Saturday, August 30, 2014

Xander got Baptized!

Xander got baptized a day after his birthday on August 23,2014. What was epic about his baptism is that both sets of grandparents were able to come.  We had a ton of fun the week of his baptism. 

We went to the Academy of Sciences with grandma and grandpa Armstrong. We also took them to Tilden Park where we rode the train and fed the animals at the farm. It was chilly that day, a whopping 60 degrees-ish and our poor Californian bodies froze. Grandma too, but just because she's old! Just kidding Mom! You're still 21!


Ben and I and my parents have a Euchre tournament each time we see each other. Lots of smack talk happens but ultimately, my parents continue to hold the title of "euchre champions"! I love being able to play even if it is just once a year. A great tradition when they come and visit us each time!


When Ben's parents arrived, we headed to Santa Cruz. What a beautiful yet, windy day! We played at the beach and some of us took a stroll down the boardwalk. 



We hung out until we got tired and then got some yummy icecream!  Good thing we had a yummy treat because we spent the next 3 hours getting home! This picture the kids were being funny. Grandpa Armstrong told Grandma to get a picture of the kids against the wall. So here they are against the wall!



Xander's baptism day was busy! We checked out the swap meet before heading to Xander's birthday party at the rock climbing gym. I spent more money than I wanted to on the party but in the end, it was worth it! With family in town it would have been hard to do a party yet alone plan it! Plus, Xander had such a great time. He was a natural climbing up those walls. Plus, Mia and Zoey both had a great time as well!




The actual baptism was awesome! Grandpa Porter spoke on baptism and CJ sang with her friend musical number. We had some technical difficulty but, whatever right? Sometimes that happens!


Xander had a great week! It was exhausting to me especially having to go right into starting school the next week but we did it, yay! Happy birthday to the greatest, smartest, kindest, and most handsomest boy in the world! We love you!





Friday, June 20, 2014

The Kiddos

Xander never ceases to amaze me! His class voted him "funniest" person in the class. That really surprised me until the teacher said that Xander trys to make people laugh when they are sad. And that is spot on! He is so kind and aware of others and their feelings. As he walked up to get his award and came back to his seat, he walked like a T-Rex with tiny arms. The class all laughed. 

CJ was such a trooper! One week she had oral surgery where she got out two of her wisdom teeth and a chain was put on an impounded tooth that had not come through yet. The idea is that they hook that chain to the wire of her braces and slowly over time bring that tooth down. She was amazing and the oral surgeon was very impressed with her. A week later, she got braces. Her appointment was 2 1/2 hours long! Crazy! I think she looks super cute in them. She says she likes her smile better with braces.

Mia is busy working on birthday gifts. Here she is busy sewing a United States flag for Zoey, our Fourth of July baby. She was so clever that with the "free foot" that allows you to go all over the fabric, that she made stars. She is super thoughtful and she just has to have a gift for everyone on their birthday.  Birthdays are special with Mia!

Zoey loves butterflies so much! We went to the Academy of Sciences in San Franscisco a couple of weeks ago. They have a rainforest that you can go through and at the very top, there are oodles of butterflies flying around. If you are lucky, you can get one to land on your hand. Zoey is obsessed with butterflies! So much so that her birthday party this year is all about butterflies and well. . .some insects too because she's got a lot of friends that are boys. Every day she asks when her birthday is. She just loves her birthday. Now that I think of it, all of my kids love their birthday!

How can I forget about my biggest kid? Ben has been wanting a Playstation 4 for the longest time. I haven't been wanting to shell out the $500 for it especially since we just bought a house. Well the other day, Ben got a letter from Advanta stating that he was entitled to part of a retirement settlement. Ben worked there for 5 years and he thought he would get .30 cents or something like that. Turns out he got $500! Just enough to buy the Playstation 4! His dreams came true and I can continue to be husband less on Thursday nights when he plays online with his other 30 something year old homies.

Oh life is good!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Surprise! It's a Party not a dinner!

Oh birthdays. . . I love them! My birthday. . . Historically not always great. I started getting sad the day before. I told Ben not to do anything because I've been feeling poor with buying a new house. Even though, I really didn't want him to spend money on me, I kinda got sad that I wouldn't be doing anything for my birthday. Then I bought my birthday cake because it was convenient. And even though I really didn't mind getting my own cake, I started to get sad that "I got my own cake." Same with my birthday present. 

Then I decided that I was going to ask Ben to maybe write me a note. You know something that doesn't cost money. Then we started to talk about my birthdays because they normally stink. And I told him excluding this year (because I want to save money) I want to do something fun on my birthday that I don't have to plan. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money either. Like going to the park or a bike ride or something like that. 

Anyways Ben says defensively," you're getting depressed about your birthday and it hasn't even happened yet!" Fair enough.

My birthday arrives and my friends take me out to breakfast. That just made my day! Then Ben decides to take the day off from work and I got to go to the temple something that I really needed to do. I stop by Old Navy on the way home and spend some of my birthday money. Xander plays "Happy Birthday" to me on the piano and we have some yummy cake. All in all, a good day.

Saturday arrives and I have a photo session that evening. Ben sets up a dinner with another family which never happens. I was a little suspicious about it all but with all the selling and buying and packing of a house that was going on, I didn't press it too bad. I literally couldn't even think straight. I was so late getting back from the photo session. Fourty minutes late, that doesn't even qualify for fashionably late or Mormon standard time. It qualified as embarrassing and rude.  I couldn't believe I had made that family wait.

I arrive at the house to see another friend's car in their driveway. "Oh great!" I thought. Yet another family I made wait. I open the door and a giant group of people say, "Surprise!" It was a surprise birthday party for me and I had no idea. The best surprise birthday party ever!



It was great because all of my dear friends were there and we would be moving the next weekend. I loved it!

So I guess my birthday wasn't so bad and I guess 37 isn't so bad either!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

M.I.A.

The title says it all!  We have been Missing In Action in the big wide world of blogging.  So much has happened lately that I cannot wait any longer or I will get very behind.

DISNEYLAND 




We went to Disneyland! We went around Presidents' Day hoping that the lines wouldn't be that bad. And they weren't! The longest line we waited in was for 2 hours for the Cars land racers. The rest of the rides were 30 minutes or less. In fact, since we got on rides so quickly we decided to see some shows and meet princesses, things we normally don't use our precious time for. So in 2 days we pretty much rode all the rides that we wanted to.




After getting our fill of Disneyland, we headed to Hunington Beach. I love the beaches in California! We had a great day chillin' at the beach. 




FIELD TRIPS AND SCIENCE FAIR

I always try to make it a point and go on at least one field trip a year with each child. I've done that since CJ started school. This year I went on a walking field trip to the local fire station with Xander's class.



I always love it when I see my children so excited that I am there with them. They love school and love it when I am there seeing the things they do and participating.


went to the theatre with Mia and we got to see professional dancers perform and teach us about dance. I am truly amazed at how many field trips my kids go on in a year. When I was teaching school, we only went on one, maybe two if the other one was a walking field trip and didn't require a bus. Here, they charge the parents however much they need. I've had to pay up to $12 for my child to participate. In Utah, we couldn't charge the kids anything. It all came from PTA funds. Maybe it's just California.




The science fair was epic! Xander and Mia both came away with medals for first place in their grade level.  Every year, I think my kids are going to be disappointed because, really how long will this winning streak go on for? Every year I never have to deal with their disappointment because they keep winning!

SOCCER



This year I signed Xander and Zoey up for soccer. Soccer is awesome! I wish I would have signed Xander up sooner. When he was 3, we did the Kids Love Soccer program and even then I thought he showed some talent for the game. 



But then we got involved in baseball and taekwando and didn't come back to the game until now. I'm so glad we did. I love the AYSO program. I also love his pinky finger up in the air as he kicks!



Zoey is having fun although she really had a rough start. She screamed her head off the first day and refused to participate. I had to hold her hand the entire time. 



Then around game 2 or 3, she decided that she really liked soccer. She told me before we left for soccer, " I'm so excited to play soccer today! I'm not going to cry,  I'm going to be brave!"


Since then, she has done great!

GOODBYE HOME! HELLO NEW ONE!

The biggest news right now is that we are selling our home and buying a new one. We put our home on the market at the beginning of April.  Within a week, we had a buyer! We had 10 offers on our home, all over asking price.  Since there is a low inventory on houses in our price range we pretty much got to set the terms and asked for a 45 day close and 30 day rent back. We narrowed it down to two offers and sent out a multiple counter offer. We ended up getting what we needed and the offer we accepted offered a 30 day rent back for $1! 

That gave us plenty of time to find a house. After getting under contract with our house we set out to find a new home for us. There weren't many houses on the market at that time that fit our specifications which were 4 bedrooms and at least 1600 sq feet in our price range. We were looking for a home we could spend at least 10 years in.

We stumbled upon a house near where we live now, that was out of our price range. I had been watching the market for a couple months now and noticed that this house was overpriced and thought, "well maybe we should check it out".  So Ben and I did. The house was a flip and completely remodeled and we didn't understand why it wasn't selling. We asked our realtor if we offered $50,000 less, if that would be a total joke? He said,"No" and also told us since it had been on the market for so long, we could make our offer contingent on our house selling. 

They came back with a counter offer, of course asking for more money. They asked for $25,000 more. I thought about it and thought, that's pushing it.  We better play safe and just reject the counter offer. I sent the email telling our realtor that we were declining the offer. Then i just laid on my bed thinking about it. The more I thought about it the more i really wanted this house. It was 2500 sq feet-bigger than we ever dreamed we could afford and it would fit our family comfortably. Ever other house we looked at couldn't compare and were about 1000 sq feet less!


(The picture isn't great, I just took it this morning on a run)

I talked to Ben and I told him that we should look at our finances more closely and see if it was something we could do. I emailed our realtor back and said to hold off on our rejection. Ben and i spent a couple hours crunching numbers. Ben just recently got a wonderful raise from work but since it was so recent, we didn't know how much more per paycheck he would actually get. Once we figured it out, we realized that the raise that Ben had gotten, would be enough so we could accept the counter offer and afford the monthly mortgage payment.

I could see the Lord's hand in everything. He provided a way for us to get this house. I have no doubt. 

Our realtor had gotten an email from the seller's agent saying that they got another offer and wanted to do a multiple counter offer. Well the seller's agent is very sloppy with his work and failed to send paperwork out voiding the counter offer they sent us. So when we signed the counter offer document, we were technically under contract.

For three days, we had no idea if we were really under contract. The seller's agent was angry because the other offer they had received was bigger. The broker's on each side were trying to work it out and finally the seller's buckled and we were officially under contract!

Had the multiple counter offer been sent out, there is no way we would have gotten this house. We offered the most we could and could not go higher.

We have been so blessed! This house is only a mile and a half from the one we live in now and is in all different schools than what we have now. Once I got over that and accepted that it will be okay for the kids. I began to realize things work out for a purpose that we can be very happy in this home and that it is big enough to be a 20 year home, not a 10 year one that we thought we would get.

Phew! I made it through the major stuff. I have been slacking on the blogging lately. Once we get settled into our new home, things will be better I'm sure. I can't wait!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Boo-yah!

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This is Mia's reflection entry for this school year.  I took her out to a place across the street where I've shot some amazing pictures.  I have taken a picture of this same tree but in my shot, it is of the tree alone.  I was amazed at how Mia framed her picture.  This picture is actually taken a good distance away from where I had shot my picture and because of her perspective in her picture, she got tips of trees and other foliage.

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Well. . .her entry was sent to Districts AGAIN!  I cannot believe how much this girl wins.  I feel like every year I'm blogging about the same story but it is true.  Mia is just really talented and I love helping her discover her talents and helping her in anyway.  She doesn't realize how big it is getting to Districts.  Each school judges and sends their entries onto the next level.  There are over 30 schools in our district alone.  From there, the school council judges the entries and chooses which entries make it to Districts.  In Mia's age group and category, there were only 5 entries.  I am still so amazed that Mia has made it to Districts 3 years in a row!  Amazing!

And if that wasn't enough. . .BOO-YAH. . .science fair!  Well that's what Zoey would say.  She's been saying boo-yah alot lately and it is the cutest thing ever!

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Mia and Xander came home yesterday so excited with how their science fair presentations went.  They have to present their science projects to the judges.  Mia said hers went so well and that she had to do it twice to two different judges.  Xander said they said his was "brilliant"!  He was so cute presenting his project on how the body moves.

Today was the night where the parents were able to come and see all of the projects and the announcement of the science fair winners.  Mia got all dressed up and put lipstick on.  She was ready!

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The time came for the announcing of the winners.  Xander and Mia both won first place in their grade level and Mia's is going onto the District science fair.  Unbelievable!

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Christmas

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December was a great month for our family!  We were very busy but still squeezed in our family traditions. We added making gingerbread houses out of graham crackers to our family traditions this year.  Mia made one for Activity Days and so everyone was super jealous.

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We also made our traditional ornaments for our tree.  This year we used glass ornaments and the kids could paint them or stick things inside them.  Zoey loved sticking things inside hers.  She had so much glitter and beads and other things inside her ornament, I didn't think it was going to stay on the tree, but it did!

I also made ornaments for my friends this year with their family pictures in them.  Since my friends are so nice and hire me as their photographer, I have many of their pictures.  I copied the pictures on a transparency and rolled it and stuck it into the glass ornament. The hardest part was getting the right size circle to fit in the ornament.

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We did our sibling secret santas, and we encourage our children to look for opportunities to serve each other.  Service is something that I would like to focus more on.  Service to each other and those around us. I want them to see how serving others and making those around us happy can bring us true happiness.  We had a wonderful experience this holiday season.  I've been wanting to find a family who could not afford to go to Disneyland and give them tickets so they could.  We found a family and I wanted to give it to them with our whole family present so they could see what happiness comes from doing something for others. It was a great and special moment.  The family we gave them to were so happy,especially the mother.  I learned that Disneyland is the "happy place" that this mother envisions when she is going through a tough time.  There young family has experienced so many trials and it was wonderful to give them something that would bring them some smiles and happy times.

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After Christmas, we headed to Utah to visit Ben's family.  His parents just moved recently so we got to see their beautiful new home.  It's huge!  Well everything is huge to our family who lives in about 1100 square feet.  It's funny because when we go to someone's house that is just a normal size house, my kids ask if it is a mansion.

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We really had a wonderful time visiting with family.  I love that there are always someone for my kids to play with when we come and visit.  I got to take some pictures of Ben's brother and his family as well as his sister's twins, who are so adorable.  I really miss his family and appreciate them so much more living away from them.  They are a great bunch of people!

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I squeezed in a visit with one of my friends from Alameda who moved to Utah about the same time we moved to Concord.  We also got to visit some of our long time friends that we have known for over 10 years now.  We are very lucky to have such wonderful family and friends.  I'm excited for 2014!  It's going to be a great year!

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