Happy 8th Birthday Sunshine!

Mar 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Sweet Sunshine!

Your big day is FINALLY here! You've understood the excitement surrounding birthdays for several years now, but this year, you have been more excited than ever for your day to arrive. You are finally turning 8 and you are so incredibly anxious to get baptized and officially become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For several weeks now, you have been telling everyone you come in contact with about your upcoming birthday. You've been counting down the days for the past month, both to your birthday and your baptism day, and the time has finally arrived.

You are so ready to enter the waters of baptism and make your first covenant with your Heavenly Father. You have been so eager to learn all you can about the gospel to be sure you were ready to take this step. You have studied and prayed and asked so many questions. You have so much faith and a far better understanding of the gospel than I knew was possible at such a young age. You are a great example to both your dad and I. We want to be better students of the gospel in order to follow your example.

Your love of learning is not limited to just studying the gospel. You are also excelling at school. You love to read and to write. You ask us to give you math problems to do, just for fun. You love to play school with Beebs and share your knowledge with her. She is eager to learn all you can teach her as she so desperately wants to be like you. You are a great teacher, just like your dad, and I am excited to watch you continue to develop that gift. You still love to draw and colour and try your hand at anything artsy. You spend much of your free time at your desk, creating and being inspired.

I know I say this every year, but time is just flying by. You were just barely placed in my arms- a helpless little baby, who needed me to do everything for you. Now, you are "all grown up" and I feel like you help me more than I help you! You are especially good at helping with Man Cub. Both of you are early risers and you are always so willing to play with him and keep him company until the rest of the house wakes up. During the first few months of my current pregnancy, when I was too sick to function, you would bring me breakfast in bed without ever being asked and find ways to help around the house to ease my burdens. Your willingness to serve is always such a blessing in our home and has been especially so over the past six months.

We are so proud of you, of the choices you are making and the young lady you have become. We are so excited to witness your baptism on Saturday and to continue to help you grow in the gospel. We are so grateful to have you as a daughter. You have such a strong and kind spirit that blesses our lives daily. We love you so much and hope that being 8 is all you dreamed it would be!

Love always,
Mommy & Daddy

A Year Of Disney Comes To An End

Mar 5, 2015

We have had Disneyland annual passes on and off throughout most of our marriage. Basically, we spend a year saving every extra penny so we can buy the passes and afford a few trips to the happiest place on earth, then we enjoy a year of Disneyland, let our passes lapse and start the cycle over again. October 2013-October 2014 was our latest "on" year. We made it to Disneyland a handful of times, with our very last trip being the end of September, right after Man Cub turned 2.

Despite how many trips we've made to Disneyland, this one was a first for me... the very first time I've ever gone to Disneyland without hauling my big DSLR camera along. I'd just upgraded my iPhone so I knew I had a great camera with plenty of space for all the pictures I could ever dream of taking, so I did it. I left my trusty Nikon at home and "did Disney" with just my phone. And it wasn't half bad! I kind of enjoyed shedding the 4 lbs of camera I usually carry and not having to explain back button focus to Disney employees.

As always, we left bright and early one morning and made the drive to California. Upon arrival, we headed straight to Disneyland and right onto Pirates of the Caribbean. I can only think of one or two of our dozens upon dozens of Disneyland trips that hasn't started out with a ride on Pirates. At this point, it is tradition. Ü

We spent the whole first day in Disneyland. We rode some rides, ate some Disneyland food and watched a parade. I'm not usually a fan of Disneyland parades (but can watch the Pixar Play Parade in California Adventure every day!), but Mickey's Soundsational Parade is pretty good. And it's hard not to love it when Man Cub is so incredibly captivated by it.

Day two was a mostly non-park day. We walked along the coast in Laguna Beach. There were several artists scattered along the path, each painting their version of the ocean that day. Sunshine and I loved watching them. We stopped by the Newport Beach temple in hopes of adding another temple to the list of those we have touched. Unfortunately the gates were locked so we just admired it from afar. The Newport Beach temple is my absolute favourite of all those I have been to, so I was a little sad we couldn't get closer. Man Cub was especially upset though... he hung on to the gate, crying to "touch temple! touch temple!". I love that at only 2 years old, he has such a great love for the temple. We then had lunch at our favourite burger place in the entire world (Slater's 50/50) and spent a few hours playing in the water at Huntington Beach.

After returning to our hotel, I decided I would really like to spend a couple of hours at the park with Beebs. In the past, Bruce has been able to take Sunshine for a little one on one time and I decided it was Beebs' turn. We decided to go to California Adventure so we could ride Ariel over and over again and we had such a blast together. We spent time in Cars Land, took tons of pictures and enjoyed bread bowls at the Pier. We also found a souvenir for Beebs and her best friend... Mater Teeth!  It was a perfect little mommy-daughter date and Beebs still talks about the time we spent together, just the two of us. I didn't realize it at the time, but Bruce's dad volunteered to watch Man Cub in the hotel room so Bruce and Sunshine could have their own little date as well. Both of the girls really enjoyed their one-on-one Disneyland time. And Man Cub got to bed early which was just what that little guy needed.

We split our last two days between the two parks. We spent lots of time in Cars Land... my favourite place! We watched the Pixar Play Parade a couple of times, just for Man Cub. We ate at the Blue Bayou restaurant... always delicious. I was participating in a little healthy eating competition at the time of our trip and was not eating sugar, other than one free day a week. I made the most of that free day, enjoying all my favourite Disney treats in one day. Ü Pineapple whips, cotton candy and caramel apples... it was heaven. And- Disneyland celebrity spotting! Of the non-mouse variety. At the very end of our trip, I happened to see Carlton from Fresh Prince as well as the girl who played Lucy on 7th Heaven. I was totally "that person", snapping away trying to get a photo of them. I love Carlton!

When we finally packed up to head home, it was very bitter sweet. We usually take a year off between Disney years, but we knew this break would be longer. Between a busy year of traveling in 2015 and knowing that we would hopefully be having another baby in the coming year as well, we are looking at a break of at least a year and a half, if not two years before our next year of Disney begins. Luckily, we ended this year with an absolutely fantastic trip and we are just treasuring these memories until the time comes that we can go again.

And Man Cub- he was just excited to get home and play with all his toys. Ü

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