Wednesday, December 1, 2021


 SO hard to believe that our feisty little red head is 17 years old.  Planning to graduate early (next December) and then off to live her life.... Ev has always been a step ahead of the game.  She has been a mini adult since her 5th birthday!  So proud of the incredibly hard worker she is.  I never have to worry about Evelyn.  She studies and works hard in school.  She is responsible at her job.  She makes good choices and is amazingly level headed and logical.  An awesome driver, a helper in our home and an all around great kid.  Love you Evelyn!  

An excerpt from Evelyn's journal:

 Evelyn this year you have grown so incredibly much!  It’s hard to even imagine that you were once my firstborn babe- the nurses said:  “Oh…. She’s a particular one,” and I thought “what does that mean??”  I would soon find out!  You know exactly what you want in life in every way.  You have always lived with purpose and intention and you are super independent, responsible and driven.  I’ve loved seeing you work hard at each individual pursuit whether that be academics, talents, hobbies, jobs, etc.  You put your whole heart into whatever it is you want to accomplish and you are amazing at most things.  This year you are taking English, Career Counseling, and Math at the junior college with Spanish 3, Physics and PE at Classical Academy.  You are excelling in each of your classes- particularly math!  You love math and science and reading.  You could live without writing.  Along with school work, you also got your first job at Target this year!  You are sincerely working your buns off almost every day!  You are a cashier and you’ve caught on real quick.  Love that you are working and earning money.  You are tired, but enjoying your job. 

This year for your birthday you desperately wanted a big party.  I was so nervous to throw a big teenage party, but you insisted and had confidence it would work out.  As the night approached, we were both a little on the worried side!  Would it be awkward or a low turn out?  Thankfully, no to both!  It was the perfect evening with over 75 kids in attendance and such a great vibe.  You loved every minute.  But this story alone should demonstrate the growth you’ve experienced over the past year.  You would’ve never wanted a big birthday party at 15 or 16- but this year you had the confidence to put it together. 

This past year you flew by yourself to visit Grammy Papa and all the cousins.  You loved spending the week with your extended family!  You learned how to ski super well! You learned how to wake surf on the boat.  You learned that you didn’t want to sit on the side lines of life but would rather join in! You took surf lessons, you swam at the swimming hole in WA, you hiked on Sundays with Amaya, you wake surfed at Lake Powell.  You really gave it your all and adventured in every way possible.  We visited Vegas for Spring Break, we flew to Utah for a summer trip with Grandma, Grandpa and Stacy- we zip lined, tubed down the river, went to a rodeo and river rafted.  It was so much fun!!  We went beach camping, spent two weeks in Seattle, and  few days in Pismo.  You contracted Covid-19 and then got vaccinated, despite your initial hesitation.  You worked as a princess for a preschool summer camp and you loved every minute! You went to Girl’s Camp and became better friends with the gals from our ward.  They adored you and you had a fabulous time up at Big Bear.  It’s been a crazy few years with the pandemic at large, but you’ve handled it all in stride.  In fact, you are an excellent virtual student- though you prefer in person learning.  

At 17, you are incredibly healthy.  You exercise every day on the treadmill.  You love chili and Crumbl cookies.  You love Friends and Stranger Things.  You play the piano all the time and take voice lessons from Kara Howard.  You love swing dancing and anything musical theatre.  You are the best big sister in the world to Anna.  She adores going shopping with you.  You are an amazing driver and you help our family constantly… taking the boys to soccer and skate parks,  taking Anna to dance .  You still love to bake and often make a delicious batch of banana bread or pumpkin cookies.  You are an artist and love to draw.  You really are an incredibly creative person and I love that you have so many talents in music and arts.  You amaze me with your skills in every way.  SO proud of you Evelyn.  So grateful to be your mom and to spend life with you.  I never have to worry about you because you are ahead of the game in every way.  You have dreams to go to college somewhere in Utah but maybe first try out to be a Disney princess at Disneyland!  You are graduating early- in December of 2022 !  I can’t even begin to imagine what lies in store for you.  You could do absolutely anything and I absolutely believe you will do amazing things in your life.  Love you so much.

November Happenings

 November flew by in a wink of an eye.... bringing so many happy moments, visitors, celebrations, and so forth.   And also bringing one really challenging experience:  a broken ankle for Grant! Boy.... being on crutches is no fun for a kid who lives for physical activity.  But he is managing, and come December 23rd he'll most likely be walking on his on again!  The first broken bone for our family- it's been a learning experience.  I guess life can't be all sunshine and rainbows, that's for sure.  But here's a few sunshine-y moments to report on!

First.... keeping us busy were visits from some of our FAVORITE people! The Paces came to town for two days and we enjoyed laughing and catching up, and meeting them at California Adventure for the day.  The day we spent together was the happiest I'd seen Grant all month.  He adores ADORES his cousins and of course, he also is happiest riding roller coasters.  Blake took the day off to be with us as well and that freed me up to sit and talk with J whilst the kids rode all the roller coasters two to three times with Blake and Jason.  It was heavenly.  I can stand riding every ride once, but then I start to feel a little nauseous after that.  Anyway... it was a perfect day in every way.  Loved seeing our family.

We also spent the day with the Bruces in town from Idaho!  It had been 2.5 years since our last visit so it was extremely fun to meet up with them.  Dane enjoyed hanging out with Allie- the actual fastest girl in Idaho!!!!!! And Anna was in heaven with Hayley.  Kristen and I laughed and laughed and it felt like 20 years ago.  Kristen is one of my favorite people on earth and I am so grateful we're still in touch.  Sadly, Dan and Luke couldn't make it- but there's always next time- which may be soon if Allie wins her race and qualifies for a big California regional race happening mid- December.  Here's hoping!

Also absolutely LOVED seeing Liz in town from Utah with her new baby girl Tanya!  What an adorable little one.  Lizzie will always hold a special place in my heart as she was my number one babysitter all through those challenging years of raising 4 small kiddos.  Man, she was incredible and more of a friend then a babysitter.  Love seeing her as a mom herself and so happy in every way.

And last but not least, the Rustands came to town for a soccer tournament and we had an awesome time meeting up with them in LA for the USC versus BYU game at the Collesium!!!! SO MUCH FUN.  Grandma bought our tickets and was SO happy to see USC play so well!  It was an amazing game and an amazing night catching up with friends, and watching such a big game in such an awesome venue.  Loved this evening so much. 

We celebrated a few birthdays last month! Most importantly, Evelyn turned 17!!!!! Oh man, she's practically an adult!  LOVED celebrating our eldest in MANY ways throughout the month! For one, this year Evelyn uncharacteristically really wanted a birthday party, so we invited a big group of kids over and hoped and prayed they'd have fun!  We provided nachos, Shirley temples, hot cocoa, birthday cake and a trail mix bar for the kids. And thank heavens the turnout was great... the kids enjoyed playing volleyball, basketball, and ping pong, we had conversation cards and would you rather questions at every table.  Grades 9-12 were all there and Evelyn felt very celebrated indeed.  For her birthday, we went with Jen and Amaya to see Hairspray at the Civic Center.  This show was so fun- way more fun than either of us imagined and we had the time of our lives.  Ev's friends- Amaya and Emma spoiled Evelyn by planning a night out at the beach.  They set up a photo shoot and had a picnic dinner for her to enjoy.  It was so so sweet and she loved it so much.  On the actual day of her birthday, the Jorgensons came down and we had appetizers and cake and a BIG pickle ball tournament! It was SO great.  Evelyn played well before she had to leave for work ALL DAY.  Such a bummer.  But the night finished well when she was asked on a date by a cute boy she's had a crush on.  Of course we made him come over to our house to have birthday cake and hang out with our family so we could spend the evening with her too. All in all, it was a fun few days of celebrating for sure!

In addition to Evelyn's birthday, so fun to celebrate Elizabeth Judd's birthday with a dinner out with the gang at an amazingly yummy restaurant in Del Mar- Cava.  It was Sameen's birthday too and so we hiked Silverset, and ate Thai Food at a highly festive restaurant in Mira Mesa.  I love celebrating my friends.  It's so much fun! Especially these two- both are incredible people that mean the world to me.

BEST NIGHT EVER:  HARRY STYLES in concert!!!!!!  Seriously,  this evening will be a brain stamp for sure. Ev and I had the time of our lives with Emma and Brooke downtown at this amazing concert.  It was so happy and so fun.  Everyone was dressed so colorfully and in such great moods.  His songs just make people happy- at least they make me happy.  But it was an incredible performance and we truly had the time of our lives.

Thanksgiving was a special day spent with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Stacy and Dutch!  The kids loved playing with Dutch, eating an incredible turkey dinner, watching the football game and playing funny games around the dinner table.  Of course we ended the night with pies and a couple Thanksgiving episodes of Friends.  We laughed and enjoyed each other's company and felt so grateful for our family and the wonderful blessings that we experience in our lives. The next day, with Blake off of work, we headed down to Seaworld- Grant in a wheelchair, to ride the coasters and watch the Christmas shows.  It was quite crowded actually, but it worked out wonderfully because with the wheelchair- we were allowed access to the front of the line!  Wow- made the day really fun and stress free. Of course Grant spent $5 on carnival games and ended up winning a stuffed animal for Anna!  After Seaworld, we headed to Corvette Diner and enjoyed chili waffle fries and shakes with a yummy spread of all sorts of foods from hamburgers to salads to Mac n cheese and sliders.  It was a really nice way to spend Black Friday.

I think I covered all of the big stuff for the month!  A few fun little notes of interest:  We covered our patio and ordered new patio furniture last month! It looks so great and we're really happy with the outcome!  In fact, Blake just hosted the annual youth committee planning meeting out back and there were seats for EVERYONE - all 25 kids!  We are excited about the new space!  

I put together 15 Thanksgiving gift bags for the girls at the office- one of my favorite things to do! Already have a plan in place for Christmas.  We also bagged up hundreds of caramels that the Bishop made for tithing settlement!  Loved spending time with the Bishop and his wife and helping them with this task- it's a tradition!  My dear friend Jessica came over and helped me organize my pantry!  Can you imagine?  It was such a disaster!!!! But she put it together so nicely and it's stayed that way all month.  So grateful for her incredible organizing skills and her willingness to help me out! Blake and I went on a fun date during the Thanksgiving break.  We rarely get to do that, so we loved it!I learned how to do snap chat so that I could stalk my kids.  They love it of course- haha!  Evelyn snapped this pic of me trying to send a snap.  I'm not very good at it yet.

Our friend Jen took SO MANY wonderful pictures of Dane playing soccer the past three months.  Seriously, it's so great to have these treasures.  He's had an amazing season and worked so hard with the Nomads.  And now the high school season is in full swing with games every week.  He is a starter on the Freshmen team and he's super excited to be a part of this really cool experience! Took a pic of Dane and all his friends after the last final on the last day of first tri!  They continue to come over after school every day and Dane is just literally the most social kid on earth.  He goes from seminary to school to home with at least 8 buddies to practice to.... typically some game he wants to watch with his friends- either varsity soccer or basketball!!!  He's really having a fun year. But he's also just a great kid who continues to be my biggest helper around our home.  Whatever chore I need help with- he's there to pitch in, from Christmas card stuffing, to taking out trash, moving furniture or fixing broken gates- he is a hard worker and has a heart of gold always there to lend a hand.  Love this kid so much.

Aside from the heartache, and believe me--- for this kid it really has been heartache--- of breaking his ankle, Grant has actually had quite an incredible month.  He won TWO awards.  One for character counts in which he was nominated by TWO teachers in a pool of 1300 students- 12 were nominated as showing incredible character. Parents were asked to attend a meeting in which the teachers and principal honored their child - and oh man-- this was a tear jerker for sure.  The teachers went on and on describing Grant's empathy and kindness to his fellow classmates.  They talked about how sweet he is to help students who are struggling, teaching them coping skills and standing up for others.  They said he was a silent leader and the most humble and kind kid at school.  It was so touching !  Not more than a week after granted this award, Grant was also given the TIP award- Totally Incredible Person- for earning ALL O's (outstanding) for behavior on his report card.  Geez!  He won prizes and a party at lunch.  This all happened before the broken ankle.  So you see... the month started off quite well! So proud of Grant, not only for his awards, but for his positive attitude despite going through this challenge.

Anna tried out for basketball and is excited to have her FIRST game on Saturday with her bestie Kate! She spends almost every day painting her nails, creating new squishies- like she sees her favorite you-tuber doing on TV, playing Tenzie and Monopoly and Life with friends and with Daddy.  She went on her first girl scout campout last month and had the time of her life with all her school buddies, staying up late, making spaghetti, hiking and learning about nature.  Love her girl scout troop!  If she isn't painting her nails or playing Tenzi, she's definitely working on a dance routine or creating a coded language.  She is so imaginative, and creative and so full of fun and happiness.  You would be hard pressed to find this girl in a bad mood.  She is my little ray of sunshine and I'm so grateful for her kind little self and all the fun she brings into our lives.