Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And that's a wrap on May '13

 Matt made me some flowers for Mother's Day, and gave me some scented candles which is a BIG DEAL!  Ummm....little cheap scented candles aren't really a big deal.... is probably what you just thought, but I LOVE scented candles.  I love to buy them, I love to smell them, I love to burn them in every room of the house, I love to take baths with them lining the tub.  And let's just say when Matt and I got married he was astonished by the quantity of scented candles that I owned.  Then after a couple of years of marriage, he put out a ban.  I was no longer allowed to buy any scented candles.  Ever.  Or any other candles for that matter, until every single candle we already owned was completely burned down and thrown away.  So over the past 7 years, I haven't bought any candles (yes, I really owned that many).  Sure, as a woman I have been gifted them by other people relatively regularly, and each time received much ridicule and eye rolling from Matt.  After this move, I realized that I only had a couple scented candles (I still have some unscented tea lights and a few other decorative candles)!  They are the big giant scented candles though, that take quite a while to burn through.  I was happy though that I no longer had a big box (or two...) as has been the case for years.  And I was thrilled at the prospect of walking into the candle section and smelling all the candles, searching for delicious new scents.  However, I knew it would still take quite a while to burn through the 3 giant ones I still had.  So anyway, Matt buying me candles, while I still have a few left, is a BIG DEAL, coming from him.  Because he hates them (not really, but as he teases me, it's kind of morphed into him hating them).  And it's become one of those things that didn't start out that big of a deal, but has become bigger over they years, and kind of an inside joke between us.  So I was blown away when he gave me candles and I laughed and laughed, because I knew that it was a big pill for him to swallow, and I knew he did it as a joking peace offering.  But considering it took 7 years of not buying any candles (and even having to throw some away that were ruined in our many AZ moves), he was probably pretty justified in making me use up my boxes and boxes of candles.  But it's nice to have a variety of smelling options for my different moods :)  And in true Jenn fashion, I just turned a tiny story into a huge paragraph.  Kudos if you're still reading.

Toward the end of the 2nd week of May all the snow melted, and we actually warmed up!  We had high temps in the 70's and one day we even hit 80!!  The day we hit 80 was sunny and beautiful and we celebrated by getting out our swimsuits and the sprinkler!  To use a reference that my friend Kristy mentioned, we Arizonians felt like Noah when the dove came back with a leaf signaling the flood was over!  We were so happy for a sign that winter was over!!  What bi-polar weather Minnesota has given us this Spring!


 Since the one day we hit 80 degrees, it has rained almost every day including some pretty big storms (I am currently listening to the thunder rumble and the rain pound down...and finding myself with the strong desire to read Jane Austen or Harry Potter, does any one else out there feel like that during every thunderstorm?  A hot bath, cup of tea or cocoa, candle light, and a book set in England...sigh), and it's been mostly cloudy and windy nearly everyday.  We've gone back to our highs usually being in the 50's or 60's, and being too rainy and windy to play outside very often. 
Hopefully June brings lots of sunshine, especially for the seeds we planted.  (Though I will admit that as soon as it gets warm, the humidity kills me, I miss the DRY Arizona heat!)
We planted some seeds in the hope that we could have a small vegetable garden this year, the weather hasn't been especially cooperative, so we have them in containers that are easy to bring inside on those super windy, stormy, chilly days.
Lily's elementary school (where Iz also attends preschool) held a big fundraiser carnival and Matt and I took the 2 big girls.  We had SO much fun.  Although it was incredibly weird, saying hi to other parents, running into people we knew, supporting our kid's school.  It made us feel old, and like we've moved on to a new phase of parenthood.  It was a little strange and terrifying, but also lots of fun.
Lily's teacher volunteered to be in the dunk tank, the line to throw for the dunk tank was really long, and it was raining off and on, so much to Lily's disappointment, we didn't let her throw a ball and try to dunk her teacher, but we watched a few other kids throw and it was lots of fun!  I even managed to snap a picture of her getting dunked! 
 Sorry for the poor quality of these photos, I didn't think to bring the camera, so these were taken with my very ghetto (non-smart) phone.
Matt has a birthday at the end of May, so the girls painted pictures for him and helped me pick out some gardening tools for him.

We got an amazing package from Matt's mom in the mail, packed full of fun things for the girls (including the aprons they're wearing in the painting pictures above) and with lots of new clothes for the girls!  It was like going shopping, except everything was already picked out and paid for.  It was such a fun package to open, and made me once again feel so blessed for having such wonderful family.
The night before Matt's birthday I made his cake (chocolate fudge with peanut butter cream cheese mousse).  I wanted to try out a new stenciling technique but it ended up not working very well, and I was too exhausted to try and fix it, or attempt to do it in a different way that I think would work better, so I ended up just piping the buttercream on in a hurry.  It's not my best work, but I'm OK with that!  Sundays are always extra long days, between getting everyone ready and out the door for our 9 am church (to actually be on time we have to leave here by 8:40).  Sunday mornings are the only time I wish we had boys instead of girls.  Doing 3 little girl's hair, figuring out which dresses they wear with which shoes, if they can wear socks, or if it's still cold enough to need to wear tights, plus getting myself ready, making sure the church bag is stocked, everyone is fed with teeth brushed, and that I have everything I need for Nursery, is lots of work.  I always tell Matt, if we ever have a boy, he will be 100% Matt's responsibility on Sunday mornings!  Then working in the Nursery is awesome and so much fun, but some days it's physically exhausting!  We usually have between 11-13, one and a half to three year olds for 2 hours.  Then we get home, rush to feed our hungry and often cranky kids lunch, then have "quiet time" for a couple hours before I start dinner.  This particular Sunday I used quiet time to make strawberry mousse filled cupcakes for my visiting teaching ladies and for Matt's home teaching families and delivered them, so I missed out on having any downtime (worth it though).  Then I fixed dinner and we put the kids to bed, as soon as they went down, I went to work on Matt's cake.  So when it was after 9pm, and the neurotic part of me wanted to wipe his cake clean and completely re-frost it, I decided to side with the lazy part of me, that just wanted to get it done and get to bed!
The "signature" followed by RN, BSN, SRNA is kind of an inside joke with Matt and I.  After he finished nursing school and got his RN license he was so proud of himself and to be funny he started signing all the notes he left me "Matt Earl, R.N."  Like ALL his notes.  Example, "Hometeachers called, coming at 7pm tonight.  -Matt Earl, R.N.  It became a funny little joke.  Literally every valentines/birthday/mother's day card, or any other note I've received since 2007 has had this signature tag.  This joke continued, and after he got his BSN, that was added to the list.  Now that he is a SNRA (when he finishes and gets certified, he'll be a CRNA), that's added as well.  So I thought I was being cute and clever putting it on his cake, of course I usually think I'm cuter and cleverer than anyone else does, and I'm sure that's the case here, but that's beside the point! :)
Matt's birthday was on memorial day, so he was able to be home with us all day, which was great!  Usually health care professionals don't get holidays off, so it was a pleasant surprise that he didn't have to be at the hospital.  

Memorial Day was an emotional day for me.  Some good friends of ours, the Mangums, lost their 3.5 month old daughter very suddenly in her sleep on Wednesday the 22nd.  She was their 5th child and first girl.  I love my friend Taleah so very much, she is a one of a kind ball of energy and spunk, and just a great, fun, positive, kind, generous, and funny person.  Her and her husband have always been one of our favorite couple friends to spend time with, when we go home to visit.  When Matt played Peter Pan his first year of college, Ammon played Captain Hook and Taleah was Tigerlily.  They moved away for several years, but moved back to my hometown after Matt and I were married.  They were one of the first people who we spent "couples time" with, and we always had a great time, and we learned that socializing after marriage and kids was actually possible. Then after we moved, we tried to get together with them whenever we'd go home to visit family.  After I heard the news I just stared at their Christmas card from this year (which I still had up...that's how I roll), and my heart just broke for them.  As a mother, I couldn't imagine going through this kind of experience.  They have been so strong and have held themselves with such humility, faith, and trust in the Lord, that it has touched the hearts, and strengthened the faith of all those around them.  Memorial Day was the day of the funeral services, and as I woke up that morning I felt like I could clearly see what their house would look like as they prepared for the service, and I could imagine the overwhelming combination of emotions, and mostly I wished I could be there.  Not that we are so close with them that my presence would make a huge impact, but that I longed to be able to support them and share my love and friendship with them in person.  Poor Matt had to listen to me sob for about a half an hour on the morning of his birthday, but he was of course, super sweet about it, and I promised to shape up and celebrate the day in good spirits with our family.
I think with all of today's modern medicine and blessings of health, we sometimes forget that things like this still suddenly, and inexplicably happen.  It changed my perspective and I felt humbled and blessed to be able to re-learn the lesson that life is so fragile and short, and reaffirm my gratitude for my children, and rededicate myself to making everyday count and being the best mother I can be.  I think that when we are given the blessing to learn and grow closer to the Lord, through watching someone else's trial, it is such a humbling experience.  My heart is filled with gratitude and love for them, and for the Lord in allowing me to not have to personally experience this type of loss but still be able to learn and grow from it, to be able to realize my blessings, and feel sincere empathy for someone else, and to be able to grow by watching their examples of faith, love, and humility.

I usually never get to see Matt in his OR getup/scrubs since he leaves home in dress clothes in the morning, then scrubs in at work, but his month I've had a couple opportunities where I was at the hospital myself and Matt was able to run over to my floor briefly and I got to see him in his white coat and scrub cap.  It was weird for me and made it all seem more real!  I am so proud of him and it is so strange to me to think how far he's come and to realize what he is actually doing at work!

This afternoon we'll be dropping Matt's car off at a mechanic, it's been misbehaving.  It always makes me nervous to see a new mechanic.  Every time we move and have to find a new one, it stresses me out.  Mechanics are so different, and the experience you have from one to another varies drastically.  It's always hard to find honest, quality mechanics.  Here's hoping that we get lucky on the first try here in MN!

May was a busy, exciting, emotional, frustrating, exhausting, humbling month.  June will bring the end of the school year for Lily and Iz, and the official start of SUMMER!  To say that I am looking forward to it, is a gigantic understatement, but I'll say it anyway, I am excited for summer!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The first week of May we got 14 inches of snow!  Please excuse the fact that all my pictures are taken through windows, there was no way I was opening the doors to get a better pic!

 We also got given free tickets for our family to attend a circus that was in town.  The girls loved it.
 The picture below I had to take for anyone who was in/saw The Hunchback back in the day.  These girls had the EXACT capes with rods in the arms.  They could've stolen them from the EA Costume Dept.  I had to laugh and snap a picture.

Aerialists/Acrobats always make me think of my friend JessJoy, who has been traveling the world doing this.
 The girls LOVED the tigers.

 At times it was just too loud for Izzie.

Luckily for me there was only 1 clown in the whole show, and he had no face paint or wig, just floppy shoes and a ball nose. (I HATE clowns. A lot.) The girls loved him and he wasn't creepy at all, so it was a win/win for everyone!
 I think everyone's favorite part was the elephant.  He was really, really good.

 May is also brain tumor awareness month.  About a month and a half ago a friend of ours from our old ward passed away from brain cancer.  He left behind a wife and 3 step-daughters.  His name was Jay, and throughout his battle with cancer his friends and loved ones sported "Gray for Jay" T-shirts.  May 4th is the official annual Gray for Jay day and we all wore gray (as did SO many other people who were affected by Jay and his wife Katrina's amazing example of hope, love, courage, dedication, cheerfulness, obedience, and humility) and ate Jay's favorite meal pizza and pizookies (we are poor, so we just substituted ice cream cones for a pizookie).  I don't think that I would ever have the strength and humility to bear such a difficult burden as the Rasbands have with such incredible grace.  They really have touched my heart and set an example that I will never forget.
 The next day was Cinco de Mayo!  It was a weird experience to not have Grocery stores with big Cinco de Mayo sales and displays, with Mexican food and pinatas for sale the week leading up to Cinco de Mayo, however, Matt managed to put together a nice meal of homemade shredded chicken tacos, homemade Spanish rice, black beans, olives, corn from the cob, sour cream and salsa. The best part? I fell asleep this afternoon and woke up to Matthew yelling, "Dinner's ready!".  Can't get much better than that!