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New Year: Starting the new year off right with all the Christmas decorations put away, a clean house, both cars washed and mine vacuumed and car seats clean (thanks to a road side vomit stop on our way home from Utah). John got a new Jeep, so it doesn’t need vacuuming yet. Kids got lots of time to play iPad but also went outside and did some jobs. The under stairs storage closet is all organized nicely. And I printed a 2018 things in 2018 decluttering chart and we filled in some stuff as we worked.

Supermom : Tuesdays are always power days. I worked out, made a triple batch of peanut butter chocolate chip muffins, took Sienna to the beach, made real food for dinner, and took Sienna and Arthur to splash in puddles and throw pine cones in the river. We had baths and showers (always an accomplishment) and went to bed with the house tidy.

Grumpymom: Between coughing and Arthur (who wakes up around 5, and sometimes also in the night) I got about five hours of sleep. Today Arthur and i were going to Disneyland while the kids were at school, which I’ve been planning for ten days. I packed my bag last night with lots of snacks, and got up and put my favorite clothes on. Then Sienna decided her “tummy hurts” and now I am sitting at home instead. Half an hour later Dalton called from school and asked me to bring his lunch box. So now I’m tired and grumpy and can’t even just sit here being tired and grumpy.

More Grump: This afternoon, I got in the car to drive Dalton to Scouts only to find that my car key was missing. (I asked for a spare key for Christmas, but that’s neither here nor there, apparently.) We spent 45 minutes looking for it, during which I completely broke down over the crappiness of the day and the complete nothing I accomplished (tea party with Sienna was the only highlight). I also broke a bathroom drawer, and pieced together what happened: the front pocket of my purse was ripped, I had cleaned up a rubber band earlier, and there was an empty fruit snacks wrapper in the girls’ room. Someone had ripped open my zipped pocket, helped himself to fruit snacks, and lost my key.

I once found a Very Important Key as a clear answer to prayer - no other possible reason for the location I found it in, or the fact that I found it, or the fact that I hadn’t found it in the previous days I’d been looking. So I said a prayer, mostly because I didn’t want to disappoint Dalton. Who was probably more disappointed with my attitude than with missing Scouts. And lo and behold, Sienna found the key in the shape sorter, clearly put there by a toddler. We were only 35 minutes late to Scouts.

Man of the House:
Me: Where are you going?
Arthur: Arthur’s room.
Walks into mom and dad’s room...

Sea Glass: Yes, I’m obsessed with finding sea glass, and tide charts. I felt a bit guilty playing with today’s finds, as it’s 9pm and John isn’t home from work yet. But then I remembered that today I also worked out, took Arthur to the park, made a double batch of apple walnut muffins, did two loads of laundry, did two school pick ups, took the girls to gymnastics, picked up a Walmart order, and shopped at the dollar store. So I will call that good.

Sienna and I had a great hour and a half at Fisherman’s Cove in Laguna this afternoon. We found tons of sea glass, including a tiny red piece and a few little blue ones. Sienna usually stays far away from the water, but the tide was so far out, she was comfortable and soon started finding sea glass with me for the first time.

I climbed into the furthest cave, which usually requires wading through a foot or two of water, and if there’s no sand filling the bottom of the cave, it’s all under water. But today I was able to get in, and found lots of nice pieces in there. I carried Sienna in, but she was freaked out by the barnacles. Can’t say I blame her.

Freezing: It’s the last week of our annual spending freeze! Which we will not be doing in January next time. I went shopping for the penultimate time this morning, a Walmart trip that will be followed by bananas and a box of applesauce at Costco.

Meals I planned
Apple cheddar soup
White chicken chili (already have chicken and canned stuff)
Thai pasta salad
Meatball subs (already have meatballs)

We spent $29 at Walmart today. (Maggie is home sick, so I had her and Arthur with me)
1 gallon milk
Tub strawberry yogurt
8 orange creamsicle yogurts
Spaghetti sauce
Bow tie pasta
Giant bag of tortilla chips
French bread
French toasties
Ritz crackers (a treat since we are under budget)
Lime
Cilantro
Green onion
Bananas
3 lb bag of apples
And we also bought cough medicine but I didn’t count it.

Our cupboards and freezer are looking nice and clean. We’ve used up all kinds of half empty containers and bags of stuff. It’s a great feeling! Next week I’ll spend $200 at Walmart and refill with stuff we’ll actually eat on a regular basis.

Not Yet: Maggie tried to pull “I’m eleven!” on me and I pointed out she would be if she hadn’t been so late. I will enjoy holding that over her head for nine days every year for the rest of her life.

Rose and Thorn: Sienna and Arthur were playing outside today when Arthur fell into a rose bush in the landscaping. He scraped up his arm and I had to pull some thorns out of his hand. Then I did what any reasonable parent of a toddler with an owie would do - I put his coat on so he couldn’t see the scratches and would forget about it. It only partially worked. He carefully held his hand to his chest the rest of the day. And when I took his coat off so we could paint rocks with friends, he held his arm behind his back so he couldn’t see his owies. Poor guy.

Sick to the Bone: I got a call to pick up sick Maggie from school today. She was very pale and her stomach hurt but she had not yet thrown up. I brought her home and tucked her in and went back to school for a meeting. Immediately upon seeing me, one of her friends informed me that they began studying body systems today. Maggie seems to have neglected to mention that fact!

Morro Bay Whirlwind Tour: Rachel, Brett and Theo came to visit and Leonard and I stayed in Morro Bay with the kids so we could attend the Sip n See. We had a few hours to kill so we did a bit of a whirlwind tour of the city.

On our way into town, we drove up to Moonstone Beach to look for sea glass, then further to the Elephant Seal viewpoint. We also saw Hearst Castle and the zebras from the road.

The next morning we hit the future Morro Bay Maritime Museum (currently a couple cool sea vessels in a parking lot), the Strand beach with Morro Rock viewing and sand dollar collecting, and the Brown Butter Cookie Co in Cayucos. On the way down to Aunt Pat's, we drove through Morro Bay State Park, and stopped at the natural history museum there -$3 for adults, and the kids were free. It was a neat little museum with lots of hands on activities, a beautiful view, and some cool whale bones.

Lollipops and Stickers: Sienna’s school book fair has a poster board full of dum dums. You can pick one for a quarter and some have prizes. I had a dollar, so we had two extra quarters. We gave one to Sienna’s little friend, and then convinced a new Japanese kid in their class (who barely speaks English) to take the other. The next day, she brought a little thank you note on origami paper and a little set of hello kitty stickers for Sienna. Sweet little exchange.

Toddler Sea Turtle: I had a dream I was at the beach and I saw a sea turtle and picked it up (don't do this in real life). Except it was more like a cartoon sea turtle. And really heavy. In fact, as it clung to me, it sort of felt like a toddler sleeping on my chest.

Talent Show: My kids were not interested in the school talent show, and who has time for that? But they were asked to be announcers, because you know the LDS kids can speak in front of people. There were a handful of announcer kids, dressed up as circus performers, with little scenes to do between each handful of talent acts. Dalton was a magician and pulled bunny Maggie out of a hat. He did a great job remembering his lines and being nice and loud. Maggie also did a mime routine, and I was very impressed with how quickly she picked up the concept. I was backstage orchestrating announcers going out, and costume changes for the announcers. It was lots of fun (even though I was right: Who has time for that?)

Afterwards, we stayed and helped put chairs away and clean up. I couldn't believe the amount of trash left lying around, but I was pleasantly surprised by random families (not just the usual PTA and LDS crew (it was held at the Stake Center)) who stayed to help.

Maggie’s Birthday Party: Maggie had a belated birthday party at the gymnastics place today. She invited the four boys in her primary class, and four girls from school. I made cupcakes and picked up Taco Bell, and that’s it. My kind of lazy party.

The kids had a great time. I’m so glad she has such nice friends. Even the boys have tamed down quite a bit over the years.

Maggie got a big variety of gifts. A LEGO set, a book, drawing stuff, stuffed Pokémon and a dragon beanie boo, trapeze class with her bestie, a funny board game, Pokémon cards, squishies, erasers, and candy and money. Score!

Healthy!:
Arthur spies Sienna’s ring pop: treat!
Sienna: this is healthy
Dalton: no it’s not
Sienna: but it’s green apple flavor
Arthur comes to me whining: healthy! Healthy!

Crazy Town: This morning was a bit crazy. I sent my kids off to school in western wear, a twin outfit, with piano books, a swim suit, goggles, and 100 plastic eggs. All the things happening today.

Flashlight Egg Hunt: Last night was our sixth annual flashlight egg hunt. We had nearly 100 kids - 50% more than last year. It was that many more eggs to hide, and we did flameless candles to exchange for prizes, instead of numbered eggs. It made the field look magical.

It was a lot of work, and I was annoyed at people who showed up and didn’t know you were supposed to donate eggs. But I tried to chill out. I’m working on being more generous and gracious.

We had a lot of friends help set up, donate more than their fair share of prizes, help distribute prizes, offer to clean up, it really warmed my heart and reminded me of why we really do it. We love the community, and it was so fun for our kids to have all their friends there.

$1.31: Today was $1.31 cone day at baskin Robbins so i took the kids while John was at Priesthood session. Their credit card machine was down, and they were operating cash only. Amazingly, i actually had cash. While we were outside eating our cones, a father and son came biking up, went inside, and came back out, clearly looking for a credit card friendly alternative. So I offered them money. The dad tried to refuse, and would only take enough to get his son a cone, but was very grateful.

Five minutes later, Sienna accidentally throw her cone at the dad, and he caught it. Luckily there was no ice cream on the cone because she was tired of it and shook it off into the trash so she could eat the cone. My kids are weird.

*I can brag about this because it’s my blog and no one reads it. Maggie commented that it was a nice thing I did, so I’m glad she noticed my kind example.

Forget-Me-Not: Today I felt seen. Last night, Arthur took nearly two hours to fall asleep, and when I left the room, John suggested I plan a getaway with one of my girlfriends. This morning he offered to watch the kids while I cooked Easter dinner, and then he went for a bike ride while streaming conference. He also bought me some Easter lilies, helped clean up after dinner, and even started the dishwasher while I was putting Arthur to bed (thankfully took closer to an hour this time). And when he went to take a bath in the evening, he checked with me to see if I needed help with anything first. Hit was very sweet and thoughtful, and I felt noticed.

Chinese Easter: At 7:30 am, the Monday after Easter, the elders serving in our ward texted me and asked if I had any extra Easter eggs because they wanted to do an Easter egg hunt for the Chinese-speaking missionaries serving in our stake. I was headed to Walmart, so I picked up some clearance Easter candy, and enlisted kids to fill the roughly 400 eggs I had. Then we hid them at the park with the help of some sister missionaries. We had a great time playing at the park with the missionaries. We played catch and duck duck goose, and had an exciting egg hunt. Then we collected all the eggs. The kids had a great experience doing that for the missionaries.

NYC Pizza: John: New York has all the best food.

Sienna: You mean like cheesy noodles, and pizza?!?

So Cute Right There: Two cute things Arthur says lately.

Oh right dere!
It’s so cute!

If I’m lucky, I will get a video before he outgrows it.

John’s New Car has XM Radio:
Sienna: I wish we still had that kitty. Jellybean. (She has a photo of jellybean, she’s obsessed with.)
Me: Jellybean died a long time ago.
Sienna: Did she die in the 80s?

New Friends, Fast: I got assigned to visit teach a new woman in the ward, about 15 minutes before visiting teaching was "retired", and five days before she had a baby. I met her once, at park day a few weeks before. After the baby was born, I offered to take her three year old to park day, and I was surprised that she said yes, mostly because sometimes people don't let you serve.

But also because I only met her once, and her kid doesn't know me at all, and really, neither does she. But this says a lot about our church and its members - that I can take an unknown three year old for two hours, based solely on my Mormon niceties.

Also, thanks for letting me serve.

We Need Its Energy: Sienna’s favorite planet is the sun, because without it, we wouldn’t have iPads.

Corndogs: Maggie eats a corn dog every morning for breakfast.

15 Hours: Apparently 15 hours straight is my limit on Arthur for the day. What does he have against sleep? He’s been up since 5:30 am. And so have I, for that matter.

When We’re Helping We’re Happy: I’m reading The Happiness Project, and in the chapter about improving her marriage, she talks about stopping nagging. However, I’ve recently decided to do the opposite in my marriage. Not nagging, but asking. John works a lot and often spends his non working time doing whatever he wants, and I spend a lot of his non working time taking care of stuff. And rather than being annoyed about it, I started asking him to help. Brilliant, right? Give the kids a bath. Start the dishwasher. And then he helps and we’re all happy. I don’t have to do all the things, and I’m not annoyed.

Kid-Free Disney: John and i has our second Disneyland date Saturday morning. We’ve now doubled the amount of Disney dates we’ve taken since we had kids. We had a babysitter come at 7, but apparently Disneyland didn’t open until 9, so we had lots of time to sit around. We went on Indiana Jones, space mountain, big thunder, and Soarin’. We also waited in line for the new Adorable Snowman treats, which were really yummy. We had lots of time to hang out and talk, and had fun going on rides together. We were thinking we haven’t been on Soarin together since we had kids.

Dessert Club: John and I are being the change, and started a dessert club. We invited our favorite neighbors, and a couple other random families from the ward. And we all brought dessert and played at the park for two hours, and it was awesome.

Earthquake!: My mom would be so proud- John and i woke up to an earthquake at 4:50 this morning. John said it was a 4.5 out past earthquake, only the second one he’s felt. I’m surprised we both woke up and felt it.

Too Heavy!: One of my favorite Arthur sayings: “it’s too heavy!” He says it anytime he needs help with something. Often accurate, but he usually means “it’s too hard.” I’ve stopped correcting him because it’s so dang cute.

All Aboard!: Arthur is completely obsessed with the Disneyland Railroad, and conductors, and Casey jr., and conductors. And also, conductors. He’s started saying “all aboard!” and waving his arm out like a Disneyland safety signal. Today he did it every single time he climbed onto the side of the grocery cart at Walmart. He was pretty loud, but it was pretty adorable.

I Wish I Was a Fun Mom: Last night I was browsing the Kids Activities I’ve posted on my other blog and I remembered what a fun mom I used to be. So today when Arthur woke us up at 6, I got up and made peanut butter muffins instead of lying there.

Spring: This morning, I dropped Sienna off at school so John could take Arthur to Disneyland. While walking back to my car, I decided not to respond to my texts and just enjoy the morning. There was a little chill, but the sun was warm, and the air was fresh. It was a nice two minutes.

Girls Trip to San Diego: This weekend was the long-awaited girls trip John told me to take. After he mentioned it and my neighbor and I started some planning, another friend who recently moved out of state texted and asked if I wanted to do something this summer, so she came along, too. We stayed in La Jolla and did all the "hidden adventures in San Diego" we could find. We didn’t spend money on any of our activities (except $5 cave entrance). We felt like we ate extravagantly, but since we only ate two meals a day, and didn't feed five other people, it didn’t seem to add up to as much as we thought. The whole trip only cost me about $250.

We tried to theme the weekend "Tacos" but we kept coming up with more themes as we went around. Tacos. Breakfast. Breakfast tacos. Hidden adventures. Secret spots. Giant succulents. Slot Canyons.

Saturday morning we went down to Shell Beach to find sea glass. WE had brunch at Hashhouse Gogo and went to the spruce street suspension bridge and quince street trestle bridge, just fun little spots in downtown. Then we went to Balboa Park, walked around admiring architecture, and the botanical building. After a flight of ice cream at Hammonds, a little rest, and our fourth outfit change, we went to hike the trail to Black's Beach. This was so fun! And it was great to be hiking with people who kept exclaiming "this is so fun!" instead of whining. We climbed some unstable cliffs, hid in slot canyons, skidded on sandstone, crossed some 4x4 "bridges" and descended the last dozen yards holding onto a muddy rope. The beach wasn't much to write home about, but the hike was awesome. After dinner at Prep Kitchen, we hit the hot tub, and went to bed feeling energized.

The next day after sea glass hunting, we got in the car to drive to Brockton Villa for brunch... only to drive around the block the very long way and end up luckily finding a spot 10 feet further than where we had just been parked. And walking to the restaurant a few hundred yards away. Hah! But that's what memories are made of.

We walked up to the Cave Store and descended into the tunnel to see the sea cave. We watched Sea Lions. Then we spent some time driving around looking for the Secret Swing. Which we found! Another fun hidden adventure. Next, we drove down south to Sunset Cliffs to do some more sketchy sandstone cliff exploring. After that we headed home, but we had one more stop. Annie's Canyon was a short little slot canyon hike, 1/2 mile off the road. It had little caves to climb up into, and even a ladder. The kids would have loved it, and you can even do the canyon loop a couple times.

By the time we got home Sunday night, I was covered in scrapes and bruises, which, as I always tell my kids, means I was having fun.

Memorial Day: Why is sitting in a chair at the beach for five hours so exhausting?

Maggie won a giant kite in a drawing on the last day of school a year ago. We finally used it today. The kids (and friends) kept it in the air for over four hours.

Not Throwing Away Our Shot : John gave me Hamilton tickets for Mother’s Day. After my neighbor used the line “it’s no Hamilton tickets!” when her husband gave her her Mother’s Day gift, it’s become the thing to say. Even when John outdid himself by booking a Disney Cruise later that day.

Hobbes: Dalton asked me “where’s the book about the boy with the huge imagination and the stuffed tiger?”

Port-a-Pot: Sienna reading the signs on the porta-potties at Cub Scout camp: this one is for boys, this one is for girls, and this one is for grandpas (wheelchairs)

Daddy’s Boy: John got home from a trip just as Arthur was falling asleep. I tried to wake him to say hi to dad, but no luck. John came in and shook him awake. Arthur opened his eyes, saw John, closed his eyes again and then a slow smile spread over his face, as he immediately fell back asleep. It was the sweetest thing ever.

Fine Dining: John and I went to the Carthay circle restaurant at California adventure for the first time last night. When the waiter found out we were passholders, he asked why we hadn’t been in before.
Me:... We have four kids.

Also, we went on guardians of the galaxy and it was terrifying.

Must Watch Toddler TV: There’s a Daniel Tiger episode about not interrupting mom when she’s resting.

One Summer Goal Checked: I was cleaning the garage when I heard Sienna yell “mom, I’m doing it!” from the driveway. Apparently she got out her bike and decided to ride it. Just like that.

: Dalton on my leg hair: you need to cut that. It’s getting long.
(It’s not.) Me: how often do you think I cut that?
Dalton: a year?

New York City: NYC day 1: Lounged around all morning, grocery shopping, checking out the rooftop pool and playing iPad. We got into the city around 2 and met Leonard at the NYPL for a tour. The building was so cool, and I liked seeing the actual Winnie-the-Pooh friends.

After that we went to the American Museum of Natural History. Arthur loves seeing the dinosaurs. Maggie asked about seeing the Easter island statue, so we saw that too.

Next we had hot dogs and waffles in Central Park, climbed on the rocks, played hide and seek and played in a playground.

We had tickets for Top of the Rock in the evening. The little two, who are both sick, were about done at this point. But on the flip side, Dalton finally seemed to be having fun.

Then we walked over to Times Square and hung out while John got some Juniors cheesecake for dessert. We got a bit lost on the way home, so made an unexpected stop at the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial.

Day 2: We took a 1:00 ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. So cool! We’ve never been up close before. Of course it suddenly started pouring and we sheltered under a tree for 20 minutes before continuing our visit.

The boat next took us to Ellis Island, which was pretty neat. Arthur enjoyed the boat rides.

After making it back to the main island, we went to the 26th Street pier where they have free kayaking on Thursday nights. John took Maggie out, and I went with Dalton. While John and Maggie were waiting, it started pouring again. Luckily it didn’t last long. And there was no thunder so we got to have our turns. The volunteers running the thing were so sweet, one of them got otter pops out for all our kids.

We walked back to the World Trade Center station to cross the river, and got to see the 9/11 memorial in the day time this time.

Day 3: We took the train all the way to Rockaway where we bought subway sandwiches, more beach towels, and spent a few hours enjoying the Atlantic. Dalton and John got in the water and went out body surfing. Maggie ran around. Sienna lay on a towel, and Arthur played in the sand with a paper cup. A great time was had by all.

After dinner, Maggie and I went to our first Broadway show: The Lion King! It was amazing. The effects, dancing, cool animal costumes. It was really neat. We got a piece of chocolate mousse cheesecake from Junior’s next door, and snuck it in. Maggie was appalled at our rule-breaking, but not enough that she didn’t eat her fair share!

Day 4: Saturday we met Leonard at the New York Transit Museum, after lots of train trouble. The kids loved it, especially the little two, and Arthur was in heaven. There were dozens of actual subway trains on actual subway tracks under the museum, from different times in the last century. It was so fun to play in them and to see the old advertisements. There were also old turnstiles and a ticket booth they had fun playing with.

We had lunch at Shake Shack, then tried to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately it was closed to traffic that direction due to a protest ending. So we took the subway to the other side and walked up to the first pillar. It was really hot, and we took advantage of people selling ice cream and $1 cold food water bottles. That was about all we managed to do today, but it was a fun outing.

Day 5: The Central Park zoo was small (and hot) but exciting. We watched the sea lions be fed, and then spent lots of time with the penguins. There was also a small children’s zoo that the kids enjoyed. John and Dalton went to see Wicked after this, while the other kids and I walked to Chopt to meet Leonard.

With Leonard, we walked through Central Park to the turtle pond. Unfortunately the castle was closed, but we got to go in the Shakespeare garden where Leonard and Sumana were married. And the turtles were everywhere. Did I mention it was hot?

Sienna: Can we each get our own ice cream?
Me: I’m not buying five ice creams.
L: Ooh I will! Can I be the fun uncle?

Leonard walked us back to the subway and I managed to get the three kids (plus stroller) back to New Jersey in their respective one pieces.

Day 6: Our last day was spent at Coney Island, and on the train getting there. It was 1 1/2-2 hour train ride, which no one complained about. The kids all loved riding the subway. We went to Luna park, bought $100 of points to use, and took turns going on trill rides, kiddie rides, and playing games. We bought an $8 Icee with unlimited refills (we had at least 6) and had subway for lunch again. The Cyclone, original roller coaster was thrilling. It felt very unsafe, which was half the fun. Definitely no Disney. That evening, John went back into town and had dinner with Sumana.

Happiness Is: 9pm nacho fries on the front porch with your bestie.

Ghost Ride: Last time I tried to take Arthur on the Haunted Mansion, he burst into tears when we entered the lobby and refused to go on it. Today I asked if he wanted to go on the ghost ride, and he said yes, so we went. He walked through the line, into the lobby and into the elevator holding my hand. He stood there perfectly still throughout the elevator, and then when the scream died down, and the rattling stopped and all was silent, he let out a sad little wail. And the entire elevator full of adults said “awww.” It was so adorable.

PS: He did not enjoy the ride, but went on it peacefully.

Conductor : Arthur still says “all aboard” when getting in the car, the shopping cart, his scooter, all the things. Except now he insists it’s pronounced “y’ah wee!”

Swim-a-Thon: The kids participated in their first swim a thon this year. Sienna swam 41 laps, Dalton 64 and Maggie 78. Dalton was second place for most laps in his age group by two laps, and the winner couldn’t go to the pizza party, so he gets to go. I calculated that they swam about 2 miles total. Pretty impressive!

Not It!: Sienna on scootering to get lunch with dad: 1 2 3 not it!

Our kids are lazy bums.

Blue Bean: Dalton reading his Mike and Ike’s package: carribean blue. Is this a kind of bean?

Then I also had to explain the different pronunciation of Carribean for Pirates of the Carribean.

: In the last 24 hours Arthur has voluntarily picked up and put in his mouth:

Bagel with cream cheese
Breadstick
Corn
Avocado
Oranges
Watermelon

Considering I don’t even offer him food anymore, that’s pretty impressive.

Potty Trained: My second goal for the summer (Sienna learning to ride her bike was the first) was the potty train Arthur, even though parents really don’t have much say in when a kid potty trains. Over the last two weeks though, he’s done it. Actually went in the potty for the first time, and really didn’t have many accidents, and now is obsessed with pooping in the potty so I’ll call that a good sign. If you wait until they’re ready, it’s not that hard at all.

Sea Glass: We haven’t done a lot of beach this summer, mostly because of swim team. Now that that’s over, we’re having an actual lazy summer of staying up late and playing outside and enjoying life. Dalton had a play date today, but I took the other kids to Crystal Cove where we spent over an hour doing the free crafts they had available today - making sea glass pendants, watercolors and origami.

Back in the Saddle: After over a year of being frightened of the ocean, Sienna has gotten over it. Last week at the beach, she was having tons of fun in the waves within gibson. This week, she hopped right in. We only spent ten minutes at the beach but she was loving it. Ironically, we were at Crystal Cove, which is where she was tossed by a wave last mother’s day, starting her fear. She remembered walking to the beach through the tunnel but didn’t mention her fear at all today. I’m glad she’s over it; the beach is fun.

That Kind of Family: Sienna: We’re that kind of family who takes hikes and scooter rides. We’re also that kind of family that likes candy.

Olaf: Sienna brought me a stack of red and black checkers.

I made an Olaf!
What’s an Olaf?
Olaf!
How is that an Olaf?
Like a black food thing I put on my fingers.
Oh, an olive.

I don’t get how that’s an olive either, but whatever.

A Day in SF: John and I went on our first ever overnight trip without kids. EY held a promotion dinner in San Francisco for new directors and partners. We flew up with no whiny kids, got ice cream with no whiny kids, had fancy dinner with no whiny kids, slept in with no whiny kids, had breakfast with no whiny kids, flew home tin no whiny kids, and had lunch with no whiny kids. The whiny kids did not complain: they think the babysitter is more fun than I. It was great.

: The kids had a movie night with the babysitter and watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Sienna, on Leia not dying: That’s Heavenly Father helping her.

Kinder Girl: Sienna started kindergarten yesterday like no big deal. She is perfectly happy to be there and basically knows the drill because of TK. She has church friends and TK friends in her class, and the other am class, so she sees them on the playground. Here’s to a great kinder year!

Easing to Bed: Since Arthur broke his crib last fall, and we got the boys bunk beds, he has been making us lie down with him to go to sleep, which sometimes takes two hours, which is why I stopped letting him nap. He also required two applesauce, leftover from when he started refusing to nurse and I was desperate to get calories in him. We’re trying to undo these habits. He’s been doing ok if i read him a story and only give him an applesauce if he “goes to sleep” which will get him to lie down at least. Then I leave and he usually falls asleep. Sometimes he comes out and it takes one more applesauce. We’ve also been putting him down later.

Needs Charging: Arthur, on the deflated orca pool floatie: it’s dead. It’s all out of batteries.

Still Obsessed: Arthur is referring to himself in third person as The Conductor.

Tot School: Arthur started preschool. I think sending two year olds to preschool is weird, but I also think breastfeeding two year olds is weird and I did that with the last, so whatev. He is going to a girl in the ward with a few little ward friends. She is doing a great, organized job, and it’s convenient for us to carpool.

Rear End: I got in a car accident on my way home from Arthur's appointment with the pediatric eye surgeon. I got rear ended on the 55 South during rush hour. Luckily, we were stopped, and the guy was stopping so it was just a bump, but he left the impression of his license plate on our rear bumper. The guy that hit me couldn't have been more cheerful, and it really made what could have been a terrible experience almost pleasant.

Maggie Love: The other day after a really rough time getting kids off to school properly, John and I decided one of us needed to make time for special time with Maggie that night. She and I scootered down to Golden Spoon. She talked to me about how the higher grade, the ruder kids get, how she feels like we expect her to do everything on her own and don't help her, because she's the oldest, and how she plays four square at recess because you don't need friends to do a sport, just a bunch of kids that all want to play. She definitely opens up more with one on one. We have to make a lot of effort for that as parents of four kids.

A Night to Remember: We had a super fun girls night at Disneyland last night. I drove five friends, and we went on lots of big rides and had a blast. We first did Guardians of the Galaxy, Monsters After Dark for the Halloween theme. We unknowingly sat with the three fun people in one row, and the three terrified people in another. We also did Soarin', then went to Disneyland where we got ice cream and went on Indiana Jones. Then we decided to do Splash Mountain.

I was in the front, and someone's phone got handed up to me to take a selfie. Then the log bumped and I DROPPED IT! I was so horrified, but the girl behind me was laughing so hard she couldn't even get out the words to tell us that she CAUGHT IT. I couldn't believe it. And then I got drenched. Completely drenched with a wave of water pouring on my head from the front of the boat. I got hit by another huge wave on the big drop. Fun times.

After that we did single rider on Space Mountain (Ghost Galaxy) and headed home well after 11. It was closer to 12:30 by the time I dropped everyone off and got in bed, but it was so worth it. Lots of fun memories made.

Disney Cruise: For my birthday/mother's day/15th anniversary, we went on a four-night Disney Cruise to Cabo. It was so fun! The whole family loved it. The kids loved the kids club, Arthur loved the characters, we had fun at the pools and enjoyed the shows and the food and the peace and quiet. In Cabo, John took Maggie, Sienna and Arthur to the beach, and Dalton and I went on a zipline adventure. We ziplined upside down, tandem, rock climbed, and scooted across the river on a cable. It was very exciting.

The cruise was also Halloween themed which added a whole other level of fun. We dressed as Peter Pan characters this year. John was Peter Pan, Sienna was Tinkerbell, Maggie was Tiger Lily, and Arthur, Dalton and I were Michael, John and Wendy. Arthur as Michael was the cutest thing ever. I heard a lot of "awww"s about our family costumes as we walked by and more than one turned into double "AWW!" when they saw little Arthur toddling in a pink sleeper with his teddy.

Arthur refused to eat anything but french fries, but was otherwise pretty good. He slept well at night, and crashed randomly a few times. At the Halloween party, he was dancing with Dale one minute, and asleep on me the next.

Also a funny moment: Our rooms were across from each other, so we popped back and forth a lot, especially to use the other bathroom. When I was getting Arthur ready for bed, I found myself chasing naked Arthur in the hallway while wearing my Wendy costume and a neighbor said, "Only on a Disney Cruise."

John booked us another cruise for next Christmas, so more adventure to come.

First World Disney Problems: When you’re sitting too far away to chat on the carousel so you spend the whole ride texting.

Miss Independent: For the holiday weekend, my neighbor and I took all the kids (minus Dalton who went to Utah with John) to Knott's Berry Farm. We sent the 11 year old girls off on their own with Maggie's gizmo pal to call and check in every once in a while. They had a blast! They went on all the roller coasters, and toward the end of the day, the lines were basically nothing, so they kept going and going. Meanwhile, the littles had fun in Camp Snoopy, particularly on the "jumpy cars" (Pig Pen's Mud Buggies), and Arthur loved all the trains. We also went on the Voyage to the Iron Reef together, where we got stuck for half an hour before we climbed a ladder to get out of our car and escape. It was a great day.

Dalton Turns 9: For Dalton's birthday he asked for Roblox figures, Hot Wheels tracks that turn, a fudge cake, and ice cream and Boomers with friends. Done and done!

Spoiled Friend: My little kids really love The Sound of Silence from the Trolls movie. With the creepy forest creatures singing in the background. Except Sienna insists it’s “hello darkness, spoiled friend”.

Adorable Things Arthur Does: Arthur loves to “hide” under blankets. Sometimes we’ll soend an hour hiding under a blanket reading stories, watching a show, or just snuggling.

The finger wagging. It’s so cute, I can’t even. He does it about everything. “We don’t throw things in the potty.” “We’re not buying a Christmas tree.” “We don’t eat treats.” It’s soooo cute.

And yelling “Attack!” While throwing his blankie at you. Learned that one from dad, I’m sure.

Illegal Sushi: One of Sienna’s favorite lines to quote is “Sushi? Who said anything about sushi?” From Monsters, Inc. And she likes to throw in different words. The other day, as we prepared to jaywalk, she yelled “Illegal? Who said anything about illegal?”

Fortunes: Dalton asked me to make him a fortune teller the other day. I ended up making them for everyone. I couldn’t stop laughing when he did it with me. Here are the “fortunes” he listed.

You are a animal
Pink unicorns are coming to attack you
You will die young
You are dumd (sic)
You are awesome
You are a alien
It will rain tacos
You won’t get married
He came in while I was typing this and tried to throw it away again. Future Dalton, I hope you appreciate that I’m preserving this.

Puzzles and Song: Dalton brought home a cheap 1000 piece puzzle from school and begged to do it all weekend. He lasted about five minutes, but Maggie and I have been having fun doing it. Tonight, after the third time I sang a song based on words she had just said, we made a game of it and I sang all sorts of songs related to random words while we worked on the (incredibly hard) puzzle. Maggie loved puzzles so much as a three year old, glad to see it still in there. And it’s a great opportunity to chat with her and spend time together.

Like a Bridge: I bought the Trolls soundtrack, and the kids are obsessed with the version of The Sound of Silence that has creepy monsters in the background (“hello!”). Anyway, it got me wanting to hear the real thing so I bought a Simon and Garfunkel album. Then I became obsessed with Bridge Over Troubled Water. Such a great song about always being there for your friend, and you can hear the passion and determination in his voice as he sings.

I was reminded of a story my mom told of when she would ride the bus out in the country and the bus driver would stop to go to the bathroom in the middle of nowhere and the kids would hang out of the bus windows and sing the song to him. Then I looked up the release date and it was in 1970, the year mom turned 18 (and graduated high school?). It seems unlikely she was a high schooler doing this, plus I didn’t think the Northern California area where she finished high school was so rural. Further research reveals the song was released in January of that year, so it is possible. Mom, why did you exaggerate so much that I have to find proof that your stories are true?

Together Alone: We have a super busy Saturday, but at the moment, John is at Disneyland with Arthur, Maggie is at a birthday party, and Sienna and Dalton are enjoying their time without people bugging them by playing board games together.

Dancing Boys and Beagles: One of my 2018 goals is to play through the hymn book. The other day, one of those days I was watching a variety of kids at my house, I was playing a couple hymns and when I stopped, Arthur and his friend came in demanding more. So I got out Snoopy Dancing song and played it and they danced, and clapped and begged for more. We did that for another 15 minutes, filled with giggles and expending energy, until it was time to pick up the big sisters from school. It was nice to be appreciated.

Snoopy Dancing* - this is Minuet in B flat major by J S Bach. Snoopy dances with Marcy and Peppermint Patty in the Easter Beagle show to this song and I started playing it for four year old Maggie to dance to. All the kids still love dancing to it.

Trick and Switch: Fun Halloween evening started with walking a couple neighborhoods over to where some church friends were doing a haunted house in their garage. I took Arthur through the lights-on, less scary version ("Hi, it's me, Emily!" says the creepy masked being) and it was really fun. Then we got to go into the "Friends only" trick or treating in their house with full sized candy bars, donuts, and they even had chili, corn bread, apples and dip for the kids in the haunted house and everyone. (We did not steal their dinner). The kids all loved it. I love fun, generous people like that.

We meandered our way through the next neighborhood trick or treating as usual. The kids got tons of candy and sorted it out for the Switch Witch when we got home. Sienna woke up crying at 11:30 pm because her candy was gone but there wasn't a toy in its place. The toy was outside her door, and assured of that, she went back to sleep. She got a baby fingerling, that also included two surprise baby fingerlings (surprise to the switch witch who bought it on clearance and wants to go back and buy more.) Maggie got the latest Wimpy Kid book ("I didn't know this was out yet!"). Arthur got a Thomas train mini mystery ($1.49, score) and Dalton got the board game Qwuirkle, which I can't wait to play with him. The Switch Witch needs to be more on the ball next year.

The Switch Witch candy was gone from the EY break room by 9:30.

Travel Plans: Last night John told me he was taking the morning off and going for a hike, so I asked if I could tag along. I swapped Arthur to my neighbor - and took her kid running errands with me afterward - and we headed out after dropping Sienna off at school. I haven’t been hiking in a long time, especially if you don’t count the easy 1-2 mile kid paced stuff we usually do. We did close to 4 miles, up some steep grades, and John patiently waited for me at the top of each one. When I wasn’t breathing embarrassingly loudly, we had a great talk about our set future travel plans and possible other ideas. A topic we both love, and it was nice to have uninterrupted time together doing something we enjoy.

Travel Plans: Last night John told me he was taking the morning off and going for a hike, so I asked if I could tag along. I swapped Arthur to my neighbor - and took her kid running errands with me afterward - and we headed out after dropping Sienna off at school. I haven’t been hiking in a long time, especially if you don’t count the easy 1-2 mile kid paced stuff we usually do. We did close to 4 miles, up some steep grades, and John patiently waited for me at the top of each one. When I wasn’t breathing embarrassingly loudly, we had a great talk about our set future travel plans and possible other ideas. A topic we both love, and it was nice to have uninterrupted time together doing something we enjoy.

Arfor : After 3 years, Sienna has started saying “Arfor” instead of “Arsor”.

Tree Beard: Probably every kid does this, but Sienna calls root beer “root beard” and it’s adorable.

Goal #10: I finished goal #10 of my 18 in ‘18 goals yesterday - playing every hymn in the hymn book. Apparently there are 14 men’s choir songs, all in weird keys, so I plugged through those and finished with a patriotic bang.

Spiteful Christmas Music: I turned on some Christmas music in the car to spite my “but it’s Novemebr 8! Why are the Christmas movies out?” kids. Sienna asks, “I wonder what Santa will look like this year”, remembering that “last year he had dark skin.”

Flip: We have many good Reasons for staying in our little house, so it’s been a long time since I wished we had more space. But apparently flipping water bottles is a thing, and it’s a thing Dalton has gotten into and no matter where he goes I can hear the *thud* of a water bottle landing over and over.

Things That Go: During Maggie and Dalton’s theater class on Thursday afternoon, I took Sienna and Arthur shopping. On the way back to the theater, we pulled over in rush hour traffic to let a fire truck through. I was impressed at how the packed traffic of people trying to get somewhere managed to make room so quickly. When we got to the theater, we sat on a grassy spot in the parking lot. It was dark because daylight savings ended, windy because Santa Anas, and airplanes taking off instead of landing in that direction, probably also because of the wind. The kids loved it.

Time Change: Last week I, and 61% of other California voters, gave permission to the legislature to make daylight saving time permanent, as soon as they can get federal permission. It’s been 10 days since day light saving time ended and my kids were all awake by 7:15 today. My friend summed it up nicely yesterday: “She used to wake up at 7. Now she wakes up at 5.”

Veterans Day Tradition: Apparently, we went to breakfast at Stacks with our neighbors last time we had school off for Veterans Day. So we did it again yesterday. We also scootered down to the park to meet one of Arthur’s baby friends, and John bought new couches we’ve been decided on for the last couple days.

Phone Addict: Arthur, trying to get my phone away from Sienna: “I need to tell Tressa something!” In case we didn’t know how I always get my phone away from him!

Javier: Sienna, watching live action Beauty and the Beast: this Javier scares me a little bit. (Lumiere.)

Poisonous Gas: In the cell phone waiting lot on the second of many airport runs in the next couple weeks. I can hold my breath through the tunnel under the LGB runways, but not through the LAX one.

Maggie Sits: Tonight Leonard took John and I to Javier’s, which was so yummy. We left the kids home with Maggie, and when we got back she offered to put Arthur in bed and did a great job of it. Maggie being able to babysit is my new favorite thing about parenting. She also babysat for both of our neighbors this week, earnings a total of $21.

: I subbed Sienna’s primary class today. In sharing time, she went up to pick a paper and when the teacher asked “do you hear the Sacrament prayers every week?” She answered “nope!”

First Class: John and I are traveling to a new executive conference in Orlando, first class. The kids are mad. Dalton thinks he’ll never get a chance because John won’t let him be an accountant. Sienna is mad because she wants to go “to first class.”

December 1st: The first day of December is always a fun day. Today the kids got to eat their first chocolate from the Trader Joe’s advent calendars aunt Pat bought for them. They got a letter from their elf, Peppermint, and a gift - a TsumTsum advent calendar! So they got to open their first tsum tsum too. Plus, they got to put the first get ornament on the advent Christmas tree that was mine when I was a kid. An exciting day, and an exciting three weeks ahead.

I also got some fun Christmas activities at the dollar store that I think Arthur and Sienna at least will love. Window cling gingerbread house and decorations, mini Christmas train wind up, Christmas stamps etc.

Date Night: We made plans this afternoon to go to dinner with our neighbors tonight - to our favorite new neighborhood taco place. Left the kids all home with their big sisters and did not intend to be gone for three hours, chatting the night away. Maggie handled everything great.

Set Ups: The kids call an arrangement of toys to play with “a set up.” For example, Maggie and Sienna made a set up of TsumTsum to play with, and add the new ones from the advent calendar.

Fancy New Executive: For John's promotion, we went to Orlando for training meetings and fun. We went a little early and spent our first morning at Animal Kingdom, going on rides I didn't get to do last time because I was pregnant with Arthur. That evening, we ditched the dinner and went to Hollywood Studios for another roller coaster (yay), Tower of Terror (boo) and Fantasmic.

The next day, I went with the other spouses on a Wild Florida airboat ride on a lake where we saw interesting plants and lots of different birds. Then we explored the little wildlife zoo - lots of alligators. Did I mention it was 45 degrees? Aka freezing. The boat would have been a lot more fun if it had been a lot warmer.

That night, the company rented out Universal Studios (!). We hung out in Diagon Alley, escaped from Gringott's twice and drank a lot of butter beer. All the food was free. We had ice cream from Fortescue's, chili dogs, Korean beef tacos, Chinese food. That and more was just there for the taking, and I'm all about free food.

Which was the main awesome part of the whole trip. During the conference, there were meals served. And on the airplane! I didn't have to cook a thing, or feed anyone.

Speaking of not feeding people, we left the kids with a couple in the ward. They have a 1 year old and stayed at our house and I paid them and it was amazing. That was our main expense. Otherwise, we bought Disney tickets, dinner at Disney the one night, one Uber ride, and a Mickey ice cream bar.

Dalton, Age 9: Two months ago. 56 pounds (21%), 53” (58%) and he passed his vision test. Dalton loves playing games and watching YouTube videos on his kindle, but he also likes building race tracks, reading Calvin and Hobbes, being a helper, having contests, and school. He makes friends easily, and has a nice group of boys he hangs out with at school. Dalton loves vegetables (mostly roasted) and besides not wanting to eat breakfast most days, he’s probably our overall best eater.

Sienna, Age 6: Sienna and Arthur both had their check-ups today (just coincidentally the day I got around to writing about Dalton's). Sienna is 38 pounds (10%) and 46 inches (65%). She couldn't remember what grade she was in to tell the doctor. She also struggled a little with the vision test (Possibly because Arthur was interrupting with the correct answers). But she still passed, 20/25.

Arthur, Age 3: Arthur's 3 year visit, he is 30 pounds (29%) and 37 3/4 inches (53%). Very similar numbers to Dalton this year. He made a good effort at carrying on a conversation with the doctor, other than randomly going off about mom's bandaid.

Doctor after talking to Sienna about the box she sleeps in: Where do you sleep?
Arthur: Bed!
Sienna: He sleeps in a bonk bed.
Doctor: Are you on the bottom? Who do you sleep with?
Arthur: Dalton and mama.
Sadly it's true for a bit most evenings. And he's still a terrible eater.

The Box Nest: Sienna has been sleeping in a large cardboard box for two months now. Today I cleaned it out to wash her blankets and found:

3 blankets
1 pillow
9 toys
5 pieces of trash
18 stuffed animals

For the Record: I just renewed my Disney pass when I bought one for Arthur. Not sure I’ve ever directly renewed before. I made 36 visits in my car this year. Plus date nights and at least one girls night that I didn’t drive. Not nearly as many trips as usual, but we usually go every Saturday, and that was John’s job this time around, plus I couldn’t go most of the summer because of the other kids. Lots of fun though, and my favorite addition was the date nights. Love spending time with John at our happy place.

Careful What You Wish For: I made a Christmas wish for Arthur to sleep until 7:30. He slept until 8:40, but it was at the expense of keeping me up for over an hour in the night, and my last couple hours of restless sleep being on the uncomfortable couch bed with him. Sigh. And the kids were annoyed they had to wait for him to wake up to get to their stockings.

Awember: A couple of Sienna-isms. She says awember for remember and wumber for number. The other day I heard her telling a friend in the car “do you have a wumber 6?” And her friend said “what’s a wumber?”

From a 2016 Note: Me, watching something on tv with a metal Merry-go-round at a park: This was obviously not filmed in America.

Dalton: Dalt: mm hmm. They don't have ice cream trucks in America. You just drive yourself to the store

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