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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Office Mini Makeover


I blogged over at 'Or so she says...' last week to share how I made over my work space for LESS THAN $75 during Linc's nap one afternoon. There's also a giveaway so check it out!

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Monday, August 29, 2016

This Is The Place

Due to other obligations I had last week, it wasn't until Thursday and Friday that Linc and I could really revel in him being an "only child" for most of the day. When Kev and I planned to have our kids so far apart, I got excited about the one-on-one time I'd be able to spend with our second born child while our first was in school. That was back before I knew I'd hold Lincoln for all his sleeping hours and would spend more time with him in a year than I spent with Aspen in four.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to having outings with just Lincoln while Aspen is in school all day. He'll get to do many of the things she and I did when it was just us girls. Only in Salt Lake instead of Ogden.


We went with friends to This Is The Place last week and enjoyed a few of the activities offered there with their membership. The kids pet goats and sheep, and Linc got nipped by a goose. There are pony rides, and baby animals to coo over right now.


We rode the trains and played in the splash pad, and Linc made himself and Aspen arrowhead necklaces. He used green beads for his because, as he told the people working there, he's Peter Pan. They kept asking him if green is his favorite color, trying to engage him a little during the activity. He finally blurted out his true identity to explain the green beads.


We hope to piggyback on the pass again with Emily and her youngest so we can do some Halloween activities at the park. We just may not tell Aspen if we go while she's in school. Although if she gets really jealous, I can show her the bajillions of photos I have of her doing super fun stuff for years before Linc was born.

It's a little easier to enjoy outings with Linc because I do know Aspen loves first grade. The Spanish immersion has been great for her so far, and she gushes excitedly about all she does in school each day. I know I don't have to feel guilty when Linc and I eat Chick Fil A without her... and eventually I'm sure I'll completely get over that.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Aspen's Baby Shower (2010)

It's bothered me lately that I never blogged about Aspen's baby shower. I got a notification about this day on Facebook so all the photos popped up, making it easy to grab them and plop them into the blog.

They're mostly out of focus, but I'm moving beyond caring about that!

The guest of honor. Nikki and Mandi hosted this shower for me and we decided to have it after Aspen was born. It was fun to be able to pass Aspen around during the party and let everyone cuddle her while I opened all the gifts people brought.

Me with Carolyn
Kris and Kimmy
With Julia, my sister-in-law

My hostesses pictured above and below. They made maple bacon cupcakes (or muffins?), provided drinks and decorated Mandi's back patio so perfectly for our morning together. And Jen brought a watermelon carved to look like a bassinet. So cute! Nikki and Mandi are two of the best roommates a girl could ask for. I miss our college days, although they were so difficult and emotional; it was a time for learning and growing together and I'm grateful these two ladies were so compassionate and forgiving with me!

 
Jen and her daughter B

Lalli holding Aspen.
It was a lot of fun to visit and celebrate with this ladies after Aspen was born, and looking over these photos makes so homesick for those years in Ogden! I'm glad I'll soon be heading to Julia's to hold her newest baby and spend time with her family. I'll get to be the awesome Auntie for a week, stealing that title from Sophia!


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Friday, August 26, 2016

Little Things - A Writing Prompt

I'm participating in an online memoir writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a one-word prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's today's exercise:


I do little things every day. Wake the kids. Clean crumbs off the kitchen table. Feed the dog. Water the plants. Change the towels. Hold someone's hand. Wipe someone's face (or bum). Fill and empty bags with important items for leaving the house. Use my turn signal. Change the music. Read a book. Listen to a long tale from someone's imagination. Scrub the toilet. Smile. Hug.


It can be easy or hard, depending on the day. Little things often go unnoticed until they're no longer being done.


My house is full of little things. Plastic pony accessories. Matchbox cars. Socks. Diapers. Legos. Train tracks. Stuffed animals. Blankies. Shoes. Books. Pictures. Finger and paw prints. Chew toys. Dirt, sand, grass, rocks and seeds. Art supplies and art projects.


It can be easy or hard, depending on the day. Little things often go unappreciated until they're gone.


Sometimes I wonder what the point is of cleaning up the same mess every. single. day. The toys will just be on the carpet again tomorrow. The crusts and spills will find the table and floor again tomorrow. The clothes will never stop being dirty. The beds will be slept in again in hours. How can I read the same book over and over and oooooooover again today?


The point is that I only get to hold those little hands for a few years before they no longer want to. I can only goose those tiny bums for a few years before they no longer allow it. I can only listen to the laughter of my children under my roof for a short while (and not just because too much laughter always turns to tears). I can only watch my little things use their little things for a short amount of time before they move on to bigger things (sports, music, academics, driving, dating...).


These little things needs doing. These little things need loving. These little things won't stay little things forever.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Adventure - 8 Minute Writing Prompt

I'm participating in an online memoir writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a one-word prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's today's exercise:

ADVENTURE

I'm about to go back to school. Next week I go to a new campus, a place I've never been, and I'll start an adventure in Yoga Teacher Training. I still need to get all my books, a parking pass, and a clue as to where my classes are held. I don't know where to go, or what to expect. I don't know if I need to wear workout clothes or street clothes. I don't know if I'll be the least experienced person in class or not (I probably will be). I don't know if I'll have enough time to study, or how many times I'll need to have a babysitter watch Lincoln while I'm in class. I don't know if I'll be overwhelmed trying to parent, be a wife, work and go to school (I probably will be).

Regardless, I'm excited. I've wanted to do this training for years. I miss teaching yoga and I hope this adventure will take me closer to returning to that path.

It's all thanks to my siblings that I get to do this. They concocted the idea to basically sponsor me and I know my older brother footed most of the bill. He's the best in that way; always doing things for others like it isn't any sacrifice at all on his part.

Having this nervous excitement in common with Aspen has been fun this back-to-school season. She and I have been able to talk about the unexpected things that may happen to each of us during the school year. I told her I'm nervous about being friendly with other students, and about finding my classroom the first day. Before she started school this week, she said she was afraid she'd have no one to sit with at lunch, and that she would miss watching Wild Kratts like she had planned. I'm glad I was able to put her at ease and let her know I'm feeling some of the same things as her, and it's going to be okay.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

FIRST GRADE

Summer break was a lot harder than I anticipated. Turns out it's difficult to get kids to play and do anything when all the big kid wants to do is watch a lot of TV.

The four-year age gap between the kids is usually really awesome; during the summer it was a small challenge because the inexpensive or free activities that Linc would love, Aspen complained about. She claims she's over Wheeler Farm, and walks around the neighborhood, and "little kid" things like that.

And since I'm a pretty lazy parent, I naively thought the kids would be happy to play in the backyard on their bikes, swing, slide or in the sandbox. But no, Aspen just wanted to watch TV if we were home. And with Linc still needing daily naps, we were home a lot (he does NOT nap on the go).

But we made it. And OF COURSE in the very last week of summer break, Aspen and Linc started playing together really well and really consistently. Every morning after breakfast they would spend a couple of hours playing cars, ponies, trains, playdoh, or other art projects together. It's like they knew the end was near.

Today is Aspen's first day of school, and since we were so very very very late, she didn't have time this morning to revisit the fears she voiced last night. But with a number of her close friends in her class, and her love of socializing and learning, I think it'll be a good day. Plus, her Uncle Seth left his water guns at our house yesterday so the kids can use them after school as a special activity.

Kev is home today, and I left Linc with him while I was at work. When I got home Linc was so excited, asking me where Aspen was. He thought I brought her home with me. Sorry bud, but she's gone allllll day now! It's going to take some adjustment, but soon enough we'll have a school routine and he may not miss her as much. Kev is off again tomorrow while I work, so we'll really be sad later this week when Kev's back at work, too.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Farmington Pond

I want to be better about exploring what Utah has to offer, so when Amanda asked if we could get together before school starts, I suggested a visit to Farmington Pond. I've never been, but have seen photos all over social media this summer. I didn't know much about the place beforehand, but we decided to go for it.

I really like it, and it was perfect for a picnic lunch. There's a few picnic tables and even a fire pit. The paved trail leads from the parking lot to a residential area behind the pond. We enjoyed exploring it.

The "waterfront" was perfect for rock throwing and digging through the sand for dinosaur bones. Once again, I saw a bunch of paddle boarders! They were inflating their boards when we arrived. The pond would be such a great place to learn since there aren't waves.

Aspen, ever the dreamer, created a game called Kid Explorers and led everyone on an expedition. They hunted for trinkets on the "game trails" (Kev taught her that) and she stock piled quite a few acorns and other nuts from the scrub oak.

Linc was mostly a monster until we fed him, but I think overall he had a good time. He liked watching some big kids across the pond as they flipped off the rope swing. There's a dock for fishing (and jumping, I suppose!) and Linc loved throwing big rocks off of it.

I'm glad we went, and I think it's a fun, private little place to just enjoy being outside. When the kids get older, I might even be able to convince them to use the rope swing!

It's nice to do a few more things with Aspen before school starts. Although it's been a looooong summer for me, she and Linc have had a good time going on adventures, watching a LOT of TV, and eating snacks 24/7. We'll see how we adjust to having Aspen gone all day... Linc and I will once again be spending quality time together. HIS FAVORITE.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bedtime is the Worst Time

Putting the kids to bed myself has gotten progressively worse over the last few months. There are more tantrums, screams, hitting, fighting and general unpleasantness than I thought possible. It can take up to two hours to get both kids to brush their teeth, get in jammies, read books, sing songs, etc... and I still have to leave the room(s) occasionally to pull myself together so I don't scream at them.

Like, what the freak happened to just GOING TO BED?! Why do my kids raise hell against me? Why do I need to hold their hands and spend hours negotiating like a SWAT team just to get them in bed before 9pm? Not even asleep, but just in their stupid beds!

I recently started going out once a week by myself, leaving Kev home with the kids at bedtime. I used to feel guilty about making him do the bedtime stuff alone until he admitted it's super easy for him to get them to sleep. Not just in bed, but ASLEEP before 9pm.

So I stopped feeling guilty and many nights when I am home at bedtime, I still find somewhere to hide and let Kev put the kids to bed by himself. It saves my sanity, and I love it. He just takes both kids into Lincoln's room, watches a few YouTube videos with them and then lets Aspen fall asleep on the floor while Linc is in the crib.

He is a magical unicorn parent.

Last night when I put the kids to bed while Kev was at work, by 845 both kids were screaming their heads off. I'd done baths, teeth, stories, YouTube videos and even Linc's favorite song. Aspen told Linc stories from her floor-bed and I had to leave the room three times because Linc wouldn't stop whining for me to get him out of his crib/change his pajamas/change the color of his drink. I was losing my everlovin mind. I finally made Aspen go to her room and she slammed her head into her wall when I attempted to tuck her in.

I am a hot mess parent.

It's to the point I dread bedtime with every fiber of my being. It's especially hard because after they're in bed is supposed to be when I get work done, run on the treadmill, or do Yoga. It's when I hope to have time to be productive and earn money and do something for myself. Things that are beneficial to our family because they make me feel less like a crazy person.

When school starts it's going to be worse because the kids won't be able to sleep in to recover from trying to destroy me the night before.

Heaven help me.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Taylor Grove and Pineview Overnight

You'll probably cry upon reading this, but over the weekend we took our FIRST and ONLY family vacation of the summer. And school starts in like, a week, so we barely made it!


Friday after I worked, we drove up to Pineview Reservoir for swimming. Years ago when Aspen was a toddler we went to the free beach, and it's come a long way since then. There's now developed parking and a trail leading to the sand. There's a lot of shade, which made it ideal since we arrived in the middle of the afternoon. The beach is wider now, too, giving more space for playing and building sandcastles. Although a lot of people and dogs were there, it didn't feel crowded at all.
 


I was surprised to see so many people using paddle boards. Apparently they're the new recreational item of the moment. Kev was impressed with them and now I'm afraid I'm going to randomly find some in the garage. They're really versatile, though, and I can see how fun they could be for the whole family. We'd only need two boards for our family since the kids are little enough to share with an adult.

Kevin's family has had property in South Fork Canyon for many years. His family refers to the building there as a "cabin," but I affectionately call it a "shack" because it's one room with no running water. There's electricity, though, and that's really all you need, right?! I know when people say they have a cabin, they use that word loosely. Usually they're really referring to the giant, comfortable second home they own in the mountains. In our case, it's a teeny, cute little place where we can sleep on real beds (kind of!) and listen to the river flowing alongside it. It's a step up from sleeping in a tent, and I love it!


There's a lot of land, which is perfect for the kids to explore. It's the first time all four of us have come up, and I wish we'd planned to stay two nights instead of one. I just didn't know how it'd go with Linc sleeping in a bed for the first time, and missing his naps for two days.

He did so well, though, and we were able to have a wonderful time together. I made s'mores in ice cream cones and they were a huge hit with Lincoln. He loved being able to eat it all by himself.

At the family shack, there's a stream that does provide some non-potable water for washing, but no toilets. Aspen was so nervous about using the outhouse, but she overcame her fear and stopped worrying she'd fall in after a couple of uses. The kids loved throwing things into the water and walking over this bridge a hundred times. There's also a swing set and horseshoes that they loved.

After our time spent swimming at Pineview, we headed to the shack for dinner on the griddle (it was way too late for a fire). The kids loved eating outside, and then making up the bunk beds for sleeping. I was so grateful Linc let me lie down with him for a few minutes before he conked our for the whole night! Because of all the trouble we've had with Linc and his sleeping, this felt like such a victory- we did something "normal" and he slept away from home successfully!



Pictured below is my view on Saturday morning when I fried the bacon. It's so gorgeous! I loved listening to Kev tell the kids about his memories of playing in the same spots. He showed them the trails in the trees, and told them how his parents used to make him wash off in the freezing river.

Following breakfast Saturday, we walked the surrounding properties and took the kids up near the main road to see the horses. Aspen complained almost the whole time because she desperately wanted to go back to the lake to swim.

Linc was really in his element, yelling that he was the leader and going on an adventure. He had so much fun exploring.


We packed up the shack and took a detour to Causey Dam before heading back to Pineview. We told the kids about our time spent canoeing Causey. Hopefully we'll be able to take them up there again for some boating.
The rest of Saturday was spent at the pay beach at Pineview since I knew we'd need bathrooms close by (the longer we planned to be there, the greater the odds!). The beach was much more crowded, but Kev still managed to find a spot for us in the only shade to be seen for miiiiiiiles.

Thanks to swimming lessons this summer, Aspen has overcome her fear of water. She's more confident, and with Kev's help she spent a lot of time on her body board. She was riding the waves with a huge smile on her face. She was so proud to play on her own and not need a parent holding her at all times. I loved seeing her enjoy herself so much.

It was such a great trip, and I regret that we cut it so short! After swimming Saturday, we ate dinner at The Oaks in Ogden Canyon and headed home. I'm glad we had a buffer day between returning from vacation and going back to work on Monday, but next year when we go, we'll plan for at least two nights.

Kev and I also decided that we definitely need to fulfill our dream of having a cabin of our own in Ogden Valley some day. Unfortunately for Kev, I don't want to take the kids out of the Spanish-immersion program Aspen starts this year, so he has to wait at least until Linc follows in Aspen's footsteps and finishes in 6th grade for us to consider moving back to Weber County anytime soon. I know he loves the Ogden Valley so much and misses it. I feel badly we're locked into an opportunity here in Salt Lake, but the kids' education takes priority right now. And we can make use of his family's property until we make our dream a reality.

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