Monday, January 19, 2015

2014 Year in Review

2014 was a doozy.  I'm not sad to see it end.  I think we had about 10 years of bad luck compacting into 1.  Here's a summary:

  -our dryer broke, needed replacing
  -our stove broke, needed replacing
  -our car stereo was stolen (no music is trivial, but it gets annoying not having a clock)
  -the sewer lines backed up over a weekend; we had to go over 36 hours without flushing a toilet or letting anything go down the sinks
  -our car was totaled and couldn't afford to replace it.
  -my 3 week old Samsung S4 cracked to the point of no return when I rolled over onto it (I was on the carpet; yes, it had a case).  Replacing it cost more than I like to think about.
  -Davin had the flu 3 times (3 times!!--so much for the flu shot!)
  -our goldfish died (not normally something to write about, but he had already lived almost 2 years; we thought he was immortal)
  -our parakeet, Cheep, died.  We're not exactly sure why; but he should've lived another 15 years
  -our basement flooded with 1.5 feet of muddy water while I was away in Finland.  It came in a wave and broke down the door on its path inside.  Spencer's legos were floating everywhere.  My sewing machine pedals, brand new iron, and other sewing appliances were all submerged.  (Amazingly, though, everything is still working.)
  -4 of us got Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease in August
  -4 of us got the flu at Thanksgiving
  -I had a double hernia surgery in May
  -Davin got a concussion
  -Davin scarred his forehead with another fall a few days after his concussion
  -the heater in our house broke on the coldest day of the season (with temps in the single digits)
  -our garbage disposal broke (we were able to fix that one)
  -we were without a bathroom sink for almost 2 months, afraid to tell our landlady that, despite our best efforts and experience with plumbing issues, we couldn't fix it.
  -we caught over a dozen mice in traps in our garage
  -we had an infestation of camel crickets in our basement (most likely a result of the flood??)
  -our air conditioner in our minivan broke at the beginning of the summer and we had to go the entire summer without one, trying to find the right part to our aging car that no one makes parts for anymore (it was a hot summer!)
  -we found out that what was supposed to be a 4 year stint in grad school would become 5

That last one is seemingly innocuous, but it sent me into a spell of depression and denial for months.

There are probably more trivial things that happened (other minor health issues, colds, etc), but it's time to move on.

Highlights of our year:
-Disneyland at Christmas
-Finland in the summer
-visits from family
-10 year anniversary
-Davin finally (!!) adjusted to being left at the gym daycare while I swam
-the continued success of my Etsy shop

2014 will always be remembered as the year of "what's going to happen next???"  Here's to hoping 2015 treats us a little better.....

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Outside Winter Play

My grandparents home, where we stay for Christmas, has an ideal location.  Located on the mountainside,  it gets more snow that those in the valleys.  The snow lasts longer. And the lot is about an acre in size, so there's plenty of space to play.  We usually create a sled run, starting at the upper level of their property, and run in down their side yard, along the sidewalk, down to the front.  It ends up being quite a big run.  Of course, being right next to the mountain, I'm sure there are better locations within walking distance, but it makes it so much easier having it right in the yard.  Then, when the kids are done and we are not, or vise versa, we just go right inside.  

This year we had plenty of snow.  It didn't arrive until Christmas, but it stayed for the duration of our trip:
Even Davin went sledding this year;

More snow pictures:

 The top of the sled run looking down:
 The bottom of the sled run, looking up:
 We also go cross-country skiing.  There's an open space just down the hill from the house where we go make a loop.  It's half uphill and half down, so we get a good workout, but also have fun.  The kids practice in the backyard:

 Davin loved playing in the snow.  Here he is with Uncle Jokke:
 This year we also went cross-country skiing up American Fork Canyon.  There's a trail along a campground that gets quite of bit of use from locals.
 The trail follows a river most of the way.  It's even better than the loop that we do close to home.
Every year we also go ice skating at the Peak Arena in Provo.  I forgot to bring my camera for that.  But Mea skated on her own for the first time this year.  She usually holds on to our hands.  We've decided to start her in some ice skating lessons here at home.

We love snow and winter!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas 2014

The great thing about being in Utah for Christmas is that we get to spend Christmas with both sides of the family, instead of taking turns.  

This year we celebrated with Evan's family a few days before Christmas because it was the only time that worked with all our schedules.  At this event, we were able to meet two new cousins who joined the family in 2014:  C and I.  

C actually turned 1 just before we came home, and he and Davin were having fun getting to know each other on this first visit.  It was kind of fun to watch.  Unfortunately I couldn't quite catch it on camera.  Here are my best attempts:

 "I" is about 10 months old, but he was probably as big as Davin.  He stayed in the safe zone next to his parents:
 Because Grandpa and Grandma helped pay for Disneyland, my kids had no gifts to unwrap, but we all had fun watching cousins E and O and other open their gifts:

My family's big day is always Christmas Eve.  The elves filled the stockings in the middle of the night, so the kids were eager all day to open them.  We finally let them just before dinner:

We ate a yummy dinner of Finnish food--Karelian pies and lihapiirakkas.  Too bad I didn't take a picture!

Here's the tree, overflowing with gifts:
Santa was behind schedule this year, so he just dropped the gifts on the back porch and waved to the kids as he took off.  The kids had fun seeing him.  Here are the gifts Santa brought:

Cars for Davin:
Lego Friends for Mea, army guys and Apples to Apples Jr for Spencer, and Lego Chima for Alana:
Spencer started playing right away:
Davin lining up his cars with great-grandpa:
I didn't take any more pics of the gift opening but it was a big year--my family doesn't pick names.  We give gifts to everyone.  And since the family has been expanding every year, it just gets bigger and bigger.  Who was new this year?  Brittany--Jeremy's girlfriend--and Alana--Jeremy's daughter.   This was the first Christmas that Alana was able to come.  In fact, this was the first time my family has ever met Alana.  She and my kids had a blast on the few days she was with us.  Here she is on the day she left:

It was a great Christmas!  It snowed Christmas Eve and Christmas day, too, which made it even better.  We're so glad we were able to spend Christmas with extended family on both sides.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"The Best Christmas Gift Ever"

Those were Spencer's parting words as we left Disneyland park after 3 days of adventure.

I can't remember exactly when I decided to pitch the idea of Christmas at Disneyland to Evan, but it was probably early Fall.  I didn't think he'd go for it.  But he did!  I knew from experience with my own youngest siblings that if you wait too long and take kids when they are in their teens, Disneyland loses some of its magic (some, not all!).  We were originally going to wait until Evan graduated, but with him taking a 5th year now, by the time we would get around to Disneyland, Spencer would be 11 or 12.  Too late for a first trip to Disneyland, in my opinion.  So this year seemed the best time.

I also knew from my own experience that going to Disneyland while school is still in session is definitely the way to do it.  With Frontier airlines and their super amazing flight deals, we got our round trip tickets to Salt Lake for a whopping $600 total for 4 tickets, but the earliest (and only day) it was available at that price was the 16th of December.  With Evan's parents and sister wanting to come with us, we figured the best way to get to Disneyland was to fly to Utah and drive the rest of the way with them.  So we flew in to Utah the eve of the 16th, then drove to California the next morning, with our Disneyland days being Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

It was perfect.  We got to the park Thursday around 9 am and split up--Evan, Grandma, Davin, and Mea all went to try to meet Anna and Elsa (the only thing Mea was really interested in doing). Amy, Grandpa, Spencer, and I were off to the rides.  First stop was Star Tours, where we had a 5 minute wait.  Next stop:  Space Mountain with another 5 minute wait.  Bad idea.  Halfway through Spencer declared, "I'm going to throw up."  And because of that, he was terrified of going on almost any other ride after that.  We coaxed him to do Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, and on our last day, with some bribing, I convinced him to do the Radiator Springs Racers, which he ended up loving.  Note to self:  with my kids and their wimpiness for rides, I have to start really slow.  Luckily Amy was along with us, and she loves rides and roller coasters just as much (probably more, actually) than I do, so I was able to ride all the rides I wanted to.

Evan learned pretty quick on that first day that meeting Anna and Elsa would be a greater challenge than he anticipated.  By 9:30 am, all tickets to meet them were gone for the day.  So on day 2, Evan and Mea and grandma hoofed it to the park, arriving at 8 am.  They got in line and found out that they actually open the park before 8 am, they just don't open rides until 8 am.  So there was already a long line to meet Anna and Elsa.  But, thankfully, they were able to get tickets.

Some other highlights of out trip included watching all 3 shows that the park offers:  the Fantasmic, the fireworks, and the light show in the California Adventure Park, which was Frozen themed at this time of year.  So Mea loved that one.  Spencer's highlight of the trip was getting picked for the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy show that they put on in Tomorrowland.  In the show they specifically say that they will pick the kids who show strong evidence of the force, meaning that they jump up and down, wave their hands and act enthusiastic.  The first time he tried to be in the show, he just casually raised his hand, so of course they didn't pick him.  The next time he tried, with our encouragement, he screamed and waved and jumped and his efforts paid off--he was the last kid to be picked (they typically pick little kids for the show because they are more entertaining, but Spencer was the last one there, jumping around, so they had to pick him).  Thank goodness he got picked!  I'm not sure his Disneyland experience would've ended so well if he hadn't.

Because of the generosity of Evan's parents, and because we decided to just splurge, my kids were able to experience things I never did as a kid, teenager, and young adult at Disneyland:  eating in the park, taking home souvenirs, and getting treats (like pretzels) from the vendors.  Amy also treated us to Dole Whips and Floats.

Something we learned with kids:  you need a break in the middle of the day.  I had been told this, but the first day we tried to just stay the whole day.  Davin took his nap in Evan's arms.  But we were pooped by 6 pm.  We left the park to get dinner (the one day we didn't eat in the park), and planned on coming back later for fireworks, but never did because we were too tired.  So the next two days, at 11 am, just as the crowds were streaming in, we went back to the hotel for lunch and a break.  Then, around 2 or 3, feeling rejuvinated, we headed back to the park and stayed until about 10.  It worked out well for us.

Something else I decided, based on this trip:  While Spencer and Mea were the perfect age to take, Davin was not.  Never again will I take a 1.5 year old--they are too young for a lot of the rides, will never remember being there, and are too impatient in the lines. Spencer and Mea, however, were old enough to walk everywhere, including the mile walk to and from the hotel, didn't need a nap, will remember most of it, and were big enough that they could ride any ride they wanted.

Anyway, I'm sure you're sick of my Disneyland ramblings.  On to the pictures, most of which are blurry and horrible.  And I didn't take too many of them.  But here they are:

Meeting Hiro and Beymax from Big Hero 6:

 Taking Davin on a ride in Tomorrowland.  He loved the ride, but hated the 15 minute wait in line (and I look a little creepy):

 Meeting Anna and Elsa:
 Luigi's tires ride that was a big hit:
 Posing with one of the tractors from Cars; a rare family picture:
 The (blurry) castle lit up at night:
 Spencer at the Jedi Training Academy:

And that's all the pictures.  Oh well.

We had a blast on this trip!  And we plan on going back again soon.  When Davin's older and Evan is done with school.

The Curse Continued... last post was the written the night of Thanksgiving.

If only I had waited a few days!!  Believe it or not, things got even worse.   Before I get to the details of what happened after, here's a recap from my last post on the days leading up to Thanksgiving:

Sunday:  Mea came home from church with a fever.  Turned out to be the flu.
Tuesday:  I came down with the same flu.
Wednesday:  Spencer got hit next.  Evan went to the store and bought a turkey and fixings because our plans for a shared Thanksgiving with friends were ruined.
Thursday:  I prepared a full Thanksgiving meal with a fever over 102, chills, and the beginnings of a really bad cough.

And then it just got worse.  Here's what happened next:

Friday:  Davin got a concussion and we spent 3 hours in the ER.  Here are the details:  We were downstairs in the basement, playing.  Davin decided he was done and wanted to go upstairs.  He signals that by standing on the bottom step and shaking the gate (which has to be located on the 2nd to bottom step--it's the only way it works in our current house).  As I was making my way over to him, he apparently forgot he was on a stair, and took a step toward me, falling into air.  The side of his head hit the tile floor before the rest of his body.  It took a second, but then he cried.  And cried.  And then he just started acting weird.  He got super sleepy.  We tried putting him down to see if he could walk okay and act normal, but he immediately lied down on the ground.  His eyes were rolling around in a weird way.  He wasn't responding to us normally at all. Our doctor's office was closed, so to the ER we went, where we spent about 3 hours under observation.  With time he started acting normal again, so they decided he didn't need a CAT scan, and sent us home with the instructions to wake him periodically through the night.  Needless to say, we didn't sleep very well.

Saturday:  It was our week to clean the church.  And our family was in charge.  Hooray, hurrah.  (And we had already swapped with someone to avoid cleaning a previous week when Evan would be out of town, so there was no one to swap with.)    So we spent the morning cleaning the church, and then I spent the rest of the day cleaning our house after a week with the flu--our New Jersey friends, the Simmons, were stopping by for a visit on their way home from Iowa.  It was the highlight of our week!  Even though they only stayed for the night, and then took off in the wee hours of the morning, we were all so glad to see them and catch up.

Also on Saturday:  our garbage disposal decided to stop working.  It would hum, but not turn.  We figured out how to fix it, but didn't get around to it for a few days.  Read on and you'll see why.

Sunday:  Half of us stayed home from church, recovering from our cursed week.  I still felt crummy, even though it had been days since the onset of my flu.  But I never really had any rest.  Sunday night wasn't any better:  Davin kept waking up, and it took him forever to fall back asleep each time.  It seemed colder than normal, but I had a blanket wrapped around me, so I didn't think too much of it.  But in the morning, when we all got up out of bed we realized how cold our house was.  And that the furnace wasn't turning on.  It had broken in the middle of the night.  So Davin must've been waking up because he was freezing.  He always kicks blankets off.

Monday:  On the coldest day of the season, with temps in the single digits, our furnace was broken.  Our landlady (who must absolutely hate us by this point!) arranged to have someone come and check it out, but the earliest they could come was around 11 am.  Turns out the furnace ignitor switch had cracked.  So finally around 1 pm the furnace was running again.  Just in time for Davin to wake up from his nap at 3pm with a fever.

Tuesday:  Just when we thought we were in the clear, Davin got the flu.  Not a fun day.

Wednesday:  Davin hit his head.  Again.  This time it was his forehead hitting the edge of the bottom drawer stove handle.  It had a sharp enough edge that when it swelled up, it almost split open.  Ironically, the hit to the head that gave him a concussion didn't leave any permanent mark.  But this one--even now, over a month later--has left a scar, most likely permanent.  And it still has a small bump that my doctor brother says we need to massage every day to try and get it to flatten.  

My, oh my.  I had almost forgotten how bad that week and a half was!  After our furnace broke, Evan and I turned to each other and said, "Can it get any worse??"  Famous last words for us in 2014.  Unbelievably, it did.  But at least we've had a month's break.  Well... almost.  Davin did come down with another fever the day we were scheduled to fly to Utah, but we still went.  More on that and our Christmas break in another post.