Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Better Late Than Never..... GIRLS WEEKEND!!!!

When I was 6 years old, my family moved to a new town about 1/2 way through my 1st grade year.  I was a shy girl and was terrified walking into this school where I knew nobody.  (To this day, I still struggle in new situations!)   My first day of school, this sweet shy girl named Jackie was the first to talk to me. She helped me through those rough first weeks- and we have been best friends, practically inseparable- ever since. 

We have stayed close despite our lives going in separate directions.  In fact, in some ways, this has made our friendship more interesting!  We always love to share what happens in each others lives and since it is different from what we are going through, it is interesting! It was hard when she moved to Lincoln, Nebraska 7 years ago for graduate school- she was so far away!  We still kept up through emails and phone calls. She would come home once or twice a year and we would have a night out then.  When she married in 2007, I even got to fly out there (second flight in my life!) to be her Matron of Honor.  Since then, I still just see her when she comes home to visit.  I decided this year, I would save my pennies from babysitting and go out there to visit again.  So, I did that and I flew out there (my 3rd flight ever!) the first weekend of June.  I am only just now able to write about it due to the crazy time afterward of packing and rushing to move and getting settled.

It was an amazing weekend!  A wonderful blend of getting out and seeing her town, staying home and relaxing (sleeping in! Woo Hoo!), and lots of talking and enjoying each other's company.  Here are some things we did!

June 1st- The day I arrived!!

The 1st was Jackie's 35th birthday!  We went out to dinner, relaxed at home watching a movie, and went to a local bakery to get some yummy treats for her birthday!

These cupcakes were divine!  I also just had to buy these because we thought they were funny.....

They are chocolate cigars, but we decided after taking pictures that they looked like something else... They were pretty good though- tasted kind of like Swiss Cake Rolls.

I also enjoyed Ben's (her husband) garden and walked around in it a few times while I was there.  He is an avid gardener with a beautiful garden full of color in their back yard.

It was so peaceful and beautiful to walk around and see the many different plants and flowers.

Saturday, June 2nd

Today was the day I think I was most looking forward to!  After a yummy lunch out, we had manicures and pedicures!!  This is a huge splurge for me- something I have only done a couple other times in my life.  I would do it every couple of months if I could afford it.  But, I suppose that once every several years will have to do.  It was truly wonderful.  Both the pedicure and manicure were very relaxing and turned out beautiful!

The blue sparkly toes are mine and the bright pink are Jackie's.

The deeper red fingers are mine and the bright pink are Jackie's.  We had the new Shellac manicure- it was beautiful and never chipped and lasted a very long time.  It is not easy to get off, but it was worth it considering it lasted so long and stayed shiny and smooth!

We came home to a home cooked meal cooked by Ben- he is an excellent cook!!  Later that night, we enjoyed going out to a movie and just hanging out!

Sunday June 3rd

On Sunday, we did something that both of them had wanted to do but had not yet done since they had moved there. We toured the Nebraska state house.  Sounds "exciting" right?  Although that isn't what people from Lincoln refer to is as.  Let me explain this a little...

Lincoln is not a large city.  There is also not many tall buildings- most are not more than a few stories tall- even down town.  Yet, you have this state building that erects into a pillar above the rest of the city. Here is how it looks as you drive into town....

Do you see it?  Let's just say it reminds many of a male body part.  They call it the P---- on the Prairie

They give tours of the building, so we thought that would be fun.  I actually learned more than I ever wanted to know about Nebraska state history, but it was still very interesting.  And according to Ben, they have a lot wrong....
But the building is beautiful!
Here is the view from the top looking out- as you can see, there is nothing near as tall as this building.  One thing I thought was interesting was all of the trees.  I had figured that Nebraska had always been more plain and not as lush and green.  They actually explained during the tour that none of those trees were there when the state was settled.  On the first Arbor day, more than 1,000,000 trees were planted!

Here is a closer up view of this P---- on the Prairie.....

Ben and Jackie on the steps
And me and Jackie!

Monday June 4th

This was my last day- I would fly out this evening.  But, we still had a very full and fun day!

Early in the weekend, Jackie had joked about how Nebraska was home to the only Roller Skating Museum in the country.  I said, Let's do it! Why not?
It is actually very small- just a large room attached to the offices of the Roller Skating Confederation. We learned some interesting things-

This was the first patented design for a Roller Skate in 1819- it was even inline!

By the late 1800's, skating was actually one of the most popular recreation activities.  It was very formal and women would skate in these full, heavy dresses and men in tuxedos.  Can you imagine??

Before heading to the airport, we went to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to tour where Jackie works and is working on her PhD.  Here is where she spends all her time!

It is a beautiful campus.  Even though it was dreadfully hot, I enjoyed walking around!

I also went shopping to get t-shirts that said "Nebraska" for the kids.  Jackie snapped this red-faced hot picture of me. 

I missed my family terribly and was anxious to see them again, but it was hard to say good-bye too and I cried as I walked into the airport to go home.  I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend away and being in her world for a few days.  I look forward to going again someday!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More Pictures from "The Move"

Well, I came to the computer totally prepared to write about my trip to visit Jackie in Nebraska- which is now over a month ago.  When I went looking for my camera (where all of the pictures still are) I couldn't find it and realized that it must be (and is) with my husband on his business trip.  He will be home late tonight so that post should be soon coming as well.  Sigh.....   But then, I remembered that my friend Amy just emailed me today with pictures she took during the day of our move.  Obviously, I was a little busy that day and not thinking of taking pictures, so I really appreciated her snapping a few to capture today.  So, since I once again can't post about Nebraska, I will post more pictures from the move.  But, I promise, I really will move on to other topics soon!

Here are my favorites:

I do not like the way I look in these pictures, but...well.... I was moving after all so I was all decked out in grungy clothes, no make up and hair pulled back.   Here is our last day at the old house!
I love how she caught Aaron in process of leaning in for a kiss.

Hard at work!

It was a HUGE truck!  Everything JUST fit in one load....  and we had 3 other full pick up trucks and my van and Aaron's car was full.  Plus, during the week we had taken several small loads.  If not for that, we couldn't have done it in one load!  How did we get so much stuff?  Our house (old and new....) is not that big!   Plus, in this picture, you can see one of our trash piles- this was the second huge pile and the picture doesn't even show it off.  We threw away and gave away so much stuff.  I think that is one of the advantages of packing to move is the purging you do of unnecessary STUFF.

Here is Kenny with his Grandpa Chuck-
I LOVE this picture of the two of them!  

And here we are after arriving at the new home!!! 

We love it here!  It already feels like home!  On one had, I can't believe we are finally here but on the other, it feels like we have been here forever- it is our home!

I deeply appreciate Amy, not just for these pictures but for the huge gift of keeping my girls ALL DAY long for us so we didn't have to worry about them as we moved.  I know the girls had a blast!
 They got to play in her cool back yard with water all day!

I think she tired them out really well too!  I think these pictures are so precious of my sweet little girls!

I think they were as tired by the end of the day as we were!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Definitely a 4th to Remember!! And then some....

So, my husband and my mother have been anxiously awaiting another blog post.  Life has simply prevented a post before now and this one will surely be long and jumbled, but it is at least a post to catch up the last couple of weeks.  We have moved finally!   The chaos of the last few weeks has allowed for nothing except to focus on the day to day duties.  Here is the events since my last post (which was written the day of closing).

Saturday June 16th-  Kenny's Birthday!!!  He turned 11!  As usual, I just can't believe it!  Seriously- when did I get old enough to HAVE an 11 year old?!?!  He is such a sweet and compassionate child- always worried about others and likes to make people happy.  He is always quick with a smile and a laugh and loves to play and be silly.  He is not like a lot of 11 year olds.  He hasn't really ever reached that "too cool for you" stage.  His innocence and boyish silliness hasn't left him yet.  I am grateful for this.  He doesn't need to grow up so fast like so many boys do now.  We celebrated with his favorite dinner at home- "Grandma Lambert's" (basically a family Johnny Marzetti recipe- not my favorite by far, but Aaron and the kids love it!)  And of course, this was followed by cake and presents!

He has been begging for a fishing pole, knowing our new house would be near water so we got him one and look forward to teaching him how to use it!  The vest is a "Nerf"vest- with places to wear your Nerf gun and lots of extra bullets!  He also got a Lego Technic set and a wallet.  After our little celebration, we packed up the van (which took a LOT of work....) and went and stayed in the new house for the first time!  We got possession THAT day. We camped out on the floor and watched movies (using a small TV hooked up to an old play station).  I didn't get any pictures but it was SO much fun and such an adventure!  The kids just RAN through the house looking around and playing and exploring! 

Sunday June 17th- we packed up and went home and prepared to go to church for the last time in that ward.  It was so very hard to say good-bye.  Of course it isn't really good-bye because we live close enough we will still see them often, but that ward has been my home for most of my life- and really, it always will be.  I made better friends there in the last few years than I have in most of my life.  No one can ever take their place.  The only thing that would make this move better would be to have my friends here also. My shyness prevents me from making friends quickly and I miss them already. 

After church, we headed to my parents house where we hosted a party for Kenny's birthday and Father's day!  We normally host it at our house but, well, our house was of course quickly filling with boxes.  I usually make a lot of things myself but this time I bought everything prepared- including the cupcakes!  I always make my own but knew I just couldn't this time. 

They had no color and were kind of boring, but it was one of the few things Sam's Club had already prepared and they were Sponge Bob so the kids didn't care! They were thrilled! 

We had a great time visiting with my family and Aaron's parents.  I didn't get many pictures but the cousins had a great time playing together and it was a great day!  My dad always has one request for Father's day and it is all he wants- to have a picture taken with all 10 of his grandkids together!  It was quite the project to try to get a picture with all 11 (10 grandkids plus my dad...) all looking at the camera at one time.  In fact, it never really did happen!  Ha!  I had to post a few of them just because the expressions are so funny in several of them!

 From left to right, starting with the front row is:  Jacob, Ellen, Meghan, Kaylee.  Back Row: Kristen, Savanna, Calysta, Dad holding Claire, Kenny and Joey.  10 pretty awesome kids if you ask me!

The week of  June 18th-  Wow.What a week!  Packing, packing and more frantically packing!  I was determined to have it DONE by the time our friends came to help us move Saturday.  I would NOT ask them to help us pack- it wasn't their job and I was determined to be done.  My friend, Autumn, came and helped one day and she took my kids other days which was a HUGE help!  We also enrolled the kids in the Vacation Bible School in the new town to help them meet kids in the area as well as give me time to move small loads and get things set up and ready.  By Wednesday, I was nearing a melt-down as my anxiety soared with my to-do list so Aaron took the day off and helped.  I got a lot done and felt better!  

During the week, I also had the chance to see the Broadway Show, "Wicked." Wow! It was AWESOME! I loved it!  I had bought the ticket long before I knew we would be moving but so glad I still went! 

Friday, we moved the pets to the new house (figuring we would lock the cats in the one little room in the basement on Saturday once we got there while we moved things in and out).  They completely freaked out.  All 3 of them had a hard time.  Especially the cats though, who NEVER leave the house.  We got here and they hid in the basement, whining and looking sick.  They ventured up later, but were very reserved.

Saturday June 23rd- Moving day!!!  All in all, things went very well.  We had so much help on both sides of the move and I HAD managed somehow to get everything packed.  The old house was very dirty and not well organized, but completely packed at least.  It made for quick loading and unloading.  The new house came with a basic refrigerator.  We wanted to keep the one from the old house though because it was bigger, had ice and water in the door, and used to belong to my grandparents.  We figured we would swap them and put the basic one in the old house that is to be rented.  Upon measuring though, we found the space was 1/2 in. too short to fit the refrigerator we wanted.  My father-in-law, who was helping us move, figured it wouldn't be too hard to just raise the cabinets up the wall a couple inches and set about to do it.  I was THRILLED! This is what we wanted to do, but I didn't expect it to get done THAT DAY! Well, it was harder then he thought but he conquered!  Here is a picture of my heros at work:

 That is Aaron's friend, Matt holding the cabinet in place with is head while my father-in-law (Chuck) and Aaron's friend Jerry get it screwed in.  It messed up the wall a little underneath it but I didn't care because that wall paper won't be around long anyway!  They did a great job! 

The only other notable event of the day is that the cat's didn't get locked in the basement room as planned- by the time I got there (I was last to leave the old house....), both doors were open with things moving in and out.  I could not find either cat and feared they were both gone.  After a while, we found Dino (our fat black cat) and locked him up but Oro (orange cat) was no where to be found.  I looked everywhere and in every nook and cranny I could find and could NOT find him.  We came to the conclusion that he was likely gone unless he was so freaked out by all the movement that he was just hiding somewhere I couldn't see.  At 6am the next morning, I got up to use the restroom and Oro came wandering into our room, completely fine!  So, he was hiding but where? I still have NO idea. 

The week of June 25th- was spent settling in, unpacking, getting cable installed, etc.  It was nice to have a few low-key days to just focus on the new house and not have to run crazy.  It was very uneventful and peaceful and we have been simply in love with the new house. 

Friday June 29th- we reluctantly headed back to the old house to start getting work done. We have so much to do to get it ready to rent- it needs a super deep cleaning, the bathroom isn't finished yet (that Aaron started working on 2 months ago...but life just gets in the way of it getting completed), minor repairs, yard work and LOTS of painting need done.  We never wanted to keep the old house, but are simply not able to sell it.  We are so excited to be in the new house, that going back to deal with the old one was just painful- especially since all of the work just feels very daunting.  But, we went.  We were working along fine, though I was frustrated that it was all taking longer than I wanted to.  Around 4 or 5 pm, a storm began to blow in. I had no idea it was even expected!  Very strong winds (they said later 80 mph!!) and dark dark skies.  It was scary! Even though we were exhausted, I knew we were staying until the storm was over.  The lights flickered like crazy but surprisingly never went out completely.    We found out on our way home that the new house had lost power.  As well as about 1 million others in our county and surrounding counties.  By that night, they were saying that the storm damage was so severe (from the straight line winds and even a few tornado's) that it would likely take a week or more to get everyone's power back on! And the forecast from then on was temps in the upper 90's!  The radio stations were already saying it would be "A July 4th we would always remember"

June 30th-July 4th-  Sure enough, the power stayed out.   And it was hot!  After the first night, we set up camp for the kids in the living room because it is hotter upstairs and without AC or fans, it was just unbearable up there. We set up beds for them on the living room couches and floor and had windows open and just made the best of it!  We used candles and flashlights and Aaron's friend, Glen, thankfully had a spare generator that he loaned us.  We only hooked it up to our fridge and freezer so we wouldn't lose the food we had in there.  The last couple days, we also hooked a fan up to it during the day, but at night we would turn off the generator for several reasons- 1) courtesy to neighbors (it is noisy!) and because we didn't want to hear it all night either! 2) we didn't want it to get stolen and 3) cost of running it!

As the days dragged on, I feared the cost of gas for the generator was exceeding the cost of the food we were saving!  Because of the move, our supply was at an all-time low (I hadn't shopped much yet to restock) so while we did have food I didn't want to lose, the cost of gas was getting awfully high!  But, at least I didn't have to throw food out and we could still eat at home some.  We ate a lot of cereal and sandwiches, cooked out on the grill some and ate out a couple of times.  I did laundry at my parents house (and also a laundromat just to get it done!) and otherwise, we just made the best of it.   A few asked us why didn't we go to the old house since it still had power?  Well, it was dirty, empty and other than having lights and AC, had nothing to offer us!  We were so happy to be gone from the house, that going back so soon sounded just awful.  Plus, it wasn't clean and the things we would have to pack to make it worth it made it....well, not worth it!  We realized we would rather be in our dark, hot, new house with all of our stuff then to be in our old house that had AC but was empty and had nothing, was dirty and depressing.  I still don't regret that choice.

 On July 4th, it has become a tradition to have a red, white and blue breakfast.  This is generally bacon and pancakes with blueberries, strawberries, bananas and whip cream.   The kids were disappointed at not being able to do this due to lack of power so I decided it was time to get creative and that there was no reason we still couldn't have our special breakfast.  So, I fired up the grill and used my cast iron skillets and cooked away!  It worked GREAT!  It took a little longer because I could only cook 2 pancakes at a time, but it was totally worth it for the kids to be so excited and to have the memories! 
After breakfast was cleaned up, it was quickly getting really hot.  We still had no power and temperatures were expected to reach 100 degrees!  We decided to go to Aaron's parent's house to swim in their pool and hang out with them for the day!  It was a holiday after all!  Unfortunately, his dad had to work over time due to all of the power outtages (he works for the phone company so had to help restore things there) but Aaron's step-mom, sister and nephew were there and we enjoyed hanging out with them.  They had never lost power due to the storm but, ironically, their power went off there that day for some unknown reason, but thankfully came back on after an hour or so.  We swam all afternoon and enjoyed a cook out and lots of visiting with them. We left after dinner (we didn't want to stay for the fireworks because Aaron had to work the next day and we saw other ones the night before) and had power back at home!!! What an awesome 4th of July present!  After 5 full days of no power, we were so happy and are now back to enjoying lights and AC and being able to cook inside!  I am so grateful too because the temperatures have soared to over 100 this week!  Most have their power back now, but there are still some in harder hit areas that are still without power a week later.  There have even been reports of some deaths for heat related reasons- people being found in their homes with now power.  It is so very sad and a huge tragedy.  This storm just came out of no where and really did a number on the area!  With the excessive heat, there have been more storms since then as well, but thankfully nothing like that first one!

So, things have certainly been very eventful these past few weeks. So many blessings as well as a few challenges that has shaped this into a summer- and a July 4th- that will definitely never be forgotten!  And things won't slow down anytime soon- we need to get our old house ready to rent by the end of this month (still SO much to do!) so we can get it on the market to have it rented out!  We can't afford this two- house thing for anytime at all so we MUST get it done and get someone in there!  We also have a vacation coming up in August to go to the beach in North Carolina (yay!) and the kids start school-including the girls going to Kindergarten (yikes!)- at the end of August!

Hopefully I can keep up with blogging better though now that we are at least settled into in the new house.  Unpacking isn't done, but is coming along.  I next want to write about my trip to Nebraska last month and then I will post pictures of the new house! (Inside and out!)