01.21.16 | DECEMBER

two pictures from december: landon visiting santa and claire requesting i take a picture

i skipped december altogether, didn't i? i skipped taking pictures in december, too. when i think about it, i feel guilty that i didn't take A SINGLE PICTURE of my kids on christmas nor did i get a family picture. i didn't put together calendars for the grandparents and i didn't do a year in review post here on the blog either. but then after i've had my moment of feeling guilty, i feel better. you know why? instead of worrying about getting the perfect shot or missing out on moments because i didn't take this picture or get that one, i just lived. in the moment. i did a lot more with the kids, too. i'm sure that doesn't all have to do with the fact that i wasn't taking their pictures but maybe it does. i don't know. and really, it doesn't matter. all that matters is i was with the kids, spending time with them, and hopefully making memories that will last a lifetime. 

december felt really busy. and we all got sick. and then my grandpa died. and that really sucked. and it hurt a hell of a lot more than i expected it to. (my grandpa had dementia/alzheimer's and for the last few years, i've felt like he was already gone, that i had grieved the loss of him. and then he physically died and it hit me just as hard as any other death of someone i love.) after his death i was able to reconnect with family and that felt good, so so good. when you get busy in your day-to-day life it's easy to forget how much you enjoy being with certain people and how much you've missed them. and then you go through years and years worth of photos with those people and all of the emotions in those photos just start bubbling up and before you know it, you're laughing and smiling and crying and just, remembering. 

death is hard. it blows. and yet, death can also be really really good. my grandpa is no longer in any pain and he's with all of his family and friends that he loves. and i'll get to see him again and when i do, it will be my grandpa. the grandpa that i remember, the grandpa that i love and i'm really looking forward to that day. 

11.27.15 | THANKSGIVING 2015

it's been a wonderfully slow, relaxing day after thanksgiving morning for us, despite having to get up and take justin to work today. i've submitted the december order for landon's scholastic books (i'm really excited to get these ones back next month!) and the kids are playing quietly together, which is amazing!

our day was so busy yesterday and yet, super relaxing and fun. we had three stops to make this year, we're lucky that our immediate families live in town, so we had some pretty full bellies by the end of the night, hah!

the first stop was to have an early lunch with my dad and grandma at the nursing home. it's a tradition for us to go there every thanksgiving and i'm incredibly grateful we got to do it another year. i don't know how many years are left for this tradition but i feel blessed to have been able to do it this year. i'm also grateful for the staff who work the holidays so the residents can have a warm, yummy, thanksgiving meal. and it IS always yummy.

after lunch and a little time spent in grandma's room with the kids climbing all over my dad, we headed for another grandma and grandpa's house. this year, my aunt kelli flew up from california with all of her boys and her boyfriend. it was so great to see them all! i think the last time all of us cousins were together i was in middle school or early high school? it's crazy to think that. of course the parents had to get a pictures of us all, which i'm grateful for, even if my little brother isn't smiling. c; it was wonderful spending a few hours with them (i wish we had more time)!

our last stop of the evening was to have dinner with justin's family. i don't know how i was able to eat another plate of food! (to recap: we ate at 11:15, 3:30 and 5ish.) i didn't even have room for dessert. :c we're going back this afternoon/evening to get leftovers and you better believe i'm gonna be eating a piece of pie! 

while taking that picture up there, i couldn't help but think about the fact that one of us was missing. it's always hard when you lose a loved one so early in life and the holidays are no exception. in fact, i feel like it just emphasizes that they're no longer there. holidays are centered around family so much that to not have a key part of that family there is incredibly difficult. i think about my brother constantly, not just around the holidays, and am looking forward to the day when we will get to see him (and everyone else we miss) again. 

i hope your thanksgiving was filled with love, family, friends and delicious food, just like ours! hooray for the holiday season and finally being able to decorate for christmas and listen to christmas music! 


 ok so october! at the beginning of october, all of my dad's sisters and their spouses, and my grandma's sister and her husband, came to visit from all over the place for a little mini-reunion. i love it so much whenever any of my aunts visit but having them all here at the same time is just wonderful. i feel happiest when i am with my family and i am so incredibly grateful for each and every relationship i have with them. i've got the best aunts around (and uncles!), don't let anyone tell you differently! c;

we all got together several times to eat with my grandma, who is in a nursing home and isn't quite well enough to go out places so we all come to here, had a big get together out at my dad's house for bbq chicken, corn on the cob, apple salad and great conversation. they all went out to the coast for a couple of nights and on their last day there, i decided to drive myself and the kids out to meet them for lunch at the chowder bowl and a little play time on the beach with grandpa dave. i really wish that a visit to the coast didn't entail beanies, warm jackets, long pants and rain boots. wouldn't it be lovely to just go play on the beach and actually be able to touch the water without freezing?! i know i'd love it.

anyway, the reunion was a great start to our october! the last two pictures are just of my kiddos who obviously didn't get enough sleep the night before one of these nights we visited family, hah!


after landon's first day of school, we decided to let him choose where we should eat lunch. he, of course, chose taco bell. you know you eat fast food too much when your kid can tell you the name of all the major chains by looking at their sign. anyway, he chose taco bell and while eating our food, which claire refused to do because she likes to be difficult these days, justin and the kids decided to make a bunch of silly faces. 

i love them so. 


on to september! so, you already know that justin and i went on a tiny vacay to vegas in september but what you may not know is we also had a weekend getaway to eagle crest with justin's side of the family to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. we rented a cabin for the weekend and it was so cozy there (the master bath had a large soaker tub and i definitely soaked the first night). we made the mistake of trying to get claire and landon to sleep in the same room together, in bunk beds. at one point when telling claire she needed to go to sleep in her big bed, landon said to me "mom, claire is being a bad girl and i just wanna sleep. she's too loud."  so the first night i was up with claire FOREVER just trying to get her to go to sleep in bed with me after we realized the bunk beds were a disaster. by the next night we had it figured out, thankfully. 

we took  our time getting ready on saturday morning and then ventured to the south side of bend to visit the high desert museum. if you're ever in bend and you haven't been before (even if you have), you need to go. i think it's awesome. they've got an otter exhibit, porcupines, a desert cat of some sort (i know, i'm horrible), they had a raccoon the time before but sadly she had passed by this visit, birds of prey (like bald eagles!!), owls, horses, and tons of little squirrels running free all over the place. i just find it fascinating. throughout the day they do little presentations and we sat in on one about snakes. landon and i even got to touch one of them! they have a huge play area outside for kids, a fun play area inside, a rotating exhibit, a native american exhibit, and just a bunch of fun, interesting things. gosh, i can't say enough good things about it. so please, do yourself a favor and visit!

 the next morning we had to leave so packing everything up and getting out on time is always a chore, i feel. we did it though and even managed to have time for the kids to have a dip in the kiddie pool before we left. we drove into bend for lunch before we decided to head home for the day. when our little family went to bend earlier in the summer for justin's work, we ate at a yummy pizza place, pacific pizza and brew, so i suggested we eat there again this trip. again, it didn't disappoint.  we've only eaten the combo pizza but golly, i'd order it again in a heartbeat. if you aren't in the mood for pizza, i'd suggest the cobb salad. it has smoked steelhead and chicken and i promise, you won't regret it (if you like smoked fish, that is).

let me tell ya, i'm liking bend more and more every time we visit. 
^^this was the morning after claire stayed up 'til midnight or so the night before. i had to tae a picture of it. c;