james' graduation party

In December James FINISHED his MBA program at The George Washington University! Yes, all of the applause. And yes, that is in Washington, DC, but yes we live in Utah. They started their distance learning online program option the year James started so that was a huge YAY! Technology is awesome. It was especially spiffy because James' Dad also graduated with his MBA from GW. Queue nostalgia. 

Lemme take a minute to totally brag on my guy: Not only does he work 60 hours a week (with commute time), but he helps every night with dinner, getting the kids bathed, and putting them to bed. After that he would go down and work on homework until 11 or 12am, then get up at 4am the next day to do it all over again. He also finished the program 6 months ahead of schedule while maintaining an A-B average! He. Is. A. Stud. A very tired stud. ;-) 

But now we can celebrate because it's DONE! Commencement is held only once a year in May, so we'll be traveling back for the official ceremonies then. We wanted to celebrate with our friends and family here, so I threw a little shindig!

Soda is one of our favorite things! Is that terrible? Especially Sodalicious style with delicious Torani flavor add-ins and a shot of half and half! I made the poster with some of our favorite flavor combinations (which is conveniently now up in my Etsy shop). ;-)

I think my favorite part was the tin buckets on each table filled with caramel corn! Another one of James' favorite things...anything popcorn!

I'm not even sure how much sugar the girls had last night...but I know it was a lot! Once their little friends got there they ran around and had a blast.

We're so grateful to live near so many family members and have such great friends. Thank you for all of your support over the last two and a half years!


girls' weekend!

You know those times when every conversation you have with your friends is complaining about something? Or...your kids? Not that we don't love them to pieces of course, but sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), being a Mom is HARD. Relentless, even. I was reminded of this tonight in the car when Olivia and I had this conversation:
Olivia: "Mom!"
Me: "Yes?"
Olivia: "Moooom!"
Me: "What?"
Olivia: "Moooooooooom!"
Repeat x27. 

Sometimes it feels like I'm stuck in a loop of dirty laundry and food smashed into places it where food shouldn't even be. You know? 

Thus- a girls' weekend. We actually started planning one back in September, but trying to coordinate 5 schedules for a free weekend resulted in a date in January. At least it gave us something to look forward to after coming down from the holiday high!  We opted for a staycation of sorts and stayed in downtown Salt Lake.

We started with shopping and seeing a movie in a super cool theater with huge leather recliner seats! I will totally drive 45 minutes from our house to that theater JUST for those seats.

 The next day Meg joined us and we treated ourselves to pedicures...

 Then feasted on super delicious house made churros and drinking chocolate from La Barba.

The hotel we stayed in, The Peery Hotel, was apparently haunted! We didn't have any weird experiences...but we were probably way too loud to notice anyway. ;-) 

 Sooo muucchh fooooood. But there's always room for Ruby Snap cookies! Are you seeing a trend? We ate a LOT. ;-)

On Saturday, we lost Jenn to a sick hubby and picked up the other Jen! We did some more shopping and had the best stuffed french toast in the world at Eva's Bakery downtown.

We ended the day with another movie before heading home! It was sooo nice to be able to go shopping without rushing through a store to avoid meltdowns, have unlimited girl talk, and be on our own schedule doing what we wanted, when we wanted to do it! Perfectly restorative. I already can't wait for next year!!!


ice castles

Tonight we explored the ice castles in Midway! It was like a real life Frozen experience (as in, you were freezing the whole time...it was THREE degrees outside...and they even have a photo op with Anna and Elsa!). Well worth the numb toes though- I've never seen anything like that in my life! If you're within driving distance of Midway, put it on your winter bucket list. 

I meant to bring my real camera, but forgot...sooooo here we have some sub-par iPhone pictures. :-D (Check out their site for really cool, non-blurry pictures!)

 They grow 10,000 icicles DAILY and add them to the structure using water to freeze it to the structure as they build onto it. 

 My Mom made a quick trip out! We were happy to have her (though I think she's quite happy to return to Florida weather). 

If you're planning to visit, here are some tips:
-Wear all the clothes. All the layers. (Especially socks!)
-Take hand warmer packs for your hands, and put them in your boots!
-Buy hot chocolate when you first get there and drink it while you're walking around.
But seriously, GO!! SO STINKIN' COOL!


downtown disney + beach!

The day after Disney we kept it low key. The girls' slept in late, so naturally I woke up early...and with an appetite the size of Texas (post stomach bug realizing I hadn't eaten in 2 days...give me all the free breakfast). 

We splashed around at the hotel then mosied over to Downtown Disney (which apparently is called Disney Springs now) for lunch at The Rainforest Cafe- where the food is "meh" but decor is "woah!"

^Only the coolest papa's will cram onto a tiny train to appease the granddaughters. We happen to know one such Papa.

^Treat yo' self. Dark chocolate lover for LIFE.

The next day we went over to a beach near my brother and sister-in-law's new house (jealous). We take forever to get organized so instead of being there in the afternoon we made it for the last hour of daylight, but beach is beach no matter what time of day.

This was my girls' first time in the Atlantic ocean! The first time they'd ever been to the beach (despite all of our trips back to Florida) was over the summer in San Diego. 

Fortunately, Olivia didn't eat the sand this time. 

My mom explicitly said she did not want to be in charge of making decisions this trip as far as plans, she just wanted to tag along on what we wanted to do. I think that's why it took us forever to get anywhere or do anything...we need a militant decision maker in this family! Especially because my brother and I are two of the most indecisive people on the planet. Come baaaaack Nazi Nana! ;-)

I'd have to say my biggest complaint about being in Utah at the moment is the lack of a coast, but I guess that makes visiting one all the better. (That was me trying to be optimistic).

A couple other random shots:

 ^Dinner with the motley crew. James has his eyes closed and Jillian looks miserable- probably how half of our pictures turn out. :-)

^Hyppo Popsicles! All natural and made with organic ingredients, so obviously I had them dip mine in chocolate. 

Anytime we go back to visit Florida it always flies by, but I think this trip broke a new record! I've concluded we're just going to have to start taking longer vacations...


disney world

The day after Christmas we flew back home to Florida to meet up with the rest of the crew for a trip to Disney! I hadn't been since college, and we hadn't taken any of the grandkids yet, so we were due! Turns out the week after Christmas is one of the busiest times of year at the park. Hah! At least it wasn't super-duper hot (well, it was in the glorious 80's, but December humidity is a thousand times better than like, July humidity. You have to pick your battles I guess.)

The day before we went down to Orlando I actually had a terrible stomach bug and pretty much sat on the couch all day. I was getting a little nervous, because you can't miss your kids' first trip to Disney! The morning of the big day was a little rough walking around, but fortunately I got a lot better as the day went on. By night time, I even had enough of an appetite for a Mickey Mouse ice cream head! It was delicious and one of the few things I'd eaten all day...then the last half of it fell on the ground. Wah-wah. 

Overall it was a great day, despite the crowds! Since it was our first trip with kids in tow, we certainly learned a lot for our next trip! 
As soon as we walked into the park, we randomly bumped into one of my friends from high school and his adorable family and they so graciously let us use one of their magic bands- thanks again Mattox family!!

When the kids start getting tired or grumpy- just fill 'em up with more ice cream and popsicles. I was so impressed with how well all of the kids did! When they got tired enough, they napped in the strollers and on we went. They all get trooper awards for sure.

I was really proud of Jillian for getting on all of the rides we went on! She gets super anxious in new situations and easily overwhelmed, but having her cousins there really helped her to be extra brave.

Their adorable matching shirts are from Jills DZigns on Etsy. I loved how they turned out!

Dance party with some of the Incredibles! 

Like I said, stuff 'em with sugar to keep 'em going!

I know "It's a Small World" gets a bad rap for being lame, but it's one of my favorites! You can't beat a classic. ;-) Jillian has been singing the song for days now though, so I may have to rethink how much I really like it...

Days before we went, I told James the only two things I wanted to do was the Haunted Mansion and eat a dole whip. Neither of those things happened...haha! But I quickly learned that this trip wasn't about me, but the girls and what they wanted to do and enjoy! But next time...those things must happen.

While we were waiting for the electrical parade to start, my Mom and Spencer disappeared and returned with enormous bowls of ice cream sundaes, appropriately named "the kitchen sink". 

Ryan, Addy, and Eliza on the Buzz Lightyear ride! Addy's face in this picture is everything.

Olivia's favorite part of the entire experience was her balloon.

The fireworks show and electrical parade at night was probably my favorite part of the whole day! I totally got goosebumps. Disney really IS magical!

Jillian was in awe during the parade and kept quietly waving to all of the characters as they passed her.


We ended up being there for 12 hours and left tired and sweaty, but happy!