Home sweet home

We are here and well and I'm thrilled to have an automatic dishwasher and feel spoiled with 3 bedrooms so that the girls can sleep well day or night . . .

Almost all boxes are unpacked just waiting on a couple of furniture pieces to tie loose ends!  It has been a whirl wind week and a half and I'm glad mostly that I found a good deal on a piano and that the creaks in our floors can only come from us . . . those are creaks that I can control during nap time.

Our ward is going to be a blast and we also experienced the great "white coat ceremony" on Sunday.  They told each student as they walked across the stage to say one word that sums up how they got to this point in their life.  The first student said "family" and I thought . . . "well there goes everyone's answer".  There were some fun answers in there such as "coffee" and "luck" but what does Ryan decide to use as his one word? "Paperwork" . . .  I should have guessed.  It gave me a good laugh as he continued across the stage to pick up his stethoscope.  It was almost like a graduation ceremony for going through the process of applying to schools and being accepted.  Which is a full time job and takes a full years worth of paychecks, so it's well deserved.

Ryan is busy learning already; dissecting cadavers and knee deep in anatomy lectures (it'll reach his neck, he's only been at it for 2 days) and studying as we speak.  I have a feeling that we will both love this journey.  I enjoy learning second - hand medicine through his daily reports.

I took Charlotte and Annie to target yesterday.  It was our first outing just the 3 of us.  I looked ridiculous, but it went okay.  But I don't want to do it again... so maybe it was worse than I remember. 

Speaking of those two, they become better friends with every passing day.  It never gets old for Charlotte when she sees Annie first thing every morning, it's like she hasn't seen her for ages.  She grins a big grin and says "Oh, hug" as she clasps her hands around Annie's neck too tightly and gives her kisses.  Annie has a smile on her face the whole time.  She admires Charlotte and her craziness already! 

As I was busy wood working in the kitchen (or just child proofing our cabinets) Charlotte kept putting a pan on Annie's lap and sticking "hats" on her head made from bibs.  They were smiling and laughing and I was experiencing heaven...

So here are some pictures... I will get house pictures once it's finished up! All in all, I am just so happy to have our own space again where Barney and Daniel Tiger shows aren't a necessity to keep my busy 16 month old from destroying others sanity or property, and where I feel like it is us as a family again. Okay lost train of thought too tired.
Gotta go to bed...

P.S this little butterball is literally made of sunbeam, I swear it... and the blue eyes? We don't get it either!


An overload of updates, info, and cute babies

My babies... (yes it's been that long) are all but grown and attending college now. Dramatic? Probably. But the truth of it is, time flies fast these days.  I remember everyone telling me that it  would, but now I am living in that warped time zone where sometimes the days are painfully slow, but overall so quick that I fear blinking.

Back to the beginning... my babies are growing and I love their guts. Truly. They are such a joy. Charlotte makes me laugh daily and Annie acts as if I'm the worlds greatest mom by the amount of smiles shining through her sweet self. 

If I could describe Char in a few words it would be: extremely literate female tom sawyer

This girl is unhealthily drawn to dirt and eating all forms of plant life, bark, rocks, etc. I really love her for it. She is also a book worm asking "rea-read?" while carrying books all day. I don't understand HOW she knows so many words, I am the last mother to do sign language or early phonics. She just loves words. It kind of breaks my heart that she is entering toddlerhood. She has taken the role of big sister with grace and a lot of love for "nannie"


Then Annie comes along to brighten our lives with smiles upon smiles and nary a cry! She is a dream. Little cinco de mayo babe.


Now on to some serious biz.
Ryan has been gone for 4 weeks in Montgomery, Alabama attending air force officer training camp (he received a scholarship for medical school through the military. Essentially, this means they keep us out of debt and he repays them with 4 years of service as an air force doctor following graduation. Sweet deal for a growing family!)
Our home is a bit dreary without him but I fly out to his graduation activities on Wednesday and look forward to lots of laughter again whilst attempting getting used to seeing him in air force garb and marching. The thought so very funny for some mystical reason.
When we arrive home on Saturday, he has one week of work left with his company in research park before we pack up our lives for the first of many moves to come. But first, we get to bless Annie, attend an epic Hunter family reunion in Midway, and spend 2 foreseeable glorious weeks with his family in Ventura county before moving straight to The Big Easy.
New Orleans, the last place in the US that I imagined living will be our home for the next 4-5 years.
I can hardly wait to taste the world famous cuisine, attend (most likely muted down) Mardi Gras parades, experience 65 degree winters, meet a completely new culture of people, and learn to speak in ma'ams and sirs. Everyone is already calling me "Miss Hunter" over the phone and the charm of it all seems almost unreal.
For a man whose catch phrase is "bring it on!", I think the lifestyle of the big easy will suit us.
So I spend my last 2 weeks in sugar house taking care of babies (ever grateful to be living with my mom while Ryan is away) and feeling nostalgic about leaving home with the possibility of never coming back to call it home again. Adventure is out there to be had and we can't wait to be in the midst of it!
May the beautiful chaos commence!


Babies piling up

Yes, I am indeed pregnant again! And it feels like it was just yesterday that I was going through this with now baby Charlotte.... because, well, it practically was.

To answer some possible burning questions:

Planned? You betcha!
Due? May 12th
Are you crazy? That is up for interpretation.
How far apart will these babies be? According to my calculations... 13 months and 2 weeks.
Why?  a) I feel so inspired b) Babies rock c) We want a large family (so no, its not so I can just be done) d) Charlotte needs to experience some attention sharing e) Who wouldn't want a sibling a year apart from them?

My reasons are many and the extent of them a bit more personal than I wish to share publicly.

I have been sick again but milder this time thanks to the help of a wonderful friend called zofran and the grace of God. My belly has expanded at a much faster rate this time around, which is joyous because I have been reintroduced to the ever comfortable maxi skirts and maternity jeans.  I think being pregnant with a baby is possibly far easier than pregnancy with a toddler (i.e. 2-3 naps a day).

A few people have praised me for my bravery but I have to set the record straight. I was a little bit terrified of being pregnant again and the thought of having 2 babies at those ages is still intimidating but I have an unbelievably unique husband who is quite marvelous with newborns and is calm in... every situation where you may not think peace can be found. Unaffected by the wails of a baby, he has made this decision so much easier for me than I ever thought it would be. For that, I will be forever grateful for him.

Let the fun begin!!


The ongoing modesty debate...

I must admit, a lot of these arguments about modesty have made me uncomfortable, because I haven't been able to completely agree with any one argument.  So I decided to take a step back and look at what modesty means to me and how I can raise a family that upholds values of modesty.  I turned to the sources I trust the most: Scriptures, "For the Strength of Youth", plus a couple of talks from prophets or apostles.  The most common argument lately has been spreading like wildfire through your internet browsers, so it won't be news to you.  "Men have the ability to see these images or these 'scantily clad' women and control their thoughts.  Wear whatever you want!  You aren't walking pornography.  Men can't blame you for anything."  I agree with certain aspects of this.  I completely believe that men are more than helpless creatures of vision.  But.... (and this is so so critical to me) Women (and some men) are fighting so hard to remove photo-shopped images from the media, get rid of pro-anorexic websites and "thinspo" because it negatively effects our minds.  It "makes" us believe we aren't good enough.  It "pushes" us to be something that we aren't.  This is such a double standard to me. 

While I agree that both men and women have the ability to be confronted by these things and choose to turn away from negative thinking and actions because of them, I think women have really downplayed the fact that what they wear does indeed send a message just like a ridiculously photo-shopped magazine cover sends a message to women.  We have the ability (regardless of our gender) and help to overcome these negative lines of thinking, but these messages that are being sent (knowingly or not) are not helpful.

I am not writing to tell women how to dress or judge them for their choices.  My purpose is to point out that the way you present yourself (including dress) does send a message.  "For the Strength of Youth" says: "Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act. When we are well groomed and modestly dressed, we can invite the companionship of the Spirit and exercise a good influence on those around us."  It does not say that it forces people to act certain ways or think certain thoughts, but it does influence.  If you decide to sport a bikini at the beach, you will be looked at differently then someone who is trying to be more discreet.  Dressing to show more of our bodies is not just about ourselves. Everyone we come in contact with sees that first.  So the notion that it is only our own business is naive to me.  Another quote from "For the Strength of Youth" reads: "Never lower your dress standards for any occasion. Doing so sends the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval and that modesty is important only when it is convenient."  I believe that.  Dressing immodestly is a way to gain attention and approval (I realize I may receive backlash from this, but this has been my experience with every girl or woman I know, myself included.)  Again, we are in a battle to promote healthy positive body image for women and girls for generations to come by helping rid the world of these negative pictures and negative messages that we are bombarded with.  I am very much at the front of that line because those unhealthy messages about body image influence me negatively.  So I hope that we can understand modesty in the same light.  That it may not ever force someone to think or act poorly, but it DOES influence.  

On another note, I am happy to share that my ideas of modesty have really grown through this conflicting time.  The LDS culture is infamous for teaching modesty in a way that may not be uplifting.  I get that.  I don't think that we need to shame girls into covering their bodies.  Our bodies are wonderful and beautiful.  I don't believe that girls have to be modest because boys can't control their thoughts.  I think I have more than one or two articles of clothing in my own closet that don't live up to the standard that I have set for myself based on my beliefs and love for the Lord.  Modesty is far more encompassing than the way we clothe our bodies.  It is a state of behavior that portrays through our dress, speech, and actions.  The courage someone has to act modestly in all areas of life is really astounding to me.  It is something I aspire to achieve and will continue to work towards. 

In conclusion (finally, I know...) here are some of the best scriptures I read regarding modesty in dress.
**Foretelling the Second Coming when "the Son of Man shall acome down in heaven, bclothed in the brightness of his cglory" (D&C 65:5)
**The counsel "And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of acharity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and bpeace." (D&C 88:125)
**When Christ visited the Nephites "And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they asaw a Man bdescending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe" (3 Nephi 11:8)

When our clothing draws attention to worldly approval or noticing different aspects of our bodies, we cut off the ability to be clothed in that which is most important and draw attention and respect to Heavenly Father.

Christ, in all of His humility and perfection appeared simply in a white robe, but shone brighter than the sun.  

That is beautiful.


REAL positive for my expecting friends {more thoughts on pregnancy and motherhood}

I can't begin to explain my delight in finding out these last few weeks that a handful of my friends are expecting babies.  Sheer bliss, I tell you.  

It seems to be popular to be "real" about things these days.  For good reason, of course.  I believe in being honest.  But it also seems that being "real" can be another word or excuse for being "negative".  I know that these lovely pregnant friends will hear it all... "get as much sleep now while you still can." or "better do what you love quickly because your life is ending soon."  all through well-meaning (or not) grins of experienced mothers. 

So I would like to happily tell you why being pregnant and being a mother are the greatest blessings and joys of my so far life.  
*as a side note, I am happy to discuss all details and answer all questions honestly... things aren't always glamorous and definitely not easy, but those things don't detract for a second the beauty of childbearing and rearing.

*in the heat of summer with no A/C means half naked baby*

My pregnant life was not easy for me.  I had aches and pains and sickness.  But I grew a human inside of me!  I felt the thumps and eventually the jumps of a baby girl eager to come into the world.  That first little pitter pat, I will never forget it and there was no denying it was little Charlotte.  I went silent, then got this huge grin on my face.  I waited ever so impatiently to feel another thump.  I miss that feeling... truly I do, so enjoy every kick, elbow, headbutt, hip check, whatever it is.

Then as mentioned before, I loved giving birth and can't wait to jump into that again.  Seriously... giving birth to a baby is just surreal.  Even if you have a crazy experience... you just BIRTHED a human.  High fives all around.

*this is Charlotte, flirting with the light.  I call it her boyfriend, they seem to charm one another.*

When Charlotte arrived - I was so very overwhelmed, and rightly so.  Your life changes in the blink of an eye.  But I can't tell you how much happier life can be with a baby if you start singing when he cries or dance like a crazy person to distract her or just kiss the life out of those soft baby cheeks because you don't know how else to calm your distressed bundle of cuteness.  Yes of course, I've done those things with tears in my eyes but you really learn to enjoy all those moments when you take advantage of them.  I have made up so many songs to entertain my baby girl and keep my spirits up as well.  Top hits include "mama's in the shower", "round and round we go" (the gassy song - complete with leg pumping), and "Charlotte" (to the tune of Justin Bieber's "baby").

 *propped up like a big baby... loves chomping on those hands.*

Some of my favorite moments have been propping Charlotte up in the boppy on our bed while folding and putting away laundry.  I always turn on music and dance and sing along.  She loves it when I drag shirts across her face before folding them up and she gets a kick out of watching me dance like no one is watching.


She may not even be 4 months old yet, but she loves her book "baby faces".  She always looks intently at each face and gives a grin and sometimes a chuckle when we reach the laughing baby.  She's a snuggle bug when you set her up on your shoulder and sometimes I feel so content I could die.  The first time your baby smiles at you is an inner explosion (implosion?) of feel good and you can tell that she knows you are her mama.  Did I mention kissing baby cheeks? You get to do it ALL the time.  WHENEVER you want.  WITHOUT feeling weird about it. Then those moments when you change babe's clothes because she pooped or spit up or whatever and you can just keep her in her diaper and hang out in bed at 6:00 am.

*Here is that 6:00 am moment.  Ryan likes to make her look like a nun with her blankets then sing "how do you solve a problem like maria?*

Then dad comes home from work and the 3 of you grin and giggle as he plays airplane and blows raspberries on her belly, what sweet sweet memories these will all make.  Seriously, Charlotte loves when her fun dad comes home.

*babies make the most hilarious faces. Hours of entertainment!*

I could go on with this last part forever and bore you to pieces because really - your own baby in real life is much more awesome than reading about mine or holding that lady's.  What an important and amazing job we have to be mothers.  And golly, I'm so glad you all are pregnant!!


Latest of baby Charmander

 Charlotte posed for her first official photo shoot, courtesy of Samantha Kelly Photography.  Sam is extremely talented!  We are nuts about this 3 month old.  She squawks like a pterodactyl these days and it seems to sound less and less cute every time but I can't help being totally crazy about Charlotte.    


 This is my favorite.  She perches a lot.  Especially when she wakes up.  There is something so hilarious about her perching habits. 

 She has the longest baby torso known to mankind.  Look at it!  This is a Hunter trait, all the way. 
 Her daddy is all torso.

 Sneaky little smile...

 Ryan calls this her Abercrombie shot.

 Super awesome vintage blanket provided by Heather Edwards.