Grocery list

Z bars
Gee (scribbled out and corrected on the next line)
Chocolate chip

Thanks Ansel for helping me out with the grocery list. 


Hello 2018

It’s January 2018. Love it! Especially with this kind of stuff going on. 

Usually January can be a little cold and dreery for me. But this year we’ve got a warm fireplace + good music + dinner at 6pm instead of 5:30, and it’s seems to make all the difference.

But before I get to January, I have to mention what a great Christmas we had. All of us, except Jess, experienced some virus during the break, but overall we had a wonderful time. My pics of Christmas morning were very few. But I did get this one. Look at Ian’s face! Happiness. 

This next shot is of Jess explaining that he got something from a well-dressed ninja. Look closely at the box. Jess was (and is) my comic relief on Christmas (and in life). The guy is hilarious. 

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve eve breakfast and sock exchange that I don’t have any photos of. But it was a great time indeed. 

Then it was off to Monterey, California with Jess’ family. We had such a fun time! We stopped at the wharf and saw thousands of jelly fish. 

We visited the candy shops and I had to have a caramel apple (thanks to those that made it happen!). Jess and I visited Monterey on our honeymoon and had caramel apples then, so this time it was a must. And here’s a photo from the archive to prove it. 

We walked along the beach and spotted cormorants and egrets, sea lions, and seals (I think). We maybe saw a whale and sea otters.

We definitely saw more wildlife at the Monterey Bay aquarium. The place was packed but so very well planned out.  We even saw an albatross (being wheeled around) and tried very hard (picture the whole arm of Oliver’s sweatshirt wet) to touch a manta ray. 

During our snack time out on the balcony at the aquarium we witnessed a marriage proposal. Boom! Plus, Ansel was very clever when it came to getting comfortable using the telescopes. 

Visiting the Carmel Mission was awesome too. Jess’ Dad knows a lot about all things mission related, so it was neat to go with him as he gave us the inside scoop. If you ever find yourself in California, I would suggest visiting a mission (there are many).  Plus, they are great places for kids to see and walk around. 

And the churches are splendid.

We had a chance to go on the 17 mile drive. This drive goes along Pebble Beach and has some of thee most stunning views. I was loving it! Beautiful spot. And yes, Ansel got wet here and ended up using socks as shoes for the rest of the day. When you travel with no checked bags, one pair of shoes is how you travel. He did not care one bit. 

Look at these views!

And the cypress trees were serene and tough at the same time. These trees live for hundreds of years. 

We stayed at the Naval Post Graduate school and that was a treat in and of itself. The building has so much history and the grounds are awesome.

The granduer. I loved the ceilings!

We also visited Pacific Grove, which is apparently known as Butterfly Town USA, and tried to find the wintering monarchs there. We finally found some but it took some sleuthing and a very kind lady who pointed them out to us. So really our sluething was useless. 

Carmel was another gorgeous place. And I don’t use the word gorgeous very often. Stopping by the beach was such a treat. The boys dipped their toes in and I enjoyed the breeze. It was perfect there that day.

Ansel took a few photos. One of which included this one. 

The trip was superb and a great way to spend the end of 2017 and the beginning of the new year. I’m ready to go again!


Christmas Eve

With a sign by Ansel and an United States cookie with the name S. Claus on it as dictated by Ollie, our fireplace is ready for Santa's arrival. Our discussion while preparing this spread included these gems:

Oliver: How many carrots should we put out for nine reindeer?

Ansel: Let's only put out two cookies for Santa. 
Oliver: How about eight?
Me: How about we compromise and put out four?

Ansel: I want Santa to see my cotton ball Santa beard!
Me: Put it by the fireplace for him to see it!

And as we are going to bed,
Oliver: What about a glass of milk?
And with that Ollie poured a glass and placed it next to the cookies and the kids were off to bed. 

And Ian, well, he was dreaming of sugar plums while this all went down. But here he is enjoying the snow in an oversized coat. 

Merry Christmas everyone!


May your days be Merry and Bright

These days I find myself exhausted by the day by day. But it's a good exhausted and I love seeing my eight year old come up with original riddles, my four year old run to get the mail, and my one year old walk fast with his arms trailing behind him. 

My days are merry and bright as we fill the house with Christmas music and twinkling lights and smells of delicious stuff.  But it's also good when I fold the laundry and take out the trash and sweep the floor.  The day by day is a blessing and I'm sincerely grateful for it. 


M.C. Escher

We recently visited an art show featuring M.C. Escher. The gallery had an automated piano playing music that he listened to while creating many of the pieces they had on display. Ansel and Ian may not have loved the experience as much as the rest of us, but hey, you've got to start them young!

Escher' stuff is inspiring Oliver's drawings as of late, so it was neat to see his works up close. 


Sunday naps

The other day a woman at church saw Jess holding Ian like this and said, "Wow, if only my baby would be that peaceful and sleep like that. That's amazing." That's when I told her he's actually so tired that he had nothing left in him and he just had to give into sleep. Weekend schedules can be rough on a 15 month old youngest of three. 


Christmas month

Yesterday Ansel turned the calendar to December and yelled, "its Christmas!" I had to explain that Christmas wasn't for another 24 days, but we sure could have the Christmas spirit for the whole month. Our Christmas celebrating began with a hike, that's right, a hike up to the coolest suspension bridge between two valleys. The kids walked the hike without complaint and it wasn't one for sissies. 

Ian loved walking on the bridge. Jess looked at the photo and said, "Look at me in the back, being the worried Dad." It was totally safe but something makes you nervous when a bridge wobbles a tad. 

And here's our family up top. Oliver is going to question his face in this one when he's 21. But as an 8 year-old, he thought it was hilarious. 

Before that though, we had a great Thanksgiving! Jess and I had a chance to prep a whole meal and it was fun to tag team it with him. He made some killer stuffing that I said must become a tradition. The boys pulled at the wishbone. 

And Ian got his first haircut. It was a bittersweet moment, but very necessary. 

Back to Decmber. We had a chance to visit the Festival of Trees. The place is getting busier by the year, and it's all in the name of charity. Ansel wanted desperately to talk to an elf in the kid area, so after waiting about 20 minutes in line he had what looked like a conversation with one of Santa's helpers. When he came out of the phone booth I asked him what the elf said. "I don't really know, he replied, "I could really hear him." And there you have it. 

Oliver is practicing the Christmas Carol in his 3rd grade class. He said he loved listening to the story. I asked how the teacher cast the play. "We each wrote down three parts we wanted," he explained. I asked him to tell me what he wrote down. "The ghost of Christmas future, the kid at the end who Scrooge asks to get a big goose for the Christmas meal, and the young Scrooge during the part where he sees himself in the past." "What does that young Scrooge do in the play?" I asked, I couldn't remember. "He just sits there," Oliver answered. I laughed, "So I see you didn't want any parts that had a lot of talking," "That's right," he confirmed, "it's too embarrassing." His response took me back to the Shakespearean play I was in as a 5th or 6th grader. I had a total of two lines and that was all I needed. 

We visited downtown and tried out the "giving" vending machine. My kids loved the idea and ended up giving some of their hard earned, I mean, gifted cash for the cause. And how in the world did Ollie get so tall?  

We also walked around Temple Square in the daylight which was neat enough and I liked beating the cold. 

What a wonderful time of year! And you can guarantee that we listened to The Osmond's Christmas album on the way home. Jess and I might have even laughingly harmonized in our best Donny and Marie strained voices as our kids joined in singing "Sleigh Ride." My mom is looking down from heaven giving a fist pump for sure. 



The other day I was talking with a friend and I said, "He wanted to make sure he didn't break any bridges." I quickly followed that up with, "That isn't right. What is the saying?" My friend kindly corrected my blinder, "Burn any bridges." 

I need to read more or get more sleep or both. 


Quick, photo op!

I was swiping through photos on my phone this morning to clear up some space and I came upon the one you see here. It isn't a great shot and it was taken at the least opportune time. These days we don't see a lot of this type of photo because we quickly delete them for the better iteration of the shot. But sometimes there is goodness in the details of a poorly-timed photo. This is the stuff that was occasionally captured when we used film cameras and didn't know how the photo would turn out until picking up the developed roll at the photo lab. In this one you'll see Ollie just moments after receiving his Bobcat in Cub scouts. Previous to the photo, the pack master (or is it Cub scout master, gah!?!) said "Now's the time for a photo op." Of course, that's when I began my trek across the room, carrying baby Ian, to grab the phone out of my bag. This took only seconds, but by the time I had my camera ready and was balancing a babe on my hip, the photo op was over and this is what I got (plus the other kids I cropped out of the photo for privacy sake). My favorite part though, the best part of this picture, is Jess' look. He's the only one looking in my direction. He probably watched me retrieve my camera and thought I didn't have a chance to get much of a photo.   But he's smiling. And he's waiting. And he knows the photo is going to stink (I mean look at that smile!) but he's there and letting me try. As I looked at this photo my inclination was to delete. Instead, this morning it made me stop and remember all of the reasons I have to be thankful for this man. His patience, his love, his ability to make our family's lives just the best. 

And as a side note, Oliver is finishing up the "Bobcat blood" they gave the kids to drink for receiving the award. I've just been asked to lead the Wolves Cub scouts and all of this stuff is new to me. Bobcat blood traditions and all! Here's to learning. 


These moments

The other night Jess snapped this photo of the boys and me enjoying our newly efficient fireplace. Ollie and Ansel had just finished a shower and were getting toasty.   

Love these moments.