Sunday, September 25, 2016

the light within

The past 9 months have been big for us. Welcoming our 3rd child, Brett graduating MBA school, yoga certification, moving across the country, Maya starting 1st grade, Brett starting a new career, and living in a completely new place have been trying, tiring, exhilarating and exhausting. We have been in Jacksonville, Florida for almost 3 months and it has felt like so much longer. Sending Maya to school has been more difficult than I had ever anticipated and we are all celebrating the tiny victories that come our way and doing our best to focus on the positive. One of the positive things that we find easy to focus on is our adorable, sweet baby girl, Penelope Jane. She has brought so much light, laughter, and happiness with her and we are all better because of her. She is almost 9 months old now and loves all food, pulling hair, clapping with her feet, army crawling under small spaces, books, baths with her siblings, growling after every bite she eats, splashing in the tub and pool and destroying lego creations. Another positive we focus on is our family movie night on Sunday nights. We make popcorn, orange julius, among other treats, argue about what movie to watch and snuggle on our large, new couch together. One other positive has been the Spartan Aquatics swim team. This is my turn to boast...Maya swims with them 3 times a week. I didn't know if it was possible for us to drive up there that often after school and feared that a busy schedule like that would overwhelm and provide more stress than a 6 year old girl could handle. However, the way it makes her feel is tangible. I can feel her happiness and excitement exuding from her each time we go. She is the best one in her age group and will be advancing soon. Her coach has spoken with me face to face and told me to "never let her stop swimming. She has a bright swimming career."

Although I am down about missing out on a beautiful Utah autumn and the constant battle I face with Maya in first grade, among other countless negativities taking over my days, we are always striving to create more positives to focus on: family trips to Disney World, the beach, Griffin playing t-ball and being the smallest, fiercest player, Penny saying da-da and ma-ma, and family night spent at our club pool. There are always reasons to be down, to dwell on the pain, negativity and defeat we face in life. As Maya Angelou said, "Nothing can dim the light which shines from within." No matter our circumstances that weigh us down, we have a light within us, we only need to flip the switch.

 Photo taken by

  Photo taken by

  Photo taken by

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

in houston

Houston, Texas is not for the faint-hearted. The extreme heat + humidity, the tornado/hurricane/severe thunderstorm alerts, the flash flooding, the constant traffic, the very impatient drivers, the construction on large portions of freeway, the weird freeway feeder road systems, and the strange-looking pests everywhere make for a frightening, intimidating environment. That being said, Houston has a lot to offer as well. There are all of the amenities that come with living in a big city: festivals, endless options for diverse and delicious food, museums, a world-class zoo, major league baseball, farmers markets, beautiful outdoor parks, and a variety of free events to take advantage of year-round.

We have been in Houston for two months. It feels like it has been six. There have been a lot of long hours put in by my hard working husband and we have had plenty of pb&j's, cereal or yogurt for dinner. Brett has 3 weeks of work left, at which point we will either be driving home with smiles on our faces, feeling the stability of a job offer from GE, or making more pro/con lists of various companies he can apply for in the coming school year. I really hope it is the first. The unknown is the worst, but also kind of fun. I think we embrace adventure. I am already planning our next one: a graduation trip to Asia! (just kidding, like we could afford that, we will probably go camping or something.)

Trying to make the most out of our time here, we have seen the city, seen the ocean, visited various museums, have found some favorite eateries and neighborhoods (if future employment brings us back), and have enjoyed a truly Texas 4th of July at a neighborhood BBQ and firework show that had me shocked people were allowed to buy the big fireworks and had my kids scared out of their minds, yelling "hurry get in the car!" Challenging as it is having two kids going all kinds of crazy in a different house without their toys all day everyday, we have entertained ourselves during the summer months by swimming lots, taking advantage of our passes to the zoo and the children's museum and making new friends.

I never thought I would be looking forward to returning to Provo, Utah so much, but I really am. I desperately miss those mountains, the beautiful scenery, weather and most importantly, my bed and my kitchen. This summer has not been without challenges, but I think as with everything in life, we will look back and remember the memories made and laughter shared. We are taking advantage of our trip back, stopping in San Antonio to go to Sea World, maybe staying an extra night in Moab and enjoying all the time spent together in our little Honda Accord, especially when the youngest two are sleeping.

Here is a recap of our adventure, starting with the very long drive.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

moab, canyonlands, arches and waiting

We took our first family vacation this last weekend and it was a much needed breath of fresh air, although I spent Saturday running 13.1 miles. It was such a beautiful race and I am very glad (and relieved) that I did it. Brett's dad and Mary met us there and Mary and I ran together. The kids had fun at the lodge collecting rocks, seeing the river, horses, Arches and teepees. I grew up in St. George, Utah and cannot believe I had never been to Moab, or seen Arches or Canyonlands National parks before. Brett and I made a goal to visit every National Park in Utah before we move again next year. We may find ourselves camping out this summer in Arches, Bryce, or Capitol Reef.

Speaking of Brett, here's a little shoutout: he was elected as his track's (OBHR) President next year, and we are waiting to hear back about an internship location for an awesome internship that he landed, with GE Oil & Gas. Possible locations include: Houston, Denver, San Ramon and possibly others. He has done so well in school and I am very proud of him. We are now trying to get our finances in order to decide whether it is feasible for us to accompany him on a little summer adventure. We have always been ones to move around a lot, and if a career with GE works out in the end, I don't see that changing anytime soon. Excited and very anxious for what the future holds. Maybe someday we will be done with school.

In other news, I am starting to gear up for Kindergarten registration for a girl who I still view as my 3-year old. I am so nervous about everything I have to do to ensure her safety at school....504's are incredibly overwhelming, but I feel like I am finding the right people and the help I need. Griffin is as stubborn and sweet as ever, following his sister around all day. I love the way they play together now (when they aren't pinching or biting), they are so enveloped in their play land of make believe, car races, taking care of babies, playing dinosaurs, princess, dress up, dancing, birthday parties, building train tracks down the hallway, chasing each other and creating artistic masterpieces. March Madness has filled up most of our evenings and Maya filled out her first ever bracket. She informed me that she was only choosing teams whose names sounded like girls names, and when she heard Arizona, she obviously took them all the way to winning the championship. New Mexico State was also a favorite...(?) Some favorites this month include Griffin saying his name, "Grissin", calling me "monny", and saying "oh hey guys" to anyone he comes in contact with. Maya has recently declared herself an "art girl", and has found a variety of things to do "day by day".

When we first decided to move to Provo, my first thought was, "YES! We will actually have a winter with snow and skiing!" Well, we didn't really get any snow, other than right after Christmas, and we only were able to go up to the slopes 3 times. Some might think I'm crazy, but I really do love the seasons, and would have enjoyed some more snow. Now that it is spring, and blossoms and allergies are in full bloom, I am left wondering where the winter even went. Maybe we brought those warm winters from AZ with us. Either way, we have one more Utah winter to experience and we will see what it brings.

 rock hunting near the lodge

 at the starting line

at the finish line

we didn't have enough daylight to make the hike up there and didn't realize the viewpoint would be so anti-climatic and far away...but we were there!

red cliffs lodge, where we stayed (not in the teepees, there were individual cabins)

this was a while back, but we had a nice family shot on BYUtv at the men's volleyball least no one was picking their noses (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

Friday, February 6, 2015

she's five

Maya is an incredible little girl. Someone who is so aware of other people; who is the most genuine and caring person we know; lover of her little brother, family, Jesus, swimming, reading, spiders, learning, gymnastics, skiing, oreos, potstickers, hummus, pulled pork and all things sparkly and girly; someone who tries hard things, thinks deeply, and who has a testimony; loves to be silly, dramatic, play make-believe, get dirty, explore nature, and appreciates little tiny details about life like shadows, crunchy leaves, spider webs, clouds, rocks and infinitely more; who just wants to "feel some love" when feeling sad or in trouble and give others "some love"; who prays for everything and gives thanks for everything including fences, bones, blood, skin, hair, ears, heaven, earth, houses, food, beds, clothes, church, etc. Maya is so thoughtful and has a natural instinct to make cards for anyone not feeling well, or sad and prays for them. She is always thinking about heaven and asks me periodically what life is all about. Despite some heart-breaking and difficult food allergies, she has a wise and courageous soul who doesn't cower away when isolated from enjoying a birthday cake, pizza or ice cream. Her young spirit knows how to look at the positive in most situations. She articulates her feelings remarkably well by telling us when she "feels leftout" or "lonely" or "really upset at Griffin." Maya is one who has taught us so much more than we ever thought possible. Her response to difficult or complicated explanations of things is usually, "I don't hear you," or "I don't know what you're talking about." She still calls the previews before movies "pre-shews," loves her "chock-lick" cake or cookies, and has successfully taught her little brother all the wrong words to "Let it Go" and "Hakuna matata." We love you, our Maya papaya.

Her five birthdays are below in order. How fast the time goes and how precious all the little moments in between.
turning 1 in london

turning 2 in mesa

turning 3 in mesa

turning 4 in mesa

turning 5 in provo

the long awaited 5th frozen party

testing out her birthday present on the slopes

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

a utah Christmas

It was a whirlwind of a month. Full of play dates, finals, Christmas shopping and activities, and lots of memorable family moments. A couple of my favorites were: 1) when we were driving home from Christmas in Vernal through Provo Canyon. The kids were awake and happy, singing along to a great song, "It's Christmas and I like You," by the National Parks. I felt so happy and grateful for my people as we all belted out "I LIKE YOU" at the top of our lungs. 2) When we came home to almost a foot of untouched snow in our backyard and we spent every afternoon outside together sledding, throwing snowballs and sliding down slides. It was a peaceful week, before Brett went back to school, and we enjoyed every minute of it. A lot of this was played and a lot of this was watched and even more of this was eaten. Christmas is so magical with kids and I love that they are so easily pleased. From Griffin thinking that his Christmas book was a Choo-choo, to Maya reciting perfectly Luke 2:10-12 without anyone knowing that she knew it, to waking up to snow falling gently outside Christmas morning, to Griffin obsessively wanting to sing "Silent Night" over and over again, to gingerbread houses, to sugar cookies, to throwing carrots on the porch for the reindeer, it was perfect and we had some great hosts.