It's a Nate Party

The very day after Dustin's party was Nate's birthday party. I thought I was better, but I wasn't, so I'm extra grateful to Dustin for throwing the world's LOUDEST (but funnest) party and Karen for taking my kids so I could rest up for it. Also to Ellie who blew up probably a million balloons (ok, probably closer to 50, but I bet it felt like a million) so Nate would have the most fantastic Mario Party ever.Let's add another big shout out to my sister and brother-in-law who made the cutest invitations, a fun "Pin the Mustache on Nate" game and cupcake toppers. Yes, we had cupcakes and not cake. The toppers are way cuter than any cake I could have attempted. According to one of Nate's friends, this will just not do. As he was leaving he exclaimed, "Wait! We haven't had cake yet." I reminded him of the cupcakes. "But those are just cupcakes!" He was also horrified that we didn't have juice in our house. Only child possibly? I had woken up feeling pretty good that morning, but by the afternoon I was thrashed and I really didn't want to make the balloon creations I had planned on -- Boo Ghosts and Bob-ombs. My sister INSISTED that I make them as cool as possible and I am so glad I did. Those things were the hits of the party. The kids kept asking if they could take them home and then begging me to tell them how I made them. How?? You can't tell just by looking at these poorly crafted things?

We played lots of fun games like Yoshi Egg Rescue, Mario Mushroom Mix Up, Pin the Mustache on Nate, Bob-omb (like hot potato) and Mario Kart Balloon Battle. The winners of each game got a gold coin. One gold coin. Lame right? NOOOOOOO! They thought it was SO COOL! They started trying to steal my gold coins. Kids are so strange, and yet, that's what makes them so cool! And Nate's friends are some of the sweetest, coolest kids I know. They are also very LOUD! They weren't naughty at all, just really really enthusiastic. They made Nate feel so special and they made me feel like the most creative mom ever. Nate is one lucky kid! I love you sweetheart!


Super Dad

Dustin's birthday was Thursday. I woke up feeling pretty crummy that day, but I shoved some ibuprofen down my throat and got started on his cake and wrapping his presents. By the time I picked Sadie up from school I felt like I wanted to pass out because I felt so miserable. Dustin ended up taking Nate to tennis and picking up his own birthday dinner. I feel like the worst wife ever. But Super Dad doesn't care. His one birthday wish is always: "I don't want you to stress out."

Luckily for me, I am always overly-prepared so we still had gifts and cake. I asked all the kids what the wanted to get him. My kids are SO predictable. They pick the same thing every.single.time. Nate: A water bottle. Ellie: Gum. Sadie: A birthday hug. Oh my gosh, I laughed and laughed when they told me. The only other thing that they know Dustin likes is peanut butter and chocolate and could I please make him a peanut butter chocolate cake?? I love those kids and how sweet they are. Even if they get us the same presents for the rest of our lives. Just wait for my birthday -- I'm almost positive I will get a dress, a purse and jewelry. And I love it!!!

We also spoiled Super Dad with some surprises -- new ties and church shirts and a Nixxon watch. I also found a picture someone drew for him on his mission and had it framed because there should always be a sentimental gift in there! And then I passed out because my ibuprofen had worn off, so I took some Nyquil and went to bed.

Dustin really is the most amazing person. He has a full plate (actually more than a full plate) between work, church, the kids and a very needy wife, but he manages to keep us all happy and never complains. Things have been especially stressful, as I've been sick and he has to do his work and mine. Add in taking care of a sick wife, getting the kids to all their Halloween activities (in costumes no less), then coming home and getting them to bed and heading back out to help clean up, Nate's birthday and party, re-staffing a Ward, getting the kids to church in between Bishopric meetings and teaching 5th Sunday. . . I think I'm going to owe him some new birthday presents when I get better.

One his best (and worst) qualities is that he always sees the situation for what it really is and rarely gives in to emotion. It's great when you need someone to tell you the logical thing to do or need some words of wisdom. It really stinks when you're all fired up and practical Dustin is sitting there reminding you that it's not worth all the anger or drama. But I appreciate it at times like these. He knows I'm sick and as much as I feel guilty, he just picks up the workload and does it happily. I love you Dustin!!!



Sadie is adorable. Just all around a cute cute girl. Blonde hair, dark skin, deep brown eyes, dimples that make your heart melt and a personality that never quits. She is also horrific at having her picture taken.
When I take her picture she looks like I have her hooked up to some sort of shock therapy treatment.

Today was her Halloween party at Pre School and I wanted to take some pictures since I knew she would look like this: by the time school was over. Tangent: Anyone have any hints for me on how to keep the curl in her hair??

So I told her to laugh thinking that might get rid of the pained expression. Is legally insane better than miserable? Luckily she's cute no matter what. In the end we managed a semi-decent shot: Cutest butterfly ever!! Yes, in a whole store of costumes, my daughter saw a pair of wings and was good to go.


Pumpkin Patch

Even though it's 94 degrees in sunny Arizona, we still like to pretend it's Fall. Visiting the Pumpkin Patch is actually one of my least favorite Fall activities -- it's hot, dusty and I have to chase Luke everywhere -- but I feel like I *have* to do it. Like if I didn't do it, I would be depriving my children of some sacred childhood tradition. It's probably because I grew up overseas so I never did things like this when I was growing up.

After the hay ride, the kids were suppose to pick their pumpkin and decorate it. Of course Sadie picked her pumpkin like a good girl. Luke was very excited to pick out his pumpkin. . . Until he discovered that it was more fun to walk on the pumpkins. And roll around on the pumpkins
And then he saw the animals! Goats, sheep, pigs and cows. . .oh my! He could have stayed there all day.

When I went back to check on Sadie and take some pictures she told me to stop because, "I'm trying to focus on decorating my pumpkin right now." It's just beautiful and she has placed in on my entryway table in a spot of honor.

We got to feed all the animals, pet the baby pigs, run around in the hay maze. . . but the highlight for all the kids was the Bouncy House. It's almost like everything was a to-do list that had to be checked off for the ultimate reward. So maybe I can skip the hay and dirt and just buy them a pumpkin at the store and drive to Bounce U next year??


Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Last Sunday our Ward Boundaries were realigned. It was a bittersweet split. They took off a chunk of our Ward full of some of my favorite people and they gave us a large chunk of another Ward, full of some of my *other* favorite people. I really am excited to have so many of my kids' friends in our Ward and a lot of really great friends are coming over!

On the downside side, we lost one of Dustin's Counselors whose family we are incredibly close with. The Jandas sit next to us each week on Sundays and help with the kids. Her kids babysit for us. They lend us their truck,invite us over to swim, or for dinner when Dustin's gone. . . They're constantly checking in on me to see if I need help. Brenda was also the Young Women's President and my 1st Counselor when I was Primary President, so we have served together for years. How was I so lucky??

I am (was??) the Mia Maid & Laurel Advisor and we're losing half of our girls in the Ward split. I am going to miss those girls more than they know! There were many tears on Sunday, but I keep telling myself in a year, they'll give all of our girls back to us!
These girls are all as different as can be, but they love each other more than you could ever imagine. I was always in awe of how they built each other up and always made sure everyone is included. It was such a joy to serve them. I miss you all already!!


Wicked Fun

Last weekend was our annual Wanda Witch Race. My girlfriend, Rickie, didn't hate me too much after last year and agreed to do it again this year. I love Rickie and we have so much fun planning this! We seriously start in August and then we discuss it non-stop until October. She's also my running buddy so we'll plan routes to check out places, or come up with ideas mid-run. We're always trying to come up with fun ways to earn points and get the teams to work together so this year we introduced a few fun twists.

Instead of pulling pranks on each other, like last year, we thought we'd go nice and have the teams bribe US. I don't think we were prepared for their generosity and the guilt that would result. Our friends have to be the yummiest bakers, best crafters and most creative people in the Valley. We had so much fun seeing what they would bring us: a pizookie and ice cream, orange rolls from the red team, capes and brooms in trash bags from our husbands' team, snickerdoodle blondies, Kitty Katrina cake all the way from Utah, necklaces, oreo bark, cute Halloween crafts. . . If you want to see all the bribes, you'll have to check out our Race Blog.

Another hit was the team uniforms. Usually teams just wear matching shirts, but this year the costumes were THE BEST! The Ghastly Green Goblins -- someone was even injured in the making of that flagThe Red Devils -- those costumes are too cute
Purple Rain -- Tribute to Prince & all things 80s
The Gimp O'Lanterns -- Chris broke his ankle a month or so before the race so this an homage to him.
The Golden Ghouls -- our team of newbies! They showed up a little late for the race (they obviously didn't realize how competitive this has gotten over the years) and I didn't get a picture of them until the party ended.And winners of the costume contest -- The Wicked White Trash of the West

Maybe our worst idea was the starting location dare. We thought it would be really funny if you had to stick your hand into something disgusting to get an extra help. We thought about worms or crickets or dead scorpions. . . but logistically (and economically) it worked out better to fill #10 cans with gross foods from the grocery store. Only did you know you can buy pickled pigs feet at the grocery store? Oh my gosh, it was so gross. And the worst part was that some of it spilled in my car during transport. I guess payback's brutal sometimes.

The race went well -- no real drama except for the Security Guard at the parking garage who collected all of our clues and ran an Inquisition of the poor Green Team. Thankfully he put all the clues back. And there was the poor Yellow Team who solved a clue incorrectly and ended up at the Reservation where Steve signed a flashlight into a car where some seedy business was going down. . . but all in all, everyone had fun. Especially the WINNERS!

After *most* of the teams got back (I won't say which team got back last), we enjoyed lots of food from our food contest. Some of it was cute some of it was beautiful some of it was revolting . . .

I won't go into too many details about the race because it's all over on the blog, but I do want to say a HUGE thank you to all of our friends who come every year and make it such a fun party. I love your enthusiasm! I love your funny names and costumes and all the details. And I appreciate you patience and understanding when things go wrong. Love you all and can't wait for next year!!



Dustin has been out of town this week. I miss his terribly. I love my husband. . . But there are two glorious things that I love when he is out of town.

1. Bedtime! I am a *really* bad sleeper. I have a hard time falling asleep and I wake up at the slightest noise. Once I'm up my mind starts making lists and thinking about all the things I can't change in the world and what I should be doing to prepare for Christmas and if I should reorganize the closet and when am I going to clean out the garage. . . and I can't get back to sleep.

This also means that I shove poor Dustin all night long. I just know I would stop thinking about needing to add shampoo to my shopping list if he weren't breathing so loudly. And why does he hate me? I just shoved him and he didn't roll over and he's *still* breathing loudly. And then he rolls over and starts making a *new* noise. And will I ever fall back asleep? His alarm is going to go off at 4 am. Should I check the time or will the light from my clock wake me up more? Maybe I should go to the bathroom so I won't wake up again if I ever fall asleep.

But when he's gone, it is so silent. It's like my mind knows there is no one to wake me up and it shuts off.
2. Messy House Day. Dustin works from home when he is in town. This means that I am ever fearful that he is going to walk out of the office to grab a drink of water and find the living room floor covered in toys and me sitting on the couch reading a book. Or checking my e-mail when there are crumbs on the counter.

I should take a moment to point out that Dustin Really. He has in fact told me that he thinks I'm crazy for cleaning the counters 5 times a day and I should just do it once after dinner. I, however, am much happier when things are always tidy.

Anyway, I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep everything perfect in the house when he is home. I feel like he is working really hard and he should be greeted with a very lovely looking home when he walks out. Which he does about a million times a day because I do not bring him snacks or water or lunch. Maybe I should start doing all that and he'd never come out???

The second he leaves town, I have one big fat lazy day. I don't get dressed at all. I let the kids make forts and not pick them up at night. I leave the counters a mess until after dinner. I read a book and watch TV and ignore the laundry. I cook one meal and make it stretch for 4 days of leftovers. And then I madly scramble the day before he comes home to make sure everything is perfect again.

This little trip coincided with the 2nd week of break, so it has been REALLY been glorious because we've had literally nowhere to go. Like I'm blogging from bed at 7:21 in the morning instead of making breakfast and packing lunches.



Saturday morning we wore the white and blue and headed to campus for the Homecoming Parade.Or should I say The Greatest Parade on Earth? OK, it wasn't the greatest parade on earth because all of the candy was salt water taffy. But it really was fun. Next year I'm joining the Homecoming Parade committee to make sure there's better candy. Maybe we should have our annual donation go toward the candy fund?

On the walk over Sadie proclaimed repeatedly how cold she was, so we bundled her up. Yes, this dorky look was on purpose.She was freezing, but she wouldn't zip her coat up because she wanted everyone to see her BYU shirt. I'm assuming that she didn't want to be confused with for Ute fan, like he poor baby brother who was dressed in red.

We set up near the DJ, grabbed some free blue pancakes and got ready to hoot and holler. The parade started out a little slow and there were definitely some cheesey floats (if you can call a car with a sticker slapped on the side a float), but we had great entertainment. Like Livy dancing.
And Luke cheering, "GO COUGARS!" My sister actually took enough pictures that when Dustin was looking through them he commented, "It's like I'm watching a movie." But sadly no pictures of Cosmo on top of a van looking oh so awesome dancing with his groupies. Or Nate high-fiving the basketball team. Or the School of Humanities float (car with a sticker that Kathleen cheered very loudly for). Or Dustin foiling the the tweens trying to steal the ball clearly being thrown straight to my kids. You see, we were VERY popular with Dustin looking like this:And this kind of enthusiasm:So we ended up with some really sweet goodies made in China/Thailand. And a toothbrush! And enough balloons that we were worried Luke or Livy might float away

A parade so fun could only be topped by one thing: The Greatest Aunt on Earth. And this time I'm not exaggerating. Aunt Beaney (Kristine -- every great Aunt in our family has some sort of crazy nickname) is everyone's favorite person and we were very lucky she drove down to see us and babysit the little ones for the game (even if she let them stay up until midnight and sent Luke to bed with a cup of ice and a noisy car).

We played and played with Kristine, ate pizza for lunch and left the babies napping and Kyle crocheting furiously (just you wait and see why -- you are going to be really jealous) to go play at the Provo Beach Resort. The Provo Beach Resort has everything. It has a carousel that Sadie rode a million and one times. A mini-bowling lane because we just hadn't bowled enough. And a mini-croquet course. And lots of arcade games including some sort of lame-o computer painting game which cost $2 a pop that Sadie ended up playing multiple times since someone couldn't say no to her. . . Guess who??I think they are actually looking at her creations in this picture. Probably talking about how they were totally worth MORE than $2 for 15 second of fun.

The most terrifying thing there was the ropes course. Nate told Dustin he would do it and immediately regretted it once he was hooked up and facing the first obstacle. I believe the words he uttered were, "Why did I think this would be fun?" I am really really proud of him, though, because despite being terrified he sucked it up and did it. Dustin also won the Dad of the Year Award for holding his hand and baby stepping him through the entire thing. There were two levels (I wish I could tell how high up he was!!) and the bottom level was the easier of the two. When they had finished the bottom level I suggested they go back the way they came and not bother with the upper level. Dustin asked Nate what he wanted to do and Nate picked to head up top!! I was so proud. And also about to vomit at the same time. Nate couldn't even reach any of the stabilizing ropes and I was terrified he was going to fall and freak out. But he didn't. Even when he was waving at us.I have no idea how long it took, but we were all mesmerized and watched the whole thing in awe. How did he grow up so fast?? It probably happened when he lost those two front teeth.

After that ordeal, Nate got some well deserved ice cream, and we took Sadie to the giant playzone which was built like a mini-American Gladiator Training Facility. She talked Kristine into doing circuits which was good because I heard they kept it heated like a sauna to get the future Gladiators of America to sweat off some pounds.

And then because my Aunt has never been there, we had to hit up The Chocolate. Azzgain. Dustin almost vomited at the thought of more sugar, but I disagree. I don't think you can ever eat enough cake/cazookies. And please note that he did, in fact, partake. Luke is a BIG cupcake fan.

At this point I think we all wanted to crawl into our beds and never eat again, but we still had the main event: The Homecoming Game! Yes, it was LAME-ly planned to start at 8:15 pm. Add in the cold front and Sadie's "I'm so cold" freak out that morning, and we decided that Sadie would stay home with Kristine.

The rest of us went to the hotel, where I packed every BYU blanket we own and layered my Arizona born and bred children in a million shirts, gloves and these adorable hats: Kyle (my very talented brother-in-law) crocheted hats for all of us. And I mean *ALL*. Even Luke and Livy have hats. And trust me -- people thought we were awesome. YOU probably think we're awesome. It's all in the hat. It instantly makes you look cute!!

We decided to walk from the hotel since traffic is insane on game day and we were less than a mile away. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera. I wish I would have to capture the excitement on my kids' faces. They were in HEAVEN! I was so worried that the game would be a let down and they wouldn't find it fun, but they LOVED it. They cheered and sang the fight song. They stomp and made noise when we were on defense. They drank hot chocolate and ate gross stadium food. They got excited when they saw Cosmo. And the best part -- The Cougars WON!!!! Thank you Cougars!

I can honestly say it was my FAVORITE game ever. And I've been to a lot of BYU football games. I contemplating moving to Utah just so we can get season tickets. And since we have such adorable hats, we now have to go to the Homecoming game every year!