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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Birthday Month

Pin It Once the end of August rolls around, I just have to put on my big girl panties and brace myself for relentless parties, presents, and  holidays.  Cale's birthday, school starting, Kempton's birthday, my birthday (which is not exciting anymore let me tell you, because it just means life is flashing right by), Averie's birthday, then Halloween, Levi's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas festivities, then Brenna's birthday.  It's nothing but planning and excitement til the end of January!

First up on the festivities train is this amazing kid's birthday.  It was a happy 9th birthday for my thoughtful, caring, inquisitive, responsible, and unassuming Kempton.  He wasn't my baby very long, but when I look at his baby pictures, I remember how his personality and temperament were so very apparent, even at a young age.  He was my first angel baby (my boys were so easy).  When I show him his baby pictures, all he can see is that his baby brother looks just like him.  I tell him that he's the original Kempton!  (but with amazing red hair)

We get excited about the simple pleasures of life around here, like fully-loaded Dr. Pepper.

Gran and Grandpa got him roller blades!  What a hit!  
And look at Levi sitting next to his big brother.  Melt my heart.

He got the hang of it super quickly

Our Kempton is not a cake lover.  In fact, he's not a sweets person in general.  But I told him we needed something sweet to put candles on (could have put them on meat loaf I guess?  haha) so he requested my chocolate chip cookies in a big cookie.  

This made his day, so easy to please is my boy!

He shared root beer floats with his class and I surprised him with sushi in his lunch box for lunch.  hehe

And as tradition has it, he got to choose his homemade dinner.  
He loves meatloaf, olive garden salad, and corn on the cob. 

Then a few days later he got to open his presents from grandma and grandpa. 

He loves Calvin and Hobbes...

and playing board games.  He tries to get everyone to play games with him!

We decided to have a combined party for Averie and Kempton at the bowling alley.  They each got to invite their own friends and we killed two birds with one stone with bowling, pizza, soda, and another big cookie.  Combining their parties was the best decision and I wish we could do it every year!  As a bonus, we had cousins from Utah come visit for the weekends so they got to party with us.

For some reason, I lost half of the pictures from the party.  Thank you to auntie Summer for capturing all that she did at the party (no picture of Kempton with his friends...big bummer!)

  These two little mischief-makers!

(Joey was behind the lens)

 For Averie's birthday, she requested biscuits and gravy for her birthday breakfast

Nothing like daddy helping you ditch school on your birthday so you can go to Sonic in a sports car.  This red sports car describes our Averie perfectly.  Adventurous, free spirited, sassy, fun, a little on the wild side, and a daddy's girl since day one.  What a blessing she's been to us.  Love her!

 Averie loves Dairy Queen icecream cake so she got her own personal icecream cupcake.

I made this DIY Pottery Barn cork board for her room.  

Happy Birthday Averie and Kempton!  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Pin It After a low-key, unorganized, and unscheduled summer, it was finally time to bring some structure back into our lives and go back to school.

The truth is...I'm just gonna be frank with you...the summer pretty much kicked my trash.  You see, I've never been the mother of five before.  No matter how hard I tried or how early I arose, I could never seem to get ahead of the game between nursing an infant, making sure baby didn't choke to death and that he was accounted for at all times, cleaning up toddler messes, making sure toddler was dressed and fed regularly, being the screen time police, making sure the big three finished their jobs, doing outings and getting fresh air, working through sibling arguing, etc etc etc.  I don't think I was able to cross anything off of my TO DO list all summer long.  I went from one child to the next, answering questions and fulfilling their needs, tried to keep up with laundry or at least make sure we all had clean underwear, and it wasn't even like I got to have loads fun with my kids!  I really tried, but somebody always needed something (like nourishment or a nap. Ha!).  Good thing they have each other.  I had many talks with my helpful husband about it and he would always remind me that there would probably never be another summer like this.  After all, I would never have an infant again, and infants are a lot of work!  But they are oh-so-precious and I would never get this time with him again.  I had to come to the acceptance that I am just learning how to do this mother-of-five thing and needed to be more patient with myself (and my children).  Being resentful and not present, worrying about what I need to get done wasn't going to help me or the situation.  So I made the decision to embrace the chaos and my inability to get my life in order! I had to be OK with the free-for-all that ensued at all times in our home.  Funny thing is, by the time I made that decision, the summer was over and it was time to adjust to the new school year and all that comes with it.  Needless to say, it was time for school to start!  Hooray for everyone!

The big three looking ready  

Averie 5th (and last year in elementary school!)

Kempton 3rd

Brenna 2nd

We've had so much construction in our neighborhood over the summer, that we can no longer see the school from our house, are not the closest house to the school, and have to take a different route other than through the field.  That was a sad day!  Boo hoo!  

Brenna is getting swallowed up by her back pack!

We love our teachers...

and our friends!

Kinlee was a sad girl on the first day of school, she was teary all the way home.  But we managed to pull her through with thoughts of starting preschool this year!

Kinlee's first day of preschool started the following week.  We are doing a Mom's swap preschool, where each mom takes a week.  Two days a week they go to a different house for a few hours for planned preschool.  She LOVES it!  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Summer in Laradise

Pin It We had a low-key summer this year, but that doesn't mean it was uneventful or boring.  Looking back and updating this family  blog journal, I realize that we actually went and did a lot of fun things and were quite entertained.

One of our main goals for the summer was to take full advantage of the incredible outdoors nearby.  We live in a goldmine of beautiful mountains, just right outside our door.    We were determined to go camping, hiking, and trail running all throughout the summer.  These activities have become one of our favorite things to do as a family.  We invested in the gear and made good use of it.

Our first family overnight camping experience was a success.  A lot of work for Mom and Dad, but it was so much fun, even with an infant.  Our only issue was the lack of sleep.  Not because we were uncomfortable, but because we were both paranoid all night that the baby was freezing to death.  It gets cold overnight in the Rocky Mountains!  We had him all bundled up in a snowsuit and both checked him all through the night.  But he slept like a log.  Didn't move an inch the entire night.

Banana boats are our new favorite camping dessert.  

We had a lot of visitors this summer, which we always welcome and enjoy.  My sister and her family came for a long weekend, and my cousin and his family came over from Fort Collins for the day.  All of us went on a 3-mile long hike with all the little children.  It was a hard and long hike, but felt so good to accomplish this together.  I think we all caught the hiking bug!

I love his expression.  What do you think he's thinking?

My little nephew had the time of his life riding Kempton's new motorbike.  He cried when it was over so uncle Cale couldn't resist taking him on a few more rides.

Our men 

It was so fun to have my sister and her family here so we could spoil them and do some important bonding.  

 Father's Day is always a special day.  Here's Daddy in a daughter sandwich:

We are simple around here and have a tradition where each child picks out a favorite food item for Daddy.  Things like green olives, salt and vinegar chips, soft batch store-bought cookies, stinky cheeses, spicy strange sauces, etc.  They love to think of what he would like and Daddy always makes his reaction over-the-top.  

It was great having the kids home for the summer for them to bond with their baby brother.  Baby loved all of the attention and it made for some sweet bonding moments.  Levi isn't going to know his own name, we never call him Levi.  It's always buddy.  He's a chunky monkey.  This was before he started army crawling all over the house and has seemed to slim down since (which makes me so very sad to see the rolls slowly disappear).  

I love my babies' double chins.  All of them have had it and those squishy double chins are so delicious to kiss.  I hope their children inherit it so that I can do the same someday to my precious grandchildren.  Wait!  Why am I talking about grandchildren?  

Lots of fun was had with friends over the summer.  We are so blessed to have such great friends.  

One of the highlights of the summer was going camping again, but this time with cousins.  Now THAT was a party!  Seriously so much fun to rough it with Summer and Sondra's families.

Baby is confused with being out in the wilderness.

Camping bed heads

Our home away from home for a night.

We ventured on the same 3-mile hike as we did before.  These kids were troopers!

More of baby in deep thought and cute cousin Joey.

 Such a gorgeous view (all these kids and the mountains).

We made it!

The boys were the fire keepers

Our cousins stayed for the fourth of July festivities.

This face.  I can't get enough.

 Or this face.

Summer means I have time in between baby nursing and when kids wake up and Cale is off to work to go running.  I've been working hard this summer to get back to my usual pace.  Even with just a few extra pounds, my pace suffers.  One morning on a longer run, I was feeling on top of the world (haha) but was served some humble pie as I totally biffed it hard.  It was not pretty.  I pushed through it, blood dripping and all, for the rest of my mileage.  I felt like a warrior woman.

Same shirt different day. Ha!  I was feeling particularly euphoric on this beautiful summer morning.  That's what runnin does to me.  

Same place, different time.

Averie continued to do dance all summer long and seems to dance wherever we go.  She can't help herself.

We saw a few friends move.

Came across my favorite selfie of all time.  I need to refer to this picture when I start to doubt their love for each other.

And the usual Averie selfies I come across on my phone.  What a goofball:

And her siblings are joining in:

 One of Cale's favorite college roommates came with his family (they also have five kids!), the Mosaaaz.  It was so great to catch up with him and his wife.  We have such fond memories from our Ricks College days.

Our official family vacation this year was a 10-day trek to our old stomping grounds of Detroit, Michigan.  It took a few days of travel there and back and we stayed with Cory and Naoko while there.  Cale had a conference he attended for a few days while there, so the kids and I played with Naoko and the kids.  We haven't been back since we left about six years ago, so it was a very nostalgic trip.

We went to the lake several times.  There's nothing like the lakes in Michigan, they are everywhere, the water isn't freezing, and the sand is like the beach.

Baby loved the warm water and sand.

They all participated in some pretty intense sandcastle contests!

The short walk to the lake

Look at Brenna's wrist, filled with bracelets she made.  That was their favorite past time outside of the lake.  Thank you Jake for letting them use your bracelet making kit!

With sweet cousin Kylie. 

Kempton met his match in the board game area with cousin Jake!  He was a happy camper.

It was so wonderful to see some of my old friends from Clarkston!  I love these ladies (bummer, we took this picture after Amy Rogers left).

We visited our old stomping grounds.  We love our neighborhood in Clarkston, such wonderful memories. And we still technically own our home but were too chicken to knock on our own door!  haha

And went back to our first home, where Averie was born in South Detroit.

We went to a few of our favorite parks when we lived there.  

We enjoyed our time visiting friends and family.  Such sweet memories of Michigan! 

On our way home, we went a different route back home.  We traveled to Western Michigan (Muskegon) to get on a fairy that took us across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee.  Look at the beautiful beach of Lake Michigan!  The water was so warm and there was nothing but white sand for miles and miles.   

While in Milwaukee, we went to the zoo for the day.

Kinlee's favorite zoo animal is an elephant

You see the baby gorilla?  I couldn't stop looking at this adorable creature. My family had to peel me away!

And more summer hiking, we explored so many different trails just right outside our door all throughout the summer.

Lots of baby love.  I get to wake up to this fresh face every morning.  Melt my heart!

And the birthday season begins, starting with Daddy.  38 never looked so good:

Our final trip of the summer, was a quick long weekend to Utah to visit family.  We went to the children's museum, went to a great waterpark, played with cousins, laughed til way past midnight, and were able to see each of our siblings plus the Taggarts.   

All in all and looking back, we had a pretty darn good summer!