Happy 5th Birthday, Man Cub!

Sep 25, 2017

Oh, Sweet Man Cub!

Somehow, you are 5. I keep asking you not to get older, but you insist that you have to grow up. You have big plans! You want to be a dad and a construction site worker. You have to get older to do those things, so I gave in and you turned 5.

You are as spunky as ever. You are a little comedian and love to make us all laugh, especially Shark Bait. He looks up to you and you absolutely love it. Sure, you can be a real stinker to him, but more often than not, you are sweet and adoring and you cater to him. You often ask me for another sibling, so Shark Bait can have a baby, like you have him. It melts my heart every time you say it.

You love Hawaiian shirts and boat shoes, unless your Transformers or shark shirts are clean. You are obsessed with your toys- right now Star Wars, Transformers, dinosaurs and Disney Cars rank highest on your list. You also love to read books. You have lots of favourites that we rotate through and my favourite moments are when you bring me a stack of books and ask to sit in my lap while we read.

You love Primary and Nephi is your favourite Scripture Hero. You once told me that you like that he is strong and kind and serves people. You want to be like him and I support that 100%! Your primary teachers adore you... really, most people do! You have quite the fan club and have stolen many hearts. You are sweet and polite and have no fear when it comes to talking with adults. You save your rebellious moments for me and Dad, but for the most part, we don't mind. We know it means that we are your safe place and we appreciate your determination and spunk.

You are quite the negotiator and have a bit of a stubborn streak. While it can be challenging at times, we recognize that these characteristics have the potential to make you a strong leader in the future. We just hope and pray that we can help you to grow that potential and become the wonderful father and construction site worker that you want to be Ü

Kevin the Bird is still one of your best friends, along with Isaac, from church. You and Isaac are practically inseparable and play together at least 2-3 times a week. Isaac has become an important member of our family and the bond you two have is so much fun. You are so creative when you are together and you keep each other in check. You love Isaac's family and often tell me that his mom is your favourite! But it's ok, because you still tell me almost daily that I am the prettiest mom you've ever seen, and now days, you tell your sisters that they are the prettiest girls you've ever seen as well. Your future wife is a lucky woman. You are learning early on how to treat the women in your life with love and respect and I know that will bless you later on.

We love you so much little man! We are so blessed to have you in our family!

Love Always,
Mom & Dad

The End of an Era

Jul 14, 2017

Monday morning I leave for Girls Camp. I'll be gone for 4 days, during which time, Shark Bait will not get to nurse. By the time I get home, he will be weaned and my 8 years of nursing will officially come to their final end.

The thought is pretty devastating to me. I love nursing my babies. I remember being pregnant with Sunshine and dreaming, very vividly, about holding a sweet baby in my arms and nursing. It was then that I knew without a doubt that I planned to nurse my babies.

It hasn't always been easy, or fun. Middle of the night wake up calls for nursing, especially past the age of one are tiring. While it is so convenient to not carry bottles and formula, there are plenty of times when it is inconvenient, like you are teaching Primary or Preschool and the baby just can't wait another second. But for the most part, it was magical for me and it is killing me to think of being done.

I decided I needed to commemorate the end of this beautiful time in my life with pictures. I actually had a hard time finding someone to do the photos at first, but an opportunity to trade with a photographer from one of my classes fell into my lap. Then more stars aligned and we were able to rent a beautiful studio near my home for the session. It all worked out wonderfully and the results are incredible. I have about a hundred amazing photos I could share, but decided to narrow it down to just a few. After we finished with the nursing portion of the session, Shark Bait and I just enjoyed playing together... we did "This Little Piggy" and "Round and Round the Garden". We tickled toes and did airplane and played with a few of the "bo-bots" he got for his birthday. It was so amazing to focus on just him and I and to enjoy each other for a little bit. I really wish I had thought to do this with each of my kiddos... But without further adieu, here are the results of our magical afternoon.

Happy 2nd Birthday Shark Bait!

Jul 13, 2017

Happy birthday sweet Shark Bait!

I hate that this day has arrived. I've been emotional and had bittersweet feelings on each of my kiddos birthdays, but yours are always the most difficult. Each milestone you hit, I think "this is the last". This is the last time I'll do a "my favourite things" two year old birthday. This is the last time I'll wean a baby. This is the last time I'll have a two year old. It's killing me. I hate how fast you are growing up, so if you could just stop it, that would be great!

But no matter how much I begged and bribed you, you went and turned 2. You are still one of the happiest children I know. Your smile is infectious and lights up the room. But, you are also developing a bit of an attitude at times. It's hard to blame you though- as the baby of four, you have to learn to stick up for yourself! You are learning not to let your siblings push you around and you have no problem giving Man Cub a run for his money. I'm equal parts proud and concerned when I witness this behaviour.

You love to cheese for the camera and you are a bit of a clown. If you know it will make people laugh, you will do something over and over again, grinning the entire time. You are obsessed with "bo-bots" (rescue bots), in particular- Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. You also love Star Wars (Darth Vader is your favourite), Mickey and friends and playing with cars. You also love to be outside where you play with Kevin, dig in the dirt and chase the chickens.

You love animals. Puppies are your current favourite, though you also have fallen in love with ocean animals like orcas and dolphins. We took you to SeaWorld and the beach at the beginning of June and you were a big fan of both! You definitely have my love of all things ocean. And dad's love of doing things to freak mom out! You love to be thrown "in the sky" by dad, and your new favourite trick has been to climb into the bathroom sink, fully clothed, and turn on the water to bathe yourself.

You are such a smiley, happy guy and you are well known and loved for your white blonde hair and crystal clear blue eyes. We love you little Shark Bait and are so glad you are ours. Even though I'm not happy to think you are my last, I couldn't have asked for a better caboose!

Here's to a wonderful year of the terrific two's! Happy birthday sweet boy. We love you so much and are so grateful to have you in our family!

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

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

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