For Spring Break we headed to Moab, Utah. Tyler and I spent 2 days there a few years back and we have wanted to take the girls back ever since. There is so much to do in Moab and I feel like I could fill another week full of what we didn’t do. So we will just have to go back!
I planned the trip around my girls’ likes–one of their biggest loves is DINOSAURS! So of course I had to do a dinosaur themed day.
First we went to Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail where there are real fossils and imprints in the land from dinosaurs. Can you tell how excited my kids are?
Then we went to Moab Giants to walk around on their man made dinosaur trail. It is pretty cool to see their recreations of the dinosaurs.
My girls were in heaven, such a cool dinosaur day for them. And in perfect weather! Not hot at all, but not chilly.
PS Cameron was very excited to come in contact with some minerals she is in love with!
Easter this year snuck up on me so we did all our Easter things that morning. We dyed eggs, made PB chocolate eggs, and got ready for a dinner. It was just our little family. I really love my little family.
The Easter bunny came that morning and brought random–what mom had in her closet presents. I forgot to buy things for Easter, I’m telling you it REALLY snuck up on me.
We got ready for church, I did NOT forget to buy Easter dresses! We went the cowboy route because we are going to Montana for our summer vacation.
We had an Easter dinner and talked about our Savior. Such a fun Sunday!
My brothers have close birthdays so I took them out to a new restaurant for their birthday. We had crab, oysters, mussels, octopus, crab cakes, and scallops. JB hadn’t had some of that, one of them he thought tasted just like drinking a cup of sea water.
Abby finally was brave enough to learn to ride a bike. It has been a huge fear of hers so this is a big deal that she can now do this!!
We took the girls to go to the open house of the Provo temple. Shae said it was full of upside down birthday cakes–all the chandeliers everywhere. Then we went out to eat and I got this shot.
Abby, Cameron, and I went to the dedication for the temple as well.
St. Pattys Day is always a day I wish I put more thought towards. But it is right around Abby’s birthday so it never gets the attention it deserves!
I went to a couple fun cooking classes. My sister Laura and I went to a Pie, Galettes, and Crostatas class. Pie dough is such a delicate thing, it was fun to learn the science and technique behind it. Tyler and I went to a donut making class and that was trouble. Now I know how to make the most delicious donuts and eclairs.
The girls took some spring break summer classes downtown. One day was at Bad Dog Arts making fun art projects. The next day was at Zaniac for a robotics class. Lastly a day at Salt Lake Culinary Institute learning how to make some Asian dishes.
Lastly for April Fools Day I did the only thing I ever do….spring my kids with silly string in the morning. That is another day I wish I could give more attention to but its in birthday season!
I wanted to do a post just of fun candids from Abby’s party. Her friends had a blast, A BLAST. We asked for no gifts & asked people to donate to the well the girls are raising funds for. Both her & I also have the hardest time leaving anyone out so it was a HUGE party. So huge, I don’t think I can do it next year.
Ok though, the girls were so cute when the hair bus came. It made them all feel really special and beautiful. It actually was a really sweet thing, such beautiful girls.
It was really fun to watch them have fun in the bus, wait for the bus, wave goodbye to the bus. Who knew a hair bus could be the highlight of their year? They had such a ball at the tea party as well. Such a perfect party but so much work!!e
Abby’s 10th birthday party was the most beautiful party I have done. This post will mainly be pictures so I’ll give a quick recap in the very top of this most.
Garden Woodland Tea Party
Decor: tied up three ropes to lay the tulle on, lace as the tablecloths, white dishware, fake flowers, trunk slices, bird baths, etc. for the upfront display we had felted little critters, abby in fern letters, and fake flowers. in the back we had fake bushes set up at the far end of the display. the wind chimes were great for getting the attention of the girls.
Food: I just wanted to serve food I knew all the kids would eat. Sandwiches: nutella & fluff, turkey, and pb & j. Fruit kebobs, veggies, and mints. For the drinks I did plain lemonade and had flavors they could mix in. A beautiful cake that I wish we didn’t have to cut and eat! Each of their plates had an edible fondant woodland creature with their name on it.
Activities: When they arrived Abby gave them their “garden” names. She had a poster board with A-Z listed for both their first name and last name. Next to the letters was a cute word. We had a hair bus come; the did every girl’s hair, nails, and lip gloss. I split them into groups and half of them watched a movie downstairs while the other half were on the bus. Then we switched. After the hair bus we had the tea party, which was very DREAM LIKE. We asked all the girls to color a woodland creature to place on the bush for Abby to keep. Then we did a coloring contest, where we had 3 winners that were the best.
Party Favors: Paper fans, flowers crowns, and lip glosses.
I remember when I turned 10. The only thing I remember is that I was very excited to be double digits. It was a very big deal to me. I think in my head I am still very young and cannot believe I have a kid turning double digits. Its all very weird to me.
Abby for her birthday breakfast asked for these certain kind of “breakfast cookies” that had chocolate and peanut butter in them. I responded with, you really want me to make you No Bake cookies for your birthday BREAKFAST?! That is what she wanted!
My plan for only having 4 presents–to read, to play with, something pretty, and something to wear—is being ruined! The sisters are starting to really want to get presents for each other that I have nothing to do with! So now everyone is getting more each birthday.
This year for her parents Abby got a pretty ballerina picture I found for 20 dollars in an antique store. Along with that there was a note that said she got to pick out two new dance outfits she really wanted online.
Cameron got her some best friends gifts from their favorite store.
Shae & Reagan got her a selfie stick!
It was a Tuesday so the only class we had to be at was her dance team class. Which was her favorite class so she opted to go! On your birthday you can opt in or out of going to dance classes. If you opt out your sisters don’t go to theirs either. So during the day we were just lazy.
But after her dance class I took her to the Aveda Salon for a surprise. She got a private make up lesson and a pedicure. She sure did love that surprise.
10 Fun About Abby for her 10th Birthday
#1 Abby is very creative and always wants to be working on a project. Pinterest is dangerous for her and she is always making different make up concoctions or different play doughs for her sisters. She always wants to plan parties, game nights, and plays. I probably have created a monster in this area.
#2 Every night I go to kiss Abby goodnight and put her Dollie on her cheek. She looks so baby faced and little still while she is sleeping.
#3 I forget how old Abby is and what she can handle all the time. She spoke very well and was very advanced for her age at a really young age. At 2 I probably expected too much of her, treating her like a 5 year old. At a 5 year old, I probably was treating her like an 8 year old. She right now is a 13 year old in 10 year old body. I always have to remind myself that she is the age she is.
#4 Right now our biggest strife in life comes from friends. Friends that have best friends, friends that only hang out with one friend, friends that ignore other people because there are with their best friends. Right now girls that are glued to each other is our hardship at our house.
#5 Abby loves to be with friends and being around people. She also really needs alone time to read or watch TV by herself. I have to force her to do this.
#6 Abby sets her alarm every morning and works on two goals first thing without fail. Her yoga and her ab exercises. Its amazing.
#7 Abby cares a lot about people. Her church teachers mean a lot to her and she notices when they are gone, or come late, or if they look stressed. She notices girls that need a friend. She is a very sweet friend.
#8 Abby needs a lot of encouraging words in her life, she needs people by her side telling her verbally she can do things. She is a stresser and obsessor, so needs people like that!
#9 Abby is very intelligent, she loves to read, write poetry, and learn new things non stop.
#10 Abby is beautiful, she really enjoys learning about makeup. One day she’ll help her mom out and do MY make up.
When I sit down to blog about our family life I go through pictures first. I plug in my camera and see what I took pictures of. Then I scroll through my instagram to see what we did. I also have a private instagram that I have just to store photos, so I go through that as well.
I forgot a few additional things that we did over the winter…
Shae is my angel, I tell her that all the time. If I ever call her by another nickname she stops me and says, “No. I am your angel.” She does not ask for much so when she does I say yes. About every 6-8 weeks she asks if we can do a sleepover. So I say YES! In fact, we are doing one tomorrow night. In includes baking always. Anytime she writes her name or sees her name written she points to it and says, “Thats it!” Meaning that is the name of her bakery, Shae’s bakery. Oh I hope I can help her with this goal one day.
and fingernails…we always do finger nails.
Like I said in my last post, my younger two go to a wonderful preschool. It has been a big blessing to me to have in our lives. Shae & Reagan went to pick out blankets, stuffed animals, and books for children to donate.
During their week of learning about the world we came in and did a presentation. Abby, Cameron, and I gave it to both of their classes. At the end we showed them the mermaid statue we lived next to and put on our mermaid tales. Boy did both of those girls LOVE having their sisters in their classes.
They also had another dress up day in addition to the Dr. Suess one. But looking at this picture I can’t remember what in the world the theme was. Probably crazy sock day taken even farther.
My favorite part about dropping them off is when they ask me to babysit Puppy and Bunny. So they sit on my dashboard like this during the day waiting for their owners to come out.
Abby’s dance studio let her become an assistant dance teacher 3 years early. Abby has really loved helping the teachers with their cute preschool classes. They call her Miss Abby and get excited when they see her around town. It’s just about the cutest thing in the entire universe.
Speaking of dance, it took Reagan a few months to be good enough in class to be awarded the spotlight. But when she finally did it really turned a corner for her and she has become a lot more focused and obedient in classes. THANK GOODNESS.
One of Shae & Reagan’s favorite things to play is “Cooking Show” this is a shot of them mid show.
Abby & Cameron were in constant arguments with their Dad about how old they need to be to babysit or stay home alone. So I put the question up on three FB pages and got people to post their opinions. Then we gathered the data and charted it as a home school project. Surprisingly it took 4 hours to do this! At the end they did a presentation and shared their case for what they think the correct answer should be.
These pictures below were from a grumpy day of mine. Someone noticed it was National Umbrella Day and I did NOT have time for National Umbrella Day. But everyone was so excited so after feeling bad I just said forget it and pulled over and we celebrated. People were late to their classes, but oh well, they were happy.
Ok those were some of the forgotten memories from the winter
Chocolate Chip is our puppy that joined our family last summer. She is a new breed we are trying from Portugal’s Arroz Islands. Tyler had Shae name her, and she picked Chocolate Chip. At first we did not see her too much because she was with Tyler at the kennel and doing crate training at home. But now that she is obedient and house trained she is with us all the time. It is fun to see my girls with a puppy! I realized they have never had a puppy, and it is just too much fun. They really love her, play with her, and adore her! She does this thing they call “Chip-a-lanch” where is when Chip starts running in big circles as fast as she can. They all scream, start giggling, get on the couch and yell CHIPOOOOOLANCHE!!
For Valentines Day we celebrated a little bit…fancy dinners at home & getting chocolates for ourselves. Shae & Reagan loved picking out Valentines for their preschool classes. Cameron & Abby had a Valentine party with their book clubs and got to pass out Valentines then.
Abby had her second and final ballroom competition. They waited all day long to dance two short dances. George has been such a fun and kind partner for Abby to have. Abby says it has been her very favorite dance class she has been in. She really likes that it is boys and girls and the unique dances they learn. The video of their competition is here
Shae & Reagan attend the cutest preschool of all time. They had a Dr. Suess week and got to dress up like a character! Let me tell you the blue paint we put in their hair took forever to take off.
Cameron is such a creative girl, in ways I would never even think of. One day she composed piano pieces to do with the weather of each season. She titled them Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. When she played them for us it really did sound like the sounds of those seasons! After Abby heard her songs she composed some season songs of her own. I have a video, if I find it I would put it here
The girls participated in our ward talent show. And by participated I mean they really put a lot of time and effort into it. They decided they wanted to dance in the talent show. I put Abby in charge and she ran the show. Over Christmas break she decided on a song and wrote out the choreography. For the chorus of the song she had them dance together. But for all the verses she planned a short dance for each sister to do. Then she taught each of her sisters. She also picked out what costumes she wanted them to wear and I ordered them. For 6-8 weeks they practiced Tuesdays & Thursdays. For the last two weeks we rented out studio space so she could practice with them in front of a mirror. I was so proud of them! They did not act nervous at all at the talent show and were a big hit. Since I was in charge of the talent show I didn’t get to record their actual performance. This was one of their practice performances right before the show. Abby was playing around with her beginning moves in this clip. I’m sad I didn’t get the real performance because it was even more magical than this one. But this one was pretty good too, video is here
The last big thing we did in the winter was get ready for the Daddy Daughter Pinewood Derby at our church. It was my idea, big hats and all, and someone else got put in charge of it. SO IT WAS PERFECT FOR ME, HAHA. Uncle Bryan helped them with their car designs & getting them done. Tyler took them to the event. And I….I BOUGHT THE HATS.
In January our sweet Rocco passed away. It was really hard on our family, every single one of us. I was surprised at how every person in our family handled his death in a different way. Five months later and Shae still asks about him every day.
Rocco leading up to January had two scares. One day Tyler was out of town and I was feeding Rocco his food (we feed raw meat to our dogs) and he could not swallow it. It was terrifying. I was faced with the decision to pry open his mouth and put my hand down a 100 lb Rottweiler throat to get it out OR see if he could work it out on his own. I massaged his throat to try to get it down while he was close to passing out. He finally got it down and I was so relieved. But I realized that is body was very old and very weak.
Rocco also collapsed in the backyard one day. After he collapsed he lost a lot of strength in his back legs and hips. Rocco has always been incredibly healthy and we knew he was just getting old. We knew he would pass away eventually but other than those two things was not in pain normally and very happy. He ate well every day, waiting for his Dad by the window every day, and slept at the foot of our bed.
Rocco had an eye infection that we were able to clear up on our own but in January it came back and looked worse. The next morning his eye was full of blood and I told Tyler to take him into the vet. They got in that morning and I got an awful call from Tyler. Rocco had cancer and was internally bleeding severely. They drained his stomach of blood a bit but he needed to be put down. They guessed that Rocco had been dealing with cancer for a month, probably when he had collapsed a few weeks before.
It was a hard decision to make over the phone if they should put him down right then or if we should have one last day with Rocco. Rocco was very stressed out and upset at the vet’s office. I told Tyler that we needed to have one last day with Rocco. To let him have one last calm day at home. It was an awful day, everyone in the family sobbed most of the day. That night I kept on waking up and would ask Rocco to come over to me so I could pet him.
All of the girls got to say goodbye to Rocco and feed him treats throughout the day. Tyler watched a movie with Rocco, lied on the floor with him most of the time, and was with him non stop. Honey who has spent 11 years of her life with Rocco got to be with him too. After he was gone, she knew. She didn’t look for him, or act nervous or stressed. Her ears did not perk up anymore when I would call his name. Honey knew he was gone. We found Rocco’s puppy pictures, watched all his YouTube videos, and sobbed. And sobbed.
We had a vet come to our home and put him down in our home. Before she came Tyler took the bite sleeve and had Rocco have some fun before he passed away. Rocco was such a strong dog–I can’t believe with all that internal bleeding that he was still so excited to see a bite sleeve.
Putting down Rocco was a very sad experience. We both held him and told him what a good job he had done and that he was such a good boy. He was very calm because he was in his home and not stressed. Such an awful thing couldn’t have gone more perfectly and peacefully.
Do dogs get to go to heaven? I don’t know. But how could something that means so much to someone not? I won’t stress about it–my girls tell me he is there.
This is what I wrote about Rocco’s life on the day he died:
Our Rocco passed away this morning, he had cancer. Rocco was born as “Pard” on October 10, 2004 in the Czech Republic. He was given to us as a Christmas gift that year. Tyler and I lived in Boston and Tyler worked for a protection dog company. When Tyler was in town he would ride on Tyler’s lap as he drove to and from work. Rocco and Tyler have been best friends for 11 years and 3 months. I will always be thankful to Rocco for being the best companion to a man who likes dogs a lot more than humans. They practiced protection training together, went to the movies together, drove with Tyler across the country and down to Costa Rica. They spent a lot of time hiking, snowshoeing, and hanging out together. While we lived in Boston most of the time Tyler was traveling to deliver protection dogs around the world. Which left me alone with no family nearby, pregnant with my first child, and dirt poor. We lived in the cheapest place we could find and Rocco would keep me company. The heat was constantly going out because the landlord couldn’t keep on on the bill. So I would wear as many layers of clothes as I could, my winter coat, and have Rocco cuddle with me. When I had enough money to go buy pregnancy fast food cravings Rocco would accompany me always. One time my car broke down on the way home from the laundromat, and I did not have enough money to fix the $25 dollar problem. It was dark, cold, and we were stuck in not the best part of town. I remember Rocco walking with me home while I was scared and sad that I had to leave the car at the shop till I had enough money. Rocco kept me safe and watched out for me during those years being alone most of the time. Throughout the past 10 years with kids when Tyler is traveling he always made me feel less worried and looked after. Rocco was the first “person” for all four of our girls to meet when they made it home from the hospital. His ears would perk up, he would come over to sniff them, and give them a gift of a nice big kiss. Our newborns were always loved and protected by our Rocco. Rocco worked hard protecting our home, being our friend, and Honey’s little brother. We were a lucky family to have him in our lives and we are going to miss him every single day.
Good job big boy, you took such good care of your best friend & your family.
Tyler wrote this a couple of days later for his newsletter:
If you’ve been on my newsletter list for any period of time you know that on Tuesdays I typically send out a newsletter (usually with a funny story from my life) and let you know about promotions on items we have for sale.
This one will be different.
I lost my dog this past week.
It was one of the most difficult things I’ve been through in some time.
It was last Wednesday and I debated whether or not to even write anything about it or talk about it with anyone.
I came to realize, though, that I haven’t allowed myself to develop a very good ability to talk about things that challenge me.
But in the written word I’m capable. In the written word I can say things that I would never say out loud. And I need that.
So while this newsletter is going out to over 26,000 people around the world, some of whom I know very well and others who I’ll never meet, I’m doing this solely for me. If not one person reads this that’s fine.
I need a way to express my grief and I need to tell this.
And I do hope that what I’ve learned and gained from this will benefit others.
I got my Rottweiler, Rocco, over 11 years ago.
At the time I was working at a protection dog company in Boston. It was December of 2004 that I picked him up off the plane at JFK airport in New York. He had flown in from the Czech Republic. He was imported as a new puppy for a client.
For some reason that client backed out. My boss, at the time, knew how much I liked Rottweilers and asked me if I’d like to keep him for a Christmas bonus.
I didn’t even have to think. He came home with me that day.
He came to work with me every day. I traveled a lot during those years and he grew bigger, stronger, and grew in his training as a protection dog.
While I was traveling the world delivering protection dogs he was at home making sure my wife was safe.
We left Boston a year later and moved to Utah. His trip in the car made him quite the world traveler, having been born in Czech Republic, flown from Germany to the United States, and now covered 2,000 miles of freeway across this large country. He would later travel to many more states and even a half dozen other countries.
When he was young I house trained him using my tether method. In other words, I kept him on a leash and with me for months in order to supervise him.
Whether from that or his love for me I don’t know but he spent the next 11 years never far from my side. Whatever room I was in, he wanted to be there. If I moved he would awaken from a dead sleep just to follow me.
Never in a needy way. Never begging for attention.
Just wanting to be with me.
In his training he was a dynamo. As a protection dog he was powerful, fearless, and strong. Thankfully he never had to fend off a real attacker but he was always ready to challenge any foe. Even on his last day.
When we moved as a family to Costa Rica Rocco was my companion the entire time. Our van suffered deep claw marks around the windows because of him.
At borders and while I would go into stores to grab things on the trip people in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica would inevitably approach the van. You don’t see a lot of Dodge vans in those countries. He wasn’t having it. Anyone who approached would be met with his fierceness and his claw marks were forever inscribed into the van. Even the corrupt police officers pulling me over for a bribe would quickly leave when I would roll down the window and put them face to face with 95 lbs of ‘leave my dad alone Rottweiler’.
He loved me. He loved my family. And there was nothing that he wanted to do more than his job of keeping us safe.
We moved back to the states after a time and this time he flew up.
And for the past three years since we’ve been back I’ve seen a slow decline. He was getting older and I knew it.
I don’t see too many Rottweilers have much quality of life after 8. He was in great shape, though. Just a step slower. A little bit more winded on our hikes in the canyon.
Last Tuesday I woke up and noticed his eye was red. He had a sty in that eye about 6 months ago. I had treated it and it went away. I figured he was just having another type of flare up.
But better safe than sorry.
In to the vet we went. I was expecting to leave with an ointment or cream and we’d go back to life as usual.
But it wasn’t the case.
The vet was dismayed to tell me that this wasn’t just a flare up. He was bleeding internally into his eye. And, worse, he was bleeding internally into his abdomen.
If I did nothing he’d likely collapse in a few days.
I’m 35 years old. Not old, not young. But old enough to have experienced grief and loss, right?
I suppose I’ve been lucky. Thus far I’ve led a life rather untouched by death or tragedy.
My grandfather on my father’s side died before I was born. I never knew him. His wife, my grandmother, had passed a few years previously. While sad, there wasn’t much grief. She was ready to go. I loved and love my grandma. But it was a different type of grief. Almost happy for her while missing her presence.
But aside from grandma and a friend or two over the years who have passed I’ve never lost someone close to me.
This was my first real taste with strong grief.
I hesitate to say this but I’ve never cried more in my life.
The vet said to take him home to spend one more day, but the humane thing to do would be to put him down the following day.
Everything was pain.
Every moment, every meal, every thought was a realization that this was the last this, the last that, the last what-have-you. It was a lot to bear and my tears were joined all day by my wife and oldest daughter especially.
I did nothing but sit with him, watch TV, and talk to him. As last days go, I’m so grateful I got that one with him. He didn’t seem to be feeling pain. Just a tired old man ready to pass.
The next morning was hard. We had called a vet to come to the house. I couldn’t bear taking him to a sterile, cold veterinarian’s office. I wanted him to pass at home.
He had his last breakfast, still happy to eat.
And then I realized that he needed to leave doing something he loved. Right before the veterinarian came I put on my bite sleeve and let him get in one more good bite. Body riddled with cancer, ready to die, the old man was just as happy to do his job as he’d always been.
Since he passed things have become somewhat easier.
I went hiking with my new puppy on Saturday and amidst the solitude and beauty of the Utah outdoors I was taken back to the same hike that I’d done with Rocco on so many occasions. All the emotion and grief came flooding back. But in a beautiful way.
Nearly a week has passed. The fact that no one is following me around anymore hurts me a lot.
But I knew that I needed to get good from this.
And I can find that in spades.
Rocco was a once in a lifetime dog. I never took that guy for granted. I always knew how special he was.
I almost feel guilty in saying some of these things.
I recently had a friend lose a wife to cancer. Another friend lose her mom. Was it really okay for me to feel such grief for a dog?
I’ve realized that the pain I’ve felt doesn’t detract from what others feel for passed loved ones.
It’s okay for me to go through this.
And I should go through this. He was not human. But, I can say this without any hyperbole or error in speech, he was the best friend I’ve ever had. Not feeling this pain would be the real tragedy.
But I can’t explain the gratitude I now feel for having such an amazing friend for over 11 years. Nearly a third of my life has been spent, day in and day out, with a magnificent creature who would have laid his life on the line for me without a second’s hesitation.
There is enormous poetry in that.
So I will mourn him today. I will mourn him tomorrow. I will talk about him a year from now. And when I’m an old man someday I’ll still be talking about that amazing Rottweiler we had when you kids were little.
God put me on this earth with one in-born talent. I get to help dogs. I get to do it every day of my life and that talent cares for my wife and children.
But God was smart enough to realize that I could not do so without being helped by dogs.
Please don’t laugh at me when I say that I am a better man for having known this dog for 11 years.
You are on my newsletter list because you’re a dog owner or have been a dog owner.
My hope is that you will be able to feel the same wonderful feelings and gratitude for your best friend that I feel for my dog.
Through my grief there is gratitude. There is love. There is compassion. For me there is something so sacred about the bond we get to create with our dogs and I’m happy to know about it.
I’ll finish now. I’ve been fine today but writing this I’m again bawling like a baby. But I feel a weight lifted being able to tell this story and knowing that a few of you will read it and share a moment of thankfulness for your current and past dogs makes me feel good.
Thanks for indulging me.
Now go give your dog a big kiss.
We were so thankful to all the texts, messages, treats dropped off to our family. Some people don’t get what dogs can be to people. Some people do. I was also especially grateful to artist Christopher Creek who after Rocco’s passing, painted this picture of Rocco. It now hangs over our kitchen table where we can say hi to him every morning.