, himself
The Designer with his future wife on the day that they met.
Now you may think that it doesn't get much better than being featured in a fashion show and meeting your wife on the same day, but this week, Trent may have topped that. He is an official fashion designer for Klim, a company who designs gear for extreme sports. It's the perfect job for a guy like Trent, and we couldn't be more proud.

15 August 2014

Moments That Matter Most

I can still see the peace that had been washed over his face. His pink eyelids were delicately closed as he breathed short, deep breaths in my arms. It was close to two o'clock in the morning. I lay there and stared at his body, so small and secure, cradled in the crook of my arm, in the dim light of the moon coming through my window. As I stroked his fluffy hair, I thought, I want to remember this moment for the rest of my life.

I often find myself wanting to remember important events, out-of-the-ordinary happenings that make my life seem more remarkable in some way or another, like hiking to the top of a glacier in the Swiss Alps or posing next to a crocodile in Cozumel. There's nothing wrong with that: These events are often very happy memories. Sometimes we get lucky with a camera, immortalizing moments that mean something to us, moments that make our lives unique.

But then there are moments that Instagram will never be worthy of. Maybe these moments can be photographed, but these moments I simply just want to enjoy. These moments are short. And sometimes we get lucky and realize what they are before these moments are gone.

These are just some of my moments:

when Livia goes completely limp as she eats.
when Sebastian clasps his hands and squeezes his eye to pray.
when I realized the crease in Sebastian's forearm was beginning to disappear.
when Livia gets all shifty-eyed as I stroke her eyebrows right before she falls asleep.
when they pout their lips and arch their back right after they wake up.
when Sebastian calls my name as I pick him up from nursery.
when they yawn and stretch their fists to the top of their heads.
when Sebastian points at the hummingbirds or the butterflies with excitement.
when Livia's eyes light up as she looks at the window.
when their gums look so deliciously gummy as they smile.
when Sebastian scrunches his nose and curls his lip, showing his small teeth, when he smells flowers.
when I wake up and realize Livia slept all night.
when Sebastian kicks his sandals forward as he runs. His legs are perfect.
when their chests rise and fall as they sleep.
when Livia smiles as Sebastian gives her cars or blankets or diapers or bread.
when Sebastian fell asleep with his hands folded on his chest like an old man.
when Livia sleeps so hard her face gets squishy.
when I decide not to yell at Sebastian.
when I decide to stare at Livia instead of stare at a screen.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf instructed us that "we would do well to slow down a little, . . . focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most." I try each day to slow down and focus. And when I do, I feel a drop of heaven fall onto my heart each time.