Friday, February 23, 2018

The Bunk Beds

A few months ago Daddy decided he wanted to make bunk beds for our girls. Phew! What a labor of love that turned out to be! It took a lot of hard work from Daddy, and Mommy had to give up the garage for a couple of months so that he could have a work shop, but the day finally arrived.
First off, let's talk about how cute the Double B is. Wicked cute. Especially since I was making him really laugh here, and that is one of my favorite activities, making the Double B laugh. Just wildly cute.
We have been saving up for quite some time to buy new beds for us and the girls, and we finally bought them on Monday (President's Day sales, baby). Woot woot! We are great believers in paying with cash, and like Dave Ramsay says, it really hurts to hand over that much money, so you really think things through. But we reached our goal... pat on the back, us! We got three very nice beds, and they scheduled the delivery for Thursday.
 Now, by this time the building of the beds had kind of stalled. He was sick of them, and I could totally empathize with that, but I was even more sick of not having a garage, ha ha! So we worked hard (I was the faithful assistant and sidekick here) and Wednesday night, they were finally finished! And they looked so beautiful. I am so proud of him! What a stud. Handy Manny himself.
We worked all day Thursday basically re-moving our house with all the purging we did in the kids rooms (since KJ was inheriting our basically new bed and Benson was -- sniff -- finally moving into a big boy bed). It was a pretty much exhausting couple of days! But the beautiful reward was in this moment -- when Daddy got to have the girls close their eyes and he led them into their room for the big reveal:
 They are in love and we're pretty pleased, too. 
Everyone slept very nicely on their brand new mattresses. The end.

Beautiful Baby Claire

Our beautiful new niece and cousin Claire joined our family this month! She is the third little girl for my brother Nick and heroic sister-in-law Silvia, and the little tiny caboose of the whole family!
She is just the cutest little thing. We love her so much already! Being Aunt Rie is one of the highlights of my life. I love my nieces and nephews so much and they bring so much to my life.
 This is one of my favorite pictures of Katee Jill ever. You can see the sweetness and goodness in her eyes as she cuddles her new little friend.
The baby whisperer! Liv is a lover of little ones and sits anxiously waiting her next turn to love on little Miss Claire.
The oldest and the youngest. The first and the last. Kaje loves his tiniest cousin.
Benson likes the idea of "Baby Claire" but is much more nervous of her in real life right now! Plus, it's hard to compete for his attention when his favorite Bianca is in the room.
We love you, Baby Claire! And we are so happy for your Mom and Dad!

STEM Acceptance!

The middle school KJ goes to is being transformed into a STEM Magnet school next year. 
It's been a lottery system to get accepted, and oh boy, was Olivia feeling the pressure! She just wanted to go so badly, and has had to wait almost two months for the email announcing her fate:
And... hurray! She got selected!!
 She is so, so happy for this opportunity (as you can see from her face). Pretty exciting times for this little nugget.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Broken Disks

Today I went into the bedroom before heading out to pick up the girls from school, and there on the bed was a broken DVD -- the recording of me performing in Steel Magnolias, so long ago. Just laying broken in several pieces. Felt like my heart was ripped right out. I know on one level it's a little thing. But it's not a little thing to me. It's not a little thing at all. That little dvd held a precious memory -- of who I once was, of who, independent of all of this, I still am. It was going to be something my grandchildren could watch to see a different side of grandma. I gave up that part of myself, it's gone. It was a trade. But now I don't even get to share the memory of it. And that makes me so very, very sad.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Catch-Up Ball

"It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But, when we do, our doubts and fear flee." -- Russell M. Nelson.

I had the thrill of attending the sealing of one of my "girls," Kenna, to her sweetheart. It was definitely a highlight for me! My heart was so full and I cried tears of gratitude as I listened to the amazing promises given to us in the temple sealing and witnessed the creation of a new eternal family. The gospel is so beautiful and so profound, and the sweet spirit in the temple really helps me feel that gratitude and joy. I love Kenna. She is so special to me! What a great day. I also got to see her sister Ashley, who is just having a blast at college. So fun for me. That group of young women was (and is) just unique and special.
Ashley and Kenna

We were thrilled to watch the announcement of our new prophet, Russell M. Nelson. The girls got to watch with us, since it was before school for them. So cool to be snuggled up with this bug to see that and share it with my angel girls.
I loved this message shared the next day:
I love the church. I know it has many critics, but I don't feel that way. I love it and feel happiest in my life when I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to the very best of my abilities and keep my heart close to the church and it's teachings. I honor all beliefs and opinions, but for me -- this is my spiritual home. Where my heart belongs.

KJ got to participate in a Future City competition with his STEM class, and he had a great time. We had a great time going to watch the presentation and supporting him! 
Benson was very proud of his Bubu and felt like KJ should just carry him all over! Kaje was happy to comply. He also won two major awards and was so excited about that! What a great guy.
These three have always been at about this height difference but growth spurts are happening and who knows where this will end up! Glad they thought to take this picture while it's still pretty consistent. What an awesome thing to watch our kids grow up.
Snuggle buggies.
On Saturday KJ took me along to enjoy his Christmas present -- tickets to see The Piano Guys in concert! It was the coolest afternoon. He was so so so excited and it met his every expectation. We had an awesome time visiting and laughing together.
The concert was at the beautiful Smith Center and it is really an amazing theater. As a couple of art geeks, we were really in our element!
They are wildly talented and wildly funny, with lots of musician jokes. I honestly don't know if I've ever seen Kaje laugh so hard, which just tickled me. It was a red letter day, for sure. He came away very inspired and determined to be the best musician he can be.
Katelyn had her Great to be 8 meeting last night! Can't believe it! Her baptism is scheduled for August 4th. She is pretty excited. She looked like a little angel sitting up there, and her daddy stayed up way past his bedtime to be able to go and support her. That meant a lot to both of us. So love this girl.
2018 will a crazy growth year for our family -- Benson is now a sunbeam and will go to preschool. Kate the Great will get baptized. Liv will start middle school. And KJ will start high school!
Buckle your safety belts, here we go!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Liv Turns 11

How did this little girl become this big girl? How did my wild, sassy, ALWAYS covered in something baby become a young lady of such kindness, magic, and charm? These are the questions a Mom has to ask herself.
Olivia is an absolute joy. She is a profound pleasure to both her Dad and I. She is so much amazing in such a small package. We love her with all our hearts.
She is pure imagination, so clever and quick on her feet. She cracks us up every day.
The happiness that only owning your very own set of Harry Potter can bring (and for those curious, that's The Office season 2 paused in the background):
Most of her gifts were, per request, books. She's building up a great little library for herself. She's been waiting for the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid for a long time, so she dug right in on that one.
She chose sugar donuts for breakfast, Blaze Pizza for lunch and KFC for dinner... the two of us went alone through the drive thru for that, singing along to Hamilton with our opera voices (we're super good at it and it's kind of our specialty).
Birthday party tomorrow (Mom shudders) and excitement looms large for that blessed event!
Daddy saws logs and we spent the last part of the evening tucked in watching the shows of her choice.
How we love this precious, amazing girl. She is the light of our lives.
After she opened her presents this afternoon the Double B and I told parts of all of their birth stories. They loved it! It was fun to remember each of those precious moments in our lives. I am a deeply flawed human being; but I have been, and am, so lucky and so blessed to be the mother of these four humans. It is the great honor and joy of my life.
Happy birthday, Olivia! I hope you will remember on your 16th, 24th, 38th, 66th, and clear up to your 95th birthday and every one in between, that you are the most loved little girl in all the land.
Thank you for being born.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Greetings From Las Vegas

We wrote to our nephew Steven tonight for Family Home Evening. I'll include that letter here, since it's pretty much a blog post, anyway.

Hey, Elder B!
Time for our bi-annual FHE letter to our favorite missionary. 
Hope you are well. We love reading your emails and following along with all of your fabulous adventures. You are in our family prayers and we are your faithful cheerleaders.

From Uncle B:
I asked him what he'd like to say to you and he said "I don't know." I think that must be because he just has such a wealth of wisdom to share that he can barely put it into words. Also, he is cross-stitching, and I think it must be hard to multi-task. He was the originator and orchestrater of this here family letter, though, so that has to count for something. Work is busy, his day off is tomorrow, so basically life is good for Uncle B.

KJ practiced his limited portugese on you: oi and tutabein (not sure of that spelling, because I am not from Brazil.). He is hoping things are going good for you on the mish. New semester for KJ. He is starting to read The Book of Mormon. He has made it to the book of Mosiah, which is pretty exciting! Plus, in my humble opinion, where the best parts start -- I'm an Alma the Elder through Helaman type of girl. KJ was also recently ordained a teacher and is taking his new duties seriously.

"I have a science project coming up and today was our first day back from winter break. I have a book project on a fairy tale of my choice (which I'm pretty excited about because I love fairy tales) due soon. It's raining a lot. Dad said that was something Grandpa would say if he were writing you a letter! My birthday is on Thursday!"

She's so long winded. We hardly know what to do with ourselves.

Benson is sitting next to me in his pull-up, holding a green piece of plastic up to his face (and my face sometimes, which makes typing difficult) saying "DRAGON! DRAGON!" He is a busy human. He also became a Sunbeam on Sunday, which I tried to take like a champion. Sad when your crazy people try to grow up on you. He is maybe starting to understand what a toilet is for. We are very hopeful about this. Mostly, though, I think he goes just to get a new hot wheel. But I don't care. I will buy stock in the hot wheels company if that is what it takes.

Your favorite Auntie:
Life treks on. Glad for a new year and I'm trying to eat more vegetables. 
That's basically it. Family, church, rinse, repeat. 
Hopeful for health and safety for all involved.

We love you and hope you are having an amazing adventure down there below the equator.
Praying for you often!
Uncle B speaks! "I hope you are enjoying life in the mission office. It's a little bit different then being a regular missionary, but it's still an important work so that the mission runs smoothly." Spoken like a former office elder. (Feel flattered that he came out of his zone to offer you that personal message. I know I would!)
Lots of love from your biggest fans,
The Vegas B-ettey McFreddy Pants.