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Monday, July 18, 2016

Michelle Hall's Funeral

My neighbor passed away recently and I had to break the news to Aspen while trying not to cry my eyes out myself. Michelle adopted my kids as her own grandkids. In the three years we've lived here, Michelle always made a point to holler to Aspen over the fence, asking her to meet her at the gate. When Aspen trotted over to our backyard gate, Michelle would slip a toy, treat or book through the fence to Aspen. After Linc was born, Michelle would make sure two goodies made it through the fence for Aspen to share with her brother.

Aspen spent many hours with Michelle, making cards with her and enjoying her craft hoard. She gave Aspen pages of stickers and scrapbook paper for art projects, and they also picked flowering chives so Aspen could bring plants home after their visits with one another. Whenever we had a rain storm, Michelle and I would send messages back and forth worrying about potential flooding, or asking how the dogs were doing with the flooding. She's also the neighbor I'd call on last-minute to sit in my house when Linc was napping and I needed to pick up Aspen from school.

Michelle's liver failed and she ended up spending a week in the hospital. After she was discharged, she only lasted a couple of days at home before she was admitted again. On the 4th I called the hospital trying to find her but they didn't have record of her in their system. Time got away from me and she died in the hospital a few days later, without me being able to visit her. I feel awful about it, and wish I'd been able to say goodbye. I know she wasn't very coherent, but it's difficult not having closure when someone passes away.
Michelle often told me I'm a good mom, even though I know she heard me yell at my kids in the backyard on more than one occasion. I know she heard them fighting with one another, and that she saw once saw Aspen hit Linc in the face with a shovel. But she always complimented me on their good qualities and just laughed off the hard stuff about parenting. She never made me feel like I wasn't doing a good job trying to keep these kids alive and well. She was always so encouraging and supportive and I appreciated it so much.

Her funeral was Saturday and I was asked to sing a hymn during the program. I broke down bawling the first time I practiced it on my own, but right up until the rehearsal with my accompanist I did fine. However, I only made it through one verse during the service before I lost it. Thankfully my talented pianist continued playing while I choked on my own voice. I was able to speak the words of the hymn as the music played, and hopefully it wasn't too distracting to the loved ones in attendance. I'm honored I was able to participate in some teeny tiny way to show others Michelle meant a lot to our family, and that we miss her.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

4th of July 2016... continued

On Monday we had Sophia, Jose and Seth over to eat and celebrate with us. Aspen wasn't into sparklers this year, but below you can see Lincoln's reaction to seeing one for the first time. He thought it was pretty amazing. I had noticed this cup suggestion for kids + sparklers, so we gave it a shot.

For the first sparkler we made Linc hold it with his hand somewhat protected by the cup, and I think it helped him realize we need to keep a barrier between himself and the firework. But when he wanted subsequent sparklers, he'd go over to Kev and yell "PUT THE FIRE ON IT!!" And he didn't really want to use the cup anymore. 

He saw real fireworks on our drive home Sunday night, and Aspen started saying how scary fireworks are. Linc was following her lead, but I may have convinced him to say they're "booooofital!" in the sky, and not scary.

When Kev held that first sparkler, Linc asked him to put it in the sky, and was a little disappointed they have to stay so small and low to the ground. I knew he'd like them! And maybe if he hadn't stayed up so late Sunday night I would have let him stay up late Monday night to see the city fireworks show with Kev and Aspen. We also need to get another set of shop-muffs so both kids can have ear protection.

Now that Kev no longer has to work in preparation for the audit, he's able to come home much earlier than usual. It was so nice to have him home in time for dinner on the 4th! This summer is going by so quickly, and he's hardly had any time to be involved in fun. Hopefully we can change that with the next couple of months ahead.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Popsicle Inspired Invitations on OSSS

I recently had the opportunity to do a post for Popsicle on 'Or so she says...' which made all of Lincoln's dreams come true. That kid LOVES pops like nobody's business. Over at 'Or so she says...' you can learn about the delicious new flavors Popsicle debuted this summer, and see the craft I created inspired by the frozen treats. YES I DID A CRAFT I CAN'T BELIEVE IT.

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Monday, July 04, 2016

Fourth of July 2016

I can't believe how much Linc has changed since last year. And it's too bad I'll probably never get a 4th of July photo as good as the one I got in 2015. It's a classic. I had it printed onto a huge canvas so it's hanging on my wall for the rest of my life. I may have even used the photo on some of the Christmas cards I sent out last year ;).

Aspen is hesitant to let me take photos of her and Linc these days, but I keep bugging her about it, telling her when she's grown she'll be SO happy to have so many photos with her brother. Not a lot of my family photos survived our house fire and I'm so grateful for the few I have. I love having pictures to compare the kids' faces to, and seeing how they change and look more like each side of the family at different stages in their lives.

Our 4th of July weekend was really low-key. Kev spent the month of June preparing for an important audit at work, and wasn't home much. In addition, he had a side job on Saturday so wasn't home until long after the kids were in bed. I'm exhausted from manning the kids around the clock and working and taking care of the house, and don't have the energy to take the kids to celebrations by myself. It's so stressful keeping an eye on both of them and talking myself out of having an anxiety attack over losing them in public. I had a fleeting thought of going somewhere by myself with the kids, like Bear Lake or Pineview but then I laughed at how ridiculous that would be. I look forward to the next family vacation we have, since it's been 1.5 years. Walking around the neighborhood with the kids on Friday night, it was hard not to feel jealous and depressed seeing neighbors packing up their cars and trailers and boats for their long weekend adventures. I don't want to to do anything huge, but it would be nice to have Kev home so we could at least go to parades, fireworks, picnics, etc. I usually forget how much anxiety I have until I consider doing something (seemingly simple) like that by myself with the kids.

Thankfully they don't need much in the way of adventure to have a good time. Aspen just likes to know why we celebrate certain holidays, and she likes reading about the history behind many of them. Both kids are super happy to eat Popsicles and light sparklers and see the flags that get put up on our street for holidays like this.I'll try not to beat myself up over not doing more, because I'm just trying to do the best I can.

There will be a season for family trips, and I'm sure when we're on those vacations together I'll be longing for the days when my kids were easily entertained by the sandbox, YouTube videos, and dog-sitting for my brother. So I'll enjoy what we're doing now, and how happy the kids are with new books, park play dates with friends, and sitting in kiddie pools together.

Happy Fourth of July!

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Back to School

Working on Mermaid pose and, apparently, not remembering correctly what it's supposed to look like.

Yesterday I applied to community college as the first step toward registering for my RYT. I was really excited about it and mentioned to Aspen that I was going back to school in a few weeks. She asked what kind, and I mentioned it was college. She asked why I was going to college again. It's hard to tell her that despite all the money and hours I spent getting a degree ten years ago, I'm finally getting training for the thing I really want to do with my life. Better late than never, though, right?!

I'm really grateful for this opportunity, although I am nervous to jump back into foreign territory. It's been so long since I've had to attend classes, study and take tests. I'm only taking two courses the first semester, so hopefully that helps me ease back into the routine of attending school. And hopefully Linc won't be overwhelmed since he'll only be with a babysitter one day a week to start. I'm actually so nervous about that element that I've already starting talking to Linc about it. He loves Lindsey's boys and I think he honestly will have fun with them when she watches him. I'm optimistic we'll have a couple of rough days in the beginning, and then he'll be super-excited about his weekly trip to her house.

In preparation for the course, I've been diligently attending at least one class each week at the Rec Center, and doing a few practices on my own at home. I'm looking forward to how my practice will change as I study more about the basics of Yoga and eventually take the anatomy class. I can't believe it's finally happening. After I get my acceptance letter, that is.

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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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