I am not in a Things I’ve Loved Lately mood. I’m in an attending Stake Conference with a 2 and 1 yr old was really painful mood. Also something really upset me badly a couple of weeks back. And I am having a difficult time bouncing back. So lets see if I can do this….it’ll be good for me, right?
We celebrated Laura’s birthday with gifts, lunch, and a movie. We spoiled her because she is so good to us. She saved me on Valentines Day when I realized I had to be at the elementary school for 6 hours straight. Watched our girls while we were at Youth Conference, and I didn’t worry once. I feel like there is something else too, but I can’t remember.
Speaking of Youth Conference, it came at a good time. We were so excited to be asked to help a few months back. But then when we realized that it would be only a couple of weeks after opening our kennel we started to worry. I was bossy when Tyler said he didn’t know if our manager could cover for us, and I told him he would, and to set it up. He was bossy when a couple of days before I was worried about us leaving the girls, and told me that we were going. Sometimes I guess you need to be bossy. We did the cooking and cleaning but it was still nice. It just was a break to stop taking care of little ones and take care of big ones. They can have real discussions with you, they can SERVE THEMSELVES, they can help clean up (sometimes), etc. It was refreshing. And the spirit is always so strong at those things, it was nice to be in the middle of that.
Doesn’t it look beautiful? It was.
I’m not going to say it sent me home a new woman. It sent my soul home refreshed. Not so much my mommy brain. I’m a bit stuck right now in the little ones stage. I’m done with it. Mainly because my sweet Reagan is so hard. I took an online silly quiz last night on “Are you done having kids?” I got 9 out of 10, 9 out of 10 of the questions pointed towards YOU ARE DONE HAVING KIDS. I think the only one I scored on was do you still smell a baby’s head when you hold it. Of course I do! Those little newborns soothe my soul, the brand new ones. Maybe my sister Becca will let me hold her baby for the first 4 weeks of it’s life?
Most of the time I think I am doing everything wrong. But the other day I found all my girls fast asleep with piles of books around them. Even Reagan and Shae fall asleep reading. They all love books so much…
Abby is such a bright, sweet girl. Soon I’ll be calling her a young woman. Not yet, but soon.
BAD NEWS: Valentines Day and our anniversary (one day after) were kind of a bust. Tyler wasn’t home much. Last minute we decided to take everyone with us on our anniversary date. That was an awful idea. I spent the dinner outside the restaurant with the babies while the other three ate inside. I texted Tyler from outside to just turn it into a Daddy Daughter and not to worry about me. Then I ate my dinner from a bag with a plastic fork in the car on the way home.
I always loved how my mom had a little something for us on Valentines Day. It wasn’t like the day was all about us or anything. Just a little something after school. Man it seemed like everyone had a boyfriend or boys interested in them but me growing up. So it was a depressing day, it always was nice to come home to. So I’ll continue the tradition! We also made Valentines Day gingerbread houses since I was too tired during Christmas. It was so cute at the end Shae exclaimed to Tyler, “Santas coming!” I almost wanted to get her stocking out and put something in it for her the next morning.
GOOD NEWS: So Valentines Day and our Anniversary weren’t fabulous. But we had so many great date nights in January and February that I didn’t mind. Nights to the temple, visiting old book stores, museum exhibits, great restaurants, comedy shows, etc.
At the home where we live only a couple of people have the address and only fun packages & magazines are sent to the mailbox. Our bills are sent some where else and I only collect them once a week. So at this house when we open the mailbox it is ONLY FUNNESS!! One day we got letters from Hawaii, Nicaragua, and our grandparent missionaries. I am awful and have yet to write any of them back. But keep sending them, we love them!
I had my sweet nieces with me for a couple of days while their parents went on a trip. It was such fun. It was enough of a change for Reagan to keep her from screaming all day. So having 6 little girls was not too shabby at all. They had a lot of fun.
There have been a few warm days lately. I don’t know why every year I think something is horribly wrong with me because I won’t feel like myself. Then it gets warm and I walk outside and feel back to myself. Why do I not remember this every year? Why is it always a surprise? Anywho, thank you for the warm days here and there this winter.
Reagan went to nursery a few weeks early because the nursery leaders are ANGELS. And she doesn’t care that I leave. Look at these pictures of her in there:
I’ll end with my brother’s birthday. I was so tired that day I fixed up leftovers and fed them to a bunch of people. And I told them. Man, I need to figure out how to handle everything and get some energy. I did make him my two favorite brownies for his birthday cake.
Look, that was good for me to write. Life is kind of great.
My friend and I are both new-ish to our neighborhood. So we decided to host a fun night to get to know all the ladies around us better. A Favorite Things Party is a fun way to do this. I learned what people’s go to stress comfort drink/food is. So when I notice they are having a bad day I can rush it over. I learned what some people do for work through their items. I learned a lot about people’s hobbies. So now when I see something I know they would enjoy, I can pass it along. One of the gals is a huge lover of films so they next day I ran over my favorite for her to borrow.
So just host one, yes if you are the new girl on the block, host one. I’ve written about being the new girl all the time on my blog before. You have to THROW yourself out there, not wait for things to come to you.
Back to the party, I’ll tell you what we did for our Favorite Things Party. I’m so mad that I didn’t take pictures during, I only took pictures before and at the very end.
What to Ask Everyone to Bring
Their three favorite things, unwrapped, but in a gift bag. I did give some ideas to try to get their minds moving. They were: favorite snack, book, scent, ingredient to cook with, recipe, church talk, DYI/craft supply, list of your favorite websites, drink, plant, makeup, organizational tool, thing to pick your mood up, cleaning product, hobby, etc. Or even something tied to a favorite memory.
I worried about putting a dollar amount on what to bring but I should have said, $10-$25 for all three items combined.
Potluck Appetizer Spread
(Man we have the best cooks in my beautiful neighborhood. I could have sat there and ate for hours. I would have if I had known them all better, I like to eat!)
(These are ideas from Jamie Oliver’s flavored water recipes)
Dessert Bar provided by the hosts
Favorite Things Party Game
1. Had everyone go around the large circle and explain the three items they brought.
2. Then we passed a bag around the circle with getting to know you questions. But questions that would also make people switch their bags. These are the ones I thought up and used:
1. Trade with the person who…..has lived in the most states.
2. Trade with the person who…..has visited the most countries.
3. Trade with the person who…..has the same favorite restaurant as you.
4. Trade with the person who…..has the most sons, then trade with the person who has the most daughters, then with the person with the most children.
5. Trade with the person who…..has the same favorite TV show as you.
6. Trade with the person who…..has the same hobby as you.
7. Trade with the person who…..has the same pet peeve as you.
8. Trade with the person who…..has the same favorite treat as you.
9. Trade with the person who…..likes to do the same thing as you do to relax.
10. Trade with the person who…..has the same favorite website as you do (a certain blog, recipe site, news website, etc.)
11. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….are runners.
12. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….watch The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
13. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….have surfed, then who have skied, then who have bungee jumped or sky dived, then those who have ziplined.
14. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….have seen or caught a firefly.
15. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….has gone to a concert or play in the past year.
16. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….have a pet.
17. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….would chose to have a beach house, then who would rather have a cabin in the woods, then who would rather have a brownstone in a big city.
18. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….are the oldest in their families growing up, and then who are the youngest in their families growing up.
19. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….has volunteered at a homeless shelter.
20. Have all the people stand up and trade with everyone else who….have finished a book this week (have to tell us which one!)
3. Whatever bag you end up with at the end of the game is yours. You get to take it home with you! And now you also know tons of new things about all the ladies there.
In the picture below, the top items where the ones I brought. Autobiographies are my favorite type of book, and this one is one of my very top choices. I love collecting children’s picture books, and Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorites. And then I like to drop off little cards and treats (nice chocolate, from a local company–I love local too!) to people throughout the week. The bottom items, in the picture below, are the ones I went home with. This lady loves to cook and this magazine she loves because it is unhealthy comfort food. She loves to always wear bright fun nail polish. She enjoys this brand in particular because it has not harmful chemicals in it. Lastly Izzies, man I am lucky I went home with this bag.
Favorite Things Party Favor
My friend and I, the hosts, put together a gift bag for everyone. They had one of each of our favorite things in them that everyone could take home with them.
P.S. Thank you to my sweet friend, we just did a bridal shower last week together too!
We opened a facility finally for our business, our 7 year old business, and we finally have a building!
I would think that most of you know that my husband, Tyler, is a dog trainer. Or maybe I don’t talk about it enough? He has had a local Utah business for 7 years. People sign up for dog training packages; private training sessions or boot camps.
(If you don’t live in Utah people send their dogs from all over the nation for boot camps actually. And he sells his dog training DVDs all over the world too.)
BUT, to the point. WE OPENED A FACILITY! So if you live in Utah you can bring your dogs for DAYCARE and BOARDING.
It’s a little nerve racking, I might have lots of nightmares, because buildings are expensive. And we provide a living for four families, so you never want to mess that up! My mother in law asked about it the other day and I thought it was so sweet that I cried. Note to everyone: if any of your loved ones open a business, SUPPORT THEM. This means free babysitting and tons of meals. Ok maybe not that, but asking about it sure is sweet and enough.
If you want to see pricing, how our daycare/boarding is ran differently (and better, of course, I mean it is *US* after all ) this it the perfect link for you:
On another note, if you have any dog training questions, my husband is really good at participating with Q&A if you just post it on his Facebook Page.
P.S. Do you have any friends in Utah that own dogs? Word of mouth is essential for us, can I pretty please beg of you to pass along the word? Cookies for everyone if you do! Tyler can make them
You know when other moms say that soon you will get used to 2 kids or 3 kids? That it only takes some TIME? They are all lying when they tell you that about your 4th kid. Because it has been 18 months and my husband still gets texts like this:
I am pretty sure if you have more than four children and are doing it well that you are taking drugs and/or lying about it.
These are the things that have happened this week that I am not proud of:
- I had to do a midnight dumpster run because I forgot to take out the trash last week. Also while we are on the subject of trash, where we live there are strict HOA codes. I was not aware of the trash one. I was putting my trash cans out of view on the side of the house. I would always wonder where everyone else put theirs. They keep them all in their garages. So in this beautiful, classy neighborhood I want you to know everyone’s garages smell like poopy diapers and yucky seafood.* A secret spy took a picture of my trash cans and sent it into the HOA. Suffice to say I now have a stinky garage as well. Back to the midnight dumpster run, I kept my hoodie on and looked for cameras. The whole way home I daydreamed about how my family would do with me in jail. I came to the conclusion that no one would survive, I coddle everyone around here.
- When I take my minivan into the cleaners for a mini detail every week I pretend it is not mine. When the cleaners give me the stink eye through the class in the waiting room I point to another car with my kids. I also do not stand up when the call my car’s make and model. I silently exit when I notice my car is done and has been parked in the waiting area for awhile. I do not think this does anything, they always know it is my van.
- I hosted with my sweet friend a Favorite Things party. It was such fun, everyone brought their 3 favorite things. Then I did a game to get to know each other and trade. I had my eye on a bag I really wanted and finally got it in my possession. I pretended that I did not hear a question to keep the bag. Every time I put on that fabulous looking nail polish from the bag I will feel guilty.**
- This house was not made for my family, it is too small and not designed well. I spend forever cleaning and it is never clean. I am watching a couple extra kids for a few days this weekend. I will not spend any extra time cleaning it before they come. Then 8 hours after they leave I have a team of 3 cleaners coming for 5 hours to fix this place up. I will try to pretend like it is not my house like with the minivan. But I have a feeling it will not work.
- Winter is getting the best of me and I am not getting out like I should. We opened a location with our business and my to do list is miles long. Instead I cope by scrolling Facebook and Instagram all day long. I am wasting an incredible amount of time and getting on everyone’s nerves. I need an intervention. (To be fair, I do DO a lot of work too. But I am also wasting time, take my smart phone away.)
That is all.
I didn’t mean it about the lying/drugs. I am sure you all are doing everything fabulously.
And you most definetaly did not throw a nutrigrain bar and cheese stick at your kids’ heads for dinner. Neither did I.***
* OK, FINE just my garage smells like that, I’m projecting. And in all sincerity, I adore this neighborhood. Honestly, I do, it feels so nice. So many sweet people.
**Actually, I don’t feel guilty at all.
***I did, I really did that.
We went to Las Vegas for our honeymoon, and I decided I never wanted to go back. Well that sounds awful doesn’t it? Not because of the company, but because of the town. After a few years I wondered if Las Vegas would have been fun if we hadn’t been so broke. I remember attending a time share presentation, going to the movies, and just wandering around. Wandering around Las Vegas during the day isn’t magical, that should have been saved for the lit up night.
So when Tyler thought that the family should tag along on a work trip I was skeptical. I didn’t want to take 4 little girls to that dirty city. I asked around a bit, read some articles, and decided to give it another try.
Where to stay I wondered?
**Tahiti Village has family style rooms, pools, and a lazy river. Sadly, their river & pool was scheduled to be closed during our trip. I also realized that a lot of families were going to be there. But let me say something awful, sometimes I don’t want to be around a bunch of other kids. There I said it, so I opted not to go there.
**Hilton Grand Vacations had suites that were perfect for us. Two bedrooms with king beds, two kitchens, a dining area, two bathrooms, and a family room with a pull out couch. That cost us 200 a night with taxes (we also went on weekdays during off season). No, no free breakfast so I just bought some things and cooked them up in the hotel room kitchen. It is nice but not stuffy. I don’t want to take 4 kids to a stuffy place and feel uncomfortable. But I also don’t want to take them to a run, old down, dirty feeling place. The Hilton was perfect for our family. The pools were heated, the weather was around 55 outside and they were warm enough to swim in. But then of course when stepping out it was a mad dash to get back inside to some warmth. No no kiddie pool, but low enough waters for kids over 4/5 to swim in. The Hilton IS at the end of the strip, which has its pros and cons. It is quieter, less filth, those gross handouts passed to you at the end of the strip. But also it takes forever to walk anywhere. But the nice thing about Las Vegas is that there is TONS of free parking. The hotels WANT you to park at their spot and spend your money there, so they don’t charge.
What to do I thought?
The reviews I read online of PAID things to do with kids had very mixed reviews. I read a lot of; the animals look depressed, it was SO SHORT, and not worth the money. There are so many free things to do so I opted to spend our money on yummy food and go the free route for the kids. I also have kids to young to pay good money on shows, one day I will! When we go places my girls know we don’t buy things, it does minimize the whining. And then sometimes I surprise them with one or two locations that I let them pick a treat.
**We toured the M&M factory, let the kids get an unpackaged (aka cheaper) selection of their hearts desires. Also they had a fun 3-D 20 minute free movie for the kids to watch. Then we walked over to the Cocoa Cola factory where you can buy a selection of sodas from around the world to try for $7. Easy Peasey.
If you plan your walking times right there are the other things that are free. Please keep in mind that they are FREE and short. But that are perfect for the ages of kids that I have. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you do park closer to the location you are closer…but you still have some walking to do. Takes awhile to walk around casinos, through them, etc. to get to your desired location.
**Circus Circus; look at the schedule for all of the free shows (juggling, things like that) and there are arcade games inside you can play. All the girls won a stuffed animal, so basically I paid for all the stuffed animals.
**The conservatory and water show at the Bellagio. When we went they had a new Chinese New Year exhibit up, it was gorgeous. Everything about the Bellagio is gorgeous!
**Ethel M Chocolate Factory offers free self-guided tours of the chocolate factory and access to wander the botanical cactus gardens located on site. This is 15 minutes from Las Vegas so we did it on our way out.
**Walked through Pawn Stars (from the show)
These were things on the list that we didn’t get to:
**Venetian, be sure to see living statues, gondolas, street performers, and music inside the courtyard of the Grand Canal Shoppes.
**Don Pablo Cigar Company and watch workers roll cigars by hand.
**Silverton is home to more than 4,000 tropical fish in a huge, 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. Also you can watch a MERMAID SHOW!
**The Fashion Show Mall has an actual fashion show but also indoor playground. There’s an outdoor mall at the end of the strip with a great outdoor play area.
**Tigers at the Mirage, there is a paid section but then also some you can see some in the front.
But most importantly…what you must do IS…
Keep the kids up late and walk around in the early night when Las Vegas is lit up and magical. We opted two nights in a row to just walk all around the Bellagio, and watch the water show a few times. But pick the best most beautifully lit up at night hotels and go on some nice long walks.
I wanted a date night in Las Vegas, but how?
Use a service, a good service, and know that it is more expensive for an important reason. These are trusted sitters, very experienced, very throughly background checked, and sweethearts. We used a wonderful nanny, Gyorgyi with Las Vegas Babysitters. She showed up with a suitcase of age appropriate toys, an activity to do with them, and a warm trusting smile. The company sends you the nanny’s resume with a picture. It is so professional and organized. Boy was it nice to go to a fancy restaurant and have some time to ourselves at night in Las Vegas! Yes it is going to be more than your neighborhood babysitter. Just don’t get mad at your husband during your date, not that I did that. **ahem**
Where to eat?
Oh my expertise, very sadly this is my expertise. Let me give you my top recommendations:
**Special Date Night Location: May I suggest a chef that you love, their own restaurant in Las Vegas? Bobby Flay owns some and Gordon Ramsey. Our favorite chef is a Spanish chef by the name of Jose Andres. We have dreamed of eating at his restaurant for years, but never knew when we could. A lot of chefs have restaurants in Las Vegas. Jaleo was such a dream come true experience. If you are a foodie, SPLURGE, and treat yourself.
**Special Family Location: The food will be somewhat overpriced, but is fun for the kids to experience something fun with food. We opted for Serendipity because it sure is cute inside and those frozen hot chocolates. Oh la la. They have food for the kids, and delicious food for the grown ups. Look online at the reviews and order what people suggest, you will be pleasantly surprised. Friends also recommended the Rainforest Cafe and Tournament of the Kings.
**Cheap & Delicious Location: TACOS EL GORDO, TACOS EL GORDO, TACOS EL GORDO. Do I need to say it again? Man oh man are these tacos just…marvelous. Why don’t we have tacos like this in Utah? It almost makes me angry. Find them here and maybe eat an earlier lunch to avoid the lines.
**Awesome Breakfast Location: A couple of friends recommended Hash Hash A Go Go and I sure am glad they did. The portions are huge, the menu sure is fun, and they know how to cook a mean breakfast. This isn’t right on the strip, but just about 10 minutes away.
Our second time to Las Vegas, this time with four little girls in tow, was a million times better. I would go back in a heartbeat.
And before I forget let me leave you with one more piece of advice. RESERVATIONS. Book them for everything, far in advance. No one wants to miss out on things or have long waits with little kids. Think ahead and save yourself some pain. Also restaurants I have noticed were slower in Las Vegas, quite a bit slower. So I opted to order, leave one adult at the table with the calm kids. Then take the wiggly kids outside to run around and the other adult would make a call to the cell when the food arrived at the table.
P.S. Other random pieces of advice: good walking shoes, stroller and a carrier set up going on, pay attention to potty break locations, bring only essentials in your bag for caring for the kids. I also found people were very respectful of us walking around with a bunch of little girls and not passing us the gross handouts. Also we never stayed out past 9:30pm. I really really liked going during off season (mid Jan). Less busy and less expensive!
Luckily I have a sister in law that likes mini field trips as much as I do. Sometimes we can be at the same thing on the same day and not even realize it. Actually now that I think about it one time we even ran into each other so we went on the hike together. We do like to hang out together I promise. Sometimes it is just easier to take your kids and go and not have to make schedules with two different families work. But we did get together to go visit the Ice Castles in Midway and the The Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake.
Oh man this place is beautiful. I love art of women, and Christ, and angels. If you are extremely close to me I’ll tell you about our Heavenly Mother, us as women, and angels. I want to go sit in this church all by myself for awhile one morning.
Uncle Darren was in town for a couple of days. We were so worried when he was in Afghanistan, Abby especially. It was nice to see him and that he is ok. So that is who the extra man is in all the pictures at the ice castles.
Don’t the tops of the melting ice castles look like crosses?
Two field trips that were a complete success. One billion points for us.
Abby has been asking to get her ears pierced for awhile. She even had a special jewelry box where she would keep only her earrings for future use. I didn’t want her to do it until I thought she was responsible enough to remember to clean them three times a day on her own. Also, it is a big deal! So she was ready for awhile, and finally I was too. On Christmas morning she opened a card that said she was going to the mall two days later to get her ears pierced.
On a totally different note I finally realized something about Abby. Abby is the one I have to work really hard to be patient with. I have this mini Polaroid of her in my wallet. She is just smiling holding her dollie. At the bottom of the be picture I wrote, Be patient with me mom. Whenever I am stressed or sad about something she always ups her questions, pleading for attention, asking for things. I never could understand why she would do that, and why she wasn’t old enough to understand that I need a few minutes sometimes! I realized the other day as if a huge light switch was turned on in my brain, what it was. She has a personality that can really read people’s moods and she takes on other people’s pain. So she likes to be right next to me when I am stressed or sad. And she tries to connect with me by asking a billion questions, asking for attention, to do things, etc. So on the particular day that I realized this is what she does, I declared it for both of us to hear, and gave her the biggest hug. The poor girl broke down in tears because I finally understood her.
So the other day when things were high stress at our house at night I put all the kids to bed as fast as I could. Abby found me and asked me if I was ok, and rubbed my back. Then I asked her to go to all her sisters, give them another kiss goodnight, and read them a book. She did and then she went to bed feeling like she had really helped.
Back to the ear piercing, neither of us cried, and it was fun to just go out with her and do this:
I don’t think Shae has met Santa before, or even really understands him. In Costa Rica we didn’t see or talk about Santa and the year before that she was 8 months old. While standing in line to see Santa this is how Shae stayed the entire time.
Then when it was her turn she ran right up to him and sat in his lap! She wouldn’t talk to him but she looked so cozy.
We saw Santa again at a play we attended, these girls are such beauties:
Jennifer does the cutest Santa photos where I got to play Santa! When my girls are screaming at me that they hate me, I’ll go look at these pictures. They wuv me.
Christmas dresses! I’ve had their upcoming Easter dresses planned in my head for awhile. I have a problem!
Abby (Mini Boden), Cameron (Zara), Shae (American Girl Doll), and Reagan (Laura Ashley)
Our Christmas tree is always simple, the girls do most of the decorating, and we can only decorate it from the babies height and up!
I invited some friends over for a Lazy Christmas Party meaning I ordered pizza, told them to come in their PJs, and we played silly no fuss games. It felt so good! This will be a tradition for sure.
Tyler has done most of the playing in the snow outings this year. But as I write this I just today went sledding with all the girls. It is fun to let go and scream down the hill and be silly. So maybe I was missing out most of the year! This day they made a snowman eating a child, so funny.
I got lucky this year on our trip to the Alpine Nativity. There were enough adults for all the kids. I couldn’t have done that trip in such cold weather without everyone.
Matching jammies are just the best Christmas tradition. Love that our cousins could join in on the fun.
Lastly for now is our Christmas Eve dinner. I worked so hard on this. I don’t know if it went well, I might need to step down from the family party lady position. But I certainly tried! And of course matching dresses made me smile. And this time I got to join in.