Monday, September 24, 2012

Gwen's friends

I feel like I'm always saying on here how much people love little Gweny. There is just something about her that is engaging and endearing. I'm not sure what it is, but at least I know what it's not. It's not her hair. I tried something new (an old school half and half) and I think it looks a little funny. I still think she's cute of course but it's not my favorite look on her and judging by the size of her lunch time entourage today at the school playground, they could care less about her hair. Hmmmm, maybe it's her shoes.

These are Gwen's friends. The three adorable sisters are in our ward and push Gwen on the swings or help her down the slide or sit in the sand or follow her on walks all during their lunch recess. The other girls are friends of theirs and I don't know them, but I think Gwen knows some of their names if they're regulars.

I heard one daughter came up and said, "Can I have a turn with Gwen!?" when the younger sister was hogging her.

She loves all the attention and I love the extra sets of eyes and hands.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

duck pond and bouncy houses

We had some time to kill as we waited to pick Chris up from work late one afternoon. The weather has been so nice, recently, so we made our way over to the pond at Hawrelek Park. The kids enjoyed faking the ducks and geese out as they threw inedible at them like sticks, mud clumps and leaves. I need to remember to bring bread with us next time.

Also recently we had our ward welcome back party. It was a chili, salad, dessert potluck....AND they had three big bouncy houses in the gym. The kids were in heaven. Although twice, one of the bouncy houses unvelcro-ed and started deflating FAST with kids still inside. The second time, both Alec and Charlie were inside, way back there as it started deflating. A bunch of adults were right near by and I tried to hold up the ceiling by the entrance so they could slip out. It was so heavy!! But everyone got out fine, so no harm done.  Chris had Gwen's boots tucked in his back pockets and some friends commented that it looked like a kid had jumped down and gotten stuck in Chris' pants. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Place

I actually did really well in the next hour after I published my last blog post.  Actually, it was more like almost 2 hours but I hurried up and took pictures before the house got messy again.  Which it did.

Front Room /Dining Room from the Front Door - Everything you see belongs to the family who is letting us house sit for them while they live in Toronto for a year. We're so glad they thought of us!

Dining Room and part of the Kitchen behind/next to it -

Kitchen - To the left is stairs to go to the bedrooms and to the right are stairs to go down to the 'mud landing' /backyard.

 The 'Mud Landing'  - not a mud room, or a regular stairwell landing but a combination of the two. The stairs continue down on the left to the downstairs play room.

 The Downstairs play room from the backyard stairs.
 A view from the other corner, looking into the laundry room and to the left are stairs going up to the den/library

The den/library/computer room - off to the right is the 4th bedroom that is 1/2  full of storage stuff of the family who owns the house and a bathroom.

A view of the den / library from the main floor .
 Full circle, back up to the main room, but you can see the stairs going up to the bedrooms


The upstairs bathroom just got remodeled while we were moving in. Its awesome.

 Master bedroom -

Boys room -
Gwen's room -

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Old Place and I guess some Philosophy

About a week or two before the move, I finally remembered to take a picture of the boys room when it was actually clean after I made them their curtains last spring. (No, late August was not the first time their room was clean since the spring, only it was the first time I remembered to take a picture in the 10 minute window of cleanliness.)

And then we moved! We're super really loving our new place. Its nice that it was pretty much fully decorated and furnished when we moved in. I actually feel like a "real" family, with a nice house and nice furnishings.  Its totally legit: the kids play happily in a beautifully grassy backyard on the trampoline while Chris barbeque's up an amazing salmon on the nice big grill and I'm watching it all happen from the kitchen sink in a nice open kitchen. My goal is to go on a cleaning spree this morning for the next hour and then take some pictures of our new place.

But its good to know (although not necessarily good to experience) that living in a "real" house doesn't make life perfect. The kids still make HUGE messes (and it actually takes even longer to clean it up in a bigger house), and they still whine, and its still easy to still feel sad about messes and disorganization, Chris and I still have different opinions on what to do with our evening time or whose turn it is to get up with the kids in the night etc... Happiness doesn't come from stuff or things or a nice house.  I'm sure I don't totally understand where Happiness does come from but I think it has something to do with making Good choices.  I also believe Jesus Christ has defined 'Good' for us. If only it was easy to always make Good choices....then maybe I would always be happy.  Soo....oops. I didn't mean to really philosophize on this post, it just sort of morphed out of my melancholy mood this morning and my procrastination of cleaning.  Ok, to work...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alec's First Day of Kindergarten!



A month ago, Chris and I were lucky enough to be in Hawaii staying at a condo on the north shore of Kauai without our children (Thanks Dixie and James!) We were celebrating our victory over cancer and our 8th anniversary. Chris brother, Thom and his wife, Brittany joined us for 7 of the 8 days. 

A couple of days before we left we finally had finished up all the other trips and get-togethers of our big month long vacation that we could really anticipate and prepare for our time away. We even managed to get ready little surprises for the kids to open each day we were gone.

The flights were fine (no could it NOT be fine?). We shared a rental car with Thom and Brittany and since all their normal cars were packed in tight in the back lot they decided to upgrade us for free:

We felt pretty special until we passed about 10 other convertibles just like ours within the first 10 min of our hour drive up to the North Shore; however, we still enjoyed having. I loved the warm wind and being able to look up into the stars at night while we drove (it got dark so early!... by 8:00pm).

We stayed at a place called The Cliffs in Princeville and thoroughly enjoyed their hot tub and pools, tennis courts (I totally beat Chris!), grassy cliffs over the ocean, and really nice condo.

We woke up around 5 pretty consistently due to the time change and got out early to try and spot some sunrises the first two mornings.  We snorkeled a bit too in the calm early waters. 



We did some fun hikes. Our first full day we found lots of energy to do a fairly difficult 5 mile hike along the Na Pali coast. Around 80% of Kauai is inaccessible by roads and that 5 mile hike took us to a beach you can only hike or boat to.


On Saturday we rented body boards and visited beaches including this one where there was an annual Tahitian Dance Festival so for $5 we got to see local kids (from 2-18yrs) perform and a professional exhibition group. It was awesome! Plus they had local vendors selling food and we ate some of the best kalua pork I've ever had.

Sunday we attended a local branch and enjoyed Fast and Testimony meeting. There was this cool biker guy that bore his testimony and we saw him riding around on his high handlebar bike throughout the week. Brittany and I got to sit together in Relief Society and were asked to say the opening and closing prayers. We had joked earlier about playing it cool about our names being the same and we had the best conversation with a member of the Relief Society Presidency:

Lady - "What are your names? Sister..."
Me - "Archibald"
Brittany - "I'm also Sister Archibald"
Lady - "Well, how about that!"
Me - "yeah, we married brothers..."
Lady - "Oh, really? *laugh laugh laugh* that is wonderful... You know, they did that all the time in the scriptures...Well, I better get your first names so I don't mix you up."
Brittany - "My name is Brittany"
Me to Brittany - "Maybe we should spell that for her"
Lady - "oh I'm sure I got it wrong, but its ok, I'll be able to know.....and yours?"
Me - "My name is also Brittney."
Lady - *big eyes* "What? really? *laugh laugh laugh* Well, they really did that in the scriptures, sisters marrying brothers and all that."
Me - "no, we're not sisters by blood, we just married brothers..."
Lady - *still laughing and writing something down on her paper* "yeah, it happened all the time in the scriptures, you know Nephi and his brothers married Ishmael's daughters."

And she walked away. I'm still not exactly sure what she was thinking.

We went for separate walks after naps and making dinner, taking pictures of the flowers and sunset while we walked. Chris and I ran into Ben Stiller. Literally. We saw him and a couple of other people on some paddle boards and then they beached their boards and walked RIGHT by us on the pathway. Ben didn't look up or anything but everyone else in his party smiled and one of them said, "Hi."  True story.


Monday we woke up super early to drive the 90 minutes around the island to meet our boat Captain and group for a 5 hour boat tour along the Na Pali Coast. We had to hang on for dear life as the little pontoon raft flew over the rough waves. As we were the youngest of the group, he put us in the front where we were literally 10-15 feet above the water at times.  The boat was small enough to go in sea caves and enclosures and then anchored for a bit for us to snorkel in the reef before eating lunch and hanging on for dear life on the way back to port.  We saw spinner dolphins and sea turtles. The dolphins were SOO close and loved swimming by the boat and the baby ones were just bigger than footballs, jumping over the water.

 We were too tired after the boat tour to do some of the hikes I wanted to do in the "Little Grand Canyon"  part of the Island. But the road goes right up to some really good lookouts. It was crazy to see beaches from an aerial view that we, just a few hours previous, had seen from water level.


We did find more energy (maybe from the deliciously sweet Shave Ice) to visit Po'ipu and some cool things there like these interesting blow holes called Spouting Horn (one made some low whistling noise) and an awesome back-to-back beach.  We snorkeled on both sides of the beach and thought it would be easiest to crawl across the spit of sand separating them instead of walk all weird with flippers on. I'm not sure it was easier but it was pretty fun.


Another hike we did on Brittany and Thom's last day and it was inland in the jungle. It took us to a waterfall that some local kids were jumping into.


We also drove to some more look out points where you could see some waterfalls.

 On our last day, Chris and I rented a double kayak and paddled up the Hanalei River. 

 Then we had lunch at a Taco Truck, (SOOO YUMMY) and made our way down to the south coast again for dinner at a nice restaurant. Without Thom and Brittany there, we didn't end up getting a picture but here are some of the other restaurant we ate at during our trip.  One thing I didn't expect was how much I'd love the food. I'm usually not a big sea food person, at all, but I LOVED all the fish I ate: Opah, Mahi Mahi, and I can't remember the others. 

We had such a nice time. We loved snorkeling together - staying close in the water to keep warm and share fish encounters.  We loved making meals at the condo and eating them on the lanai, and waking up on our own, NOT by our kids. We loved being with family who are also such good friends! We loved new adventures and being submersed in so much gorgeous nature. We just loved being together, healthy and happy. Thanks go to Grandma and Grandpa Dixie who made this allllllllllll possible.