Eventually I’ll put these posts in chronological order, but for now, I’ll just get them written!
Samuel turned 8 in October. Eight is a big year for him, because he got to be baptized. Because his birthday is toward the end of the month, he had to wait until November to be baptized. Our stake does stake baptisms once a month. Usually there are a few kids getting baptized, but in November there was only Samuel.Since there was only Samuel, we got to plan the program.
We were very fortunate that lots of family came to show their love for Samuel. Grandpa and Grandma came from Canada, and Granny and grandpa made the drive form Richardson. Amy came with her kids and Scott and Aimee came with their family. I think the award for the longest drive goes to Mike and Ingrid, who drove from Florida!
Our kids love getting time with their cousins. In fact, when I mentioned that I thought it would be fun to have a family vacation with just our family, I was completely outvoted! Their idea of a vacation always involves cousins!
The night before the baptism everyone started trickling in. We had some barbecue ready, and enjoyed some wonderful visiting. The baptism was bright and early Saturday morning. Because it was just us, our goal was to be out in under an hour, and I think we were successful. My dad gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and Doug’s dad gave the talk on baptism. Samuel’s cousin Kennedy played the piano and Julianna was the chorister. Uncle Scott and Uncle Mike were the witnesses. Ingrid played a violin piece with Kennedy. Samuel picked out the music he liked, and he was also very happy when the bishop read to him from the Book of Samuel during his talk.
After the baptism we went back to the house for some brunch-type food. It was great getting to visit with everyone, and we were treated to another performance by Ingrid. If you ever get the chance to here Ingrid play her favorite hymn, you should definitely do it. Obviously it was already a tender day for me, but having all my family together, sitting in the living room, listening to music. It was my own Little House moment!
After lunch everyone but granny and grandpa headed to Sea World. Granny and Grandpa headed back out of town. After a full morning and then a full day at Sea World, we were all exhausted, but we were so grateful that everyone came. Only two years until we can do it all again!!
I feel like I start every post with, where did the time go! I don’t even really remember Christmas at this point, and I have some other things I want to post about, but this is pretty recent, so hopefully the pictures will jog my memory!
One of the great things about Christmas this year was that Jessica came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. On Christmas Eve we went for our traditional meal of Chinese food. The last year we were in SLC we did a progressive dinner with friends on Christmas eve, but we’re not really within close walking distance of too many of our friends here. Chinese food is yummy, and I don’t have to clean my kitchen! After dinner we went to the Marriott to look at the decorations. We got there just in time for Christmas stories (I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled Doug was!).
Because Christmas was on a Sunday this year, we got to start the day out at church. It was really a wonderful way to help the kids understand the true meaning of the holiday. My absolute favorite thing about church was that we got to sing, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” twice. It’s my favorite carol, and it was like my special holiday treat!
When we got home from church the kids got back into their pajamas and we opened gifts. There were lots of presents from grandpas and grandmas, and a few from mom and dad! Our main gift to the kids this year was an XBox Kinect. I got it at Walmart on Black Friday, and I managed to do it with very little waiting in line, so all in all, it was a success. Of course, the kids haven’t really taken to it … except for the nightly family Zumba workouts!
We had a delicious Christmas dinner and then we packed up for our big road trip the next day. We rented an 8 seater van, and took everyone to Florida. We stopped for a couple of days in Baton Rouge first, and had a lot of fun with cousins. Doug and I did our interviews for the family history project, plus I got to take the kids to see some plantations.
After Baton Rouge we headed to Crestview for a few days to see Mike and Ingrid. We talked about playing some board games, but that never really panned out. I don’t know if Jessica could have handled the fierce Roberts competition!! There were hamster balls though, and a trip to the beach. I always wonder what the hostess is thinking when she sees our huge, crazy group show up and ask for a table for 15!
After a few days in Crestview, we made our way back to Baton Rouge. We spent another night there so that Doug could help his grandfather with some spreadsheet stuff. We made our way back home on New Year’s Eve day. One of the coolest things about the trip was the constant show of fireworks from Houston to San Antonio, We actually made it home right at midnight. It was a little hard to get up for nine o’clock church the next morning, but we made it work!
Alright, it’s not exactly John Steinbeck, but at least I wrote a little something!
This was a big back to school year at our house. William and Samuel are both at school this year. I wasn’t quite sure how William would take to Kindergarten, but he really seems to be enjoying himself. I have loved watching him and Samuel talk about school every day. They love to talk about people they see, or what happens when other kids get in trouble! Right now we have Toys for Tots going on, and it was great watching William’s expression when he realized the toys were for somebody else!
Samuel’s teacher this year absolutely loves teaching. She seems so excited every time I talk to her (which really isn’t that much!). Samuel has been working hard at climbing the reading chart. His teacher measures reading by time. Before this year, no student had read more than 5000 minutes during the school year. Samuel made it his goal to read 6,000 minutes! So far, he’s well on his way. There’s another student in his class who is also very goal oriented, and it helps keep him motivated!
William’s teacher had me a little worried. She seems very dainty, and I was worried that William might be overpowering. I needn’t have feared. She has everything under control! William comes home every day talking about snacks and free stations. I love how carefree kindergarten is! He seems to making great advances with his reading, and he likes having his own friends from school.
I feel so grateful that our kids get to attend such a wonderful school that makes learning fun and stress-free. It’s nothing like school was for me (not that school was stressful for me, it’s just that everything seems much bigger here). When I was in elementary there were two classes for every grade. At Samuel and William’s school there are six classes for every grade. It makes Thanksgiving assemblies insane!
I’m sure it won’t always be this fun for them, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!
As a side note, just so I don’t forget: Samuel decided he was too big for a character back pack this year, so William decided that he was too big too! I thought it was because they thought the characters were too childish, but it’s actually because the big backpacks have way more pockets, therefore way more places to hide stuff!
I hate that I’ve been looking at that lost post forever! I wanted to write about the other 4 days in detail, but really I just want to move on to the other things that have been going on. What’s kind of lame is that I’m going to combine all the days from the reunion!
The reunion was the p0int of the whole road trip. We needed to be at Rocky Mountain National Park to meet up with all 50 members of my husband’s family for three days of non-stop action and potato sack races. Because the baby was still pretty new at that point, I didn’t do as much visiting as I would have liked, but the kids had an amazing time. The sad thing about family reunions is how it reminds us that we don’t live near any of our family. Our closest family is five hours away. I know that’s not too bad, but it would be great if my kids had cousins to play with on a regular basis.
The biggest kudos of this trip go to my mother and father-in-law who organized the whole thing. It’s a huge task to get this many people in the same place, and not one person was missing! Thanks also go to Bryan and Charlotte who planned a lot of the nitty gritty (including the aforementioned potato sack race!). Samuel and William even made it to Junior Ranger status on this adventure.
The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time. There was still snow up in the mountains, which was a treat for my kids that weren’t born in Utah! It really was a great few days. I should write more, but I really do need to move on! Hopefully I’ll be able to get better caught up!
Where was I? My last post had us arriving in Denver pretty late Monday night. We met up with Doug’s brother for a quick minute and then got everyone into bed.
Tuesday morning our family of 7 plus Mike and Ingrid’s family of 7 pretty much took over the lobby of the Embassy Suites hotel! After breakfast and a few errands we made our plans for the day. A trip to Hammond’s Candy Factory and then and afternoon birthday party for Ben at the playground.
The candy factory was a great time. It reminded me a lot of the Sweet Candy Factory in SLC. Sweets was a little more Willy Wonka-esque, but Hammond’s has an amazing candy store.We drove out to the most amazing playground in the afternoon for Ben’s birthday party. We had cake and drinks, plus all the props for our Angry Birds course. Unfortunately, as soon as we got there the lightning alarm went off. That’s how cool this playground was: it had a lightning alarm!
It was raining buckets before too long, and so we decided to postpone the party. We went to Cafe Rio for dinner, and then back to the hotel for some cake and sorbet.
On Wednesday we headed to the Denver Science and Nature Museum. There was a pirate exhibit plus a space exhibit, and a gemstone exhibit. There was also a body exhibit. There was an exhibit that was “supposed” to measure brainwaves and relaxation. It must have been broken though, because it said that Doug was more relaxed than me … I think we all know that that’s a statistical impossibility!
After the museum we headed to a restaurant recommended by a friend. Unfortunately it was closed. However, there was a Happy Cakes right next door, and a pizza place on the other side. The greatest thing about the pizza place: it had a mix your own soda machine! Plus, the restaurant was empty when we showed up, so the 14 of us didn’t really disturb anyone but the guy working the counter!
At this point everyone was pretty wiped out, so we returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. Except for Ingrid and who went for a late night workout in the gym … we’re dedicated like that!
On Monday morning we checked out of our Santa Fe hotel. I only had two requests: a visit to Trader Joe’s and a visit to the State Capitol. Am I the only one with a love of state capitols?! Those two locations were pretty close together, so it was easy. Doug then wanted to go to Taos and check out the area. Since I knew Julia Roberts has a house there, I was all for it! I also consulted our little Paul Roberts Santa Fe guide and noticed that he mentioned the Bradbury Science museum. We entered it into the GPS and saw that it didn’t put us too far out of our way. Monday was a free day, so we decided to head to Los Alamos.
I have to say that I loved Los Alamos. It’s like you actually get smarter as you drive up the mountain! I couldn’t help feeling though, like we entered an episode of Lost. In New Mexico a lot of the houses are adobe style, but Los Alamos looks pretty Main Street, USA. Clearly it was built by people who weren’t local to the area! I loved the museum. They had all these stories of people who had worked in Los ALamos and what they did. Doug loved the technical things, and the kids loved all the Legos. It was very impressive for a free museum!
Taos however, was less than impressive. I was expecting a Park City/ Vail type of town, but instead it was pretty unremarkable. I think the problem was that we didn’t drive all the way to the ski resort. Maybe it’s totally deluxe 20 miles up the hill.
The rest of Monday was spent driving to Denver. It was a pretty long drive, but we saw lots of beautiful scenery and the kids were great. We got into Denver late Monday night and met up with Mike and Ingrid and their family for a couple of fun filled days in Denver.
Day 2 was so much more relaxed than day 1. Although, I have to say, that even with going to the gym every day, I was not prepared for the toll that the caves exacted on my calves. I could hardly walk on Sunday morning!
We knew we were going to take it easy on Sunday. We went to church at 11:00am, which was pretty much perfect. The people were super friendly. After church we headed to El Parasol for lunch. This was a place recommended by Doug’s cousin Paul who used to live in Santa Fe. Paul told us that El Parasol had the best tacos in the world. That’s a bold claim to make considering the best tacos in America are available right here at Taco Taco! The tacos at El Parasol were very yummy, and the whole experience was helped by the fact that there was no wait!
After lunch we went for a drive through Santa Fe. I don’t know if I could live there all the time, but Santa Fe seems like a great place to spend a week-end. Another place recommended to us by Paul was the Tesuque Market. The food here was amazing and the ambiance was great. We also took a little walk through an outdoor sculpture gallery. The kids thought it was great to pick out their favorite pieces and to see if they could identify certain things. Some times it’s a little nerve-wracking to have them running around $10,000 pieces of art, but they didn’t destroy anything!
It really was a perfect travel Sunday.
So, now that we’re officially done with Summer travel, I can write about some of it with an air of nostalgia! I thought about writing in the moment, but some of the moments weren’t that pretty! Now, everything has blurred into a fuzzy happy memory! There were no children screaming in the car, There was no peeing on the side of the road,and there was certainly no yelling on my part!
Enough preamble. It’s time for day 1. Keep in mind that this is the first road trip of the Summer. I’ll get to the other road trip when I’m done with this one.
This was the family reunion roadie. It involved three days in Estes Park for the reunion, two days in Santa Fe and three days in Denver. Day one was supposed to get us to Santa Fe with a stop at Carlsbad Caverns along the way. It was 6 hours to Carlsbad and then another 6 to Santa Fe. Twelve hours is a lot of driving for one day, but we figured if we left at 5:00am we could do it. What we failed to calculate was the time it would take us to actually hike the caves! That whole adventure added about 6 hours to the trip!
We actually got on the road on time. Unfortunately we got a little waylaid by my need to get an egg mcmuffin! We also forgot to set the house alarm, but thankfully Dixie helped us out there! Because we left so early, we made really good time to Fort Stockton. Doug got a little annoyed because I wanted to take a picture in front of the Road Runner statue (the world’s largest, btw!), but he calmed down once we got out of the car and Miss Fort Stockton was there taking publicity photos! It’s not every day you get your picture taken with a beauty queen and a road runner! We then had lunch at Dairy Queen and packed everyone up again.
We got to Carlsbad Caverns early in the afternoon. If you’ve never been there I highly recommend it. I would however also recommend going when all of the elevators are working! We had to wait an hour to get out of the caves. The kids all did a great job of walking down the cave, but there was no way they were going to be able to walk out.Here’s another fun fact: you can’t take your stroller into the cave! So, I had Charles on my back, and Afton was a trooper and walked by herself.
After hiking the cave and the Big Room it was time to go. Ben used some of his spending money for a miner’s hat (turned out to be a good investment because the same hat was $2 more in Denver!), and then we waited in line to exit. By the time we got out it was just a half an hour until the bats so of course we stayed. Little did we know that it was a half an hour until Ranger Randy started his presentation on the bats! The bats exited the cave at about 8:00pm. Ranger Randy said this was the most bats he’d seen … ever! Another helpful hint: don’t bother lugging your big camera to the bat exit, because you can’t take pictures. Bats are very sensitive to electricity. If you don’t believe me, try and use your phone at the bat amphitheater. You’ll get a nice visit from the law enforcement ranger. He carries a real gun and a tranquilizer gun!
Now we had a dilemma. It was 8:30pm and we were still 5 hours from Santa Fe, and that was before stopping to feed the baby. We foolishly soldiered on and made it to Santa Fe at about 2:00am. Next time I would just stay at the Travelodge in White City. They have waterslides! We did make a quick stop in Roswell to feed the baby. If you’re ever in Roswell, you should probably check out the coolest McDonald’s.
So, that was day 1. Stay tuned for a relatively laid back day 2!
Doug always likes to celebrate his birthday in a big way. One year we did turkey drumsticks, last year we did the gigantic pizza, but this year required something extraordinary. This year Doug was turning 40. The only glitch in my party plans was that Charles’ arrival was supposed to be around the 10th of May, and Doug’s birthday is the 13th.
In order to work around this scheduling conflict, I decided to start planning way in advance. I booked our local rec center in January, and I ordered the invitations in February (of course, I neglected to put the time on them!). I was planning a surprise party, and whenever Doug would ask me about what we were going to do for his birthday, I told him we would just have to wait to see how I was feeling after the baby. Having a baby is pretty much the perfect cover for a surprise party!
The theme for the party was an all out geek celebration. It all started with a door mat that I found at Kohl’s for $5. After that, there was no turning back. I had geek glasses and Nerds for party favors. I even had an awesome playlist (think, She Blinded Me With Science). Unfortunately you couldn’t hear the music above the crowd! I had beakers and wind up robots. My sister made molecules out of Styrofoam balls and bamboo skewers. I think my crowning achievement had to be the Periodic Table of Cookies. My sister and I baked 100 cookies the day before and laid them out to form the Periodic Table of Elements.
The best part was that people came from far and wide. Greg flew in from Utah, and Doug’s siblings came from Washington, Minnesota, Florida and Dallas. Plus Doug’s parents came. My dad and sister were here too. We even had friends drive in from Ft. Hood. I think the whole thing was a huge success, but I’m a little biased!
I was a little worried that Doug was on to my plan. When He asked me again what we were doing for his birthday, I told him that my family was going to watch the kids so that we could go out to dinner. I wanted to get to the rec center at about 7:15, and we had finished dinner at about 6:45. On our way home Doug suggested taking the long way, so I was sure he knew what was up. Then his dad called to wish him a happy birthday, and so he pulled over to talk to him for a few minutes. The timing was perfect when we got to the party. I asked him to pull over, and he thought it was because there was a friend in the parking lot. He didn’t find it strange at all that there were lots of friends in the parking lot! That’s when he finally asked if it was a surprise party.
When he walked in the real surprise came. Everywhere he looked he would see someone else who had traveled a long way just to celebrate his birthday. When he first walked in, Tommy came running up to him with the biggest hug ever! The party was a great success, and Doug got to have some great family time.
I have to give a huge shout out to my sister Jessica who watched my kids, and to Christina and Dixie who hung out with me all day decorating the rec center. Those things always take longer than you think. My dad was also a huge help. He pretty much ran all of the last-minute errands, like going to Costco for the drinks and veggies. It was a crazy day, and there was no way that I would have been able to do it by myself!
Another awesome thing: with all the family and friends, clean up was a snap. Am I the only one who gets depressed that something that takes hours to set up can be torn down in 30 minutes?!
I’m going to take a quick break from my never-ending re-cap today. It’s my anniversary, so I thought I’d do a little sharing about my fabulous married life! I have to tone it down a little bit, because I don’t want all of my many readers (hi mom!) to be jealous. If you know Doug at all, you know I’m married to the most romantic man … ever! (There really should be a sarcasm font!)
Last night Doug asked me if we should buy gifts for today. I told him I want him to just apply this year’s gift to the big celebration next year! The gift for 9 years is supposed to be pottery, and I’m all good on knick-knacks, so I’m waiting for the gift to be European Vacation without the children! We won’t out for dinner on Friday because we knew it would be impossible to get a sitter tonight because of Girls’ Camp and EFY. Besides, sometimes it’s nice to just cook a fancy dinner at home. Sadly though, I forgot to go to the grocery store before Doug left for work, and now I’m going to do my meal shopping with all 5 kids … slightly not romantic!
So, you’re probably wondering how we do it, and how we make it look so easy? There are a lot of trade secrets that I’m keeping to myself until I publish the how-to book, but until then, just know that it helps to be married to a comedian! With 5 kids all under the age of 8, I need to laugh as much as possible! It also helps to be married to someone who is super smart. When I’m having those sleep deprived days where I can’t remember the names of my children, it’s good to remember that Doug wouldn’t marry someone stupid! Last but not least, you need to manage expectations. I think that’s a fancy way of saying don’t set the bar too high, but it helps to not expect flowers every day, then when they do come, I’m pleasantly surprised! This philosophy also works with my children!
So, happy anniversary do us! I hope I didn’t ruin it all for the rest of you!!
p.s. Should this have been a serious post … maybe next year? In case you’re worried, we’re all still very much in love!!