Tuesday, July 31, 2012

30 by 30: #27 Feasting Upon the Word

While in Seattle, I completed a couple of my goals from my {30 by 30 list}.  One I did, and want to continue to do, is I was able to read my scriptures and take notes for 30 days straight.  I really wanted to complete this goal now because I normally slack off in my scripture studies while on vacation AND I knew this vacation would be extra difficult.

For some reason being consistent in my scripture study has always been a challenge for me.  My testimony has never faltered, I've just never seemed to keep with it.  I hope this is something I won't always struggle with because I get SO much from the scriptures.

I was able to get my scriptures out and take notes each day.  The quality, however, varied.  There was a difference between the days I studied and actually studied.  I even treated the people around me nicer and I know it helped me through not having Greg for a long period of time.  I was even able to pull lessons out of what I studied and apply them to certain situations of the day. 

A couple nights in Seattle my Dad caught me falling asleep as I was reading saying "I just need to read another verse."  I was so stubborn strong-willed about this because I wanted to prove to myself I could actually pull it off.

None of this is new to me; I've been taught this since I was a kid.  It's just nice to have a reminder to keep moving forward.  The spiritual part of me is just as important as everything else.  I'm really excited I completed this goal--- here's to keeping it a habit.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Seattle Leftovers

As if I didn't write enough about our trip to Seattle, I would regret missing some of the other adventures from our trip...

Food

We had LOTS of food adventures on our trip (from Clockwise, starting upper left):  One night, we had a Star Wars Dinner picnic in the living room.  I need to remember to have more indoor picnics at home.  Since we eat a lot of Japanese food, the kids got some training chopsticks; it's the only thing they use to eat Japanese food now.  We celebrated 7-11 day and got our free 7.11 oz slurpees.  By the time we got there, the slurpee choice was small and it was more like drinking syrup (for everyone but me because they had my flavor--- Pina Colada.).  Aunt Meggie surprised the kids with Bento Boxes and some supplies.  We spent some lunch times figuring out what to put in them.  They are showing off their Hot Dog Octopi.

Sleeping

With the time change, we had a couple instances of passing out on the floor or on people (the second picture).  The first picture is how they were when I came up to go to bed one night.  Overall, sleeping in the same room wasn't too bad.  My hip bugged me constantly up there and it went away once we got home, so I'm pretty sure that was because I slept on a futon for a month.

FUNNY (because it's now in the past) STORY:  Our room for the visit was Jiji's office.  He has most of his books, golf memoriblia, man cha-keys (like bobble-heads) and a rather large collection of baseball hats in there.  He also has two full bookshelves.  A couple weeks into our stay, it's late; late as Mom & Pops were already in bed while the rest of us were downstairs chatting.  Mom appears at the top of the stairs, summoning me up with the words every parents dreads, "your kids are still awake."  I get to the top and she then tells me the rest of the story.

While in their room, she and Pops heard a THUMP coming from the office.  Mom went to go check it out and COULDN'T OPEN the door.  Why?  Because it was blocked by books.  The kids decided to take EVERY. SINGLE. BOOK.  from the bottom three shelves off and put them on the floor.  Mom & I helped them clean it up while we tried to get the truth out.  We never figured out who had the idea and who followed.  I was amazed they got through so many books before getting caught.  This was the only incident we had with them touching things in the office; they were really good for spending their sleeping time in a room full of things they weren't allowed to touch.

Wedding

The whole reason for coming out extra early was so we could help with wedding preparation.  I think we fulfilled that task.  We, as a whole group, made everything--- the invitations, decorations, dessert bar, candy bar--- EVERYTHING.  Megan almost single-handedly baked all of the cake pops, cookies, and cupcakes (about 300 or so)--- Jared tried to help wherever he could.  Krystal wanted the floating lanterns from Tangled and so, I spent a day mod podging suns and butterflies onto lanterns.  This was only a fraction of what everyone did to help Z & Krystal have a great wedding day and--- IT WORKED!

Mema & Deda

The first day Mema & Deda arrived they helped with the wedding by taking the kiddos off our hands, so we could get our hands busy with preparation.  They had a great time and still talk about going back to that park.

Fun Box

I mentioned the Fun Box in {THIS} post.  The kids had fun with all of things they found in the box.  Painting magnets and pictures, new cars, water balloons, bubbles, squirt guns, stamps, and books.  Some things we even *accidentally* left there (not at all because I didn't want to have MORE things crowding our house... nope...).

Random of the Random

(Clockwise starting from the Top-Left):  The last week of Parker's mission, we sent him a postcard message--- one word on 16 individual cards.  We each made at least one and all signed the last one.  When he left for home, he was only missing one.***We had some serious fun in the backyard (has nothing to do with being cooped up in the crazy heat back home).  One night, Oba taught the kids Hopscotch using sidewalk chalk.  When she went to clean it up, the kids got a little too close to the water.  Whoops.*** Some nights, I staggered the bed times for the kids.  On these nights, Jared got a special book and read it with Aunt Meggie.  He loved his reading time with her and it was neat to see them have special time together. *** Like I mentioned in the {Supermall} post, Seattle has no shortage of indoor play areas.  One day, Meg, Mom and I took turns getting haircuts.  The kids spent the time on the mall's two areas: a train and a boat.  Jared's telling me that he's the Captain of the boat; he then try to 'catch' the boat and jump onto the back.  Annabelle spent the time sitting on the smokestack or walking around the edge--- our little daredevil.

And then one of my favorite pictures of the trip....


Dad tackled Mom, so the kids thought it would be fun to dog pile on Oba & Jiji.  So funny, I simply HAD to take a picture.  It also pretty much sums up our trip.  I'm very grateful we were able to go out to help with the wedding and spend time with family.  We usually only get to see my folks once, maybe twice, a year, so it was nice to spend some extended time with them (and my siblings and new sibling-in-law).  Memorable, yes.  Worth it, yes.  However, I don't think we'll spend SO much time away from home (and Greg) again...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Day in Seattle = Being Tourist-y

Since the Monday after the wedding was our last day in Seattle, the huge group of us wanted to do a few tourist things; even the Mo's came!  We eventually decided on the classic 'ferry ride to downtown'.  Even though we've done this a few times in the past, it's always so fun.  The only bummer came when Megan got sick on the way out there, so we had to turn back and take her home.  She was in the middle of detoxing her body for an allergist appointment... poor Meg.

Since we had a minor detour, we arrived at a ferry with lots of time to spare, so we went and got some food.  It was a toss between Cold Stone and Japanese food.  Everyone, but a few, started off with Cold Stone; then 'the baby' wanted some Japanese food when 'the baby' saw what the others got.  So, the pregnant lady got some sushi for the boat ride.

Like all of the other boat rides, we had a great time.  The only thing I thought was crazy was the weather.  We're visiting in July and it's COLD--- well, cold for us Texans.  All four of us had our jackets on.  The first thing the kids would say when they came back from the boat deck was "Brrr... it's windy and/or cold!"  I didn't blame them.  I actually only went out on the boat deck once; Jiji and Greg played 'keep after the running kiddos,' especially since they both LOVED following Taylor around.  We seriously need to see everyone more often.

Once we arrived on the other side of the sound, we went over the world famous Seattle Aquarium.  There is a reason this place is world famous; it was fantastic.  It was full of so many fun exhibits; it was very interactive.  The kids had to get a picture in every picture stand there.  They were both so excited.  I mean, right in the entrance is the massive floor-to-ceiling tank full of gorgeous animals, Crashing wave pools, otters, sea lions, exotic fish, a jellyfish tank you can walk through, puffins, octopus, and.... so much more.... so the question is who wouldn't be excited?

Jared and Belle both seemed to like the Tide Touch Pool.  It's an open room with two large shallow tanks and in the tanks are tide animals you can touch.  It took a few minutes of convincing to get them to touch things, but after the initial interaction, they didn't want to leave the pool (and this was at the beginning of the aquarium).

Near the tide pool was another favorite: the octopus.  Jared spotted the octopus on the map and told everyone he could that he wanted to see it.  So, as we went through all their neat tanks, near the end of the first part of the aquarium, we realized that we accidentally passed the octopus.  Right on que, Jared asked about it, so our little family branched off and trekked back to the octopus.  It was so worth it.  When we got to the tank, it looked like it was going to be a bust because both of their octopi were hiding underneath something.  However, after a minute or so, and a whole crowd leaving, Jared spotted one underneath a rock and it started to move.  It was pretty incredible to see it wake up it's body again.  It was even evident in the color; when we first saw it as a really light pale pink to a bright red.  The kids were so excited to see it move; I even got a video, but the light is crappy, so no posting here.  Jared followed that thing around for a good ten minutes until we had to pry him away to catch up to the rest of the group.

After we caught up (in an underground outside tank), we found what ended up to be Annabelle's two favorite exhibits: the Puffin penguins and Sea Lions.  She'd giggle every time the Puffins would dive for their food.  She even said she wanted to dive like that we when we went swimming again. :)  She like the sea lion because it was swimming in circles around the tank and back to her window.  She even waved and said hi to it.  I love that girl.

After the obligatory gift shop visit wear the kids conned their grandparents into buying picked out a souvenir, we spent a little bit of time on the pier enjoying the cool weather and waiting for the rest of our group.  Jiji had fun feeding Annabelle chocolate and making sure she didn't dive off of the pier.  When we were all back together, we went hunting for food.  The original plan was Ivar's, as it turns out, they don't do Gluten-free (and we're super-busy), so we had to find something else.  So, we headed over to Red Robin on the pier.  Even though we go to RR frequently, it's fun to find the different locations.  This one was literally on the pier, like hanging over the water.  On the way over Annabelle was getting drowsy in Greg's arms, while we waited a few minutes for the restaurant to clear a huge corner our table, they both fell asleep.  It was adorable.  Annabelle ended up sleeping through most of dinner (we still got her something to eat).  After dinner, we did a little more shopping and headed back to the folks' house to prepare for our journey home.

It was fun, busy and great day to end our extended stay in Seattle.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Craziest Weekend EVER: The Missionary Speaks & Sisters Sing

At Z & K's Wedding
About a month ago, Mom mentioned to me that she asked her Bishopric if it'd be okay if Meg and I sang the Sunday Park spoke after he got home.  I've always wanted to sing in a small ensemble or duet in Sacrament Meeting {see my 30 by 30} but I have never been too confident in my singing abilities.  I know I'm a strong Alto, I'm just not-so-confidant in my ability as a Solo Alto (even though Greg tells me constantly that I'm strong)--- I think Meg would say the same thing about herself.  So, from the beginning, I was slightly skeptical because I didn't want to screw up and it sounded an awful lot like a Homecoming meeting.  However, the Bishopric was all for it.  So--- we started to prepare.

Our first challenge came in picking the song.  After a few emails between us, we decided to ask the missionary, he chose "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."  It was then when I got really nervous because I only remembered hearing that done by MoTab or strickly Male Chorus.  So, off I went to digitally hunt for a good version for us to sing.  I ended up finding a simple, free SATB version on {THIS} fantastic website.

Our next hurdle then became... when do we practice with no pianist and getting ready for the wedding of the summer?  With everything going on, we still didn't have a pianist or had practiced at all by the time it was the Sunday before.

Enter the coolest and most humble sister in my parent's ward.  We asked her, that Sunday, if she'd be willing to join us, the next Sunday and she said yes--- all we had to do was go to her house and practice once during the week.  The practice went well; the arrangement sounded fine without the TB and it was the first time I was confident in what we were going to do.

After Friday and Saturday passed, we were luckily enough to make it to church the next morning.  We practiced one more time (being very grateful that Meg's allergies didn't severely hinder her voice) and waited for our song.

The Spirit was definitely with us because we did the best we could, knew we had little mess-ups, but we only had complements afterwards.  Both our grandmothers came up to us and said "I didn't know you two could sing like that."  We also had non-family-member complements as well.

Even though I was skeptical in the beginning, I'm really grateful we had this experience.  Not only do I get to cross one more thing off my list (only 25 more to go), I'm definitely more confident and it'll be something I look back on with fondness.  I was able to sing with my sister the Sunday after our baby brother came home.  I think this experience was a bit of a confidence boost for the both of us.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Z & K's Wedding Day: In Pictures

The big day... in pictures...


EVEN more pictures..

Craziest Weekend EVER: Z & K's Wedding, Part Two

In Between
After we dropped the newlyweds off to get changed and packed for their honeymoon, Pops and I went back to their house into the chaos of getting ready to leave.  I think we barely had a hour to sit and eat before going back out to add the finishing touches to gym for the reception.

Everything turned out great, however, I'm pretty sure Mom will want to hire someone when Meg and Park get married. :)

Candy and Dessert Bar
Z & K wanted a Dessert bar for the reception, so there was a dessert bar.  It had so many desserts.  We made lots of cake pops, cookies, mini-cupcakes, and candies (that was mostly Meg).  There was also a chocolate fountain with pineapple, strawberries, marshmellows, cookies, pretzels, etc. to dip into it.  Annabelle's face when she saw all of the candy was priceless.

We tried to limit their intake, but in a room full of grandparents and happiness, I'm pretty sure we could've rolled them away on their full of treats tummies.  I can tell you what, Baby L really like the chocolate fountain.  I seriously debated just putting a chair next to it and putting up a sign saying, "don't mind me, I'm pregnant."

In addition to the Dessert Bar, we also set up a DIY Candy Bar for the wedding favor (we did some taste-testing before to make sure it was edible).  Any candy colored blue or orange was there; the peach licorice and blue gummi rings were my favorite.  The guests could fill their bags with whatever and enjoy the festivities.



Ring Bearer, Flower Girl, and Toasts
Since some of the family members could not be in the temple, Z & K wanted to do a Ring Ceremony.  So, we had to get Krystal ready again; I think it was inspiration, but we had Christine come and help get her ready since she wasn't able to be in the temple.  I'm really glad they had that moment together.

A ring ceremony was a good excuse to give Jared and Belle the jobs of Ring Bearer and Flower Girl.  Megan and I even made the pillow and flowers for them.  Once it was time to start, Greg and I had to coach them to go out.  Annabelle went out a little bit, threw the homemade silk petals in a funny diagonal way and went back to her grandparents.  Jared, with the rings, went straight for Z & K and stayed their while their Bishop started talking.  Once they got the rings we got him to come back.  They did a great job, I only wish we would've got it on video.

After the rings, Mom, Pops and Christine all stood up and said a few words.  Of course, hormonal people in the audience were crying by this point (i.e. me).  Annabelle really wanted to be near Jiji and Oba, so I spent the time walking back and forth with her and trying to get her to stay quiet while everyone spoke.

Trashing the Car

After the speehes, there was a little bit of time to dance.  Just enough time to grab the Best Man (Tim, Z's best friend since middle school), the siblings and Greg to find their car and do things to it.

We all took turns writing something on the car.  Megan even got up on the trunk and wrote something on the Sunroof.  Some of the quotes came from, The Princess Bride, "Mauwage, wub, twu wub," and other's involved a rocking car.

HILARIOUS STORY:  So, some friend's were leaving at the time of us decorating the car.  They have a 8-9 year old who can read... you can see where this is going.  He read the side with the "rocking car" comment, turned to his dad and asked, "what does that mean?"  LOL!  We had such a hard time keeping a straight face; kudos to his Dad, the response, "you'll find out when you get married."  Something we have to look forward to when our kids start to read.

When it was time for them to go, we ushered them off with a bubble machine, told them about their SURPRISE honeymoon and watched their shocked faces as they saw the car.  PRICELESS.

Power Teardown
After they left, it was amazing how fast the decorations started to come down.  I was trying my best to help, but with sugar-crashing toddlers and a 7 month pregnant belly, I was just in the way.  So, Greg took us back to the folks' where our little Ring Bearer and Flower Girl passed out.  Greg left to go back and help finish, but everyone was back in the next hour or so.  It was rather impressive.

Even though the day was long, and there was a WHOLE lot of stress leading up to it, it was a great day.  I'm so grateful Z & K found each other.  Life will still be hard, but now they have their own little family to strengthen and believe in.  Being in the temple with family is one of the best experiences in this mortality.  I can't wait to do it again. :)

Craziest Weekend EVER: Z & K's Wedding, Part One

Up Early
THE day had finally arrived.  And the whole house was up early, even though the kids and I got the most sleep.  Like a typical wedding day, the morning was a little bit chaotic; making sure everyone and everything was ready in time--- especially when the temple was 45 minutes away.  So, we had to get up a little early to get everyone ready in enough time to get the bride ready.  It was so much fun jabbing away with Krystal as Mom & I (a.k.a. Mom) did her hair.  All I did was add my opinion (when asked).

Annabelle was so excited to get her dress on;  she tried it on a couple days before the wedding and ran outside with it.  I think I almost went into labor--- no grass stains on a new dress that may or may not be washable.  As long as it survived through the wedding day, I was happy.

Girl's Ride
One of the fun memories of riding to the temple that day was how we rode up there.  Mom, Megan, Krystal, Christine (Krystal's Mom) and I all rode together in the Magnum.  Those of us who were not privileged enough to drive had to hold flowers in their waters--- they had to survive until pictures, of course.  We had fun cracking jokes and I had a sweet moment with Christine; she's not LDS, so I was able to bear my testimony about the importance of temple marriage.  She's an incredible lady (she had to have been since she raised such a GREAT woman). ;)

Being an Escort
The sweetest experience of the day, for me, was the chance I had (along with Mom) to be Krystal's escort.  It was neat to be in that special role for my sister-in-law.  Lots of little spiritual moments confirming to me just how special Krystal is for my amazing little brother.  One of the best parts about being her escort was seeing Z see her for the first time before the sealing.  His eyes were so full of love and adoration and all he could say was 'wow.'  SO CUTE.  That was all Mom and I stayed for to give them some privacy. 

Funny Pregnancy Story:  As we waited for guest's to arrive and things to be set up before they escorted us to Krystal, the Temple Matron assigned to Krystal came up to Mom & I and introduced herself.  Like everyone else, she asked how far along I was.  I responded about seven months.  Her response:  Wow, you look like you're going to pop!  It's a good thing we were in the temple because in a normal every day situation, I would have given her the diriest look.  In the temple, I just shrugged it off and said, "I hope he waits until we get home."

Amazing Sealing
Another great bonus about being her escort was being able to sit next to her during the sealing.  Their sealer had many beautiful and profound things to say.  He reminded them frequently that they were each others' most important person in the world now.  I was on the verge of tears the whole time, then the sealer started talking about my parents and I looked at Pops and lost it.  Words CANNOT describe how it feels to be in the temple with the people you love.  I was lucky enough to see the wonderful examples of love around the room and hold my Gweg's hand while witnessing Z & Krystal start their forever.    I'm excited for the day when I can be in the Celestial Room with all three of my siblings.

Obligatory MASSIVE amount of photos, Waiting and the Ride Home
After the sealing, it was time for pictures---- which meant us escorts had to get Krystal ready.  One of my favorite things about temple weddings is seeing the multiple couples there getting married.  There's automatically a bond between everyone in the bride's room.  So, we got her ready and started the trek outside. 

Seriously, why do wedding pictures take so long?  So many people want so many different pictures, every ends up cranky (especially the bride or groom, little kids, the elderly or pregnant women).  We endure through the suffering in order to get GREAT pictures and memories.  Luckily, I had my new diaper bag (birthday present--- thanks M&D) stuffed with snacks.  As time went on, our numbers dwindled.  Mom needed to get everything ready for lunch BEFORE finishing the building for the reception, Greg took our two tired kiddos shortly behind so they could get some food and rest (so they wouldn't be cranky the rest of the day).

Finally, it was only Pops and myself waiting for the newlyweds and their photographer to finish their last pictures.  Let me tell you what a memory THAT was, driving back to the folks' house.  Dad and I in the front, with the newlyweds in the back.  Yikes!  Seriously, though, it wasn't bad it was just funny.

Part Two finishes off the crazy day!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Craziest Weekend EVER: Parker's Return


Waiting for the Elder
This was the first of the two major weekend events:  my little brother returning from his two-year mission to Ohio.  His flight was in the early afternoon, so we had the morning to let our emotions stew.  I'm pretty sure Mom & Pops were dealing with the most emotions; however, neither she nor Pops would actually admit it.

Personally, the best thing about that morning was finally waking up with Greg next to me (awww...)--- he seriously helps to keep my pregnancy emotions in check.  Another great thing about him was seeing the kids' reactions to him being there.  Jared was next to us on the floor, so Greg started whispering his name.  When the blanket came off his head, he had the biggest smile on his face.  We then told Annabelle that Daddy was here and she shot off of her little pillow bed so fast, it made the whole family giggle (even the baby moved).

We spent the rest of the morning patiently (some more that others) waiting (i.e. getting ready for the wedding the next day) for the clock to hit 1230 (the time we would all caravan to the airport).  We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, in fact, we had to wait just a little bit longer.

Once we figured out the right security exit to wait at, half of the group invaded the table and chairs area while the other half nervously paced or chased after the kids (Greg and I were in the second group).  The kids spent the time raiding my bag for snacks, Meg cuddled with a quilt she made Parker, and Z & Krystal showed up all matchy-matchy for their last day of singlehood.  Mom even found another missionary mom waiting for her son (who we assumed was Parker's traveling companion).  Somehow Granni was delegated the job to hold the rather larger balloon bouquet; it attracted Jared and few other little kids which was super adorable.

As it got closer and closer to the arrival time, Mom and Pops started tracking his flight on their phone.  We got milli-second updates right until he landed.  Then, Greg took a video.



Tears were everywhere (knew you wouldn't last, Meg), emotions were high and the video went on the back burner.  Parker was home.  I've always been fiercely loyal to my siblings; there's only a 5 year gap between Parker and I (youngest and oldest).  Maybe it's my Big Sister/Mama Bear coming out, but, for me, one of the greatest things about growing up has been to see my siblings do the same.  Coming into adulthood and having a firm grip of the gospel and themselves.  Parker, in particular, has changed a lot.  Not that he was bad before; he, like most people before him, matured on his mission. 

 Over the last days we were in Seattle, he and I got to have quiet moments together to just talk and I will ALWAYS treasure that.  I think that says something of my parents; all of us love the gospel and would defend it (and each other) to our dying breaths.  We snapped this picture while the rest of the crew was busy busy with decorating the gym.
The Original Jackson Sibs

We spent the last half of the day prepping for the following BIG day, in fact, Parker, the kids and I were kicked out of the preparation at 1030 (yipes). 
Getting our decoration ON!
Tim & Z showing how cool they really are...
Oh NO! Greg's lost in the tulle!
The rest of the crew didn't start to come back until 1130 and some of the amazing women were up creating floral creations for the bridal party... I tried my best to help, but they (the floral designers) wouldn't let me stay and help, requesting I help by letting my growing belly rest... well... if that's how I can help... :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Craziest Weekend EVER: Krystal's Shower

The Bride-to-be (these were the good shots) ;)
We survived out month long trip to Seattle.  I've been able to keep up with the blog since my folks don't live in the dark ages, but since the last weekend there was a wee bit on the CRAZY BUSY (and fantastic) side, I didn't get to writing about it.  Here's to getting everything about this weekend written down so it stays unforgettable!

The weekend all started on Thursday.  Most of the wedding guests started to arrive that day--- including Krystal's Mom, Christine (who is so SWEET and fits right into the family), Tim (Z's best friend since, well, forever) and Gweg (I was personally MOST excited about that one).

One of the things we did to pass the time, until Greg's 1130 flight arrived, was go to Krystal's Bridal Shower.  The shower brigade included: Krystal, Mom, Megan, Christine, myself, Granni and Shari.  We caravaned over to a friend's apartment (Krystal, Christine and I enjoyed the convertible) where we ended up beating most of the guests there--- even though we were 20 minutes late--- we forgot we were going to a party thrown by hip single LDS ladies!

The friend throwing the shower did a great job.  She toned down the games so they were just right for Krystal--- "appropriate with a little bit of a sassy-kick."  This is what I learned from the shower:  NO ONE likes to do the dishes, Body Bingo is now a tradition, Granni knows her martial stuff, Krystal REALLY likes to make cookies, Shari will always advice to 'live long and prosper' (even if it's through someone she doesn't know), and even single women know to feed the pregnant lady first. :)

It was a lot of fun and great to see Krystal around all of these women who saw Z and Krystal fall in love.

After the shower, I was BEYOND excited to go pick up Greg, even if I knew I'd be tired the next day.  Pops and I kept mentioning how the next time we'd be there would be to see Parker coming home, which was surreal and awesome all at the same time.  It didn't help that we witnessed a reunion between son and parents; we both got a little teary-eyed.  After Greg FINALLY showed up, we headed back the folks.  The kids were SO excited to see Greg the next day; Baby L even kicked me when Greg spoke.... I think we all missed him.

Next... an Elder returns...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kids First: Pop Rocks

Crazy fun weekend all begins tonight with Krystal's shower and Greg coming in--- followed by Parker tomorrow and the wedding on Saturday.  So excited!

While shopping today, Jiji bought the kids their first ever 'Pop Rocks.'  I knew this had the potential to be funny... Daddy would want to see this, so I got out the video camera.

Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kid's First: Water Balloon Fight

He's got water guns and he's not afraid to use them!
A couple days ago, it was warm enough for the kids to go outside and have a Water Balloon fight--- it had nothing to do with them picking the water balloons from the Fun Box.

I graciously let Oba and Jiji handle THAT play time and sent Aunt Meggie out to take pictures.  Big Pregnant Mommy was a little achy by that point in the day AND I used the time to Skype Greg. :)

I think she liked it!
After I finished, I went over to the door to watch some of the fun.  Apparently, the kids really got into chasing each other with the water guns and throwing the balloons at their grandparents.  Annabelle thought it was her personal mission to get Jiji wet.  Jared spent his time trying to squirt anyone who was still for a second.

Water Fight FUN!
The kids (and adults) had a great time and Meg got some nice gems.  And, like any good water fight, they were DRENCHED when it was over and passed out when they went to bed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Superstitious Birthday

Birthday Fun!
Yep, it's official I'm 28.

Not only did I turn 28 this year, it was the best day to have a birthday: Friday the 13th. Being born on Friday the 13th, I've never had a problem with the day and all of the myths surrounding it.  I look forward to the celebrations each time my birthday rolls around to a Friday.

The day lived up to all of my Friday birthday before except it was the first time in 8 years that I hadn't spent it with Greg.  Having him here would have made the day perfect; in fact, that was my dream a couple days before my birthday.  I dreamed my birthday surprise was Greg and he walked into the folks' house just before we went out to dinner.  Surprise!  I'm here for a week instead of a weekend.  The next time we skyped, he had to thoroughly convince me that was not going to happen.  Without him, it was still a great day.

Dinner Fun
We didn't really do much in the morning except for have yummy Pumpkin Pancakes made by my Mom (that's what happens when you visit on your birthday while 30 weeks pregnant).  Greg sent me a couple of CDS through Amazon and they arrived just in time before we went out to do some Wedding Shopping

For dinner, we all met up at the restaurant we spotted a {few days ago} on the beach.  Ever since my folks moved to Seattle, I've wanted to try Pacific Northwest seafood (similar to going to Texas and finding a Barbeque or TexMex joint).  So, off we went on my birthday.  It was fun (all except for the snippy waitress telling us to hurry our order up so other patrons could come--- not cool).  She toned down once someone let it slip (*cough* Zak) that it was my birthday.

Beach Fun
The food did not disappoint;  I had super yummy Lobster Bisque and the world's best Crab Cakes.  Seriously THAT good.  So good, I took a picture and I usually don't take pictures.  When it was time for dessert, everyone ordered something with their meals, except me; I wanted to make something when we got home.  However, the waitress noticed I was the only one without a dessert, and probably making up for trying to kick us out, brought out a Sundae WITH a candle.  It was a pleasant little surprise; I was too busy being surprised that Annabelle leaned over and helped me blow out my candle.  Super cute.  She also enjoyed her dessert so much, she left a ring around her face.  Also super cute.

After dinner, since we were already at the beach, we played on the playground, walked around and did some more shell hunting.  Jiji attempted to teach the kids to skip rocks; being 4 and 2, they couldn't catch on, however, they sure got good at throwing rocks into the ocean or finding ones for Jiji to skip.  They both fully enjoyed have Jiji there this time.  They also got a little braver in going in the water, also thanks to Jiji.  Jared even figured out the joys of running up and down the beach--- complete with a wipe out at the end.
Running... running... running... WET!
 Annabelle didn't wipe out, but she'd bend over to get more rocks for Jiji and the back of her skirt would get wet.  I even took a video while we there:


Once everyone was warm and dried off, I got to skype Gweg (yay for birthday skypes) and we then ended the day playing with bubbles in the backyard.  Oba found a pack of 20ish bubble toys for $2, so we broke into them.

No cursed birthday here.  Just a great day with great people.  Mostly perfect.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Movin' to the Beat

The dancers.
Before we came out, Oba started collecting small cha-keys for the kids to earn when they were good.  We call it the Fun Box.  The kids still earn CTRs, like they do at home, and when they earn enough, they get to pick out of the Fun Box.

Yesterday, they found some necklaces in the box, and decided to have some fun with those (go figure).  They discovered if they danced around, while wearing the necklaces, they would makes noises.  It was funny to watch because they looked like they were doing some kind of Native Water dance ritual (and it sounded like it too).

It was so fun to watch, I attempted to take a video:


After I took the video, Bellie put her hat on and I took a picture because it reminded me of a similar picture of me, around her age.
 
She's not my daughter... nope, not at all.  I absolutely LOVE catching their moments of  'goofiness.'

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Impromptu Beach Trip

On the way back from the store last night, Oba thought it would be fun to take the kids down to the beach.  She was right, it was fun--- the kids LOVED every minute; it was sunset (a.k.a. absolutely beautiful) AND we found a place to go to for my birthday dinner.

At first, they were really interested in the water, until Jared touched it and proclaimed, "that's really REALLY cold."  They were both pretty bummed until Oba & Aunt Meggie showed them what to do at the beach, if you can't play in the water AND it's rocky: shell hunting.

I became the designated picture taker (all on my phone since it was a spontaneous beach trip) because bending over and I aren't on speaking terms right now.  Oba became the shell holder and Meg & the kids became the hunters.  We spent a good 20 minutes looking for shells.  The kids would find one, no matter the size and condition, and get SUPER excited, show all three of us, put it in the bag and repeat the process.

On our way back to the car, Jared came to me with a new shell.  He was so excited until I realized what it was:  a crab claw.  Ewww.  I told him what it was and he said, "we'd better put it back so he can come and get it back."  Sure buddy.

Since it was sunset, it was WAY past the kid's bedtime so back to Oba & Jiji's we went.  When we got back, they were so excited to tell Jiji what we did--- even though we should have called him to meet us there.  Good thing we're going back on my birthday. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Splash Park

The last time we came out to Seattle, a couple years ago, the area had a CRAZY heat wave.  It was typical South Texas temps, but without the A/C.  Yuck.  We didn't expect to have 'hot' weather, so we didn't bring any swim gear.  Since we wanted to have some water fun, we ended up getting Jared an outfit to get wet in and I borrowed a swimsuit from Meg.  Fast forward to packing for this trip... I mentioned to Greg that I should pack our swim stuff... just in case.  He said, "I think you need the room more than the swim gear."  I should've packed the gear then and there, but I didn't.

A few days later, we notice the forecast for this week.  Highs in the 80s.... swimming weather here.  My folks then mentioned a 'Splash Park' in town which they think the kids would enjoy.  So, I convinced Greg to send out their swimsuits, and the day they came (yesterday) off we went to the Splash Park.

The kids were SO EXCITED when we got there.  However, it wasn't to last.  Oba & Jiji were brave enough to take the kids over in the wet zone (Jiji was the only adult to wear his suit--- props Pops).  They inched closer and closer to the water.  Until, unknown to him, Jared was standing right under a bucket which tips when there's just enough water in it.  Literally seconds after he was in range, there was just enough water in the bucket. 

My little Texas babies are used to warm-ish water to get wet in.  So, as soon as they felt the water temperature, they had to be coerced into getting wet.  Jared shivered while he tried to play, and Annabelle kept saying, "it's cold." Jiji got them to go over some 'geysers,' in a water tunnel, and play with a squirt gun.  They lasted about 10 minutes before they were little Texan Popsicles.

The kids couldn't leave without playing on the park, so after a quick warm-up cuddle with Oba & Jiji, they were off to try the latest and greatest in playground equipment, complete with a ground zip-line.  The zip line was so cool, I took a video:


I'm so impressed at how brave the kids are, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have tried it at their ages.  We then ended our outing by starting dinner a little early with some snacking.  Overall, everyone had a good time... even if the kids are used to mostly warm water. :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kitty Kat Fun

Here kitty, kitty...
The kids absolutely LOVE my folk's cat.  Annabelle has loved her to the point of Maggie needing to swat her away to get more space; I don't blame the cat, I'd want Annabelle to leave too, if she was twice my size and always in my face.

With the help of Oba, the kids figured out that Maggie LOVES to chase things; and the tall dead grass in the remote section of the backyard is perfect thing to chase.  Oba showed Jared how to get Maggie to chase the stick and it has now, if Maggie is outside, it has become Jared's favorite thing to do in the backyard.

Annabelle doesn't quite understand to give Maggie space.  Most of the time, Bellie will shove the grass in her face, expecting the cat to chase when Maggie just up and runs the other way.  Annabelle still thinks that's fun.

Here's a video of the fun:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fun on the Fourth

At the end of a LONG day.
One of my favorite memories as a kid was celebrating the Fourth of July.  We'd go to my grandparent's neighborhood to watch a parade and go to the best carnival (in my mind) which usually ended with us winning a goldfish (only to flush it down the toilet sometime in the next week).

My goal, this year, was to find a parade and carnival like that, to take the kids to.  I thought this would be easy to do, since, you know, families like to celebrate Independence Day and all, but it was trickier than I thought.  I had to enlist Oba's help, since I didn't know the area, and didn't want to find something super far away.

What we found ended up being the jackpot, and only a 40 minute drive from my folks' house.  It was a full-day festival complete with pancake breakfast, parade, fair and fireworks.  We ended up only doing the middle two, at the festival and had our own pancakes and fireworks to start and finish the day.

Parade Time
Thing get a little crazy when waiting for a parade...
We ended up arriving at the parade a few minutes before it started; turns out we had a few extra minutes because where we camped ended up being near the end of the parade route.  So, we had a few moments to spare to be goofy and take pictures.  Anytime the kids have 'a few moments' around Jiji, it usually means he is going to be tackled.

It finally came!
Once the parade arrived, the kids LOVED seeing the different cars, trucks, and tanks!  The only thing they didn't love about said vehicles was the noise that came with them.  For being a loud little boy, Jared does not like loud noises.  At.  All.  Annabelle doesn't like them because she follows what her big brother does--- yep, we've entered THAT phase.

A few minutes into the parade, people with the candy showed up and started tossing it at us.  Jared couldn't believe it... they're giving us CANDY?!  By the end of the parade, they were pros at batting their eyes and looking cute for the ones with a little bit of candy left.  They also figured out how to open the wrappers and started munching on the candy--- even though it was 10 'o clock in the morning.  Oh well... nothing says "Happy Independence Day" like sugar-rushed children!

They also got a couple of flags and balloons as favors.  As soon as we got the balloons, each kid had theirs tied to their wrist.  Apparently I didn't tie Annabelle's on properly, not even 10 minutes into having the balloon she turns to me and asks where it went.  Uh oh.  A quick glance up confirmed what had happened; she followed my eyes and then broke down.  All out end-of-the-world toddler breakdown.  It wasn't pretty.  Luckily, the group sitting next to us had a multitude of balloons for their few numbered kids, and one of the Dads came over and saved the day.  We said 'thank you' and to me, it showed me that nice people still exist. :)

Pony Ride
Our little kiddos on Little Ponies :)
After the parade, we noticed pony rides set up at the edge of the fair.  Since it was a holiday, we decided to see how much it would be for the kids to ride and... it was FREE!  As soon as we heard those words, we jumped in the growing line and waited.  While waiting, the kids burned off some more sugar by running, exploring, and losing balloons, yet again, in a large area open area next to the ponies (don't know why the food booths didn't set up there... wait...).

As we got closer to the ponies, I noticed Jared getting a little more apprehensive.  I quietly reasssured him that ponies are nice and all he'd be doing is going around in a circle.  Annabelle had no fears with the 'cute horsies' (what she called them).  They both LOVED it.  I couldn't get the guys attention to put them next to each other, but you can see they were practically across the circle in the pictures.

Since Daddy wasn't there, I took a video (pay no attention to the goofy Mommy giving the commentary):

Fantastic Fair Fun
Food, play, and MORE FOOD!
Once the pony ride was over, we decided to explore the fair some more.  First thing we happened upon was a wheel-of-fortune like game for the kids.  It was free (woot) and Jared wanted to try it, so we were in!  Technically, there was only one spot on the wheel for the kids to win the 'large prize.'  When it was the kids' turns, the operator (Lions' member) 'helped' the wheel get to that magical spot.  Both kids got a large basket full of goodies.

What a slide!
After the wheel, we found some yummy burgers to split for lunch.  We sat in the shade next to the playground to motivate the kids to eat.   When they finished, they got to play for a few minutes before we went exploring again.  Annabelle, true-to-form, wanted to do everything--- even if she was too small for it.  When that happened, Oba was there to help out.

Then, we found the 'ticketed' items section.  Besides lunch, it was the only thing you had to pay for.  Through this 'midway' the kids got star necklaces, shared a white-chocolate strawberry, tried Cotton Candy for the first time, and got a fudgsicle.  Since it was 'warm' for the Seattle, we found a nice open area for the kids to 'attempt' to eat their ice cream without getting messy.  At least they had fun eating their ice cream and learned how a solid can turn into a liquid. :)

Once they were fully covered in chocolate, they wanted to try one more thing.  An inflatable fire truck slide.  Again, since it was free, they were off to the races.  Aunt Meggie played dutiful Auntie by helping them get their shoes off and punting them into the truck.  Annabelle was off like a rocket and Jared took his time.  Both went down the slide, I got pictures and they came out saying they thought it was SO MUCH FUN and asked if they could do it again.  Sure, what's the harm in that?  First time is always the hardest, right?  Not so much.  The scenario seemed to repeat.  Annabelle was up and down in a couple minutes or less.  Once she was down, we all looked up to see where Jared was.  The problem was... we couldn't see him.  The kids who came up after him started to use the truck as a bouncy house (which happened to be right next to the truck) and it FREAKED him OUT.  Big time.  He would not come down the slide or the stairs.

So, off my 30-week-pregnant self went UP the stairs of an inflatable slide to talk to my son.  We talked and he decided to go down the slide again (after a small push from Mom).  Once he was down, I turned to the operator and asked him if I should come down the stairs or slide.  He said, "take your pick."  Oh man.  I chose to slide.  The whole way down I could hear my Mom and Meg laughing;  I was just really glad my Dad couldn't figure out how to work my camera.

Fireworks
Nothing says 4th of July like blowing stuff up!
After the fair, we decided to grab a few fireworks.  We knew we wouldn't be getting too much because noise-sensitive kiddos and veteran.  Just some snakes, sparklers, and a few fountains (Jiji might have snuck in some noisemakers when the rest of us weren't looking).  While waiting for the sun to go down, we made some fun hats and pipe-cleaner sparklers for the kids.  The kids spent most of the time during fireworks doing what they're doing in the bottom left picture--- covering their ears.  At the beginning, they weren't even on the driveway.  Their awesome future Aunt Krystal sat on the porch with them to show them just how cool it was (even though she wasn't too happy to be hear the fireworks because of her tours of duty).  She got another "LOVE HER" mark in my book that day.

Once we convinced them it wasn't too loud, we got Jared to hold a jumbo sparkler and Annabelle got as close as sitting with me while I held the sparkler.  I LOVE how Jared was STILL covering his ears while holding the sparklers (this might be because of Jiji and his ability to light a surprise noisemaker at the same time).  The hit of the night seemed to be those and the snakes.  Annabelle thought they were funny coming out of the ground like that.


By the end of the night, the kids were exhausted.  After a quick bath, they each found a grandparent and passed out.  I think this Fourth was a success!  Yay USA's birthday!

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