Spring...is that you???

So I promised pictures or something, but I'm on the wrong computer so I can't post... oh well... Moving on...
We think Spring might have arrived! (knock on wood, click heels 3x, blink twice for yes, etc...) Seriously, this has been a mighty long winter and we have been spending a lot of time out in our backyard soaking up rays, dancing, drawing with chalk *some little people eating it*, going for walks, falling asleep, eating breakfast lunch and dinner... As much time outside as we can humanly get before, brrrrr "it" returns. The only bad thing about spring so far has been the lack of rain to wash away snow mold and all the dirty debris leftover after the big melt. I am fairly certain that the girls both have allergies/hay fever and I've been in a constant battle with them over wiping noses and forcing them to drink water to clear out all the gunk in their little bodies. Kalea is a juice drinker, but I ran out and don't feel like buying anymore so I've been lacing her water with stevia so that she'll think it's juice, I wonder what she'll do when she realizes water doesn't naturally taste like anything? Hmmm... Some fun tidbits from the last few weeks.
1. At Meg & Mark's wedding we had a pre-ceremony family lunch at Cobblestone Manor in Cardston... Kalea escaped while Steve was changing Brynlee's diaper. When I say escaped I mean she was with a group of nieces and nephews and then she quite literally left the building. I had to chase her down in heels and a very flowy dress, through some muddy grass, around half the building before I finally caught the back of her shirt. This was one mama who in that moment was very much wishing she could fast forward to Kalea's wedding day, 20yrs (or so) to go, but who's counting?
2. We are having less problems with tantrums, except for the last few days when she's begged to "go home" when we most definitely are at home or to "go car ride" or "go park" or "go walk".
3. Last night we succumbed to the pressure and took the kids for a car ride to an area that Steve had done a few installs in this week. Kalea was fairly quiet on the ride, but we figured she was just exhausted from playing outside most of the day. As soon as we drove into the subdivision we heard what sounded like belching, nope it was puking. Great, all over her nightgown and blanket. Lucky for us she pulled a wonderful striptease in the car on Sunday night and we just happened to have a spare dress/nightgown to put on her and used a winter scarf as a makeshift blanket for her. Thankfully it was nice enough to open the sunroof and roll down the windows or we would've been in huge trouble. After that she was up to her usual blabbering while we drove.
4. My new "favorite" command from Kalea has to be "Kitchen! Now!" while she points me in the right direction or pushes me to the gate that keeps her out of the kitchen. She always says it so seriously, I guess in the same tone I use when I send her to time out (pointing and hand on my hip). I'm glad Steve doesn't use that tone of voice when he wants food or he'd be a dead man!
5. Brynlee is in a funny stage of life. She watches and observes everything Kalea does, and in turn is starting to repeat different phrases but at completely random times. She has no clue when it's appropriate to use some of the phrases- or that it's not appropriate to use some of them, so it's entertaining.
6. Brynlee is also in a stage I like to call delayed retaliation. Kalea will do something to her and then a few minutes later Brynlee will finally clue in and retaliate. Usually Kalea will take something from her, walk away and start playing by herself. Brynlee will just kind of sit/stand there for a minute processing what happened and then will walk over with a scowl on her face and open-hand slap/pat the top of Kalea's head, or her back, etc... It's interesting to watch sometimes, but obviously both of them get their share of time-outs, etc... Just interesting to see the kinds of things they do on their own to try and rectify the situation before I step in. Kalea is pretty tough and usually won't do anything when Brynlee swats her, she just continues playing or goes somewhere else. Which also leaves Bryn very confused. Fun.
7. Today on our walk Kalea decided it would be fun to just randomly stop and sprawl out across the path. Anyone who knows the paths near our house, knows that they are pretty busy with cyclists, walkers, runners, wildlife, etc... So I was sure feeling patient with this activity. She just lay down on her belly holding her head in her hands like she usually does when she's watching a movie at home. Ignored all of my gentle promptings to get up and dang near got herself run over by a very nice older gentleman. As soon as he passed she got up and tried to "get him!" which she said very enthusiastically and then quickly got distracted by the geese and ducks in a pond nearby.
8. Kalea almost ran into the pond, but I caught her before she got to far. She was angry at the Canadian Goose who would not honk back at her- she was trying extremely hard to have a conversation he/she would understand. Cute.
9. Our home teachers came over last week and Kalea was putting on her usual show, using her fun guests are in our house antics, all very funny. I can't remember the question that Rob asked us but Kalea wasn't paying attention to him but before I or Steve could answer she said a very deep, "oh yeaaaaaaah" and we all erupted in laughter, it was priceless.
10. She took her diaper off and piddled in the basement today. I realized that my present mindset is SO different from the old one I had before I had kids. Cleaning up pee is like cleaning up spilled milk now, I don't even think about how gross it is. I miss the days when it seemed gross...
11. Kalea was pretty tired the other day so I put on her current favorite princess movie, Sleeping Beauty, and left her downstairs on the air mattress to bounce and dance while watching. She takes princess movies very seriously and always finds a dance partner and sings along now. Anyways, it was very quiet so I went down to check on her and she was laid out with her hands over her head snoring- not quite Sleeping Beauty style, her snores are pretty loud and obnoxious but she was pretty dang cute zonked out like that. I'm sure her arms were pretty dead/numb when she finally woke up too!
I forgot how much we love spring/summer/fall. Despite what some people might think, I love getting outside and doing something with my day besides the mundane inside the house chores, etc... even if it's just a little walk, the fresh air is magic at this time of the year. Kalea was so good on our walk and even helped push the stroller and did a surprisingly good job. I'm glad we're moving past the crazy toddler stage and into the little helper stage. Hopefully this weather keeps up so we can get into our new daily routine, yay!


I Just Realized Something

There was a point in my life where I tried really really hard to always look fan-freaking-tastic, always. Even in my pjs, while running to the grocery store, I had this weird desire to make sure that my hair/make-up were perfect even if my attire wasn't... As evidenced this weekend, things have changed, boy have they changed.
We had a very full weekend, over which a wedding and reception were held and we road-tripped some of those hours in between. We were also assigned to do the snack for nursery on Sunday morning, which I had the option to bail out of doing, but in an effort to be accommodating, I said, "Oh don't worry I can still do it, no big deal"...ahem... I think I had one of those weekends where I thought I could be superwoman. The kind of weekend where you leave the house on Thursday night with a kitchen full of dirty dishes and you think "Oh, I will have time tomorrow night to wash those" and then you don't. The kind of weekend where you think "I can totally make the nursery snack before/after the wedding reception and clean-up" and then you don't, because you didn't manage to get the kitchen cleaned the night before and when you get home and realize what a mess it is, you have zero desire to start cleaning and baking... Had I had more sleep/energy this weekend, these things all would've been do-able. Except that I didn't hardly sleep all week. Ugh!
So what is the solution to my problem? A late night run to Superstore to buy their muffins instead, therefore I would avoid having to clean my kitchen and bake and make more mess to clean up... HA! Except that as I took off my party dress and threw on my baggiest, elastic ankle sweatpants, a t-shirt (with no bra) and a really light striped sweater... make-up a mess, hair not too bad, runners on... I forgot that I was going to have to run to the store after dropping my babysitters off at home... I also forgot that I was wearing no bra and it was cold outside... To add to the awesome-ness of things, when I got to the store I just hopped out of the car and ran inside... Completely forgetting to make sure that my t-shirt was pulled down to hide my fat and cover the elastic top of my way too big sweats and undergarments... No seriously, it was so bad, I have never looked so horrible anywhere, ever in my life! Luckily very few people witnessed the loser-ish mess, but as I ran into the store there were some girls that looked at me quizzically and I wondered why, and inside the store a guy looked at me funny and hesitated to walk in front of or behind me, all of which was very confusing to me, until I looked down and realized that my pants were low-riding and my shirt was riding up and yeah... FAIL! I AM SO NOT COOL ANYMORE! Guys, help me! LOL


Childfree Nights & Firsts

Steve and I got to go up to Edmonton this weekend. My mom is a saint for taking the girls all by herself while my Dad took my brother down to school and picked my sister up. Overnights when you're outnumbered are sometimes really scary, but I'm so thankful that the girls behaved and that Mom survived!
Friday night some of my girlfriends got together and we enjoyed a night of freedom from our kids. We purposely met at the food court and enjoyed not sharing our food, then we perused the mall without any little people running away/throwing a fit/trying to escape from strollers. It was a great contrast to the previous day when Steve had the idea to take a family trip to the mall and well... it didn't go so great... Anyways, it was almost sensory overload for me, since I had nobody to focus on I had no idea what to focus on. Scary mall place. We decided to stop at claire's and goof off there, since it's perfectly acceptable to try on giant football sized flower headbands and giggle like teenagers in that store. It was great start to our evening. After that we headed home to hang out in the basement and eat junk. That was pretty fun too, interesting how the conversations have changed since we were teenagers though. It was also great to get some insight into what was really going on sometimes, in those years when we weren't all as close, etc... It gave me a lot more of an appreciation for the women these friends have become in spite of some really big trials and triumphs. I love those girls so much and although it was a really late night, I'm so glad that we spent that time together, it was 100% worth it.
On Saturday Steve and I got to enjoy going to the Edmonton Temple with his family- Megan gets married next weekend so this was her first time. It was such a perfect day and I felt like heaven was so close while we were there. It was pretty neat. It's not very often that Steve and I get to go, but even more rare that we get to go with grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc... I may or may not have been slightly emotional, but that visual makes it really hard to want to strive for anything else but that happy heavenly reunion with the people that were physically and spiritually present that day. That overwhelming feeling of love is something I wish I was more constantly aware of, and is something I really hope my children feel from me.
The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying family and friends at the bridal shower and hammering out plans for the coming week. I love wedding weeks, the excitement and anticipation leading up to the big day. People doing so much to help make your day special, etc... There's just so much love and once you've been on the receiving end of that, it's so fun to be able to be involved with creating that feeling for someone else. We are really looking forward to Friday and to welcoming another great "in-law" to our club.


When You're Misunderstood

I think it's interesting how people try to make you agree or disagree with them. I hope nobody thinks they have to agree with how I think, and in matters of how one spends their money, I certainly cannot tell you how or where, which I'm pretty sure I haven't. In fact where you shop doesn't have any relation to how righteous anyone is, and quite frankly I never said that, and if someone were reading between the lines then that's their own intent/motivation coming through. It is wonderful to be able to ask someone else to expound upon something they have expressed or feel so that you can perhaps understand why they feel that way, it's not so great to throw out your misinterpretations of what they said. What I think has bugged me the most is that I take quite seriously the line "The ignorant lack the ability for self-reflection and analysis" which was pointedly used in response to what was most definitely my own opinion based on what I know to be true for myself. I think in this matter, we can all do a great deal of discussing, but when someone makes a judgement that someone is ignorant, self-righteous or judgemental because they believe differently, no matter of debate or discussion is worth the effort. So according to dictionary.com
1. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
2. lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
3. uninformed; unaware.
4. due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.

According to my faith and what I've been taught there are expectations laid out quite clearly for me from my Heavenly Father through ancient and modern revelation. His voice and teachings are a constant in my life, so I care a great deal about what he thinks, and I am sure he cares a great deal about how I accomplish these tasks. His teachings are the barometer for how I judge myself and this is what I need to cover before I go spend a bunch of money on something that I know looks pretty or would be on my "nice to have" list.
1. Tithing
2. Fast Offering
3. Basic needs for my family- shelter, food, clothing
4. Get rid of debt
5. Food storage
6. Emergency fund/Savings
7. Future expenses (college & retirement funds, etc...)
8. Donations/Acts of Service, etc...
When these things are taken care of, or well on their way to being established, and if I have something left over I might choose to make a habit out of spending my money at certain establishments, or I still may not. I do have a very hard time with buying into anyone telling me a cake plate is worth $50, etc... I spend a great amount of time in self-reflection and receiving instruction regarding these matters. What has been discussed this week opens more and more doors for that cycle of self-reflection and personal revelation to continue. I hope it sparks a lot of discussion because I think it's an important one to have with spouses, family, friends, whomever. Through my own experience I know what works for me and my family. I know that we might never have a lot of material things. But it's okay, because in my mind I'm living up to the things I'm supposed to live up to first and foremost. That doesn't mean I have nothing nice, likewise if I come into your house I don't sit there wondering how much you spent on everything nice that I see. I don't post links to things that my husband has bought me or things I have bought myself, unless it's a fantastic deal because I am very aware that there are people who may feel a certain way because I posted it. I won't dedicate my blog to posting about "things" because they aren't important. I won't promote stores on my blog that claim to offer "a one of a kind and compelling shopping experience that makes women feel beautiful, hopeful and connected." because knowing my own experiences I know full well that no shopping experience can make me feel those things. I'm looking forward to the weekend and spending some time with some of my girlfriends because that makes me feel connected. I'm looking forward to going to the temple because that makes me feel hopeful and connected. I feel better about myself and more beautiful when I am doing all I can to live up to the expectations laid out for me, and I don't feel much shame in encouraging people I care about to do the same. Self-righteous? To some. Ignorant? Never have I ever been described that way in the almost 27yrs of my life, not one time by anyone who knows me- at least not to my face.
I don't have a great need in my life for people to agree with me, and I don't want people to feel like because I don't agree with them, we can't have the discussion. What I want is for people to really try to understand where I come from, because then it's a lot harder to pass words like "judgemental" and "ignorant" around the table. Likewise I would love to understand where they come from and how their opinions were formed on the issue. I love this aspect of the mortal experience, it's fascinating to me how we are all so alike and so different, but all our opinions can be shared and heard, we are so blessed to have this freedom.


Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you.

I know my position as far as finances might not be popular with a lot of people. I may be pretty vocal about it sometimes, like today, on facebook. The Book of Mormon references the danger of being attached to worldly things on more than one occasion, it's a warning, not just for days of old, but most especially for the present. There are few things where I feel like I really excel and live up to my potential as a daughter of God. I feel like if I can be financially responsible, and follow His counsel, it's another step in the right direction. If my opinion comes off strong sometimes, it's because I feel strongly. And most often my opinion is directly in correlation with something I've already learned the hard way. My intent is never to make someone feel judged or like I think of them a certain way, I tend to think the best of people until they throw out a personal attack on my character. So I'm just going to share what Steve and I have been through, in hopes that people better understand why I think the way I do. Not everyone has the same experiences, but I feel that we can all learn from each other.
Steve and I made some ridiculous choices in the beginning of our marriage that lead to a lot of stress, a lot of tension and a lot of sleepless nights. I went so far as to print out our "financial record" from our first year of marriage as a visual aid, to help us. We were both working and should've been doing exceptionally well, but instead we fell into the "red" every month... EVERY MONTH. We became pregnant during that year and had Kalea. Being on mat leave seemed at first like a curse. In fact in some ways it was, we had to give up our apt and move ourselves and our baby into my in-laws basement, and thus we lost some of that independence that we had been craving when we got married. What we didn't understand in those first months of marriage, we learned in the next year plus while living with Steve's parents. We were so blessed to have that time with them, and for Kalea to get to have that time with them. You learn a lot about your spouse when you live in such close proximity with their family, you learn a lot about your in-laws that many people think you wouldn't want to, but I can promise you it was a blessing. We learned a lot about money. We learned a lot about budgeting. We learned a lot about fulfilling obligations. We learned a lot about what we want for our own family. We organized our financial house. We were able to find affordable housing in one of the most unaffordable cities in the country. We were able to trade in our "mistake" for a reliable car. We had a second baby. We don't end the month in overdraft anymore. Both sets of our parents have been huge blessings through these somewhat difficult early years of our marriage. They have contributed financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and have offered endless babysitting and even some cash when we just needed a night to ourselves to get out and escape from our challenges. In all of this I have learned so much that has become so important to how I conduct myself, and how I manage our family finances. I might suck at math, but I have made covenants and promises to live in a way where I can provide for my family and then the poor. I don't consider our finances to be "ours" anymore. What Steve and I earn/gain or are blessed with is not ours, so in matters of spending, I seriously reconsider everything now. That's not to say that I'm perfect at it, or that I don't ever indulge, it just means that I've come to a place where I am really understanding the value of what we have. And what I value isn't what the money can buy us, it's how we can use it to bless those around us.
On our date the other night we were discussing what it would be like to have the money to travel wherever we wanted with our kids. I made some comment about not wanting to take my kids to these places unless there was an opportunity to serve, which kind've threw a curveball in the convo. Here's what I want for my kids. I want them to know that our blessings are from the Lord. I want them to know that if they are going somewhere fabulous, they don't get to go for "free". I want them to learn that they aren't entitled to vacations just because they're our kids and we have money. I want them to see the world, not a resort. I want them to get their hands and feet dirty serving someone without the luxuries we have. Because, boys and girls, we are blessed to live where we do, as we do. We are not entitled to the luxuries of the world, but the blessings of heaven. We are under covenant to walk as Jesus walked and do as He did. I want my kids to know that that is more important to mom and dad then a pretty vase or nice curtains. I want my kids to know that the experiences we provide them are opportunities for growth and opportunities to love and reach out and connect with other human beings. I want to have the money to provide them those opportunities as they grow, so if that means I forgo shopping at places that buy things for pennies in impoverished countries and successfully re-sell them for hundreds and thousands of dollars here, then I will forgo those stores until the day I die. There is so much temptation in the world to live up to other peoples' expectations, there is only one that I care about and His is pretty clear. I expect that Steve and I will have many financial temptations in the coming years as we move our family forward, I expect that we won't succumb to many of them, but there will be those few that we stumble on. I pray everyday that our financial decisions won't have negative impacts on our children or their children, etc... I pray everyday that I can be an example to them and live in a way that teaches them that it is more important to live happily within your means than any other way, and when blessings come we spread that good fortune around.
*On that note*
We have wonderful friends who are very financially blessed. They helped us provide some "nice to have things" for Kalea that we couldn't have been able to afford when she was born, the curtains in Brynlee's room come from their home, I have another pair waiting to be hung in our living room. Thank you.
Growing up, there was a family who at some points provided Christmas for our family and bags of hardly worn hand me downs that my parents could only someday dream of being able to afford for me. Thank you.
These are people who we love, respect and cherish. They have used their blessings to bless us, and how grateful I am for each one of them. Their examples have not been wasted on our family and those acts of kindness and love will speak more for them in the next life than any of the nice things that fill their homes now, and they know that.

We Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints


Date Night!

I had big plans for making our dinner an April Fool's kind've event, but once Steve April Fooled me, I decided that my idea wasn't nearly as exciting. You're probably wondering what he did... He cleaned my bathroom! But then after I used it he made me think that my bum was blue, which resulted in me standing in front of our bedroom mirror and pulling my pants down to check that my bum wasn't, in fact, blue. Sly Steve shouted "Aaah haaaa April Fool's! You're staring at your naked bum in the mirror!" Blah blah blah very funny... actually it is very funny, I am still laughing about it!
Anyways... We haven't had a legitimately planned out in advance type of date in... well a LONG time. As in, I made reservations more than once, changing times etc... Then when things came together with Steve's work schedule, the clouds parted and heaven smiled down on my awesome intentions. In fact all of yesterday felt like one of those perfect days, due in no small part to the fact that Steve really let me have a day off. I really can't think of anything I specifically did. He cleaned/organized the bathroom and linen closet/shelves of chaos. He entertained the kids while I showered and shaved my legs(those two don't necessarily go hand in hand anymore), actually styled my hair, did full-out date make-up, etc... It was so great. A word about styling my hair, it's kind of at the weird stage of going from short to long where you just can't do anything with it, but prompted by Steve's comment earlier in the day "Do we really need this curling iron, you never use it?" I decided it was time to actually get ready for something. I ended up doing a side-sweepy french braid that wrapped to the other side of my head where I just made a knotted mess and called it good. It actually was! Oh how I miss being a girl... Anyways, after that I had to run some errands and I got to shop just for me- well for my birthday that happens to fall after all the wedding chaos and smack dab on Easter Sunday. I voted for an early b-day this month and I got it- score! I'm so glad, I actually was quite successful- music to a husbands' ears. I found 2 dresses TWO! One kind of 50s housewife the other more 60s go-go dancer, but both super cute and reasonably priced, and I picked up a new top for date night... let's be honest, I bought it because I really need to do laundry and have been noticing lately how my closet says absolutely nothing about who I am, what it says is "Hi, you look like you had two kids and have lost yourself in a pile of ugly t-shirts and yoga pants/shorts." or "Don't look at me!" I dunno, maybe I'm just finally breaking free from the small children in tow tunnel of doom, but boy I feel so much better now. Moving on. Steve just turned 30 remember? One of his gifts was a gift cert. to Gaucho's Brazilian BBQ so I made reservations for 6:15. Our babysitter was booked at the beginning of the week and showed up by ten to 6, we made our reservation perfectly on time, our friends joined us and we just really enjoyed a legitimate night out with great conversation, and no rushing around like crazy people before or after. We got home right when I told our sitter that we'd be home and she had both our kids in bed fast asleep. Kalea doesn't usually go down that great and lately she's been staying up way too late, not last night! Yay, it was so nice to just come home to peace and quiet. **It should be noted that we all ate an incredible amount of food and Steve may have binged and then had to purge early this morning** I'm still young and can handle crazy amounts of food...
Moving on to the next thing on the agenda. My diet didn't start last night because of our awesome endless meat selections, how could I turn down the cute gauchos and their skewers of perfectly barbecued meats? It'd just be foolish to try. My water drinking is actually right on though, it's totally becoming a habit now and I'm up to a litre a day consistently. Hopefully this week I can keep it up along with my dvds. I'm surprised that I'm not as sore today as I thought I would be, hallejulah! Something must be working because I haven't had a shopping trip that successful in a while and my bum is perking up already TMI? I don't care! Haha! Here's to another week of fun, and hopefully this weather starts to cooperate soon so we can get out for walks again, thanks Mother Nature :P