Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas, Y'All

We were lame this year and sent out our Christmas cards via e-mail. Or maybe we weren't lame, maybe we were being green... yeah, that's it. We were trying to save the planet.

If you didn't get it, it's because I don't have your e-mail, so send it to me and I'll e-mail a totally earth-friendly Christmas card your way.

Or, if you want, here's the abridged version:

This year we:
-Moved across the country
-Andy started a new job with the Army Corp of Engineers. And he's totally rocking at it!
-Ava is a princess
-Ava scored a goal in soccer this season
-Ava learned to read this year
-Jax is still obsessed with monster trucks
-Jax knows all his letters and the sounds they make
-Jax wants to grow up to jump a monster truck on the moon
-Bekah's business is busy
-Bekah does preschool with the kids from home
-Bekah is PREGNANT! (due in July)

There you have it! Merry Christmas!!! Enjoy our little family video in honor of our new home in the South!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Trimmin' the Tree

I'm way behind with December blog posts. I have my business to blame for that. It's insanely busy! Fortunately, I'll get some much-needed relief this week.

We bought our tree right at the beginning of December. That's right, a REAL tree. I know the fakies are convenient, but I just can't bring myself to become an owner of one. Nope, nope, not me. I like the smell of the pine. I don't even mind pine needles on the floor.

Anywho, as always, we let the kids pick. And as always, they chose the best Charlie Brown tree they could find. This year's winner is pretty small, a little lopsided and a whole lotta scraggly. But, it doesn't matter because the kids love it.


I always imagined I'd be one of those people with the pretty trees that's all matchy-matchy. I'm not. Our tree is a mish-mash smorgasbord of Christmases past and present. Our ornaments range in age from 32 years (Andy's first) to brand spankin' new! Each year our family gets an ornament to represent our year. I had hoped for a Mississippi-shaped ornament, but alas, could not find one. So, we settled on a monster truck ornament and a Cinderella ornament in honor of the two things that dominated most of our year: MONSTER TRUCKS and PRINCESSES.

The kids had a great time decorating. They're favorite part though was hanging the candy canes. There's serious candy cane congestion going on on our tree. Although, I've noticed that each day there seems to be a few less... and my kids seem to have sticky faces. Hmmmm....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gooey Gak

Our goal yesterday was to make marshmallows, but after a quick scan of our cupboards I realized I was missing a major ingredient. Andy had the car so the grocery store was out of the question. With two very disappointed kids on my hands I came up with the next best thing: GAK! Not edible, but super messy. And it provided a great teaching opportunity.

I remember making this stuff in elementary school. It's just corn starch, water and food coloring. Once mixed, it's hard, but when you pick up a lump of it and let it sit in your hands it turns liquid and oozes. The kids were so surprised by this they couldn't stop giggling. During all the playing we talked about solids and liquids. The kids and I had a great time naming something and then determining whether it's a solid or liquid.

I know this Gak stuff looks super messy, but the great thing is it's hard on the table so you just pick it up and put it back in the bowl. Clean up is so easy too. The Gak washed right off their hands (added bonus: the corn starch made them super soft) and quick wipe of the table and you'd never know the mess that had been there minutes before.

This was a HUGE hit with the kids and they've already asked when we can make Gak again. Andy is intrigued by it, so we may have to include Daddy in all the Gak fun next time.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sock Snowmen

I try to do craft projects with the kids a couple of times of week. But this time of year I like to create with them more frequently. Yesterday, we did our first craft of the holiday season making sock snowmen. We have this container in our room full of orphaned socks. We leave them there hoping that one day their match will come back to claim them. Surprisingly, it happens on occasion. But mostly, we just have a box of single socks. So, I dipped into our stash and took out two of Andy's tall white socks. I cut the tube part off the sock then turned the remaining portion (the foot part) inside-out. Then the kids went to town stuffing the socks with filler.

After that the snowmen were big and fluffy we sewed the top shut. I, of course, took care of Jax's for him, but Ava sewed hers all on her own and she did a great job! She gets lots of practice helping me stitch by hand, so I'm not surprised by how thorough she was.

From there, I took thread and wrapped it tightly around the snowman's neck, making a head. We cut the tops of two little socks for the hats, then used buttons for the nose (I let the kids squirt the hot glue on for the eyes). Ava and Jax chose from my collection of fabric scraps for the scarves. I quick stitched on some embroidery floss mouths. Then VOILA! A snowman and a snowwoman. The kids slept with these little creations last night and began playing with them first thing this morning (Ava's, of course, was a damsel in distress, Jax's served as a jump for his monster trucks. Go figure).

Today, we're making homemade marshmallows. Pictures to come.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Silhouette Machine Giveaway

I will keep entering giveaways for this until I win one!!!

Silhouette Machine Giveaway

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's a Bird, It's a Plane... It Really IS a Plane


Those who know our boy know how much he likes anything with an engine. ANYTHING. Lately, he's shown an increasing interest in airplanes. So, when Andy's co-workers told him about an air show right across the river in Louisiana (seriously, like 15 minutes away) we knew we had to go. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much. I mean, it was in Tallulah, LA. Have you ever heard of Tallulah? Yeah, me either. However, I will say, they tiny Tallulah-Vicksburg Regional Airport surprised me. It was a great show! For about three hours we enjoyed non-stop entertainment -- stunt planes, war planes and Jax's favorite, a jet truck. That's a truck equipped with a JET ENGINE that hits 374 mph. Pretty awesome!

 As you can imagine, the jet truck was ridiculously loud. Jax, has super sensitive ears, and was great about covering them up as he enjoyed the truck.  He couldn't get enough. This was our conversation after the jet truck zoomed by.

J: Mommy, can I drive the jet truck?
Me: That would be fun, honey. But you're too little. You can pretend to drive a jet truck at home.
J: No, thank you.  Maybe I just ask the guy if I can drive his truck.
Me: We'll see.
 J: Don't worry, Mommy. I will say please.

I've been so worried about him growing up to be a monster truck driver, I don't know what I'd do if he drove around in a truck that went 374 mph. Somebody warm up the defibrillator.

When the kids got a little antsy, we took a looksy at the military planes and vehicles.


There's this book we love, "Are You My Mother" by P.D. Eastman. It's kinda a classic. In it, a little bird is trying to find it's mother. Near the end, it runs into a digger and asks if it is the bird's mother. It responds with a, "SNORT!" so the bird refers to it as a "Snort." Ava, as of late, things she's hilarious when she snorts like a pig anytime Andy asks here a question. So, he calls her "Snort." She was so excited when she read the name of this plane and just HAD to have her picture taken with it.

 The wings on this plane fold up. Everyone oohed and aahed over it.

This was just one of those perfect days. The weather was amazing. The entertainment was awesome! We had a great time together as a family (added bonus: our great friends met us there) and our kids are still talking about the air show (and the snow cones they snarfed down). See you next year Tallulah-Vicksburg Regional Airport. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Fun Project

The kids took to tearing apart some scraps of scrapbook paper they found in my room. Rather than throwing the pieces away, I challenged Ava and Jax to use them to create a masterpiece. I cut off the front and back panel of an empty cereal box, then armed them with glues sticks, scissors and their scraps with the instruction to fill the ENTIRE piece of cereal box with paper. Jax, more than anything just wanted to cut and leave globs of glue on his piece, but he still created quite the work of art.


Ava, on the other hand, took more than an hour meticulously gluing, placing, cutting and color-coordinating hers. 


These one-of-a-kind creations are going on display in the playroom!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Morning

I took these photos two Sundays ago, as we prepared to leave for Church. Ava was singing that morning in the ward Primary Program, and was so excited to wear her new dress. Of course, her handsome little brother joined her for a snapshot too. I know the background in these photos isn't great, but I don't care, these are my new favorite pictures of the kids. They're beautiful! Andy and I are so blessed to be their parents!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Giveaway on my Vinyl Blog

I'm hosting another giveaway on my vinyl blog! This one's a big one. I'm giving away one of my Family Name & Established Signs. These are the biggest sellers in my Etsy shop, and make GREAT gifts! Just in time for Christmas!!!

For your chance to win, check out Love Letters Vinyl .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Rockin' Halloween

Ava and Jax are still bouncing off the walls. They've been on a perma-sugar high since Friday afternoon and I don't foresee them coming down from it anytime soon.

Our Halloween festivities kicked off Friday with the ward Trunk-or-Treat. Our kids were a HUGE hit. First of all, they are absolutely adorable, costumes or not. But secondly, this is the South. Not just the South, but Mississippi, home of Elvis. Oh, how the ladies swooned over our hip-shakin boy.

 Making his best Elvis face

Since Halloween was on a Sunday, or town of church-goers declared Saturday to be Trick-or-Treat night, even setting a time-frame to knock doors (4-8 pm). We joined our good friends for pizza than a little door-knockin'. The night was pretty chilly, but the kids stayed warm running like wild banshees to each door. Ava stumbled and fell a few times along the way, losing about half her candy each time. The good news is, she's fine and she has a lot less candy. It's a win-win.

Now, we have a giant bowl sitting on our counter, full of candy and calling my name. I'm resisting the best I can. Jax and Ava however, have had their hands in the candy bowl since they woke up this morning. Ava's been great about waiting until after meals to have a piece, Jax on the other hand, walked into the living room today with a Dum-Dum in his mouth and one stuck to his tail side. After that, I made a deal with the kids: they can each choose 10-15 pieces of candy to keep, then after that, they can trade in their candy for books. One book for every 100 pieces. Fair, right? Fortunately, I have about 60 children's books in my closet (thank you Scholastic book orders) for occasions such as this (and Christmas). My children get books and they get to keep their teeth for a few more years. Hooray!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Five Generations

My family is unusual. Well, yes, unusual in THAT way. But unusual in that we have FIVE living generations. My mom, grandma and great-grandma all live in the Phoenix-area. So, when the kids and I were in town my mom and I thought it important to capture those five generations in photo.

I will cherish this picture my whole life, and hope my children will one day understand and appreciate just how special this moment is.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Hi Ho Hopi!

I'm finally getting back to blogging about our vacation. We've been home a month now, but that month has been a busy one.

A trip home to Arizona wouldn't be complete without a ride on Hopi. Ava has been in love with this horse since she first saddled up more than two years ago. The family who owns Hopi is amazing! The girls are always more than willing to take Ava for a ride, or show her around the farm. This time around, Jax even got to hop on Hopi, and he loved it just as much as his sister!

Since Ava's an old pro when it comes to this horse-riding business, she got to try a new trick:

Cousins Nathan and Bracken joined us for the farm fun, along with Grandma and Grandpa. Here they all are. Those are some good-lookin' kids!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Broken Heart

It's never easy to hear bad news. Never. It's even harder to share that bad news with your children. Especially a child as sweet and tender as Ava.

Ava has this adorable little friend, her name is Katie. These girls were meant for each other. They're both girly girls, both a little sassy, both a lotta sweet and when you get them laughing together... it's hilarious! Katie is a foster child. Our wonderful friends and their four children welcomed her into their home almost a year ago. They've loved her, taught her the Gospel and changed this little girl's life. I know she's changed theirs. But today, we got the heartbreaking news that Katie was being sent back to her biological mother. Trust me, it's a shock. I obviously won't go into details about the situation, only to say that I question the judge's ruling.

So, tears in my eyes, I had to tell my little girl that her little friend won't be at Church Sunday. That they can't play together anymore. That Katie is going to be living somewhere else. In the simplest terms I could, I explained the situation to her. My heart ached seeing the sad look in her eyes as tears began pouring out of them. "Can you ask her real mom if we can visit her?" she asked. I had to explain to her that we couldn't. Right now, she's sitting on the couch holding tightly to the Barbie doll Katie accidentally left at our house just two days ago.

We are so sad. Words can't express our sadness. So, I can't even imagine what our friends and their sweet children are feeling right now. I can't imagine the pain of their loss. What I can say is this, today I lost faith in the justice system. But even worse, our friends lost a daughter. And my daughter lost a friend.

We love you, Katie!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Mother's Confession

I have a friend who hates blogs. Actually, she hates personal/family blogs. She thinks they're fake and don't present a true picture of a person/family's life. I can see her point. Who wants to air all their dirty laundry out in Blogland for all to read? It's much easier (and nicer) to paint a picture that includes the best parts of a day and omits the worst. But on the other hand, I want this blog to serve as a journal (kind of) of our life. What do I want that to include? Should it be more "raw?"I want to be able to look back and remember certain times/phases/events in our lives. But most of all, I want Ava & Jax to be able to have a record of our life as a family. That life, as wonderful as it is, of course isn't always fun outings and giggles. It's real life. My kids fight sometimes. Every once in a while, I go to the bathroom, book in hand, lock the door and just sit on the side of the tub and read for a 10 minutes. This used to be my guilty secret. I wouldn't dare admit it to other moms for fear I'd be viewed as a bad mom for needing a "break,"  and I certainly wouldn't have dared admit it on my blog. But then I read a talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard in which he encouraged mothers to find time for themselves, to "cultivate your gifts and interests... Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children."

I love that. Not only because now my little "bathroom trips" are justified. But, because it helped me to realize how important it is to make time for myself. Even if it's just 10 minutes in the bathroom, or a craft night with the girls. Maybe one day I'll tell my kids what it is I'm actually doing in there. Maybe when Ava's a mom I'll pass my little secret on to her... maybe.

I recently happened across a post on another blog that discussed a question written in to an advice columnist. The question-asker said she felt like her friend, a stay-at-home mom, used her busy life as an excuse not to hang out with the question asker. She then stated basically that she always hears about how busy SAHMs are, but can't figure out what it is they actually do all day. You can imagine the response that got from SAHMs. I gotta say though, before I became one, I often wondered what stay-at-home moms did all day too. When Ava came along and I shocked even myself by abandoning my career to stay home, I became humbled by the responsibilities that came with being a mom, and being a mom who stays home. Even still, four-and-a-half years later, I am still humbled and sometimes overwhelmed by all I am required to do, and all that I choose to do.

This you must know: I love my kids. Oh, how I love them. I can't remember what life was like before Andy and I were blessed with these sweet spirits. But, I gotta tell you, they're exhausting. By the end of the day, I usually realize I forgot to eat lunch, I'm stepping on monster trucks and finding Barbie shoes in every crack and crevice of my house, the sink is full, one or both of my children are coming out of their room insisting they can't sleep, there are e-mails to answer, orders to fill, and a husband who I desperately want to just sit on the couch and talk to. That's one list, but then there's the other. The one that every mom can tell you is longer and much more memorable than the first. At the end of the day, I can chuckle to myself when I think of Jax hopping down the hallway like a frog, his cute little bum in the air. I can smile when I remember the excitement in Ava's voice when she sounded out a diffiult word all on her own. We've read books together, played cars, played dolls, created with chalk, cleaned together, sung together, learned the importance of an apology, learned about bugs, baked, played with Daddy, read scriptures together and said prayers together. My days, while busy and sometimes stressful, are also full of lots of hugs, lots of "I love you"s, Ava telling me atleast twice a day I'm her best friend, and Jax telling me I'm his "best partner." My list is no different than most moms'.  I guess, I could be more "real" on my blog and complain about all the things that go wrong or are frustrating in my day. But, do they really matter? The joy of motherhood comes in moments. It's those moments spent enjoying our children, savoring our time together that are most important. And those are the moments I (and many moms) choose to make immortal, to last forever in writing and in our memories.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chugging Along

I don't think I ever appreciated Phoenix very much when I lived there. Maybe I was blinded by the sweltering heat, or maybe I just thought I was too cool (big emphasis on thought). Now that I'm a grown-up with kids of my own, I'm getting to experience so many of the things I missed out on, or just didn't appreciate. Case in point: McCormick Railroad Park in Scottsdale. Jax, like most little boys loves trains so this outing seemed only obvious during our vacation.

The park is huge and surrounded by a miniature railroad track. I think in all, we took four trips around the park on the train. Both kids loved the wind through their hair, waving to all the passerbys and especially screaming "CHOO CHOO!" as we went through the tunnel. While Jax was all about the train, Ava just couldn't get enough of the carousel. She told me she feels like a "princess upon my steed" when she rides. I gotta admit, she does look pretty regal. Jax wouldn't step foot on the thing, much preferring to stand off to the side with whomever wasn't accompanying Ava.

Ava's view from the carousel

Please excuse how terrible I look in this photo, but doesn't my mom look pretty?

After all the riding, we enjoyed a picnic and time in the Old West-themed playground. Phoenix even surprised us with cooler temps and a light breeze. Perfect day!