Saturday, July 15, 2017

Utah part one

I can't believe I can't come up with a better title for this post than UTAH but there it is.

I've waited a few weeks to compose this post - partly because real life came at us real hard when we got back and I haven't had a chance, and partly because it's overwhelming to log such a big experience with all its pictures and happenings.

Things I was nervous about before the trip:

how the drive would go
if the kids would sleep at all in the hotel
managing Stockton

Amazingly, the kids were absolute ANGELS in the car. Seriously couldn't have done any better than they did. They were calm, cool, and collected the entire 12-13 hours, starting at 4am. I was so proud of them! We didn't have any potty accidents (although Natalie did pee on the side of the road once haha), and they weren't whiny or needy at all. They were content to watch movies and look out the window and fall asleep and just wait patiently.

 Bless my mom for letting us steal her van for the week.  WOW it made all the difference.

Also amazingly, once the kids were asleep in the hotel they stayed that way until morning! It took some coercing and maneuvering to get them to sleep, but they didn't wake up all night like I expected. That was a huge blessing because at least we were able to get some sleep.

mandatory quiet containment time

 Afton and Anthony lent us their pack n play since Ashlee wasn't really using it, and that helped a TON. Stockton liked sleeping in it even though he didn't really fit. We let the kids stay up super late (like 9 or 10) and then got them cozy and settled and waited for them to fall asleep. Natalie and Jack took little effort - Stockton required a little more creativity. Some nights I took him for a drive and carried him back upstairs once he was asleep. He liked when I would touch his face with my fingers in that sort of hypnotic way and that's what calmed him down enough to fall asleep. Below is him with purple blankie in the halls of the hotel at 10:30 at night (this was only the second night, so we were still working out our plan of attack.)

Wrangling Stockton did present its challenges throughout the trip, but overall I would say he did his best and we did ours, and it worked out passably haha. One night I took him over to my aunt Laura's house while everyone else went to Old Spaghetti Factory and it was wonderful - he got to run around and do his thing without anyone forcing him to do anything or go anywhere (or not go anywhere) and it made me so happy to watch him be so relaxed. Plus I got to hang with Laura, which is one of my favorite things to do. He found an old broken sprinkler at Grandma's house and adopted it as his own - it was cute to see him so enamored by something so mundane. It's currently sitting in our church bag ready for tomorrow : )

I was very proud of all my planning and preparation for this trip. I didn't leave anything at home that I wished I had brought, nor did I overpack, and I felt like the whole operation was very efficient. We ate the snacks that I brought (nutella sandwiches and honey nut cheerios were the favorites for the kids) and everyone had enough clothing options.

all of our belongings for 5 people for 7 nights

 Jack immediately got himself super cozy upon our arrival and Natalie immediately started jumping from bed to bed. They had never been in a hotel before (as non-babies) and they were soaking it up.

Jack was copying Natalie's arm position
cuties : ) 

One very negative thing about our hotel room was that the door latch that normally is up high was down low, right above the door knob, meaning that Stockton could unlock it and open the door any time he wanted (which was all the time). He never ran down the hall or anything, but he would open and close it a million times in quick succession, open it and yell something out into the hall and slam it shut, or open it when we were changing or the others were asleep. Most of the time Austin or I had to sit against the door so he couldn't open it, which was inconvenient for us and annoying for him. Thank GOODNESS our second hotel had the latch up top on the door where he couldn't reach it - it was literally 1000% more relaxing. Ahh I'm relaxing even remembering it.

One very positive thing about the hotel: SWIMMING. The kids were in heaven. Natalie was thrilled that she could swim on her own with her "puddle jumper" floatie, and Jack got pretty good at it too by the end. Stockton loved being in the water but had zero interest in wearing any sort of flotation device (big surprise) so we just had to hold him the whole time as he flapped away, happy as a clam. He just swims in undies haha, he doesn't like swimsuits. We need to get him a speedo.

And that's all for tonight. This girl needs to get in bed : )

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Sam and Hayden stopped in Nebraska on their way to move to Provo from Arkansas. We have been so happy to spend time with them! We'll do our traditional penne rosa dinner tonight and hope to see them again soon. 

We went to the zoo! (With Mimi, too!)

Natalie wore her swimsuit and was thrilled
to get splashed

 We saw the aquarium, desert dome, and rainforest this time. Next time we planned petting zoo, butterflies, and splash park.

Sam and I noticed we were representing our schools with shirt/hat. Didn't even plan it. Also, I feel short.

For family night we took the kids to Pranch (Pizza Ranch) and it wasn't a total disaster. Typically we avoid sit-down restaurants as a family because it's so hard to keep Stockton in a seat, and Jack too, but Pranch sounded fun and spontaneous and we mostly made it work. I'm always sort of relieved when it's over haha.

We leave tomorrow for Utah! Poulsen family vacay!! I've been feeling anxious all week leading up to it but now that I've got some packing done and stuff gathered I'm starting to get really excited. We're borrowing my mom's van (bless her) and I'm ready to load 'er up and make sure we've got everything. We're staying in a hotel for the first time ever in Utah and I'm packing accordingly...more activities and food than we would bring if we were staying at someone's house like normal. It will be super fun to be right next to the rest of the family though and all be there together. Plus, HOTEL POOL. It's gonna be lit (as Max would say).

Pray that we get at least *some* sleep.

trip snats


My mom got Natalie this ballet outfit for Christmas with the intent to have her take lessons, but we never looked further into it. Natalie wanted to get all dressed up like a ballerina yesterday, complete with hair, and she took it very seriously. I can't believe how grown-up and beautiful she looks!

 Isn't she just perfect? I love my pretty, curious, helpful girl SO much.

 We had a rough few days after preschool ended, but once we got used to the new routine we all settled in just fine. Natalie loves doing projects, planning activities, and scheduling outings. She is learning how not to ask for everything at the store, or to do every fun thing every day. I feel more proud of her every day, she's just so completely wonderful and I'm so grateful she's mine!

 Stickers, pioneer dress-up, and a nice outfit she wanted to go show the neighbors but they weren't home so I sent them this picture

I can't remember why/where we took this picture, but I love having pictures of us. I'm trying to be better about not being so self-conscious about how I look in pictures - in twenty years I will be so sad if I don't have pictures of me with my beautiful children!


Max got a cat! Ripley is 9 weeks old and super fuzzy and teeny and cute. We had a (horrible) cat growing up named Tee who bit and scratched us and only loved my mom. We didn't get a new one because turns out I'm super allergic and Max and I fought about it here and there but I always won because, well, him wanting a cat didn't trump my shriveled lungs.

Now that I've been out of the house for 8 years I felt like it was time to give up my anti-cat fight and make Max's dream come true. Hopefully with an allergy pill and not touching him, I'll be fine. Fingers crossed.

The kids went CRAZY for Ripley. They love him too much haha. Natalie is learning to be gentle; Ripley is learning to run away from Jack. Stockton calls him "Rip-uh-wee" and yells at him "HIII RIPUWEE!!!!" or "RIPUWEE, WHERE ARE YOU!!!??" It's comical and entertaining.

You can't really tell quite how small Ripley really is...he's tiny!!! He startles me every time he comes running by. It almost makes us consider getting a cat because of how much the kids love them......buuuut, I don't think I need that in my life right now. And I don't want to be in allergy land for the rest of my life. So, we'll just enjoy the Ripster!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

New Outings and Babies

I'm in baby heaven. Three of my friends have had babies within a month and it's glorious. I'm finding it to be very satisfying to enjoy their babies while I don't have my own currently - every time I've been around babies the past 5 years I've been distracted by my own, but now that Jack is 2 and definitely not a baby I really feel like I can love on and fully be with these babies. To be truthful I thought I'd be more jealous, but mostly I'm just happy for my friends and happy to help while I'm not in that particular mode right now.

 Camille <3 (doesn't Austin look good with a baby?)

And the Beddes twins! I couldn't believe I was holding TWO newborn babies. It was insane. Tuli and Jorji couldn't be more sweet.

Side note:
How do you handle kids getting out of bed when they are supposed to be going to sleep? I know I need to be consistent and firm but when Natalie slips out of bed and calls to me in her little high Natalie-voice saying, "Mommy....can I have a hug?" how do you say no to that!? I try to compromise by giving her a hug and then immediately sending her back to bed. I want her to know that I'm always there for her but also that when it's bed time, it's bed time

We've been going on lots of adventures lately. My mom teaches piano lessons in the mornings now that it's summer so we've been trying to get out of her way when we're in Omaha. We found a perfect splash pad/park at Seymour Smith, super close to my parents' house, and the water turns on at 9am!!! Three hours earlier than the other splash pads we've been to. Super awesome. The other awesome part about it is the park is called AllPlay because it's wheelchair accessible and meant to accommodate individuals with developmental or physical disabilities. When we were there we were surrounded by a day program for developmentally challenged adults and it was joyful to watch them splash and play and run around without inhibitions. My kids loved playing with them - they played tag, ran around splashing each other, and one guy even tried to help Jack go up the ladder at the park. It was so cool to be a part of such an inclusive place - I foresee a LOT of visits to this park in our future.

Jack and Natalie were the only kids for the first hour or so.
Natalie is on the right and Jack is in red shorts on the left. 

 I took these pictures from the same bench, just looking different directions. I love that the park is directly next to the splash pad so that it's not as hard to lose track of the kids.

JOY! He kept racing into the water and then racing back to tell me
 Another new thing we did last week was Hot Rocks. Natalie chose some rocks at my parents' house and we heated them up in the oven. Then we took the rocks onto the deck and melted crayons on them. It was super satisfying, actually, and I kept doing it even after the kids went on to other activities.

I should have taken pictures of the finished products
We went to a new park...I named it the Fortress because it's so tall and imposing. The kids loved it. I liked it fine until a daycare SWARMED and I could hardly keep track of my own children.

Natalie is in pink in the middle-ish, and I have no idea where Jack is.
It didn't help that he was wearing that same color blue.
Check out these crazy hail clouds after a raging Nebraska thunderstorm:
I've never seen anything like this!
I cleaned out our bathroom cabinet and didn't have a good place to put this Biore nose strip so I used it and Natalie was very confused when she came into the bathroom. I didn't really want to go into zits/blackheads with a four-year-old so I just told her it made my nose healthy. She decided she wanted her nose to be healthy, too, so I let her put a bandaid on her nose. 

Stockton can NEVER resist an opportunity to take a selfie. He LOVES looking at himself through the camera.

Another thing Stockton loves: PURPLE BLANKIE. He's slept with this in his room for a while but recently became extremely attached. One Sunday when Austin was out of town I let Stockton bring purple blankie to church and he sat wrapped up in it on the bench for the whole of Sacrament Meeting, basically without moving. So, he gets to bring it every time now. He also loves bringing it in the car in the mornings on the way to ACT clinic, and asks for it immediately when he gets in the car after school. He even brought it to the park last week, and took it down the slide. (It is big and soft and fuzzy and isn't super convenient to bring places but Stockton loves it so we make it work.)

My mom is redoing her kitchen cabinets so we couldn't come over one morning and I took the kids to see Cars 3! Jack did predictably *well* for a 2-year-old....sat in his chair for the first little while with popcorn and drink, and then when that wore off he just wanted to roam. Luckily the theater wasn't very full and the top two rows were empty so I let him just race around up there. Natalie loved it - she loves going to the movie theater!