Sunday, May 29

Happy Trails

It only took us 4 1/2 years, but we found the best, #1, numero uno, supreme, most wonderful trail to walk/bike/scooter/stroller along.

For the last two Sundays, we've decided to use up the kids extra Sunday energy by taking a stroll and a scoot along our new-found trail.

We've found caterpillars, sticks, rocks, ticks (on Sarah's back tonight), new bushes and trees, wild flowers, and smiles.

In true Emma fashion, she crashed and burned at one point.

Not only did she get a little road rash on both knees and an elbow, but she hit her neck on the handle bar of her scooter as she fell.  It left a nasty little mark.

Emma rode the rest of the way with Jared in the stroller, while Sarah and Andrew posed for my camera any chance they got.

I need to get some family pictures taken while they are in the picture-taking mood!

Tie One On

I started making ties for my boys lately.

It makes dressing them for church so much more fun!

My favorite are the bow ties...

Andrew called his, "My BOY tie"  

This little feller got his very first tooth yesterday!  At 7 3/4 months, that is super early in our family.  The rest of the kids didn't have any teeth until at least 9 months.  Love those baby blues... L-O-V-E 'em!

Thursday, May 26

Let's Review

In the past week, quite a bit has happened.

We have some friends that we used to double date with all the time.  They abandoned us last year and moved to Wisconsin.  They were in town for the birth of their first grandchild last week, so we went on a date with them on Friday night.  It was fun to catch up!

Saturday, the kids and I went to a birthday party for a friend.  On my way home, Dennis texted me and surprised me telling me he'd gotten a sitter and we were going out again for our anniversary that night!  I thought since we'd had already gone out that weekend, that was it, but I was very excited to spend the evening with just Dennis.  It was a great anniversary, and my favorite kind of date.  We celebrated eight years together by going to Red Robin and shopping together.  It's nice to go to a store without being distracted by little people!

Sunday was Sunday, so we went to church and had German pancakes for lunch.  After naps, we found a new walking trail where the kids rode their scooters and burned off all their extra Sunday energy.

Monday was uneventful as far as I can remember.

Tuesday was a normal day until I picked up the girls from their schools.  Severe weather was all across the state of Oklahoma, and headed quickly our way.  After making a homemade pizza for dinner, Dennis scooped us up in the car and took us back to the hospital.  The kids and I went down in to the basement while Dennis was upstairs helping the staff get patients to safe places.  A tornado touched down just west of us, less than a mile away.  It destroyed a few homes and businesses and damaged some of the schools in its path.  It also left many trees looking like this:

And even more looking like this:

We lost power that night from about 5:00 pm until just after 11:00.  We were told it could be days until the power was restored, and I was beginning to get worried because we have a water well that only works when we have electricity.  I can go without power, but water is a whole other story!  Luckily, about two minutes after Dennis and I turned off the last flashlight for the night the power came back on.  We were laying there discussing how incredibly dark it was without the street light outside and how quiet everything was, and then it flipped on.
I am so grateful my family was kept safe and our home received no damage.  There are many others who were not as fortunate, and it breaks my heart to hear story after story of children missing, injured, or dead.  I hope those people have the comfort of our Father in Heaven to help them through.

Wednesday was quite the day.  Dennis announced to the administration and staff of the hospital that he has accepted a different position.  After more than 4 1/2 years, our little family will be saying good-bye to Oklahoma.  We are moving to Iowa!  Dennis will be a CEO at a hospital in a great place that I've fallen in love with.  We will be living less than 30 minutes from some of his family, and no further than 2 hours from the rest.  We are very excited, and I am anxious and a little stressed about packing up a house, finding a new home, and moving our family to a new place.  The funny thing about our location is that Dennis and I attended church in this town for about seven months before we had kids.  When we first got married, I was finishing my Bachelor's degree and Dennis was working while completing his dual Master's degree.  We were in a student ward near our university.  After a few months, the stake presidency asked us if we'd be willing to attend church in a branch south of there.  Well... this place is the branch we attended!  I'm sure there will be different people, but it makes me feel like this was in the plan for us from the beginning.

Today, Emma had her very last day at her Mother's Day Out/Preschool.  She had a great time playing with friends and hugged her teachers good-bye multiple times.

Thursday, May 19

The Graduate

Emma has been going to pre-school twice a week.

Each morning as we get Sarah ready for school Emma asks,
"Do I have school today???!!!"

She loves being a big girl and independent.

She's never shed a tear, never been nervous about leaving me, she just wears her own backpack, holds her lunch box, and walks in like she's in high school.

Her favorite thing to do all year is to "sneak" in so her teachers don't see her. As we walk down the hall close to her room, she asks me to be quiet. We then tip toe into her class and surprise her teachers.

Miss Michelle and Miss Jessica play along every day until I announce, "Emma! You did it! They didn't even see you come in!" Then, they say hello and Emma beams from ear to ear. I love it.

To celebrate the end of the school year, they held a graduation for her class. Each child received two awards - one for schoolwork and one for their personality.

For schoolwork, Emma got the "Love of Reading" award because she is always choosing to read books during playtime.

And for her personality, Emma received the "Good Manners and Patience" award. Her teachers said she is always sweet and kind to others and she patient about waiting her turn. Dennis turned to me when they announced it and said, "That's a GOOD thing!"

Her teachers told me they also considered giving her the "Sneaky" award for the way she comes into class each day, but they thought the other parents wouldn't understand and would think they were just being mean calling her "Sneaky."

We're so happy that Emma has enjoyed school this year. I know that Andrew has thought it's pretty nice to have a little extra attention...

Great job, Em. We love you!

Tuesday, May 17

Goosey Goosey

Our kids often ask us if we can go feed the geese on Sunday afternoons.
We have a park in town with a small river and geese are there almost year-round.
So, we take our leftover pancakes or a half-used loaf of bread and load up the car.

There is always at least one goose that tries to cause a little trouble.
He thinks he can pick on our kids and hiss at them.
That's when Daddy is called to the rescue.
He makes noises that scare away the geese and make us all laugh.

Emma and Andrew recently learned how to do it too.

After running out of bread and scaring away the mean geese, Jared felt safe and happy with his Daddy.

Friday, May 13

Caps & Gowns

I never thought "Kindergarten Graduation" was a big deal. Not until today, that is. Not until my little girl was one of those Kindergarten graduates.

Sarah's elementary school owns caps and gowns sized for 5 and 6 year-olds. It was the cutest graduation I have ever seen. Ever. By far.

They recited a Kindergarten poem, sang the alphabet and signed it in sign language. Sarah was practicing all week, and quite disappointed that I couldn't help her with the letters she forgot the signs for.

Sarah's teacher, Mrs. Beeby, was an answer to our prayers! Her pre-K teacher was... less than stellar I'll say. This year was a completely different story. Sarah was thrilled to go to school and happy when she got home. I know a huge part of that had to do with Mrs. Beeby.

Left to Right: Sarah, Lauren, Hope, Paige
From the very first day of school, Sarah has talked about her friends. This little group of girls had been friends for a while, but were so sweet to take Sarah into their group and make her feel involved. She never once felt left out, and I know at that age that is a big deal. Love these little people!

K is for Kindergarten - hip, hip, hooray!
I is for imagination we use everyday.
N is for numbers - we know one, two three.
D is for drawing, the best you can see!
E is for exercise to keep our bodies strong.
R is for reading books all day long.
G is for good friends. We made more each day.
A is for the alphabet we know how to say.
R is for remembering everything we learned.
T is for treats every Friday we earned.
E is for excitement. This year we've had some.
N is for next year. First grade here we come!

Wednesday, May 11


One of my life's greatest pleasures is watching my baby softly swing from our tree. It makes me forget the world outside of my little family. There are no worries, fears, or dangers. Just a cool breeze blowing and a irresistible smile behind that pacifier.

Wednesday, May 4

I Wanna Be A Part Of It...

New York, New York!

To celebrate my mom's 60th birthday (which is actually in June) my mom, my sister, her daughter, and I went to New York City. I have never been before, but I absolutely LOVE seeing new places and I've wanted to go to New York for a long time. It was amazing.

We took the red eye from Salt Lake City and arrived the next morning before 6:00 am.

Day 1:
We caught a cab from the airport to our hotel. It was neither a yellow cab, or an I.D.-ed driver. Scary! I immediately opened up my maps application on my phone and narrated to the others in the car about each road and turn. I wanted the driver to know I knew where we should be headed in case he decided to take us somewhere sketchy...
We dropped our bags off at our hotel and walked around Times Square near our hotel. Then, we took a bus tour of Manhattan. We stopped near Ground Zero, saw the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, Little Italy, the United Nations, and a ton of other sights in lower and mid-town Manhattan. We ate lunch at Carnegie Deli, and I just have to say that deli means something entirely different than what I'm used to! It was scrumptious. We then took another bus tour of upper-Manhattan. I loved seeing the LDS temple there right in the hustle of New York City. It was gorgeous. We saw Lincoln Center, Juliard, Central Park, a ton of museums, plus countless shopping and apartment buildings, and ornate churches. That night, we took a night tour on the bus that took us into Brooklyn where we could look across the river and see all of Manhattan lit up.

Day 2: We started the day by taking the subway to Grand Central Station. This was probably one of my favorite places. I loved how old it is and all the detail that went in to the workmanship. It was absolutely breathtaking. We stopped at the Magnolia Bakery in the lower level of the Station. Yummy!! Then, we hit the American Girl Store (Gwen's request) and walked along Madison Avenue. We then went to get a closer look at the Manhattan temple and on to Central Park. We took a pedi-cab ride around the park which was great. We walked a little around the upper-East side at that point. It was fun seeing the high-end shopping and living areas. For dinner, we ate at the Marriott hotel that has a revolving restaurant on one of its upper levels. We tried to go to the Empire State Building, but the wait was too long that night. Instead, we went shopping at the Macy's store on 34th street. The wooden escalators were my favorite. I even splurged a little that night and bought myself some cute black and white shoes and a top.

Day 3: We woke up at 5 am to stand outside the Today show. We only had to walk 4 blocks from our hotel to Rockefeller Plaza. There was also another Magnolia Bakery that was calling our names that morning! Afterwards, we went on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The history in New York was so fun to see. I love a good back-story. We got to see SoHo, Chinatown, and Little Italy up close that afternoon. One of the big events of the trip was that night. We went to see Mama Mia on Broadway. It is in the Winter Garden Theater, which is the same theater that Cats was in for nearly 20 years. It was hands-down the best live performance I've seen. I loved that I could sing along with the songs too.

Day 4: Last Day... This was the first time it was rainy the whole time we were there. It was also our last chance to use the Empire State Building tickets we had pre-purchased. As were were waiting in line, the employees warned us that there was zero visibility up there. They were right. So, we took the map we were given and pretended that we could see everything. All we really saw was fog, literally. We then went to Washinton Square Park in Greenwich Village. It is right there in the heart of NYU also. The arch at the park was built in honor of the 100th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration. I fell in love with Greenwich Village. It is where I decided I would live if I lived in NYC. It was then time for me to pack up. I left a couple hours before everyone else, so I rode the subway all by myself out to Queens and took an Airtram to the airport. I was so proud of myself!

I want to go back to New York with Dennis someday. I thought it was amazing and I loved seeing so many places I've heard about or seen on TV and movies. There is so much more to see that I just have to go again. It's as simple as that.

Tuesday, May 3

Six - Sweet & Sassy

Sarah turned six years old while we were in Utah this year. She was so excited to have her cousins come for her butterfly party to eat cake and ice cream with her. It was such a fun day!

For Sarah's gift, Dennis and I took her on a "date" to Build-A-Bear Workshop. None of our kids have an animal from there, and we thought it would be something special that she'd enjoy. If fact, as we were walking through the mall on the way there Sarah said, "Don't you think it would be fun if you took me to Build-A-Bear?"

It's so fun to think that Sarah is six now. I remember my own sixth birthday really well - I got a banana chair as my gift and I guess I was being a little too sassy because I remember getting in trouble too!

I hope she remembers hers as a very fun day, not the fact that she did actually get a timeout that day. There must be something about sixth birthdays, huh?

Sunday, May 1

Utah trip

Our family had a trip planned to Utah for the last two weeks of April.
We loaded up the car, bought a new DVD, and rolled the dice.
We left at midnight on the 15th.
Everything was going wonderfully for about 5 hours.
The kids were happy, the car was rolling along, and Dennis was awake in the driver's seat.
At 5:00 am, we were in central Kansas. I-70 was shut down due to a snow storm. We decided to wait it out in a truck stop parking lot. At 7:00 am, we picked up breakfast at McDonald's and learned from some fellow travelers that the road most likely wouldn't open until later on in the evening. At that point (8:00 am) we opted to head a little further south to a road that would eventually link us back up with the interstate in Colorado where the weather was better. Just before 9:00 in the morning, our car sputtered a few times. Dennis stopped in the next town to pick up some fuel tank cleaner (I'm sure there's a better term for what he bought, but I don't have a clue) because he thought we got some bad fuel at the last stop. While he was pouring the stuff in, the car stopped. We were able, after far too many attempts, to get across the street to the conveniently located mechanics shop in town. It was windy - I've never seen it this windy before. And, it was very very cold. The day we left Oklahoma it had been over 90 degrees. I think it was about 26 degrees where we broke down. The mechanic told Dennis he wouldn't have time to work on our car that day. Dennis's response, "I have four kids in my car. The oldest isn't yet six years old. They are sitting inside your garage..." He found time to work on our car that day! It took six hours to replace our fuel pump. We passed the entire six hours by sitting in the convenience store accross the street. It was too cold and windy to venture out anywhere else, plus we aren't sure there was anything else! We ate pizza, bought ice cream sandwiches, watched movies on our DVD player, and played lots of pretend. We finally got back on the road after 3:00 that afternoon. We should have gotten to my parents house at 5:00 or 6:00 for dinner. Instead, we rolled in at 4:00 am the next day. Not our favorite trip, but we did it and we survived.
I really felt like turning around, calling it quits, and heading back to Oklahoma. The reason we didn't?

This guy:

My dad. The main reason for our trip was to be in Utah for my dad when he was released as stake president. For the last 9 years, my dad has served as the stake president in his stake. I remember the day he was called... I was in my freshmen year of college at Utah State, and I had come down for the weekend to work at Dad's model home. I can't believe all that has happened in those 9 years. I met Dennis a few months later, got married, lived in 3 different states, and had 4 kids! My parents went from having 5 grandchildren to now having 18!
My dad is a great man. I love him, and I am so grateful we were able to be there to support him. It was amazing to sit in church with my 4 siblings, their spouses, and all our families there together. It's another day I won't forget.

Following church where my dad was made a "free man," we had an Easter egg hunt in my parent's back yard. Everyone was there, and our kids ate it up. They love being with their cousins, especially because they don't have the opportunity very often.

Sarah is at such a great age right now. She loves to help everyone. She is constantly asking me what she can do to help me. This actually resulted in her learning to change Jared's diaper recently! During the egg hunt, she pointed out eggs to the younger kids to help them fill up their baskets faster.

Every time Andrew picked up an egg, he shook it to make sure there was something inside. If he didn't hear anything, he dropped it!

The last night of our visit, Dennis captured a very rare moment. All three big kids smiled for the camera... at. the. same. time! Wow.