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 experience...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. 
video

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.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gobble Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving from these two little turkeys!
Finding a preschool for Mariah has turned into a hassle.  She started at one and it wasn't a good fit so I searched and searched and finally found another one and switched her.  After taking some time off from both because of conflicting fall breaks she started the new school.  2 weeks into it I got a call saying her teachers husband had been killed in a motorcycle accident.  After a couple weeks of limbo we got word that she wasn't going to keep teaching preschool (not that I blame her).  I made a few more phone calls with no luck to find another preschool.  Of course there were waiting lists but I was feeling rather burned out.  After much thought I just decided we are going to home school until kindergarten.  Mariah has been totally excited about it and Zach loves to participate.  I'm taking the money we would have spent and doing field trips and fun stuff with the kids.  I also contacted my mom (aka the professional preschool teacher with 30 years experience) and she sent me loads of crafts and ideas.  This was one of the crafts that we did before Thanksgiving.  They wore these hats for a very long time that day.  They have such enthusiasm for learning. 
We were lucky enough to be able to head to California to stay with my in laws for the actual week of Thanksgiving.  I love that my kids got to create so many memories with their grandparents and cousins.  Mariah always expects to do some sort of baking with Nana when we go and visit these days.  Nana never disappoints either. 
 Zach loaded the sprinkles on those holiday cookies!
When Nana does something, she goes all out.  I'm talking the table set to the nines and everything made from scratch all out.  So dinner was basically really, really yummy and I'm glad we were staying with them so that I got to enjoy the leftovers for a couple of meals while everyone else had to go home and eat cold cereal for breakfast instead of sweet potato casserole!
We also enjoyed spending time and eating out with most of Adam's family.  Well, I think the others enjoyed it.  I was put in charge of Clayton and he's not my favorite person at restaurants. 
We spent a morning at the beach as well.  It was low 60's and we thought we would let the kids play in the sand.  Mariah was mad we didn't bring her suit.  She would have been all in.  Her and Clay love those waves.
Zach on the other hand remembered his experience from September when we went to the beach.   The moment he saw the ocean he started freaking out that the water was going to get him.  FREAKING!  Mind you we didn't even get him within a couple hundred feet of the water but it was still going to get him.  After holding him and trying to calm him we finally got him to move off of my lap and play in the sand.  Eventually he forgot about the waves and enjoyed himself. 
Alas, all vacations come to and end.  This time as we pulled away I caught on camera the traditional "Pappy Jump".  Every time we (or any grandchild) leaves the house, Nana and Pappy go outside to wave goodbye and to do the "jump".  The kids love it and never forget to request it.  Look at them, they both even got a little air!
Worn out as always for the car ride home the kids fell asleep quickly.  But not without hanging onto the new ball that Nana let Clay keep.  He held onto it until he fell asleep and his entire nap plus a little more after waking up.  It's the simple things that bring so much pleasure. 
 Now it's time for my stomach to reset...who am I kidding, bring on Christmas!

Dance Recital


Mariah loves dance class.  She looks forward to it each week and has a great teacher.  She was so pumped for her recital.  Especially because she got to wear make-up and didn't have to wear underwear (yep, a little too excited about BOTH of those things).  We happened to check a book out from the library called "Giant Dance Party".  It was perfect.  About a little girl who loved to dance but became an "ice pop" during the recitals.  She'd get on stage and just freeze.  We read this book over and over the few weeks before the recital and talked about how in the end she overcame the stage freight.  You see, we remember all to well her choir concert last year and how she didn't sing a word.
Mariah is with the red scarf

The day of the recital that girl had all the confidence in the world.  She was ready to dance her heart out.  You know where this is going right?  Just watch.  She's wondering why I didn't record the whole thing.  Um, is it only painful to me?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myX2vr1k9B0
The song ended and Zach turned to us and said so matter of factly, "Mariah was an ice pop".  We bust up laughing. 
After the first song we decided to move seats.  After all, for choir she expressed that we made her nervous and that we had sat too close.  We moved to the very back row but because it was a tap dance it wasn't on the stage so we also knew we wouldn't be able to see much.  However, what's the point of seeing someone stand there with their arms folded?  PS she's the one right in the middle.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lylOAxW0aWY
Lo and behold she danced!  I wouldn't say she danced her heart out but she actually moved!  I could see the nerves in her face but let me tell you there weren't parents in the audience that were more proud.   And when she finished there wasn't a girl more proud of herself either.  Why her family is the nerve racking part is beyond me but I think we will never have close seats again :(
Notice the blackish eye on the right...this is after I cleaned it up.  She was rubbing her eyes during the first song and smeared her make-up everywhere.  I shouldn't have fixed it.  The black eye would have made for a much better picture.  By the way, she was over the moon excited that her daddy had bought her flowers AND she even got to pick out the ice cream at the grocery store after.  Are you surprised it was strawberry (aka pink)?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

21 Weeks

This post is late. I'm now at about 25 weeks but I remembered that one of my first ever blog posts was titled "21 weeks" and I was pregnant with Mariah.  I had to post because there is a difference!  Below is me almost 6 years ago pregnant with my first baby.  They say that you get bigger with each pregnancy and here is proof!
Here is baby #4 at 21 weeks.  Lest you just think that I'm bigger now than I was then, I have to note that I actually started this pregnancy off smaller than my 1st.  Not by much but enough that I know that the only explanation is a fourth pregnancy...well that and the 2 weeks of eating out at $75 a day budget we had with the home repair :)
I'm feeling pretty good these days.  Life can just pause.  Kids are easy, Clayton is talking more and listening better, no sickness, not too big to be uncomfortable but big enough nobody is whispering "is she pregnant or just getting chunky?", exhaustion is subsiding and I'm sleeping well.  Not to mention it's the holiday's and the weather is just about perfect.  Harder days are around the corner.  I know this.  I've done it four times now.  That's why I'm saying we can just pause.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

We Moved and We May Never Move Again!

This post is a long time coming.  I've been waiting to blog about our first home until it was more "complete".  I finally gave up on that happening any time soon.  It's a lot of work and we have a long list of projects on the to do list.  We still want to paint, do flooring downstairs, a back yard, blinds, curtains, dining room table, back splash etc.  This doesn't even touch the list of things we have already done.  I guess that's the problem when you are married to a general contractor.  When you can do it yourself, you end up doing it yourself.  Add into the equation all the other things that life demands and it's taking longer than we thought.  What I had hoped would happen in a couple of months, I've now concluded will take closer to a year!!!  So rather than have everything completely done before I post pictures, I figured that these can serve as some before and afters.  I've had too many requests to see the house so here we go. 
First off the move started with a lot of head aches.  Number one being that our move in date got pushed back 3 days.  This meant packing up and moving since we had to be out of the rental (cleaned and all) 2 hours before we could be into the new house.  For three nights we slept on an air mattress and lived in a house with almost nothing.  I was worried the kids would go crazy.  I was wrong.  They ran around that empty room again, and again, and again.  Who knew that nothing but space could be so much fun?  They also loved that we set up a fort for them to sleep in as well as had a movie and popcorn night.  This stuff is kid heaven I tell ya.
I was also concerned about packing and unpacking with such young kids.  Once again, not a problem.  Who knew that boxes could be so much fun?  They played in boxes for hours and days.  So if they don't want furniture and they like empty boxes, why have we spent so much money on stuff for the kids???
Unpacking went well and much quicker than I thought.  I was unpacked in two days and ready to start the before mentioned to do list.  As Adam went to instal our RO water filter, he noticed a leak under the kitchen sink.  Cue the beginning of the nightmare!  Apparently a staple had been shot into one of the pipes during the dry wall process.  The leak was in the wall and had spread throughout the entire backside of the kitchen.  They started tearing things out and putting holes in my brand new house!  What started out as a 3 day repair, turned into 5, turned into through the weekend, then a few more days...It ended up being 13 days total.  13 days in my brand new, non-working kitchen.  We had no sink, no dishwasher, no cabinets (that I had already unpacked into and had to pack back up), no counter space and several repair men in my house several times a day putting us on house arrest.  It was a long process.  The home builders certainly softened the blow though when they said they would give us $75-$100 a day to go out to eat until it was done.  Bring on the pounds because we used that money.  Yes please to the Cheesecake Factory with appetizers, meals, and dessert.  We hit up all of our favorite (and pricey-er) restaurants during those 13 days and spent a lot of money that wasn't ours.  I was very grateful because washing sippy cups and random dishes in the bathtub got old real fast.
Finally, the leak was repaired and they began putting my kitchen back together.  When they installed my cabinets again, I had to remind them that I would please like doors that matched...add another day onto this whole saga before we would be done.
I could never work construction.  You rely on way too many people that run into problems and hiccups pushing everyone's schedule out.  Nope, couldn't live like that.  Alas, all headaches come to an end and after 13 days, I had my kitchen again.  And I love it I might add.
Now for some shots of the house.  Ignore the blah-ness of the house with no window treatments, pictures, and color.  We didn't buy the house for any of that anyways.  We bought it because we loved the floor plan.  Plus, I love that it's 1000 square feet bigger, 5 bedrooms, a loft/toy room/my sanity, a laundry room right next to the bedrooms, tons of storage (for not having a basement), in the same neighborhood/ward that we've lived in for 3 years now, and that it's MINE.  Adam doesn't love that last part too much.  He likes being a renter.  I like that I can actually do something to the house without permission.  Anyway, we are happy with it and that's a good thing because it's a big enough pain to move that I don't want to do it again for a long time.
Entry way from upstairs and the only pictures that have been hung
Loft/Toy Room
Master Bedroom
Mariah's room and the only finished room in the house--the boys rooms are basically the same but not pink :)







Living room looking into dining room with kitchen on the right--and my new couches :)

So there ya have it--Our first home