"Work" Trip

Sam had to go on a recruiting trip to Utah for a week. Olivia invited us over for dinner the first night he was gone. She made a delicious soup. It was so good and I ate way too much. Or maybe not enough. I can't decide. The boys loved playing with Kyan, Tucker, and Jaxon.

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The next night, we sent a picture to Sam right before we ate dinner.

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He responded with a picture of a ticket to that night's Jazz game. He had mentioned to the head of the staffing agency that he wanted to go to the Jazz game so the guy got Sam four tickets to the game. Fourth row. We never sit that close. He invited his parents and sister to go to the game with him. They were playing Minnesota so the game was on TV here in North Dakota. I turned it on and saw him several times!

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Sam was planning to come home on Friday but he learned on his way to Utah that his Aunt Ada had died. He stayed in Utah one extra day to attend her funeral.

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Emily, Sam, Sam, Dana, David, Christy, Hollie, Dave, Ruth, Grandma Stephenson, Karen, Sam, Marian

I missed Carissa's baby shower because of Sam extending his trip. I am very sad about that. Sam tries to convince me that his work trips are not vacations and yet every time it seems like a vacation. He saw the Dead Sea Scrolls with his family, spent an evening with Sheldon and Michelle, and went out to eat for a few meals a day. I guess he did a few interviews in there as well, but it sounded very vacation-y to me. We missed him and are glad to have him home. One night after I got the boys in bed, I heard Alex say, "I didn't get a piggy back ride. I didn't get to cuddle. I didn't get my bed made. I didn't get my teddy bear." Life is rough when Daddy's gone.


Bismarck Temple Trip

Another one of our New Year's resolutions is to get to the temple once a month. Making the four hour drive is difficult and I knew we wouldn't be able to do it if we tried squeezing it all into one day so we drove to Bismarck on Friday after Alex got out of school and then came back on Saturday afternoon.

We got to Bismarck in time to eat dinner and then Sam dropped us off at the hotel and he went to the last session at the temple that night. The boys watched a short show as I read a book and then they went to bed. Sam didn't get home until after midnight because he went to the gym right after the temple, then the water went out at the gym and our hotel and he had to drive across town to another gym in order to take a shower.

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I went to an early temple session the next morning while Sam took the boys swimming at the hotel.

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After I got out of the temple we babysat the kids of another couple in our ward so they could go to the temple together.

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We ate lunch then started the drive home. We stopped in Stanley to go to Dakota Drug. It has the last Whirl-A-Whip machine in use today. It is basically like a Dairy Queen blizzard where you choose the base ice cream and then mix things into it. It was not very good though. Such a shame. We had a memorable experience though because the workers were totally crazy. I am glad we stopped.

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Documenting Declan (9 Months)

Weight: 18 pounds, 14 ounces
Length: 28 inches

Declan baby is still bringing up the rear of our family in a spectacular fashion. We all adore him. He is so flexible to different schedules, plays well on his own or surrounded by others, gives us the occasional cuddles, and is mischievous just enough that it is cute and doesn't make me want to pull my hair out. He is pulling out most of my hair himself so I need to keep as much as possible in there when I can. He is a total delight. I could brag about him all day long. He is happy, loving, and resilient. I love my Declan baby.

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Such a silly personality.

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He is always getting stuck in precarious positions.

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Declan got a tooth (1/2/14).

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"A whaaat?!"

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Then he got another tooth (1/4/14).

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"That's right, I did!"

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But those teeth are shy and do not like to be photographed. Even with Edison showing him how it's done!

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We played dentist to get the teeth to come out and play. Declan loves being the dentist but not so much the patient.

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He absolutely despises bath time.

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But he looks so cute all clean and fresh!

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He still has his blue eyes. I love them. He also seems to be holding out as my only brunette which I am quite pleased to see.

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He tried to walk and we laughed and laughed.

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He wants to eat everything he sees.

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Alex always wants to play with him, hold him, know where he is, breathe the same air. Basically they are inseparable.

But by far my favorite thing Declan is doing this month is singing.

A few more things Declan does for which I do not have a matching picture:
...loves food. If he sees me eating something he will charge over to me. So he pretty much follows me around all day. My own little doggy.
...is very short. Like, a total midget.
...uses his mouth as a third hand.
...is a total punk while nursing and, despite my many reminders to the contrary, thinks it is finger food.
...is a nursing acrobat. He contorts his body into crazy positions and still tries to maintain the latch. Crawling and breastfeeding are his two favorite things and he tries to do them simultaneously.
...sits under Alex and Edison at dinner to collect their droppings. Then when they drop something like their spoon or cup, Declan picks it right up and they freak out. But the rule is that if it is on the ground then it's Declan's.
...loves giving monkey bites.
...has a horribly out-of-touch mother. When my kids cry, teething is the last thing on my mind. Malaria? Yep. Whooping cough? Probably. A tooth? I doubt it. That's why I was shocked when Declan grinned up at me one morning and I noticed he was sporting a nubbin'. Such a good baby.
...likes to do things himself. If I put food in his mouth he will spit it out then put it back in himself.
...said his first word (1/2/14). He was crying in his bed one day, then stopped crying, and calmly called, "Mamaaaa!"


January Dates

One of our New Year's Resolutions is to take the boys on dates each month and also to go on a date together. Each month we will have a Mommy Date and a Daddy Date and Alex and Edison alternate which parent they go on a date with. I am so excited to spend time with the boys individually. They always get lumped together and then Declan gets special time with Mommy. I wish we could reduce the amount of special time Declan has with me in the middle of the night though. Maybe once that happens, Declan will get his own dates with us. For now, just Alex and Edison get a night out.

Sam took Alex out on Saturday. They went to see a movie, to the pet store to see some animals, and then got frozen yogurt. I told Sam he needs to tone down the dates because he set the bar really high!

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The next day, Alex drew this picture. Edison and Mom are at home in a box and Alex and Dad are on a date. Funny guy.

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Edison and I went on a date to Walmart. We sat down on the toy aisle and played. This is something I never let them do while we grocery shop so it was a special treat. On the way out, we put a quarter in the candy machine where you get to play until you win. He had a great time. I am a cheap date.

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Elder David

I have another brother on a mission. Elder David entered the Mexico Missionary Training Center today (1/15/14) and will be there for a few weeks before heading to Rochester, New York. I had to say goodbye to him at Thanksgiving. I am sad I didn't look at this picture after it was taken. It is so out of focus.

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I got to Skype with him yesterday to lecture him about his letters home. I don't want any of this "I can't think of anything to say" garbage I have gotten from my other brothers.

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He is just a baby; he is only 18 years old. But I am excited to see what kind of missionary he can be. It is a big job! I am glad he is prepared and I am looking forward to hearing all about it.

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Going Away Party for Alyssa

Alyssa was my first friend in Williston. We had been here less than 24 hours when she sat by me in Relief Society. I thought her daughter on her lap was so cute so I talked to her (I only talk to people with cute kids?). I didn't know then that she had twin girls! We had parked next to each other so as we were leaving church we talked again and exchanged phone numbers. When she started telling me her number, I got so excited because it was the same Arizona area code as mine. Turns out we went to rival high schools and grew up 20 minutes away from each other. We played almost every day that next week. Despite only being here for two months by that point, Alyssa was ready to move away on the day I met her so I knew she wouldn't pass up any opportunity to leave. In November, when she told me she was pregnant, I started preparing myself for that move to be imminent.

I had to throw her a going away party. I am not used to being left. Normally I am the one moving away. It is so hard to drive by her house and know she isn't there anymore. If I make cookies I am sad that I have to eat them all and can't drop any off to her. She was my visiting teaching companion. I don't know who is going to cook dinner with me when Sam is gone on work trips. Alyssa was always around and ready to go along with whatever crazy ideas I had. We had the same Arizona blood and hatred for the weather. She just got me. I miss her.

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We went out to dinner then headed back to my house to eat banana splits. And Russian cream and chips/salsa because I have a problem and don't know how to do things low-key. We all wrote her a note on a postcard.

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Even though "Desserting" is a play on words, it is still kind of bugging me that it's spelled wrong.

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Olivia, Becky, Kara, Nikki, Emily, Alyssa, (& Daniell who was at dinner but then had to go home!)

 I am going to miss our library dates every Wednesday.

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I missed their kiss between these two pictures.

I wish them the best in St. Louis. Hopefully our paths will cross again one of these days.


WTD Drive-In

As a Williston Toddler Days committee member I am supposed to come up with ideas for activities. I am running out of ideas for activities so I started stealing from myself. I showed the other committee members pictures of Alex's Drive-In Movie Party and they loved it so we did that for an activity. There wasn't a very good turnout but the kids who were there were still quite happy with it.

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Snacks and a movie in their own personal space. Total bliss.

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