Wednesday, December 17, 2014

These Are The Moments I Treasure

Alyssa and I sat on the floor outside the Richland High Auditorium eating our McDonalds this afternoon. We were between performances of the Nutcracker. I'm helping at the souvenir table this year and Alyssa is a soldier. As we sat near the tables filled with nutcrackers and snow globes and ornaments, I felt so much love for my little girl who is not such a little girl anymore.  I love this time that we get to spend together, just the two of us, enjoying each other's company and goofing off with our chicken nuggets and milk shakes.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


On Friday we headed up to Leavenworth, Washington for the Christkindlemarkt festival.  We listened to The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle while we drove.  We finished the first Hero's Guide book on our last trip, so we were all excited to start Book 2.

We got in just after 3:00.  It was raining like crazy, but by the time we were settled in at the hotel, the rain had slowed down to almost nothing, so it was perfect to walk around.  We looked in some of the shops, ate dinner at Andreas Keller, then walked around some more.  We got back to the hotel around 9:00, and the kids wanted to swim, so we hurried to do that.  There was an outdoor pool with a bubble on top.  There were a few other people in the pool when we got there, but no adult was even touching the water.  It was cold!  The kids swam for a bit, and I attempted to get in the water so Becca could, but I didn't even get as deep as my ankles.

After swimming, we changed into our pajamas and watched TV until midnight.  We found a show on the weather channel called, "Fat Guys in the Woods."  It was quite interesting and fun to watch, and we kept saying, "After this one, we need to get you guys to bed," and we stayed up way later than we had planned to.

On Saturday we played in the snow that had fallen during the night, walked through the shops again, ate a lunch/dinner at another German restaurant, decorated lanterns for the parade, missed the parade, and played Farkle and Pedro.

We originally planned on coming home Saturday afternoon, but our hotel had a two-night minimum, so we left this morning after breakfast.  We stopped at the Applets and Cotlets Factory in Cashmere, then listened to the Hero's Guide all the way home. 

The kids were playing Couchville from Studio C.

watching the snow fall

We Decked The Halls

Thanksgiving was wonderful.  We went to my parents on Wednesday night to play games and eat pie, then we had the leftovers for breakfast Thanksgiving morning.  We played Forbidden Desert with Kim and Brian, and we finally won!  Marcus got it for his birthday, and we've played it a number of times since, but we kept losing.  It's a team based game, so if anyone playing dies of thirst, the game is over.  We worked really heard at not dying on Wednesday, and we finally got our airship put together to get out of the desert.

On Thursday we slept in, had a lazy morning of playing and decorating for Christmas, then we put a prime rib in the oven, and decorated and played some more.  The prime rib took longer than we thought it would, and we ended up finishing dinner at 8:30.  It's a good thing we already ate the pie!

Our usual tradition is to decorate for Christmas on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but we left for Leavenworth on Friday, so we decorated on Thanksgiving.  This meant that at 8:30 we sent Alyssa to shower, cleaned up after dinner, then had our traditional first eggnog around the Christmas tree (real quick) and went to bed.

We had to dump Brian's huge pumpkin before we could set out the trees.  Becca was posing.

Alyssa made the garland for the tiny tree.

Pose with a dirty face!

The kids watched Planet Sheen most of the day, but I made them pause it while we were decorating the tree.

It was Becca's turn to put the star on top.  (We have to document this, so we know who's turn it is next year.)

We went ahead and used out Christmas tablecloth.  Might as well, right?

We reverse-seared the prime rib, and it was so perfect!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In Other News

Let's just pretend that I've stayed current with the blog and you know what's going on in our lives right now.  Does that not work?  Okay.  Time to update.

We've actually had some pretty big things - actually, one big thing - happen around here, which is one of the reasons I haven't blogged about the little things.  I keep thinking, "I want to write about this," but then I don't want to write about it until I can post about the big news, and then I go to bed at night instead of blogging, and I get so far behind.

Anyway.  Time to get caught up.

Halloween was crazy.  Brian and I went to the hospital, because it felt like I had the beginnings of appendicitis.  It turned out it was only the stomach flu, but I promise it didn't feel like any stomach flu I've ever had.  We were there for a couple hours and came home just in time for Brian to go trick-or-treating with the kids.  Brian's parents came over to watch the kids while we were gone, so they were the lucky ones who got to get everyone dressed in their costumes.  The tights I laid out for Rebecca were too small, and Marcus broke the zipper on his air force costume, so Grandma had to sew him in.  I also didn't get any pictures.  Brian's mom sent me the ones she took, but now I can't find them on my computer. 

Nevermind.  Found them!  Nope, these are the after trick-or-treating pictures.  It works. 

Marcus had a colossal Minecraft birthday party.  He invited six kids from his class along with their families, four or five families from the ward, our whole family, and the Burtons.  We had it at the church, because that is a lot of people!  Normally we don't do huge parties, but he kind of didn't get any birthday at all last year.  I remember it was around February-ish and we were at Costco, and we decided to buy a cake, and then I was like, "Let's put candles on it and it could finally be Marcus' birthday cake!"  He didn't go for that.  I don't remember why he didn't have a birthday last year, though.

So we invited a huge amount of people, and the only ones that showed up were family and the Burtons.  Honestly, Marcus was a little sad his other friends didn't come, but I think it turned out great, and it was so much more comfortable for me to be relaxing and enjoying instead of feeling like I have to mingle and entertain.

Minecraft food!

More Minecraft food!

Brian and I worked hard on this cake.  It was our first attempt at fondant, so it was quite a learning experience, especially since we realized at the last minute that we didn't have brown food coloring, so we had to make our own brown color.  At one point it literally looked like bloody poop.  We used a marshmallow based fondant recipe, though, so it tasted NOTHING like poop.

We had the Great Kobini come do a magic show.  This was his first birthday party magic show, and he did a great job!  (We didn't know him before, but it turned out that his dad and Brian went to school together.)

Gary likes Oreos.  A lot.

Blowing out the candles.

Alyssa started going to McLoughlin Middle School.  She is having a blast!

She kept losing her temper with us, so finally one day I asked, "What's going on?  Why are you so angry?"

She responded with, "I never see my cousins.  I never see my friends.  I never see anyone!"

Brian, Alyssa, and I had a talk the next night where we explored our options, and chose to give middle school a try.  I registered her the next day.  She has all of her classes with her cousin, Callie, and her other two cousins are in the same team, but on a different schedule than them.  She's giving band a try, playing the flute, and she's making good progress.  She gets frustrated sometimes, but really, she's catching on better than she thinks.  We've been practicing together for the last two days, and her tone has improved a ton!

First day at McLoughlin!

Ethan's still homeschooling and attending MCP.  For the most part he's working well on his own, and it's amazing how much more time it feels we have to only have one child to teach instead of two.  He just started learning how to code, and he's loving that.  Yesterday we were walking into Costco, and he was telling me that circles have sides.  I was trying to tell him that every math test I've seen says that squares have four sides, triangles have three sides, and circles have zero sides, because they don't have any corners.  The man walking beside us kept smiling, and then he said, "I hate to tell you this, but he's right."  Ethan then explained that he drew a circle using code, and he had to turn a corner lots and lots of time to draw a lot of sides.

Soccer ended, so we have our Saturdays back.  Ethan had improved a ton this year.  He's a lot more confidant in his abilities, which means he's going for the ball more.  Marcus loves soccer so much.  He's lucky that his team has decided to play indoor soccer through the winter.  I don't know when that will start up again, though.

Normally I'm not a big fan of doing trophies for the kids, but Marcus cherishes and loves his trophy so much.
And just to finish things up, here's a couple pictures from Marcus' actual birthday day.

I don't remember who Becca was talking to, or if anyone was actually on the phone...

Thinking of his wish

Wishing.  He smothered that cheesecake in caramel sauce all by himself.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What A Weekend!

We started off with a great Halloween party at the church.  I finished Alyssa's costume on Friday morning after staying up way late working on it on Thursday.  We had friends over Friday morning as well, and Rebecca (the mom, not my baby) helped me make a stuffed felt cake to complete the look for Marie Antoinette.

There was quite a bit of rushing around on Friday to get everyone ready for the party and Brian and me ready for our trip to Seattle, but we had a lot of fun amidst the chaos.  While we were rushing around trying to get everyone packed to stay with Grandma and trying to get the house clean, Brian and I realized that we were supposed to be having fun getting ready for Halloween, not running around all stressed and crazy and bossing the kids around.  So we switched gears, made sure everyone was packed, and told everyone to get ready for the party.

Alyssa was Marie Antoinette, like I mentioned, Ethan was Toothless, Marcus was an air Force guy, and Rebecca (the three year old this time) was Little Ariel.  We all got dressed, then we stopped by Brian's office so he could soak some contacts in flouresein (spelling is not correct, forgive me), and finally we headed to the church to decorate a classroom door for the trick-or-treating and have fun at the party.

Little Ariel with her princess friends.

Marcus is showing off his cool Air Force gun.

I missed getting a picture of Alyssa, because she had to leave soon after the party started to go to a Nutcracker rehearsal.

The next morning Brian and I left for Seattle for our open water dives for scuba class.  It was awesome!  We had on two layers of 7 mm wetsuits to keep us warm, and we saw a bunch of purple star fish, some feisty crabs, lots of fish, and the fastest shrimp we've ever seen. 

We did two dives on Saturday and two on Sunday.  There was a lot of certification tests mixed in with the dives, but we were able to have a lot of time just exploring under water as well.  Oh, and we saw Oscar the Octopus, who was apparently released to the wild about a week ago, and the people we talked to afterward were quite happy that he had found a home in one of the old boats placed for the diving area.

I learned that Brian is a great diving buddy.  When we first got in the water, and I was struggling to put my fins on, my mask got all foggy and I started to freak out that I wouldn't be able to see under water.  I kept trying to clean it out, then put it on without exhaling, but every time it was foggy.  I was very concerned, and even thought, "Let's not do this.  I can try another time."  But Brian came over to help, and just having him there calmed me down.  He took off my hood and put it back on again so that all my hair was out of the way, then he called our teacher over, who told me to spit in the mask and then just barely rinse it out.  Apparently, the spray defogger that Brian and I used was different from what Dave was putting on everyone else's masks, so when he told us to rinse the defogger, I really shouldn't have, because the spray wasn't meant to be rinsed off.  Anyway, spitting worked like a charm, and once I was able to get my mask on successfully, I was emotionally ready to go.

Still, it took about twenty or thirty minutes under the water for me to really become comfortable and look around enough to enjoy myself.  It was so neat to watch all the little fish and collect shells from the floor.  I collected some shells and crab claws for the kids at sixty feet down.

During the testing, I handed Brian my secondary regulator upside down; forgot to release air from my BC as we ascended for the first time, which made me float right to the surface once we hit twenty feet; and it took me two tries to take off and put my mask back on under water.  Those gloves are hard to get used to!  I learned a lot, though.  Once you make those mistakes, you make sure you don't make them again.

Oh, and I can't forget to say that we accidentally mixed up Brian's and my gear while we were packing in the dark on Friday night.  I put on his wetsuit, and I thought it was loose because I had tried it on over my clothes at the dive shop.  Still, I was surprised it was so roomy.  Then Brian came over, and we were in a hurry, because we were the last to arrive and everyone was already getting ready, and Brian started to unknowingly put on my wetsuit.  He tried and tried, got it up on his legs, asked, "Am I really that fat?"  Tried some more, got one arm halfway in and hollered, "Okay, my pride is completely done for already.  Can you help pull this up?"

After pulling and tugging for a couple minutes, we figured out the problem, and it took a few more minutes to peel my wetsuit off of him.  Like I said, we learned our lesson and made sure to keep our wetsuits separate when we hung them up at the hotel that night.

I love scuba diving!  I loved being under the water, exploring some place new, and I can't wait until we can go again.  (We're going to Hawaii in January for some CE classes, which is why we got scuba certified in the first place.)  It was fun to learn how to use our compasses underwater.  Honestly, I was quite impressed with myself for doing something that I never thought I would do and was originally way out of my comfort zone.

my hot diving buddy

my cool purple fins - Purple is the last color to lose it's vibrancy under water.

Aren't I glorious?!?
with all our gear

We had both sets of grandparents helping out over the weekend.  Brian's mom braved the cold soccer games with the boys.  Ethan threw up soon after getting to my parents house, and Becca threw up soon after my dad moved all the kids back to our (very messy) house.  We're so thankful that our parents were willing to help out so Brian and I could do this amazing, fun thing together, and I'm glad our kids were taken care of so well. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

He Might Keep Getting Older, But He Will Never Grow Up

 Brian's mom wanted a picture of the original Jacks clan.  Brian was just as cooperative as he always is.
hat off
tongue out

wonky face

hat back on