Saturday, January 30, 2010

8 Years ago. . .


8 years, 5 months ago. . .

My friend invites me to her work party at Lagoon. I meet Ben for the first time. He is sent there with specific instructions to check me out for his friend, whom I'm supposed to be set up with the following week. Ben has another girl from Kentucky, who likes Ben right away and follows him around the entire time. I invite him to my house for a game night with other friends. He brings CJ. I notice what a good Dad he is and how his daughter adores him.

8 years ,4months and 3 weeks ago. . .
I go on a blind date set up by my same friend that I went to the work party with. Ben is there with another date. Ben's date doesn't talk to him the entire time. I adopt him and have 2 dates that night. I tell my friend after, that I like Ben better and that she should tell him to ask me out.

8 years, 4 months and 2 weeks ago. . .
Ben still hasn't called me, so I take matters into my own hands and email him. Turns out he was out of town with a friend. We email back and forth. I learn alot about him. He invites my friend and I to hang out at his place. I somehow end up with his sister's neckless. I come by the next day to return it, but he's asleep. Bummer.

I invite him to come to my classroom. He teaches an art lesson to my first graders. We hang out again and I play him in basketball (I played basketball alot at that time and really liked guys who played sports) I beat him. I decide I still like him.

8 years, 4 months ago. . .
I plan a trip to the Grand Canyon. I invite Ben. I also invite two other guys who I find out later like me too. We have fun. I choose Ben to ride home with. He holds my hand. When we get back, he asks me on a date, officially.

8 years, 3 months and 3 weeks ago. . .
He calls me his stalker. I go on a double date with Ben and his friends from work. We kiss for the first time. He says I kissed him. I say, he kissed me. He just says that because, it goes along with his stalker theory.

8 years, 3 months and 2 weeks ago. . .
I'm invited to go with Ben and his family to his grandmother's cabin in Cascade. His mom calls me Ben's girlfriend. His grandmother introduces me as his fiance. After the trip, we decide I can be his girlfriend.

8 years, 3 months and 1 week ago. . .
Ben says, What do you think?" I tell him, "I think I could marry you." Ben doesn't run away and I surprise myself for saying that.

8 years, 3 months ago. . .
Ben gives me a promise ring. I watch CJ while I am off track (in year long teaching terms, that's time off). I like hanging out with her. Ben and I get engaged. We drive 26 hours to Michigan with CJ so my parents can meet him. They treat CJ like their granddaughter.

8 years, 2months ago. . .
We plan our wedding in 3 months. I drive people crazy.

8 years ago. . .
Ben and I get married by his grandfather in the Bountiful Temple. CJ is the miniature bride and is so cute. I feel lucky that I found Ben and convinced him to marry me.


Let me just tell you, that dating Ben was the easiest relationship because we were so open with each other and told each other what we thought instead of making the other person guess. We saved alot of time. Also, when it's right, things just work out.

This year, my mom flew into town and watched our kids so we could go out for our anniversary. Ben and I went to see Wicked in San Francisco.


We ate at a very delicious Mediterranean place beforehand. I'm convinced that the smaller and dumpier a place looks, the better the food. Their food is so good, why spend money on the surroundings?

People will come.

If you make delicious food, people will come.


The show was amazing and we loved the songs and story. I loved the personality of each of the characters and how the story connected with the Wizard of Oz one.

We had a great time!

8 years down, only an eternity to go!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Once there was a snowman. . .


Grandma Armstrong came to visit us this past weekend. We took a drive up to Mt. Diablo and this is what we found at the top:


SNOW! Tons of wonderful snowball worthy snow just waiting for the kids to play in. Xander and CJ had a snowball fight right off the bat. I think Xander really enjoyed pelting CJ with snowballs because this was the first time he could throw things at his sister and not get yelled at (Xander is in the "I want to hit or poke my sisters just for fun, all day" stage).

We built a snowman and played for a little bit. We were sad that Mia missed out, she stayed home with Ben because she was sick. We decided to bring some snow home to her.

Once there was a Snowman

Snowman, Snowman


Once there was a Snowman who lost its face.

In the sun he melted, melted, melted


In the sun he melted but not entirely!


Yay! We had enough for Mia to play with and make her own snowman.


I love the fact that we can just go to the snow when we want to play in it and that we don't have to live in it. My kids on the other hand, would love to play and live in it.

Oh well. . .I win.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oh to be a Tween!


These are the signs on CJ's door. They aren't her first. I noticed her first one on a little suitcase of hers that read, "Do Not Open. Bomb inside. Will Explode." Something to that effect. I had to chuckle. Then, the signs on her door. Thank goodness for Martin Luther King. Because of him, CJ is not race-es.

At Christmas, CJ's aunt gave her a gift card to Walmart. She found the perfect gift for herself. It was a secret diary with voice activated password. Also, inside, she used a special pen that only works with a special light that is hidden. If a person was to infiltrate the system, he or she would only see blank pages. She loves this diary. The only problem is that she changes the password so often, that she can't remember what it is.


Another thing that just cracks me up is the 5th grade drama that I hear about everyday. Today I found out that Paul, the boy CJ likes was showing off today and CJ decided to ignore him. I just found out that this is probably CJ's first "boyfriend". I thought he was just her crush, when CJ told me this, "Paul said we broke up today but I just call it temporarily not speaking to him."


CJ is also in her 5th grade play. I'm so proud of her because she wasn't going to try out for a speaking part because she thought it would be too hard. She wanted one of the lead roles, but got a smaller part. I love that she was willing to try.

I can't believe how much homework she has at this school. She works on homework from the time she comes home until it is time for bed, with only a few little breaks. If 5th grade is like this, I am not looking forward to the homework she is going to get in middle school.

Some days CJ giggles and laughs at everything. Some days CJ crys at the drop of a hat. Some days CJ wants to sleep all day. Can this be happening so quickly?

I just need to remember that I was a kid once too, and that it's tough being a kid.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kitchen Redo

It's been SO much fun decorating our new home! I've had to tell myself to slow down because I just want to do EVERYTHING all at once! And, it all adds up. So remember our kitchen?


The cupboards and counter top aren't the greatest and the flooring was quite gross, but it will be a long time before my dream of getting new everything comes true. Too many other things are more important and more of a necessity.

So I decided to redo the kitchen without spending alot of money. I just wanted to make it a place that I enjoy looking at and being in, since I'm in there what seems all day. Yeah, my kids eat non-stop!

About 150.00 later. . .


We painted, replaced the ugly flooring, and replaced handles on the cupboard doors.

AFTER. . .
AFTER. . .

I love it! Now, I'm thinking about how to accessorize it.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mia's Project

Mia spent literally all day one Saturday working on this project. She meticulously cut each piece and taped and glued until this masterpiece was completed. When we asked what it was, she replied, "It's Dad!".

Don't you see the resemblance? The bunny type ears gave it away for me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

6 Months Already?


Dear Zoey,

I can't believe you are 6 months old! It seems just like yesterday I was holding you in my arms after giving birth to you thinking how blessed I was to receive this little gift from God. I keep telling people you are the "perfect" baby, because you are. The only baby not allergic to milk, the only baby to sleep through the night at 2 weeks, the only baby who doesn't scream. . .


You let Xander torment you with love. His poking and proding doesn't phase you at all. You just take it. You let Mia attack you with motherly kindness and let CJ throw you around like a toy.

And when Dad and I have had a bad day or are exhausted from everything, you give us the biggest grin that makes us feel so loved and appreciated.


You make me so happy in so many ways. I love seeing you roll over and grab everything in sight. I love feeding you baby food and love how you seem so big. You sit up like a pro now and play with all of your toys like it was no big deal. Like, you've been doing it all along.

Thank you for being my little angel.

Love you,


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Just like. . .




Caleb and Abby began strong with sanding and painting, but I think the cold got to them. Yeah, it was like 50 degrees and they were freezing. What state are you from? In the end, Kathy, CJ and I worked on some projects. Kathy proved to be a super star at this kind of stuff and even helped me on mine. One thing I learned is to sand the heck out of your piece.

I'm horrible at remembering to take before pictures. This is the best one I can find right now. Kathy did the box in the back and I did the table. I don't have a before picture of CJ's chair.

Here's what they looked like after:



Ben and his Dad took on the incredible task of replacing the bathroom floor. The inspector told us before we bought the house, that the floor would have to be replaced because there was mold. He said it would cost about 1000.00 to do the job. Ben and his Dad did it for about 125.00! Thanks Joe for helping out over the phone. Truely amazing men!

The original floor was disgusting and so I didn't have a picture of it, but Ben said I should've taken it so you could see the improvement. Once again, I stink at taking "before" pictures.

You can see in the corner what the original looked like.





We drove up to the summit of Mount Diablo and had a picnic lunch. We hiked a little and froze a little.



I love this picture of Kathy and Zoey. Kathy you're a babe! Zoey you're my angel!



We didn't know anyone enough to play some pranks on but I think this could be considered a Russell and Betsy day. They are always off on adventures.


We went to San Franscisco on BART. I think Mia called it "FART". Once in San Fran, we took the trolley to Fisherman's Wharf.


On the trolley ride, Xander fell asleep on Abby's lap. Her ride was a little bit warmer than the rest of us.


Xander peed on Abby's lap. He wasn't phased at all by the experience. He was happy to wear my sweatshirt while Grandma dried his undies and pants in the restroom.


Abby on the other hand may be scarred for life.


We walked around Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Grandpa bought some yummy donuts to share and then we went back on a streetcar. CJ was so excited to have gone on BART, a trolley and streetcar all in one day! Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Porter!

Just like. . .ABBY AND CALEB

We didn't hit any shoe stores, but I think an Abby day would be better spent at the beach. We didn't make it this time around, maybe next time. We did get some icecream at Ghirardelli Square, a Porter family tradition. It's either that or Fentons.


Earthquake baby!


Seriously a minute later. . .

I was waiting for someone to lick the plate!

Just like. . .SARAH AND SCOTT

Finding the best deals around time is probably more a Sarah thing than a Scott thing to do. We got a prelit 9 foot Christmas tree at 50% off for next year since the one we have used for about 8 years pretty much toppled over during the Porter's visit. I also got this cute snow globe for 75 % off. Mia was so sad that Xander had broken my snow globe ornament (one I got from a student years ago that said, "Number One Teacher"). The kids loved watching "The Santa Clause" and pretended they had a snowglobe just like the boy in the movie did. They would get the ornament/snowglobe out and play with it while watching the movie.

Mia cried when it broke and I told her I would get her another one. So when we found one, she was delighted.


We loved having Ben's family visit and can't wait to see everyone again! We'll be making a trip out to Utah in June to see Toy Story 3 on opening day, so if anyone wants to join us you're welcome to join the party.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Memories

Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year! I love the smells, the decorations, the music, and the overall feeling. Most of all, I love spending the holiday with my family. I think holidays are 10X's better when you have kids. It's entertaining just watching them.

One thing I think about often, is what kind of memories my kids will have someday of their childhood. What things will they remember? What things will they forget?

Christmas breakfast, making sugar cookies with Mom, b-day cake for baby Jesus, countdown calender, Christmas ornaments from Aunt Valerie and Uncle Clyde, buying presents at Santa's Workshop for Mom and Dad, going on the train to see Santa, buying presents for siblings. . . these are some of my memories.

I forget alot of things, especially little details, but I remember feelings. This memory always makes me feel good inside and loved. Times were financially tough this particular year. My father had gotten hurt and had to retire early. My Mom became the breadwinner of the family. That Christmas, someone anonymously brought presents for each of my family members. I don't remember what everyone else got, but I got a green sweater. I remember feeling a little embarrassed everytime I wore it. I was a teenager and thought that wearing it shouted "Poor Person" to everyone who saw it. I got over it and wore it anyway.

The part of this memory that I will always cherish is that the next Sunday, which was fast Sunday, my mother, who is quite shy in front of crowds, got up and bore her testimony and thanked whoever it was who brought us the presents. I remember crying when I saw my mother get up and listened to her testimony. That was the first and last time I saw my mother bear her testimony.

I want my children to have wonderful memories of Christmas that leave them with a warm feeling all over. I want them to know WHY we celebrate Christmas. I want them to love giving presents to others. I want them to love their Savior and have a testimony of Him. I want them to have fun and be happy.

As a parent, I want ALOT of things for my kids. Don't we all? That's why I love making Christmas traditions in our family. Here are some of our favorites:

*12 Days of Christmas: Scripture, Song, and Quote

I have a little jar filled with 12 strips of paper each with a scripture, song and quote. We read one for the first 12 days.


*Making ornaments
This year I was smarter and instead of making it a free for all and ending up with foot long ornaments, I gave more guidance.

I was thinking each year, we use a different medium. Maybe next year we will use beads and so on.

*Making Candy
After years of failure, Ben and I have found the perfect recipes.

*Present for Jesus
For a Family Home Evening activity, we write down something we can do for Jesus and give it to him as a gift. Like have more patience, or be nicer to siblings etc. We put them in a little Christmas box and put it under the tree and read them on Christmas Day.


*Sibling Gifts
One year, we had the kids earn money before Christmas and had them buy each other presents. Another year, we had them give one of their toys that they thought their sibling would like and wrap it up. This year, they used their chore money and bought their siblings gifts at the dollar store. They love buying gifts for each other. I think this activity shows them the most how giving is the best. We've also done it where they earn money to buy a present for someone who is not in our family and needs it.


We also had them tell what they love about each other. I didn't think to do it this year, but next year, I want to have them do it before they give their gift to their sibling.

*Bearing Testimonies
A couple years ago, I thought it would be cool to share testimonies on Christmas Eve. This might work better when the kids are a little older. This year, I shared my testimony here and there. It's important to me that I share my testimony and that my kids know that I have one.

*Christmas Breakfast
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love to cook. Let me rephrase that, love to cook for PEOPLE. I love making a huge breakfast. Reminds me of my childhood.

*Christmas Nativity
Thanks to my mother in law, Kathy, I have cute puppets to reinact the nativity with. The kids love it. This year, everyone fought over who got to be Mary.

*Christmas Chimes
Thanks to Sarah and Kathy, we have chimes that we do Christmas songs with. We are getting pretty good. Next year, we'll have Zoey to help us.


*Christmas Books
I have a basket of Christmas books that we read every day.

I have to laugh about this, but my kids love Hanukkah. I have a few Hanukkah books and we play the dreidl game.

Making memories with my family is SWEET. . .