February and March according to the phone

 Our friends were sad to leave their dad, so I bribed them with ice cream (at 10:00 am). It worked! :)
 February at the creek.  Grass is starting to get tall.
 Right now, everything is already bloomed and the trees have all their leaves.  We had such a warm winter the trees were only dormant for like 2 months.
 Cleaning out the front planter and found 2 little snakes curled up under a rock.  Noah was very happy, if you can't tell.
The 1st graders put on a patriotic program for the school and their families.  It was really cute - much like the Christmas program Noah's class did (only this time it was the 3 first grade classes).  Noah is in the red shirt on the front row, just above the teacher in the red shirt.
More walks to the creek.  We love the creek, especially this time of year.
Saturday adventure.  Up the 80, toward Tahoe.  Our friends have property up there, so we decided to go check it out.  After getting a bit lost, on a very rough "road", we finally found it.  We also found this fun little creek, with a great little swimming hole. We'll have to return when it's a bit warmer to jump in.

Ava loves cherry tomatoes.....and grapes.  She likes to put them in her cheeks and then squash them in her mouth. :)  She was experimenting to see which one made her cheeks bigger.  Tomatoes won!
Grape cheeks.
We've been trying to teach the kids about service, and how there are lots of people that don't have very much.  Our relief society is doing a March M.A.D.ness (Make A Difference) project.  We are trying to do 100 acts of service (to count they have to be not of our faith) in the month of March.  They had a few projects we could sign up for, and then the rest we had to find and do ourselves.  Perfect opportunity to help my little family do some service.  The kids actually had a ton of fun doing this. We put together a fun Easter basket for a 7 y.o. little boy, got some toys and fun things for another family in need, but their favorite was volunteering at this garden.  It's an after school program for high risk kids. I didn't even know it existed, but it's so cool that it's here.  They have a community center where kids can go to get help with homework, play games, talk to other people, eat, etc.  They started this garden a year or so ago, and it's all done with donations and community service.  They use it to give the kids something to do and also use the produce for the community. We were there on harvesting day (I love California - harvesting in March!). 
The elders pulling up the fava beans.
Noah and Ava were the produce packers.  We pulled up the veggies and they carried it to the table.  They thought it was great.  The celery was huge, and they had TONS of it.
Noah was supposed to be picking off the peas, and then pulling up the plants.  He did that but instead of putting the peas in the bucket, he ate most of them. :)
Part of the harvest
This boy will eat anything from the garden. He found this small purple cabbage head and ate it like a chicken leg. :) 
Bike racks at RC Willey.  We finally ordered (actually as I type this, our carpet is installed!!) our carpet.
Last day at gymnastics.  We are stopping gymnastics for a few months since we have a few trips coming up and won't be able to go.
Looks like Ava needs a bigger shirt.
Long story warning:
Adam wrecked on his bike (March 14) a couple weeks ago and separated his shoulder.  He leaves at 5:30 in the morning, so they ride mostly in the dark.  They were on a back road and he couldn't see the bike lane end.  All of a sudden it went from bike lane to big rocks, and he obviously lost the battle with the rocks.  He was able to ride home, but had to go to the ER to find out he separated his shoulder, and scraped up his hip and hands.  Crazy thing is about 6:15 I all of a sudden woke up. If you know me, you know I do not like to be awake before 7, at the earliest.   When I woke up I immediately had this sick feeling that something was wrong.  I tried to brush it off and go back to sleep, but I just couldn't.  In the next few minutes, every possible scenario went through my mind, and I even started to cry a little.  That horrible feeling just would not go away, so naturally I thought of the worst.  I didn't think Adam had his phone, so I didn't think I could call, so I just laid there praying and praying that he was alright.  Actually, almost as soon as I woke up my phone buzzed, and that made the feeling even worse.  I thought it was Bobby (his biking friend) calling to tell me something awful had happened. It ended up just being an email coming through.  Anyway, I was in my room pacing and looking out the window for about 15-20 minutes, and then I see Adam riding toward the house.  Phew, I was so relieved.  I brushed off that bad feeling as me being paranoid, and started to get dressed.  After a few minutes I could hear Adam calling for me to come downstairs because he crashed on his bike.  When I went downstairs he was all bloody and he said he hurt his shoulder pretty bad.  Although he did get hurt, it could have been SO MUCH worse, and I am just so grateful that he was "OK".  And I know this sounds crazy, but I'm also very grateful for that bad feeling, intuition, premonition, call it what you want, that I had.  Sometimes I wonder if I would know how a premonition (the Holy Ghost talking to me) would feel like, or if I would just brush it off as my mind playing tricks on me.  I know I've felt the Holy Ghost many times before, but I don't think I've ever had such a distinct premonition like this before. It helped me realize how real the feeling is, and how He is watching out for us all the time.
The story doesn't end......sorry:  Rewind like 3 months (I've been wanting to document this so I don't forget, guess this is a good time)
This is about Ava.  About 3 months ago Ava was watching Beauty and the Beast for the first time, and I was checking my emails on the computer.  Toward the end when the Beast gets stabbed by Gaston, all of a sudden Ava comes over to my chair and looks at me with tears in her eyes and says, "that mean guy killed the beast.  He's so bad."  I told her to keep watching and put her on my lap.  She kept wiping her eyes, and then she got embarrassed and kept telling me something was in her eyes (I don't know why she's embarrassed to cry, Adam and I are both cry babies and cry in front of them). :)  She was relieved when the beast turns into a (hideous) prince.  Now whenever something sad happens in a movie (Ana freezes at the end of Frozen, Mr. Peabody dies in Mr. Peabody and Sherman, etc.) I catch her crying.  She starts hitting her eyes and saying her eyes are being weird (I guess she hasn't realized this is a normal emotion, and how to deal with it). :)  It is so sweet!!  
Fast forward to the morning of Adam's crash and the kids found out their daddy had to go to the hospital to get checked out...........
I was doing Ava's hair that morning (of course it was on Friday, when I had to help in Noah's classroom, so Ava and Grant have to be dropped off early - it's a busy morning) and casually said, "I hope your daddy is OK (I was still a little worried)".  She then put her hands to her face and didn't say anything for awhile.  I realized she was crying.  I held her and told her that he would be fine, he just hurt his shoulder.  She seemed to be fine after that.  
After I helped in Noah's classroom (I offered to go to the hospital with Adam, BTW, but he said he would be find alone) and picked up the kids, we came home and Adam was sleeping on the couch.  The kids went over and checked out his new sling and bandages.  Ava was fine for a minute, then I found her in a corner crying. Awww..it was so sad, yet so sweet.  Of course, she tried to blame it on her weird eyes again. :)  I took her in the other room (she couldn't look at Adam without crying) and explained what happened and how he would be fine.  I told her that she could make him feel better by making him a snack.  That got her mind off of it for a few minutes. She delivered him some graham crackers, Nutella and milk.  Then she sat on his feet and did not leave his side for the next 3 hours!  I told her she didn't have to stay there, because daddy was sleeping, but she did not want to leave.  For a girl who likes to be going, going, going all the time, this was such a sacrifice for her.  It was the sweetest thing.  
Wow, if you made it this far.....I'm giving you a silent applaud.  I wanted these stories documented, so I don't forget (especially when Ava's not being so sweet :)). 
We took the boat out the day after he crashed. He couldn't put on his own deodorant, shirt, socks, etc., but he can still use the other arm to drive the boat.  :)  It was great to be on the lake again. 
Noah caught this lizard in our yard.  He first picked it up from it's tail and the tail fell off.  The tail was moving for like 30 minutes afterward. Gross!  He named it Max, and put it in a box, but then I told him he would probably die in the box, so he let it go. Noah's also a softy.

Here are some videos from my phone as well. 

Snippets from the patriotic program

Kyle and Emily gave us this ramp for Christmas, and the kids mainly use it as a "roller coaster".  They usually use the wagon, but sometimes it's the dump trucks or skate board. Ignore Grant yelling at Ava, they like to wiggle until it goes down, instead of being pushed down.  All three of them like to get in the wagon together to go down.

Grant has a bit of OCD in him (poor boy), so he is a really good cleaner.  One day while I was folding laundry, I secretly captured this on my phone.  He also likes to sing a lot, and make up songs. My favorite is how he transitions so quickly from his Cleaning the Ground lyrics to I Saw Three Ships. :)


Karate Belt Promotion

 Some pictures we were going to use for Valentines Day cards.  My grandpa died a few days before Valentines, so we ended up going to H-town for his funeral.  The cards got pushed aside and forgotten, so Happy Belated Valentines day. :)
 Noah started karate a few months ago, and he really enjoys it.  Right before leaving for the funeral, Noah was able to attend his belt promotion ceremony. 
 Soaking up all his knowledge from his old white belt.
 Can you tell he was SO EXCITED to advance to a gold belt?!
 "oss (pronounced oo-s)"

Since Grant and Ava have to wait at karate (twice a week) with me, they know all the moves too.  So proud of our little karate kid.


Remodel Update - Railing

 I was organizing my pantry today, and while I was doing that I was reflecting back on when we moved in this house, and realizing how MUCH we have done. We have basically changed every inch of this house, and I have only documented (blogged) probably 3, maybe 4 of the projects.  I LOVE a dramatic before and after, so I keep putting it off, thinking I will wait until that particular space is complete; however, I realize that complete may never happen (I'm always changing things or little things don't get accomplished).  So, I'm going to just document as far as we have gotten (lots of remodeling posts to come, I guess), and then update as we finish things off.  
I figured I would start with the banister remodel.  The above picture if pretty accurate from when we moved in.  Peach walls, wrap around carpet, bar area, Aztec wallpaper are all there in their 70's glory.
 Man, look at my kids!!  They were so small.  Grant easily putting his head through the slats  - this is the reason it had to be replaced.  It was DEFINITELY NOT up to code.  My kids learned fairly early on that they could not put their heads or bodies through the railing; however, whenever anyone else came over I was a nervous wreck, because some kid would almost fall off the landing because the spacing was so wide.  This should have been one of our first projects, but we kept putting it off while we focused on about 10 other different projects.  Luckily we didn't have any causalities with the old railing for those 3 years it lived with us.
 The kids loved that landing. They came up with all sorts of games from there.  This picture is from last summer, I believe.  The wallpaper is removed, walls re-textured, bar is gone, molding added to doors, and the closet is built below the stairs. 
 Started project: 8/30/13
Removed the beautiful wrap-around carpet and the railing. Luckily Adam is really good with geometry and math, so he was able to figure out all the cuts to build a wall there.  Our new railing has horizontal bars instead of vertical, so we thought it would look nicer (and easier to secure) if there was a straight line up the stairs instead of the cut-in stair risers.
 In case someone else out there is wondering how to build a wall from their stair risers.
 Next, added a long piece of wood.  At this point I was starting to see what Adam was thinking (I'm sure I have mentioned before that I was never good at geometry).  Look at that NASTY carpet.  Yes, it still looks that way. :) 
 Added sheetrock and plaster. We lived with the stairs unattached for 2 months.  Again, lucky no one plummeted to the cement floor below during those couple months.
 Added a board to the landing floor as well as trim along the new stair wall.
 New stair wall all painted nice - ready for the new railing.
 This is where the railing was (in the middle of the stairs) for those 2 months.  It was SO nice to not have to squeeze down the stairs everyday after the new railing went in. I think the wall looks a million times better than the wrap-around carpet.

Railing installed: 10/25/13
VOILA!!  The new railing.  I love how it turned out.  We originally were going to do a cable railing, but then read that it's hard to keep it tight (worried over time the kids could squeeze things through it) and the California codes for cable railings are really strict, so we opted for a steel railing.  We found a welder and told him what we were looking for.  We had it clear coated so you can still see all the welds and the steel.  We also replaced the light at the top of the stairs.
Not quite the dramatic after I was hoping to post, but this project is almost complete.
Still need to:
Tear out old carpet
Nail in a few missing baseboards on the landing
Paint trim on right side of stairs (once old carpet is removed)
Paint wall were old railing connected
Maybe some artwork or pictures.  Not sure on this one though.  I sort of like this wall empty (I am putting some large photos on the wall at the base of the stairs), but we'll see down the road if I change my mind.
This railing is super solid too.  The old one was pretty wobbly.
The landing still gets used for some games (and Nala still sleeps there every night), but no more dangling feet or heads over the edge. 
Disregard the atrocious carpet.


Thanksgiving in Cambria

-Grant and Gus finding treasures-
Prepare yourselves......this post has LOTS of pictures. 
-Em frantically searching for sea glass- 
 We went to Cambria with Kyle, Emily and their cute boys for Thanksgiving (I know, it's February, but after this post I'm all caught up!!).  
It was a lot of fun. 
 It was nice to play with this cute boy for a few days.  We had only met him one other time, and he was only a couple months old then.  He is such a sweet little baby.
 Ava and Gus became fast friends and pretty much stayed together most of the trip.  Ava and Grant still refer to Gus as "our friend we played with that one time".
 We visited the elephant seals.
 This fella was GINORMOUS!!!!  Seriously the size of an SUV.

 Fighting seals.  I could have stayed there all day watching them.  It was crazy to watch them slither/plop across the sand.
 Very ugly creatures, yet incredible.
 Kyle, Adam, Noah and I went to Hearst Castle (Em volunteered to stay home with all the tinies).  
 This place was absolutely amazing.  Just thinking that someone actually LIVED here is so strange to think about.  Can you imagine?!?!!!
 The front door.  EVERYTHING at the castle is so ornate and extravagant.
 The main fireplace.  The whole house was decorated for Christmas time, so that was fun to see.
 The dining room looked just like the dining room on Harry Potter.
 The ceiling in the dining room.
 I'm sure one of Kyle's dreams is to be a 1940's rich gentlemen.
 Noah chillin' at the big pool.
 Wouldn't that be so fun to swim in that giant pool?!

 The indoor pool.  All that yellowish color you can see on the walls and in the pool is gold inlay!!
 Watching the sunset.
 Pie night.  A lady in my ward told me about one of their family traditions for Thanksgiving.  They have pie night the night before Thanksgiving.  I thought it was a great idea, that way you can enjoy the pie (and eat more of it), because you aren't so stuffed from eating dinner.  
We decided to try it and eat pie the night before (of course, there was still lots left over for the next day).  Em and I went a little over board with the food quantity (we made enough food for about 5-6 families instead of just 2).  We had 3 pies (pumpkin, banana cream and apple) and they were all SO YUMMY!! 
Thanksgiving day we decided to try our hand at crabbing.  I read crabbing is a bit more difficult south of Monterey, but still doable.  We were supposed to use raw chicken, but didn't have any, so we just put hot dogs in the bate cage (I think that was our problem). 
Needless to say, we didn't catch anything.  Someday that crab net WILL catch a crab. 
Thanksgiving dinner was delicious! I doubled my roll recipe (again, not sure why I felt the need to make so much food), so the rolls were enormous.
The kids table/coffee table.  It was kind of nice to have things VERY simple.  No fancy dinnerware or table decorations. 
A few months ago when we were talking about traditions, all my kids brought up how we acted out the Thanksgiving story.  They all said they wanted that to be one of our traditions.  So, keeping to tradition we acted out the Thanksgiving story.  We did bring some dress ups, but were limited a bit, so we had super hero pilgrims (Grant and Gus) and Indians (Noah and Ava).
The Indians teaching the super hero pilgrims how to plant corn (mandarins).

Bravo! Bravo!
We visited Morro Bay on Friday.
Watched some seals.
Walked down the boardwalk and checked out some of the shops.  We also played on the beach at Morro Bay.   Forgot my camera at this beach, but it was a really fun one. 
Playing at the beach, waiting for the sunset.

Em brought chocolate rocks and as the kids were looking for really hard for the chocolate rocks, she would sneakily drop some on the ground. The kids thought it was the coolest thing ever. 

Thanks Kyle and Emily (and Gus and Oliver) for spending Thanksgiving with us.  It was nice and relaxing and we had a lot of fun.