Tuesday, July 30, 2013

back to cali

Okay, so I last left you sweating profusely in Joshua Tree National Park. Now let's wipe the sweat off our every inch and move back to the beautiful, just perfect, a little bit humid air of San Diego. 

We met up with the entire Cheney clan on the Fourth of July to hit up the best firework show we've ever seen. (San Diego's Big Bay Boom show. Please, please go here and watch last year's epic fail. It will make your day.) Before we left, I got my OCD on and researched the stuffins out of San Diego. I discovered that you could watch said fireworks from the deck of the USS Midway (pictured above), so we scooped those tickets up lickety split. It was pretty epic to say the least. 

The fireworks were truly spectacular. They motor four barges out in front of the Midway and shoot fireworks from each one (coordinated - so each barge has the same sequence). It's twenty minutes of awesome set to patriotic tunes. We were all duly impressed, and our little family has vowed to go again next year. (Any takers?)

Jess is a bit of a war historian, so it was no surprise that he made a new best friend out of Clint, a Korean War veteran, and long time volunteer on the USS Midway. 

We also did a day at Sea World and a day at Lego Land. The official consensus is that the kids were probably still a little too young for parks. THAT SAID, our kids really did have an awesome time. Annabelle went bananas for the sea lion show and they both loved the GIANT WHALES. 

They also really loved the penguins, and they made us visit the starfish pool six billion times (you can touch and pick them up). 

I really really loved the beluga whales. They're so mysterious and magical. Also, their habitat has the a/c cranked, so you better believe I lingered there.

Annabelle (and perhaps her mother) were dying to pet a dolphin. We paid our requisite dues and waited at their training pool for 45 minutes in the blazing sun (a redhead named Daddy FRIED in the name of getting his girl what she wanted). We hung our arms into their water as they played and trained, and narrowly missed petting one time and time again (below is just such a miss). At the very last minute, one of the trainers took pity on us and "coaxed" (pushed) the dolphin over to us so Belle could have her turn. That man deserves a trophy in our girl's eyes.

At Legoland, we mostly stuck to the tiny kid rides (most rides ARE kid rides, which makes the tiny kid rides as epic as you can imagine), which luckily, didn't have as long of lines as the others. Our only real complaint about Lego Land is that they have the worst lines. Like no efficiency at all. Drove us batty.

If you've been around either of the girls lately, you know that we're big on fairy tales right now. They know a handful inside out, and we've even taken to re-telling them, "silly fairy tales," as Belle calls them. This ride is the Fairytale Brook. We rode it no less than twelve times. No lie. Belle became the tour guide, as pictured below, and Lou about flipped her lid every time she saw those three little pigs.


For any Lego enthusiasts (my husband), Lego Land is pretty legit. Giant creations made entirely out of Lego. I think Mini World was our favorite. They've re-created famous or major cities made entirely out of Lego. It's seriously incredible.

All in all, we really did have the best time. (Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Cheney!) Jess and I got a little nostalgic on our flight home (a flight we almost missed, mind you, thank you dear husband who got a little carried away touring the USS Midway when he should've been checking in at the airport) when we realized it would be the last time we flied as a family of three tickets. The next time we fly (and there aren't any plans, believe it or not!), we'll have to split up - two and two - which will be so weird.

That said, I'm going to be just fine with having my personal space back and not fighting with a giant "lap baby." :) Until next time, my friends! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

lou at two

+ You know a handful of letters and their sounds. Teaching you has been vastly different than teaching your sister. You are a multi tasker. Unlike your sister who likes to focus-focus, you love to move from thing to thing, picking up little bits of information as you go. 
+ You can count to sixteen. I think this is mostly from Leap Frog's number DVD. You learn FAST when it's done with song. In fact, you learn songs instantly. You sing along to the radio when I don't even know the song. If you've heard it, you've learned it. You know a truckload of Primary songs , everything that plays on the radio, the ABC song, Twinkle Twinkle.
+ You know a handful of colors. I think you know white, pink, green, red, blue, orange, and "lellow." Then again, sometimes I ask you a color, and you say, "Meowwww." You love to be silly, and you know that when you give a silly answer, you'll make me laugh.
+ You know what a circle, heart, crescent and (sometimes) a triangle are. The other shapes are a crap shoot.
+ You are a people person. You love to make people smile and laugh, and you know how to do it on purpose. 
+ You throw tantrums. Boy howdy. If you don't get what you want, the neighboring county hears about it.
+ You love your binky and your blanky. We've started and stopped the Binky Extraction Program several times with you. Mostly because we keep going on vacation and I feel bad to the other airplane passengers listening to you scream. So out the binky comes. It's going to be a bad day when we get rid of it. I don't even like to think of it.
+ You FINALLY hold your bottle. This sounds ridiculous. I'm fully aware. Because I was the one holding the dang bottle all these months! But with practice and determination, I finally got you to hold your bottle. We'll switch to a sippy pretty soon here. (Yes, I know I'm late on this one. :) )
+ You almost have all your teeth. Let me tell you what, it will be a good day when you do! You love to eat, but you pretty much refuse when your mouth hurts. At least that's what we assume. You love "chicken," which is all meat. LOovvvve. You also love corn. Depending on your mood, you'll eat most anything, but things you usually like include watermelon, bananas, noodles with red or green sauce, Little Caesar's Crazy Bread, hot dogs, oatmeal, hamburgers, bun on the side, rice (any kind), peanut butter on a spoon.

+ You love to play with dolls and toys. I don't remember Annabelle being as in to imagination as you are. It's fascinating to watch, because I can see you creating little worlds with these friends of yours. 
+ You love fairy tales. Loooovvvvee. You beg to have them re-told to you all day. And you sit and LISTEN. Then you often spit them out again in the most words you can muster. 
+ You love your mama. You and I have some sort of special bond. I sure hope it sticks around forever. Because I predict a little craziness from you as you grow. As long as you can still be my friend, I can handle the crazy. :)
+ Daddy is your protector. You run to him for safety. You also run from him when you're playing games and wrestling. You use him as a human jungle gym, and he truly is the brightest part of your day.
+ You love your sister. She is your best friend. She is your example and your teacher. You two couldn't be more different in personality, but you still want to be just like her. You mimic almost everything she does. I absolutely love that you love each other so much.
+ You aren't a huge fan of obedience. You like to test us and push us. You hit and yell and say "NO!" when you don't get your way. You are so very different than Annabelle in this way. I don't mean that rudely either. Watching you negotiate the world in such a different way is fascinating (albeit often frustrating). You are your own little soul, and we love it.
+ You hate hang nails on your fingers or toes. You're always picking them off. And you like to do it yourself. When we offer to help, you usually say, "No, I do it!"
+ You love movies. You are such a junky. We have to be careful with you because you'll just sit and watch and watch and watch. It's yet another reason we're so grateful TV isn't an option in our house! (We don't have cable or satellite or even rabbit ears.)
+ You have a little bit of a lisp. Or a lithp. Your S sound is a little of a TH sound. And I love it. Already I hear you correcting it. Which makes me a little sad. Because it's just so dang cute.
+ You abandoned your Japaspanglish months ago. It was rather devastating for me and Daddy. That said, your mini English is pretty awesome. You piece together the best little sentences. 
+ You love to say prayers. And you always say, "Lolly do it!" And then a few seconds later, "I need hep!" :)

NOTE: The top photo is from your actual birthday. We were in Cedar City for the Shakespearean Festival and took a trip up to Cedar Breaks. This was on our tiny hike. And the other photos are of you in all your bedhead, Nutella face glory. Aunt Whitney sent you and your sister the most adorable sticker sets with dress up outfits. You both played for houurrrrsss with these dress up stickers. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Lydia Lou:

Two years. What? It seems that the ferocity with which you attack life has eaten away your first two years - quick, fast, no time to look back. 

Nevertheless, you are still our baby, and you are the spunk and the fire of this family. You are funny, silly and smart. You are non stop - go go go. You are an entertainer. You have a few lifetimes of wisdom in your eyes, and I know you know much more than you ever let on.

When your sister came along, she changed everything. Little did I know that you would change everything again. You were a small blip on our radar, the calibration our family needed. You are the life and light of every moment. You are my light. 

You most definitely push me to my limits as a mom. You force me to think harder, be stronger. And I think that you know that. I think that is part of the reason you were sent to me. From the moment I looked into those brand new eyes of yours, eyes that were as focused as a camera, I knew you already knew me better than I knew you. Thank you my Lou, for your patience as I learn. Thank you for teaching me that my heart's capacity is limitless. And thank you for making me laugh until my side hurts.

It's quite unbelievable the way I needed you. You were everything in me that was missing. And until you came, I didn't know. Thank you for these two years of life and fire and spunk. Your face full of smirks and giggles is the heart of this family. I'm so grateful for your first beautiful two years.

Happy Birthday Baby.

All my love,

NOTE: Your Aunt Don Don took these photos of you at your birthday bash. You literally would not stand still. But how perfect these photos are. You in all your wild joy. :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

one more airplane ride

While the party photos are in the lab (remember when we had film, and it actually went to a lab?), I thought I'd fess up - we packed the babies up and took them on a plane again. Is anyone surprised? I thought not. This time to celebrate the Fourth in California. And this time we traveled in a pack - a seventeen-person (six babies included) pack. And it was legit. I was going to just do one giant colossal photo dump. But then I found a bazillion photos. So we're breaking it up. Let's get started.

The entire Cheney family (minus our Sister Whit) went to San Diego. Our little family left a day early and hit up Cabrillo National Monument (lurve! a baby lighthouse!), which is just a few minutes from the airport. We loved this little spot. It gives you a beautiful view of the bay, and a giant tanker was passing by, which Jess was pretty excited about. 

Note the itty bitty boat down here at the bottom.

The baby light house - Old Point Loma - is one of the original first eight lighthouses on the west coast (no longer in use as the fog generally obscured its light and they built a new one elsewhere). I loved this little guy because the inside is restored. 

This was the kids room (one of two bedrooms).
I believe three kids shared this room - two girls and a boy.
There was another small bed behind this changing screen on the left.

This is the master bedroom. Not bad for being sandwiched around a lighthouse.
Note that the window is directly on the floor.

I've always wanted to see how a family would live packed in around the winding staircase of a lighthouse. And this family was really packed in, given the tiny size of the lighthouse in the first place. 

Next, we set out for Joshua Tree National Park, which is just a few treacherous hours away. And let me mention here - we forgot our GPS. And neither of us have smart phones. We were old schoolin' it folks. You know - a map. We also used a life line and called a brother for more precise directions. What Jess didn't tell me was he was taking us to the south end of the park. We were staying north of the north end. The rest of this day is mostly a ghastly blur.

It was 115 degrees in Joshua Tree - I'm pretty sure that's all I need to say about that. But actually wait. There's more. 

Looks so inviting, no?

Just wanna snuggle right up to this national park.

I usually visit a national park and think, gosh, I could definitely spend more time here. Not Joshua Tree. No no no. I have a theory - I think that the swath of cactus riddled, giant turd rock, dry dirt pock marked land wasn't designated national park land because of its particular beauty or because of its contribution to nature. I think it was designated national park land because NO ONE ELSE WANTS IT. 

We spent some time climbing rocks as well. And when I say "some time," I mean literal minutes as we couldn't handle much more and one or all of us would be running for the Gatorade in the car after seconds. Belle found this "slot canyon." Jess and I were a wee bit too large for it (although Jess squeezed in), but I helped Belle up. We called her back before she hit the end, which Jess discovered later was a sheer cliff. Super parenting skills going on here.

That smile on my face is there to hide the tears.
Or was it sweat? Hard to tell at this point.
Also, the flies. Oh my gosh the flies. Lou apparently thinks that each fly carries with it a death threat, and she would shriek in fear any time one came near her. Real live deathly fear. It was so sad. This photo of her with the blanket on her head? 

She stayed like that for fifteen minutes. She was hiding from the flies. Bless her baby heart.

Joshua Tree is one of those places where you're like, "I'm glad I've seen it. I hope to never see it again." If you read this blog post, consider your visit done. Just seriously. And you're welcome.

From Joshua Tree, we headed back to San Diego to meet up with the family. Stay tuned! :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

thank you

This weekend, we celebrated our girls. July is our birthday bash month with Annabelle's birthday at the first and Lou's at the end. This year, I swore up and down that I would not go crazy and get all themed out. But it didn't work. Annabelle suggested a theme, and I went wild. I have lots of photos coming, but my sister sent this one last night. I know, right?

This weekend, my heart has been so full, not only for these two beautiful little ladies who we are so lucky to call ours, but also because of the love I felt from everyone for these girls. Their party was a huge success, not because I rocked the theme but because everyone was there - family, friends. All the people who we love were there to celebrate and support our babies.

Those happy faces up there are no joke. Thank you to everyone who helped, some driving hundreds of miles. Thank you to everyone who came and played and ate and stayed a while. And thank you to those aunties and a grandpa who sent their love from a far, even a gift from their Sister Whit in Korea! It really was the best evening ever, and the girls had the best time. Thank you thank you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

annabelle at four years

+ You can read. Let me say that another way, you can read! From my best estimates, you read at about a Kindergarten level. You can sound out simple words, and blend many others together. The really tricky ones get you still, but you keep trying.
+ You can write your name. All nine letters. Sometimes they get a little mixed up. But usually, they're in the right order. You also sound out simple words and write them yourself. 
+ You can operate the mouse on the computer (both the touch pad and the mouse). You can also operate - without any help - the Kindle. It's frightening. 
+ You are fairly OCD. You always have been. Remember when you were tiny, and you always had to have one item in each hand? Everything in your world must be systematic to make sense. Stacks, sorting, orders. This includes toys, crayons, people. Whatever needs to be organized, you're all over it.
+ You attempt simple math (addition and subtraction) all on your own. I hate math. So it's not like I'm throwing times tables at you in any hurry. But randomly you start rattling off how this plus this equals this. It never ceases to amaze me.

+ You can memorize. Okay, truthfully, you can't help but memorize. Your brain is a sponge. When the big primary kids earned a cookie each month for memorizing an article of faith, you asked if you could do it. It took you about fifteen minutes to memorize the sixth article of faith. Even with those wonky words like, evangelist. You've also got the seventh down.
+ You're our tumbler. Tumble, tumble, tumble. You really are excelling. I'm beginning to see that the challenge of something you can't yet do, is what propels you forward. You've learned some amazing tricks this year, and although your teacher wants to put you in the seven-year-old class (and so does your Dad), I'm putting my foot down on this one. I know you're capable, but I want you to be with friends closer to your age. 
+ You love me. I'm your favorite friend. I think it's the best thing in the world. You hate when I leave, you love it when I get back. Sometimes you don't want to do things (like go to tumbling) because you "just want to stay at home and play with Mommy." This makes me so happy. But we're also working on bravery and doing things all by yourself. :)

+ You and Lou are the best of friends now. There is nothing better as your mom than to watch the two of you giggling until you can't breathe because you're having so much fun together. Don't get me wrong, you two also get at each others' throats, but for the most part, you get along great. You really do share so well with her. I know she drives you crazy sometimes and steals your stuff, but for the most part, you're very patient. You are a little mommy. I know you put her needs/wants before yours sometimes. And I find that astounding for someone your age.  You also teach her so much. I know that she learns from your example, and from your specific instruction. 
+ On that note, you're kind of bossy. I understand completely. We older children tend to boss everyone around. This will be an asset someday - in school projects, at work, when you get married. Ha ha. Kidding. (But not really.)
+ You love your daddy to the moon and back. I think the best part of your day is when Daddy gets home and chases you around the house. You and Lou carry on with that Daddy for hours sometimes.
+ You try so hard to make good choices. When you don't, you are quick to apologize and make things right. You also want to make us happy. For instance, we bought some new shirts for you, but I could tell that you didn't like them. So I asked if you wanted me to return them. You said, "Is that okay? I'm really sorry."
+ You are aware of strangers. You're aware of passing cars (like ten miles away). You are aware of danger. You are pretty much a chicken. :)

+ You love to eat. Let me clarify - you've always been a pretty good eater. (And you're still totally OCD about getting messy. And you hate when different foods comingle.) But now, you eat. All. The. Time. You are growing a mile a minute, and I think tumbling burns the calories right off of you. Your current favorites are: anything Mexican, Little Caesar's Crazy Bread (still), salad (with ranch or Caesar), noodles with red or green sauce, Chick-Fil-A nuggets, oranges, corn, grapes. But honestly, you'll eat almost anything. And you're very good about trying everything on your plate, sometimes with a little coercion.
+ You love to imagine. Your very favorites are Lalaloopsy toys right now. (These last photos are you opening the Lalaloopsy you've been longing for for months - Jewel Sparkles.) You play with those little dolls for hours. And it's very involved - layers of story and conversation. I love listening to you play.
+ You hair is lonnngggg. If you straighten out the curls, it's down the middle of your back. That said, you're currently in a phase where you rarely RARELY let me leave it down. The photos below were a fluke. I basically tricked you into leaving it down so I could have a photo. You love it in fancy twists and braids and buns instead.
+ You are one incredible four-year-old. We are unbelievably grateful to have you for the big sister in this family.


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