Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Crafts - Day 2

We did another little activity on Friday. We made tissue-paper flowers. Amy loved this. Even though I had to do most of the work for her, since scissors are hard and she's a little rough with separating the tissue paper, she has been carrying around the flowers every day since!

Financial Goals for 2011

The past year and a half have been crazy, to say the least. We have moved 4 times (including a short stint at my in-law's house) and have changed jobs 3 times. After all the craziness of life and this economy, we are determined not to be thrown into panic-mode anymore.

Our solution? We are going to put aside, what we consider, a year's supply of money. This is not the amount we would spend if we were employed, but should the economy freak-out, should Mike's company suddenly close, or some other devastating event, we don't want to have to immediately move or worry how long we can survive with the amount of money we have saved. So we decided to buckle down for a year and put away a large amount into our savings each month.

So January has come. And we did it! We were able to put away the full amount we wanted to, plus a little extra! We did go over on some of our budget items, but we stayed under on the others. So we are pretty darn proud of ourselves! In fact, with the money we had saved from our previous savings, plus January, plus February and our tax refund (woo hoo!), we will possibly be halfway there already! Although we plan to save for the entire 12 months, putting aside more for a down-payment for a future house and a celebratory trip to Europe hopefully planned for Summer 2013!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine's Crafts - Day 1

Sometimes I strive to be a good mom. I feel like I'm succeeding this week. I've decided that, during Matthew's naptimes, Amy and I are going to do a Valentine's craft / activity / something together. Yesterday was the first day, and we made Valentine's placemats for the table. Cardstock, stickers, glue, sequins, and doilies, along with some contact paper, makes a fun little placemat for the family. And she had a lot of fun doing it ("Mom, I want to do the glue myself.").

Great job Amy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Funny Amy

Well, it's a new year, so it's time for the Biggest Lewis-er again... yes, we put all our weight back on... dang it. The goood news? I'm winning (bring it everyone!)... so far! I bought some special K, and by bought I mean got for .15 a box with a coupon the other day. Amy asked for some, but knowing she probably wouldn't like this non-sugared cereal and not wanting to waste my healthy food, I told her it was for mommies who wanted to get skinny.

Well, the next week she was at my in-law's house while Mike and I were out. My MIL, whom I had sent an extra of my super duper cheap boxes of Special K to, asked Amy if she wanted a bite of her cereal. To which Amy responded, "No, it's for mommies to get skinny." My confused in-laws got a good laugh out of that one!
This is what my kids look like each morning when they have their morning snack of cereal and Toy Story.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

An excuse to wear a formal!

I love to dress up. Any excuse to doll myself up, I'm in. Usually I prefer it when I'm thinner... but I've lost some weight, so it was okay this time. My MIL, mine and Mike's birthdays, bought us tickets to their ward's YW fundraiser. It was a formal dinner and dance. So we went through the closets, sorted through a lot of jewelry, gloves, and purses, and got all dolled up. The girls got a flower for their hair, the boys got a rose for their lapel, and we dined and danced the night away, complete with Salsa dancing instructions and a band. The YW served us delicious food (note to self: get that gravy recipe) and we had a great time visiting with friends and family. And I got to go out with my good looking hubby! Thanks Mom & Dad Laudie!

 P.S. Our night out also included babysitting. I don't think the kids minded at all!
 Note to Amy: Don't fall asleep near your brother. He will pile dolls on your back.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday Mike!

30 years ago, Michael Richard Laudie graced the world with his presence.
30 years later... he's still here! Hooray for us!
My sweetheart turned 30 today. While we had originally intended for it to be a little more of a low-key day, the kids and I just couldn't pass up the excuse to shower him with love and attention. We started off the day by delivering cupcakes, balloons, and a candy bar to his work - just so everyone would know it was his birthday! It's so fun that he finally works somewhere that we can do that - everywhere else has been in classified areas and we couldn't sneak up on him!

Then we came home and cleaned and cooked and cleaned some more, because that night it was party time! Mike's parents and siblings, including Jim and Emilie and their crew, came over for the festivities, along with John and Elon and Austin (John works with Mike at Imagine Learning). I had invited a couple of Mike's old roommates (shout out to Bryce and John!), but being the dingbat that I am, I accidentally gave them the wrong address (South... not North...) and they didn't have my phone number, but they were there in heart!

We started off the night with some good food - Mike requested ribs for his birthday dinner. Being the worrier I am about not having enough food, I also made BBQ pork sandwiches, a TON of garlic mashed potatoes, a TON of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and a lot of rolls. Mike's mom supplied the jello. After eating more than our fill, we moved onto the games.

For the record, I am not typically a party game person. I'm more of a "have games and activities available and if people want to use them, great, if not, that's fine too." However, it was Mike's 30th birthday, so I wanted to spotlight his 30 years, so there were games. The first game was "How old is Mike?" I printed off 27 pictures of Mike (one from each year - there were a couple of years that Mike was apparently absent from in his family's collection of pictures) and mixed them up. Then everyone had to guess which picture was his newborn picture, which one was age 1, etc. Surprisingly, it was more difficult than I thought. Even Mike only got about 19 of them! The grandprize winner was Mike's dad, followed close behind by Emilie.
The next game was "name that song." I got a song from each year of Mike's life (not the #1 hit, but just a popular song) and played a clip from it. Points for name of song and artist. While it was recommended that I outsource this project next time (some of my songs weren't appreciated - who doesn't recognize the Tootsie Roll anyways!), everyone seemed to have fun and it was an enjoyable stroll down memory lane! The winner of that game was John by a landslide!

Of course we had cake! This year Mike picked a brownie trifle (brownie, chocolate brownie pudding, whipped cream, toffee bits, repeat). This was a change up from the cake he has requested every year since we were married (Strawberry Tunnel cake), but very good. I think this is the first time that there were NO leftovers of a birthday cake - granted we had a lot of people over! And, yes, I did put 30 candles on the cake. Looks a bit like it's going to burn the house down, doesn't it?

It was a really fun night, and we were all happy to celebrate Mike's birthday with him!

In honor of Mike's 30th birthday, here are 30 things I love about Mike:
30. He has no rhythm when it comes to dancing- it makes me smile to watch him try to dance!
29. He is completely blind. Ever watch a blind man look for his glasses or contacts in the morning? Sometimes I put them right in front of him so I know he'll never find them!
28. He's always willing to try new things - recipes, activities, etc.
27. He's also a creature of habit - while he tries new recipes, he'd still pick Chicken Divan over almost anything because that's what he's always loved.
26. He's neurotic and obsessive about organizing things on the computer. Seriously, do you need your music classified by artist, title, include the lyrics, etc.? How about scanning all the pictures in your parents' closet for the past 35 years and labeling, dating, and tagging everyone in all the pictures? Yep. The world needs crazy people like that! 
25. He couldn't tell you the time if his life depended on it. Even if he was sitting next to a clock, he would still be surprised by the time and be late to wherever he needs to be.
24. He's loud. I feel the need to apologize whenever we go to his parents' house because he runs amok with all the kids and gets them all hopped up and energetic. But my kids, and his siblings, and the kids in nursery, love it!
23. He's cheap. My family used to think my wallet was tight, but then I married Mike and we together were worse. But he's amazing at helping us keep on budget and saving for the things that are really important to us.
22. He's an avid disc-golfer, and he actually tries to learn and get better! I'm a "throw it wherever and see where it lands" kind of player, but he actually aims and stuff. I'm impressed.
21. He loves to read. He listens to books on tape while he's working and almost always has at least 3 books by his bedside that he can't put away because he's in the middle of all of them.
20. He loves puzzles. Mostly logic puzzles, but pretty much any puzzle will make its way into his hands.
19. He's a game-player. Any type of game, especially if its a strategic game, he loves. Our boardgame collection grows every year.
18. He's COMPETITIVE. Which works out well, because I am too. Our motto is "If I can't win, at least I'm going to beat you" (meaning each other).
17. He's a compulsive cheater! The first time he played Phase 10 with my family, he held a wild in his lap - now we always watch him very closely.
16. He still wears shirts that he wore in high school!
15. His "Friday shirt". This is the shirt he wore every Friday night, until he found out my roommates and I were laughing about it behind his back... because it's a Hawaiian shirt with a printed  shirt beneath it... and he left it unbuttoned low enough that you could see the printing! Shiloh? Brittany? Am I right? For the record, I don't think he's worn the Friday shirt in our entire married life... maybe once, but I don't think so.

14. He loves the outdoors - especially camping. This makes me (and the kids) happy, as we love it too!
13. He loves holidays! Mike is always willing to dress up for Halloween, hide Easter eggs, decorate gingerbread houses, and shoot off fireworks!
12. He is a great sport. Even when the game becomes "beat Mike" or we break into song singing "Out in the desert he wanders," he takes it with a smile and a playful comeback!
11. He loves my family. We're a family of loud sisters, but he not only takes it but joins in!
10. He loves his family. He is a great son and brother!
9. He loves to sing. While I am practically tone-deaf, he sings in the ward choir, even though I refuse to go. One of these days he'll get a music calling - he's been holding out for years!
8. He's a hard worker. When we wanted sprinklers in the backyard, who dug the trenches? Yep, Mike.
7. He served an honorable mission and talks about it! We are continually talking about when we can make it back to Estonia and all the things he wants to show me!

6. He loves music and is very musically-inclined. Wherever we go he always looks for a community orchestra to play in to keep up his ability. I hope my kids get that drive and talent!
5. He lets me be a stay-at-home mom.
4. He's always willing to serve - if someone's moving, his name is on the top of the list.
3. He has a strong testimony.
2. He loves my kids.
1. He loves me.

Happy Birthday My Love! Can't wait to spend your next 30 years with you!

Sleepy Matthew

Matthew has, within the past month, switched from two naps to one. So now he's up until after lunch, then down for a couple hours. Well, sometimes he doesn't make it...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pretty Pretty Princess

The Disney Store in Orem was having a Princess Tea Party for little girls 3 and up. Doesn't this sound exactly like the kind of thing my daughter would want to go to? YES! I think she had a pretty good time. They were limiting it to 50 girls, so we got in line 1/2 hour early (that's the soonest they'd let you) and got her crown, which was her pass to get into the party. It was a good thing too, because they did fill up. Then we spent the next 1/2 hour walking around the store, looking at all the disney stuff (again, heaven for Amy). I was a mean mom and didn't buy any of the 100 things she said "can we get this" to, unlike those other soft moms.

When it was time for the party to start, it was a bit cramped with 50 little girls AND their parents/siblings that were watching on (they just did it in an open spot in the store - not much room). After playing "guess that Disney princess" and "carry the sugar cube from the sugar bowl to the tea cup", they decorated a princess cup with jewels and called it good. It was a fun little thing, but definitely a little chaotic with all those girls (and one boy whose mom said he loves princess stuff and wanted to be the prince... yeah...). But I definitely had the prettiest princess at the ball!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Soldier Hollow

We've been to a few work parties in our married years. A couple family barbeques, a couple adult Christmas parties... but Imagine Learning has BY FAR the best party ever! They rent out Soldier Hollow, a sledding hill complete with lift, for two hours of play time. SO FUN!
We got all suited up and headed to the hill. We soon found out that kids could not sit on laps, which started to make us nervous. We didn't know if Matthew would sit on the tube all the way up the lift by himself, or if Amy would be willing to try, but we gave it a go anyway.
Amy on the lift
Mike & Matthew on the lift

Matthew did try to wiggle out, but we made it to the top. I read part of the rules before going down, which said "don't drag your feet". So I didn't. And believe me, it goes pretty fast (the employees said they clocked themselves at 65 mph the night before). But I was brave and refused to put my feet down. Apparently the guys at the top are supposed to tell the sledders that when you get to the lighted cones you're supposed to start to slow yourself down. Oops. When the guy at the bottom started waving at me, I dropped my feet and we only went through one of the netted gates. In my defense, some people made it through 3 layers of the fence.

Now Amy is the biggest chicken when it comes to trying new things, and I was afraid, what with the whole "going through the net" thing that she wouldn't like it, but she had the biggest smile on her face and said "Can we go again?!" When I turned to find Mike and Matthew, apparently Matthew had tried to wiggle off the whole way down and did not have an ounce of fun. So I sent Amy with Mike and Matthew and I settled in with some hot chocolate. That made him much happier.
After a few more runs (the line was getting long for the lift, so we didn't get to go more than a couple more times), we headed in for some dinner. It was quite good - soups and chili and hot dogs and salad. Very family friendly, which I appreciated. Matthew was much happier when there was food around!
After warming up, we found out that both of the lifts were supposed to be open to us, but one was broken, so they agreed to give us another hour of sledding. Amy was dying to get a few more runs in. We went back outside, and either everyone didn't get the memo or they took kids home, but we were one of maybe a dozen people out on the hill. After 8-10 more runs (every time we got to the bottom, Amy immediately said "Can we go again?!"), we were cold and tired and ready to come home. But not without Amy's plea to come back again another time! Definitely the best work party ever!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

December in Arizona

While we didn't make it to Arizona for Christmas this year, we did make it down the following Monday. We made the long drive with the kids, complete with movies and snacks. The kids were actually really good most of the trip, but we were ALL ready to be out of that car when we got there. Matthew loved when we got to stop for a potty break, because that meant a short reprieve from his dungeon we call a car seat, but it was usually followed by a short tantrum when we tried to put him back in it. Oh well. We made it.
Lunch Break at Burger King - a chance to run amok!

Lisa and TJ and Riker were there for a couple of days more before heading off to Washington for the rest of their vacation, so we were able to overlap and spend some time with them.

Calli and Brendan are now in Arizona (hooray!) because Brendan is now done with Chiropractic school (hooray! - Anyone need a referral?) and they live less than 1/2 a mile from my mom's house, so many nights we got to go over after the kids were asleep and play games (don't worry, my parents were still at home, it's not like we left them alone in an empty house while we played games down the road).

Summer and Jessica were there too, Summer home for Christmas break and Jessica enjoying her vacation from school. Didn't see a ton of Summer... she really only slept at the house. Jessica, a little bit more, but not much. Gotta love a social life!

Of course we spent lots of time with Grandma and Grandpa! What did we do? Well, most of the time we ate. Yes, ate. Why, you ask? Because on January 1st we were starting the Biggest Lewis-er again (because we all got fat again... boo...), and we had to eat all the candy and fattening things in the house or else mom was going to throw them away. Honestly, I was tired of junk at the end of it... although I could totally go for some of it now.

Mike was only there for a week because then he had to get back to work. We worried whether he would get to come at all, since he just started this job and we didn't think he'd have any vacation time built up to be able to visit. But, just one more reason we love this company, the CEO "gifted" Christmas Eve to New Year's Day off for everyone in the company - no charge to vacation time. HOORAY! So Mike came down for one week, and we tried to fit in everything he wanted to do before we came back. So what did we do?

First of all, we spent some time with my Grandparents. We laugh that Mike is Grandpa's favorite because my Grandpa is a story-teller - mostly fish stories at that - and Mike is an attentive listener and asks questions about said stories. We had spent some time with them up at their place in Lindon a few summers ago and had learned to play 42 with them (it's a dominoes game that's very fun), so we went over a couple of afternoons to visit and to play 42 with them. It was so fun. Amy and Matthew ran around outside (because it wasn't freezing in Arizona and they refused to come inside because they knew when we came back to UT they wouldn't be allowed to run outside without coats anymore) and played in the leaves and looked at the horses. Of course Amy had to pick an orange or two... along with the whole box of oranges and lemons we brought back with us.Gotta love Arizona citrus! We sure do!

We also got to spend some time with our friends the Owens. Man we miss them! We used to live around the corner and we practically lived at each other's houses. They were the type of friends that you could call on a Friday night and say "we're not doing anything tonight. Want to come over and do nothing with us?" And they would, and we'd eventually pick a movie or game or just hang out. Yep, definitely miss them. We made it over to Goodyear for some pizza and games with them. They also came over on New Year's Eve.
Speaking of New Year's Eve, that was the last day before Mike went home. So of course he wanted to get some disc golfing in. So the Owen's came over to Calli and Brendan's with us after the boys went disc golfing. We had a great time with the Potter's - eating (of course), playing lots of games (my new game learned is Puerto Rico - very fun!), and shooting off fireworks (did you know they legalized it in AZ for a couple days a year? I'm really surprised!). The kids ran around crazy and the babies crashed in all different rooms.

Amy and Matthew loved playing with cousins. Taylor, Keaton, and Brody were at my mom's house a lot because she watches Calli's kids while Calli's at work. So we got to see a lot of the cousins. Amy and Keaton are really good buddies now - most of the time. Brody and Matthew played in tandem pretty well. Taylor liked to be the queen of the babies and tell everyone what to do. Such is a life of 5 kids, 6 and under.
Amy, Matthew, and I stayed an extra week to spend some more time with my family. It worked out well that we did because my Grandpa was getting knee replacement surgery that week and Mom spent a lot of time shuttling Grandma to west Phoenix to visit him the hospital, so we were able to help out and watch Calli's kids while Mom was out.

I also celebrated my 27th birthday in Arizona. I spent the morning shopping with Calli and Mom, followed by lunch at Pita Jungle (yum!). Later I went out to Goodyear and had dinner with Nikki (miss her so much!). It was a low-key day, but very nice.

The trip ended with the drive back to Utah. While I am totally and completely capable and comfortable driving back by myself with the kids, my very loving father and mother insisted on driving back with me. Thanks Mom and Dad! They got to stay for a couple nights and then flew home. They even willingly sat in a car for 11 hours on their ANNIVERSARY! Now that's true love.

All and all it was a great trip and we are definitely missing the warmth of Arizona these days! Can't wait to go again!