Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our House

Well hello, Bloggy Bloggertons!

I have not been a good blogger.  At all.  And I'm sure there are people just waiting to see pictures of the new house.  Well, I have good news for you: Clark has taken on that challenge!

The upside of Clark doing it is it will happen sooner rather than later.  He doesn't care if the bed is made, or the boxes are put away.  He just takes the pictures and slaps them on the blog.  So good on him!

His blog can be found at http://cloark.blogspot.com/.  He's got 2 posts up already.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gratitude Schmatitude


Obviously I haven't been living up to this whole "Grateful November" thing.  I get distracted.  I'm forgetful.  I'm overwhelmed at the thought of moving (so much stuff!).  And so I spend my nights watching Once Upon a Time on netflix instead of blogging about things I'm grateful for. 

Also, I'm trying to read Les Miserables.  I now know way more about the Battle of Waterloo than I ever wanted to know (that was the ultimate sidetrack, Mr. Hugo, you are extremely passionate about Waterloo).

Rather than try to play catch-up, or to pick up where I left off and pretend I'm going to do it every day from here on out, I think I'll just call it a draw.  No more gratitude posts, no more guilt.  We'll just call it even and move forward. 

However.  I am, in fact, grateful for my kids.  And I happen to have a bit of footage from the past few days that I've been itching to share.  So you could consider this another gratitude post.  If you wanted to.

First up, I mentioned on Facebook that I sort of love that Ella says "Lock-a-bur" instead of Blockburger, and that Julia says "breafkist" instead of breakfast.  So I got that on video. 

After we got them to speak the desired phrase, they wanted to have a little more camera time, and I let them.  Things get a little goofy, and nothing terribly exciting happens, but it's a good representation of a typical night at our house.  (Eggbert is a chick, in case you couldn't tell.  This becomes important as we discuss his favorite meals.)

And to finish it off, there are few sounds more wonderful than that of giggling girls.  If you could bottle this up, I think you could solve all the problems of the world.  And I'm sharing it with you.  You're welcome.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Gratitude: Day 4

We bought a house.


We have lived in Michigan for 2 years now, and we are finally getting into a home.  We thought we might be in this apartment for 6 months, maybe a year.  I really wouldn't have guessed we'd live here for 2 years.  And now, we're moving!

When I get thinking about all the people we've met while we've lived here, I see that we were supposed to be here.  Especially when I think about our dear, sweet downstairs neighbor, Mr. Cooper.  Mr. Cooper has been like a grandfather for the girls, and he's been a wonderful neighbor.  If he bakes himself a pie, he gives us half of it.  He won me right then and there.  But he also loves sitting outside and watching the girls play.  He makes sure to have a box of chocolates in his cabinet because he knows the girls like to sneak one out.  He's just a good, good man.  And we'll miss him.  But, bonus!  We're moving less than 2 miles away!  So we can come back often. 

But this post isn't about all that.  This post is about BUYING A HOUSE!  We are so beyond thrilled to be moving into a bigger place.  A place with 4 bedrooms (That means a guest room, folks!  Come visit us!), a basement, a 2 car garage, and glorious, glorious counter space in the kitchen.  We will finally be able to unpack everything we brought with us, and everything will have a place to go.  And we will get our piano back! 

I'm so so SO grateful that we are finally here.  It's a time for much rejoicing!  And many! many! exclamation points!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Gratitude: Day 3

Today I'm grateful for the church.  More specifically, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

It's Stake Conference around these parts, and today was the leadership training meeting and the adult session.  At each of these meetings it really hit home how important the church is, how all of the programs and meetings are meant to help people come closer to Christ.  The leadership training focused a lot on self-reliance and welfare.  I absolutely love that they said over and over that we should be guided by the Spirit in all things. That people are what matters, and if the Spirit tells us to do something that isn't within the regular guidelines, we should listen to that prompting.  It was a great reminder of what this church is all about, and the need to look after the one.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Gratitude: Day 2

And in a follow up to yesterday's post. . . .

Today I'm grateful that we were able to get my car towed to the mechanic, where it was discovered that there was some wiring that wasn't connected properly, making it an easy and inexpensive repair.  You never realize how important a functional car is until you don't have one. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Gratitude: Day 1

Remember how last November I had a month full of gratitude?  Well.  I've decided that was an excellent way to breathe new life into a sadly dwindling blog, find the tender mercies in my life, and bring in the holiday season (both Christmas AND Thanksgiving).  So here we go again.

Today Julia had the day off school.  The teachers at her school are smart and don't want to deal with tired, cranky kids the day after Halloween.  So I decided it would be a great day to head to the library, let them play for a bit and get some energy out.  But, we slept in, and there was a bit of lollygagging on my part, so we didn't make it out the door until 11.  And then I remembered that I needed to practice the organ.  So we made a detour to the church.  I got my practicing in, and then it was time to go to the library.

Except my car wouldn't start.

Cue panic.

So I called Clark, my go-to man when I'm in crisis mode.  He told me I should go find someone to jump it.

Cue tears.

Perhaps you know this, perhaps you don't, but I'm slightly. . . scared of people.  I hate to be a bother, I don't particularly like asking for help, and really I'd just rather figure things out on my own, thank you.  I get all nervous and flustered, and often I start crying, and then I'm really embarrassed, and then I cry more because I'm embarrassed, and it's a big fat downward spiral.

But avoiding people is not really an option when dealing with a dead car battery. 

So I put on my brave face (prayed the tears wouldn't leak out) and headed into the family history center at the church.  Where I found a sweet sister from our ward who was ready and willing to jump into action.

Her first response was, "I have an electric car.  I don't know if I can jump it."

Her second response was, "I'll call my husband and see if I can."

She called him up, got instructions, and the jump was jumped.

I'm so grateful that someone was at the church, and more specifically, that someone I know was there and willing to help.  No tears or embarrassment on my part.  Tender mercy, right there.

Let the gratitude begin!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ella's Birthday

Remember how Ella had a birthday?  Back in July?  We're a little behind here. . .

Last year we created a tradition of taking the birthday girl to the candy shop and letting her pick out whatever she wants.  It actually turns out to be pretty inexpensive, but it makes that birthday girl feel like the queen of the store. Ella chose. . . . 

Gummy Bear Cubs!  Bonus: these made for the perfect potty training reward a couple weeks later.

During the week we also decorated the house, went to the zoo, and had the obligatory cake and ice cream.  I think Ella was delighted that we were singing for her.  You can see her patiently waiting for the song to finish so she can blow out the candles. 

And then we opened presents!  There were multiple babies involved.  Oh, we love the babies.  Babies and their accessories (diaper bags and bath toys and the like).  So much that taking a break for a picture with the babies is hard to do.

I'm afraid my baby isn't a baby anymore.  Tear.

Blockburgers in Michigan!

Way back in July, the Blockburgers came to town!  When we lived in St George, it felt like we had visitors all the time.  We could offer a break from winter, a short drive away!  Not to mention the red rocks and national parks, and did I mention the short drive part?  Now, we have nothing to offer in the winter (lots of snow, but no skiing), and we're one heck of a drive away.  Or a short-yet-expensive flight away.  The point is, we don't get visitors very often.  So we soaked up every minute of Blockburger love we could get.

Their trip happened to fall over July 4th.  We had a delightful time spending the holiday with family.  Also?  I adorned our home with stars. 

I found this idea on pinterest, just make a star stencil and sift some flour over it.  I thought it was AWESOME. 

You can even do it on grass!  But the grass ones didn't turn out as clear as the sidewalk ones. 

I seriously loved this little project.  And the stars lasted for a month!  I think this is something we'll be doing every year from here on out. 

The rest of the 4th of July was spent being hot.  We took the big B's to the Dow Gardens, and everyone just wilted in the humid heat.  After sweating it out for an hour, we gave up and went home, where we basked in the AC.  But there were fireworks that night, and the rest of the trip was a bit cooler.

We also made a trip to the ice cream shop,

and put Grandma to bed, along with everything she might have needed, ever.

And because the Blockburgers are traveling folk, we headed up to Mackinac Island.  We are now Michiganders, for real.  We've crossed the Mackinac Bridge, we've been to Mackinac Island, we've eaten the fudge, it's in our blood now. 

Also, this trip gave me the chance to stick my toes in two of the great lakes.  Only two to go :)

 On the ferry:

I think my favorite part of the trip was riding bikes around the island.  We hemmed and hawed over whether we should do it or not, and I'm ever so glad we did.  Riding a bike, with the lake air blowing on your face, the beach just to your left, and no cars in sight. . . it was magical.  So was discovering I still knew how to ride a bike - it was a little rocky there at first, but I picked it back up in no time. 

 All in all, we had a FABULOUS time with the Blockburgers, and hope they'll want to come back to Michigan again soon!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

This and That

Now that I've finally finished posting about Utah, we can move on to other things.  This summer has been crazy busy, but if you were to ask me what we've been doing, I'd draw a blank.  Our days are filled with parks and picnics and walks (and the ever-present errands).  Between that and potty training Ella (!), we have been running. And yet it feels like we aren't doing any one thing in particular.

Well, other than the potty training.  That sucks up all your time and energy.

Anyway, here are some random pictures (complete with the stories behind them) from the past couple of months.  They aren't in chronological order, just in the order they loaded up on my computer.

Julia went to Vacation Bible School this summer, and she LOVED it.  She goes to school at one of the Presbyterian churches in town, but their VBS was during our trip to Utah.  So we opted to go to the other Presbyterian church.

She learned bible stories, scriptures, and lots of songs.  The song that stuck (and continues to stick, in our heads, every. single. day) goes like this:

I am a C!
I am a C-H!
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N!
And I have C-H-R-I-S-T in my H-E-A-R-T,
And I will L-I-V-E- E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y!

Her latest superhero name is, "Super C-H."  I think it's fabulous.

While Julia was away, Ella and I got to play.  It made me so excited for school to start,so I can get some one-on-one time with this lovely girl.  Our library has Touch A Truck day every year, so I thought it would be fun to take Ella.  Unfortunately, it was postponed due to rain.  Fortunately, the fire truck came anyway!  Unfortunately, Ella was less than impressed.

We waited in line for a few minutes, got up in the seat, I snapped this pic:

And then I got an, "All done!"  I guess it was a good thing we didn't have all the trucks there, she was not interested.  We opted not to go back for the real deal.  I think it was a good decision.

We've been loving our little zoo!  Here are the girls, taking a rest on a hot day.

I actually did Julia's hair.  And it involved a braid.  This is big news. 

Ella was walking around the house like this, bringing laughter and joy to all. 

Then she put a skirt on.  Still a great outfit.

One of the rare moments they were playing together, instead of fighting with each other.

One night for FHE I pulled out the old, "Sock Toss Game."  Ball up some socks.  Throw them in a laundry basket.  Repeat.  I remember doing something similar as a kid and thinking it was the best game ever.  I'm pretty sure Julia and Ella felt the same way.

Ella gets quite the handicap.

And finally, we made a bold move and took the front off Ella's crib back in June.  I'm pleased to report that she has only fallen out of the bed once.  And she still won't get out of bed unless you give her the ok, which is great news for us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Utah! Day 13

This was the day we headed home.

Our flight left at 8:30, so we had to get up nice and early to get to the airport on time.  It was so sad to say goodbye, to watch the mountains fade away, to know that I'd be at least a year away from another trip to Cafe Rio.  Woe is me.

BUT.  I was glad to be going home.  Michigan has carved a place in my heart, and part of me hopes we never leave.

The flight home was uneventful.  The girls were generally happy.  The dollar store "presents" worked their magic, just like I hoped they would.  When we got home I discovered the toothpaste had exploded, but luckily it was in a pocket that only contained toothpaste and toothbrushes.  And it wasn't my favorite kind of toothpaste.  No harm done there. 

And just like that, we were done.  And now you are done.  Reading the never-ending posts about our trip to Utah.  And I'm done writing them.  YES!

Utah! Day 12

Monday: Park Day.

We got up and took a morning walk to the park by my parents' house.  The girls had a great time playing at the park.

Then at lunchtime, Sabrina and her brood (including Judy) came to town!  So we met up at a different park by my parents' house and had lunch.  Cafe Rio was consumed for the 2nd time.  There was much catching up.  The girls had a great time playing at the park.

Then in the afternoon we went to Sugarhouse Park where we had a potluck/chat-fest with friends.  The girls had a great time playing at the park. 

See a theme here? 

I was so glad that we got to see the Millars, even if we were missing Brett, and even if it was only for 1 day.  It worked out perfectly, actually, because we planned a little shindig and I personally think more people came due to the fact that we both were there.  It was wonderful to see so many old friends, and their kids!  It really is quite funny to think back 10 years and realize how much our lives have changed.  The marriages, the kids, the mortgages.  Everything is different now.  But there is something wonderful about old friends - the kind of friends you can pick right back up with, like no time has passed.  I had missed them.

Utah! Day 11

Day 11 was Fathers Day.  It was also Suzanne's birthday.  As such, we decided it would be a great day to spend with the Blockburgers.  We headed across the valley again to spend the day going to church, eating yummy food, opening presents, eating cake, and hanging out. 

Before we hit the Blockburger home, we headed to the cemetery.  I guess we figured we should visit all the Blockburgers that day.  We even picked a dandelion and a clover flower to place on the headstone.  Not fancy, but definitely thoughtful, I'd say. 

I kind of like the shadow picture.  It was the best thing I could think of to get us all in the shot and prove we were there. 

PS: Clark was not forgotten in the Fathers Day/Birthday Hubbub.  He received a present Julia made in preschool (she kept the secret for a whole month!), a card, a present Julia made at church, and a book.  Let it be known that he is a wonderful father, and often much more patient with the girls than I am.  Just today Ella heard me open the door (at 1:00pm) and shouted, "Daddy!  My daddy!  My daddy is home!"  She was so disappointed that it was only me, sweeping the dirt out the door.  He is loved.

Utah! Day 10

I know what you're thinking: Good grief!  Are we done with this Utah trip already? 

I know because I'm thinking the same thing.  Put your head down and power through.  Things are about to get a bit condensed, which is ok because this portion of the trip was pretty low-key anyway.  Here we go.

Day 10 we made a trek to my aunt's goat farm.  They sell goat milk, cheese, soap.  Lots of goat milk products.  Drake Family Farms, check them out!  Anyway, it's always fun for the girls to see real live goats, especially those little baby goats.  Oh so cute.  We went with my cousin, Jana, and her family, which made it even better! 

Then we spent the afternoon hanging out and playing Bohnanza.  It turns out I really like that game.  If you ever want to play it, come on over!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Utah! Day 9

We carried on with the low-key vibe on Friday.  We took the girls to a park in the morning, and spent the day hanging out, trying to provide some semblance of routine and normalcy after an action packed week. 

The big highlight of the day was going to breakfast with the Martinsens.  They were in SLC after returning from their trip to Brazil, and our trips just happened to coincide.  I am so glad that we got to meet up with them.  Holy smokes, it made me miss St George.  A lot.  A really, really lot.  I miss walking with Jenn, and all the people down there, and the red rocks, and the people, and our house, and the people.  I miss the people a lot.  It makes me wish we had taken an extra week of vacation and gone down south to visit all those people we know and love.  Of course, time wouldn't allow for that, but a girl can dream.  Maybe someday everyone I know from everywhere will live in the same neighborhood and I won't have to miss someone all the time.  It's getting to be ridiculous.  No more moving.  My heart can't take it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Utah! Day 8

Day 8: Zoo day.

Going to the zoo has become a highlight of our trips to Utah.  We have a membership to a zoo in Michigan, but it is very small.  Very, very small.  A good portion of the animals are barnyard animals.  Woo!  Some chickens!  It's great for small children, in that you get to see everything you want each time you go.  But it doesn't have some of the big exciting animals that most people associate with a zoo.  I know my kids (well, let's be honest, Julia) really looked forward to seeing elephants! and giraffes! and bears!  So going to the zoo was one of the first things we blocked off when planning our trip.

And this trip did not disappoint.  We absolutely love that we have our own Suzanne (Clark's sister) to take us around and show us the animals.  She is extremely knowledgeable.  About everything, really, but about animals in particular.  And she works at the zoo, so she knows all the ins and outs of the place.  We had the added bonus that the new Rocky Shores Exhibit was open.  I could have spent an hour looking at the seals and polar bear alone, they were incredible!

Anyway, we got to see a whole bunch of fun and exciting animals.  Kim and Michelle came along for the adventure (and a welcome addition they were, I might add).  We saw the bird show, the girls got to ride the carousel, and we had a picnic lunch to top it all off.

I, of course, have no pictures of this event.  That is sad.  I've resolved to take more pictures this summer, and I've done fairly well, but I made this resolution after the Utah trip.  So you've got a bit of a wait before you see pictures.  Just imagine lots of animals, and a couple of blonde girls peering through the fences, having a fabulous time. 

After the adventures of the zoo, we went to Great-Grandma Meme's house for a quick visit.  It wasn't terribly long, and the girls were tired, but we couldn't go to Utah without sampling some of her jellybeans and playing with her old toys.  Meme is a delight to visit with.  I'm glad we made the time to take the girls to her house.

And then we packed up our stuff and headed to the Andersons house.  With the wedding over and the happy couple on their way, they were able to be our hosts for a few days.  We basically crashed on Thursday evening, and I think everyone was ok with that.  The girls got to play with their awesome toys, the grown ups got to have a quiet evening in, and everyone was happy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ella's Second Year

We interrupt the Utah trip to bring you Ella's birthday.  She is 2 today!  And believe me, she is 2.  The excessive meltdowns have already begun.

We've had quite the year with my little imp.  This little girl has grown up a LOT in the last year.  We've learned that she has a mind of her own, and is always up for a good time.

She has had a word explosion lately, and it's thrilling to see her put two and two together.  For example?  We were talking about when she was sick and had a little "bug."  She thought for a minute, and said, "Dad's book."  Because there had been an actual little bug on his book the day before.  See what I mean?  Putting things together. 

She also likes to put things together physically.  She is forever pulling things out of boxes, lining them up, and putting them away.  One of her favorite things is to pass out flashcards to everyone in the room, then collect them, then pass them out again. 

Julia is often a sad girl (the emotions are close to the surface on that one), but Ella does everything she can to make a sad Julia feel better.  She gets her blanket, piles on toys, and gives her hugs.  And if she was the perpetrator of a sharing crime that turned Julia into a puddle?  She is immediately giving back the toy, along with an apology.  She's got a kind heart.

Ella also has no fear.  She climbs the ladders, goes down the slides, jumps right into the action.  Clark and I often have a hard time letting her go do things that seem way above a 2 year old, but I find that if I sit back and let her try it, she can do it.  She OWNS playground equipment.  (I hope I'm not jinxing myself here.)  And when she falls down, she picks herself right back up and goes on playing.  No fear AND tough. 

I love my little Ella girl.  Happy Birthday, EB!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Utah! Day 7 (The Wedding!)

Whitney's wedding was, in my opinion, everything a wedding should be.  There were numerous times throughout the day that I thought to myself, "This moment, right here, is part of a dream wedding."  I can only hope that Whitney and Dustan felt the same way.

I started out taking a few pictures.  Here we are outside the temple, Dustan's family is lining up for pictures:

Getting everything just right:

Whitney and Dustan are totally absorbed in each other (as it should be):

And then I realized, there is a photographer here, whose whole job is to take pictures of this event.  What makes me think I could ever get a better picture than she will?  So I gave up.  Wholeheartedly.  I chose to be in the moment instead of behind a camera.  I do that often.  This time, it didn't matter, because someone else was taking the pictures.  If you're my friend on Facebook, then you've seen some of them.  They look stunning.

I don't think I could possibly recount the entire day to you, but here are some of the highlights:
  • They were sealed in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, and it was beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  The building, the sealer, the spirit.  Beautiful.
  • After the sealing, we were all waiting in the waiting room for the couple to come out.  After a little while, a temple worker came to get Kim and me, so we could help my mom help Whitney into her dress.  At the time, it felt like we were rushing to get her ready and out the door, but as I look back, it's one of my favorite memories of the day.  In the brides room of the temple, helping my little sister put her wedding dress on.  All three of us, along with our mother.  It was a beautiful moment.  
  • It was a hot day.  A hot, hot day.
  • Julia and Ella looked so adorable in their yellow dresses.
  • Jessica deserves a boatload of credit for bringing our girls to the temple, and generally helping out.  She was (and is) amazing.
  • The reception was beautiful.  Beautiful, beautiful.  That's the word of the day: beautiful.
  • It was so convenient that Whitney planned an event that allowed me to see all my family and friends while I was in town.  Thanks, Whit!  I wasn't sure I'd ever see some of those Yale Ward friends again.  It was delightful catching up and seeing so many familiar faces.  Made me grateful for the people I grew up with.
  • Whitney got to throw the bouquet from a balcony.  How romantic is that?  And my cousin Susannah caught it.  She caught the bouquet at my wedding, too.  Apparently she's good at catching bouquets.
  • At some point, Julia told me, "This is boring."  Thankfully Aunt Michelle saved the day by taking the kids outside.  They played with my cousin's kids (their 2nd cousins), and had a great time.  
  • When the happy couple left, we all rang bells and blew whistles.  I thought it was a very clever way to be sent off.  It was another one of those perfect moments that seemed like a dream.
  • The one fiasco of the day?  My skirt ripped.  Kim's did, too.  It's amazing what duct tape can do!  All things considered, that's a pretty minor mishap.  I was glad to take one for the team and let Whitney have the day of perfection.
All in all, it was a great day.  Congratulations, Whitney and Dustan!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Utah! Day 6

Tuesday we decided to dedicate to Provo, and all it's glory.  We headed down to Utah County, and got to enjoy construction on the freeway, and traffic, 2 staples of life in the UC.  Then we headed toward the mountains, and went for a hike up to the Y.  We borrowed a backpack for Ella, and Julia was a trooper and hiked the whole thing.  Well, almost the whole thing.  Clark was carrying 2 girls for small segments of the up.  But she did most of it.  Not bad for a 4 year old.

And now. . . . prepare yourselves. . . I TOOK PICTURES!   And more than one, even!  I had to include them all, to make up for the lack of pictures every other day.  Scroll away.

After the hike we headed down to BYU campus to get us some chocolate milk and stroll around for a minute.  It's always fun to go back and relive the memories.  We also decided that Jamba Juice was too good to pass up.  And we were lucky enough to go visit Stewart Dr. Anderson and see his office.  He's, like, a grown up.  How strange.

When we were finally done with BYU, we visited with the Adams family.  They fed us some delicious taco salad, and we stayed and chatted for way longer than we intended.  We (and by that I mean mostly Clark) just like talking!  Hopefully no one minded.  I know we didn't.

As if this wasn't enough adventure for one day, we then had to get home and get cleaned up for Anderson family pictures that evening.  Patrick (Kim's husband) couldn't make it to the wedding (he had to work), so we thought it would be good to take a couple photos of everyone all together prior to the big day.  Unfortunately, Patrick fell deathly ill (though we don't suspect The Michigan Flu, as he had a fever), but he put his head down and powered through.  I think they turned out well.  These two are my favorites.

PS?  We love Dustan.  He's funny and clever, and I think he fits in well.  Good work, Whit.

To round out the evening, we headed to Hires for dinner.  Cafe Rio and Hires were the only restaurants on my list this year.  The Big H did not disappoint.  And, perhaps more importantly, there was fry sauce in abundance.  Then we all headed home to get some rest and prep for the Big Day: Whitney's Wedding!