Tuesday, October 30, 2012


On Friday night, our Elder's Quorum (Men's church group) hosted a Prom for married couples.  It was SO.MUCH.FUN! 

The Elder's Quorum theme this year (for activities, at least), as been eternal courtship.  This prom was used as an opportunity to go on a special date with the spouse, and the men did a great job taking it and running.  Cody asked me months ago to go with him, and it's been so fun seeing the different ways the husbands asked their wives.  Of course, we're all connected on Facebook and so every time someone got asked or was looking for a dress or was looking for help with treats or decorations, it all went up there--thus adding to the building excitement.

 I helped a few ladies do the decorations.  (The Elder's Quorum president was a little overwhelmed with how much work there was to do, so we volunteered to help him.  He was very grateful.)  We blew up 600 balloons and made a garland... my jaw hurt so bad! :) We decorated with Christmas lights and set up tables and hung pictures of the couples on the walls.  It turned out really cute.  Since we worked so hard on it, we took a few special pictures of those of us who had been involved before the prom started.

We went with a big group of us out to dinner.  It was so silly going into the restaurant with about ten couples, all dressed in formals.  There were even people who had connections to a couple who owns a limo, and borrowed it for the night for pictures and class.  The waitresses thought it was awesome that we were having a ward prom.  After dinner, we went back to the church and they had set up some more spots for taking pictures, including a motorcycle (with a heavy duty fan in front so you could look like you were racing the bike through the church...), a western arch with saddles and straw bales, and of course the limo with spotlights and a star-studded walk for us to make our grand entrance.  After getting our photos taken at each of the prop sites, we went to go dance.  They had asked some members of a local ballroom dance team to come and teach us the Cha-Cha-Cha and the Waltz.  We learned and practiced for about twenty minutes, and then the DJ started music and we danced until our feet were too sore to dance any more.  It was a blast!  There was great turnout and everyone was enthusiastic and excited. 

Silly, yes, nostalgic, very, but so, so, so fun.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Extravaganza!

One awesome thing about having a Kindergartener?  Going on field trips with them!

I was really excited when Lee's Kindergarten teacher asked me if I would come as a chaperone on their field trip to the annual pumpkin walk.  I asked if I could bring my girls, and she said that would be fine, as long as we drove ourselves.  Since Cody got off work early enough, we decided to go as a family and meet Lee's class there. 

It ended up working really well.  We got there a few minutes before the bus arrived, so we snapped a few pictures and then were able to help the kids unload and line up.  As we walked through the pumpkin displays, Lee's teacher was at front, Anna and I were in the middle of the line, and Cody and Katie (in the stroller) took up the caboose.  All the kids were very well behaved and had a great time.  I think Anna had one of her proudest moments when I asked the students if she could walk in line with them, simply to make it easier on me... but she got to march along behind her brother just like she was in Kindergarten too.  She had a huge smile on her face the whole time.  I'm now looking forward to the other fun things I'll get to do with Lee's class this year!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

First Snow

Monday was a windy, stormy day.  About every hour, a massive downpour of rain would blast by and wind gusts were over 50 mph.  The storm raged all day long and was still rattling the windows when we went to bed.  Cody got this amazing photo of a brief rainbow that poked its head out between downpours around dinner time.

But, when we woke up in the morning, guess what we found?  Almost an inch of heavy, wet snow!  The kids caught a glimpse of the snow and immediately went in search of their snowboots.  Lee barely had boots and some gloves on when he went out to play.  I had to take a photo, it was just too funny... pajamas, boots, dad's mittens, mom's scarf (dragging on the ground, mind you), an old hat, and snow.  He was in heaven.

Hot chocolate was served at breakfast. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scoopy Cellar... no more!

Sorry for the silly title.  The kids have mixed up the placement of the "K" and "P" in the word "Spooky" this Halloween, and calling something "Very very scoopy!" just makes them laugh instead of being frightened, so we've let it stick... for now.  And not long ago, our cellar/cold storage room was quite a scoopy place: cobwebby, hard to navigate... but no more!  And why, you might ask?

Because I have the most incredible, awesome, genius of an amazing husband ever.

He's spent a goodly portion of his free time this last week building shelves for the cold storage room.  Cody did an amazing job!  On one wall, the one with the door on it, he built can rollers, which are angled just right and have a little stop on the end so we can put a line of cans on them and they'll roll down to where they're easily accessible.

 On the other wall, there's five jar-height shelves that will be perfect for holding all our home bottled goods, as well as extra boxes and bags of food.  The first shelf is high enough to put a 5 gallon bucket under, and the top has enough head room to fit my stock pots and pans. 

Then, the very ends are open more so that we can put large bags of things that are in use, or we can just set something there for a night or two--which is way cool considering that during the winter time, with proper monitoring, we might be able to keep this room around fridge temperature... it won't be accurate enough to store truly perishables in there, but if we need a place to hold Christmas goodies away from prying kid eyes, we've got it.

After he got the last pieces of the shelves assembled, Cody vacuumed it well and then we had to put up a few things just to see how it worked.  We were pretty excited.

I'm so excited to finish filling up these shelves! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I guess we're all prone to distractions at certain times, right?  I feel like there's been a few things on my mind recently that are causing more stress and worry than they really should be, and so I've just been trying to distract myself by doing silly things (like re-reading the entire Harry Potter series).  Maybe if I just get things off my chest, I won't be so driven to distractions.

We had a parent teacher conference with Lee's Kindergarten teacher.  He's definitely doing better this year, which makes me so happy, but there's still some focus issues, and the ever-present problem with fine motor skills.  His teacher did give me a list of ideas on how to improve fine motor skills, but I'm still on the lookout for ideas.  We've been doing some practice with cutting paper, and sometimes I'll give Lee an empty egg carton and a bunch of small items (most commonly--cotton balls, but we're moving even smaller and slipperier) that he must use tweezers to pick up and put one in each spot.  It's only been a few days, but I hope things like this help him.  To me, the difference between last year and this year is night and day.  I've just got to get the school to see how much he's improved.

Katie has weighed in at 19 lbs. 12 oz--at a whopping 2nd percentile for her age.  Her doctor isn't really worried, but the WIC office is.  They usually are, and I know I'm not starving my girl, and I know deep down that I shouldn't even be concerned about it, but when someone recommends to feed your daughter extra food because she's too little, it naturally brings up the worry wart in you.  So I've been trying to feed Katie some extra snacks during the day, which is about the only thing I can do.  She's very active, but even more particular about how much she eats.  When she is done with her meal, she will very quickly throw the food (and often the plate too) off the edge of the table.  So we've learned to take the plate away at the first sign of fulness.  I'll try to still feed her a few more bites, but she pushes my hand away.  At least she's not really picky--she likes to eat, just not one bite more than what she wants.  Personally, I think it's better this way.  She's learning to listen to her body.  I just need to make sure I couple it with giving her food when she's ready for it and not make her wait until she's starving.  I hope she's put on a pound or two by the time the next appointment rolls around.  I guess the best that has come of this is that the WIC office gave us an extra pound of cheese a month to help her gain weight... as if all that Katie eats is cheese... *snort*

And lastly, my biggest concern, which is really kind of hard for me to talk about... I've been sick.  No, I'm not pregnant.  I just have been not quite right for weeks, even months now.  It's getting worse too.  I don't like going into gory details, so I won't here; I'm just so concerned about getting better that at times it's hard to think about anything else.  I think it is something I'm eating, so I'm in the process or eliminating certain things from my diet one at a time until I start feeling better.  Unfortunately, our medical coverage right now just wouldn't cover going to the doctor for a slew of tests, so while I'm not keeling over dying, I'm going to avoid it.  Probably a bad idea, I know.  I just... I'm just worried, and I wish we had the money to go to the doctor, and I wish I knew what was wrong, and I wish I had the knowledge that whatever is going on isn't a permanent, awful thing.  I'm trying to avoid looking things up on the internet because I know that will just cause me to panic.  Like I said, I think I'm just eating something weird.  In the meantime, prayers would be nice. :)

I hope all of you are well!  We really do have so much to be grateful for, and so much to look forward to!  My mom put up pictures of Saturday, when we went to their house and did some projects, which was SO much fun.  The kids helped me make some cute Halloween decorations and Cody started building some shelves for our cold storage room in the basement, which he's already started installing.  I can't wait to show you all when it's done.  He's doing a fantastic job. 

Thanks for listening to my rant.  I needed to get all that out.  :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The $25 garage makeover

Time for a fun, 24-hour, $25 project!
Empty garage, ready for its makeover

Step 1: Clean out the garage.  Since there's no threat of rain on the forecast, everything went to the side yard on some tarps.  There wasn't that much, and we threw a lot of junk away. 

Step 2: Using lumber we stashed away during the build of the house (scraps of ply wood and some pieces of 2x4s), Cody built some shelves and mounted them through the ceiling to the roof trusses and into the studs of the garage.  All we had to buy for this was some nails and screws, which amounted to $10 for a big box of them... we probably used about $2 worth.

Step 3: Apply a second layer of mud over the screw holes and joints, and caulk up the window and any raw edges.  Let dry the rest of the night.  We used leftover mud and caulk, so no money there. 

Step 4: Paint the garage.  We used--you guessed it--leftover paint from our build.  We mixed leftover paint, primer, and even a couple cups of water.  Cody's dad helped and brought some of his leftover paint, including one in a gray color, so we just mixed them all in a big bucket, strained it through an old nylon, mixed it well, and ended up with about 5 gallons.  Then, we painted away!  It took us about 4 hours to paint the whole thing, once we got started.  Probably would have been faster if we'd had more than one roller, but no biggie.  We just did 1 coat, but really, that's all a garage needs.  The doors and trim had already been painted. 

Step 5: clean the garage floor with the hose, put the face plates back on, put the blinds back up, clean the painting supplies, and put stuff away.

Step 6: figure out what to do with the remaining $15 in our little budget?  Hooks to hang bikes on?  A work bench found at a garage sale?  Pocket it for the next project?  The options are endless! :)

Monday, October 8, 2012


Autumn is easily my favorite season.  Cool days, cold nights, stunning colors, holidays and hot soup, sweaters, scarves, decorations... yep, my favorite.  It's the season in which Cody and I fell in love.  Last year, Autumn meant cold nights roofing houses and the impending snows, which was really scary to me.  It feels great to look forward to the cold weather, all snug in our warm house.

Speaking of our warm house, it really is snuggly warm!  We turned off our AC right at the end of August, because it was already starting to cool off and we could go back to just opening windows at night and monitoring the blinds.  (but I wasn't back to being completely crazy, thank goodness.)  Here we are now, at the beginning of October, and we haven't turned on the heat yet.  We're getting ready to, mind you, but even though it's been diving into the 20's at night for the past few days, and barely getting to the mid 50's during the day, we haven't needed it yet.  Now it's opposite of what it used to be: I open the blinds all day long, letting the sun pour in.  I enjoy baking nearly every day, and letting the heat from the oven warm the kitchen.  Windows of course stay closed all day long, and if we are lucky, it's typically up to 75 in the house by the end of the day.  It drops around 10 degrees at night, and when we wake up it's perfectly liveable, especially if you're like my kids and drag your blankets to the couch first thing in the morning for a family snuggle.  :)  I'm so grateful to have a well insulated, beautiful home this year.  I'm also grateful to have gone a solid month an a half, nearing 2 months, without having to use any heat or AC in the house.  It's made the bills absolutely awesome.

This morning our sprinklers came on at 7:30 AM.  Mind you, we've had them turned way down for the last few weeks, but it appears it's time to turn them off.  Here's what they did to our oak trees in the back yard.  I thought it was rather pretty.

It's also time to rearrange my morning walks.  I can't go at 7:45 any more, unless we find an indoor location.  Oh, and Lee is finally starting to enjoy Halloween decorations!  He's been such a scaredy cat his whole life, but he's beginning to outgrow it.  Of course, Annalisa is still a little freaked out, but by odd things (like my mom's inflatable witch...?).  They got the word "Spooky" mixed up and so we've been calling everything "Scoopy Scoopy!"  My kids are adorable.

And... I think that's all for now!  Happy Fall!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Family pictures, and what an adventure they were...

About a month ago, I arranged with a photographer friend of mine to take our family photos.  She was in the process of moving, and was going to be coming to our town for a few days and was offering a special photography session just for the days she would be here, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity.  So, I sent in our deposit and started looking for outfits and making the arrangements we needed.  I got a $10 off coupon at Kohl's, so I asked my sister to come with me shopping on Tuesday afternoon so that I could have some help on deciding what to wear (I'm terrible at these things! I find something cute, and then I second guess all my choices and end up talking myself into/out of everything... ugh).  Sara was a sweetheart and helped me a lot, and at last I had something for everyone that I really liked.  We also made a quick stop at Hobby Lobby and I bought fabric to make hair bow flowers for each of us girls that would match our outfits.  I came home from our big shopping adventure, set out the outfits on the bed with a smile, and went to check my email... where there was a note from the photographer waiting for me, sent while I was gone, saying that the circumstances around their move had changed and she was cancelling our photo shoot.

Frustration!!!!  I admit I cried a few tears.  It didn't help that I've had lots of other cancellations and random last-minute changes of plans in my recent past, and that I don't deal with those types of things to begin with.  I had to decide what to do.  Do I take everything I just bought back?  Do I try to take my own pictures?  Do I wrap everything up as Christmas presents?  I at last convinced myself that I should find a new photographer, because I really really wanted family photos, even if it couldn't be with this friend, and I shouldn't let a cancellation like this make me give up on what I want.  

I remembered that our awesome next door neighbor said he had a nice camera and enjoyed taking pictures, even if he wasn't a very skilled photographer.  I thought I'd give it a whirl.  He was willing to do it, and then we looked at the weather--with lots of wind and colder temperatures on the horizon, we said, why not tonight?  Mind you, it was 4 pm when we decided this.  So, I raced to my crafting desk and started whipping out hair bows while Cody and the kids made dinner.  We ate some delicious plain rice, bagels, and string cheese. :D  I fixed my hair and the girls' while Cody shaved and bathed Katie and helped Lee put on his new shirt.  Amazingly, we were ready to go at 6.  I grabbed a just-in-case diaper bag, got in the van and... it wouldn't start.  We tried jumping it to no avail.  

We apologized to our neighbor who was patiently waiting in his truck while we moved the carseats (very squishy) into our Civic, and headed up the nearby canyon.  About 2 miles up the windy road, Katie threw up all down her cute shirt, which of course stunk to high heaven in the already tight quarters of the car.  We rolled down the windows, pulled over for the pictures, and realized we'd left the diaper bag in the van.   So Cody used some napkins that our neighbor had in his truck, and took Katie by the side of a river and washed her up (although she still smelled something awful, but at least her shirt was purple and the wetness isn't noticeable) and she was happy again, now that she was no longer in the car.  Definitely motion sickness, poor kid...oh, how I know how it feels!  But we were there, we were dressed, only one of us had soiled our outfits, and by golly, we were NOT going to let this opportunity pass up!  We took pictures, and Lee plugged his nose between shots whenever Katie was around.  We got home just after 7, bathed Katie again, and fell asleep seconds after climbing in bed.

But the good news is, we got some cute pictures in there!  I hope you enjoy them even more, now that you know the incredible, but true story.