Friday, December 15, 2017


This year we told Lila we were going to let her open one Christmas present on November 30.

She was pleased.

She was also pleased when she opened the present and it was a Peppa Pig Advent Calendar! For the past two year both boys have gotten advent calendars for their birthdays. Her birthday is after Christmas, so she's been kind of bummed watching them open advents when she doesn't have one. This year we changed that situation.

Lila has been so cute about her advent. She hasn't missed a single day and she immediately runs to show everyone in the family what she got after she's opened her Peppa for the day. She's gotten a ton of new characters and some accessories for them, too. 

All of the new Peppas mean that we've been playing Peppa more than ever lately. So, last week when Lila didn't have school on Friday, she and I created Peppa town:

Complete with a sledding hill.

On Sunday, while I was at Bells, she and Asher extended Peppa Town and turned it into Peppa Tropolis. I forgot to take a picture while it was all set up, but they'd set up the hot air balloon ride and an office for Daddy by the door. The section with all the little lines is a parking lot! Apparently they'd run out of tape but found a bit extra by peeling up the label of the tape roll and by taking a bit from other spots so they could finish the parking lot. Pretty cute if you ask me!

 The boys are pretty cute with their calendars, too. Asher's first day had the mini version of a ship he already has, which is quite adorable.

Reed's Birthday

On Reed's birthday, he got to take the whole day off school!

...because he was sick the flu. Four of us got hit hard with the worst flu I've ever had. Asher, miraculously, felt totally fine, threw up once, and was fine thereafter. Lucky duck. But back to Reed. On his birthday, he had the flu. Happily, he'd already been sick for a few days so was on a definite upward swing and his day didn't end up being too bad after all. He got to play legos, watch movies with me, play games...generally whatever he wanted that didn't require him to move too much.

I was feeling pretty guilty on Reed's birthday because on Asher's birthday we started the "Birthday 5" tradition. The day before Reed's birthday was my regular shopping day and that is when I was planning on getting his Birthday 5 and balloons. But I was so miserable that day I hardly moved off the couch. On Reed's birthday eve, I explained that Birthday 5 wouldn't be awaiting him in the morning and he was bummed but a good sport.

On his birthday, though, I took Lila to school after lunch (she was the first to have the flu and the first better), then went to Smith's to pick up my grocery order. (Can I get an amen for online grocery shopping?) And I realized that there was a Dollar Tree right by Smith's. And I thought I could hold it together for 20 minutes to walk around Dollar Tree to get Birthday 5 surprises. So I did! When I got home, I hid the Birthday 5, then when the other kids got home, I told Reed to start looking. He was so pumped and surprised. His Birthday 5 this year were Sick Bricks, gum, darts, make your own slime, and growing crystals. He was most pumped about the Sick Bricks. He and Asher pulled them out right away to scan them into the app. (Sick bricks are building bricks with an interactive app. You can scan your characters into the app and you get extra points/powers for doing so).

We had a simple dinner because no one was up to much food-wise. Reed actually had his third ham and cheese melty of the day--it was the only thing that sounded good. Then Reed got to open his presents! He got a Lego Advent from Grandma Lexie + Grandpa Jack. He got a gift card from Grandma + Grandpa Hambly that he used to buy a few ninjago lego sets. We actually let him use the gift card a little early because Target had a special deal going on: when you spent $30 or more on legos the week before Reed's birthday, you got a free Lego Santa. Target, of course, ended up being sold out of the Lego Santa (rude!) but I saved the day by spending the $3.50 to buy a Lego Santa on And from us he got a fact book about US states, new shirts and socks, lego "tape" (it's 3D and you can stick it anywhere then build legos on it), a lego dimensions set he'd been wanting forever (it has a Gollum minifig. He doesn't know who Gollum is but thinks he looks cool), and Lance's Battle Suit (a Lego NexoKnight set). For his "cake" I'd bought a single cupcake at Smith's that he took two bites of. At least we got to sing!

We ended the day with talking about our favorite things about Reed...
Dad: Reed and I can talk about all kinds of stuff (I think that day they'd had a conversation about insurance premiums and how that works)
Mom: Reed tells me cool stuff he's learned and shows me the things he makes
Asher: Bub is highly gifted
Lila: Ree Ree played Peppas with me today.

We sure love our Reeder Peeder Pumpkin Eater!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Giving Thanks

I find that I either take so. many. pictures. Or 0-5 pictures. This trip was of the 0-5 variety. Good thing I'm verbose.

Anyway, Thanksgiving. We were planning on spending Thanksgiving at home as we've done the past few years, but then we found out the Lynnie and Nick were making the trip to St. George. We hardly get to see them so it only made sense for us to make the trip to St. George, too! Our 5 family got there a day before the Gandolas. On our first day, we took Grandpa along with us on an awesome bike ride. We rode a path that goes alongside the Virgin River, under I-15, then out to the park in Blue Diamond. The path is paved and fantastic for bikes and the ride was beautiful! It was a great way to fill up our morning. That afternoon, I started cooking while the kids and Ryan played/watched football.

The next day was Thanksgiving! Lyn + crew had gotten to St. George late the night before but all the kids were up nice and early playing. The boys arranged a "turkey bowl" with the kids which was super cute to watch from above. The big girls cooked, looked at Black Friday ads, and shopped online. I intermittently helped Reed, Cole, and Asher make matching shirts. We'd bought matching shirts for the three girls last time we saw Lynnie and the three boys decided they should probably get to match, too! Everyone had a pleasant morning.

Our feast was prepared just about on schedule and we all crowded in to EAT! The food was tasty and the conversation enjoyable. After cleaning up, the big girls headed out to do some shopping (holla!). We found some crazy deals, missed the pie and bedtime (thanks, boys!), and enjoyed our night out. The boys even saved some pie for us so we got to feast again when we got home. 

On Friday, the big boys decided to take the little boys out on a longer bike ride. The ended up riding around 7 miles and had a great time with minimal complaining. They ended their ride with drinkie treats at Maverik which no one complained about, either. On Friday night we went to the temple lighting ceremony. The program ended up being more of a program with a lot more speaking than any of us planned on, and the kids get SUPER antsy. I got a little antsy myself. By the time the speaker was done and the lights were on, there were so many people you really couldn't walk around--so we didn't, which was sad. Our 5 family decided to go out to Iceberg for a little family time. After we ate, we drove back to the temple and were happily surprised to find hardly any crowd and plenty of room for walking around and enjoying the lights--which is exactly what we did. We were so glad we went back!

On Saturday, Nick + kids, Grandpa, and the Hambly 5 hiked the Temple Quarry Trail. It's a great hike with kids. It's not made to connect to my mom's neighborhood but, over the years, plenty of people have made their own connecting path so we were able to end our hike just a short walk from home. 

And just like that it was time to go! We got home Saturday afternoon in time to buy and set up our tree and start decorating. And thank goodness we did because Saturday night is when the flu struck Lila. We didn't all feel well again until the NEXT Saturday!

I have so much to be grateful for--at Thanksgiving and always. We wrote down one thing we were grateful for every night in November and it was a good reminder of just how blessed we are. God is so good and gives us such great things. 

 Turkey bowl.

Christmas Town

The kids had swim lessons through the month of November. The pool happens to be right next to the water park. And every time we went to swim lessons we'd see what had been added to the water parks' new attraction, Christmas Town. It looked really cool, but the price tag ($20/person) was definitely NOT cool. 

But, happily, as season pass holders we actually got free tickets to go see the lights. The last day to see the lights for free was the first day the majority of us were feeling better. Everyone went to school/work and the only one still feeling under the weather was me. But if there are two things in the world (beside my family) that pump me up, they are Christmas lights and free things. I love free. So we went!

Christmas Town was lots of fun. The highlights for us were the bounce houses (the kids ran between all three over and over and Reed got SO SWEATY), the climbing wall (all three kids gave it a go), the "sledding hill" (we all did this one and went super fast, it was awesome), and the light show. Lila also loved the train ride that Reed labeled "life changing"--sarcasm runs strong in our family. And no one really enjoyed the "ice skating" which was actually real ice skates on some kind of non-ice floor. It was impossible. We even ran into our friends the Perrys while we were there and got to hang out with them for a while.

We ended our Christmas Town extravaganza by watching the wall of lights that changed with the music and by taking a walk through the light tunnel. I'm so glad we were feeling well enough to go! It definitely wasn't $100 for our family worth the trip, but it was definitely free worth the trip.

Reed's Party

When Reed decided he wanted to do a movie party this year, too, I was totally on board. As it turns out, movie parties are...
1. Fun for the kids
2. Relatively inexpensive (if you know how to do movies on the cheap)
3. So easy to plan and prepare for

If the kids want to do a movie party every year I definitely won't be sad. Anyway, the cheap theater had the Lego Ninjago movie playing, but not at times that worked for us. But the drive-in had the movie Coco playing and we'd heard rave reviews about that movie, so we decided to go for it! Reed invited Dane Duff, Gavin Allred, and Reed Walker. I must say that Reed's friends are MUCH quieter than Asher's are and the drive over was way less crazy.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to get there--it's a jaunt to the drive-in and you never know when it comes to Vegas traffic--and were actually the first car in the lot. We watched the movie on the screen next door while we waited for ours to start. We also munched on the pizzas we'd picked up on our way to the drive-in. Once our movie started, we made sure everyone was warm enough (thank goodness we have quite a large collection of blankets and that I'd packed literally as many as I could shove into the car) and passed around treats. Reed decided to try cake pops this year for his birthday after I pointed out they'd be much easier to eat at the drive-in. We also had popcorn, mint mnms, and mike n' ikes. Yum!

The movie was super cute and we all had fun watching it on the giant screen. Once it was over, we packed up the car, got a jump from someone nearby--then loaned our jump cables to four other cars--then were on our way! We had a great time.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Two things

First, I was kind of grumpy after school (I'm not sure why), so when we got home and Lila asked if we could get out a tea tray for our after school snack I was pretty tempted to say no--or to just send the kids out to do it alone. But instead I said yes and joined the kids in the backyard for high tea. And it was great. They all started drinking with their pinkies up and I suddenly wasn't grumpy any more.

Second, we invented this game called "BIKE" that is played on (you guessed it) bikes. It's like HORSE in that one person does a trick and the others have to replicate the trick or earn a letter. Reed always stands up on his crossbar because no one else can. Well guess who stood up on their crossbar today? Asher. AND ME. Go Mom! I'm so cool.........
......unless you're asking Reed. I commented, "Oh, it's my turn to choose a trick!" at one point and he responded, "Oh, so one that everyone can do?" The sad thing is that he was totally right. He was really proud of me for getting on my crossbar, though, so I'll call it a win.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween Miscellany

How's that for a title? Don't pretend you're not impressed by my use of the word "miscellany." I wasn't even sure it was a real word--and not one I'd invented--until after I'd typed it and blogger didn't underline the word in squiggly red.

1. In which Lila pretends she's an only child
A week or so ago, we ended up doing something with just Lila, Ryan, and me. She couldn't stop talking about how great it was and how she wanted to always do things with just Lila, Mommy, and Daddy. So before church on Sunday, when we were all looking quite Halloweeny, she decided we should take pictures. Of just her, Mommy, and Daddy. She even planned the stool she wanted to stand on. The boys looked pretty cute, too, but they weren't invited to photos and they didn't really care! Also, the Sunday before Halloween is the one time I feel it's appropriate to wear skull tights to church.

2. Halloween Cookies
Nevada Day is October 31st, but was observed October 27th this year--which meant a day off school! The Gourlies invited us to the park to decorate Halloween cookies with them. The Gages, Whittakers, and Perrys came, too! The kids had a lot of fun and consumed many, many cookies. October is still too warm for it's own good so we are just soaking in the sun and park days.

 L to R: Tyler Gage, Jackson Gage, Landon Perry, Asher, Reed, Ty Gourlie, Ryan Whittaker

L to R: Emily Whittaker, Hannah Whittaker, Lila, Audra Perry, Logan Perry, Zach Gage, Lila Gourlie, Avery Gourlie.

3. Class Parties
I got to watch the costume parade at school then pop in to Asher and Lila's class party. Asher's class had SO MUCH FOOD. It was insane--pizza, cookies, watermelon, pretzels, popcorn, more cookies...and then some! Lila was so pumped to wear her costume to school. She'd been telling Mrs. Cantwell and Ms. Stouard how much she was going to scare them for days. At her party, they ate treats, watched a little Halloween show, then turned each other into mummies. After they mummified each other, they all attacked Mrs. Cantwell with the extra toilet paper. She was mauled and soon buried. It was hilarious and cute.

Reed came home with a gallon-size ziploc all the way full of baggies of chips, cheese balls, pretzels, popcorn, etc. His class had quite a bit of food, too!

Trunks, Tricks, and Treats

We had THREE candy gathering opportunities this year!

1. Ward Trunk or Treat
Our ward trunk or treat was a little early in the month, which was lucky because Grandma and Grandpa got to be there for it! We had a chili dinner followed by a costume parade and a story time that I was in charge of. Then we let the kids loose! They lapped at least twice (and some ward kids came to our car at least 3-4 times!) They ended up with tons of candy. And our traditional trunk decorations were loved by all. Reed dressed up as a knight, Lila dressed up as a dragon, and Asher dressed up as a lego mixel. Asher got a little frustrated because people kept asking him what he was! My costume was Reed's face because I'm hilarious. A few weeks before Halloween, Reed asked me what I was going to dress up as. I jokingly responded, "Your face!" He cracked up over how funny it would be if I were actually his face and brought up the idea several times. I surprised him at trunk or treat by wearing a shirt with his face on it!

2. School Trunk or Treat
My friend Natalie Whittaker told us to plan to be there early or right on time because last year (when Ryan and I were gone), the line got huge, fast. We followed her advice and ended up being able to line up with both the Whittakers and the Thomsons! The trunks at the school trunk or treat were very impressive. And we were very glad we were early when the line kept growing steadily behind us! When we left there were STILL people in line! We got tons of candy again and had fun trunk or treating with friends. The boys wore the same costumes but Lila decided to change it up and dressed as Minnie Mouse.

Hamblys + 2 Whittakers

3. Trick or Treat!
And finally, we went real trick-or-treating! We started our day at IHOP for free scary face pancakes. I was a little worried with timing--getting to IHOP, ordering, and eating all before school started--but it wasn't a problem at all. We even had time to stop at the 99 cent store after to get lunchables for the boys' lunches and to score adorable Christmas throw pillows for $2 each. I've never been a holiday throw pillow person but apparently now I am!

After school, we played a few games, watched a Halloween episode of Hey Arnold! (the kids' first Arnold experience--Lila wasn't a fan), then went to Sonic for cheap corn dogs--a Halloween tradition we started last year. While we ate, we face timed Ryan, who was at a work conference in Minnesota. The kids were all pumped to tell him about our day. We miss him!

And finally we made it to our preferred trick or treating neighborhood, Huntington. I was a little worried about doing trick-or-treat alone, but shouldn't have been. The kids were such good listeners and we had zero meltdowns. Whenever someone complimented Lila's costume she'd give them her best dragon roar. And she told me after every house, "I said trick or treat and gank you Mommy!" We ran into some ward friends, the Whiteheads, and stayed with them for a few streets until we were headed separate directions. We made it through one whole quarter of Huntington before deciding to call it quits! Everyone was tired and the kids had a drawstring backpack full of candy and a half-full bucket of candy each!

After we got home, we walked around the corner for one last stop. We'd noticed one neighbor with an adorable Halloween setup on her driveway and just had to go to her. I think she may have been the only one in our neighborhood to pass out candy! She gave each kid a whole handful, then pulled open a chest next to her with special goodie bags full of stickers and bubbles. So sweet!

When we were home for real, the kids dumped out their loot. Lila traded out her peanut stuff with the boys and made a candy stash for Ryan since he wasn't home :)  At one point, Reed tried to come look at Lila's candy--and she shot out her arm, blocking him, and said, “Candy safety line!”

Side bar: every time the kids have a treat they offer me one from their pile! They are totally sincere and willing to share. I love it.

We had a pretty great Halloween.

 Last random story. We took a picture outside IHOP and after I snapped the photo Lila started crying. Turns out she was upset because she couldn't see Asher--he was standing next to Reed instead of next to her. She is so used to being in the middle and she was really upset that she didn't know where Asher was! So we took a new picture with Lila in her rightful spot between her boys.