Monday, December 28, 2009

Aaron's Birthday

Aaron turned the big 3-0 this month. Wow. I remember being 16 and thinking 30-year-olds were old fogies. Thirty is not old at all! Still, it's a pretty big milestone so I wanted to do something really special for Aaron this year.

His birthday was on a Saturday, so I decided to surprise him a day early with an overnight date. My brother Tom works with Aaron so I had Tom send an email to Aaron's boss, asking if it would be okay to whisk him away early on Friday. I showed up at Aaron's desk mid-afternoon and he was totally surprised. When I told him I was there to take him away, he was a little confused and said, "uh, I can't leave yet." He was totally surprised when I told him I already cleared it with his boss. My sister Megan was so great and took our kids for the night (hooray for a bottle baby!) and my sister-in-law Lesli watched Kate for a while as well.

We had fun playing on these huge checker boards in the lobby of our hotel. I found out that I still suck at checkers.

I had already dropped off the kids and packed a bag for us so we drove straight to Salt Lake. We stayed at the Sheraton which has just been remodeled and was totally nice! It has a very modern feel to it and all the rooms have big flat-screen tvs. We checked in and Aaron had time to freshen up before we went to our dinner reservation at Tucanos. (One of Aaron's favorites.)

The two of us at Tucanos after a tasty meal. We shared some really yummy papaya icecream for dessert -- the perfect thing after a heavy meal -- delish!

After dinner we walked around the shops for a while. It was so fun to be downtown during Christmas time. The next day we went out for breakfast before heading home.

That night I made Aaron a chocolate cake and we had a few friends over before heading off to my sister's Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.
We had such a great time the whole weekend. I am so glad that I got to surprise Aaron with something really fun for his 30th birthday. I am so blessed to have a caring husband that loves me and our children so much...and cooks too! Happy birthday hot stuff...seeing you in that ugly sweater vest only made me love you more.

Goodbye 243rd Ward

We always knew that Aaron would only serve in the singles ward for one year...and since he was called last November that meant our time was up. We knew it was coming, but we weren't quite ready for it. That year flew by so fast! During that time we learned a lot about ourselves, made some great friends and drew closer to the Lord. I watched Aaron mature spiritually as he strived to meet the needs of those he served. I was able to connect with many members of the ward by serving on the activities committee.
Our family is moving on! Church will be A LOT quieter without us around I'm sure :)

To say it was easy would be...mmmm...totally wrong. Having a 14-26 month old boy with me for all three hours of church meant that I often got little out of the meetings. And then when Kate was added to the mix it became pretty chaotic. Picture me pushing a double stroller up campus hill in heels. Luckily I had the help of the 1st counsillor's wife who Finn LOVED and several kids in the ward helped out when they could as well. Plus, Aaron could come to Relief Society with me so I was really only on my own for Sacrament Meeting...which was last...during Finn's nap time...oy.

Rich, Aaron and Finn. Rich was the clerk(?) in the ward and Aaron got to know him really well. "As I type this Finn is going "Wich! Wich! Daddy! Finn!" He really connected to some of these guys.

I was excited to go to a family ward with a nursery but it was still hard to leave the people we have grown close to over the past year. We got to say goodbye at the ward Christmas party which was really special. That's where we took these pictures.

Eric (Elder's Quorum President), Aaron and Brother Christmas (1st Councillor...and yes, the best last name ever)

We will miss all the kids (yes, they are kids to me :) and are thankful for the ones that still drop by to visit us from time to time. We have been going to the family ward the last few weeks and LOVE it. It is full of such great people! We are excited to start this new chapter in our lives and actually interact with members of the church that are not 18-30!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holy Videos Batman!

Here are a bunch of videos I have been meaning to post for a while.

Finn bonding with Kate while decorating the tree:

Finn hanging an ornament:

Jingle Bells Serenade:

The next video was taken about a month ago. Kate makes so many happy noises all day long, and loves to make spitting sounds...which should be gross but is actually really really cute.

This next one was taken a couple months ago. Since Finn is all about the alphabet, Aaron got him some sight-word flash cards and he LOVES them. It's a special bonding thing between him and Aaron...Finn loves to "Do Words" with Daddy while I make dinner. During this video Finn is using his silly robot voice so you can't really understand him. I'll try to get a better video of this sometime soon. His vocabulary has really exploded lately and we are so impressed with all the things he is learning and saying.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Decorating the Tree

Finn sang the chorus of "Jingle Bells" at the top of his lungs the entire time we decorated the tree this year. It is so fun that he is old enough to really get into the holiday.
We made the mistake of telling Finn is was time to decorate the tree BEFORE Aaron put the lights on...those 10 minutes were the longest of his life I think. But don't worry, "Jingle Bells" kept him company until it was time to put on the first ornament.

Kate hung out on the floor the whole time and watched the action. Now she likes to lay close to the tree and look at it and the other Christmas lights in our house.

Putting the star on top is Finn's favorite part...thanks to my stellar photography skills Aaron is cut out of this shot...but he was looking just about as happy as Finn.
After the tree was done we made hot chocolate and watched Mickey's Christmas Carol and Pluto's Christmas Tree...favorites of mine as a kid. There's something about starting traditions with my kids that just makes my heart explode with happiness. I love it!

Thanksgiving AKA Relax'n'Binge Fest 2009

For anyone who reads this: sorry for being lame-o and not posting anything forever...but as we all know the holidays get ca-razy!
Thanksgiving this year was so much fun! Aaron's brother Matt and his family came up for the whole week and we had a great time together with them and all of Aaron's other fam that live near. Are you ready for this? Aaron and his brothers do ALL THE COOKING on Thanksgiving! His mom definitely did her part and we all pitched in a little, but the girls were not in charge AT ALL. That is the way we have done it for the past few years and I have to say, I think it's pretty fantastic.
"Band Hero" for the Wii was a definite highlite of the weekend. It has a couple Taylor Swift songs that the younger girls were ALL A-BOUT. Kinz is singing here, with Ben on drums and Aaron and Matt on guitar.

Finn LOVED "playing" guitar along with everyone else. He seriously sat here with this guitar for at least an hour!

We got to celebrate Makinzie and Taylor's birthdays while they were here. Here is Finn post birthday cupcake, mid ice cream., pretty happy with himself.

Kate has seriously turned into the easiest baby. At about 4 months old she started sleeping through the night all by herself, she is happy just to hang out most of the day and she is rarely grumpy. She chilled in this swing for a good portion of the weekend, happy as can be.
I am so thankful for my fun little family, and all our extended family that make the holidays so great. We really are so blessed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

He Does it for the Dots

When Kate was born, I suddenly realized I couldn't MAKE Finn obey me anymore. This is due to the fact that 75% of the time I am using both hands to feed Kate or hold Kate or carry Kate in her yes-it's-awkward-to-carry-but-there's-no-other-way car seat. I was getting sick of threatening him with time in the corner and spanks and knew I needed better incentives. A couple months ago I started a "rewards" program with Finn and it has changed my life!

Here's how it works: I scored a bunch of hot wheels cars for super cheap at a garage sale. One at a time, I put cars on top of the oven that Finn can see, but he can't play with. I draw a simple dot-to-dot picture of the car that he is currenlty working towards and hang it on the fridge. Every time he obeys Aaron and I, or we notice him doing something good, he 'gets a dot' and we let him connect another dot in the picture. Once the picture is complete, he wins the car.
The first picture (the ambulance shown above) only had about 8 dots so he could quickly learn how it works, but now that he gets the idea his pictures have several more dots. He LOVES this little program and will happily say "dot!" if he knows he's done something good. It's great for me as a mom because it helps me LOOK for the good things he does, instead of just punishing the bad.
I used to fight with him to get him to come inside after and he runs into the house so he can get a dot. I used to fight with him to get him to lay still while I changed his he cooperates (most of the time:) so he can get a dot. The other day at the park, he started to freak out when it was time to leave...but I told him if he got into the stroller without throwing a fit I'd give him a dot when we got home and he climbed in without further argument.
If you have kids and do not have some kind of positive rewards system I HIGHLY reccommend it. It has seriously helped me become a better mother and turned my son into a happier toddler. Way to go on earining your crane truck today Finn! Now he's working toward a tow truck...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halloween 2009

Finn is not really "in" to dressing up. But when he found out that was the only requirement to get candy from EVERYONE in the neighborhood, he was all too willing to participate. Earlier in the month we had a costume party with our play group. It was so fun to see all of his little friends dressed up! Getting them all to look at the camera was a different story I love the fact that Kate has no idea she looks different than any other day.

On Halloween day we took the kids to a ward party. They had a few trick or treating stations and Finn got to decorate and eat a cupcake as seen in the first picture.
He also went on a "ghost hunt" where they covered a bunch of lollipops with tissue paper to look like ghosts and spread them out over the lawn. Here he is picking up his umpteenth one:

That night we went trick or treating. Kate just chilled in her stroller and enjoyed the nice fall weather. Finn buckled under pressure and couldn't say "trick or treat" to people's faces, but every time he walked back down the driveway he said, "Hey Mom! Get...more...candy!" We could tell he was LOVING it.

He really liked seeing all the different jack-o-lanterns...especially at this house that had one on every fence post.

When we came home we introduced him to hot chocolate, which -- judging by his reaction -- elevated his day from pretty awesome to freakin amazing. We all had a really great time together as a family...and I love using Finn's candy stache to bribe him to eat his dinner!


Steve (from "Blue's Clues") : ...and those are all the things I'm thankful for. What about you? What are you thankful for?
Finn: Um...Mama! Yeah...Mama...and Daddy too yeah...and
Steve: Bye bye! See ya next time!
Finn: Wait! Steve! Talkin' to you! Thake-ful...Kate...too!

Every day I am so thankful to have such a wonderful little boy...and hearing that he is thankful for me too made me love him even more.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Videos by Dad

Aaron got some quality time with the kids a few nights ago and took a couple great videos.

The first if of Finn counting to 20. I feel like his little brain is soaking everything up so fast and I can't teach him fast enough! It is so fun to have a child that loves to learn.

The second is of Kate just chillin on the floor which she does about 80% of the day. Finn loves to get Kate to "si-ul" (smile) and we all love her cute little dimple. She is becoming such an easy, happy baby!

Hight Quality Self Portraits

As I walked out of the bathroom I saw a flash go off, and a star was born.

Turns out Finn was holding his own personal photo sesh while I was in the shower. These aren't even half of the shots he took. He was pretty proud of himself for figuring out how to turn the thing on, switch it to camera mode and take a snapshot. As evidenced by these self portraits, Finn is a natural born talent. If you'd like to book a photo session with Finn, his fee is one package of fruit snacks. His calendar is filling up quickly so act now if you want some high quality portraits of your own!

Monday, October 19, 2009

They're buds

Move Over Michaelangelo

We got Finn a 'magnadoodle' for Christmas last year. It seriously is the best 6 dollars we ever spent on him. He plays with it ALL THE TIME and will just sit quietly and draw for several minutes (like 10-20) at a time.

He is always drawing something new and lots of the time it is just scribbles, but a lot of the time it is something recognizable too! Example: the other day he pointed to the picture he drew and said, "Hey mom! Cup!" and it was totally a 3-dimensional cup! Prrrretty sure he learned it from Blue's Clues...but still impressive that he could replicate it all on his own. Here's some pictures that he drew on his own that I was able to get snapshots of before he erased them:

The big guy is Daddy, the little one on the right is Kate, and the one on the left is, well, undecided. Pretty good for a 2-year-old I think!

He is really into cars lately and loves to draw them. Not exactly the sleekest model, but at least the wheels are in the right place!

He can draw several shapes on his own as well as some letters and numbers. He loves to draw members of his family (including uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins) and all sorts of animals. I know his drawings are probably only impressive to me because I'm his mom, but he just amazes me!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kate's Blessing

We were so lucky to have so much family here for Kate's baby blessing last weekend. My sister had her baby boy blessed the same day and my nephew was baptised the day before so it was a little hectic, but mostly just really great. We blessed Kate in the singles ward where Aaron is serving...which was obviously out of the ordinary, but it just made it even more special for us. Aaron gave her a beautiful blessing. Kate was grumpy in the morning, but was really good when it counted during church and afterwards at the family dinner. She is three months old now and is cooing and smiling a lot. We are so grateful for all the family and friends that came to support Kate on her special day.
LOVE this picture.
Jaxson is saying "Cheese!" like his life depends on it, and Finn is looking at him like he is crazy.
Most of Aaron's side of the fam that came for the blessing.
Kate and McCoy...cousins blessed on the same day!
Megan, Stacie (McKenna), Mom (Kate), Me, Andrea

Friday, September 18, 2009

Utah State Fair

My sister-in-law Lesli hooked us up with free passes to the fair this year and we had such a great time.
We saw a cool alligator show and Finn loved walking through all the animal pens.

I love this video because it shows just how excited he was...he kept breaking out into spontaneous dance moves:

Of course we had to put him on some rides, even though they are a total money trap:

My favorite part was the "Little Hands on the Farm" exhibit. They gave each kid an apron and basket at the beginning, and had them walk through several stations where they got to "work on a farm".

Here is Finn picking his fake tomatoe. On the other side of this 'garden' the kids planted pretend seeds in the dirt, then went to the other side and got to pick what they planted to put in their basket. He also got to pick a pretend apple from a tree, ride a mini tractor, feed and milk a pretend cow, and brush a pretend sheep as seen below.

At every station he got to put something in his basket. Then at the end, he 'sold' his farmed goods for a fake dollar bill that he got to take to the 'grocery store'. They had a lot of different things like little cereal boxes, chocolate milk etc. and he got to pick out whatever he wanted for the dollar he made. Just as I was explaining this to Finn, Aaron says, "Hey Ash, I think we're getting an apple." I looked at Finn and he had picked out an apple and taken a big bite out of it! I thought it was so cute that he chose an apple out of all those things. He ate it on the way home and was totally content.

The only downer for me was the "BBQ turkey sandwich" I paid six dollars for that ended up being cold deli meat on a bun and I had to put the BBQ sauce on myself -- lame! I always think it's going to be so fun to eat at places like this, and I am always dissapointed and wish I would have brought my own food. Lesson learned. Luckily, I got to eat the rest of Finn's corn dog after he was done with it.