Friday, April 4, 2014


So, out of all the things I need to blog about, this morning I picked Chuck's and my recent getaway for two reasons, 

he's currently on a plane coming home from a business trip and I thought it would be a fun way to welcome him back and distract him from the unfolded laundry 

and two
a family I know (but not well) in my mom's ward was subject to the horrific sudden loss this week of its young husband and father, and all week - when I haven't felt nauseous and heartbroken and anxious and just so sad - I've felt an overwhelming gratitude for eternal marriage. I have a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know that families will be reunited after this life is over - but in the meantime, having to face that mortal separation decades before it's expected seems too unfair. As with any such loss that I've witnessed, it's made me more determined to live worthily of being with Chuck forever and ever and not take our time together here with our family for granted and take the best care of our marriage that I can. 

And now that we're all crying, here's a light-hearted recap of our trip last month...

2014 is a prettttty milestone year for Chuck and me: June 12th will mark our TENTH wedding anniversary! Ohhh snap, look at those young and innocent faces:
 So obviously I've spent a lot of time daydreaming about an amazing trip this summer to mark the occasion - Hawaii, Europe, a cruise, New York City, etc. BUT then I remembered a few crucial facts: 

a) Chuck and I are homebodies. There is nary a 'traveling bone' in either of our lame, lazy bodies. We are embarrassingly content with looking at all of y'all's exotic vacation pictures while we sit on our couch in Idaho.

b) Regardless of the fact that ten years of marriage seems to warrant a big vacation, it turns out the universe doesn't actually owe you such a thing - you actually have to fund the thing yourselves. NGTH (not going to happen....)

and c) as these recent pictures remind us:
 it turns out we'll have a four-week old baby to celebrate with on our tenth anniversary! Do you know what comes with a four-week old baby? A survival-mode, hormonal Jana who leaks and cries and is still recovering from a c-section and still looks six months pregnant and feels about as romantic/sexy as ... I don't know, a walrus? 
(Anyone else super jealous of Chuck right now??)

SO I decided to plan some sort of early anniversary trip / babymoon!

But then Will read this book:
 about Mama and Papa Bear going on a 'second honeymoon' and then learned that Chuck and I indeed never taken a first honeymoon and decided that should be remedied (and also that we should go canoeing on our trip...)

Hence the official title for our trip: 
our honey/baby/anniversarymoon
Really rolls off the tongue, right?

 So we picked a couple days in March that coincided with Grandma Pam's spring break (aka babysitting availability, that woman is a saint) and we hit the open road! Our destination? Boise, Idaho! (heyy, we live in Nampa, so technically that's out of town...)

Because I'm amazing and Costco gift card deals are amazing and the 'suite of the month' deal is amazing, we were able to stay at the Anniversary Inn in Boise for two nights:
 I know, right? Cue whatever innuendo sound effect is your favorite; mine is bow chicka bow wow!

 And we had such a fabulous 42 hours together with noooo kids and noooooo schedule and noooooo stress and [sadly] noooo sudden photogenic-ness, haha:
 Here's the round-up of our self-portraits from all the fun. We actually broke down and asked someone to take our picture at one point on our walk and they held the camera and counted down and all that and then after we walked away we realized they hadn't actually taken a picture. Love it.

 Our adventures included dinner at the same little Chinese restaurant where we had our first date eons ago, a Savers run where I found this amazingly perfect dress for the baby:
 It was five dollars, but so worth it. Cutest thing ever right? Even cuter in person. She'll probably wear it every day next summer (it's 18mos), complete with all stains and marks it will accrue by then. So excited.

We went to an afternoon movie:
 We really liked it. I cried, so that's a mark of a good date, right?

Favorite thing was our long walk along the greenbelt and into Julia Davis Park:
 the top two pictures are of a giraffe and a zebra. I decided that the next time my kids ask to go to the zoo, I'll save myself a gazillion dollars and instead just walk them along the outside path and tell them it's an "I Spy" zoo adventure! Brilliant, right?

 We ended up at the Anne Frank Memorial which is beautiful and peaceful and has lots of places for pregnant ladies to sit and rest and ponder incredible wisdom and perspective and inspiring words:

 And in an effort not to get tooo deep or mature, we mixed it up that night by eating at a restaurant/arcade combo that was loud and slightly overwhelming and not really someplace we would normally go - which made it the perfect one-time experience for our getaway!
 Ohhhh, did I beat Chuck at Mario Kart? That's what the picture sure seems to suggest, despite Chuck/Yoshi the Pirate's best efforts :). GOOO Peach, go! (Also, how great do I look as a blonde? It's okay, you don't have to answer that right away. Just ponder....)

 And for the most hilarious set of pictures you've seen today, here is Jana playing skee-ball like it's bowling....
 and getting in the FIFTY spot! Which apparently I mark by pulling a weird sort of "Mary Catherine Gallagher" type move... that's not awkward.

 Our getaway concluded with a late-morning temple date:
  which was a perfect way to celebrate our almost-ten-year-old marriage and our expanding family and our gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the blessings he continues to pour down upon us. 

Happy honey/baby/anniversarymoon sweetheart! 
Don't worry, I have biiiiig plans for our 20th anniversary - has anyone been to Mountain Home in June? Is it nice? Or maybe Burley? Twin Falls?? 
I guess we've got time to think about it...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Our 'Pancakes and Pajamas' birthday party for the Relief Society!

So, Relief Society is the women's organization within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it's fabulous. It was founded in March of 1842, and every year that 'birthday' is marked or celebrated by individual RS units - such as the Nampa 2nd Ward! 


 Last year the ladies in charge went above and beyond to host an amazing tea party... so naturally, this year I felt quite overwhelmed with the idea of trying to live up to that. Always-wise Emily encouraged me to forget about last year and just have our committee do its own thing, so we did and it turned out to be its own kind of awesomeness :).

We chose kind of a 'slumber party' theme and combined the RS motto: 'Charity Never Faileth' with a line from a service-centered church hymn, "Have I Done Any Good?": 'So wake up and do something more!'                        
I love this hymn, and it was really the aspect of Relief Society that I wanted to highlight and emphasize and celebrate: the sisterhood of charity and helping and serving each other.
To go along with our pajama theme, we did 'breakfast for dinner' featuring pancakes with fruit/whipped cream/syrup toppings, since a) pancakes are delicious, b) pancakes fit our (tight!) budget well, and c) we have two fantastic pancake chefs in the ward, Bishop Fleshman and Brother Murphy:
(oh, and their sous-chef Jared!). These gentlemen were amazing - Brother Murphy brought all of his equipment and they got right to work and produced perfect pancakes for all of the ladies to eat. They were so sweet every step of the way, and I really, really appreciated how much stress that took off of me. Knowing that they had this under control was such a blessing!

Here are some shots of our ward sisters during dinner; we invited the older primary girls and the young women and it was so fun to see them there! (thanks to Sister Wendy Law for some of these pictures!!)

Cute decorations courtesy of Cassandra and her cricut :)
Our ward is one of the oldest in Nampa (the second oldest, in fact, haha!) and we have a great collection of ward histories from the past century. Sister Murphy set them all out for sisters to peruse throughout the evening.

The entertainment for the evening was a video that I made... a labor of a LOT of love, I'll tell ya!
Chuck was a sweetheart and not only helped set up that afternoon, but also came in with me that evening to get the laptop/projector/speakers/microphone up and running. I'm usually the more technologically inclined between us, but I was soo nervous and couldn't remember a thing from when we did this a few months ago at one of his Scout events.

And here's the video! It's a lengthy 14 minutes, so no worries if you fast forward here and there or just take my word for it that it's Oscar-worthy :).  
(Minus the couple rushed transitions to and from video clips; those get me every time!!)

After the video, we played 'Answer with TRUTH or DARE to serve', a Jana Izatt-original game where I asked each table a RS-trivia question. If they got it right, we moved on to the next table. If they answered incorrectly, they had to choose a 'service project' from the board - things like "refill another tables' water cups", "give the closing prayer tonight", "write a group letter to the missionaries serving from our ward", etc. It was SO funny! Also enjoy the shot of my pregnant, pajama-clad self:
And finally, each sister got to take home a delicious 'happy birthday' cupcake as a favor. Thanks to the fabulous women who donated their skills and time and ingredients to make those!!

I was so, so happy with how well everything turned out, despite the always-present bumps in the road whenever you plan a big event. Poor Emily put so much into all of the planning and then was waylaid by a million different things and couldn't be there that night. Blessedly our fantastic committee stepped up and helped so much and women outside the committee helped and as always, Chuck was a rockstar and helped a ton. I'm grateful for the Relief Society program and hopefully the sisters left that evening feeling loved and valued and inspired to serve others! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

long & rambly February post!

February was loads less bleak and dreary and snowy than January, praise the heavens. Here's a round-up of pictures from the month:
It was Clyde's turn for basketball! He was on a team with friends and classmates from school and loved it, which made the practices/games with me trying to keep Jack happy and contained on the bleachers worth it... mostly :). I love the [blurry] picture of Clyde with the ball in the upper right corner - isn't the kid guarding him huge??

Chuck's in charge of the program for young men at church and lately the Teachers and Priests (14-18 year old boys) have been planning activities to help them prepare for missions/college/life on their own. One night it was a basic cooking lesson at our house: making jambalaya and cornbread muffins!
I tried to respect their boy time and privacy; it's not my fault that they talk loud and I got to eavesdrop on all the hilarity. Plus they needed my instruction for the muffins... and they offered to share the finished product... and I couldn't help but take a few pictures...

Oh, it was Valentine's Day in February! Here are my cute boys before school:
And here are Chuck and me after a temple date later in the month. I love all my boys!

I referenced how much fun cousin time we got on our mid-month road trip to Utah, here are a few more pictures from that adventure:
Poor Will woke up sick the morning we left, so we hit up an immediate care clinic before we got on the road. Sure enough he had some sort of bacterial infection in the glands in his neck, so some antibiotics made the trip with us and we hunkered down at our hotel that night to avoid spreading the love. Our drive home on Monday coincided with a Savers' 50% off all clothing sale, and so I got to stop at FOUR different stores as we drove, hooray! I didn't buy that much but what I got was excellent: two pairs of cargo shorts for Chuck, maternity shorts for me, a cute pink maternity shirt, a cute Sesame Street sweatshirt for the baby, and a suuuuper cute Christymas-y skirt for the baby.

Our February activity for Relief Society was an evening focused on the blessings of the temple. It was such a sweet and profound night; I asked four sisters to share their thoughts and testimonies about the temple and then I opened it up to anyone who wanted to share and it was all just wonderful.

One day Jack and I had spent a lot of the day in the van running errands and I was dreading buckling him back in to pick the boys up from school and it was also a nice-ish day out and I was also feeling randomly ambitious, soooo we walked to school to pick up the boys! And despite the whining that occurred on the looong walk home (by the boys, not me!... mostly...) we might try it again sometime.
Another ambitious project I embarked upon was making some cute personalized onesies for the babe. I had found a couple super cheap plain onesies at Savers and rooted around my fabric collection and hit up facebook for adhesive advice and then got to work! The boys were all very involved - Will very seriously instructed me how to sew and picked out which color of sewing 'rope' to use and Clyde insisted we use the stars on the bum idea I'd found online. Jack climbed all over me while I was sewing, suuuper helpful. I have a couple of white onesies that I want to do now; just waiting for that ambition to return...

February brought an important milestone in Clyde's and Will's little lives: going shooting with Daddy!
Will got to tag along one day when Chuck went out with a couple friends from work. He had a good time but was pretty done after a few minutes.

For Clyde, however, this was a culmination of some serious education and preparation and he loved it.
First up was the book learnin' part: Clyde studied the Rifle Shooting manual from the BSA and some gun safety/history/etc books from the library.

After he could sufficiently answer questions about the proper handling of firearms and demonstrated some other skills we've been working on (good attitude, obedience, etc), he got to go out with Daddy and shoot the new, smaller rifle that Chuck had recently acquired just for this purpose.
And here is the cute boy with his targets! 

[I have to say, I remain as unaffiliated with guns as possible, but I am grateful that Chuck is such a careful and conscientious gun owner and father and that he puts so much time into teaching the boys.]

One Sunday morning we woke up in a chilly-ish house; the furnace had been acting up lately and that morning wasn't cooperating with our usual tricks to fire it back up.
So we made cookies! I'd had sugar cookie dough in the fridge for a couple days and this was the perfect chance to finally use it and let the oven warm up the kitchen for a bit. And happily a friend from our ward came over after church and did some furnace magic to get us back up and running!

The last few days of February brought some more nice-ish weather, so we busted out the bikes and spent some time in the front yard (sometimes with friends, that's cute little Clark in the bottom left):
  And finally, here are a few last pictures that are pretty representative of our lives: after school homework/finishing lunches time, cute brothers, and Jack being my little magnet... 24/7. I think he's going to have noooo problem sharing me with his new baby sister, right??

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Will is SIX!

My sweet Willy Boy is SIX today, which seems both highly insane and also the most natural thing in the world.
Here he is at the park yesterday with Chuck and the other boys; while Grandma Pam was here the boys instituted a monochromatic dressing policy and Will was the proud winner wearing allll blue :).

Will continues to be such a sweet, tender-hearted boy and contributes so much to our family. He's very snuggly and quick to offer an "I love you" or hug, usually just when I need one.
I know I say this every year, but he's progressed SO much since his last birthday. Kindergarten absolutely agrees with him; he loves school and learning and talking ... non-stop ... about things he's learned. He's currently on a 'Berenstain Bears' kick and has read all the way through my childhood collection and the elementary school library collection. We now have a list that we need to pick up from the public library.

I'll recap all of the birthday festivities at some point in the future (spoiler alert #1: Will is HIGHLY obsessed with Sid the Science Kid right now and got to go to the LIVE performance at the Morrison Center the other night as a special night out with Daddy... basically the highlight of his life thus far) and today he's excited for red velvet cupcakes and a playdate with some friends, young and ... old-er :).
(Spoiler alert #2: Chuck is for sure at the store right now picking up a new bike for the birthday boy so that, you know, his knees don't hit the handlebars each time he pedals...)
 We sure love our Will. He's kept us on our toes since the beginning - you know, when he came almost a week before his scheduled c-section and I dismissed the contractions all day, SURE they were Braxton-Hicks. I'll never forget Dr. Klomp checking me when I finally showed up at the hospital that evening and yelling "She's nine and a half centimenters! Get the OR ready now!!" Whoops :).

I'll also never forget how immediately my heart just burst with love when I saw my baby and held him and all of my previous worries about being able to love a second child as much as my first just melted away. Six years later, Will continues to march to the beat of his own drum, and we are thrilled and blessed and honored to be invited to his parade :). We love you Willy Boy!! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cousin catch up: Braden side

Late January brought Sam and his family to the Treasure Valley for med school rotations, hooray! My boys decided to celebrate by picking up every germ possible during that seven week period, so we didn't get to spend as much time with the little girlie cousins as we would have liked. Buuut we had lots of fun when we did!

One of the highlights for me was getting to meet baby Miko! It's probably hard to tell from these pictures, what with her clearly trying to be anywhere but in my arms, but she loves me. A lot :).
We made it over to Sam and Terri's a few times, where the main attraction was always Grandma Pam's step stool next to the big front window. I think Hazel and Jack finally mastered sharing it just before the Bradens wrapped up their time here. And the center picture where Bailey is kissing Jack's head is very representative of their relationship :).

 Sam and Terri came over to watch the Super Bowl with us and eat Chuck's delicious Macho Nachos, mmmm. I only took one picture, but I think it's a good one:
Chuck and Clyde and I sneaked out for an hour for Clyde's baptism preview at the church and came home to find Jack cozily asleep on Aunt Terri.

 We have the Bradens to thank for our recently rediscovered addiction to Krispy Kreme doughnuts since they were always so nice to share their extra coupons with us:

One weekend we met up back in Utah, where the kids merrily ran around Quinn and Eden's apartment complex stairwells after baby Leila's blessing and holed up in Isaac's room and played with all his toys :).

Obviously the highlight of that trip was getting to meet our newest niece!
[Excuse me for a moment while I stare at that beautiful family picture in the lower left and try to wrap my head around the fact that my little brother has TWO kids...]
Leila's blessing was beautiful and we were so glad we could be there. I think it's so fun that my daughter will have two little girl cousins on this side so close in age - Miko is two and a half months older than Leila, who will be four and a half months older than our baby.

The day before the Bradens moved back to Utah, we kidnapped Bailey and Hazel for a few more hours of cousin time:
Hazel definitely got cut off in the bottom picture, whoops! We loved having the girls over for a bit; it's so fun to see bits and pieces of their little personalities.
These pictures kill me - Jack's little desk was usually a battle ground between these two, so to see them sweetly sharing and coloring together is so cute!

 And that wraps up all of our fun time catching up with cousins. We're pretty homebound for the next few months, so we're glad we got all these visits in when we did!! Love you all!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cousin catch up: Izatt side

The boys have seven cousins on Chuck's side of the family, and we were able to see five of them on our quick President's Day trip to Utah, hooray! We had planned to stop and see cousin Anna and were happy that Mallory, Courtney, George, and Lily were in town as well. We ate some yummy sandwiches at Amanda and Steve's house and then headed over to a nearby park for some fun:
The park was of the newfangled variety with lots of fun balance-y attractions. I stayed off all of them :).
So great to see everyone! We missed Lee and Aleesha and their cute kiddos though - hopefully we'll find a chance soon to ALL be together.

Courtney (and George!) were so patient and took the little ones on train rides down the slide:
Anna is Jack's closest cousin on the Izatt side; she's just five months older and suuuuch a cute girl. Our favorite thing was how many cute accessories she sported to the park:
and how quickly each item was shed as she enjoyed the fabulously warm temperatures that the afternoon brought us!

Another highlight was Chuck attempting some sort of spinning thing... and then his inability to walk afterwards, hahaha:
I had nooo sympathy for him since he loves dizzying rides and roller coasters.

The boys had such a fun time running around and playing and laughing with their cousins - and it was the perfect way to get out all their energy before piling in the van for the long drive home.
Last hugs with Courtney and Mallory. Love those girls!!