Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's time to start again......

Ok. I think I'm ready to get back in the blogging game! I've had a million excuses, as we all do, for not documenting all the excitement in our lives these past two years. We moved across the country, then moved across town, then built an addition onto the house, and along the way enjoyed family, new friends, old friends, stress, growing up struggles, messes (LOTS of these actually), vacations, birthdays, holiday fun, gained pets, lost pets, had new experiences, and sometimes enjoyed and sometimes endured the every day mundane magic around our house that has brought us to where we are. I hope to be able to recount with some accuracy many of these highlights to bring our little family journal here up to speed. When I got on to update, obviously the first thing to do was to update some pictures! We went to visit with Johns' brother Jason, his wife, Staci, and their three little kiddo's over the summer. Since Staci is a very skilled photographer, I asked if she would do a family shoot for us again. Despite the heat, late hour and some crying, she managed to capture us! We are so grateful for her talent and patience! I thought it would make a good first  post back to just include some of my favorites.
Dad and his boys ( you can see some remnants of some tears in this one ;) )

Mom and the girls

All the kids tickling Tori

The younger ones being silly.....

The older ones being silly....

John and I reminding each other we will be successful against the odds :)

It only seems appropriate to note how much I love my little people and the unique personalities and blessings they each bring into our home.They each do their part to make sure there is never a dull moment, and show us what life is all about!  And of course, I could not be more grateful for my amazing companion and best friend, who rises to the challenge with me each day as we try guide these children, and loves me and brings me joy all along the way.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My painting

The title of this post is referring to the fact that it was painted FOR me, not by me. The artist, of course, would be John. he has only painted two other pictures since we moved last March, so he was really looking forward to getting into his painting again. I'll need to post pics of the other two in another post. He started this last Monday and he spent a few hours that day making that beautiful shade of red and then doing the first phase of the picture. It was fun to walk into the laundry/craft room all week and see it there, teasing me :). Then Saturday, after we returned from BBall games, he spent most of the day completing it's beauty. It is a 16 by 40 inch panorama. He painted it to go above our bed and incorporated the red color from the accent pillows. It is gorgeous and I. LOVE. IT. His talents always amaze me. I'm grateful to be the recipient! I'm already looking forward to the next one!! My new realistic goal for blogging will be to swap back and forth between highlights of last year and current events. I really want to document last years happenings, but don't want to get to far behind on the here and now. I hope it works :D!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Church History Vacation, Part 1

March was a BUSY month at our house. It began with JJ's 11th Bday on the 3rd. This picture is a glimpse of JJs favorites. The ice cream flavor is cookie dough and the cake is chocolate cake with chocolate icing and for the toppings, it is 1/2 crushed butterfinger, and then 1/4 each of mini MM's and mini choc chips. He likes his options!
John and I really wanted to take the kids to visit some of the church history sites that were not very far away, before we moved West. So despite all the craziness of moving, we incorporated it into our plans and the second weekend of March we loaded up the crew and drove East. Our first stop was Kirtland, Ohio which was about 4 1/2 hours away. We were lucky to have beautiful weather on this particular day, and we spent about 3 hours in Kirtland enjoying the sights and feelings in that area. We were guided by two very sweet sister missionaries who I'm sure we left our own impression on :)! The older kids were very well behaved and really seemed to be soaking it all in, which was of course our hope. Braxton and Tori really took seriously the journals we gave them to record their feelings in and JJ was documenting everything that he was allowed to on his video camera. The younger ones on the other hand were, well, not quite so well behaved. It was pretty stressful trying to keep them from breaking all of the antiques. Then there was trying to keep them quiet so that the missionaries could share the history of these places and their testimonies. We took quite a lot of pictures and I've tried to narrow it down to specific ones. This next one is of all of us in front of the Newel K Whitney store.

We got lunch and then got back on the road bound for Palmyra, New York. I'm thinking that this was about a 6 hour drive from Kirtland. We got there and checked in to our hotel and tried to get out some wiggles that had gotten pent up in the car. We got an early start the next morning and unfortunately, rain was the forecast. The temp was cooler as well, but it was mid March after all. our time was limited to that one full day. we started at the Grandin Press. this was actually one of the places I think the kids remember the most.

We also went to see the Alvin Smith Grave which was really neat and beautiful. You had to walk up these stairs and at the top of the hill was the cemetery where his grave site was located. Even though it was cold and wet, we probably spent a half hour just walking around the small cemetery. The kids were impressed with the VERY old and sometimes unmarked graves.

This is a shot taken at the Smith Farm. The highlight here was obviously ending with a walk through the sacred grove. Unfortunately the wind had picked up and it was making being outside pretty miserable, so we were definitely a little more more rushed than we would have liked. We had the kids pose in front of a tree in the grove to get a picture and then headed back to the car. This other pic is of the Palmyra temple through the trees. Too bad we didn't have the time, or babysitting, to go in.

We decided to make the hour drive down to the Peter Whitmer farm in Fayette. Once again, we were not disappointed to have made the extra effort. The Chapel/Visitors Center was beautiful and is one of the pictures. Another is of the homestead.

Our last stop in Palmyra was the Hill Cumorah. The weather was really getting bad with wind gusts that would grab the car door and fling it all the way open and rain drops that were starting to feel like tiny sharp pellets. However, since this was a limited time opportunity for us we braved the elements and drove up to the top where the monument stands and held the little ones tight so they weren't blown away. It was still a special and memorable experience and it was amazing to be aware of the hallowed ground that we were standing on. The visitors center at Cumorah was the end of our visit and we made our way back to the hotel very worn out and with lots of impressions on our minds.

The day ended as many do in our house with the kids hugging and wrestling with Dad. We left the next morning and had intended to stop and visit Niagara Falls on the way home, but due to the snow that had arrived we ended up just making our way home and continuing to pack up for the move in less than two weeks!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Catching up......again :)

Once again, I am catching up. I'm hoping to recap the highlights of our 2010 so that I can feel updated and ready to document 2011 as it happens( we'll see how that goes). One of my earlier posts showed that we began our year with a trip to Hawaii,(well, John and I did anyways). In late February we flew from South Bend, IN to Scottsbluff, NE with the two youngest boys to look for a place to live. We were successful and found a house to rent. The boys definitely enjoyed the trip and especially enjoyed wrestling on their hotel bed, running "very" fast up and down empty hallways, swimming in the hot tub, going out to eat, and of course getting to ride in an airplane! Here are just a few pics from that trip. I have to say, as I was looking back through these, I could not believe how much Kian, especially, has changed in the past 10 months. He has a diaper and a pacifier in these pics and that seriously feels like a lifetime ago already. It is truly amazing sometimes the pace at which life changes. More updates to come.....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Growing up...

Today I cried. Kian and I sat down during some of our alone time to read some books from the library. He especially enjoyed the first one and requested that it be read twice. After a marathon of six books, I told him I needed to go fix some lunch. He asked me to read the first book another time and I told him, "maybe later." As I walked into the kitchen and I heard him say, "fine, then I'll read it myself." He picks up the book and opens it to the first page and begins to "read" the story fairly accurately page by page. I had never seen him do this before and the moment swept my emotions as I realized that my "baby" is growing up. It's funny how little happenings can shake you and seem so paramount. This was one of those moments for me. I watched the scene unfold and stood there crying. I can't imagine what it will feel like as the milestones progress. How will I watch him trot off to Kindergarten and leave me there ALONE? Or get baptized and so begin his life of independence and responsibility? Or graduate Primary and become a priesthood holder? Or go to High School? College? Mission? How is it possible that my baby can grow up? Well here I am crying again so I guess I should finish this post and go hang out with my little ones.....while they still are little ones.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kauai,Hawaii baby!!!!

At the end of January of this year, John had a CME conference in Kauai, so, I of course wanted to tag along! I have wanted to go to Hawaii since I was as little as I can remember. I actually used to say I would get married there ( I learned later that it's a little expensive for all the guests!) John thought it would even add to the fun if we had some buddies, so he called up my brother Bret and his wife Alisha and asked them if they might want to join us. They apparently weren't a hard sell and the planning began! We decided to rent a condo together which turned out to be cost effective and way more fun than staying in a hotel! This trip was amazing and actually exceeded all my expectations! It truly was paradise! This first pic is on our first morning there. We had flown in the night before and we were up before the sun was, so we decided to watch the sunrise while walking along the beach.

This was called the tunnel of trees. It was so neat!

One of my dreams for Hawaii was to find a secluded waterfall like you always see in the movies. We did some research and hiking and found this awesome place! Just after you walk through these trees in the picture above.....

You find this!

I was so excited!!! I contemplated jumping off the waterfall, but since I am not the most coordinated of people, I did not fully trust my abilities for a sure takeoff. My brother however trusted his, and proceeded to jump a few times!

The rope swing looked like like a lot of fun and slightly less dangerous. It required some work to get the rope to start. It was very entertaining to watch though! So John and Bret worked together and the swinging began. We thought John should have the first swing since he had got the rope.

Here he goes.....
And there's his splash!. We didn't get good pictures of Bret and I swinging. Oh, well, it was a fun experience!
John and I tried Scuba Diving and I will sum that up by saying, we will never do that again. We saw some cool things, but the stuff we saw snorkeling was actually cooler and did not require feeling like one's life could end at any moment. John did not find it to be quite the traumatic experience that I did, but did not really enjoy it either.
This is a view of the coast as seen from our Sunset dinner cruise! Check out how BLUE that water is!
Yep, that's a whale tail! It was so hard to get a good picture because every time one came I was too excited to remember to shoot a picture!
These dolphins swam and played alongside our boat for about 10 minutes!
This pic is out of order, but it is a shot from our Balcony of the main living area of the condo. It was so nice!
This was actually the day before the cruise. It had rained most of the day, but in the late afternoon the sun came out while we were exploring a rocky coast and geocaching, and we got this beautiful pic with a rainbow!
Here's some neat coast picture with all the black Lava Rocks.
Can you believe the color of this water? It was unreal to me.
The rain had made the waves pretty big which made for some cool crashes!
Bret actually got wet while venturing a little close to the edge!
That evening since the rain stopped we figured the waves would be pretty good so we went to the beach and did some boogie boarding, which is soooo much fun, by the way! Here is John and Bret going out to catch another ride!
I took this pic while Alisha and I were sitting on the beach watching the boys board in the water.

More boogie boarding.
We took this pic earlier on the rainy day while we were geocaching. It was so fun to just walk around in the rain because it was warm enough to! It kind of felt like being a kid! Plus, we weren't going to let the rain stop us from enjoying this beautiful piece of the Earth!

Now back to the Sunset Cruise, here is a panoramic of the coastline. Awe-inspiring!

out of order again, but, after the sun had set you could still see the last of the colors and the night moon! It was breathtaking!
The crew members would come around and ask to take pictures of us with our cameras. It was very convenient. This was taken just at the peak of Sunset and was a moment that I will never forget. I could almost hear the music from "Titanic" playing.... it was perfect.

Heading back to the port...
These are some of the crew members helping us on to the dock. They were so funny and great to talk to.

This was a park across the street from one of the beaches and I was thinking my beach house would look really good in the middle of that clearing surrounded by those trees which I LOVED! Unfortunately, the land was not for sale, so that dream will have to wait. And those tree's? They can't survive in climates where the temperature ever dips below 40 degrees, so I guess that counts out Scottsbluff, NE. I guess I'll just have to go back again to see them. DARN!
This was a famous area where they apparently shot several movies, one of which was "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with Harrison Ford, I think? It was beautiful.
This was really just a small taste of the beauty that we encountered. We seriously took about 400 pictures! We ate at some really fun places and met some really fun native people. It was a memorable experience from beginning to end. Hawaii is definitely NOT over rated! I'd go back in a heartbeat, and hope that I do get the opportunity again someday. Anyone volunteering to come along?