And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trip for Mama pt. 1

Before baby was born TJ and I were going to try and plan a little getaway for just him and I.  Maybe drive to Vegas and leave the boys with grandma and grandpa, and maybe call on a few favors with friends locally while we have a local vacation.  Plans were unsure; we just knew that we wanted to.  Well when we were in Portland for Christmas LeAnn asked me if I wanted to fly back for Brandi's 30th birthday the end of January.  Since I haven't been to one of my sisters birthdays in 4 years the thought of missing another one was more than I could handle!!  So TJ bought me a plane ticket and gave up his spot on our baby moon so that I could enjoy a fun weekend alone without having to be a mom.  Boy did I marry well!!

So last weekend off I went.  I flew all by myslef...indulging in a drink I didn't have to share, and an orange that I peeled and ate all of; both things never happen when the kiddos are around.  I also read a book the whole time!!  I haven't flown by myslef since Dominik was born so while some may take the above mentioned activities as sarcastic comments...I'm being dead serious!!  When I arrived my mom picked my up and we were on our way.  Saturday was spent running errands and shopping.  Without kids it is amazing how many stores you can run in and out of and how much you can accomplish!!  

Saturday night was the party and boy was it a great one!!  Brandi didn't know that I was in town nor that 6 of her best friends were in attendance at the party.  We all got to hide in the Millers office and when she opened the door there she was in shock!  So much fun!!  The rest of the party was good food, great company, and fun all around.  It was weird not constantly checking on my kids and again eating an entire meal without interruption and having to share.  I sure love Brandi and am so happy that I could be here for the party!!  She is such a great addition to our family, and certainly my big brothers better half!!!
 

 

Sunday was a relaxing day with only church, resting, and some light reading.  My mom had Youth Standards night that night so I tagged along and helped her set up the refreshment table.  The night was beautiful and once again I was amazed at my mom's many talents!! If only the wonderful evening could have continued into the next and final day of my trip.  More deets to follow!!!
 

Monday, January 30, 2017

New Goals for a New Year

Each year we try to sit down as a family and talk about what we can do during the upcoming year to make it the best one yet.  Each year we start strong and then start to fizzle out around February/march.  Sometimes we make it until summer but then we move and somehow the goals seems to fizzle out and we turn to survival mode.  So this year I thought I would try something different.  With me being pregnant and our family changing so much over the next coming months I wanted to make sure that our goals were attainable and could withstand the pressures and trials of everyday life.  Which will inevitably always get in the way!!

So for Dominik and Parker their goals are to be nicer.  Nicer to each other, nicer to TJ and I, and just generally nicer.  Dominik also wanted to take his goals one step further by adding that he wants to work on his temper.  He tends to see red when he doesn't get his way (usually regarding technology) so this year we will (TJ and I) will try and help him find coping mechanisms so he can start self regulating and calm himself down.  

 
My goals are to hold a regular FHE every Monday for my family.  Obviously things come up, but my boys are at the age now where a sporadic FHE isn't going to cut it.  In need to find outlets for quick FHE resources so instead of being daunting and overwhelming they are fun and uplifting for the family.  I'm going to cook healthier meals for my family. We all need to be healthier and think about how our food impacts our health and energy.  My kids hate vegetables so I'm taking it as a personal goal to help them learn to love veggies (whether they are hidden in their food or it in plain sight).  Last but not least, TJ and my goal is to stop yelling.  We don't necessarily yell at our kids, but we do yell to get their attention.  When we yell, they yell and then the spirit leaves our home immediately.  We are going to try to get their attention through calm and reasonable discussion that can remain at a reasonable decibel.  

 
Goals help keep me grounded and give me something to work for.  I love having new goals at the start of each new year.  Some may fizzle out, some may last forever, it the point is to always try and better yourself.  What better way to do that than to that than goals!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happy New Year

This year we did it!!  We actually stayed up until midnight and rang in the New Years!!  I'm not going to lie...there were lots of diet cokes, games being played, and the lights were on the whole time (if we watch a movie with the lights out we are done for).  We are our traditional Chinese for dinner and parties like animals...okay maybe not animals, but a fun time was definitely had by all!!  
 

 

 

I'm so grateful for the time we had in Portland and for the opportunity we had to spend the week with family.  2016 was a good year to us with being able to move back stateside and having so many opportunities to be with family.  However, as we look onward to 2017 I can't help but feel a little anxiety over the changes coming our way.  Our Fin Fam of 4 will soon be 5.  We are optimistic though and can't wait to meet our new little one and see how our family evolves!!  Bring it on 2017!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Snow Day

A winter trip to Portland could never be complete without a trip to the snow!!  This year has been the "snowpocaplyse" for Portland so we were fortunate not to have to drive too far to have a good time!!  Once everyone scrounged up enough warm clothes (thanks to LeAnne and Jana) we were off and up the mountain.  

 

Since we had kids ranging from 2 weeks to 7 years old we wanted to make sure that the hill wasn't too big, but big enough for the big kids too (meaning the dad's).  We also couldn't go too far up the mountain because none of our 3 cars had chains and the snow progressively got worse with each degree of ascent.  We ended up stopping at Welches Elementary school at the base of Mt. Hood and we found the perfect sledding hill.  The dad's were a little put out as to the size of the hill (it was quite small), but the mom's all agreed that it was the perfect size!!  Each kid could go down by themselves or with an adult if they wanted to go really fast.  About 1/2 way through the day the little sledding hill declveloped a bump and it would send the kids flying.  They loved it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I figured my fair weather boys would have thrown in the towel after an hour, but I swear they could have gone all day without stopping.  I had so much fun watching their joy as they sledded down the hill.  As soon as they made it to the bottom they were right back up to the top.  Parker tried to hitch a ride on the adults sleds as they dragged it back up the hill, but his little legs still carried him far!!  

 

 

 
Once the sledding was over we hit up the local subway and filled our bellies.  What a fun day with the family it was!!  I'm so glad that we made it up to the snow and that the island weather doesn't have too firm a hold on my babies!  They can be cold with the best of them!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Family Time

Spending time with family is what our trip to Portland was all about.  Between us living in Japan for 3 years and Chase and Curtis being in the Carribean we all really haven't seen much of each other.  Our trips are far and few in between and even when we do get together, not everyone has been there.  In fact, 2 years ago was the last time we were all under the same roof.  So this was a trip to remember!!  Everyone was home, holiday celebrations were still in full swing, and no babies were being born (Quinn was just born).  This was all the makings for extensive family time!!
 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from the occasional movie here, a quick shopping trip there, and some random errands sprinkled in...we pretty much hung around the house.  We played lots of games (code names was the adults favorite, Pie Face was the kids), ate too much food, and laughed until we cried in many occasions.  
 

 

 

 

 
We even had our family pictures taken for the first time in forever!!  Granted it was 35 degrees and quite foggy outside, but we did get lots of great shots to document this time in all our little growing families lives!!  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel so blessed to have my family!!  My litttle family and the bigger family we get to be apart of!!  Families are forever and because they are forever I count my lucky stars that I got the best one!!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2nd Christmas

To say that my kids are spoiled would be an understatement. There's a lot of kids that don't have any Christmas...let alone three!!  My kids had presents coming from all directions and as a parent I found it really hard to keep them from getting a bad case of the gimmes!!  Luckily they were grateful and appreciative through most of it (they are still kids after all) and had a wonderful time.  

We originally planned to do a full on faux Christmas at grandma and grandpa papenfuss' house, but soon realized that Chase had plans for a bulk of our visit and wouldn't be able to make it if we did it that way.  So we changed plans and decided that Thursday night would be our festivities.  We had a delicious dinner of soup, salad, and bread.  Then we all gathered around the tree and opened our gifts.  We had sibling gifts, cousin gifts, and gifts from grandma and grandpa.  My kiddos were innendated with toys!!!  So much stuff to get home and find places for!!!  Dominiks favorite gift was his skateboard with pads...Parker loved both his 3-wheeler scooter and his lion guard play structure.  Upon opening both he exclaimed "is this for me?  I LOOOOVEEEE IT!!!"  So sweet!!!!  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After presents we let the kids play while the adults sat around and visited.  I just love my brothers and their beautiful wives and it's times like these that I'm so thankful for the gospel in our lives!!  For eternal families, for the saving grace of the atonement, and for the birth and life of our Savior that we can reflect on this time of year!!  How blessed we all are!!!
 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Years in PDX

Trying to make the most of our winter break, a trip to Portland was a must.  This was an off year for my siblings over Christmas so our schedule of being in town for New Years coincided with everyone else's and we were all there!!!  Fun times were bound to happen.  
 

 
We didn't have too much planned other than just hanging out.  The house was usually full and the laughter and good times abounded!!!  First activity up on the docket was Porters birthday party.  Lucky for me, Brandi had to work during the day so I was able to plan and throw the party.  Porter loves trains but not necessarily Thomas so I took the theme and ran with it.  I love, love, love throwing parties especially for those that I love...so this activity was right up my ally!!!  
 

 

 

 

 

 The party itself was a blast!!  The kids loved playing in the cardboard train I made (putting all those Amazon boxes to good use) and the food was delicious with no complaints from any of the kids; I would call that a win!!!

The rest of Christmas Break was shaping up to be pretty great!!!