Thursday, January 31, 2013


Life has recently gotten quite a bit busier around the Wheeler home, so I'm cannibalizing an e-mail that my father recently sent his siblings to make an important announcement. Enjoy!


Good afternoon,

I have great and blessed news to share. However, the words I heard our dear mother say once in awhile "I don't understand all that I know about it" come to mind. Details are somewhat hard to assemble at this point. Cathy and I are in Omaha (Winter Quarters) which is over a thousand miles from St. George where our newest granddaughter safely arrived in mortality about 3:15 a.m. (mountain time) this morning (January 29th).

New baby girl Wheeler (she has no given name yet) was somewhat unexpectedly born, 10 days early, "at home" in the master bedroom. Jason was the sole architect, construction manager, obstetrician, husband, and father attending my undrugged daughter. This is their fourth youngster. Why wake up, or inconvenience, a neighbor or friend to watch Brooklyn (8), Talia (6), and Eli (3) when you need to flee to the hospital with little time to spare? Fortunately, the new baby was born without too much in the way of complication, and from the attached photo is a gorgeous, fortunate infant. Kara sounded calm, grateful and relieved when I spoke with her at 10:15 a.m.

Stunned to learn of the news through the photo attached to a 9:57 a.m. text message entitled, "Guess who showed up last night? Smile" I was able to deliver the good news (with photo) to my 10:30 a.m. Legal Research and Writing class. No, No ... I am not one of those bragging grandparents. I limited this personal intrusion to my lesson plan to 15 seconds.

Kara did assure me they were going to take their new arrival to their pediatrician at 4:00 p.m. today. She assured me that many babies have been born on this planet outside of a hospital, and Jason did assure me that he vacuumed the bedroom floor early last night, so I'm sure the room was "germ free" ... cough. I'm very grateful Jason was with Kara last night. He was away on a work assignment in New York most of last week, arriving home on Saturday night.

I do not have vital statistics to share. Jason says the baby is "about 7 pounds" -- a number arrived at by subtracting his own weight from the total when using a bathroom scale. I do not think they measured the baby's length with his construction tape yet. Of course new baby girl Wheeler will never be able to brag about a high Apgar score when she enters kindergarten. She was a "no-show" for her very first exam! As a law professor, I am appalled that one of my own would make such a choice! However, as I see her peacefully sleeping in the attached photo, my heart melts, and all is forgiven. I'm very, very thankful for the miracle of life and a kind heaven who is looking after a faithful young family in St. George.

While our sweet baby girl still doesn't haven't a name, the whole family is doing extremely well. At some point, a motherly perspective on our precipitous home birth will likely be forthcoming, and maybe I can even con Jason into writing a few of his impressions as catcher. But until then, onto the most important part--pictures. :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Brooklyn's Baptism

On January 5th, our Brooklyn McCall was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by her father. What a beautiful moment!
In the LDS church, children are baptized at the age of eight, as eight is considered to be the age at which children develop an understanding of moral choices and their consequences. I know that Brooklyn took the decision to be baptized very seriously, and was so excited to take this first step leading eventually to her heavenly home.
As a parent, it was a tender and sweet moment to see my baby girl so grown up and ready to make her own good choices.
As part of the program, Brooklyn and I played a simple piano duet: When I am Baptized. I love the lyrics: "I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain, and ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again. I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain. I want to be the best I can, and live with God again."
Brooklyn cuddles up to her baby sister. For her baptism, Brooklyn wore the same dress that my Mom made for my sister Callie and I to be baptized in, decades ago. It makes me smile to think that perhaps one day, a granddaughter may decide to wear it as well.
It's hard to describe a baptism without actually being there to feel the spirit of the service. I'll just say that it was simple and lovely.
We felt to so fortunate to have all of Brooklyn's grandparents there to support her in this moment. Grandpa Charles and Papa Kay offered prayers and helped with the confirmation, Grandma Susie gave a lovely talk, and NomiAnn sewed Brooklyn her dream dress to wear after the baptism.
We learned some interesting facts about our parents' own baptismal experiences. NomiAnn was baptized by Papa Kay on the BYU campus, after which they had a grand time snow tubing. Papa Kay was baptized in Idaho by his uncle because his father was very busy with the harvest.
Grandma Susie missed her original baptismal date because her father had a flat tire, and Grandpa Charles was baptized by his scout leader because his own father didn't join the church until he was in his seventies.
I wonder what Brooklyn will recall about her special day? I suspect that she will remember being very supported by family, friends, and teachers from both church and school. We all gathered at our house afterward for soup, cupcakes, and fun. I wanted a chance to say "thank you" to the very many people who have helped influence and shape our children in positive ways.
We love you, Brooklyn McCall! You're as beautiful inside as out.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Forgotten Resolutions

In the midst of the flurry called "nesting," I discovered a whole page of  New Year's Resolutions from 2012 that I'd forgotten even existed.  As expected, many of these goals went both unremembered and unaccomplished.  Yet instead of dwelling on the negative, I'd like to take a moment and recap a few of the resolutions where we actually made progress.  After all, even baby steps are worthy of celebration.

Family Goals:
Read the scriptures every night.  While we certainly fell far short of perfecting this lofty goal, in general I think we're doing a better job of family scripture reading than we were a year ago.  We've had to get creative, often reading scriptures over breakfast or dessert while the kids are a captive audience at the table.  No matter how informal, scripture reading has helped bring a more positive spirit into our home.

Go to the Grand Canyon.  Check.  This is perhaps the only goal that we specifically accomplished because it was on our list of things to do in 2012.  I look forward to setting a new "travel goal" for 2013. 

Buy a Christmas Tree by December 1st.  A pretty random goal, if you ask me--one I certainly don't remember setting.  While I'm don't think we purchased our tree by December 1st, we did get a tree early in the month and decked the halls for Christmas, even though we would be traveling.  It's a lot of work and takes a lot of time, but I really enjoy having the house feel "Christmas-y," especially while the kids are small.

Practice guitar every day until Brooklyn's birthday.  At first glimpse, this goal might appear to be a failure since we played guitar just about, oh, never.  But on the positive side, Brooklyn started playing piano in 2012 and is doing a fantastic job practicing.  So despite the change of instrument, music is still gracing our home--and that's success.

Share.  While the goal may be somewhat vague, our cute Tally Wally has a generous heart that gives freely.

Learn how to read.  She's making terrific progress in both English and Spanish as the world of print opens up.

Earn a pinky party. Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Talia's complete abandonment of finger sucking may be the accomplishment of a decade, not just the year.  Way to go, Reddi-Wip!  I'm noticing that we never got around to another one of your goals, "Go to Fiesta Fun."  Perhaps sometime in 2013 we'll play there just in your honor.

Be gentle.  While Eli's not always gentle, at least he's no longer in the "hitting phase" that concerned us a year ago.

Learn to talk.  Definitely got that one down!  Looking back, perhaps we should have specified, "Learn to talk quietly."

Say prayers.  Not only does Eli say prayers now, he insists on saying them all.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Floss my teeth.  Don't remember setting this goal, but even so, I can happily report that I floss fairly regularly.  Extreme dentophobia is great motivation.

Go hiking.  Did plenty of this in 2012.  Heck, I even tried my hand at rapelling, something I didn't even consider a possibility a year ago.

 Run a 30K.  Painful, but I did it.

Pass 3 more AREs (Architect Registration Examination.)  Jason passed not three, but all five of his remaining exams this year.  Overachiever.  :)


So there you have it: 14 areas of accomplishment, balanced by the other unstated 14 goals that are still very much works in progress.

While visiting Justin and Brianna in Phoenix, we heard an outstanding talk about resolutions.  The speaker focused on giving yourself permission to fail, for it is through failure, not success, that we often grow most.  I haven't set any new goals for 2013 yet, but when I do, I won't be afraid to aim high.  Even though I may miss the mark, hopefully I will get myself off the ground.

Because We Say We Won't Forget...

Here's a random collection of kid quotes that I recently came across while organizing the house. Because as much as we say we'll never forget, all too quickly, we do.

  • "I'm really drinky." (Instead of thirsty.)
  • "I did that lesterday." (Lesterday can mean any time in the past three months.)
  • "My head hurts..." (When that doesn't solicit an adequate reaction, he adds:) "And my toe."
  • "Fruit snacks, crackers, apples..." (Eli "reading" the grocery list upside down. Apparently he didn't want me to forget the things highest on his priority list.)
  • Meditation!  (A while back, we tried to institute a 20 second interval of quiet meditation between the chaos of getting everyone seated at the dinner table and the blessing upon the food.  While it is helpful to bring the energy level down and get everyone focused, Eli somehow missed the purpose completely.  He thinks that if he's the first one to say the word "Meditation," he automatically gets "dibs" on the dinner prayer.  If somebody else blesses the food, he immediately breaks into wails: "But I say meditation!" )
  • "Your little sweetie got hurt!" (Referring to herself.)
  • "It's a good thing you brought extra clothes in case Eli blows up." (I think she meant blows out.)
  • "You put milk in oatmeal to cold it up."
  • "Do we have another mopper?"
  • Me: "We're having Brazilian rice for dinner." Talia: "Bazillion rice? That's a lot of rice."
  • "NEMFOTIA." (Every night during dinner, Talia finally slows down long enough to realize that she has to use the bathroom--at which point she sprints from the table and hollers "NEMFOTIA!"--meaning, Nobody Eat My Food Or Throw It Away.)
  • (After overhearing Jason and I in the midst of a private conversation about how trade schools are an appropriate alternative to higher education for some, Talia runs up the stairs, puts her face so close to Jason's that their foreheads touch, and adamantly demands:) "I'm going to college!"
I know Brooklyn still says plenty of cute things too--I just need to do a better job of jotting them down.  Now if I could only remember where I set my pen...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Family Photo Shoot

Nine adults, three kids, one photo shoot. Enough said.

For posterity's sake, here are names, starting with the top left:
Justin and Brianna Wheeler, Ben and Christy Spackman, Jason and Kara Wheeler, Charles and Susie Wheeler, Lance Wheeler, Brooklyn, Talia, and Eli Wheeler.

Enjoy the photos.

Thanks, SeƱor Saguaro, for lending us your spines for the day. Our pictures just wouldn't have been the same without you.

Christmas Wrap-Up

As promised, here are the rest of the photos from our Phoenix Christmas. Many thanks to everyone who shared their pictures of the fun since I was often too busy playing to tote around a camera.

Swimming at Tapatio Resort:
Thanks to Uncle Lance's fantastic perks working for Hilton, most of the crew was able to get a great deal on rooms at a local resort. Here we are soaking in the sun (and the hot tub) on the day after Christmas.
The weather was pretty brisk so most of us avoided the big pool until the sun emerged. Brooklyn, however, embraced the cold.
Talia too.
Life's always better with a waterslide. (Not quite sure whose feet are sticking out of the splash.)
Charles, Brianna and Eli preferred watching. (Me too, actually. I was worry that I might get stuck in the tube.)
Getting out was chilly but worth it, right Jason?
Warming up in the hot tub.
Just before it was time to go, the sun came out and we braved deeper waters. Three cheers for Arizona warmth!

Christmas Train Ride:
On another evening, we ventured out for an adorable Christmas train ride in the park. Here are Eli and Jason, looking excited as we wait.
We had so much fun loading into miniature cars and watching all the light displays.
Afterward, Jason and Eli even got to ride in the old-fashioned steam engine. What a fun memory!

Goldfield Ghost Town:
A different afternoon found us in Goldfield, a historic gold mining town.
Talia got put in jail.
Her little sister's pretty trapped too.
We even met a real-live, ruff 'n tuff cowboy. Brooklyn initially hid behind a cactus.
Talia, however, played right along.
When the scar-faced, gun-toting buckaroo asked how old she was, she turned things right around and said...
"Well how old are you?"
A few more shots of the wild, wild west.

On the Way Home:
In case you ever wondered where my children get their daredevil streaks...
The perfect ending to a lovely day.

Lance, tolerating a far-less stylish vehicle than his normal ride, yet still looking sporty as ever.
The remarkable view of Phoenix from South Mountain Park.

Papago Park:
Next stop, Papago Park. One of our favorite haunts in Phoenix.
Posing for a few pictures with our favorite aunts. Here are all the munchkins with Aunt Brianna...
...and the girls with Aunt Christy.
Eli, meanwhile, rode on Grandpa Charles's shoulders, chronicling the tragic death of a field mouse when a boulder rolled down the mountain and landed on its head. (Eli decided to pursue a career in forensics after spotting a bleached mouse skull on the side of the path.)

Fine Dining: Cornish Pasties
Despite the late hour, we splurged on cornish pasties at a local pub one evening. So tasty--definitely worth the wait! Here are Ben, Christy...
Kara, Brooklyn, Jason, Eli...
Brianna, Talia, Lance...
Charles, Susie, and Justin. Did we miss anyone?  At any rate, we all enjoyed the Bangers and Mash.
Visiting the Phoenix Temple Grounds:

Picking Oranges:
Num, num, num--delicious!
Needless to say, we had a delightful holiday. So many thanks to Brianna and Justin for hosting us all! And by the way, our cute little Eli (shown here with Uncle Lance) was pretty much fully potty-trained by the time we traveled home. Best Christmas present EVER!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and happy New Year as well.