Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving in December!

Each year my blogging skills get less and less impressive. But I will keep trying because the fate of my "Family Yearbook" depends on it! And that is something that I love making each year. 

This Thanksgiving we decided to stick around and have dinner in our new home. We invited anyone from our new ward who didn't have a place to go to come to our house. That could have been an "invitation of masses" and surprisingly went the other way! Everyone seemed to have a place to go! Luckily, I still had friends in our old ward who came over.

Let me just tell you, this is the way to do thanksgiving. We had the Lemieuxs and two of the Lenininger family over and we just split everything up! It was awesome and not hard at all and not a burden to any one person. 

So, invite a ton of people to thanksgiving dinner and spread out the assignments and it will be grand!

Before the dinner, we organized a turkey bowl game. I was wondering how that would turn out especially since our track record wasn't so great. The first year we tried to organize one it was Ben, our brother in law and one other person. It ended up being the best we ever organized. There were about 22 people and I even got to play a little.

The kids and I made table decorations which was really quite fun. We gathered things from our backyard that was fall like. I couldn't believe at all the things that we found. From pinecones to pine needles to leaves and cool green spikey things, we had the best table decorations.

The turkey cooked nicely. I was so nervous about it since I was cooking it for other people. I think turkey is overrated. I really think that chicken has a better taste. We had a ton of food and pies!
 We stuffed ourselves and then the grownups got to play games. BEST. THANKSGIVING. EVER.

Friday, September 26, 2014

It's almost October by golly!

I can't believe how quick time flies! It's almost October and from there on out the rest of the year will become a blur.  Since school has started, I have never felt so busy and exhausted. Maybe it's because we no longer live across the street from the highschool and I now have to pick up CJ every day and two days a week she gets out at different times or that Xander is in soccer and scouts, or that Zoey is in kindergarten, gymnastics and dance, or that Mia is taking piano lessons now.

Whatever it is, I am so busy that the three hours that Zoey is gone feels like minutes. In my garage, pieces of furniture that need refinishing and painting remain untouched, books I swore I would read when the kids started school remain unread, or the genealogy I was going to do remains undone.

I do try to squeeze in some photography work here and there or a workout.  I do feel like I am in the car ALOT taking kids here or there. Mom Taxi. . . that phrase is so true!

CJ tried out for her first school play, although she didn't get the part I think she learned a lot and I hope she tries out for the spring play. I was so proud of her for trying. It takes a lot of courage to do what she did.

She also had a sad unforeseen loss in her life. Her friend from church, seminary and school passed away suddenly.  It was so so so sad.  It was amazing how the community came together to buoy up and support this family.  I know that there were many prayers on their behalf from friends, family and from people they didn't even know. CJ is doing well now, she had some rough days. It's been tough on all the youth in the stake.

I took his last professional pictures and I enlarged it and framed it for his family for the funeral. I was glad I was able to do something for the family because it breaks my heart. My heart aches for them. I love photography for many reasons but one of the biggest reasons why I love it, is being able to capture a moment. Moments come and go and they are never the same.  When you take a picture you capture that moment which will never happen again. And then with that picture, you can enjoy and relive that moment again and again and again. His mother, my friend, appreciated this gift because as she said, this is how she will always remember him. . . alive. Ironically, the outfit that I photographed him in was the one he was buried in. Photography brings me happiness and I am so happy that it can also bring peace and comfort to my friends.

Mia is taking piano lessons right now.  I love having a piano! It's great because Mia comes home and teaches Xander and Xander teaches Zoey. Her anxiety causes some frustration but hasn't been an issue which I am so grateful for.

Xander is playing soccer right now and is a superstar. I am always amazed how talented he is on the field. He's not the fastest. He's not the most skilled. He's not aggressive. But there is something about him that makes him very successful on the field. He analyzes and anticipates his opponent's move. He also really uses his head thinking about the best place to throw in the ball or to kick it.  It's like if you have ever seen a show on TV where the person throughts are written on the screen. I can envision Xander's thought process all over the place with arrows, formulas, and foresight.

Zoey is doing dance and gymnastics and is loving kindergarten. In fact, the first day of school that I picked her up she was so mad at me because I wasn't picking up Xander and Mia as well.  That they got to stay longer. She wants to be a big kid so bad and do everything her siblings do. She loves doing gymnastics and dance.  I enjoy her so much! She is my sunshine and I like having time with just her before the big kids get home. She loves to read and be read to. 

We are enjoying our new home and it's feels like we have lived there longer than four months but that is all it's been. Life is good. So good!

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


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.


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. 


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!


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!


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!