Sunday, July 15, 2012

San Rafael Classic Triathlon

The 4 of us after our race. I love my Tri fam!
It's the middle of another triathlon season. We've done this for 6 seasons now and every season, we get to do something we haven't done before. This year, for the first time, we were able to do a triathlon where all 4 of us competed!

San Rafael Classic Triathlon is held in Huntington, UT- a tiny little town in central Utah. It just so happens to be the same tiny little town that I grew up in. I did this race once before, back in 2009. That year, I just did the sprint distance because I had an Olympic distance coming up soon after. This year, however, we chose to do the Olympic since we didn't have another tri for 3 weeks.

This race was special to me. My children have never had a chance to see where I grew up. I rarely visit. When we left in 1994, we had no family there. Most of my friends have since moved, and since we were living in Idaho until a year ago, it just didn't seem worth the trip. However, now that we are closer, I wanted a chance to show them where I grew up. It was the icing on the cake that this race also happened to have a junior triathlon that my kids could compete in.

Daniel and I registered for the Olympic distance, along with our good friend Melissa (who grew up in Ferron, a neighboring town. She and I attended the same high school). Two of our other friends, Shari and Sarah, registered for the sprint distance. My two older kids registered for the junior triathlon.

I made plans to meet up with one of my childhood best friends, Melanie (Holdaway) Bernard. While she and I were discussing plans, she reminded me that our other best friend, April, might be coming down, since her husband, Jeff, was interested in competing in the race as well. I got in touch with Jeff and April and was beyond thrilled that Jeff was indeed racing. This meant that April, Melanie and I would be able to get together for the first time since high school. We made plans to meet up after the race on Saturday. April also invited us to stay with them, at her parent's house. I think I spent more time in that house during my teenage years, than I did in my own home. Her parents were like my second parents and I was excited to be able to see them again.

We arrived in Huntington on Friday evening. After checking in for the race and getting our race packets, we spent a little time at the lake. Our kids enjoyed skipping rocks on the beautiful lake, and I was caught up in the childhood memories.
The family skipping rocks on Huntington Lake. I grew up swimming in this lake.

When Jayden saw these Great Danes, he said, "Mom, are those camels?" Love that kid!
Daniel, Jayden and Savannah looking over the lake the night before the race.

It was obvious that our swim would be a beautiful one.

 Later on, we headed over to the Nielson's to get settled for the night. On the way, we drove by my childhood home. I showed it to my kids and told them a few things I thought they might enjoy hearing about. We also drove by my old elementary school, the local grocery store and a few other places that hold fond memories for me. When we arrived at the Nielson's, I was so happy to see Boyd and Maryellen again. They were always so good to me. We spent a little while catching up with April and Jeff and then headed to bed to get some good rest for our race in the morning.

At 5:30am, we got out of bed and headed to the race. The little boys stayed at the house with April and her kids, while her husband Jeff, Daniel and I headed to the race. April brought Mason and Savannah over with her a little later so they could watch some of our race without getting up quite so early.

The race was fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed the course and felt it was well run and enjoyable. The weather was perfect and the water was amazing. There really was nothing to complain about. Daniel's wave started first. My wave was 5 minutes behind his, and our friends who did the sprint started 10 minutes behind me. It was fun to have the waves so close together because it meant we got to see everyone at some point during the race.

When all was said and done, we couldn't have been happier. Daniel took first in the Clydesdale division. I took first in the Female 30-34 division and 5th overall. Jeff took first in the male 35-39 division. Our Saratoga Springs friends all placed in the top 3 of their divisions as well.

Daniel and I after the race.

Melissa Brown, Sarah Smith, me, and Shari Wycherly- our good friends from Saratoga Springs.

As soon as we were done, we had to rush to get the bikes and transitions set up for Mason and Savannah. They were both nervous and excited. Mason was finally tall enough to ride my road bike instead of his heavy bike. Savannah is still much too small, but she sure looked cute on her pink, shiny bike! Both kids did fantastic. They didn't have the kids divided out by age, which bummed Savannah out (since she knew she couldn't really compete with 17 year old boys), but Dan and I couldn't have been more proud of either of them. Mason ended up coming in 6th overall, which was exciting! There were so many kids this year. They really enjoyed themselves and we enjoyed sharing such a fun race with them.

Savannah coming out of the water- Can you believe that grin?

Mason coming out of the water- he swam strong!

Coming in to T2 after the bike.

Savannah on the very tail end of the run- sprinting to the finish.

After the awards ceremony, we headed back to the Nielson's for some much needed food, showers and rest. Our kids were having the time of their lives playing with the Mower's (April and Jeff's kids). After a little while, I got a message from Melanie that she was on her way over. It's hard to describe how great it felt to have the three of us together again. I moved after our sophomore year of high school and hated leaving them behind. While the move was a positive thing for me, and Idaho quickly became my home, I never replaced April and Melanie. Being together again felt like coming home. I love them both so much.

While there is more of that story to tell, I want to post that in a separate blog, complete with pics from then and now....soooo, that's all the girlfriend reunion talk for now!

Saturday evening, we headed back home. Everyone had a perfect weekend. We enjoyed our time together as a family, as well as catching up with old friends. I am so thankful for a healthy body, a healthy family, and the ability to do these things that we love so much. I am thankful that I can share these things with friends, old and new. It truly was a beautiful weekend.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Great Saratoga Smokeout

Thursday, June 21st, 2012: Mason had a dentist appointment in the Highland area, which is a good 20 minutes northeast of Saratoga Springs. As we left his appointment in the middle of the afternoon, he pointed to the hills on the western skyline, and asked about the smoke. I could see that it was likely a brush fire but it looked to be a long ways out. I reassured the kids that it was obviously a small fire and far away from us, so there was nothing to worry about. The smoke was pretty light in color, at the very top of the hills, and not covering much area. As we approached Saratoga again, however, I noticed that the fire was quite a bit closer than it had appeared from a distance. It looked to be directly west of our home. It was still at the top of the hills though and still a very "small" fire.

That night, I went to play Bunko at a friend's house. No one even mentioned that little fire. But as we left Bunko, it was dark. It was then that we first saw the flames. At that point, we could tell that little fire was not so little anymore. Here is the picture I took with my phone, as I left Bunko that night.

As you can see, the flames are huge, but the fire was still at the very top of the hills and quite small. We talked about it a little before heading home, but no one was bothered by it at this point. I got online and read an article about it on The article said that the fire had been started by target shooters (in 100 degree weather with record dry conditions? Really?) and had burned almost 600 acres. It said that they had the perimeter under control but they were letting the middle of the fire burn out to lower the risk of future fires in the area.

Friday, June 22nd, 2012: In the morning, I looked out the window to see what had happened overnight, or if I would be able to see the flames in the daylight. The information I had read the previous day left me with the impression that I would probably awaken to find all was well. But I was shocked when I looked out my window and it looked like this:

As you can see, the fire had obviously spread and was no longer at the top of the hill. It had burned a much larger area and had moved much closer to our neighborhoods. The light smoke from the day before was gone and this dark, black cloud hung over us. My neighbor showed up at my door, asking if I thought we should start packing, just in case. I told her no, there were plenty of neighborhoods higher than us, and I'm sure they'd be evacuated first and we would hear about it in plenty of time. I told her that since we were across Redwood Rd, a major road, I thought the chances of the fire jumping Redwood were very slim and we were probably totally safe.

I got back online to read an update on the fire. The tone of the article had completely changed, now saying that the fire was out of control due to 20-30mph winds all night long, and had over tripled in size throughout the night. This was the first moment I thought that maybe the fire could be dangerous after all. I started getting texts from friends in the Salt Lake area asking if we were okay. They were buried in smoke clear up there and were worried about us. The smoke, as you can see from the photo, was actually going up and over us, so the air here was fine, even though it was getting bad throughout the rest of the valley.

As the day progressed, things got scarier. Evacuations started in Eagle Mountain not long after this photo. The fire, it seemed, was headed towards a building that housed explosives. It was within a mile, but they were doing everything they could to divert the fire from the path of that building. Several neighborhoods in Eagle Mountain were evacuated. For those not from this area, the fire was burning along the mountain line that runs directly between Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs. Eagle Mountain is on the West side of these mountains, while Saratoga Springs is on the East. I headed outside where I visited with some neighbors about the situation. At this point, the fire was less than a mile from homes and totally unpredictable. We noticed as we were talking, that the wind was blowing Northeast- directly toward our homes. It was obvious, even from just looking at it, that it was moving quickly, and moving right toward us. I was checking KSL regularly to see what the situation was. Within a few hours, they began evacuating all of our neighboring neighborhoods in Saratoga Springs, clear to Redwood Rd. My neighborhood runs right up to, and touches, Redwood Rd. We are on the far East side of the neighborhood, maybe a quarter mile off Redwood Rd. So at this point, we realized that the evacuation line was less than 1/4 mile from our homes. At this same time, the smoke finally began descending on top of us. The ash and smoke were very heavy and we knew we shouldn't be outside for long. Our neighbors had friends and family who had been evacuated that had stopped by and updated us on what the situation was up in their neighborhood. The flames were getting very close. The smoke was terrible, and there were very worried. We headed back indoors. Soon, things got loud. Because we live right on Utah Lake, the choppers were flying from the fire, directly over our homes and refilling in the lake, before heading back to the fire to dump the water.

It was amazing to watch how quickly they would refill (maybe 30 seconds), head back to the fire, dump, and be back- all within just a couple of minutes. But at this point, besides the noise of the choppers, it was like a ghost town outside. The air quality was too poor for anyone to be playing. Where there are usually dozens of small children playing, there was only greenish, ashy air, and dead silence. It was very unsettling. The news was now reporting the fire to have burned over 4,000 acres and continued to grow. Many of our neighbors had their vehicles packed, just in case we were evacuated, as all the surrounding neighborhoods had been.

This photo was taken from my neighbor's rooftop on Friday.

Dan left work early on Friday to come home and check on us. The roads leading into our neighborhood had been closed, and he had to stop and provide his address to the policeman, so they could verify that he wasn't heading back into an evacuated area.

No one slept well that night. I could feel the pressure in my chest from even the short time I had been outside. My kids all smelled like smoke, as did my basement. My eyes were burning, my throat was scratchy, and we knew we really couldn't leave the house. We still didn't know if there would be a knock at our door in the middle of the night telling us we needed to get out.

A plane flying through the smoke.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012: The first thing I did upon awakening was look out the window. To my surprise, things looked much better. The smoke had somewhat died down, the fire didn't appear to have moved any closer to us, and the air wasn't green and thick with ash as it had been the previous day. I once again checked the news reports. At that time, they said that once the winds had died down, the firefighters were able to get the fire under control to an extent. It was 30% contained and seemed to be moving laterally- north and south- directly between the Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs communities, instead of toward one or the other. This was great news. The evacuations had not yet been lifted for those who had been evacuated, but it didn't appear there would be any more. We were relieved to know that we were likely out of danger.

Sunday, June 24th, 2012: All evacuations were lifted and those that were displaced were able to return home. The miracle of it all was, with 6,000 acres burned, the flames came with 20 feet of some homes- 20 feet. That's like from one end of a room to another. Some came that close to losing their homes. What a miracle that they were able to get control of the fire before it touched any of them.

As of today, the air quality is still poor and we are being told not to exercise outside for the rest of the week. All our kids Tball games and cheer practices were cancelled for the week because of that. The fire still burns but it is now under control. We feel very blessed that our community came out of this situation without any loss of life, or any losses of homes. We know we owe much of that gratitude to the brave men and women who fought so bravely to save our homes and protect our families. This picture is so touching (it is not mine- it was submitted to KSL by a viewer) to those of us who were protected by these heroes. Thank you to each of them.

Firefighters try to get some rest before heading back to fight the raging fire once more.

So thank you to all of those who were concerned about us and kept checking in to see how we were doing. Thank you to all those who offered a home, a room or a couch for us if we were evacuated. Thank you to everyone who offered prayers in our behalf. It appears your prayers were heard. We are safe and sound, and home.

*A quick thank you as well to my neighbors who supplied some of these photos. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our baby is 4!

It's hard to believe that 4 years have passed since the birth of our last little baby! On June 20th, 2012, we celebrated our sweet Jayden's 4th birthday. I can't remember any of our children ever being as excited about a birthday at this age as Jayden was. He would ask each day, "How many more darks?" and was counting down. He couldn't wait to turn 4!

In order to properly celebrate his awesomeness, I want to first talk a little about Jayden. Then, I'll give a rundown of how we spent the special day.

Jayden is the baby of our family in every way. Each member of our family does their part to take care of him and he eats it up. While Jaxon is fiercely independent, Jayden loves the attention of being the baby and is more likely to ask for help, even when he's perfectly capable of doing it himself. He loves to snuggle. He is quiet, shy and sweet as pie. He falls asleep in random places at random times. Almost every week, he sleeps through primary. At the beginning of class, he will climb on the lap of his teacher and fall asleep. They will lay him down in the corner and he sleeps through a good portion of class. It's so cute.

Jayden is a bit of a computer addict. He loves anything with a screen. He asked for a Nintendo DS for his birthday but that wasn't going to happen. We have to limit him as it is or he would play the Wii or computer all day long. He enjoys talking trash to his dad and brothers when they play games. It's quite humorous when the older boys in the family ask for his help getting past a difficult part of a game. It's not uncommon to hear him come out of his usual shell when he's playing Wii by saying things like, "Dat what you get suckaaaa!" We can't help but laugh since he is usually so quiet and sweet.

Jayden has his dad wrapped around his cute little finger. Dan has commented often about how he wishes Jayden would stay little, just like he is now. Jayden also tells me often how he loves me sooo much- but he loves Mason more :) Mason and Jayden share a special bond and are two peas in a pod. Unless Mason is at school, you will rarely find one of them without the other. We are so blessed to have our beautiful baby boy in this family. 

Now back to the festivities!  As I mentioned before, Jayden asked for a Nintendo DS for his birthday. Instead, he got a brand new bike. If he wants to be a part of this family, he's going to have to stay active ;-)

It's  16" of bright green (his favorite color) Hot Wheels goodness, fully equipped with a fake speedometer and a handle bar you can twist and pretend to rev, while making "vroom vroom" noises. Suh-weet! Now if we can only convince our timid little guy to ditch the training wheels so he can keep up with his dare devil brother!

After Jayden got his bike, we piled into the car and headed to Trafalga for a day of family fun. It was ridiculously hot outside, but we had a fantastic time. Here are some pics of our fun day:

At Trafalga, the kids climbed the rock wall, rode several rides, drove the bumper cars and played laser tag. They had such a great time. After we left, they started asking when we can go back- and since we have season passes, we were able to honestly say, "Soon."

Around 6pm, we headed home with a tired brood of kiddos, where we celebrated some more with cake and ice cream. Jayden requested a Spider-man cake and unlike the DS, this was a request we were happy to grant. Our cute neighbor, Carson Wycherly, came knocking at the door just as we were about to start cake and ice cream, so we invited him in to join the party. He is a good friend with both boys and they were happy to have him over to celebrate.

After we all had cake and ice cream, we rushed Jayden off to his very first Tball practice! It was such a busy day for our little guy! He enjoyed every second of it- which is fitting since we have enjoyed every second of him. Happy birthday little guy! We adore you!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

15 Years

This is the picture that went with our wedding announcement. I only have the teeny tiny file uploaded so it's really poor quality.
May 31st 1997- I woke up with a migraine and took some medicine to help with the pain. Because we had to be to the temple so early in the morning for the 8:30am ceremony, I didn't have time for breakfast.  My dad ran back to the house to get the ring- because I forgot that little detail. The rest of the story has been told many times (how I puked on my dress, how there was a tornado that day...) but as entertaining as that all is, it isn't what matters. That day was the start of everything we have built for the past 15 years, and everything we'll continue building throughout eternity.
A year after we were married- our trip to Lake Powell- May 1998
On May 31st, Daniel and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary. I could write a sappy blog about how amazing it has all been and how perfect everything is, but those who know and love us know that that isn't the reality of how our story has been written. The past 15 years have mirrored our wedding day in so many ways. Not much has been perfect. Sometimes one of us was ready for what was coming next while the other one drug their feet. Sometimes one of us- or both of us- forgot what was important. And yes, there has been plenty of puking ;-)  We've been through some really rough stuff. It's been touch and go for us at times. But here we are, in a great place. We are happy and in love and we have a beautiful family. I love our story. I love it because life isn't always about everything magically falling into place. Sometimes life is about fighting hard for what matters most. And fight we have ;-) We've gotten where we are with blood, sweat, tears, prayer, faith, and a lot of love and hard work- and it has been worth every single minute.

The birth of our first baby- Mason Wade- October 1999

Savannah's blessing day- October 2003
Family picture- December 2003
Family picture- June 2005

Looking back and reflecting on the past 15 years- all the good and bad- I would do it again in a second. The beauty of our story far outweighs our struggles. We are surrounded by so many blessings and so much joy. We have never been as happy as we are today. I don't expect the next 15 years to be a cake walk. We're knee deep in kids who will soon be teenagers. We're still going to be us- stubborn, spoiled and completely opposite in every way. We will have good days and bad days, good months and bad months, and most likely, good years and bad years. It is marriage after all. But what I know is this- I married the love of my life and I am incredibly lucky. There is not a person on this earth that I would rather be married to. He makes me laugh every day. He makes me love him more every day. And every time I look into those bright blue eyes, I still get butterflies.  Every memory we have made together is a piece in our own unique story. So while it hasn't been all rainbows and sunshine, it has been OUR story. It is beautiful.
In front of the Emperor's palace in Japan- 2004.
Jaxon's blessing day- Feb 2007
Jayden's birth- June 2008

Daniel, thank you for the past 15 years- and thanks in advance for the next 1,000. Thank you for loving me enough to see through the weaknesses, to stick by me when it's not easy, and to laugh sometimes, even when I'm not funny. Thank you for building a life with me. Thank you for teaching me so many things, and making me a better person. Thank you for trudging with me, hand in hand, through the mud, to the other side, where we have found so much happiness and true joy. We've made it here- together- and I love you with everything I have.

Our family as we are today <3

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Neverending Basketball Court Saga....

Less than a year after Daniel and I got married, we bought our first home- a cute little rambler. The sweet little house was 960 sq feet with a one car garage. It was an older home that had been completely remodeled.With 3 small bedrooms, a tiny living room, and a kitchen with just a few cabinets, the washer and dryer were actually IN the kitchen. I was just 18 at the time, so owning a home seemed pretty swell :-)

Well, years have gone by, we've multiplied and replenished, and have been blessed to move into our new home in Utah. When we decided to build this home, we knew we wanted to do things our way. We decided we would do them step by step, one thing at a time, to make sure we did things just the way we wanted.

One thing we knew we wanted was a basketball court. This was very important to Daniel. We have 3 sons. Dan has so many fond (some not so fond ;) memories of playing basketball with his dad and brother when he was growing up. He has always wanted to be able to create those same memories with our 3 boys.

And boy, is there a story behind our basketball court. Our lot slopes up significantly in the front. We knew this would limit the room for a court on the driveway because it wouldn't be flat. Because of this, we asked the builders to slope the driveway as steep as possible toward the road, and then flatten it off toward the house. To make a long story short, they didn't do that. The slope of the driveway made it impossible to use any of it to play basketball.

If you know my husband, you can pretty much guess how it went down from there ;-) In the end, the builder agreed to pour a separate basketball court behind the garage, to make up for the mistake. This was a perfect solution to what appeared, at first, to be a big problem.

The court has been in since we closed in November, but we didn't have a hoop. We had been looking for one, had called on a few, but nothing was quite right. One day, Daniel called me from the sporting goods store. He was giddy. Lifetime had come out with a brand new, regulation sized backboard, in the ground hoop. It was 72 inches of glass goodness. However, it was quite a bit more (like 3-5 times more) than we had agreed to spend on a hoop. But THIS was the hoop of all hoops. I knew how important it was to Dan to have a nice court, so I gave him the go ahead, and he bought the hoop.

The hoop in the store

Now the work began. First, Daniel had to dig a 4 ft by 4 ft hole, by hand. He had some help from the Js though, so that made it easier ;)

Once that was done, he had to build a concrete form, insert it into the hole, back fill the dirt around it, and then fill it with concrete. We thought we knew how much concrete we would need, but we ended up making trip after trip to buy more concrete. I think we ended up using 27 bags, to the 13 we thought we would need! The concrete then had to cure for several days.

After that was all done, he was able to install the monster hoop, with the help of a few friends- Voila! Here it was in all it's glory....

Dan, our friend Rob, and Mason, testing it out.
Mason and our neighbor, Jacob, playing ball.
Well, it seems the story should end there....but nothing is ever quite that simple, is it? A few days later, we had a horrific wind storm. The boys had been playing on the hoop the night before and all was well and good. But the next morning, when Dan went outside, this is what he found:

Our $2,000 hoop made it 3 days. It took almost a week, between buying it, having it delivered and getting it installed, just to be able to play on it. In 3 days, it was shattered. We weren't sure what happened. We wondered if it might have been the windstorm. Upon closer inspection, however, there appeared to be a circular impact mark, just about the size of a golf ball. Since we do live on the golf course, we assume that's what happened.

Dan called Lifetime to see if it was under warranty. It turns out that the rest of the hoop is, but not the glass. Replacing the glass would be about $1,000 *gasp*cough*cry*. The Lifetime employee took mercy on us though, and said that one time only, they would replace the glass at no cost to us.

It was several weeks of waiting for the new glass to arrive. We came up with a plan to protect the glass from future damage. Dan bought some plexi glass from Home Depot and cut it to the size of the backboard. He then bolted it onto the back of the metal frame, behind the glass. This way, if another golf ball comes waaaaay out of it's way and happens to hit our glass again, it will only hit the plexi, and hopefully not damage the glass itself.

After that little task was complete, Dan and his buddies once again worked their magic and installed the new backboard.

 Now we HOPE this is the end of this story- besides many years of good-natured (HA!) basketball between my husband, my boys, and many friends and family!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Spawned a Smarty!

When we first moved to Utah, I talked to Mason's teacher about getting him into the elementary gifted and talented program. Because the school year had already started, the program was full. It is run very differently down here than the equivalent program in Idaho is run. It's a much more extensive selection process, so we couldn't just ask that Mason be put in the program, just because he was in an advanced program in Idaho. Here, the program isn't run by the school. It is through the district (which is larger than several districts in Idaho combined). We were disappointed, but when Mason began to struggle at the beginning of the school year, it seemed to be a blessing in disguise. It appeared that he needed the time to adjust to the move before we added anything extra onto his plate.

As the year progressed and Mason returned to his usual self, we were thrilled when he came home and said his teacher was recommending he test for gifted and talented. He would need to register and take a 4-hour test, administered to all interested students in the district. After the test, he had to have his teacher fill out a referral and recommendation for him, and submit it to the district. Once that process was completed, the district would look over the results of students from all of the schools, select the students they feel would be most successful in the program, and send the letters of acceptance. Selected students attend a magnet school where the program is based and attend classes with the other ACAD students. Prior to him testing, I was told that it was very hard to get into. I prepared him for that, hoping he wouldn't be too disappointed if he wasn't chosen, although I knew he had the potential to do very, very well. I explained that he was competing against kids from other schools as well and there were only a limited number of openings.

About a month or so after testing, I went to get the mail. I saw a letter from the district, addressed 'To the parents of Mason Miller'. As I opened it, my heart sank. In big black letters, I saw "enrollment declined". I (as usual) got a little teary and then opened the letter to read it. Imagine my surprise when I read that he had indeed been chosen! The portion of the letter I had seen first was a different paper, that you, as a parent use, if you choose to decline the invitation to be a part of the program. Then I got REALLY teary! I don't remember ever feeling more proud of Mason. I sat there in my car, crying and beaming with pride. I drove home and presented him with the letter. The look on his face was priceless. I could see that he too, was proud of himself.

 We have always stressed the importance of academics to our children. It means so much to us as parents, that he has learned the value of hard work and dedication to something that will benefit him greatly throughout his entire life. We can't wait to see all that he is capable of as he grows into the amazing young man we know he will be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Officially a cheerleader :-)

When Savannah was little, she made us call her Savannah Princess Mermaid Cheerleader. Up until this point, she had the Savannah and Princess parts down. Now she can officially add the cheerleader portion (not sure when the whole "mermaid thing" might happen).

On March 2nd, Savannah tried out for the Westlake 4th grade Cheer squad. She is such a strong tumbler, as well as a great dancer (I know, I'm her mom so.....). She was thrilled when she found out she made the squad, along with all her cute friends!

She will be competing in competitions, performing in parades, and cheering at all the high school football games. They do stunt and tumbling clinics every Saturday and have cheer practices after school during the week. It was no surprise to anyone that she is a flyer, since she's so small. She really likes that :-)

You can count on more pictures as she gets her new uniforms and begins performing. Congratulations sweet Savannah Princess Cheerleader!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Back on the charts!

In my last blog, I mentioned that it was anybody's guess who our tallest child would be- all that we knew is that it wouldn't be Savannah. This week was her checkup and it seems not much has changed in that regard.

Savannah was born at an average size (which is small for our babies) at 7 lbs 1 oz (39 weeks). But it didn't take long for her to be outgrown by her peers :) She was holding on to the bottom of the charts, in the 6th percentile, when she was 1. When she was 2 and up until kindergarten, she had fallen off the growth charts completely. I was slightly concerned and asked the doctor about it. He said that because I'm not that big of a person (even though I'm tall), that she will likely just be small, and as long as she was eating and sleeping, and we continued to see growth and development, that we had nothing to worry about.

Savannah has always been incredibly healthy, so I haven't had her in to the doctor for a long time. This year, we took her in for a yearly checkup. I knew she was still short, but we were curious to see if she was back on the charts. Before her appointment, I asked her what she thought. She shrugged her shoulders. My guess was that she would indeed be back on the charts, but somewhere at or below the 25th percentile.

When the results were in, it seems our sweet little girl has indeed made it back on the growth charts! She has almost reached the 25th percentile in weight, but she's still hanging on to the bottom of the height charts, under the 10th percentile somewhere.

The doctor showed me the charts and talked about how most girls finish growing between 12-13. This surprised me because I grew so late. I guess I was thinking all girls are like me and still growing through most of high school. Dan grew late as well, so there's still a chance she will come from behind (like I did) and pass up all her classmates in the final hour ;) And if not, it will be fun to have ONE shorty in the family!

I always remind her of the advantages of being short (she often laments how difficult it is to be the smallest one. She particularly hates the constant "so, are you 6 now?" comments). I tell her how as a gymnast, being short is a particular advantage. I remind her how everyone thinks she's so cute! Sometimes she seems frustrated by her height, and other times I don't think she minds at all. Only time will tell whether she stays our little midgie or whether she indeed has some dormant tall genes waiting to make their move.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Checkin' em out!

A couple of days ago, Jayden and Mason had their annual checkups. Both of them needed shots since Mason is due for his 7th grade booster(s) and Jayden was behind on his immunizations (bad mommy).

Mason went first. He measured above the 75th percentile in height (no surprise) and 50th percentile in weight (nope, not surprised there either). Tall and skinny. This was the exact opposite of Jaxon, who was 50th in height, but 75th in weight. He only needed one shot, his tetanus booster. Relieved that it was much less painful than a shot at the dentist, Mason said he had been picturing a giant needle that they stuck in and moved all around. A little poke was no problem :)

Now it was Jayden's turn. I was a little worried about how he would do with the shots. Jaxon is always so tough and has a really high pain tolerance, but Jayden is such a softie. He cries easily and gets scared. Typical baby of the family :) Jayden measured above the 75th percentile in height and in weight both.  He is barely 2 inches shorter than his big brother, but Jaxon has an additional 25% on him in weight! He was on track for all developmental milestones and enjoyed showing the doctor all the things he could do.

Jayden had to have 6 shots :( He started to cry as soon as they poked him but he stayed still and just got big tears in his eyes. After they were done, he threw his little arms around my neck, buried his face in my shoulder and cried. My poor little guy! The next day, he was very whiny all day and wanted me to carry him from room to room so he didn't have to walk on his sore legs. I tried to tell him that walking would help, but I think he just wanted me waiting on him hand and foot :)

All 3 boys are healthy as could be and Savannah has her checkup today. She's the only one who won't need any immunizations, so it should be a cake walk! It's anyone's guess who will be the tallest kid in the family. The only thing we know for sure is- it won't be Savannah!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile- My kids' friends :)

A couple of days ago, I got a text from my friend Melanie. Her son Jag is a year older than Jaxon and they love playing together.

 Her text said,
"Jag said to me this morning,
 'Mom, my favorite friend that I have ever had is Jaxon!"

Cute boys!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentines Day 2012

This year, Valentine's Day was different than usual. For one thing, Dan was in town :) That always helps! I put more effort into it for Dan and my kids than I usually do, and I think we all ended up enjoying the day. Here are a few highlights.

Prior to Valentines day, the kids and I made homemade valentines for their classes. We took a picture of each of them with their fist extended out in front of their faces, in front of one of my red backdrops. Then we bought suckers and stuck the stick through their fist so it looked as if they were actually holding the suckers (see pictures). We used Photoshop to add words (They said "Have a sweet Valentines Day! Love, Savannah/Mason").

I made breakfast for the kids- Pink, heart shaped pancakes with berry syrup, eggs and bacon. After that, I did Savannah's hair in a heart shaped do with red and white "I love you ribbons (see picture above).

In their lunches, I surprised them with a small box of chocolates. I gave the 2 little ones their own box of chocolates to enjoy during the day.

For Daniel, I went out and bought 15 different helium balloons (one for each year we have been together). I made 15 envelopes out of red paper and wrote a note to stick in each envelope. Each one was a memory we have shared together. I tied the envelopes to the balloons and put them all over our room. I also had a couple of bottles of sparkling cider and a few small gifts for him.

Daniel got me a box of chocolates (I love chocolate more than any sane person should) and I'll be painfully honest and admit I ate the whole box, by myself, in 24 hours. He also gave me beautiful flowers. Every one of us enjoyed the day and felt loved. What could be better than that?

Monday, February 13, 2012

"This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you"

Curled up on the foot of my bed, I buried my face into my baby blue comforter and sobbed. My heart was broken. I was all of 13 years old, in 8th grade, and I KNEW that this was the boy I wanted to marry. But he had just dumped me. We'd been "dating" all of 2 weeks. He was in high school *swoon* while I was still in junior high and he was SO cute! I'd even held his hand (a first). He dumped me for my neighbor, who was a junior in high school- with a license! How was I supposed to compete with that? And so I cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. After a while, my mother came into my room and sat on the edge of my bed. She rubbed my back and tried to comfort me. I don't remember the entire conversation, but I vividly remember this one thing: "Honey, you're heart is going to be broken a lot more times before you find the person you're going to marry." I don't remember if or how I responded, but I remember thinking she was crazy because that boy (the only one I'd ever held hands with- I'd still never been kissed) WAS the one. She knew nothing....

I'm sure it took me all of about 4 days to find a new "boyfriend" and forget the hurt that just a few days earlier had seemed so life altering. Looking back, that boy wouldn't even make the list of "Who's Who in Adolescent Anna's Life". Until I became a mother, I never gave a second thought to what my own mom was feeling at that moment. I know that she could clearly see how insignificant that moment would be in my life, yet it's never easy to see your child hurting.

I don't yet have teenagers. Our big hurts are still limited to "he called me a doodoo face" or "She won't sit by me". And yet, as my children get older, and I slowly see the hurts start to grow, I find myself hurting for them more than they even hurt for themselves.

A few weeks ago, my daughter was invited to a birthday party for one of her sweet friends. She was ecstatic about it. We went out and bought the perfect gift, wrapped it, and made sure everything was ready to go. The night before, we had an unexpected late night with family rolling in from out of town, and then an extremely early morning. I was exhausted and laid down for a few minutes. The next thing I knew, Savannah was shaking me awake, "Mom! My party!" I asked her what time it was and she said it was 10:45. The party had started at 10:00. It was a spa party and they were planning to leave for the salon right at 10. For some reason, my phone had been turned to silent and when I checked it, I had multiple messages from people asking if she was coming, if she needed a ride, etc... She had lost track of time and I had fallen asleep. I tried calling but couldn't reach anyone, so she missed the party entirely. She was slightly bummed. I was a basket case. I felt like a failure as a mother. I knew she wanted to go to this party and I had a hard time saying to myself, "It's just a party." And yet, by mid-afternoon, she was right as rain. Why did I let it bother me so much more than it bothered her?

Today, Mason stayed home from school, sick. He had been running a fever and not feeling well for a few days. When I woke up this morning, I took one look at him and knew he should probably stay home. He was all dressed and ready, but it was apparent that he needed to rest. I talked him in to staying home one more day. About 9:15, I got a call from his teacher. She asked how he was doing. I told her he was still sick. She said she was calling because today was the school spelling bee. Mason had won his class spelling bee and qualified for this one. He had been so excited about it, but was unsure what day it was on. I knew he wasn't going to want to miss out, so I asked her to hold on while I checked with him to see if he wanted to go to school just for the spelling bee. As adamantly as he could, he said yes, he wanted to be there. I let her know I would run him right up. We were out the door in 5 minutes flat and he was in her classroom in less than 10 minutes. However, I got a call 20 minutes or so later saying he had arrived too late. They had begun giving instructions already and would not allow him in. Holding back my own tears, I told him I would be right up to get him. My heart hurt for him. I knew how much it would have meant to him to do well. It was something he had been looking forward to. I made plans in my head as to what I would say to make it better for him. I told myself to plaster a smile on and make as light of it as I could to make it easier for him. When I pulled up to the school, he was waiting on the curb. As he hopped in the car, I asked him what happened. He told me, without the least bit of emotion, and then said he was happy to be going home so he could get some rest :) I breathed a sigh of relief. He was fine.

I don't know if all parents get so emotional over every little thing in their children's lives. My guess would be that some are far more rational than I am :) I'm a highly emotional person. That said, I would guess that most parents, particularly mothers, find themselves in these same situations, just perhaps not to the same degree, over things so insignificant. There is something about being a mother that makes you literally FEEL the hurt your child is feeling. You don't just understand it, you actually feel it- and you will do just about anything to make it better for them. Each time I face one of these moments with one of my babies, I can't help but reflect back on my own parents and wonder how they did it. How did they keep it together when we were falling apart? Heaven knows we went through a lot bigger hurts than these (some as consequences of our own choices, some as just part of life). How were they feeling when we got cut from the basketball team? When we made poor choice after poor choice and they had to sit back and watch us face the consequences we brought on ourselves? When our house burned down? When we were in an accident? When someone we loved hurt us deeply? When as much as they wanted to, they couldn't protect us?

My mom and I have talked a little about these sorts of things in the past. She has told me how hard it is to know we are going to crash and burn, but to have to sit back and watch us do it. I'm not quite sure I'll be able to do it quite as well as my own parents. I have a feeling my tendency will be to jump in when I'm not needed, to try and rescue my children when they need to learn to stand on their own two feet. I'm thankful that my parents gave me the chance to learn, to fall and to fail. Because that is how I became me- and I am strong. In these same moments, I can't help but think it must be like this for our Heavenly Father. He loves us so deeply and while He has the power to rescue us from our hurts and pains, He knows that what is best for us is to learn and grow from our own choices, and the choices of others. Sometimes He has to sit back and watch us crash. It must be so hard.

As my children-the loves of my life- grow and make their own choices, I hope I can learn a lesson or two from my own parents and my Heavenly Father. I hope I can be the shoulder to cry on, the words of wisdom, a tight hug, when it is needed. At the same time, I hope I can learn that at times you have to take a step back and let them learn to fly- even though it will mean many falls before they find their wings.

Riverton Chess Tournament

Ever since Mason was pretty little, he has loved playing chess. My dad loves chess as well and the two of them have bonded over a chess board many times.

My dad is a history teacher. One year, my mom made him a beautiful, hand made chess board with the pieces in the shape of civil war soldiers. This set is glass and fragile.  My dad keeps it packed away safely and only brings it out to play when Mason is there. Mason is the only one allowed to play with it. It's a special thing between the two of them. Whenever Mason goes to see my parents, the first thing he wants to do is play chess with Grandpa Scott. They've created many memories this way.

Last year, Mason played in the chess club at Jefferson Elementary in Idaho. They held one tournament and Mason took 1st place. This year, he joined the chess club at Saratoga Shores, but things are a little different here. This chess club has many more players and competes in many tournaments throughout the area, against a lot of other schools. Mason was excited to be able to do this. Unfortunately, the chess tournaments are on the same days as his basketball games, so he wasn't able to attend most of them. His coach wanted each player to attend at least one, and recommended the Riverton Tournament as the one she would most like them to attend. We let him miss one basketball game in order to do this.

Saturday was the big day. Mason was up and ready in plenty of time for us to leave at 8am. We arrived about 8:40, with the tournament scheduled to start at 9. After locating his coach and school, we found his first pairing and he went into round 1. I stayed outside and visited with the other moms. He came out of round 1 with an unreadable expression on his face. He made his way to me and told me he had won his first round! He was so excited! This put him in the winner's bracket though, so the next rounds would be more difficult.

Mason went into round 2 around 10:30 or so. Unfortunately he lost this round. I think this surprised him, since he wasn't used to playing with this much competition. He was pretty disappointed.

One of the boys brought a 4-player chess board. Between the rounds, Mason and 3 other boys would play it. He thought it was incredibly fun, so it took his mind of his loss a little bit.

Round 3 began around noon or so. Mason came out with a sad look on his face and told me he had lost again. He had set a goal for himself to place and get a trophy, so he was feeling like this was now out of his reach. However, his coach pulled him aside and told that since he had been paired up with some high ranking players, if he won the next 2 rounds, he would likely still place. This gave him some hope.

Going into round 4, I was nervous for him. I knew he really wanted to win these last 2 rounds. The competition was stiff though. There were 29 schools and 240 players competing! He came out of round 4 with a smile and a victory. Now he knew he still had a chance to place, if he could come away with a victory in the final round. Mason went into round 5 around 3pm. A few of the other kids came out first and I was so nervous for him. He finally emerged and I could tell by the look on his face that he had won! Now we just had to wait. He had 3 points. But there were a lot of players with 3 points. It would all come down to who had competed against players with higher rankings.

After they did the awards for the younger kids, it was Mason's turn. First they awarded the medals for those who didn't place. We were happy when he was still standing after that. Then they gave out smaller trophies for those who had done very well but not placed. Once again, his name wasn't called. At that point we knew he was in the top 10, but we didn't know where. When the results were in, Mason placed 6th. He got a nice trophy. There aren't many times I can remember him being so excited and proud of himself. It was so fun to be able to watch him. We are so proud of him, and Grandpa Scott made sure Mason knew just how proud he was as well.

Mason's team took 10th place out of 29 schools. Mason's points were a big contributing factor to that. They were very happy to be able to get a team trophy as well. Here's a little pic of the team with their trophies and medals (and yes, we forgot to have Mason wear his team shirt- oops).

Great job Mason! You're awesome!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jaxon's 5 year old Checkup and Stats

Today was a big day for Jaxon! He had his 5-year-old check up and got his Kindergarten shots. I knew he would be tough as nails, like he always is, so I wasn't worried about how he would react. He did fantastic and didn't even flinch when they gave him 5 shots. The nurses said they wish that every 5 year old behaved as well as Jaxon. I actually think he enjoyed the visit.

For the checkup portion, they quizzed him on his shapes, which he aced. They also had him count, asked him how to spell his name and a few basic questions like that. He had no trouble with any of it. Jaxon is smart as could be! Here are his stats:

Alpine Pediatrics
Date of Checkup: Feb 10th, 2012
Age: 5 years old
Weight: 45.4 lbs (75th percentile)
Height: 43 inches (50th percentile)

The doctor brought up that he is quite a bit higher on the charts in weight than he is in height, and said we might want to watch and make sure he isn't eating too much junk food etc. It kind of made me giggle. Jaxon is solid as a rock and strong as an ox. I told him he came out that way at 9 lbs, 2 weeks early. He has the hands and feet of a rottweiler and I have no doubt his height will catch up with his weight at some point in the future. I was actually kind of happy to have one of my children who has a little meat on their bones :) His eye sight was 20/20 which they said was great considering his eyes are still developing. They said it means he will likely have good eyesight in the future as well.

All in all, we found out that he is just as healthy and strong as we thought he was. He is now all registered for kindergarten and ready to go!