A Good Day for a Photo Jam

Today is a good day for catching up on Fall and Winter 2017 photos and happenings. Note that I used to do this monthly or so but now I seem pretty happy with myself if I get to it on a quarterly basis. Life…right?!

Caroline’s 7th birthday festivities (Please ignore the various tripping hazards):

Nate-er Gator turned the big 1-2 in December.

After, let’s see…10 years?…I finally convinced Rob to put on a jacket for church again. Doesn’t he look oh, SO debonair?

Whoops! Wrong picture. My bad! Here’s the one I meant to post. Of course, he had to throw in the ever-so-classy Hogwart’s tie:

Christmas woodland creature pjs.

What the…morbid massacre?!

See that giant trophy? Madeleine joined the school’s ballroom dance team and they won the sportsmanship award. I guess they don’t do “winners” but it was the second biggest trophy awarded so that must mean something, right?

 

She only looks a tad nervous.

This is the sweetest. Madeleine is helping her read.

One story from Little Miss Literal:

Over the spring Caroline started complaining more and more about sore legs. She would collapse when she was running outside and would crawl inside to tell me, very sadly, that her legs hurt too much to play. At first I didn’t think much of it but it kept happening more and more and she was miserable because during those episodes she couldn’t put any weight on her legs. During one of these episodes I told her that I would carry her so she didn’t have to try to walk. I assumed it was growing pains, but then remembered she had some hip problems as a baby and her joints are loose like mine (which flare up occasionally).

After a month or two of these fits, and me carrying her around regularly, I decided to just have her checked out by her orthopedist (since she had hip issues before) because all this was happening right before we were headed to Europe where we’d be walking a lot.

At her doctor appointment, which Cara literally limped throughout, the diagnosis was…wait for it…growing pains. Betcha didn’t see that one coming! After the appointment Cara was walking juuuuust fine. I confronted her, asking “What the heck?!”

Her response…”You said that one time that I should rest my legs so that’s why I’ve always been having you carry me around, but they don’t really hurt.”

Cue the deep mom sigh…

Love this cuckoo crazy family of mine…even on days like today…

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Keeping You Posted on the Kidlings

It’s about that time…time to post an update on what the kidlings are up to these days. I tell ya, they’re fun. These ages (11, 9, 7) are super easy and Rob and I are revelling in it while it lasts.

NATE

 

He is almost 12 so we bought him a suit. Snazzy! I feel like I should win the Best Mom Award when he puts that thing on. Today was wear #2 and he came home from church covered in dirt and ketchup. Boys.

He is hilarious. He is so witty can rightly pull off sarcasm, puns, inside jokes, body language, sophisticated humor, and anything else in order to gain a laugh. He’s more of an introvert though, so it’s mostly us who gets to see this side of him but we relish it. Here is a fake movie trailer he made this morning. Rob and I laughed out loud so many times while watching it. Here is the link.


 He is doing well in school. He is still off the charts in reading and science. His handwriting has vastly improved. He has learned how to better handle his frustration when he doesn’t “get” something and is getting better at staying focused rather than letting his mind wander so much.

He worked hard over the summer, earning enough money to buy a used xBox. He’s learned how fun it is to have his own purchasing power.

He and his sisters have “Sunday Fort Day” every week. They first come up with a concept and a name for it. Past examples include animal sanctuary, haunted house, no giants allowed, carnival, etc.  After they do this they draw up plans and execute. It’s a giant mess. Furniture gets moved, toys come out, and pillows and blankets from the entire house are gathered. But…it keeps them busy for a couple of hours and it’s amazing sibling bonding time. I’ll take it.

MADELEINE

She is a solid 9 now and what a little lady she is becoming. She’s pretty mature and just seems to “get” whatever there is to get. She’s beyond the age of letting me buy her clothes without some serious input because this girl has her own taste and I can never seem to capture it.

She is observant and a very quick thinker. Her reasoning skills are unmatched. She will try her darnedest to win any disagreement and confidently makes the twists and turns required to succeed. Behind her pretty freckled face is a brain that is pretty unstoppable. Her memorization skills are one of her spiritual gifts. I’m not sure how that gift will be used in the future, but I’m positive it will somehow be a great blessing to her and others.

She has been exploring her feelings and emotions lately. Her natural tendency is to bury anything negative deep down and pretend they don’t exist. We are working on making her feel comfortable and confident enough to acknowledge them, feel them, and work through them. She doesn’t love it, but it’s brought her closer to me and Rob.

 

She is participating in Ballroom dance class at school twice a week. She is game for anything in the performing and creative arts. She has never been into playing with toys, even when she was little. All she ever wants is art or craft supplies. She keeps herself busy on different projects just about every day.

CAROLINE

She just turned 7 and lost her first top tooth tonight. She buried it under her four pillows and made a sign pointing the tooth fairy in the right direction. We tried to get her cavities filled this week but fought off the laughing gas like a champ and screamed and flailed her way out of it.

She is a good little student. Her teacher told me how quiet and obedient she is at school. They aren’t working too much on math yet but she loves it and has gone way ahead in her book. It’s pretty cute seeing her sit at the table all studiously and working through it quickly and surely. It reminds me of how her dad looked when working through his math problems in school. Good for her.

She has started dance lessons at a little neighborhood studio and just loves spending the time with her friends and doing something on her own. She is naturally so strong and flexible that it all comes incredibly easy for her. She is still a strong singer. I only wish she’d sing in public the way she does at home.

She is a giggly girl. Whenever she is with her bestie cousins or bestie friend she turns into a crazy person, laughing so hard she can barely stand. She just thinks they are all so hilarious and she can’t physically handle it.

 

SCOUTS

My kids now read this blog every so often and they’ll be so happy if I take a moment to write about their beloved cat sibling. So here it is…

He’s super aggravating with his excessive meowing every morning at 6 am. I’m guessing daylight means nothing to this animal. He also hates this time of year when it’s getting cold outside and he doesn’t want to go out when it’s offered. Then he meows to go out. Then he doesn’t go out. Then he meows to go out. Then he doesn’t go out. On and on every morning from 7-9am and every evening from 9:30-11:30pm. It drives the adults in the house absolutely crazy.

He still lets the kids snuggle right up with him, carry him around all over, dress him up, play with him, and any other whim they come up with for him. He’s gracious and selfless and couldn’t be more sweet.

THE END

When in Doubt, Do Disney

When in doubt, do Disney.

If you’re really ready to rock it, bring on BSB and the beach.

I’ve already posted about this Springtime trip, but now it can be enjoyed by my family via video.

So go ahead. Enjoy it. Enjoy it, I said!

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San Diego and Oxnard 2016 Video

One of the things I asked from Rob for my birthday was to catch up on making some of our family vacation videos.

Here’s our vacation from last year with his family. It’s so fun to watch and remember!

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P.S. I promise to start blogging “real” life and not just “vacation” life again real soon. If I’m going to be honest, “real” life has been real messy as of late and “vacation” life is just so much more pleasant to talk about. So don’t get the wrong impression that our life is nothing but fun and exciting. It’s not. And maybe once the kids are all in school full time (WOW!) in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to come out of survival mode, have a moment to decompress, and write.

In the meantime, enjoy the music on the video!!

BSB, Disney, Beach

Where do I even start? Ahh, yes. The beginning.

Last fall my mom bought tickets to the Backstreet Boys concert in Las Vegas for my little sister’s March birthday. My sister was screamin’ thrilled! Originally, it was going to be an girls trip but a few weeks before leaving I convinced most of us to turn it into a Disneyland trip as well. After all, we were already going to be halfway there so why not just keep on driving a measly few more hours to Mickey? Sounded reasonable to me!

We stopped for red rock playing in St. George before getting to our hotel in Vegas.

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The men stayed with the kids while the women fancied up for our big night out. At least, we thought we were fancy until we saw all the other 7,000 girls really dressed up! I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy the concert since I hadn’t even thought of listening to BSB since I was maybe 17…but as soon as the music started, so many fun memories of my teenage years flooded back and the ambiance and enthusiasm was so fun and infectious! We sang and danced our hearts out the entire time.

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The next morning we played at the park and had a big brunch before the rest of us headed west, making it to Anaheim right at bed time.

Here is Rob and Jake doing a Duo This Not That!

Jake was playing a game with the kids where he had to catch them and put them in jail.

 

Disneyland was, well…the happiest place on earth, of course! As long as you plan well and “just keep swimming” then it’s all good. We rode and rode and rode and had so much fun doing it. California Adventure the next day brought more good times.

These next two pictures make me giggle. 

Then it was time for some beach!

That night we all headed to the hotel pool to celebrate the birthdays of my sister and my mom (which both took place during the trip). I grabbed some pies from the bakery next door and we had a POOL PIE PARTY!! Or was it a PIE POOL PARTY!! Either way it was a genius idea and one of those memories that will always be treasured.

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Rob and I decided to try our hand at driving straight home the next day rather than stopping in Vegas or St. George as usual. We were a little apprehensive about how the kids would handle it but I have to say that it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I’m sure we will be doing that a lot more often from now on.

THANK YOU, mom, for making this trip possible! It was so great to go with her and my sister’s family. We’ll have to do it all again someday!

Snowy Ice Castles

As a member of a photography group, Rob was offered 5 free tickets to the Ice Castles in Midway, Utah in exchange for 5 professional photos of the event. Score!

It was frigid that night. 5 degrees, I think? The kids had a blast and barely noticed the arctic temps. Rob and I were frozen solid but enjoyed watching the kids have fun. 

Verdict: Pretty cool. Kinda fun. Glad we didn’t pay to go.  
Here are some pics of us exploring and playing around.

Here are the requested “candid photos of people enjoying themselves” that he shot for the marketing campaign.

(Can I just say that it takes a VERY good photographer to be able to pull off these AMAZINGLY crisp and PERFECTLY exposed pictures of both people and colored ice at night without even using a tripod?!!)

Top 21 Greatest Vacation Moments (and Top 6 Worst)

I started this post as a Top 10 list but it quickly got away from me. I topped out at our top 21 greatest vacation moments. Oops. I couldn’t help it! I also added a few of our worst moments at the end of the page in order to keep things interesting and not too fluffy.

Ready?

21- Playing at the Pinball Hall of Fame and eating tremendously tasty tacos at Baja Bar & Grill next to UNLV.

20- The shows at SeaWorld. They’re basically the same as when I was there 15 years ago but I think it’s much more fun to watch your own kids gasp and laugh.

19- The rides at SeaWorld. There are only a few but they are great fun! We got soaked on some and then dried off on the others.

18- Rob and Nate enjoyed the USS Midway. The rest of us? Not so much.

17- Lazy Coronado. This view of Nate was typical. Every tree or other high thing within his view he quickly climbed.

16- The Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery forces you to be humble and grateful and sad.

15- Exploring Point Loma. I’ve been to San Diego many times but have never seen it from this vantage point.

14- Sharing a flight of flavors at Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream in San Diego. We scarfed down the 8 flavors without nary a picture so you must realize how good it tasted! Our favorites were coconut strawberry oreo, lime cream, lemon cream, and chocolate.

13- Moseying around Old Town San Diego.

12- Getting an adorable picture of the three girl cousins all dressed up in the skirts and headbands that Madeleine sewed and the bracelets their aunt bought for the occasion.

11- Witnessing humpback whales and dolphins frolicking in the deep blue sea. We took a half-day boat ride to the Channel Islands and superbly enjoyed seeing two whales surface and dive a few times each. We also loved the thousands of common dolphins (and their babies!) that swam alongside the boat most of the trip. Incredible!


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10- Speaking of whales…making out with Rob while riding on top of one is definitely one of my favorite vacation moments!

9- Visiting the Old Mission Santa Barbara. The gardens were beautiful and perfectly peaceful.

8- Watching (over and over again!) the looks on these three faces when they tried the yucky wheat grass shots.
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7- The Getty Villa in Malibu. The beautiful sculptures of Greek gods and goddesses, the stunning Roman architecture, the delicate tile mosaics, the ancient Egyptian mummy, and many other priceless artifacts, we loved it all. As a bonus, I was so happy that my kids didn’t only behave well but embraced and enjoyed it just as much as the grown ups.

6- Playing a competitive game of Dwindle with the whole family. Umm, let’s just say the low score trumps, shall we?

5- Yoga with my love with this view.


4- Best. Swinging. Ever. 


3- I’m not a big water person but Rob and I adored watching Madeleine and Nate jump right in and learn how to boogie board. Except for the cold, splashy water part it looked so fun! Also, watching these two girlies cartwheel at the water’s edge! ALSO, watching Rob try to surf. It was the best birthday present ever. I couldn’t stop laughing! Not only did he have a heck of a time even getting over the breaks but once he did he couldn’t even stay sitting on the board. How I wish I had a video of the hilarity!
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2- Beaches, beaches, and more beaches. From Carlsbad up to Ventura we visited eight (some of them multiple times). We made it a goal to visit as many beaches as possible and I’d say we did pretty well.

1- Spending time with our wonderful siblings, cousins, and parents, of course! They made this dream trip possible. Many, many thanks to them!

Now for the worst moments.
6- The yucky food at Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego. We came here for the fun ambience but waited over an hour for a seat. After all that, we only half-ate our dinner.

5- Too much sugar! We indulged. It was good. But it was bad. 

4- The aquarium displays at SeaWorld. These were dark, old, sad, and in need of care. I was expecting a lot more for such a renowned place.

3- Trying to find acceptable peeing locations around Santa Monica and Los Angeles. Forget acceptable, even unacceptable would have been accepted!

2- The Cat Cafe. We did this to cheer up the kids who missed their pet. The place smelled. The cats weren’t very friendly. Did I mention it smelled?

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1- T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E cell service (Sprint), even while in cities. This meant getting driving directions, looking up pertinent destination information, and even listening to music was very limited. This made for some frustrating moments where I was THIS CLOSE to throwing my phone out the window of our moving car and into the salty sea.

But really, I’d be an idiot to complain about anything on our trip. Seriously, you can’t ask for much more than time off from work, time exploring new places, and time playing with family. We’re very grateful for the opportunity we had to do all of those things together! 
  

Park Pics

One Sunday evening we went to the park to enjoy some fresh air at golden hour while I practiced how to use our new camera…hence some blurry shots. Oh, well.

We played

 

We picked flowers

We shot some hoops

And that’s all, folks!

**Can you tell that ever since I’ve been writing more for work my writing on the blog has been sparse? It’s hard for me to want to sit here and write all creatively when I already do it for a couple of hours every day. Plus, summer is BUSY. So for now you get short, sweet, and to-the-point posts. Sorry.**

Father’s Day Video by Rob

For Father’s Day Rob put together this super great video dedicated to his dad. Check it out.

Rob and I love all the wonderful men we’ve been surrounded by throughout our lives. Our dads, of course, but also other positive influences including grandpas, uncles, brothers, cousins, friends, our friends’ dads, ward leaders, and church leaders. We love you and thanks to you all!
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