Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spend Every Weekend at the Renaissance Fair...

We long ago accepted the fact that we're white 'n' nerdy. Only one black guy in the whole place, and he was with his white girlfriend!

K, first I have some explainin' to do... one of the first times Russ came out to visit me, and maybe it was the first time, I took him to the Renaissance festival. Still have the ticket around here somewhere. We planned to meet my sister in front of the elephants, which totally never happened, we saw the shows "Three Guys and a Bunch of Drums" and "The Wyld Men," had a Chipwich, and of course Russ had to demonstrate his masculinity with the axe throwing. Yes, fun was had by all. And so I went looking for a Chipwich (to no avail), but we did catch the same two shows along with some others. Never will we plan to meet anyone in front of the elephants again.

Oh yes, and we always go to the Art of Falconry show. I am so, so sorry, but this picture with the gigantic butt in it is the best one I had of the falconer. I forgot my real camera once again, so I had to settle for cell phone shots.

Brandon didn't give a hoot... get it? Groan.

Hey, when no one else is gonna take your picture, sometimes you just have to do it yourself!

I think Paige enjoyed the show even though she was a little distracted by her burning desire to get a rubber pet dragon. The kids managed to talk us into getting them one to share... its name is Sniper.

See him? Sticking right out of Brandon's forehead...

You see some interesting people at the Renaissance fair... it's like Halloween. You get people in costume, and suddenly they don't feel it necessary to act normal.

Trying to make up for lost time with the picture taking...

Last show of the day was, as always, the JOUST.

Our knight was gallant and brave... and a bit cocky, too.

For good reason, apparently, because we finally sat in the section that was rooting for the winning knight! Huzzah!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I ♥ My Family

We had tickets to tour the Gilbert temple the afternoon of February 13th with our neighbors since the girls had a half day of school. I had such good intentions, but all these problems kept coming up. Will had missed too much school, Russ had a busy day at work and didn't want to go twice, the neighbor's husband forgot about parent teacher conferences and didn't have time... I tried and tried to make it work, but I just couldn't make everyone happy... and then of course, that made it so I wasn't happy either. We did what we could, though, and I took the three little kids with my neighbor and her kids. It was super crowded, and as we were walking toward the temple, my neighbor noticed her tire was completely flat. So crazy. She was a little distracted during the tour, as she had to keep answering texts from her poor husband who had to come change the tire. I felt like it wasn't quite the experience I was hoping for... with the crowds and the distractions, I felt it was impossible to convey the significance of the temple in my life to my friend, but at least it was something, and I'm thankful for that.

Russ had planned to take the older boys after work, and I planned to go with them because I was set on standing in OUR temple with my family. After all, I didn't know when or if that would ever happen again. We figured it would be quite crowded, and I think Russ was somewhat dreading it since we didn't have tickets and would have to wait in the standby line. Eventually, we both came up with the idea of keeping the kids home from school so that we could go first thing in the morning. It wasn't the perfect plan, but it was all we had.

To my delight, even though there was a bit of a line to get in, we somehow made it on the very next tour. We sat in the chapel to watch the video, and I put my arms around the kids that I could reach and pulled them in for a hug. "Temples are like hugs," I said, "They hold us together." There were a lot of people, but no where near the crowd I had experienced the previous afternoon. It was relaxed and not stressful. No flat tires. Even the tour itself seemed to go at a slower pace. With the help of my boys, I noticed things I hadn't noticed the day before. We noticed the agave symbol in EVERYTHING... the tiles in the font, the wood, the glass, the floors, the lights, the door hardware... even in the embossed carpet in the celestial and sealing rooms. I took in the art, the beautiful desert images, the images of Christ. And then when we entered the celestial room, I took in a private moment... seeing my husband and each of my children there with me. My heart was full to overflowing. As we went into the sealing room again, my little Brandon knelt at the altar in his cowboy boots. I wish I could have a drawing of that. Everything made me smile... it was complete redemption from the frustration of the day before, and I was so thankful.

Now because it was Valentine's Day, I had made up all these dreams in my head about how cute our family photo in front of the temple was going to be. We could hold the letters in the word FAMILY plus a little heart, and we'd be laughing and hugging and having fun with the temple in the background. I can see it all now. Actually, I just thought of something... the word FOREVER... families would be implied by the people holding the letters. Oh my goodness, I may just have to bribe my family into a photo shoot like that. Well, none of that actually happened, and we had to rely on the photography skills of random people nearby... plus, my hubby and son had pamphlets in their pockets and Brandon was wearing a freaky large parka (with his hood on, too). It was so imperfect, but it makes me laugh to think how our totally imperfect family can be so perfect for me.

So that was how we started off our Valentine's Day, and I couldn't have asked for better, but then... just when I thought my husband, who isn't really the romantic type, wasn't going do anything special, he totally made my day by having a barbershop quartet come and serenade me. You know, the fact that he doesn't do things like that very often makes it more special in a way... I mean, I know he really went out of his way to do something he thought I would like (and I did!).

I was the one who hadn't planned anything, so after that I rushed around to make sure we could have a little bit of a celebration. I made Russ a candy bouquet that didn't look anything like the ones in the store. He loved it anyway. I always like to eat in on Valentine's Day because restaurants are so crowded, so we had a candlelight dinner with the kids. Russ and I served them and cleaned up after them just like they were at a restaurant... they really thought that was awesome.

This is what a romantic dinner with kids looks like. Silly.

Monkey see, monkey do.

After dinner, we had yummy banana splits.

Perfect Valentine's Day.

FEBR (the first half of this month... oh, that was awful)

Ever since Christmas ended, there just hasn't been that much going on. A picture here, a picture there... but to tell the truth, I've been in money saving mode, so we have to get our fun where we can. I thought our broken garage wouldn't be that much fun, but who knew Home Depot would have a kids workshop going on when we got there? The kids got to put on their Home Depot aprons and assemble their wooden cars.

We didn't have enough time to paint them there, so we brought them home and painted them with cousins!

The next day was fast Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday... even though we're not big Super Bowl people, I decided to make Super Bowl themed food for our traditional fast Sunday feast. So hungry!

The weather has been sublime, and so one afternoon I decided to go out on the trampoline and lie in the warm sun. Kallie followed me and did her homework while I relaxed.

She was just so cute that I had to grab my camera and snap some pictures.

Homework and lying in the sun get boring after a while, though...

Time to spell words with her body!

Okay, okay... Valentine's Day was too special to be tacked on to the end of this post.