Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve 2013
I simply can't let this year slip away without reflection, honest and brief. A whirlwind, really. All the events that have filled these 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days that have tried and tested us and brought tears and joy are not without gratitude. Gratitude for the chance to be present in this life and to have each other to hold onto. We are humbled by our mistakes and proud of our successes and move into this next year eager to become better, and best. My tribe, they are everything. I am anchored here. Peace and love to you and yours and kisses from us on this New Year's Eve. Let the record show that I kept my eyes open until midnight and kissed and toasted my love as the babes' slumbered in their nursery.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Papa Ed's Christmas House

Papa Ed became the #1 celebrity around our house during the Holidays. Papa goes ALL OUT for Christmas and the Snow Village is only the tip of the iceberg. If Papa's name came up, Bee would grab her boots and head for the door because she wanted to get to Papa's house to play. Tom and Todd spent Christmas at mom's this year and that was another big draw, so we spent lots of days at Grandma Ginny's and Papa Ed's house. Everything from the twirling Christmas tree, the Snow Village, the snowing Christmas tree, the choo-choo trains, the movie theater and even the stuffed singing frogs were enough to blow this little girl's mind open. When we would return home I got the feeling that she was pretty underwhelmed by our regular old Christmas tree and measly decorations. It's hard to compete with Mr. Christmas himself! We had some family and friends come enjoy the Snow Village and Bee was super proud to show off her awesome Papa.

Tea party with Uncle Tom in the loft
The day after playing hard at Papa's Christmas house we were always ready for a recovery nap. This day Bee didn't quite make it to the crib.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

After Christmasing

Every year I make a conscious decision during the Holidays to scale back, do less and enjoy more, but it's proving to be an impossible challenge. There is just too much fun to be had! We didn't check every last thing off our Christmas bucket list this year, but judging by the level of exhaustion from my kids, we enjoyed more than our fair share of holiday cheer. Visiting Temple Square after Christmas was sort of awesome. Still lots of people, but less of the crazy shopping crowds. Even in the bitter cold the Temple grounds can keep that little bit of Christmas spirit alive.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Nativity

Russ and Jana put together a beautiful little Christmas Nativity program for the Duncan grand-kids this year. Is there anything cuter than this? Clearly, no. Ellie and Cody ran around the house playing Mary and Joseph for an hour afterwards. I was so proud of my little angel and Shepherd boy. Five grand babies under 4; the greatest success of the night was this picture on the stairs. A favorite new tradition has been born.

We miss her everyday, but especially at Christmas.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Julian's Blueprint: 6 Months

Is this not the sweetest baby face? Our littleman Julian has reached his half birthday already. Already?! It couldn't possibly be 6 whole months since he came into our family, but somehow the months are ticking over quicker than I can catch them. Juju is a really good-natured baby and is happy and playful for most of the day. At 6 months he can roll around and scoot about, but mostly prefers to lay on his back and play with his feet. He takes a hold of them, one in each hand, and "drives" them all over town - up and down, side to side - with such skill and tenacity! The brilliant look on his face shows that he knows he is pretty darn good at it, too. It might just be my favorite thing in the whole entire world.  
Julian has suddenly grown up over night. Now that he is sitting upright on his own, he just feels like a big kid. He's catching Bee so quickly, any day now we will be chasing both of them. But for now, I'm savoring this interactive yet immobile stage where he sits in one spot with perfect posture happily investigating the toys within his own reach and taking in the world from his newly vertical vantage point.
Juju loves to blow bubbles, suck on his bottom lip, and bounce when he's excited. But most of all he loves to laugh at Bee's antics. Throughout the day I catch him smiling at her with such uncommon admiration. He is constantly craning his neck around my shoulders to see what she's up to down below. We love witnessing their sibling bond taking hold. Daddy is still the one who can get him laughing the hardest and the two of them have the cutest father-son report. When Brad is holding him, Julian perks up and looks ready for an adventure! He shows a strong resemblance to his Uncle Tom, says everyone, and also to my Uncle Russell, says my mom. Oh boy, he is surely handsome in his own right, though!
And lastly, Julian is a momma's boy. I simply cannot get enough of his cuddles, when he softly leans into me and wants to connect. He is still waking to nurse at least once during the night and a little piece of me cherishes the quiet and still that comes during that time together. His little snuggles throughout my day absolutely sustain me. He watches me intently as I busy myself with small jobs while big sister is sleeping. He will always return a smile, he can't help it, he's just a happy guy! He gets sad when I leave the room, and I often wonder if there is anything more you could ever ask of another human being? We love you Julian.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bee in the Wild: 18 Months

She calls me Honey. At 18 months Phoebe has discovered the moon, and rediscovers it almost every day in her books and outside in the sky. The wonder! Words are flowing out of her mouth at a rate I can't even keep up with now. But for the sake of documenting, Bee can pronounce and produce in context these words among others: ball, oh-oh, moon, bee, eye, nose, ear, shoes, cheese, excuse me, bless you, cookie, pizza, eat, hat, sippy, please, thank you, binky, open, windy, raining, car, truck, boots, shoes, socks, teeth, brush, comb, hair, push, pull...
Bee loves shoes and is beginning to pay attention to her own wardrobe. When she senses it's time to go, she will bring me her shoes to put on.
We have been working on our manners and Bee says please and thank you effortlessly (sometimes with a little prodding from mom and dad). By far the cutest though, is Bless You! after a sneeze. We die. She can push the red kitchen chairs all around the house to reach what she needs. Practically nothing is out of her reach now. Bee will ask for a "moothie" almost every morning and guzzles it eagerly, bringing her sippy cup back for a refill.
She can be a bit naughty all of a sudden. Mom has a lot to learn about being patient and getting ahead of the problematic times of the day, like dinner time. Phoebe wants to be in the kitchen doing whatever mom is doing. But we are quickly finding that the kitchen is not big enough for the both of us to cook in. Bee loves to twirl around in circles but then is so confused by the resulting dizziness and inability to remain on her feet afterwards.
We take long walks around the neighborhood to help burn energy before naptime. I'm really careful not to rush her, and allow her to touch and smell and sit in everything along her path.
Right now she does this "amused" face and I'm struggling to know how to accurately describe it. We snuck in on her one night and just then the neighbor's dog barked. In Bee's sleep, she opened her eyes and took a short deep breath in with an open puckered mouth. It was the cutest thing we'd ever seen. Mom couldn't keep in her laughs and fled the scene before it woke up bee.
Her curiosity is insatiable. Toddlers are into everything. Then there are some toddlers who are really into everything. And then there is Bee. Who takes it above and beyond. She is my tornado. If it can be opened, she will open it. Empty it. Then close it. Push, pull, bend. Drop, roll, throw. Over and over all day long.
I find myself fighting to keep her little yet also cheerleading every big step with anxious exhilaration.
She is Juju's biggest fan. She talks about him and says his name almost constantly and in every phrase that exits her mouth. Juju is the first word that comes out of her mouth in the morning. She is always worried about where he is, if he's coming with us in he car, and making sure we don't leave him wherever we are. She squats down in front of him and says "bebe happeeee, ah-BOO!" to get him to smile.
She can become possessive of my phone and has figured out how to turn it on and swipe to open the screen. Clever girl! Probably my most favorite thing she does right now...she calls me "Honey!" Especially when she's frustrated or needing some specific attention from me. She will come up to my legs and push them saying "honey honey honey." Sometimes from her crib in the morning I hear a "Honey Momma!" calling out for me. I couldn't possibly love it more and am honored to be this little Bee's Honey Momma.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Juju's Blueprint: 5 months

Push pause please. Freeze frame this boy right here, right now. Four months was a huge turning point for our little mister and honestly at 5 months he just keeps getting better and better. He has worked his Momma's heart right over. Julian looooves to snuggle and have his face right up against yours. I like to think its because he wants to see exactly what you see. He is completely enamored with big sister Bee and watches her every move like a hawk. They are sharing the nursery together at night and go to bed at the same time. His daytime and nighttime schedules are slowly becoming actual schedules and more predictable. I'm so proud of the progress he is making. This boy is just all around handsome and his giant gummy smile and contagious giggle put me right over the edge, every time. He does this thing while being held facing forward, where he will turn his head up and double check who is holding him over and over every 10 seconds or so. We die, it's so adorable. When he gets excited he kicks and waves every part of his body as if he is going to burst. He has THE best hair, ever. He is happiest of all when outside. He loves chew on his squeaky Sophie and to play with toys-as long as Bee doesn't steal them away. He goes berserk under his play gym. He loves his binky. He rubs the back of his hands on his face and forehead when he's tired. He blows spit bubbles like it's his job. He rolls over. He loves to be tickled. He despises being dressed. Sigh. Five months, you are my fave.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Halloween Concessions

When you have kids...Halloween is fun again. However this year I had a $0 budget for costumes and negligible amounts of desire, time, and energy to make anything memorable. Abracadabra! We borrowed costumes from the CKJ's and it was perfect. Our sweet and salty concessions combo was super fun. The afternoon before Halloween I pulled the red tutu out of a bag in front of Phoebe and her eyes popped clear out of her head while she exhaled a gargantuan "WOOOOOW!" Big hit, that tutu. Cutest red M&M you ever did see. And Julian's popcorn head poking out of his popcorn bag literally stopped traffic during the trick-or-treating at the Foothill Village.

Halloween day I took the kids down to Grandma and Papa Ed's and we ate candy for breakfast and lunch and in between. Question-now that Bee has been introduced to candy, how do I UN-introduce her to candy? Halloween night Jana and Russ came up for some carrot chowder and a little trick-or-treating before heading to a party dressed as BYU and Utah rivals. Phoebe was pretty blown away by the process of knocking on doors and receiving candy in her pumpkin bucket. 

My family will appreciate this: I added boxes of raisins to our candy bowl this year and had that epic moment when you realize I AM MY MOTHER. There is it. Here's your sign. But that's not even the best part. We left a bowl of candy on our porch while we left the house to sniff out some famous home-made donuts on the next block over. As we we were coming back we spotted a group of trick-or-treaters sprinting away, capes and hats and wings chasing their happy squeals down the street. They had obviously emptied the candy bowl (totally acceptable Halloween night sugar rush behavior). But when we reached our porch I was horrified to see that they left the raisins! I'm still laughing about it. Halloween is the best.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's a TEN

A blog worthy milestone: The Bradlee Duncan's celebrated 10 years of marriage this month. Here's the thing about marriage (mawage...). You can never predict what problems you will face as newly wedded and blissed out on love. And the problems you do inevitably face as a couple, as a family, and as a deeply flawed human being, are never what you think they will be. At our ten year mark I'm not going to write that I'm grateful for the challenges we have faced, even though I might admit that sentiment in an honest conversation with a friend. That particular colloquialism has the tendency to sound trite. Because those challenges are real, are hard, it hurts, and we are equally human. I will say that marriage continues to be a refining process for both of us and if there is one thing I know for certain, it is we are yoked in this partnership equally together. I'm often amazed at where his strengths pick up where I'm lacking and vice versa. Ultimately I'm grateful for his easy temperament and passion for life. He's thoughtful and the true romantic in our relationship. He's my confidant and sounding board. My #1 fan. He sticks his long bony cold freezing feet on me. every. single. night. But you know what? He's still the one.

With two young babies and newly house poor it wasn't in the cards for extravagant gift giving or vacationing this year. Brad took the day off of work which was absolute heaven for me. We had lunch at our favorite little cafe in the avenues just like we did after our temple ceremony and just like we do every year on our anniversary. We hiked Ensign Peak. We had take-out pizza for dinner. We played with our kids with the purpose of really enjoying them. It was a right perfect day indeed.
Happy Anniversary my love. I love us.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Standing behind her high chair I twist the top square of Phoebe's medium blond hair through an elastic while she is momentarily distracted by licking peanut butter off apple slices. I have about 4 seconds to secure this elastic before it becomes a wrestling match. She is serenading our little threesome with a new song the world has never heard and may never hear again. I'm in love with her nonsensical babble. The southern sun is pouring through my kitchen windows warmly as it does everyday during lunchtime. Julian is perched in his hand-me-down pink bumbo seat on our kitchen table watching intently and cooing at us while chewing on his bib, which is soaked clear through with his own spit up. In fact, a pool of spit up has begun flooding the table below his feet. It's disgusting, actually. He is so handsome. He catches me looking at him and jerks his hands excitedly up to his face squealing in delight. This is it. The epicenter of my day. The moment where my heart raps against my ribcage because the love I have for these two babies is so powerful, so genuine it takes me out for a brief second. It's the moment that makes the difficult hours preceding and the difficult hours ahead not only bearable but absolutely worth it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Autumn Comes

Feels like autumn, damp and crisp
Rosy on my nose
Sunday walks with my kin in tow
Smells like autumn, pumpkin bread wisp
Socks covered on toes
A perfect eve tied with a bow

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Juju's Blueprint: 4 months

Little brother is now 4 months old and is simply the happiest baby. There is nothing better than a baby's laugh and Julian has the most ridiculously cute laugh we've ever heard. He beams when you just look at him; it's as though he can't help but nearly burst. His whole body smiles with him! Knock on wood, but it seems like we are making some big improvements with sleeping right at 4 months. Which is a good thing, because yowzers this past month has been a leeeetle rough. Julian regressed back to waking 2-5 times each night with lots of trouble falling back to sleep. Rough nights for Julian translate to rough days for mom (and even dad!). Sleeping during the day can be non-existent as he prefers 20 minute power naps. Note: this does NOT work for mom. Juju has found his voice and has the loudest squeals. Once he gets going, there is no stopping him. He will squawk until his voice is horse. He is so close to rolling over, any day now he will flip that chubby little body right over. He loves to sit in the bumbo and watch Bee throw food around or mom busying about the kitchen. We've got sphincter problems, big time! Boy can't hold his liquor milk. This picture is a perfect representation. We changed into this onsie literally 1 minute before his photo shoot thinking that if we acted quick it would remain clean for the picture. We won't be that sad to have him grow out of this. The amount of laundry this kid generates alone is absurd for such a little guy. Juju loves to hold toys and almost can't believe his luck when he shoves it in his mouth. He is growing so fast, if only we didn't have to blink so we wouldn't miss it. Momma's back aches from rocking him. Daddy's arms are sore from swinging him. We are all tired. And yet, he is worth it all. I mean, look at that smile!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Late in the summer, late in the day

Sometimes a little walk outside can be the perfect end to a crazy day. A late-summer after dinner before bath time tradition of exploring our new neighborhood has saved the day more times than I can count. Bee perks up when we suggest an evening walk and runs to find her shoes. Julian loves to be outside and will calm right down the minute we walk out the door. It is amusing to watch Bee discovering her world and we collect treasures of leaves and sticks all along the way. Her very favorite thing to do is sit on top of the fire hydrants, perched like a little queen admiring her kingdom. Just a short walk to calm a fussy baby, to tire an energetic toddler, to refresh a tired mother, to bring a busy daddy home. Summer is fleeting and I will miss these days when they are gone.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wild and free, forever she may be

You have these days as a mom, where you want to freeze time just so everything would be still that you might step back with a long breath to pause and simply marvel at the little people who own your heart. This was one of those days. She is one of those people.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Juju's Blueprint: 3 months

Our little buddy is 3 months old today. This kid. I tell you. He is a rascal. But boy oh boy does he have his momma's heart. Every time we *think* we have him figured out, he throws us a curve ball, and wham! Turns out we don't :). But even when not sleeping well and having a (super) short fuse, Julian is the happiest baby on earth. During his awake times (when he's supposed to be awake) he giggles and laughs with such conviction it causes us all to laugh right along with him. Juju is super ticklish on his neck and thighs. It is so fun to make him belly laugh, and daddy can get him going like no one else. Don't sweat the small stuff, he reminds us, and it's all small stuff. Julian loves to eat, and often! He is still super spitty (sphincter problems! we say every time we are doused with baby puke). He is enjoying tummy-time more and more, although it's a surefire way to empty his stomach and light his fuse. He has started to notice Bee and beams his brightest smile when he sees her zooming around his head. Until he gets bonked, and then he sounds the call for momma to rescue him. In one day I can be told that Julian looks exactly like his sister, or just like his dad, but definitely my son. I can agree with all of them, but I especially see a resemblance to my brother Tom through Julian's big beautiful eyes. At 3 months Juju has found his hands and loves to chew on them any chance he gets. He has found his voice as well and we can have long chats together about the weather, his older sister, and all the family secrets. Julian is a lover and a fighter. This kid has got spirit! He is intense and passionate and a momma's boy to boot. We love our Juju, to the moon and back.
Just for fun: Bee at 3 months in the exact same outfit. 

Monday, September 09, 2013

Willa's Workshop and Fairy Festival

My mommy heart had been craving some one-on-one time with Phoebes and Willa's Fairy Festival seemed like the perfect evening outing for us girls. We were first timers to the festival, which was wonderful and magical, even for the adults. Little fairy's (and pirates, and gnomes, too!) running all over the gorgeous host estate. All for a good cause. We met some of our besties there too, which made for a super fun glitter filled evening. The weekend before I made a quick trip to the craft store and was able to whip up a fairy wand for just a couple dollars. I like my wand, I mean her wand, so much I don't let her play with it. Ha! Spending precious time with my fairy was just what I needed that day.

Friends: Bee, Jane, Caroline, Leah, Gigi
Note: I read the festival raised over $27,000 that night to help open doors for women in education. Absolutely amazing.
"You can do anything you think you can. Knowledge is literally the gift of the gods, for through it you can solve every human problem. It should make you an incurable optimist. It is the open door."-Robert Collier

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bee in the Wild: 15 months

Note: Bee's grandparents were a little sad when we told them her blueprints were being retired after months 1-12. We live close, but not close enough for them to see her everyday. I know these updates are enjoyable for them to read and catch a glimpse into her life they might not otherwise know. I thought about using a white wall background to continue these "blueprint" type updates, but then I pictured trying to get this rambunctious toddler to sit still against a wall while we take her picture. Not gonna happen, right?! The new "in the wild" posts will aim to capture Ms. Bee in her element, un-staged, au naturale.
At 15 months old, this little sugar bee is busy learning and playing and doing all day long. The last few months we have seen the beginnings of her imaginary and pretend play. I love it! She loves to play with bowls and spoons and will "mixy mixy" with such determination. She even brings me the spoon for a taste test of her exquisite cookies, eggs, and other "yummy nummy nums."  When mommy is wearing her apron, Bee must wear an apron too. Often it's all she's wearing. Her pretend play also involves her babies, which comes as no surprise given that we talk a lot about babies around here. She mimics the way I tend to Julian by swaddling, burping, kissing and loving on her dolls. While I'm in the rocking chair nursing Julian she will bring me her babies and blankets to swaddle over and over again. She is learning to be such a good little nurturer.
As a parent it is amazing to observe her constant education and you can literally see her mind working as she processes new material. Bee loves books. We read stories together in the rocking chair before nap time and bedtime everyday and anytime in between. She points to all the ladybugs in every book, and in fact refers to ladybugs, butterflies, bees, and other insects as "bees!" She taps her pointer finger, either in the air or on the object, when pointing at something. It's adorable, trust me. Some of her favorite books include the entire BabyLit series, Little Blue Truck, Welcome, Little One, Goodnight Gorilla, The House in the Night, and The Swing to name a few.
Bee loves her backyard swing and calls it a "weeee!" When she wants to swing she will point outside and declare "weeee!" and when she sees swings or slides with children on them within her books she will point and exclaim "weeee!" Like most toddlers, Bee loves to be outside exploring and investigating. She still puts e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. in her mouth and rocks and sticks and dirt are no exclusions.
Bee is a really great sleeper and loves being in her crib with her binky and blankey. Some days she doesn't want to get out and leave binky and blankey behind. She searches the edges of her blanket until she finds the right corner and clutches onto it with her fist, then softly rubs the corner on her face as she soothes herself to sleep. Bee is taking two naps a day, at 10 am and 3 pm (roughly).
I bought a small set of stacking cups for Bee which has proved to be the best $4.88 I could have spent. Bee worked hard for days and days until she mastered stacking and unstacking all the cups in their correct order. She concentrated so hard on mastering the cups and it was a joy to see her brain hard at work. Cups all day, in the car, in the bath, and all over the house.
We taught Bee a few words in sign language to help her communicate better with us. The two signs that stuck the most are "more" and "all-done." This is particularly helpful at mealtimes, but she has found a way to translate them into the rest of her world as well. The sign for "more" has become the universal action signal. If she brings a book and signs "more" she wants you to read it. If it opens, closes, makes a sound or moves, the "more" sign is asking to make it happen. Likewise the sign for "all done" means no more food, no more vacuuming, no more of whatever is ailing her.
Lots of words are beginning to pop out of Bee's mouth, including cuppy, hi, Juju, momma, dada, bee, and baby. She has discovered the word "NO!" and uses it often and repeatedly, especially when she is doing something she shouldn't, such as stealing Julian's binky. She will snatch it from his mouth and run it over to me saying "no no no no no!"
Bee loves her little brother and is constantly leaning her head towards him giving kisses and hugs. Sometimes this translates into a head bonk and both of them are sad. Usually the first word that comes out of her mouth in the morning is "Juju!" and she goes running into our bedroom searching for him. She gets very excited to show him toys and books and as sweet as that is, it's also a lot of work keeping him safe from her excitement. I pray everyday that they will become the best of playmates, but for now we are focusing on being soft and not putting things in his mouth. Let's hope that in a year she will be as willing to share with him as she is now.
Whew! I'm exhausted just reading over this update. It's only taken me two weeks during my brief nap times breaks to finish writing it. Our Bee is a beautiful, smart, strong-willed little soul and we are grateful for her life and spirit everyday.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Summer nights in the canyon


On a perfect summer night there is no place better that up one of our beautiful canyons. We invited the whole Duncan clan up for a weenie roast in Millcreek Canyon. It was such a perfect evening with family. Dark heavy clouds threatened to rain but thankfully passed by and let us have our fun. Ellie and Cody ran wild while Dan pretended to be a bear in the woods. We played "the secret" game where you pass a secret along to each person and they have to retell it to the person next to them. Hilarious with kids, I say! And Bee got a hold of some cups and was in heaven. A perfect, beautiful night!