Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Will is EIGHT! (and almost a half....)

Willy boy turned 8 at the end of March and was SO SO excited to be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on his actual birthday:
Earlier in the month (aka before spring break) Will got to celebrate his birthday at school with his good friend Emilie - her birthday is the day before his and they were baptized together too! I dropped off cupcakes and then skeedaddled, so Mr. Eilers very sweetly took these pictures for me because he is The Best.

Will had been talking about his baptism/birthday for months, so we were alllll thrilled when the day arrived. He and Daddy got all ready and headed to the stake center early. There were quite a few kids from our stake being baptized that day, including three from our ward - Will loved sharing the day with Emilie and Hallie!
Sister Hyer brought flowers for the girls to say congratulations and welcome to activity days and she very sweetly brought some for Will too. He loved it!!

Afterwards we corralled all of our family outside for pictures and baby passing around and general merriment. Sam's family surprised us by coming, which was so so fun!

My side of the family with my dad! We missed Quinner's family:
Sam and I have eight kids between us soooo that's a little crazy! This was our first time meeting baby Remi and we were delighted by her amazing hair and her general adorableness and sweetness!!

Will was so so happy that Grandma and Grandpa Izatt and Melissa's family were able to come up from Chuck's side of the family. Carma was so so unhappy at the idea of being in more pictures right then:
But we kind of got her!

And everyone was on board for some family pictures with Grandma Pam:
Uncle Cody looked particularly dapper, of course :).

We corralled Carma for a couple quick shots of the six of us:
The theme of our attire, as inspired by Will's tie and mostly what we had on hand, was khaki/brown, blue and green. Man oh man I love this gang of yahoos!

At various points Clyde and George each led the younger children on random little walks around the grass and it was pretty much the funniest thing ever:
Carma fiiiiinally decided she was okay with some pictures. OH this girl!

One of my favorite pictures from the day, my dad and the birthday boy:

And then it was time to head back to our house for a bbq/birthday party!

Obviously I put Mallory and Courtney to work right away - Mal assembled a highly impressive veggie tray and Court saved the day with the cake. Ohhh I love these two!!
Hazel and Miko both jumped right in to our boy-centric home - Miko played legos forever and Hazel loaded that Nerf gun like nobody's business.

Bailey, in the meantime, proved adept at light saber duels:
While Remi proved a source of immense interest for Carma... from a distance haha ;).

Grandma Pam was happy to breach that distance and snuggle with her newest grandbaby though!
Jack and Hazel are only about three weeks apart and watching them interact was one of the highlights for me - they loved playing Grandpa Braden's 'I SPY' game together without pesky older siblings around to win every round, and I found them comparing their hands at one point, excited to tell me that they were the same size because they're both 4!! SO darling, riiiight? We are so glad Sam and Terri braved the long drive down with their girlies to be with Will on his special day!!

After my family headed out, we settled in for some good ol' Apples to Apples with Chuck's family. Lily and Will were the cutest team ever, from their pillows and shared blanket to their hilarious/off the wall contributions to the game.
And of course we had to have some cake! Will was very specific that his cake have blue frosting - a nod to the waters of baptism hahahaha - and he wanted a CTR symbol on it, which I think Courtney and I did an amazing job on. Also the 'W' made out of sprinkles. If Aleesha's custom cake business ever needs an assistant, I feel like I'm a shoo-in for the job ;).

Ohhh my sweet Will!
I knew going in that this day would be really emotional for me. When we realized that Will was on the autism spectrum six years ago, one of the unknowns for me was whether he would have the cognitive ability at age 8 to understand right and wrong and choices and the basic doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ - all prerequisites for being baptized, as we believe that children younger than eight and those people without that mentally capability don't need to be baptized to gain entrance into heaven. To see Will's (continuing) progress at interacting with the world around him and particularly his enthusiasm for the gospel and recognition of his divine heritage is a tender mercy that I am grateful for every day. To celebrate the anniversary of the day he joined our family by watching him join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was so, so wonderful. Happy 8th birthday Will.i.am!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Girls' Retreat 2016

The first weekend of March found our girls' group heading for the wild outdoors of McCall where this became our immediate motto:
* unless Jana blogs about it hahahahaha.

Jana, Melinda, Paulina, Kara, Nicole, Emily, Nycole. 
Shari's [Pie Milkshake] Angels. The [Applebee's] Blondie Gang. The Magnificent Seven. The Banging Bang Alpha Mu Gamma Beta Tau Sisterhood. The jury's still out on our official group name (we're accepting suggestions!) but I feel like as soon as that's settled, we'll get matching t-shirts.

We met up at Nycole's house to divvy into vehicles and hit the open road. But first Jack T. and Gideon provided us with these darling shots. Sooo cute, right?
The drive up to our winter wonderland was excellent; we had 'Blueberry' with Nycole, Melinda, Nicole, and myself and 'White Hedgehog' with Emily, Paulina, Kara, and Gideon. Juggling the pregnant girls (not literally, of course...) was tricky - the windy road to McCall is no joke - but we made it!

And found this on the door of our cabin! Backstory: we went through vrbo.com and had the best luck ever finding an amazingly well-priced cabin to stay in for two nights. We worked directly with the owner... whom we will call 'Harry'. Super nice older guy who promptly and most likely unintentionally gave me, Kara, and Paulina nicknames hahahaha:
Once we got our things inside, Harry showed up - he conveniently lives right next door and was super nice and helpful and INSISTED he drive one of us over to the 'Ranch House' to show us the amenities there (despite me assuring him we could find it...). Nicole volunteered and Nycole and I both tagged along for propriety's sake ;). And thus began the longest hour of our lives. Harry took us over to the Ranch House - honestly like two blocks over. I feel good about our ability to have found it on our own. But we also had to GET OUT AND WALK ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT.

Legitimately that's Nicole and Nycole inside the sauna with Harry. I mean, when did we lose complete control of our lives?? We were basically all shaking with silent laughter and a decent amount of fear the entire time. Every time we got back into Harry's car we thought we were heading back to the cabin, only to have him turn a different direction. We drove to a special sledding hill - despite our telling him multiple times that we had three pregnant women and a baby with us and wouldn't be sledding - and also to another special sledding/tubing hill. Once we got there we had to WAIT UNTIL SOMEONE WENT DOWN THE HILL SO WE COULD FULLY APPRECIATE IT. And then we drove all through McCall, discussing the views and Harry's entire life story (which honestly sounded pretty interesting) and driving by good restaurants and the local dr office, etc, etc ETC, ETC.
At some point we texted the other girls who were getting slightly worried and eventually we got home safe and died laughing as we recounted the story. (Looking back, it's hilarious but also kind of thought-provoking. A friend pointed out after I got back and told her the story that women often go along with things that make them uncomfortable in an effort to be polite or not cause a scene - obviously Harry was harmless and there were three of us which was comforting, but in hindsight I wish we had been confident and firm and told Harry to take us back sooner. Life lessons, ya know?)

Once we were all safely reunited, we piled allll together into the White Hedgehog for a trip into town for dinner - I feel like this is when Paulina started proposing nicknames for Nicole and Nycole so that we could keep them straight... Danny and Tommy, anyone?? hahahahaha. We found a nice Mexican restaurant and had a swell time eating and laughing and watching Gideon try lemons for the first time and trying to figure out if I knew the girl in the booth next to us (spoiler alert: I didn't).
Then it was back home to retire for the evening, aka put on pajamas, snack, and laugh ourselves silly playing 'the game of Things' which I had never heard of, nor will ever look at the same way. "'Boobs?' 'No.' 'Yes! Always say yes if she asks you that!!'" hahahahahahahaha. We also formally met and named the creature whose head adorns the fireplace. We christened him 'Wooley' after Harry's favorite road in McCall and to this day we remain 75% sure Wooley's glassy eyes were watching us - hidden camera? Secret passageway admitting someone sinister to spy on us? Not completely sure...

That was probably the segue into the scarier part of the evening; someone started talking about an X-Files episode where someone uses an animal like that to spy... and then we looked around and realized there were no blinds on the windows... and it was dark outside... and Nycole was gone... and sure enough, that's when the noises outside started hahaha.

Happily we all made it through the night in excellent accommodations (Melinda and Paulina in the master bedroom downstairs, Kara and Gideon in one upstairs bedroom, Nicole and me in the other upstairs bedroom, Nycole on the fold out couch and Emily on the futon - a place for everyone and everyone in their place :) ) and then set out to explore McCall, starting with the Pancake House for some brunch. Not going to lie, I had been dreaming about this outing. And in my dreams I apparently have the appetite of, I don't know, my little brother? because I ORDERED SO MUCH FOOD. An omelet sounded divine so obviously I got one of those. And the crepes were a must. And then I think I thought I would seriously regret not getting a pineapple pancake with coconut syrup... which was def my downfall. Those things are the size of a dinner plate. But all in all it was great and I left with like two thirds of my food in to-go boxes hahahaha.
We found loads of fun stores to walk around in, favorites being the thrift store benefiting the local hospital, the candy store, and a random drugstore that had way cool stuff.

Nycole proved to be The Best at scoring amazing finds, including this black shirt which we definitely insisted she buy. Pictures don't do it justice. It's a masterpiece.
We also found the mid-40's version of our group haha! Somehow we started talking and established they were also having a girls' weekend out of town and had also stayed up way too late and also brought way too much food with them and also had consumed too much wine the night before - whoops, that was just them, not us ;). Kind of silly, but I loved the glimpse into the future, that we'll still be sneaking away for these trips in ten years!

At this point Nycole, Nicole, Kara, and I decided to trust Harry's assurances that the lake was frozen completely solid, giving poor Paulina a heart attack as she watched us walk across the ice to our certain deaths. Isn't this such a gorgeous picture of her though??
The good news is that Harry had not led us astray, and the lake was in fact frozen solid. Kara and I almost died walking through the snow to get there but grasping onto each other as we waded through snowbanks was a bonding experience and prepared us to be partners in workout class... partners that lean on each other... literally ;). The four of us 'skated' around a bit and broke out into 'Let it Go' and took a pretty stellar selfie and then climbed back up to the path, much to Paulina's relief.

We wandered in and out of a couple little tourist-y shops which I would pretty much buy out if I had a million dollars. Look at all this wisdom:
I definitely texted the 'sister' quote to my brothers and all the marriage ones to Chuck haha.

All that walking definitely built up an appetite... which I honestly thought would never return after my Pancake House stuffing of myself... so we headed home for more food and fun! We continued to eat our way through our snack table, holy moly. Paulina and Melinda made us a delicious pasta and sausage dinner and we lingered around the table forever as conversations starting with 'where do you see yourself in 10 years' and 'what kind of mascara are you wearing??' turned into legit girl talk - aka the best kind ;).
We played Taboo for a while and laughed and laughed until a spider dangled down and general mayhem erupted - was it landing on Paulina?? Did I dump the cards all over the ground jumping up or was that someone else? Oh man, good times.

Later that night the hot tub was calling so we headed over to the Ranch House and retraced the steps of the previous day's tour for everyone's benefit. Everyone was loads patient with my insistence that we get a picture of all of us - I'm not sure why I thought this was A) super necessary and B) going to be super flattering of all of us haha. But it worked! Also in the hot tub we made some random friends... some of whom got closer to us than others (was it Emily that got sat on? Nycole? this is why I should blog about stuff sooner...) and also after like ten minutes of counting and adding figured out that amongst the seven of us, we have 24 children with three on the way - so now 27!
Back at the cabin it was time for puzzles and Emily trying to recreate the dangling spider with her phone charger hahaha and hair-doin', of course! My favorite was Nicole recruiting a nervous Paulina to cut her hair over a confident Nycole ;).

And the puzzle. OH the puzzle. We had a real love-hate relationship with this bad boy - it looked SO pretty on the box. And it was SO insane to actually put together! Nycole was the MVP, the rest of us came and went (hoping all the terrible water pieces would get done in our absence) but Nyc toughed it out.
Oh my heck. This is Lloydia... Nycole snatched her up real quick earlier in the day at a thrift store and we immediately made her our group mascot. We have a variety of theories about the blue streak across her face - eyeshadow mishap? frosbite casualty of Elsa? but in the meantime she's terrifying and we made a rule that whoever went to bed first had to take her home to live with them for the next year until Girls' Retreat 2017. It was the scariest, funniest, most effective motivation for seven REALLY TIRED women to stay awake I've ever seen hahahaha. (PS, Kara, how's she settling in at Casa Walker??)

Oh, I don't want to forget our other little mascot of the trip - Gideon! Such a sweet, patient baby to be carted about with a gaggle of giggling moms.
Sunday morning dawned briiiight and early (especially considering our late night!) and we watched the snow fall and finally got our foosball on - turns out Emily is like lethal at that game, holy moly. I took it upon myself to fill out the 'guest book' downstairs :).

And brunch. Ohhhh brunch. Literally salivating a bit looking at the pictures. Emily made her 'special occasion' blueberry breakfast cake and we all vowed to show up at her house on every holiday and birthday from here on out. Kara made the most incredible fruit sushi because she's fancy and must love us a whole lot - soooo pretty! And Nycole went all MacGyver on the stovetop to make it work so we could have homemade breakfast sandwiches mmmmmm.
And then it was time to go home, single tear :(. Okay, multiple tears. Our plans to go to church were derailed by McCall's stake conference, whoops, but since the whole weekend was basically an exercise in sisterhood we'll call it even ;). Love love love these women! Can't wait for next year!