11 Months Old

Aug 27, 2013

11 months old. *tear* I am not ok with this! In just a few very short weeks, my little Man Cub will be a year old. Of course, we have fun plans for his first birthday, but that doesn't really make up for the fact that my little guy is growing up in a hurry. In the two days since he turned 11 months old, he has decided that this walking thing is pretty darn cool and he is quickly working his way up to being a full time walker. I had to buy him shoes today. They are cute shoes, but still! My baby needs shoes! I am so not ready for this.

Only one more photo before this first year project will be complete. I'm sad that it's almost over, but I love having these photos to look back on. It is fun to see how much he has changed, and remember when each milestone occurred.

This little guy brings us all so much joy. It is hard to remember our family without him. I feel so very blessed that he is mine!

Road Trip 2013 | The Drive North, Then A Little Farther North

Aug 18, 2013

I'm at a complete loss as to how to document our big summer road trip. Over the course of the 13 day trip, we drove 2500 miles and I took over 1500 photos. Obviously, I am not even going to be able to fit a fraction of my absolute favourite photos in one post, so I'm thinking this will end up being a multi-part series. I hate posting like that, but I think it'll be too overwhelming for me as the writer, and anyone who wants to read, if I try to fit everything in one post. So, let's give this a go!

Our first day was the drive up to Utah. Bruce is not a big road trip fan (unlike me... it's the only way we ever traveled growing up and I have fond memories of being in the car for hours on end, motion sickness and all!) so this was the first road trip I've been on since Beebs was a newborn. I was a little worried about how the wee ones would do in the car for such a long drive, so I went into the trip very prepared. I put together binder with maps, car games, colouring books and blank paper to keep the girls occupied. I packed about 100 snack sized ziplock bags with treats to toss back when they were hungry and I downloaded tons of audio books in hopes of holding off on handing out iPhones as long as absolutely possible. And I planned for plenty of stops.

All the planning worked like a charm, because the trip up was an absolute delight. Seriously. I had no idea that 13 hours in a car with three young children could be so much fun! The girls listened to The Boxcar Children, coloured and played Bingo. Every few hours Sunshine would ask "which dot we were close to" on her map, and then she'd show Beebs where we were and how much farther we had to go. We stopped a handful of times, with two long stops to stretch our legs and enjoy the scenery. We ended up spending about an hour on the grounds of the St George temple and then another hour at the Cache Valley Cheese Factory in Beaver. It made the drive a little bit longer, but we so enjoyed the stops.

We arrived at my parents pretty late in the evening, but that didn't stop us from spending as much time with everyone as we could before retiring to bed. The next morning we were up as early as we could manage and we climbed back in the car, this time headed for Idaho, to deliver Gigi at her sister in law's house.

I probably should have mentioned Bruce Wayne's grandma, Gigi, earlier. Gigi is the reason this trip came to be. She was heading up to Idaho for a family gathering and when she found out I was looking for a way to get up to Utah for a few weeks, she agreed to drive up with me instead of flying. It meant for a few long days of travel, and being away from home longer than she was originally planning, but without her, this trip would not have happened. Even though I did all the driving, it was so nice to have an extra adult to stay in the car while I ran littles in for bathroom stops, and someone to keep me company during the long, ugly stretch of the drive through Nevada. Ü

The drive to Idaho was seriously breath taking. I did not realize how beautiful Idaho is. I think I said approximately one million times that I was dying to live there. Farms as far as the eye can see, I tell you. I was in heaven. The drive alone was enough excitement for me, but we also had a little fun along the way. We stopped at a small potato museum that Gigi knew of, then we ate at a popular little diner in Blackfoot. The food was... well, terrible, but since half the town was there, we decided it must be "the place" to be on the weekend. After our stop in Blackfoot, we left Gigi with her sister in law and headed to Idaho Falls where I did a photo session for one of my dear friends that lives there. It was so fun to see her and her cute family and I'm insanely jealous that they live in such a beautiful place. Before heading home, I had to drive by the Idaho Falls temple, as well as the Idaho Falls. Then we hit the road for another 3+ hour drive back to my parents.

So basically, we spent the first two days of our trip in the car practically non-stop. But we saw so much beautiful scenery and we made several fun stops along the way. And bonus- if you ask my girls what they loved about the trip, they'll tell you the drive up was a top favourite.

And so to recap- days one and two. Lots and lots of driving. Temple, temple, potato museum. Hmmm... if I managed to curb my long winded blogging, I probably could fit the whole trip into one post! Ü

St. George Temple

The girls, in their mismatched travel clothes, enjoying the cow fields outside the Beaver cheese factory

Outside the cheese factory

Outside the cheese factory- Man Cub was so happy to have a little freedom!

Idaho Falls Temple

Idaho Falls Temple and the Idaho Falls

I found myself a little obsessed with "naturally occurring water" while on our trip. I would stop at any lake, river, or waterfall I could! Such a nice change from the man-made canals and the random "washes" that we have in the Phoenix Valley

Love Where You Live | Day Trip to Tonto Creek

Aug 16, 2013

Two weeks ago, we took a day trip north as part of Bruce Wayne's 30th birthday celebration. Our destination- the Tonto Creek area, where we planned to stop by the Rancho Tonto Catch-a-Trout fishing pond and the state fish hatchery.

The drive up was beautiful. I'm a midwest girl and living in Arizona is not my top choice, other than the whole "13 years from retirement" thing. But every time we drive out of the Phoenix valley, I am reminded that Arizona is full of beauty, just like anywhere else. What it boils down to is that I am not cut out to live in the big city. The farther we got from the hustle and bustle of the Phoenix valley, the happier I became. And the lower the temperature got... which may have been why I was so much happier?

Our first stop was Rancho Tonto Catch-a-Trout. Bruce and his dad have been promising the girls a fishing trip for who knows how long. It was decided that for the girls first fishing trip, we needed some guarantees. Bruce and his dad needed the guarantee that the girls would in fact catch something. I needed the guarantee that whatever we caught would be edible, sizewise. It is really important to me that my wee ones understand where their food comes from, and what better way to help them learn than catching and eating fish. Rancho Tonto offered both guarantees.

The girls had a blast fishing. We caught 6 good sized rainbow trout, which all the wee ones could not get enough of. Sunshine kept wanting to hold them, Beebs wasn't interested in holding them, but she sure got a kick out of us holding them and Man Cub... well, the picture explains it all. He was absolutely intrigued by the shiny, slippery fish that kept flopping out of our hands. My fish managed to get quite tangled up, and ended up, ahem, bleeding all over the place. (Those with weak stomachs may not want to continue.) Bruce insisted on taking a picture of me holding my dripping fish. I think he assumed I would refuse, but I did not want my girls to feed off of me being grossed out, so I grabbed the fish, blood and all, put a grin on my face and we took pictures. Bruce later commented that this is his favourite picture from the trip, and he'd like to put it on his desk at work. I just shook my head.

After fishing, we ate a picnic lunch on the Rancho Tonto property. It was the perfect day for it... plenty of clouds and a nice breeze. Bruce showed the girls how to find the ripe blackberries in the wild patch that was growing along the creek and thanks to Beebs, we had all the wild blackberries we could stomach. Man Cub crawled around with a big grin on his face, so happy to be outside and have some freedom. I think we were all grinning from ear to ear. It is just so rare to spend an entire Saturday outdoors in August. It was divine.

Eventually, we packed up our lunch and headed to the state fish hatchery. The girls loved seeing the various stages of the rainbow trout life. We got to see itty bitty fish, all the way up to huge fish that would have made a very tasty dinner. Ü It was especially fun feeding the fish, as they would practically jump out of the water as soon as the first drop of fish food hit the surface.

We ended our afternoon with a dip in the Tonto Creek. Sunshine and Man Cub were all over this part of the trip. They both love the water, no matter how frigidly cold it is! Beebs preferred chasing butterflies on the shore of the creek. I snapped some pictures. We all found something we enjoyed. Ü

The next day, we got together with Bruce's dad for a birthday dinner featuring fresh caught rainbow trout as the main dish. I was slightly worried that the girls would decide they were grossed out by the fish, especially since we grilled them with head and tail intact, but both Sunshine and Beebs thought it was the coolest thing ever to be eating fish that they had caught.

The entire weekend was so much fun. I think it is safe to say that we all fell in love with the Tonto Creek area of Arizona and we will definitely be making more trips up that way in the future.

Another "First Day Of School"

Aug 13, 2013

Beebs started preschool today! As did I! Of course, I started as a preschool teacher, which is not nearly as exciting as my little lady starting her first year as a preschool student. It has been a very exciting day, which we celebrated with Sonic slushes after picking Sunshine up from school.

Beebs was a little nervous last night as she got ready for bed, which took me by surprise. I didn't think she would be nervous as preschool is held in her playroom, with me as her teacher, but she was most definitely a little anxious, and a lot excited. It took her a long time to fall asleep last night, and this morning she was up much earlier than normal, wanting to get ready for school. Our school day was a blast. I am absolutely exhausted, but I think all the munchkins had fun, and I know Beebs loved it. She was so excited when Daddy and Sunshine finally got home so she could tell them about the books we read, the activities we did and the songs we sang. I think it is going to be a very fun preschool year!

This post would not be complete without a few "first day of school" photos. Beebs was very excited to have her turn taking pictures with her backpack Ü I love that she recognizes that as being one of our traditions, even if the novelty wore off after only a few shots. My favourite part of these photos- the lack of shoes! I tried to convince her that even though we have preschool in our playroom, shoes would be a nice finishing touch for the photos. She wasn't buying it though, so I present, hillbilly Beebs, all ready for preschool!

8 Years Into Our Happily Ever After

Aug 12, 2013

Today marks 8 years of marriage for Bruce and I. 8 years. Wow. I feel too young to have 8 years of marriage under my belt already. And not just 8 years of marriage, we've also racked up 7 years of the law enforcement life, 3 children, 2 houses and a whole bunch of my crazy, hairbrained ideas that Bruce has supported me through. Ü He sure puts up with a lot. And boy do I love him for it!

I was looking through our wedding pictures earlier, trying to pick a few to share, and I cannot get over what babies we were! Bruce had been 22 for a whopping 7 days and I was just shy of the 20 and a half mark. Babies! But we were so in love, and we still are. Our 8 years of marriage have brought plenty of challenges and hardships, but with Bruce by my side, I know we can handle anything life throws at us.

Happy Anniversary to my superhero. 8 years down, and an eternity to go! I'm so glad I get to spend it with you.

First Grade, First Grade!

Aug 8, 2013

Yesterday was the first day of school for our district, and being that I am a proud, camera-carrying member of the mamarazzi, that meant lots of pictures! I even set my alarm for earlier than we needed to be up so I had plenty of time to get Sunshine ready to leave and still take pictures as well. It's a disease, folks. I'm addicted to my camera!

But look at how cute these pictures are!

For comparison sake, I'll start with Sunshine's "first day of Kindergarten" photo, then post the ones from yesterday. I cannot believe I have a first grader. I still feel 17, so the idea of having a child who is 6 and is old enough to be in first grade pretty much blows my mind. She's so grown up!! When did that happen!? 

Look how little she was! Her backpack is half her size!! She has definitely grown a lot in the past year.

I wanted a group shot, but this is as close as I got. Pretty much sums up life these days!

First day of 1st grade | August 7, 2013

Isn't she beautiful!?

Beebs needed her picture taken too Ü

Such a big girl sitting at her own desk! I've already explained to her how important it is to keep her desk clean and organized... she's my mini me and I remember the monstrosity that was my desk in elementary school!!

One of her besties from last year. I am so grateful that Sunshine is in the same class as her three best friends from last year!

Happy Birthday Bruce!

Aug 5, 2013

Happy, happy birthday, to the captain of our crew!

Today is Bruce Wayne's 30th birthday, and despite my many suggestions of making big plans for the day, Bruce just wanted to keep things low key. So that's what we did. We kept things simple and celebrated as a family. All weekend long. Ü

The 30th birthday celebration started Saturday with a day trip north for cooler temps and some trout fishing. Yesterday we had a little birthday dinner with Bruce's dad- we grilled our fresh caught trout and Bruce blew out the candles on his angel food birthday cake. Today's portion of the celebration included donuts and oj for breakfast, Portillo's Chicago dogs for lunch, finally seeing Monsters University and then Meet the Teacher night at Sunshine's school. We finished out the day with our Back to School dinner and Family Home Evening lesson. Simple, but still special. We enjoyed lots of family time, which was just what we needed before the hustle and bustle of the school year begins. Life is about to get crazy busy so it was nice to relax and enjoy a quiet weekend together. 

We hope that despite the lack of surprise parties or big, elaborate gifts, that Bruce knows how much we love him. The wee ones and I are so very grateful that 30 years ago, our captain, our own personal superhero, was born. We are so blessed to have him leading our family. 

Happy, happy birthday, Bruce! 

An Evening At The Ranch

Aug 4, 2013

Our trip to Utah was a blast, and hopefully some time soon, I'll have more than a spare minute to sit down and write all about it! But things are a little crazy around here as we get Sunshine ready to go into first grade and I finish pulling everything together for my debut year of teaching preschool, so for the moment, a short and sweet post will have to do! And it will be mostly made up of pictures. Ü

My one hope during our trip to Utah, you know- other than getting there and back safely without the wee ones losing their minds after being stuck in the car for so long, was to get updated portraits of Sunshine and Man Cub. I got a great picture of Beebs during her three year photo shoot, but being the professional procrastinator that I am, I kept putting off Sunshine's sixth birthday session and the six month session I had planned for Man Cub. I put them off for four long months! But, they are now done and they were a great success. I am so, so happy with the results and I cannot wait to redo our family photo wall. Now for the hardest part, deciding which ones to print and hang!

Sigh! I could look at these pictures for hours. It helps that the subjects are two of my three favourite people to photograph, but I also love, love, love the location. I took all of these photos (plus Beebs' third birthday photos) at the ranch where my youngest sister works. There are no words to describe what a beautiful place the ranch is. I snapped a few pictures of the ranch, without my children in them, but the pictures just don't do it justice. I've never even met the owners of the ranch, yet it still feels like my own little piece of heaven each time I visit.

And last but not least- a couple more snapshots from our evening at the ranch... these ones won't make the walls, but I love them just the same. Especially the one of Sunshine playing the photographer with Beebs and my nephew. Poor kiddos... turns out Sunshine is just like her mama and she wouldn't accept less than perfection when she was posing them. It was so funny to watch! Our evening at the ranch was absolutely divine and my goal was accomplished. And not only did I get great portraits to update our family picture wall, I also got to spend a few hours at one of my favourite places.

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