Thursday, November 19, 2015


It's Ashy Boy's third birthday and he has fully entered that special time of life when you have all the fight and turbulence of a teenager, but the reasoning of a three year old.  This kid has always been passionate, but 2 and under is easier to deal with, 3 and up seems like willful rebellion and he has me going 2007 Britney at times.  Honestly, I consider shaving my head every night at bedtime.  It seems less painful than pulling it all out.

This year he has weaned, moved to a big boy bed, started sleeping  through the night (finally), had his first swimming lessons, learned he was going to be a big brother, starred in his first movie (he even threw a fit and walked off set...diva) , attended his first Royals game, begrudgingly adjusted to brother being at school, mostly potty trained, learned a zillion new things and gave the whole family a run for our money.

Even though he is a handful, he brings me great joy every single day.  They say a kid that sings to himself is a happy kid.  So, despite the rocky moments, I know he is happy and aware of how loved he is.  His latest masterpiece is singing his favorite baseball player's name (Morales) over and over again to the tune of the Star Wars theme.

He can do every single thing by himself.

He doesn't like the inside of his pockets to be white.  I have to convince them that they are a very light blue, or gray, to get him to wear jeans.

If River is reading a book, Ash repeats everything he says and then tells me he read it too.

He loves trying the monkey bars at River's school.  I still have to hold him, but he insists on practicing every time I drop River off for Kindergarten.

He has been the biggest lover and cuddler of Jelly Bean (Baby Girl Bear).  He nuzzles my pregnant belly every chance he gets, especially after bedtime.  He asks how many weeks along I am and then sticks out his little pot belly and says he's a week farther along than me.  He only wants to sleep if I lay down with him and he can sleep on Jelly Bean, but then he complains Jelly Bean is too bumpy.

We had a goal to be out of diapers by his birthday and it wasn't going well until two weeks ago.  He is completely out of diapers during the day, but I put him in a pull-up at night.  He wakes up dry most of the time.  I can't call him potty trained yet, because I am still reminding to go and making him sit on the potty to try, even when he thinks he doesn't need to go and then it turns out he does.  It is a major improvement from a few weeks ago when he was fighting me so hard about it, it seemed like he was regressing.  The change came from getting stickers on the Potty Time app and me assertively telling him to try going potty, even if he doesn't think he needs to, rather than passively asking him if he needs to go and then aggressively making him go after he has told me no.  I am happy with the progress and the small diaper break before the new baby comes.

He loves playing the Star Wars Lego video game and is constantly conspiring to play on days other than Saturdays, the day I allow video games.  He is cute and a master manipulator, I mean negotiator, but I've gotten pretty good at withstanding his adorable voice and long lashes batting away at me.  Daddy on the other hand... well... we've just decided that what happens when mommy's not home is best left unsaid.

He couldn't decide on wether to be Anakin Skywalker, or Darth Vader for Halloween.  He finally picked Anakin, but told me, "Mom, most times I'm Anakin, but sometimes I'm a little Darth Vader."  Truer words have not been spoken.

He still loves his brother more than anything in the world.  He hated not being able to go to school with River and his little heart broke every time we dropped River off for awhile, but now he has realized one on one time with mommy has its perks.  Thank goodness it is just half day Kindergarten.  First grade is going to rock our world next year.

He wants to name the baby Twinkle.

His favorite shows are Clone Wars and Octonauts.

His favorite books are The Golden Egg and The Night Before Christmas.

His favorite song is When Daddy Comes Home and Daddy Ate An Apple...which I made up, because ain't nobody going to make Bear eat fruit or vegetables.

He loves spaghetti and pizza.  He does pretty well with fruit, but faints at the sight of veggies on his plate.  Thank goodness for green smoothies, which he drinks with gusto.

He still has the most adorable toddler run and I still haven't been able to catch it on camera.  It involves a lot of arms swinging side to side (sometimes flamboyantly) and hips swinging side to side in the opposite direction.  It is the cure for any bad day!

You might not ever figure out what is going to set him off... butter on his toast, no butter on his toast, the fact I even made toast... but at the end of the day, no one will hug you more, love you more, give you more kisses and tell you you are beautiful more times than Ashy Bear.  He fights hard, but loves harder and the rest of us are completely enamored with our little blondie.  Ash, you had us from the very first cry.  Happy Birthday Love!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Talk

My name is Lillith Bear and Brother Flade asked me to speak on Strengthening Our Marriages.  Brother Flade is my home teacher, as well as Brother Wadsworth and the problem with having two members of the bishopric home teach you is, it puts you on their radar.  Before I moved into this ward, I hadn’t talked in Sacrament for a solid 13 years and this will be my third time speaking in this ward.  They are really messing with my percentages.

I have to say, I was a little intimidate by the subject matter of my talk.  It didn’t help that every time I told my friends and family what I was speaking about, they laughed.   I’m not sure why.  Anyway, most of the speeches I looked up on strengthening marriages addressed things like praying together as a couple, reading scripture together, etc.  My husband has never been active in the church and as solid as this advice it, it doesn’t really help me too much and since I feel like I was asked to speak for a reason, I wanted to find advice and answers that would apply to everyone, no matter the relationship. 
When it comes to matters of love, I have an interesting history.

I have been a Rosaline-Who’s that you ask.  She’s the girl Romeo was waxing on about, until he saw Juliet and forgot all about her.

I have been an Eponine-A hopeless romantic that fell in love with a guy that was just not that in to her.  I wore unrequited love for years, the way most girls wear make-up, every day and all over my face.

I have been a Jo-A best friend, a good buddy, a confidante that you could spend countless, effortless hours with, but then I had to stand by and watch them all marry their Amy’s.  Yes, high-maintenance, fussy, date-demanding Amys.  I didn’t get it.

I loved in so many imperfect ways.  I made vast improvements to my track record, when I fell in love and married Robert Bear, but I didn’t get everything right.  We are far from perfect and our marriage has a lot of room for improvement and that is okay, because as Elder Holland stated….

Christ is the only one who got it all right, did it all perfectly, loved the way we are all to try to love. But even though we fall short, that divine standard is there for us. It is a goal toward which we are to keep reaching, keep striving—and, certainly, a goal to keep appreciating.

So how does Christ love and how can it help us improve our marriage?

In his BYU address, Elder Holland turned to the scriptures to teach us how Christ loved.  We have all heard that Charity is defined as the pure love of Christ.  Moroni 7:45 says…

Charity suffereth long, and is kind- Suffering is defined as undergoing pain, distress, or hardship and long suffering is defined as being patient during hardships. The Love that Christ models for us comes hand in hand with suffering and apparently not for a short amount of time either and as a kicker, we’re expected to be kind throughout it.  We’re not supposed to scream and shout, threaten, abandon, call names and blame.  We are supposed to suffer, for as long as it takes and be kind. 

I read an article recently titled…

THE MOST OVERLOOKED CHARACTERISTIC OF WHO YOU WANT TO MARRY by Kevin Thompson and he stated that you want to marry someone who suffers well.  I definitely fall into the category of people that did not have suffering well on my list of what I was looking for in a spouse.  He says suffering is part of the human experience, and when life falls apart, you want someone you can run to, not someone you want to run from.
  • You want someone who believes in you.
  • You want someone who instills faith, not causes doubt.
  • You want someone who hopes no matter the circumstances.
In the Bible, Job’s wife responded to his suffering by saying, “Curse God and die.”
Had he not suffered enough?
Was life not difficult enough?
Enduring hardship was enough, yet Job was also forced to rebuke his wife during his time of struggle.
Life is hard enough; there is no need to make it harder.
Choosing a spouse who does not suffer well makes life harder.
It makes every grief stronger.
It makes every sorrow more painful.
It makes every hurt deeper.
when our spouse knows how to suffer,
when they have don’t live in denial, but confront the sorrows of life,
when they don’t live in despair but know how to laugh and cry at the same time,
when they offer support and hope in all of life’s challenges,
when they can see the big picture of life,
every grief is wedded to hope
every sorrow is matched with love
and every hurt is paired with healing.

So here’s the deal…. Don’t be Job’s wife.  (That includes you fellas out there.)  If you recognize some of those negative qualities in yourself, realize they don’t serve you and they definitely don’t serve your loved ones.  I saw a poster on Facebook that said, Negative people have a problem for every solution.  Don’t be that person.  If this is you and it’s probably been most of us at some point, desire to change and pray for help.  I have a major pet peeve when people say, that’s just me… I’m a pessimist, or I’m sarcastic or critical and I can’t change.  Of course you can change.  Changing for the better is the whole purpose of life. 

We can change ourselves, but we can’t change other people.  Ladies, you can’t make your husbands into Mr. Darcys, or Edwards.  There are a lot of Edwards in literature, so I’m going to pretend like I’m not talking about Twilight, but if you know me, you know the truth.  So what to do if you are married to, or in a relationship with a bad  sufferer.  I definitely don’t have all the answers to this one, but some ideas I had are; Set a good example, be one yourself.  Discuss how important the quality is in times where you are not currently in a hardship.  Cuz ain’t nobody like to be lectured to in the middle of an argument.  Forgive a lot, pray specifically for help in that area, read together in the scriptures and if they aren’t religious, read other stories, or watch movies involving both good and bad examples of this trait and discuss what that quality means to you.  My little boy plays cops and robbers all the time, but the other day, he was running around calling himself Nephi and calling my husband Laman.  He knows, even from a young age, who the hero of the story is and who he wants to cast himself as.  We want to be heroes and develop the characteristics of our heroes.  Maybe suffering well is a trait they haven’t really even thought about and just discussing it will help bring it to the forefront of their minds.   Also and this one is a little out of the box, you can do family history work.  Sister Nelson just spoke in our stake and said if we need help, we can ask for specific angels by name to help us, but many of them need their work done.

This struck a chord with me, because for the last year I have had the impression many times I needed to do the work for Bear’s grandparents.  This is weird to me, because I have never done temple work for family members, so it is not something I think about a lot.  I have never met my husband’s grandparents and I have grandparents of my own whose work is not complete.  During Sister Nelson’s talk, three things became abundantly clear to me; our dead, may have died, but they are not dead.   Bear’s grandparents, Jackie and Noble are ready for their work to be done and finally, they want to help us. 

Before I move on, I think it is important to clarify that it is not charity or kindness to endure any type of abuse or unrighteousness that may be inflicted on us by others.  Aileen H. Clyde said, “God’s commandment that as we love him, we must respect ourselves, suggests we must not accept disrespect from others. It is not charity to let another repeatedly deny our divine nature and agency. It is not charity to bow down in despair and helplessness. That kind of suffering should be ended.   If you are in that situation, please seek help from the Bishop, or another trusted authority.

The second part of the scripture describing how Christ loves in Moroni 7:45 says that true charity—real love—”is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity.”  Think of how many arguments could be avoided, how many hurt feelings could be spared, how many cold shoulders and silent treatments could be ended, and, in a worst-case scenario, how many breakups and divorces could be avoided if we were not so easily provoked and if we thought no evil of one another.

Thankfully, I have never been a Desdemona.  Just think of the pain and suffering that could have been spared if Othello had not let Iago sway him to see evil, where there was none.  I know a murder/suicide story is a harsh example of this principle, but in reality marriages die, relationships are snuffed out and friendships perish every day, because we can so easily be provoked.

Elder Holland says, “Temper tantrums are not cute even in children; they are despicable in adults, especially adults who are supposed to love each other. We are too easily provoked; we are too inclined to think that our partner meant to hurt us—meant to do us evil, so to speak; and in defensive or jealous response we too often rejoice when we see them make a mistake and find them in a fault. Let’s show some discipline on this one. Act a little more maturely. Bite your tongue if you have to. Proverbs 16:32  says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city”. At least one difference between a tolerable marriage and a great one may be that willingness in the latter to allow some things to pass without comment, without response.”

I read a great book about disciplining children called, “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey and one of her main tenets she teaches is to apply positive intent to your children’s misbehavior.  It will immediately diffuse an over-reaction on your part and allows you to teach your children, without making them feel like they are bad, or evil, or stupid.  A quick example is if one of your children hits his brother or sister, because they don’t want to share a toy.  Most of us would probably say, stop, hitting is mean, why would you do that?  Would you want them to hit you? All of these put the child on the defensive and communicate you are bad and mean.  By simply creating a positive intent for the situation, like I know you hit your brother, because you didn’t want him to play with your favorite toy,  you may not hit, hitting hurts, we teach them without putting them down, or on the defensive.  We model empathy for them and let them understand we know where they are coming from. 

So, I have been trying to do this with everyone.  Not for their sake, but for mine.  I am a happier person when I don’t believe that everyone is out to get me.  It has been pretty easy to do with strangers, if someone cuts me off in traffic, I think, he must really need to get home to take his insulin.  It’s been challenging, but doable for my children.  They’re just so dang cute… if I take a second to breathe, I can usually see things from their perspective and just why they thought the world was ending, but for some reason, the hardest person to apply positive intent to is my husband.  I am sure he leaves the slimy mess in the sink strainer, just to gross me out and I completely forget to be thankful for all the dishes he just washed.  The good thing is, I have an eternity to practice applying positive intent and so do you. 

Thirdly and lastly, Christ’s love “beareths all things, believeths all things, hopeth all things, endureths all things” Elder Holland says, Bear up and be strong.  I’ve been looking for a family motto that incorporates our last name and I might have to use this.  In Wyoming terms, since my husband is from Wyoming… Cowboy up!  Marriage is not for wimps.  No relationship worth having is for wimps.  Everyone will let you down at some point.  It is part of the plan.  If someone could be everything for you, all the time and never let you down, what incentive would you have to turn to Christ and as much as you love your spouse, and  your children, and your siblings and you strive to be everything for them,  you will let them down, or hurt them in some way, because you’re not perfect either.  It’s okay.  Bear up and be strong. We can endure almost anything if we have someone at our side who truly loves us, who is easing the burden and lightening the load.

I know this line is said by a woman, to a woman, but I think we would all benefit in our marriages, guys included, by being Ruth’s.  She was such a great example of loving Christ’s way when she said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following thee, for wither thou goest, I will go and where thou lodgest, I will lodge, thy people shall be my people and thy God, my God, where thou diest, I will die and there will be buried.  The Lord do so to me and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.  How romantic is that, when those words are applied to our marraiges.

We can all strengthen our marriages, no matter our circumstance, by first-being long-suffering.  It takes patience, forgiveness and kindness to this, but it is within our power.  Second, not being easily provoked.  To do this, apply positive intentions to the other person’s actions.  Set limits, hold them accountable for misdeeds, but try and see things from their perspective.  It does way more to foster cooperation and a sense of unity and security, than seeing the worst in our loved ones and lastly, by bearing up and enduring when it is required.  Have hope and believe good things will come and learn to be on each other’s team.  We’ve all heard of Team Jacob, or Team Edward, or Team CoCo… make it a goal to be on Team Bear, or Team Oler, or Team Price, or whatever your last name is.

To end, I wanted to quote Elder Holland one last time.   He says, “I suppose no one is as handsome or as beautiful as he or she wishes, or as brilliant in school or as witty in speech or as wealthy as we would like, but in a world of varied talents and fortunes that we can’t always command, I think that makes even more attractive the qualities we can command—such qualities as thoughtfulness, patience, a kind word, and true delight in the accomplishment of another. These cost us nothing, and they can mean everything to the one who receives them.

I bare testimony that this is true and that our Savior loves us and with practice we can love more like him each day.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

River Is Five

It's true.  I am in denial, but not posting about it, isn't going to change anything, so I guess I better suck it up.

New mommies beware.  Your little one will go from this...

To this....

Before you can blink!

Take a lot of pictures while they are small.  Not just so you can remember what they looked like, but also because they start giving you major attitude about photos when they get a little bigger.  I worry that people think I favor Ash, since I post so many more picture of him, but I promise, it's just to save myself a fight, should I try to sneak a photo of River.

River has matured so much in this last year.  I could not be more proud of him.  He started off the year a little rough.  He was having anxiety about a lot of things; the order you said good night, hearing people say goodbye, what side of the sidewalk you passed him on, etc...  We experienced quite a few mega-meltdowns as a result.  We didn't know if he would outgrow them, if we should cater to them, to ease his anxieties, or if he would be better served by us being super strict.  Long story short, after lots of patience and talks about thoughts just being thoughts and they have no power over you, he is completely fine.  Thank goodness.

He could not be more excited to start school.  He has quite a few friends born before the September 1st deadline that already started school and he kept asking me when he could go.  I kept answering, "When you turn five."  I should have thought that through a little better, because I found him in his room, rummaging through his dresser, on his birthday and when I asked what he was doing, he said, "Picking out clothes for school tomorrow."

He loves, loves, loves playing Clash Of The Clans.  We purposely have not invested in video games, because I don't want to fight that battle, but Bear had a village and was part of a clan with people at work and we thought it would be fun for River to help strategize a few of the battles.  Little did I know, River would take over the village and it would consume him night and day.  He wakes up desperate to check on it and goes to bed "replaying" all the battles for me.  It's good and bad.  I love watching him have fun and advance in his playing, but I feel like policing screen time has become my main job as a parent and that is no fun.  Can we just go back to the days of checkers?  Anyone, anyone???

River is still super competitive.  If he won't eat, I say I'm going to finish my food first and suddenly he is chowing down.  If he won't get in the car, I make it a race and suddenly, he is zooming by me.  He is getting better about not always needing to be the winner, or getting to go first during an activity... I said better, not great.

Football is his jam.  He goes into hyper-drive whenever our neighbor kids knock on the door to ask him to play.  I usually catch him just in time to force him to put on shoes.  My little Chiefs fan is no longer and now he loves his daddy's Dolphins, but he tells me the Chiefs are his third favorite team... hey, as long as he's not a Bronco's fan, right?  He watched the Superbowl intently and continues to give me play by plays of the entire game.  His memory for details is ridiculous.

He only has a few of his toddler habits left and I don't have the heart to correct them.  He says, lesterday, instead of yesterday and it makes my heart happy, because it's one of the few words he pronounces the same as when he was two. When he talks about his Clash of Clans village, he says billage.  He also still sucks his thumb and I know the time for that to end is coming soon, but man alive, it is going to be bittersweet when he stops.  The first photo I have of him was of him sucking his thumb in my womb.  It was such a comfort to him and a blessing to have the ability to self soothe.  I might be the only mom to cry, because her kid STOPS sucking his thumb.  Oh well... sappy is my middle name.

His favorite color is green and is favorite number is 18.  He will watch any sport on TV and loves to be contradictory, so don't let him know who you want to win.  I learned this the hard way when my Royal's were in the World Series.

If he gets in trouble and I yell at him (which I swear I never do), he will breakdown and want me to hold him.  The worst thing I can do, when he is in trouble, is make him go to time out by himself.  He might be so mad at me, bawling and feeling hurt by me, but he still wants me to hold him.  It isn't in a manipulative way either.  It is pretty humbling and has caused me to do a lot of research and soul searching when it comes to the classic reward/punishment paradigm of discipline.  I don't have any answers, but I feel like he's causing me to ask important questions.

My heart skips a beat, when he asks me to snuggle, which thankfully he still does.  I've never been one for etiquette and I fully plan to continue this long past the time society deems it appropriate.  I can't imagine not snuggling my little man.

River learned to read this last year, does daily lessons with us and an on-line preschool.  He will be one of the few kids whose first day of school is Kindergarten, but we know he is prepared.

Some of his favorite expressions are "What THE heck!", (Yes we've lived in Utah too long.) and "Aye Aye Sir!", when you ask him to do anything.  Ashy Boy copies him now and I swear there is nothing cuter than little boys saying the Aye Aye Sir.  He also asks, "Do you want to see the replay?" about everything he does.  Lucky me.  I get to see every football game twice.

He is pretty reserved and takes a while to warm up to new situations, but can be surprisingly bold at times, like when he bares his testimony at church, in front of 100 adults, or tries to join in a football game with boys twice his age.

His brother is his best friend and though he has outgrown using Ash's baby foot for comfort, he is happiest making his brother laugh.  It is not hard for him to do, because River's laugh is infectious and rings in the air like sleigh bells.  His mega-wat smile is sure to cheer anyone and should my boys fight, as all brothers do, River is quick to give "gentle loves" by patting Ash's shoulder.

He notices and cares about what people are thinking, or feeling.  He wants to know why they are sad, or why they yelled.  He is very aware and compassionate... unless fighting over a toy, or something.

He asked some tough questions about dying this year and while that conversation deserves a post of its own, the reason he cried the hardest when he found out that everyone dies, was because he did not want Ashy Boy to die.  He said Ash was too little and too sweet and it wouldn't be fair.  Oh, how tender his heart is.

He loves his Kindermusik class and he likes to make up silly songs and if he can't remember a word, he'll substitute it with poop, or fart.  He is becoming more vocal in his class and also at church and I am excited to see his confidence building.  He wants me to put him back in swim lessons and misses being in the water.  He remembers, from a year ago, that he was supposed to start the blue class and he reminds me constantly.

Lowe's Build and Grow projects were a huge part of our life this last year and he was not happy when we missed one of the projects.  The first note he wrote by himself said, "I love build and grow, even though mom made me miss the dragon one."

He was able to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time and see the Redwoods.  We were up in Northern California, on a blustery day and you could not pull this child out of the Ocean.  He loved the waves.  He also saw Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore for the first time.  His favorite part was keeping track of  the number of the trail marker we were at.  His love of numbers, orders, charts, etc... is something so foreign to me.  Ha ha... but he really does love it.

I could go on and on.  Yep, I am one of those moms, but I will end with this... I knew I would love my children, but what never ceases to amaze me is how early on in their lives they have become so fun and interesting and entertaining to be around.  Don't get me wrong, I still need my occasional adult time, but who knew that you wouldn't have to wait for your kids to grow up, before you really just enjoyed each others company and sense of humor.  I love you River Lucas Bear and I am so very grateful you are mine.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Because Love

It's hearts and the color pink and everything I said I would never do, but hey...Sometime's you need a little Sugar!  Happy Valentine's Day to my Soul Matey.  Ours is a simple love story, but it is also my favorite.  Thanks for riding this crazy train with me and for choo, choo, choosing me over and over again.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ash Is Two

I know, I know... this is old news, but I have another boy, having another birthday in a little over 24 hours and even another boy, having another birthday 24 hours after that and I don't want Ash's 2 year old update to get lost in the mix.

Ash at two is spunky, goofy, stubborn and beyond empathetic.

He always notices what mood I'm in and will grab my face between his two chubby hands and ask, "Why are you crying, laughing, happy, sad, "fustated", etc.."

He might not have walked until 19 months and 1 week, but the boy has been talking our ears off all year long.  He says everything.  He picks up new words instantly and uses them correctly in sentences after that.  I forget his speaking so well is a little unusual, until other moms with kids his age comment on it.  Sometimes they worry a little about their kids, but I assure them Ash had plenty of extra learning time, since he did not so much as touch his feet to the ground for an entire year longer than their children.

If he's happy, he says "That so fun." about everything and if he's not getting his way, "You so mean."  Needless to say, I get called mean a lot.

He is in a hitting phase right now and I have repeated hundreds of times in the last few weeks-"Ash, you may not hit.  Hitting hurts.  If you are frustrated, use your words and tell River why.  If you choose to hit, you choose time out.  Understand?  Now what happens if you hit?  That's right, you go to time out.  Now what should you do instead?  That's right, tell River why you are frustrated."  Blah Argh... Let me tell you why I am frustrated.  This does not seem to be working.  Maybe after a few more hundred times???

Despite what I said about the hitting, he adores his brother.  He is on team River all the way.  If River is in trouble, he tells me "Brother is sad.  Why brother crying?  You so mean."  I love their loyalty to each other.  I love that they genuinely enjoy each others company.  I love that tears are short lived, forgiveness comes quickly and laughter abounds when they are around each other.  Ash idolizes River and wants to do whatever his brother is doing.  I love hearing him call River "Brother".  It is so sweet.  A prayer was answered when Ash was born.  Babies are not easy for me to come by and I desperately wanted River to have a friend to travel through life with.  It makes my heart happy their love for each other is so strong.

Ash gets around great now.  His awkward toddler run is to die for.  He swings his arms side to side and his hips side to side in opposite direction.  He climbed ladders before he crawled, or walked and once he got a little help from ankle braces needed to stabilize his overly flexible ankles, he was moving in no time.  (Before the braces, you could bend his feet up and back towards his legs and his feet would completely lay flat against his shins.  No wonder he was afraid to walk.  He had no stability at all.)

He loves his kitty "NO-Dull". (Noodle)  He loves laying flat on the ground beside him and putting his arm across Noodle's back.  Noodle tolerates it pretty well and no matter how many times Noodle runs away and hides, Ash's love never falters.

  He yells "AMEN" at the top of his lungs after prayers and runs around not listening when we read scriptures.  He needs to get water, or throw something away every ten meetings during Sacrament meeting and cries for a minute when I drop him off at Nursery, but always has a huge smile on his face when I pick him up.

He adores his Kindermusik class and smiles the entire time, trying to copy the sign language the instructor is doing as fast as he can.  His favorite is when they pull out the parachute, but he refuses to listen to the music and wave it gently.  There are only strong hurricane waves from this little guy.

When he turned two, he was still waking 5 times a night and nursing back to sleep.  It was a combination of his love of nursing, lack of other self soothing techniques like binkies, bottles, blankets, thumb sucking, Bear working nights, sharing a room with his brother and us living in an apartment.  Crying it out was practically impossible and he had no idea how to get back to sleep without nursing... nor was he interested in learning.  I am beyond thrilled to report that in the month since he turned two, we traveled to Colorado and used my friend Becca's spare bedrooms to sleep train him and he is now sleeping through the night, but really... who cares about him... I AM SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!  Hallelujah!  He goes to bed at 8:30 pm and wakes up between 7 and 8 am.  It's not quite as stellar as River's sleep schedule, but it is consecutive and consistent and miraculous and wonderful!

He goes to sleep with a growing army of miniature babies.  It started out with the kitten we call Kiss Kiss and he calls Kee Kee, that used to be River's.  Then grew to include the dog named Hugsy that he calls Doggy, which he acquired from Primary Children's Hospital's Surgery Day.  Then a tiny duck he named Duck Duck joined the pack in November when his friend Collin gave it to him and last to join the crew was a baby kitten he named Little Kitty (pronounce Yiddle Kee Kee) that I think he stole from Becca's daughter when we were sleep training, but I wasn't going to report him, maybe Little Kitty was our lucky charm.

He makes me laugh 100 times a day.  Once, he belched loudly at church during the closing prayer and then announced "I fah-ted!" (farted) even louder.  I laughed so hard I had to leave the chapel.  He has no shame and delights how irritated it makes River that he mixes up his bodily functions.

I love his smile.  I love the way he crinkles his nose and shows his teeth when he is really happy.  I love how much he loves his birthday and how he has told me everyday since, "It my birthday."  I love that he would stop in the middle of whatever he was doing and run to our Elf On The Shelf and say, "Hi Sparky." and that he has asked me over and over again, "Where Sparky?" since Christmas has come and gone.

There is a million things I have forgotten.  I kept promising to write them down as they happened and I failed, but this post is already too long.  I'll leave you with this- Ash Phoenix has our hearts.  He has us all wrapped around his chubby little finger.

Happy 2nd Birthday my little love!

Drops the mic and walks away...