Friday, January 31, 2014

a brand new year.

We welcomed 2014 with a "Happy Noon Year" party at grandma's house. I know a lot of people with kids count down to 8 pm, but my kids are totally nuts starting at about 4, so noon it was. And I have to say, it was perfect. We counted down to noon, shouted "Happy New Year!", and toasted with our sparkling cider. Then we ate an array of delicious finger foods (a tradition) for lunch. That afternoon Chris and I were able to escape for a date, and that night we all went to bed on time. Last year I have a very vivid memory of sitting at the top of our dark stairway with Chris, listening for our screaming babies to finally fall asleep, as the clock struck 12 and the fireworks outside went off. This New Year's Eve was quite symbolic of just how much better life is a year later.

As cliche as it may be, I always feel the New Year is a great time for a new start, an easy time to evaluate and decide who you want to be. There are big changes coming up for the C family in 2014, and I feel one overwhelming desire: Simplify. Less is the new more. Do less. Have less. Be less. It is so very easy to get caught up in the Insta-Facebook-Pinterest world of cuteness and perfection. I feel a desire to just be. As part of this simplification I have my 5 words 2014. 


The diet and exercise frenzy reaches fever pitch in January, and you can't escape it. I have been wanting to work on what my family eats for a while, and this is one of our 2014 goals. I was reading in the Word of Wisdom, and the Lord instructs us to eat grains, "fruit of the vine" (fruits and veggies), and meat sparingly. Simplicity. We are working on eating more real food. Not paleo or completely organic or whatever the trendy folks are doing, just more real food and fewer processed things. I will always have boxed mac and cheese at the ready, and we'll always turn to hot dog night on busy evenings, but I want to do better and improve our food habits.


"Cease to be idle; . . . cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated" (D&C 88:124). This sums up one of my primary goals this year. I am a night owl. This is one of my greatest weaknesses. I finally get those kids to bed, and the freedom is so nice, I don't want it to end. But for me it is truly a weakness, as it means I can't get my day started the way I need to, leaving my kids and my house and my schedule a bit of a mess. I want to go to bed earlier, and get up earlier. I want to have more energy. I want to feel on top of things instead of playing catch up. That promise, "that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated," that is what I'm seeking.


I want to keep running. Training for my half marathon was such a wonderful thing, and I have to admit I went through major withdrawals following it. I missed it. I still do. I'd love to train for another one, but there is this big whopping dissertation that takes priority over errrrrything. Which is good. But I don't want to let go of something I love. It has been so hard this winter, with our insane temperatures and never-ending snowfall. I can't run outside (I'm not that hardcore). And the treadmill at the gym, once a friend, is now a boring foe. I want to keep running for the love of running. I hope to do 10k's here and there, and maybe later in the year explore the idea of a half (out west!), but for now, I am happy with just running.


I'm the messiest person. I don't know why. Maybe it is because I had my own room my entire life (yay for not having sisters!), but I have a hard time staying organized. My man is good and patient, but it can cause both of us a little stress. I want to be cleaner. I want to be more organized. It is hard right now, to be honest, as we are way to big for our 2-bedroom townhouse, and it is hard to find a place to put everything. But we also have way too much "stuff" and as I simplify our lives this year, that means getting rid of a lot of stuff. I look forward to our move as a time to purge. We are in the early stages of purchasing our first home, mortgage pre-approval completed and figuring out finances, and whatever house we find to make our home, I want it to be orderly and clutter-free. A house of order, where the Spirit can dwell.


Play more. Less gadgets, less structure. Just get down on the floor and play whatever is in my children's little brains. We already do a lot of this. I just want to be a little better at doing it more.

All of these things stem from my life motto, from my beloved President Gordon B Hinckley:
"Try a little harder to be a little better."

That's what I always (try) to do.

So here is to a happy, healthy, simple 2014

You though I was done, but I'm not!

Because really, its the last day of January, and what a January it has been.
I think January is quite hated by most, including myself. But while the last week has been long, the month as a whole has not been too excruciating. And that is as nice as I'll get regarding January.

This January's word: survival.

We started 1 pm church. 1 pm is precisely when the twins go down for their naps. So going to church right then is so much fun. Every Sunday is survival. We try to squeeze a nap in ahead of time, but 45 restless minutes just isn't that effective. We are trying to make the best of it though. We are working on having more spiritual mornings, trying to ensure it still feels like a special day. And I do have to say, I like coming home, doing dinner, and going straight to bed time.

It has been the coldest, snowiest winter I dare say I've ever experienced in my life, and I'm an Idaho girl. We have bouts of snowfall followed by bouts of seriously cold temperatures. This week we fell back down to a windchill of -20. Monday morning I new it was going to be bad on Tuesday, so we went to the store to get out of the house. But it was still -11! That was the "better" temp. Poor little John had chapped windburned cheeks from being outside for just a few minutes. So our being stuck inside is not because I don't want to take them out in the winter, it is because it is literally too cold to be outside. So we've been trying to keep busy.

There is yoga.

And endless renditions of all the various Frozen songs. I found some fabric in my sewing box that made perfect Elsa and Anna capes. John recently began really loving the song "Frozen Heart", as it is quite manly. He stomps around to the beat, grunting and growling. Its pretty dang cute.

The -20 degree day had daddy staying home a few extra hours in the morning. Before he new it he was Flynn Rider up in the tower with Rapunzel, holding Pascal and Maximus. He is the very best daddy. My role? The witch mommy, laying under a blanket as a pile of dust. My favorite role to play.

Carly goes to school every once in a while. I think her district is up to 6 snow days (its hard to keep track since she doesn't go every day). She had a unit on pets and started to really want a puppy. I held her off by explaining how John is pretty much like a puppy, so we'll see how long that lasts. Quinn likes princesses a lot, which doesn't make sense because little girls like princesses, not tiny babies like Quinn (right!?). We eat a lot, we visit Target a lot, and we eat at Target a lot (yay popcorn!). One day I got super Pinteresty and made hopscotch squares on the carpet with painters tape. Anything to make another inside day a little more fun.

I put in a request to grandma for some fun pillowcases. I thought the babies were about ready for pillows and this would be a fun way to get the ball rolling. The kids just love them. Carly screamed like she won the lottery when we opened the box. Q loves her Minnie and is very good about starting her night on her pillow, but it doesn't last long. Quinn sleeps with a crowd, all sorts of animals, and 2-4 blankets, depending on what I can sneak away from her. She likes to be all wound up, and when we go check on her it is often hard to find her in her crib. It is hilarious.

But true to John fashion, the pillow wasn't working out. It was keeping him up, making car noises and the sorts. We had to take it away. He uses it when snuggling up with his sisters to watch a show, but he is a simple man when he sleeps. Nothing but a blanket for him.

Speaking of snuggling up, we have been doing a lot of that. When your temperatures hang in the negatives, your heater can only do so much. Our house has been chilly, and our playing only goes so far. We often find our afternoons spent under blankets watching movies. I don't like them watching so much tv, but we do the best we can. And at least when you throw popcorn into the mix, then it becomes an event of sorts. A few favs these days include Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Brave, Cars, and Tangled. Heaven help us when Frozen is released on blu ray (we've already pre-ordered it).

(This just may be one of my favorite pictures ever. 
Carly was offering pony rides before bed, and John was waiting his turn not-so-patiently.) 

We wrapped up this long cold month with Carly's field trip to the bowling alley. Chris took her, and it sounds like it was all sorts of fun. Bowling is now on our radar as a future family outing. Because two 2-year-olds in a bowling alley is exactly what we all need.

We survived another January.

A year ago today I spent the day violently ill and rode an ambulance to the hospital, where I stayed for 2 days. I've been reliving it all day, my heart filled with gratitude for my happy life and my healthy body.

Welcome 2014.
You'll be a good one.

Monday, January 13, 2014

deep deep deep deep snow.

The Mitten was hit by the "Arctic Vortex", which sounds made up but was totally a real thing. We got 18 inches of snow in about 36 hours, and after that temps fell to the negatives. Our daytime high temps were "feels like" negative teens, and the lowest I saw was wind chill of -30. It was crazy. The deadbolt on our door was stuck, our car was frozen dead, and we had 4 foot icicles hanging off the roof. What a fun and wild thing to witness and experience.

Before the cold came, we went out to enjoy the falling snow. It started on a Saturday night, so church was canceled the following morning. It was actually a very sweet morning. We had a little lesson and watched The Restoration, and the spirit was very strong. Then we bundled up and headed out to appreciate God's creations.

(Here you see the shoveled snow up to Q's waist.)

Quinn was done after a while, so I sacrificed and went inside the warm house with her, where she chugged hot chocolate like I've never seen. #sugaraddict. But Chris, John, and Carly were hard core. They stayed out for a long time, and made a little plump snowman. I was in charge of his face, and my pickings were scarce, so he ended up completely terrifying. But Carly, that non-judgmental sweet girl, loved him just the way he was.

The temps dropped and a frost-bite warning was issued (like, if you went to get gas, you had the chance of getting frost bite . . .) so we hunkered down inside (and even then there was only so much our heater could do; I was so cold even inside!). We pulled out all the stops.

We watched movies in a tent. Because it is more fun in a tent, obviously.

We performed Frozen over and over and over. All three of the little chicks are big fans (we've now seen it three times in the theater), and love to listen to the songs. Carly is a passionate Elsa, to say the least, and I'm always impressed by her photographic memory as she acts out "Let it Go" (I know about 97% of young moms these days are listening to the soundtrack as much as I am!) The "ice song" at the beginning is also a fan favorite. John giggles every time "Sven" sings in Reindeers are Better than People, and Q sings sweet little birdie sounds along with the music. Though, she has mastered that Arendelle is covered in "deep deep deep deep snow." (Either Quinn or I plays the role of Anna, naturally.) They are so funny to watch. And that blessed soundtrack got us through many frozen days.

(And many requests for "Elsa hair" have me honing my self-taught French braiding.)

Facebook was alive with sub-zero science experiments, and I was wishing my kids were just a bit older. We did pull off one. We soaked daddy's shirt and it took less than 4 minutes to freeze solid hanging up outside in the middle of the afternoon. Impressive.

And of course, we held a grand ball (though in interest of full disclosure, temps had warmed up to the teens by then). Quinn is such a crack up. She has long loved accessories, and when I pulled out Carly's old princess dress she jumped up and down excitedly. We also found a Super Why cape a friend made for Carly a while ago, and since Q is currently obsessed with "Why!", it completed her ensemble perfectly. Introducing Princess Super Why.

John, King of the Bubs, was also at the ball, looking dashing in his tie, sash, and sparkly gold Pocahontas sandals. Last but not least was Carly the Rainbow Queen, who would intermittently become the Ocean Queen without warning.

It was quite the occasion, to be sure, though the entertainment mostly included the Rainbow/Ocean Queen dancing ballet solos, Princess Super Why hoarding necklaces, and the King of the Bubs throwing trucks down the heater vent.

It was a sweet few days. I love my family, and being trapped in our warm home with them was so fun. For the first two days. Day three we started losing it. We tried to go to the movies, but our car was frozen. We ended up having a few time-outs (which obviously impact John greatly), and lots of longingly staring out the window. Chris had to get back to working, but couldn't get to campus, so we worked at home (so effective!) and at our little local library.

Finally, the vortex passed. School reopened, and Carly was back after a Christmas break that, thanks to weather, had been over 3 weeks. We went outside on Thursday and I thought it felt so nice. I looked at my phone: 11 degrees, people. Q and J didn't mind at all. They pulled out their chairs and enjoyed the fresh air.

And the last few days have been downright balmy. Temps in the upper 30s, low 40s even, mean a lot of melting snow. Add the heavy rainfall and we've got a LOT of water. So much so that it made its way into our basement. Luckily it wasn't too much, and has since stopped.

But today the sun was shining and the melting snow was pouring off the rooftops like rainfall, so we headed out to find some puddles. The only thing Michigan does bigger than lakes is potholes, so we found lots of deep deep deep deep puddles. 

I have to say, we've been loving this wild and wacky weather.
The Arctic Vortex of 2014 is one to remember.

So now it is time for spring, right?


PS. Another perspective on how much snowfall we got: poor creepy snowman was covered up to his head. It cracked me up that the snow piled itself right on top of him in a nice little cone.

Monday, January 6, 2014

no place like home for the holidays.

Christmas came, and it was a wonderful one. I had joked with Chris's mom that what I really wanted for Christmas was him to get the job, so Santa delivered on that one. The rest was icing on the cake.

A few days before Christmas, the Mitten was hit with an ice storm. I have never seen anything like it. The whole world was covered with a sheet of ice. Every branch of the trees were coated in it. We went for a walk and I was amazed by the beauty. It was easy for us to appreciate the beauty, as our electricity stayed on and our home stayed cozy and warm. A great majority of our city was out of power during the week of Christmas, some going without for up to 10 days. We were very blessed. 

On Christmas Eve the traditions began. Chris and I both come from families with great Christmas Eve traditions, so it is fun to draw from both. That morning we headed out to breakfast, a C family tradition. Our kids sure can pound the pancakes. The rest of the day was perfectly imperfect. The kids emotions were running high, and there were lots of tantrums. But there was a lot of fun, too. Carly and Chris made a gingerbread house. We read Christmas stories (we have so many Christmas books . . . that was the name of the game this December!). Christmas Eve night we had my mom's Dilly Ham Sandwiches for dinner, a new tradition we decided on for our family. Then it was pj's, the Polar Express, and the baby Jesus story, a T family tradition. Bedtime finally came. Carly only got up once during the night, at 1 am, to ask if Santa came. On Christmas day, we all slept in until after 8. How long will that last, you think?

Santa came, as he always does, bringing ice palaces, strollers, and full stockings. We got John a little dinosaur to push around in his man stroller. He roared at it, then promptly pulled it out and replaced it with trucks. He's a transportation man. That dinosaur is so dang cute though. I think I'll keep him for me. Before we knew it, the gifts were all open and scattered all over the floor, a most perfect Christmas scene.

After all the gifts were open, daddy pointed out to Carly that was some short of letter left in the tree. It was a note from Santa, thanking them for being on the nice list, and mentioning one more surprise he put in the basement. The tramp is a good addition to our winter survival basement playroom. Quinn often pulls my hand toward the basement door and requests, "Bounce! Bounce!"

Frozen was the central theme for Miss Carly, as she came away with a sparkly Elsa shirt, a necklace, and of course the ice palace, which John desperately wanted to destroy with his brand new set of construction trucks.

It was a wonderful and chaotic Christmas morning, and we spent the remainder of the day in our pajamas playing with our prizes.

A few days after Christmas we headed to Chicago for the annual "Chicago Christmas" at Baga's house. We love getting to see Chris's grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins twice a year. It always makes for a happy reunion, and the kids are outrageously spoiled with love, attention, and gifts.

A perk (for the kids) about going to Baga's house is the fun of staying in a hotel. 
Unlimited Cheerios in the morning, cartoons, and a big fluffy white bed for the princess.
Such diva children.

Chicago Christmas was a success, with a lot of play time and a lot of fun presents. Carly got the Elsa dress she has been drooling over every time we go to Target. Our Target ran out 10 days before Christmas and I looked and called non-stop for them to restock. Luckily, grandma had more luck, and Elsa's biggest fan got a post-Christmas surprise. She now wears it during her long intense Frozen reenactments. Chris's grandma, Baga, turns 80 this month, so for Christmas everyone made a scrapbook page and compiled them together into a book of memories. It was so sweet to watch her look through it. Baga is such a blessing to her family, and has blessed our little family's life in countless ways (and in way too many gallons of Moose Tracks ice cream and Aurelio's pizzas). We just love going to Baga's house.

From Chicago we made our way down to Indiana, where the party continued at grandma and papak's house. We always have so much fun and enjoy so much relaxation there. We shopped, played, had a New Year party, got Five Guys (sans kids!), and Chris and I even escaped for our favorite date: the bookstore, where we each pick out a stack of books and sit and look at them. Silence and togetherness . . . in our current phase of life, it is exactly what we need.

I have the unique blessing of having been born into and married into the two best families there are. We drove way from Grandma's house with two crying little girls and one sleeping little boy, planning when our next visit would be.

It was a wonderful, almost picture-perfect Christmas season. Christmas break went too fast, as it always does. But the Midwest is currently getting slammed with a winter storm. We got 17 inches of snow yesterday, and today's temperatures dropped to "feels like" -30. Just like the ice storm, I've never seen anything like it. The Mitten is really showing off for our final winter here, and since I have a warm home, a full pantry, and all my favorite people, I have to admit I am loving it. MSU was canceled today and Chris is working from home tomorrow, so here's to a few bonus vacation days. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

the Evergreen State.

Our favorite Christmas gift this year came on December 19, when Chris accepted a job offer as a professor at Washington State University. My heart is full and my mind is still reeling from the flurry of events, not to mention the years of preparation, that led to this point.

Chris applied to 6 jobs this fall, with intentions of applying to more when they came out after the holiday break. The jobs were all over: Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Utah. When the Washington State job was posted, my heart skipped a beat. The Pacific Northwest has been on our radar from early on in our marriage, and we searched there for Masters and PhD degrees. Some of our best Michigan friends moved home to Oregon last year, and we joked how we'd get a job at Washington State and come out to join them. A year later, there was the job. I couldn't believe it, but I did my best to remain neutral. We'd go wherever we were supposed to go. Chris applied in early October. He had a phone interview just before Halloween, was flown out for a few intense days in Pullman just after Thanksgiving, and was offered the job just before Christmas. The offer came on a Tuesday, they negotiated terms on Wednesday, and he accepted on Thursday. Washington State was so great and up front about how they wanted their guy and they wanted him fast. I'm so glad my guy was their guy.

I am still a little bit in shock. I still feel like it might not be real. We have a history of getting what we need rather than what we "want". Chris got into BYU, Utah, and Tennessee for his Masters degree. I wanted to stay in the west, but it took one trip to the temple to know Tennessee was our next step. When PhD time came around, Chris got into Utah. I wanted it. I wanted it so bad. Two years in a foreign place that never really felt like home (despite all the wonderful people we met) and a new baby made me want it. But as I prayed one night, I heard the most distinct voice in my head, "Who are you kidding. You are moving to Michigan." And we did just that. Tennessee felt like such a random place, but Chris's adviser there was wonderful, and it was her that led us to Michigan State and to Chris's current adviser, who has opened so many doors for Chris and given him the experience that made the job at Washington State, a Pac 12 school, possible. Sometimes its hard to see the Lord's hand in your life. In this situation, as we look back with 20/20 hindsight, it is abundantly clear.

Job application time came and I was sure we were going to end up in some crazy place, and I was at peace with that. During the entire process with Washington State I was neutral. We are talking Switzerland, people. Chris kept asking me if I even wanted him to get the job. I was just trying to avoid heartbreak. He was offered and accepted the job and it felt so surreal. I kept questioning it, worrying about it. Then one morning it occurred to me that I was being like Carly and Santa. Carly kept questioning Santa, being overly concerned and thinking too hard. I finally told her not to worry about it and just be thankful he is bringing her presents. I think if the Lord was imperfect, He probably would have been thinking that I needed to stop worrying about it, and just be grateful. He is giving us exactly what we asked for. So now I am.

Chris has worked incredibly hard over the years. He does so much, more than I can understand, and he comes home to a wife and three exhausting kids at the end of the day. I could not be more proud of him. It really is the perfect job in the perfect place. It is a small program, looking to grow. They are willing to fund and support that growth, and they want Chris to be the architect. It is an exciting opportunity for him. Pullman is a small town, but we don't mind that. It seems like a wonderful place to raise a family and has great schools. My aunt and uncle live there with their twins the same age as ours. My mom's side of the family is two hours away. Chris's cousin plays volleyball for Idaho, 10 minutes away. The area is beautiful. The Pacific is not too far. And my parents are 8 hours away. In a car. That's it. It takes living across the country for 6 years and many miserable flights to feel like 8 hours in a car is close. Funny how your perspective changes.

Not to say it is all sunshine and roses (speaking of roses, how about them Spartans!?). We have to leave this beautiful place, and it already hurts thinking about it. Luckily we got a job about 3 months sooner than we expected we would, so we have a lot of time to make plans and bid farewell to the Lady of the Lake and all the people we love here. One perk: a majority of our friends are leaving this summer too, our school journeys all coming to an end. We have also loved being so close to Chris's parents, and they have been an incredible blessing to us. Our kids love them, and his mom has really saved our necks a few times when I had the twins unexpectedly a month early and when I ended up in the hospital last year. It will be hard to leave them. It will also be hard to move away from the Chicago area, where Chris's grandma and extended family live, and where we have enjoyed many 4th of Julys and Christmas celebrations. The hard thing about an Idaho girl marrying an Indiana boy is that we'll always be far away from someone.

Among the many feelings we've had the last few weeks is a due amount of stress. Suddenly there is a move to plan, a home to find, details to iron out. And first and foremost, a dissertation to complete. It all hinges on that.  A good thing stemming from getting a job so early is that now Chris can focus 100% on his dissertation. No applications or interviews taking up his time and energy. A wonderful bonus blessing.

But mostly we feel joy and gratitude. Over Christmas I tried not to think too much, but just enjoy. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the long train ride we've been on suddenly makes a lot of sense. We look forward to the blessings, changes, and adventures that lie ahead in 2014. Our cup runneth over.

Go Cougs.