Catching Up With Us

Apr 20, 2017

I'm terrible at blogging. I don't even know what to say other than that. I want to be good at it, but with four little kiddos, a busy husband, serving at church and two businesses on the side, blogging often gets tossed to the side. So I pop in when I can, and try to give myself a little grace when I can't. I have tons of things I could catch up on, pictures to share, stories to tell, but I really just want to give a little written snapshot of how we are doing, so at the very least, I have that recorded!

Bruce- Bruce is busy with work and his church calling. He is an early morning seminary teacher so he gets up at 5 each morning, gets ready for the day then heads over to the church to teach 18ish teenagers about the Bible. This year they are studying the New Testament. I know we aren't suppose to aspire to callings, but this truly is his dream calling... he debated heavily between becoming a paid CES teacher and a police officer. This calling is wonderful because he gets to have his cake and eat it too Ü The calling has been a challenge at times, but overall he loves it.

Work is going well. He is the PIO for his department, so he has a nice cushy day time schedule with the fun of every day being new and different. Sometimes he is in city meetings, another day he is touring news stations and meeting celebrities and other days he makes videos to post on social media. There are plenty of other responsibilities as well, but each day brings variety and he loves that.

Sunshine- Sunshine just finished being part of her school production of Annie Kids. She played the part of July, an orphan with a few speaking parts and solos in songs. She put in so many hours of hard work and it completely paid off. The play was adorable and she loved being a part of it. The commitment level was difficult on my end, but somehow we made it through and in the end, I am glad she participated.

Now, Sunshine is back to swimming several times a week, she is taking piano and plays the flute in the school band and she enjoys Activity Days at church. She is a busy girl! On top of all her activities, she is excelling in school and has made the Principal Pride list for straight A's the past two grading periods. The switch to the new school has been a challenge at times, but overall, she is excelling and really does love her new school.

Beebs- Beebs also made the switch to the new school and is thriving there. She is learning so much and is already becoming quite the avid reader. Her favourite books are Elephant and Piggie and I could listen to her read for days. She has such fun intonation when she reads, I just adore hearing her! She still loves to play and sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle to get her to do things like homework or practice piano because she really just wants to get out all her toys and escape into her imaginary worlds.

Like Sunshine, Beebs swims multiple times a week and she is getting so good at it! She also plays piano and is picking that up very quickly. It is such a joy to have our home filled with the sounds of the girls practicing.

Man Cub- Man Cub keeps me busy! He is such an active child. He has preschool (taught by me!) three days a week and he does gymnastics on Mondays. He LOVES gymnastics and I just love watching his new tricks each week. He loves Primary and always comes home with stories about the things he learned. He is so good at telling us about his lessons each week. He is super social and always wants to go to a friend's house or have a friend over to our house. He would rather watch TV and eat than anything else, but once he gets to playing, he is a lot like Beebs. He comes up with elaborate games and can play for hours. He recently started taking swim lessons with the girls coach and he counts down the days each week. He tells everyone about swim lessons and invites them all to come watch him. He is so eager to be like his big sisters!

Man Cub has a little bit of a speech issue that is absolutely adorable. I wish I could adequately describe the way he talks, but I just don't do it justice. It may be something he needs help with down the line, but for now, I just enjoy the adorable way he talks. He also has such a sweet side! He brings me flowers, tells me I'm "the prettiest mom he's ever seen" (I taught him that, but he'll just say it randomly and it melts my heart every single time) and says things like "I want us to have another baby so Shark Bait has a baby to play with". He adores Shark Bait and looks up to both of his sisters.

Shark Bait- Shark Bait is growing like a weed. We took away his pacifier, I gave him a haircut and he started talking up a storm, all at once. He runs everywhere, he climbs everything. The boy has no fear at all. Not even one little bit. He talks all the time and is very good at telling you exactly what he wants. He thinks he is a big boy and opts to sit on a barstool at the kitchen island instead of in his high chair. He loves food, but not typical kid food. He turns his nose up at macaroni and cheese! He really loves fish and avocados and greek yogurt and beans and veggies. He is such a great eater... though sometimes too good because he eats all his food and then moves in on mine. Ü He also loves to read and play with toys. He makes all kinds of sounds, like he is trying to read, or acting out something elaborate with his toys. It's adorable to watch. And speaking of watching... another big screen fan in this guy! His favourites are Mickey's Monster Musical, Baymax, and Frozen.

Shark Bait does not love nursery. He's been attending nursery since he was born and did great in there, but they released me a month before he started attending on his own and that month ruined him! He does not like nursery very much anymore. He is still my best sleeper in that he'll go down quickly and without a fight, but he does not sleep through the night most nights. He likes to nurse once or twice during the night, if I'll let him. Which I usually do, because he's my last one and that breaks my heart a little bit.

Me- Oh there is so much I could say... I'm busy with preschool and my photography business. I've taken several amazing photo classes lately that just have me chomping at the bit to go completely full time with photography, but I know I'm not ready for that at this point in my kiddos lives. I am so enjoying all the education though! I look forward to sitting down at my computer each evening to do a little more of my classwork and I'm seeing my photography improve by leaps and bounds. It's amazing.

I've been dealing with some health issues lately that have been stressful and frustrating and annoying. I think I am finally getting a handle on things and maybe I'll devote a post to explaining it all later. I just feel like such a Debbie Downer when I talk about it all! But it makes me feel like a Debbie Downer to be experiencing it all too, so it's just been hard. Things are improving though and just this week I have taken a huge turn for the better! Here's to hoping things continue on this positive path.

So there you have it... updates on us, in a nutshell. Just know we are here, we are alive and well, we are just busy and I don't see that slowing down anytime soon. But we are also loving life and working hard on house project, planning some fun vacations and just enjoying each other. I'd love to say I'll be back soon with more posts, but I don't want to set anyone (including myself!) up for disappointment. I have more I want to post and hopefully I can find/make time to do it soon!

Happy 10th Birthday, Sunshine!

Mar 25, 2017












Happy, happy birthday sweet Sunshine!

Today is a big day for you... double digits! You've been simultaneously excited beyond belief and hesitant and nervous for today to arrive. You weren't sure what to expect when moving to the double digits, but hopefully it has been a wonderful day! We started with your traditional birthday breakfast of beniets and ended the day with tacos and angel food cake... all your favourite things. You were showered with wonderful gifts, perfect for the grown up girl that you are- new clothes, some fun art projects, lots of new books to read and Harry Potter Wizards Chess. You've already played it a handful of times, and I'm sure it won't be long before you are beating your dad every once in awhile. 

This past year has been a challenging one for you. At the end of the summer, we made the very difficult decision to pull you from the school you had attended since Kindergarten and all the wonderful friends you had made there, and move you to a new school. It was such a scary decision that we all prayed about for months on end before making. It was a hard transition at first, but you were so brave and full of faith. You knew it was the right choice and even when it was most difficult, you have always had a great attitude and found the good amidst the trials. You've made new friends, discovered new interests like band and drama, you've excelled in your studies and been on the principals pride list two of the three quarters this school year. You are such a great example of thriving during difficult times. We know this change has disrupted your life more than ours, but you have grown so much and it brings us so much joy to watch you bloom.

You love church and are such a great example of Christlike love. You are kind to all you meet (except maybe your siblings!) and you often ask your church teachers some hard questions that they cannot always answer. Your desire to learn and grow is strong and we love when you bring us your challenging questions and let us help your testimony grow. You have a wonderful understanding of the scriptures and enjoy reading them alone and as a family. We hope your love of the words of the prophets never dwindles!

You are just as creative and artsy as always. You are doing a wonderful job learning to play piano, trying your hand at the flute in the school band and playing the role of July, an orphan, in your school's production of Annie Kids. The school play has been a huge time commitment but you are handling it with grace. Even the weeks when you have multiple days of practice, plus swim team, plus piano, plus before school commitments, you are smiling and happy and never say a word about quitting. You work hard and give all your extracurricular activities your best effort. Unless that extracurricular activity is cleaning your room... Ü We are working on that hurdle still. 

We are so blessed to be your parents and find so much joy in watching you learn and grow. We love you so very much and are excited to see what your second decade of life brings! But just remember, no matter how old you get, you will always be our baby... the sweet baby girl who entered our lives following a magnificent Arizona sunrise all those years ago, our own little bundle of Sunshine.

Love always, 
Mom & Dad 

Merry Christmas to All!

Jan 29, 2017

Designing our family Christmas card is always one of my favourite parts of the holiday season and this year I was excited to take advantage of my lab offering foil cards for the first time ever! The finished product turned out amazing with a beautiful rose gold foil spelling out "Noel" along the bottom of our cards. Unfortunately, this Photoshop image of the design just doesn't do it justice!





Itchies for Man Cub

Somehow, Man Cub managed to make it to 4 years and 3 months of life before his first ER visit. To be completely honest, we are all shocked he lasted that long! But his streak came to an end on December 14th when I was at Mutual and got a call from Bruce telling me to get home immediately because we needed to take Man Cub to the hospital. He didn't really give me details, but I quickly handed off my responsibilities at the activity, got in the car and calmly headed home. I had gathered that Man Cub would need stitches so I called around, let the Young Women's president know I would miss our meeting that night, found someone to sit with the girls and got home to pick up Man Cub and Bruce so we could head to the hospital. And because Shark Bait was pretty hysterical, we took him along too.

As we drove to our favourite children's ER, I finally got all the details. The kiddos and Bruce had been playing their favourite game, the blah blah game, which is basically just a lot of running around and chasing each other while yelling "blah blah". Never been one of my favourites, mainly because they play it right around bedtime when I'd really prefer the kiddos to be calming down, not getting riled up. On this particular night, as they played, Sunshine tripped and fell and Man Cub fell over the top of her and his chin had an unfortunate meeting with the edge of a door resulting in a pretty deep cut. Sunshine and Beebs freaked out and started screaming and crying, Man Cub doesn't deal well with blood anyway and his sisters freaking out scared him even more so he was hysterical and all three of them crying put Shark Bait over the edge as well. It wasn't a pretty sight when I got home! But the girls calmed down and by the time we got Man Cub to the hospital, he was relatively calm as well, he just really did not want "itchies" as the girls had told him he would need.

We got checked into the ER and shown to our room. The doctor quickly came in and confirmed what we already knew- that Man Cub would need to be fixed up. We told her not to say stitches and instead they told him that he would be getting a special bandaid and then they would fix him up. They dressed the cut with a Lidocaine soaked gauze pad and let the medicine go to work while Man Cub watched Zootopia on the hospital TV. After about 45 minutes, once the cut was nice and numb, the doctor and a nurse came in to stitch him up. By this point, Man Cub was nice and relaxed and didn't care at all what they did, so long as he could keep watching his movie. When Beebs got her stitches, they rolled her up in a sheet so her arms were pinned to the side, but with Man Cub, they just had Bruce and I hold his hands. He hardly even flinched while the doctor gave him four stitches to close up the 1 centimeter cut.

Once all was said and done, Man Cub got the world's most expensive popsicle and toy cement mixer ever (yay ER copays :P) and we were on our way.  He handled it like a champ and was excited to show his sisters his blue whiskers. He was even more excited that he had a great "i" show and share at preschool the next day... an injury!






The Polar Express

Many moons ago, or 4 years ago to be exact, Bruce and I took the kiddos to Williams to ride the Polar Express. Man Cub was only 2.5 months old at the time, but the girls loved it and ever since we have talked about doing it again. Especially since Man Cub is a big fan of trains.

This year, all our talking finally turned into something more. In September Bruce told me that he was completely serious about doing the Polar Express this year and asked me to make arrangements. I booked the train, found a hotel and made plans for Bruce's dad to join us on the adventure. Then we kept our mouths shut. We didn't say a word to the kiddos! Even when we surprised the girls by pulling them out of school early, we didn't say a thing. We were a good 30+ minutes into our drive north before we finally told them where we were headed and they were so excited!

Unfortunately, there wasn't really any snow in the Flagstaff/Williams area while we were there,  but we still had such a good time and enjoyed the chance to do something extra Christmasy. We drove up and got ourselves checked into the hotel. Then the kiddos opened their Christmas pjs and we grabbed some dinner. We made the quick drive from Flagstaff to Williams and boarded the Polar Express. The train ride was a lot of fun, though Shark Bait was over it by the very end. The hot chocolate and cookies that were served were delicious and we especially enjoyed singing Christmas carols and welcoming Santa aboard our train car where he presented each of us with a silver sleigh bell. After the train ride, we visited with Santa for a few minutes back at the train depot before heading back to our hotel.







Saturday morning we slept in, then ate breakfast and took the kiddos swimming at the hotel pool. After we checked out, we went to Walnut Canyon to do a little hiking. Bruce and his dad assured me it was a flat hike... um. No. It was a steep hike, straight down a deep canyon. Yes, it was amazing to see the Native American ruins and watch the kiddos amazement as they learned about the way the Native Americans had lived right in the side of the mountain, but I'm pretty sure we took several years off my life in the process. I am deathly afraid of heights and my legs were legitimately shaking in fear the entire time we hiked. In fact, Sunday morning I woke up with some intense leg pain from how severely they had been shaking for the several hours we spent in Walnut Canyon. It was beautiful, but I still cannot say it was worth the toll it took on my anxiety to do the hike.







After Walnut Canyon, we ate lunch and headed to the Lowell Observatory in hopes of taking a look through one of the huge telescopes. The Observatory was incredible. I was a huge astronomy nerd back in middle school and high school. At one point, I even attended a weekend long AstroCamp in Idyllwild, California. The Observatory was definitely my favourite part of the weekend. We spent a lot of time in a cool room where the kiddos got to be space cadets and learn about astronomy in ways that total appealed to them like video games and trivia questions. Then we headed up to the telescope and wouldn't you know it, while we were inside the Observatory, a bunch of clouds had rolled in which meant they didn't open up the large telescope. There was a smaller one we got to look through, but only Man Cub and Beebs got to actually see the moon. The rest of us just used the telescope to look at street signs and cars in the city below. But we still really enjoyed it and Man Cub especially thought the telescope was the greatest thing ever.



Our drive home was uneventful. We were all exhausted after our jam packed, whirlwind of a trip. We had such a great time and hope to be able to go back again soon... we've gotta give the Observatory another try! Hopefully without clouds next time.

A New Plan For A New Year

Insert deep sigh here. I was recently called as the secretary of the Young Womens organization in our ward. It's exciting to serve in Young Womens but a little overwhelming as well! We have a lot of girls in our ward and there is a lot going on, all the time. But I serve with incredible women and I am really excited about it.

This morning as part of our ward conference, I attended a secretary's meeting. We talked about the importance of record keeping, during which my mind kept wandering back to this blog. I started this blog (at a different domain) many moons ago, when I was pregnant with Sunshine. I wrote 800 posts on that original domain before switching over here, where I have an additional 200 posts. This is our family's record. Originally, I planned to print this record using Blurb, but after years of planning to "get around to it", I finally did and after my first book was complete, Blurb stopped offering an easy blog to book option. That started me questioning whether this was really worth it anymore. Then I got super far behind on blogging. Then I caught up. Then I got behind again and here I am, sort of caught up with several blog posts written but not published and an internal debate over whether or not it is even worth doing this anymore. And then I sat in that meeting...

It is worth it to keep a record. It might be more difficult to print this out now than it was before, but that too is worth it. It's worth having the stories of my family saved for future generations and I cannot even count how many times a week I refer to my blog to find a certain photo or share a story with my kiddos. This record keeping is important. But it's also daunting. I struggle to keep up because I have this need to share every. single. story. With every. single. photo. And that can't keep happening.

I've decided to try something new. It may or may not work... but I truly hope it will! I'm going to add photos and publish the posts that are in my que and then I'm going to try setting aside 30 minutes each Sunday after my kiddos are in bed to jot down some stories and thoughts from the week. There might be photos... there might not. I might share a ton or it might just be a little bit. But somehow, I have to keep this record going. I've put too much into my record keeping to just quit now. I hope this ends up being a happy middle ground, and I hope it is something I can stick to!

So there you have it. A new plan for the new year. We shall see how it goes!

Happy 7th Birthday, Beebs!

Jan 3, 2017










My sweet Beebs,

Happy, happy birthday! 7 years old! You know, I've been fine all day as we have celebrated, but as I sit down to write your birthday letter, I find myself on the verge of tears. How is my littlest girl getting so big, so incredibly fast!?

There is so much I want to say to you, I just don't even know where to begin! I am so proud of how far you have come this past year. You are so brave and so full of faith. Dad and I asked you to do a very hard thing when we pulled you out of your old school and enrolled you somewhere new. It was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made, and even though I know it wasn't what you wanted, you put on a smile, told us you were excited and it has been a great change. You are learning and growing so much, and even though you miss your friends, you have such a positive attitude about it all and it has made the transition easier on all of us.

You are so friendly and social. You always want to be playing with someone and you are never afraid to make a new friend. This is something I really admire in you. You have a way of making everyone feel loved and they are excited to be around you. Anytime I visit you at school, you are greeted by name by pretty much everyone we encounter. You have a bright, bubbly personality that people just love. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with your social life as you always want to have someone over or go to a friend's house, but I love that you know the importance of friendship and work hard to be friends with everyone.

You still have such a playful heart and you can spend hours and hours with your toys. You are very creative and come up with elaborate games and storylines. You don't always like it when someone else (mainly your sister!) has different ideas but you are catching on to the idea of compromise.

You and Shark Bait continue to have a very special relationship. He just adores you and often wants you over me. He loves to follow you around and play with you and your toys. He learned to say your name and it is one of his favourite words. You are so kind and loving towards him. I love watching the two of you interact. I hope this special relationship lasts forever.

We are finding that you are a natural athlete. You are such a fast runner and last summer you started swimming competitively. You made so much progress over the course of the summer and have continued to swim twice a week since. You work hard and your efforts have been rewarded. You have turned into quite a little fish, or a graceful mermaid, depending on the day. Ü It is so fun to watch you try new things and succeed.

You are such a special little girl, and when I think back on the scary circumstances that brought you into the world, I know you are truly a miracle in every way. You have a very special purpose on earth and I am excited to see it play out. We love you so much, we are so grateful for you and feel so blessed to be trusted to raise you.

Have a wonderful year of being 7! We love you so much.

Love always,
Mommy & Daddy





When Papa Came To Town

Jan 1, 2017

I know this may come as a surprise, but I have actually kept up on my blogging! I have all of December documented in words... I just need to add the photos and post! I know, I know. I am shocked too!

The beginning of December didn't start off quite as planned... in mid-November, Bruce Wayne was invited to be a last minute attendant at a special PIO training at the Emergency Management Headquarters in Emmitsburg, Maryland. We had two weeks to make arrangements and Bruce Wayne flew out the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Two days later, my dad flew in to keep me company and help out with the kiddos during what ended up being an eventful week. Clogged toilet, sick boys, and a week of teaching seminary made me really grateful to have someone else around while Bruce Wayne was gone!

For the most part, the week was filled with everyday events like getting the girls to and from school, swim team practice, seminary and preschool, but we fit in a few fun events too. The night he arrived, we picked Papa up from the airport and went to the Mesa temple to look at the Christmas lights. We definitely picked the right time to go! There were only a handful of people on the temple grounds and we didn't have to wait in line at all to see the nativity display. It was awesome! The kiddos had a little more freedom than normal in regards to being allowed to walk around on their own and the weather hadn't gotten too chilly yet. It was practically perfect.


We also visited the girls at school on different days and ate lunch with them. Sunshine wanted us to join her for taco salad bowls and Beebs decided pizza day was a good day to have company for lunch. It was fun to show Papa their school and spend a little extra time with the girls.


The Friday Papa was here, we found a really fun way to pass some time. Beebs' teacher at school shared the details of a local train park that puts on a Christmas event each year. Beebs begged to go and it sounded like it could be fun, so we invited some friends to join us and we bundled up in our warm clothes and headed out. It was better than we could have imagined! We took a 20 minute train ride out in the desert and saw lots of Christmas lights and blow up characters along the way. We met Santa. We had hot chocolate and cookies. Then we spent the rest of the evening in the train house, watching tons and tons of model trains make their way around an elaborate track. Man Cub was in absolute heaven. The men running the event gave him a little step stool and told him to carry it around the room with him. He would run from spot to spot, set his stool down, climb up and watch the trains go by. Then he'd pick up the stool and do it again. I loved watching his face as each train went by.






It was so much fun having my dad here to spend time with us. The kiddos loved having him all to themselves and I slept better knowing I wasn't alone all week. I just hope he had as much fun as we did Ü




 
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