Friday, February 17, 2017

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work". Thomas Edison

So normally this blog contains all the really fun stories of life like our travels, family vacations, and big events.  It's not to brag or say look at me, but rather to share our happiness. Because let's face it, life is hard.  Some days are REALLY hard and I feel like taking the time to savor each and every good thing that happens is so important.  But I promise, our everyday life doesn't look like our blog posts.  Stepping into our home and spending a day with us is usually nothing like the special and fun moments I capture on film and share with you, especially lately.

In the less than 2 years since we moved from our Riverton home, the girls have attended 2 different schools and lived in 3 apartments and 1 home which equals 4 moves.  Our life has definitely been more chaotic than ever. I am still working on getting us all into a good daily routine.  Most days it feels like I'm just winging it and I'm happy as long as the girls are happy, feel loved, have friends and are safe.  Other days it's a fight just trying to get in homework and dinner. And lots of days I feel like all the balls I'm trying to juggle are just falling to the ground.  But then, I have to remember what I tell my girls, "if you're trying you're best, that's all you can do and it's good enough."  And when I find myself feeling like I've totally screwed up as a parent and have completely failed my kids, I look at all the things they do that amaze me and it gives me hope that I haven't failed completely, yet.

Just the other day when I was picking Katelyn up from school, we walked past the Principal and Katelyn said hi and then told him that the lunch/recess experiment he started was working great and she loved it.  He stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes before walking off.   Then the next day, we were walking past one of the crossing guards and Katelyn thanked her for her help in the classroom with an art project.  I am always impressed with Katelyn's kindness. She is truly a sweet child.  She is also very outgoing.  We moved into our new house on Friday and Monday she was out walking to the house across the street and knocking on the door to introduce herself and see if there was anyone her age to play with.  She has since made her way further up the street and found a few more friends to play with. She has played with someone almost every day since.  She is also very independent. She is fine to sit and read, invent things, color, or even play by herself.  She doesn't even mind eating lunch by herself.  She is an amazing girl and I am so grateful she has handled all of life's changes so gracefully. She is an example to me and I am so proud of her.

Life for Lauren has been dramatic.  Not only has it been constantly changing, but she just turned 12 and it feels like it.  There is the constant hormones and attitudes that accompany a girl this age as well as friend drama and school drama.  Life in middle school is just completely filled with drama. However, she has made some really great friends. I don't think I could have hand picked better friends for her.  She has a group of 5 friends and the 6 of them have a great time together. Lauren is also very outgoing as well.  I am impressed at how willing she is to try new things and never seems to shy away from new situations.  I love watching her just jump right in and be a part of whatever is going on around her. She can be completely silly or completely grown-up.  (But my favorite times are the times she cuddles up next to me or sits on my lap and the two of us spend time together)  She is growing up to be quite an impressive young woman and I am very proud of the person she is becoming.

I look at both of these amazing girls and am amazed at the whole process of life. I feel so fortunate that I got to be there to see them take their very first breath, to see them open their eyes, eat their first bite of food, take their first step, learn to walk, learn to talk, become potty-trained, and learn how to  ride a bike.  I have watched them make friends, go off to school, and become more and more independent.  These girls can be so frustrating sometimes, but more often than not, they simply amaze me.

So I guess this rambling posts is just my way of saying that I am so far from perfect. My posts are not reflective of everyday life just of my greatest and happiest moments, and that I haven't failed as long as I haven't quit trying, and even though I look at how far we still have to go, looking at what I have already is far more important.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Love by the numbers

James and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage today!  I can hardly believe I'm old enough to have been married that long! We've had some incredible adventures over the years and it's fun to look back and see some of the things we've accomplished during that time. So here is our list of accomplishments by the number:

1   surgery (James's gallbladder)
2   kids
3   positive pregnancy tests
4   schools attended by my girls (not counting Preschools)
5   apartments
6   tv's
7   moves
8   cars (4 each)
9   jobs (4-me, 5-James)
10 years mother-in-law has lived with us
11 trips to Disneyland 
12 states traveled together
13 computers/devices James has had
14 happy years with James (that first one was tough)  ;)
15 Anniversaries celebrated together

and just as a bonus:
16 countries visited together (as per the Travelers Century Club)

As any married person will tell you life sure has it's ups and downs.  There are a lot of hard and devastating things couples have to get through together but getting through them together is the most important part.  I look back at the person that married James and I don't even recognize that person, and to that point, James isn't the same person that I married 15 years ago.  We are both evolving and changing and the hardest part about marriage is making sure that you are changing and evolving together and in ways that bring you closer together. 

 Looking back over these past 15 years as we've had some hard times, and some really great times I can see just how much we've grown closer over those years.  I love James even deeper and stronger than when we got married because of everything we've experienced together.  Each day, each struggle conquered, and each laugh and smile shared together has only brought us even closer.  I'm so grateful to have such an amazing man by my side to share all of life's ups and downs with.  

We definitely don't have this marriage thing figured out completely or anywhere near perfectly but we sure have fun figuring it out together.  

James asked me not long after we got married where I saw us in 5 years, in 10 years, and in 15 years and there was no way I could have envisioned any of what we have experienced in that time. Now that I've reached that 15 year mark I am excited to see what 20, 25, and 30 years will bring us.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Home Sweet Home

 We are offically moved into our new home.  We are in love and happy to be here.  (And I, for one, am beyond thrilled thinking I might never have to move again!  Fingers crossed!)  We signed, recorded, and received our keys Wednesday. I called and arranged a 2 men moving team and truck for Friday, and got 25 large boxes from Home Depot.  Thursday, I packed up and moved all of the kitchen (including fridge and pantry) into the new house.  Then I ran to the school to attend Lauren's P.E. Dance Recital, picked Katelyn up from school, and made one last trip to the new house.  After dinner, we finished boxing up the apartment.

Friday morning James drove the girls to school while I packed up our bedding and all other last minute items and the movers were right on time at 9 a.m.   They moved out all our furniture and boxes in 2 hours and we drove the 2 minutes down the street to our new house and started the unloading process.   The movers unpacked and put together all of our furniture and unloaded boxes into the garage, from the garage I distributed all the boxes throughout the house while James went over pool maintenance with the pool guy, and the movers left by 1.  We unpacked a few boxes then headed to the school to bring the girls home.

Lauren and Katelyn were so excited to show off their new house that they immediately waked over to Lauren's friend Sophia's house to go get her.  (Sophia has a little sister who is also 9 and in 4th grade just like Katelyn.  They had never met before but Katelyn invited her over as well.  They seemed to hit it right off and had a great time together).   Sophia and her sister Gabriella came over from 3-8.  They had a great time looking around the house, playing hide-and-seek, and because James had been able to get the spa up to 105 they decided to sit in the spa.  James also made spaghetti for dinner and we enjoyed our first meal with friends in our new house.  By that night, we had all but just a few boxes completely unpacked and put away and it was SO nice to be able to climb into bed and sleep in our new house.  Lauren and Katelyn were so excited to be in their very own rooms!!

Waking up Saturday morning  the first thing I noticed was my incredible view; blue skies and green pine trees!  It has been over a year and a half since I've gotten to see anything but parking lots.  It was a moment to savor and one that I will enjoy now. (it really is those little things that make such a huge difference.  I'm also super excited not to get woken up in the wee hours of the morning to the upstairs neighbors vacuuming).

Over the weekend, we were able to get more unpacking and rearranging finished. We also worked on cleaning up our side yard.  The people before us had a huge pool cover, however, they left it out and didn't take care of it so it was completely ruined.  James was able to cut a piece out big enough to cover the spa so we can keep it warmer, but the rest James had to cut up and put in the trash.  (poor guy got a huge blister from the scissors since he was out there cutting it up for a couple hours).  We hung up all of our pictures and enjoyed getting settled into our new home.

Monday was fun to be able to leave and come home from school to our new house! I also finished unpacking the very last box!!! There are now 25 flattened boxes lying in the garage as proof.  Lauren had one of her friends come see the house and "hang out" and Katelyn went across the street and introduced herself.  She now has a cute little new friend named Gabby.  James was able to have his desk, chair, and area rug delivered and set-up so he can finally enjoy having an office at home. We also enjoyed a family night out in the spa after dark.  It was a great day!

Today, Tuesday, the washer and dryer were delivered and installed and I was able to get our old apartment cleaned and scrubbed out.  It feels SO good to be all moved in and ready to check out of the apartment.   Phew, it was one crazy week, but a good week.

Here are the first pictures of the place. We, of course, will still be working on getting our rooms a little more filled in but we are thrilled with having a home once again.

Lauren Dancing Cotton-Eye Joe for her PE Dance Recital
She is the second from the bottom on the right in the coral
and black dress. 

Lauren doing the Cha-Cha

Friday night with friends in the spa

The master bedroom (there are pictures on the wall, just
not the walls you can see in the picture)

Lauren's room 

At the bottom of Lauren's bed is a nice nook.  We will hopefully
be getting her a desk to put here soon.

Katelyn's room.  She has a great framed window that
we'd love to make a window seat with bookcases
on the sides. 

Our family room.  (Sorry about the lighting it was night)
Our family room looking at the couch in the daytime

James' Office

Our laundry room
We are getting into a pretty good routine and enjoying all the fun that comes with having more rooms and more space.

Friday, January 20, 2017

We're Moving, again

But this time it is just down the street and into a house of our very own.  We are so incredibly excited for this house.  We fell in love with it from the very second we walked in.  It just felt right.  This is the place where we want to live forever.  It's a place where the kids can grow-up and where they can bring their own children home to visit.   It is in a fantastic neighborhood.  (We are SO excited to finally be living on a side street and not a main thoroughfare.) One of Lauren's best friends just lives a few streets over and in 3 years they can walk to high school since it is close by.  There is also an elementary school just around the corner where the girls can play basketball or play on the playground.  There is also a park next to the school with a playground as well.  There are bathrooms, water fountains, pavilions, wide open grassy fields, nature trails, and a baseball field too so they have  plenty of space to play and have fun!

The house was built in 1999 and the original owners lived there until 2 years ago when they were transferred back home to Korea.  They rented the house for 2 years until this past August when the renters left and the owners decided to put the house on the market.  James and I were shocked that nobody had snatched this house up already.  Since there is nobody currently living in the house we hope to be able to get everything finished up so we can move in as soon as possible. So without further ado, here are some pictures of our new home:

Front view of our new home
461 Higgins St

Front walkway (You can't see it bet there is a nice bench behind the front column)
Front Entrance and living room
Formal Dining room 
Kitchen and family room

Kitchen with gas stove and pull-out drawers (the kids
are excited for the ice maker on the front of the fridge--we've never had one before)

family room with gas fireplace
James' office (off the family room)
Downstairs bathroom next to James's office

Laundry Room across from the bathroom and next to garage door
 The tile floor leads into James' office  and in the middle of the picture you can see a
doorway--or bright spot where the set of kitchen stairs lead up to the middle platform to join the staircase
Lauren and Katelyn think the best part about the stairs is that there is a secret place to play under the stairs. As you can see, the stairs are very long so they have a lot of room to play under these stairs.

Master bedroom (just to the right at the top of the stairs)
Master bathroom with soaking tub (not jetted), shower, and double vanity

one of the his and her walk-in closets (I'm so excited for my very own walk-in closet!!!)
View from Master bedroom down hallway to other rooms.  On the left there are 2 bedrooms with a bathroom in the middle.  There is a linen/hall closet at the end of the hall, and on the right side next to the linen closet is another bedroom.
Upstairs bathroom

Our backyard with pool.  At the top is a spa that spills into the pool to heat the pool
(In this picture you can see our nice table and chairs we got with the house)
Also good to note is that we don't have any backyard neighbors! (there is a road behind
us, but it is not very noisy)

Along the tallest blue tiles there are 3 waterfalls we can turn on
(at the bottom of the picture is a nice shallow seating area. If you look
closely you can see a black circle, this is where you can put in a pool umbrella--just
perfect for lounging or reading) 

At the far end of the right side of the picture is a swinging bench
Lauren and Katelyn already love it.  At the top left there are
2 lounge chairs and a small table.  There is also a small lemon tree!

We are so in love with this house and are so excited to call it home.  We feel like everything has come together for us so perfectly and we are so very happy.  It would make us even happier to be able to play host to any friends and family who would like to come visit us!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The rains came down and the floods came up

Or that's at least how it is feeling living in Folsom right now.   I have NEVER seen rain like this before, and apparently the residents of Folsom haven't either, at least not for a very long time.  It's funny how James and I always tend to bring bad weather wherever we go.  It happens almost every time we travel, we always hear what "unusual" weather they are having.

The funniest thing to me is that James asked as soon as he arrived here in August how often it rained in the winter and the answer was "it doesn't" However, after some rainy days in October, more rainy days in November, and LOTS of rainy days in December, people started really being shocked at how much rain we were receiving. Now that it is January and it's almost been constant rain day-in and day-out, it has been record breaking amounts of rain.

I was driving home and I heard on the radio that Sacramento has received so much rain that they are having to open the levees to let water out!  This hasn't happened in the past 10 years!   In fact, we just set a new 30 year record,  "Sacramento's wettest water year, the winter of 1982 and 1983, saw more than 32 inches of rain by Jan. 8, and as of last night the current total is 36.3 inches."  I think Sacramento should be thanking the Gilbride family for moving here, we have saved them from the decade long drought. :)  Ha ha ha ha    

Even though we have been receiving so much rain, it hasn't been very cold. We are still in the 50's and on the rare occasion the sun can break through, it is very nice outside.  We haven't even been turning on our heat inside our apartment.  Although, we get a LOT of condensation on our windows.  So much so that I have to clean the windows every.single.morning because there will be a pool of water on the windowsill  and if it doesn't get cleaned off it will become mold.  (Yes, I know this from experience. It is no fun cleaning black molded window casings).  

Just after Christmas we noticed that our ceiling was wet and then dripped. Being on a bottom floor apartment makes you wonder if the upstairs neighbors are flooding, or at least have leaky pipes. After talking with maintenance and having them cut a hole into our ceiling it was discovered that the pipes are experiencing so much condensation that it is causing our ceiling to drip. (Also, because we have been having so much rain our living room wall is growing wet spots.  Again, after talking to maintenance, the roof apparently is leaking).  It has been an adventure in dealing with water everywhere. We are however, still very grateful that it is only water and not snow that we would have to deal with if we were still living in Utah.  (Although I do miss shoveling the driveway after a night of massive snow and hearing how "silent" everything is.  I miss the mornings that dawn bright and sunny and where the trees are covered in beautiful glistening snow.  I also miss seeing how excited the kids get when they have enough snow to rush right out and play in.)  I do not miss, however, driving in the snow and seeing cars that have slid off the roads, or being stuck in traffic due to the snow, and worst of all not being able to see where you are driving because of the snow.  I am grateful that if I do want to experience snow, I am only about 20 minutes away.  It is nice knowing it is still close by.  

Today we experienced a nice break in the rain and the sun came out.  So I rushed outside to enjoy the sun and fresh air. It was heavenly to be out in the sun. I walked to our little Willow Springs Reservoir and sat on a moss covered rock and watched the ducks swim and listened to the birds and crickets chirping.  It felt just like spring and made my little heart so happy.  It's amazing what some sun can do for a body!

Here are a few fun pictures of Folsom in the winter:

Just after Christmas we enjoyed some time out on our trail

This pond is covered in green algae.  Even though the trees are bare, there are so many green vines and bushes

I LOVED how bright green the grass is

There is moss everywhere!  LOVE seeing it on the trees

Very green grass and mossy trees

My moss covered rock where I watched the ducks

Stay tuned for more excited adventures coming up!!!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Letting Go

Last night, our Christmas tree arrived and I had to set it up and decorate it right then and there and I LOVED every single second of it.  You see, when we moved from our Riverton home a year and a half ago, the tree wouldn't fit into our 2 totes and last Christmas we were on vacation the entire month of December and didn't need a tree.  However, this Christmas we will be home and needing, or should I say, wanting a Christmas tree.

I was watching a Christmas movie yesterday that resonated with me, the girl said she loved Christmas because it wasn't an event it was a process.  I couldn't agree more. To me Christmas day and opening presents is just the smallest part of Christmas. What I love most are all the traditions and activities leading up to Christmas Day. It's listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, making Christmas treats with my girls and delivering them to the the neighbors, it's driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, it's buying toys/clothes for those in need, and most importantly it's about spending time with family.

To me decorating the Christmas tree is as much about decorating it as it is about walking down memory lane.  As you put on each decoration it has a story to tell of how it came to be and why it's hanging on the tree.  Even though there are very few Christmas decorations that were able to fit into one of my totes, I am grateful for the ones that did. I still have clay ornaments the girls and I have made and colored together, I have ornaments they made in preschool that have cute young pictures of them, I have ornaments that were given to us by friends, and I have ornaments that belonged to James when he was just a boy. And just this year, (since we would need some more ornaments to cover the tree) I purchased a set because they reminded me of ornaments we had to leave behind.  And that got me thinking about the title of this post, "Letting Go"

I remember as a young girl reading the Bible story of when Lot leaves Jerusalem and his wife is told that if she turns back to look at the city, she will be turned into a pillar of salt.  And as Lot and his wife left the city, she did indeed turn around to look back at the city and was turned into a pillar of salt.  I remember thinking that seemed pretty harsh. I couldn't understand why it mattered to God so much that she looked back at her home.  It must be hard to leave family and friends, the place where you raised your children, and a place you loved.  Why couldn't she look back at it?  Why was God being so mean? As I grew older, I had people try and explain that looking back and longing to be back were different and that it mattered where her heart was, was her heart with her husband and moving forward or was her heart back in a corrupt city.  I have thought a lot about this story over the years, especially as changes come my way.   I have thought often about Lot's wife since moving from my home of 10 years; the place where I brought my children home from the hospital and raised them from babies, the place where I had some great friends, and a place I loved.

As a wife and a Mom I now understand the great importance of letting go of the past and putting your whole heart and soul into the now and the future. Looking back and longing to be back can be dangerous things to our happiness and to our growth as a person.  I can see why Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt--metaphorically unmoving and useless.  By always looking back and longing to go back it will keep us from moving forward and being useful and becoming our ultimate selves.

As I hang up these sweet Christmas decorations and reminders of the past I am touched by the sweet experiences I have been so fortunate to have.  I am so grateful to have been a stay-at-home mother to two beautiful sweet children who I got to decorate Christmas decorations with; but I am also excited for today for being able to put up a tree and put up some new decorations to represent this years Christmas; and I am also excited for the all the Christmas ornaments I have yet to collect and place on my Christmas tree in the years to come.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

I LOVE the last three months of the year.  I love Fall with the turning of the leaves, the crispness in the air, and the wearing of warm clothes. I love seeing the kids get all dressed up for Halloween and going out with their friends to Trick-or-treat. Then I love the focus of being grateful for everything that we have for most of the month and concluding it by eating a delicious Thanksgiving meal with family, and finally I LOVE Christmastime with the sweet songs, magical lights, and all the many fun and special traditions celebrated together as families.

Fall in Folsom has been fun to watch. By Halloween only a few of the trees had leaves changing colors and the air was still quite warm.  As the November days kept progressing we received more and more rain and all of the grasses completely greened up.  It was almost like having two seasons in one--rainy spring days with the grass turning green and warm fall days with color-changing leaves.  It's crazy watching the hills turn green when my brain says that according to the calendar the grass should be dead and the snow should be starting to fall.

With Thanksgiving we were thankful for an ENTIRE week off from school. We've never gotten an entire week off during Thanksgiving, but it was a great opportunity for us to get to take an extended vacation and enjoy driving down California's coast.  We were able to leave early and enjoy making multiple day stops along the way.  We stopped in Monterey and enjoyed a day at the beach, we stopped in San Simeon and toured Hearst Castle before arriving in Palm Springs to spend Thanksgiving with Grandma Gilbride and Nicole, Ron, Tyler and Landon.  It was great getting to spend a couple of days with them reminiscing, visiting, and catching-up.  We played games, went swimming, and the kids had sleep-overs in front of the old tv watching Classic VHS Movies.

The day after Thanksgiving our family and Nicole's family spent the next 2 days at Disneyland. It was the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit there with family at the Happiest Place on Earth. We had some great times and loved every second with family. We were so sad to see our times together come to such an abrupt end. We are looking forward to the time when we can see them again.

We are also looking forward to the Christmas season and enjoying Christmas at home.  It's been 3 years since we've been home for Christmas and it will be nice to decorate a tree, make holiday treats, and drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights.

Life is going well and we are enjoying this wonderful time of year. We hope each of you and your families are safe and well and enjoy all the rest that 2016 has to offer.

Some pictures to highlight the last month:
Lauren as Elizabeth Swan from Pirates of the Caribbean

Katelyn as a vampire

Enjoyed our day at the Beach in Monterey

collecting shells

Hearst Castle

Thanksgiving Dinner at Grandma Gilbrides

Grandma with her grandkids and great grandkids


The second day it rained--a lot so we all wore matching rain ponchos