Oh What Fun... or something

Our kids have been pretty well behaved in public lately, it's shocking really. With the Christmas season upon us, we've found ourselves venturing to malls with the rest of humanity. Surprisingly, our attempt at a Santa picture this year was a huge success. Really, that has been the highlight of my Christmas season so far. I have dreamed of having a cute Santa picture for the last 3yrs- not that the ones of them as babies aren't cute, or last year's screaming faced ones... Anyways, this year, the Santa was actually jolly-looking and even joked around with the kids in line and spoke to them when they got to his chair- in years past we've been stuck with the skinny Santa that never smiles or interacts with the kids, so that was the first bonus. Second bonus was the fact that instead of looking completely vacant, Kalea looks super satisfied/happy and we distracted Brynlee from throwing a fit by giving her the box of North Pole cookies while sitting with Santa and then she didn't want to get off his lap! That was pretty awesome. I didn't feel like I got completely ripped off by the whole experience this year, and that my friends, is the magic of the season. Haha, totally kidding. From Santa's chair, the kids are ushered in to the North Pole bakery where they can decorate a gingerbread man. My kids were more interested in just eating the icing and sprinkles out of the little container they got, so the nice bakery lady gave them extra for us to actually put on the cookies!
Kalea loves to make faces when I ask her to smile for the camera right now, usually the squinty "cheese" face that gives her "Asian eyes" and a scary smile. It's pretty fun/starting to get really annoying.
After our awesome experience with Santa, we went and met our new cousin/niece, Quinn. She belongs to Jos and Jarom, and we didn't get pictures, but oh man she is super cute! Kalea and Brynlee were super gentle with her too, which is surprising if you've seen them around babies lately. After our visit there, we picked up lunch to take home and we ate while listening to Christmas music. It was fun. Later in the evening while the kids were playing nicely in their room (shocking) Steve and I were discussing the holidays and I was expressing some minor frustration about how hard it is to get stuff done around the house because I have to check on them constantly. Steve said, and I quote, "You know, Alli, you have to relax a little sometimes and just realize that you can't keep an eye on them all of the time, and that's okay." Ahem, behold the following...
I'm so glad I have a good supply of brand new sunscreen on hand, just for moments like this, in the middle of winter, when Brynlee might get a sunburn... The towel on the floor is actually covering the perfectly round circle of sunscreen that she was standing in, she's crying because she may or may not have gotten a spanking from her more relaxed parent. You can only imagine the conclusion to me and Steve's conversation, it may have included copious amounts of mocking and laughter and I told you so's. Oh and Kalea was not pictured because she was doing the "ugly cry" on her bed at this point, and really, who needs to see that?
In other news we are enjoying our mild winter (knock on wood) the kids have been able to get outside and play and it's been nice enough that they stay out longer than 5mins, which is great because it takes about 10 to get them all geared up to go outside. Oh and Kalea cut herself some trendy pixie bangs, you know, just because that's awesome right before Christmas...
Oh, and Kalea mostly hates getting geared up to go outside, so most of the time it's a 10min fight to put her jacket and boots on. She really is hating snowpants this winter, because they are pants and she would rather be a princess and wear her summer nightgown outside. Basically, she's awesome. Oh and Brynlee in top left picture, wearing nothing but a diaper under that sweater. Canadian much?
What else do we have to share? We hosted "advent" at our house last night with Steve's family, that was super fun. We even had Oma Behr skype in and tell us a Christmas memory and sing Silent Night with us. I love skype, it's so fun to be able to walk around with the laptop and show grandparents what decorations we have, and the food and have them be apart of our celebrations even if they live in a different city. Steve and I are really enjoying the fact that both our kids are old enough to understand Christmas for the most part now and that all of the fun traditions we enjoyed as kids, we can now pass on to them and start really creating memories as a family. I'm sad that I didn't get any pictures of the night though, I even had my camera out so I could be ready.
Haha, this is me trying to get a picture of the girls in their sweater dresses from Oma Stringham after Stake Conference last weekend. It was a gong show, and probably way too big a deal than it needed to be. I have hope that maybe next year we'll actually get some cute ones of them posing and being adorable, because they do it all day long until I pull out the camera.
Christmas cards are starting to pour in and it reminds me that I haven't done ours yet. Mostly because I haven't found a picture of us from this year that I actually really love, although a Christmas card with all of the "outtakes" from different photo sittings could be pretty hilarious, we've had some doozies this year. Anyways, Christmas is in full swing around here, and we are excited to share all our fun with friends and family. More posts to come, I promise!


November Review

I think the end of November is my least favorite time of year, for no other reason than the fact that it means Christmas and New Years are right around the corner and I now go from having very little to do, to having way too much to do! Before we get to Christmas excitement, let's enjoy a recap of November!
 This is the first actual birthday cake that I've made either of my kids. I tend to do cupcakes because I like having individual servings ready to go, to be honest I have no idea why I decided to do a cake this year, but it was dang good. I found a recipe for chocolate icing in our ward recipe book and it was amazing, whipped up so fast and was the perfect amount for this cake. Oh and please forgive my squiggly letters, the hole in my icing thing was on a weird angle for some reason.

So for decorations we reused what I had from Kalea's birthday, and that was a fantastic idea if I don't say so myself. I find myself loving these paper chains more and more every time I use them. they are whimsical and fun, and bonus, big bang for your buck since I bought my cardstock on sale in the summer I think it cost me something like $2, and that went a long ways. Also, the Happy 2nd Birthday banner was actually our Happy 1st Birthday banner, I just made the disc with the number 2 and put it on top of the "1st" disc, so no cost there.


This is Brynlee dancing, she takes it quite seriously and is a pro at Jazz Hands already, even though we've never taught her! She was putting on quite the show that night, couldn't have had anything to do with the amount of sugar in her system....
 She was SO excited to see a fishy on her birthday cake. It was awesome to see that this year, she was actually excited and knew what was going on, we're still working on teaching her how to blow out an actual candle, though, so she was kind of confused when we blew it out for her.
 Building a playdough tower on the kitchen table, this is usually a no-no, but I caved since it kept her quiet for so long. Oh and it's a no-no, not because I'm a lame mom, but because certain children have fallen off the table performing this task before...
 This is Kalea being super cute but not wanting me to take pictures of her... Above, she is wearing 2 layers of summertime clothing, her romper and Brynlee's sundress. Below, she got into my makeup and decided to make her face look "bootiful" except it just looked really dirty.
And to end things on a high note, this is the day last week that Brynlee fell asleep at 4:30 eating her early dinner. I figured they'd need to go to bed by 7 since they had woken up at 5a.m. that day, apparently someone needed to be in bed much sooner. You can't tell but her hand was actually still opening and closing, very slowly, as she slept, as if she were still picking up noodles. It was slightly creepy.
Anyway, that's our recap, here's looking forward to our busy month!


Look Who's Two

Brynlee turned TWO on the 4th. With Halloween festivities and then a birthday, we get to enjoy two pretty chaotic weeks of fun and celebration. This year I opted out of decorating for Halloween since my time was consumed with making costumes, I don't think the kids were too disappointed about that, in fact I am sure they didn't even notice. And, when they did notice other peoples' decorations, they were usually scared of them, so I don't feel a loss there at all this year. They did notice me singing "Happy Birthday" when I went in to get Brynlee out of bed on her special day, and both children screamed "STOP! NO SINGING" at me, that was pretty great. When we finally made it downstairs, they most definitely noticed all the fun decorations I put up for Brynlee's birthday, it was so cute, all morning she said "Wow! Look Mommy!" as she pointed to everything. It's nice to know that my late night with the "decorating fairies" was worth it, she literally pointed out every last detail, I think I earned huge awesome mommy points from her. Kalea was confused and exclaimed, "Mommy look, it's Christmas! Oh thank you so much!" I then had to explain that it was actually Brynlee's birthday, to which Kalea responded, "It's my birthday? Happy Birthdaaaaaaaaaaaay!" So all day long there were happy choruses of "For me? For my birthday?!" and "Happy Birthday!" and "No, it's not Brynlee's birthday, it's my birthday!" We kept things simple for the party this year and just invited the grandparents over to celebrate with us, I think that's okay when you're turning two. And since Brynlee shares her birthday with a cousin and an uncle, celebrating the day of with just our family was a bit easier to coordinate.
Brynlee is a pretty fun kid. She is extremely expressive both vocally and physically. When she really likes something, we know because she makes really intense faces and squeals with delight. When she doesn't like something we know because she will stomp her feet repeatedly and scream/shout, she also hits. But she is very quick to say sorry in a surprisingly meaningful way. I love the intonation in her voice when she says "I'm sorry Mom-E" the "e" sound, as one can imagine is quite high-pitched and super cute. She is definitely Mommy's girl and likes to be my shadow most of the day. She is pretty shy with people she doesn't know, but will follow Kalea anywhere. Brynlee also loves to run and squeal at the same time. On Sunday I took her out into the hall and she wouldn't stop, I couldn't get back into our church meetings because every time I went to pick her up she'd find a way to elude my grasp and start off running and squealing again. She is also very good at making huge messes all by herself, but she likes to help me clean them up, so I can't really complain about that. She likes to help put laundry away and has started helping me make Kalea's bed. Yeah, don't ask me how that happened. Brynlee is kind of a neat freak sometimes and will get super frustrated if she can't lay out a blanket for her dolls just perfectly, or wrap them up in just the right way. I guess I have to admit that some of her "Type A personality" comes from me because she makes the same crazy person frustration noises that I do. At least I know how to help her deal with it though, that's a blessing I never knew would come from being such a perfectionist about certain things. Brynlee notices everything and watches us all very closely. I think because she is so sensitive, she picks up on a lot of things that we miss sometimes. She also is great at playing up an emotion, she has the biggest most awesome pouty face and tries really hard to use that to get her way. Between her and Kalea I don't know how Steve is ever going to say "no" to those girls. Brynlee loves to dance, and will stop in her tracks to bust out some dance moves for a few minutes and then go back to whatever she was doing. It's pretty funny to watch. She loves making towers with our containers of playdough- no word of a lie, they hardly ever actually play with the dough, it's all about who can make the tallest tower in this house. It's fine with me, way less mess to clean up! She loves animals, specifically fish. She loves to make fish faces and fish sounds and basically, she's just all about fish. Her b-day cake this year had a big fish on it, just for that reason. She loved it! We have a tropical places calendar in the kitchen and she loves to point out all the different fish everyday. She still goes upstairs to see the fish at my parents' house, even though the fish hasn't been there for months because he finally "expired". Brynlee is also my child who gets caught sneaking snacks out of the kitchen most often. But, the nice thing is that she always gets enough for her and for Kalea, so at least she's sharing her goods with her sister.
We are so happy that Brynlee came to our family, and while she's by no means a "perfect child" we feel pretty spoiled to have her in our home. Happy 2nd Birthday Brynlee!


Full Plate?

K, so I have one complaint lately and I have to vent it because it's driving me insane. A few times in the last little while people have come to me with the report that a number someone or another has opted out of having me do this or that because "Allison has a lot on her plate" or "Allison has enough on her plate".... My question is, how does anyone know how much or how little I have on my plate right now? I haven't talked to anybody about anything even remotely plate filling lately. Are people under the strange assumption that because I have a seemingly important calling at church that it takes up huge portions of my life? Newsflash, it takes up a few hours every couple of weeks, and if I have to teach, a week of prep before the lesson. Other than that I have two wild children and a husband who is a HUGE help to me when he's not busy with work. Plate full? Not even close. Also, so what if I have a lot or a little going on, I'm not the kind of person that says "yes" to everything, so if I were to have a lot on my plate I would just say so and try to help out where needed when I don't have as much going on. But in all honestly, I have NOTHING going on right now! Gah! Drive me mental. On the point of children and on behalf of a majority of stay at home moms that I know, sometimes being distracted by something that doesn't revolve around the little ones, is great for my sanity. And in conclusion, do I come across as the kind of person that can't handle a lot on her plate? If so, kill me now, I do NOT want to be that person. That person is so annoying to me. This whole thing is so annoying to me. Rant concluded, if anybody needs anything let me know :)


Blogging Hiatus...

PS I dislike the new blogger interface and how I still can't figure out how to get my pix side by side, just in case you were wondering why my post looks insane!

You know how sometimes words and thoughts just flow together like a really pretty picture? Well lately my words and thoughts are kind of like my 3yr olds' finger paintings, all over the place and not super meaningful. Not that I'm not amazed by every single one, but they are just kind of thrown on the page, right? So anyways, in lieu of words, let's enjoy some pictures!


Entertaining the munchkins during family photos, from airplane rides to horsey rides. They actually cooperated pretty good for us, very surprising since they normally don't so much. Although when they were done with pictures they were DONE, and hid themselves under Nana's kitchen table!
They love to torment each other lately, just like in this picture. A hug might look, to an outsider, like a sign of affection, in our house it turns into a way to assume power and control over any given situation. Most hugs lately turn into headlocks and screaming and then wrestling to the ground and one or both kids coming to tell me that the other kid wouldn't let them go. And I thought all this was just a "boy thing" HAHAHA funny joke...
Fall has arrived so we have taken full advantage of the cooler days down in Fish Creek Park. We are so lucky to live in the city, but be so close to nature. This day we went with our friends down to the creek and the girls loved having permission to throw rocks into the water, oh man, the simple things.

Living with so many huge trees on our street has it's perks- we get tons of leaves to play in!

We are busy busy at this time of year and are trying to pack as much fun into these last nice days as we can. Regular blogging will resume after Halloween and before Christmas, I hope!


Tales from 2 Weeks Ago: yes it's taken me that long to get this post up

I have two children who are very much missing the warmth of the sun and the subsequent outdoor activities that occur when the sun provides such warmth. I miss it too. On a cooler day last week I thought that I could run a simple errand to the Bread Basket and haul my kids with me, no big deal. What would have been a quick trip for me, turned into a very long ordeal, followed by screeching demands from the backseat, of the "FRIES NOOOOOOOOOOW!" variety. I was proud of myself for not caving into the plea, especially because I was really desiring some fast-food comfort after having to rescue numerous loaves of bread from pokey fingers, and buying extra things just because I knew my kids had destroyed them, but I said "No" and I meant it. Steadfast parenting you say? Boy did I deserve a treat!
Yesterday was another cool couped up inside all day horror show, so when Steve got home and dinner was eaten by the adults and left for the birds by the kids we were kind of spent. Steve tried to bribe me to take one child to the grocery store, I felt it was a tad unfair since I had the pleasure of butting heads bonding with her all day. So my retaliation was "Why don't we go for a family car ride?!" which I thought meant we would all drive to the grocery store, I would run in and get the very few things that we needed while he entertained the kids in the car and then we would just drive around until closer to bedtime... Imagine my horror when he parked the car and started pulling kids from the backseat! Kids who had basically dressed themselves that day in upside down, backwards and mis-matched everything HAHA it was pretty great. The children were quickly divided, Brynlee took her seat in the cart, Kalea expressed her desire to walk with Daddy- of course, and into the store we ventured. After annoying a whole bunch of ladies with a game of marco-polo through the toothpaste/shampoo/facewash/makeup aisles and a minor melt-down by our 3yr old villain angel, Steve and I thought it best to trade offspring for a while. HA that was fun... I was now without the security blanket/shopping cart and was left to wrangle the very stubborn 3yr old to the opposite end of the store to get milk by myself. It has never taken me so long to get to the milk. It was an eternity of never-ending dialogue, "Eyes in front...watch where you're going...this way... follow mommy... can you find the milk? Watch out for that shopping cart!" When we got to the milk, Daddy and Brynlee were MIA, probably because they had to wait so long for us, but there was a nice looking older lady in the dairy section whom Kalea was very intrigued by. So intrigued that while I was grabbing my milk and the lady was down an aisle grabbing some yogurt, Kalea in her attempts to spy while bent over sideways, walked herself right into the ladies cart. So sue me if my initial reaction was to laugh, it was hilarious! And the look on her face while she rubbed her forehead was so classic. Well, the nice older lady didn't think it was very funny that I laughed and tried to verbally comfort Kalea- who didn't really need it. As she walked to Kalea she says "Oh that wasn't funny, she really hit her head hard" to which I responded "No trust me, she's fine, it wasn't hard at all and she's not crying" At that point I was receiving awesome facial expressions from this lady who doesn't know me, and Kalea ran to me, avoiding the stranger, and wrapped herself around my legs. It was at this point that the lady made the mistake of trying to get Kalea to show her the non-existent mark on her forehead and reached out her hand to move Kalea's hair out of the way. Kalea just screamed in her face "No! I want my MOMMY!" hahahaha stranger danger! The lady was shocked and all she said was, "Alright then, I get the message". I wanted to say "Sorry if I didn't have much sympathy but she didn't hit her head hard, and it happened because she wasn't listening, thanks for infringing on my teaching moment", but I just smiled and said "Let's go find Daddy and Brynlee, run!" LOL So after all the fun of the grocery store, we got home and the kids went straight to bed, like angels. It was amazing. Yay for craziness turning into hilarity turning into bedtime!
PS have I ever loved Kalea more than in that moment of screaming in stranger lady's face? I think not!


3 Years of Kalea

 This is Kalea showing off her birthday ensemble... oh what, you wanted to see her face? Pssshhh!

I cannot believe my baby is 3?! The time most definitely flies with this kid.
Kalea has done a great job of filling the last 3yrs with all sorts of excitement, laughter and joy along with a few moments of complete chaos and bewilderment- c'mon I'm not gonna sugar coat it!
Sometimes I look at her and wonder how in the world we wound up together, I'm grateful we did,
but really, whose funny idea was this?
It's good to have a sense of humor about parenting her that is for sure, if I didn't we'd have major problems. She's taught me more patience in 3yrs than I had learned in the 24yrs before I had her.
She's also helped me learn to throw caution to the wind a little more, be more carefree, watch way more Disney movies/cartoons than I ever intended to, laugh louder, cry really hard to get my way... She's also taught me to be in the moment, let go of a lot of my pretenses and just be me.
Kalea has funny little ways that she let's me know we're doing good, like when I put her in the car
the other day and she said "Thanks Mom, you're my best friend!"
Nothing feels better than hearing that, even though she's 3 and can't fully comprehend it.
I know there will be times when she's a teenager that I will need to hear that and it won't come out of her mouth, so I'm clinging to it every time she says it now!
We are pretty good friends though, and as hectic and crazy as our life together gets sometimes, it is definitely a riot being her mom.
I love that I have so many hilarious memories to look back on, and the pictures to go with them. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but with her a thousand would never be enough to fully explain.
Kalea's birthday this year also fell on the weekend of our nephew's baptism, so it was her first time having all her cousins around for a party. She really had a lot of fun with them, I don't even know if she actually ate any of her food besides the sugar laden stuff that day!
We had so much fun visiting and eating and trying to keep the kids from scarfing all of the yummy cookies.You could tell they all had way too much sugar, but it was so worth it, they were so happy!
I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with myself for this birthday. I am usually such a procrastinator, but this year I had a timeline leading up to the day and for the most part I followed it,
and, big shocker here, the day went so much smoother! Thanks to my Mom, MIL and SIL for helping with some of the food too, it was nice to be able to delegate a few things out into very capable hands.
Haha, except for the fact that I forgot icing for the cupcakes- but we had tons of other food so that was a minor oops... although now I feel like I really should light a candle for Kalea to blow out- better late than never...

While we were tidying up inside I found 3 little rascals that had wandered out. I think they may have wanted to jump some more, but we were done with that activity, so they grabbed a book and hung out for a bit. Too funny. In these pictures they were all saying "CHEESE!" in unison, in one of the highest pitches you can imagine.

Kalea and Rex are probably 2 of the strongest 3yr olds you will ever encounter.
This is them battling a bit for the bike, earlier in the day they had a tug of war with a skipping rope and I thought Rex was going to fly off the top of the slide.
They were dead even in strength, which was pretty fun to watch.
I'm glad Kalea has so many cousins so close to her age,
it makes watching them grow up so much fun!

I love how neither of them would look straight into the camera for me.
All in all we had a really great celebration of the life of a very awesome, spunky, spirited, curious, energetic, fun, sweet, smart, sassy 3 YEAR OLD KALEA!

Brynlee telling me what's up, or showing me that she's "One!" hopefully she'll have "Two!" figured out by November... only a few more months until the next party!


Layton, SLC & Early Departures

After the reunion we headed to Layton to stay at Ted and Bette's place. We anticipated our kids would probably be a little crazy. I really should have anticipated that they would be insane, not listen to a word anyone said and go to bed entirely too late. On the bright side, by this point they were used to awkward sleeping arrangements and when they finally did wind down, had no problem sharing a bed on the floor. By the way, it was the comfiest floor-bed ever, thanks to my SuperMom skills.
 For whatever reason, Kalea had absolutely no intention of taking advantage of the pool, and Brynlee appeared interested for about 2 minutes, until she actually got in the water and started freaking out. Steve, on the other hand, was more than enthused to spend some time swimming, diving, splashing and floating. I joined him for a bit and we had our 15mins of peace before dinner.
 I got video of our 4th of July firecracker/sparkler extravaganza, but never thought to take a picture. It was really fun and I might post a video someday, but don't get your hopes up for that.
 On Tuesday we decided we should take the kids to Salt Lake City and do Temple Square. Of course, in the beginning Kalea was excited and very interested to "Go see Jesus" aka The Christus statue in the visitor's center. Once we got there she would barely hold still, but she was very interested in the statue, specifically the feet. She expressed a lot of concern for Jesus' "owies" and tried to kiss them, then she noticed the toes and holy smokes did she get excited about those. I guess Thorvaldsen got those right because she was enamored with them, which lead to some slightly irreverent behavior and a prompt/noisy exit. I'm sure everyone was glad when we got her distracted enough with other things to quiet her down. Once we got outside again, it was back to crazy kid mode and after a few attempts at family pictures Steve and I were DONE. Which really is an understatement, because at this point we were quite willing to just leave them in their strollers and go for lunch, in hopes that some more capable people would take them in or send them to military school. It was basically at that point that we decided to start the long drive home. At first I felt bad that we were leaving having not really said goodbye to anyone, but at the same time, the HUGE amount of relief that my sanity would soon be restored was much more appealing to me than a few more days of insane toddler behavior.
I think some people may not fully appreciate this because they were blessed with perfectly angelic children who never ever misbehave and listen to everything adults say, but for those of you with children like mine, thanks for understanding.
Thus began our long drive home, which really wouldn't have been all that long if it weren't for the awesome detour I took us on to find COSTCO. The detour was worth it in the end, especially when we got home and saw that the crappy bright orange toddler PFDs were going for $40 each and we spent $40 for 2 great quality toddler ones in the States, I felt vindicated. Steve was a trouper and drove all over Montana to get those things, and without too much complaint that his wife was obviously not in top navigating form. Hooray! We also saw a sign welcoming the Beiber Family and later found out that the child of singing notoriety was indeed breathing the same mountain air as we were when we passed through Whitefish, MT. At this point I think it's good to note that our kids were FANTASTIC in the car. Like, really really great travellers. Didn't whine or cry. Only watched 1 movie on the laptop the entire trip- shocking I know. Slept and ate and entertained themselves. It was great and made us look forward to our next road trips- probably much shorter ones.


Kalea's Using My Phrases

My almost 3 year old has become quite the quirky little personality lately. She is really picking up on new words and expressions, and is trying to use them effectively. She's also doing some weird things, like every single time I wear a skirt/dress/cover-up she tries to look underneath. I'm not exactly sure where she picked this habit up, but I'm not thrilled about it. Sorry in advance if she does this to any of my blog readers at church on Sunday. Anywho, whenever she does this indecent thing I say, "Kalea stop, that is so rude!" Today that phrase came back to haunt me. Kalea was wearing a beach dress and I lifted it up to check the status of her diaper. She got really upset and yelled, "Mom don't, that is so rude!"


Reunion Fun & Games

I have been trying to post the rest of my reunion stuff for a few weeks now. Blogger has been slow to say the least, so finally here they are.
 I'm thankful to the creators of Minute to Win It for providing mindless activities that we can all be entertained by, as a family :) It really was hilarious and definitely great bonding time.

I'm glad that even during our down time, there were lots of different people to talk to, and a great assortment of lively conversation. And if not, there were always kids to entertain.
 Remember that time that Kalea got into Michelle's make-up and made herself a "Goth Goddess" in less than a minute? Yeah, that happened at the reunion too, in between climbing and monkeying around of course!
 Or how about the time Brynlee and uncle Stephen got reacquainted? Magic. She didn't even play shy when he got home from school last week- yay for reunion bonding!
 How about when Kalea would rather tumble through a ditch to go hang out with some cows than sit/stand for a family picture after church? That was fun. She took her sister with her. It was only blistering hot out, what's a half hour standing in the heat gonna do anyways? The cows sure enjoyed it, and Brynlee now "Mooo's" at every animal she sees, which means it was a happy thing for her, awesome!
I think the best part of the reunion was celebrating Grandma's 80th birthday, granted a little early, but it was fun to celebrate with as many people as possible for a change. The cakes were AMAZING, I can't even explain how good, and the reminiscing was so awesome. One thing about my Grandma that I love is that she loves us all differently, but equally. I have never felt like she cares any more or any less for me compared to another grandchild, I just feel really lucky that I've gotten to have so much of her attention growing up and even as an adult. *Her bday post will be next month, stay tuned*
So that was our fun at the reunion, finally all blogged about. Next up, SLC and going home early, HA.

The Friendship Debate

Steve and I had a wonderful rhetorical yesterday about Facebook Friends vs. Real Friends. I said something to the extent that "my Facebook Friends aren't necessarily my Real Friends", for which he threatened to post the quote as my new Facebook status. Don't get me wrong, I have whittled and tweaked my friends' list to really only include people who I care about, or people who I know are interested in what's happening with me, and obviously family members are more than friends, but seriously, the majority of the 200+ people on my friends' list cannot possibly be real friends. And I mean the kind that call you up out of the blue to see how life is, or send a random note in the, duh duh duh MAIL. I don't even have 200 names on my speed dial or stored in my cell phone. I know for a fact that my husband doesn't call up his Facebook friends when he's bored or needs man-time. I know that I certainly do not receive friendly phone calls from the vast majority, or even have much of an inkling of what exactly is the scoop on very basic things in their lives. It's kind of my personal opinion that Social Networking is sure taking the friend out of friendship. It used to be that to find out how a friend was doing you'd pick up the phone and ask them, or just show up for a quick visit, now you just have to look at Facebook or read somebody's Blog and voila, leave a comment to show you care and that's it. That's it. For serious? I dunno, I think I've become a rather crappy friend since it all showed up. I can appreciate the fact that it's made me so much lazier my life so much easier, since I don't always get the chance to have a few minutes of noise free phone time, receiving rapid concise updates on what's happening with friends/family is great, I like that I can keep in contact with so many people, but I hate that it's so impersonal. It could just be me, but I find that my conversation skills are lacking, not just from spending so much time at home with my little people, but because I'm completely out of practice with big people. I read your blog, I already know how you're feeling about whatever. I can ask you how you're doing, but you already wrote about it so has anything changed since yesterday? I dunno I think our society's view of what the term "friend" means has changed drastically and it's seeping into my own life in ways I don't like. I can't be the only person who feels this way, can I?




verb (used with object)
1. to cause confusion and shame to; make uncomfortably self-conscious; disconcert; abash: His bad table manners embarrassed her.
2. to make difficult or intricate, as a question or problem; complicate.
3. to put obstacles or difficulties in the way of; impede: The motion was advanced in order to embarrass the progress of the bill.
*Thank you dictionary.com*
3 Embarrassing Moments
1:  We took the kids to the Stampede yesterday. We parked in a great place just like last year. It has the option of revolving door or handi-door to exit. Steve chose the revolving door. I thought I could do it too... Turns out I couldn't and I feel really bad for the guy that was stuck trying to enter the building while I was trying to exit. I am glad Steve didn't take a picture of it all and instead decided to help us get unstuck, and I'm glad that I'm sure I brought a lot of laughs to many people as the story was retold.
2: Got across the pedestrian bridge over MacLeod and turned to go down the ramp that takes us to the c-train platform, not the Stampede Entrance. 
3: Asked for a handstamp on the way IN to the Stampede, even though I know you only get stamped on the way out.
I blame #2 & #3 on the fact that I was frazzled from the revolving door incident, haha! 


En-Route to the Reunion

 Roadtrips are so much fun! Lesson #1: Make sure your license isn't expired BEFORE you leave. Luckily I noticed that Steve's had been expired since his birthday *ahem March* the night before our trip, so we were only delayed in leaving Calgary by an hour or so on the 30th. Our girls did great in the car, it was the release of pent up energy when Steve and I were really exhausted that made for an "adventure". We tried to have dinner at Appleby's in Rexburg- right across the parking lot from our hotel. My parents were eager to feed us, which we appreciated. Kalea was not really in a sit down mood. What got her sent to the hotel pool with very little dinner was her new found love for cups with lids and straws. She discovered how to flick her milk out of her cup with her straw. It was semi-annoying/kinda cute when she was spraying her aunt and uncle, not so much when she ended up spraying the bald man sitting at the booth behind them! Bedtime was way too late that night. Good times!
 On Canada Day, we decided to kill some time before leaving to get to Bear Lake and took the kids to the temple grounds so they could run off some energy and hopefully sleep most of the way to our next stop. Great idea! The Rexburg Temple is beautiful and the girls loved running around, saying hi to every passerby- mostly female (seriously if guys are looking for a place to pick up girls, they just need to walk around there in the morning) and provided all sorts of fun entertainment for onlookers, including trying to climb the gates and screaming/writhing out of our arms when it was time to get back into the car!
Steve thought it would be really fun to celebrate Canada Day with a bang this year- since we can't buy fireworks in Canada why not do it while we're in the States?! It was worth the expense and he really was like a kid in a candy store. We got an "anonymous tip" about where to go to buy the best fireworks- go figure, the reserve! It was fun but I felt hugely out of place and a bit uncomfortable, so I took Brynlee to sit out in the car. When Steve got to the car he told me he had asked about the different tents that were set up, apparently the striped ones are just individuals trying to make some cash, the white one that we bought from was supporting the local CASINO! Awesome! Steve thought it was hilarious, I didn't quite share his enthusiasm about it.
Also, this day was one of our gong show driving days. I am usually a great navigator- hurrah! But not so much this trip. I had no map. I had no GPS. I did have McDonalds free wi/fi so that eventually saved us, but not before my total FAIL. We left Rexburg and wanted to go to Lava Hot Springs/Soda Springs to see the geyser, etc... We left pretty early and I wrote down directions at the hotel and then POOF! they disappeared- so did some other things at that hotel, mysterious? Anywho, I thought I had a good idea of where we had to go and then I second guessed myself- I should never do that. Needless to say we drove over half way to Pocatello and then turned around and went back to Id. Falls (thanks McDonalds) and then drove to Pocatello again and got to our turn-off, it is now our roadtrip joke! Good times again!


I Have A Family Here on Earth

We recently returned from our McMurray Reunion in Bear Lake. We loved it. Our kids loved it and everyday since we've been home have asked repeatedly, "Go car ride?!" I wish it were that easy to just pick up and go hang out whenever we feel so inclined. Too bad gas is so expensive and we don't have access to an evergreen money tree. Val & Scott et al did a great job organizing what was a very successful reunion and we couldn't be more grateful for their efforts, we just wish more family could've come and enjoyed it all with us! We had a few tender mercies along the way that removed the financial stress of it all and we're very grateful for that as well. We would've taken the hit regardless, but it was so nice to come home and still basically be on track with our financial plan. It's evidence to me that my Heavenly Father is profoundly aware of my needs, even when I think He's got bigger things to deal with.
This reunion venue had a lot of perks that made life a lot easier. Adjoining rooms and lots of bathrooms are more important than I previously thought! Steve and I have already started looking for similar venues in Southern Alberta for the next reunion.
Anyways, it was a busy weekend, but it was tons of fun. Our kids travelled really well, we only watched one movie in the car? I guess they just really liked the scenery? They also had a lot of fun with their cousins running around the property, climbing the playground and locking people out of the cabin... Oh yes, Kalea's fetish of locking people out of places travelled with us! She did not get the time-outs that she deserved while we were there, my trick was to let Steve deal with most of the frustrating things that she did and he did well. One of my cousins actually told me she was amazed at how patient I was with Kalea, which made me happy that at least I was fooling somebody! I did learn a few things about parenting while on vacation- I'm sure some "expert" has already written a book that covers these points, but I like to learn from my own experiences.
1: Correct the behavior in the moment or they come home way brattier than they were before :)
2: Extending bedtime by a half hour is great, missing it by 2hrs is a horrible, terrible, very bad thing.
3: Kalea does not eat much around a lot of people or if there's a park available to her 24/7 so be prepared for lots of snacking. Brynlee eats like a champ no matter what, you just have to remember to feed her, poor thing.
4: Do not take kids straight from a 10hr car ride to a family restaurant, they will not behave, you will be embarrassed and you will have little patience/tolerance, they will not sit still and you or your spouse will not get to eat your/their food.
5: Vacationing with kids is still a lot of work. Do not be fooled into thinking it will be sunshine and happiness the whole time just because you moved your chaotic life to another location HAHA

We still had a great time despite our lack of knowledge as far as parenting on vacation goes, we will do worlds better next time. Steve sacrificed a lot of fun-time so that I could still be a part of the evening activities, he was a huge help and he has an incredible amount of patience that serves us well.
We really love our family, immediate and extended. It's fun to look forward to reunions and to have a spouse that values the importance of these things as well. I am really fortunate that he is willing to sacrifice so much so that I don't ever have to worry about whether or not we're going, we are always going to go- unless I am very pregnant and unable to travel, have pregnancy complications or our kids are gravely ill. Bottom line, family is where we want to be. It's important to be together and to have and not miss out on opportunities to make more memories together. We love it and we look forward to the next one!



Oh my goodness, Kalea is growing up. It's funny how in the midst of all the everyday stuff when I maybe feel like nothing is really happening, I can snap a few pictures and realize just how fast these kids are changing. Kalea is surprising me so much lately. Up until this point in time she hasn't been a real sentence maker, and I've been thinking about ways to help her with it, etc... In fact I've been a bit worried about how much she actually knows & understands because her words just haven't been there the way I thought they should by now. Ha, funny me thinking that my expectations are the be all end all! Oma Behr sent these matching dresses home with Steve yesterday and when we put them on this morning Kalea says "Look mom, it's hearts!" I was floored and excited! Yay! Smarty pants kid, she refuses to repeat shape names or match shapes with me ever and then all of a sudden she knows what a heart is?! She has also been asking me to help her with a lot of things lately, and not just "Help please" but "Mom...mom... help me button?" etc... At least she's letting me know that she is indeed retaining something, I feel much better knowing that she's getting it a little bit. Kalea is also helping me keep Brynlee and her dolls on the straight and narrow. I will randomly hear her with her dolls "No, 2 minutes, stairs" today it was "No Brynlee, not nice, 2 minutes" (while pointing her bunny ear fingers towards the stairs) She's also tried to give me time-out but I am a lot more stubborn than she is. Kalea is also pretty sensitive to others. If she sees anyone crying or hurt she will look concerned and if she knows you she will come up to you, stroke your arm or leg and say "You alright/ok? You hurt?" in a mall or place where she doesn't know the person sometimes she'll go stand beside them and ask the same things or she'll ask me if they're alright, etc... it's really quite sweet. For having such an intense little personality, she is extremely aware of other people's feelings and I really hope she always has that sensitivity to the people around her.

Brynlee is definitely a "second child". She has all the classic symptoms. She is definitely an attention seeker and loves any bit of attention she can steal away from Kalea. I'm finding that she's a lot more attached to me than I thought so I find her playing around me throughout the day, and quite often she gets bumped over because she is sneaky. For being able to be so quiet she is surprisingly louder than Kalea, and let's us know when she's not happy with something. In other ways she completely goes with the flow and is a lot more flexible than I ever thought a child of mine could be. She is starting to shadow Kalea which makes for all sorts of fun and games. As much as she enjoys shadowing Kalea, she is not a push-over by any means and lately she is the "enforcer" with Kalea, which is pretty funny to watch. Still attached to her "soo soooooooooo" (I wish I could type in her voice, her inflections are so great) Brynlee will not go down without one, much like Kalea at this age. By the end of the summer I am hoping and praying to be completely done with the soother phase of our current life, although it's nice to have something to quiet Bryn's racket, most days I find it really interferes with her speech. She is definitely a talker, and thanks to Kalea talking more, Brynlee is picking up and copying words really well. She is also starting to like to play with Kalea's "Little People" and I find her under the kitchen table playing pretend with them, it's definitely one of the cutest things she does. Brynlee likes to ask me if she can "corer" (aka color/colour) but then just proceeds to eat the crayons&wrapper/pencil/marker/chalk etc... it's a never-ending cycle of eating foreign objects in this house!

This is a really great stage for both the girls, I'm enjoying it most of the time... k, well except for the times when Kalea takes off at our Mom & Tots leaving a trail of clothing and then her diaper behind her. That I don't enjoy as much, but you have to laugh (and people do) it really is hilarious. I hope nobody feels bad about laughing at her when she does stuff like that, no amount of "straight-facing" it will deter her from doing it. Laugh away people! Anyways, back to the point... These kids are awesome, they are crazy, spunky, full of attitude girls, but we are loving them so much! Some days are INTENSE, like today how they were both constantly asking me for food and snacks and I wanted to shoot myself, and then there are these magically mellow days where they listen and play so nice and give me hope that my efforts are helping to mold them into decent little human beings. I'm really hoping that we have one of those days tomorrow, please oh please!