This one is hard for me. I can tear up at a moments notice and if there is one sign that one of my kids' birthdays is coming up, me scrolling through old photos and getting misty-eyed is a dead give away.

Why five? I don't know. It might be because Hayes is a full fledged boy all of the sudden. Any traces of babyhood I used to see glimmers of are gone. He is so grown up. He is smart and inquisitive and logical and lets no problem stand in his way.

He continues to be an excellent negotiator and can logic his way out of most pickles. He has talked me out of my own ways more than once and sees the world in such a unafraid way. He can think any through and I love that about him. He also has what I would guess is a near photographic memory, recalls details and facts about things I have long forgotten. Driving around town is always a reminder of this because he brings up things that happened at places from years ago. I have grown accustomed to asking him where I left things, where my keys, phone, bag is. 

He is so incredibly loving. He tells me he loves me mostly out of nowhere, he checks on me and remembers me and remembers things I tell him and what I enjoy and like and dislike. He loves to help out and learn a new task. He loves to cook and he loves a good project. He is still napping every other day and would give it up altogether but when I insist on a quiet time he always falls asleep. He is all the sudden an early bird which has taken us getting used to. Gone are the days of him sleeping until 10 am.

Russ had a buddies trip last weekend and instead of counting down the hours at home in the cold we drove down to St. George with the buddies' wives to swim and enjoy the sunshine. Seeing Hayes out of his element and how wonderful he was to everyone, how polite and well behaved, how full of life and adventurous. How he wants so badly to try and excel at new things and if I give him a little patience he will come around to just about anything. He is so good with babies and little kids, he truly loves babies. They are his jam. He loves to play with them, hold them, talk about them and comment on how tiny they are, thinks nothing is cuter than when a toddler talks gibberish. He asks about a baby brother or sister (or 7!) often and there just isn't a better boy for the job. I look forward to the day where I get to see him meet and take care of another sibling. What a lucky boy or girl they are!!

Hayes is so fun and funny, always looking to make someone laugh or smile. He loves to scare his brother and hear him squeal, he has learned to love the art of teasing and also seems to be picking up a lot of mannerisms and interests of older boys he spends time with. He is such an individual with unique and original taste and ideas and I hope that he doesn't lose that even when I see him itching to be similar to others. He has a real potty mouth and while I totally get it and have the same type of humor, we've been working on it lots this year. He is so receptive to guidance and correction and tries so hard. He is as good as gold and always wanting to do the right thing.

a butt on his pumpkin

whatever it takes for a laugh.

Hayes is close to reading, rides his bike and scooter all day long, loves to play video games with friends and play football on the grass. He is tall and strong and so handsome. He is emotional and sensitive and reasonable and rational. He loves to eat steak from anywhere and mac and cheese from Noodles & Co. He eats all day it seems and will never not smile when I give him a kiss. When I think of him taking a bus to Kindergarten it makes me want to run and hide. It just hurts to even imagine, although I know he will love it. Time is brutal and looking at pictures of him so small feels like yesterday, but we have lifetime of memories to show for it as well. I sometimes wish for even a few minutes with baby Hayes again, he has brought me so much joy. 

I look back at the last couple years especially with a lot of guilt. I have not always afforded him the patience and loving ways he deserves. I have often lost my temper, brushed his feelings off, thrown my hands up in defeat when he needed me most. I made a goal before his birthday to go an entire month with loving, controlled, and consistent parenting. To parent him the way I know he deserves and the way I know he will thrive. 21 days to make a habit? 31 should be even better. I feel so much more connected to him and he seems to be so grateful for this new feeling in our home. One of my greatest stresses is that I spend more effort on Cal then him. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and Cal is squeakiest for sure. So many times I am parenting Cal over and over and over and my eyes drift to Hayes, my heart aches and wish I could be in two places at once. I know Cal will outgrow this tricky phase, and am excited for the day when Cal can return the loving way Hayes treats him more often and the brotherhood I know is there.

I think I'm so weepy because Hayes is just so good. He is everything good and brings our family so much happiness. It's hard to think that the years will keep on passing and before I know it I might not have him run into my bed each morning. I love watching him grow and learn and can't wait to see what amazing things he accomplishes and will be spending all day today celebrating both.

Happy birthday Hayes baby Hayes, we love love love you!



I'll admit I was sort of dreading the actual Christmas event. With some unfortunate things with people from both sides our families it just didn't sound super fun, I just wanted to run and hide. The overwhelming consumerism, the non-stop Christmas list additions from the boys, with the miscarriage still dragging on (a whole month of dragging!) everything just felt a little bit womp womp. Feeling sorry for myself for sure and something was missing from our Holiday.
Russ and I talked about it and decided we needed to find a family to do a sub-for-Santa. this is a tradition that my family always held to growing up and it is some of my best memories. 
so we teamed up with my mom and found a family of three that had ZERO presents, and only a few items of food in their cupboards. Even though I insisted on being done shopping weeks before, we ventured to Target on Christmas Eve with the boys, ready to shop for this family. I won't post pictures of the actual event for their privacy but it was something special for sure. my kids and their kids played for a solid hour, we chatted with them, they fed us dinner, and their was a quiet peace and comfort that I hadn't felt in a long time. 

This one event makes the rest of our Holiday feel so much brighter!
Visiting Santa, Cal was so excited! hayes not so much this year.

We had an over nighter at the Grand which is the most festive place on Earth:

Got another one of our rare snow falls before Christmas while walking around the courtyard.

And then for the actual event, I have to add the story of the Hunt for the "Gray Bome-shakah" or the Gray bone shaker, a hot wheels car that is $.97 and impossible to find.
This is all Cal asked for for Christmas and he asked for it consistently for two months, anytime anyone asked him what he wanted, every Santa trip, he said the same thing. 
i thought "easiest present ever, and it's under a dollar?!" 
I headed into our local Wal-Mart (the first sign it was going to a beast)
and started sorting through all their hot wheels - a whole wall of them hung on pegs, and then two huge bins full. i dragged a shopping cart over and started emptying the bins into the cart, looking for this gray bone shaker like a mad woman.
people were staring, chilrdern were crying, i had a few people ask if I was okay or needed help. they thought i was tweaking.
for sure I am on People of Wal-mart now. after sorting what must've been thousands of cars, did i find this dumb car? no.

i was certain i would have no problem finding this car so i had no plan Bs in place. i started frantically searching on eBay and found a silver (not gray) bone shaker that's auction was scheduled to close on December 22. i wrote them a pleading email stating i would win this car at any cost and when i did if they could please over night it for me. that it was the only thing my 3 year old wanted. this sweet ebay angel responded and said she had closed the auction early, i had won it for $3.00 and she would ship it that afternoon. It arrived on Christmas eve, and the crowd went wild.
here's a still from our home video of the boys spotting it on the tree. they were so excited and it was the dumbest Christmas miracle.

It was a good Christmas for both of them!

the tree the night before the madness. another awesome tidbit is that we were absolutely done wrapping at 11:30 pm (gotta be a record!) when my phone chimed that i had 30 minutes to complete an online traffic school session for a ticket i had gotten a month or so before. i had TOTALLY forgotten and thankfully the phone reminded me. but unthankfully i had to stay up for the next two hours doing traffic school.  cool!

 Christmas morning, plenty of snow after a huge snowfall that night!

Another awesome (no sarcasm this time!) event happened the day after Christmas. my Grandpa Al passed away two years ago, and ever since my aunts and uncles were prepping to do the temple work for him. they waited until everyone could be there and invited all to attend. Charity and I went and it was really amazing. my grandpa's mother, Beatrice, died while giving birth to him, and his dad remarried quickly after that. Al had never been sealed to his mother, so they did that sealing and it was beautiful, i am so glad i could be there!

Me and grandma Miki (and Aunt Kristin!)

 And a couple random shots - Cal gnawed on this Chocolate santa for an hour at church. 

me and the boys! 

Christmas 2014 was looking bleak but so glad we could think outside ourselves and our sadnesses and turn it around! Service is selfish that way isn't it?

winter fun!

As always, December was PACKED full of fun, what a crazy month, but not sure I'd have it any other way!

First, we tried out the Alpine Nativity for the first time, the Johanssons go every year and every year its somehow frigid and cold and we bail. But, this year it was so mild and not a single flake of snow anywhere so I think we picked a good year to try it out in that respect. But, of course that means that everyone else agreed so it was like Disneyland as far as population. Oof!

Feeding the different animals.

Cal is our resident animal lover. Hayes loves them too, but Cal seems to REALLY love them. in general he doesn't care for people, ha, but never met an animal that didn't make him squeal in delight. he hugged them all like this. Camels, goats, chickens, the works.

 the best fam pic we could get. no snow for miles!
my sister Charity and her fam visited for a week or so during Christmas so we were able to do a lot with them, even though Charity is pregnant and super sick, she was a trooper. her and i rock climbing, and hayes too! 

 I've never seen Hayes so determined. He is like me and gets frustrated fast when he's not good at something right away, but he kept trying over and over and over. proud of that little guy. he's something special!

it hardly snowed until a day or two before christmas, so when it did snow we took full advantage! Cal loves the snow and will sit outside grabbing little palmfuls to eat for hours

a Christmas puppet show with cousins!

And Soldier Hollow with the fam!

Cal was sort of incapacitated in his tube and he was quiet as a mouse. Sometimes you just need to be forced into catatonia to enjoy yourself. I think he might have fallen asleep even.

the gals in my ward (some ex-wardies, too) are so adventurous and are always planning fun things for us to do. a weekly hike, art exhibits, ethnic dinners, book club, it's so nice having a group that is up for anything! here we are snowshoeing up Tibble. BEAUTIFUL!

Winter is far from over, but now is about the time I have crazy Spring Fever and start wearing new sandals way before it is temperaturally (not a word) sane to do so.


I wrote this post about my miscarriage on December 7th, for Small Fry last month but am trying to keep the best record of life here as I can, still as well, so wanted to move it over and add some more details. First of all, my boys were so wonderful. Of course Russ included. The handful of people knew that I was pregnant were so supportive and excited for me. It felt as real as any pregnancy. There were some sacred and special moments where I felt someone was nearby looking over me, wanting to join us, but knowing that they needed to wait, that the body they'd be joining wasn't right. Maybe another boy, that I think of often.

My doctors weren't sure if I was miscarrying or if we just had my due date really, really, wrong so there was a full week of blood tests and going back and forth to appointments. It was a roller coaster. The first appointment they couldn't find a heart beat, which at 8 weeks isn't totally uncommon, but more importantly, the sac looked absolutely empty. They thought maybe I was only 4 weeks so they ordered HCG tests. (I had a positive pregnancy test at 5 weeks, so I was totally skeptical, but after a blessing from Russ saying something to the effect of "Your faith will determine how this goes" trying to be faith-filled. Got my HCG test back and the levels were super high. Like either I was carrying 4 week gestational twins, or my body was still pumping HCG into this Blighted Ovum. They had me do the test again the next day, only 6,000 units higher (instead of doubling every 48 hours like it should.) And then again in 48 hours only 1,000 higher. Basically they tested me right as my body started to taper the hormones off. Then we had to determine what to do: D&C, let it figure itself out, or take Cytotec to induce labor/miscarriage. I opted for Cytotec. I laid in bed for a whole day and was lucky that the event wasn't too uncomfortable. I feel really, really grateful that it was  Blighted Ovum. That there wasn't a body to mourn. It was just a genetic precaution, and something that happens all the time whether we know it or not. I'm glad I was gently let down in that way. 

Here's the boys at one of several trips to the hospital that week, so sweet:

and the post I wrote:

Earlier this month I found myself staring at a big screen TV's image of my empty womb. "Where is the baby?" I trembled, expecting to hear that horse galloping heartbeat and a tiny adored bean. I went to my 9 week appointment solo, as I insisted, because I avoid being high maintenance at all costs, and assured my husband that he was more needed getting our boys dressed and fed at home (instant regret on that one.) As the OBGYN and Midwife talked at me of next steps, possibilities, statistics, its-not-your-faults, my mind drifted off. My thoughts were dark and treacherous, and then in an instant shards of light broke through. Like those montages in movies, a slideshow of events shuffled in front of my eyes. While someone, I believe to be a loving Heavenly Father, whispered to me, "I could not protect you from this, but Emily, look at your life." My little family's happy and healthy smiles, our able bodies working hard toward learning, goals and dreams. I had taken for granted something so basic yet critical as my family's health and safety for the past several years. Families all over the world fight for the things I rarely gave a second thought to. I was instantly filled to the brim with gratitude. I stifled back sobs not just for this empty sac, a Blighted Ovum, but for the miracle that two healthy children, ages 3 and 4, truly represents. I can't conjure up a memory where I have felt more loved or protected than at that moment in the most unexpected of situations. It didn't always stay with me through the long weeks since, even walking from the exam room to the elevator felt bitter and lonely. Happy framed pictures of women with bulging bellies seemed to be mocking me with every step. That day I joined the quiet ranks of women, who 30% of the time they try, have to mourn the loss of what and who might have been. It scooped out another level of compassion and understanding that I could not arrive at any other way and will Take It With Me into 2015. So now, saying see ya later! to a roller coaster of a year, there is definitely One Thing I'm Leaving. And that is the complacency I settled into that life is anything other than a wonderful miracle. An adventure I am so fortunate to be able seize every day. Living in a place with the freedom to do and say what I feel, to spend my time at home, to share my ideas with you, to feel safe in my own skin, is a luxury that I don't want to take for granted in 2015.


fall 2014

we squeezed every drop out of this Fall season. it seemed extra amazing and beautiful to me this year and i couldn't get enough!

Bridal Veil Falls (can you spot Cal?)

the ski lift at sundance complete with scary suckers

they did so good on the lift! last time we did this Cal was wriggling out of my arms. oh the difference a year makes!

at the top!

so beautiful!

we (cal and i) did a couple hikes this summer but this one in the middle of fall was so pretty!
thankfully i had friends to take turns carrying him. he looks so giant and it made me laugh the whole way up. 

 on our way out.
this has nothing to do with Fall but i told Hayes to show Cal how to scrub his arm pits and it was the cutest thing i've ever seen, Cal watching Hayes so intently and copying his every move.

we are still Summer people so we had to hit the indoor pool. they woke me up with goggles on and asked all morning so i sort of had to. we'll be here a lot these cold months i predict.

more leaves

my mom's yard is the perfect place to enjoy fall. so many trees + the river. i tossed one million rocks and sticks into that river thinking about life, love seeing my boys do the same.

and halloween:
Cal looked through every page on Amazon (i let them pick and i don't care to make them in advance in case they change their minds, maybe when they're older!) and page after page nothing caught his eye until this banana. he loved it and loved wearing it.

  and actually on Halloween we got costumes for Russ and I. 
French Fries and the Hamburglar.

he' such a creep. ha!

the 4th annual halloween parade! we usually have a powerful candy cannon but this year we had to improvise. a basket + exercise bands. (with a ninja, Flo from Progressive and Russ)

they kept getting pelted with candy so they ended up in glasses and welding masks.

 i need to find and collage all the pics of these boys on halloween. there's pretty much one every year. they're so silly and in their own world at all times. Hayes has a power ranger!
 Cal slept through the parade but was still stoked to be a banana:

cracking me up in the back seat. being all banana-y.

one more of Russ. the biggest kid of all.