Friday, January 31, 2014

January update

Normally life slows down after the holidays. This year it seems like it has sped up some. Some good things, some bad and some just busy.
A good thing was Ashley was on the honor roll and I got to come celebrate with her.


Notice her's been in the 70's and 80's here and hasn't felt like summer at all!

This month Taylor was reminded by his friends that another mousetrap car was due (he forgot).
He threw away the one he used the year before :(
The good thing was he saved the wheels and he was able to design this one more quickly than the one he made last year.
His procrastinating ways haven't been too bad for him...we found out this month that Taylor got accepted to UCR! He knew he was accepted to Cal State San Bernardino and he's waiting to hear from a couple more.
I asked him if he's excited and he said "Oh I forgot I got accepted" Ha ha, I think its hard for him to be thinking about college when he's still in the middle of his high school year.
This month I had the opportunity to speak at the Saturday Session of our Stake Conference (a regional church meeting).
My topic was Maximizing your potential as a daughter of god.
As I went through my tasks for the next couple of weeks I was able to study, ponder and reflect on the topic and my life and write notes down. I had notes everywhere! It was a process to get it all together and feel comfortable with it but it turned out in the end.

 Like any time when you are trying to do something good a lot of frustrating things happened in the middle of this. I got to the point where I started expecting it and would laugh to myself thinking "OK what's next!" The up side was I felt like I was being blessed even in the midst of these frustrations. 

 The first day after my invitation I had a visit from a guy that is going to do some needed repair work on the house. He gave me 2 hours of the worst case scenario and told me more than once if it was him he would move. Left me feeling unsettled for sure.
The next day Ashley and I were pulling out to go to school and we see something in the middle of the street. Ashley looked and said "Is that dad's ipad??"
He had taken off for work with it on the back of his car and it was laying in the street beat up and shattered.  The good thing was we picked it up before a car ran over it and we have insurance on it.
So ...its being fixed right now.

The next day Taylor got a street sweeping ticket. He left his car home for finals week and we all forgot about street sweeping day.
My friend tried to warn me but by the time I got home it was too late.
Our ticket count is now up to 3 :(

That same day was Ashley's 12th birthday and when I got to the school of course there wasn't any parking ...and of course by the time I walked from where I could park and back to her classroom the cupcakes all fell over, got frosting everywhere and looked like a huge mess.
Not appetizing at all.
So much for my Martha Steward attempt to have cute ice cream cone cupcakes :(

Luckily all her friends ate them anyway and didn't seem to mind that there was frosting all over the sides of them.
( I was ready to throw the rest of them in the trash but on our way off campus there were lots of willing takers to finish them off. )

That night Ashley got a gift from us and opened a couple of gifts her friends gave her that day. She had a lot of people wish her happy birthday and she said it was a great day at school. Her birthday was also her first opportunity to go to mutual (a youth group). She got to do a spa day that night and had fun.

We had so much going on that weekend that Ashley's much anticipated slumber party (with 2 friends) was having to be postponed a week so we took her to Famous Dave's for dinner instead.
She was sung to and had a giant ice-cream Sunday.


Friday night I had the Mother/Son Bingo night that I was in charge of at the elementary school. 3 days before the event we found out that our original photographer plans wasn't going to work out. This stressed me out at first, but then I started thinking.
I went home and toyed with and idea for souvenir photos instead of formal shots. I made a Bingo Night frame as a sample and we sold them for 3$ for a 4x6 and 5$ for a 5x7. One of the teachers took the pictures gave me the disk and I dropped them in the frames and they turned out just fine.
The bingo night turned out just fine too. Lots of people and we were pulling extra chairs and tables from every place we could find them. We probably had about 300 people and the food, snacks and prizes lasted until the end. This was our last big event of the year and I have to say it was a relief to have it over.

The next day was my talk. I woke up early while the rest of the family was sleeping in and went over it. The gist of it was maximizing your own potential as a child of God and not feeling less than by comparing to others.
I shared a story about when Jacob was a baby. We knew when Jacob was born that he would be short like his dad. We loved him as soon as he was born. What made it harder was that every time we went to the doctor he pointed out how low his growth was on the growth chart. The doctor always pointed out that he wasn’t even at the lowest level of normal. What frustrated me was we all knew that he would be low on the growth chart because the chart was made for average people. He would never measure up to the standards that the doctor had. It was impossible. His negative tone left me feeling deflated and not as able to just enjoy Jacob and appreciate him where he was.
Finally we went to a Little People of America Conference and I got a growth chart that was geared for people with Achondroplasia.  I gave it to my pediatrician and sure enough every appointment he commented that Jacob was right where he was supposed to me. The difference was having a growth chart that was right for him!
How many times do we put expectations on ourself that are unrealistic. Expecting yourself to be something that you will never be or comparing ourselves with others will only make you feel like a failure. The rest of my talk kind of expounded on this. I feel good about how it went and I got positive feedback but even if I hadn't I know that I tried my best.
Sunday was an open house to say goodbye to the Pendelton family. They are up in Utah now with a new job and a new life. But they won't be forgotten!
It was bittersweet but I'm happy for their family and it's a good thing for them.
This is our walking group. Even though Cindy's gone we'll keep walking. :)

It was fun because cousins were there as well as friends from the high school and the community. I heard a comment that this was the best stake activity they've had in a long time.
Saying good-bye to Jacob Pendelton.
Now we'll just have one more person to visit when we come up to Utah.

Since Monday was a holiday we had Jenae and Jolene come over Sunday night and spend the night for a cousin sleep over.

The foosball table got some use!

The next day I got them all donuts and took them to skyzone to jump.

Tahna then invited us to dinner that night. For not having any plans it ended up being a fun day off of school for them.
(You can barely see him but Taylor is in the mix too. His head in under Jenae's arm, he's hiding from my camera!!



That Friday Ashley had her much anticipated slumber party with Kate and Jenna. She got some fun presents..
they ate pizza and watched a movie...

and cleaned each other's feet with her new foot scrub and did foot massages.

Ashley loved it when it was her turn.
In the middle of the night it turned some.
Jenna went to bed early not feeling well. Ashley fell asleep early on Kate and left her feeling uncomfortable being the only one awake so she had her mom come get her.
Early in the morning Ashley was getting Jenna water, and cough drops and then more medicine. Ashley was a good host and even brought Jenna breakfast in bed.  Poor Jenna woke up miserable with a fever and a sore throat and not feeling well enough for any Saturday plans.
Then in the morning Ashley asked me "Where's Kate?" I guess she was asleep when she was picked up and when Ashley was roaming the house getting stuff for Jenna she was thinking Kate might be on the couch or the floor somewhere in the house and never found her. 
 "Great birthday mom" Ashley commented to me. Ha ha.
It was OK though we got Jenna dropped back off at home so she could rest and then had Kate come back over later and I took the girls to see Frozen and do a mall day. Ashley even got to buy a present for Jenna whose birthday was the next week. In the end Ashley had a good birthday.

This last Monday my washing machine started acting up. It had been leaving the clothes wet after a cycle and now it was giving me an SD warning which meant there were suds left in the machine. I was having to run the clothes through an extra spin cycle before I dried them and I knew something was wrong.
I did a plea on facebook for a good repair guy or any suggestions.
I got some advice to pull off the front panel and check the drain catch. I guess this is supposed to be done regularly and things can get caught in it and keep the washer from draining right.
Since I'm not strong enough to budge the washing machine at all I had to play contortionist to reach the screws in our dinky laundry room. I also had to play MacGyver and find a tool that would fit the bolt and then an extender to reach it...after lots of trys I got the cover off. 
After using pliers I wrenched the drain catch cover off because again I wasn't strong enough to twist it off.
(luckily I saw a picture of it on the internet)
Here was the drain catch and why the water wasn't draining!!
It was a nasty mess! My house smelled like a black swamp but it fixed the problem!!

This week I had the opportunity to do some jewelry making again including helping a ward member with some bridesmaids jewelry.
We are also planning for the upcoming Riverside Women's conference.
I used my photoshop again to make the invite.
At the women's conference we are assembling first aid kits for Jacob's eagle project.
As I am typing this we just received 11 boxes of supplies for it on the porch!
Jacob is very grateful for the friends and family that have donated money and supplies for his project. Thank you!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Years 2014!

Every time there is a close to a year I am reminded that it is a close to some things and a beginning to others. I have also learned it's hard to predict what a new year will bring.
The day before New Years I got to have lunch with one friend who is leaving (moving to Utah for new opportunities) and one friend who is back after living out of state for a couple of years. No matter how far friends wander it's nice to know you still have seems that the older I'm getting the more far flung friends and family get :)
New Years Eve Jeff and I went out to dinner with friends, then came home by 8:00 to pack up for our trip the next morning.
While Ashley Jeff and I were hanging out packing and watching a movie, Taylor and Jacob were at Knott's Berry farm celebrating with Cody and Kelzie.
Luckily the Cowdens brought the kids home because we were up in the morning driving to Vegas to meet up with the Olesons.  

They were flying back from Christmas with family back east and we cashed in on a time share deal we agreed to do and decided to meet up for a couple of days in Vegas.
Dean was very excited to see Ashley.
Virginia said it was something he was looking forward to on their trip.
While we were waiting to be able to check into our room we visited the Ethel M. Chocolate factory.
Not much to see except overpriced chocolate in the store because nobody was working in the factory on New Year's Day.
We went over and got M&M's instead and walked around the cactus garden lit up with Christmas lights.

Here we are trying to feed blue M&M's to a rabbit. It nibbled it and then moved on...

When we got to our hotel room in the Hilton Grand Vacation club it was amazing. Great view...

Appreciated by some more than others...

But we loved that it had a separated master bedroom, a full kitchen, dining room and huge couch and sofa bed that fit all the kids.
Very comfortable for our whole group to hang out at for game nights and when we wanted to stay in with the Olesons. We watched shows on the big projection screen TV (that took up the whole wall), and when the kids had to hang out in the room and wait for us there wasn't any complaining at all :)

When we walked outside our hotel to check out the town...
 we walked by the Paris...


And by the mini-Eiffel tower...

So we could see the fountain show at the Bellagio.

On the way back we in position to see another one.
Then we got Panda Express and played games and watched a movie in our room with the Olesons.


 The next morning the kids got to hang out while we did our obligatory time share speal. We aren't on the hook for a time share but it took up a big part of our day!

Midafternoon we met up with the Olesons and went to go to see the sharks in the aquarium.
I guess Jared had been bugging his dad to come see them for the past 3 years so this was the day.

It was kind of last minute so Jeff wasn't even thinking of the prices...ha ha. Vegas is like going to Disneyland, you are charged for everything. It all worked out OK though and it was cute aquarium and nice way to spend a couple of hours.
Taylor checking out the komodo dragon.
(He used to have a little rubber on from the zoo growing up. He named it Como and took it everywhere)

The fish were pretty cool and we were up close to everything.


Touching the sting rays...

All we heard the whole time was "ONE FINGER ONLY', the guy on the microphone telling everyone "Only touch with one finger!!!" You would think anyone touching with more than one finger was a criminal.

The jellyfish....

Sea turtles...

 and of course sharks.
That night Jeff and I cashed in on our free dinner and show tickets for listening to the time share presentation and Joel and Virginia got discounted tickets to join us. We had dinner at a great Italian place and then watch a fun variety show. The show was entertaining and family friendly, we thought our kids would've loved it.

 The next morning the Oleson's were planning on heading back to Utah. We decided to stop over at the shop that's featured on Pawn Stars.
There was a long line out the door to wait to get in...but it didn't end up taking too long.

It was interesting to see some of the thing they have featured on the show. Jeff got to get a glimpse of the old man who was working that day and we saw some really expensive watches and things under the glass.

Afterwards we headed up to my Aunt and Uncle's house. We haven't seen Larry and Renae for a couple of years so it was nice to catch up with them and have lunch with them. While we visited the boys played some games. Sadly this is the only picture I got! I should've got one with Larry and Renae.

We said goodbye to Larry, Renae and and the Oleson's and headed back to our hotel.
Since we didn't have any plans for the night we decided to see if we could buy some more discounted dinner/show tickets from the time share place. We got there just as they were closing and were able to get them. So we took the family to a great buffet that was included and back to the show.

Even two nights in a row it was entertaining.

The kids loved it more than we even thought they would. A great way to spend our last night there.

The next day before we headed out of town we drove over to Red Rock.
(Make sure to have plenty of gas when you go, we learned the hard way our last time that there is no gas for miles around)

This picture doesn't seem very impressive but the boys are actually sitting on a rock with a huge drop off right behind them.

When Ashley got in the picture she just wanted to stand next to the rock.

The most fun part was exploring. There really isn't a trail so sometimes we found dead ends. Taylor and Jacob got to this one and realized it was a big drop off so they turned around. I have to admit I was the stressed out mom that wanted everyone in sight and kept imagining injuries.

This is the view from the bottom, if the boys would've continued they would ended up with a big drop into a shallow pool of water lined with rocks.


Taylor only wished he had his rock climbing shoes! He found this hole to hang out in.


Ashley was pretty brave and wanted to go wherever the boys did.

And of course Jacob wanted to go wherever Taylor did.


I think Red rock was one of their favorite parts of the trip.


On the drive home our trip was topped of with Jeff and the boys doing the roller coaster at State Line. I guess the boys have never been.


All in all it was a great little trip.
When we got back home we had to get ready for going back to school, including finishing Ashley science fair project. I hate that every year they assign a science fair project due the day we get back from Christmas break.
Then I remembered its my last one ever to have to help someone with! Sweet!