Thursday, December 27, 2012

a decade.

I woke up that uncommonly warm morning in December, walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror, expecting to see something different.  You know, like on the day of your birthday you think somehow you'll look and feel older.

But the girl looking back was the same me.

The only difference I could see in my reflection were the puffy, bloodshot eyes staring back.  The day before had been a hard one for many reasons.  I washed my face, dried it and walked back into my bedroom, studying the boxes surrounding me.  All of the life I had lived up to this point was now packed away, ready to be moved to a new location.

I took a deep breath, steadied myself.

Was I really ready for this?  

How does anyone actually know they're ready for this?

I didn't have the answer to either of those questions.  There were so many unknowns, so many variables. It was a leap of faith, a risk.  An adventure.  For all of the days leading up to this point I had been fearless and confident about this choice.  {overly confident?}  But today I was afraid of my own abilities, and I clung to the tiny voice inside that softly whispered that the love of two people who promised to not stop trying actually could conquer anything.

I jumped in the shower, ate breakfast with my family.  Put on my makeup, blow dried and curled my hair.  Slipped on my dark blue dress.

Grabbing my small bag, I looked at my bedroom for one last time.  Overcome with emotion, my eyes filled with tears as I said a silent good-bye to the girl who had been.

And closed the door.

Almost 5 hours later I sat quietly, my hands resting on layers of white tulle.

He was next to me, and covered his hand with mine.  I looked at our hands together, our fingers interlocked.  And the uncertainty of the early morning washed away....I felt warmth.

"You ready?"  he asked, his brown eyes smiling.

I wrapped my fingers tightly around his, met his smile with mine and said,


Holding hands, we walked into the brightly lit room.  Kneeling together, we promised our love and dedication to each other in front of family, friends and God.  We exchanged rings and sealed our promises with a kiss.

There were hugs and tears, well wishes and congratulations.

We walked out of the beautiful grey building and greeted the night sky with excitement.  Hugging and posing with the rest of our loved ones, we took picture after picture, walking through the grounds covered by thousands of twinkling lights.

We danced in front of hundreds of strangers as the photographer snapped away.  We climbed on cement walls to get the perfect shot, went into "forbidden" areas to find a patch of sidewalk that wasn't covered with other people.  I couldn't stop laughing and smiling, and neither could he.  The weather stayed uncharacteristically perfect, there was no need for the puffy coat I had brought in preparation for the frigid temperature that never came.

As a horse-drawn carriage arrived, one by one we said our good-byes as we carefully climbed in.  I rested my head on his shoulder as the horse trotted throughout the brightly lit city.  There were others around us, I'm sure of it.  Horns honking, music playing, voices chattering.  Life being lived.

But for me, there was no one else but him.

I love you Ben....

Happy 10th Anniversary.

we've had many songs
but this first one will always be 
our "official" one:

if you want to read about the day we knew we loved each other,

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

christmas day 2012!!

ben and i went to sleep around 1:30 am, i coughed all night and then we were up with the kids around 7:30.  i both looked and sounded like booty, so i'm not in any of these pictures.

christmas morning at our home:

you know those gifts that you give your kids....

the ones where you think, "why did we bother getting them anything else?"

two words:

snow globes.  

they were found in their stockings and seriously, it's all they cared about for the next 10 minutes.  that is, until june dropped hers on the tile floor & hers started leaking out water with a strange-smelling odor.  then the tears started, not only hers, but leah's.  because of course, june went right for leah's after she had broken her own.  we have now had to hide caleb and leah's snow globes out of june's sight or there are immediate problems.

oh well, moving on.

in our home, santa doesn't get the glory.  he fills the stockings with a few small things, brings a christmas book and brings one toy for our kids.  it's worked out nicely this way...not only because ben and i feel we work hard, save, and plan for the really fun gifts and kind of want the credit, but also because when our 7 year old busts out that he's planning on asking santa for an ipad {SERIOUSLY}, we can sweetly remind him that it's not going to happen, because that's not what we have agreed with santa that we want in our home.  

side noteslashtangent:

we worked really hard with caleb this year on the true meaning of christmas.  in years past, he hasn't really cared too much.  {one year all he asked for was underpants, not even kidding.}  somehow the age of seven has taken over him like a greedy monster and drove me to the brink.  

i got so tired of hearing him complain/whine/beg/cry about getting some insanely expensive electronic that 4 days before christmas, he came home from school to find all of his wrapped presents pulled out from under the tree, sitting on our kitchen table.  i informed him that each of the members of his family had bought these for him because they loved him and were excited to buy him something that would bring him happiness.  but with his continual carrying-on about all of the things he wasn't getting, he was sending the message to us that he didn't want or need our presents, and that it was hurtful to us.  so, i told him that for the 4 days before christmas, we would put his gifts out in the garage.  and that his job was to spend the next 4 days thinking of others and doing kind services for them.  i told him that ben and i would be doing the same thing, just to help him out.  and that at the end of 4 days, if he was trying his hardest and doing his best to think of others, then he could earn his presents back.  otherwise, they were going to be given to children who would be thankful for them.

harsh?  probably.

but did it work?  absolutely.  i have never seen that kid more kind or helpful.  it was great.

side note/tangent over.

here are some of my favorite pictures of the day, please pay close attention to june's fantastically over the top christmas bedhead:

i mean seriously.  you couldn't pull a brush through that mop if you tried.

ben's expression here kills me.  i can still totally hear the sound he made while pulling this face.


this was where i wrapped up the remote to the ceiling fan in our bedroom and gave it to ben.
we've been missing that dang thing for about 6 months and there's no other way to turn on the fan.  
{i know, who thought that was a good idea??}

and it seriously drove ben insane.  i would hear about it pretty much every night.

so i thought it would be the best if i could find it & wrap it for ben for christmas.  i became a woman on a mission, a woman determined. 
and wha-lah!  i found it tucked clearrrrrr underneath our treadmill.
needless to say, he was ecstatic.  

and the house for the girls??

a huge hit.

and?  it's really actually IS huge.

the 5 of us ate our christmas cinnamon rolls in it.  together.  with room to spare.

the rest of the day was spent in our pajamas, not leaving the house.  i took a much-needed nap, ben made an amazing ham and mashed potatoes dinner, and then i got the best workout i've had in a while sword fighting with ben on our new {and free} Wii.  {thank you andrea!}

we had a really amazing christmas this year, and reminded me again how grateful i am for my little family.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

christmas eve 2012!

we were planning on it just being our little family for christmas eve, but the day before we were invited by some friends to join them & some of their family for christmas eve dinner and re-creating the nativity with the kids.  

well.  you know those awkward situations when you feel like a complete third wheel, and no one really talks to you, and you realize you're totally out of place?

luckily, this was nothing like that!  we were welcomed with hugs, and kindness and felt so at home.  i should have known, because we were invited by the grahams who are that way with everyone.  not having any family close by can be tough, but we're grateful to have such good friends, and friends who have really welcoming families.

unfortunately for me, i came down with the plague the day before and had completely lost my voice.  fortunately for them, i had completely lost my voice.  i think my kids were in heaven all day.  ha ha!  

anyway, here are the pictures:

{who had just finished her pre-performance dinner}


the angel.

my personal favorite...the star.

the sheep {who refused to wear a costume & insisted on playing a trumpet}
and a wise man.

the reinactment.

part of the audience.

in our christmas pj's.  except you can only see june's, 
so you'll just have to take my word for it....

the preparation.

i was feeling really rough by this time, 
but was so excited to see what christmas day would hold.

i seriously love christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

december phone picture dump!

for my facebook friends, these pictures will be a repeat, but i've got to get them on the blog before i delete them off of my phone.

caleb was asked to sing for our stake baptism day....he did a solo, sang two verses of a song and rocked it.  he told me he wasn't even nervous.  takes after his dad this way--definitely doesn't come from me.  we went out for a cinnamon roll to celebrate afterward.  i love his little face.

took the kids to home depot and thought i was in for another harrowing experience at a store that wasn't very kid-friendly.  what they lack in exciting things for kids to look at,
they make up for in awesome carts.  we were stuck in a line for about 40 minutes,
and the girls were occupied the whole time....
june with her road rage, 
leah with pretending all of the wood and tools were her dolphin friends.

caleb at his christmas program.  i knew he had a couple of speaking lines,
but was really surprised when he stood in front of the microphone 
and sang an entire song
with the rest of the 2nd graders singing in the background behind him.

during the night program, two of the kids in his group didn't show up, 
so his teacher asked if he could say their lines too.  

ben took videos of him while trying to wrangle the girls at the same time.  
{i was at my work christmas party that night & had gone to the morning show}
the shortest kid of the bunch,
but that doesn't let him slow him down one bit.  so proud of this boy.

leah displaying a half-moon while playing at the park.

the kids at the dentist.  cavity free!

one really fun saturday:
the most delicious breakfast i've ever eaten with andrea,
then lunch & shopping with my lovely cousin,
then a date night with benjamin.

i felt like i ate my way through the day.

leah after her preschool field trip to the fire station.
she told me she was never going to take off the hat,
then 5 seconds after i took this picture she snapped herself in the face
with the elastic and got so mad that she yelled, 

i couldn't stop laughing, which only made things worse.

caleb wrote a story about a "bad day."
and it looks like he's pretty traumatized 
about one day leah scratched his face so hard it bled.
he conveniently left out the part of the story 
when he tried to drag her across the backyard by her ankles
which was why she scratched him in the first place.

moral of the story?  
my kids really love each other.

classic soap-spiked hair in the tub picture.

little miss sunshine.  and her amber teething necklace.
{which really does work, in case you were wondering.}

every morning i have a fruit & protein shake,
and these little mongrels come running as soon as the blender starts up.
we each get a straw, and drink down the glass
in about 30 seconds.

spent veteran's day with a surprising day off for ben,
and decided to make the most of it
joining some friends for a hike,
coming face to face with an enormous tarantula
where i tried not to wet my pants in front of everyone.

and where i finally admitted that 
arizona is kind of pretty.

june in the morning.  i love this picture.

leah in the morning.  i love this one too.  
leah is kind of picky about when she wants to show physical affection, 
so when it's offered i eat it up. 
and i love that she was wrapped around my arm and didn't want to let go.

when june wakes up from her nap in the afternoon, 
we spend time just playing in her room.  
her favorite place to play?  sitting in her toy drawers.

a couple of weeks ago we got together with two of my friends from high school, 
matt & marielle & their families.  
after they left, i realized how rare it is to not only keep in touch with people for that long,
{i've known matt since...3rd grade?  i think?  we've been friends since 9th grade.  and marielle and i have been friends since 10th grade.}
but also to genuinely like the people they have turned out to be.  
and like their spouses and kids!
it was a fun night.

we joined in a baby-sitting swap with some families in our ward,
so once a month we watch 13-15 kids for 3 hours.  
to break up the time, we took them to a park one night & a hot air balloon appeared.
ben had the idea to lay the kids down to spell out "HI" 
and they all started chanting

caleb started physical therapy again,
we're trying to re-train his body to strengthen certain muscles that have been weak.
and then re-correct other muscles that have been compensating for the weakness.
you know that competitive nature he was born with?
this is where it's channeled & put to good use.

just an afternoon playing in the backyard with the kids.
the bottom right corner picture is where june randomly smacked leah in the back.
she takes out a lot of her aggression on her older sister, we're working on that.

my home-made version of this sign,
made out of a big framed canvas that i bought for $3 from a yard sale.

june's obsessed with sun glasses, especially mine.

she's also obsessed with sweeping,
she'll randomly pick up the broom throughout the day and go to work.
i do everything i can to encourage this to continue.

during one of our date nights, 
we brought june with us because the couple watching the other kids
just had a baby, and we knew june would be a lot on top of the rest of the bunch.
we had a great time going out to dinner with her, then decided to push our luck
and took her to target to shop for christmas pj's.

an enormous tantrum ensued, she was literally shrieking her way through the store.
so ben tried to console her, validating that he feels the same way 
whenever he enters target.
i laughed and took pictures.

the kids love the trampoline, 
i love their crazy, static-y hair.

leah's imagination continues to go full force.
one night i thought she was totally asleep,
when she suddenly came out of her room wearing a basket and some 
toy bungee things on her hands.  she announced that she was a turtle and  needed to go potty,
and she knew she needed to go because her "shell" 
felt like it was full of pee.

june's new trick.  i love her legs.

on another date, ben and i were grabbing something at a gas station,
and we found this "VOSS" water.  that word is an inside joke with ben's family,
so we snapped a picture with me trying to look sophisticated next to
what is apparently supposed to be some really delicious, extremely over-priced water 
and sent it to them.

one afternoon my friend lisa came over & did my hair...
and while it was setting i had to pick up caleb from school,
so away i went, shower cap and all.
i have no pride.

and here's my hair after the shower cap....
somehow i grew a unibrow and mustache during the ordeal.

took caleb on a date mini-golfing and out for pizza.

my favorite gift under the tree so far.

and that's it!!  

are you ready for christmas?

i know we are!