Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cuz Jail Sucks

So we saw this today as we were driving to the zoo:

I had to lean out the car window as we were driving through an intersection to get this. Gotta love New Mexico! We is a classy state!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Layouts & an ode to Averi

Time to clear off my desktop again! Here's what I've been working on over the past week or two...

And on a different note, Averi turned 4 months old today. I can't believe how quickly it's gone. I know it sounds cliche, but's just flown by! She started rolling over from her front to her back 2 weeks ago, and she laughed for the first time this week. We haven't been able to duplicate it since (and be assured, we've made ourselves completely ridiculous by trying), but I know she'll really get the hang of it sooner or later. I know I've said this before, but she really is one of the best-natured babies I've ever seen. She's completely mellow, and she's so willing to smile at anyone and everyone. I love that girl so much!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Love Me Some Karaoke

I totally love Aaron's family. They are so much stinkin' fun to be with. One of our favorite things to do is karaoke. We spend literally hours doing this. My sister-in-law, Julie, is one of the funniest to watch because she gets SO into it. Here are some videos we took when we did karaoke on Christmas Eve. It's more impressive than it looks, since the karaoke CD that we have for Newsies doesn't have the words. Adam and Julie, I hope you guys don't get too embarrassed that I'm posting this! You're AWESOME!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Babysitting Co-op

Some girls in our ward have formed a babysitting co-op, and it has been my salvation for the past year or so. Many of us don't have family around, and those that do hate mooching off of them for constant kid-watching. In addition, several of us (myself included) have a hard time asking for favors, so even though we have friends that wouldn't mind watching our kids, it's difficult to ask. The co-op has solved all of those problems! Here's how it works:

1. Each person chooses a shift during the week. We have divided the week up into 10 shifts that are 3 hours each. This means that you never have to watch kids more than once a week, and only for a few hours at a time. Some weeks no one will call and then you're off the hook, although if you're like me, you'll use the co-op so often that you'll be hoping you'll have kids to watch!

2. A predetermined amount of "tickets" is distributed to each member when the co-op begins. Tickets are in units of time: 1/2 hour or 1 hour. This is your currency. If someone were to watch one of my kids for an hour and a half, I'd give them an hour and a half worth of tickets. If they were to watch 2 of my kids for an hour and a half, I'd give them 3 hours worth of tickets (2 kids x 1.5 hours = 3 hours).

3. Rules for the group need to be established in advance. For example, we have limits on how many total kids a person can watch, how many infants, and how far in advance people need to call to ask for babysitting. Contact information, including cell phones, also needs to be provided for everyone participating.

4. Drop off your kids and go! The most important part is that everyone uses the co-op to keep tickets in circulation. People may think that they're being ever so kind by watching and never having their kids watched, but they really mess things up. Pretty soon all the people who use it run out of tickets and the whole group comes to a standstill. This has happened to our group, and people had to be (kindly) asked to participate more or leave.

I can't tell you how many times this group has saved my life. When Averi had a fetal arrhythmia, I had to go to the doctor twice a week for non-stress tests. Fortunately, I had enough coupons that I only had to take Katie and Paul with me to the doctor twice the entire time. I didn't feel like I was imposing on people, since I was essentially paying them for watching my kids. It's also been a lifesaver for times when I needed to just get something done around the house. I would never feel comfortable calling someone and asking them to watch my kids while I cleaned, but I have no problem dropping them off with the co-op. And my kids LOVE it! Most of the kids in the group are similar ages, so it's a chance for them to play with their friends. I often get more done when I have other kids at our house, since they play so well together and don't need me to entertain! The other major bonus is that I have grown to be really good friends with the other girls in the group. They are all fabulous mothers and I trust my kids with them completely.

For anyone in our ward who is reading this post, we have a few shifts open. Let me know if you're interested in joining; we'd love to have you!!

Our friend Amy is in the co-op, and she has a little boy just a little older than Katie. They are such good friends! Today he came over, and they decided that they wanted to play dress-up with our Halloween costumes. They were just too cute, so I had to take pictures of them:

And for those wondering, Paul is a cow, not a dalmatian. That's a costume I wore when I was about 9, so it's HUGE on him. He looks like a monk, with the sleeves falling over his hands and the bottom dragging on the floor:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Yay for new cameras!

For Christmas Aaron and I got a wonderful present: a Nikon D40 with 2 lenses. We have LOVED using it! Check out this bad boy:
Ken Rockwell, a well-known photographer who has a excellent website, adores this camera, so we decided to go with it based on his recommendation, and we're glad we did. We're still at the beginning of the learning curve, but we love how the pictures are turning out. It's always hard to get used to a new camera, but I can tell it's going to be worth the effort! It actually arrived at our house in November, but Aaron was good and made me wait until Christmas to open it. It was great to take with us on our trip to New York. It's not too heavy, but it still has some heft to it so it doesn't feel like a toy. We also received a really nice (and, might I add, totally cute) camera bag, so it was easy to haul around with us, even with an additional lens.

Now that I've really hyped up the camera, I'm going to post some pictures from our vacation. Some of them aren't amazing, photographically speaking, but I love them still.

Sweet little Averi:

Salt Lake Temple at Christmas:

Katie and her idol, Kiera. Sorry for the blurriness; I was trying out different shooting modes. But I still love this picture:



Averi and Ashley. Tell me if there is anything cuter than this little girl! I don't think there is!

Paul. This is the only picture we have of him at Temple Square where his mouth isn't full of cashews. That boy LOVES to eat!

Salt Lake Temple:

Ashley and Chelsey:

I'll put up photos of our trip to New York another time. I'm having way too much fun playing with our camera and post-processing in Lightroom! So much for having a productive afternoon!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Reflecting on 2008

A friend of mine suggested that instead of looking at the old year, agonizing over all the things we did or didn't do, and then resolving to change everything in 2009, we should examine all the great things we accomplished in 2008. While I'm still in favor of resolutions and setting goals, I think that reflecting on the positive things that have happened this past year is a wonderful idea. So here's my list:

1. First and most importantly, we gave birth to our third baby, sweet little Averi Noelle. She is such a wonderful blessing to us and I can't imagine what we would do without her.
2. Katie is completely potty trained. Now only 2 left in diapers! She can also recognize both upper- and lowercase letters, can write a few of them, and can spell the names of everyone in her family.
3. Paul welcomed his baby sister without any jealousy. He also knows his colors, is learning to sing, and speaks quite well.
4. Aaron received a promotion at work and still continues to enjoy his job--a major accomplishment for most!
5. The paper that Aaron wrote for his Masters thesis was accepted for publication.
6. We purchased a "new" van this year, and we were able to pay for it in cash so we could avoid going into debt.
7. We were amazingly lucky to be able to take several wonderful vacations: New York, Vermont, Minnesota, Las Vegas, and Utah. Our parents (who still spoil us) helped us out and allowed us to go by ourselves (sans kids!) on many of these trips.
8. I continued to improve my scrapbooking skills and was accepted to several of my dream creative teams.
9. I increased my photography skills and took many photos that I love.
10. I planted my first garden, and we reaped a bumper crop of zucchini. The xeric garden that I planted is also thriving and made a wonderful addition to our backyard.

There are so many more wonderful things that occurred in this past year; these are simply highlights. I also have a few resolutions that I will be working on for this coming year:

1. I am going to focus on spending mindfully rather than impulsively.
2. I am going to continue to exercise regularly and eat healthfully so that I can take care of my body and be a good example to my children.

While I have other ideas of areas that I need to improve on, I'm going to limit the number of "resolutions" I make so as not to discourage myself. I've set specific goals for each of these resolutions so that I will know when I'm making progress. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing that you are improving in areas that are difficult for you.

How was 2008 for you? What wonderful things happened? Do you have resolutions for 2009? I'd love to read your posts about them!