latest and greatest

time just keeps slipping away! it's already february and i haven't posted at all. part of the problem is that my MYBOOK (external hard drive with ALL of my photos) is on the fritz, and I can't access them. I hate posting without photos, so I just haven't. however, i'm realizing now that it's better to have something up rather than nothing, so here i am. hopefully i can add photos to this later down the road, when the MyBook is fixed.

November - my birthday was a lot of fun! my wonderful friends took me to see the So You Think You Can Dance show live (on tour) and we had a great time! We picknicked in the parking lot before hand and enjoyed a very fun show. We also spend Thanksgiving down south, which was, as always, busy and a total blast. i spent a fun day shopping with mom, spent some time with my sisters, and had lots of good conversations with poppo. the trip was not long enough, as per usual, but at least i knew that the christmas visit was coming quickly.

December - we barreled through the month and ended up at dad's for christmas. we had such an amazing time. the kids put on their annual christmas show complete with singing and dancing. we even had a harry potter themed show. the kids were amazing. everyone but annabelle was very involved in making it happen, including 3 year-old ava! speaking of ava, we celebrated her 4th birthday on new year's eve, and then celebrated annika's 6th birthday on january 3rd. we also had a twilight movie fun night with our cousin sheila (don't ask) and a very entertaining new year's eve party with some friends.

January - back to school and work, keeping busy, but the most exciting part about this month is that jacob learned to ride his bike without training wheels!!!! he picked up on it so quickly, like it just finally clicked, and within days he was able to start himself, wheel around every obstacle, and have a great time biking around with some of his friends that have been off trainers for a while. we are SO proud of him and let him choose a bell for getting rid of those trainers. now he loves to ride and even went around the 2 mile loop at the sports park on saturday without complaint! he's awesome!

both kids are just amazing. jake is also mastering writing and has been doing SO much reading. it amazes me how he just picked it up and can decode almost any word now! it is very mood-dependent, however, so some days are better than others, but overall he is just running away with words and stories.

annabelle is amazing us with her ability to use pretty much every word in the english language appropriately, and even comes up with some pretty funny stuff herself. her latest thing is to make sure everyone is happy so she is often, at 2 years old, asking me, "Mama, are you happy?" or, better yet, "Mama, are you fuss-tated?" she's very concerned with everyone's well-being. she'll even ask the cat!

life is good and i'm grateful that ben and i are both working, though we hardly see each other during the week anymore, between his regular job and his teaching assistant job at the apprenticeship hall, and my regular job, tutoring center job and private tutoring job. things are really busy but i know it's for good reason and, come summer, things will slow down (in that realm) significantly.

for now we look forward to a visit from steph, healthy, happy babies from pregnant friends, and continued health and happiness! (i am feeling not unlike a christmas card letter ... noooo!!!)



happy halloween!

happy halloween from our 'carry pie-ders!!'

our halloween was so much fun this year. grandma helped me make spider costumes for the kids, which turned out so cute. ben and i dressed up as spider prey - we wore wings and were wrapped up in webbing. we figure we are pretty much at the whim of our children, so it was appropriate.

after our annual trip to the pumpkin patch...

was Jake's school's Halloween Parade! the high school band played as they walked through the neighborhood streets all dressed up in costume. it was awesome.

the we officially started our halloween celebrations on friday nigh
t with our neighbor friends, the scruggs. we toasted pumpkin seeds and carved our pumpkins. even the daddies got involved and made some awesome jack-o-lanterns! it was so much fun to watch jake carve his pumpkin. he is old enough now to have a very firm opinion on what he wanted his jack-o-lantern to look like. he drew the face on the pumpkin, and ben and i took turns doing the carving.

saturday night we visited a trunk-or-treat at our other neighbors' church. that was so different and so fun! the kids were all dressed up, spent an hour playing games and earning prizes, then went outside to trick-or-treat from trunks of cars that had been decorated. i've never seen anything like it!

finally halloween came! we had grandpa, the shackelfords, the formolos and the scruggs over. we ate some pizza and, after meeting up with more neighbors, the eberhards, off we went to ring doorbells and stock up on candy. we were SHOCKED at how quickly the boys took off! one minute they are standing there, suffering through the photo op, then off!!

they are sprinting, ringing every doorbell in sight and bringing home far too much candy! i think we trick-or-treated for about two hours. we were absolutely exhausted by the time we came back home.

i love halloween. i think it might be one of my favorite holidays. it's a reason to get together, get dressed up, eat a lot of reese's peanut butter cups, and not have to stress about the details of gifts, fancy dinners, and so forth. jake and i are already planning out next halloween...


Happy Birthday, Dear Annabelle!!

Sweet little Annabelle is TWO!! We celebrated her birthday twice, because she is twice as wonderful as any little girl out there! (I might be a little biased.) We spent her actual birthday in Pinecrest with our neighbors/friends the Scruggs. We decorated the cabin, made cupcakes and spent the entire weekend celebrating her.

That apparently wasn't enough so we did it again this past weekend! We invited a few of her friends and of course our amazing family to come celebrate again, luau-style. She loved it! She wore her "grass" skirt, suffered through her lei for photos, and reveled in all the excitement. She is definitely a little party girl.

We can't believe how quickly the last two years have gone by. It would seem that it was just yesterd
ay that I poked Ben in the side whispering, "Doll, I think my water just broke" and him popping up saying, "NO WAY!" ... heading to the hospital, and, after a relatively smooth delivery, holding that sweet, screaming little bundle for hours. Days. Weeks? It just went by way too quickly for my taste, but we have been having a blast.

Annabelle is quite the little character these days. She talks up a storm. I would say she talks more than Jake ever did at this age, but in looking back it would appear that maybe he actually said more, which is just shocking. She says EVERYTHING and sounds like a little girl when she says it! Not like a baby who just turned two! I really need time to slow down now. This is all happening way too quickly. My two little peanuts are getting so big. It's impossible to imagine where the last two years have gone!


first day of KINDERGARTEN

Jakey just had his first day of Kindergarten last week! I just can't believe it. The time has gone by so quickly. I was pretty much dreading it because I thought I'd be a mess. I couldn't help but think about how he would be away from me every single day now and it sort of felt like the beginning of the end, as awful as that sounds. On the other hand, of course I realize the value of it and how it will be our greatest adventure yet, but there's a part of me that is having a hard time letting him grow up! I'm sure every parent on this planet can relate.

Monday, August 23, we crossed the street and headed to Jake's new Kindergarten classroom.

Unfortunately Ben couldn't join us as he was working in Fairfield that week (and he starts at 7am). But, lucky for us, Grandma and Grandpa came over and joined us!

We waited outside in the hot sun waiting for our turn to go through those doors. Grams and Gramps (and Annabelle) left us at the door, and Jake and I went in to meet his new teacher.

Jake walked in like he owned the place! It was fantastic to see how comfortable he seemed in there. We looked around at everything and he sat down next to his buddy, Nathan, to color. Then all the kids were called to the carpet to take roll and get going.
While they were on the carpet their teachers (there are actually two in the room, lucky for us!) told them to wave good-bye to their moms and dads. Jake waved, blew kisses, blew hearts and signed "I love you" and off I went.

I was so proud of him and how grown up he looked there. I didn't feel sad at all, surprisingly enough, a
nd neither did he. It felt good and natural, which I know it is :), and I was relieved to have the buildup of the first day over with!

Jake's now been a Kindergartener for a week and is just blowing us away. This weekend, both mornings, he got up before we did and went out to color in the living room while he waited for us to get up. This morning he told me that while he was waiting, he was "doing [his] homework!" They don't even have homework yet, but he was practicing his letters and numbers all on his own. I just couldn't believe it. He is such a good boy and we're so proud of him. We love him so much!



we just got back from our annual fernow trip! we started in southern CA at mom's family reunion party. it was so much fun to spend time with everyone, but it is never enough time.
i will take what i can get, though!

a few days later we headed out to prescott for a night and then out to the wilderness for 4 days! we stayed in a forest service cabin that is no longer in use, but that you can rent. it is tucked away from everything in the coconino forest, which is just beauti

we took walks, a long hike, tried to get up to the lookout tower (which was closed) but still saw some amazing views of arizona.

we roasted marshmallows and sang songs by the campfire at night and even witnessed an incredible thunderstorm our last night there.

the kids all played so well together and had the best time. it's amazing what kids come up with when you take away the tv, dvd player, i-pod, nintendo, whatever. no electronics whatsoever and they were completely entertained the entire time. they built clubhouses, made a workshop, hunted for geodes, played house in a tent and rolled around in the mud and dirt until their clothes were caked!

it was awesome. it went by WAY too fast and already i'm looking forward to next year's trip. i just wish we could stay longer!


summertime rolls

we have been enjoying our summer to the fullest. we've been to southern california for a week and to pinecrest twice already. we have our annual flagstaff trip coming up in a few weeks and another southern california trip for my good friend's baby shower. school will be back in session in no time. it's sort of amazing how quickly this has gone by! now i will spend an entire school year again looking forward to summer!
our trip to so cal was a blast. we watched stasia and ava in a dance recital, which was adorable. both jake and annabelle loved watching all the dancers.

we spent time with poppo, hobbie and bapu, and the aunties, uncles and cousins. we got to go to some of annika's end-of-preschool activities, which was really neat, and just spend time with all the girls. we swam, went to yoga classes, went to the Y, and even got to see the beautiful and pregnant kara and have lunch with my very best friend, hayley. we even managed to squeeze some time in with abby and her gorgeous boys!

i spend a lot of time with each of my sisters, which was so much fun, and not enough time with my parents! :(

3 days after getting home from so cal we left for pinecrest for 5 days with ben's parents, sister, her husband and their adorable little girl. it was so relaxing and beautiful and fun.

we kayaked, walked, rode bikes, and caught up on all the sleep we lost in so cal! i love it up there. i wish we could have stayed an extra week.

we came home from pinecrest to mom, steph and her girls staying with us for a few days over the 4th of July.

it was a lot of fun to have the girlie time and we all had a blast together!

it was just sad that cat wasn't with us.

so to get more of my cat fix, we headed back up to pinecrest this past weekend to celebrate her birthday. we hiked around the lake, kayaked for hours, and roasted marshmallows over a campfire in back of the cabin.

between the two pinecrest trips my wonderful friend jamie gave birth to her second little boy, and we've been so lucky to spend a lot of time with them!

we've also caught up with our good friends hannah, tyler and julianna, as well as my pal sal, silly sara, andy & brooke, and some of the old st. philip moms. we have really tried to cram in as much as possible!

wow. it just does not do any of it justice to give these little tiny blips about our adventures this summer! there's far too much to write so hopefully i'll get some pictures up one of these days and you can see for yourself!


bye bye, preschool!

jakey graduated preschool! i know for some this is not a big deal, especially when they've been through it a time or two, but this was a big milestone for us, for jake, and we are really enjoying watching who he is becoming. perhaps the saddest part of his graduation was saying goodbye to his teacher of two years, mrs. tetzloff (below, in the pink). she was absolutely phenomenal and i always felt like she had a special place in her heart for jacob.

the graduation ceremony itself was very s
weet. the teachers did their bloody best to make sure there wasn't a dry eye in the house by starting it off with a slideshow of the last year played to a song titled, "let them be little." then the kids stood at the front of the chapel and sang songs. it was so sweet, despite jake's absolute inability to stand still. he was all over the place - lounging on the railing, teetering off to the side... i was so mortified that i couldn't worry about being sad! to top it off, i finally make eye contact with him and mouth, "stand still!" and he looks back at me, thinks for a second, cocks his head to the side and signs (yes SIGNS) the letters N O to me.
and looks the other direction.

anyway, overall it was such a sweet ceremony and i will miss the school a lot. i plan to send annabelle there in a few years so it's not really goodbye. jake learned so much from his teachers and from preschool and is now getting ready to enter the world of elementary school. this should be interesting. we'll try to keep the signing to a minimum.