Population: 6 - Ryan, Kathryn, Lucy, Elsa, Leta, Annie

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Well folks - blogging really doesn't happen much in these parts.  It seems like I've changed over to mostly just writing in a personal journal, Instagram, Facebook and writing for my other blog:  I Heart AZ.  I suggest you check out that one if you want to know things going on here in Arizona.  

But, the time has come to change things up a bit.  I'm so far behind in blogging my life that I won't even try to catch up.  And with us doing foster care, I feel like it is time to make this blog private.  I would like to know exactly who is reading and who has access to pictures and names.  Besides, one post I wrote awhile back had over 1000 views.  They could all be mine from times I opened up my blog to look at other peoples blogs?  But, if not that is kinda crazy because even on my I Heart AZ blog where we try to promote and be super public, even some of those posts do not get viewed that much (well, not yet at least.  Work in progress.)

I can't post pictures or even the name of our son on social media for the whole world to see, but if this blog was private I could.  If I'm going to take the time to post, I'm not going to write in code names and blur faces.  Just too much.  This was always a place where I could be very open and honest and I'm not feeling like changing that now.  

So my point - I know this will make it harder to read my blog (because face it, everyone else who has a private blog, I haven't read your blog in a LONG time and probably need another invite), but if you would like to be invited to read my blog, send me an e-mail at  Thanks!

(Mom, I'll automatically add you in.  Ryan, you better still send me an e-mail so I now you still read our family blog.)

I'm switching over next Sunday after our Primary Program (which I am in charge of) and family Halloween party (which I still need to make 5 Halloween costumes for) and about 5 other big to-dos are over.  This week will be busy, but next Sunday will be glorious!

Enjoy your Sabbath!  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Disneyland - February 2014

Today I'm posting two posts I started long ago and just never finished.

At the beginning of 2014, some of Ryan's family was talking about going to Disneyland.  We would have loved to go since we told Leta and Annie that we would take them when they were 4 (the magical age for a first visit).  We said it when Lucy and Elsa were 4 and got to go when we had a few free passes and we thought three years would be financially different and we would surely have more money....but we were wrong.  I REALLY wanted to take Leta and Annie, but I just pushed this want aside since financially it just wasn't going to work.  Then, things happened to fall into place.  Ryan had a few good work months, we had a few extra financial blessings, and I found a way to get a group ticket rate through my preschool.  We felt like this was our one shot to take Leta and Annie and it would be fun to go with family, so we made it work!  It is kinda weird how we ended up going to Disneyland exactly 3 years after we took Lucy and Elsa for the first time.  So Leta and Annie were the exact same age as Lucy and Elsa when they got to go for the first time.  And now that we are in the middle of foster care, I really see how it was such a blessing taking the girls at that particular time.

We traveled to California on Monday afternoon.  We took Lilly with us (she is good enough to put up with us).  We enjoyed downtown Disney and eating at Rainforest Cafe Monday evening and then swimming in the hotel pool.  Rainforest Cafe was a fun treat, but not one I would pay to do again.  Then we went to Disneyland on Tuesday and Wednesday and drove home Wednesday night.  Ryan was a trooper!  The girls loved having Anna and her kid and Emily came with her kids on Tuesday, plus Grandma and Grandpa Melzer and aunt Lilly and Uncle James, and the Estes family all staying at the same hotel and enjoying Disney together.  

Lego Store

First morning!

Here are a few things I want to remember: 

1 – Annie’s smile when she told me that Minnie Mouse gave her 2 kisses! And then her holding up her two pudgy fingers.  Oh and her first ride face:

2 – The smile on Elsa’s face when Queen Elsa waved to her.

 Elsa really wanted to meet Queen Elsa at Disneyland.  However, the line was two hours long the whole day.  Elsa was in tears and it was causing contention with other members of the family.  Finally, we made the decision that I would split off from the group with her and take her to see Elsa just to see one more time what the wait was.  When we got there, the cast member heard me explaining to Elsa that we would miss much of our time with family in order to stay in line.  So the cast member, hearing that Elsa’s name was in fact Elsa, took Elsa to the exit door and let her wave hi to Queen Elsa.  It wasn't an official meet and greet and we don’t have any pictures of them together which would have been wonderful to have, but at least Elsa was made to feel very special and we then were able to catch up with family and enjoy the rest of our afternoon.  It was also nice to have the one on one time with my Elsa at Tarzan's Tree House while the others were finishing Haunted Mansion.  

We had eye contact!

3 – The look on Leta and Annie’s faces when we went on Tower of Terror.  Both of them sat there in utter shock.  All my girls decided in the end that they no longer liked Tower of Terror.  I’m just glad no one’s heart stopped on the ride – though I was worried.  I actually had the thought once the ride started, "Has a child ever died from shock?"  Surprisingly, I didn't get too sick on this ride.  Didn't know if it was the peppermint oils I put on before the ride or the fact that I was too worried about my girls.    

4 – The giggles from Leta and Annie as I got to drive with each of them for the first time on Autopia.  Both of them smacked their heads on the steering wheel and just kept on giggling and had the biggest smiles that they were actually driving a car!!

5 – The heat from sitting so close to the flames in the World of Color Show – which also meant the constant mist from the water fountains.  We were soaked by the end of the night.

6 – Getting to go on Grizzly River Rapids twice – right in a row.  It was our last ride of the entire trip and I knew people were eager to leave.  It ended up with me, Lilly and James taking all the kids on the ride.  We rode once and then all the kids were BEGGING to go again and I know everyone dreams of getting to ride the rides at Disneyland twice in a row without even getting off.  Plus I hated ending the trip on a big No!  So I took a calculated risk and let the kids ride again liked they asked even though I knew I was going to deal with the frustration of waiting parents and more motion sickness (and yes, there were angry eyes and upset parents and Ryan wouldn't talk to me when we got off).  It was a good thing I didn't let them go three times like they were begging to.  The laughter from everyone on the ride and getting to see everyone’s smiles all at once since we were in a big round tube was priceless to me - and possibly my favorite moment of the whole trip.  We were cold and soaked, people were mad at Kathryn, but it was priceless.

Picture of Ryan not wanting to talk to me or wait to walk with me as we left the park the last time (that fact kind of tainted the utter joy we had just experienced).  

7 – Feeling like a constant snack pack for my kids – my shoulders ached, but I kept many a tummies happy.  

8 – Finding the perfect shoes before our trip at one of the two stores I had time to shop at.  Athletic, more fashionable than my other shoes, and oh so comfortable.  It was a shoe miracle for my crazy feet.

9 – There were many favorite parts about our trip to Disneyland, but I LOVED Lucy telling me while waiting in line the second morning – “Mom, they say this is the happiest place on earth, but it’s not.”  So I asked, “Oh, what is the Happiest Place on earth?”  And I kid you not, I didn't even pay the girl to say this, but she said, “Home.”  And she is right.  Disneyland is fun and over the top and exciting, but home is where we are at our best.  Home is my favorite. 

10 – Annie flinching big time as she thought the golf ball on Soaring Over California was going to hit her.

11 – I rode a carousel!  It has been many many years, but Leta and Annie were begging to go on the one in California Adventure while we were waiting for Ryan and Lucy and Elsa on California Screaming, and my prayers were heard.  I didn't get sick!  (Though Lucy got terribly sick on California Screaming.  At least she tried it once, but now knows, like her mom, no loopty doops.)

12 – Thankful that my little brother-in-law James gets motion sickness too.  He made my Disney trip more fun because I didn't feel like a big wuss if I didn't want to go on a ride (like Space Mountain - couldn't handle Space Mountain after Star Tours, so I did Autopia with Leta and James.).  It was fun getting to hang out with James more.  He even saved me the seat on Grizzly River Run that he thought wouldn't get as soaked.  James is such a neat kid and I'm glad we got to go on this trip together before his mission (I don't ever want to forget his laughter and smiles on Grizzly River Run either). 

13 – Watching how the older girls’ bodies would steam as they got out of the Jacuzzi at our hotel and would run to go jump in the regular pool, or play with aunt Lilly in the splash pad area. 

14 – The fact that Ryan didn't think my trick for making Leta taller would work and it did.  He sat there and doubted when our little girl appeared about 2 inches too short to ride Matterhorn. I made him go away and I worked my magic.  Then my short little runt got to ride on Matterhorn.   All it took was a few pairs of wadded up socks in each heel.   

15 - Seeing how happy it made Leta to buy her souvenir - a tiger!  We made the rule up front that we would buy souvenirs on the last day at the end of the day so as to avoid buyers remorse.  She had already figured out what she wanted on day one and then asked when it was time to go home the rest of the time, merely because she just wanted to go buy her tiger.  We let her buy it earlier than we planned and no buyer's remorse here!

All the girls with their souvenirs.  Annie only got a sucker because she saved her money for me to take her back to Build a Bear (they had a build a bear in downtown Disney and she wanted a Twilight Sparkle.  I took her to get her Twilight Sparkle later in the month, when we were home.  She was stubborn and held out.) 

16 - Me beating Ryan on the Buzz Lightyear game.

17 - Yo Ho Yo Ho, the Pirate's life for me.  Sadly Splash Mountain was closed again, but we did enjoy our pirate adventures.  

18 -  Catching the parade just in time and squeezing in to watch it.

19 - Annie, as we were leaving the park, trying to count on her fingers how old she will be before we have a chance to go again.  I think we decided she might be 8.  

20 -The girls having fun, being with and making memories with family.

Waiting for the park to open so we can run to Peter Pan.

Jungle Cruise:

Ryan and his sister Emily.  We all love Emily and wish we could have spent more time with her.

Churros since the Pineapple Dole Whip place was closed.

We LOVED having grandma and grandpa!!

Disneyland is not perfect.  Planning and dreaming is always lots of fun.  It took up too much of my time and I probably wasted too much time planning, but that was my fun.  I actually made myself a little sick from worry/planning.  There was a stomach bug going around my preschool before we left and I was so sure we were coming down with it that the worry actually made me feel sick.  Plus my eye doctor gave me a glaucoma scare that didn't help either.  

Actually being at Disneyland was fun too, but exhausting emotionally and physically.  Everything is definitely not perfect and I did have my moments of frustration.  It was hard on me trying to balance the fact that it was Leta and Annie's first Disney trip, but yet I wanted to stay with family members as well.  I hated that we didn't spend a ton of time with Emily and her kids while they were there because we wanted Leta and Annie to experience everything.  Of course that made me worry more that family thought we were being lame for doing our own thing.  It would have been nice if we knew that we were going to be back soon so that I didn't try to cram everything in and could have just relaxed with family more.  Plus, I had created a plan that Ryan and I were going to stick to with our girls and others followed my plan too, so I was kind of stressed out, worrying if others thought I was doing a terrible job mapping out our itinerary for rides or being too bossy.  (I really need to stop worrying so much if people are having a good time on vacation.)  Plus there were times I got a little frustrated that I felt like I was trying to play catch-up with fast walking Ryan and Anna as we walked through the parks and I just wanted to walk and talk with my husband.  (I know, cry me a river  - I mostly hated that I let it bug me and hated that I worry too much for Pete's sake!).  All in all, it was a lot of fun and very memorable, but while there, I realized Disneyland is definitely not the happiest place on earth and we don’t need to go again for many years…that is until I came home and looked at pictures and now want to do it all over again – this time with a season pass so we can go at a more leisurely pace.  Hah.    

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Little Girl Ramblings

(This post was started back in February, so some events are a tad dated, but I just wanted to recap a bit of the girls' behaviors this past year)




Easter after church picture - we didn't do new dresses this year.  We didn't even dye eggs, but I felt like we remembered the true reason for celebrating.  

Lucy and Elsa are growing so fast.  It makes my little teacher heart so happy to watch them enjoy playing school with their younger sisters.  The other day Leta and Annie had been playing with Lucy in the playroom and then they ran outside to play.  A few minutes later Lucy comes running in, clearly adding a little dramatics for effect, “Oh I forgot the students at recess!”  I love how they will make name tags that say “Mrs. Melzer” out of scotch tape.  I find papers all the time with rules and lists and homemade worksheets.  They are both teaching Leta and Annie so many things and Leta and Annie love to follow their example.  Elsa created a scavenger hunt for Ryan and I for Valentine’s Day in order to find our treat and love note.  Since then Leta has created two scavenger hunts.

Lucy is still my timely fast girl.  She is constantly worried about what time it is and wants to drive places fast and not be late.  She is very concerned if people are going the speed limit.  She does not like to miss a thing and will often try to interject herself into mine and Ryan’s conversations from the other room.  She usually finished all her homework for the next week the day that she gets it.  Some of her behavior is really quite surprising for me as I thought at a younger age she would struggle to stay focused.  However, her love for speed and punctuality is mostly awesome (when she uses the power for good).  Her speed and wanting to go fast in everything does get her in trouble at times though, as she struggles to wait patiently for me or her siblings.    

Lucy is quite great at practicing the piano without being reminded.  She loves that she can play a few simplified hymns or children’s songs.  Elsa on the other hand has to be pokes and prodded and constantly reminded to practice.  Right now we are on the terms, “You have not practiced for one week despite me reminding you.  If you do not practice next week, I will no longer pay for your lessons.”  Paying for lessons are definitely a sacrifice for us, and I can’t keep paying if she is not willing to put forth the effort. 
Elsa is more of a crafter.  Elsa does not like to be rushed.  Elsa does things in her own time and at her own pace.  Elsa is more detail oriented.  Elsa chooses to craft everyday and then we all get flustered when she is cramming to finish her homework at the last minute.  Elsa just wrote us a beautiful love note for Valentine’s Day and I had to blink back the tears.  Apparently we are the best parents she could ever hope for.  Kind of makes me feel guilty because I know there are so many times I fail, but yet, she still loves us.  

Annie and Leta still take 2 hours to complete a 10 minute room clean up, but they are improving.  The other day I asked them, “Do you think that next time you could finish cleaning a little faster so that you have more time to play?”  Quite simply they said, “No, we went as fast as we could.”  Annie and Leta are also progressing on not being held as much.  They were my babies and still small in size, so it was easy for me to carry them more than they needed.  This past December we went and got ice-cream cones and said goodbye to mom carrying them so much.  (This part we have progressed on A LOT over the last six months.  Now that we have a new baby in our home and are 5 this summer, they have both done much better not asking to be carried, although Leta still craves a good carry every once in a while.  AND I got all my girls a timer so cleaning rooms quickly has improved greatly.) 

Annie is a very pleasant child with beautiful smiles, but is known to be a stubborn stink.  She does throw huge temper tantrums and stomps her foot.  She has been known to kick her sisters when upset.  But, on our Disneyland vacation, I would say she was our best traveler and most even tempered, just go with the flow child.  When Annie is having one of her epic meltdowns, I usually have to give her a bit of time and then a hug usually calms her down.  It is hard though because usually when she is having a temper tantrum it is because she was being disobedient and hugging would not be my knee jerk reaction. 

Annie loves her life sized Barbie that she got for Christmas and enjoys sleeping with her in bed next to her each night.  It looks a tad scary, but, it makes Annie happy.  The life sized Barbie recently had her arm fall off so now I have to figure out how to fix it.     

Annie will often be caught humming hymns or classical music.  Right now she is currently humming, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  Sometimes I am surprised at how much of a tune she knows even if she hasn't heard the song that much. 

Leta will hold me wherever we go.  She has to hold my hand, my purse, my shirt, my backpack strap….anything to have a grip on me.  Going to Kindergarten next year is going to be a learning experience.  She still doesn’t like to even go into the bathroom without me.  Leta is still my youngest emotionally and physically.  She slows down my mothering and with Leta I don’t feel like she is growing too fast.  In fact I probably need to show more patience as she learns how to be more mature.  Leta gets a little hyper around others (I really think large groups overwhelm her) and especially at night before going to bed.  We had to create a code called, “Leta, you’re acting Crazytown,” for her to know that her behavior needs to calm down or else she will be removed from the situation.  Leta is still my mover, kisser and talker.  If she is sitting on my lap, she is constantly fidgeting and touching my hair and face and anything else.  She also likes to kiss me a lot throughout the day.  I’m not a big kissy mommy.  I kiss cheeks and foreheads often, but for some reason I don’t really like kissing my kids on the lips.  Leta has none of that and makes sure she gets a lip kiss at least once a day.  One day I went to check on Leta at night.  She was dead asleep.  Then without a blink she woke up and started talking like we had never stopped our conversation for the night.  That girl likes to talk.  However, she is always saying funny words.  Like “furv” for fur or “miracle go round” for merry go round.  Others are glitter box = litter box and examples = Costco samples.  And of course now that I’m stopping to type them I can’t remember any more.  Basically, she keeps our family young.  Leta also has a crush on a boy named Slade in my preschool class.  It is hilarious watching her try to woo his attention.  Oh, and Leta wants to grow her bangs out to be like the rest of her sisters.  We are working on it.   

Leta and Annie moved rooms in April to get our house ready for a foster child.  I was really worried about having my babies (I know, pathetic of me) move to the other side of the house.  It was especially pathetic since Lucy and Elsa got booted to the other side of the house when they were only 2 and a half.  But, my fears were unfounded.  Although a lot of work to get rooms ready, and we still are completely finished, all the girls love their new sleeping arrangements.  Leta and Annie sleep great in their new rooms.  All the girls have put numbers on each of their doors  and they call them their apartments.  You have to knock if you want to go into the other apartment.  I also feel like moving Leta and Annie has helped them to feel more like big girls and they are maturing and doing much better at keeping things cleaned up.  I feel it has also helped the four girls to feel more bonded as a group.          

Monday, June 16, 2014

Man Alive

Man alive - six months?!  Yes, I'm still alive.

- I started blogging again - this time at  Hopefully we can make it interesting.  And maybe make like $5 so I can buy my girls a treat.  It is kinda scary though.  

- Lucy and Elsa started swim team.  I kinda feel like I'm finally one of those with-it moms.  Swim team, dance, piano lessons...might at well sign these kids up for Miss America.  

- My girls think that Ryan is the only one who cooks in our house.  I protested and said, "Mom cooks!"  To which they replied, "Oh yea, you make us mac n' cheese, bean burritos...."  They aren't helping my mommy pride any.  But, just so you know, those bean burritos are made with homemade refried beans, so there.  (And I did cook two excellent meals in the last two days...I'm on a roll!)

- I still need a maid.  Just someone to come regularly deep clean my bathrooms and scrub my floors.  

- I still secretly want to be a minimalist but can't reconcile that with the fact that I feel the need to be prepared for every possible life event.  I just need to get some house projects done.  Like building the shelves in Lucy and Elsa's room that are sitting in my garage still.  It is kinda lame how many times I buy some of the supplies for a project and then never get past that.

- I really wish I could paint my whole house.  I would love to lighten up my house by painting over some of these dark colors.  I want bright and fresh, but, after painting Lucy and Elsa's room (which still isn't done) I think I just need to learn to love my dark colors again.  

- Today I gave my girls the regular talk, "If you whine about cleaning up your messes that tells me you don't really want to keep any of this stuff.  I totally understand that you don't want to clean.  That is okay, I will just help you get rid of all this stuff so you don't have to keep cleaning."

- After they cleaned this morning the girls wanted to treat me to their luxurious spa.  They had me soak my feet and then lay on a towel on the bathroom tile so they could rub my hands and legs with lotion, paint my toenails and fingernails and do my make-up.  I totally fell asleep while they were doing all this and woke up looking like a clown, but a very relaxed clown!

- These are pictures of Lucy and Elsa' first swim meet.  Hotter than Hades!  But the girls had a lot of fun.  So glad every kid gets a ribbon, whether you finish first or eighth.  Makes for happy girls.  They also had fun seeing cousins and friends at the swim meet.  Oh, and I had to bite the bullet and buy the girls more expensive swim suits and googles than the Target and Old Navy Clearance.  We needed swim suits that would fit their tall lean bodies without showing their bums or chest.  Not an easy feat.  Even on these ones I had to take the straps in a bit.  But, they are a good snug fit and we love them.  Now I know:  Just buy the good quality ones right away and quit wasting time driving all around town buying and returning the $10 swim suits that don't fit good.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

September and October 2013

I probably said this before, but I never wanted to believe people when they said life gets busier as your kids get older.  Though 2009 - 2010 was  a really crazy time of basically being stuck at home, I suppose it is getting busier, but only because I keep adding things to my to-do list.  Now I'm raising kids that actually want to go and do things.  We have dance, and piano, and school assemblies, and volunteering at the school, and more time consuming church callings, and I started a boot camp with some ward friends to try and get in shape, and of course preschool, and a new kitty, and helping friends and family....I feel like my story keeps being the same in 2012-2013:  I'm busy and then when I'm not busy, I'm too lazy to blog about our fun adventures anymore.

So here is the run down of SOME of the events from September and October.  I know that I miss a lot of the day to day funny things and busy things now that I only blog once in a blue moon.

September 2 - No school for labor day so we had a baking day (the girls request).  The picture looks sweet and innocent.  And if memory proves me right, it was for some of it, but there was fighting and frustration there too.  Just got to be honest with my future self.

Creative girls = messy house.  Lucy and Elsa were playing hospital and treating Leta and Annie like Queens.

September 5 - Picture Day

September 6 - Family Fun Friday at Golfland.  The girls got free passes for goofy golfing for finishing the summer reading program.  Everyone had a great time.  I was ready for whiny kids and husband, but everyone did surprisingly well.  I love family nights like these.

September 8 - My youngest cousin Sam had his mission homecoming talk.  I can't believe he is that old!  Doing regular things with cousins kind of goes by the wayside as we grow and have children of our own, so it's nice to have special occasions every once-in-awhile.

September 13 and 14 - Ward Campout.  I've always been a fan of ward campouts since I was a young girl.  Growing up, we never got to leave and be the first ones there because my dad was a teacher and couldn't just take off a half day.  He would race home as close to 3:00 though - but the Clements always beat us.  However, Ryan's schedule is a tad more flexible, so we took the girls out of school early and were the first ones there.  All my childhood dreams came true:)

Girl Power!

I had fun watching the girls play with friends, we found and played with a few tarantulas, the girls made fairy houses despite the non-believers (only believers got the Skittles the fairies left), and a massive monsoon storm somehow missed us because of I'm sure a few faithful prayers.  I wish I could have sat around and visited with the adults more (I ended up having to sleep in the kids' tent because of the thunder and didn't get to stay up chatting), but we did have a good time.

September 19 - Dress like a pirate and get free Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.  In honor of Pirate's Day, Krispy Kreme was giving out a free dozen donuts to each person dressed like a pirate.  I made the girls a deal:  they clean their rooms, I would take them.  Leta and Annie almost didn't make it (they have an aversion to cleaning) but we it worked out because it took me far too long to make eye patches and pirate gear that they had extra time to get their cleaning done.  We picked up Mallory on the way, found a legal loophole to cut out spending an hour (by this time is was almost bedtime anyways) in an insanely long line, purchases 1/2 a dozen doughnuts (that was the loophole) and then got our SIX dozen free donuts!  Of course we did some knocking and running on the way home at cousins' homes because who needs six dozen doughnuts?

Arg!  My favorite was Lucy and Elsa deciding they needed a bird on their shoulder.

September 20 - My friends from high school (or the wives of my friends from high school, who are now some of my best friends) get together every once in a while for "salad day."  We assign a few to bring adult food and a few to bring kid food and we get together and chat.  Always fun times.  I probably always talk more than I should.  I need to do better with just listening.

September 27 and 28 - Ryan's hike of the Grand Canyon and my epic cousin slumber party.

Ryan had the opportunity to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim with some of my cousins.  He loved it all and out of the large group that hiked that day, he finished second.  He hiked/ran 24 miles in 7 1/2 hours.  This fast paced hike/run was harder on his body than his marathon.  He is kind of ultra (runs everyday, follows a strict training schedule, and only eats healthy foods) with his running now, and I'm proud of him achieving his goals.

Since Ryan was going to be gone for the evening and Ryan doesn't always enjoy our house brimming with kids, I invited my nieces and nephews over for a slumber party.  My girls love when I'm crazy like that (and so do my sisters).  Not all made it to the party, but we did have 15 kids sleep here.  I teased Ryan that we both trained hard for our different feats of endurance.

Lego car races

Outdoor talent show and wagon rides

Cousins had tons o fun and no one got lost or substantially hurt (I think the kids all had a good talking to by their moms before coming over letting them know that slumber parties will continue only if they are on their best behavior) and most of it was cleaned up before Ryan got home.  Win Win.

We also started piano lessons!  Starting piano lessons was one of those moments where I realized all that my parents had done for me.  Do we have the extra money right now for piano lessons?  Not really, but we sacrifice and work hard and make it work because I feel such a need to have them develop this talent.  Plus, our lessons are really nice because their teacher comes to our house!  It is the best thing ever.  I'm not spending my time in the car or disrupting Leta and Annie to go back and forth and back and forth.  It has been an adjustment for me to sit with the girls often and practice with them and help them to learn their notes, but we are making progress (them with their notes and me with my patience).  The girls are also learning how much work actually goes into practicing and how frustrating it can be.  They are learning a lot of good life skills.

Other September randoms:
Peaches, raspberries from the Utah Fruit Lady, swimming, homemade pizza girls ate so much fruit.  I'm surprised they didn't get diarrhea from it.  Good stomachs for fruit I guess.

October 5th- 13th:  October Break

For October Break we had a full week off of school. The weekend started off with a half day Friday.  I joined up with Karyn and we took the kids to the new Bahama Bucks close by our homes and then to the Dollar Tree.  My girls got to pick out two conference treats and then one fun thing.  It was a hit of course.  Then Saturday and Sunday were spent soaking in conference.  The girls enjoyed their treats and setting the blue room up for the festivities.  I love feeling renewed from the words of the leaders of our church.  My goal:  be a better disciple.  The week after conference is usually hard for me though because I have great goals and think I'm going to be so perfect, and I usually fail.  Oh well, slow and steady wins the race.  Perfection doesn't come in a day.

The girls love organizing their treats.

Lucy and Elsa are sitting on the fireplace.  They were probably fighting over placement of furniture or divvying out the treats.  The fireplace is where we go for little time-outs.  All the girls can be stinkers, but they are getting some things out of conference.  Candy helps.

Then Monday - Thursday were spent with me organizing and backing-up our computer - something on my to-do list for far (years) too long.  And we watched cousins, had crab night at the request of the girls, played outside everyday, and forgot dance lessons.  That was a big whoops on my part.

The girls were pretty sad that we didn't get to go to Utah like most of the Melzer family, but sadly Ryan needed to stay and work and I'm not brave enough yet to drive all the way to Utah with just me and the girls.  I could handle the kids...just not the driving part.  For some reason I'm not a fan of driving.  (I'm too much of a worrier when I drive long distances.)  And frankly, if we are going to spend money to take a vacation, I like Ryan to be with us.

So we missed out on a lot of fun in Utah, but we did make our own fun here in Arizona.  Friday morning we headed up north.  We made a pit stop on the way up to have a picnic near the old highway that used to run through Sunflower, AZ.  Then we traveled the rest of the way to Pinetop, AZ.  We walked around a lake there, played at a park, collected acorns, watched Disney Channel on our hotel's cable, ate Mexican food, sat in the hotel jacuzzi, had donuts and milk, and took really long showers (somehow, when I'm not footing the water bill, it seems more okay to let the girls take the really long showers they love).  Then after checking out the next morning we headed up to the Sunrise Ski Resort.  This is our 5th year of this tradition.

Sunflower!  I loved going to Sunflower as a kid.  Just the smell brings back so many memories.

Ryan and his girls.


Right before the trip Leta got to go on a special Walmart shopping trip with me.  She got a clearance Barbie that sings.  We have somehow since lost the thing....(update...Barbie found in Grandma and Grandpa Papa's suburban)

Leta always has to have a hold on me.


After Sunrise we headed out to Big Lake and had a picnic.  It was a beautiful day to enjoy our beautiful earth.  This is where we stopped for a picnic.  The area had been shut-down because of the government shut-down.  Didn't stop the Melzers.  Seriously, I get why the government was shut down, but they didn't need to pick places that basically take no cost to run and shut those places down.  We ate, we enjoyed a squirrel who also came to eat with us, and we left no trace of ever being there (besides a squirrel who had stashed some apple cores for the winter).

Lucy and Elsa watching our friend the squirrel stash food.

Our attempt at family pictures

So sometimes I make Ryan take the camera to get a few shots of me doing things with the girls - this is usually the caliber of what I can expect when he takes pictures.
Then I take it back and get pictures of him looking manly skipping stones.

October 19th:  Ryan signed up for a 15K and there was a one mile fun run for the kids.  Ryan placed 2nd in his age group (probably would have been first, but some guys ran the wrong and shorter course).  He paced 7 minutes 41 seconds a mile!  Awesome.  Lucy, who is competitive, did awesome and finished quickly.  Leta made it 10 yards, crying the whole way because I wasn't running with her (I thought it was a family race, but it ended up being just a kids run).  She still got a medal and rejoiced, "I came in zero place but I still got a medal!"    Elsa was doing great until she came up to a crying Annie.  Elsa was kind and took Annie by the hand and finished the race with her.  I love my little runners.  They still treasure their medals and sometimes I go in to check on the girls at night and see that they are wearing their medal while asleep.  I usually take it off though because I'm paranoid about choking.  

We had to leave for the race quite early.  Even the camera had a hard time focusing.  

 Sad little Leta.
 Competitive Lucy

Observant Elsa


Sunday October 20th:  So I was pretty grumpy and stressed the week leading up to our Primary Program.  I had things one right after the other, and then, we found a kitty.  We kept hearing sad kitten cries as we were trying to go to bed.  Finally Ryan said, "If you find it, you can keep it."  So we both spent some time and caught that sad feral black cat.  Not exactly what I needed to take on that week, but who can resist a sad kitty.  Needless to say, that kitty has taken up a lot of our time trying to train him to not be scared.  I think we are finally making progress.  A few prayers have helped too.

The girls did this with Hobbes too.  They like to put the kitty in the beanie turned cat carrier and walk around with him.

October 21st: Katie had her beautiful baby girl Emma that I already blogged about.  Here are a few more pictures I was able to capture.  Love having a good camera!

October 25th - 27th:  Friday I had to finished sewing Halloween costumes.  This year the girls chose to be the Barbie Three Musketeers (from a Barbie movie) and Leta chose once again to be a wild cat.  She kept changing between jaguar, cheetah, leopard....Of course I still do homemade even though I swear off it every October...I somehow forget by the next year. (Thankful for a nice neighbor who let Leta and Annie come play).  Then we had Primary Program practice right after school.

As the second Counselor in the Primary, the primary program is my main deal.  This year I was really praying that I could write one that would be a good missionary teaching moment and I love when I'm writing something and can feel the spirit guiding me to write simply and with ease.  Primary Program is months of e-mails, texts, meetings, having kids come over with memorized parts, practices, thousands of copies and prayers.

After the Friday practice that I was in charge of that really was crazy (we will probably never do a Friday practice again - kids can't hold still after a long day of school), we had to race home and frantically get dressed and ready for dance recital.  Getting four little girls fed, dressed, hair done, make-up on and to a dance recital on time is not always my favorite thing to do, nor my shining moments, especially on limited time.  The girls weren't as glammed up as I would have liked, but we made it.  And were semi happy.

The girls were very proud of their accomplishment and being brave and dancing on the stage.  Elsa said she wanted to do it again and again. Leta and Annie didn't get scared about going on stage and had beautiful smiles.  And we all reminisced at how far Lucy has come in not being scared to do public things.  Is there anything cuter than dancing girls?!

Thankful for grandmas and grandpas who came to support.  My girls LOVED getting flowers.

The new Bahama Bucks down the street is just too enticing for moments of celebration.

The next morning was Aaron's baptism and birthday party.  We are so proud of Aaron.  (I used to do daycare for Aaron and his sister three days a week and it was a privileged to make his baptism invites and then to attend the special day).  Then we made the girls come home and rest while I sewed like a mad woman, then it was off to the annual Papa/Rowley Halloween party with mostly finished costumes.  Always a great time, always a load of sugar.

Boys seem like they would be a lot easier on Halloween.  Just buy them a super hero costume and bam, happy kid.

Leta and Annie love their cousin Colton!

Cotton Candy Queen

But we still weren't done....

Because then of course after a fun sugar filled night, the next morning was the Primary Program at 8:30 AM. Ryan always has meetings before church, so he wasn't here to help get everyone ready and to church extra early.  Good thing I'm awesome some of the time.  My friend Jen joined us right before we left and she helped me finish getting tights and shoes on little girls.

I think the Primary Program turned out pretty great and the kids felt the spirit and did awesome and felt good about being brave.  Miracles do still happen:)  And of course, I cried like a baby up on the stand while helping all the kids.  Good thing I was semi hidden behind the pulpit, but I still get very embarrassed that I can't stop my crying sometimes.

Earlier I had bought Lucy and Elsa new dresses and I let them decide if they wanted them for Christmas or Primary Program.  Of course Primary Program it was.  Earlier the better.  Here are our after program pictures.  I think I got some video of them saying their parts.  And if you see gum - that is our Sunday reward.

Here is the program I made for the Primary program.  The kids loved finding the pictures they colored of themselves.  I do have a testimony that we are all children of God and I love sharing that with the kids.  Kids are what basically motivate everything I do, day in and day out.  Exhausting emotionally and physically, but worth it.  My plan is to save the world by helping more children know they are a child of God:)

Earlier in the week I was telling Ryan the million things that were happening and what all I needed him to do.  Then I said at 2:00 PM on Sunday, I won't have any other pressing deadlines and I will be taking a nap.  And I did.  It felt so good.

Thankfully a reduce in stressors also makes it easier to be a nice mom.  Someday I hope to be a mom that can be super stressed and not get grumpy.  It made for a much more calm Halloween.

The last week of October was filled with:

Crazy Hair Day.  I was proud of my creations for the morning and I was actually calm and had fun with having to do crazy creations instead of in hurry up beast mode.

One spider:

One sparkly pretty pink pouf (hair to fit their personality)

On the 28th we went to Vertuccio Farms with the Melzers.  We had a great time.  Ryan didn't get to join us (sometimes it is just best if I take the kids to do certain crowded activities alone).

We had so much fun at the pillow bounce, giant slide, corn maze, checking out the animals, barrel train ride, jump houses, bouncy horses, tricycle races....I found myself checking out everything to see how I could recreate it in our backyard.

On Halloween we had a fun Preschool Party that the kids helped plan.  I scored on $1 pumpkins for decorating with vinyl stickers.  The back of my suburban was filled to the brim with pumpkins.  The girls also had their school parade.  Halloween actually went pretty great and I was a lot more calm during the frantic getting girls dressed and ready phase.  The only thing I forgot was to paint whiskers on Leta's face.  They were still so stinkin' cute.  (Can you see why I sometimes forget my vow to never do homemade costumes again?)

Party:  Pick out and decorate pumpkins, make cupcakes, play Bingo, Freeze dance game....

Often times for our preschool parties I invite siblings to come.  (Should have taken a picture before everyone took off half their costume.)

Halloween was fun with our ward party (which I actually got decorated cupcakes done on time for this year!) and then over to the Melzers to show our last set of grandparents our costumes.  Lilly took the girls trick-or-treating and I joined them for a bit.  We even got to enjoy a neighborhood haunted house.

My costume for the evening was a stitched up face and bugs in my hair.

Sadly some teenagers in our neighborhood have made it a tradition of taking the girls' pumpkins and smashing them on Halloween night when we are gone.  Ryan's goal is to catch them next year.

 Loot that both Lucy and Elsa organized so efficiently.  They then had to come home and only got to keep what fit in their candy jar and the rest was donated to Ryan's work.  (The guys at KS ate it in a day)

Fun months, fun memories.