Saturday, October 20, 2012

This is October

I know it's been a while.  I probably won't try to make up for lost time.  But I did want to post these pictures here for my family to see. 

This is October.  We took some pictures of ourselves one day. 

Owen and Mom

Miles and Adam - this photo pretty well sums up much of their relationship.  Adam loves his baby brother and Miles sometimes needs his space.

 Four of us

My sisters were in town for a week.  I was a slacker and let them take most of the pictures.  This is one of the few that I took.  Dallin and Iris planned a "Snack-Off" one day.  They each made a snack and a drink then had all of the kids and Bethany and I taste their food and vote on whose we liked the best.  Bethany and I helped prepare the food, but all the little kids helped with that part too.  Iris won by a narrow margin.

We spent the last week of October break in Flagstaff.  We had a great hotel, the Little America, that we loved.  It sits on a 500 acre forest property and has a playground and walking trails.  It was perfect for a relaxing getaway.  This was actually a vacation where even Mark and I felt like we got to relax. 

At the hotel...

Miles and Dad

Adam and Dallin

At the playground

Miles and Mom

We spent a lot of time just hanging out outdoors in various parts in and around Flagstaff. 

Eating a nutella sandwich next to Lake Mary.

We took a drive to see the end of the fall colors.

What a beautiful view!

The boys collected sticks everywhere we went and were always sad to leave their sticks behind.  It felt almost like moving.  I told them they would meet new sticks in the next place we went.

We walked around downtown Flagstaff and got some treats from not one, but two candy shops.  I don't think Owen had ever seen a payphone before.

We spent one day at the Grand Canyon.  One thing I learned about it is that it's not called THE Grand Canyon.  Nobody cares though, because it's weird to say Grand Canyon without THE.

This is our best family shot all together.  Owen cracks me up.  It's almost like he posed this way on purpose for all posterity to have a good chuckle for years to come. 

Miles and Mark

Look at those cute kids!  We even hiked down into the canyon for a ways.  I was a bit paranoid, but made Owen hold my hand and we told the boys they had to stay near the wall of the canyon.  We got to see some ravens circling over our heads and doing the most beautiful dances together in the sky.

Dallin has lost several teeth lately, maybe you can tell.

The kids loved staying in a hotel room.  Every night Owen would turn on the music from the clock radio in the room and start a dance party.  The boys would jump on the beds and dance to the music or wrestle with Mark.  The first night when we got in the boys were dancing and jumping around and making Miles laugh and Adam asked Mark, "Dad, is this the greatest day of your life?"  That is the best thing I've heard for a really long time.

The last day we took the walking trail behind the hotel.  This is all the hotel's property, the trail goes for about a mile and a half.

Next we went to Buffalo Park for some more outdoor fun with sticks.

Man on a Buffalo.  (If you don't know the reference, check YouTube and thank me later.)

I told Mark on the way home that our trip to Flagstaff was money well spent.  It goes to show that you don't have to have an expensive vacation to make memories and have some good time together. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

It was February once

We are happy.  Life is good.

Dallin lost his first tooth.  He is 7 1/2, so I guess my kids are late bloomers like Mark and I both were.  He was nervous about getting it pulled out so I gave him an apple to eat instead.  It was a Sunday morning and Mark was there to witness the event while I was in the shower.  Dallin tried to not bite down on the loose tooth but by mistake bit on his tooth and the trick worked--the tooth came nearly out and it just needed a little tug to get it free.  Anyway, this is the account Dallin told me after I got out of the shower that morning.  Actually, first I was greeted first with this:

My kids are awesome.

We bought a piano a couple of months ago.  This purchase has been long in coming, we had a little money set aside when we purchased our home 3 1/2 years ago and finally had the rest of the money to afford a piano now.  We really haven't been in a big hurry to buy because Mark has a nice, full-size keyboard that we use at home and he takes with him when he plays gigs.  We bought it from Craigslist and fortunately we happen to know an expert piano technician (Mark's dad) who helped us greatly in making this purchase.  I am not ashamed to say we prayed about this purchase.  It was a big purchase for us, and we knew we would probably have it for a long time.  This particular piano we saw listed online and we both liked it, but it was a couple thousand above our price range.  A couple of weeks went by and I was doing laundry and had the feeling that I needed to look on Craigslist to see the piano listings again.  The piano was posted again, at almost half the price.  Before I even called Mark I called his dad.  He happened to be out tuning pianos in Apache Junction where this one was for sale, and happened to have time to spare before he headed to his next appointment.  He called the seller and arranged to stop by right then and check out the piano for us.  With the expert's stamp of approval, we made arrangements to buy the piano and have a mover come pick it up for us before we even saw the piano in person.  Now it is here in our home and fits so perfectly that it looks like we decorated the house around this piano.  The piano reminds me that our Heavenly Father loves us enough to help us even with seemingly small things.

Do you like my decorating?  The artwork is "The Tree of Life" on the higher shelf and "Spy Glasses" on the lower shelf.

The boys have all enjoyed playing it and definitely play more often than they did when we just had a keyboard.  Dallin and Adam are in their second year of the Let's Play Music course and are really enjoying being able to play some simple songs.  Now that we have a piano in the front room they will sit down and play multiple times throughout the day.  Dallin has the dexterity of playing down, and Adam just has an ear for music.  Adam likes to sit down and pluck out songs and figure out how to play them.  Dallin tried to do the same thing and got really frustrated that he couldn't figure that out quite as easily as his brother.

Also in February, Dallin finished off his second season of soccer.  I was quite disappointed this season that the team he ended up on had their practices at a park not very close to home.  But I eventually got over it because we really liked the team and especially the coach and assistant coach.  Dallin has learned a lot and has especially become quite the defensive player.  He often plays as sweeper and does an awesome job keeping the ball away from the goal.  He also does a great job knowing where he needs to be, when to step in and clear the ball out, and when to hang back and stay closer to the goal.  We liked soccer this season so much that we signed up with the same team for the spring season, even though the baby is coming right at the end of the season in May.  

Happy February times all round.

9 Years and Counting

Our 9th anniversary came on February 28th.  We decided that since we have a baby on the way we should get out of town for a day while we can.  Mark's family all pitched in to help us make that possible by watching the boys, including getting Dallin to and from school.  We are grateful for them especially since they had already taken care of Dallin and Adam for two days a couple of weeks prior when Owen was in the hospital.  It was nice to get away and spend some time together.

The day before our anniversary I put this up in our bedroom to highlight our nine years.  The first picture is from one of our first dates.  I love looking at this and will keep it up for a long time.  It reminds me of what a great life we have.

(inspiration from here): 

Here's a closer shot: 

We decided we'd hit up the Arizona Salsa Trail for our anniversary trip.  Basically, it's a collection of Mexican restaurants in the Safford/Thatcher area.  They already had a great conglomeration of Mexican food there and so they made a gimmick out of it.  It worked, at least on us.

We left town late Monday afternoon on the 27th and headed to Miami, AZ for dinner.  Miami and Globe are not part of the salsa trail but they are also well-known for their bounty of authentic and tasty Mexican food.  First stop, Guayo's El Rey!


This spot is perhaps the most memorable for me.  But perhaps it's because the pregnant lady had to wait until after 7pm for dinner by the time we got there.  My food was great, and Mark enjoyed his.  He tried menudo for the first time and wasn't too impressed with that though.


 He also doesn't quite know what to do with himself when I try to take pictures of him eating.

After dinner, we continued our drive to Thatcher where we stayed for the night.  We stopped at the new Gila Valley Temple to catch a view of it.  

The next morning  we were off on the official salsa trail.  For breakfast we hit The Manor House in Safford where we split a meal of hash browns and chorizo. 

They even let us have some chips and salsa at 9am which was nice of them.  Next we stopped at a more fast-food kind of place called Taco Taste and just tried their chips and salsa.  Not our favorite.  Then we stopped at the Graham County Visitors' Bureau where we met a lady who was a very enthusiastic supporter of her county and was so bummed that we would only be there one day and we were not going to be able to see everything. 
We spent some time driving and enjoying the countryside.

There were a couple of spots on the Salsa Trail that we made besides restaurants.  One was the San Simon Chile Company.  We called ahead of time since it is off-season for their fire-roasted green chiles and we heard that we should make sure they would be open.  Turns out, it is a farmhouse with no business office or storefront and the lady told us to stop on by, she was painting her kitchen and would be home all day.  There were no green chiles for buying, but we got to sample some of her canned products and purchased a few sauces to take home.  Our next stop was one of my favorites, Mi Casa Tortilla Factory.  They make and sell fresh, preservative-free tortillas every morning.  We loaded up with 5 dozen each of corn and flour tortillas, a big bag of chips, as well as a few additional packs of tortillas to take to Mark's family who were watching our kids.  Now, a month later our tortillas are all gone and I am wishing we'd bought 2-3 times as many.  But, they did tell us that they are working towards online ordering so we have that to look forward to.


 For lunch we ate at La Paloma in Solomon, AZ.  We also stopped at a historic Catholic church and stepped in to look around. 

Many of the restaurants we went to had two different styles of salsas, and it was interesting to see all of the different styles of tortilla chips too.

We spent some time strolling around downtown Safford (that didn't take us very long), then we headed to Casa Manana for dessert.  We both ordered the fried ice cream to have alongside our chips and salsa and were very glad we did.  This stuff was awesome, but it did gross me out a bit because on the bottom of the dish was quite the pool of grease.  This is not the kind of food you want to eat very often, but it was sure delicious. 

 After lunch we had some down time so we went for a scenic drive up a mountain path.  We eventually parked the car, rolled down the windows, and decided to catch a little nap before our drive home.  We stopped for dinner on the way home in Globe at a famous little place called Libby's El Rey Cafe.  The food was really good, though the restaurant was dirty and a little questionable.  This is the kind of place that if it were in town we would never go there by the looks of it, but we had to stop and try it because it's kind of a legendary spot in Globe.  One of the reasons is they pour butter over their tortilla chips.  It was good, though I am still not convinced this extra level of fattiness is necessary to enjoying a serving of chips and salsa.  I am pretty sure Mark liked this place more than I did. 

By the end of the day my dinner consisted of just one taco and some rice and beans. 

Here's the outside view of the place.

We thought ahead and brought an ice chest with us and bought a few containers of our favorite salsas to take home for us and for Mark's family.  It was fun to get away just the two of us and of course was nice to get back to our boys.

Happy ninth to us.  It's been the best years of my life for sure.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Owen visits the hospital

We have passed one of those milestones with our children--our first surgery and first hospital visit.  Yay for us! 

For quite a while now, Owen has been a snorer.  I'd guess the snoring started around when he turned two and has gotten louder over time.  No big deal, right?  A month or so ago I started to notice that it also seemed like he wasn't breathing very steadily while he slept, his breaths just didn't sound relaxed and comfortable and I even noticed that he would stop breathing for a few seconds at a time until he'd gasp and start breathing again.  Pretty soon Mark and I decided that things didn't seem right and we got him in to see the pediatrician.  The pediatrician examined his throat and told us Owen's tonsils would probably need to come out.  They were so large that when he slept they obstructed his airway.  We were referred to a Ear Nose and Throat doctor but weren't able to get in to see him for two weeks.  Those two weeks seemed to last forever and we did what we could to keep Owen breathing as best as possible.  We propped his mattress up at an incline, kept a humidifier on in his room, and checked on him often at night, repositioning him when needed since certain sleeping positions seemed to make it easier for him to breathe.  The specialist confirmed that his tonsils would need to go, and finally we had a date for surgery.  That last week waiting for surgery was particularly nerve-wracking for me.  Owen slept longer during naptime one day and I nearly had a panic attack with the thought that he might have stopped breathing for good.  We are blessed with good family and friends that stepped in to help us with Dallin and Adam while we were in the hospital with Owen so that Mark and I could both be there for the surgery.  Owen had a hard time in the hospital, especially coming out of anesthesia.  Because he is so young for a surgery like this the doctor wanted him there overnight.  Mark and I were with Owen until about lunchtime.  At that point Mark left for a few hours of work.  Mark came back that evening and stayed with Owen overnight while I went to pick up Dallin and Adam at Grandma's house and take them home to sleep.  Mark brought Owen home from the hospital the next morning.  The surgery went well and now, a little over a week later, we seem to be through nearly all of the recovery process.  It was so sad to see our little guy have to go through surgery, but we breathe a sigh of relief when we lay him down to bed knowing he can breathe comfortably now.  Before going to the hospital Mark asked me if I was nervous for the surgery.  I told him no, that I was nervous every night when Owen went to bed, worrying that he wasn't getting the air that he needed and worrying that he would stop breathing and not start again. 

We had to be at the hospital at 5:30 AM so we brought Owen in his favorite pajamas.  

After this picture below I stopped telling Owen to smile because that seemed a little inappropriate for taking photos of him just before surgery.

Getting prepped for surgery and showing off the lobster he was given by the hospital.  They told us all the kids robes they had available for his size were purple.  Good thing he doesn't care.

After surgery.  It took him a couple of hours of crying fits and short naps for him to come out of anesthesia and calm down.  After that they took us to his hospital room here.  He hated the IV in his leg most of all and kept telling us to "get it off!" 


We are sure glad this is over and that our little guy is feeling well and breathing well!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Hike

Mark grew up with the tradition of going for a hike on New Year's Day.  Some years that's turned into getting outside and shooting some guns, but with the little kids that we have we're sticking with the hiking.  This year, we went on Monday to South Mountain with Mark's parents, his brother Ryan, and sister Shauna.  The weather was perfect and we had a great time. 

Here is Dallin enjoying the view from the top of South Mountain:

And some more of us....

And Adam...

We hiked some trails for a while then found another bench at a lookout point where we hung out and surveyed Phoenix, watching planes land and take off at the airport.  By this time Owen had fallen asleep.

Everyone else was just relaxing and enjoying the views but Adam, who is quite the little mountain goat, wanted to hike some more.  Mark went with him down a little trail to the top of another hill.  Here they are on the way back, sprinting to the finish. 

Last Wednesday we were enjoying the snow, less than two hours away.  Yesterday we were outside in great weather enjoying a hike in Phoenix.  That, my friends, is why I love Arizona.


Looks like I didn't take a lot of photos in December.  It's a balance I struggle with, photographing life, and living life.  Sometimes I err on the side of living life and not worrying about the pictures.  I don't even have pictures of Christmas, though we do have some of that on video. 

December was kind of a crazy month for us.  It was great, just very busy.  For instance, I was in charge of Dallin's class Christmas party, Mark's sister got home from her mission to Estonia, and my sister Amanda and her daughter Iris came to visit, all in the same day. 

Here is Dallin and his class at the party.  The teacher had someone come as Santa and visit the kids.  Dallin is near Santa's, um... paunch.

Here are the boys and me when we dropped off some donations for a Christmas sponsorship we did with Save the Family, a shelter for women and children leaving abusive situations.  I was hoping to get the boys involved by purchasing gifts for some other boys, but we signed up late and got the last family left which was a mother and teenage daughter.  Still, Dallin and Adam helped us make the purchases and even got to sniff out some lotions at Bath and Body Works and pick their favorites to give.  We loved doing this and definitely want to make it a tradition to give whatever we are capable of each Christmas.  Mark worked a lot too with us in researching and gathering gifts, but was at work the day we made the delivery.  I loved dropping off the gifts and seeing all of the black bags full of wrapped presents, seeing the happy volunteers, and saying hi to the other families that were there dropping off donations. 

Christmas Eve we went to the yearly Skousen Family party (my mom's side of the family).  We have dinner, a Christmas program, talent show by the kids, a couple of games, and a visit from Santa.  My mom came home with us and stayed at our house, helping us wrap presents and watching the fun Christmas morning.  The boys had a great Christmas, in fact we all had a great day.  We went to Mark's family's house for a couple of hours, then went to church in the afternoon.  For dinner, my family came over and we ate then hung out and played some games until late that night. 

Mark took Monday through Wednesday off work that week which was great.  He has been working really long hours and we have really enjoyed all being together.  Monday we went out for a movie and lunch.  Tuesday we got some work done around the house and went to an ultrasound appointment for baby #4.  It's another boy!  We are happy and love our boy-filled house.  I am glad too that I don't have to hear people tell me they hope we are having a girl.  We will take whatever the Lord decides to bless us with. 

Wednesday we drove up north to play in the snow.  The boys all had a blast, though Owen lasted the longest in the cold. 

Dallin and Adam had fun sledding.

Mark and Owen even went once or twice.

There was a steep hill some kids were sledding down that Dallin wanted to try.  After climbing up to the top he tried to sit down on the sled but the sled went and he slid without it.   It ended up working out fine, and the other kids that were there all started sliding down without their sleds, which worked out a little better because it wasn't quite as fast that way down the steep hill.

We had a hard time keeping gloves and a hat on Owen.  After throwing a few snowballs with bare hands, he started to understand what the gloves were for and allowed us to put them back on.  From then on he was toasty warm and didn't want to leave.

Dallin, posing like a professional snowboarder.

Look!  I was there too....

When we got to the snow we handed the kids their snow clothes to put on in the car.  Adam had a pair of waterproof pants, not snow pants, to wear over his jeans.  After playing for 45 minutes or so he started getting very cold.  That's when I realized he wasn't wearing his jeans, he was only wearing the plasticky pants that kept water out, but definitely not the cold.  He was frozen and done with the snow so he went back to the van to warm up.  Shortly after that, Dallin was sledding when he and his sled turned around and went backwards.  The sled knocked into a bank that someone had built up to keep people from running into a pole.  It worked.  The sled hit the bank and Dallin flew off and fell flat on his back.  He was then done with playing in the snow and went to the van to warm up. 

Owen, however, was still playing and not ready to go home.  He wanted to make a snowman so I started rolling up some snow.  After I got one big ball made, he was content with that as our snowman and stuck the hat and carrot on that we brought from home.  I went back to the car with the other boys while Mark worked on finishing the snowman, making a snow cat, a snow Batman, and a snow Robin, all at Owen's request.  We eventually had to pull him away to leave.  While we were loading the car I turned it on to get the heater going.  Owen, who was still outside the car turned to us and said, "Bye mom!"  and left to go play some more.  He wasn't happy when we made him get into the car and out of his snow clothes.

On the way back home we stopped for pizza in Payson.  

And got home just in time to get the kids to bed.  We had a great day.