Monday, September 19, 2016

"Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show"

So this quote really sums up how James and I feel. We love taking adventures and seeing all the many wonders there are, some of which we have to travel longer distances to discover, and others are right in our own backyard. Each weekend we've tried to have a fun adventure exploring our new surroundings.

Last weekend we visited San Jose, home of the Winchester Mystery House, and the Headquarters of Apple, Google, and Facebook.  (of course, we had to be creepy and drive by Steve Job's house). Then we had a fantastic BBQ dinner with James's boss and another co-worker (the boss's brother) at his home in Danville on our way back home.

Girls in front of the famous house

We all got to wear hard hats for our "behind the scenes" portion of the tour
that included the haunted basement. Sadly, we saw no ghosts. 

This past weekend we had every intention of staying more local so we visited an apple orchard where we had freshly picked apples as well as caramel apples, the girls rode horses and we posed with some fun signs.  However, since we were only just over an hour away from Lake Tahoe, we just couldn't resist making the drive and seeing Lake Tahoe for ourselves.   The girls LOVED it!!!   Me too, it was so beautiful!  Not to mention the water was incredibly warm as we were on a "reef" that was about a mile long.

So happy to finally get to ride a horse

A nice little ride around the grounds

This was my favorite of our poses. The mental hospital escapees get-away

Thought this was a cute sign, hard to get a good picture from a moving car :)
Lake Tahoe

Lauren the seagull

Such a beautiful Lake

We had such a great time, we are already looking forward to our next trip.  Who knows, maybe even this upcoming weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy." Ralph Marston

I was talking with Katelyn as we were driving to school this morning and I was asking her about school and I asked her what were some ways that Utah and California are the same and different.  She said that "the kids are nice and take care of each other in both places, but there are 3 crazy boys in (her) class."  I had to smile at this answer.  First off, I was grateful that the first thing she noticed was how nice people are in general. I'm grateful she realizes that.  I'm also really grateful that she's made a good friend already.  I look forward to watching Katelyn and Brooklyn walk out of class together every single day after school.  And the second reason I had to smile at Katelyn's answer was that the biggest hardship so far with 4th grade is having 3 crazy boys in her class.  I'm so thankful that she is handling this move so well.  I knew she'd be fine. Katelyn has such a great personality.  She is so easy-going and outgoing. She seems to be happy wherever she is and in whatever she is doing and I completely LOVE that about her!

I decided to ask Lauren the same question. I didn't have time to really talk with her, but I asked how California and Utah were the same and different.  Her reply was that school is very different. Everything about her new school is different from her last school in Utah. So I asked her specifically about the kids in her class and she said that the new kids are much nicer.   Again, I am incredibly grateful that she sees the good in the situation because truthfully, I was really afraid of how Lauren would handle this move.  She is change-adverse.  (I will  always remember when my old car literally died and we  had to get a new.  She cried and cried and wrapped her little arms around the passenger seat when it was time to go and refused to leave.)  She took it pretty hard when we moved from our Riverton house to our Daybreak Apartment. She cried a bit, it was hard for her to keep going to school, and on top of it, earlier she had been playing at a friends house when their was a storm that made it so she couldn't walk home until the storm was over.  (She was just at the house behind ours and I would have come and gotten her if I would have known that she was scared) but unfortunately, that event really scared her and left her terrified of the wind.  So when we moved to Daybreak she wouldn't go outside unless there wasn't even the slightest hint of a breeze. Daybreak sits up on a bit of a hill and it was very common for there to be wind and so it seemed that Lauren refused to do many activities with us.  It was a sad year seeing her staying inside because she was "afraid" to go outside.  (Later on, it seemed that things got better for her and she wasn't as afraid, but she learned how to use the "wind phobia" to her advantage).  So for the last year, she seemed a bit afraid to go out and enjoy life. Thankfully she had 2 really great friends.  They were like the 3 musketeers always playing together. And seeing them together made me so happy. Lauren had never been the kind of girl to have a best friend, so having 2 was really great to see. I knew it would be hard for Lauren to give up these friends, and I was worried that our move to a new state would be a little too overwhelming for her.  (Of course, knowing that we were moving for James's health, gave her a good reason to be willing to give it her best shot--that girl is the biggest Daddy's girl I've ever seen!)  Lauren has done a fantastic job making new friends, she has a good group of girls that she "hangs out with" at school. She has been doing a great job at handling all of her 7 new classes and the life that comes with being in Middle School.  She has gotten over her "wind phobia" and has been playing outside and is back to loving life and playing outside once again and I am incredibly grateful!  It warms my heart to watch her outside having fun and being care-free.

I do have to admit that having the same furnishings is kind of nice.  When we moved from our Riverton house, we didn't bring really anything with us other than our clothes, a few toys, and some memories.  When we got to our Daybreak Apartment, we had to furnish the entire apartment.  Thankfully we just went from one 2 bedroom apartment to another with the same square footage.  It was really great how well all of our furnishings fit into our new Folsom apartment. There is a certain level of calmness it brings to see the same quilts on the girls beds', the same couch and paintings on the wall in the living room, and the same kitchen table and chairs to sit around at night for dinner each night.  After that move from Riverton to Daybreak, I know it would still be home even if I didn't have any furniture as long as I had my family, but truthfully, it is pretty nice to see the same stuff in our new apartment. :)

I'm grateful, in a small way, that I get to drive the girls to and from school everyday.  One of my very favorite times of the day is getting that time with them in the car.  I was thankful that within the first few days of moving here we were able to find a radio station almost identical to the one we've ALWAYS listened to.  It's nice to still be able to still jam out to the radio together on our drives. :)  But more important than a radio station, is the time I get to have with my girls. It's been 5 years since I've had to drive to more than one school so it's a little more time-consuming, but worth the extra time as I get to have quality time with each of them separately.  I drive Katelyn to school at 8:10, then James drives Lauren to school at 8:30 on his way to work (truthfully, I think that is really special to get that time with her dad) then I pick Katelyn up at 2:35. (I enjoy waiting out in the amphitheater watching for her and Brooklyn to come out of their classroom and chat while they walk, then Katelyn and I hold hands and walk down the block to the car chatting about her day.  I usually have her water bottle and some treats--just like last year).  We go home and work on her homework if she has any then about 3:45 I leave Katelyn home to go pick up Lauren.  Lauren is part of the "Homework Club" and heads to the library every day after school where she works on homework for about 20 minutes until I pick her up.  Each Monday and Wednesday there are high school kids there at the library to help with math.  This has been really great for 2 reasons---#1 Lauren can have peace and quiet away from home to work on homework and twice a week can even get help from those who obviously understand it better than I do, and #2 California does not bus children to and from school for free.  You have to pay for every single trip you take on a bus, therefore, it is a little crazy trying to get 1500 students dropped off and picked up each day. Having her go to the library and work on homework makes it much easier for me to pick her up after school. (I don't have to arrive an hour early to get a rare and special parking spot along the 2 available streets, and I don't have to park and wait until the busses have left in the small parking lot) this way I can just breeze right in with no traffic, park along the street, and walk into the library to meet her.  I still hold her hand as we walk back to the car (Something I am going to take advantage of as long as I possibly can) and then she gets her water and treat as we talk together all the way back home.  It's these "little things", like a few extra mixtures of alone time, that I think will really be the "bigger things " in hers and Katelyn's life as they look back.  I know it's something I cherish each and every day.

I am super happy and proud to report that James is doing fantastic.  He is happier now than he has been in a long time. It is so great to see him stress-free and happy. Sometimes it's hard to recognize him without his phone. ;)  He can even be found swimming in the pool with the girls or relaxing in the hot tub. I love hearing how well he is doing at work and how much he enjoys it.  James still feels like he is on vacation and one he would love to stay on forever. It's amazing seeing him and his talents being enjoyed and recognized. I LOVE hearing his stories of how he has been so readily and completely accepted as one of the team.  I know he has already made a profound difference on the company.

Yes, Happiness is a choice, and we are all very happy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"If you're going to San Francisco Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair"

Lauren Loved all of the pretty flowers and picked a few for us to wear in our hair

We had so much fun going into San Francisco for the weekend.  Being able to take the train made it even more fun.  We've ridden trains before, but it had been a long time and we really enjoyed being able to talk and look out the windows.  I think if I were to ask the girls what their favorite part was, they would probably say the dining car and bringing us hot chocolate and crossing between train cars.

We took things slow and enjoyed our two days exploring the city.  We visited 3 fun places; the Aquarium of the Bay, the Exploratorium, and the California Academy of Science.  We had some great meals like clam chowder in bread bowls on the pier, an amazing seafood dinner at McCormick's, and ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli. 

Here are some fun pictures that I'll just add captions to instead of narrorating our entire trip. 

Lauren was my gorgeous model for this trip! We had fun exploring Pier 39

Lauren loved seeing the otters so she posed with this big painted one

We had an amazing sea food dinner with amazing views

We enjoyed watching the cruise ship leave port
We had so much fun walking up the steep hills to get to the top
of Lambard street so we could walk down it. The girls LOVED the winding road!

I think seeing this "Sea Dragon" was my favorite of all the
exhibits at the Aquarium portion of the California Academy
of Science

James took some gorgeous photos, I LOVED this one at the train station

Had the girls pose for a picture in front of Alcatraz

James took this cool picture of this fun fish

Loved seeing all these sharks and string rays together

Lauren and Katelyn getting to "pet" the sting ray

This was my favorite thing at the Exploratorium. You pose and wait
for the most incredibly bright light to flash and it leaves your shadow
on the wall for 10 seconds.  I thought this one was a cute pose---of  course
we had to do this a few times.  Katelyn ape, Lauren jumping for joy,
and me blowing a kiss.

Lauren listening and feeling the vibrations coming through the string

The girls had to match up how long it takes for each of these 8
items to dissolve. The girls got 5 right!  Good job!
This was super fun. Lauren is turning a wheel and it's sending rope
out into a circle. Katelyn and I are trying to jump through the rope
and high-5 each other.  It was lots of fun.

I can't honestly remember what Katelyn was doing here, but
I love how great this picture James took turned out :)

The girls enjoyed looking down into the water and seeing
an actual diver down there. 

We had fun watching this squirrel running around the park

Saw this beautiful blue heron perched on this big tree stump 
Lauren built this beautiful rock monument (You can see there are
some on the rocks behind her)  she wanted to leave her mark on this park
as well.   We had a great time at the Golden Gate Park. It is so big and fun

Thank you San Francisco for such a fun time. The weather our first day let us see just how cold and grey it can be in the summer, and the second day was completely perfect.  We are excited for our next trip "into the city".

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is" --Mandy Hale

We have been here in Folsom for almost one week!  It's kind of crazy for me to think that it is possible to just pack up all of your belongings and move to a new place and start a brand new life. As some of you know, I lived in the same house from the day I was born until I moved away to college. So I never really experienced moving as a kid. Even after moving last year, it didn't really seem like much of a move since it wasn't very far away, in fact, I still shopped at the same stores, and used all of my same doctors.  Now, however, it definitely feels like we've moved!

It's amazing to me the power we really do have over our own lives.  I think sometimes we get into a rut, or so entrenched in doing things the way we've always done them, that we don't stop to ask ourselves if we're happy, or if what we're doing is the best possible thing we could be doing, or if there is something bigger and better out there for us. This move has been really great so far.  It is getting us even closer to a simplified and happy life for each one of us.

I am very happy to report that James is very happy with his job. He loves the people he works with and all that he is doing to help the company.  He made the comment to his coworkers the other that he couldn't imagine ever not working there, and they said they couldn't imagine him not ever working there either. It's as if he's always worked there.  This new company is a great fit for him. The girls and I were able to go visit him the other day and have lunch and we had a great time! In fact, as we were sitting around his desk, Katelyn put one of her green beans up under her lip and started talking, it was just too funny. We were laughing so hard we could hardly breathe and were wiping away the tears.  It's during those wonderful moments where I think just how much I love my family and how great it is that it doesn't really matter where we are as long as we are together.  We're always laughing and happy when we're together.  I really hope Lauren and Katelyn truly feel that as well.  
A Picture of James Office
Katelyn making us laugh during lunch in James' office
Lauren is now in Middle School.  It feels just too grown-up to have a daughter in middle school. Thankfully, she has the best of both worlds because she has 7 different classes a day (plus homeroom or advisory as they call it here) and all 7 classes are the same 35 kids.  All 35 kids go from one class to the next together. I am hoping this will really help her make some great friends.  She was able to get into the S.T.E.M program.   STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  Lauren is really interested and smart in these subjects so we hope this will be a great fit for her.   We were able to go to Back to School night and see each of her classrooms and meet with each of her teachers the day before she started school, so I think that really helped Lauren so she wasn't quite as nervous her first day.  Her teachers all seem really nice and very understanding and lenient.  We are hoping 6th grade will be an incredible year!

Lauren walking out to the car with her heavy backpack after the first day

Doing her homework
Katelyn is in 4th grade and has enjoyed her past 2 days attending school here. She was excited to find out that the music program begins in 4th grade and she will be able to learn the violin.  (We of course, chose the violin because we already have one.)  She will also be learning to play the recorder as well. Katelyn will be taking a field trip in October to visit Coloma and it is a 3-day 2-night field trip!  We have never heard of a school doing an overnight field-trip before and Katelyn is very excited about that. Katelyn, as many of you know, is very outgoing and has already made a few friends. It was so fun for me to pick her up after that first day of school to see a little girl come running over to Katelyn so she could say goodbye.  We are hoping 4th grade is going to be an incredible year for Katelyn as well.

Katelyn with her violin case waiting for me after the first day

Here are a few pictures of things I felt were worth sharing:

Lauren and Katelyn are happy to still get to ride their bikes

We have a nice trail next to our apartments that leads to a fun park
They climbed this rock at the park.  Queens of the hill!

Cannon Ball!  They've gone swimming almost everyday/night.
We really enjoy swimming at night--we have the pool to ourselves.

We followed these wild turkeys from our apartment to the pool

We've also enjoyed some night basketball. Helps get wiggles out
and the girls go right to sleep!

On Monday night James went to Costco and purchased our food
for the week. Then we assembled it and put it in the fridge. Now
that's what I call Meal Prep!

I took this picture on my run, this looks like your typical
but beautiful road here in Folsom.  There are trees and rolling
hills everywhere!
Coming up next, Our trip to San Francisco. We have a 3 day weekend coming up and we are going to make the most of it and explore our new surroundings!  :)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Home Is Where Your Heart Is

Well our time in Daybreak has come to an end. We sadly said our goodbyes to friends and family and Thursday morning the movers came and packed us up and loaded all our belongings onto the moving truck.  It took all day and we were able to spend our very last night next door at my mother-in-laws apartment.  It was a perfect way to spend our last night and get in some extra time with her, Ted, and their dog Gibbs.
Lauren with her 2 best friends, Paula and Bella

Katelyn's apartment friend, Emma

Had dinner with Greg & TerriAnne and Carolynn & Ted

Friday morning we hopped in the car and made the 10 hour drive into Folsom so we could get to our apartment complex and pick up the keys before the office closed.  We got our keys and took our first look at our new home.   James and I had found this apartment online and then when he got to Folsom 3 weeks ago he was able to walk through the model. We weren't able to see the actual apartment until right as we were moving in since they were replacing the carpet.  We are very pleased with our new home.  (The new carpet was worth the wait.)

Our daybreak apartment had a very open floor plan and you could see almost the whole thing when you walked in the door.  Our new apartment actually has hallways and feels more like a home.  Looking at an empty apartment, it always seems a little bit smaller than it actually is and we were anxious to see if all of our furniture would fit. We did our walk-through and signed our paperwork then headed off to dinner.  (not before taking the girls' hamsters out of the car and leaving them at the apartment so we didn't have to keep them at the hotel) James had already found a really yummy Chinese place right next to his hotel so we were excited to have dinner their.  Then we crashed back at the hotel.  James said it was great to have us their with him and didn't feel lonely anymore.

Driving through the Salt Flats

Lots of factories and trains 

Of course all that driving makes a person tired

Sleeping is a great way to make the trip go by faster

Loved driving through the Sierra Nevadas

Saturday morning we had a nice continental breakfast and then drove over to our apartment.   The girls were anxious to see their hamsters and when they got to their room the hamsters were missing.  The cages were there, but no hamsters. The girls were so upset and crying their little hearts out. We walked all through the apartment looking in every nook and cranny.  Behind the dryer we found a little nest of fluff with food.  So we tried pulling the drying out, but no luck, no hamsters. We kept looking and a little while later I went back to the dryer and pulled it out a little further, while I stood there thinking where I should look next, I looked down at my feet and there was Lauren's hamster.  You've never seen a happier girl when I returned her precious hamster to her.  Unfortunately, that only made Katelyn cry harder.  The movers came and started unloading and it was a whirlwind of moving activity all day.  It took about 4 hours for them to unload the truck and put all of our furniture back together.   Then we took a quick break to go to lunch and see a little bit more of Folsom.  It is such a pretty town with rolling hills and lots of trees.

Then it was back to the apartment to finish putting everything away.  By about 8 p.m. we were finally finishing up everything we could do for the night.  The only room we weren't able to put together was the master bedroom.  Unfortunately when the movers were taking our bed apart, several of the beams broke so we didn't bring it with us, just the mattress which we just made up on the floor.   We were too tired to go get dinner, so we just ordered in. After dinner all of us went outside, except Lauren, and when we came back in, there was Lauren holding the missing hamster.  Apparently the house was dark and quiet and when she went into her bedroom, there was the hamster running across the room. She was so excited to catch him and hold him safe until Katelyn could come and see her missing hamster had been found.  Now we have the two happiest girls ever.   And now that our stomachs were full, the missing hamsters had been found, and the apartment was nearly all put together we were all very happy.  We all sat down, turned on a movie, and enjoyed our first night in our new apartment.          

The girls' room looks almost identical to their daybreak room. Only the window is different

The girls/guest bathroom across the hallway from their room
The front room and balcony  

The kitchen and dining room 

Our unpacked bedroom complete with mattress on the floor