Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Island Park

In January we joined some neighbors for a trip to Island Park, Idaho.  This was our family's first foray in winter vacationing.  So when I went to Walmart  (in January, mind you) in search of winter boots and gloves for the kids I was shocked to find they had nothing.  But if I wanted flip flops, I had a plethora of choices.  Thank goodness our fabulous friends came to the rescue!

The kids were great on the drive.  When we got there the roads were super snowy so we got to load all our stuff on a snowmobile, change the kids into their snow clothes (while in the van), and ride the snowmobiles the remainder of the way to the cabin.  It was so much fun!

Jill and James were expert hosts.  I told them they need to open a bed and breakfast when they retire because they're so good at it!  Dave took Cooper on a snowmobile ride and even let Coop drive.  We went tubing, built a snow cave, watched football (which normally isn't my thing, but it was highly entertaining with this crowd), and played games.   

We weren't sure what Cooper would think of everything, but he loved it!

Cooper and Dave, ready for their snowmobile ride. 

Cooper mastered tubing and head-first sledding!

Two handsome guys.

Sloan loved being outside, but was content building "houses" in the snow (a.k.a. breaking holes in the snow and eating it).

Kristen and Justin  were kind enough to watch the kids so Dave and I could go snowmobiling.

I put my life into James and Jill's hands as we covered some pretty steep terrain. AHHH!

Everything was beautiful. Hi Dave!
 
Night tubing was a big hit too.

The snow was perfect, the food was delicious, the games were HYSTERICAL, but the best part was definitely the company.  We're lucky duckies, indeed!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Christmas Novel

PROLOGUE
Christmas with kids is the best! We spent much of November and December looking at Christmas lights, picking out the perfect gifts for our loved ones, and doing random acts of kindness for our neighbors and friends.  These two kids make every holiday better than the last.

CHAPTER 1
Cooper has been in speech therapy since October.  His teacher, Miss Emily, has helped him with lots of sounds but the K was certainly his biggest challenge. Just getting Cooper to produce this sound was difficult and a real source of frustration for all of us. One night Cooper was riding in the car with Dave and he suddenly said, "Cooper" (instead of, "ooper").  We were so proud of him and told him he could celebrate any way he wanted.  His pick? Decorating Christmas cookies. 


Our handsome little man.

I decorated the trees.  Cooper did Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread. 

We had extra frosting and couldn't resist adding a green mustache to the Cooper Boy. 

Sloan was more than eager to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
CHAPTER 2
We had a Christmas party at our church where the gymnasium was transformed into Bethlehem. We were supposed to wear our finest shepherd attire.  We can only assume that Sloan saw us dressing up in"costumes" and decided now would be the perfect time to FINALLY wear her Minnie Mouse costume in public. Read here for Sloan's Halloween costume shenanigans.  

We made a few attempts to get her to change, but after cooking food for the event, spilling cooked roast beef all over my kitchen, and trying to find a shepherd ensemble for Cooper that he deemed acceptable (I think he finally settled on my 72nd proposal...at least it felt like that!), it just wasn't worth the fight.  It was a stressful afternoon (helped only by my angel, Megan, who stopped by and truly saved the day) followed by a lovely holiday party.  We all slept well that night.
   
Three shepherds and one Minnie Mouse, worshiping the baby Jesus.
CHAPTER 3
Cooper's preschool put on a darling Christmas program. The kids sang songs, recited poems, and even had a surprise visitor -- Santa!  

Cooper loved his cool shades from Miss Amy and Miss Lisa.
CHAPTER 4
The kids spent Christmas Eve morning playing Santa.  They would lay down and pretend to be asleep.  Then Cooper would say, "Sloan, wake up! It's Christmas morning.  Let's go see if Santa came."  Then they'd run into the family room and pretend to play with their imaginary toys.  This went on for nearly an hour (and yes...I have it on video!).

On Christmas Eve we took dinner over to Grandpa Oscar's house. We enjoyed a quiet meal and then prepared for the arrival of cousins, aunts, and uncles.  Cooper and Sloan adore their big kid cousins!  Sloan was in heaven sitting with Clare while Grandpa read the Christmas story from the scriptures.

Costumes, cousins, and cookies.
CHAPTER 5
The kids were so excited for Christmas that I think they wore themselves out.  Much to my surprise, they actually slept in on Christmas morning!  Around 8 AM we went into the family room to find eaten donuts (Santa called the kids and told them he wanted donuts this year...thanks for the last minute assignment, St. Nick!), an iPad video of Santa IN OUR HOUSE, and presents.  Cooper got a Ninja Turtle Super Sewer Headquarters and Sloan got a crib for her baby dolls. 

In years past, we've always spent Christmas morning at our house and have then gone to TamTam and Poppa's house for the afternoon.  But since they live out of state, they stayed at our house which meant we got to stay home all day!  In fact, Santa left presents for the kids upstairs and and downstairs.  The only catch was we couldn't go downstairs until Graham, Jared, and Cassidy came over.  

The kids were pretty pumped about their Christmas Pez.

Daddy was an excellent present un-wrapper. And Sloan got her first American Girl doll. *SPOILED*

As expected, Sloan tried on every article of clothing and every accessory she received. Outfit from TamTam and Poppa, bow from cousin Amy, and hat and gloves from Aunt June. 

Cousins who slipper together, stay together!

EPILOGUE
Dave and I were so proud of the kids this year.  While they were obviously itching to receive presents, they were also very quick to think of others.  Cooper picked out a Leap Frog toy for Sloan and could hardly wait for her to open it.  He would often say, "Mom, I'm so excited for Sloan to open up Violet.  She's going to LOVE IT!"  

We also got a random act of kindness calendar from church and Cooper loved completing each task.  We made cookies for friends, secretly took in our neighbor's trashcan, and gave money to the Salvation Army bell ringers.  We even helped Dave's team at work with a sub-for-Santa.  Cooper and Sloan were both very helpful in selecting toys and clothes for the sweet family we were lucky enough to serve.   

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pancakes & Pajamas Party

Cooper had so much fun at all of his neighborhood Halloween parties that he asked to throw one of his own.  Unfortunately, he made this request the day before Halloween so I had to respectfully decline.  Instead, I told him he could have a Christmas party with his friends.  Thus, the Pancakes and Pajamas Party was born.

Pancakes, fruit, and hot cocoa for our distinguished guests. 

We played pin the tag on the Christmas tree.

We wore them out with a rousing game of Freeze Dance.
Dance until the music stops and then freeze. Repeat until children are sufficiently exhausted. 

We took silly pictures with props. 

We also played a Christmas version of Duck, Duck, Goose, and decorated pillow cases with fabric markers.  Cooper loved playing with his friends and I appreciated all my family's help with the par-tay.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kansas City

We went to Kansas City in August to help my parents unpack.  Dave stayed home to hold down the fort, oversee the basement project, and work on school.  We spent most of the time sorting through boxes, organizing closets, and meandering our way through my parents' huge house.  However, Tam Tam and Poppa made sure the kids had some fun too!

We went to Legoland.  Cooper was in heaven!

No ball pit here...just giant pits full of Legos!

Building Lego cupcakes with my little lady.
Tam Tam took Sloan to the American Girl store.

I think Tam Tam was just as excited as Sloan!

Sloan enjoyed her first Waffle House experience.  The bacon was a hit!


We had lunch at a cool restaurant that delivered your food via a train track and elevator system.  The kids loved it!
Two crazies!

We visited the Hallmark museum.  Sloan was quite the poser!

We spent Sunday visiting some local LDS church historical sites.


Liberty Jail. 

Kansas City, Missouri Temple.

It was a busy trip, but we got a lot done and enjoyed exploring Tam Tam and Poppa's new digs. They sure know how to show us Yankees a good time!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Year in Review 2014

Per the norm, we've had an eventful year full of  new experiences and adventures.  I've mentioned before it has certainly been a season of change in our household.

In chronological order...

1. My parents moved from Utah to Kansas City, Missouri.  We had a feeling this move was coming and we supported it 100%.  My dad had been working in KC for over a year and my parents had been trying to commute back and forth.  They were apart a lot, paying for two places to live, and spending most of their time actually living on airplanes.  Even though this was the best decision, it was still hard to see them go.  They lived only minutes away and we spent a lot of time with them.

We're grateful for Face Time so we can see them everyday and Cooper loves all the postcards he's been getting in the mail.  My parents are adjusting slowly and we pray for them every day.  The Lord needs them there.  Of that, we are certain.

Cooper, helping Tam Tam and Poppa unpack in Kansas City.

2. I started working for Ellen Hutson LLC.  Megan recommended me for a Social Media Coordinator position with the amazing Ms. Ellen Hutson.  Before I knew it, I was getting paid to play on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Ellen has an amazing blog and online store that I have the honor of promoting.  What can I say, some girls have all the luck!  Oh, and totally check out Ellen's store and blog (linked above).  They're AMAZING!

Meeting Ellen and the talented Julie in Bellevue, Washington back in 2006.

3. We finished our basement.  Since my parents planned to return to Utah at least one week each month (or more in some cases), we really needed a permanent place for them to stay.  Setting up an air mattress in Cooper's room is fun and all, but a designated guest room was in order.  In truth, our family of four has plenty of room upstairs so we didn't have any immediate plans to finish the basement.  But now that it's done, we're making sure it's well used.

This project consumed our entire Summer and part of our Fall.  Now that it's done, I can say wholeheartedly that there is no part of me that ever wants to build a custom home.  I hated having to make a billion choices, track down tardy drywallers, and all the management that came along with overseeing a project on our own.  While everything went fairly smoothly, Dave and I learned lots of interesting things about ourselves during the process.  In short, we're OCD, spreadsheet-obsessed, schedule-driven control freaks.  Heaven help our children!

'Twas the Summer of paint swatches, fabric samples, and carpet squares. BTW, we picked Siberia!

4. Dave finished his MBA.  Dave has spent the past 2 years working on his MBA.  He spent the 2 years before that climbing the corporate ladder and working on certifications for work.  He's basically had some form of school and studying for most of Cooper's life and all of Sloan's.  Let's just say there are a lot of letters after Dave's name on his business cards!

We are all SO PROUD of him and all of his accomplishments.  We're also exhausted and extremely ready to get used to a new normal that doesn't involve all nighters in the office for Dave and the life of a single mom for me.  We've already had after-dinner basketball games in the family room and a Saturday spent visiting friends and watching TV all as a family of FOUR!  Now we just need to re-train Cooper so he doesn't bless, "that Daddy gets lots of studying done" every time he says a prayer.

5. Paper Crafts magazine ceased publication.  I have worked for Paper Crafts magazine in some capacity or another for the past 8 1/2 years.  While the content of the magazine was stellar, the landscape of enthusiast media is changing.  The magazines weren't selling and the powers-that-be decided to shut the doors.  While I feel like a little part of me has been lost, I am so grateful for all of the amazing friends I have made along the way.  In truth, those relationships (with co-workers, designers, and manufactures) is what really mattered.  And those inside jokes and bonds won't go away with the magazine.  

So many good memories with my Paper Crafts peeps!

Apparently he's a fan!

Our lives are very different today than they were this time last year.  But with change, comes blessings.  We're grateful for all the Lord has given us and know that He has watched over us.  We hope all of you have a blessed Christmas and that you have found the joy in the past year and experience much joy in the year to come.      

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