Sunday, October 15, 2017

Good to be home!.... almost.

Just landed in LA.  Phone blew up with texts finally coming thru.  Pandora works again! Bleary eyed.  Hard to believe just this morning I was at a gorgeous Costa Rican beach watching huge iguanas sun bathe.  
2 more flights and 9.5 hours til we're actually home! 

Good to be home!.... almost.

Just landed in LA.  Phone blew up with texts finally coming thru.  Pandora works again! Bleary eyed.  Hard to believe just this morning I was at a gorgeous Costa Rican beach watching huge iguanas sun bathe.  
2 more flights and 9.5 hours til we're actually home! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Noteworthy, from the airport

Top photo : About time someone started up Chelsea's Food Services!  I've been having to feed myself, plus all these other people,  for so many years.
Now there's a company dedicated to the job!

Middle left: spotted this scent at a duty-free shop.  A couple sprays and suddenly I was totally back in 9th grade. Scary.

Middle right : sent this to bro Steve and dad Steve.  Funny. 

Bottom left : for for Spokane airport's newest contribution to supporting mamas! 👏👏👏

Bottom right: 
It was sparkly.
It said Spurs.
Brian couldn't control himself.  

Chicago Trip Recap

Well, I say "Chicago" trip - but we actually spent just as much time in Michigan, and a bit in Indiana. So maybe we'll call it.... The Great Lakes trip! Or Lake Michigan Trip!
Or...escaping the children for the weekend! 
Really though, I'm not even sure how exactly we decided to do this...
I mean, it was pretty simple I guess... one evening in July-ish, Brian was reading the blog  of our friend Jeremy Van Tress, talking about his battle with 
 ALS.
It was super sad, yet inspiring. 
Brian said, "let's go visit him!" and I said, "um. ok...I'll go see how much flights are. Maybe we can use my Southwest reward miles." And I looked it up, found a good deal, and booked it! Well, after checking with Jeremy's wife Courtney. She was all for it.
We decided to keep it a surprise for Jeremy. Here's Jeremy's blog post about our visit: https://jeremyvantress.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/surprise/  It's such an incredible feeling to know I made a difference in someone's life. Someone who likely doesn't have much life left on this earth. 
But boy, you wouldn't know it by the way he lives!! He's all positive, humble, grateful, and just - HAPPY! Praying for miracles for that faithful family. It just breaks my heart to know his sweet kids won't get to know him like I did - so physically strong and capable. Life is so unfair and hard sometimes. But I'm glad this poster gave Jeremy the message I wanted him to have from me.

On to the rest of our trip.
Well, starting with Day 1, hanging out in Downtown Chicago! Mostly at Navy Pier. It was SO great! We rented bikes and cruised around Lake Michigan area. Brian loved seeing the sports stadiums.  Lots of interesting art and architecture everywhere. TONS of diversity... we'd walk down a street and hear 10 languages going on! We were going to stay downtown but accidentally cancelled our reservation (long funny story on that one...it was Brian's fault!! :)  So we ended up staying at a cheap scary place a bit outside of downtown. It was half hilarious, half horrifying. 







After our visit with Jeremy we drove through Gary Indiana because I had a weird fascination with and intense desire to check out this place that is supposed to be one of the most dangerous cities in the US and most economically depressed.  Well it lived up to my expectations! It was crazy! Boarded and busted up businesses, no signs of a healthy economy, no diversity (100% black - we drove thru several neighborhoods), dogs roaming around, women in super inaprop clothing walking around lotsa smoking and drinking.... wow.
It was like another world.
Made me so grateful for the relative "bubble" I get to live and raise my babies in.
Then ON TO MICHIGAN! (after a bazillion toll booths - what gives?! So glad we don't deal with those on our side of the country!)
I got to cross 3 states off my bucket list! This was the major motivation for us to take the trip to Michigan at first...but man, I had NO idea what we were in for! This little beach town of New Buffalo is just fantastic!! Awesome beaches - totally felt like I was at the ocean. And we had the WHOLE place to ourselves!
Brian made that comment to a hotel staff and she was like, "Um, yeah. Most people are working and in school right now. It's September. Plus it's usually cold by now. You got lucky with this weather."
It was seriously magical. We just roamed the huge beaches, cool wooden walkways,  lifeguard tower, lighthouses, and of course I had to journey far out onto the wall of big slippery rocks. To feed my need for rebellion. Going beyond the "stop" sign does that for me too.  Well it's not that I need to rebel...I'm just pretty certain that's where all the adventures are to be had!
And I was right!  Such a perfect Michigan introduction.  Better than visiting Detroit I'm guessing  ;)
Our hotel was so great. We could've stayed in a Hampton/Hilton/Best Western for slightly cheaper, but I love NOT staying at chains. They're all the same. Local inns are so much more interesting.
My favorite part was riding our beach cruiser bikes around the town. The hotel provided them, so cool! Loved it. So free-ing. In a perfect world, I'd never drive. I'd get to ride my bike everywhere.
Brian was jazzed to find a super legit little Italian restaurant. And a drink called "DANG!" I picked up a bunch of great take-home gifts for Mom, Mere, Meg, and a little magnet for us :)
Finishing up with some cool panoramic shots from Brian's phone. Still getting the hang of how to do those right.






Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bunny cage renovation with Papa

My dad is my hero!
And hero of all bunnies! 
When I was a kid he built a beautiful cage for my wabbits. Now he built one for my kids and their widdle bunnies! Well,  re-built.  It previously was too big to fit on the side of the house,  and I did NOT wanna tromp thru the cold snow all winter to take care of those animals in their big cage behind the shed.  I needed it right next to the house.  Then the kids would be more likely to actually play with them! And keep their water dish clean! Yay! 
Brian went to North40 and picked up a Hale of bay.  Bay of hale.  BALE OF HAY.  
Now the bunnies and eat their beds,  haha!
Carrot,  the big brown boy bunny, gets to roam the yard freely this week while the girls are caged.  Next week they'll switch.  Carrot caged,  girls go hoppy. And we'll keep up this rotation indefinitely because I'm not paying $135 to neuter him.  Widiculous wabbit.  

Charity and the pig and the pj

Two of Charity's favorite things! The guinea pig and the show PJ Masks. 

How fast her mood changes...

Goes from elated and ecstatic 
to grumpy dumpy in seconds.
Then back to happy!

Oh the mood swings of a 3 year old... I love it!!

Playdates with Bethany!

Sunny Fall day with a cousin! ☀   

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Being serenaded by a handsome man outside my window!






What a view!

[heart]

Fast Kart Racing!

Had SO much fun playing with my sisters!  We actually got gift cards to this place from Dad last Christmas and hadn't used them yet.  So we went! It was the night of our Half Marathon, so we were all a little sore. It was funny hearing all the grunts and groans everytime we stood up and sat down.
It was such great timing - we had the whole place to ourselves!

I was quite proud of myself - I did something the employees had never ever seen, in their 6 straight years of working there.   I span around in circles! Donuts, they called it. I just thought - what happens when I just keep the steering wheel at a hard right for a long time? And what happens is... spinning in circles! And getting lapped several times. But that's ok. The winner isn't the fastest... the winner is the person who has the most fun :)

Fast Kart's fancy bathroom!

Ballerinas and tomatoes 🍅 🍅 🍅

I sent the girls out to go pick tomatoes for Megan and they happily complied! For a few minutes. Typical chore-attention-span of their age.  Our 17 plants have done a good job this season! Honestly, we gave away more tomatoes than we ate, I think. It's so fun to give people a big bowl of sweet yummy bright orange tomatoes! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dressing up with friend Preston

They love getting in costumes!
I don't mind taking care of Preston and Lily every Wednesday from 7-4...I mean, I didn't really realize what I was volunteering for when their mom asked if anyone was available to watch them during the week.... but I'm happy for the opportunity to provide a big service to someone.  It's a lot of work, and reminds me how hard that stage between baby-toddler is!  And how much mess a 4yr old can make!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A note from Bennett 😌😍😌😍😌😍

He was supposed to be sleeping.
But he slipped this note into my room.
Yah you better believe I snuggled him!! 
Might just frame this precious piece of paper. 
OH that sweet boy!!
I'm gonna die of an exploded heart! 

Monday, October 2, 2017

1st grade homework stress

Homework stress for me, not them,  of course.
These "All About Me" life timelines hastily thrown together yet somehow decently cute represent 3 weeks of procrastination, 2 hours of lost sleep last night when I suddenly remembered at 11pm that they were due,  $20 in printing cuz I couldn't narrow it down so just printed 105 of my favorites, and a 7am trip to Fred Meyer to pick them up.  But their machine was slow,  so we were late for 8am piano lessons then late for school.  
Really great to start off the week with a win like this.  

(Brianna is laughing pointing at her favorite pic - Bennett covered in stickers as a baby - her toddler handiwork)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Making temple cookies 🍪

Brianna commented that she feels like we don't do a lot of baking anymore. Or that we've EVER done enough baking.
 Hmm...
I disagree, and I have photos to prove it.
Nevertheless, her feelings are real, so we baked.
Cookies.
A healthier version with some substitutes to give it some actual nutrition...but it's still a cookie, and it's still baking.
We utilized our temple cookie cutter, which is always fun. And the twins did a couple ninja shapes. 

See that pear? We grew that in our backyard! It tasted far better than any cookie could.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Snuggling during General Conference

Well this was just a little slice of heaven. 
Especially with how wasted my body was after running the Colbert Half Marathon (that I bombed. But grateful I finished intact). 
Sitting on mom's comfy cute chair, snuggling my snuggly snugglykins, listening to inspired wise men and women share uplifting guidance. 
I love the Spirit during General Conference and what it does for our family. 
It's beautiful and affirming and just oh-so-GOOD. 
Life without this semi-annual tradition/opportunity would be sadness. 
But we are snuggling in happiness. For that I'm so grateful. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

backyard birthday bash, on the fly 🎊

I think this is our 3rd year in a row getting to celebrate Savana's birthday with her here in Spokane! Lindsay and Cougar come into town for the weekend, mostly for Lindsay to do the Colbert Half Marathon with Meredith and I.  Super fun tradition.  Wish I had actually trained for it this year though. I didn't. I've been working out of course, but not running a lot. And the only way to get better at running is to RUN.  So I bombed. I had a bad sideache during a lot of it. Finished a full 25 minutes slower than the last 2 years.  Ugh. So lame. But whatever. We had a fun weekend together! Lindsay made a super cute treasure hunt for the kids to go on during the party.  
She didn't directly ask if she could have the party at my house, but it occurred to me a couple hours before it was going to start that everyone would probably end up at my house, since the plan was to have the party "at the park."  That typically ends up meaning....at my house.  So I zoomed to get it super clean and ready for guests!
I love that my kids will have such great memories of fun cousin play. Meg loves that too. Life living close to relatives isn't perfect, but it's wonderful. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Brianna took this photo on not-her phone!

I'm really impressed she took the initiative to pull out the phone and snap a photo of this gorgeous scene! My little nature aficionado. 
And when I say "THE" phone... I don't mean HER phone... she doesn't have a phone. I do. I have an extra one. That does with her in her backpack/purse when she's at school and extracurriculars or staying home with Charity while I'm taking the twins to piano, or holding down the fort for the 15 minutes between when I have to leave for YW and Brian is running late getting home.... the list goes on. I just got tired of not having a way to directly contact her, and she was scared not having that with me. I was due for an upgrade on my phone anyway... so I activated my now old-phone with a phone number and everything.  Oye. It starts! But it's not as bad as some parents make it out to be. We've had zero issues so far. Wi-fi is disabled. So it's just basically a texting and calling device that costs me $1/day. So worth it for the convenience and security. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

That cloud looks like....happiness

Charity, Mommy, Courtney, and Brianna. Cloud gazing ("hey, that one looks like a dragon!") on the trampoline on a perfectlyperfect Sunday afternoon.

Flowers for B, from B.

Brian came home with these 2 lovely bouquets.
 Anyone who knows us can easily guess which one goes to me and which goes to Brianna.
Brian wanted to congratulate Brianna on earning a part in the school play (she worked so hard on her monologue audition!). Brianna was THRILLED. She loves receiving flowers so much. 
And mine were a sweet gesture because he knew I was having a rough day. I had a super bad cold/flu (that oddly lasted just a little over 24 hours, then I was fine). 

Love this man!

Dinners outside

Gotta enjoy being outdoors while we still can! Evenings have been getting a little chilly lately. Sometimes. This is that weird time of year where ya never know if it's going to be cold or warm. I feel like Spokane is super unpredictable all year long. Wouldn't surprise me to get snow in May and a heat wave in December. But maybe lots of places are like that.
Brianna told me recently, "Mom, family dinners are REALLY important to me. Like really important."   What a sweetie.  Quality time is important to me too! So we make sure it happens.
I love this picture because it took about 4 tries. Each one had at least one child not cooperating. I thought this one was just about perfect, until I looked close at Charity's face.
But then I liked it even more.

Bennett is proud to be a guitarist!

Of all the things he could have chosen to put on his paper that he can do... He chose guitar.
And the picture is of him sitting on our grey couch, complete with the lamp behind it, and a big smile on his face strumming his blue guitar.
He said all the bodies he drew around the edge are the people trying to get on his train. 😁🤣

Monday, September 25, 2017

Afternoons with the animals

It's fun hanging out on the McKell Critter Farm

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

MOPS

Another year of the Mothers of Preschoolers meetings!
The twins are bummed not to be attending anymore, and Charity was nervous to go solo. But then "LilyAlbi" joined us cuz her mom needed someone to watch her all day, so she's here too!



Edited later to add:
So the Director of the "moppets" (childcare) pulled me aside and told me it is NOT ok to bring friends, that moppets is only for the children of the moms attending.
Whoa.
Here I am providing a big service for a single mom trying to work and have her daughter be in a good environment... and this Director turns into crankypants.
So - we're done with MOPS! I let them know, so so so sweetly, that I didn't want to impose or break their rules. 
The MOPS leader came back and said she spoke with the Director and it was ok for me to come back and bring Lily. But honestly....to awkward now. And while I enjoy MOPS...it throws my morning routine off that day. Prob not worth it. So we're DONE! Kinda free-ing!

Brim-ing with joy



A screenshot from a text I received today :) 
I'm often told, "hey, you look like someone I know!"  and it's usually some girl with brown wavy hair, a roundish face, and little to no makeup - a more natural, sporty look. :) Lots of us out there I guess!

But more importantly, it makes my heart happy when I get thank-yous from my YW and their parents.
So sweet.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Running to Chicago to visit an old friend

Right before we left to catch our flight, I quickly went down to the recesses of our basement for a last minute hail-mary search through boxes I haven't touched in yeeeeears to see if I might by chance find something to give or show Jeremy.
Hit the JACKPOT!
This poster was at the bottom - I barely remember ever seeing it myself, let alone putting it in the small box of BYUH running memorabilia I have.
For a moment I selfishly thought... no, *I* want this poster, I don't want to give it away, I'd never be able to get another copy! It's 13 years old! My kids would love to have this!
But reality check - it's been sitting in the box for  years.
And would've kept sitting there for more years. Obviously didn't care about it too much and wouldn't miss it if it were gone.
On the other hand, it had the potential of making the other person in this poster - a guy who has, is, and will go through one of the worst trials I can ever imagine - it has the potential of making him so happy. Of reminding him who he REALLY is - a strong warrior, not just a 30-something losing his body to ALS disease. So I found a giant envelope to protect it and packed it away in my suitcase. I took a picture of the poster so I can print a copy later if I want to. Probably not quite as big as the original, but that's ok. Small sacrifice to make an old friend happy.

Flying!

I'm a little too excited to be in an airport at 6am...

Giant glowing pineapple

   

Yep. Got another rabbit.

 Because when you're taking care of 1, might as well get 2 more... then why stop there? 
MORE CRITTERS!
Seriously though. 
It's a little crazy. 
I didn't want ANY animals. 
Now I have the same number of animals as I have children.  And both - 3 girls, 1 boy!  The new big brown bunny is male. And he might have to go get snippy snipped, because I don't want baby bunnies!  Not that they're in the same change yet... because I don't think they'd all get along....(note all the fur in the cage... the girl bunnies started fighting just SEEING the boy bunny, ugh! Crazy ladies!).
The gold star for good behavior goes to BacaBaca, the guinea pig, as always. She just goes in her big hidey house and chills all day. She gets very excited when I throw a red bell pepper or lettuce in there. 
I like her. 
The others...ugh. I let them stay because somehow this is good for the kids to help care for animals... right? If it's not, someone please tell me, so I can not feel bad re-homing these guys!
But I DO feel bad for them. No one wants them. They're old and fat and cranky. They'd never survive in the wild. They weren't being played with enough at their previous homes, so we had to rescue them. So I'm going to attempt to make these bunnies more kid-friendly! First up - trim the nails!!

Bennett's schoolwork











I love that when Bennett was asked to draw and write about something he wanted to learn this year, his response was "everything" and he drew the creative picture in the lower right - him in the middle of a web, and the little bubbles say 123, abc, life, brains, plays, tae kwon do, animals.

Our first few plums of the year!

Our tree isn't an especially large or successful one....so we definitely appreciate each and every sweet little purple plum we get!

Wonderland golfing with Mom for her birthday

Chillin in the shade with a friend