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Sunday, February 26, 2017

This is Childhood: Six!

6!!
How do we have a 6 year old?!

We celebrated a few weeks ago when we took the boys to see the Harlem Globetrotters, but today is all about Hayes, the boy who made me a mama and changed our worlds. Grant's in Spain on a business trip ("too much work!", Hayes said, which kind of broke my heart a little bit), but I'm trying to make up for it by taking the kiddos to Chuck E. Cheese for playtime and pizza, followed up by presents and cake at home.
Hayes, Greyson and Hayes' friends Jackson and Zachery at the Harlem Globetrotters...
Dying.
My letter to you, Hayes, on your sixth birthday...

It feels like we blinked and all of a sudden, you were six years old. Where did the time go? This was a big year for you. You became a big brother for the second time when your little sister, Henley James was born a few weeks before your fifth birthday. You came to visit me in the hospital with Pa and were very distant; we think it was because I was hooked up a thousand IVs and heart monitors, "chained to the bed" as you put it, but I worried maybe we had expected things to go too smoothly and had forgotten that you weren't the only little boy in our family who's life was changing as a result of this new creature. Luckily, as soon as we came home, you warmed up to your new sister and quickly assumed your role as protective big brother. You were so eager to help, offering to feed her bottles and wanting to hold her all by yourself. As she got older, we trusted you to keep an eye on her (and Grey) when we needed to be in the kitchen to finish up dinner or if we had to run to the bathroom really quickly. We knew you were such a rule follower that you'd never let anyone get away with anything! You finished pre-school, graduating from Green Beginning with an adorable ceremony where you donned a cap and kazoo. I cried my eyes out, sad that my baby was growing up, but also excited for what laid ahead. We celebrated with lunch at McDonalds, the graduate's choice. You started Kindergarten in the Fall; you were apprehensive, but brave, leaving me shedding the tears (again!) on the first day at drop-off. It took you a few weeks to warm up to the whole kindergarten thing, often complaining that the days were so long and counting down the minutes until the weekend arrived. But you made friends quickly and loved to learn, often choosing to do math and writing workbooks instead of playdates. You weren't the best student in the class - things didn't come to you as quickly as they did to others, but you always put in the effort and were so inquisitive about everything. You were popular - it seemed as though kids were lining up to play with you, but you were pretty oblivious to that. You quickly fell into a group of about 4 boys in the class and were definitely a little goofy when you were with them. A jokester, you liked to trick people, your favorite pranks included hiding plastic bugs and rats in inconspicuous places and pretending you hadn't done your homework when you had. You were definitely a little socially awkward and weren't quite yourself when you were around your friends and other grown-ups; sometimes it seemed as though you didn't quite know what to do with your hands and you'd become really clingy with me and Daddy. Even though you were the older brother, you depended on Greyson a lot and used him as a crutch in social situations. You caught the electronics bug big time this year and couldn't get enough of the computer and video games on your new ipad. But you also had a great imagination and would play (for the most part) nicely with Greyson, building legos or driving cars around the house. You knew how to work the AppleTV and were frankly better at understanding the whole technology thing than I was. Your brother and sister adored you; I think both of them would say you were their favorite person. Your name was one of Henley's first words; she said it even before she said 'Mama'. But boy, were you a Mama's boy. You called me "Mommy-uh". You would give me kisses and hugs whenever I asked for them and nothing made you happier than sleeping in my bed when Daddy was away on work trips. You slept with multiple loveys, including my and Daddy's childhood stuffed animals. You were afraid of the dark. You hated taking baths and would ask to skip every day. You started playing other sports beyond soccer this year; Daddy coached your AYSO soccer and Basketball League. I think you liked the fact that he was coaching far more than the actual sport itself, but you'd go every week and participate without complaint. You were super into music and we'd often hear you singing along to songs on the radio. You weren't a huge fan of movies or any story line that had a villain. Your favorite show was Rescue Bots; you liked that they helped people and that they weren't the bad guys. You simmered on the police obsession shortly after you turned five, but still had an affinity for it. Your favorite toys were legos and remote control cars. Your #1 item on your Christmas list was a drone, which you thought was the coolest thing ever. You were Batman and a pirate for Halloween. You hated all vegetables - I think because they were called "vegetables". I could get you to eat tomato soup though and considered that a win. Your favorite color was blue. Your favorite animal was a giraffe. You did speech therapy for about 5 months as you had articulation issues with the 'l' and 's' sounds. We had a routine where we'd go to Starbucks and practice every week before your sessions. Eventually, we stopped going to the therapist but continued going to Starbucks to practice; I don't know how much you were getting out of it, but I liked the one on one time and I think you did, too. Your favorite thing to order at Starbucks was chocolate croissants. You drank gallons of milk every week. You requested cinnamon buns or donuts every Saturday morning. Your sweet tooth was insatiable (like your Mama!). You loved Christmas and thought it was so awesome that Santa Claus made a special trip to Nana and Papa's to visit you on Christmas Eve. Every night, you'd ask us to "check on me every one minute!" and would only let me put you to sleep. I think we probably babied you more than you should have been at this age. I dressed you every morning and still brushed your teeth and you were probably more than capable of doing that yourself. Your brother was so the opposite of that, I think I liked feeling needed and just fell into the routine. I often struggled with the guilt of not having enough quality time to spend with you doing homework, or helping you learn to tie your shoes or ride a bike but you never complained and were just an easy going kid who went along with whatever was going on. You were patient and understanding and helpful - and we needed that in our crazy house! You also started showing signs of independence though, pouring your own milk in the morning and asserting your individuality when you dressed yourself by insisting on wearing your shirts and underwear backwards. I genuinely enjoyed spending time with you and was so proud of the young man you were becoming. Sometimes I'd just stare at you and think, how did I get so lucky to get to call this handsome kid all mine?
I lub you more than words can express. Happy birthday, Hayzey Badger.

xo,
Mama

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ka-kawww!

The first Screaming Eagles game was this past Thursday evening in Salt Lake City and it was awesome.
A little backstory for those who don't know... About 10 years ago, Grant and his buddies were at a bar in NYC musing about how cool it would be if the fans had more of a voice in professional sports. How many times had they found themselves screaming at the screen, calling plays that seemed so obvious to them but for whatever reason, the coach wasn't calling? The idea behind Project Franchise (now Project Fanchise) - the first fan-run sports team where fans called everything from what concessions to sell in the stadium to who the mascot was to individual plays in an actual game -  was born and while they worked tirelessly to get it off the ground for a good couple of years, even going so far as to submit an audition to Shark Tank (which we filmed at the Newark Airport in the stairwell of the parking garage - big production budgets, let me tell you!), eventually life got in the way and the idea was put on the back burner.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago when Grant was approached by a guy who had read a New York Times article about Project Franchise and asked him if he'd be interested in making this come to life. This guy had dabbled in Arena Football League ownership and loved the idea of having the fans call the shots. I won't go into all of the details here, but what we've ended up with is the first professional sports team - Indoor Football League (IFL) - that has ever been completely fan-run. Fans chose the city, the name, the uniforms, the dance team, the coach. And last Thursday, fans called all of the offensive plays via the Screaming Eagles app - and did a pretty damn good job of it! Unfortunately, the final score was not on our side, but the team put up a good fight and boy was it a hoot!
Grant and one of the co-owners, Sohrob discussing plays while a GQ editor looks on. {there will be a lengthy feature on Project Fanchise and the Screaming Eagles in the May issue of GQ}  

 We decided to make a mini-vacation out of the event and rented a house in Park City with our close friends, the Scuras. Joe was another one of the brains behind the original Project Franchise idea and Janine is one of my best friends from college; they have two kids - Hudson (5) and Sienna (2) - so family vacations with them are just easy. We brought the boys to the game on Thursday night and left the girls at home with an outrageously overpriced sitter (worth every penny as it would not have been their scene). 
Joe and Grant, part of the original Franchise crew...
We had all-access passes so we pretty much had the run of the place, which was a new experience for us being at a public sporting event. The Maverik Center, where the game was held, is also host to the Utah Grizzlies, SLC's hockey team, so we got to sit where the hockey players' bench was (I won't pretend to know what this is called - my Canadian family is shaking their heads right now). This meant we were seriously up close and personal, which was awesome albeit slightly terrifying in a game that's as physical and rough as IFL games tend to be.
The Screaming Eagles Dance Team...
Grey spent a good hour of the game watching Batman on Nini's phone...
Screaming Eagles youngest fan calling the shots...
The game was unlike anything I've ever been to. Fans were invited onto the field after the first touchdown. Army men hung from the rafters during the singing of the National Anthem. Swag floated down from the sky via mini-parachutes. The IFL mascots - all twelve of them - played dodgeball in between plays. I never fancied myself an IFL fan (hell, I didn't even know what IFL was before all of this!) but it was really a ton of fun.
 A good video recap of the game - my Insta-story of the day.
We have plans to go to another game at the end of March when the Screaming Eagles play the other team we have partial ownership of, the Colorado Crush, but if y'all have the chance, you should totally try to attend a game. It will be unlike anything you've ever been to.
In the meantime, check out some of the press they've gotten leading up to 
and since the 1st game last week:

 
As for the rest of the trip, we decided to forgo skiing this time around - too much hassle for too little time - but had a great time exploring Park City for the rest of the long weekend, hitting up the snow tubing at Gorgoza Park, getting a bowling game in at the Jupiter Bowl and roasting s'mores at the Montage Deer Valley. The kiddos couldn't get enough of the snow, spending every waking moment outside shoveling snow banks and we had a nice relaxing weekend with friends.
 This little one saw snow for the first time...

I swear, he was having fun...
S'mores at the Montage...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

1!

This little nugget turned one this weekend and loved every minute of being the center of attention!
Her actual birthday (Saturday) was pretty mellow. We had donuts for breakfast, pancakes for lunch and then she spent the afternoon napping at home with Aunt V and Thomas while Grant and I took the boys to see the new Lego Batman movie (something I would never have considered doing had it been Hayes or Grey's 1st birthday - #thirdchildproblems).
But we made up for it Sunday, turning a planned extended family get together into her birthday party and celebrating with cake and balloons. I really have to thank her grandma Nini, for without her, the birthday would have come and gone without much fanfare. Now at least pictures will make it seem like we went all out for the affair!
With her only friend, Indie...
PS how cute is Hayes when he puts his arm in front of her to protect her from the candles??
Happy birthday, Henley! We love you!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Childhood: This is One!

Baby girl turns 1 today! I can't quite believe that it's been a whole year since she entered our lives three weeks before we were expecting her and gave us the biggest surprise of all when the baby that we were convinced was going to be a he, turned out to be a she.
Her first birthday is a mixed bag of emotions for this mama. I'm so happy to celebrate this important milestone and see my little lady be the center of attention (sporting a special birthday tutu nonetheless - come on, you think I'd let that opportunity pass me by??) as we celebrate her 365th day on this earth. But it also marks the closing of a chapter for us - our last baby is no longer a baby (even though she'll always be considered THE baby) - and every one of you readers know how nostalgic and panicked I become when I see time slipping through my fingers.
In keeping with tradition, I penned Henley's first birthday letter, heart swelling and tears brimming as I reflect on the past year that's made my little bear the amazing kid she is today. So here goes...

You were and always will be the biggest and best surprise of our lives. You kept us on our toes from the first day I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with you, slightly panicked about the prospect of adding another to our boisterous brood while we were in the middle of literally building a new home for our family. You always had your own agenda, deciding three weeks before your estimated due date that that was the day you were going to join our family. And I truly believe that you came to be for a reason - had we not gotten pregnant with you when we did, had we waited until the next summer, when we had discussed would be the "right time" to MAYBE try for a third, I don't think we would have made the decision to have you. And for that, I am forever grateful. Baby girl, you have brought a calmness to our lives that I didn't realize we needed, filled a hole I didn't realize was there and truly, deeply make our family complete. I look at you in awe on the daily; your little perfect features, your shining light that radiates from your little body. And I thank my lucky stars that you are ours. You spent the first three weeks of your life sleeping. All day, every day in the rock n play, all night lying on my chest. It was the only place you would settle at night and I loved every minute. I think you needed that extra time being close to your mama and I was happy to oblige. You earned your nickname, 'Angel Baby' by being just that - the most angelic, easy going child. We carted you around to all of your brother's activities and half the time forgot you were even there. You spent a LOT of time in the carrier, happy to just quietly observe what was going on around you. Our house was madness, filled with loud noises and very physical boys who were either trying to kill each other or smother you. But boy, did your brothers love you. Hayes quickly assumed the responsible big brother role, happily holding you and feeding you, doing whatever he could to help out. For the first couple of months you were with us, Greyson didn't notice you all that much, but when he did, he loved to give you big hugs and tell you how cute you were. By the end of your first year, you and Greyson were quite the little buddies; he was very protective over you, but also quick to remind you "No baby no!" when you got into his stuff. And you couldn't get enough of your brothers. You'd longingly look at them in wonder and awe and thought Hayes was the funniest guy on the planet. You were such a happy baby, constantly kicking your legs when you'd get excited, enthusiastically waving any time you caught your reflection in the mirror. When you got really animated about something, you'd crinkle your little nose up and sneer, breathing loudly in and out. You were quiet for the most part, but when you wanted to be heard, you could be very loud. On the rare occasion you got upset, you got really upset. We could tell you were a little on the sensitive side and could see you contemplating whether you should cry or not when someone said no or told you to stop doing something. You weren't used to hearing that! You crawled with gusto, loudly slamming your hands and feet on the ground, dirty knees on all of your pants. At one year, you still hadn't really shown signs of walking, but you would pull yourself up with ease and were cruising a little bit. And we were perfectly fine delaying the whole walking thing for as long as possible! You were slow to take to solids, but once you figured out how to eat (and once we took the time to actually feed you every day!), you embraced eating and liked mostly everything we gave you. At one year, you had one word: 'Baba', for bottle. You experimented with other sounds (mostly dad and bob) but didn't seem to assign them any meaning. You were a snuggler, always loving to be held. My favorite part of the day with you was the morning, when I'd go into your room to get you and you'd greet me with a big smile, then put your head on my shoulder for a few moments before the morning madness started. You were a great sleeper and a late riser, often waking up a full hour after your brothers. You knew how to clap, wave, put your arms up in the air when we said "Henley is this big!" and even learned how to whip nay nay after your nanny, Colisha taught you the song. You loved having your belly and feet kissed and could not get enough of the stinky feet game. You didn't really have any favorite toys, but were interested in everything your brothers played with, cars and balls in particular. More than anything, you seemed to love just a good ole pair of socks; you'd crawl around the house with one in each hand, happy as can be. You weren't a huge fan of having your diaper changed and the only song that seemed to calm you was "The Ants Go Marching." You became pretty attached to a little white lamb stuffed animal we called Lila and would suck on it's feet for comfort before you went to bed. It smelled terrible, no matter how much we washed it but you basically couldn't sleep without it. You, on the other hand, smelled so delicious and had the softest skin I'd ever felt. You had the cutest two little bottom teeth and no signs of anymore coming. Oh and you loved to dance. You'd bounce your bottom up and down on the floor and really get into the music, which was the cutest thing ever. We honestly couldn't get enough of you and tried to soak in every single moment, sneaking in as many kisses as we could while we still could and being a little more patient and willing to stop life for a minute to pick you up or snuggle on the couch with you while you had your bottle because you were the baby. You were simply the best and although you turning one made me sad for the baby days that had passed, it also made me excited for what was to come, the relationship I looked forward to having with you, my daughter, as you went through life. You're a lucky girl Hens, to be born into a family that has so much love for you. Between your Dad and me and your brothers, I hope you always feel protected and cared for and know that you are so special to this family for so many reasons but most importantly because you made us complete.
Happy 1st birthday, Henny Bear. We love you so much!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Currently...

Making: "sprinkle pie" with Greyson. He had been asking to bake for weeks and we finally donned our aprons and got busy in the kitchen this week.
Cooking: Grant's been traveling a lot lately and since I pretty much just eat after-school specials (grilled cheese and tomato soup, anyone?) and avocado toast when he's gone, on weeks he's home, I've really tried to cook A LOT. I added quite a few new cookbooks to my collection this past Christmas (Chrissy Teigen's Cravings, Julie Turshen's Small Victories, The SkinnyTaste Cookbook, and of course, Delish 2016); this week alone, I've made three new recipes from Delish 2016 - kale and chickpea curry (added some rotisserie chicken to up the protein content - leftovers were seriously restaurant quality!), slow cooker beef tacos and tonight, we're having fish filet with tomatoes, white wine and capers.
Drinking: Trying to drink so much water, but it's so hard for me! The other day, I realized that I had gone the entire day without having a single sip of water (I had a Fresca for lunch) until dinnertime, so I've reinstated my post-surgery rule that I have to have a glass of lemon water every morning before I have my capp and then aim to drink four 22oz bottles of water a day.
Reading: I had been reading Luckiest Girl Alive, but to be honest, I found it terrible and after trying on and off to get into it for the better part of four months, I finally abandoned ship. I never usually do that, but I decided it was pointless reading something I just wasn't enjoying at all, especially when I have such limited time to read for leisure. I downloaded a new book called Sisters One, Two, Three at the beginning of January but haven't really gotten into it yet, again for lack of time. Do I just need to accept that I should be on some sort of reading hiatus while I have three kids under the age of five??
Wanting: new stuff for the kids' rooms (see this week's post about My Loves)...
Looking: At a very green Los Angeles! All of this rain of late has resulted in a good soak to the earth - and the plants couldn't be more thrilled. Our neighbors had basically a front yard full of dying grass and dirt and now all you see is a blanket of green.
Playing: Lots of games in Hayes' speech app. We're making it a priority to practice speech in between sessions and it's making me realize that I could easily be his speech therapist. More on that later...
Eating: Mostly healthy, low-carb food since Grant's on his month long detox diet. But managing to sneak in some pizza and cheesecake on the weekends ;-)
Wishing: that I could freeze time. I'm having major anxiety lately that my babes are growing up and finding myself in a bit of a panic about it all.
Enjoying: Planning our trip to Cabo in March. We just booked a long weekend with some friends and couldn't be more excited to bask in the warm sun for a few days.
Loving: The aforementioned LA rain - nothing better than snuggling on the couch with my boys, watching a movie while it pours outside.
Needing: To start planning Henley's 1st birthday. Poor gal isn't having a party - we're having a big family dinner the day after her birthday and intend to do cake, etc... then, but thinking I need to at least order some decorations or something to make it somewhat special!  
Smelling: Gucci Rush, an old perfume I recently rediscovered - a warm, spicy scent that's perfect for the cold winter.
Feeling: A little nervous about work - lots of changes happening around here and I'm praying I can stay put!
Wearing: My warmest Ted Baker sweater, the most comfortable jeans I've ever owned and boots with thick socks. I sit by a window at work and it is chilly!
Following: Every news article I can about our disaster of a President and feeling sick and helpless about it all.
Reminiscing: About 6 years ago today, when we took ownership of Livonia and 1 year ago today, when we took ownership of Esther. January 26th is an important date in our family!

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Loves: Nursery Edition...

It's been a LONG time since I've done a 'My Loves' post, but here's what I'm currently digging these days...

Greyson finally graduated from crib to big boy bed and when we finally took the damn thing down a few weeks ago, we realized their room was in dire need of some redecorating. Because we'd had the bunk bed and crib in there, none of the furniture was in it's final resting place, meaning we weren't able to hang any artwork and the room felt very unfinished. 

We moved the bunk bed down the wall a little bit so it's now anchoring a corner of the room and in lieu of a chair, which the boys will never use, we've decided to get a kid's desk and rug. 

Here's the rug I just bought today (the picture really doesn't do it justice). The space is kind of awkwardly shaped, so a circular one made the most sense. I liked this one as goes well with the colors of the bedding and looked like it would last for years to come:
Ring Around the Ribbon Blue Round Rug, Land of Nod
As for the desk, I'm stumped. I've looked everywhere to try and find a cute one, but haven't found any that I'm in love with, so if you have any recos, please send them my way!

Boring furniture aside, the fun part about redecorating a room is the artwork, right?

For the boys' room, we have a distressed wood California Republic sign (a HomeGoods find - score!) and a small beach/waves painting that Grant bought me for one of my birthday presents in college. But there's a huge blank white wall that is crying out for something cool to put on it. How cool is this chalkboard map I found at RH?:
USA Chalkboard Map, RH
While I was perusing RH, I of course had to take a look at the more girly stuff as well, for truth be told, Henley's nursery was never quite finished the way I wanted it to be. 

I've been trying to find something to hang above her crib and living in earthquake-prone California, it couldn't be anything that was in a heavy frame with sharp corners. 

I found literally the perfect thing at RH, which marries my need for a soft tapestry-like piece of art with my love for Moroccan wedding blankets:
Moroccan Wedding Blanket Tapestry, RH
It's pricey, so it's definitely an investment (and probably not one Grant is too interested in investing in...) But I could use it in her room (or mine!) for years to come! Absolutely in love with this piece...

I also bought these prints, which I plan on doing something with - just need to mount and frame them. Hoping they'll add a pop of color to the room:
All prints, Ivie Baby
(side note, this etsy shop, which is a favorite of mine, also has the cutest crib sheets. 
They are outrageously priced though, at $65 a pop. 
I seriously need to learn how to sew and start my own damn shop...But I digress.)

Anyways, that's what I'm currently lusting over. Once the kids rooms are finished and we buy a piece of furniture or two more for the front family room, I think we'll finally feel settled in the new house (oh, just a year after we moved in!). And then maybe, just maybe, I'll get around to taking pics of the finished product!