finding joy

I have had a weird year for quite a few reasons. We were asked to consider moving to Hawaii twice, Seattle once and here we are still in Hailey, Idaho. It’s a love/hate thing. The kids are in a whole new stage and I’m going to blink and they’ll all be in school. But this Christmas season I was determined to stop trying to figure out the future, enjoy the moment, stop wishing and waiting for my heart to change and embrace it. 

   
 
Traditions and life are different that how I grew up and that’s ok! Actually it’s more than ok. My kids will grow up remembering and cherishing THESE memories. 

Walking in deep snow in the wilderness to find the perfect tree, followed by hot chocolate in the car.    

 

Our church Christmas play practice, followed by a birthday party for Jesus, ice skating and soup dinner.    

 

Seeing Santa.   

Sledding in knee deep snow and coming home to a cozy fire and hot chocolate.    

  

Baking day complete with Nana’s sugar cookies.   

 

Sitting on hay bales to watch the live nativity with camels, donkeys and sheep… sipping (you guessed it!) hot cocoa.    

   
Watching the nutcracker on ice on Christmas Eve. Magical!

That stupid elf on the shelf. 

 
I read something recently that listed the top 5 things you can do to make children feel secure and loved. Traditions were on the top of the list. I think that’s a big part of what made me love my childhood so much. Sometimes it’s hard or inconvenient or expensive but we WILL make family traditions. It’s different than I pictured – no cousins tagging along, no Nordstrom Santa, no cookie decorating at my mom’s. But it is sweet and happy. I look back on this Christmas season and my heart is filled with joy and thankfulness.

some days…

More often than not, I pack my girlies up first thing in the morning and we go to the Y. Some days I sit here before I exercise,  sipping water and catching up with FB, Instagram, emails and the very few blogs that people still update.     

It’s just this weird empty space with a fireplace and Buddha. Occasionally someone jogs by but mostly it’s just me, taking a deep breath and relaxing. Some days living here is hard but most days I love it.

Easter

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One thing is for sure… they get cuter every year! How do I have such a little man for a son?? And those girls! They are just perfect to me. I have no idea what the future holds but I do know one thing… I will always bribe my children with candy for an Easter morning photo.

my oh my.

  

They’re growing up fast. I’m learning to put them first, put my stupid phone down and listen, let them be kids, not put them in a box, not feel bad about flaking out on commitments, not overcommit, STOP FEELING GUILTY, cherish every stage… And kiss them. Like a lot.  When in doubt just tickle them. Encourage them to do good things, even when it’s hard, and tell them why. “New kid in school? Well I was a new kid… Blah blah blah.” So much to learn and so little time. I’ll just do my best, STOP FEELING GUILTY, learn, and enjoy. ❤️❤️❤️

Disneyland tips

Ok this is totally what worked for us. Something else might be better for your fam but we were going with a few goals: #1 FUN, #2 Convenience and #3 Budget. Some of these tricks were mine but a lot are from my sister and friends.

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Here goes:

Pull your kids out of school and go when the crowds are low! We went over Case’s birthday (Oct. 4-11) and although it seemed crowded in the park, we rarely waited more than 5 or 10 minutes to get on a ride.

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If you have little kids go with family or friends. There were a lot of rides Sawyer (or preggo Jessica) couldn’t ride. We all took turns waiting with S or taking her on a different ride. Wait until your kids either don’t nap or cat nap in the stroller. Getting to/from and in/out of the part takes a really long time. We only left during the day once.

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Buy your tickets once you get there. If you loose the receipt or it gets stolen anyone can use them! We bought them at our hotel. Once you get the ticket with your name on it (1st day in the park) take a photo with your phone. If you loose that ticket they can replace it but the photo makes it a lot easier. Also do this for your photo passes.

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Use the Disney wait time app on your phone. Life saver! My strategy was just to always go to the ride with the shortest wait time. I went on Ariel 3 times in a row with Sawyer. I love her. She still talks about how Ariel waved to her. Also, I think we rode almost every ride there.

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Wear your ugly worn out walking shoes. I did this and never once did my feet bother me. You’ll walk 10 miles easy in a day.IMG_5407

Bring a stroller. One with a basket! Even if you think your kids could handle not using one. My sister ended up buying one for her 5 year old. More than once we had every kid asleep or almost sleeping on the way out of the park.

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We stayed at The Embassy Suites about a mile from the park. Loved it. Two rooms, free hot breakfast, free unlimited happy hour (!!) and a shuttle takes you to the park every day. The shuttle costs about $7 for us (the girls were free). I should note that I always swore I would stay in the park with my kids, but once I punched those dates in and saw the extra $2500 price tag taking a shuttle sounded pretty nice!

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We got a 5 day park hopper pass (DON’T skimp on the park hopper pass!) and had a pool day in the middle. The pool day MADE the trip. The kids loved it and the restful day was awesome!

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When we went in Oct. it was HOT. Like mid 90’s. We would start the day in DIsneyland and once it got crowded we would head over to CA Adventure. There are a lot of indoor shows (with AC!!) and the lines are mostly in shade. DL isn’t. It’s hot. Also get one of these. My little sister bought one and we all shared it. It was aaaaaaamazing. They’re huge so you could get one and cut it in 1/2.

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I packed a ton of food. Don’t do this. Maybe grab a bag or trail mix and bring that, but Vons delivers for free (over $50) and their prices weren’t crazy high. Get a couple cases of water. If it’s hot out freeze a couple and then you have super cold water all day.

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Go to the Aladdin show!! It’s hilarious. We all loved it, even Sawyer. Also Disney Jr. show was cool. CA parade is SO FUN! We did it twice.

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Ok… Cars. The line is always long. Like the longest in the park. Just go when they open and go straight to the ride. We did and it was hilarious to see the HUGE line for fast passes when they could have just gone straight to the ride.

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If you want to see Elsa and Anna use your magic morning pass and once you are all in the park (really… they know if you aren’t in the park) send your man to RUN to the fast pass line. We ended up getting to see Elsa at 9:30 and waited 10 minutes with the fast pass. Our guys waited maybe 20ish minutes to get the fast pass while we did some rides with the kids.

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Don’t expect much on your magic morning. Only a couple areas are open so it’s pretty crowded.

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To use my sister’s advice: Get the churro, corn dog and dole whip. Bomb. (Do people even say that anymore? Cause I do.)

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Ok meals… I would pack snacks, a PB and J and waters. We would buy a snack or something little and go to an early dinner. People… this saved hours. We never waited to get in, the kids weren’t melting down yet. It was awesome. We did sit down for lunch a couple times at Earl of Sandwich. Dude. This place is SO good and not even that spendy. We could all eat for under $30. Go. (maybe pass on tortilla joe’s… case’s dinner came back up. Also very spendy for ‘meh’ food).

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Play Head’s Up on your iphone while you wait in line. We didn’t do this until the last day but we laughed til we cried! There was some singing and dancing involved. Plus it takes a video of the people acting the words out so you can re-watch. Don’t pack toys for your kids to play in line. Too much to carry and we never needed them.

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Wait in line for the characters! It’s worth every minute. Buy an autograph book on amazon before you go. Way cheaper.

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Ok. That’s all I got for now. BEST TRIP EVER!

Oh!! Get the parent pass when someone stays behind with the little one. They basically give you a fast pass for an adult and 3 kids to do the ride again.
Ok one more… Get a birthday button if your celebrating a bday. The characters and staff go out of their way to wish them happy birthday! They’ll even walk up from the parade.

the way I want to remember things…

Yes – there are fits, arguments, hitting and screaming. Oh can they scream. Most of the time when I stop to pay attention – to love on them, to touch, cuddle and kiss these tiny people – it stops all of the craziness. I need to do that more.
But as time passes I only remember the good things. Rocking them as babies, their big gummy smiles, their first giggles, the snuggles and the way their heads fits perfectly into my shoulder and under my neck, their sweet chubby cheeks…
They grow up too fast. I hope I always remember these little girls like this. Eager to help, their cheesy little smiles, Their messy post nap hair, how they have to wear their aprons when we bake, my days home with them when everything takes 5 times longer than it should, the kitchen being 5 times messier than it needs to be! They are my life. My blessings. I am so thankful the Lord saw me fit to be their mother.

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golden hour

With our beautiful fall weather lately we’ve been finding ourselves outside laying in the late afternoons while we wait for Chris to come home. My kids usually play within a 50 ft radius of where I am. So if I’m not outside they won’t stay out for long.
I finally had the bright idea to set up a camping chair, footrest and just relax. You might call it lazy parenting. I call it brilliant.
We make swords out of scrap wood, pick leaves and mix them in buckets, stroll around with baby dolls and make up games. Last night we stayed out until the sun set. I’m so not ready for our long winter.

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halloween

How are these kids getting so big? Halloween was awesome. Case got to dress up at school, had a little parade we went to, had friends over for homemade pizza, trick or treating, went to another friends for a beer and homemade amazing cheesecake. Lovely. Sawyer didn’t like the scary people but other than that great fun was had by all.

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I read some article this year about celebrating Halloween as a Christian. It really made me thing about why we celebrate it. Some people don’t and that’s fine but to me Halloween doesn’t represent ghosts, goblins or evil. It’s about kids being kids and doing things that bring them JOY. Yes there are people who look creppy as heck out there. But that’s life to me. The good mixed with some bad and teaching my kids to love the good.

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amanda’s day

Playing catch up! The actual wedding we went home for. Amanda’s wedding was breathtaking. I was SO SO excited for them. They are just the sweetest, most authentic, cutest couple and everyone who knows them is just so happy for them. It was a joyous day! And Maggie’s 4th birthday! Case was the ring bearer, dancer extraordinare and caught the garter. Busy day for him! It’s one of those days I wish I could relive.
I am kicking myself for not getting a family photo! I’m seriously still mad about it.

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