first day

Jillian's first day of kindergarten came and went! Just as fast as (mostly) every other day does. Every new phase of life makes me feel like I'm leveling-up in "Mom status" you know? Having kids in school? That's like at least level 700. (Owning a minivan advances you another several levels, by default).

I laid out her clothes the night before, packed her backpack with her assigned classroom snacks, hand sanitizer and extra tissues (two things that are abundant in kindergarten classrooms, but you know, just in case), and set my alarm to wake up presumably before the girls to get myself ready before worrying about getting them ready (they still woke up before me). 

Jillian was excited! She's been asking me "how many more days?!" since her kindergarten testing appointment last week. This morning she said she was a little nervous though. I told her that was okay, and everyone else- even Mrs. Mitchell- was probably feeling a little nervous too. She hesitated a little when we got to the door, pulling back on my hand, but then we walked in and put her backpack away and she found a spot on the polkadot carpet to sit on, with her eyes glued to her new teacher. I even had to remind her to give me a hug and a kiss! Then she turned to me and quickly said, "Bye Mom!" and turned her attention right back to Mrs. Mitchell. 

A little lump welled up in my throat- partly relieved there was no weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth to get her to stay (thank you answered prayer), and also because those whispered words "Bye Mom!" felt so grown up and independent. 

When I picked her up she ran up to me a gave me a big hug and exclaimed, "THAT WAS AWESOME!" And wanted to know when she was coming back. She was thrilled when I informed her it would be everyday (for the next 13 years...). 

Her favorite part of the day was reading a story about dinosaurs who went to school. She thinks it's so cool her classroom has play-dough and puzzles, and giggled when she told me she's a "later gator" and her friend Tali is an "early bird" (earlier and later start times). 

And just like that...here we go!


our first camping trip!

We went on our very first camping trip last weekend! That's got to be some sort of rite of passage, right? James hadn't been camping since he was a teenager and I hadn't been since I was 9! Thus, I shamefully admit I had to search Pinterest for a camping packing list.

Since the cousins we went with have a trailer, we decided we also wanted something besides a tent to save us from the bears and serial killers. ;-) (Okay me, I decided...I mean, BEARS). We rented a 35ft 1998 Winnebago- which was awesome! and massive! Thank goodness James wasn't afraid to drive that boat because I'm not even really confident in my ability to successfully drive a minivan. 
(And the scratches down the side of the one I drove in high school back me up on this).

It was perfect to play and explore outside, then let the kids go inside the RV and watch a movie with some popcorn in the hottest part of the day! (I can really do the "glamping" thing--peeing in the woods out of necessity is not my idea of a good time).

Our view from Payson Canyon was beautiful! It was our first time up that canyon and definitely different than I was expecting, but pretty nevertheless. When we were driving up there was a caution sign that said "cows on road". And lo and behold about five minutes later, there was a cow walking right down the middle of the road! They just roam freely around the canyon. One morning we woke up to 6-7 of them right in our campsite!

Olivia basically played in dirt for two days straight, so she was pretty much in heaven! (Contrast that to her sister who hates being or feeling messy). That was probably the best thing about camping--no one cares if you're dirty and smelly because so is everyone else! But it was nice being able to shower the grime off the girls before bedtime! RV for the win!

We went on a fun, short little hike to a small waterfall called the Grotto! The girls absolutely loved it. We saw several deer on the hike just a few yards from us. We also had to crossover several bridges made from tree logs split in half- they thought that was the coolest thing!

Their favorite part was splashing around in the rocks and frigid water at the base of the falls.

Doing a nature scavenger hunt one morning!

The most delicious breakfast hash...MAN we ate some good food! James' cousin, Jon, is a fantastic cook. Between the delicious meat and number of s'mores consumed, I'm sure I gained a couple pounds...woooorth it!

Learning to roast 'mallows--an essential life skill.

The closest thing we got to a group shot!

My new favorite way to make a s'more: Ritz crackers, Reese cup, and toasted marshmallow. If you like salty and sweet combinations- you will LOVE this! I definitely liked it better than traditional graham crackers!

I got some fun crystal packets on Amazon that you throw into the fire and the chemical reaction turns the flames different colors! The kids thought it was pretty cool (so did I).

We had such a great time I think we decided to make this an annual cousin camping trip! (Though next year we will definitely rent a smaller RV--one that isn't quite so scary to drive down canyon switchbacks!).

(And the night we got home we rented and watched the movie RV with Robin Williams! It was even funnier after having an accurate frame of reference!)


playroom update

The playroom is finally DONE! It's been a work in progress. We played musical rooms in the basement for a bit, plus I'm so ADD when it comes to house projects. It goes like this, "Living room, living room, let's add a new rug! OOO THIS CLOCK! Wait, bedroom update? Oh...living room, playroom?"
Whatevs. It's workin' for me. 

Most of our toys are housed here. The girls have stuffed animals, books, and just a couple of toys in their bedroom. Arts and crafts supplies and board games are kept on the main floor (so I can supervise that a little easier--haha!), but everything else is here!

(Our basement has great big windows, but we don't get direct sunlight so the lighting is a little funky for pictures!)

I'm super anal about toy organization- everything has to have a place. Granted, my girls are definitely bucket-dumpers when it comes to playing, but as long as everything has a spot to go back to I'm a happy camper. (And all "like" toys must be grouped together. ;-) Like I said...anal. I love the Kallax storage unit from Ikea for this reason! 


I just inherited this adorable Pottery Barn table and chairs set from my parents -yay!  I love that it's solid wood and will last for many years to come. Plus it can be easily refinished after it inevitably gets enough dings and scratches. ;-) 

We purposely put my office space in the same area as the playroom, so I could work while the girls play. In theory, anyway. It doesn't usually happen during the summer, but I'm hoping to make good use of the space this school year! 

This fun little retro kitchen (also from Pottery Barn) is the perfect height for Olivia! Jillian still plays with it but is starting to prefer other toys instead, so it works out well! The wire bins I found in the blessed Target dollar section and hung them on the wall with Command hooks. All hail ye Command hooks.

You can see the corner of the futon peeking out from the corner, which has been great so far for extra seating, more play space, and a place for my parents to sleep when they visit! I'm still hoping to get some curtains up over the window, but that will happen when it happens. :-D

It's been a fun place for all of us to be so far!

PLAY letters: Hobby Lobby
Striped rugs: Hobby Lobby
Storage unit & baskets: Ikea
Kitchen: Pottery Barn
Table & chairs: Pottery Barn
Futon & slip: Ikea 
"Be Brave" wooden sign: Salty Bison
Campfire logs set: Land of Nod
Rocking horse: Melissa & Doug 


jillian turns 5

Five is a landmark year! It's the first year we'll do back-to-school shopping, parent-teacher conferences, and then I feel like I'll blink and she'll be 18 and graduating. We're at the beginning of it all, folks. I'm both excited and terrified for her (which, as it turns out, is actually an accurate representation of being a parent 24/7). 

We started the day with birthday pancakes- a tradition in our house. Then she went to lunch with Michaela and Timmy, and in the afternoon we saw Alice in Wonderland Jr. at Hale Center Theater (a play by kids, for kids) with a friend! I was really impressed with how well the performers did! I definitely didn't have that much talent at that age. 

To finish the day we had dinner and froyo (her favorite treat!) with Grandpa! He also got her her very first bike! Which she picked up a LOT quicker than I was anticipating. Thank goodness for training wheels. ;-) 

A few days later we had a second round of celebrating at Grandma's house! I just love her expression in this picture! (Though to be fair, I look at cake the exact same way!)

 The last bit of celebrating happened a couple weeks later at her birthday party with her little friends at The Bounce House! It was definitely the easiest birthday party I've ever done since the facility provided everything--maybe I should just do that more often. ;-) It was definitely low-stress!

 Besides the fact it was like a million degrees in the building, we all had a good time! There was a super cheesy face painter/balloon artist/magician called "Dynamic Dave" who kinda sorta freaked out the kids a bit (and to a degree the adults as well), but I think they all at least enjoyed their balloon animals and crazy hats! Jillian left hers on just long enough for me to snap a picture. Hah!


It's been a fun-filled few weeks of celebrating! And now that there are only a few weeks left of summer...I'm ready to slow down and enjoy more lazy days and time spent at the pool!

 ^First day of swim lessons with Uncle Timmy!

Jillian is definitely my reserved, overly-cautious child, but so incredibly bright and thoughtful. It's been an especially challenging several months helping her learn to deal with getting easily frustrated by things, but just when I think I'm at the end of my rope and basically the worst Mom on the planet, she turns around and does something completely unprompted that is so sweet and caring for myself or Olivia. She has an incredible imagination and I love to just listen to her play. She loves all things arts and crafts and will be entertained by those types of things for hours! (wonder where she gets that from...). I can't wait to see how she continues to blossom when she begins kindergarten in a few weeks! 
Happy 5th birthday Jillian! We love you to pieces!