Thursday, November 12, 2015

some realizations

I've been mulling over some thoughts lately, most of which hardly merit recognition on their own. But perhaps together they'll mean something. Or spur me to consider words on a more regular basis than bi-annually. Or at least fill space.

1. I've decided I don't like any savory dishes involving squash. Not in the same way I feel about clam chowder (or any fish-broth-based soup) which is that I would rather starve than eat it. But, rather, in a largely unimpressed and disappointed way. I basically have two reactions to squash: 1)"Wow, I can barely taste it!" and 2) thinking, "How much longer do I have to eat this so I don't look like a toddler refusing food?" Bring on the pumpkin pie/cookies/cake/muffins/etc. But if you try to put it in pasta, top it with marshmallows, convince me it's just like spaghetti, or hide it in soup, I'll choke it down and say it tasted lovely, and I will be lying.

2. Donovan asked me if Santa was a real person or if it was Joel and me. It was just last summer that I told Ainsleigh about Santa, but part of that stemmed from my belief that Donovan would soon be asking and I wanted her to have one Christmas where just she knew. Also, I had to TELL Ainsleigh, where as Donovan asked. I sat quietly for a moment and then asked if he wanted to know the truth. He slowly nodded and said, "That's what I thought." I teared up, remembering my own disappointment and sadness over learning the truth, and thinking about how this baby boy of mine was now old enough to know Santa wasn't real. I teared up, thinking about this and because of my tears, he began to get teary. Then he said, "This makes my iPad all the more special, knowing that you and daddy bought it for me. And all the other stuff - you gave it to us and didn't get the credit." How does he do that - make me love him even more for his thoughtful consideration of the situation. Here I was, thinking he'd be sad and feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he immediately went to gratitude. I love this kid so much. I need to remember that because tonight I was super annoyed with him. While he can be wonderful, he can also be a major pill.
3. Gemma got some test results back at school and Joel, after seeing them, said, "Wow. Gemma's really smart." I mean, we kind of knew this, but also her flair for the, ahem, dramatics can sometimes overpower her cleverness. But she has a pretty sharp mind that is nicely tempered by a good sense of humor. Tonight the younger two were taking too long to eat their dinner. Ainsleigh was finishing a project that demanded all of her attention. So I told the younger two they were not allowed to speak in the kitchen/family room. Anytime they did resulted in a 5 minute penalty on the nights already-earlier-than-usual bedtime. They both incurred a couple penalties before they decided to acquiesce. A little while later as I was finishing up washing the dishes, I saw Gemma exit the room and go around the corner into the entry. Right as I started to ask, "Gemma, where are you going?" I heard a little voice say, "I'm full, can I be done?" She was following the rules: She was speaking from a DIFFERENT room so as not to receive another penalty. Of course I burst out laughing and Joel and I slow-clapped as she peered around the corner. Well played, ladybug, well played.
4. Also, we got family portraits. Since we will probably be using them in Christmas cards, I'm going to post one three. We'll use others for the card. I think. Maybe we'll do something else.

5. Lastly, while I rarely get on a soapbox, I'm going to about this whole Starbucks red cup thing. Here's my beef - I don't care what color the cups are. My problem, quite frankly, is the over-commercialization of Christmas. Every time something is "taken away" from Christmas, I applaud it. Let's make it less in-your-face and more in-your-heart and in-your-hands. Oh I'll still say Merry Christmas to people and I'll still celebrate Jesus, but I'm also going to delight in someone wishing me a Happy Hannukah or Diwali or whatever else. The end.

Monday, August 10, 2015

And just like that, a ton of time has passed.

Well summer break didn't take long. In the wise words of Phineas & Ferb, "There's 104 days of summer vacation, And school comes along just to end it, So the annual problem for our generation Is finding a good way to spend it..." Except that Joel and I agreed this morning on our walk to school that we did a pretty good job at filling the summer. I think this was the first time I thought, "Summer break is exhausting!" Over and over and I would look around the house at the basic cleaning that had gone neglected, and then I'd say, "Who wants to go to the pool/park/movies/anywhere else?!" I kept telling myself I'll clean when they're back in school. Now they're back in school and I'm just sitting at my computer. I'll clean tomorrow. Or go for a bike ride. But then I'll definitely clean after that.

First, though, I should probably document that earlier this year I got LASIK. I have to say that my only regret is that I waited this long to pursue it. Holy cow, let me just say this is amazing. I had horrible vision before and was convinced that they wouldn't be able to fix me. The procedure itself only took about 6 minutes - crazy! And they did an incredible job of prepping me so I knew exactly what to expect. Once they stood me up afterward, my eyes were kind of fogged over (they told me this would happen) but I could tell immediately that I could already see better than before. And of course I cried.

They had given me a lovely sedative so I don't remember a lot about the way home except suddenly asking for a sandwich and then I came home to take a 3-hour nap. As soon as I opened my eyes after that, everything was clear. It was beautiful. And then I was supposed to take it easy for the rest of the day. Which I totally did by throwing Joel a surprise birthday party.

It was awesome. I had already talked to the people at the LASIK place to ask if they thought I'd be able to do both the surgery and the party the same day. I arranged to have 12 of Joel's friends (and some wives who wanted to watch) ring our doorbell at about 6:30pm. Joel had no idea. I had booked a space at a local indoor obstacle/gladiator place called Xtreme Challenge. There the boys took part in all sorts of adventures/combat. It was like watching a bunch of kids play around. I think a bunch of them were pretty sore the next day. One guy came dressed as a Nacho Libre fighter. He stayed in costume the entire time. What a friend!

The Warriors.

The ladies, behind the safety net.

Let's get ready to rumble!

Boys know what to do.

The whole gang. What a fun night!

After that, we went for milkshakes (Nacho Libre still in costume) and then a bunch of the men went to go see a movie. I had someone drive me home where I took my last sedative and fell happily asleep. I wanted to give Joel a memorable experience for his birthday and I succeeded. And I can see!

Monday, March 9, 2015

a day with donovan

Friday morning, Donovan woke up to find his long underwear and ski socks laid out on his bedroom floor. He emerged from his room, that bleary-eyed just-woke-up look on his face. With one eye closed, winking against the hall light, eyebrows knit together in confusion, he asked, "Are we going skiing today or something?"

I grinned at him, finished telling Ainsleigh I was heading downstairs to make her breakfast, and turned back to him, "Not all of us. How about just you, me and Dad go skiing today, as an early birthday present?"

Both of his eyes flew wide open, a grin lit up his whole face in sheer delight, "Really?!" Then he clutched both hands to his chest and began jumping up and down.

I went downstairs to start the morning routine of making breakfast and lunch for the kids and Donovan came down a little while later with some questions. What were the girls going to do? How would they get home? Were they mad? What would I tell the school?

Haha, little buddy didn't think I'd already arranged everything. We were lucky that the weather had taken a turn for the better so Ainsleigh could easily walk home, swinging by the elementary school to pick up Gemma. No, they weren't mad because they knew it was his birthday present. And I told the school the truth, because that's always the best option.

It was the perfect ski day. A beautiful cloudless sky, loads of snow, 38-degrees. Actually, I would have been fine with it being cooler. My hands were sweating in my gloves. I had told Joel that if he and Donovan wanted to hit some black diamonds, they could do that and I was happy to do a run or two by myself. So we hit a few blues and I was feeling great, even after I tried to help a guy who had dropped a pole and, not realizing how fast I was going, ended up totally wiping out. I think Joel got it on video, so I hope it looks as good as I think it does. Then they coaxed me into skiing through some trees and it popped us out onto an ungroomed/mogul black run.

I absolutely, positively LOATHE moguls. UGH. I was so annoyed. And slow. But my sweet Donovan stood at the bottom, clapping his poles together, grinning broadly, and cheering me on. "You're doing so great, Mom!"

So after that, I decided a groomed black run couldn't be much worse. It was FUN! Even at the end when it kind of drops off and some snowboarder (not Joel) went in front of me, spraying up a ton of snow, and it cleared just in time for me to see I was about to hit a gate. So I tried to stop, only succeeding in kicking up a massive wave of snow onto myself and falling over. Another skier looked at me, lying in the snow and said, "Well that looked fun." I just replied, "That's how you're supposed to stop, right?"

Donovan skied up, howling with laughter, "MOM! THAT! WAS! AWESOME!" And he fell down next to me as we laughed and laughed and laughed. Because although it wasn't graceful and although it was a fall, it was one of those things that just feels funny. Unfortunately, Joel missed the whole thing. But Donovan considers it one of the best things that happened that day, so you're welcome, son. He was so cute and loving the whole day, skiing next to me, sometimes spraying me with his hockey stop, always smiling and telling me I was doing a good job.

We had lunch outside and just loved spending time together. Donovan kept proclaiming it the best ski day ever. I have to agree. I love my girls, but we can move so much faster without Gemma. Hopefully next year she'll be able to pick up the pace. Plus, on a Friday the crowds were less so we were able to easily do about 10 runs. We met a couple from Michigan on the gondola who said their biggest hills were like a 500-foot drop. They said here in Colorado, they were exhausted after one run (the altitude plays a factor there, too). Anyway, it made me feel ok about being completely wiped out as we drove home.

On the way home, Donovan thoughtfully said, "I would like to make this a tradition, if that's ok."

I smiled and nodded, "I think that can be arranged."

Friday, February 13, 2015

I have no title. But I redid my kitchen last year, so there's that.

Whoa - what happened?! Work, that's what. I've had the distinct honor of conducting a bunch of interviews (like, I'm up to 26 - each of those has been at least half an hour, and most of them more than that) for some articles I'm writing and have met some really cool people. For the first time in a long time, I actually almost started hyperventilating before a call. Once we get talking, though, I'm fine. And, as it turns out, people who have risen just about as far as they can within their industry can still be incredibly gracious, humble and fun to talk to, not to mention that they are inspiring. This whole experience even motivated me to create a LinkedIn profile - I'm so serious about my career now. Also, look forward to obnoxious name-dropping as the opportunity presents itself.

But actually what I wanted to document was the kitchen remodel we orchestrated last fall. Joel and I talked about doing granite in the kitchen when we bought the house. And then we blinked and it was seven years later! It's fun to have grand plans and pin all sorts of great ideas but, turns out, it actually takes money to make those plans a reality.

Over the summer, probably on one of our long bike rides, Joel and I talked about things we'd like to do around the house. When he said, "Well, I think doing the kitchen counters is going to be the best investment," my heart beat a little faster (not just because we were probably climbing) and I had to tell myself be cool, Sarah, be cooooool, before saying, "Oh yeah? You think we could?" like I wasn't also sort of holding my breath and mentally demolishing our island.

I decided to do NO research until the kids went back to school, but the day after that, off I went to the granite fabricators with my mom in tow (she just happened to be in town and has done her own kitchen remodel, so she's kind of an expert). People who know me well know that I love a good research project, comparing and contrasting companies, their offerings and customer reviews. Soon I had a lovely spreadsheet and all sorts of appointments booked. As anyone with a home improvement project knows, simply replacing the countertops quickly ballooned into leveling our island (requiring moving some electrical); replacing the ovens, dishwasher and cooktop; piping and venting for gas; painting the cabinets; replacing our light fixture; and, of course, replacing the countertops. (sidenote: I hired most of this work out - I know my limits as a diy-er and I also know that such a high-traffic area requires professional work)

It was a whirlwind of activity and I loved it. I also really really really love my new kitchen. We knew we wanted to do a lighter granite with darker cabinets and I'm so glad we did. As my friend said, "This granite is great - it hides all sorts of things. Just think of all the time you're saving by not wiping them down eight times a day." Wait, was that passive aggressive? I just got that...

But seriously, I'm in love with my gas cooktop, I'm in love with my new ovens, my counters are so fun to use (and they're BIGGER now that I don't have that stupid raised non-functional bar part) and my dishwasher actually *GASP* cleans my dishes. It's a miracle.

Friends have asked me who my general contractor was and I have to laugh because, ahem, have you MET ME? Type A personality, I'll be my own GC thankyouverymuch. I arranged for everyone and most of the work took place within a week and a half. Also, I wired the pendant myself because I neglected to notice, when ordering it, that it plugged in. Who makes a pendant that PLUGS in? For future reference, check that out. Unless you like to narrow your eyes, purse your lips, and vow to go all Bob Vila on the thing. Which I did. Is there anything that makes you feel like more of a rebel than pulling out wire cutters and, literally, cutting the cord?! Probably. But still, this was about as mutinous as I get.

Let's get to my super high-quality phone pictures. From the side, you see the dumb raised bar area which isn't really usable. Also, whoever thought edging the counters in wood should get the architectural equivalent of a Razzie. Or at least lifelong mockery. I can see no purpose for it.

Ahhhh - this is so much better, right? It's so smooth and calming. I like to pet it. Also, the sink is so nice and deep. See that tiny little faucet next to the actual faucet? No, it's not a soap dispenser. It's an instant hot water dispenser! Hot chocolate, teas or, my new favorite, brewing chocolate at the touch of a button/lever. It's beautiful. Oh yeah, I also installed that. For anyone who claims they can't get help at Home Depot, I know the key: do your hair and makeup, then walk into the store holding two pieces of plumbing (washers, copper tubing, a wrench, take your pick!) with a giant look of confusion on your face (not difficult, given the location). I'm all for advancing the rights of women, and I'm all for using womanliness to get what I want.

From the family room, so much wood-colored wood:

Ahh. See my pedant? I love the soft light it emits.

From my computer corner, why does Albus look guilty?
I think he's embarrassed by how shaggy he's become.

Since we took out the built-in microwave to install a legitimate hood, we had to put the microwave somewhere. We chose the corner counter that collected junk. It's working out nicely. The flat island really opens up the kitchen into the family room. Please disregard how messy the fridge and bookshelves are - this is the house of a family. And we LIVE in it.
Also, rest assured that these pictures were taken after I had cleaned the kitchen. It is rarely this clean. In fact, I think the sinks are actually full of dishes waiting to be washed, and I probably went to bed deciding to do it in the morning.

So that was my fall project. I'd love to do something in my bathrooms but since that also takes, you know, money, that will have to wait. Plus, I've got more interviews to conduct and articles to write.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2014 Wrap-up (New York City edition)

Allison, Becca and I have birthdays within about a month of each other. Our husbands, looking to give us an "experience" rather than a "thing," banded together and decided to send us to NYC in November for Laura's birthday since she was celebrating the big 3-0. Also, because NYC is cool.

Austin came along to be the trip photographer and navigator, meaning the rest of us didn't really have to figure out the subway system. So here we were, on the airplane (Becca and Austin connected in Denver so we could sit together) and Austin tried to avoid the picture. 

We arrived in NYC and after a couple shenanigans, joined up with Allison. Then we were crammed into a taxi and decided to take selfies instead of tell Laura we were on our way. All the while, quoting Jerry Seinfeld from his whole taxi bit about anybody else driving like this would be considered a lunatic, but this man was a professional.
Sisters reunited and heading out on the subway.
That first night we made signs to take to the NYC Marathon the next morning. We were really looking for some positive reinforcement. Since the weather forecast did not look lovely and peaceful and warm-ish like the year Laura ran (and I flew out and carboloaded with her - I'm such a good sister).
Our efforts paid off as we got tagged on a Buzzfeed "best marthon signs" list. We'll take whatever fame we can get. I also brought my cowbell. I considered bringing my vuvuzela and blowing it on the airplane any time I was bored/annoyed, but then decided I didn't want to get kicked off the plane. So it stayed home.

Just walking around looking so natural. We ended the evening watching Idina Menzel perform and it was just so incredible. Her voice makes me want to laugh and cry and punch something and swear all at the same time because she's just so GOOD. I hope to see her again soon.
 Then we got on the Subway and saw this super warm and welcoming person. Classic:
Next morning, the obligatory Waffels & Dinges stop. Becca was obviously inspired because her wardrobe seemed to coordinate perfectly.
This was Allison's first trip to the Waffel truck. No, she didn't eat both waffels. Yes, her face depicts the bliss one feels upon finishing their breakfast.
Walking burns like a billion calories, right? That's why we had Shake Shack for lunch THAT SAME DAY. What I didn't take a picture of was our stop at Levain Bakery where I loaded up on cookies. I was too distracted by the people protesting the Dalai Lama. Really? The Dalai Lama? You've got to be kidding me. And yet, they had a very catchy chant which we proceeded to "sing" for the next couple days. Becca loved it.

And have I mentioned lately that Laura works at The Tonight Show? So yeah, we got VIP tickets to the hottest show in New York. No biggie. I was pretty sure we'd be best friends with Jimmy but Anne Hathaway got in the way. After that we had pizza with Patsy Grimaldi. Well, we had pizza at his restaurant called Juliana's (which is right next to Grimaldi's, which he sold to someone else in 1998, but then decided retirement was lame or something). It was, by far, the best pizza I've ever tasted and he was charming and chatted everyone up and tossed dough and kissed me as we left. All in a day's work.

That night we returned to our hotel room and I began looking at pictures, only to see that this one looks like we took Allison's head for a walk, leaving her body to rest at the hotel room. So creepy. And at 11pm it's hysterical.
The next morning we hit the top of 30 Rock to behold the views of Manhattan. There was also a family there speaking french and they had a little girl with red hair who I may have followed around for a little while, pretending she was my (bilingual) child. Apologies to the family if they thought I was going to kidnap her. (I might have considered it.)
Then we headed down to Ground Zero. I've seen pictures of it before and thought it looked nice, but let me tell you it was very ... hmm... I can't quite think of the word. Sacred? Awe-inspiring? Moving? All those, and then some. The monument with the waterfalls is genius. The area is just so serene. Such a difference from that day over 13 years ago (and then for months afterward).
We decided to pay our respects to Lady Liberty, so we boarded the ferry and away we went. Allison and I were having a great time taking pictures of ourselves.
Then I decided to try to take one of those pictures where people "hold" what's in the background, except I wanted to be totally off. This wasn't hard. "Did I get her? Did I get her?" I'd ask like an eager puppy dog (if puppy dogs could talk, of course) and Allison would respond in an impatient/irritated tone, "Um, NO. You're TERRIBLE at this!" And then we'd both giggle. I love looking ridiculous when it's part of a plan.
On to Ellis Island to pay our respects to the place through which our great great great Grandma Martine walked many years ago. 
Then to a showing of Matilda. I originally thought, "Yeah, ok, we'll see Matilda," but I tell everyone, "SEE MATILDA!" The music was wonderful. The set was spectacular. The children were DELICIOUS. Also, they were in danger of being kidnapped. I might have texted Joel, "Might stick some children in my carryon if I can manage it."
The next day we convened to wish our birthday girl farewell. I gave Austin my phone to take some pictures and he managed to take some candids that I think are lovely.
If you can believe it, there are a gajillion more pictures that I am not including (you're welcome) including a variety of food pictures and other nonsense. In short, however, we all left happy but exhausted. We walked all over the place and my calves were sore for days. But I don't regret any of it. In fact, we immediately began talking about plans for our next trip. Maybe our Moomsie-Daisy will come, too. We promise we won't make you pay for our stuff!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spending time with Donovan

Recently, Donovan was moaning about how his lips were chapped because he wasn't drinking enough water at school. I pointed out that this could probably be remedied if he, you know, remembered his water bottle. He claimed it would still be too hard. We talked about ways he could remember (take 5 swallows before you switch subjects, take 5 swallows on your way out to and back from recess, etc.).

Then he said, "How about if I remember to drink my whole water bottle two times at school for like a month, I get two hours of just Mom/Dono time?" I asked if that was really what he wanted. He said that he really did.

A few things ran through my head:
1. A whole month was a long time to work on something that should just be natural -it's DRINKING WATER.
2. My kids get time with me a fair amount, it's not like this is the Shangri-La of rewards.
3. We were having an hour of just Mom/Dono time AT THAT VERY MOMENT.

What a weirdo. But he's MY weirdo. We recently had the elementary school's MotherBoy night. Ok so they call it "Mother Son Night" but in a nod to my third cousin once-removed work on "Arrested Development," I always call it MotherBoy. As usual, I came away thinking it was pretty low-key and unremarkable as far as events go, and Donovan came away skipping and exulting in how it was the best night ever. Just goes to show it doesn't matter WHAT you do, but that you are together.

This is our photobooth picture. I was trying to go for a version of American Gothic at the top. Donovan didn't get my vision until we got home and I showed him the actual artwork and then he thought it would have been hilarious. Oh well, maybe next time.

Yesterday at Costco, with the lad, while the girls were in ballet, we strolled the aisles and ate as many garlic-butter-bread samples as we could. That's the upside to going right before the samples close down - they don't care how many you eat. Donovan pushes the cart and insists on loading the cart. As we left, I proposed that he be my legs. He is always game for my ideas (hence how he sampled both sardines and picked beets one time - the sardines weren't bad, according to him, but the beets tasted like mud) so imagine him giving me a piggy back ride while I pushed the cart. It was bizarre and we didn't make it more than 15 feet before we were both giggling too hard to go on. I think the guy checking receipts at the exit was relieved to see us resume normal walking because I don't think he knew what to do with us.

I came into the family room one day to see the above scene laid out - stuffed animals, warming themselves by the fire, with nobody else around. I shake my head at how weird it is but also take a picture so years from now when stuffed animals are collecting dust on closet shelves, I will remember these days.

At church, once a week they spotlight a kid in primary (Sunday school for 3-11 year olds, and it's divided into junior and senior primary). Last year, when I was filling out the form for Gemma, we got to the part, "How tall are you?" Having sat in primary and listened to them reveal, "This child is 43 inches tall," as the kids tried to guess who it was, it occurred to me that saying inches doesn't mean anything to these kids. This was particularly evident one week when it was revealed the child was 67 inches tall. I'm looking around wondering if they're spotlighting a teacher. I mean, this was junior primary, so the oldest kid was 7. Turns out the 6 was a 4. But you get my point, right? So I asked Gemma to think of what animal she was as tall as, so we ended up writing, "As tall as a lion." That might also be incorrect, but at least it was a visual.

It's like saying the shuttle has 100,000 horsepower. I have no idea what that means. I guess that's good. Pretty sure horses aren't going to make it very far in space.

I let Donovan fill out his own form because he's in senior primary and fully capable. I glanced over his sheet before we turned it in and saw that he had finished the phrase, "If I could travel anywhere, I would travel..." with "in time." I looked at him with pride and nodded. Good job, buddy. Way to think outside the box.

Later, the woman who read his spotlight to the primary, approached me to share what happened. She said that answer kind of took her off guard (naturally) so she asked him what time he'd like to visit, thinking it would be some cool event or place. Donovan simply said, "I'd like to know where I'm going to go on my mission."

I love this kid. I love that he wants to spend (more) time with me. I love that he wants to bring happiness to others. Hopefully he'll remember to drink his water through all of this.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Wrap-up (part 5)

I'm almost finished with this whole wrap-up bit. Maybe two more parts because one devoted to my SISTERS TRIP to NYC and one for everything else. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First things first.

Not only was BYU in town for a couple soccer games, but they were playing at the local stadium so of course we went. Donovan was super excited to go and the whole thing really opened his eyes to what soccer could look like. The next morning he attended a free soccer clinic the players put on and he came home totally pumped about his future career. And THEN we went to the second game that night and Donovan got to be a ball boy. If you ask him what was his favorite memory of 2014, he may very well say that over Hawaii and Disney. But he's also not so smart...kidding. But seriously, he asked if he could be a ball boy and I said we'd have to ask the head ref which he, awesome type-A personality that he is developing into, took to mean, "Go ask the head ref yourself." Because the next thing I knew, he was marching up to the head ref, I see him gesturing and his lips moving. I see the ref kind of look over the field and then respond and then suddenly Donovan is walking quickly back to me, a grin spreading across his face. 

Although the ref told him he didn't have to run a ton, he ran the entire length of the field along with the ball for most of the game. By the end of the night he was exhausted and elated. We've had him try out for a more competitive team and he's doing fairly well so if this goes somewhere, we'll point to this event as the genesis of his career.

But he always has his law career to fall back on, right?

Part of being a well-rounded person is getting an education in all areas of life. So I saw it as my duty (no giggling) to introduce the kids to the beauty that is "The Three Amigos." I figured they'd enjoy it, but within the first seconds, with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short singing their Anthem and then holding "Threeeeeee" for a freakish amount of time, Donovan nearly exploded from laughing so hard. He was wiping his eyes and shaking his head, saying, "I can't take it!" Comedic brilliance.
And then Ainsleigh got braces. She was super pumped because all kids who haven't had braces want braces. Within a couple days the novelty had worn off. No surprise.
Always count on Donovan and Gemma to be weird. Also, have we talked about the length of Gemma's tongue recently?

Then we had some sad news that my sister Becca's dog, Lily, had gotten really sick. She was a young dog, almost a puppy, and she got a rare/fluke disease. My kids were very sad since they have met and played with sweet Lily. Gemma made Becca and Austin a card. On the left: Dear Becca, I am sad that Lily is sick. What does she have? On the right: Lily in between Becca and Gemma. All you can see of Austin in the background is his mustache. I guess this makes sense.
Sadly, Lily passed away. We will not forget her and her pillowy silky fur. We were happy to hear that after a few months, they have adopted a new puppy. My kids love asking to see pictures of Ava. And who doesn't love puppy pictures? (hint, hint, Becca)

Gemma is loving first grade and having homework like a big kid. I love that she tries to do it by herself. One day, in the parking lot of the ballet studio, where we wait the half an hour between the start of Ainsleigh's and Gemma's class, I looked over to see Gemma doing this:
 I love her "I'll do it myself" attitude. Most of the time. A new school year calls for a new haircut. If only it looked this good all the time.

Over fall break we went to Estes Park to see what we could see, hoping for some elk. We hadn't even checked in yet and there on the front lawn were five enormous elk just grazing or waiting for us or something. It was so weird. My initial thought was, "That's a nice touch," and then I had to remind myself that these are wild creatures and this is not DisneyWorld.

In the town, we saw a really cool glass-blowing demonstration. I know that makes me sound like I aged about three decades, but it's true! I have a new appreciation for blown-glass objects. And of course we did some hiking around.

 Donovan is the only kid who wants to have his picture taken with his parents. Fine.

Every now and then I see that my kids have taken pictures of themselves with my computer and left them on my desktop. Then one day I saw this:
So...that's awesome.

This is Gemma, showing that she is missing something like half of her teeth. Maybe not quite that bad, but it seems like it. She may have to go back to baby food for a while.

 Halloween! Secret Service agent, Arabian dancer, and Elsa.

Oh my gosh, I am never going to get behind again. But thank goodness for phones and the pictures we take, proving that we did something with our year.