Thursday, July 28, 2011

I have no idea what they were playing

...But they looked hilarious! This was the last day they get to play together for a while as Aeryn left to see her dad the next morning and Ellie went to see her mom the day after that. Aren't Ellie's glasses just awesome?

I can't get over the difference in their skin tones. Jim thinks Ellie is fair....... but I beg to differ. The next time we will have them both together is Christmastime (mourning) so I am already scheming up fun things to do with them together. It's kind of fun to be thinking about traditions for our new family. I know it's only July, but it's also good distraction from packing!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Perfect Pasta

We like to cook. We do.

One of the things we registered for and received (Thanks, dad!) was the Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment. We've made pasta together before with a crank style pasta roller and thought this would be even better. We were right.

First of all, the roller kneads the dough perfectly. We think this is largely because the roller is moving at a consistent speed and partly because we keep practicing and getting better. With the mixer motor controlling the rollers, it's easier for little hands to help feed the pasta dough.

And here it is. Our first batch of homemade spaghetti from the new roller. Even though we've made pasta before we'd never successfully made spaghetti. The dough was always too sticky to cut and we just didn't get the balance right. Using the mixer this turned out perfect.

I'd say we love it. In 5 days we made 5 batches of homemade pasta and we're just getting started!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A day on the lake

It's summer, which means I begged my dad to take the boat out. We won't be living close enough to do that for very long, and I knew the I the girls would have a blast. Of course, I thought Jim might like it too.  Typically we take sandwiches and eat easy food while we're out on the water. Grandma bakes cookies, and it's just a fun laid back kind of day.

Until one of the Grandkids gets really excited to see what Grandma made and burns her chin on the edge of a cookie sheet taken out of the oven moments before...

And then falls asleep with an ice pack as we're ready to go. Ellie-girl was such a trooper about that burn. After falling asleep with the ice pack she never once mentioned that it hurt unless we asked her.

Aeryn had outgrown her other life jacket so it was passed down to Ellie and she got a new one. The boat is nowhere near the being put in the water yet but she just couldn't wait to wear it!

And here's me.... I'm not the greatest waterskier but it works. My parents have this uncanny ability to do a graceful decent into the water when they are ready to stop. Me? I basically tumble down like I'm trying to make bellyflops an Olympic sport.

Jim patiently waiting.

There he is!!! Only, we were all sitting in the back of the boat which meant it couldn't quite get enough oooomph to go fast enough and he plummeted into the water right after this. Totally our fault. :(

I don't know if it was Jim or my dad that kept making the decision to go ever faster as he and I were on the tube. It wouldn't matter except that I was taking some serious air as we'd hit wakes and I eventually took a blow to the head (Jim's elbow) and let go in a fit of throbbing pain. I'd do it again anyway.

Because it was a blast!

The girls could not be more different. The first time they rode the tube together Ellie kept saying "faster!" while Aeryn kept saying "slower!" It seems the appeal is in the illusion of control rather than in the changing of the actual speed (we'd not change anything half the time and they'd both yell "perfect!"). Here they found a way to peacefully co-exist at a moderately slow (read: snail) pace.

Which meant that we gave each little girl a chance to be by themselves so they could control the speed however they wanted. Ellie sure liked that! Notice the thumbs up which means "go faster."

This was HUGE for Aeryn as she's still a little nervous in the water. She loves the boat and being out there, but getting in the lake sometimes scares her. She conquered that (at least a little) and had a blast!

It was a perfect day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We're back

and exhausted.

Ok, not really too bad anymore. After our wedding, Jim's brother's wedding, a long hiking-filled honeymoon and returning to our lovely children, we are having our open house tonight at my parents home. Hopefully some of you will be able to attend as we are moving in two weeks and it may be a long time before we see you again.

Life updates (including the wedding & festivities) will continue shortly. Until then, Jello Jigglers are a surefire way to get a summer smile.

It's so funny. Jim always talks about what a camera ham Ellie is (both the girls are, naturally) but if there is food anywhere in the vicinity I cannot get that child to look at me for a picture to save my life.

Aeryn however is used to me taking pictures everytime she eats something remotely kid-friendly and will take each and every bite with a face begging for paparazzi.

Such subtle differences in personality! It's really a joy to have them together. Our two daughters.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FHE at last

We've been slackers. It could be the whole 87-thousand-million-billion things going on this summer, but we've been really lazy with FHE. You can argue that we aren't actually married yet which means we aren't actually a whole family yet and we don't live in the same house or anything so it's reasonable that it's difficult to accomplish, but still, we're trying to start out on a good foot.

Tonight's FHE topic was temples and families. A personal favorite topic of mine (especially lately). After talking about temples, singing about temples, and looking at pictures of temples, we built our own. Now, I recognize that the colors are not true to life - but the imaginative spirit was fantabulous.

Aeryn's creation reminded me slightly of Balanced Rock. She spent a lot of time on the landscaping. In case you've never seen it, temple landscaping is remarkable and we often go and talk about all the different flowers we see. I have a love/hate relationship with this picture. She's just getting so ridiculously big and once in a while that fact hits me like a rock. A big one. A clearly no longer balanced one.

Ellie was being pretending to be bashful. I seriously love this picture. Like, totally. It just gets to me how you can tell by her one little eye how big she's smiling back there. Nothing is sweeter than happy children.

The two girls with their finished play-doh temples. They had a blast with this. In case I haven't said it lately, I really love my family. They make my heart so full it's about to burst, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


The fourth was somewhat non-eventful. At least, Aeryn and I had a taste of it over the weekend since Stadium of Fire was Saturday we saw fireworks and the jet fly-by before the fourth actually hit. Jim and Ellie had a family runion so I have no idea what they did, but for whatever reason the kids were marginally interested in the festivities. (We were going to go with them - promise - but other wedding related needs had to be taken care of while they were gone. I'd be a little sad, but I'm so excited to be married to that hot hunk o' man that truly I'm not.)

 So we did what any normal, red-blooded, American family does for the 4th - we made cookies. Just prior to the cookies we'd actually spent a chunk of time outside at our neighborhood block party. The kids were running around with other crazy littles and got to see their fair share of little fireworks. By the time the bigger stuff started they were tired of it and we went back inside. In case you're wondering if they were happy about this, just notice the lack of faces in these pictures. If they refuse to look at me you know they are having fun.

And clearly, nothing says "4th of July" like Easter colored icing and leftover Halloween sprinkles. I can't help it, I TRIED to be domestic and create patirotic wear for the littles, but I was over-analytical about it and they didn't turn out the way I'd hoped.... so instead of letting them wear somthing mediocre I scrapped the project entirely. Outside of baking cookies, I think it's the first time I've felt like I have become my mother.

Easter colors and all, Jim approved. At least he tried to demonstrate that he could easily fit an entire cookie into his mouth at once. Should I make him a medal? I'm not certain. Aeryn seemed quite perplexed as to what was going on and then wanted to mimic the behavior.

At the block party, someone gave Ellie a glow necklace. Immediately I remembered what I had stashed in the closet for some future, unknown day and we pulled out the glow bracelets. It was at this time that I brilliantly decided to experiment with the manual focus/exposure settings on my camera. Not the best timing you say? Well, you're right. They were having so much fun and it was really neat, but I didn't know what I was doing and missed a bunch of the giggle action by realizing that I need to get my eyes checked if I want to be able to read the setting display screen. Sad day.

Despite that, The above picture is one of my favorites. The girls had a blast and this shows it. I have no idea why Aeryn decided to wear her Adirondack/Yeti hat the entire 90 degree evening, but regardless of that, it was a spectacular day and I have no idea why Ellie did not care to watch big billowy fireworks, but hey, I don't think children are meant to be fully understood. Life would be too easy.

Hope your day was amazing!

The story of us... (his side of things)

If Michelle is going to tell her side of the story, I figured I should tell my side of the story, because it is completely different. Okay, it isn't that much different, but there are a few details that she didn't cover. So  here is the story of us from Jim's perspective.

On the afternoon of December 27, 2010 I was in the passenger seat of my dad's truck. We had just picked up Ellie and were on our way back to Orem. I had been back in Orem for a couple months, and had recently rejoined so I could meet some new people. I knew was going to be there for several more months or even a few years. The amount of time I was going to be here was dependent on what PhD program accepted me. I had applied to Alabama, BYU, Texas and Oregon (Alabama and Oregon said yes, and we are off to Oregon in case you didn't know). Anyway... while we were driving home, I decided to send a few flirts out. One of the women I sent a flirt to was Michelle. I had come across her profile several days before, but didn't feel the urge to send her a flirt until that Monday afternoon. Fast forward to that evening...

That evening while I was running I got an e-mail from Michelle. She introduced herself, and I responded and formally introduced myself. We e-mailed a couple of times that evening. The next day I went to Idaho with my parents to visit my grandparents. We e-mailed several times throughout the day, and then several more times on Wednesday and Thursday. I actually had a date set-up on Thursday night, but truth be told I was more excited to meet Michelle than I was to go on my date. Fittingly my date ended up being a comedy of errors and I ended up getting home a lot earlier than expected. So what happened? Michelle ended up chatting until about 3:00 in the morning and we decided to go to Starbucks sometime the next day.

I was quite anxious the following morning. When I finally arranged for my dad to watch Ellie for an hour. I got in the car and was a bit frustrated when there was construction on Center Street. The last thing I wanted to do was be late. So I texted Michelle and told her I was going to be late, but not to worry that I thought I was a pretty nice guy.

The actual date at Starbucks is a little bit of a blur. I remember being a little anxious about the first 30 seconds of the meeting. Do I hug her? Do I shake her hand, or do I do something completely different?    Honestly, I don't remember what happened, but I don't think we hugged or shook hands. We just introduced ourselves and ordered up some hot chocolate.

While we were talking I remember being sucked in by her eyes. The only person I can think of whose eyes are as blue, are my Ellie-girl. We talked, and talked and talked. Then I looked at my phone and saw that we had been there for over an hour. I was not happy about this. So I called my Dad and he was able to watch Ellie for longer. So we stayed for quite awhile longer. Finally, I had to go because my family was having a get-together that night for New Years Eve.

As Michelle said, I spent most of the evening at the "girls table," including a girl that my cousin set me up with, and whom I went out on a date the following week. However, it was pretty clear that my thoughts were directed towards Michelle as we texted most of the night.

Fast forward to the following Friday. Our first real date was at her house, where I made dinner and Michelle made dessert. It was awesome. While getting to know each other via e-mail, we had said that our ideal first date would be to cook dinner with someone, and not necessarily for someone. So we spent the evening together in the kitchen, which is a very common occurrence for us, before spending another 3-4 hours talking of the couch.

We spent the next several evenings together at Michelle's house, and then we were both comfortable enough with our relationship to allow the other to meet our daughter. One thing led to another, and on March 18 we were engaged, and now in just under 4 days we are going to be married for eternity at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. I can't believe the journey I have been over the past couple of years, but I can say definitely I am crazy happy and I wouldn't change a thing!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Aeryn has loved this little cat. A little too much at times, as KiKi would take off running down the hallway when she'd come in the front door. Back when we adopted her, Aeryn and I were really needing something living to focus on other than each other. We found this cat with the sweetest disposition on and were hooked.

Today, she goes to a new home.

As we transition from our own home to broke-graduate-student family housing, one of the restrictions is pets so we have no choice but to part with this member of our family. She will be going to a cousin of mine who will take amazing care of her. Farewell, furry friend. We've adored you.

The story of us... (her side of things)

He flirted, I responded, and here we are. It all started in December; the final week to be exact. Aeryn was in Colorado visiting her dad for the holidays and I had decided it was time to jump start my social circle. I had recently dated someone who wanted to marry me but was so very wrong for me, and felt the desire to make some new friends. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I yielded to a compelling urge to join an online dating service. This was not my first time doing so, and though I never met anyone really date-worthy, I had made some good friends that way and was hoping to do so again. And then the flirt came in...

Flirts are simply the site's version of “hello;” A little emoticon that breaks the ice and says “I'd like to see more about who you are.” Jim sent one, I checked out his profile and sent one back in the dance of delicate interaction that is getting to know one another in a virtual environment. When I read his profile, I was struck by a few things. One: he was crazy handsome. Two: he's a serious runner and I'm soooo not so I figured he'd not be into me and didn't have any real expectations.

Almost from the get-go (what does that even mean?) our conversations turned to food. They started about food, strayed away for a few moments, then somehow quickly returned to food. We love food. Not in the I'm-going-to-eat-until-I-can't-fit-out-my-front-door kind of way, but we love good food, paying attention to flavors, and figuring out how to make mediocre restaurant food better at home. We went from emailing every few hours (you can't respond too quickly and seem desperate you know) to emailing back and forth about 15 times a day. This carried on for a couple days while Jim was out of town and then we planned to meet for some Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate.

That first week that we were emailing was a busy one. I took my part of jump-starting my social life very seriously and went on four first dates that week while Aeryn was gone. Jim was the last one because almost immediately I was done searching for people to befriend.

Starbucks was meant to be a quick little meeting. It's easy. It's non-committal. It's tasty. So we grabbed a table and left reluctantly three full hours of constant conversation later. His family was having a social gathering that evening for the new year and he needed to get home to help out. I had no plans for the new year so I went home and wondered what he was up to for the next several hours. I didn't have to wonder too hard, he kept texting me all evening telling me what was going on and I felt some worry when he mentioned sitting at the girls table for game night. Later I learned that one member of that table was a girl he was being set up with though I imagine the fact that he was texting me all night was indicative of where his interests lied.

It was a week until we saw each other again. The following Friday we had our first real date. True to our selves we got together and made dinner together. Truthfully, he made dinner and I made chocolate mousse for dessert. His chicken picatta was fabulous and my chocolate mousse was amazing and we sat at the table and talked for an hour after dinner. Then we moved to the living room and continued talking until he'd been here for a full 9 hours with nary a moment of uncomfortable silence. After that, Jim would tend to show up in the evenings after his daughter was in bed. On B day's, he would come to the school and have lunch with me. On one such visit I was being a bit silly and gave him a copy of my school picture from this year after writing on the back “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” And we see the answer.

By Aeryn's birthday (two weeks after we met) I was asked by my stepmom what I'd do if he asked me to marry him and without hesitation I replied “I'd say yes.” And so began the greatest journey I've ever been on. I have no doubts now, or at any time previously, that he's the one for me.