My Reasons

My Reasons

This Is Where It All Begins

This Is Where It All Begins

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

california...our little piece of heaven

Last Wednesday, Mary went to tumbling in the morning, I did a 10 mile run, we packed our bags, loaded the car, and as soon as Mary got home, we headed to California!!!

The 14 hour drive is LONG, and of course there are moments with sad babies, and frustration, but overall, the kids traveled really well.

We arrived in Winters, CA at Sam and Sherean's house just before midnight.

We woke up, ate breakfast, the kids played with all of the farm animals, and then it was off to 6 Flags/Marine world!  We could not have asked for a better day.  The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, and it was a weekday, so we rarely waited in line for more than 5 minutes.  We completely scored!

This was a last minute decision, and I am so glad we went.  This place was a dream land for our kids.  It had rollercoasters for all ages, rides for all ages, and lots of seriously awesome water shows.  We saw a Siberian Tiger show...where Mary was picked out of the crowd to feed the tigers!


the dude is putting the food on the end of the pole...the tiger is anxiously waiting.
feeding the tiger
After the tiger show, we split up between little kids, and big kids, and did some rides.  Then we met back up again for the dolphin show.
This show was truly unbelievable!!!  The kids got front row seats, and sat in the "splash zone," where they were soaked by the dolphins.  The dolphins were doing double back flips, splashing the crowd, and giving rides to their trainers.  It was so cool.

After the dolphin show, it was back to more rides, and then on to another show with rare or almost extinct animals.

We went back and forth between shows and rides most of the day.  The kids were in absolute heaven.
Mary, Alina, Sam, Sterling, William

The younger three were completely exhausted and done by dinner time, so Sharean and I took them home in our car, and the older kids and dad's stayed a few hours longer.

It was a very fun day!!!  I think my kids were in shock that such a cool place exists.  I love seeing them so happy and excited.

The next day, Dan and Kristen and their kids came to the house, so we hung around with them all day.  The kids rode horses, and played in the giant fig tree fort.  We had a crazy yummy barbeque dinner, and just hung out together.  It was a good time.

Libby, Molly, Luke

Alina and Mary

The next morning, we woke up, packed up, and headed out to Stinson beach.  This was the day the kids were the most excited for.
For the first time, the beach was sunny!!!  We rented boogie boards for Mary, Sam, and Sam and Sherean's kids, grabbed the best hamburgers ever at the Snack Shack, and walked down to the ocean.

Again, the weather was perfect.  It was amazing.  William, Luke and Molly got their feet wet, and played in the sand the whole time.  They caught little crabs, collected shells, chased the tide, and explored the beach.

coolest crab ever!

luke dug a huge hole


I decided to try out my first ever beach run. 
I pictured running in this serene setting, the ocean breeze blowing through my hair, the sweet salty air in my face, the cushion of sand under my feet, the refreshing and rejuvenating ebb and tide of the waves. was more like dodging people right and left, sand piling in my shoes time and time again, nasty salt chapping my lips and making me crazy thirsty, the "breeze" throwing my earbuds and hair all over my arms and face, getting super dizzy from the waves going up and down while I am trying to run, tripping over and over again in holes in the sand, and getting extremely lost, when the beach ended and I was frantically running through residential roads in desperate need of a bathroom! (which I never found, until I finished my run, and even then, the porta potty was out of toilet paper...awesome.)

Needless to say, it was a torturous 6 miles, but hey, I did it.  When I got back to where our group was hanging out, I pulled out my hair tie, to let my hair down, and my hair stayed up in a ponytail all on it's own, in all of it's salty, crunchy, sweaty, crusty glory.  Rock on. Go me.  Guess I'm not the next shining star of Baywatch.

Anywhoo....Mary, Sam, Alina, and Sterling ended up boogie boarding until 8:30pm!  They played in the ocean for 8 hours!! 

Ben and I left with the younger kids around 6:00pm. Before we left though, we got to see a pod of dolphins swim by!  It was so cool.

Mary and Sam had the time of their lives.  Even when they finally did get out, Sherean said they begged to stay longer!  My kids sure love the ocean.  Believe it or not, they said the liked it better than 6 flags, and that is saying something!

We all arrived back at the house completely exhausted, but happy.

The next morning, we sadly packed our bags and got ready to head home.  I have not seen Mary and Sam so devastated in a long time.  The poor kids just cried and cried.  It was completely heartbreaking.

Sterling, Mary, Molly, Alina, Sam

We all said a sad goodbye, and we made the LOOOONG 14 hour trek back home.

We got home a couple days ago, and have spent the time since then getting back to normal, and figuring out our new summer routine.

I am so grateful we have this trip to look forward to each year, and I love that the kids absolutely love this vacation, and this time with their cousins.  It is by far the most looked forward to trip of our year, every year.

Until next time...

full house, full hearts

A few days after the Birthday celebrations, and last day of school celebrations, we continued on the partying with Ryan's family.

Ryan was already gone, he had to fly out early to get back to work, but Juliet and the kiddos stayed another week.

My mom, and Juliet and the clan decided to come hang in Heber for a few days, before they flew back home to Alaska.

We decided to have Nichole and her kiddos come up too, the more the merrier.  Devin was in school all day, so he missed out. 

We definitely lived it up.

we ate ridiculous amounts of watermelon

Molly rocked it in her new swim suit.  I can't even....

is she for real?

sun babes
The girls took a little trip and got their nails done.  Girl power!  Sorry, no pictures though.

we played lots and lots and lots of Wacky Six

the kids played/wrestled/jumped in the pool

we consumed an entire freezer of popsicles

and we had a house full!!!
Some of us did a few Quench It runs for our caffeine fix, to keep up with it all.  :)

The last day, we hired some babysitters, and the mom's, along with Mary and Lilly went shopping at all of the boutiques here in Heber and Midway.  We sure know how to shop!  It was so much fun.

It was so fun to be able to get all of the cousins together for one last hoorah before they had to leave.  I love it when my home is full of family and fun. 

It really is what life is all about.

little boys

I walked in the family room the other afternoon, and found this.

There are so many adorable things about this picture, that I could just burst.

Luke is a little boy, through and through.

Oh, my heart.

fort making is a must

As a kid, I LOVED to build forts.

I can't even count how many forts I must have built growing up.

Blanket forts, tree forts, wood forts, dog kennel forts, chair forts, trampoline forts, etc.

I was thrilled when Sam came and got me the other day and showed me this..

How awesome is this fort!

Sam and his buddy, Blake, built it in just a few hours.

Love it.

Way to go Sammy boy.

service goes a long way

The Monday after our HUGE week, we were really wanting to finish getting our parking strip in.  All 110 yards of it.  Yikes!!

I was trying to clean the house, and get things ready for our family that would be arriving the next day, as well as figure out our summer schedule, and get used to having all of the kids home.  Ben was working, and trying to find time in the evening to finish the parking strip.

The night, as Ben was out shoveling and smoothing rock, I was inside doing dishes from dinner.  I glanced out the window and saw this!

Two families from our ward, who are also good friends of ours, were out doing service around the neighborhood for FHE.  They saw Ben out working, and stopped to help.  They stayed for almost two hours, and completed the parking strip!

Things like this mean the world to me.  I was so touched and humbled by their service, and by how much it truly helped.

Dang, we live in a good place. 
People are good.

our birthday

The day after the 4 parties, was mine and William's actual Birthday.  William:6  Me: 34

We woke up to a fun balloon bouquet from the family.  That was a fun surprise.

The rest of the day was pretty normal.  We were all pretty drained from the huge week we had with Memorial weekend in Idaho, last day of school parties, William's party, graduation, and so on. 

It was nice to just rest.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to go on a hike up to donut falls.  I love to hike, and William loves donuts, so it was a good Birthday hike combination.  It was a very pretty hike, and it is always great to get up in the mountains.

My Birthday is always a day of reflection for me.  It is quite a significant day really.  I remember the Birthday I lost a baby, and the following Birthday when I had a baby.  I think about Molly, and her journey here, I think about William, and the timing of his birth that brought so much peace and healing.  I think about my own mother, and what she was thinking and feeling 34 years ago on this day.  I think about my life up to this point, and what my future will be like.

I am usually very grateful this day and full of joy for the blessings I have been given, and for the life I have been blessed to live.

It can also be a hard day for me as I get older.  A lot of the fun and excitement can sometimes be turned in to just a normal day.  People have turned to facebook and texting as a means to say Happy Birthday, instead of phone calls and cards.  It seems the world is becoming more and more impersonal as time goes by. Life goes on, kids are kids, the house doesn't clean itself, and, things can just kind of feel same as always, even though, it seems it should be an abnormal and special day.   That can be a little difficult.

All in all though, it was a good day, and I love that I can share it with William, and that I have such spiritual and special memories to tie to this day.

William got all of his partying out the day before, but we did save his donut cake for the actual day.  That evening, we sang to him and he blew out the candles.  While we were singing,  he just started laughing and laughing and laughing.  He was cracking up, and actually tearing up too! It was hilarious!!  By the end of the Birthday song, we were all laughing.

Oh, I love this boy of mine so much, and I love what I can see in him as he gets a little older.

I decided to have my cake the following day, to try to spread out the treats a little bit.  I definitely considered the s'mores a great Birthday cake for the day.
Ben made my favorite cake the next day, Confetti cake with Rainbow Chip was amazing!

That night was another neighborhood party.  This one was a homework burning bonfire and s'mores bar.  It was nice to visit with friends and neighbors for a while, and it is a crack up to see these kids burn their homework.  They really enjoyed that one!  It was a great way to end our Birthday.

Some things about William:
William loves to snuggle and to be hugged and loved. 
He is an awesome reader, and he is very smart when it comes to school work.
William is very loving and fun-loving.
He loves to play video games, ride his bike off bike jumps, and play with his best friends Tyson and Camden.
He loves Larry, his lizard, and he really, really loves dogs.
He suffers from some OCD and some anxiety, that he is just now trying to learn to work through.  He is a strong boy and tries so hard to do the right thing and make sense of hard things.
He has a sweet heart, and a sensitive heart as well.
His favorite colors are orange and blue.
He HATES getting wet when he has regular clothes on.
His favorite dinner is chicken enchiladas.
His favorite treat is chocolate chip cookie dough...and the cookies too.
Best friends:  Tyson Muhlestein, Camden Dyer
Favorite sport: soccer...and he is dang good at it!

We love you William, so so much!
Happy Birthday!