***I'm determined to catch up on cataloging our family's events this year. Be ready for outdated posts galore!


Still Going Strong

my new favorite thing for lunch:

toasted whole grain sandwich thins 
spread with avocado and cilantro hummus
sprinkled with some shredded chicken
and topped with texas caviar


i just might eat it everyday for the next 12 weeks.

two days down ... and a lot to go. but i've been successful thus far (yeah, only two days, but still!) and i love the feeling of being in complete control. i'm writing down everything i eat, which started as a way to keep track of healthy meals and snacks and has evolved into a good form of accountability. breakfast and lunch are no problem - dinner is another matter. any healthy, easy, family friendly, delicious ideas?

misc other:
**i love turkey bacon. like, really love it.
**eating 5 chocolate chips satisfies my sugar craving.
**i never understood those 100 calorie packs until now- why package junk food to make it even more tempting and accessible? now i do. PORTION CONTROL- for when you don't have any yourself.
**wishbone's ranch salad spritzer tastes better than it sounds.
**yoplait's light blueberry yogurt. need i say more?


Weight{y} Matters

i've got some weight to lose.
i may or may not be 20 pounds heavier than 5 months ago.
and even then i had a bit to lose.
{"a bit" is quite an understatement}
it's like i've gained a bunch of pregnancy weight.
but there's no pregnancy.
i could say it was the miscarriage, or the holidays, or my genes.
{yeah right, have you seen my mom and sister?}
but let's be realistic, it comes down to self control.

i like food.
a lot.
i love healthy food - thats not a problem.
i just really like the other stuff too.
THAT is my problem.

i like to exercise.
it just doesn't happen very often.
and THAT is problem number two.

today marks the first day of something i'm really excited about.
*Biggest Loser: LeBaron Family Edition*
{technically round 2, but i was pregnant with grace during the first one}

it's pretty simple.
i'm going to eat better and exercise.
but, we'll weigh in every week
and the person with the highest % weight loss at the end of 12 weeks,
{the money comes from everyone's entry fees - last time the pot was $300.}

i know being personally motivated to work hard and eat healthy would be the best way to go.
but this will be good for me too.
i know it.
this will jump start something i have needed to do for a long time.
i am competitive and this will push me.
the money at the end is just a bonus.
{i plan on putting it towards an elliptical or treadmill- should i win of course.}

all this stems from wanting to be a healthier version of me.
not a different me.
i find it ironic that at the highest un-pregnant weight i have ever been,
i still feel confidant and happy about who i am.
probably the most confidant and the most happy.
because i have two little girls that love me unconditionally and i feel confidant in my role as a mom.
and i have a husband that is supportive and makes me feel beautiful no matter what.
and because i finally have a solid understanding of my worth as a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father.

sure i wish my clothes fit differently.
sure i wish i weighed less.
who doesn't?

but i want the changes i make to be permanent lifestyle changes.
not concerned with pounds and sizes.
less junk, more active.
it's such a simple concept.
now to put it to work...

**feel free to share any tips/advice and wish me luck!!

My Little Bro

he comes home in less than two months!!!
where has the time gone?

{picture being sent via email today for his birthday}

favorite recent quote from him {about completing his mission}:
 "I'll keep sprinting to the finish, and then I'll sleep on the plane home." 

Happy 21st Birthday Chris!!


St. Patty's Day

or is it spelled st. paddy's day?

we started with green eggs for breakfast.

i thought it'd be cute for the three of us girls to match, wearing denim shorts and green tees but ended up letting madison exercise her independent streak when she chose her green dress instead. pick your battles, right?

we met some family {dan's aunt diana, and cousin bridgette, and her kids, brayden and hallie} at freestone park for a picnic lunch in the beautiful 85 degree weather we've been having.  madison and brayden look more like siblings then 2nd cousins, with their white blond hair and they play SO good together. she will miss him when we move! 

we ate, played on the play ground, watched the train go by, climbed the big green hill, and patiently waited FOREVER for our own ride on the train.

{grace was not asleep, just blinking}

after the park, we got all ready for madison's tumbling class, only to find out it was canceled due to spring break. since we were out and about, we took the chance to stop by and visit gpa and gma skinner instead.  they had just pulled into town after being gone a couple days and were dearly missed!
then my ellsworth grandparents treated us for our date night {dan is on call this weekend so we had to do it early}. green chili burros, enchilada style, at a little restaurant they love called xavier's.  i think they eat there often - as in several times a week. :) oh to be old... the girls played their little hearts out blowing bubbles and such with the babysitter.  

we had a low key but great st patty's/paddy's day and hope yours was good too!!

Loving Lately

our new rug. we found it on clearance for only $30 when it started at $199 (** edit: the rug started at $149, not $199. oops!). its for our dining area in the new house, to protect the carpet from the likes of two toddlers who drop food left and right. {now it's put away, ready for the big move to MO.}

play dates. while they trash my house, its fun to see the girls play and interact and learn to socialize with other kids more.

my pressure cooker. {despite the fact i cut my finger on it somehow.} it makes the most perfect pot of beans in just over an hour, start to finish, unsoaked to delicious!

my "wrestling" girls.  grace randomly attacks madison with a bear hug and they fall to the floor hysterically laughing.

my fort-building-and-book-reading husband.

collecting fresh eggs from the neighbor's chicken coop.  even though it weirds me out and i have yet to use one of the brown eggs, it makes me feel earthy and organic. {i decided to give up on retrieving the last egg since the chicken with the freaky bum was guarding it.}

girls that love LOVE to wash their hands. i might need to start rationing the soap.

"pic-mics" and our wonderful az weather.

**what are you loving lately?**


To Grandmother's House We Go

 gma's driveway - heading home

dan had tuesday off so we went on a walk to make the most of it. {i tend to think we need to milk this good weather for all it's worth since before we know it summer will be here and that means the miserable heat.}  my dad's parents live just about a mile away from us so we decided to head in that direction while on the look out for ducks to feed. the irrigation ditches were empty but eventually we found ducks in a front yard with standing water from our recent rain storm. too bad they were scared of nash {we stole him from my in-laws for the morning} and flew away before we got close enough.  on to grandma's house.

it had been several weeks since our last visit which is sad, for living so close. grandma is always surprised to see how much the girls have grown. partly due to the fact that she doesn't remember very well any more.

a conversation during our last visit, mid of february, went something like this:

me: grandpa, we'll be thinking of my dad tomorrow for his birthday and hope it goes well for you too. {while my grandma was out of earshot}
gpa: oh thats right... feb 16th. i forgot it was his birthday.
gma {now within earshot}: what? a birthday? who's birthday?
me: my dad's
gma: oh, how fun! what are you going to give him?
me: umm... i don't think i'm going to get him anything...
gma: well what kinds of things does he like?
me: umm..
gma: well, it seems to me you should get him something. how about a book? everyone can use a good book to read.
gpa: fern, i don't think he has much use for anything.
gma: sure he does!
me: grandma, did you know that ... {something random to change the subject asap...can't remember}

my grandma has dementia - it is a blessing and a curse. a blessing because when she remembers my dad died, she only cries for a minute or too until she forgets again. a curse because conversations like the one above are hard on all parties involved. it feels like there's a missing link - we don't talk about my dad.

but she knows me. my name, my face, my girls, and that i'm her granddaughter. that's enough for now. 

my grandparents are both 88 years old. i'm nervous to move across the country and have something happen to them while we're gone - they have already battled heart attacks, breast, prostate, and mouth/jaw bone cancer.  but they are fighters and have lived good long lives. the time we've shared over the past 3 years has been incredible and i am SO grateful to have gotten to know them better as individuals, not just grandparents.

anyway...we had a good visit and the dogs played together.  jenny {my gma's lab} is so overweight from being hand fed people food i'm surprised she can even run after the tennis ball. we loaded everything up and went on our way.  despite the fast madison screamed the entire way home {she wanted to be carried but we had our hands full}, it was a great outing and we walked in the door just minutes before the pouring rain hit.

{what started as a brief post to share a photo i really like, turned into a novel. there you have it.} 


Girls vs. Boys

 {play date with porter and landon}

my girls are nice and relaxed, sitting on the blanket and daintily eating their lunch.
the boys were happily sitting on the blanket for 0.2 seconds before jumping back up to run around.

when the girl's personal space was getting invaded on the slide, they came to me and tattled.
when the boys were being crowded out, they pushed their way out of it.

porter fell off the slide backwards, landing on his head and climbed back up immediately after.
madison got a splinter in her foot and hobbled around for two days.

i won't have a clue what to do when/if we ever have a boy!


Dearest Girls,

where to start...
today was a roller coaster.
dad's on call so it was just us girls.
we watched movies, shaped play-doh, cleaned house, read books and played outside.

you wore yourself out and fell asleep on my lap.
that never happens - you like to move and squirm like no other.
i am grateful for the chance{s}, few and far between, to hold and snuggle you.

you were giggling and so excited to hold her.
i laid grace in your lap and you couldn't have been happier.
you reached for her fingers and held her hand, whispered in her ear and softly kissed her hair.
you are a wonderfully tender big sister.
she is lucky to have you.
and you, her.

but it wasn't all fun and games.
we had tears and crying and tantrums and pouting.
no tumbling class.
madi, you thought your "feet would be cold" and didn't want to stay.
i was impatient
and apologized later.

but we salvaged the day.
we danced and did puzzles.
we laughed and we hugged and we smiled.

after mutual you got ready for bed.
grace, you wanted a yellow smiley face sticker after brushing your teeth, just like your sister.
madi, i tucked you in and you reminded me that you'll take off your jammies if you get too hot.
we've been finding you in your undies with the jammies on the floor next to your bed every morning.
dad and i think it's pretty cute.

i gave you both a hug,
said i'll see you in the morning,
and that i love you.
the perfect end to a very unperfect day.

when you both came into the world i finally felt a sense of purpose.
a sense of completeness.
and a confirmation that all i ever wanted was to be a mom.
your mom.

what i'm learning from you is unconditional love.
that's what you offer me.
it doesn't matter if i tell you only one fruit snack today,
no more fishies,
it's time to turn the movie off,
or no more ya ya's because you're a big girl.
you forgive and forget.
you look at me with your big blue/brown eyes and smile.
you make me forget why i was frustrated.
you make me forget what wasn't important.

you are my world.
along with your dad.
you make me want to be better.
to try harder.

thank you for forgiving me.
thank you for teaching me.
thank you for loving me.

i love you too.
your mom.


The Dog I Want

dad {poodle} 
mom {1/2 golden retriever/ 1/2 irish setter}
pretty darn adorable and great family dog

too bad they go for $2000!!


Figuring Out

2010 new years resolutions-
i never posted them.
thank goodness.
cutting out suger {candy and desserts} lasted all of four days.
kamber tempted me with a root beer float.
i was a goner.

so now i am starting fresh.
it's only march after all....

this will be the year of figuring out:

how to make whole wheat homemade bread
who has the best recipe for the previously mentioned bread
a menu planning system
when the best time for P90X is. it will kick my booty but i need.
how to really lose some weight- not just talk about it
activities during the day that will engage madison AND grace, cheaply, so we don't go crazy with dad at work
how to really live within budget {we've had one forever, i just want to keep better track}
frugal living at it's finest
how to survive across the country, away from any and all family members
how to decorate our first home, frugally
a scripture study plan that works for me
how to hear, recognize, and follow promptings more often
more ways to show my love for dan and the girls
my camera and how to take better pictures since i won't be getting an SLR anytime soon. i'm being frugal, remember?
the best way to be a good long distance friend.
how to let things go and only worry about the important stuff
who i am.
what it is that makes me, ME.
things i am good at, that make me unique.

mostly, i just want to be better and do better than last year.

i want to be satisfied being me.

The Debut: Our First House

our new home.
{as of june 25th}

details and such will come later.
for now, here are the pictures that helped us fall in love.
hope you like it.

so what do you think?


Let's Go On A Ride Bike

where did my little girl go? seriously.  her actual birthday was sunday so after dan got home from being on call we headed to his parent's house for cake and presents with aunts and uncles.  madison scored once again and got some great things, including her first big girl bike. she was so excited and within a matter of minutes, was riding around the island.  {i don't think i would have had it in me to buy such a girlie, pink and purple with tassels, princess bike so i'm grateful her grandma and grandpa got it for her.}  she is into everything princess right now and it's absolutely perfect.

i found this cake on another blog forever ago and knew i had to make it for madison's birthday. {check it out here - she has great ideas. plus the cake and photography look better.}

it's a 6-layer rainbow cake and was SO easy to make! we might make it a birthday tradition. {the bottom layer WAS purple, you just can't tell from my picture.}

a couple days after her birthday we took madison on her first "ride bike" as she kept calling it. her bike came with a little water bottle and we barely got out of the driveway before she stopped to say she was thirsty and had to get a drink. just about every 50 feet after that she got another one. it kept us laughing. madison rode the first leg...

... and grace rode the second.

we're lucky madison loves her little sister so much! {a couple days ago, madison said to grace, when they first woke up, "i haven't see you in such a long time!"} i'm sure that before we know it, madison will outgrow this bike and need a bigger one. why do they have to grow up?


The First of Friend Parties

madison turned 3 last weekend and i decided kind of last minute to put together a party and invite her friends and cousins. it turned out wonderful. simple and fun.

we started with sidewalk chalk as our meet and greet and then moved on to games.
red light.
green light.
duck, duck, goose!!
{i love how she picked her dad when it was her turn}
bean bag toss
they were able to choose a sucker when they made it into the basket.
grace about to dunk it

walking down the street to the farm.
um, did i mention my mom and mark and kadin and angie {mark's son and daughter in-law} came down and surprised us? madison was really excited to have my mom there.

destination #1
pick up eggs in the chicken coop.

madison was the ever-important egg carrier from that moment on.

destination #2
horses - first baby of the season

destination #3

part of our entourage

thanks to the nelson's for letting us invade their property with 10 little kids while they were out of town. 
one of the cutest things ever? yep.

she opened presents and did quite well considering all the attention was on her.

bubbles while waiting for lunch


birthday cupcakes!!

thank you to everyone that came - madison had a blast!!