July 24, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!

A couple years ago I made a Bucket List.  Since it was my birthday a few days ago I decided to re-visit that list, see how far I've come, change what I wanted, add some new ones.  
There is no better time than on your birthday to re-evaluate where you have been, 
and where you are headed.

Here is the old one, June 2009:
"Travel Europe...Scotland, Germany, Italy, England.
Sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir...like join it, you know.
Learn to knit, and make my family matching hats and scarves.
Run a marathon.  I would like my first one to be the Honolulu Marathon, but I am not that picky.  I just want to be a runner.
Write a book.
Write another book, that doesn't suck.
Make quilts, I want to be a quilter.
Swim with the sharks. 
Own a home...our own home.
Learn to speak another language...Spanish, French, I am not to sure yet?
Visit and attend as many Temples as possible, all over the world (right now I have 6 different ones under my belt, in three different states).
Go sky diving.
Get a Masters Degree in anything.
Go to Africa.
Be debt free, and financially secure.
Have a big family...maybe 4 or 5 kids.  (Ahh, did I just say that out loud!?)
Be a guest judge on the Iron Chef America.
Road Trip across America."

Most of them are still the same.  Some of them I have no interest in anymore.  
Some I accomplished!!!
 I have become a quilter, I think.  I am not super good, but practice makes perfect.  I have made 3 quilts so far.  And I am even in a quilting club that meets once a month.  It is something I really enjoy, and when I have time, I love to see a project to come together.   Right now I am working on my first real quilt, that has a pattern, not just squares, and I'm starting a block of the month project next month.  So goal accomplished, I say :)
I don't really care about swimming with the sharks or learning a new language anymore.  It would be cool, but there is other things I would rather spend my time on.  
Also, we did kinda travel across America last summer, we hit 19 states!
I'm going to take a lot of the travel goals off, cause really I just want to travel as much as possible, I don't care where.  We also saw a lot a temples on our way across country, but I would like to keep that goal forever.  We are no where closer to being debt free, but I did finally make a new plane, a 3 year plan, with Jason last week.  And we are working on the big family thing ;)  Our newest addition will be here in about 8 weeks!

Here is my new one, July 2011:
Travel Europe...Scotland, Italy, France, Greece.
Join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Learn to knit and crochet.
Run a marathon, or even a half marathon.
Write a book, that doesn't suck.  
Visit and attend as many temples as possible, all over the world.
Get a Masters Degree.
Be debt free!
Be a published photographer, I don't care where, but my blog doesn't count :)
Be a guest judge on Iron Chef America.
Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in NYC.
Go sky diving.
Be a size 10. (Weight loss goals are going to consume my next year.)
Read more, 75 books by my next birthday.
I would like to have my own business.  Some way to make my own money, something creative.  It doesn't have to be big, just something I can do on the side of my family life.
There you go, my new bucket list.  A lot to work on. 

31!Making a wish.
It is so weird to me to be 31.  It seems so old, but I don't feel any different.  
I had such a nice birthday.  Jason surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of roses, and some fun gift cards.  My awesome friends came over to help me paint the baby's room, and we had a pizza party.  And for a big surprise, Jason got me a new phone!  I wasn't expecting any other gifts since he gave me the flowers in the morning. But after he got home from work he had Clark give it to me.  Clark was so sweet, he was hiding it behind his back and said, "Mommy, I have a prize for you" all bashful and quiet like.  I was half asleep on the couch and I thought he was just going to give me a toy, or a picture he drew.  Then he threw my new phone at me, and laughed.  It was funny, and I was confused, and so surprised.
Jay is always so thoughtful when it comes to holidays and gifts, I am pretty lucky.  
It may take him 4 weeks to mow the lawn, that has grown past our ankles.  And his half of the bedroom may look like he is competing to be the next subject on an episode of Hoarders.  And he never, EVER, listens to me.  
BUT he is thoughtful, and kind, and he really always tries to spoil me... even when we are supposed to be saving money.  He is a good man, and a good Dad, and I am happy.
We also had a nice little dinner with some friends.  Fajitas and guacamole!  My friend Trisha surprised me, and made me favorite cake in the world, Granny's Apple Cake!   She even called my Mom to get the recipe. (She spoils me to no end, and I am thankful to have such a sweet friend.)  The kids played in the pool outside, and we just enjoyed each others company.  Simple, laid back, and fun.  
The only thing missing was my sisters, and  family other members.  
A great birthday!

Last night as I was falling asleep,
 I was thinking that next year on my birthday I will have 3 kids.

July 22, 2011

Baby Shower!

Last weekend my bestie Trisha (and her sister), threw me a Baby Shower!  
It was so unbelieveably sweet, girlie, pretty, and fun.
Me and Trisha
Me and Trisha
Baby clothes!Diaper Cake
Super cute diaper cake and decorations.
They had made a little clothesline, and pinned baby clothes on it, that I got to take home!
Cupcakes!Hmmm, Cupcakes!
Trisha always makes tasty food, but these cupcakes were one of her best!
Salted carmel, chocolate cupcakes, with little Heath Bar candies on top... to die for.
Opening Presents
After I ate all the guacamole, and we played some fun games, I opened presents.
 Look! A cool video monitor, so I can watch the babe while she sleeps.
Opening PresentsOpening Presents
I got a lot of cute clothes, a quilt from my friends in my Quilting Club, and some very useful items.
It was so fun, and I am so thankful for my friends.
I really never thought I would have another baby shower (after Clark's), so it was a nice surprise.
 I felt so spoiled.  
And I am really overwhelmed with graditude for my friends.

July 21, 2011

The End of an Era

Well, it's over.  
This past weekend Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 came out, the last Harry Potter movie.  The end of an era.  I've spent the last decade waiting for some sort of Harry Potter thing to come out, whether it was the books or the movies... I was always anxiously waiting.  
It is so sad to say goodbye.
Harry Potter 6
You may notice that this picture is very old.  It is from when the 6th movie came out.  Someone -named Jason the Meany- was so so late coming back from a work trip that he missed dressing up in our matching Deathly Hallows shirts and waiting in line with me :(  I'm still kinda sad about it.  He did make right in the knick of time, so I didn't have to watch any of the movie alone (that would've been a disaster), but I'm still kinda sad we didn't take the traditional shirt picture.  
(Maybe we will take a pretend one later...)
April, Jay and Clark
Wearing our shirts for "Harry Potter Night" (take 2).  Do you know it took me 6 movies before I could convince Jay to wear a matching shirt with me... he is such a good sport.
The movie was amazing, brilliant, and everything I ever hoped it would be...except a little short (I would've like an extra 20-30 minutes to maybe give the other characters a chance to say good bye, proper death scenes, and so on).  It followed the book so well, much better than some of the other movies.  Even though I knew everything that was going to happen I was overcome with the emotion and excitement of the ride.  This last week I was re-watching (for probably the 500th time) the first movie with Clark.  I was amazed at how far the three actors have come (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint), from cute little 11 years olds, raw with talent and so new, to these amazing young adults.  During the movie I could hear other audience members crying and getting caught up in the story, the last time I remember that happening during a movie was when the last Lord of the Rings came out.
I left the theater feeling a little hollow.  Sad because it was over.  Sad because it was such a heavy movie.  And sad because I don't know how I am ever going to find something else that I love as much as Harry Potter.  I'm feeling rather forced to grow up and move on...  
I went through my pictures to try and find an harry Potter related ones.  You would be surprised at how many I don't have.  Why didn't I take more pictured over the years????
Clarky PotterLittlest Potter
Here are my babies, being forced to be little Potters.  Clark on the left, and Harry on the right with his own little wand.  I am so glad that I have my boys (and my sweet little girl on the way) to share the books with again.  I can't wait for the day Clark is ready to start reading the books!  
Then Harry.  Then the new babe.  
After that I'm sure the panic will set in again, 
and I will have to find some other way to keep Harry Potter alive in my life.  
(Do I sound properly crazy yet???)
clarky potter
Here is Auntie Laura and Clark the night the last book came out, July 21, 2007.  
Since we went to the midnight release party I like to think that it actually came out on my birthday.  
That night hanging around the book store was my birthday party, and oh so much fun.
I was happy I could share it with my sister and my baby boy.  
the end of an era
Here is the only picture I took of that night, with me in it.
(Why don't I take more pictures????)
I hate that it is blurry, but it is all we got.
Jason has gone to almost all the movies with me on opening night, the older we got and more kids we had we stopped going to the midnight showing, but we still made it to opening night every time.  I remember some summers making all my friends go with me over and over again.  I remember staying up well past my bedtime reading my books, over and over again.  I remember how excited I was when my Grandpa decided to read the books, and then he dressed up for Harry Potter for Halloween :)
Isn't he the best!

So many fun memories over the years. 
It has been an amazing ride.  I'm sad to say goodbye. 

July 19, 2011

Potty Training For The Win!

We did it!!!
Potty Training
I don't want to get too cocky, or I have a feeling this thing I going to turn around and bite me in the butt, but I really think we have gotten over the worst of it.  I think it is safe to say, that for the most part, 
We had a few really bad days.  We had to completely take him off of his video games, which he was really sad about.  And for awhile there I was so ready to give up and try again next year, I just didn't think he was getting it.  Then one day it clicked, and he went, all by himself actually.  In fact most of the time he would rather go alone, without telling me.  I think he hated me nagging him all the time, and it was embarrassing for him.  We have been accident free for 5 days now!!!  
He acts like such a big boy now.  Every time I see him go to the bathroom I get so proud of him.  I don't even have to fake the excitement and joy that I show during the "Hooray You Went Potty Dance" that we do every time he is done. 
 We still keep him in pull-ups at night, only because me (and a couple of my brothers or sisters) were long time bed wetters, and I am 7 months pregnant, I don't want to climb to the top bunk and change the sheets everyday.  If he can wake up dry for a few weeks in a row, then I will stop putting him in pull-ups, but for now it works.  
And I couldn't be happier.
Here Clark is doing one of his new Star Wars puzzles. 
He would get a prize every time he went pooh in the potty.  That was the biggest hurdle for us.  He was really afraid and nervous to go.  Most of the literature I read, to prepared myself for training him, said not to bribe him with toys or treats to make him go.  I could give him a prize after, but I wasn't to say "If you go, you get this...".  Well, let me tell you.  That is what actually worked.  He wanted his army guys and Star Wars puzzle really really bad, so he finally went pooh (NOT in his underwear).  Shame, disappointment and bribery... that is what finally worked for us.  I tried days and days of positive reinforcement (and trying not to get upset when he peed on the floor for the 30th time), he had nothing to work for if I was already happy. 
Regardless of the how or why, we did it.  And I am so very proud of my big boy!

July 18, 2011

Mom's First Haircut

I cut Clark's hair for the first time!
Before Haircut
I got bored the other day, and decided I was tired of looking at Clark's unmanageable fluff and frizz,  so I gave him a haircut.  He sat really well, and it was much easier than I thought.  I didn't really have a plan going into it... I just cut.  I love his fake smiles, and the fact that he can hardly ever keep his eyes open in a picture.
Here is the the after picture :)
It is a little uneven  in the back, but barely noticeable since his hair has so much body and curl.
Here is a little better picture after it had dried some.
I like his hair shorter here, since it is not as curly as it was in Hawaii.
He is such a cutie.

July 17, 2011

Harry's Turn

(I am almost all caught up on blogging.  Now, if I can just manage to not get behind again, I will be a super star.)
Harrison, my big boy.  My sweet boy.  Really, he is larger than life.  He is turning 3 in just couple months, and he is as big as a 4 year old.  He weighs more than Clark by almost 10 pounds, and just a couple more inches and they would be the same height.  I adore his big bluish-green eyes, and my heart melts whenever he looks at me.  He is always so curious, and thoughtful.  
Just the other night, Harry came to sleep in my bed, and we fell asleep holding hands.  I don't know if he knew I needed it, or he needed it... but it was so unbelievably sweet.  He can be so tender at times, and I really cherish those moments when he lets me in.
Sometimes, as awful as it sounds, I have a hard time thinking of good things to say about Harry.  Not because I don't love him with every single fiber of my being, or because he is a bad kid.  But I think I spend so much time concentrating on what he is and isn't doing, trying to keep him from the next tantrum, and trying to recover from all the late nights... that I forget to let him alone, and just be Harry.  
He can be so challenging, but I know he has a good heart, and he is a good kid. 
 He is so smart, we just haven't figured out how to help him express himself yet.  
Harry has grown a lot this year already.  He is much more affectionate, not really with hugs and kisses, but he will cuddle up on our laps, lay his head on us, hold our hands, and give us loves in his own special way.  He has gotten a lot better around friends, and other children.  There is still the occasional biting incident, but it is not as bad as it used to be.  It has taken about six months, but he is comfortable in nursery now, and doesn't scream every time we go to church.  And there is a small group of people (besides me and Jason) that he actually really likes, and recognizes.  He makes eye contact more readily, and sometimes I really feel like he is listening to us, and participating with family activities.
He can be so funny when we go out.  Last month when we went to DC we were walking around one of the museums, he saw this guys holding a map, and without a thought in his head he just walked up and took it.  The guy didn't even know what to say.  I was embarrassed, but I also couldn't stop laughing.  Harry just thinks everyone around him is there for his enjoyment and pleasure.  He has no shame or boundaries.  If you have something that he wants, he thinks you should give it to him :)
His joy and happiness can be so infectious.  I love when he hops around because he is excited, or he shrieks with glee when he is surprised.  I love how happy he is when he wakes up in the morning (even if it 3am, it is still cute).  I would like to think that he is happier here in Virginia, he seems so to me, and I think he has really settled into our home and community.  He has become more independent in some ways, better at asking us and telling us what he needs (even if he isn't using any words yet).  I think we have finally started figuring out Harry more... I know when he is starting to get stressed and I can help him before he losses it all and the whole day is ruined.  Also, I am starting to understand a lot of his sensory issues, and how to help him.
One of the biggest discoveries we made earlier this year was his aversion to milk and dairy.  We took him off of milk for two reasons; one, he was hopelessly addicted, it ruled his whole day and I couldn't get him to eat any real food, and two, we thought maybe it would help with his sensory issues and Autism (there has been a lot of debate whether some children with Autism, are really only showing symptoms to some sort of a food allergy).  We took him off the milk, and started giving him almond milk.  I never saw any changes in his behavior, so after a few weeks I just put him back on regular milk...and that is when all hell broke lose.  He had diarrhea, vomiting, crying all night long, more tantrums than ever... and really he just seems uncomfortable, and in pain.  We took him straight off again, and he was back to normal.  So, didn't not cure his Autism (not that I ever actually thought it would, but there was always that hope in the back of my mind), but we did seem to make him happier.  I'm not sure if it is a full blown allergy, since he does eat small amounts of cheese and cream from time to time, and he seems fine... maybe just lactose intolerant.  I feel so bad it took so long for us to figure it out.  He always seemed to have bowel issues, and was sick a lot (especially when he was stressed)... I just never realized how much pain he was in.  We have been trying to get him into a better pediatrician to help us out with his diet, and maybe figure out more of whats going on... but for now we are happy, that he seems a little more happy, and he is eating better.
Harry has about two more months left in the Early Intervention Program, before he STARTS SCHOOL.
It is so hard for me to believe he is starting school.  He seems much too young to me.  I am more nervous than I ever was when Clark was starting school, but I know Harry needs it a hundred times more too.  His therapy sessions have been going well.  It is so nice to have people to help me out with Harry, and give me ideas on ways to help and teach him.  He doesn't say any words yet, but he is so so close to signing, and I really believe if he wasn't so stubborn he might be a little closer :)  After six months he has also, finally, started enjoying his sessions a little more, which makes the learning process that much easier, I think.  Also, GREAT NEWS, we finally got approved for a new program that will help us pay for ABA therapy.  All I have to do now is start interviewing people and we will be ready to go.  I really believe that this is going to be so good for Harry, and I am so excited to start.

The other day I was talking to one of his new case managers (for the Echo program) and she asked me what my hopes and goals for Harry were.  And for some reason I was totally stumped.  I am sure she meant short term, over the next year or something...but I didn't know what to say.  Goals??  There are a million things I wish he could and would do, same goes for Clark.... and Jason too. 
Sure, it would be awesome if he could eat with a fork, or sit for longer than 3 minutes (currently one of his goals in sitting for 3 minutes to participate in a group activity, hahaha, he can maybe last maybe 90 seconds).  I would love it if he didn't bang his head on the floor, or smack his head every time he was upset.  I would be thrilled beyond all reason if he slept for longer than five hours every night, and didn't get up at 3 am every morning.  I knew she meant something small like that, something that she could track and document, but for some reason I couldn't think of one single thing.
 How can I narrow down all the things I want for Harry to just a simple answer like that? 
My hopes for Harry are so much more.  I hope he feels safe and secure.  That he can find something he can, and wants to do.  I hope that he will never feel limited by a diagnosis that he gets, or what other people tell him.  Selfishly, I hope his love for books continues to grow, I would to have a reading buddy to share all my books and thoughts with.  I want to be able to have a conversation with my son, whether is is talking, signing, or even writing... I want to know him, and what's going on in his head.  
My greatest hope for Harry is that he will be happy, truly happy.
And really isn't that what we all want for our kids. 
I am so thankful that he was sent to our family.  As challenging as his personality can be, the tantrums, and the staying up all night long, I couldn't imagine my life without him... nor would I ever want to.  
I pray everyday that I can be the mother that he needs.  

July 14, 2011

NYC Girls Weekend

A couple weekends ago, me and a couple of my girl friends took a trip up to NYC!
My friend Sharon found an awesome deal on a room (in a nice nice hotel) and the whole weekend only cost $100.  Super savings! (Well, that is not counting food, and tickets to a show.)  
The bus ride up was uneventful, and I had butterflies in my stomach the whole time, I was so excited.
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
The first day we did a lot of walking around, a lot.  We went down to the pier, Fulton Market, for lunch and the tastiest frozen yogurt I have ever, ever had.  (Seriously, forget any other fancy fro-yo place you have heard of.  Even Pink Berry is total crap compared to the heavenly goodness of Strawberry Fields.)
I didn't take nearly enough pictures, even though I felt like I had my camera out like a geeky tourist the whole time.
L&L Hawaiian BBQ
I was taking a picture of the comic store, when I noticed right underneath was a L&L Barbecue.
A little piece of Hawaii, all the way in the Big Apple.
Lamp Light
A pretty lamp light.
The Girls!
Wendi, Sharon, Trisha, and me and the little babe.
Outside our hotel, ready for a night on the town :)
NY Public Library
 Dear NY Public Library,
Next time, me and you, we are gonna spend a whole day together.
Love, April
Lucky Door
That's one lucky door.
This is how I was feeling all weekend... Lucky.  Very lucky.
I somehow managed to get away from my kids for the weekend, with my besties, and a new friend.  Went to NYC, of all the places.  Somehow convinced my friends to buy tickets to the show I wanted to see.  Didn't even spend much money at all. AND, got to take home some really fun memories.  Lucky.
Al Hirschfield Theater
Al Hirschfeild Theater.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
I've seen my fair share of shows, in lots of different cities.  But this was my first Broadway show in New York.  A total dream come true!  A dream that has been 30 years in the making.  
The best birthday present I could ever ask for.
It Only Takes A Moment...
It only takes a moment... me and Daniel sneaking in a little private time.
I felt so giddy with joy, like I was a 13 year old girl again.  
My cheeks were aching by the end of the night with all the smiling I was doing.
My Harry Potter, in real life....  And he was brilliant!  
Singing, dancing, putting on a great show, he was amazing.
I was a little nervous that I wouldn't like it, and my memory would forever be marred by a crappy show, but it was perfect.  John Larroquette was funny, the show was funny, the big numbers were great, and Daniel (we are on a first name basis now) was simply perfect.
It was such a wonderful night, it still seems a little surreal to me.
(Okay, I am done gushing.)
Me and Sharon
Me and Sharon outside the show.
Thanks for cooking up this weekend.  
You are always a lady with grand ideas, and I love you for it.
Statue of Liberty
The next day I was EXHAUSTED.
With all the walking we did the day before, I went to bed trying to calm the contractions I was having.
(A whole hour of contractions.  I never had contractions with the boys until after my water broke, and I was in labor.  A totally new experience for me.)
I was scared for a little while that I was actually going to have the little babe in NYC.
The next day I just tried to take it as easy as I could.  Me and Trisha took the Staten Island ferry, to Staten Island... we didn't want to wait in line for tickets to the Statue of Liberty.
We ate, we walked, we got stalked by a cute pedi-cab driver, and we took the Subway a lot.
It was such a nice weekend, and it went by entirely too fast.
One of the things that surprised me the most was how much I actually missed my family.  I missed the boys, a lot.  Not that I would've wanted them to come with me, it wouldn't have been as fun or easy... but I did miss them.  Jason is already busy planning my next trip (he thinks we are going to be able to go before the baby comes, I think he is crazy).  
He was a little sad he missed out on taking me to things this time around.  
As much as I miss the west coast, and I long to move closer to my family... it will be hard to leave the east coast.  I'm glad we have a couple more years here, and I hope we can cram all the things we want to do into that short amount of time.

July 13, 2011

Camping Trip To Cherry Stone

June 24-26
The last weekend in June we joined some of our friends for a camping trip.
We went north, only about 50 miles, to a camp spot called Cherry Stone.
I was really nervous since it was Harry's first camping trip, and the last time we tried to take Clark camping it was a bit of a disaster.  The weekend turned out to be great.  Harry didn't run away once, and even slept through the night, both nights (not even I was able to do that).
Clark has a blast with all the kids, and it was just fun being together as a family.
Harry couldn't keep away from this little moldy creek.
He took a swim more than once.  Dirtied all the clothes I brought for him on the first day.
Shortly after taking a dip in the creek.
Congrats Jay!  10years in the CG.
June 24 was Jason's 10 year anniversary in the Coast Guard.
Trisha kindly bought him a cake to celebrate with.
I am so proud of all the hard work and time he has put in to care for our family, and further his career.
10 more years to go, and it is retirement time!  Then Jason can do what he really wants to do.
(And don't ask me what that is, cause it changes a few times a year.)
Taking some much needed quiet time.
I'm so happy Harry slept through the night.
He really does have some sleep issues, and I was worried we were going to have to cut our trip short.
Cutie Clark
Something is stinky Mom...
Happy Harry
Paddle boat time.
Clark was so so very excited to get on the paddle boats.  He insisted on only riding in the orange one (really it was gold).  He nearly had a panic attack waiting for Daddy to get back from the restroom so he could have a turn.
Even Mr. Harry got in on the fun.
(Mommy was feeling too nervous to go, so Auntie Trisha helped out.)
Clark and Daddy, Kayaking
Daddy and Clark going for a ride in a kayak.
Camping is such hard work.
Trying to catch some crabs.
JayClark and Daddy, Crabbing
More crabbing.  
Clark was so excited to catch a "rab", but it wasn't very easy going.  The little fish they were sharing the water with were very aggressive.  We did manage to get a tub full of little fish, and one pretty good size crab (that died the next morning).
Wayne and the kids, more crabbing.
We let Harry watch the dvd player when we were packing up.
After two days with no tv he was in heaven.
Pinata Time
Clark and Port knocking around the Pinata.
Trisha made the funniest eye ball pinatas, so before we all left we the kids had a go at them.
Clark's candy stash... that was all gone before we even got home.
Such a fun trip.
I forgot how much I liked to go camping.  Cooking out dinner in a camp fire,
 relaxing with the family, quiet time by the fire early in the morning.
 Next time I would like to go when it is a little more cooler out, and I am a little less pregnant :)
I'm so proud of how well the boys did, and I really look forward to when they are a little older and they can do more.  I see more and more camping trips in our future.