Monday, July 28, 2014

Random Ramblings

I spent some time deleting pictures off of my phone today.  Most of the ones I deleted looked similar to this one.  I'm talking over 100 pictures of Zach's little finger blurring out basically nothing.  It bugged me and made me smile at the same time.
My big project of the year is finally finished.  I made a denim quilt for Zach's bed.  It was a LOT of pinwheels to sew.  It took me months but I'm in love with my final project.  I did a denim quilt with the anticipation that Zach and Clayton will eventually share a room, so in the future I would make a different patterned quilt for Clay and they would coordinate.  After completing this one, I'm not sure I'll have it in me to do another.  Stores prices suddenly become very inexpensive all things considered :)  A special thanks to my mom for helping me tie it while we were in Utah since she had the quilting frames.  We did a special "dimple stitch" so that you can't see any ties on either side.  Now all it needs it an actual bed so that it doesn't sit on the floor.
The big news around here is that we've got a walker!!!  Clayton took his first steps over a month ago and has gradually been getting more confident and steadier.  He is still not walking exclusively but is pretty close.  He's yet to learn how to stand up in the middle of the floor though.  He still has to pull up on something to get going so once he falls he just crawls.  
 My favorite part is how proud he is of himself.  Mariah and Zach may be equally proud.  They tell everyone.
When my mom watched the kids for a week in May she had a Marry Poppins party which included a tea party.  After that Mariah really wanted to have another one with her friends.  She planned the whole thing and they had a blast.  Each friend brought a bite sized treat (her idea) and played with a pretend set while they ate off of a real one. 
She is a girlie girl I tell ya!  Zach was more than happy to participate as Batman. 
Lastly, I came across this gem while cleaning out my phone.  Penny and two of her kids came to stay with us a few days while Abbie took some tests for school that were offered in Arizona.  Penny was reading Mariah a story and I had to smile that Mariah had her arm around Penny.  Just a happy moment in her life right there.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Well...It Was Memorable!

I love to create memories for my family.  Usually I want those memories to be filled with laughing and fun.  Sometimes they get filled with other things.  Our trip to Utah will probably end up being the latter.  Although we did have some fun, I think overall, the things we will remember wont be so pretty.  To start out, about 30 family members ended up getting sick (it seems somebody new would bite the dust every day).  It's as if each person that we looked at had the "squirts" or was throwing up the next day.  Even if all you did was spend a few hours at my parents house, ya caught the bug.  Can it really be that contagious?  I spent a lot of time scrubbing carpet and hovering over my kids with a bowl.  All three. 

Then there was the ridiculous ER visit.  Clayton woke up in the middle of the night screaming like never before.  I could do nothing to console him.  He flailed his body and hit for the next 30 minutes.  Nothing was working and I was starting to get a little freaked.  Adam gave him a blessing but he still didn't calm.  We didn't know what to do so we took him to the doctors only to find nothing and him to calm down shortly after we were admitted and stuck with the bill.  On the drive home at 2:00 am he was smiling.  Annoying!!!  Not that I wanted something to be actually wrong but really Clay?  I guess I paid for peace of mind.  So after being up several hours with that, Mariah woke up at 3:30 am throwing up for the first time so I scrubbed more carpet as Adam snored in bed.

Then there was the 4 day delay home because the car had problems and ended up in the shop.  But they had to order parts first...then they broke a bolt and had to order that...At least it was all under warranty for 2 more months because the bill was about $3,000.

Basically it was three memorable events that I didn't love.  We did find some time to squeeze in a few activities in between bouts of nausea though.  My mom was gracious enough to host a ton of family members to dinner so that we could visit during our stay and see those we love (and pass on sicknesses too).

One {good} memory was at the cabin.  It was a walk down memory lane to when I was a little girl.  Grandma Sumsion would often make her homemade doughnuts (to rival Krispy Kremes) when we went to the family cabin.  Her and my mom carried on the tradition again with the great grand-kids helping out this time.  100 doughnuts go quick when they are hot!
You'd think heading north that we would get to escape the Arizona sun for a week.  Nope!  On one of the days we were there it was 102 degrees in SLC and 99 in Phoenix!  That NEVER happens!  Thus we were forced to spend most of our time in the water again.  Derek set up a bounce house, slip n slide and pool in his yard and the kids had a ball.
After several hours Zach finally got brave enough to stick his head in.  LOL!
Either way I guess it still wore him out because when we left he was hungry so we picked up some chicken nuggets and he fell asleep mid bite (the nugget is on top of his shirt)

We also went to the aviary at Liberty Park. 
We didn't last long with the heat so we headed to the splash pad where the kids had a little more fun.
Seriously, Ava and Clayton loved just splashing in the little "rivers"
The difference between Utah heat and Arizona is the mornings.  No matter how hot the days felt, the mornigs were great.  The kids enjoyed waking up and playing in the back yard each morning while grandma worked in the garden.  Clayton loved watching the chickens and sat here, perfectly quiet for 30 minutes!

 And Zach loved playing with grandmas bug vaccum

For the fourth we roasted marshmallows in my parents back yard and lit fireworks.  During the fireworks I spent most of my time in the bathroom because that's when "it" started to hit me.  Ugh!
The main reason for our trip was that my sister Stacey was going to be in town from Arkansas.  I HAD to join up with her because I had yet to meet these two handsome nephews!!!  Jaron and Brock were 5 months old before their auntie got to kiss them!
And I got to read the kids bedtime stories too.  Happy moment right there!
With the car in the shop we were able to stay and celebrate my birthday!!!  I turned 31 and look better than ever.  At least better than my sister did at 31 and that's all that matters.  HA!  On my birthday, I got my hair cut and colored from my best friend Margie and had the chance to sit and chat with her (and Krystin who happened to be in town) for 3 hours.  That's how I want to spend each succeeding birthday.
Then I got my pie (preferred to cake).  Mariah wanted to have candles too.  She improvised with golf tees. 
Last, I opened my presents.  Adam developed my blog and put it into a hardcover book.  Love it!  He's simply the best.  They all are.  My life is enchanted.  Most of the time.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Sweet Spot

I think I've finally hit the sweet spot.  That spot where things start to get easier.  Since adding Clayton, my life seems to have been complete chaos, day in and day out.  Three kids in 3.5 years is a little much.  I wouldn't change it but it's been a lot of work.  Babies in general are just a lot of work, add two others that are still very dependent and I've been pretty much permanently exhausted. However, the last little bit I feel like that's all changing.  When I've felt this way in the past, I took it as a "sign" that it was time to add another one.  Things were under control which meant have another baby.  This time around, I'm going to stay on pause mode and enjoy it a little longer before the I enter another whirlwind.

Zach being potty trained has been a huge factor in finding this "sweet spot".  The last few weeks especially, he's done so well.  You can really count on him to not have accidents and I love it.  We have been doing summer movies and baby swapping with a friend so I don't have to take Clayton.  That means it's just me and a purse.  NO DIAPER BAG.  Such a simple thing that just feels amazing!
Zach has also learned to buckle himself in the car seat.  Keep in mind that Mariah only figured this out about 6 months ago (I do think her seat is a little harder though) so for months I was buckling 3 kids all the time.  Running multiple errands was not an option!  Now I'm down to one.  Only one child that needs buckled!!!  Are you serious!!!  Life is good.
At the Elephant Bar restaurant.  Zach's pick
Mariah has improved so much in the chores area.  You can ask her to do a chore and expect that she's going to do a decent job.  It actually helps instead of just trying to develop habits and teach her.  She really can pick up an entire room and have it look good (as long as you don't peek in the closet).  Makes her bed every day and helps with the dishwasher and folding laundry. Now don't get me wrong, she hates all of them but she can do it and if you find the right motivation it can be relatively hassle free (thanks in part to the book "1-2-3 Magic", Stacey!). She even cut all the cards I needed for part of the Father's Day gifts that the Relief Society Presidency did.  She did awesome and that part she loved!  In fact she's acting so grown up that she thinks she is old enough to start helping out with my make-up every day so one night I finally obliged.  What do you think?  Should this be her next new chore???

We just finished our 8th swim lesson for Mariah and Zach and she's made so much improvement.  By the end of the summer I think she may look like a real swimmer.  (Zach on the other hand improved little and has a big fear of water).

Clayton is still a handful in a lot of ways.  He's all over the place and knows how to demand his way.  BUT it's stinking cute and makes me laugh.  Especially when he does this funny little bear crawl on rough surfaces. 
He is however, becoming more flexible with his sleep making it easier to get out.  That has been huge.  He is also able to entertain himself more and more.  He played with a ball popper for 1.5 hours last night, completely content and hardly making a peep.  Heaven. 

So yep, we've hit a sweet spot.  Which means tomorrow everything is going to hit the roof and be one heck of an awakening that I was way off base on this post. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Clayton

 When Clayton was a month old I saw this idea to take a picture every few months in the same outfit to watch them grow.  I only wish that I had a new born picture because by one month he had already grown more than you think.  How does this happen all in one year?  Look at the little thing drowning in this 6-9 month outfit!  By the end I could barely pull it over his head and only succeed with a few tears from Clay.
One Month Old
4 Months Old
8 Months Old
12 Months Old
 Of course a baby deserves his very own smash cake on the first birthday.  It's the only time he will ever get the whole cake to himself (the rest of us just had cupcakes).
He took a little pinch of frosting with his finger when we put it on his tray.  As soon as he tasted the frosting, he smiled and lunged forward with his whole face.  Adam and I couldn't stop laughing.  However, it wasn't all too shocking because Clayton is definitely our heavy eater.  He may out eat Zach and Mariah COMBINED in any given day.  I guess it takes a lot of food to grow so quickly.
 Here he is opening his presents.  And by opening his presents, I mean Mariah and Zach opening his presents.  We didn't even bother to let him try.  But I do think this one from Nana and Pappy seems to have made him happy.  It really made Zach happy.  In fact, Zach played with Clayton's presents all day.  I guess that's one of the advantages to being so close in age.  It was as good as his own birthday in every way. 
 We got him a water table.  He loves the pool and bath so we knew it would be a hit.  I think it will be wonderful for the heat.  All three kids will like it and they can play while I get other things done.  This picture just makes me smile.  Sometimes the camera captures the perfect little expressions. 
 These clothes didn't last long.  Swimsuits and diapers will be the only way to go.
Two kids so close together has been mildly chaotic.  I thought I was the most patient parent with the first two kids and then I was humbled with the addition of Clayton.  Lest you judge me too much, there are countless times I want to lose it and don't.  However, no one seems to remember those times :(  All that being said, he was totally worth it.  He makes me happy and he is so loved by his other siblings too.  I love how excited they get every time Clay learns something new.  They tell everyone they see about it.
He is still taking 2 naps a day that total 2-2.5 hours and they MUST be in his crib.  Not the car, stroller, or arms will do.  He also sleeps through the night going to bed at 7:30-8:00 and waking up before 6:30.  His favorite food is bananas and he still doesn't really eat vegetables.  He's also our sweet tooth but my old child that EVER got sugar before his first birthday so we are the only ones to blame.  I figure by the third child, if it keeps him happy, we are going for it!
I've also learned with Clayton that each child is so different.  Not taking a bottle was a new experience.  Not moving until 8.5 months and not crawling until 11 was a new experience too but a happy one!  Baby proofing with another toddler was definitely a new experience--one that never really happened so we are lucky we even reached the first birthday and blessed that he didn't crawl earlier :)   Clay has recently learned his very first word-- Uh oh.  Or better said "ut" and he loves to use it every time he drops something off his high chair, over, and over, and over again.  I REALLY need to get rid of the carpet underneath the dining room table.  My very favorite thing that Clayton does though is to give kisses when you ask and sometimes even voluntarily.  Melt my heart.  Oh, I could just die.  Happy 1st Birthday to my littlest man!  We love you!

Monday, May 12, 2014

N'awlins and the Gulf Coast

While in Alabama we saw this giant chalkboard.  I grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote "visit all 50 states".  It was fitting for our vacation because part of the purpose of our trip was to knock 3 more off of the list--that and sleep in...a lot...it would have been even more if breakfast didn't end by 9:30.  Not getting out of bed until 9:15 and staying up late to watch a movie = pure awesomeness!!!  We were able to see Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in our 5 day vacation.  We packed in a ton and you may just want to write on the chalk board "finish this blog post" because it may take you until death to do so.  It's going to be a long one so consider yourself warned. 

First on the list was Louisiana.  More specifically the city of New Orleans.  When we first arrived we immediately caught the street car downtown to start exploring.  First stop: Bourbon Street--before it got dark of course.

I think after walking a few blocks down Bourbon we were a little concerned that New Orleans wasn't going to be our favorite destination.  First of all it was WAY worse than Vegas.  Nothing about this place is cool.  That and in the words of Adam the entire place was a "free fart zone".  It smelled like sewage so bad.  Everywhere!  Almost like you wanted to stick your nose in your shirt while you walked bad.  I couldn't believe people were acting so normal.  How could you ignore that smell?  And of course there was the bum holding a sign that said "too ugly to prostitute".  And he was...And we were done with Bourbon Street.  Check that off the list to never return.  The rest of New Orleans still smelled but it wasn't quite so overpowering so we were able to begin enjoying ourselves a little more.
 One of the reasons to visit New Orleans is the food!  My personal fave was the corn pudding.  I had to have it twice.  And the beignets, we had them twice too.  Gumbo, Jambalaya, Po Boys, Muffalettas...We ate our fair share.  But no sea food or alligator for this wimp.  And Adam was gracious enough to avoid it for me as well.  I like him just a little. 
In fashion of true tourists we purchased one of those hop-on-hop-off city bus tours.  It was one of our best decisions because we were able to see so much in such a short time.  We learned how New Orleans is more influenced by the French than it is America making it almost a foreign experience without a passport.  Bonus!
 Here we are at the famous Jackson Square with one of the oldest churches in the south

New Orleans is in part known for their above ground cemeteries.  I especially liked this one with an old, worn bible sitting at the base. 
The cemeteries were cool but I also found them a little creepy.  Just knowing that they unlock them to put in more bodies as the others naturally decompose was a little eerie feeling.  Hundreds of people will fit in just one tomb.  I would never want the job of opening that door. 

We also went to the WWII Museum.  They showed a 4D movie that included sights, sounds, and smells (think Souring Over California at Disneyland).  I think I would have liked history class in high school a lot more if the movies we had to watch were a little more like that one.

The "Big Easy" is still very effected by Hurricane Katrina.  We learned that 120,000 people left after the storm and only 5,000 have returned in the 10 years since.  That means there were vacant buildings everywhere.  We drove around the areas that were hardest hit and it has still yet to be cleaned up.  Nobody came back to get their stuff so it is still sitting there.  Debris everywhere, knocked out windows, torn off siding, etc.  Really kinda heart wrenching.  This particular memorial to the victims of Katrina is made of debris that they found from all over the city.

There is another Katrina Memorial in Biloxi Mississippi.  The top of the wall is 12 feet representing how tall the wave was that hit land.  In New Orleans however, it was measured at 50 feet.

Speaking of Biloxi, that was our next stop.  Really it's just a gambling town so we didn't stay for too long.  Especially since we planned on renting paddle boards for the beach but it was far too windy.  Not to mention, we learned the beaches were actually quite disgusting with very brown water and everything that anyone has thrown into the Mississippi River.  But the sand was beautifully white and soft.
P.S. Do you like my T-Rex short arm?
Basically the best part of Mississippi proved to be all of the photo opts at the souvenir stores.  I'd never been to such cool and large souvenir shops, plus it's a lot more fun to buy stuff when you have kids.  We knew all the dumb things would make them so happy...and they did.
Souvenir City Alligator Head

Sharkheads

When we sent this one to my mom, Zach had a lot of questions!
Our last stop was Mobile, Alabama.  Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the USA.  They still have 2 weeks of parades each year but it's a "family friendly" parade.  We learned all about Mardi Gras and it is a BIG deal to these people.  They elect a white and black king and queen each year and they become royalty in every sense of the word.  There are banquets and parties like you can't believe and the costuming would blow you away. 
This year was elected King Adam and Queen Leslie

One of the trains for the royalty a few years ago


A portion of a float used

You probably know that at Mardi Gras they throw out a lot of beaded necklaces.  By a lot, we mean some floats will spend $5000-$8000 on necklaces as well as moon pies (they use these instead of candy because they can throw them like frisbees to get them to the back of the crowds).  In both Mobile and New Orleans beads hang from all of the trees.  I'm talking miles and miles of trees with a hundred beads on them and the parade was months ago. 
Last crazy tid-bit about Mardi Gras.  They like the sound of balloons knocking together and the sound of them popping on the floats but they don't want them to really pop.  So they instead blow up pig bladders and paint them.  They look and sound the same.  At the end they will throw them to the crowds to keep and apparently they stink. 
The statues in the background are holding the "balloons" in their hands

We also spent some time on Dauphin Island in Alabama.  It's more like a sand reef than island and people are dumb enough to build homes on it.  Each home is built on about 10-15 foot high stilts to prevent flooding.  I don't know why they don't learn their lessons from all the hurricanes that come.  In my opinion the stilts make everything look very junky and run down despite the beach front property on both sides of your house since parts of the island are only 50 yards wide.  


We then headed back to N'awlins for one more night and for our swamp/alligator tour.  My personal favorite of the trip.  We saw about 50 gators and even got to hold one that was the size of a 4 year old.
Feeding gators chicken necks and marshmallows.  Our tour guide was fearless and crazy

Sunbathing

Mariah thought this was real.  She was a little concerned
It was the perfect trip in every way.  I just don't get sick of Adam or sleep or good food or play.  We had enough time to do everything but by the end I was ready to see my kids.  I had the best Mother's Day ever!  I was excited to be home with them and well rested.  I got to spend it with my own Mother as well as come home to a house with groceries, moped floors, homemade cookies, and clean laundry.  The worst part of vacation is knowing the long "to do list" that awaits.  It was bliss when I found it was all done!  My mom and dad survived, the kids had fun and only missed us a little.  My mom planned a ton of activities for them including a "Mary Poppins" party with kites, feed the birds, tea parties, and spoon fulls of sugar.  They are simply the best...kids and parents.  I'm sure the parents are thrilled to be home themselves but I'm grateful they were willing.   After all, you can only give so many Elephant rides before it's not much fun anymore.  Not to mention the mask makes Clayton SCREAM every single time someone puts it on.  And maybe for good reason, it is pretty creepy looking.