Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Great Escape

We're all together again, we're here, we're here!
We explored some tide pools as our first outing. Some of us explored the tide pools with our feet. With a splash. Unintentionally. 

I saw an octopus tentacle so that was cool. I'm sure there were other things visible to someone who knew what they were looking for, but unless it was the size of an octopus and someone blatantly pointed it out to me, it was all just ocean water to me, but pretty ocean water. 
Of all the ideas presented for our Friday activities, I did not really expect that going to an escape room would be the most widely accepted proposal, but boy am I glad it was! 

The minute I saw Kaitlyn and some dude get locked in a room (no, I'm not talking about the fantasy suite here) on The Bachelorette, I immediately said to myself, "I have GOT to try that!" (Again, referring to the escape room and not the fantasy suite.)

Little did I know my dreams would soon come to fruition with the escape room power team! 
Knowing that the room we were waiting to escape from was superhero themed makes our above and below poses a little more clear. 

The guy who locked us up warned us, with hints of skepticism towards us and our abilities, that only 19% of groups manage to escape, the fastest record was 23 minutes (by 4 smart-college professors), and basically, we didn't stand a chance.

While our pre-locked-in-a-room shenanigans and first impressions may have undermined our intelligence, we proudly broke free from the room with 27 minutes to spare. Though had you thrown us in there without Ben, my Dad, and Haley's mom, the remainder of us would still be in there.

Now let's take a moment to appreciate Abe.

We had a nice dinner to celebrate our victory and laugh until our sides hurt.

The next day included the main event! Saturday was Ben and Haley's sealing in the San Diego Temple. We scheduled a morning Drybar appointment to see what all the hype was about and to get a little dolled up for the day.

After dinner, Tequila Factory. This is my favorite group shot. Let's give my mom a round of applause for mastering her selfie game to THIS level. 
With the rainy days behind us, the sun out, and the temperatures warm, we enjoyed an afternoon out on the frisbee golf course. 
When I think of frisbee, I think of the one summer Abe was home from college without more of a job than begging me to toss a disc around with him every evening. Even with my frisbee practice, you still would have guessed I'd never seen a frisbee before in my life, especially when compared to the hard-core frolfers that walked among us. 

Apparently we were at the best frisbee golf range in the nation? Allegedly? All I really know is we were surrounded by hardcore frolfers who had bags full of frisbees making me feel mildly inadequate with my clearly marked "RENTAL" disc. But when I posed like this, I felt much more experienced. 

Ben made the unfortunate mistake of telling us he begins every work day leading his team in a morning cheer. Before he fully understood the consequences of what would happen once he showed us what a morning cheer looked like, he played into our demands to allow us to experience a morning cheer. Well. Every chance we got after that, we circled around Ben to cheer off to something. We cheered off to "Tide Pools!" in the parking lot of the tide pools. We cheered off to "VICTORY!" upon breaking free from the escape room. With all the power we possessed, we resisted the urge to cheer off to "ETERNITY!" in the temple. It became an hourly occurrence and all but one seemed to thoroughly enjoy the morale boosting exercise. 
Then it was departure day. Tears. 

Our dreams of chowing down on chocolate covered strawberries on the beach watching the sunset never came to pass, but we did make it to the beach minus the strawberries and evening sky.

Lunch at Gregorio's before my mom shipped us back home. *Neither of us spilled our water*

The whole weekend was a dream. There was nothing I would have changed. It was so fun and refreshing to get a little escape for a few days (plus an extra escape within the escape) with a few of my favorite people. It was hilarious to remember how goofy everyone is when we're all in the same room. It was all just the best.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

California Dreamin'

It probably mostly started as a joke when my sister and I once conspired to run away to California together. By ourselves. Without kids. Or husbands.

The dream evolved to include a quiet evening on the beach watching the waves crash as the sun set while eating chocolate covered strawberries with books cradled in our laps. Because eating chocolate covered strawberries on the beach with a book is a realistic dream without kids or husbands around.

And once that vision was in our heads, there was no stopping us. We bought our tickets. We boarded a plane. We escaped the snowiest January in Utah's history (don't fact check me on that) for the warm beaches of California.

But first we cleaned our houses for our dear husbands who had each agreed to spend their vacation days giving us a vacation by staying home with our darlings while we were gone. In the hours before my departure, I scrubbed the house partly due to nervous/excited energy and partly as my attempt to leave Jeff with a clean slate to start his week of being Mr. Mom.

The funniest thing about living in a bigger house is it's made it all the more clear to me that my kids insist on being in close proximity to me at all times. All the boys were happily playing downstairs, so I snuck upstairs to tackle some toilets. Within 5 minutes, all 3 boys were there. Little shadows. Following me around. Playing on the bathroom floor beside me while I scrubbed. Just to be near me? I don't get my appeal.

Eli is my personality clone and I've found we have the same love languages. I encouraged the boys to write letters to my parents for me to deliver for them, but Eli instead chose to show his love by cleaning the house for Grandma. He helped me with all my last minute chores and wanted to gift Grandma the reassurance that we were taking good care of her house.

I bid my family farewell. I hopped on a plane (after very gracefully navigating through security while trying to look like an experienced aircraft traveler). I resisted every urge to take a selfie on said aircraft once boarded in an effort not to blow my cover that I only travel by air once every 15-ish years. Played it real cool. I watched the hours tick right on past my bedtime. And then I realized I HAVE NO BEDTIME BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE TO WAKE UP FOR OR TO ANYTHING THE NEXT MORNING. So I stayed up until 3:00 AM like any motherhood escapee would do.

Becky and I fantasized about sleeping in until 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, noon! We giggled ourselves to sleep at the thought of waking up on our own terms for once!


I peeked an eye open to figure out what the heck was making all the ruckus. I assessed my tiredness while attempting to decipher the noise. I coooould go back to sleep. But I feel pretty good. In fact, I feel rather energized! I think I got a great night's sleep! It must be at least 10:00. I listen closer to the noise. A lawn mower? A lawn mower!

This was great news! We had expected it to rain the whole first day we were there, but a lawn mower had to have meant clear skies and sunshine! I popped out of bed, saw the clock read 7:30 and the skies were dark and gloomy. Boo!

Still feeling surprisingly well-rested after getting less than half of my self-recommended 10 hours of pregnancy rest, Ben, Haley, Becky and I hit the town with as much speed and coverage as the rain that was pouring down.

Now it should be noted we didn't actually need speed or coverage to properly achieve our day's desired activities, though the speed came as we ran through the rain and the coverage came as we ran unnecessarily in circles trying to get from place to place only to realize we had just run full circle to end up in the exact same place and we were all just really bad at directions and at staying dry.

We started at the movies. In a recliner. Which helped soften the blow of the outrageously overpriced ticket. Movie: Passengers. Tear jerker? Debatably. Did I cry 5 separate times? Maybe. Do I need to remind you I'm pregnant? I CAN CRY IF I WANT TO!

Movie followed by Pizza. Pizza is where Becky and I said, "Wow! We're adults. We can eat at a restaurant and not spill food everywhere or deal with various members of our party screaming at random strangers periodically throughout our meal!"

The part about members of our party not screaming once during our dining experience WAS blissful. But the part where both Becky and I, within seconds of each other, spit and/or spilled an entire cup of water without any kids to blame it on was slightly pathetic. We have forgotten how to properly adult.

Another lap around the parking lot eventually led us across the street to a laser tag facility? "Facility" is a bit generous for what this place was offering, but once you're 2 minutes into a laser tag game, you forget the entire roof is leaking and the bathrooms may or may not work.

Surprise, surprise. The pregnant lady who had the misfortune of wearing white to a blacklit laser tag game lost by a long shot, or quite a few long shots actually. Unless we're keeping score by awarding points to the person who reacted most realistically upon being shot. Becuase I screamed every time. (But I wasn't the only one, am I right, Ben?)

Because we had grown so fond of leaky roofs after our time at the laser tag "facility," we decided to have dinner outside that night. Heated covered backyard patio sounded too dreamy to pass up until we discovered once again that Californians are the worst at making roofs that serve any defense against inclement weather. My dinner was definitely served with a splash of rain water, but the ambiance was worth the contamination.

We went to bed again much past my bedtime but woke up without the help of any lawn equipment. Realizing we had a couple hours of free time without anything planned, and those blue skies we had been hoping for finally upon us, I got an irrepressible urge to hike the volcano by my parents' house again.
Due to the recent rain, the once sandy hike was the closest thing to quicksand I have ever experienced, but we made it to the top nonetheless. 

Then it was back to the house to await Jacob and Abe's arrival. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

From Naughty to Nice

Someone please tell me my kids aren't the only ones who turn into naughty lunatics in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Maybe we should have pushed the coal threat a little harder because we had weeks of rip-my-hair-out-stir-crazy-mayhem over here. The most notable day of naughtiness included me waking up to Eli screaming, "Carson's eating sugar for breakfast!"

I ran downstairs to find Carson possessively holding the sugar jar, spoon in hand, evidence of his indulgences all over his lips and the counter. Like a starved animal out for blood. 

Our morning continued with screaming. Because my kids have forgotten how to talk to each other like regular human beings and have turned into their winter alter egos where a lack of outdoors and sunshine has led us all to be snippy and short with each other with every interaction. So keep that in mind as the consistent background to these events. 

It may have been Carson's breakfast choice that led him to, for the first time in his life, repeatedly sneak onto the computer to try to play video games when he knew he wasn't supposed to. He's always been my boy to have self-control with electronics, but he chose this day to test the boundaries and snuck onto the computer every chance he got. 

Meanwhile, I was playing with Lincoln, trying to regroup and have a better attitude about our day. We were reading books and just as I thought, "This is nice." BAM! He chucked a book right at my head. Corner of the book whacked me straight on the forehead. With surprising force and instantly threatening a bruise. 

Whining, complaining, screaming, fighting. We make it to dinner prep. Dinner prep is hard enough, but on days the boys are testing my patience already and constantly whining and fighting with every chop of an onion I attempt to make, I just can't deal. I attempt to brave through dinner prep despite the kids' lack of cooperation in the matter. 

For a moment, I notice peace. However, I am an experienced enough mother to recognize peace on a day such as the one I was having as suspicious. I hunt the boys down and find them with my one and only treasured makeup brush, in the bathroom, using it as their tool to watercolor. But what were they using for the water portion of their coloring? Toilet water. Naturally. And what was their canvas? The entire bathroom. 

Here are my children's accomplices to our crabby December day: 
You can imagine how much I was dreading 2 weeks of an open schedule and nothing to do when the boys were released to my constant care for winter break. Thankfully all it took was a coloring book from Eli's teacher to keep everyone content for the 2 days leading up to Christmas. 
Give them a new coloring book, and they're busy for hours. 

We were brave and put the presents out a whole week before Christmas. The boys were so excited the day they found them under the tree. They started shaking all of them and making their predictions. They soon convinced themselves every present contained underwear, without any misguidance from me. 
We made gingerbread houses and gingerbread men in the week leading up to Christmas. 

On Christmas Eve, the boys helped me make orange rolls. We received a huge box of oranges as a gift, and after smelling them for a few days, I knew just what to do with them. 
Yummy orange rolls for Christmas morning! They were delicious. I declare this a new tradition!
We usually have my Grandma's monthly dinner on Christmas Eve, but it was rescheduled this year, so we were on our own. We decided to make ourselves some grilled shrimp, asparagus and alfredo noodles with mushrooms and bacon. 
After dinner we got all cleaned up in preparation for Christmas. 
And into Christmas jammies to await Santa's arrival. 

Carson insisted on leaving skeleton gingerbread men for Santa. I'm sure he's a respecter of all holidays and still enjoyed the treat. 
He must have approved, because he left a little something for Lincoln...
And for Eli...
And for Carson...
The kids slept in until almost 7:00 Christmas morning. Boo yeah! Lincoln ran downstairs and went straight through his new tunnel to reach his stocking. 

Then Lincoln proceeded to habitually steal his older brothers' candy, all the while leaving his own candy untouched no matter how many times we pointed it out to him. 

Jeff enjoyed Christmas morning with us for a few minutes before diving into the 18" of snow that fell Christmas night/day. He endured three rounds of snow removal between taking care of our driveway and kindly clearing a neighbor's driveway who had a hurt knee. Basically this was his entire day. 
Meanwhile I got all dolled up for church. The choir was set to fill the time for Sacrament Meeting and I, much to my family's surprise, had gone and joined the choir since we moved in. Come to find out right as I was curling my last strand of hair, church had been canceled due to the mass amounts of snow being dumped on the neighborhood. 
We were going to wait until after church to open our wrapped presents. Eli excitedly realized presents no longer had to wait and we all ran downstairs to see what was waiting for us under the tree. 
Eli and Carson both got this and a Lego set as their bigger gifts. 
All the boys' gathered round for a toy we don't see much of...

A new baby doll for Lincoln! This is the beginning of me trying to slowly integrate "girl" toys into our collection. It was gladly accepted by all, so we're off to a good start.

Lincoln has loved his new baby. When he was first holding it, I made a crying noise to see what he would do with it. He swiftly, and with a sense of panic, threw the baby at me. Ha. "Here mom. I don't know what to do with this thing, you take care of it!"
Then it was time to lay all the toys out on the kitchen table and spend the rest of the day rummaging through Legos and losing various parts of our new toys. 

It was a very Merry Christmas!