Friday, October 19, 2018

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Coming back from vacation was like jumping back into a 7 ring circus. That night we had an event at Logan's school where they got to display their art work and see some snakes, spiders, and to Brooklyn's joy a REAL owl! The boys loved the snakes and Brooklyn was of course fascinated with the owl. She sat down in the middle of the hallway where it was being shown and just watched it.

During our vacation the car my parents were using to cart around our kids died so Saturday morning we were off car shopping. We found a black 2011 Honda Odyssey that I fell in love with that was in our price range so we bought it! It's such a spacious car! So easy to get the kids into and out of for school. And it's big enough to carpool with! We negotiated a new timing belt and a few other things in with the price of the car, and we've had to have the transmission tubes and clamps replaced but now it should be running like a champ foreverrrrrr!

It's finally fall in Utah! The kids have been soaking up the 40-60 degree weather and I've been loving that it's not 100 degrees out! The change in seasons has totally kicked me into fall cleaning mode. I've been going through baby clothes and giving them away to people who could use them (I've divided them up for 7 families). My sister Sheila's family stayed at our house for 2 weeks while they were between houses and they gifted us with their old clothes. I realized I didn't have room to store them unless we got rid of our old clothes. So the cycle of giving continues.

As I was going through Brooklyn's clothes I realized that people gave us almost everything she owned up until she was 2. Whether it was hand me downs or gifts there are very few pieces I actually purchased. What a blessing that was! I hope these clothes can be a blessing to others as well. Dave and I aren't planning to have any more kids so it was time to free up the space anyway.

It's officially been a year since we bought our solar panels and we've never had a power bill higher than $12 (which is the connection fee to be attached to the grid plus taxes). It's been great! 7 more years until we break even, although we probably would break even if we sold the house anyway because of what the panels would up the property value of the house.

I've also been working like mad on Halloween costumes. The boys wanted to buy super hero costumes so they were easy, but I've been sewing an owl costume for Brooklyn. It's ALMOST done and is adorable! Dave wants to be the Dread Pirate Roberts from Princess Bride and I found an inexpensive red dress for me to be Buttercup with him. I just to finish working on Dave's mask, boots and pants and a belt for me. We have two parties next Saturday so the deadline is quickly approaching.

Today I've been up to my elbows in honey. A little old lady in the neighborhood gave us a 60lb tub of honey a few months ago and now that I'm down to my last tub of Costco honey I decided it was time to move the massive amounts to a more usable size jar. So Brooklyn and I broke up the crystalized honey, melted it, and put it in Mason Jars. So now we're good on honey forever.

The boys got to go with Grandma Linda and Papa Bill to their cousin's house while Brooklyn and I worked. They had a fun time playing at the park with their cousins and consumed most of those massive buckets of chocolate ice cream.

Other than that I've been working on a few goals set during General Conference. I took a 10 day Facebook fast and realized although it's not a source of negativity for me, it is a time waster. I had removed the FB app from my phone for the week but decided to just leave it off. So it's not as easy to access FB and I don't find myself using it as much as I used to. FB is a great tool (I realized over the 10 days how much I use it to check up on one of my friends who is in the hospital with her new baby and am so glad to be back)! But you can have too much of a good thing.

I also started the Book of Mormon again (yea, I was in Mosiah but what can you do?). I've missed a few days but planned for that by adding a few extra pages in every day just incase. It's going well, although I do miss being able to slowly go through the verses and spend time pondering them. I feel like I'm on a deadline to finish by December 31 so I don't have time to stop! I know that's not the point, but with 3 kids running around I don't have a lot of extra time to spare. 

One verse that struck me in the mist of all the commotion of life this week was 2 Nephi 5:27 "And it came to pass that lived after the manner of happiness." There were several references to happiness it that day's reading and it just struck me that tough things happen to all people but regardless, we can choose to be happy despite our circumstances. So I've been trying to focus on happy this week. 

I make whatever quote strikes me my lock screen on my phone to have that constant reminder. My last one was Bruce Lee "Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one" and this one seems to take that idea one step further. Don't just endure life, enjoy it! So I'll leave you with that! Enjoy to the end.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Anniversary Trip: Redwoods & San Francisco

Last week we went on our 10 year anniversary trip to the Redwoods and San Francisco. Dave has wanted to go to the Redwoods for as long as I've known him so we decided what better time to check them out than on our anniversary when we don't have to take 3 kids in the car with us. As we were planning the trip we realized it only added 3 hours of total driving time to swing down and hit up San Francisco on our way home, so we decided why not?

We started the trip with an 11 hour drive to Ashland, Or where we found an AirBnB suite with bathroom, sitting area and bedroom separated from the house it was in for $40. It was an adorable, cabin in the middle of the woods feel! I couldn't see or hear any neighbors anywhere nearby. Totally worth the money and I think it was Dave's favorite place we stayed at.

The drive through the mountains was beautiful! We drove through the top part of Nevada which was desert and then headed into the bottom of Oregon which was covered in fog and infrequent drizzles. The leaves were changing as we drove through too, so it was enchanting to see everything with it's fall colors.

We decided to stop in Crescent City to see the light house and tidal pools since we were driving through anyway. We got lucky and showed up at low tide so we were able to cross to the lighthouse with minimal wading, but by the time we headed back an hour later the tide had come in and our pants got pretty soaked! But it was worth the wet.

Next up was the Klamath Overlook because we were supposed to be able to see whales eating seals or something. We didn't see any whales but we got a great view of the beach and found a mountain full of ripe blackberries. We ate our fill and talked to a guy that had been at the lookout every day that week and hadn't seen whales in 4 days. So we headed out to hit up the Redwoods.

The Redwoods were great! The woods was so tranquil and even though it drizzled off and on the whole time we were there, it made the woods smell FABULOUS! The first day we hiked it didn't rain so we didn't get to experience the smell until the second day. It was a piny smell with a hint of something citrus. Immediately upon smelling it I added Redwood essential oils to my Amazon shopping cart. Hopefully it smells as good as the real thing.

Dave had the time of his life and proclaimed the trip was totally worth the 13 hour drive. I don't know if I was more excited at the tidal pools or if he was more excited for the big trees. It's still up in the air.

We saw deer, elk, two different kinds of frogs, banana slugs and a plethora of birds while hiking. On average we clocked 14 miles of hiking a day and 60 flights of stairs. We went to bed exhausted each night and got a full 8 hours of sleep (which rarely happens for us).

We also hit up Fern Valley while in Redwoods. It this slot canyon covered in 7 different types of ferns. It was awesome to walk through two huge walls covered in green. Dave loves ferns and this was totally worth fording two rivers and getting a flat tire to see.

We were able to hike through the Redwoods to the beach and relax while watching the waves wash in. It started raining but we stayed because we saw three seals and two dolphins. The dolphins might have been sea monsters. They were hard to see because of the rain.

After two days in Redwoods State and National Park we decided to slowly meander down the coast. We had planned to spend 3 days in the park, but were ready to move on after 2 days. We asked stopped at a few souvenir shops on the beach and asked the locals where they would stop while heading down the coast. Then we stopped wherever they told us.

We ended up at the Founder's Grove which was a cool stop. What I liked is it wasn't as well maintained as the National Park so we got to see a stack of annihilated trees! It looked like one went down, taking two more with it. Dave of course had to ignore the sign that said don't climb on them and check it out up close.

We also hit up a local cheese factory!!! It had some of the best flavors of cheeses I've ever tasted (no wonder every local we talked to recommended it). We got to sample 30ish flavors before deciding on 3 bricks to take home with us. Yeah, they're already all gone. I wish we would have bought more!

We also hit up this baby light house. The cliff it was originally on had corroded and they had to move it. It's currently "in storage" and not functional until they can move it to it's new location. I still insisted we drive to the parking lot it was sitting in the middle of and take a picture.

We tried a few other beaches, looking for tidal pools but weren't able to find anything as spectacular as the ones in Crescent City. But we did get to see some beautiful beaches.

Next we headed into San Francisco! Because we were coming from the north we took the Golden Gate Bridge into town. Like the tourists we are we took tons of pictures of the bridge.

On our way into town we decided to stop at the Palace of Fine Arts. We were able to find free street parking and enjoy the scenery. I love the buildings!

It's also a preserve for several varieties of birds so did our best to spot them all.

 This is also where we were when we found out my car back at home had completed it's last adventure. My parents were using it while staying at our house and watching our kids and the transmission completely gave out. Crack down the center, cost 3 time more to fix it than the value of the car. I guess if you're going to die, you should do it with a bang!

Dave insisted we drive and walk down Lombard street (known for being one of the crookedest streets in SF). It was insane! I would absolutely hate to live on this street but it was cool to see.

We checked into our hole in the wall hotel, parked our car in a covered garage, praying it would get broken into during the 2 days we left it parked in the city with all our luggage locked inside (it didn't, pshew), and headed out to explore. We walked hiked up and down and up and down the roads to see Fisherman's Warf. We enjoyed browsing the shops, watching the street performers, ogled the sea lions, and ate some of the best sushi of our lives in Japan town.

On our way back to the hotel we walked by a few cathedrals and had to eat a few pastries in Little Italy. We had a Cannoli and a Diplomatica. The cannoli was good, as always, but the Diplomatica was heavenly!!! It was so good the next day while walking through Little Italy again we had to stop and get more pastries. This time an almond crescent and a raspberry circle. Both were fabulous but the almond crescent was the winner.

On day two we also thoroughly explored Chinatown. Many of the side streets had cool murals on the walls and I had to take a few pictures for the boys.

I love digging through all the shops in Chinatown, looking for the perfect souvineer for the kids. Dave found the boys each a Pokemon beanie that they wear every day and Brooklyn a little Chinese dress that she has already worn twice since we got home. I found kids chopsticks for the boys and a classic purple Chinese shirt and pants set which Brooklyn doesn't like as much as Dave's dress.

We had a grand time exploring but were ready to head out of town by the second day. Busy cities are fun to visit, but it's nice to head home to the suburbs. Of course before we left we had to hit up Fisherman's Warf one last time to get clam chowder, shrimp cocktail and a crab sandwich for lunch.

We spent the night in Reno and enjoyed our $50 king size suite with hot tub. In Reno you get more for your money ;) Friday we had a 7 hour drive home before going to enjoy Logan's "Night at the Museum" at school. Everyone was exhausted by bedtime.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Feeding Therapist

At the end of the summer we started taking Logan to a feeding therapist. I've had several people ask about it so I thought I would write a post about it to get all the details out there. Logan's been a picky eater forever.

The therapist said it is likely tied to my Gluten Intolerance since I was undiagnosed while I was pregnant with Logan (therefore not getting the nutrients I and the baby needed). It is common for babies that have failure to thrive in the womb to result in extreme picky eating that causes an aversion to food and all kinds of problems. It was very validating to know Logan actually has a problem and that we could come up with a game plan of how to correct it. 

She assessed Logan's situation, asked about all the things we've tried to do to get him to eat foods he doesn't like and over the next few visits she gave us assignments and things to try out at home to encourage Logan to eat foods he doesn't prefer. She was very firm in letting me know a child in Logan's situation will not eventually eat a food he doesn't like and the make him eat or go hungry method won't work for him. 

We stopped going to the therapist a few weeks ago and the changes have been night and day! He's still a picky eater, but I can get him to try new foods and even eat some of the foods he doesn't like. I realized it was working when we had grilled chicken, peas and rice for dinner. He doesn't like any of these foods but he ate and filled up on dinner! Even went so far as to say he LIKED the grilled chicken and tolerated the peas. "If I swallow the peas whole I can't even taste them!" I'd call that a win.

Now were working on introducing new foods and trying to repeat foods he tolerates so he doesn't forget he doesn't mind eating them (yup, we're having fish sticks for dinner tonight!). Meals are still exhausting, but not AS bad as they were before. I'm no longer making two completely different meals just to ensure Logan won't starve to death. And let's be honest, I don't want to eat the cucumbers in my salad either! We all have to tolerate something.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Labor Day & Settled into School

We had a great Labor Day weekend! It was our second trip camping of the summer at the Friendship Meadows campground. Because of the drought and fires we weren't aloud to have a big fire, but we were aloud to cook with charcoal briquettes. We got pretty creative with out cooking and had dutch oven pizza and breadsticks which didn't take long to cook and turned out fabulous!

It was crazy prepping and I forgot to pack several important things like my shoes and bread for sandwiches, but it all ended up working out. Like my mother before me I always pack 100 times more food than necessary so we didn't go hungry, and it was the perfect 70 degrees so I didn't miss my shoes too badly.

We got in late Friday, ate dinner and the kids were so excited about camping they said they didn't want to make S'mores and wanted to go to bed. They asked for a scary story so I told the Chicken Heart (because that's the only scary story I could remember from my childhood). Dustin said it was a little too scary so we decided on funny stories instead. It took a while for them to fall asleep, because they were enjoying their flashlights and playing.

The next day we made a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon. Then we went on a few hikes and just enjoyed being in nature. We also decided to drive into town for an ice cream because that's just what you do after a hike (the influence of Papa Mike).

We decided we were up for S'mores after dinner so we made and enjoyed them all! By then the black dirt was really seeping in so we gave the kids bird baths in the sink before bed. One really cool thing we got to hear was the elk bugling in the morning! It wasn't too loud so it didn't wake up the kids but it was neat to hear.

Sunday we packed up to head home! We took the long way home and visited a waterfall which the kids loved. The rocks around the waterfall were like little steps so we explored up and down the river for at least an hour before we had a picnic lunch. It was a great hike and we need to go back and do it again.

Dustin said it was the greatest hike ever!!! He says it relaxes him to explore in nature.

Since then we been getting used to our back to school routine. Logan enjoys school and made another good friend, Tyson. They have created their own alien language they talk in to each other and to Michael. Logan says his favorite class is gym class but he also really enjoys reading.

His homework requires him to read 20 minutes a day and we have to get about 10 small chapter books from the library a week for him to have something new to read every day. It's a little stressful to keep him in books he's interested but I'm glad he's a great reader.

He was very behind in math because of his atrocious school experience last year. This was a shocker for me because he was always top of the class for Math, but looking back at how horrible last year was, I'm not surprised. That is after all why we switched schools. We've been working extra hard and I think he's caught back up (he's getting 90-100% again).

Dustin has been working on his internet pre-school and getting to enjoy it more. He doesn't love it like Logan did, but we have transitioned from him crying that he doesn't want to do it, to only having to bribe him, to him doing it without a fight. I can even run upstairs quickly to get something done without him shutting it off (this is huge for us). He's learning his letters and excelling in math.

Brooklyn has been REALLY enjoying story time at the library! I selected the Pre-school story time because I thought it would be good for Dustin's social interaction to weekly meet with the same kids not at church, but Brooklyn has loved it the most! She dances for the songs, is captivated by the stories (scooted to RIGHT in front of the Librarian), and loves to do her craft all by herself! And she is so proud to show her craft to Dave when he gets home.

My friend Tenille came down from Idaho for the weekend! We spent the time sewing and eating delicious foods. It was fun to work on a table runner and chat. She ended up having to cut her trip short because there have been some major fires in Utah County and the air quality was killing her asmatic self. But it was great to see her and great to get to catch up and take a little vacation from working while she was here. The house is a mess, but I'm sure I'll catch back up in a few days.

For me it's been a rough month, but I'm hoping next month will be better! I'm hoping next month will be better. Dave and I are planning a late anniversary trip to the Redwoods and San Francisco and that is giving me something to really look forward to! I was talking to Linda last week and she pointed out we haven't gone on a trip, just the two of us since we had kids. We've given them to the grandparents for a night or two here and there while we stayed home but never gone on a trip alone for 7 years!!! It's been far too long! Hopefully the weather and fires cooperate so we have a great trip.