Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Weekend

We had such a fun Easter weekend. On Saturday we went to a community Easter egg hunt at a local church. It was so fun! They had 3 different hunts for different age groups, two bounce houses (again, for different age groups, which was SOOOO nice! No big kids were going crazy bouncing all the little kids), snow cone trucks, with free snow cones for kids, a tattoo station (which we skipped), and other stations that had free water bottles and more. It was so fun. We got there right when it started, and there was already a ton of people there. We had about 30 minutes before the egg hunts started, so we went and saw the Easter bunny.
I knew Charlotte would hate this, but I really wanted a picture of her screaming and the Easter bunny holding her. In my mind, the big girls would be sitting nicely beside her, but I think this was cuter :) The bunny is "looking" at me (where I ran away to) like - seriously lady?? Don't worry, I grabbed her one second later. 

I kind of couldn't believe the girls did this so nicely. Last year they were all ---
 
Preslie isn't even in the picture because she's hiding behind me. But this year, they're BFF's! And look at Chloe with such a nervous look! Not anymore! They're growing up.

This was in front of the youngest hunt space. (3 and younger) Usually they just throw eggs everywhere on the ground but here they had grown spots of grass taller so at least a few were "hidden." Charlotte hated grabbing them in that grass, though, but she still got a lot of eggs! (You can see the 4-6 age field next to us. They didn't mow that grass at all so the kids had to actually search for the eggs!)

She totally loved grabbing them and putting them in her basket. She even tried taking off with the giant decorative eggs.


When the girls were about to start their race (4-6) they were so nervous and excited! They were holding hands the whole time and then took off together. It was adorable. Preslie was chasing after Chloe the whole time (which I was surprised by - usually Preslie takes the lead) and Chloe was showing her all the spots to find more eggs. After awhile Chloe would just go grab some and bring them back and put them in Preslie's basket for her. They're such sweet sisters! 

                                                                         Their Loot!


After doing the egg hunts, they were thirsty, so we went and got snow cones! I think this is their first snow cone ever. They totally LOVED them. Obviously. What kid wouldn't?? It was especially nice for me and Cody because even Charlotte got a free one…which meant we got a free one! Woohoo! (I'm so sad for the day that all my kids realize I take their goodies)

This picture is so funny! Her face kills me! Cody took it right when her snow cone was spilling and she was trying to save it. 

The next day, Sunday, we did the "normal" Easter activities - had our baskets, got new Easter dresses, went to church, and had Easter dinner. We took a bunch of pictures after church in the girls new dresses, but pretty much none of them worked. It was so bright out, and Chloe pretty much can't ever handle even a barely bright sky, so she's squinting in all of them. I always tell her it's fine and not that bright, but then Cody and I tried taking some of ourselves and it WAS really bright! I was squinting or blinking in almost all of them! 
Charlotte was NOT having it. She didn't want to take pictures at all, so this was the only way we got her to sit for a second!

Easter Outtakes :)

We tried them on the porch so it was darker, but the problem was, it was darker.


Squinty girls!


She absolutely refused to look at the camera, so I thought I would sit with her and then she'd cooperate...
                                                                                  Nope!!
Oh well. Happy Easter, Friends!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Houston

Last weekend Cody and I packed up the girls, Axel, and about a dozen Disney movies and made the 5 hour trek south to Houston. Cody's brother, Casey and his family live there, and it was Casey's birthday on Sunday. Casey's wife, Bree, invited Cody to go to a baseball game with him for his birthday. Luckily, the LA Angels were playing in Houston that weekend (Cody and Casey's favorite team) so it worked out perfectly!
A sign at the Hi Ho gas station on the way down…Emplooye's must wash their hand :)
We left Friday afternoon and got to their house in the evening. The girls did pretty great on the drive down and ended up all falling asleep. But when we got there, they woke right up and were more than excited to play with their cousins! They were all running around and chasing each other and loving every second of it. Especially Axel :) Casey and Bree were so nice to let up leave him at their house - since we don't have anyone up here to watch him and we couldn't bring him to a hotel. The first night when we left to go to the hotel, Bree said Axel just sat, staring at the front door until 1 am! Just waiting for us to come back and get him. Poor dog!!

The next day was an adventure. I always get so excited to sleep in a hotel and then when I actually go (with children) I realize how awful it really is. No one sleeps well, there's not enough room for everyone to be quiet and not bother the ones that are sleeping, etc. Charlotte woke up REALLY early and of course didn't want to go back to sleep. So by the time everyone else was awake and ready to go play, she HAD to take a nap. I finally woke her up around 1130 because we were wasting our only day there!

We finally got over to their house and all went to the Houston Natural History Museum. It was so fun! They have a butterfly exhibit where the butterflies are just all over the place and can land on you. It was so cool and so pretty. We sat really still for awhile, trying to get them to land on us. I have a thing about anything with wings/buzzing/fluttering in my face, and I swear for awhile they kept going right in my face. It was so hard to try and stay super still with them doing that! Chloe kept saying -Mom, are you scared? Why do you have a scared face if you're not scared?

They even had a huge waterfall that was so pretty, even if Charlotte was trying to get in it the whole time.

I also loved the dinosaur exhibit they have - I am not really a fan of dinosaurs…I mean, Jurassic Park's great, but that's about it as far as my love for them goes. But I have always really loved dinosaur exhibits! I just think they're so cool looking. Unfortunately, when we got there, Preslie's whining about being so starving had reached an all-time high, so I took her to get some food in the lobby. Luckily we still got to see a few things before everyone else was done.




After the museum, we needed to get some dinner before the guys went to the baseball game. Casey wanted to go to Jason's Deli, so we found one on the map and started off. It was right in the middle of downtown, which apparently only cares about feeding corporate Houston, because it's only open M-F.

While we were walking there, I was pushing Preslie in the stroller and holding Chloe (Because they had both fallen asleep in the car and were grumpy and tired) and this man completely walked RIGHT into me. He was not paying attention at all, so when I saw he wasn't going to stop, I stopped. He still walked right into me (from the side, not the front). Then, he looked at me, and SO rudely said - Watch where you're going!!

Picture by Bree
By this point, I was sick of people yelling at me all day (i.e. my children), so I said back, Me?! You walked into me! Then he went off! He was totally yelling and saying I ran into him and to watch where I was going. Then Cody started yelling at him saying- Are you kidding?! It's a lady and two kids! Open your eyes!

It was insane. He kept yelling as he walked across the road and was so crazy. I wanted to go back and go all Bruce Lee/Carol Brady on him so that after I beat him up I could tell him how important it is to treat each other kindly.

Because Jason's Deli was closed, we found another place around the corner called Bombay Pizza. Its an Indian Pizza place that has almost 500 positive reviews on yelp and apparently was on the Food Network! It was awesome! We had "The Slumdog" with chorizo, pepperoni, chicken, jalapeƱos, beef, onions, cheese and "bombay sauce." Super yummy.

On our way back to the car, in the SAME spot as the crazy man, there was a crazy woman! She was staring at Cody the whole time we walked past her, like crazy lady staring, and then I turned around to see if she was for real, and she was GLARING at me. Luckily nothing happened, because she seemed a lot more insane than the other guy.

We dropped the guys off at the baseball game and went back to Casey and Bree's. We hung out and Charlotte was losing it the whole time, she was SO exhausted but had no where to sleep. I went back and picked up the guys and the Angels won! Woohoo! We had cake and ice cream to celebrate Casey's birthday and went back to the hotel.

Picture by Cody
The next day we had a big pancake breakfast that Casey made and hung out for a little bit before going home. The drive home was more crazy and hard than the drive there - it seemed the girls were whining the whole time and especially Charlotte - we stopped at a gas station and she had completely soaked through ALL her clothes. So I was the awesome mom that was changing her diaper on the sink (why all gas stations do not have changing stations I will never understand), while Chloe and Preslie were using the only sinks available to "wash hands" (just stand there with the water running because they couldn't reach), while there was a huge line of others waiting to wash there hands, and finally some women lifted them up to wash their hands, and I just took Charlotte out, with no clothes on, in the pouring rain.

It was awesome :)

But other than the drive home, we had a blast!! The girls absolutely love being with their cousins and wish they could be with them every day! I hope we can go back and see them again soon, and stay more than only one day!!!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Date Night!!

The last time Cody and I had a date was in the fall of 2013. Seeing as it's been two seasons since then, we figured it was high time we had another!!

After moving here, it was hard to find a babysitter, but we found a great young woman who the girls totally love. It's always tough to go from friend-swap babysitters to paying babysitters, but I'd do it every week if it meant I could go on a date with Cody! Now I just feel like I need to find a lot of different girls so I'm not making one miss her Friday nights each week!

Only in Texas will you find giant American Flags painted onto buildings. 

A few weeks ago Cody and I saw a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives nearby and knew we had to check it out. It's called Twisted Root Burger and is a fun little family burger joint that had flavored root beer (ummm yum I lovvvvvve root beer!!) I had the Frito Bandito which has chili, cheddar cheese, Fritos and guacamole. Cody had a buffalo meat burger with BBQ sauce and blue cheese called Wing Style. The only flavor of root beer they had that night was pistachio which was actually pretty good!!

After we ate, we walked around Deep Ellum which is a part of downtown dallas with some fun (read weird) shops and lots of dinner places but no dessert places. (There were a lot of sex toy stores. Why the need for so many in such a small area, eh, Dallas?) (and also, maybe we could switch some of those stores to bakeries and people wouldn't need all the weird toys. Comfort food, people. Come on.)

Deep Ellum has all these cool graffiti buildings everywhere. 
Finally we found some dessert! :) It was a tiny little cookie store where they had ice cream cookie sandwiches for only $2.50! I was excited our date was turning out so inexpensive, until… We crossed the street and a homeless man asked me, "Where's my cookie?" I just kind of smiled and kept going. I am all for helping out those that need it, but I don't really believe in begging as who knows where that money goes/I feel like they probably all make more money than me… (I know, I know, so not PC. Whatevs.) Also, we can't afford to go give all our money away. It's not that I don't want to (at least not all the time…I have, and do occasionally, give money to people when I feel it could be beneficial)

He ran after us and started showing us his arms (no track marks) and telling us he's starving and needs some food. Cody said he would buy him a sandwich at Subway. At that point, I'm thinking, Ok, that's pretty fast, and should only cost like $6. But Subway was closed. So I ask him, semi-jokingly, if he wants a cookie. (Since they're only $2.50!) He just laughed and says, "There's a Willy's Chicken." I have no idea what Willys Chicken is, but we walked a block to get there. I was looking at the menu, thinking, ok, things here are a little bit pricy (I order off the dollar menu…) but it's not like he's going to order himself dessert or anything.

He ordered a full on fish dinner. And two apple pies.

Maybe I've always been anti-giving lots for dinner to beggars? I remember when I was a senior in high school, I went to Wendy's with my friends and this guy asked if I'd buy him a sandwich. I said yes, (since again, I order off the $1 menu…I figured he would, too.) He started saying to order him a whole meal, plus a frosty. Whaaaa??? No. I ordered him a JBC just like me.

Anyway. Cody was very nice to the guy and this makes me sound like a snobby, anti-helping Republican, but I'm not. I promise. I just am not made of money.

We eventually walked to the Dealey Plaza which is the spot where JFK was shot. I was freaking out! I have seen so many videos of that day and the building, the street and grassy knoll. I couldn't believe I was actually there! We also saw the first American Post Office. It was this cute little log cabin.

We made our way home (but not before stopping at Kroger and buying some donuts for the girls in the morning. We bribed them that if they went to bed good for the babysitter, we'd have donuts for breakfast.) and all was well! The babysitter said Charlotte whined a little bit, but the next day Chloe said she was "screaming and screaming and never stopped." Haha I don't know who to believe. I'm guessing it was some of both.

Here's to many more date nights!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Yesterday I cleaned out my fridge. It was a little bit of a spiritual experience. Maybe I can explain why…

"…It grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame…" 
here

"Ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions…" 
here

 "…And now behold, my joy is full."
 here 

Hallelujah for a clean fridge!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Texas

Last summer, Cody was looking for jobs within his company. The job he had then was very difficult for our family. He was gone a LOT, and even if he had to be gone for a week only 2 hours away, we weren't allowed to come be with him.

One of his jobs was in Arizona, and he was there for "an indefinite period." He was working at a nuclear plant, and didn't have authorization to actually do anything there. So instead of him being able to fix a problem quickly, the people that actually worked for the plant would have to do it and it took much, much longer. There would be days that nothing actually was accomplished because they were writing up how they would have to fix the problem instead of doing anything about it. (Not because of choice, but that was policy.)

I hated it. He was gone for over a month and we didn't know when the end was in sight.  And even worse, he worked nights. So instead of being able to talk to him or text him throughout the day, he would be sleeping. Then he went to work around 7 pm so I could "talk" to him for about 3 hours before going to bed myself.

That was one of the worst experiences for me of having him work that job. He, honestly, loved being able to work with his hands, having the freedom of just getting in his truck and going places, which were always changing and new, being able to work with lots of different people and not just always the same old, same old in an office. But I think it was hard, too, especially to know how miserable I was. (Or at least have to deal with me being that miserable!)

So, last summer he found a job opening in Texas. (Well, first he found one in Australia, but it would be the same job as he had then, AND more traveling. I'd love living there, but not alone!) He did some interviews and found out he had gotten the job. Then began our house hunting.

We flew into Dallas on a Friday afternoon. We grabbed lunch and met with our realtor. Over the next 2 days, we saw over 35 houses.

It was INSANE.

We were overwhelmed, exhausted, so stressed, and a little shocked at what we were getting ourselves into. We had finally narrowed it down to three homes. Two were in the town we now live in, and one was a little farther south. We decided the home south of here was too far away from things. Being from middle-of-nowhere-Illinois, I'm used to being far away from things. Heck, our church was 45 minutes from our house! But after living in California for the better part of 5-6 years, even the Target that was 1 mile and 6 stoplights was too far.

The other two homes were hard to pick between. One was brand new, not even completed yet, and the other was..used? I liked that the pre-lived in home had the master on the same level as the other rooms, which means a lot easier access to the kids in the middle of the night, but according to our realtor that is home-suicide. No one wants to be on the same level as their kids. I guess Texans would rather have their sleep than care about sleeping children…Who knew?



I didn't mind this kitchen, and would've painted the cabinets, but I didn't really like the floors in the kitchen. I wish they would've kept with the hardwood.

But holy smokes, do you see the pantry?! This wasn't even the whole thing. It has a window! I almost had to buy it just for this. 

Apparently we didn't take pictures upstairs, but in the master, they had a HUGE walk-in closet. Honestly. It was the size of the room Charlotte now has. 

The second home:


This is the view from the dining room/kitchen

Master bathroom with me going into the closet

Charlee's room - wouldn't this have been nice as a closet???


In the end, we decided to buy new. It was a lot easier for us to not have to hire someone to come clean (I didn't even see our house fully finished before moving in.) and fix things (like the broken fence in the backyard).

We signed the papers on Monday (3 days after starting our house search) and officially bought our first home! We're still getting used to Texas, and I promise to do a video tour of our home soon!

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Charlee Girl

Charlotte is now 15 months old. Can you believe it?! She has been sick the past 3 weeks, and last Thursday was the first day she was feeling better. I heard her laugh and she gave me more kisses in the first hour that she was awake than she had the entire 3 weeks before.


Charlotte doesn't give out kisses often and she won't give you a kiss if you ask, but if she sees you kissing someone else, she has to kiss you RIGHT away. After we figured that out, we all give kisses regularly so she will be willing to kiss us, too!


Charlee loves to talk, but her favorite "word" is "Nuh-uh!" She says it all the time, and in all the right places. Yesterday I asked her: 
"Do you love mommy?"
"Nuh-uh."
"Do you want to take a nap?"
"Nuh-uh."
"Do you want a huge bowl of ice cream?"
"Nuh-uh."

She can also say hot, mama, dada, and probably a lot of things I can't think of now. She signs "all done" a lot, but she signs the sign for milk instead of all done. But that's what she means.


She loves the twisty slide (really any slides) and the swings at the playground. She loves being outside and if the door is open, she bolts outside! She is getting really good at going up and down stairs because I won't carry her on the stairs anymore. I want her to learn and be able to figure it out!

Charlotte is an amazing sleeper and sleeps 12-14 hours at night and still takes at least 1 nap during the day. I just put her in her bed, and she rolls over, gets in her little stink-bug position with her bum up, and falls asleep. She always sleeps on her belly and when I put her blanket on her, she gets her arms out and pulls her blanket up around her face. She's so adorable.

We took all these pictures because Chloe and Preslie have also worn this dress before in photo shoots. 

Can you guess who this baby is? They're definitely sisters!
Chloe and Preslie could wear this dress forever because they were always so small. But Charlotte might be able to wear it once more! She is 50% on all her measurements, and I'm not used to that! My other girls were always 10-ish% for everything!

We love you, Charlee! (Especially your sisters! They are always carrying you around all over the place!!!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Resolve

For the past four years, I've had a Word of the Year.

My past words include:
2011: Try
2012: Do
2013: Deliberate

This year, my WotY is Breathe.

My goals for my WotY include are to relax. Simplify. Calm down. Don't overextend. Don't freak out. Don't yell. Take a breath. Think before I speak.

I'm still working on my word. It will take all year. And the rest of my life. But I'm working.

I love resolutions and I love making goals. I don't think you should just make goals at the beginning of the year, but always. We should always make goals. I try to make them every week. Even if I don't accomplish them, it's nice to know what you're trying to work on and become better at.

This year I made a list of 52-ish goals. Here they are.

1.Go to the temple once a month - even if I have to go alone. (It's hard to go at the same time when usually that's your only date and then you can't even be together)

2.Teach Chloe and Preslie how to read. (We're using this book and it's working great!)

3. Take a bath once a week (This has happened once this year…..)

4. Write more.

5. Read scriptures every day

6. Pray on my knees twice a day.

7. Floss every day.

8. Read 2-3 doctrinal books about Christ

9. Be more active

10. Get my tonsils removed (yes this is a goal. I was told I need to have them removed over a year ago, but it's easier to put it off.)

11. Save more

12. Go on 1 actual date a week. Even if it's at home. (this has happened maybe twice this year…..)

13. Read one conference talk a week and focus on it all week.

14. Make books for the girls - pictures through the years - 1 for each.

15. Take Axel for more walks

16. Finish 72 hour kits

17. Blog once a month

18. Journal once a month

19. Sew one project/craft once a month

22. Work on the house/complete house projects (This is definitely happening!)

23. Memorize the Articles of Faith (again)

24. Plant a garden (accomplished yesterday!)

25. Attend a women's self defense class (this has been on my list since like 2011…)

26. Make a friend

27. Do insanity every day for 60 days

29. Lose 20 lbs

30. Bake when I feel like it and not feel guilty (funny that comes after lose 20 lbs….)

31. Have a set "preschool" time, and actually do it.

32. Learn all the crochet stitches in my book

33. Go to the FW Stockyards (accomplished)

34. Go to a flea market

35. Repurpose a piece of furniture (accomplished)

36. Read 3 self-help books (1st one - The Book of Nurturing by Richard Eyre. It's fantastic and quick and easy. You should definitely read it!)

37. Buy makeup from MAC

38. Go back to Crossfit (I've been doing them at home…which might have to be good enough for now.)

39. Make a lemonade stand with the girls

40. Visit Grandma Walk

41. Watch Downton Abbey (Can you believe I've NEVER seen it?)

42. Send Amy Jo her sweatshirt

43. Post on IG every day (ourdailywalk2014)

44. Organize the filing cabinet

45. Sign the girls up for Tball

46. And soccer

47. And ballet

48. Think about teaching voice lessons

49. Start Chloe in piano

50. Read the RS lesson every week before RS (This one has become a lot harder because I've been called as a primary teacher

51. Make felt food for the girls

52. Memorize the Proclamation

53. Invite 1 family for dinner a month (This hasn't happened yet…)

54. Go to Illinois

Some of my goals I've been great at. Others, not so much. But it's kind of fun to see them again and think, Oh yeah! I can't believe I even had that as a goal. Funny how things change in only 3 months. I'm excited to see where this year will take our family and the things that we'll accomplish. I hope to come out better at the end than I was at the beginning.

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