Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Out of Gas

One of Talmage's great anxieties in life is running out of gas. I don't know why he's so afraid of this or why he thinks it would happen to me (I mean, I'm so together in every aspect of my life, wink wink) but he is super spooked. A few months ago it was getting seriously out of hand so I put a moratorium on mentioning my gas tank and cleared the "how many miles until you run out of gas" feature from my dash. This actually did stop him from mentioning it every. darn. time. we got in the car and boy was a I relieved...but turns out it also meant that I didn't know how many miles until I ran out of gas. So, gulp, for the first time ever, I ran out of gas.

I was pulling into Toys R Us with all four kids in tow to buy a new carseat for our big girl Coco when I noticed a random blinking light on my dash. I had never seen it before and hope to never see it again, but now know it's the "hey dummy, you're basically two seconds away from running out of gas in the middle of rush hour" blinking light. I quickly turned on the "how many miles" feature and unfortunately T and I saw the big fat ZERO at the exact same time.

"Um, Mom? So remember when you promised me that we'd never run out of gas? So, um, do you think we should call AAA right now because I think we actually ran out of gas. Right now."

Despite his declaration that we immediately needed to have our car towed, T wasn't as freaked out about the dilemma as either of us expected him to be, and to be honest I wasn't freaked out about it at all. In a twisted sort of way I thought our situation was hilarious so maybe that was Heavenly Father bringing peace to my soul or maybe I was losing my marbles but either way, I kept my cool. We still went to the store. We still bought Coco a carseat. We came out and like it or not, we still had no gas. But you know what we still did? Tried to drive our no-gas derrieres to the gas station.

The van was sputtering and I asked Talmage to say a prayer asking Heavenly Father to please let us make it to the gas station. It was only a few miles up the road but I seriously had my doubts. He said a beautiful prayer, I thanked him for his sincerity and then I asked him what he thought.

"Well Mom, some blessings don't come until later and I don't know if this is one of those times."

I literally had tears coming out of my eyes I was laughing so hard. But at the same time I was so proud that he realized that sometimes you can pray your heart out for a righteous desire and still not receive it. Such maturity in that little man and such a great truth to learn early in life.

Luckily for everyone, this was one of those times when the blessing came now! We made it to the gas station and filled up what I had always thought was a 19 gallon tank with 19.95 gallons of gas. I guess it fits 20 gallons and I guess we got reallllly lucky. We drove home high on our surprising success story and with a renewed commitment to feed our fuel tank. I have a feeling T won't let me make this mistake again!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pinewood Derby and Fast Food One

Both James and Talmage took the challenge of making their first ever Pinewood Derby car very seriously, as any good Cub and Daddy Bear should. James was not a scout as a kid so we literally started at ground zero, but after watching a few Youtube videos, reading a little tutorial and scouring pinterest for creative ideas we got to work (and lest I make you think we are at all on top of things, said "got to work" happened the week of the race when James was working insane hours, the girls were sick, we were packing for KB's wedding and T kept saying, "So...shouldn't we take it out of the box now?"!)

T said he wanted a car that was super fast but also super cool, and we were quick to manage expectations by passing on Pepa's Pinewood wisdom that those two usually don't mesh. The fastest cars are usually the simplest and the cool ones rarely are the first down the track--so we had a decision to make. It really came down to this--James and T were going to make this car go as fast as they could but as first-timers they had little control in the outcome (also, they learned that some of those tips and tricks found online are easier said than done). What could they control? Making it creative and fun! Thus the decision to create Fast Food One.

Our little french fry car finished above average in the races down the track and T was pleased as punch with the results and had such a blast racing and cheering and comparing cars. But the real win was when the leaders announced that T's car had won the People's Choice Award, the only award voted on by participants. We may not have been the fastest, but we won the popularity contest, haha!

The boys are already planning their car for next year and Quinny wants in on the action as well with what else, a cheetah car. Daddy has his work cut out for him! In the meantime, we'll just count this as a first Pinewood Derby success story! Being a boy mom is so fun sometimes.

We were one of the first people there and the boys had a lot of energy to burn off after the long drive back from Sacramento. 

Just a few of the awesome cars from our pack!

I love these boys. Such a great group of friends!

We're so happy for you T! Love you, our little Cub Scout!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Auntie Chaya & Uncle B

On Friday, May 19th Kate and Brendan were married for time and all eternity in the Sacramento Temple. These two love each other deeply, share so many common passions and interests, and will do great things in their life together (which we're rooting for them to build in LA!) We feel so grateful that Kate found someone so perfect for her (he really is the male version of her--it's almost uncanny), and we feel extra lucky to have inherited an awesome "Uncle B" for our kiddos. More people for them to love and more people to love them is always a win and I'm excited for this extra seat at our family's table. We love you Kate and Brendan, thanks for letting us be a part of your special day!

(These are all just snaps from my cell phone...I'll post some professional pics when they come in!) 

The happy couple mere minutes after being pronounced man and wife!

Me and my handsome Daddy--I just love him!

Princess Lacey was the sweetest flower girl.

Our boys looked smashing in their suits and were such great little attendants. I was so proud of them! And also--look at Kate! Is she not the most beautiful bride?! I loved her dress, make-up and those gorgeous flowers.

A little bit of cousin love.

Silly prom picture!

Formal prom picture!

Bryce and Care are such a gorgeous couple. 

I always feel super blonde until I take a picture with this bleachy bombshell! I love my Mama!

A few of my favorites in one little snap. It was so nice to spend the evening with them (and believe me, you're sorry I don't have footage of me and my Mom on the dance floor!)

Couple Goals. 

Me and my baby boyfriend. He thought of this picture all by himself--love that kid!

OK, so maybe I was a little paparazzi-ish!

Brendan has the greatest sisters--just missing one in this pic!

And couldn't forget this picture with my favorite Vicci and Auntie Lynn. Love you two!
What a wedding! 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Her first mani/pedi

She picked bright blue for her toes, hot pink for her fingers and fluorescent orange for my pedi and sat still as can be for her first spa experience. She was confident in her color choices, quiet with the sweet lady pampering her and thrilled that this was a date with ONLY Quinny and ONLY Mommy. I love this little lady and I hope that this is the first of many times we share colors, smiles and bonding time in a nail salon.  

Blue toes!

Pink fingers!

Doesn't she look so big and so darling getting her little hand massage?

A not-so-great picture but a super-great experience so, I'm posting it anyway! Love you Quinny girl.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A very merry unbirthday to me!

The timing of my birthday this year was rather unfortunate and tears replaced cheers on my big day. I'm OK with that, I really am. The thought of the people I love most being sad on my birthday is devastating to me, but then again the image in my head of mourning with my dearest people on my birthday is a great example of what life on earth is all about--to love, and to be loved. It was uncomfortable, it was heart-breaking, but then again it was also beautiful and moving and I'm grateful for this birthday's unexpected gift in allowing me to learn more about how to love like the Savior.

The week after my birthday and the day the kids and I returned from our camping adventure I found this festive little cake frosted on the counter. No matter that James had been up all night working, he sacrificed the little sleep he was offered to instead make me a birthday cake. I was so tired (as you can see written all over my face) but that rainbow chip frosting brought out my pearly whites and left me feeling so grateful for the little and big things James does to make our life more comfortable and my special days more fun.

Everyone knows that a birthday is not a birthday until a piece of cake has been consumed so with a bite or two (or twelve) of that yummy cake we officially concluded my 31st year and welcomed 32--woot, woot! A very merry unbirthday to me!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Crew

I'm feeling extremely grateful that these people belong to me and I to them. After church I placed them all against this white brick wall and asked them to smile and it's a Mother's Day miracle because they actually listened! Our shirts are untucked, we're missing shoes, the outfits don't match and the diaper is bulging but look. at. those. smiles! I love these babies and feel eternally grateful to be their Mama. 

They were sooooo done with pictures at this point but I wanted at least one snap of me with them on my special here it is!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Friday Ice Cream Day

We're still going strong with our Friday Ice Cream Day tradition and it's easily my favorite day of the week. Usually my freezer is packed with sweets and we come home with friends to party, but last week Melissa treated all the kids to ice cream from the ice cream truck and they thought they were in heaven. All 8 of our babies played in the backyard until evening and at some point both Melissa and I looked at each other and said, "You're never allowed to move!" Neither of us are planning a trek anytime soon, but you just never know when you live in West LA and I can't even spend a second thinking about the possibility without crying. I love all of these little besties.  

Sharing is caring!

"Instead of sitting in our own chairs, how 'bout we just be chair buddies!" The cutest duo with BY FAR the most energy!

Sweet Tay turning my backyard into a work of art!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Motherhood Lessons Learned While Camping

I spent all Friday morning keeping Cora from eating the soil surrounding Rupert the house plant, reminding Quinn that kicking her sister, tossing magna tiles like footballs and throwing temper tantrums in the kitchen are not allowed and packing for a campout that the kids and I had been looking forward to all week. The tents and sleeping bags were borrowed, the {junk}food was purchased, new batteries were in all of the flashlights and the van was full of gas but alas, at 2 pm I received a call from James with the sad news that he was staffed on a new deal and couldn't make the trip. I was super bummed but knew the kids would feel it even deeper and was not looking forward to that after-school conversation. I'm so deeply, truly grateful for James' amazing job but geez, work sure gets in the way sometimes.

I sat for a few minutes under a dark cloud trying to invent a suitable Plan B to no avail, but then I remembered that I am strong, capable and independent and why waste energy being bummed when you can instead use that energy to take your four babies camping with all their church friends?! And so that's what I did. 

The camping adventure was held at Castaic Lake, a short hour north of Los Angeles and totally hidden from the freeway. The I-5 is our route back to Sac, and even after so many trips I didn't know Castaic Lake even existed! The tent went up easily thanks to a few friends who took pity on the crazy camping Mama and the evening was spent eating delicious food, roasting marshmallows and hiking up hills for pretty views of sage brush, wildflowers and the sparkling lake. The kids couldn't have smiled bigger as they surrounded their buddies by the campfire and they came home to tell their Daddy handfuls of reasons why this was the "greatest weekend of their lives!" 

The realist in me wants to also let you know that in total I slept an hour on a broken air mattress with no blankets and there were approximately 100 times during the night that I cursed my confidence in camping without James. The wind was whipping around Castaic Lake and even with stakes and ropes supporting our tent it sounded like a hurricane and beat against our faces for frigid hours. We were not alone in this problem, the wind completely broke a few of my friends' tents and drove others to escape the elements and sleep in their vehicles. Quinn spent much of the night screaming in confusion, Everett kept having nightmares that he was falling off a cliff, Talmage was worried about being blown away and cranky when anyone moved in the tent in the middle of the night and poor Coco needed bottles and diaper changes and cuddles all night long to keep her satisfied. It was eventful and I checked my phone a trillion times (only to be repeatedly disappointed that time was passing like a snail) and at 5:45 we were all up and at 'em taking down the tent and eating smuggled cherry PopTarts. It may take us a week to recover and we may never camp again, but overall it was a fun story to tell and I feel empowered by doing something really hard and rocking it. And hey, we survived and like I said the kids were on cloud 9 so I'd file that under "we rocked it!"

Mother's Day weekend was probably the greatest time for this campout to happen. You see, there are so many qualities I lack and ways I fail as a mother. I really hate making dinner. I'm the worst at doing arts and crafts. I need to read more with Quinn, check Evie's homework and listen deeper to T's stories from school. I'm pretty strict about messy rooms and manners and let's just say my frown line is deeper than my smile lines these days. I want to do and be better in 100 different ways. 

But there are some things that I am really good at, and this weekend reminded me again what they are. I'm awesome at taking my kids on adventures and making fun memories. I don't let my fear get in the way and I go and do and experience even if it's not easy and even if it's slightly crazy. I hope this weekend taught my kids that even when things don't go as expected (the work and the wind, respectively) we can take control of our realities and still create something lovely--and I think I'm pretty good at doing that as a Mom. Oh yes, and we can't forget that I rock at buying camp-food; people knew who to come for for Cheetos and red vines and all manners of sweets!

I'm grateful in life for little moments that feel like a sweet pat on the back from on High. Moments where you realize that you're not perfect, but you're pretty darn great despite all you lack--and this campout was one of them.

 Here we are in front of our awesome home for the night!

Don't ask me how many marshmallows this chick consumed because I plead the 5th!

If you look at the tip-top of that hill you'll see a line of kids hiking like army ants, and if you look at the bottom of that hill you'll see the little Quinny ant that sadly got left behind. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Standing and Smiling

Cora as an 11-month-old is everything you'd dream a baby to be. I love every little thing about her, but the cheeseburger smiles she so easily offers as of late is on the tippy top of that list. Standing and smiling, standing and smiling--that's this little gal's jam.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Field Tripping

That whole one-field-trip-a-year policy bit me in the buns this go-around and I ended up on back-to-back Friday outings with my boys. The first Friday Ever and I went to reDiscover Center which is basically a place where kids can make junk out of junk and learn the reduce, reuse, recycle jingle as they go. The next week T and I went to Tree People where we hiked in a gorgeous canyon and learned all about saving water, planting trees and being a good member of the human family. That was supposed to be the finale of my field tripping but the next week Ever's teacher needed help on a trip to the Natural History Museum's Butterfly Pavilion and rule, or no rule, I couldn't (nor did I want to) tell her no. If these field trips sound a little crunchy granola then welcome to LA and welcome to Westwood Charter! Kidding aside, I think it's great that my boys are learning to love Mother Earth and I hope they always treat her with the respect she deserves. It was so fun to field trip by their side.

reDiscover Center:

These cute boys made a cave with rocks and sticks inside and big fruit trees surrounding it and water running alongside it. Their prompt: create something you'd find in nature. Nailed it!

Seconds before this shot the two on either side of Evie were linked, arm in arm. It was darling!

Kinder-kids are the best when you pull out a camera!

Tree People:
It was bright and windy and cold and then warm--the weather (and this little munchkin) just couldn't sit still through the whole field trip!

Their tour guide instructed them to be "California Cool" if they saw any wild animals, and this was these awesome 2nd graders interpretation of that phrase. They look pretty darn cool to me!

Planting a tree that supposedly will grow big enough to plant in our yard someday. We're just hoping to keep it alive through the week.

Butterfly Pavilion:
These two never left each other's side! And I quote, "I'm gwad you're coming Mom, but I'm actuawy sitting with Chase on the bus. So maybe you can sit with another Mom, how about Melissa?!" Thanks buddy, and hooray for Melissa and I on another field trip together!

I couldn't help but take pic after pic of these beautiful butterflies. What a wonderful world we've been given!

 This nice docent was trying to calm these boys' anxieties about a butterfly that was stuck in a spiders web. It worked, thank goodness!

And that concludes another successful year of field tripping. Thanks boys for being the best, I love to adventure with both of you!