Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break in UT

We took a week long trip up to UT for Spring Break.  I'm much less able to make it a full year without visiting all our family up there when I have a little baby (they change so fast!).  We planned to go and then had to cancel for both Fall and Christmas break, so this time we were serious!

And then the night before was unbearable.  I was having weird anxiety over everything and finally fell asleep at around 1:30 knowing that our alarm was set for 3:45.  No need for it, though.  Camille was up a crying at 3:30.  Marty had been up half the night feeling sick.  We were both so tired, but with Camille up we figured we should just go for it.  So we were out the door by about 4:30.  BUT, we realized we locked ourselves out of the house.  We just decided we would worry about it when we got home.  THEN we needed to stop at Fry's to try to find something in the pharmacy to help Marty out.  Before we even got into Phoenix, we had already stopped for bathrooms for Marty three times.  Keeping this up was going to turn a 12 hour car ride into a 20ish hour car ride.  So we swallowed our disappointment, called our parents, and put off the UT trip for a third time.  We figured that at least we could go to the stake conference we had been feeling pretty guilty about missing.  We came home, Marty went strait to bed, and I wandered around the house trying not to "mess anything up" and seeing how little I could get away with unpacking, just hoping we'd be able to try again the next day.  That was Saturday, and Sunday Marty was feeling quite a bit better.  So we went to Stake Conference and got to see our wonderful friend and neighbor get called to the stake presidency.  We left during the closing song and high-tailed it out of there.  We made it to St. George by bedtime and stayed at Marty's Aunt and Uncle's house.  That night turned out to be perfect, surprisingly.  I thought the babies would be anxious and keep everyone up all night. But we got there, played happily for an hour, and then everyone went to bed and slept like rocks.  We made it to Spanish Fork by 11:30, just relieved to have made it there at all!

It was a quick trip, but sorely needed.  Have I mentioned yet that February was out-of-control-crazy? :)  I have rarely ever seen Marty so burned out and trunky!  We had a few days to chill at my parents' house, and a few days to do the same at Greg and Nickelle's.  For the FIRST TIME since I FIRST brought a baby to Utah seven years ago, every kid and baby slept ALL the way through the night EVERY night.  Yes, that was my first thankful item in my prayers.

Here is a rest stop in Wikenburg.  Every trip I say we are not going to stop there because there is always a line a mile long and the toilets don't flush.  And every time we have to stop and there is just no where else.  But hey, a photo op.

For the first time, Gabe got to share the "big kid room" at GandG O's.  Marty and I were remarking on how much Gabe seems to be drifting out of the baby camp and into the big kid category.  He did pretty well.  This is how we found them the first night.  The second night, Brynn came up to tell us that Gabe was in her bed snuggling with her and he threw up.  Too much junk food, I think.  But he got the hang of it by the end.

My parents are just too thoughtful and good to me.  My dad had asked if I wanted to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Leonardo, which I did.  So when we got to Salt Lake and parked, he got out of the car and said, "We wanted to treat you to a date.  The tickets are waiting for you at the desk.  Here is some money for dinner, there is a nice restaurant right inside the museum.  We're taking the kids to the children's museum.  Have a nice time and call us when you are through!"  And then he disappeared.  Marty and I smiled at each other and he said, "Wow, that was smooth!"
The exhibit was incredible.  It was hard to believe how ancient some of that stuff really was.  Most of my favorite stuff was in the "no photography zone," but here are a few things.  It was interesting to see that some of the scrolls mentioned things that are mentioned in the bible but seem to be almost lost from it (Enoch, a New Jerusalem).  And I couldn't help but think that some of the war pieces really were from the battle of Hezekiah with the Assyrians.  And there were tons of idols, especially goddesses of fertility, and I noticed all but one of them were pretty precisely beheaded.  Hmm....  History is amazing.  Are you listening, kids?  It's amazing!

After that, we met back up and headed to the Church History Museum to show the kiddos the Jean Rio Baker movie and piano.

There it is.  Sigh.  It's the grand piano in the back and it's "ours."  I think about this woman often, who left her wealth and life behind in London to join with the Saints in Utah, but just couldn't leave the grand piano.  She's an inspiration to me and usually after I leave this place, I have the strongest desire to dust off sheet music, write in my journal, and express my gratitude for her, knowing that without her I wouldn't be who or where I am today.

Who knew post-it notes could be so consuming? Brynn found them at my mom's house and proceeded to label everything.

We met up with Anne and Neal in Provo because the kids were so disappointed they weren't at the St. George house.  It was just long enough to see some adorable lambs, play with the beloved marble racer, and eat ice cream.

Camille started off the trip with a cold, but recovered within a few days.  Luckily it was in time to charm Uncle Greg.

This baby girl had a serious thing for all of her uncles' beards.  (Hear that, Corey?  Sounds like it's time for a visit...)

Hangin with cousin Reese.

That's what vacations are for.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Which brings us to March...

Neil came to stay with us at the end of January.  He stayed just over a week and it was so, so good to have him.  It's just too hard to split time between our loved ones once or twice a year when we go to Utah so this trip was really wonderful and important to us.  I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but Camille has major anxiety with anyone who isn't Mom.  So here she is looking a little nervous...

but warming up....
 and there we go.  That's the blessing of the sealing power.
 Those pictures are at Organ Stop Pizza.  We take all of our babies there when they turn a year old.  This was a little early for her, but we were dying to take Neil.  That place holds some of my fondest memories of my life.

Have I mentioned that 12:00 is the worst church time for us?  I even preferred 2:00 because at least my babies could nap before we left.  Usually the babies spend church a little grumpy, fall asleep on the way home, we wake them up at 5:00 (grumpy), have a grumpy dinner while they try to wake up, and then they are bouncing off the walls at bedtime.  Just a day in the life of little ones....

Another tradition is to take our babies out for their first pancakes when they turn 9 months old.  This tradition started on Brynn's 9 month bday when she woke us up ready to play at 5:00 am on a Saturday.  We were both so tired and depressed to be up at that time (still saying good-bye to our parentless life, I guess!).  But we had a change of heart and decided to make the most of it.  At about 5:30 we showed up with her at Denny's, ordered her the smiley alien pancake, and she was absolutely as adorable, grateful, and gluttonous as could be.  It was totally worth it, and we've honored the 9 month tradition ever since. 
 We took Camille to IHOP (kids eat free!).  Gabe told the waitress what he wanted.

Camille couldn't get her hands on those pancakes fast enough.

 And can I just say what a bummer it was for her to figure out how to take her headbands off? *sniff*

One day Gabe came down the stairs looking like this:
 On the eyes and forehead, it's mascara.  On the head it's lotion and hand-sanitizer.  Her was so proud.  He watches me so carefully in the morning while I get ready, I guess he's picked up on a few things.  Well, I suppose he only got the mascara right.  His favorite thing to watch is when I put "bubbles" in my eyes (contacts).  Good thing I was already wearing them.

 We finished our new entertainment center and posted this one on Craigslist.  (pictures of the new one soon)

On President's day, we took a picnic to the Lost Dutchman State Park (in the Superstition Mountains that are near us) and the kids did the junior ranger program, of course.

Here they are taking the oath they have come to know and love.  I love Marty's and my agreement to always keep a national parks pass.  We're just cheap enough to make sure we use it whenever possible.

 See the flushed cheeks?  It was way too warm for February and it had me a little nervous.  But it's turned out to be a beautiful spring.

After that we headed out to Goldfield ghost town and met the Mathers out there.  These places are 40ish minutes from our house and have always been on the "to-do" list.  I wonder what took us so long?  We rode the train around the town, which has to have been the slowest train in existence, but the kids had fun.

 Looks like Sister's propensity for drama has spread to Little Brother. :)

 Another tired Sunday.  Camille and Marty fell asleep in the funniest position.

And she was NOT happy about having to wake up.

We had another fun Johnson Family Olympics.  I swear, it seemed like yesterday that we had our summer Olympics while the London Olympics were going.  Marty and I have so much fun getting into the Olympics on TV.  Partly because we feel like it's an excuse to actually watch TV that isn't filth, and the kids can even hang out with us, too.  Although we did have to keep the remote handy for the more "adult" commercials, which just made me mad.  Actually, we hadn't had TV in a pretty long time.  We ran out in a rush, bought a digital antenna, and (skipping the details of our technical disasters) wound up putting it on a ladder in our back yard.  Stay classy, Queen Creek.
Marty won the gold medal for baseball.  I just can't say enough about this guy.  He is a truly unique and amazing man.  He keeps everything light, makes me laugh every day, teases us all when we got too serious.  And yet he has a depth, wisdom, responsibility, and sense of duty to go right along with it.  He is such a steady person and we are so very lucky to have him.  I mean, seriously, I laugh every time I see these pictures.

 Bryce won the big wheel obstacle course.  Watching Bryce on Gabe's little trike is veryveryvery entertaining.  He hunches over the handlebars, gets his game-face on, and rides around the corner, under the table, figure eight around the barstools, between the legs of the high chair, and through the back door which is open so narrowly that no light can be seen through the door and his tires.  This all happens in a few seconds flat, and without ever even brushing any of his obstacles.  So yeah.  He won  that event.
 Gabe took silver.  And Camille graciously accepted hugs from any one of us every few seconds.  

 Brynn took sliver in the jump-rope event (can't remember what she took gold for).  Oh, Brynn.  She was so completely devastated coming home from school multiple days in a row because she couldn't get the hang of the jump-rope.  I told her about when I came home from school and cried about soft-ball so my dad took me outside to practice a few days.  It made a world of difference, if only in my confidence.  So we practiced.  I looked up "how to teach a kid to jump rope" on youtube.  I gave up my precious "quiet time" while the babies were sick because I was so determined to help her.  She improved, but still wasn't totally getting the hang of it.  But I figured since she was doing a little better, she'd be coming home a little happier.  Actually, she came home sobbing.  She said, "But if I don't win the jump rope contest, I can't fix Grandpa Johnson's heart (Sob!)!"  Well, it was an event wherein you paid money for each jump and it was donated to the American Heart Association or something, and she was determined that she could fix Grandpa's heart (he's been in and out of the hospital a lot lately) if she could jump better.  Sad as it was, I'm glad we finally got to the bottom of it.
 Camille got a gold medal in the smiling contest.

 Gabe won the kickball contest.  He doesn't need to know that no one else was kicking down the big hill.
 These pictures are so Gabe.  "Alright, alright, I'll play along.  Stand here, take the picture, let's get this over with so I can go do my thing."
 We all had a lot of fun eating the medals at the end!

More lost teeth, and therefore more requests for Daddy to put it on his Facebook page.  How worried should I be about how badly she wants to be famous?

On February 27th I surprised Marty with some frozen custard.  It happened to be the 10th anniversary of our first date, which was seeing the "The Best Two Years" at the dollar theater and frozen custard afterward.
 The kids are asleep and I've got some time, so here's the story.  I'd been wanting this really cute and smiley and charismatic guy in Chamber Choir to ask me out.  He had me at his Ralph impressions.  And then he put his number in my phone as Marty the Stud.  And to this day that's how his number shows up in my phone!  Anyway, he finally asked me out for February 26th to go to a Kenneth Cope concert.  As badly as I wanted to go, I had this "thing" that I REALLY could not get out of.  So I told him that I was sorry I couldn't, but to please ask me another time.  Seriously, please.  Any time.  I'm almost always available.  You get get the idea.  Right after choir as he was walking down the hall he looked up to see the taller-than-he-is poster with my picture on it advertising the Miss UVSC pageant for February 26th.  He had a smacking-the-forehead moment but at least he knew there really was a legitimate reason I couldn't go!  We went out the very next night.  I remember my dad teasing me that my dating life would come to an end once I gave away the crown and I called him that night and teased him right back. :)

Marty is SOOO adorable.  Just to be safe, he went to the theater and bought our tickets that morning.  For a show not many wanted to see in the first place and was now at the dollar theater.  Love it.  He took me to that one because I had told him how hard I was working to get out on a mission (he wasn't too worried knowing I couldn't leave for another two years!).  He picked me up in the very same car he still drives to work every day.  It was a little cleaner then. :)  We got to the theater really early and had lots of time to talk.  He told me about his mom passing away and his fourteen siblings and step-siblings.  When we came out of the theater it was snowing that really quiet, sparkly, beautiful snow.  We got frozen custard and talked about our education and future plans.  He wanted to graduate in history, and Plan A was a career as a seminary teacher.  I told him how much I loved my degree, but that if I was being honest, I'd really like to put my psychology degree to use in my family and make money teaching piano.  He liked that.  We are lucky that a decade later and those plans have long since been realized.  It was such a good first date.  We were comfortable together.  We laughed together.  But I don't know that on the first date either of us expected the other to be "the one."  We definitely wanted to take our time to get to know each other and be sure, but each subsequent date just got better and better and we didn't want to be apart.  I'll end there, but spoiler alert:  we have four kids. :)

Because most of the parents of the youth weren't able to see the cultural celebration in person, the youth gave a little concert for the ward. Not to mention it was better circumstances for pictures!  It seemed most of the trauma from the storm had passed and they did a great job.
 Blech.  I lost my keys somewhere in that field.  Then my wallet.  Thank goodness it wasn't the baby, right?  It was one of those nutty days trying to make everything work between Marty's stuff and Brynn's cottage fair.  I was so determined to prove (to who, I don't know) that I could make this balancing act look like a breeze.  Yeah.  I went home feeling like a failure.  If I believed in karma....

Over Spring Break we had a little family outing to Olive Garden.  Brynn's teacher, Ms. Madrid,  has a "special friend" who is the manager there.  He has been so cute with the class and has brought in food for them.  And when they do something really special they get a free kids meal certificate.  Brynn was dying to redeem hers, and my parents were so sweet and gave Marty an Olive Garden gift card in a Get Well card in December.  So we went!  It was so much fun, but I've got to say that the only way we can take our family to restaurants these days is in a situation just like this!  It's just not a reasonable season for us.  That's ok though, it makes for special dates with Marty. :)
 I told Ms. Madrid we were going and asked if it would be appropriate for Brynn to ask for the manager and thank him for the kids meals.  He was so nice and came to our table on a busy Saturday night.  Then he got down on his knees to talk to Brynn and ask what she had done to earn the meal, and asked about school, etc.  Brynn was strangely shy and was acting like he was a celebrity, it was quite funny and adorable.

 I think Camille downed about three whole bread sticks.
 And double that for Gabe, the kid who never eats anything.


Brynn's special auntie Helen made this little dress for her and it gave me all kinds of warm-fuzzies to now see it on Millie.

More marshmallow-roasting.

 That was the first week of Spring Break.  We had a lot of fun, finished a lot of projects, and regained a lot of sanity after a very out-of-control February.