Saturday, February 21, 2015

Not My Baby

In just a couple of weeks we will welcome another baby boy into our family and Clayton will become a big brother overnight.  Weird.  He's still my little baby.  He still needs mama. Something tells me that part isn't going to change overnight which means we are in for a wild ride I'm sure.
But seriously, just look at the little stinker.  He's too adorable...
Until you hear him yell "mama" 50 times in one hour.  Then he becomes a little less than cute.  Or when he refuses to sit in a high chair or let you feed him.  Meal time is awful and a chore each and every day.  This picture doesn't even highlight the mess on the floor and bar stool since the kid throws anything and everything in sight. 
When I had Clayton, Zach was only 19 months old.  Clayton will be 22 months when I deliver.  So it shouldn't be that big of a deal but they just aren't the same kid...I know--shocking!  Clayton still loves to be held, and carried, and he LOVES to lay his head on my shoulder.  He just seems like he's still my baby.  He's not necessarily attached but definitely wants to be my buddy if I'm around and will fall asleep in my lap which the other two kids outgrew at 6 months. 
The very best thing about Clayton is his "machine gun" laugh.  He's laughed like this spontaneously for months now.  Since probably before he was one year old.  It took a lot of attempts to get it on camera since you can't predict it but I laugh each and every time I hear it.  At times he will go on and on and on.
I also love when he gets into songs for FHE.  He really gears up for those jumps...ignore the other 2 crazies in the background.
Other times, he seems totally prepared to be a big brother.  He ADORES babies like you've seen no boy his age do.  He loves to copy Mariah and Zach and mimics them more and more each day. I can trust him to not get into too much trouble when left unattended and he's finally getting a decent vocabulary. 
 Somehow, if we pray hard enough, I think we all may make it through the storm that we have ahead, even if he's been giving us 5:30 wake up calls lately.  Here's to the newest big boy!

Valentine's Celebrations

Around here life is so exciting that we love any excuse we get to have a celebration.  Valentine's Day is something my kids look forward too because they know it means a party, valentine boxes, and sugar.  I let both Mariah and Zach invite over a couple of friends for sugar cookie decorating.  We spent the day baking cookies and eating dough (the kids favorite part) so that when everyone got here the cookies would be ready to go.  They love these sorts of days but it's so hard with Clayton around that I don't do it as often as I probably should.
When all the kids arrived chaos started.  This was as bad as hosting a birthday party!  Maybe I should limit it to one friend each?
As you can tell they love their sprinkles.  Makes me smile.
We then delivered several plates of cookies to the neighbor friends.  P.S. This sugar cookie recipe is amazing and the cookies were so fluffy and thick.  We ALL ate way too many.

I also planned to meet with a bunch of moms at the park later that week to have a valentine exchange and potluck lunch.  This party was a much better idea.  AT THE PARK.  Not in my house where my screen doors can get broken...yes that happened when we decorated cookies.  A girl ran full force into the slider screen door thinking it was open.  Kinda funny, until I realized it was broken...
My kids can't go to a valentine exchange without a cool box.  This year we did hot air balloons.  They made the little baskets at Home Depot and then we just got helium balloons.  Easy peasy and still the cutest ones there :)
The best part of the week was definitely two dates in one day with MY valentine.  We went to a cooking class in the day then later that night, enjoyed dinner and a stake dance.  Once again, I got the spouse of the year award when Adam bought me a present and I returned it with a hug.  Seriously???  You can't blindside me like that!  We need to set rules as to when we exchange gifts and don't. 
Happy Valentine's to us...Zach is wondering why dad looks like Santa.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Out of Africa

My sister Kelsy and her little girl Ava came to visit last week.  The kids were sooo excited to have a cousin come.  We spent most of our time at the park but also hit up the family favorite restaurant, Macayos, and some local activities that my kids like.  It was easy to find lots of fun stuff for kids while they were here.  That I'm very use to doing on a daily basis.  It's entertaining adults that is harder.  I'm not sure what that says about my life except for that there is a lot of truth to the saying "finding joy through your toddlers eyes".  If they are happy and having fun, then so am I.  I think the most Kelsy and I laughed was as we watched all 4 kids hiding in my bathroom cupboards and thinking they were all so funny as the laughed and laughed and laughed. 
We did however, find one big activity to do while they were here and we ventured 2 hours away to Prescott to try 'Out of Africa'.  I'd never been but had heard it was worth the trip.  Out of Africa is to a zoo as Sea World is to an aquarium.  You are able to witness the animals in more of a natural habitat as well as watch them in different shows and go on a safari where they aren't in cages etc.  Very cool.  I personally think the zoo is dumb.  The animals lie around all day and don't do anything.  This place was different. The play a lot more and the workers get them to interact.  
The highlight was definitely the Tiger Splash.  I think the workers must be crazy.  I don't think they've heard of Sigfried and Roy.  That Tiger is a wild animal, I don't care what relationship you have.  I would be carrying a taser gun in the very least.  Zach especially loved watching the tiger play with his toys.
We also saw a 2 day old baby zebra and several zebra herds.  Did you know a female zebra typically gets pregnant the day after giving birth?  The entire safari had a moment of silence for the zebras.  In my current state, I understand that tragedy. 
Speaking of the safari...Everyone on the tour got a stick of celery to feed the giraffes with.  I got 4 sticks because my kids weren't going to feed the giraffe if their life depended on it.  I used one of them to "kiss" the giraffe, by sticking it in my mouth.  Kelsy freaked because the giraffe leaned inside her window to grab my celery and dropped the camera!  That giraffe had the worst breath you could imagine and an 18 inch slobbery tongue that touched my face and I have no picture to have even have made it worth it!  Yes, Kelsy, I'm a little bummed by that.  I had more success getting the drivers picture.  That should have been how mine looked.  In Kelsy's defense, I don't think my face looked pretty enough to have made it my Facebook profile or anything.  I think I was a little freaked too :)
We were able to see laughing hyenas and their laugh truly is comical, a one year old grizzly bear play with people, lions, gazelles, and more.  When we saw the ostrich they warned us to keep our phones away.  Apparently they will eat them whole.  They also allowed us to hold an ostrich egg.  My kids wouldn't do it, (yes, too scared) so the only picture I got was of Ava who is too young to care. 
Speaking of my kids and their fears.  We watched a snake show with an 20 foot python.  Zach was a little freaked but sat through it calmly.  Clayton however wanted in that cage with a couple of other spectators so I decided to let him in.  We have a snake lover on our hands people!  He loved that thing!  Everyone was commenting on how he kept chasing it around saying "touch, touch".  Next thing I know Mariah and Zach wanted in too.  They all three touched this giant reptile and then a bunny rabbit too (Ava did NOT).  Do you not remember our butterfly experience.  Oh and since the butterfly, they've been acting the same way around regular flies!!!  A fly got in the house (gasp!) and I had screaming kids, but a python, yes please!  

 After 4 hours in the car, hauling 3 kids in and out of trams and buses all day, pushing a stroller on dirt roads, sitting on bleachers, and on my feet for hours, by the time we got home it was definitely an Icy Hot and Tylenol kind of night for this 8 month pregnant belly/back.  Overall though, I feel very grateful that although I have symptoms, after a long day my body can still hold up and continue to play.  I don't think bed rest and I would get along well.  That being said, I'm ready to have my body back...It doesn't help that Mariah said "Mom, your sister Kelsy is a lot skinnier than you".  Gee, as if that isn't obvious...even before I had a baby to blame things on!  Thanks for the visit Kelsy.  We miss our play buddies already. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Butterfly Wonderland

My parents came down for some Arizona Sunshine.  Whenever we have company, I try to think of something new to do.  They've been here enough now that I'm running out of ideas!  However, I had heard good things about Butterfly Wonderland.  I had yet to try it because I felt it was a little overpriced but then decided with company it was worth a go.  Oh boy was it an unpleasant one!  This picture is about the only time you will see the kids smile for the rest of our stay.
We started off with a 3-D movie which Mariah seemed to really enjoy.  Zach kept taking his glasses off and saying that it was too scary when the butterflies got close.  I should have known at this point that we were in big trouble.  If he thinks the movie is scary, what's he going to think of 2,500 butterflies flying around?  In fact while we were looking at all the chrysalis and the process of the butterflies emerging Zach was scared...AND Mariah!  They were behind glass and the anxiety had already begun.  I thought it was rather cool myself.  As we stood there, you could literally see a few butterflies begin to break open and leave the cocoons.
Next we entered the observatory.  Immediately, freaking out began.  One of the workers tried to reassure Mariah by telling her she wasn't wearing the right color so they probably wouldn't land on her.  LAND ON HER!!!  Screaming like you couldn't believe commenced. I think Mariah and Zach kinda fed off of each other's fears because they both started running away from any butterfly they saw (and there were enough that you couldn't really get away) and going nuts!  Not a single other person in the entire place looked one bit nervous and these kids were acting like they had just been put in a lions den.  I'm sure it made for a lot of eyes on us but I was too busy trying to calm the kids to notice.  Fakest smile on that girl ever!
Certainly, they would calm down in a few minutes once they realized there was no harm in this.  Calm down they did not!  The only way I got Zach to stop screaming was to tell him I wouldn't carry him anymore and Mariah tried to suck it up by puffing out her lips and taking deep breaths. 

By the end I think they were even making Clayton nervous because when one got close he started to whine a little as well.  If he knew this butterfly was on his leg we probably would have seen a lot of tears from child #3 begin, too.
Needless to say, we didn't last very long.  Remember how I said I thought it was overpriced?  That's an even truer statement if you stay 15 minutes and don't enjoy it one bit with crazy kids hanging on you.  Well, I guess I can't say one bit.  I thought it was kinda neat.
We also took a hike to Hole in the Rock.  Perfect hike for kids.  A fun little destination and less that 1 mile round trip.
This one gives a better view of the hole
Zach isn't in this picture.  He was too afraid to climb up there.  I know this shouldn't really shock me by now but is there anything that kid isn't afraid of? 
Clayton reminds me of sledding in this picture...expressionless.  I couldn't decide if he was having fun or not.
However, he must not have loved it because when we got to the ducks there was no question that he was having fun.
I only wish I had a picture (or better yet a video) of Grandpa waking across the rocks at this duck pond.  When he fell in and soaked most his leg and entire shoe in mud as he missed the last rock, I could have wet my pants...I am pregnant so that's pretty easy to do these days.
Most of the rest of the time was spent with Grandma and Grandpa on the trampoline.  I tried to jump with the kids once and regretted it because of the a fore mentioned bladder problems as well as the stomach muscle soreness that commenced the next day (I know what to do if this baby doesn't come by his due date!) and Adam's not home until the temperatures have dropped and the sun is down so the kids LOVED having adults to jump with and teach them games like dodge ball and crack the egg.  Basically I'm saying that my parents were probably VERY ready to leave by the time their stay was over but they certainly made us all happy by flattering us with the company, free date night, and fun.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

You should expect this post to be really long.  I don't think I've ever gone 1.5 months without blogging and a lot has happened!  It was the perfect holiday season.  In Arizona for December with beautiful 70 degree weather then we headed to Utah for 2 weeks to have a freezing cold Christmas with lots of snow and hot chocolate.  Just when the cold had overstayed it's welcome by giving us all colds (all 5 us by now), it was time to come home and defrost.  Can't get much better than that :)
This year we started off the season with one of my family traditions from growing up that the kids were finally old enough to participate in themselves (excluding Clayton).  The night that we set up the Christmas tree, all the kids would sleep underneath the lights.  They were pretty excited to have sleeping bags for beds.  Zach has been into pulling funny faces lately...I kinda like it.
We also did the traditional gingerbread houses and I did nothing but assemble the houses.  No help putting on candy this year and no limiting how much they ate.  I just let them have at it.  Zach ate way more than made it on the house and clean up was a bear but I don't think the activity could have been any funner.
Our first encounter with Santa wasn't good for 2/3 of the kids.  Zach jumped right on up while Mariah clung to Adam's leg saying how much she didn't want to go!  She's always been my shy one.  Luckily Ms. Claus was there and Ms. Claus is far less scary to a little girl.  She was able to coax Mariah onto her lap and talked/played with her a bit until the confidence was up and she even ended up on Santa's lap but just long enough to get her candy.  Clayton wasn't won over by either of the strangers.  Not for one second. 
At church we had a discussion in Relief Society about how to get your children to connect Christmas and the Atonement together and realized the importance of Christ's death during this season.  I decided after Mariah drew this picture that she definitely "gets it".  She called me in and said it's Jesus hanging on the cross and Mary standing next to the tomb and it's empty.  "That's why she has a look of shock on her face". 
In fact, I think they both understood the real reason we celebrate because this is how Zach came down the stairs one afternoon.  Him and Mariah had been playing Wise Men and Shepherds.  Once again with the faces!
 Of course Jingle Bell showed up to the house again this year to keep an eye on the kids behavior.  However, I'm not sure he helped much.  Zach was a terror for most of the month.  He was a harder child than he's EVER been for me.  I felt like nothing, including Jingle Bell motivated him.  In fact, after Zach disobeyed one day Jingle Bell didn't move and left a note saying that Zach had to improve his behavior so he could report to Santa.  Without missing a beat he said "I think that Jingle Bell is really glad I did that because now he got a rest and didn't have to fly to the north pull last night".  Plan failed!  He was also caught opening a present Mariah got him.  When I asked if he looked at the present he said "Ya, but I'm not telling you that!".  Um???

I was very lazy with the Elf of the Shelf this year.  I'm pregnant and tired and forgetful by the end of the day.  Luckily Adam came to the rescue to keep the magic alive.  He even created Spider Elf one night and the kids were ecstatic. 
My Mom also helped in the creativity once in Utah and had him roasting marshmallows for the kids in the morning.
We attended out annual Stake Nativity Show and they had a cute photo prop set up.  Don't let Zach's cute little pose fool you.  Remember, I said he was not very sweet this month!
A few days before Christmas we headed to Utah.  There wasn't a speck of snow to be found.  Hardly even any in the mountains.  You can imagine the excitement Christmas morning when we found that we had been dumped on!  It snowed all night long and was truly a White Christmas.  Something these Arizona kids desperately wanted!  So why did Mariah melt down so much when we got ready to play in it no one will ever know!  In fact for wanting snow so much they certainly liked watching Daddy play in it while they did nothing.  Maybe they didn't realize that snow is cold and uncomfortable.  In the words of Zach, "my toes hurt really bad!"
Eventually they warmed up to the idea and started throwing snow balls at Grandpa
And when I say "they" warmed up, I mean Mariah and Zach.  Clayton looked like this the entire time we were out sledding.  Completely expressionless.  We couldn't get a single reaction out of him.  I guess if he really hated it, then he would cry right?
The other two loved sledding.  In a wimpy sort of way.  They didn't like the big hills at all and don't even think about sending them down alone.

Christmas Eve we had our traditional meat fondue (including white chocolate) and white elephant gift exchange.  I think Mariah was a little disappointed in the gift exchange.  Picking a random gift that most likely isn't intended to be something you like is not very fun for a 5 year old.  Luckily Great Grandpa drew a Frozen gift and was gracious enough to trade Mariah for the backpack that we "already had 2 of!!!"  I think Grandpa was looking for a new hat anyway???
We also broke a pinata that night which all three enjoyed.  This particular pinata was broken a few days later at Grandma's Snowman Party.  As soon as it bust open "snow" came flying out along with candy.  Only Grandma's are willing to deal with those kind of messes for the sake of fun.
Afterwards, an impromptu limbo party with the stick.  I think Zach is a natural.
The best part of the trip for me was hands down spending time with so much family...and we have a lot of family in Utah!  We were able to go to a BYU basketball game with my family and Adam's brother as well.  Mariah loves spending time with these 2 cousins her age.  In fact she wishes that she could live with Derek because then she would have 2 sisters!
We went to the Air Force Museum with Rob's family too and I think I like spending time with cousins as much as the kids do.  Hailey took Clay, Dylan had Zach and Mariah ran with Chloe.  I didn't deal with a single one!
Even when we weren't around cousins I didn't deal with them much because then Grandma/pa were around and even Great Grandma stepped in!  She won Clayton over quickly and I didn't complain.  He would climb on her lap and she would read him story after story...and pull off her socks...not sure she liked that part much but she did get a lot of giggles from the guy.
As for Christmas morning.  It was perfect.  The kids got a trampoline and it's everything I dreamed it would be.  I think they spent about 5 hours on it when we got home.  Heaven I tell ya.  All Mariah wanted for Christmas was make-up.  It's fake but she doesn't know that.  Is she 5 or 15?  I'm not quite sure but she is certainly the princess of this house.  She even said to me while I tried to get her to do chores that princesses don't do chores.  Me: What about Cinderella and Rapunzel?  Mariah: They have step mothers!
We then spent the day at my Aunt's playing games and having fun while it snowed more and more.  Yes, I'm starting to look like a beached whale and Zach once again is pulling faces but I love these people too much to not post the only group shot we got (and a very small portion of the group at that).
It was a great Christmas.  While my mom was taking down the tree several days later Zach said in his all too familiar whinny voice, "Christmas is over and it feels kinda sad".  I couldn't agree more little buddy.  Once a year just doesn't come around quick enough.