Tuesday, December 27

The Very Best Part of Christmastime

We had our preschool nativity this month! I sound kind of sappy- I was trying to get our actors' attention away from the huge group of senior citizens they hadn't practiced with. ;D

Monday, November 14

October in Vegas

I have to admit- the boiling hot summer was definitely worth it. We are enjoying walking around without jackets, and it was pretty fun to plan princess costumes knowing we wouldn't have to cover them up with coats!

We went to a pumpkin patch in short sleeves.
"What is IN this thing?!?"



We visited a farm named "The Farm," and went on a hayride.
The whole place was a money trap, but the kids had fun getting their faces painted, petting cats, feeding animals, and pretending to drive parked "tractors."






Mia's October history unit was on ancient Egypt, so we went to the King Tut exhibit at the natural history museum. She brought her book along and was excited to see her pictures in real life. (Everything was replicated, but whatever. ;D)

Yummy mummies



They requested this photo with the giraffe, and this was their pose idea:



We spent Zach's second day off since we moved here raking rocks and dirt. We're trying to plant lawn, but the birds keep eating the seeds and it's probably too chilly to germinate anyway. After spending hours digging one trench by hand, Zach broke down and rented a trencher. Worth every penny, he says. :) next we're going to break down and buy sod... haha.


Mia asked to be Rapunzel months ago, and I got it in my head for some reason that I could make her dress. I don't know how to work my hand-me-down sewing machine, and the last thing I sewed was a wind sock or something tubular in my middle school home-ec class. But we went to Wal-Mart and bought some purple and white material anyway. I found some free patterns online, and one that looked like Rapunzel's dress. There wasn't one for kids, but there was a little picture of what it's supposed to look like when you lay out the peices. So I printed that, cut out the little peices, and then held them close to my eye and kind of drew/traced them onto the material. Cutting everything out was pretty easy- I knew enough from watching my mom over the years that you can put the middle of things on the fold to make it perfectly symmetrical. Then I went and bought a needle and thread kit at Walmart and started sewing! It wasn't really hard- I think I spent less than three hours actually sewing. The really hard part was figuring out how in the heck to put stuff together before I sewed it so that it would end up right-side out and ugly-stuff in. And the sleeves- it was a good thing they had a drawing of how to sew the sleeves on, because at first I had no idea why the sleeves had those points coming out the top. For the hems I just used Liquid Stitch- there was no way I was going to figure out how to make lining for a dress that was going to be worn one night in the dark.And there we have it! My first sewing project! I'm so proud of it! But not proud enough to think I'll ever sew anything ever again. :)

Mia loved having long hair, and was so excited about her dress... it was all she talked about for weeks. I was so happy it actually worked, ha.


Anya and Bree kind of fell into their costume choices. They wanted to be princesses, and we had Aurora, Snow White and Cinderella left to choose from. They decided, we bought the wigs for 5 bucks at WalMart and ta-da!



Kael wore Mia's old lion costume that she never fit. Somehow we managed to cart it around through seven moves in-tact. He LOVES this thing. If he sees it, he must have it on. The first time we put it on, he wouldn't take it off. By Halloween, he would only wear it ten minutes at a time.


We had a Halloween party with our homeschooling group. My mother-in-law sent us a TON of awesome crafts from Oriental Trading Co. last year, and we only used a few things. So the kids all got to choose any project they wanted, and we had a little Halloween parade, decorated Halloween cupcakes, and went bobbing for apples. I love the moms in our group- they are so down-to-earth and nice.


We took graham-cracker owls to the neighbors again this year (benefit of moving- we can recycle ideas, ha.) It was fun to get to know people- there are a lot of nice families right on our street... something we missed in our Ohio subdivision. One family even brought us cookies the next day!

This was a busy month- but it was so nice to be busy doing something other than looking for a place to live, packing and unpacking, I'll take this kind of busy any time. :)

Saturday, October 15

Craigshouse

We've been in our new house for two weeks now! We're about 60% done unpacking and putting stuff away.

The sense of dread that has been underlying my every thought since March is finally starting to abate. It's a relief to see the negative effects of moving so much come to a halt, and to begin on damage control. We're finally catching Mia up on school, getting back into a routine.

I'm excited to have a place to put everything- take everything out of boxes (lots of it for the first time since we were married!) We keep wandering around in shock at all the space we've acquired, and the fact that we're paying almost $200 less per month than we did renting.

We won't be decorating much- right now we're spending all our extra dollars trying to get fully functional. And most of those extra dollars have been going to amazing deals from ads we've found on Craigslist.

Kenmore refrigerator: $100
It's kind of old, but it's huge, clean, and has a water-in-the-door thingy! The original owners were so kind to discount it $300 and then keep it in their garage for us for a couple of weeks until we moved- every time I open it, or the girls get themselves a drink, I feel a little splash of gratitude.

Buffet and hutch: $130
This was advertised on Craigslist by a guy who owns a little furniture store that buys store models with damage, fixes them and re-sells them. I couldn't find anything like this new for under $800, so I'm still not sure how he made a profit off it, but whatever. I think we've had this china in its box since our wedding in 2002- it was the first thing I unpacked. :)




Maytag Neptune Dryer: $150
A little old lady had a stroke right after she bought this. :/

I have only been able to do one load of laundry a day for the last few months because the apartment dryers were so bad. The last dryer took 300 minutes to do a normal load (prematurely aged a lot of clothes) and it squeaked like metal against a chalkboard the entire time. This puppy has a sensor, and only runs until the clothes are dry, which is usually as fast our washer cleans! Warms my clothes and my heart.












And my favorite Craiglsist story. Sectional with two ottomans and storage: $350

Our first night here the kids wanted to watch a show on our $80 Craigslist TV (we got that months ago because Zach left our old monster TV back in Ohio) but I had our couch up in the front room to avoid further damage to the new upholstery Grandma made us. So while the kids sat on the tile, I looked up sectionals for the hundredth time, not really hoping to find anything and bummed that we hadn't found one in time to move it with the U-haul truck we'd rented and taken back that morning. I saw one for a reasonable price in our part of town and called. I told her we had just moved and that my husband might be able to stop by to see it after work. She gave me her address and we realized she was right next door. I went over with the kids (Zach had already talked to them and knew they had four-year-old triplets- when she told me her address I asked if she had triplets and kind of freaked her out- haha) and she said "I guess it was time for us to meet!" They gave us $50 off the price because of some wear (and maybe because it was just going next door, ha) and we carried it over and had a place to watch tv that night!

Aside from our new stuff, I'm also loving being able to open cabinets in the kitchen that don't smell like the halitosis of a mummy, being able to take pictures without flash because of all the windows and light!!, walking into the house with groceries from a garage, and not around a building, past everyone and their dog, and up two flights of stairs calling for three kids to keep up.

I can't describe the change in my psyche. Everything seems more... possible.

Saturday, September 17

So many ifs

We're only three days away from our closing date. The seller is taking forever to fix a cracked window. Our lender is taking forever to decide if we have specific enough documentation about our student loan repayment plan.

We have no idea if we'll really end up living in this house. When I walked into the first house that fell through, I was convinced we'd be living there- I could picture us there and didn't even think it was possible we wouldn't. This house (and none of the others we looked at since the last one) has never had that same feeling. Neither Zach or I can picture ourselves actually living there.

The good thing is we really don't care what happens. If this house doesn't go through, we're just going to rent. Costs quite a bit more, but whatever- at least it's an option!

Hopefully we'll know in three days how and when this will end.

Thursday, September 15

Wisdom worth sharing

One of the lessons that stuck with me in seminary was on the same topic of this talk that is being shared by some of my fellow LDS blogger-moms. Our teacher asked us why we heard the same things in church every week... why can't you just learn the commandments and then go on living your life being obedient? We spend our whole lives reminding ourselves what's important because we are just forgetful like that. He said the key to salvation was simply to remember. Another thing he said was that we're always changing. If we aren't actively building our faith, then our mortality is actively diminishing it. I understood what he meant, but of course it means more now. I'm sure it will mean a lot more when I'm old. Like President Monson. :)

9/11 Destruction Allowed Us to Spiritually Rebuild
By Thomas S. Monson

The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts. It is an episode of anguish that has become a defining moment in the history of the American nation and the world. This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, will pay its own homage to the unforgettable events of September 11, 2001.
There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.
Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.
Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.
But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and the downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.
If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.
The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly “need Him every hour,” not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to Him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed.
It is constancy that God would have from us. Tragedies are not merely opportunities to give Him a fleeting thought, or for momentary insight to His plan for our happiness. Destruction allows us to rebuild our lives in the way He teaches us, and to become something different than we were. We can make Him the center of our thoughts and His Son, Jesus Christ, the pattern for our behavior. We may not only find faith in God in our sorrow. We may also become faithful to Him in times of calm.

Thomas S. Monson is president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday, September 4

Mia's turn

While we were in Utah for a wedding and Zach's vacation time, we celebrated Mia's birthday a few weeks early so her cousins could attend. Anya and Bree had their party at Chuck-E-Cheese in Ohio, and Mia has been reminding us ever since that she will have a Chuck-E-Cheese party when it's her birthday.


Watching patiently.
I can't tell if she's picking her nose in this shot, but I wanted to show her cute accidental hair-do.

She'd been waiting to see this mouse since April...









She'd been such a good sport during the twins' birthday- it was fun to see her finally enjoy her turn.


That night Mia decided, as I was putting them all to bed, to use her birthday money to go to Build-A-Bear. She could have gotten a spectacular animal with a ton of accessories had she decided to go alone. But she decided out loud- right in front of the twins- who, when they heard the name of the store, immediately assumed they were going, too. She told the twins they could decorate the new jewelry box she had been given. I knew she’d been very excited to do that and asked her if she really didn’t mind them doing it for her. She looked worried that I wouldn’t let them do it and said through mounting tears that it wasn’t fair if she got to do something fun and they were left home with nothing fun to do, too. Then she figured out that she had enough money for them all to get basic bears and at least one shirt. Her mind was set- they’d divide her birthday money equally and then they’d all be happy.

That's the second time she's paid for her sisters to go to Build-A-Bear... the last time she only had enough money for one bear and had decided to let Anya have it. We found some coupons that made it so she had enough for all three. ;)

There are a million reasons I'm proud of her, but her generosity has stood out to me this week. Love my girl.

Sunday, August 21

Baby turns Toddler

Well we've been living in one spot for five weeks now- we're feeling the itch to pack up and leave again.

I'm so kidding.

But we'll most likely be moving in September to our real house. We're nervous about the neighborhood- it seems more ghetto than the one where we lived in Columbus. But fewer and fewer houses are coming on the market, and interest rates aren't going to stay low much longer, and in our last two months of looking, we only saw one house that was in a better neighborhood. It was dirty and creaky, and Zach wasn't excited about painting it, so we're going to stick with this one. It's really pretty, and big enough... and has a built-in alarm system...

We've gone to the ward up there for the last three weeks. There are a ton of young families with little kids, so we're excited about that.

Kael has changed a lot since he turned one. He understands a lot of his favorite food words, and "no" and "go." So far the only words I think he really knows how to say are "Mom" and "Dad." He says them to get our attention, and uses the right one for the right parent. :) His favorite thing is to crawl under my legs and head-butt them while I'm working in the kitchen. It's not my favorite thing.

Also, he's pretty much done nursing. We're down to about two minutes at night before I put him to bed, and I don't think he'll be getting anything out of me much longer. It's been a good go- longer than I thought possible for me physically. It's been so nice to just take a few minutes out of each day to feed him in calmer settings. He stopped whacking me and stuffing his fist into my mouth at around 8 months and started softly patting my face and hair instead. When I finally stopped defending my face I started spending the time thinking about how sweet my babies have been, how fleeting their infancy. I'm glad I got to "finish" nursing one of my babies- it really bugged me that all three girls had stopped before I was ready- that my body had stopped before I was ready.

And the biggest change has happened this week: walking!

Okay- more like... stepping. He stands up on his own, but has only taken four steps at a time so far, so we're going to rig up our fruit-snack-dangling-from-the-ceiling tomorrow and see if we can't get him to do more.

Here's the video we took of his first four-stepper. Zach and I are yelling at Anya who had just been told not to bonk Kael on the head with her chicken puppet, so you get some good "reality" in there, too. :b


video

Friday, July 29

One boy, One year

Amidst our last few turbulent months there was one event more significant and pleasant than others. Kael turned one!


In his first year here, he has won over the hearts of many girls, but none as completely as his sisters...


and, of course his photographer mom who thinks he is the best subject she has ever had...

He's made a best friend...


and been about the happiest baby anyone who has met him has ever known. For instance: I shot this just before putting him to bed tonight after he started rubbing his eyes and yawning and getting his version of cranky.

We celebrated at Chuck-E-Cheese again- the twins' birthday party was there, and Mia wants hers to be there in September... (oh boy.) We had just found and moved into this apartment that morning, (we had thought we'd be moved into a house, but that fell through a couple of weeks before, and thought we'd have a townhouse to rent, but that fell through the week before,) so I didn't have time to find my kitchen and bake the cake I'd been planning. (Pretty much nothing has gone as we planned since about the time we had the twins... so no sweat, right?)

We got him a Cookie Monster Cake at Albertson's.
Cooookie! Oh-boy-oh-boy-oh-boy.

You sure this is okay, Mom??


"Yes, dear. Blue sugar is a great thing to give a baby. Why don't I throw a plastic knife in for good measure?"

Kael felt SO lucky to have a party at Chuck-E-Cheese... he was just too overwhelmed to show it.


This was the only shot I got of him on his actual birthday. I figured I'd post it since he's wearing the appropriate birthday attire. Those are goggles in the tub there, not... something else. Which something else would have been blue if it were in the picture a few days after the party.
FYI.

Sunday, July 10

In the tunnel

My brother Dallin drove down in my dad's van with a bunch of our stuff, while I drove in ours with the kids. We left in the evening so the kids would sleep on the way, since Kael has a hard time staying in his seat after about an hour. The trip took over 7 hours because we stopped for dinner in Payson and a couple other times. Kael never got too fussy and fell asleep, and the girls fell asleep just in time for Mia to not get car-sick in the canyon... around 11. The canyon was a freaky little stretch because it was dark, rainy and there was construction. But we made it at about 12:30 our time.

I thought I'd be able to make the trip alone, but it would have been awful. I'm so grateful he came. While I tried to get a bunch of cranky kids to bed, he unloaded all of our heavy boxes in the muggy heat, expecting to turn around and head home as soon as he finished charging his cell phone. I tried to convince him to stay one more day- the kids don't get to see him much and were calling him Uncle Tyson. He's going into the army and won't be back 'til next year, so I told him I hoped he'd stick around longer, and went to bed.

Dallin stayed the next day and that afternoon we all went to see the house. It was so big! I thought I'd be turned off by the gross carpet and messed up paint, but it was easy to imagine how nice it would be once we got it cleaned up. The girls had picked their rooms out from the video a couple of months ago, so it was fun to see them claim them again in real life. When we left, the twins were confused... they've been moved out of their home in Ohio to two different grandma's houses and into an apartment, so when they were told THIS was going to be their house they wondered where all their stuff was and why we were leaving it.

The next morning our realtor called to tell me the bank decided not to sell the house because of repair costs. (Which they don't have a correct estimate of- our underwriter pounded out a sloppy list of repairs that he said needed to be done based off the appraisal, and a few of the more expensive fixes weren't even needed... he just didn't look closely enough at the appraisal to see what was actually needed. So the bids that should have been coming back at around 4 or 5K are coming back at 15K.)

I asked the guy we're currently renting from if we could stay longer, like we'd talked about. I told him we'd be willing to sign a three month lease and we'd probably be longer than that. He had a lady lined up to see the apartment on Saturday who was wanting to stay for two or three years, so he said he'd like to rent it to her if he could.

We cleaned the place up to show her and she seemed really interested.

So after she left we went looking for apartments. As we left the house, we told the girls where we were going. They looked panicked and thought we were leaving to move right then without their things. It's kind of funny, but it kind of breaks my heart how much stress they are going through. I can't believe I have to move them two more times within the next six months.

Zach is on night shift this month so we're trying to keep quiet during the day... it is too hot to run around outside during most of it, but we've had some awesome rain and went out to play for that. After we looked at apartments Zach took the girls swimming. We're looking at a three bedroom house for rent later, and I think the hardest part of the decision will be to have our own house with a garage and enough space for all our furniture, or an apartment with a pool.

The girls keep saying things like "I don't want to live here anymore." And "I want to open the trailer." (They know where all their stuff is being stored, and we've been living out of our suitcases for five weeks. I can't make a lot of the things they ask to eat now because we have very limited kitchen tools and ingredients.) "When we make friends can we go swimming with them?"

I'm ready for this "camping trip" to be over, and it doesn't help that right now we have no idea how or when it will end.

Wednesday, June 29

Goodbye Bear Lake, Hellllooooooo Daddy!

Our last day in Bear Lake! We headed back to Sandy this morning.

We stayed at my mom's second house- it was big enough that I could put Kael in the master bath and close the door between us. It was really nice to be able to roll over without waking him up from the sound of the sheets just inches from his pack-n-play... ;D

Our last trip to the beach (on our last day) was pretty miraculous. All day long the wind blew so that the windows screeched and the trees bent almost sideways. The girls ran around all morning in their swimsuits contented with the promise that we'd head to the beach when Kael woke from his nap. I was banking on a typical Bear Lake storm that howls all day until about 4 or 5 when the sun always seems to come out. We left at about 3:30 in the pouring rain. If you look closely you can see the back window is being pounded with water.
We drove around in the rain for a few minutes to see the different places to eat, and then as we headed back toward the beach, saw a clear patch of sky blowing nearer. We drove to the same piece of beach we'd been to on a couple of other days, and the sky above us cleared completely for about 45 minutes.






Then, as dinner time loomed nearer, so did some ominous rain clouds. I love it when I'm not the bad guy for ending the fun... the girls took one look at the clouds coming and agreed it was time to leave.


It started to rain just as we drove away from the beach, and kept raining as we ate dinner. Then when we went to get some famous Bear Lake shakes, the sky cleared up just long enough for the girls to play on the playground at Merlin's. But when it was time to head back and get ready for bed, the sky played bad guy for me once again. We got back into the car just before getting soaked, outdrove the storm and got into the house before the drops could catch us there, either.



So, as you might have heard from my Facebook posts, our new closing date is the 15th. Exactly one month later than our original close date. Zach is thinking even that is an unrealistic goal based on the timeframes they've given us for the things that still need to be done, but we've got our fingers crossed.

Zach has already been down there for a couple of weeks, so we've been looking for a place for all of us to rent short-term, but with no success. People are charging an arm and a leg for rent down there because they can get away with it. So many people are losing their homes...

When we found out the new closing date, I put an ad up in the Craigslist wanted section explaining that we need to rent a place for July. That worked a lot better- we got three responses and decided to go with a two bedroom apartment on Summerlin (west side of the valley.) The owner had to move unexpectedly to the east coast and couldn't get out of his lease. He hadn't found anyone to rent for July, so we're a perfect option, it seems. He left a couple of beds and the bare necessities, so we'll be good for a few weeks.

Vegas here we come! We get to see Daddy (and the new house in person) when we head down on the 5th. Wooooooot!