Saturday, July 31, 2010

She's crafty... she gets around... she's crafty

So I wouldn't normally do this...
because there are about a zillion crafty blogs out there, and I would not ever imagine I could create anything 'blog worthy' to compete. But...
I just wanted to journal my newest turn out of my 'time saving' craft.

At first I was a bit ashamed of this, because I thought it took the thoughtfulness out of gift giving.

However I got the idea when I met Mike's mother. Anyone who knew her knows that she was about the most thoughtful person on earth. (At least that I have ever met!)
She never missed a person's birthday, she wrote a 'thank you' card for anything you ever did for her or gave to her. She was so 'on-the-ball' with that stuff I just hoped to achieve a tiny portion of it someday.
One day she told me that she had a 'gift basket' that she collected gifts for all year. She would always have gifts on hand to give. Mike said he remembered someone coming to the door with a gift for her, and she'd say "Just a minute..." and arrive back seconds later with a gift to give in return.

Like I said... some people might think it is impersonal... but I have found that I actually give a lot more, and can be more thoughtful, because I don't have the overwhelming task of running to the store every time I think of someone.

So I started picking up small gifts and getting enough on had to feel prepared for those unexpected moments. It truly is much more cost effective and very efficient.
One of my favorite places is Pioneer Party in Lehi. I went in for the first time about three years ago and now I visit a few times a year. They have the funnest and cutest assortment of gifts, and I get tons of ideas to go home and make things. (for about 1/3 of what I could buy them there!)




So I needed a couple gifts last week and decided to spend the day stocking up... making tags, wrapping, and putting together small gifts for my 'gift basket'. These are a few of my favorite...












My sis-in-law made me one year's worth of Visiting-Teaching-message-holders last year (two for each month) so that I can print out a quote, get a small treat, and throw it in one of these envelopes...

Now I just have to do better at being a consistent Visiting Teacher :(

She makes the absolute cutest gift tags, cards, and just about everything... she even sells them around Christmas. That's Talent!

So there you go... my secret is out! Hopefully this doesn't discredit my gifts... I hope all my loved ones know I still care about and think about them just as much (or more) than the rest... I'm just trying to simplify my life so I can try and be a better person!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bear Lake 2010


So we had our annual Bear Lake trip this past week. This year we had "the house" at the resort. Since we are getting so big... 20 of us were there... we got a little house all to ourselves.
We arrived on Saturday and got settled. That night the girls and Mike went swimming at the pool. The kids had a blast and wore themselves out.
The next day we went to church. Church is always an experience there. It's such a popular vacation spot, and sacrament is PACKED. If we don't go 30 minutes early, we end up in the primary or relief society room watching on an old television. It's like Stake Conference... but nice and short. This past week was 'raspberries days' and the 24th of July weekend. It was quite busy!

Then we decided to hike the Minnetonka Cave. We weren't able to hike Timp, so this was a fun cave to visit. Cori wanted to be a Geologist when she grows up, so she was fascinated by everything. It's kind of funny that we've gone to Bear Lake for the last 9 years and never visited. I'm really glad we went! (I just wish I could find a patch for the girls packs)

Monday we spent the day at the Lake. We got down there early and had a great spot. The morning and afternoon was nice and sunny. The air stayed cooler the entire trip... so it never got really hot. In the later afternoon a pretty big storm came through.
Lexi tried to ski, but a big storm kicked up. I'm not sure I could have even skied in those swells!
I braved the cold weather and went out in the lake to help her. (In my wetsuit, of course!) She's so awesome for even having the guts to get out and try in that weather.

Mike took the waverunner in and about died in the storm. In hindsight we should have just pulled it up on the shore and called it good. Luckily he made it safe.
The kids swam again that night at the pool... all the playing made for great little sleepers!

Tuesday was great weather. The kids tubed and got their fill of the Lake before we headed home that evening.

It was a fun... and busy... trip! I'm very grateful for the opportunities we've had this summer, but I'm so happy to be home, and not going anywhere for a while.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bountiful Baskets

I found a new co-op...


It's 1/2 fruits and 1/2 veggies. No meat... but I was struggling with the different cuts of meat from the other co-op. (I guess we are boring 'chicken breast' people!)
It's every other week instead of once a month. The food lasted two weeks, so it worked out just right.
There are options every month to buy other things... fresh salsa, tamales, flats of berries, bushels of fruit and more. Most come in quantities to share. If anyone is every interested, I would love to share some things!

Nothing better than cheap and healthy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Camping is intense... in tents

We spent the weekend up the canyon with Mike's siblings.
I haven't been sleeping well, so I went on a walk both mornings as soon as the sun came up. The first morning I walked with Lexi, and the second I walked by myself. There is nothing better than the mountains and everything being quiet. So peaceful! All I could hear was the river and birds. I wish I could start everyday that way!
This picture puts into perspective how huge the mountains around this campsite are...We got up there Friday evening and set up camp. After putting the kiddos to bed, we stayed up late talking.It's always great to visit with Mike's family... lots of great laughs... Bushman's childhood memories... Norm-isims... and memories. Since Mike doesn't remember his childhood (seriously) I think he especially loves being reminded of the great times he had growing up.We planned lots of activities for the kidlets... but as always, playing in the dirt and torturing ants seemed to be the best thing to occupy them.

They went on a scavenger hunt, made tie-died bandanas, made snack necklaces, did the Jr. Ranger workbooks, and there was a great family water fight!

We got laughs for our monstrous tent... and I gave Greg a hard time about his new portable condo... oh, I mean trailer. (So fancy pants!)
We kind of cheated on Saturday, came down the canyon for shaved ice and spent a bit in Greg and Anita's freezer box (aka their house) But we headed back up for another great evening around the fire.
It was a great weekend with fun people, awesome food, and fun times. I can't wait to do it again soon!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sophie's Birthday


So my sweet little Sophie turned 5. (Not to be selfish, but my baby turning 5 was quite a kicker for me!)

It's crazy to think that it wasn't that long ago when she was my 'stinker' who I struggled with on a daily basis. Her strong personality and stubbornness was just as dominant as mine... and the combination was difficult. But through some love, parenting books, workbooks, and class... and many prayers... she has changed dramatically over the past months!She is now my most sensitive child! She is so sweet and loving. She needs to be treated 'with care' and mimics the tone I take with her. So... if I am patient and loving towards her? She is patient and loving right back to me! It has been a wonderful year for her and for me.

She has taught me so much as a mother. I've always believed that she came to this earth pre-programmed with the knowledge of how to push all my buttons. Now I look at her and see a spirit who was probably my best friend in heaven. We are so much alike, and she has such a spunky little spirit! I feel so blessed to have her in our family.She had her '5 year-old friend party' this year. Since my kiddos only get friend parties at 5, 8, 12, and 16... this is a pretty big deal.

I really wanted to keep a tight budget for the event, and I was shocked at how far I stretched my $100 dollar goal. I'm obsessed with HGTV, so when they 'design on a dime' it gives me warm fuzzies! I tend to get the same fuzzies when I use my coupons, get a good deal, or save money.
The theme was 'Sophie's Carnival' and I made some digital invites (no envelopes). So here's the breakdown...
Invites: free

Bouncy House: free
Trampoline: free
Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game :$0.99

Snow Cone Machine: free (given to Lexi for her birthday 2 years ago)

Snow Cone Syrup: free leftovers
Ice: $3.50

Capri Suns: $8.00

Corn Dogs:$9.50

Soft Pretzels: $8.50

Nacho cheese: $6.00
Cotton Candy Machine (rental): $55.00
Face Painting: free
and of course... the Hose: FREE
Grand total... $91.49

It was a ton of fun, and all the kids were great! Cori and Lexi were awesome helpers, and they loved helping with organize the kids games.

I learned that not all children love silly string as much as I do, boys will get their face painted if it's a mean animal or there can be blood involved, I don't have any shade in my backyard, and a hose makes ANY game cooler! (literally)

That night for our family party, Sophie opened gifts from us. She got new clothes for Kindergarten, and told me last night when I was tucking her in "Mom... all my presents are very important to me.... even the clothes are important to me." Goodness I love that kidlet!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Subdued


Subdued: (adjective) lacking in vitality, intensity, or strength

This would be the word I could use to define myself more recently. I feel like I'm going through the motions... not necessarily unhappy or not content... just subdued.
I've been living on an average of 5 hours of sleep these days. Feeling like life is moving forward and I'm not quite present. I'm here, just not fully engaged. If my life were a painting I would be in muted watercolors... somewhere in the background. I feel transparent.
The strange thing is that it hasn't made me any less productive. In fact, waking up earlier than normal (and not being able to go back to sleep) has helped me get things done. I'm moving forward... but it's as if I'm a passenger.
I have busy weeks, busy days, and July is a crazy busy month. Maybe I will feel normal when things slow down a bit.
I do worry that my new philosophy of "fake it till you make it" is taking a toll. Being happy on the surface, putting a smile on, or just giving off the impression that everything is fine is supposed to get me through the time until it is all true.
All my laundry is clean... just sitting on the couches. Besides that... my house mimics my feelings. Everything seems okay on the surface, just don't look too hard.

Writing is my struggle against silence. Do I stay silent? I can try... but sometimes I have to write.

I want to fix it. I want to fix me, but I want to fix the things around me that I have no control over. In looking back, the last few years feel like a decade. The past 6 months feel like years and years.
So much has changed... my relationships with people, my feelings about family, my circle of friends, my testimony of the gospel, my faith... in people and myself. Some things have gotten better, and some have taken a turn in maybe a wrong direction.
So what happened?
I can remember a time... not that long ago... when I was in a real good place. A place with friends, a calling that I loved, I was loving myself... accepting myself. What happened? How did life take a turn... after all, I am the driver! (not a passenger)
I told Mike that I feel like I'm being punished. Punished maybe by God, by people who have abilities to help me, by some family, and by some friends... and truthfully by myself I guess.
There is a soft chair in my therapists office.. it's been calling my name for months. I just keep thinking things will get better. Accepting that they won't, feels like giving up.
So what the hell happened? I don't know.
I recently had an experience that took me backwards. I once again felt betrayed and mostly confused as to how I got in the situation. After trying so hard to move forward, I feel like I'm taking 1 step forward, 2 steps back. I'm not progressing... emotionally, mentally.
It's not like I have a horrible life. It's not like I have the struggles I see others going through. The fact is that my struggles and challenges cannot be seen. Which is why I feel the need to fake it. If my loss of faith in people showed as a monetary loss... or my feelings of betrayal were open wounds... or maybe if my pain were big scars on the outside of my body, it might be easier to deal with? or easier to get over?
For a long time I was scared of happiness. I didn't ever want to become comfortable. It was scary to let my guard down, because so much of my life was just surviving. I like chaos... it makes me feel safe. So I guess I grew comfortable over the past years. I let my guard down... let people in... trusted. I got complacent and my life became still. Now I'm trying to build up some type of safety net again. And as much as I'd like to give people the "benefit of the doubt" I've been knocked so far from what I thought I knew.
I can say that I'm not angry with God, we actually have gotten rather close. Mike and I are as close as ever, and I adore my children. Should that be enough? Am I reaching for things that shouldn't matter?
I used to believe the saying that when "God closes a door, he opens a window". I don't think that God closes doors on us. People close doors. And we can open a window... if we can find it. I just need to find my window before I lose myself in this room.

I'm so tired of disappointments.


Sand Hollow

So we ventured away from Flaming Gorge this year and opted for some warmer water. I am a real pansy when it comes to cold water, so I made a push to try something new.
Everyone teases us and call our tent the Taj Mahal... whatever!

(yes... this is Mike cooking our brawts with pliers... improvising!)

We got down there on Wednesday afternoon and set up our tent. It was quite warm, but cooled off when the sun set.We spent the next few days enjoying the 'red rock' and red sand. It was great! I thought the sand would stain everything but it didn't at all!


Addi collected shells!


Cori made some wicked cool drip castles!

The water was a whopping 77 degrees... I was tickled! One thing though... we pulled up and there was a nice sign that said "Swimmer's itch is ACTIVE" Fantastic! Mike and I just busted up laughing. Pretty much, there's a parasite that lives in the water. Less than 7% of people get it... up to 72 hours of itch, hives, etc. Luckily... we were part of the 93% who didn't have a problem!


Lexi and Cori both tried water-skiing. Lexi was determined to get up... but couldn't get skis legs to stay together. She was so close! I think by the end of summer she'll have it!
The kids tubed and played on the beach all day. Mike and I played on the Honda and I water skied. We threw the football and just relaxed. I LOVE the water... there's nothing better than a beach!
Lyssa says it all here! The last night there we had crazy wind. The Taj Mahal collapsed on us and we ended up in a dive hotel at midnight. Can't complain about a $60 room! We tried 5 hotels... all were booked!
So the Taj Mahal already had a duct taped pole... but I'm afraid it's going to be deemed uninhabitable. It was a good tent... it's been a good ride!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Viva Las Vegas


We opted for a little vacation in Las Vegas to visit our dearest Dad/Hubby.

The girls were so patient with me... considering I wasn't the most patient with them. I haven't been sleeping well lately (4 hours of sleep), so I was doing my best to stay awake. I had to crank up the AC and blast my iPod. The girls only got to watch 3/4 of a movie the entire trip down.
I felt the need to prep the girls a bit before arriving in 'Sin City'. I don't realize how much of a bubble we live in, until we go somewhere with naked women everywhere you look.So the girls and I had a nice discussion about gambling, drinking alcohol, sex/nudity... even prostitution. It was a rather blunt, to-the-point discussion of what and why.
It was so hilarious to me that as I'm trying to make sense of why people throw away their money and make fools of themselves... Cori is helping me describe things. I was trying to explain gambling and she interrupts my childish sentence of "winning much less than losing"with PROBABILITY. "Yes... thank you Cori". Then I move on to naked women and the visuals of showgirls and she interjects INAPPROPRIATE and IMMODEST, stating "a lack of self-respect and self-esteem". Seriously?! Who's child is this?!
The sun was setting as we drove through the beautiful Arizona canyon. I had to pull of the exit... the only exit... and take a picture of the girls.
When we came up over the hill, Vegas was shining like the sunrise! I had the greatest little commentary right behind me. Sophie was snoring, sound asleep... then all of a sudden I hear "WOW! It's so bright and beautiful!" then a second later there were fireworks right off the freeway. "It must be a party here!!!" I seriously had to tell her to stop yelling at least ten times. She stated that she wanted "to stay here forever!" and she LOVED the "city of lights!" Honestly, she should do commercials for the visitors bureau... she'd do well.
We got to the Mandalay Bay and found our handsome geek... the hotel was full of geeks, but none as tall, dark, and handsome as mine! The girls absolutely loved our room and we got settled in. The views from our living area were amazing!

Here's a pic from Mike and I's room... of the pools... it was beautiful at night!
We had two separate bedrooms and bathrooms, a living room, dining room, and kitchenette.
My problem was that the first 5 hour energy drink I took didn't work... but the second one sure did!


The next day was a hot one! How hot you ask?! Wait...wait for it... 108 degrees. Ouch! We swam. That about sums the day up... swimming, more swimming, then a little swimming. What else do you do when it's 108 degrees? Lazy River, Wave Pool, etc. Fabulous.

The next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were the same. 108 to 109 degrees everyday. I have only one word in response to that... Swimming.

We had movie nights in the hotel room. Manicures, pedicures, and way too much junk food! It was some good girl bonding time.

I'm realizing that Cori is getting old. She doesn't have a 'full blown' attitude, but I get a sneak peek now and then. It usually comes out of nowhere... and involves a sassy facial expression. I saw it more then ever on this trip. I don't know if it's because she was being herded around with more kids than anyone else had. (There were very few kids there... but four of them in the same place was like a novelty. People pointed. I wanted to ask if they'd never seen a children before... or if in an intoxicated state maybe they couldn't remember what a child was?) Cori was treated like a baby, which I'm sure was annoying. Considering anyone under the age of 21 was a child... a 10 year-old is practically an infant!

Mandalay Beach was great. The only pool over 4 feet deep was the wave pool. It was perfect for kids. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the topless/adult only pool... but I'm curious to know if that pool was deeper. Can the general population not swim? Well, maybe they've found that silicon breast don't work as the best flotation devises.

Halfway through the trip we decided to take on a project. We wanted to search the beach and hotel for shapes that resemble letters... specifically the letters LAS VEGAS. (I've been wanting to do this for a few years now... tried to explain it at camp once, but people just look at me like I'm crazy... which is not far fetched.) I've always thought it'd be a great souvenir, combining pictures and the name of the vacation. You could also do it up in the mountains and spell your name. Eventually I would LOVE a collection of letters from all over the US and beyond. I think that would be cool. Anyways... here are our results...
It was a great trip... fun times and memories with the girlies. The only 'sin' we witnessed?... sizzling human flesh. I'll take my Utah weather and quit complaining.