Sunday, April 11, 2010

Disney Trip

This has been sitting two months waiting for pics too!  Someday it will have pics :)

We had a wonderful trip last week to California.  And though it was tiring in its own way, it was so wonderful to get away from my pigsty :).  I had hours in the morning that I didn't even know what to do with!  And we had so much fun!!

We started our drive Friday Morning.  Being the responsible and health conscious mom that I am (not to mention neat and clean...), I made sure to stop at Krispy Kreme as we drove through Orem.  Then I busted out the bag of super size cheetos that Jayden picked out a few days earlier.  Ethan liked the breakfast I chose, I couldn't get him to stop even long enough to take a picture.  I did pay for it later when I had to scrub smashed pink sprinkles, glaze, and cheese off of Ethan's pants later that day :).

We spent a laid back weekend with the family.  Basically, the only thing we did beside hanging out at mom's house, was make sure we fit in trips to our favorite Vegas restaurants! :)  (Again, health conscious...All my fun revolves around food!)  Our first day we went to Baja fresh for lunch as soon as we got into Henderson.  (Darn Utahns like cafe rio better, so all of the SL ones closed!) 
I loved this restaurant called ricardo's, and was so sad 10 years ago when it closed.  LITTLE DID I KNOW, there has been another location open all this time across town!  I happened upon this info a few months ago, and was determined to find time to go.  Mom was so kind and watched our kids for us so we could have a date on Saturday.  We hunted down a few toys r us's while we were over on the west side, went to Ricardo's and then visited my FAVORITE mall.  I don't know why, but I love it.  It has some of the most fun stores, and I just like the atmosphere.  I really enjoyed being in Vegas this trip.  Sometimes I miss it more than others, and this was one of those times.  I am totally happy in Utah and feel we are in the perfect, right place for us.  But I LOVE some things about Nevada.  I was feeling so nostalgic this weekend, and I totally enjoyed all of the familiar things that I always loved.  As well as the familiar people I saw at church.  It felt so good to see people who had an effect on my life as a teen.  It's nice to know that though years pass with little contact, the good feelings are still there.
Of course my favorite thing about going home is seeing all of the family.  I was probably a burden this weekend, because I didn't do much of anything.  I enjoyed the family, and had fun just talking and watching all of the action around me.  I love that my kids feel so welcomed and loved even though they don't see their Nevada cousins as frequently.  And the older kids take such good care of them, especially Kayleigh!!  Kayleigh loved the attention, but is such an independant little soul. She didn't let anyone hold her for long.  Meg was particularly helpful, she spent most every moment with her.  One night, mom was trying to sing Kayleigh to sleep, and a bunch of the kids gathered around to help her.  It was very entertaining.  And as you can see, Kayleigh liked it.
All of the cousins are very familiar with Disneyland and were telling us their favorite things and getting Jayden so excited about it!  I LOVE to watch kids talk.  I don't know why, but they say the cutest things, and sometimes I am suprised at the things they understand at their young ages.  And I love to watch the good feelings between cousins.  At least as far as I noticed, they all got along SO well.  It takes me back to my own childhood and all of the laughs we had with our cousins.
After all of the family fun, we woke monday morning and started toward Disneyland.    My dad sent us with his GPS and it was SUCH a blessing!!  We used it before we even left Vegas to find a restaurant to get breakfast at.  And then used it a million times to find stores and places we wanted to go.  We went to countless stores that we would not have attempted without it.  And got to see some places we wouldn't have otherwise.  It was AWESOME.  We decided to find costco in San diego, and before you know it, we were there.  And even when we misunderstood her directions and made a wrong turn, it would recalculate and send us to the right spot anyway.  Best. Invention. Ever.  THANKS DAD!!!
And disneyland was so confusing!!  Even with the GPS, it took us a few tries to actually find where we could park.  It is so big and the roads wind all over the place.  Finally we arrived, much to Jayden's excitement.  Ethan loved disneyland, but Jayden was the only one old enough to anticipate what was coming.  We got on the tram and they all thought that was a ride, we were getting off to a good start!  We spent the whole time at California adventures until it closed.  We got to see lightning and mater and then Jay and Jayden went on soarin and watched the bug movie, while Ethan, Kayleigh and I played in bug land.  Then went on Toy Story mania.  I liked that one, but it was the only substantial line we waited in the whole time we were there.  Just before it closed, Jayden took me on Soarin.  I loved the ride, it was amazing (in spite of my height fears :)  But the best part was Jayden.  He was so happy to be taking me on it for the first time.  He was telling me about some of the things we'd see like the snowy mtns.  Then when we saw the mountains on the ride, he was like "See, I told you about them!" and after "See, I told you it was fun."  He was so accomodating, and so proud to be the one showing me something.  I thought he was adorable.
In the two hours at disneyland, we rode buzz a couple of times (Ethan and I continued to ride while daddy and Jayden rode space mtn),  Ethan, me and Kayleigh rode the carousel several times while Jayden and daddy rode...  That turned out to be one of Ethan's favorites! After that we found pirates, splash mtn (this time we watched everyone splash while J and j went), and finally the haunted mansion.  It seemed we were running from place to place to get as many in before it closed.  We got there a couple hours after opening, but were still TIRED by the end of the day.  But it was so magical.  Even walking out down mainstreet was fun.  I LOVE the look of everything.  All the shops and the vendors.  What a place.
Tuesday followed a similar pattern.  We arrived bright and early for the magic morning.  At first we all rode a bunch of the fantasyland rides together.  Ethan only wanted to ride the carousel and was EXTREMELY reluctant to ride many of the others.(Okay, he pretty much cried on all of them, and through the lines.)  I started using the carousel as bribe and told him that every other ride he went on without crying, he would get to go once on the carousel.  That helped him get through Toad's wild ride, but he lost it on snow white and then it was only thanks to the ride operator giving him a flash light to hold that he survived pinochio...and it was touch and go.  I kept telling him to shine the light on the bad guys to "get them"  when his terror seemed to be overcoming him.  Jayden and daddy wanted to go on toad's again, but we gave ethan a break and let him ride the carousel.  He did find one other ride that he really liked.  The Dumbo elephants.  At first, he was not so keen on that ride either, as you can see by this face.  But once he realized he could move it up and down, he was hooked.  After that he wanted to trade back and forth between the carousel and dumbo :).
Another highlight for day two was the Jedi training camp.  Jayden was tired and rested in the stroller with Kayleigh.  But Ethan seemed very excited to see Darth Vader!!  We went on the Nemo subs and then Ethan fell asleep and Jayden was so tired he begged to go back to the hotel.  It was only 2! :)  We agreed to, but Jay wanted to go on one more ride first.  So he and Jayden walked over to big thunder mountain railroad,  and I parked by the exit with the kids.  That ride gave Jayden a second wind.  He LOVED it, and begged to go two more times.  Then they decided to go on soarin one more time and I ended up parking to watch the pixar parade.  Ethan slept FOREVER.  I tried to wake him several times before and during the parade, but he saw the first half through a fog of sleep and didn't really wake up till he saw buzz lightyear.  It worked out well though,  he did see his favorites there at the end.  Jay and Jayden had watched the parade too and then went to our agreed upon meeting spot.  Since I hadn't seen them, I decided to wait outside the hollywood back lot for them.  Long story short, we kept missing each other and it took us about 45 minutes to find each other.  Then we finally went back to our room.
Wednesday we drove down to Seaworld and it was the perfect relaxing day after all of the running around.  I loved the drive.  I'd never seen the ocean and it was fun to see the beach on the places the freeway got close to it.  Jayden was as excited as I was.  He had talked about going to the beach several times before we even left home for our trip.  I was navigating the map and got us lost right off the bat, but we got to the first show (the sesame street show) just in time to meet elmo and cookie monster before going in.  We didn't meet any characters at disneyland and the boys seemed really shy, but excited too.  Ethan was wearing a cookie monster hoodie and cookie monster came up from behind and hugged him as we were walking away.  I wish I got a picture of it.  So sweet.  They didn't love getting sprayed at that movie, but they survived :).  We went straight from there to the sea lion show and it was so cute!!  I loved the little sea otter, and the sea lions were so fun to watch, and cute when they would smile and show personality.  Then we mosied around looking at all of the aquariums before going to a pet show.  It was cute and the kids had fun.  They had mostly cats and dogs and a pig doing little tricks.  The pig hit a button that made water spray the audience.  Ethan said "That's a naughty pig"  We stopped and grabbed a little snack and then headed to Shamu.  We parked ourselved only a few rows back, right in the middle of the "soak" zone.  Jayden had talked about this several times before we left too, and he did NOT want to get splashed.  We wanted to be close enough to see them really well, but I will admit I was VERY concerned about how little our kids would like getting soaked with gallons of water...  Jayden could tell that we were in a wet place (maybe it was all of the people around us in ponchos... or my nervous comments :)  But he seemed to want to run away and was really close to crying.  We assured him it would be fun, but he didn't lighten up at all until the show started.  He calmed down really quickly when the show started.  It was awe inspiring seeing those whales and all they did with their trainers.  Jayden was mesmerized.  And he handled it well even when we did get splashed.  I tried my best to cover Ethan, but he wasn't so happy about it :).   Luckily, that first splash was our last and it wasn't even from Shamu.  (THOSE WERE THE WORST!!)  We were remarkably lucky.  Three of the five main front sections (of which we were in...)  got SOAKED!!!  For any who have not seen the show before, apparently Shamu likes to splash people.  And even when it is 60 degrees outside, his trainers and people in the audience do a sign that encourages him to splash people...Sounds pretty asinine to me! :)  We did not participate in encouraging Shamu if that is what kept him from stopping in front of us, I'M GLAD!  He takes his MONSTROUS tail and flips a wall of water over the people unfortunate enough to be in the path.  And he never did it just once, he did it three times to the hard hit sections.  It was amazing to watch how far it went, but I was thankful to just be a spectator.  After all his hesitation, Jayden was hooked.  We asked his favorite thing from the day, and he said Shamu, and even asked if we could go back the next day to see the whales again.  I don't know if Ethan was as sold, just because he HATES getting wet, but he still seemed to have fun.  We went to the kids area after that for a little while, and headed home before the park even closed.  So far the weather could not have been more perfect!  Sunny and warm, but not too warm during the day.  And a light jacket was plenty in the evening.  We took a long time getting home because we stopped at costco for dinner and some bottled water, and then stopped at the temple.  The kids were asleep around this time so we decided to see how many toysrus's we could find along the way.  It was pretty fun!
Thursday was Universal Studios day.  It wasn't really cold, but there were clouds that lingered most of the day.  We didn't do too much there either.  Jay went through the house of horrors and then he and Jayden went to the terminator show.  Ethan, Kayleigh and I watched the coke water fountains while we waited.  They were pretty cool!  At one point I let my curiousity get the better of me and went to see what looked like a control panel.  It had a bunch of buttons you could push to set off different water fountains.  The first few were pretty fun.  Unfortunately for me, I tried all of the buttons... and the last one actually turns on a fountain right below the buttons that soaks your pants!  Who ever came up with that has a sick sense of humor!  Tons of people walking around looking like they wet their pants!!  While I was sitting there I saw several other people victimized by the same button.  I tried to warn a couple of them, but I was too late.  It was a good place to sit for a laugh, I must admit :)  Another funny thing I noticed later was that there were actually two little "control stands" So one of the buttons actually turns on the other stands sprayer. I was showing Jayden the buttons and had him push that one and someone was standing by it. OOPS! MY BAD...
We saw their animal show after that.  (sorry seaworld, your pet show is no where near as cool as universal's)  They show a bunch of animals from the movies and show how they train them.  And the host was really funny.  My favorite part was when they released a big bird from Evan Almighty (sorry, I sound like an ignoramus because I'm not sure what kind of bird it was :)   They released it from a box behind the audience and it soared right over us!  Seemingly inches from our heads.  It was breathtaking seeing that huge wingspan up so close.  I liked that he would tell us which movie the animals were from too, that was kind of fun.  They had the little husky dog from the proposal.  He's so cute!
Next we saw sponge bob on the way to the shrek show.  They really liked him!  Jayden seemed particularly happy.
Ethan, Kayleigh and I wandered the simpson area while J and j caught the simpson ride.  Then for the highlight of the day GEORGE!!  In the george play area there is this awesome ball room.  There are tons of little machines that help you pick up or shoot the balls.  My favorite one was right in the middle.  You could dump tons of balls in there.  Then you hit a button and they all go flying everywhere.  So funny!  I think we planned to avoid the water part of the george play area but Jayden wanted to walk through it.  Then Ethan wanted to join him and daddy.  They tried a couple of things that they could just spray and stay relatively dry...  But before I knew it, they were running around getting SOAKED and having a blast!  I was so suprised because my boys don't generally love getting wet, particularly by water getting dumped over their head etc... But it was the coolest little water park ever!  Tons of levers to turn thing on and off and ropes that sent water pouring out, guns, faucets,  it was awesome!  In the summer I imagine you could stay there all day and never get tired of it.  We took a little break in the middle to go meet george.  I think this was one of the highlights for both of them.  For anyone who doesn't boys absolutely adore curious george.  If I ever remind them it is on they drop EVERYTHING to watch it.  They love his movies, his books, toys, everything!  They both went up and got their picture taken with him.  Then ethan blew him a kiss and just couldn't leave.  So after a couple other kids stopped for pics, George came back over and gave him another hug and kiss.  Ethan seemed in HEAVEN.  Then I could tell Jayden wanted another hug, but he was a lot more bashful.  With a little encouragement, he ran back over there.  I loved how accessible the characters were!  I guess there weren't that many kids there, but we could have sat there as long as we wanted with him.  There wasn't that much competition for any character and we saw a lot of them around.  I really liked that. (Since we saw almost NO characters at Disneyland.)
They headed back over to get wet again!  At one point this monster bucket unloads over the middle of the play area.  There are lots of warnings and a count down and Jay tried to talk Jayden into leaving the ground Zero of the bucket, but as he sometimes chooses to do, he ignored Jay's instructions and Jay had to save him from the downpour.  I guess it was a pretty good lesson on obedience...  That was pretty much the end.  They were all soaked and it was clear they were getting too cold.  I was afraid they would get hypothermia or something.  We took off as much of the soaked stuff as we could.  Then we stopped to pick up a quick souvenir and left.  We went to the car, stripped them down and put them in the warm, dry jammies we had in the car.  (We were so happy we had them!)  Then they slept while we headed home.  We actually drove a little around hollywood with the assistance of the GPS and saw some amazing houses and some kind of scary areas too :).  We got back on the freeway and ended up stuck at practically a dead stop, because of a lane blockage or something.  When we first got on the freeway, it was an estimated 35 minute drive to our hotel.  It took us nearly two hours to go about 4 miles (that is NOT an exaggeration)  I wish I had noticed the little detour button on the gps sooner.  I finally did notice and we managed to shave a little time off of our commute.  Our car did have a little hiccup while we were at that dead stop.  It sounded like it was going to die, but then kept idling and had no more problem.  We chalked it up to the fact that we had been idling for two hours and didn't think too much more about it.
Friday there was steady rain pretty much all day.  I ran to walmart in the morning and picked up some ponchos.  We put them on the kids and Kayleigh was not happy about it.  We assumed she would get used to it and walked outside to wait for the bus to Disneyland.  There was a pretty good downpour out there and Kayliegh's objections got a much more forceful.  It was clear that it would not be a good thing for her, so she and I stayed at the hotel while the boys braved the rain.  Even in the couple minutes outside the stroller was very wet.
They didn't get back till after 2 and though they were extremely wet and tired, they seemed to have fun.  We tried to walk across the street to outback for my birthdy dinner, but the boys struggled to even go that far.  Ethan's pants were wet almost up to his diaper and he cried pitifully with each step so I finally picked him up and he laid on my shoulder.  To make matters worse, it was an hour before it opened when we got there.  We tried to wait a few minutes, but it was just to cold for our already frozen children.  So we took refuge in the red robin and played video games for a minute.  When Jay's two quarters ran out we crossed the street and walked through target till four.  The dinner at Outback was worth the was delicious.
We had been thinking of skipping our San diego Zoo and beach outing we had planned for Saturday because of the rain, but what happened next solidified that plan.  We went to our car so we could run to walmart.  But it was immediately driving so badly we were afraid we wouldn't make it.  We drove to the target and parked and called my amazing uncle who knows cars.  He told us it was likely a spark plug, a disconnected vacuum hose of some kind, or a plugged fuel line problem.  He helped us as best he could over the phone to find the spark plug or disconnected hose.  He eased our mind that at least we wouldn't destroy our car if we drove it and that it wasn't a MAJOR problem.  Since we couldn't find any problem, the only other thing we could think to do was put a fuel injection cleaner in it.  So Jay did and it seemed to improve things to the point that we felt it should make it to Vegas.  I was so thankful because I didn't want to be stranded in LA! 
We got up and out of the hotel as early as we could and started our trek back.We stopped frequently to top off so we weren't dredging up the dirty gas a the bottom of the tank and it drove pretty well.  At one point, we gave the boys baggies of gummy bears to eat.  Kayleigh loudly expressed her desire to have some too so I started breaking off pieces and passing them back to her.  She was so funny!  When she would want another one, she would yell  "na, na!" or "ba, ba!" and reach her hand up waiting for me to put another one in her little palm.  When I decided to cut her off of the gummy bears, I tried to give her cereal.  She knew I was trying to pull a fast one and she threw it!  She is such a stinker!  We made it back without any problems.  I was a little sad we had to miss the Zoo and the beach, but we were all so tired, it was probably for the best.  And it was nice to be back early enough to visit a little more with the fam.  We talked till pretty late, and then got up and left as early as we could.  (Jay had to be home in time for the super bowl)
We ended up having to stop in mesquite and find a Chevron to get more fuel injection cleaner because it started really acting up again.  That was our only problem.  We stopped in Cedar just to top off and then worked our way home.  Our kids were very travel weary that day, they were ready to be home!  I was so proud of how good they had been on the trip.  Especially with all of the driving we did.  I couldn't blame them for being a little ornery that last day.
Jay watched the super bowl and we both spent the evening trying to relax.  I think I am recovered now, but I still need to catch up on my house!  Monday it took half my day cleaning the car.  I had to pull out our shop vac to clean out the piles of cereal on the floor.  When we were driving, I gave the kids baggies of cereal or crackers to snack on.  Maybe that was a mistake, but it did keep them happy at the time.  It looked like more got into the car than their mouths :).  Though it ended a little rough, it was an amazing trip.  I just wish we could afford to do it every year.  I LOVED it, all the more because the kids loved it.  :)

In the last ten years...

I can't make myself do pics, so I am just going to post it and maybe finish them later!  This has been sitting for a couple of months already!

I decided to copy my sisters and do a 10 year post...It has taken me a while, because I am not so good at being short and sweet!

In 1999 I spent the year preparing to go on a mission.  I was certain I needed to go.  Then a week before I was scheduled to enter the MTC, I called it off...I guess I wasn't so certain.  Then I had some difficult and embarrassing experiences and I pushed aside my promptings to go...I was going to do what I want!  Then, in the depths of despair I finally humbled myself and begged to know what the Lord wanted for me.  The experiences that followed gave me my answer and helped me through the hardest times on my mission.  I left a few weeks later MUCH more prepared and determined.  In August, I met the man who would eventually become my soul mate and best friend.  Of course, if you've read my anniversary entry, we were both unaware of that fact at the time :).  I spent a wonderful four months around him and others who I will cherish the rest of my life.
I spent the majority of the year 2000, doing the same thing.  Meeting AMAZING people and trying to help others, but finding that I was the main one who benefitted.  Sometimes feeling lighter than a cloud with joy, and hope, and other times (lots of times!) frustrated at the minute amount of good that resulted from my efforts.  In the end I learned that my feeble attempts were important even if I didn't see the fruit.  And more importantly, that I can't take credit for the it anyway.  My greatest experiences, watching people truly accept the gospel, helped me to realize that I have NOTHING to do with it.  They felt the spirit, hungered for truth, and did what they needed to do to obtain the blessings of the gospel.  What a blessing that time was in my life. 
I returned home two days before Christmas, feeling very awkward (MORE than usual, okay?).  I felt like I had to reaquaint myself even with my family.  Almost immediately after I crossed the doorstep of my home, we loaded up and drove to Utah for Christmas.  Those first few days, there were many embarrassing/funny moments for me and my family.  My discomfort leaving my "companions" at a store to go try on clothes, calling people sister, and insisting on prayers no matter where we were. :)  Those are just a few of my faux pas.  It was wonderful being home for Christmas.  I was thankful to be around all of my family.

2001 Started out a little rocky as I tried to get used to normal life again.  I got to work with my mom, that was really nice.  After a few months, I met up again with my Jay.  The rest felt much like a whirlwind.  He swept me right off my feet with his sweet, adorable personality...the flowers and stuffed animals helped too (just kidding!).  After only a few dates, and lots of talking, I felt a confirmation that he could be the one.  Only two months later, I moved to Utah and lived with my sister to solve the long distance relationship problem.  After that we spent most of our time together and Jay showed me over and over what an AMAZING man he is.  He went out of his way to make things special and fun.  As I type I'm looking up at finger paintings we made of each other on one of our dates.  He first took me to the DI and we had to choose the ugliest outfit we could for each other.  Then we went to the park and painted finger painting portraits, followed by a paint fight.  Now, every time I look at those pictures, it takes me back.  Other favorite memories were of dancing next to Jay's car during another game he made me play, camping, watching him take care of and play with his young brother and sister, and hours of just sitting together on my sister's porch talking about our goals, hopes, dreams...  Of course, my very favorite date was toward the end of September.  Jay took me up Millcreek canyon for a picnic.   We hiked along a pathway for a while and he was so much faster than me!  I felt totally out of shape because he was leaving me in the dust even loaded down with a picnic basket.  He told me just to relax and take my time, but I didn't want to look like a wimp, so I hurried as fast as I could :).  Looking back it's funny how much harder I made his life sometimes. (Who am I kidding, I still make his life harder sometimes!)  He raced up the trail and started setting up the table.  He made a nice dinner and brought real dishes in a beautiful basket.  The setting was perfect, so wonderful and scenic, I should have known something was up!  But honestly I didn't.  The leaves were colorful, the weather was just how one would hope, and the mountains, as always, had such a peaceful feeling.  After we ate we sat on a picnic bench and talked.  Then, Jay walked over to the trees and dug a box out of the leaves below, came over to me and asked me to be his wife.  I don't remember what he said particularly, just his handsome nervous face and the amazing feeling in my heart at the prospect of being with him forever.  I've since told him, he always gave me butterflies from that first moment I saw him on my grandfather's doorstep.  My heart would lift when I saw him.  I am sometimes suprised that I still feel that when I anticipate his arrival, or like today, when I discover that I get to spend a whole extra day with him!  Sorry, I'll end this cheese fest...  We married December 8th and my life has never been the same. 

2002 was mostly a blissful, carefree year.  The one dark spot was a miscarriage.  I found out I was pregnant only a couple months after we married.  We were very happy about it, because we were both excited to have kids, and wanted them right off.  When I found out that I had miscarried at about 11 weeks I was devastated.  Over time, I had almost forgotten about this, because so much has changed now!  In hindsight I am endlessly grateful for the Lord's time.  We really got to know each other well and had tons of fun together.  We lived in our first apartment half of that year.  It was not well maintained, but we made some cherished friends that made the experience worth it.  Then, we moved into the apartment we should have been in from the start.  We loved our Grant Street apartment, and planned to stay there until we had to move out.  (You know, when we had our third child and could no longer fit in two bedrooms :)  Our life was so simple, we didn't really want or need anything.  (We wouldn't have had room for it anyway) 

2003 was a mostly consumed by our fixer upper.  In about March, Jay's dad told us about a house that someone in his ward would give to us if we just paid to move it.  It seemed crazy not to at least look into it, so I started to look up the cost, risks, etc...of moving a house.  We also looked at houses to have a comparison.  Since the moved house would certainly cost 100 grand or more and have lots of risks involved, our little house seemed like a bargain at 82,000!  To us it looked perfect...of course we had a pretty smart realtor.  He had taken us to see two amazingly terrible houses that were both over 100,000.  Compared to the two houses with sunken floors, holes in walls, yellow smoke stained wallpaper, and piles of garbage wood we would have to haul away, ours looked like the deal of the century! (And I still feel it was, I love our house.)  At that same time I changed jobs and started working at a mortgage company my aunts family owns.  Those first six months in the house were very very difficult.  We planned to remodel the kitchen, and that seemed like all the house needed beside ripping off the hideous wallpaper and painting.  No problem right?  Well, Jay's dad had a much more realistic picture when he first saw the house.  Where we saw perfection, he saw problems... :).  And he turned out to be right.  We ripped off the wallpaper to find endless seas of paneling.  Our kitchen remodel turned into an entire kitchen and bathroom overhaul, totally new clear down to the studs.  Not to mention drywalling almost the entire upstairs, overhauling the terribly inconvenient pantry, and painting...SO much paint, SO much dust...  We lived in the basement among a lot of dust, lived out of a cooler, and our basement bathroom only had a toilet.  We bummed tons of meals off of Jay's mom.  Not to mention taking all of our showers there and spending time there to escape the stinky, dusty hole we lived in.   I pretty much lost it the day I found out that our cupboards were too big.  We were on the home stretch and the cupboards were my signal that it was almost done after MONTHS of work.  When Jay called to tell me, my behavior could have been at least compared to a three year old tantrum...  I sobbed pitifully in front of ALL of my coworkers (good times :)  That was in the home stretch, we got it worked out and finally, at long last it was done!!  I am thankful to have a home, and one we can afford.  I am thankful for Jay's parents; we never could have done it without them.  And the financial contribution from my parents too.  I am also thankful to be where we are, we are so happy here.  But I will never, I repeat NEVER buy a major fixer upper again!  Incidentally, we have been hesitant to take on any other projects in our house since then.  As you can tell by our peeling paint, and half finished living room :). 

2004 started out pretty uneventfully... We were enjoying our house, working, etc...  I had changed jobs again at the end of 2003 because business at the mortgage company slowed down.  I was a teller at Cyprus CU in Magna and Jay worked at foods etc...  I LOVED working there in Magna.  The members were amazingly nice.  It felt like a small town.  I loved the old men who would talk to me about being members of the credit union since it was in a little house on main.  I loved hearing all of the stories of people who came in.  It is amazing the things that people would tell me after coming in several times.  You realize that every person is interesting in their own way.  And I loved the family feeling of magna everyone seemed to know everyone else. I made so many friends that year that I wish I could keep in touch with now!  In the fall, my friend Erica and her daughter Brooklyn moved in.  About that same time, I was really becoming impatient to have kids and my doctor put me on clomid.  After only two months and right about the same time Erica arrived we got the news we had been waiting for.  I was due July 21, 2005!  Right before Christmas I was fired from my job at Cyprus.  I was STUNNED, upset, I cannot even describe my feelings...  First of all, I loved Cyprus and had a true interest in the company and particularly the members I helped, I felt betrayed.  Also, I was pregnant, so WHO would possibly want to hire me.  And we were out my pay AND the benefits that my job provided.  It's funny to see how the Lord can make everything turn out for our benefit some way or other. 

2005 We were still reeling from my job loss, but there were benefits.  We have had some financial struggles, but it forced us to start living on one income.  That made it much easier after Jayden came for me to stay home.  And Jay started looking for a better paying job.  He was able to find a much better job at a reputable company.  Everything fell back into place after everything had seemed to fall apart.  Erica and Brooklyn stayed with us about four months of this year, and it was fun to get to know Brookie.  I had never spent as much time with her as the rest of my family.  (Erica is my best friend from high school.) 
In spite of our financial concerns, this was a golden year for us. We were cherishing every experience tied to my pregnancy...(okay...not EVERY experience! But all of the cool things :) Jayden moved a lot and it was so amazing to watch and feel him. Toward the end it was so awesome to watch my stomach lurch like in some alien movie. We were obsessed with him even before he was born. And that was BEFORE that magical moment I first looked into his eyes. I can still see his amazing little face in my mind, and the overwhelming beyond words. He stayed awake for a long time after the birth, and they let us just hold him and enjoy him for a long while before taking him away for his bath. I won't bore you with every detail of the rest of that year, but we were definitely smitten. Some of my favorite memories were the early mornings before Jay would go to work. Jayden would be up to see him off and smile and have fun with daddy. Everything was so new and fun!

2006 had a lot of bumps as well as blessings.  In march or april I started babysitting my nephew Kaleb.  At about the same time, I found out that I was pregnant again, quite unexpectedly.  (I guess we should have been more responsible, but since we waited so long for Jayden, we figured we didn't need to worry much :).  We were still excited for our new little one.  Those first six months with Kaleb were REALLY rocky.  I was sick and tired and quite overwhelmed between the pregnancy and the two little boys.  Kaleb really didn't like my house or me I supposed.  He cried a lot and would cry more if I tried to hold and comfort him.  I vascilated a lot between guilt and frustration not knowing what to do.  I would call my mom and cry and she was a great comfort to me.  Those months passed fast and by the fall Kaleb was having fun with Jayden, I felt better and we were in a much happier place. 
A fun time for me was being able to go to girl's camp with my young women.  It was hard being away from Jayden, but he loved his week with Grandma Brown, and didn't even want to talk to me when I got back.  I love my young women!
The most notable event of the year was Ethan's birth.  In early November, I decided to take the final trip I could with my sister Candice.  Over the past two years we had taken so many trips together.  Jay used to travel for work and I didn't want to be home alone, so I'd steal her from Randall and we'd spend the week in Nevada.  They were priceless and amazing trips, and awesome talks on our long drives.  Neither of us had a car big enough for both of our families after so I really wanted to go.  I have to admit in hindsight that I did have some forboding.  I kept praying and acting like I would listen if I shouldn't go, but I did push aside my promptings.  So we went, and wednesday night, I woke up thinking I was having a major bladder problem.  Again, in hindsight, I should have known that my water broke since it twice I had to clean up my mother's hallway that night.  (Thank heaven for tile :)  It was a lot of water! (sorry, tmi)  In fact, thinking back I feel like a total moron!  I just had never heard of anyone's water breaking that early.  I called my doctors nurse and told her I had ZERO control and she told me I would need a bladder sling after the birth.  That is the second time I felt like I should go home, but again, I was so concerned about ruining everyone's week that I pushed it aside again. 

Friday we returned home and I picked up Jay at 1 am that night.  Saturday afternoon I went into labor while making dinner.  We went to the hospital as the contractions came on faster.  When we got there they immediately tested me and found out that my water had broken.  From that point on I was in a mist of shock, and guilt, worry, fear...  It was an AWFUL experience.  They told me He was in distress and would not survive labor, so they rushed to arrange a C section.  Dr. Hughes came in and assisted Jay in giving me a blessing and then they took me in.  The worst part was they kept telling me, "he'll be okay, he's strong".  Instead of 'we see this all the time', or 'he's not in that bad of shape'.  I knew it was not good because of the way they said that!  Combined with the fact, that they told me his stats didn't look good on the monitor.  I threw up through the whole surgery.  I couldn't even stop long enough for the anesthesiologist to give me medication for it.  Then they let me look at him for only a moment before taking him to the NICU.  A little while later a pediatrician came and updated us on his status.  She didn't make me feel any better.  It was such a long night, but by the next day, things were at least sounding better.  He was only on the ventilator for a matter of hours and he was slowly progressing through the steps to get out of the most serious section of the nicu.  Those first days were still so hard.  At first they discouraged us from touching him too much and we couldn't hold him at all until he had his arterial line removed.  That took a couple of days but they still limited how often we could hold him even after that.  I guess I took for granted having Jayden so close.  Of course I understood why and I was so thankful for the wonderful care they gave him.  But it was still hard.  After I went home, we had to arrange to go see him in the evenings when someone could watch Jayden.  He was only in there 10 days total, but it felt like such a long time!
I have felt so much guilt over the years because of that week.  Knowing that I am at least partially responsible for the set backs and difficulties he has had in his life.  I do have faith that people have trials for a reason, that everything in some way is orchestrated by a higher power.  And I feel he will be a better person, and be blessed because of the things he has to suffer.  But, I think it would be a little easier to watch him go through it, if I didn't feel at least partially responsible.  I've had people ask me if he got his "injury" from delivery, or if it was the doctor's fault.  And I have to admit it was mine, that's pretty embarrassing.  I do feel thankful that his problems are fairly minor.  And more importantly, I am just happy he survived!  We are amazingly blessed.
We spent the rest of the year at home, or taking turns going to family parties.  We kept him home from a lot of parties and church and other things for the first three months and you wouldn't believe how many people had something to say about that!  Even people we hardly know...  oh well...I guess they mean well.  And they wanted to see him.  Can't blame them, he's pretty cute ;).  We were just following doctors orders!  :)

2007  Our first trek out this year was in February.  We went to Nevada for my niece, Mallory's blessing.  It was a fateful trip as well...poor Ethan probably hated Nevada at first! :)...  First, he was acting really uncomfortable.  While I was at the store, my sister discovered the reason why.  A piece of my hair had gotten wrapped around two of his toes and was cutting into them.  They were incredibly swelled.  (AGAIN, WHY DIDN'T HIS MOTHER NOTICE!?!?!)  They said it was probably a good thing I wasn't there because my cool headed husband had to pull it out of the open cuts that it had caused in his toes.  As you can imagine, it was extremely painful for Ethan.  Luckily that healed up after not too long...  But the other thing was a result of how many grandkids we have in our family I suppose.  It seems like whenever we get together, at least one is sick and passes it on to the rest of them.  This time it was a strange, pink eye like cold... Jayden had so much mucous in his eyes they would be stuck shut when he woke up.  Poor kid.  Ethan didn't get it till later when we got home.  One night I was nursing him and he'd been sick and his face turned totally grey.  We rushed him up to Primary's at our doctor's insistance and he spent a week there with influenza.  I stayed with him and watched tv all day and Jayden stayed with Candice.  It was kind of relaxing I must admit.  He didn't seem in danger, he just needed a little extra oxygen to make his stats normal.  And it was nice not to have anything to do but watch him.
Jayden went into nursery this year and was really happy about it!  We continued to enjoy all of his little firsts.
Ethan was so sweet from the very start.  I loved his cute little smiles.  But we continued to worry about him.  He lagged behind and he seemed to have problems with his eyes.  We took him to an eye doctor who continually told us that they just looked crooked, they weren't really.  But that seemed wrong to me, he only looked at me with one of his eyes sometimes.  When he was clearly regressing and wasn't even rolling around at nine months, his pediatrician did some tests and found out he was EXTREMELY iron deficient.  I was so happy it was such an easy fix.  I was sad that the reason was he wasn't getting enough milk from me so he was starving, but we put him on formula and iron supplements and he immediately did better.  We were so happy that his problems were solved....
We also had Kaleb through this year on some days too.  We all loved it when Kaleb would come over, especially Jayden.  We had lots of fun together!

2008 started out with potty training for Jayden.  It went amazingly well and gave me a big head about my potty training skills.  (I have since been humbled about this...)  At the same time we decided to get a second opinion about Ethan's eyes.  Our doctor agreed with us that his eyes did wander and his ability to see was affected.  (He would stop and stare at a toy for a long time, and then slowly reach out to get it as if he wasn't sure where to reach.)  We saw doctor Hoffman at the end of January and he said Ethan needed surgery.  I had never imagined this!  I was again shocked and scared, but wanted to do what was best for him.  So Jay and I spent Valentines day at Primary's.  The first day was SO bad.  I brought a camera to take a picture of him, but couldn't make myself because he looked so miserable.  (now I wish I had just for historical purposes)  Blood red tears were falling from his RED eyes and he wimpered pitifully as he woke up.  The rest of the day was NO improvement.  The surgery was on two muscles of each eye, and he was upset all day.  I'm sure it was scary for him, not to mention painful, and he did not know what was going on.  I had to keep him from touching his eyes so he slept by me that night and Jay slept downstairs.  I didn't sleep much.  By the next day, things were already so much better.  His eyes still looked like something from a horror movie for days, but he didn't seem to notice.  And the benefits of the surgery were apparent almost immediately.  He would sprint forward to grab a toy for the first time.  It was clear that he could see better.  We were so happy.  NOW his problems were over...  or were they?
He did leap forward at first, but still didn't really keep up.  He had been assessed by a physical therapist and a neurological specialist when he was younger for his delays, but it was right around the time he started iron supplements and I was sure he'd catch up.  Then when they sent a letter to follow up with him, he had just had the eye surgery, so again, I was sure he'd catch up.  So in the fall I took him again, because he was still way behind.  During the time they spent with him, they thought he had a seizure so they advised me to get an MRI and EEG.  The MRI wasn't as bad as I had feared.  It seemed scary to me, but he slept through it.  And when he woke up he was extremely funny.  I would give a lot to have that on video!  He was cracking us up, like a little mini drunk man.  Then a few days later on Halloween he got an EEG.  That, suprisingly, was the less pleasant test.  We had to keep him up most of the night, so he was not a happy camper.  He slept for a couple hours and then his mean parents dressed him up like a lion and dragged him all over the place!  The EEG came out normal, but through the MRI, it was discovered that he has cerebral palsy.  I have to admit to almost being relieved to know.  We had wondered for so long, and now we could get him the help he needed.  And it really could be much worse.  It is not degenerative, and so far it seems that his disabilities are minimal with a little extra help.
One thing I want to mention, is that all of the stuff with Ethan felt like little landmarks in my years, so I have spent a lot of time on them.  And they did have some effect on me.  But I don't want to take away from all of the amazing, joyful things.  We love spending time with our families, both extended and our little family.  Our lives are filled with wonderful visits with both of our families and trips to see my fam in Nevada.  Those times are priceless.  Equally priceless are the times with just us and our kids.  These are some of our favorite everyday times during the last few years.  Playing in the toy room.  Our kids think that room is the greatest place in the whole world, and never seem to tire of it.  Visiting toy stores.  This was fun for us even before we had kids, but now, they LOVE it.  We spend a lot of time looking at the toys and books and trying them out.  It's nice to see what they respond to, and they are really good about leaving without buying anything.  Playing outside:  what kid doesn't like that?   Our boys particularly LOVE the dirt, and during these early years, were not even against tasting it now and again.  Life is  mostly joy, with a few hiccups to humble us and help remind us who we rely on.  Let's not forget our joyful end to 2008.  On december 30th we welcomed our first little girl, Kayleigh.  We all loved her from the start!  What a wonderful way to ring in the new year!

2009 felt like a golden year for me.  Ethan got the help he needed from DDI Vantage, and showed amazing progress.  He began to walk, and run, and eventually even jump.  That was his favorite.  At his preschool class they had the kids "jump" while holding their teachers hands.  Ethan was so cute, he would crouch down like he was going to make the biggest jump ever, but couldn't get off the ground.  From that day forward he seemed driven somehow to get it.  And when he did, he was so proud, he jumped constantly!  He still loves to show off his skills.  He learned so much from his therapists and his teachers at school.  And I learned some things about how to help him too.  What a blessing!  He talks SO much, and speaks very well.  He loves telling stories and even just talking about his day, or telling me all about his toys.  And he is my little angel boy.  He has the cutest little shy smile, he loves hugs, and wants to be friends with everyone.
Jayden started preschool, and he had SO looked forward to that!  He loves his class and everything they do.  He has had tons of fun with their field trips and show and tell, and so much more.  He also loves his friend Zach and his cousin Kaleb.  He started wanting to say his own prayers without help, and would often pray for them, particularly for Zach :)  He is mischievious, but I love how he WANTS to be good.  As he gets older, he seems to notice more things he can do to be helpful.  And he is so sweet.  He comes up and gives me hugs and tells me he loves me almost every day.  Both of my boys are so affectionate, that is one of my favorite things!
Kayleigh was a joy from the start.  She is so determined and that girl knows her mind.  I'm sure this will pose many challenges in the future, but for now it delights us.  It is amazing how well she can communicate what she wants without even speaking.  And for me, buying dresses and attempting to make her hair look cute (note the ATTEMPTING :),  is awesome!  I love it!
With all of them, I think one of the greatest things about being a mother is seeing their individual personalities.  I love learning new things about them, and am amazed at how different each child is.  They really are their own little person from the very start.  It's like a surprise every day as they grow and handle things differently, it makes every day new for me too.  And seeing another person work hard and improve is so inspiring, they amaze me with their good qualities.  I have the best kids! :)
There were only two little hiccups I can remember.  One was another eye surgery for Ethan.  But it ended up being so minor (only one muscle on one eye).  And he didn't seem to hardly notice it, except that he didn't want the bandage on.  (He managed to rip it off within the first couple hours home.)
The one scary moment was when Ethan had a seizure.  It is probably the scariest thing that I have ever witnessed.  I think I probably described it in some post last year, but I truly thought he would be taken from us at one point.  The ambulance seemed to take forever!  Luckily, it passed, they attributed it to a fever, and he has not had another one.  That poor kid is always the one isn't he!  What an amazing boy he is. 
We filled our year with lots of fun and even had a sleep over at the dinosaur museum.  All in all it was a great year.
2010 Has started out similarly blessed.  We took an awesome trip to california and Nevada.  We have been home for a month and a half and Jayden frequently wishes we could go back again soon. :)  We both love our church callings, we love our children and the ones we get to work with.  Life is an amazing journey.