The State of This Blog Address

Dec 6, 2016

My blog is suffering... that much is obvious. I am about 11 months behind on posting and as much as I like to hope that life will calm down and I will have the time to devote to catching up, the truth is I have less time than ever, with each passing day. I have debated heavily how I want to continue. Sometimes I contemplate throwing in the towel all together. Turning blogs into books has become really difficult and that is discouraging as my ultimate goal has always been to turn this blog into a printed history of our family.

But when it comes down to it, I can't let go. Between this and the private blog I wrote on from 2006 until 2013, I have over 1000 posts, countless number of photos, and so many recorded memories. I hate the thought of not continuing on. But something has to change. I cannot keep dreading logging in because I know I am so far behind. So, I'm letting myself off the hook. It pains me to not have the past 11 months recorded in great detail, but I want to be able to move forward and blog in the present. Perhaps a day will come when I can go back and fill in the holes. But, if not, I need to be ok with that as well, and I think I am!

So here goes, a brief recap of the past 11 months, in words only, no photos, and from here on out, I am blogging in real time. Hopefully this space can once again be a place I enjoy spending time, rather than one more thing on my to do list that stresses me out.

February- The main highlight of February was our trip to Disneyland. We surprised the kiddos with the trip at Christmas and then anxiously counted down the days until our trip. It was magical. We had a few days to ourselves and a few days with Bruce's brother's family, his dad and aunt. The girls dreams came true when Grandpa gifted them an afternoon at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where Sunshine was transformed into Jasmine and Beebs was transformed into Anna. The girls also became Jedis and fought Darth Vader and The Seventh Sister. Shark Bait wore a different Disney onesie each day and got stopped everywhere we went so people could oh and ah over him. And Man Cub was just in heaven overall, especially when the night parade opened with his favourite character, Mack from Cars, leading the way.

After Disney, we headed down to San Diego for a few days with our friends from Bruce's academy days. It was wonderful to spend time with them. And after we returned home, the rest of February seemed pretty low key. We did take the kiddos to a Coyotes hockey game which was so much fun. I forgot how much I enjoy watching hockey! And then I turned 31, which was pretty dull... turns out, after all the hoopla of turning 30, it all goes downhill. Ü Especially when you spend your 31st birthday speaking in church. Not cool!

March- In March, we started attending a lot of mission paper parties. Many of the youth we have grown close to through Trek and teaching Sunday School and Bruce's years in Young Mens left on missions this year. We got to attend a lot of gatherings where the boys opened their calls and later in the year, we were able to go through the temple with many of the boys and hear their farewell talks. It was an exciting time! In March, we found out that the trek son we are very close to would be serving in the England Leeds Mission, speaking Slovak. I totally called it... the England part. Not the Slovak part!

Mid-March, we bid farewell to our trusty Blazer. She was 20 years old, we had driven her for 10.5 of those years and she was on the way out. She is the car we brought Sunshine home from the hospital in and it was really sad to say goodbye... but our new fancy pants minivan helped ease the pain. Well, other than the part where we took on a car payment for the first time in our marriage. Luckily, we've almost got that sucker paid off already. We could actually pay it off right now, but were told that it was better for our credit to pay on it for a year? I hope that's actually true or I'll be mad that we keep holding off on making the full and final payment!

April- April was pretty low key... Sunshine took a sewing class and learned to make pillowcases. She's been her own little pillowcase sweat shop ever since. Pretty much everyone who is near and dear to her has a Sunshine-made pillowcase. And if they don't, they are probably getting one for Christmas! My best friend KJ was in town from Hawaii for her brother's wedding. Unfortunately, we didn't get much time together at all and it broke my heart to know she was just an hour away but not able to spend time with me. But she did bring me some POG (passion fruit-orange-guava juice) that eased my pains marginally.

May- May brought the end of a great school year. Sunshine and Beebs both loved their teachers and their classes. Man Cub rocked his first year of preschool, which was technically a one day a week tot class. Kindergarten graduation made me cry and we held our second annual Memorial Day BBQ with our favourite friends from the girls school.

June- This is when life started to get crazy! June was the month of swimming for us. Both girls were heavily involved in competitive swimming, with an hour long practice for each of them 4-5 mornings a week and swim meets two nights a week. We eventually got into a good routine with it, but it was a hard month! Especially since right after we signed the girls up, Bruce got a promotion at work that changed his schedule, making him unavailable to help with getting the girls to practice and meets. I'm not sure I would've committed to swimming had we known about the job change any sooner, so it is probably good that it worked out as it did. I am glad both girls got to compete all summer, even though it was difficult to spend that much time at the pool with four kiddos. It was amazing to watch them both progress and grow so much in their sport.

We also got ourselves a family pass to our community pool for the summer, so most nights of the week, we would eat dinner, then head over to the pool and swim for a few hours more. There were days when I spent 5-6 hours sitting in or at a pool. But it helped us to stay busy and mostly beat the heat during the first part of the summer.

July- Things really picked up in July. Along with the end of the swim season, we also had Shark Bait's first birthday and our two week road trip to Utah. It was a crazy, hectic month, but oh so fun. We had a blast in Utah. We touched lots of temples, ate lots of donuts, and spent as much time as possible outside enjoying the beautiful cool evenings. We fell in love with Swig cookies and sodas, ran a temple to temple 5k and celebrated Pioneer Day, Utah style. We ended the visit with a day in the mountains with all of my family before heading home to Arizona where Bruce and I had to decide which school our girls would attend... the one they had gone to since Sunshine was in Kindergarten, or a new school that opened in our area that I felt really strongly about...

August- In August, we headed back home to the sweltering heat. Bruce turned 33 and the girls got ready to start school. We debated heavily until the very last moment, at which point it became clear to us that they were suppose to attend the new school in our area. It was scary beyond belief to make the change, but it has been a wonderful experience. We are so happy with their new school. The curriculum is wonderful, the campus is beautiful and both girls are absolutely thriving there. We just really miss our friends from the old school and wish they would have all moved with us Ü Bruce and I hit a relationship high when together, we won the jackpot playing the basketball game at Chuck E Cheese, and we took a quick day trip up to Prescott to visit with some friends and enjoy the cooler mountain air.

September- Always a big month, September brought the beginning of my fourth year of teaching preschool. Bruce and I were given some amazing tickets to a Cardinals pre-season game and took Shark Bait with us. We were also invited to join some friends for a day at Wet N Wild water park. We celebrated Man Cub's 4th birthday by projecting a movie onto the side of our house and inviting all his friends and their families to join us in watching and we did all these things without spending an extra penny outside our regularly scheduled bills and food budget! No Spend September for the win! We saved a bucket load of money by really watching our spending, and were able to pay off a huge chunk of the new car as well as gear up for the expensive and fast approaching holiday season.

October- In October we added a new member to our family- Harvey Bones, the 5 foot tall plastic skeleton. He mostly hung out on our piano bench, but occasionally he could be found in miscellaneous places around the house. He was fun and we look forward to his return next October. The girls got their official Hogwarts acceptance letters and donned their wizard robes to attend Halloween at Hogwarts, presented by the Phoenix Symphony. Bruce and I hosted our first annual adult Halloween Party and it was amazing. Can't wait to do it again next year and we celebrated my nephew's birthday at Touch a Truck... aka, little boy heaven. Though Man Cub did not like all the honking horns at the event, he did love getting to touch and sit in the excavator. We finished off October with family photos at the Phoenix Temple, and for the first time in years someone other than myself took our pictures! It was fun to have someone else be in control and get the kiddos to all look at the camera and we ended up with some beautiful photos where everyone is looking and smiling!

November- November brought about our 5th annual Planksgiving celebration. Crab legs and melt-in-your-mouth ribeye, desserts galore and a trip to the movie theatre to see Moana. It was a spectacular day. I even started the day out by running a 5k with some friends at church. I did the race at a 10:25 mile pace which is huge for me, especially considering I hadn't been running regularly. My typical pace is 11:30-12:00 a mile, and that was when I was running 3 times a week and training for half marathons. It was exciting to see that I am not completely weak and useless when it comes to physical activity. Hopefully soon I can get back into a good running and exercise routine... as soon as I get my health back on track. Post with more info on that, coming soon! November ended with Bruce flying out to Maryland for a week long training at the Emergency Management Institution headquarters. My dad flew out to stay with us and that was such a blessing since it was one of those weeks where lots of little things happened that could have made for a difficult week had I not had some help... everything from Sunshine sewing through her finger while making pillowcases to a backed up toilet and two sick boys. It was nice to have my dad's company and help while Bruce was away.

And that leads us to December... the here and now! Blogging in the present for the first time since Shark Bait was born! Woohoo!

California 2016 | Family Photos

Nov 6, 2016

For Christmas last year, we surprised our kiddos with one really big gift- a trip to California! Our trip ended up being broken into three parts- a few days at Disneyland by ourselves, a few days at Disneyland with Bruce's family, then a few days in San Diego with our wonderful friends from Bruce's police academy days. We had such a great time... the only problem with that is I am just dying to go back!

Bruce, the kiddos and I left for California Sunday after church. We drove straight to our hotel room, where we got ready for family photos. Surprisingly, it was Bruce's suggestion that we start our trip off this way. It was time to update our family picture and Bruce wanted to recreate our beach portrait from before Shark Bait was born. We decided that if we tried to take the photo the first day, then we wouldn't have to stress about it through the rest of the trip. Plus, if for some reason the weather was bad or the kiddos didn't cooperate, we'd have chance to try again the next weekend while in San Diego.

After scouting out locations online, we settled on Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach. It was a beautiful spot. The only downside was that we had to park quite far from the beach, so we had very little time with good lighting to get the photo. And the beach closed at sunset (it's a state park) so we had to hustle out of there once the photos were taken, so there wasn't much time to actually enjoy being there.

But! We were successful! We got a fantastic family photo that hangs as a 20x30 on the living room wall. And then we had dinner at Slaters, so it was pretty much an awesome way to start out the vacation.

Odds & Ends: Wrapping Up January... Finally

Nov 2, 2016

The beginning of the end... of January posts anyway. I know half my problem is that I want to record and capture every single moment of life. I promise that I am getting better at taking less pictures and only sharing the most meaningful ones. Now I just need to work on not feeling a need to post all the old photos from when I took hundreds each month. Baby steps!

This photo has no story attached... so logically I shouldn't post it, especially in my efforts to post less photos. But those eyes! And the cheeks! And the fact that he's my last baby... I want to post all the Shark Bait photos!

2016 started out rough with a lot of sickness going around school. In an effort to keep the sickies at bay, I have the kiddos take liquid garlic and vitamin C. Man Cub can be super stubborn and with the yucky taste of the garlic, I figured I would never be able to get him to take it. But he takes it, and does it pretty happily. 

Our kitchen chairs kicked the bucket hard core at Christmas, so when Beebs and I got back from our trip to Utah, we ran into IKEA and picked up these beauties. Probably not the sturdiest or most long lasting chairs, but we love the look of them and for the moment, they are holding up just fine!

Beebs went on a birthday date with Aunt Amy. Starbucks, lunch and some ceramics painting. She loves her pegasus piggy bank and is really hoping that these Aunt Amy birthday dates will become an annual tradition. 

Sink bath! These do not happen nearly enough, especially considering that we've had our awesome new sink for over two years now. 

Beebs had to decorate a shirt with 100 items for 100 day at school. Beebs loves bows, so I tied and sewed 100 bows to a hot pink shirt. The things I do for my kiddos. In hindsight, we probably could have (should have) done something more simple, but she was so excited about her shirt and it was so her! Also, 100 day glasses are my favourite!

Few things make my heart swell as much as seeing my kiddos love for each other in action. Shark Bait was having a rough time with teething and Sunshine held him and rocked him for me so I could get some things done around the house. He fell asleep in her arms and my heart melted! Sunshine is such a great big sister. 

Tulips! Always my favourite part of spring, which happens in January in Phoenix. And anytime I can get them in orange, I am a happy girl!

Beebs made me this necklace on 100 day at school. I love it. So colourful and fun. 

The kiddos and I hosted a Jellycat picnic using American Girl doll food. It was awesome. 


And we will end the month with this adorable grin... Now on to February!

Odds & Ends: The First Half of January

Oct 30, 2016

Man, I would sure love to be caught up on blogging by the end of this year. What are the chances!? (Slim to none, I know! But I'll try!) Let's finish up the first half of January first and then we will just see what happens!

In January we enjoyed some post-bath Yoda baby.

At church, Man Cub moved from Nursery to Sunbeams.

The boys played some dinosaurs and Man Cub started a gymnastics class with the same teacher that both the girls have gone to.

Shark Bait reached the oh-so exciting milestone of being able to sit up in the shopping cart. I feel like running errands is so much less hassle when babes can finally sit up in the cart. But after sitting up all through Sprouts, Shark Bait crashed and ended up sleeping through Costco. Luckily, those carts are big enough that he could stretch out in the front and sleep, while Man Cub sat in the back. 

Some rainy days made for awesome running weather. 

The boys enjoyed being able to sit at the counter together. Shark Bait enjoyed some real food (mandarin oranges) while Man Cub downed some chocolate milk. Notice Man Cub rubbing Shark Bait's ears? Man Cub went through a phase where to comfort himself, he would tug on his own ears or the ears of anyone sitting nearby. He seems to have stopped this habit for the most part, but every so often I'll catch him rubbing ears when he's really tired or really upset. 

Dad made Man Cub the coolest toy- a battle spear like the one Reptilius Maximus uses in Toy Story That Time Forgot. 

We did some Tim Tam Slams for Family Night. Always a fun treat. 

Man Cub enjoyed some tubby time with his dinos and zoo animals.

I tried to get into a good habit of exercising, with Shark Bait as my audience. He laughed at me every time I did a lateral step up. Can't really blame him... I hate those things and I'm sure I look ridiculous doing them!

Bruce had another celebrity sighting at work... He worked an Eric Church concert and got to chat with Eric for a few moments and take a picture. 

When Shark Bait wasn't sleeping, he worked on perfecting the art of sitting up. 

And to wrap up the first half of January, we enjoyed a picnic at the park with cousin Asa. 

Happy 4th Birthday, Man Cub!

Sep 25, 2016

Dear Sweet Man Cub,

Today you are 4. Yesterday I begged you to stay 3 forever, but you told me that you couldn't. You had to turn 4! You've been looking forward to your birthday for months. Literally, every time we would  go to the store, you would find something that you just had to have for your birthday. Your wish list got pretty long as the months went by. Luckily, you are one of the easiest to please children ever, so even though you didn't get everything on your wish list, you were happy as could be about all the sweet gifts and notes and birthday wishes you received today.

We had a birthday party for you yesterday. We kept it simple and just invited a bunch of your friends and their families over for popcorn, birthday cake and a movie, which we projected onto the side of the house and watched under the stars. It was so much fun. Because we weren't sure how many people would be attending, we bought a Costco sheet cake and you picked the dinosaur design. You were absolutely giddy with excitement when we picked it up. As I pulled it out of the big fridge at Costco, I looked over at you and you were covering your eyes saying "I won't peek! I won't peek! Tell me when it's ready." You opened your eyes to see it and squealed with delight. It was exactly what you wanted. Your excitement for life is not just limited to all things birthday related. I love that you get excited about almost everything you do, except for cleaning your room, of course.

You love your siblings so, so much. Almost every day when we drop the girls off at school, you shout "Bye Beebs! Bye YaYa!" as we drive away, then you quietly tell me "I'm going to miss my girls while they are at school." And you do miss them. You often count down the hours until they will be home. Luckily, you still have Shark Bait around to play with and boy oh boy do you adore him. You recently insisted that he needed to move into your bedroom with you. I was scared as could be about how the transition would go. You have a tendency to turn your light on and play at night, until you are ready to go to sleep. Shark Bait really values his sleep and likes to go to bed early so I was worried that your night owl ways would interfere with his good sleep habits. This has not been the case at all. You are so incredibly considerate of him. You lay quietly in bed with the lights off and let him go to sleep. Once, I heard you softly whispering my name. I went to your room to check on you and you whispered that you had to go potty. I helped you to the bathroom where you continued to whisper and remind me to be quiet, so Shark Bait wouldn't wake up. You didn't even want to flush the toilet! I was blown away with how considerate you were of your sweet little brother. He is so lucky to have you to be an example to him and to be his buddy.

You are doing great in preschool this year, even though your three best friends forever are in our class. I was a little worried about how it would go over, but for the most part, you are doing great. You are an eager learner and with a few small exceptions, you stay on task and participate in our lessons. You are learning so much and really blossoming in school. You are getting good at tracing your letters, so I know it will be just a matter of time before you are writing your own name. You've learned all your colours and can say the Pledge of Allegiance. You are great at counting and saying the days of the week. And books... oh how you love to read! It is not uncommon for me to go into your room during quiet time and find you reading a stack of books. Once, you were sent to your room to go to bed after a small tantrum and I turned off the light and told you to go to sleep. The light stayed off so I thought you had actually done just that. I went in to check on you and you were sitting by your bedroom window with the curtains pulled back, reading books by the little bit of light that was coming in. It melted my heart. I love that you love books! We have read Winnie the Witch so many times that you know most of the story by heart and will sit and read it to yourself. It's just about the cutest thing ever.

You are still all boy. You love all things dirt. You love cars and trains and anything that moves. You love dinosaurs and you love, love, love animals. Kevin the Bird is your best buddy and the two of you are your own little pack. You love to wrestle each other and snuggle on the couch and watch TV. Once, you told our friend Amy that you thought she needed "a little boy and his dog" so you were going to go live at her house. She'd take you in a heartbeat. You are her most favourite little boy ever!

You love going to Primary and you think your Primary teacher is the greatest guy in the world, next to your dad. And he is! You give him a run for his money but he is so patient and kind to you. You learn a lot from Brother Ban Wee, as you call him, and he is helping you continue to grow in the gospel. You look forward to Primary each week since it means you get to see Brother Ban Wee and two of your three best friends.

You tell me that you want to be a dad and a dog doctor when you grow up. It warms my heart that you know you want to be a dad. You'll be such a good one. You are strong and brave, but also kind and tender hearted. I hope you never lose those qualities. You often climb up in my lap and tell me "I forgot to hug you, mom!" You then give me a hug and a kiss and go along on your way. I have been teaching you to randomly tell me "You're the prettiest mom I've ever seen". I know it's totally self serving, but every time you do it, it makes my day. Just the little boost I need!

One thing is for sure, our lives were blessed when you were born 4 years ago. You are the baby I dreamed about the night before your dad and I were married and I am so grateful that you joined our family. You keep us on our toes and make life interesting. You give the best hugs and kisses and keep us laughing.

We love you so much, Man Cub. You are the best Dirt Boy a mom could ask for.
Love Always,

Mom & Dad

The Bike Rodeo

Sep 11, 2016

At the very end of January, we were able to attend a bike rodeo at our neighborhood park. We've attended bike rodeos in the past, but they've always been large scale events at one of the huge parks and the entire city was invited to attend at once. This year, the city held smaller bike rodeos at the various parks throughout the city and invited the surrounding neighborhoods to attend. 

We love the bike rodeos. Free food, live band and the local PD fitting the kiddos for helmets and teaching them bike safety. And at the end, they do a drawing for some free bikes. In the past, the events have been so large that we didn't really have a chance at winning a free bike. This time around, I felt like our chances were a little bit better with the smaller crowd, so we stuck around for the whole event, just in case one of our tickets was a lucky one. 

We enjoyed some free hot dogs, sodas, chips and ice cream for lunch. The kiddos each took a turn doing the bike course with the PD and the girls got new helmets. We walked through the sponsor tents and played on the blow up slide and bounce houses. Then it was time for the bike raffle. We gathered round, tickets in hand and the first number drawn was Man Cub's. He was so excited and ran right up and hopped on the brightest coloured bike up there. It was a little big for him, but I couldn't convince him to take the smaller one and the police officer running the raffle just shrugged and laughed. 

Ticket number two was drawn... and matched the numbers on Beebs' ticket. She picked a pink and purple bike. Sunshine mentioned how funny it would be if she won a bike, but as she had gotten her dream bike just a year ago, she knew she didn't need a new one. We stuck around for the end of the drawing so the kiddos could be in a group photo with the other winners, and wouldn't you know it, Sunshine's ticket number was the last one drawn. We won bikes 1, 2, and 6. Sunshine thanked the man drawing tickets, but told him she had a great bike and asked him to pick a new ticket so another child would have a chance at winning. That girl... she is one of the sweetest children I know. She was just excited that her ticket was drawn, even if she didn't go home with a new bike. 

The walk home was an adventure. We only live 3/4 miles from the park, but with the stroller and two bikes more than we walked there with, it was tricky! But we made it home and we were all grins for the rest of the day at having won three bikes. Unfortunately it was too late to buy a Powerball ticket... I was feeling pretty lucky! 

    Puddle Play

    Sep 6, 2016

    We had a nice rainy day in January that made for some good puddles under the play structure. It seemed a shame to waste the puddles, especially since they were sure to be dried up before the girls got home from school, so Man Cub and I headed outside. I took my camera, he took his dinosaurs and we played. Man Cub splashed and jumped and helped his dinos go for a swim. I snapped away, getting all kinds of fun photos of my boy in his element. I really should get out my big camera more often...

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