Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Ends

October was the start of a challenging phase of our lives. I have a hard time remembering to write about what's going on when I'm in survival mode and pretty much the end of 2018 was filled with challenge after challenge. 

But I did find time to make this little girl an owl costume that she absolutely loved for Halloween. She insisted on wearing it all over town and around the house daily for quite a while. Brooklyn is obsessed with all things owl related! Pictures, books, stuffed animals, clothes. If if has an owl on it 1. it belongs to her 2. it must be in use now. She is angry every time her owl jammies are dirty and has to wear something else. This started in the summer and I'm so glad we have 2 winter owl jammies that are acceptable apparel.

We had a few playdates in December. This picture was taken of Dustin and his friend after "playing so hard we just had to have a rest". They are so silly and don't get together nearly enough.

Miss Brooklyn has discovered purses. She LOVES to carry around her three little purses or steal my purses. I have one particular purse she is convinced is hers. I brought it to church on Sunday and she kept getting angry with me that my stuff was in HER purse. The blue purse above was my purse when I was a little girl. Made by my Grandma Kathryn Yoder.

The library had a Mad Science night at the Library which the kids absolutely loved! There were only 3 families in attendance so the kids got really involved. Everyone that wanted to participate got to.

 The woman that ran the show was great about explaining the science of each experiment to the kids and constantly reminded them this wasn't a trick but a chemical reaction. If I were the type to throw massive, expensive birthday parties I would totally higher her for the boys!

The final experiment was creating glow in the dark, glitter slime. The kids thought it was awesome and we spend hours "charging" their slime up to lamps and running to a dark room to see it glow. I hope they do this event again next year.

October started the beginning of my total house purging fest! I've finally started going through all our baby things and giving away to families that could use them. It's been stressful to get rid of so much but I'm loving all the extra storage space we have. Just kidding, I've already filled up that space with larger sized clothes for the kids. I buy when I find it on sale/clearance and save it for when they are bigger. Which is why I just had to get rid of stuff. Although I did get all the clothing out of the shed (which Dave will enjoy come spring).

Logan's school did the typical halloween costume parade and had a blast! The kids got tons of candy this year at the trunk or treat and trick or treating as well. It was so much I froze 2 gallon bags  to keep them from dyeing of a sugar coma. They enjoyed slowly getting the candy back out as well.

Dustin has become more dramatic lately. He has been such an easy going, goofy kid that this is so left field for him. When he's upset he pretends he is crying and throws himself on the couch. I'm sure he'll eventually learn this doesn't get him what he wants. I point out his fake tears every time. Here's an example conversation:

Dustin (in tears) I'M STARVING!!!
Me: you can have the yogurt you didn't finish at snack. I'm cooking soup and baking rolls for dinner.

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.