Monday, April 30, 2012

20 Weeks... give or take a week

20 week head & foot

How far along:  as of today, 22 weeks
Weight Gain this Month, Total Weight Gain: 4 lbs, 15ish lbs
Approximate Size of Baby: abt 10 1/2 oz, 6 1/2 inches (or length of a banana)
Gender:  BOY.  Jared is super excited to share his room; Annabelle had to warm up to the idea, but now she talks about the baby all the time.  Since we found out a week early, the tech at my appointment wanted to know if I wanted to find out, I told her I already knew.  She saw the evidence and said, yep. :)
Sleep:  I've now graduated to having my body pillow and pregnancy wedge to sleep with.  Poor Greg barely has any room in the bed, however, that should change in a few weeks when he finishes our new bed.
Memorable Moments: Finding out he was a BOY *** Since we've found out he's a boy, the kids have always included him in their prayers: "please bless baby L that he'll grow so strong in Mommy's tummy" *** They have also started talking to him this month.  Annabelle will put her mouth right up to my belly and say, "Hi/good night/ wake-up Baby L"
Movement:  I feel him all the time.  It's great.  Greg also felt him for the first time this month.
Food Cravings/Aversions:  Still loving on burgers and eggs.  I'm also enjoying every bite of fresh-fruit in the house. *** Since I have a hard time with fried bread, I couldn't stomach a Gyoza this month, for the first time in my life.  It was so traumatic, I almost cried.
Not-so-Fun Symptoms:  The hip pain is still bugging me and super-annoying every morning.  My doc suggested buying a Maternity belt, which I promptly did last night.  I hope it helps.*** Every time L stretches, I get worried because my belly tightens, my MCs have made me super-paranoid and I take every moment of this pregnancy to convince myself to relax and enjoy it.
Status of Belly-Button:  I now officially have a pregnancy belly.  People are starting to make the comments of 'wow, you sure popped out.' 
What I Miss: Gyozas :(
What I'm looking forward to:  Jared's birthday celebrations, getting closer to the 3rd trimester, getting rid of the nerve pain in my leg
Anything Else:  It's becoming more real now that we know who is in my tummy.  We had a feeling it was him, but it's nice to know now.  This is the part of pregnancy that I enjoy.  I'm not too small for others to not understand why I feel so yucky and I'm not too big to pity because everyone knows you are uncomfortable.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Utah Trip: The Way Home

Four Corners!

The last days of the journey.  Greg, the great navigator and trip planner, planned a different middle section of each journey, so we could see other parts of the country.  The way up was through Santa Fe and Colorado.  The way was through Four Corners and Albuquerque.

It was a fantastic idea.  Check #12 off my {30 by 30 List}, we survived and enjoyed a family road trip.  This was Monday/Tuesday.

Detour Back to C-Springs & Running into the Temple
We tried to get on the road really early, however, the plans changed when we realized we were missing the precious seat trays.  We had left them with the other side of the family.  So, we had an hour detour driving back into the valley and hunting for the trays in their house.  I think I might have scared my Grandma into thinking I was a dream because the whole house was still sleeping and the trays were eventually found in their room.  After our detour, we grabbed some breakfast and headed up the canyon.

While stopping for gas and lunch in Monticello, we pulled out of the gas station the opposite way from the road, a block over from the highway and gas station, we saw Angel Moroni.  We found the Monticello Temple and stumbled upon missionaries on transfer day at the neighboring stake center.  It was a funny little highlight to our day.

Beautiful Scenery: Four Corners... Twice, Shiprock, & Valley of the Fire
This part of the journey definitely had better views than on the way up.  Luckily, we had Southern Utah both ways, but on the way home, we also had the rolling canyons of Utah/New Mexico/Arizona, Four Corners, a place called Shiprock and Valley of the Fire.

Most of the journey consisted of beautiful rolling desert hills and canyons.  Our first major view we saw was Four Corners.  We started to pull into the monument and realized we didn't have any cash which was bad because the monument is on a reservation--- they didn't accept cards.  At first, we were really bummed because we thought we came all that way for nothing.  However, just five miles down the highway, in a little post town, there was an ATM.  Whew!

Four Corners was completely different from how I remember it.  The area is being overhauled.  Each state has little booths to buy items from vendors (mostly homemade on the reservation).  Annabelle found a cute little necklace and bracelet; I also found something, but it was a little out of our price range (it had a rare red gem in it).  The monument itself has also changed and there are platforms to take pictures on, places to sit, and the area itself has increased in size.  The only negative was there is absolutely NO shade AND it was already HOT right before lunch.  I can only imagine what it's like in the middle of the summer.

Shiprock is a rock in Northern New Mexico that literally looks like a ship.  Greg really thought it was cool and we were this close to detouring to see it up close, but we could never find a road.  We just had to settle for pictures taken from the window.  Later we drove through a place called "Valley of the Fire."  Turns out this place is the most recent place of lava flow in North America.  It's really neat because you're driving through rolling desert hills and then all of the sudden you're in the middle of a field of black rocks.
The Beautiful Scenery

We got in to Albuquerque around 730.  Greg found this nice, but discounted, hotel right next to a shopping district.  We were able walk to our dinner and let everyone get some energy out.  We were all so exhausted from our day that we ended up sleeping in later than we wanted.  It meant that we'd get home later, but it ended up keeping everyone happy for our last big ride of the trip.

Jared NEEDS to pee
One adventure from the way back, came in the form of Jared.  On the second day, between Albuquerque and merging our journeys in Roswell, Jared decided that he needed to pee.  We were literally in the middle of nowhere New Mexico.  Since, he's a boy, we thought he'd get a kick out of going on the side of the road.  We were wrong.  Greg pulled him out of the car the first time we stopped and he would not go.  He kept saying 'I don't have to go anymore' or 'I need a potty.'  We repeated this three more times; each time he wouldn't go outside.  He held it until we found an actual bathroom.

Vulture Death, Welcome Back to the HEAT, and Late Dinner in Kerrville
We knew we were back in Texas when the heat outside & number of vultures increased.  Greg actually saw one of the vultures meet an untimely end.  A group was literally picking at road kill in the middle of the road, they didn't move until Greg honked at them only a few feet away.  Greg saw them return to that place right after we passed and watched one get beaned by a semi because it was too interested in the potential of food.  Yummy.

Other than that, our next adventure came when we finally stopped for dinner in Kerrville at 8pm where we saw a helicopter in the gas station across the street.  Everyone had a yummy dinner, but it was slightly weird to eat so late. 

Coming Home the Way We Left
For the very last leg, we broke out some glow sticks for the kids to wave around until we pulled into our driveway.  We ended up coming home the way we came.  In the dark, we got home just in time for everyone to be excited to pass out in their own beds--- exhausted from the week's adventure.  Even though it was really tiring and we had interesting bathroom experiences, we would do it again.  We had a great time and the kid's constantly talk about our long car ride to Utah.  In fact, Jared keeps asking every car ride if it's going to be 'long.'  We won't have a ride that long for a while, but we're glad we have the memories.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Utah Trip: Family Time

Last, but not least, we had the weekend to enjoy doing family things (non-related to graduation) :)

Megan's got a lot of Stuff & Baby Drama
Saturday, literally the day after graduation, was the day Meg's complex kicked all the residents out.  No rest for the weary.  So, bright and early, the menfolk and Meg went down to her apartment to gather all her things and vacate the premises; turns out, Meg has a lot of stuff.

While in the midst of our crazy adventures the day before, Nett asked Greg and I when we were going to find out about the baby (gender-wise), I told her next week.  So, she suggested that we schedule an appointment to one of the MANY fetal photo places in the area to do it with everyone around.  Inside, I was SO EXCITED she mentioned the idea.  Literally, jumping through my emotional skin excited.

I had never done anything like that and I KNEW where I was going on vacation, so I knew the possibilities.  Plus, I was really bummed that we couldn't tell SOME of our family in person, who exactly is in my belly.  So, we made the appointment.  During the graduation days, Greg tried (almost succeeded) to convince me out of it.  I felt bummed, he didn't feel like I did.  After one too many pregnancy-induced emotional outbursts due to my lack of control, Greg and I calmly talked about it and decided we REALLY wanted to keep the appointment... but... I'll talk about the appointment in the next post.

It ended up being a good thing because Meg spent the whole time we were gone sorting through her stuff and figuring out exactly what she wanted to immediately take home (because ALL of it wasn't going to fit in my folks' car).  Seriously, she had a lot of stuff.  She finished shortly after we got back and we pack up the Jackson/H clan to head up to Salt Lake City and, eventually, Granni & Grandad's place.

Salt Lake City & a Japanese Dinner
Taking the kids to Salt Lake City was one of my goals on this trip.  Whenever we talk about the prophet and apostles, Jared wants to know where they are and where they 'work.'  I had also read in the Ensign or Friend about the Church History Museum having a Book of Mormon hands-on exhibit that I thought the kids might enjoy.

We parked under the Conference Center and were able to glance inside and show Jared just how big the room is; he gasped, said 'whoa' and asked where the prophet was.  Then, we walked outside and saw the temple.  It took us a few minutes, but we were able to convince them that's where Oba & Jiji got married.  After Annabelle was convinced, that's all she would say.  We then headed over to the museum... and it didn't seem like the exhibit was in sight.  Instead, we decided to enjoy the museum as much as we could before it closed.  About 20 minutes before closing time, we head to a back corner of the museum and find the exhibit.  The kids then did their best to enjo what they could before it closed.  Annabelle found some Latina clothes to dress up and dance in, while Jared fished with Jiji, tried to pick up the plates and built a Nephite building with Greg.  They also had interactive they played on until the docents kicked us out.

After the museum, we went over to the North Visitors Center to see the Christus.  Annabelle said, "look it's Jesus!"  Jared tried to touch His feet a couple times.  We sat and relaxed a few minutes while the kids looked at Him.  We explored a little more downstairs before we headed out to meet Granni & Grandad for dinner at one of our favorite Japanese places.

Extending ONE More Day & Target Practice
Originally, we planned to stay through Saturday and leave Sunday morning.  After going through the actual journey and exhausting days of the trip, neither of us wanted to do that.  Plus, we still hadn't gone to see Jay's grave AND a few relatives planned to come down for a BBQ get-together.  Our only problem was that the boys didn't have proper church attire with them.  So, off we went to Target to find some clothes and a little bit more food for the next day.  It was pretty uneventful... until I broke my phone in the bathroom.  Literally.  Now I have to get it replaced.  Boo on that.  It has felt so so so strange NOT to have a phone.

Visiting Grampa Jay
Granni & Grandad had late morning church, so we got up a little early to get ready and stop by Grampa Jay's grave before.  It was the first time Annabelle had visited; Jared went the last time we came to Utah in February 2009.  The kids were really reverent; it was super sweet.  Once we found his grave, Jared knelt down and touched it.  Annabelle came by and Jared told her it was Grampa.  At that moment they decided to start picking flowers for him (and we realized we should have brought some ourselves); they went around picking the dandilions and put them gently on the headstone.

Then, we flipped over the built-in vase and they started a little collection for him.  We all started laughing because we knew Jay would've gotten a kick out of his grandkids picking weeds to put on his grave.  Greg also spent time taking pictures of half the cementary--- because he's related to them somehow.  On our way, Jared kept collecting flowers and half-way to the car, he came up to me and said, "I have something for you, Mama," and he gave me the whole pile.  It was really sweet.

Church & Family Picnic
We only stayed for sacrament because of the family coming in, but the kids did okay.  I think with the go-go-go of the whole week, they were done.  The get-together was fun.  It was rather warm that day, so once we ate I was done.  Most the group went outside and played croquet and other fun games.  My energy was so lacking; I got a taste of the upcoming summer.  Not looking forward to the heat.  We were so grateful to stay the extra day.  It was nice to relax and spend more time with family we hadn't seen in a while.  Even though our visits were over, we still had to get through the trip home.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Utah Trip: Land of Fetal Photos

 IT'S A BOY!!!

To Wait or Not to Wait?
As I mentioned earlier, Greg and I originally had varying opinions on if we should go to the appointment or not.  Before this, I had never done anything like this in my previous pregnancies AND I wanted to have the chance to tell others in person the BIG news.  Originally, we discussed not finding out and waiting to have that experience, but 12 weeks into the pregnancy, we were already wanting to know 'who' is in my tummy and stop calling him 'it.'  Since Meg had to go through all her stuff, we decided to use the time that we would have been sitting around the go.  Annette went with us to help us get where we needed to go.

It's a....
We were a little late to the appointment, so they informed us that they only had time to do the shortest session; totally fine with us because that's the one we wanted to do.  Greg and I went back to the room and those last few seconds before we saw him were the nervous seconds.  Both of us had clear impressions that he was a boy, however, it's those last few moments that make you second guess.  We shouldn't have--- the first thing we saw (inadvertently because it was the only thing among the black) was the 'evidence' that he was really a he.

The technician didn't notice though and continued to look at all the other parts of his body first.  We got to see all of our newest little boy.  Head, spine, heart, tummy, legs, feet.  Then, she went back to find 'the proof' and he would. not. budge.  He was happy in his position and would not move.  After a few minutes, he must have realized what we were looking for because then he wouldn't stop showing us.  Then, she tried to get his hands but they were up near my hip--- probably part of the reason why I have hip pains A LOT.  It was a real relaxing experience and nice bonding experience for the three of us.  We also got a little over 10 pictures and they even put them on a CD for us.

For those of you who want to know, we have picked a name.  It has many meanings to us, we love it, and it feels right.  Just like our two before, he'll only be known as 'Baby L' or "Baby Boy" until he makes he debut outside the womb.

Driving Up the Grade & Sharing the News
It was really hard not to say anything to Annette once we got out of the appointment.  I caught myself before I said 'he' when talking about the baby and how he wouldn't move.  But, we had a few more people to tell before--- at least one big brother and sister. :)  Beaming with excitement, we decided to go a different way back.  Annette told us they finally finished the road up the back of the canyon, so off we went.  It was really neat to see 'Happy Valley' from another view.

Once we got back, we pulled the kids, my parents, and Meg outside and shared the news.  We started by showing all the other pictures of him... his face, feet, spine... and then we said to Jared and Annabelle, "and guess what? You two are going to have a baby brother."  Jared's and my Mom's reactions were the best.  Jared's smile was one of the biggest I've seen it and my Mom gasped.  Annabelle, Pops and Meg had huge smiles too, and we had to tell Annabelle a few times, but it was still really exciting.  Before we went inside, we called Mema, Deda, and Gramma and had Jared and Annabelle tell them they were going to have a baby brother.  Then, we went inside and told the news to the extended family which was another neat experience.

After having these moments, Greg came to me and said, "I'm really glad we did this."  He was really excited to see his new son, as was I.  Now, we just have 20 or so weeks to get to hold him. :)

Utah Trip: Meg's Graduation

Thursday & Friday was the big event... why we were celebrating... Megan graduated from BYU!

Day 1: J-Dawgs, University Commencement, Elder Oaks, & Cold Stone
Since the actual commencement ceremony wasn't until late afternoon, we were able to just hang out with each other and get some errands done.  Annette showed off her new van and now we're thinking about getting one even more.  One of the errands was to get our lunch for the day... J-DAWGS.  One of the places on our 'must eat at' list.  We did notice our copy-cat recipe is pretty close, but nothing beats the original.  We also had fruit and veggies, lest someone thinks we just ate hot dogs all afternoon.  Part of the chilling included Megan seeing one of her best friends, her son, and Mom for the first time in forever.  Now that I type this, I wish we would've gotten a picture of them together.

When it came time to go, we thought we had left enough time for us to get a decent parking spot, at least in the handicapped area, but, boy were we wrong.  There was nothing.  Greg ended up dropping everyone off while we went on the hunt for a spot.  Once inside the Marriott Center, we had the same problems with seats.  We ended up sitting in the bleacher section behind the stage.  It turned out to be a nice place for the kids because as soon as the ceremony started, Jared & Annabelle passed out.  Jared actually lasted until part of the way through Elder Oaks, then laid his head down on my lap just to rest and ended up falling asleep that way.  It was adorable, slightly hot since I already have a personal furnace inside my uterus, but adorable and memorable nonetheless.  Annabelle passed out in Greg's arms a few minutes after the ceremony started.

The keynote address was given by Elder Oaks, one of the Twelve Apostles.  Since the last graduation speech was the one at ours, it was interesting to listen to the advice and why he would want to give it to them.  He talked a lot about representing the university, standing up for oneself, and staying true through trials and adversity.  Jared was excited to see one of the Apostles... until he fell asleep.  Elder Oaks was followed by their selected student speaker, who was also awesome.  We tried throughout the whole ceremony to locate Meg; at one point, we thought we had her and it ended up being someone else.  Since cell service is spotty at best in the Marriott Center, we couldn't confirm that way either.  Annette ended up just taking pictures of each section for Meg to look at later and find herself.

After the ceremony, we then had the task of finding her and taking pictures.  Luckily, we found her (like we never would or something) and took a bunch of pictures.  When the 'Jackson' clan came up, we realized at that moment we should've made some Zak, Parker & Krystal heads, since we were just missing them; the more we expanded, the harder it's going to be... but SO FUN!  Plus,  Belle stayed asleep in Greg's arms the whole time.  Even through Taylor & Jared tackling Jiji to the ground, only to then have all three of them tackled by one of the newest BYU alums.  On the way back to the M home, we all decided that since we had a great (and filling lunch) that 'dinner' would be best done at Cold Stone--- we were celebrating, after all.

Day 2: Park Fun, In 'n Out, College of Humanities Ceremony, & Pictures
The next day was the designated separate college graduation.  Since Meg was an English major, therefore graduating in the School of Humanities, we went right back to the Marriott Center---and by right back, I mean after we picked up Megbo's cake, went to the park, had lunch at In 'n Out, and roamed campus a little bit.

Each time we went from the M home down to Provo, we passed this fantastically awesome playground.  Jared would point it out and say how much he wanted to go.  So, when we got back from our morning errands and while waiting for everyone to get ready, we went.  The park was incredible.  It had a section for little park go-ers (2-5), however, both of our kids lasted only a few minutes in that section.  They wanted to explore the rest.  With my belly and Oba's bad knees, Jiji, Meg, and Greg were left to chase them around through all the nooks and crannies.  I'm pretty sure they each got stuck once somewhere; that's what happens when you get older.  Annabelle had a friend start following her around saying that he wanted to play with her.  True to Annabelle's nature, she said okay, and then promptly ignored him following her everywhere.  After Mr. Shadow's mom found him, Annabelle found the swings.  She stayed there until we left.  Jared was content with running around the whole joint and trying everything out.  He kept saying 'wow' or 'this is so cool.'  Definitely need to find the 'cooler' parks around the area back home.

After the crew was ready, we hit the road to In 'n Out.  I think this bums me out the most (that and being further away from family ;) because AFTER we move away, they are literally up and down the Wasatch Front.  Literally.  There's even two in the Provo/Orem area.  Oh, well.  We enjoyed our burgers, shakes and fries and, after I couldn't convince Greg we *needed* a Utah INO shirt, we went back to campus, off to our old stomping grounds.  We actually only had time to find WAY too many cool things in the bookstore.  The kids each picked a shirt and clearance kid mugs, Greg got a tie to save for Father's Day, and I got a sign and keychain; we didn't get anything for the baby because we completely forgot about it.  Netters decked out her girls in the cutest BYU outfits; I just wanted to eat them up!

Then, we repeated our day from yesterday.  Except this time we had better seats, we knew where Meg was, the kids stayed awake (until we got back to the car, so they were super grumps during pictures), and Meg also got her diploma (a.k.a. the cover for her diploma).  This time, the student speaker was way better;  maybe we were just all spoken out by that point, but she deviated from the normal 'graduation' speech.  Another strange thing about these two days is that we kept seeing people we knew from back home (in Seattle and Texas); in the huge masses of people, we would actually run into people we knew.  The pictures this time were short.  Meg got a couple with the cougar and the BYU sign.  We actually got a nice big group shot, except Tay is mostly covered; she was super cute, nonetheless.  We finished off the day with another well-rounded meal.  Graduation Cake. :)

These few days made the crazy hours in the car worth it.  We're both so proud of Megan sticking through her degree.  I know it isn't what she thought it would be when she started, but she did it.  She's turned into an incredible woman and I know she has big things in store for her in the future. We love Auntie Megbo!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Utah Trip: The Road There

IHOP Breakfast in Ft. Stockton

We had a great time in Utah---and there and back!  Since it was such a big journey, the tale will be told in multiple posts.  The first is our trip up.  This was Tuesday/Wednesday of our big trip.

Prepping & Early Departure
Before we even started our journey, Greg and I wanted to make sure the kids (and us) would enjoy and survive the trip.  Because of {Houston} the couple weeks before, we could see what worked, and didn't work in just a three hour car-ride (like Annabelle + real crayons = colored on door or dollar store stamps do not work well with toddler.. .those kind of things).  In the days leading up to the trip, the kids helped me pack their car caddies ($3 green and pink containers from Hobby Lobby) with things that would 'attempt' to entertain them.  Since the {Houston} trip, we decided to invest in {tray tables} for their playing/eating needs.  SO SO worth it.

Jared had laminated alphabet book he could write on with dry-erase crayons, a bag of his Star Wars toys, dinosaur or two, and a book or two.  Annabelle had color-wonder princess book and markers (so the door wouldn't be marked), a bag of her Princess dolls, Princess puzzle & book.  We also packed the DVD player and portable case with PLENTY of options, the V-Reader plus its cartridges and car, and travel Perfection & Hungry Hungry Hippos.  We tried to use the movies and V-Reader as rewards for good behavior, which worked pretty well... most of the time.

We hoped this would be enough, and set out in the early hours before sunrise so we could get to Santa Fe (our stopping point for day one) at a decent time for dinner.

Fort Stockton Breakfast
From home to Ft. Stockton, the kids were in their jammies and told to try and sleep more.  I think they were just too excited for all of the excitement ahead on our trip because they only stayed quiet until the sun started to rise; I'm pretty sure I dosed more than they did.  Then, they wanted to play with all of their bucket toys.  Jared actually zipped through his whole bucket in a few minutes and said, "I'm done, can we watch a movie?"  Nice try, buddy.  I was actually really worried that this would be a trend of the days to come, but this was the only time he said that... whew!  Dodge THAT bullet.

Our place in Santa Fe
Because of our early start, the kids didn't nap at the same time.  They overlapped maybe 30 minutes or so, but the rest of the time we had to teach them the art of playing quietly while their sibling slept only inches away. 

Our first big stop came in Fort Stockton which happened to be right around breakfast time.  After a quick change of clothes for the kiddos, we sat down to our yummy pregnancy-craving infested breakfast.. what?  Since they were good on the first leg of the trip, they were able to watch a movie while digesting their pancakes and eggs.

Snacks = Happy Kiddos (and parents)
Another key to the success in our journey came because of the amounts of kiddo/car friendly snacks we had.  The kids each had their own water bottles and we had a supply of gatorade and water.  Food-wise we had: string cheese, Cuties, and go-gurts in the cooler.  We also had a bag of shelled pistachios, small cup of goldfish per kiddo, cheez-its for us, trail mix, and fruit leather.  Because of the kids age, all of these worked SO well--- Annabelle didn't even squeeze any go-gurt out on her.  The cuties were probably the most difficult because of the peel, but that's what improved plastic trash bags are for AND we all enjoyed those a lot.

Roswell & Annabelle needs a bathroom
Around lunch time we hit the tourist trap known as Roswell.  Holy Moly have they taken that whole 'aliens landed here' to another level.  Driving down the main strip, it seemed as though every single business had a small green alien perched outside to welcome weary tourists in.  Jared even noticed the aliens; there were THAT many of them.  Since it was lunch time and we already had a lot of snacks, we stopped at the local Wal-Mart, let the kids pick out a Lunchable to round out their meals and got back on the road (yes, we even bought a magnet with an alien on it) Seriously, they're everywhere... even at the gas stations.

After nap time, while in the middle-of-nowhere New Mexico, Annabelle decided she needed to go two-sies.  This is exactly the situation we were afraid of with her starting potty-training a week before our trip; not trying to hinder any of her progress, we kept her in pull-ups during the trip, but encouraged her to use the potty and not her big-girl panties.  SO--- going against all of the rules of a potty-training parent, we tried to gently tell her it's okay to use her pull-up.  She would not have it.

Park Play in Santa Fe
Since we were in the middle of nowhere, I started imagining us trying to convince our 2 1/2 year old to do her business on the side of the road, then we saw a gas station.  However, it wasn't a very modern gas station.  I volun-told my wonderful husband that he could help her out with this one while Jared and I manned the car and waited outside.  The stories I heard from Greg were not pretty (what gas station bathroom is--- I'm trying to forget all of the new ones I saw on this trip).  He was actually so worried about it that he had Annabelle squat-hover above the toilet seat and they both washed their hands a couple times.  Yucky and memorable all at the same time.

Beautiful Santa Fe
A couple hours after that incident, we arrived at our day one destination: Santa Fe.  What a beautiful little capital.  Greg found this incredible condo complex, {Fort Marcy Suites} for half the price of the hotels.  It was on the hill, full kitchen, two full baths, two bedrooms.  AND beautiful.  When looking for the complex, we passed this rather LARGE playground and both kids started saying "playground, playground!"  So, after we unloaded the car, we found our way back to the playground.  While we all played, we found a restaurant near a grocery store (breakfast for the next morning) in our 'Enjoy Santa Fe' brochures.  We really did enjoy it.  The park, restaurant and grocery store were all really nice.  I still think about the yummy salad I had for dinner, but that could have something to do with my crazy amounts of hormones.

Arriving in Utah
The next day of travel was less eventful than the first.  Jared kept pointing out SNOW when we drove through Colorado, Annabelle did and re-did her puzzle I don't know how many times, and we passed a few cars on a bunch of two-lane highways (that's what I get for having a hubs who likes to take the scenic route--- an adventure).  We really enjoyed the views of central Utah, the kids actually napped at the same time and there were no potty incidents.  When we finally hit the Wasatch Front, we contacted my parents and realized we were going to arrive at Granni & Grandad's house around the same time.  It literally ended up being us arriving and the folks arriving five minutes later.  We had a quick late dinner at Crown Burger... nom nom nom... and got everyone to bed for the graduation adventure to start the next day...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Annabelle Milestones

Annabelle hit two big milestones this past week.

First---Potty Training Starts.  She & I went shopping the other day for baby gifts.  While in one of the baby aisles, she spotted some Disney Princess underwear.  She was really excited to see it, I told her that if we got it, she would use this instead of her diaper to go pee-pees like a big girl.  She got ALL excited and said okay.

I was so torn.  We had planned to start this little adventure after we got back from our big trip to Seattle for Park's homecoming and Z & Krystal's Wedding.  We were just a little worried about all the change from our Utah & Seattle trip; wanted to make things consistent.  But, Annabelle ALWAYS does things her way (even her birth).  So, we started now.

She's doing rather well.  She absolutely doesn't like the small potty, so we already got rid of it and she's using the big one with a training seat.  The very first day had a #2 success/accident.  She had her underwear on and in the middle of playing she realized she had to use the potty.  Well, let's just say she let a little out before she made it, BUT she made it as well.  She doesn't have nearly as many accidents as Jared did; I don't know if that holds to the 'girls are easier to train than boys' but it's certainly giving us less messy days.  She gets so excited when she had a success.  As do we.  Hopefully, our trip next week won't ruin any of the progress she's made. 

It's actually a really good thing because I have to do so much bending over to help her with wiping and putting her clothes.  It'll get harder and harder as I get bigger and bigger.

Second---The day after we started this adventure, I found a great deal on a proper big girl bed for Annabelle.  Since climbing out of her crib in November, she's been sleeping in Jared's old crib, without the one side.  It's worked just fine, but with baby on the way, we wanted to get her something else.

When I got home with it, she squealed.  She really likes it, especially hoarding all of her animals and dolls with her.  We moved it against the wall and she has yet to fall out... getting her to stay in bed and go to sleep is a different story...

We're so excited to see her accomplish new things each day.  She's growing up... sometimes a little too fast for us, but always at the pace for Annabelle.

Friday, April 13, 2012

30 by 30 List

I have a few friends who created these lists--- {HERE}.  Lists of things they want to do before a certain age milestone hits.  As of today, I'm 27 months away from hitting the big 3-0 that Gweg just hit, I thought it would be fun to make a 30 by 30.  These are 30 items I want to get done before I turn 30.  So, I can 'roughly' do one-a-month and should get the whole list accomplished.  They are in no particular order & I certainly do not claim originality to all of them (i.e. I borrowed some)... **since it's my list, I also have the right to modify this list, whenever I see fit**
  1. Make a Places to Visit in Texas list & visit at least 3 {completed 5/2014}
  2. Make a new goal for each year as per the needs of the family or myself. {completed 2013, 2014}
  3. Prepare kids (specifically Jared) for Baptism {always in progress}
  4. Do at least ONE preschool activity a week with Jared & Annabelle {completed 3/2013}
  5. Spend more one-on-one time with the kids (i.e. Mommy & Me Dates)
  6. Attend a Playoff game of some sort {completed 5/2012}
  7. Sing in a small group for Sacrament Meeting {completed 7/2012}
  8. Interview (& record) my grandparents  
  9. Pick a selection for Book Club & then Host {completed 3/2013 & 4/2014}
  10. Go on a "Just Greg & Amber" Vacation--- {completed 2/2014}
  11. Do not stay ANY electronic device later than 9 p.m. for AT LEAST 30 days
  12. Go on a Family Road Trip {completed 4/2012}
  13. Buy a Mini-Van {completed 4/2012}
  14. Go to a play (preferably as a family) --- will happen in 2014
  15. Write one thank you a day for two weeks
  16. Sale at least 5 creations on Etsy and/or get more than 100 followers on {Mule 'n Nag}
  17. Create a Cleaning System for the home (and stick to it) for 60 days--- in progress
  18. Create a Will
  19. Read at least 2 classics--- {completed 12/2012}
  20. Read at least 35 not-read-by-me-before books during the next 27 months--- {completed 9/2013, read 50 by 7/2014}
  21. Finish Master Bedroom--- in progress
  22. Redo Kid's Bathroom--- in progress
  23. Seriously purge the family of the unnecessary items--- in progress
  24. Re-vamp Playroom--- in progress
  25. Go to the Temple for TWO ancestors
  26. Write consistently (once a week-ish) in my journal/scripture journal/blog (one of three)
  27. Read my scriptures for AT LEAST 30 days straight {completed 7/2012}
  28. Do a session in Dallas and/or Houston Temple
  29. Go on a Cruise {completed 2/2014}
  30.  Learn to Play the Piano --- in progress
Maybe Honorary #31 should be 'finally catch up on the blog posts.'  I'm trying...

I know some of them aren't technically measurable, but they are goals I want to have for the next two years.  I'll keep track on here every time I cross another off the list... wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Weekend 2012

We had a great Easter weekend and it all started with us getting a surprise Easter package from the Mema easter bunny.  The kids were really excited...
THEN---Gramma came down the Saturday before.  She recently decided that she's moving to Massachusetts :(, so we're spending as much time with her as we can before she moves at the end of May.  We didn't know exactly what time she'd be down in the morning, so I scheduled a hair appointment fix my way outgrown hair.  She ended up coming right before I left, so she & Greg took the kids to the 'big park' while they waited for me to be done.

They had a lot of fun on the swings--especially Annabelle.  Jared recently learned how to climb on pretty much everything at this park (gives me a scare every time he does it).  Afterwards, we met up for lunch and had a nice visit while the kids napped.

Baskets & Breakfast
Like I've said before, we try really hard to teach the kids why we celebrate Easter (and why it's just as important as Christmas).  This year, we used our {Easter Countdown} as our scriptures in the days leading up to Easter and the kids were really attentive.  Jared is really into asking 'why' right now; so most of the week, we had to answer questions like 'why did He die for us?' 'why did they want to kill him?'  Most of the time, the endless 'whys' can be endlessly annoying, but those ones we were excited to answer.

SO--- because of this reasoning, when the Easter Bunny visits our house, he leaves a couple gifts:  one is something the kids would like (for Bellie is was a princess, Jared a Star Wars game) and another is a gift which helps us remember and celebrate Jesus Christ (new quiet books for sacrament).  We took a video of the kids looking for their baskets:

 After finding the baskets, we made our traditional Resurrection Rolls for breakfast.  This year, Jared understood when we started talking about the symbols of each ingredient.  When the rolls were done, Jared saw that the marshmellow was gone and proclaimed, "The marshmellow is gone, just like Jesus' body."  It was awesome to see him get the connection.

While waiting to go to church, we dyed our eggs.  The only thing I didn't get this Easter, a family picture.  Whoops, mental note for next year. :)

Multi-Family Get-Together PLUS the Missionaries
After church, we got together at our friend's house for our 'it's a holiday, let's get together' tradition.  It usually includes the core three neighborhood families and any of our other friendly families we remember.  This time we had two other families and the missionaries join our celebration, for a total of 13 adults and 10 kids.  Can you say 'full house?'  It was fantastic; each time we get together, I feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends, who are like family.  The food and company were great, as always.  After dinner, the hunt was on.

The Hunt
Each family was in charge of bringing a little bunch of plastic eggs for the hunt.  For our addition, I made a trip to the dollar store and party section of Target to get little cha-key toys, instead of MORE candy (by this point in Easter, our family had enough candy to celebrate TWO easters).  After the men-folk hid the eggs, we sent out the kids in waves, according to their ages.  Pre-nursery/nursery--- primary age.

Here's Annabelle on the hunt.  She exclaimed, "I see one" or "I got one" every time she found one.  What a difference a year makes:

Then the big kids were let out and this year, boy, did Jared enjoy finding the eggs.  Here's his video (warning: it's shaky).  Notice he couldn't quite get that first egg in the basket (and I, being the good mommy that I am, don't help him, I just laugh):

Here are some more pictures to go along with the videos:

Mid-hunt FUN!
The kids and their BFFS (Jared & Caleb-- with matching Easter baskets) (Alex & Annabelle)

Showing off their loot
The whole group enjoying the spoils (I really like little Paul's expression in the bottom left)

Finishing the celebrations off with MORE sugar (this time in the form of cupcakes!)
 All in all, it was fabulous Easter.  Each year (and even holiday) get better and better when we get together.  When's the next one? ;)

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Houston Wedding Weekend

**If the pictures look fuzzy or odd coloring, we realized afterwards that the camera was accidently on the wrong setting.  I tried my best to fix it.**

Over the weekend we made the trip over to Houston to see my Dad's younger sister, LeAnn, marry her long-time boyfriend/ already member of the family, John.  We had so much fun celebrating with them.  We also used the trip as a dry-run for our 12-hr car ride days later this month to Utah.

I started off the trip by staying up way too late the night before to finish the kids' Wedding/Easter Attire.  I made Annabelle's dress and Jared's tie.  I also made my dress too.

The Ride
Luckily, the kids didn't need me to be overly attentive during the car ride there.  They each had their own 'Car Buckets' full of coloring books, games, toys (a couple they picked out from the dollar store in the days before our trip), reading books and puzzles.  We also had the DVD player for those moments when everyone just needed a break.  The only thing that seemed to be a bust were some stamps they each picked out at the dollar store---not going on the big trip--- and Annabelle is only getting color-wonder markers because she may have colored with a regular crayon all over her door.  Whoops.

Seeing Family & Sleeping Situation
Once we got there, checked in and stretched, we saw Granni, Grandad, and a couple of my aunts.  LeAnn & John reserved a room block in the hotel for us to all be in together, so we were a few rooms down the hall.  In all, three of my other five aunts were able to make it, along with two uncles and three cousins (along with some extended family at the wedding).  Some of them, we haven't seen since our wedding--- seven and a half years ago AND some didn't even know I was pregnant.  whoops.  So, they had their first meeting with Jared & Bellie.

We spent the evening doing some last minute things with LeAnn and waiting for one branch of the family to get into town (it also gave me a chance to finish Jared's tie).  Aunt Shari found a kindred soul in Jared because he's also a Star Wars fan.  It was neat to see her bond with someone else.

After the shenanigans of the night, we decided to try to put the kids to bed at the same time in the same hotel room--- and then leave the room to help with more wedding stuff.  Bad idea.  Twenty minutes after putting them to bed, we hear Jared crying from the hallway.  He left the room looking for us and luckily, we caught him right before he decided to wander other floors of the hotel.  We then tried putting Annabelle to bed, while Jared and I waited with the family until Greg texted me.  That worked perfectly.  After staying up way too late catching up it was time for the BIG DAY.

The Wedding
LeAnn & John picked this beautiful old house in their town converted just for weddings and receptions.  It had such a wonderful feel to it.  I really enjoyed being in the room to see LeAnn get ready.  LeAnn & John looked so happy and it was definitely a wonderful event to be at.  My Grandad is from Texas, so some of my extended family was also there, like my great-aunt and uncle (who live on the family farm), their daughter, and a few cousins.

The ceremony was beautiful; everyone in the wedding party looked great and the flower girl was adorable.  Annabelle said LeAnn looked beautiful like a princess; best compliment to get from a two-and-a-half year old girl.  The officiator had just the right amount of humor with seriousness that made the ceremony perfect for LeAnn and John. After he pronounced them married, they kissed, faced everyone and LeAnn proclaimed, 'finally!'  It was adorable.

The reception/luncheon was in a building just across the courtyard.  We had a lovely lunch, yummy cake and a sparkling cider toast.  When it came time for my Grandad to give his toast, he was adorable, and maybe a little long.  He talked about having six girls and always worrying about their welfare.  Then he mentioned how he has a great son too, but never worried about him, looking at me.  Just making sure I report it back to Pops. :)  He & LeAnn also had this adorable father/daughter dance.  I love seeing the different sides of my grandparents and aunts; it's fantastic to see the depth of caring and love family truly has for one another (especially when we can be a little on the sarcastic side).

The only downfall of the reception was the humidity.  Adding the humidity to Texas heat makes it so hard to bare... especially when pregnant.  I don't know how the pioneer women did it.  By the end of the reception and the bubble send-off the kids were so done with the heat.

We still had a little bit of day to go, so we spent it recovering from the reception and then met LeAnn and John at a fun Mexican restaurant for dinner.  They wanted to spend more time with everyone in town; I thought that showed just how much they appreciated everyone who was able to make it.  After dinner, we all hung out in Granni & Grandad's room until WAY to early eating leftover wedding cake and sparkling cider.

The Temple
Tomorrow, on the way out of town, we stopped by the Houston Temple.  Since it was General Conference weekend, the grounds were closed but we still took some time and take pictures at the gate and contemplate sending the skinniest of the group under the gate to get a couple of pictures.  We decided against it since it was Sunday and GC weekend (had to have been a double strike or something).

On our way home, we listened to the morning session of conference which was great.  Then, we were able to catch the last session when we got home and welcomed one branch of the clan from Houston because they wanted to be touristy in San Antonio (since they didn't know when they'd be back).

It was great weekend and I continually felt grateful to live here, close to LeAnn and John (hopefully closer one day--- wink, wink) to be there for them on their big day.


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