Friday, January 27, 2017

Lila's Babies Take a Trip

During our Christmas trip to St. George, Lila was appalled that we didn't have kid-sized suitcases for her and the boys to use. We've never had kid-sized suitcases, so I'm not sure what made her think of this. But anyway, her new burning desire was to have her own suitcase. It was too late to ask for a suitcase for Christmas, so she decided that she most definitely wanted a suitcase for her birthday.

Well, I was already done birthday shopping. And suitcases aren't super cheap. I was leaning on the hope that a grandma might come through. Luckily for Lila, Grandma and Grandpa Hambly gave her a gift card for her birthday--they know she loves to shop. When we told her she could use the gift card for a suitcase, she was ecstatic. We immediately went online to peruse our options and, when we found a purple suitcase, we knew we had a winner. (Lila also was happy that she had enough leftover on her gift card to buy a NEW DOLL. In other words, a best friend for Olivia. She chose the doll with red hair and glasses and named her Megan :)

We had to order the suitcase online. Lila was very antsy waiting for the suitcase to come in and asked every day if it were going to be here. Finally (three days later), it came and Ryan picked it up from the store when it came in. He walked in the door from work and, when he told Lila he had something for her in the box he was holding, she just about tackled him to get to it! When she saw her suitcase she was over the moon excited. She tackled Ryan again, yelling, "THANK YOU DADDY!!!!!!!" and proceeded to wheel her suitcase around the house. Twenty minutes later she bear-hugged him again, yelling thank yous. That night she made a "hotel" on the couch and pulled the suitcase up with her and a pillow (her bed).

The day after the suitcase came, I helped Lila pack up a pair of jammies for each baby in the suitcase. Then we got each baby situated in a stroller, changed diapers, took some babies to the play potty, fed everyone, and boarded the space pod! At first, we were going to pretend the space pod was taking Lila and her babies up to her room, then really walk up to her room for her nap. But then she asked if she could sleep in the space pod--and I agreed. Her entire life was made. We changed everyone into their jammies, packed their clothes back into the suitcase, and read a story. Then, cuddling with all her babies, she actually went to sleep.

Ryan commented that he doesn't think he's ever been as excited about anything in his whole life as Lila is about her suitcase. If there's one thing this girl knows, it's how to emote.

L to R: Crazy Hair Day (that is literally what we call her), Tiny Baby, Megan, Bitty Baby, and Olivia

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Anniversary Trip: Cruise Days 1-2 (At sea)

The day before we were supposed to leave on our cruise, we got a call from the cruise line telling us we could upgrade our room to a room with a window for only $100. We didn't think about that long. Usually we are pretty thrifty--but during our first cruise, we'd learned that paying a little extra for a better room was well worth the cost. On our first cruise, we were in a tiny inside cabin with bunk beds, zero space, and no window. When we checked into our room this time (2-222, which was kind of fun), we were in a room with a King-sized bed, a couch/lounge area, and a decent-sized window! The difference was amazing. On our first cruise we spent literally as much time away from our room as possible, essentially only stopping in to sleep; but on this cruise, we spent good chunks of our time aboard relaxing in our room, watching movies or reading. So that is one of my biggest cruise recommendations: get a decent room. You won't be sad you did.

Back to the first day of the cruise. We woke up somewhere on the Florida coast and had a few hours to kill. So we went to a donut shop (my favorite treat), then to Target--of course. We have a running joke that it's not a date unless we go to Target. And it's not so much a joke as a truth. We did some other shopping, then decided to head down the coast. We got to the cruise terminal well ahead of our check-in time, but decided to jump in line anyway. Check-in took a while, but finally we were walking across the gangway to the boat, woot woot! We stopped in at our room to drop off our backpacks then headed straight for the buffet (holla!) to start the week-long feast that awaited us. 

We spent the rest of the day 'splorin the boat, swimming, chilling in our room, eating soft serve, and awaiting pulling out into the ocean. We did take some time to give our sweethearts one last call before we were inaccessible for a week. As it turned out, they were at McDonald's in between soccer games and were super distracted, but at least we got to say goodbye!

Once we were underway, we enjoyed a ridiculous sunset and quite possibly went to a show. And that was day one.

Day two was pretty similar to day one--but we were on the boat for the FULL DAY. Happily, we hadn't explored the majority of the ship yet, so we had plenty to do. We started with brunch, which is always a good way to start a day. We met a young couple and two single girls who were sitting at our table who were super nice and who we ran into throughout the week on the ship. We also met Kimberly, who was sitting at our table as well. She was a character and spent the brunch alternately pouring juice and wine into the water bottle she'd brought with her.

After brunch, we decided to check out the ship. We played miniature golf--I was winning but then shot myself in the foot (not literally) on the last hole, giving Ryan the victory. We found the library and played a few rounds of Battleship and Jenga. We hung out in our room and watched a movie (that window! It made such a difference). We lounged on the Serenity Deck and alternated reading and playing ping pong. We swam. We ate more food, of course. Our boat had a lot of fantastic food. Our favorite's were Guy Fieri's burger place, the pizza place, and the fish n' chips. Yum. We also frequented the soft serve machines.

One thing we noticed as we explored was that our ship this time around did not seem nearly as our ship had during our first cruise. We were not sad about that.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Knee Surgery

I've posted about my knee before and, at the time I posted, was very hopeful that my knee was on the upswing and would continue to get better. As it turned out, I was wrong. I went through a series of relapses and almost went to my doctor in August to get ready to have surgery--but then we were going to move. And then we weren't going to move but we were changing insurance. Then we were going on a cruise. My knee was fine on the cruise--I'd worried about it--but when we got home from the cruise and I decided it was time to get in better shape and lose some weight, my knee was anything but fine. I had my worst flare-up to date. I couldn't sleep at night because the pain was so intense. The only way to decrease the pain was to sit up with my leg bent, which made getting comfortable in bed difficult. I couldn't lift my leg high enough to put a pair of pants on without groaning in pain. I could barely make it up the stairs. That flare up was defining for me: I realized that something had to change, that I couldn't go on functioning with a knee that wasn't really functioning. So I set a doctor's appointment.

Of course, by the time I got into the doctor a few weeks later, my knee was totally fine and I found myself promising the doctor I wasn't a hyprochondriac since I clearly had almost full range of motion while I was in his office. Happily, he believed me and, after discussing all my options, I decided to go for it and to have surgery.

At first I worried a lot about if I was making the right decision and if maybe I really was a hypochondriac (my dang knee went through a really good spell and was psyching me out). I agonized over the decision and probably drove poor Ryan crazy with how many times I asked him if I were making a bad decision. Then one morning, I prayed to feel peace--and immediately my mind calmed. My crazy swirling thoughts turned off and I was completely at peace. That peace lasted me throughout the next few weeks and even stays now. A few days after that experience, I was worrying again--but I read the thoughts I'd written down after my prayer and I felt that peace again. Since that morning, I literally did not feel nerves about the procedure even once.

Time passed quickly and we were finally at the morning of my surgery, January 19. The worst part of the morning for me was that I was on the tail end of a cold and had some yuckiness building in the back of my throat, but I had to be fasting so I couldn't wash it out. Ugh. The worst part for Ryan was that he hadn't realized I'd be going all the way under and he was left feeling a little nervous. Also, he'd forgotten to bring himself any food and we were there for a few hours, right in the middle of lunch time. Oops.

I had super friendly nurses and I trusted my doctor. Once I was wheeled into the operating room, I was asleep quickly. And then I was waking up. The thing I remember most about waking up was being confused about why Ryan wasn't there, being really cold (I asked my nurse for a third blanket and was still chilly when she put it on--later Ryan mentioned my "sleeping jacket" and she cracked up), and crying. My nurse asked if I were in pain but I was just crying and didn't know why. Really I just wanted Ryan, so I was happy when Ryan finally got to come back to me. After eating and resting a bit, they released us. We were both surprised when I almost threw up in the car, but even more surprised when I could walk in the house by myself, with only minimal help from my crutches. Reed was so sweet and immediately came and checked on me when he got home from school. He also checked on me multiple times throughout the afternoon and a few times the next morning before school.

The past few days have consisted of a lot of resting. My mom came to help, thank goodness, and got everyone to and from school and kept them clothed and fed. She even got to go to Family Day at school with Lila, which Lila loved. Three different friends--Krista deLespinasse, Cori Gage, and Karinne Wignall--brought dinner after my mom left, which was so helpful. I had to miss out on Lila's birthday trip to the aquarium, but got to hear all about the trip and her ear piercing when they got home. My pain medication has made me exhausted (I'm taking 2 hour naps a day, like when Lila was a baby), dizzy (I've almost passed out every morning, with this morning being the worst), and nauseous. The side effects of the pain medicine are definitely worse than the pain so far! But my knee swelling is going down and I feel like I'm finally really on the road to recovery. I can walk pretty well around the house and the stairs are getting easier with each trip. I'm in less pain with two holes cut in my knee than I was with one whole knee.

So here's to a great 2017 with hopefully a much better functioning knee.

Before surgery, super pumped. Kind of.

My bae (can you call your husband your bae?) updating our moms after surgery.

I made it! And I'm freezing.

 My entire leg was Oompa Loompa orange for a few days until I was allowed to shower.

Day 1--swelling, plus a wrap and gauze.

 Day 3--finally got to remove the wrap, but have to leave the steri strips on. I mostly love the "yes" written on my leg--that's one of the ways they make sure they've got the right one.

 Day 4--finally got to shower. Still quite a bit of swelling.

Jesus Wants Her for a SUNNNNNNBEAM!

Lila got to graduate from nursery and move on in to primary this year! She has been so super excited to move to primary, which I think is mainly due to the fact that Reed, Asher, and I are all in primary. I was a little worried that she would be okay with primary for the first week, but then be bummed that she was missing out on toys and snacks; but she hasn't mentioned missing nursery once. She does still say hi to Bro. Cooke, her nursery teacher, every week, and at scouts the other night she ran up to him and gave him a great big squeeze.

Lila is very outgoing and loves to participate. She surprised me more than anyone when she remembered the word "consequences" from one sharing time to another sharing time two weeks later. (I taught both times and, during the review from the previous lesson, I asked who could remember our big word--she yelled it out right away.) She loves her teachers, Bro. and Sis. Austin, and has a primary class full of her friends. She already got to celebrate her birthday in primary and was over the moon about the CTR ring she got to pick out and has worn the ring to church every week since. We sure love our sunbeam!

This one was her pose idea :)

Lila's Party

Lila was really, really excited about having a birthday party this year--especially after seeing how much fun the boys had at their birthday parties. She settled on a theme far in advance, maybe even before Asher's party. I wasn't going to be surprised if she changed her mind, but she stayed excited about her theme idea and so we went with it: we had a baking party. Now, you might think I'm a little crazy for having a baking party with seven 3-to-4-year-olds. And I would have to agree with you a little bit. But the party actually turned out better than I thought it would and overall everything went smoothly!

The first thing we did was decorate aprons. I'd found kids' aprons at the dollar store (wooooooot) and I let the kids go to town with fabric markers. Once the aprons were deemed decorated, it was time to bake. Our first project was cookies. Before the party, Lila and her friend McKynlee had helped me measure out all the ingredients into small bowls. During the party, I simply went around the table with my mixing bowl and let each kid take a turn dumping in an ingredient, then using the electric hand mixer to blend. The mixer was very, very popular and everyone was quite excited to get a turn. The kids were surprisingly patient while they waited for their turn and no major mishaps or messes happened!

While I scooped the cookies onto cookie sheets, I set the kids loose in the family room. Thankfully my friends Krista and Kate had stuck around--they were in charge of supervising! The boys had hidden various kitchen tools around the room and the kids were in charge of finding them. This game was quite popular and everyone found at least one kitchen implement. And, when they'd finished, I had finished scooping out the cookies, hooray.

The next thing Lila wanted to do was "play the games from McKynlee's party." This was an easy enough request: we played red light, green light; duck, duck, goose; Simon Says; and had balloon races and dances. The best thing about a group of preschoolers is that they are pretty much pumped about everything, so they all loved the games.

Now it was time for another baking portion--cupcakes! Lila had helped me bake cupcakes the day before. The other moms and I let the kids pick which color frosting they wanted, which we then applied, then we let them top their frosting with decorations. Lila and McKynlee had helped me separate out a cup of treats for each kid, which worked out really well. Some piled treats on their cake and some just ate the treats, but everyone was happy.

After cupcakes, we ate our creations, sang to Lila, opened presents, then played a little bit until all the moms came. Lila had a really fun birthday and I'm glad she has such a sweet group of friends!

We had McKynlee over a bit early and both girls were very excited to be party helpers!

Lila got lots of fun presents. She raced through each one and as soon as her party was over wanted to play with everything.

 L to R: Amelia, Mason, Lila Jane, Lila Jae, Audra, Avery, Ashlin, McKynlee

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Anniversary Trip: Florida Day 3

We started the  third day of our trip in Haines City. Haines City has grown a lot since Ryan was there, and as we were first driving in he was kind of disappointed because he didn't recognize anything. Happily, though, once we got to the part of the city that had been there longer, he felt like he was in the Haines City he knew. We spent some time in the morning driving around, finding his old apartment, finding the church, seeing old orange groves and places he'd taught, driving up a crazy long and steep hill he used to bike ride up, and generally walking down memory lane. I think Ryan was most excited to find La Placita, a little Mexican market with a lunch counter where he and his companion used to get amazing burritos. La Placita, apparently, looked exactly the same now as it did 15 years ago.

We had a few misses that day. One was Webb's "Candy Making Factory" which sounded like a place where we could see the factory and watch candy being made but which actually turned out to be a candy shop with 5-6 pictures of the factory and a very brief history. The other came later in the day, when we went to the Florida Natural Orange Juice "museum," which was essentially a gift shop across from their factory--and we didn't get a good look into that factory, either :) The best part of the "museum" was the free taste or orange juice we got. It was right on our way, though, so we weren't too worried about the 10 minutes we spent there.

One big win of the day was Bok Tower. While Ryan was on his mission, his area got special permission to visit Bok Tower, so he'd been there once before. Bok Tower was on of the places he definitely wanted to see while we were in Florida. And I'm so glad it was part of our plan! The tower itself is beautiful--it is 250 ft. tall, set on a hill, and nothing else around the tower is remotely tall, so it towers (hehe) over everything. And its height is not the only striking feature of the tower--it's made of beautiful stone, has stained glass windows, has sections of ornate carvings, is surrounded by a mote (!), and has an amazingly gigantic carved brass door. The tower houses a set of Carillon Bells, which are pretty rare. Every day, the carilloner plays two concerts on the bells. We got to see the carilloner ENTER THE TOWER WITH A SPECIAL GIGANTIC BRASS KEY, which was like something out of The Secret Garden. Then we got to hear him play while we walked through the gardens, which was also amazing.

The property is covered in beautiful gardens. One of my favorite parts was the pond that was in front of the tower. The pond had huge lily pads that we later found out can hold up to 120 pounds! Real lily pads! That were huge! Anyway, I was a big fan of the lily pads. We were also surprised by a snake when we were taking a photo, so that was kind of exciting. I also really enjoyed the children's garden, which had interactive instruments and things for kids to climb on. It was kind of funny that we visited the children's garden without our children. I also enjoyed the "window" which was a structure you went in--to look through a giant window of the pond outside! Adjoining the Bok Tower property is the Pinewood Estate, which we enjoyed touring. The architecture was gorgeous and the carved doors and ornate tiling throughout were amazing. Bok Tower was one of my favorite Florida stops.

Other items of note that day were my first experience driving in Florida and our trip around the humongous Lake Okeechobee. I'll preface my driving by saying that Ryan prefers to drive and that I don't like two-lane highways. But we made it, I passed cars, and no one was too stressed out. The lake is another story. We decided to take the "scenic route" that was a little longer because we thought it would be really cool to see the lake, which is truly gigantic. In a somewhat ironic twist, you literally couldn't see even a glimpse of the lake because of a large land barrier that had been thrown up around the lake to prevent flooding during hurricanes! After driving for almost half an hour with no lake views, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We consulted google maps and found a road that cut across the "moat" around the lake and went up the land embankment. From there, we could finally see the lake! The lake is so big that we literally couldn't see across it--not even close. We did found a spot to park so we could watch the sunset on the lake, but as soon as we got out of the car we were attacked by bugs. We surrendered and watched the most amazing pink sunset from the car.

After we'd had our fill of lake views, we headed to the coast. We saw alligators in a canal by the road (and my Florida dreams came true). We reserved a hotel while we drove and after we found it and checked in, we went to Publix (trip 2!), got ice cream, and went to once again attempt to eat our ice cream on the beach. This time, we got lucky! We found a pier that extended about 1/4 mile out into the ocean, which we sauntered down until we found a bench to enjoy our ice cream on. The ice cream was tasty (salted caramel with chocolate chunks, yum) and listening to the ocean was super relaxing. We had another wonderful day in Florida.

Sunset! The sun looks so huge when it sets with no mountains in the way.

View from the pier, looking back at the beach.