Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood...

One beautiful, sunny afternoon...

Me and the girls sat down for a tea party with our brand new, FREE, set of china...

When suddenly, we looked out the window, and saw a lovely spider basking in the sunlight!

Well, we couldn't let the spider have all the fun, so we stepped outside into his incredible domain...

where we finished our lunch. And then, out of nowhere, an idea came!

We would not waste such a marvelous day! No! Instead, we would fill it with color and happiness!

So we pulled out the sidewalk chalk...

and we started to color!

And the art work just flowed through our little fingers, and before we knew it...

Our ginormous driveway was awash with mystical creatures and magical sights from the best imaginations this world has to offer!

And it was the best gift we could think of to give to the hero of this story... who had been stuck at work, at his boring old desk... ALL DAY, making money so that WE... could enjoy such a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

A Special day for a Special Girl...

By September 12th, Brooklyn being in full day Kindergarten was REALLY taking its toll on Lily. She was very lonely without her big sister. So lonely in fact, that about an hour after Brooklyn left each day, Lily would start asking if it was time to go outside and wait for Brooklyn to come home yet! My heart was breaking for the poor girl anyway, but when she started crying at her sister's departure on the 12th,  I decided to have a special day just for her. I asked her where she wanted to spend the day, and without hesitation, she shouted "THE ZOO!" So... to the zoo we went!

It took her all of 2 seconds to realize that she had me ALL to herself, and that made her VERY happy! Especially after I told her that she was the boss and I would take her wherever she wanted to go!

She dragged me around to see the dolphins and seals, then over to see the naked mole rats and the porcupine (who was very angry at me for taking his picture). After that we saw the alligators in the swamp, and even got to see the snakes eat their morning RATS! (Something that deeply disturbed Lily since she owns a pet rat... but after explaining the circle of life, she seemed to be OK with it!) After the rat encounter, we headed over to see the wild cats. We were lucky that they were all awake and quite active! I even got a picture of Lily mimicking the yawning tiger we saw!

After seeing so many fun animals, Lily asked for some macaroni and cheese. Lucky for me, there happened to be a place at the zoo that sold macaroni and cheese! We grabbed some lunch and then sat down to eat. But it wasn't long before...

This guy came around and started stalking us! He ended up eating over half of our fries and would get right up in our faces and bob his head until we fed him. It was a little creepy, but fun at the same time!

When lunch was over, Lily asked if we could ride the tram that does tours around the zoo. I agreed, and 2 hours later, after we had heard the whole tour and seen the whole zoo TWICE, she finally decided she was ready to get off and head home :)

We had so much fun together at the zoo and I am SO glad that I paused on all the things that I usually feel are important, to spend some quality time with my little Lily!

Lily's 1st Day of Preschool!

On September 9th, Lily started her very first day of PRESCHOOL! As many of you know, I teach preschool from my home. Last year I alternated teaching days with my friend Arielle, but sadly, she moved after the end of the year :( Lucky for me though, another dear friend of mine offered to co teach with me, and her little boy, Aiden, joined the class and has been an excellent little school friend for Lily!

Just like her big sister, I made sure to interview Lily at the beginning of her big day. It was fun to see the influence of her big sister on her answers.

After Lily was interviewed and both girls were dressed and ready to go to school, they said their goodbyes and Brooklyn hopped on the bus while we headed to the backyard for a few pictures.

Lily usually doesn't cooperate during photo shoots, but she seemed to know she was THE very special person of the day, and I was lucky enough to get this great shot of her before class started.

After taking pictures we waited for Aiden to arrive...and when he did, the party REALLY got started!

We learned about the letter A and about our 5 senses on day one, but really, most of the day was spent teaching them how to sit still, follow instructions, and hold a pencil :) They both did great though and are now super preschool pros!

When class was over, we waived goodbye to Aiden and then had a celebratory dance before we sat back to wait for Brooklyn to return home. It was a fun day and so amazing to be able to see my little one's progress and grow, right in my very own home!

Bike Rides and Birthday Parties!

On September 5th, Kevin packed his bags and flew out to Utah to participate in the LOTOJA (on September 7th) with his dad. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name, the LOTOJA is a one day, 200 mile bike race from Logan, UT to Jackson Hole, WY... Yup... CRAZY SAUCE!

I can't tell you much about the race because I wasn't there, and my dear sweet husband isn't much into details :) But this is what I do know: He had no hills to train on in Chicago, nor did he have enough time to train any where near the distance, but he made it! And he made it ALIVE thanks to his very buff and fit Dad who let him draft behind him for much of the way :)

I also know that Dell and Kevin started way before their slotted time (in hopes of finishing the race before it closed) and finished just minutes AFTER it closed! But because they were lit up like Christmas trees when they came riding in, the race staff still let them finish and gave them some pretty awesome medals for doing so!

Kevin told me afterward that the race was much more challenging than a marathon and that he never wanted to eat GU or any CHOMPS (blocks of scientifically altered sugar that are supposed to give you energy during your races) again for the rest of his life! The Monster Cookies that he and his dad survived on, however, have already been welcomed back in to his daily diet!

And while Kevin was off having fun in Utah...

We celebrated our little friend, Ellie's, Birthday at Jonamac Orchards! (Ellie is the cute little thing in pink standing behind Lily.)

It was a busy day because I was also helping to throw a baby shower that morning, but we had so much fun at the petting zoo, on the giant blow up bounce pad, on the barrel train, in the hay maze, in the corn pit, and drinking apple cider and eating apple cider donuts with the Booths and DaSilvas!

It was fun to have something to do while Kevin was away and was the perfect way to spend our last weekend before Kevin got home and Lily started Preschool!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Random Rest...

The rest of August followed it's usual bustle, which included, but was not limited to...

A cupcake social put on by the Relief Society. (I made those! Yay me!)

BYU football games hosted by the Booth family...

A new hair obsession the girls have that has forced me to be more creative...

Brooklyn, honing her diva skills...

And many other fun luau's and parties that I forgot to bring my camera to. August was a fun and exciting month and only the beginning of many more adventures in 2013!

Brooklyn's 1st Day of Kindergarten!

August 21st was Brooklyn's 1st day of Kindergarten! Building up to the event was quite a fiasco, but we made sure that her first day was special despite the problems we were having with the school. What problems you ask? Well, here is the short version:

The school decided to offer full day Kindergarten along with their regular half day Kindergarten (except full day would cost $2,000 and half day would be free). They told the parents that full dayers would be smarter and all that jazz, but because I felt the transition would be too hard and I wasn't about to pay for public school, we opted for half day. Well... we were the only ones! Which lead to a lot of pressure to switch over to full day, many conversations about how Brooklyn would be deprived and wouldn't be allowed to play on the recess equipment or participate in any arts programs, and some frustrating comments about my poor decision making being because I am a stay at home mom, as well as the awkward suggestion that if I can't afford it, why don't I put Brooklyn in ESL. Yeah... it was crazy!

Anyway, I was FINALLY able to surpass the office staff and talk to the principle who was WONDERFUL and kind and by the second week of school, had helped me to get Brooklyn in full day with her fees waived. But I digress... Here is what you really came here for. PICTURES!

Ever since Brooklyn started preschool I have been interviewing her with these questions. It has been so much fun to see how her answers have changed over the years.

Brooklyn is bused to and from school so we all got to say goodbye to her at the front door.

Daddy followed Brooklyn over to the school and got to stay for the first half of the morning. She was so excited when they finally arrived!

The school had everything organized and ready to go, including name tags for all the Kindergartners so that they wouldn't get lost and would receive help wherever they went.

Lots of parents came to show their kids into the school on their first day. Brooklyn just looked too small to be going to school whilst she was standing amongst them.

Daddy got to go into the classroom and see Brooklyn's cubby and desk before they ushered him out for a complementary breakfast and then sent him home...

where we all waited together for our little Brooklyn to come home. We picked her up at the door and Lily even bought her flowers to let her know how much she was missed!

Brooklyn had a GREAT first day of Kindergarten and has loved every day since!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kevin's Ordination

On Sunday, the 18th of August, We all headed over to our church building to see Kevin called and ordained to be in the Bishopric.

It was such a blessing to have Kevin's parents there to not only support him, but so that Dell could actually ordain him to the office of High Priest!

We were also luck to have Taber and Becca living close enough to drive down and support Kevin on such a crazy day!

President Duffield presided over the whole thing and was so much fun to be with. We took this picture after the ordination because he frequently mixes Becca and I up, and we thought it would help him to keep us straight :)

And at the end of it all, Kevin became an official member of the Woodridge 1st Ward Bishopric of the Naperville Stake, in the state of Illinois, with Bishop Jeff Bennett and 1st counselor Dan Miller!

The Keiki Luau!

As previously mentioned, On August 17th, I held a little luau for the girls I had been teaching the Hula to all summer! The girls worked so hard on their dances and were very excited to show off their new skills to their parents.

Despite the chaos of trying to get everyone dressed, the food served, and the finishing touches of decorating done, I was able to stop for a few seconds to take a picture with my cute hula dancers. (Thanks to Colleen who had just run home to get the ukulele that I had accidentally left behind!)

Once the show started, the girls knew exactly what to do! They began by dancing a Kahiko called Kalakaua. After Kalakaua, the girls performed Puka Pants, and later they danced with poi balls to the song Terina. Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures because we were taking video instead, and for some reason none of the videos have sound, so I decided not to upload them. :(

But someone did catch a nice shot of the Mormon Missionaries performing the Haka with Kevin during one of our costume changes! Elder Pulotu and Elder Blackner were a great addition to the show and we are so grateful they agreed to dance for us.

At the end of the show we let each girl walk on stage one at a time to receive a candy lei and a standing ovation from their parents. Aren't they cute?!

The luau was a lot of work, but thanks to the great parents of my girls who brought food to share, my in-laws who worked so hard to make things beautiful, and my husband who is the best emcee EVER! We were able to pull it off and have a wonderful time! Can't wait to do it again next summer!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Aftermath...

The day after Kevin got called to the Bishopric, his mom and dad hopped into the car in Utah and started driving East to Chicago! Their plan was to get in some quick grandparent spoiling, help me with my luau, and watch Brooklyn perform for the first time... and then on Sunday, Dell would ordain Kevin a High Priest! They drove all day the 14th and 15th and arrived at our house late at night on the 15th. We hugged, chatted a bit, and then sent every one to bed!

The next day (which just happened to be Dell and Colleen's anniversary!) involved a LOT of preparation for the luau and a LOT of spoiling from Grandma and Grandpa...even though we should have been spoiling them! :)

They helped us get some scooters and helmets for the girls and THEN they even took the time to help the girls learn how to ride them! Brooklyn really loved her scooter and practiced hard so she could get the hang of it.

Lily decided her new scooter looked more like a new pet and proceeded to walk it by its handle bars up and down the driveway...something she continues to do 4 months later!

On Saturday morning, we woke up early, started the Kalua Pig in the oven, and then me and Brooklyn headed over to her doctor's office to get her Kindergarten checkup. When we got home, mom, Kevin, and I got in our dress clothes and headed over to the church to see our friend's son get baptized. After the baptism, we headed into the church gym and started cleaning and setting up for our big luau!

Mom did and INCREDIBLE job decorating the gym and stage and making it look like we'd just landed in Hawaii! I hadn't expected her help, but once we finished I was so, SO, SOOOO Grateful that she was there! There is NO WAY I could have done it without her!

In the end, the luau turned out great, we had a fantastic experience on Sunday when Kevin got ordained, and we were all so happy to have been able to spend a quick weekend with Dell and Colleen. They are simply WONDERFUL!

More to come on the luau and the ordination, later...

Our CRAZY 8 year Anniversary!

Yes, our anniversary picture is NOT of Kevin and I, but instead, of Kevin and President Duffield! That's because our anniversary went a little like this:

12:30pm - My return flight from Utah landed in Chicago
1:00pm - Kevin and Brooklyn pick me and Lily up from the airport
2:00pm - We get home from the airport, Kevin goes back to work, I start prepping the house for my hula class
4:00pm - My hula students arrive and we have a dress rehearsal for our big Luau Recital that will be that Saturday
5:30pm - All the parents finish picking up their kids and I start making dinner
6:00pm -  Kevin gets home, we eat dinner super fast and get ready to go to mutual
6:30pm - We drive to Mutual, make a quick appearance, and then head over to the Stake Center
7:00pm - President Duffield invites our whole family into his office and then asks Kevin if he will accept a calling in the Bishopric of our ward. Kevin says yes.
8:30pm - We get home, put the kids to bed, and pass out from exhaustion!

Happy 8 year anniversary Kevin! It was super crazy but totally a great example of what the last 8 years have been like... and I have loved every moment! Thanks for asking me to marry you dude. You are the BEST!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Our Time in PG and the Main Reason for our Trip...

In case you were wondering, the whole reason behind our very short trip to UT, was to be at my niece Akira's baby blessing. It was the first time that I got to meet little Akira and I couldn't believe what an adorable little sweetheart she is. My brother Jake gave her a beautiful blessing and I had so much fun visiting with his friends and family. A highlight for me was hanging out with Scarlet's mother! She is one of the neatest, funniest, and fun women I have ever met, and I can't wait to see how her daughter and granddaughter follow in her footsteps :)

Being in PG for the baby blessing also meant that we got to spend a few days with the Uda Family... and that meant time with Grandpa and Grandma Uda!!! Lily adores both of her grandparents and was eating up all the attention she was getting with Brooklyn back home with Daddy.

She even got a whole day of Grandpa Uda to herself (something that is pretty much unheard of) and they were able to paint these beautiful rocks together!

We also got to visit Auntie Liz and Uncle Tony while we were in PG, where Lily was introduced to Liz's kitty, Saki! As you can tell from the picture, she is squealing the work "cuuuuuute!" She was a big fan of the kitty.

On the day we visited Tony and Liz, we also got to go to the movie with all the grand-kids to see Monsters University. Lily LOOOVED the movie, but something that surprised me more, was how much she loved my soda. My mom had purchased me a giant Pepsi for the movie and I had placed it between Lily and I. I wasn't very thirsty until almost the end of the movie, but when I reached down to get a drink, I realized that the cup was EMPTY! I looked down at Lily and she peeked up at me with a big smile and said, "Mom! I can take a drink without picking up the cup! Its so awesome!" Needless to say, she was bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day and had to go to the bathroom a hundred times :)

The day before we had to go back home was packed with fun and was the perfect way to say our goodbyes. We started off the day visiting a splash pad in Provo. Lily is a BIG fan of splash pads and she had tons of fun running through the water with her older cousins. She became especially fond of her oldest boy cousins, Joseph and David, while we were there...which was both adorable and surprising to me!

After the splash pad, we headed over to the Provo Town Center mall to see my brother Josh's new laser tag arena. It wasn't finished yet, but it was pretty cool seeing some of the stuff that Kevin helped to design, being put together.

When we were done touring the Command Deck, we all drove over to Los Hemanos for one last family dinner before I had to head home.

While we were waiting to be seated, Lily walked over to her uncle Tony, lifted her shirt to show him her piko (bellybutton) and then said, "Now show me yours!" Her auntie Liz then bent down and told her that she didn't want to see Uncle Tony's piko because his piko was humongous and it liked to eat little girls. Lily, of course, was horrified and quickly made her way back to mommy. 

A few minutes later she had seemingly forgotten about her earlier interactions and went back to uncle Tony to request, once more, that he show her his piko. But this time, as soon as the words left her mouth, she started backing away slowly, and then she said, "Don't worry, I'll stand back here so your piko can't eat me!" It was seriously so funny, and uncle Tony was such a good sport :)

During dinner, we were all sharing funny horror stories of growing up with our brother Josh. We were all trying to decide who was tortured the most by him when Lily came to me with something in her mouth that she didn't want to suck on anymore...so naturally, I told her to put it down Josh's shirt whilst he was deep in conversation. It took him a second to realize, but once he did, we all had a grand laugh, until he bent down to Lily and  said, "You don't know me very well little girl, do you?" ... Hahhaha :) I totally love my family!

After dinner we gave hugs and said our goodbyes, then it was off to have one more night of sleep before the plane ride home.

A ride, that of course, was magical and wonderful for my sweet little Lily, and a bit bittersweet for me.

But at least I got to leave having met 2 of my 3 new nieces, and my new nephew as well! What a wonderful blessing and an amazing opportunity!