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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Plus One

Kev and I celebrate 10 years of marriage today (well, not literally since our work schedules suck right now).

Over the last couple of months, we've renewed our efforts to go on real dates with one another ALONE WITHOUT CHILDREN OR RUNNING ERRANDS.

For me, it's made a big difference in my relationship. I feel more valued and appreciated just because Kev and I are making the time to spend with each other. I love that I'm valuing myself enough as a wife to have dates with Kev. I was his wife long before I became a mom, and I need to let myself fulfill that role as often as possible.

For fun, here's a little recap of the last 10 years we've spent together:

-1 Honeymoon
-5 homes (LaSal Hall, Wasatch Hall, Pink House, West Jordan rental, Lucky House)
-7 cars (I think... I lost track)
-5 jobs for me, 6 (?) jobs for Kev
-1 dog
-2 Babymoons (Aspen // Lincoln)
-2 kids
-1 trip to Canada
-3 trips to Maine with kid(s) in tow
-1 overnight that's as close to camping with the family as I'd like to get
-1 stay at the Wyndham when Kev worked in their new property
-2 battles with postpartum depression
-1 battle with a Meckle
-Lots of birthdays, Christmases, sleepless nights and so much more

I can't believe it's been a decade. Happy Anniversary, Kev.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Questionnaire

Every year since 2013 I've had Aspen answer some Father's Day questions to share with Kev. I'm looking forward to asking Linc these questions next year, too. Right now when we ask him a question he just says, "oh" so it's not very amusing.

Me: What is your Dad's name?
Aspen: Kevin.

M: How old is your Dad?
A: I don't know. 25.

M: How tall is your Dad?
A: He's super tall. And he's kind of smart.

M: How much does Daddy weigh? How heavy is he?
A: He's ummm...

M: What's Daddy's favorite food to eat?
A: Meat.

M: What makes your Daddy happy?
A: Giving him hugs.

M: What is your favorite thing to do with Dad?
A: Watch videos, play tablet and give hugs.

M: What makes your Dad mad?
A: When you do bad things.

M: What's your Dad's favorite thing to do?
A: Well he does kind of like Young Men (his calling at church).

M: What is your Dad good at? What can he do?
A: Well, he's good at juggling and the thing he likes to do is... I don't know.

M: What does your Daddy always tell you?
A: Umm he doesn't really tell me something usual. But he likes to tell me jokes.

M: Why does Daddy love you, Aspen?
A: I don't know. How I play with him. And how I tell jokes to him just like he does to me.

M: Anything else you want to say to your Daddy?
A: Umm, I love you Daddy. Umm, I like to play with you. You are the best Daddy ever.

Click the links to see Aspen's answers to these questions from 2013, 2014, and 2015.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Letters to Lincoln, month 24

Linky Lou-

Well, we did it! We kept you alive for two years! It's quite the accomplishment, if you ask me. The last two years have been full of a lot of heartache, triumphs, and everything in between. They have been some of the hardest of my life, but they are proving to be so rewarding for our entire family.

Linc, we all love you so much. You're the cutest little boy in our family and you're worth all the exhaustion.

Your language skills are seriously off the charts. About a week before you turned two, you stopped constantly referring to yourself as "Linky" and often spoke of yourself as "me" and "I" correctly. When our neighbor Paul drives by, you yell "He waved at me!" instead of "He waved at Linky!" It's amazing to hear that change happen so rapidly in you. I'll definitely miss hearing you refer to yourself in the third person all the time. But we're happy you're able to communicate so well. I laugh so hard when you repeat the phrases I constantly say, like, "Stop talking and let's watch a show!" or, "STAY WITH ME" when we walk through parking lots or cross the street. I'm always trying to get your attention or your sister's and am saying "stop talking and look at me" so it's no wonder you picked that up.

You got a hair cut yesterday and I was afraid I was going to be stuck working late and your dad would end up taking you. I knew if he did, you'd get another one of those awful big-boy buzz cuts that would make me cry for a thousand years. I'm so glad it worked out and you didn't even freak out this time getting your trim! It was awesome. You do look so big now, but at least not like a little man-child.

Your love for your sister is huge, and whenever she's at a friend's house for a few hours, you usually stop playing or doing whatever and will suddenly say, "Lessss go get Penny now." You miss her when she's gone, and I'm afraid when she's in first grade it will be a rough transition for the two of you. She's convinced she won't have any time to play with you when she's in school all day. We'll have to make sure the time you do spend together is awesome.

Linc, you're singing the ABCs already, and counting quite a bit. Aspen basically taught you everything you know. Which is everything she knows, which is a lot of information. You're very into Cars right now, which is only a littler earlier in life than Aspen (I think she was closer to three when her obsession began). You also love trains, and received a huge electric train set from your cousins (we love hand-me-downs!) for your birthday.

Your food preferences are still a mystery to me. Also, you may be lactose-intolerant as of about a week or two ago. One evening you kids had ice cream after dinner, and you barfed it all up in the middle of the night. A couple of days later you had nothing but a huge glass of chocolate milk for dinner and barfed that up a couple of hours later. Your tummy troubles culminated in you having the hardest time pooping in your entire life during CHURCH. There was a lot of screaming and crying and you were begging me to help and take you home. I did finally help you (yuck) and we played outside until you were ready to go back into church, just in time for snacks in Nursery! So you're off all dairy except for Greek yogurt (which both you and I can eat without any troubles). No more cheese or milk for you, buddy! I'm sorry. It's a tough life, but we'll at least get through the misery of missing out on ice cream together.

Dad started watching YouTube videos with you before bed so you'd stop crying about him being the one to put you to bed, and that little habit is proving hard to break! Now before naps and bedtime you always want a little show. You are obsessed with ninja vids, which is actually parkour. You also went through a phase of wanting to watch car crash compilations, but when Kev realized you were watching actual fatalities occur, he wised up and stopped showing you those (!!!!). You love watching Cars shorts, or those videos during which people open up and play with toys. Aspen went through a phase of watching those, too, and it's so funny! Like, COME ON and go play with your own toys instead of watching someone else do it!

Right now you love wearing hats, anything with baseballs/bats on it, a rocket ship shirt (thank you, Little Einstens), and your Superman light up sneakers that someone gave to me while I was in line once at Kid-to-Kid. Many days you refuse to change your clothes entirely so you often wear PJs until bedtime, when we put on clean PJs. I remember doing the same for your sister when she was your age, too. You love to play ball and are so good at kicking and throwing, and we're working on catching. You're also obsessed with a little fabric doll of Aspen's. She's been kind enough to basically give it to you. You often ask "where's Linky's baby?!" in a distressed, whispery little voice throughout the day. You like to wrap it in your blankies, put it to bed, carry it everywhere and help her watch shows with you. I love that it serves as a substitute for the babies at work that I won't let you take home (the doll ones). Aspen even finds the doll around the house occasionally and runs to you, yelling that she found your baby and you should take better care of it. It's awesome.

Your hair is much more red than Aspen's, and your eyes still seem very blue (whereas hers were shifting to green around this age). You're a little miniature of your sister and it's so great comparing baby photos of the two of you. You usually insist that all the baby photos are you, regardless.

I better stop now before this lasts until your next birthday! I just wanted you to have a good idea of what life was like for your first two years. I'm so glad I was able to do these monthly letters for both you and your sister for 24 months each. She asked me recently why I don't do monthly letters and photos for her anymore, so perhaps I'll do some periodic updates from now on to keep the tradition alive.

Thank you for the chance to be part of your life (A HUGE PART, AMIRIGHT?!), Linky Lou. We love you so much and will keep squishing you as long as you'll let us.


See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Yoga Gear

While my parents were in town, Kev and I had another date night (TWO IN ONE MONTH WHO ARE WE?!) and after dinner at Aristo's we walked around City Creek. I had no intention of buying anything, but when I saw the sales at Gap and Athleta I decided it was time to replace my ten-year-old sports bra. And I found some leggings so I no longer only own yoga pants from college. Look at me, getting all current on the leggings trend finally! I can justify buying new work out clothes now that I'm finally looking at an RYT course, right? Or, just the fact that it's seriously been a decade since I've invested in any.

With that in mind, what are your favorite brands that are breathable, form-fitting and easy to care for? I've been wearing an Old Navy bra (that is now wayyyy too big post-nursing) and cotton Gap capris and it feels like a major upgrade to now be wearing super-special-moisture-wicking-ventilated leggings and sports bra. As I slowly grow my Yoga wardrobe, I need a little help!

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Travy Aviary for Birthdays!

My mom came back to Utah again for a wedding, so she and my step-dad were able to stay at our house for another long weekend. It was over Marc's birthday so I decided we should all go to the Aviary to celebrate him and Lincoln having birthdays in June.

Linc still loves birds, so it was a huge hit.

It was so nice having almost everyone together again, and I can't believe how easy it is to keep track of two kids when there are seven adults present. I'd definitely be a better parent if I constantly had an entourage to help me take care of my kids every day.

It was super hot, but in the shade it was perfect. We got to see one of the bird shows, and Aspen got to feed some whistling ducks from her hands. Linc was pretty sad he didn't get to have a turn. I think he may still be too young to participate.

He loved the birds that flew right over our heads (one touched meeeee!!) and he loved seeing the Emu run and skip across the grass in front of us. I looked over and caught him flapping his arms like wings at one point, too.

We enjoyed dairy-free cupcakes in the company of a gorgeous peacock. He really showed off for us.

I had hoped to have one of their hosted birthday party packages, but the night before we wanted to go the Aviary was having an event, and couldn't allow reservations for the weekend. Instead of having any guided tours or feedings, we just spent our quarters on bird food pellets and the kids threw handfuls over the railing. I think Jose picked up as much off the ground as we actually paid for.
And it only took a couple of weeks, but I think Lincoln finally knows the difference between Grandma Gail and Grandpa Marc. For the first weekend they were in town, he called them both Grandpa Gail.
Although the photos below were taken at very different angles, I wanted to get a shot of Kev holding his boy in the same place he held his girl. It's amazing how much changes in just a few years. We're coming up on our 10-year wedding anniversary this month!
Kev with Linc 2016
Kev with Aspen 2011 in the same spot

My little flamingo! I think she had a really good time, too, and we're now suffering withdrawals from the loss of extra adult attention 24/7.

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Friday, June 03, 2016

Tips for your next family trip

I can't take all the credit for this post on 'Or so she says...' this week, but it's still worth checking out! SueAnn gave me some ideas based on her recent family trips, so head on over to the blog to see what we came up with. You can find the post right HERE.

Also, be sure to check out the posts from Get Away Today, because they usually have discounts you can use on your next Disney vacation. SCORE.

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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Aspen's Kindergarten Graduation

Aspen graduated from Kindergarten earlier this week (and then had two more days of school... whaaaa?) and I made it to the ceremony with Linc at the last possible second. I posted on Instagram that I dragged poor little Linc there in his PJs, with no shoes and socks, and the cookie (that I used to bribe him to get. in. the. car.) smeared all over his face, hands and arms. While the kids filed into the gym and onto the stage, I wiped Linc off and managed to get appropriate footwear on. I tell ya, I'm SO GLAD I will no longer have to juggle Linc's afternoon nap with Aspen's afternoon preschool. It has been insanity.

Side note: Aspen wore the same dress to her Kindergarten graduation that she wore to her Preschool graduation. DYING.

Aspen earned one of two academic achievement awards and I'm so happy for her. She also received a gift card to Barnes & Noble, which was serendipitous because I was planning to take her there after the ceremony anyway.

They sang so many cute songs about going into first grade, and Aspen totally nailed her shared recitation with a classmate.

Afterward, we made a pit stop in her classroom for a few photos so she'll always remember the time she spent there. It's crazy at the school now, unfortunately, so we didn't get to memorialize it in all its true glory.

I'm psyching myself up for summer break, and for getting the kids to do more than just fight, watch TV and ask me for snacks 13 hours a day, 7 days a week.

L: first day of Kindergarten // R: last day of Kindergarten
Since Aspen's a summer birthday student, today we were able to bring in donuts for a class treat, and she was so excited to finally participate in that tradition. Sometimes she's really upset she doesn't have a birthday during the school year, but I'm always telling her how awesome it is to be able to have swim parties for her birthday, and have BBQs and watermelon and all the fantastic stuff that can only happen in summer. Hopefully everything was fun in class so she doesn't feel left out.


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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Doing Enough

Aspen has a favorite little girlfriend in her current class and I've made an effort to get in touch with the mom and have a couple of play dates before the school year is through. We sent a note to school with Aspen to give to her friend so her mom would have my name and number.

In the two visits we've had with one another and our kids, she's asked me what I like to do in my spare time when I'm not "mothering." I only have two answers for her: reading and yoga.

She asked what else. What do I do when I'm not cleaning or carpooling or cooking or sleeping? Well, that's pretty much it. And I'm owning it.

She has two children, but the one Aspen's age is her youngest. So they're a little less dependent on her than if they were younger. To be honest, I feel like my kids take advantage of how much I'm willing to do for them just to stop the whining. I know I could be better about encouraging their independence, but they usually react with complete meltdowns that make my ears feel as though they're bleeding.

So, I'm not apologetic that when I'm not working one of my two jobs, or cleaning, or sleeping, or eating, I just like to read or do yoga. OR BINGE-WATCH NETFLIX SO SUE ME.

I don't need to do a whole lot more right now to feel fulfilled. Like I've recently said, my self-care is evolving and I'm actively working on including more time with my own friends, and monthly date nights with Kevin.

I don't want to be doing much else right now, because I hate feeling stressed about my to-do list, and I hate feeling overtired. There will be a chapter for me to do more, but I still have some pages to go before I get there.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Shopping Tips at 'Or so she says...'

3 Ways to Make Shopping at Walmart BETTER can be found on 'Or so she says...'

Hey all! So happy to be posting again over at 'Or so she says...' for Mariel. See my tips for making shopping with the kids a little easier. You can click right HERE to be taken to the post on the 'Or so she says...' blog.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Aspen's third dance recital

Aspen finished her third and final year at The Dancing Room. She had her recital on Saturday, and was spoiled by a visit from her grandparents, as well as her uncles and auntie. My parents flew across the stinkin country just to watch a few minutes of a dance recital for a five-year-old. Now that's love.

Something I've loved about about this studio is that the teacher also does their portraits at the end of the year. She does a great job, and only charges a teeny tiny fee for the CD and use of all the images (which is optional). It's so nice to have these natural, beautiful photos of Aspen and her class.

Grandpa Marc and Aspen
The weather was awful when we arrived, so I didn't think to take more photos of everyone outside after the recital. I'm disappointed because it's always so hard to get nice shots in the theater.

Aspen and her teacher, Miss Elizabeth
Aspen had a really hard time near the end of the year, possibly feeling the stress of the upcoming recital, or dealing with the flip-flopping weather, or basically just being a drama queen like her mom... there were a number of classes from which she'd emerge inconsolable. It was usually resulting from something in class not going the way she'd anticipated, and she couldn't resolve the issue. It was hard because she'd insist on continuing with dance, and that she did like it, but she seemed miserable. Her teacher and I talked about it, and we hoped it would pass.

Aspen and Uncle Seth

Thankfully things seemed to turn around for her, and she understood that if she couldn't enjoy dance, she didn't have to do it anymore. We could take a break and find something else she liked. It was a relief when she started coming out of class happy, announcing that she didn't have any tantrums.

Auntie Fifi and Uncle Jose
In a way, I'm really relieved danced is coming to a close for summer break; I am pretty worn out from chauffeuring little people around, especially screaming little people who complain I never let them do anything fun. There were many times Linc was beside himself because I had the audacity to stuff him in his car seat, drive him and Aspen to dance, and then refuse to let him out of the car (we don't stay during her class). I won't miss that.

Aspen and the best brother ever
I'm glad we have a similarly priced studio to attend this fall, focusing on Jazz and Ballet. We'll see how Aspen likes the more structured dance (rather than the movement expressions she's been doing). Some other girls in our neighborhood have been attending the new studio and they've really liked it. I'm hopeful it'll be a smooth transition!

Aspen's first recital HERE. Aspen's second recital HERE.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

My brother, best friend forevvvvver!!!


These kids fight so much during the day and it makes me crazy to constantly hear Aspen tattling on Linc, and Linc screaming because he's not getting his way. BUT. Then they do something like this while watching a show together and I just can't stand how cute it is. I CANNOT STAND IT.

It has been so hard having the energy and mental stamina to parent two kids all day every day... and it's been a suuuuper long journey getting back to being a functioning human after a year of no sleep, but I'm glad I made it to the other side. No matter how much they fight during the day, without fail I'm telling Kev each night about all the adorable things they did and said.

The last two nights Linc has worn one of Penny's shirts and a pair of her leggings to bed. I don't know what possessed him to do so, but I honestly don't care. I just hope they love each other this much forever.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Father's Day Gift Guide

Father's Day Gift Guide on 'Or so she says...'

You can once again find me to 'Or so she says...' today, sharing a Barnes & Noble inspired gift guide. Included are some books I've read myself and highly recommend, as well as some other awesome titles found at Barnes & Noble. There are also so extras thrown in, as well, so check it out! You can click right HERE to find the post on 'Or so she says...'.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

That Damn Meckel

Ever since Facebook started doing the feature that brings up memories from years past, I've been waiting for this day to arrive. I know that settings can be adjusted so certain events and people won't be included in the Facebook Memories for any given day, but in a weird way, I was looking forward to it.

It was a terrifying time, one during which I didn't know if anyone would figure out what was wrong with Kev before he bled to death. Okay, so he probably wouldn't have bled to death because blood transfusions exist, but that was just a band aid fix for the much bigger problem at hand.

Looking back over these updates, it's infuriating to remember how little seems to have been done to really treat Kev before he landed in an ambulance that morning. Once a specialist has done what s/he can, if there's nothing else to look at, you're done. Bye bye. Good luck figuring out what's wrong with you. The doctor who performed Kev's colonoscopy after his April visit to the ER told him "You're young and healthy! You'll be fine! It's probably just a bug."


I vividly remember so many seemingly random details about that day. I remember which pants I picked up off the floor and put on with my pajama top. I remember sitting on the couch, dumbfounded, talking with my neighbor after Kev left in the ambulance. I remember eating breakfast with Aspen like nothing was wrong, all the while I was freaking out about who would watch the kids for me so I could get to the hospital.

I remember nursing Linc and scrolling through my phone, not knowing who on earth to call, and then feeling prompted to call Amanda. I'm still so thankful she and her husband swooped in and helped me (and then Amanda sent me a message that watching my kids that day had been her pleasure and she was so grateful I'd called her). I remember arriving at the ER with a notebook and pen, ready to get down to business and figure out what was wrong. I remember taking Kev's phone away from him as he was barely conscious, and telling his mom we'd have to talk to her later since Kev was about to receive his first blood transfusion.

I remember my brother arriving at the hospital and setting up camp with me for the next five days in the hospital and, subsequently, at my house. I think I had a sandwich in my purse the first day, but I don't remember eating much, and worried my milk supply would dwindle.

I remember being so grateful Seth was with me. I didn't have to sit by myself and listen to the worries cycle endlessly in my head. He was someone to talk with and just be with when I couldn't be with Kev. I remember going to Amanda's mid-day and nursing Linc, feeling such relief both physically and emotionally. I was so grateful to leave his sleeping little body on a dog bed on the floor of Amanda's room (still makes me giggle) so I could return to Kev.

I remember the gratitude I felt for Matt and Alissa when Matt offered to spend the night in the ICU with Kev so I could go home with my kids and try to sleep. There was also dinner waiting for me when I got home since my neighborhood family was doing what they could to help.

It's hard to believe the medical staff was just grasping at straws that first day. There was absolutely no bleeding from a biopsy site in Kev's colon. The bleed was coming from his large intestines because his birth defect was filling the intestines with stomach bile, which they aren't suited to handle. It must have been so difficult for them to come up empty after the many, many scopes they did that first day. I think Kev had at least three colonoscopies and one endoscopy the day he was admitted.

Reliving this experience via these Facebook prompts is a nice reminder that life is good, and it helps me put things into perspective. So what if Linc has a tantrum for at least an hour every day? At least his dad is still alive to come home and deal with him for me at the end of the day.

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