Sunday, January 29, 2012

Material Possessions

I want to get back on the ball with my gratitude challenge.

The second step suggested is to list 10 Material Possessions for which I am grateful. This is an intriguing activity at this point in my life because we Tams ended up leaving behind at least 90% of our material possessions when we moved last month. I have alternated between feeling liberated by having less junk, yet on the other hand grieving a variety of losses. I try to keep reminding myself about those pioneer ancestors. Anyway, I still have some few cherished items we shipped/hauled here to Boise, as well as a few items I have acquired since arrival. In no particular order, I am grateful for:
1. A Willowtree Nativity. Sort of embarrassed about this one, because I probably could have spent this money more wisely. But anyway, I bought it yesterday at a yardsale. I showed the man running the sale a whole pile of items and offered $40. The pile included an organizational shelf, a toy ball for Lo, a kitchen scale, a like-new board game (Cranium) and the Willowtree Nativity parts pictured above in their original packaging with all authenticity papers inside. (My dad seemed horrified about how much I had spent, saying, "Haven't you ever been to a yardsale?" so maybe I paid too much?). Please validate my purchase everybody!! I had left behind a couple of Nativities when we moved from Ohio, afterall...and I love the way the Willowtree Nativity can be added to over the years unlike other nativities that must be purchased as a whole.
2. Our car. We have a great car. It is just a basic sedan, nothing fancy and starting to get a bit on the high-mileage side, but it is so reliable. I've had various times in my life without owning a set of wheels or else having to use a car that was less reliable, and so it makes me that much more grateful for the vehicle Jerry and I have right now.
3. Our laptop. Using it with the internet brings me connection to family and friends, and since Jerry and I don't own a TV, the laptop has been our primary way of watching movies for the past few years. So useful and enjoyable.
4. Clothes. Especially since I've been reading accounts of the handcart pioneers, and it still feels relatively chilly outside, I am so grateful to have clothing in general to keep me warm. And I'm thankful in particular for some cute items of clothing that really boost my mood and confidence. ("Grandma Style" shirts, Jerry calls them; what can I say my preference is classic).
5. A bed. My aunt and uncle gave us a queen sized bed when we arrived in Boise. It is really comfortable. And miracle of miracles, Mr. Lo stays out of it. He finally just hit a stage of wanting his own bed...The few times I have put him in the big bed, he protests saying,"Go nap my own baby mattress" which is amazing because there were days Jerry and I asked ourselves Is this kid ever going to sleep in his own bed. Even though it has taken awhile, the transition to him moving out of parental bed proved an easy drama-free event when it finally did happen. Thanks to all who reassured us along the way. =)
6. A calendar. Random, but I just glanced at it and realized how much I rely on a wall-calendar. It helps me remember important events. When we didn't have a calendar for a few weeks right around the New Year, Jerry and I kept stressing about it.
7. My toothbrush. Wouldn't life be horrible without one? Oh, the wonderful feeling of a freshly scrubbed smile.
8. Food. This seems like it should be a category all its own. The countless yummy, healthy, and everything in-between goods that I consume each day. So much food so easily available--how many people in the world lack this possession? I am blessed.
9. Camera. I am a sentimental person, and being able to record life through photos lifts my heart. I am grateful Jerry thinks to whip out the camera at all the right moments, preserving our best memories.
10. Books. Scriptures, easy-reads, board books for Lo, what else. The library at my parents house includes so many beloved books I read as a child and I pause to take note of how these possessions have enriched me. Fuel for the mind. Similar to what I mentioned regarding food, books plentiful and accessible for me--not something all people on earth can say.

I am grateful!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pioneer lessons

My relaxation method of choice these days is to chip away at a book I started after we moved here to Boise. The Price We Paid, by Andrew D. Olsen. My normal reading style is to get immersed for a day or two and finish a book in one big gulp. But my conscience declares I have more worthy ways to spend my time these days...*sigh* the book remains mostly unread as of today, but I would still recommend it. Wow, how wonderful were our pioneer ancestors.

Pictured above is Mr. Lo riding a wagon in the children's section of the Independence, Missouri LDS Visitor's Center. We stopped there for a diversion on our drive across the country earlier this month.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Sorry for the dearth of posting lately; we are still trying to get settled and accomplish all that a move entails. I did finally commit to start using in that awkward stage of not liking it. Much prefer blogging, but maybe I'll come around. Anyway, if you want to be my friend, look me up. =)

One of the aspects of this move that we most looked forward to was getting to see family more. Pictured above: Lo Lo and Ashlyn, first cousins. Ashlyn seemed transfixed by Lo most of the evening recently, staring with perpetual surprise at all the cool things a 2-year-old can do. We love these kids! (although yes, that is a bumbo chair perched on a table...I know, makes me nervous...are we the only ones who have ever done this??)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tips for traveling with toddlers

I don't mean to imply any sort of expertise, because honestly we mostly just borrowed ideas from others...but just in case anybody else is looking for help, here is what we did RIGHT in getting our 2-year-old bouncy boy moved from Ohio to Idaho via cramped, overloaded family sedan.
1. Emotional Preparation: THE MAP. I am pretty proud of this one. Months (okay, maybe weeks?) ahead of time, I let Mr. Lo help me create a map from Ohio to Idaho. We used scrapbook paper, stickers, markers, photos of family members, etc. and I haven't scanned it but for your visualization help, see below: We discussed and examined the map on at least a daily basis, so frequently that Lo became able to read it aloud to any friends who came to visit. "My home," he would say, pointing to the house on the far side. "And this GrandMom's home. I move Idaho, live GrandMom home." We especially made sure to pull it out during the trip whenever Lo started pleading to "Please nap my own bed?" rather than a hotel room/carseat/etc. and we'd remind him why we were on the road. He really did seem able to understand and respond positively to the visual of the map.

While driving a few days into our trip, Lo enjoyed using the map to talk about places we'd already seen and activities already done. "What this, Mommy?" he queried, pointing to one spot or another, and I'd tell him what the pictures on the map represented.
2. Special Treats: OUT OF SEASON FRUITS. We tried to keep Lo's candy intake to a normal level, and instead supplemented our roadtrip snacks with special fruits he hasn't had in awhile to delight his palate. He regards fruit as the same category as candy anyway--gets equally if not more excited over watermelon, grapes, and strawberries compared to chocolates or whatnot. The watermelon was something like $6/lb. Yes. Worth every penny.

3. Special Clothing: SLIPPERS. We don't normally allow Lo to wear slippers out and about, but he got this pair for Christmas from a friend and loved them. They became his number one pair of footwear throughout the trip and he seemed to really enjoy wearing them. Simple pleasures to make the car ride more comfy. ps. he was making Nauvoo rope in that photo below, just happened to be the shot that showed his slippered feet. =)

4. Plan to be spontaneous: CHUCK-E-CHEESE. We ended up getting a hotel one night that was located directly across the street from a Chuck E Cheese (sp?). We decided to go there for dinner and it really boosted Lo's mood. On another night, we were musing about dinner plans and then drove past a McDonald's that had a playplace. No hesitation--we had gotten tired of fast food by this point, but knew the playing and running around would be good for that Lo. It is good to leave enough time in the trip schedule for unplanned playtime. When opportunity presents itself, take advantage.

We temporarily lost his slippers at Chuck E Cheese. =)

5. Teach. CARTHAGE JAIL: probably one of my greatest joys of the trip is when Mister Lo absorbed the brotherhood and love between Joseph and Hyrum Smith. He saw this statue, became enthralled, and for days afterward mentioned at random moments in the car,"Hand on arm" (referring to the pose of Joseph and Hyrum). I am glad we had a mindset of teaching our son during this trip because it made us as parents more patient and loving overall--and Lo picked up on our attitude. He was more coachable because he could sense we were intent on coaching.

On one of our other trips a few months ago, an irritable fellow flier on a plane trip with us snapped that we should be using Benadryl to keep our child quiet during the flight (Lo hadn't been crying, but was making loud happy playing noises at the time). The reason we Tams choose to abstain from drugging our child into complacency during trips is because we value teachable moments. And those moments often come unexpectedly. The brain of a child is precious and geared to learn--even on a long cross-country journey.

6. Activities: BUSY BAG EXCHANGE. We stuffed an entire 18 gallon tote full of hundreds of small activities. Some were dollar-store toys, some were more quality Christmas gifts (thanks again for the Aquadoodle, Joanne!), and some were hand-crafted treasures to keep a toddler occupied. I wrangled together a group of Mommy friends and we all made activities, then got together and traded what we had made so we each ended up with a huge pile of different activities. It isn't making sense the way I explained it just now probably, but suffice to say we all got some great ideas and ready-made "boredom busters" from each other. These photo cards were my favorite. My friend Chelsea pasted photos of all the little kids in our group, along with a tidbit of info about each child. There are also stickers on the laminated cards. Endless entertainment for Lo! He loved looking at the photos of all his friends, talking about their likes/hobbies, etc. and sorting the cards.

The item I made to give everyone was a clothes pin color matching game. I only used the colors Red, Yellow, and Blue, thinking to keep it simple for the younger set. But it still seemed a little over the head of our 2-year-old. He needs a lot of help to do this game. Still fun though.

By the end of the trip, we had gone through almost every toy in the box. It seemed like a near-perfect amount. We supplemented by buying a few small toys along the way (bouncy-ball from a vending machine, additional stickers from Wal-Mart, etc.) (By the way, the sticker book and stickers were a huge hit, I think because Lo recently hit that developmental stage of being able to easily manipulate the stickers on his own).

7. Spiritual Preparation: FAST AND PRAY. Both us Tams and others in our extended family/friend group were sending serious supplications heavenward that the journey would go well. I know this effort was heard and rewarded by a loving Heavenly Father.

I think that's about it. We had a fairly happy toddler for the majority of the trip, even with him getting pink-eye a couple days into the journey and coming down with a cough/cold the last day of driving. Seriously, it was a miracle how well the trip went. Best wishes to any others attempting a similar journey.

ps. I should cite this blog post for giving me the original framework of ideas to make traveling with toddlers a positive experience. I love her idea about incorporating literature, and though we didn't choose a specific book to be our theme for the trip, we did read a ton of books about cars/trucks etc. in the months preceding said driving, which made Lo be extra excited to see all the other vehicles on the highway. =)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Safely Arrived

To anybody who was wondering and didn't know yet...

We had an interesting Christmas/New Year holiday that mostly consisted of being sick and getting ourselves packed and moved out of our Ohio apartment.

Then we spent the past week driving across the country seeing wonderful sites and being pleasantly surprised how well Mr. Lo did in the car for 30+ hours, all things considered (preparation is everything! We win the award for being Most Prepared Parents Ever, for this trip anyway). Still, we were all ready for the driving to end by the time day #6 rolled around.

Last night we arrived in Idaho. We are busy getting settled and will post more later. Thanks again to all who helped us get moved/cleaned out of Ohio. We were blown away by how much support we received.