Monday, July 30, 2012

Shortest Calling... Ever

Three weeks ago, Matt and I were called into the Bishop's office and I was offered a new calling. This calling is Helper in the Primary. I would be responsible for helping a 6 year old autistic boy in the ward during church so that his parent's could attend classes.

Along with this calling, Matt would be released from the Primary because we have Dan who is too young to go to the nursery and someone has to watch him and I couldn't do it in this calling.

I had great anxiety over this calling. I was reluctant to accept it because I know that autistic kids can get very physical and they are difficult to handle. It is no secret (to my blog readers) that I also have problems with little boys. It isn't that I don't like them, it is that I don't handle them that well. They are dirty and wild and I just don't understand them.

But, I was promised that if I accepted this calling, my family would be blessed for it. So, I accepted... and dreaded.

My first week, Matt had just started his new job, and was not used to his new schedule and needed to sleep that Sunday. So, I left Dan with him at home and went to church alone with Cole.

It was very difficult. Not only is this little boy not able to concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds, but he is fast, he is loud, and he is strong. His parent's had encouraged me to take him on walks around the building during primary to distract him. This was an epic failure. I lost him three times. He is just faster and stronger than me and I could not stop him from running. I felt like crying by the end of two hours.

The next week was worse. I opted to not take him on walks because I had lost him the week before, so we tried staying in class. This resulted in screaming, climbing under the chairs and running around the room. I attempted to stop him from doing these things, and he got mad. He grabbed my arms, squeezed, and yanked. And there was pain. So much pain that I had to leave the primary room lest I start crying in front of everyone.

It ended up that I pulled my rotator cuff. I couldn't move my arm without intense pain for a couple of days. Then my brother Johnny (who is a physical therapist) showed me some exercises to do and I have been doing them and my shoulder has been feeling a lot better. I still am in pain if I use it too much, but at least I can use it.

So, yesterday, I got a call from the Bishop. Someone had clued him in that I had had challenges the previous week in primary. I told him what had happened and it was decided that I would be released and they would call a man to the position who could better handle the physical requirements of the calling. I was so relieved that I started crying... again.

Only three weeks in the calling and it is over. Shortest calling ever. I admire the parents and the teachers who are able to handle the challenges of an autistic child. I'm obviously ill equipped for such things. Two weeks and I get hurt.

But, the bright side of all this is Matt was released of his primary calling. He has been wanting to get out of the primary for a while because he has been in for 3 years. And, with his new job, it presents a challenge for going to all three hours of church every week. It is doable, but some days he really needs to rest so that he can go to work again and stay awake all night... again.

This Sunday, we were able to actually go to Sunday School together for the first time in three years. It was so nice to get a little time together. Even if it was just an hour in church together. With this new job, we sometimes don't even get that on the weekend.

So, I continue my exercises so that my shoulder will continue to heal and I hope that my next calling will be less physically challenging.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Like to Cook

Some of you may not know this... but I like to cook. I like trying new recipes, experiencing new ingredients, and learning new techniques. I loved watching the food network before we canceled our satellite to same some cash.

I'm surprised how much I like to cook because... I never did it when I was young. Unless you count making hamburger helper... or spaghetti. My Mom was a single mom for many years and so she didn't have the luxury of cooking a lot of meals from scratch. It was often my sister Marie who cooked for us and it was always a box dinner because well, Marie was a teenager cooking for 7 kids.

When I got to college, I got a job at the school cafeteria working the breakfast shift and I learned a lot about cooking... in bulk. On the breakfast shift, I made 8 hotel pans of white rice (hawaiins love rice for breakfast, it is weird). Then I made 6 dozen poached eggs, a whole heap of hash browns, and then I made pancake mix for two hundred pancakes and made pancakes to order for 3 hours every morning.

Even though I was technically cook and was cooking... I really didn't learn a lot about food. I never saw a recipe in the kitchen and was really more of a prep cook than anything else. Although I did work the egg station occasionally, so I learned how to make eggs many different ways: poached, sunnyside up, over easy, over medium, over hard, scrambled, and medium.

I learned a little when I moved off campus and had to cook meals for myself rather then eat them all in the cafeteria. I didn't technically have a kitchen in my off campus place so much as a burner, one saucepan, and a microwave. One of my roommates was a Home-Ec major and she taught me how to make soup from scratch. Since it was one of the only things we could make with a burner and a saucepan. But, most of my cooking in that little apartment consisted of Easy Mac, Hot Pockets, and Peanut Butter Fingers.

When I moved home to Utah and moved in with my sister Marie, my cooking expanded a little bit. Since I finally had a stove and an oven, I was able to make things like frozen lasagna and frozen ravioli. Mostly, Marie and I spent a lot of time eating cereal and lean cuisine. Oh yeah, we dined like queens!

Side note: I never ate cereal or even drank milk while I lived in Hawaii because milk was 7 dollars a gallon. On my very limited budget, that just wasn't happening.

When I started dating Matt I quickly realized that he was a cook. On our second date, he made orange pork loin, green beans, and roasted potatoes. Things that I had never cooked in my life but that he was completely comfortable with cooking.

While dating, he taught me a little about cooking. Showed me how to pick fruits and vegetables at the store, how to make apple pie, how to clean shrimp, and what a pork loin is.

When we got married, I knew it was my wifely duty to cook dinners for my husband and feed him good food. I had even received recipes (from sister Ashton) for my bridal shower and I was armed with tools to feed my man. But, he was severely underwhelmed by my taco soup (which it turns out he is allergic to) and my spaghetti with sauce from a jar.

So, we set out on a journey together to build a recipe book of our very own with recipes that we both like and that we can cook all the time. Cooking became an activity/hobby that we could do together. It was quality time together doing something we both enjoyed.

I started reading cooking blogs and watching the food network to get meal ideas and trying new recipes. Matt and I began to love going to Bed Bath and Beyond to look at all the cool cooking tools. We suddenly had more kitchen appliances than we had space for and I loved it!

When Nicole came along, I started experimenting with making my own baby food. Then, we she was on table foods, I started to make a menu for us so that we could do shopping just once a week and have all of our meals planned and it made dinner even lower stress. Meal planning is definitely my least favorite part of cooking. Some weeks I stand in front of our meal plan calendar and I just do not know what to cook. I go through our 20 recipes or so that we make all the time and none of them sound good or challenging. So, then I will often pull out my millions of cookbooks and start looking there for dinner ideas.

Once Dan came along, cooking got harder. It is fairly challenging to cook with two little ones clinging to my legs while I'm in the kitchen. And, with Matt in school, we haven't gotten to cook together as often as we did in the past. It is either him cooking before I get home from work so that he can eat before he heads to class or me cooking after he has already left for class. But, despite that cooking has become more challenging, I still love cooking.

Here is what a typical menu looks like in the Kimball house.

Monday: Shrimp and Spaghetti (one of Nicole's favorites)

Tuesday: Fish Tacos with a cilantro coleslaw, fresh tomatoes, and El Pato

Wednesday: Kielbasa, red beans, black beans, tomato sauce, creole seasoning over white rice

Thursday: Chicken, roasted red potatoes, and roasted broccoli

Friday: Homemade Pizza (our favorite that we usually cook once a week)

Saturday: Leftovers (after cooking all week, we end up with a lot of leftovers)
Sunday: Pulled pork sliders with homemade coleslaw

Cooking isn't always easy, and it isn't always cheap. Matt and I have gone organic on a lot of things because it turns out that the kids are allergic to the hormones or antibiotics that are pumped into cows and chickens. Buying organic makes things even more expensive. But, we are trying very hard to put good food into our kids and ourselves. I ate a lot of crappy food when I was young and now that I have experienced quality food, I can't go back.

Frozen meals and highly processed foods just don't taste as good to me as they once did. I tried eating a hot pocket a few months ago because I was hungry and they provide them for free at my work. I took one bite into that thing and it tasted like cardboard stuffed with lava. It was disgusting. But, I remember eating them all the time in college and thinking they are delicious. My taste buds have changed.

I am more open to trying new foods than I ever was when I was younger. I've even started to retry foods that I thought I hated and have discovered that they are good again (blueberries, peaches, mangos, ect...). I love food.

All this cooking and eating yummy foods is perhaps why I gained 40 pounds after I got married, but that is okay because eating healthy and learning how to choose healthy foods and portioning my food is just another step in my food learning process. Now that I am learning about the fat and calorie content of food, I am learning how to slim down the recipes that I make all the time and make them even healthier for me and my kids.

Instead of butter, I use olive oil (or applesauce when baking). Instead of just white flour, I mix have white, half wheat. Or, wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Or I cut the cheese out meals that don't really need them. Stuff like that.

I'm continually learning more about food and cooking all the time and I am not stopping.

The other night, I thought I might make a fruit topping for the waffles I was making for dinner and I knew we had whipping cream that I could make into whipped cream. So, I cut up some apples and peaches, threw them into a sauce pan with a little bit of butter and some brown sugar and cooked them until they softened and put them over waffles with a little cream on top. It was awesome! I had never done it before, neither did I have a recipe, but I knew in theory what to do and tasted as I went and it turned out great!

I watch a lot of Master Chef and the home cooks just seem to instinctively know how to make things they have never made before because they know the theory and the technique behind it. That is what I want to do. I want to understand so much about food that I can make things I have never made before because I know the theory.

So, I shall keep cooking and keep eating.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dan Dan Dan

This handsome little man, brings so much joy and adventure to my life. When I was pregnant with this one, I wondered how I would do a boy, I wondered if I would love my boy as much as I love my girl because I was not fond of little boys. They were dirty and rowdy and loud and violent. But this sweet boy, made me realize how much I love my baby boy.

Dan is sweet. He is a snuggler and a hugger and loves to snuggle with his mama and I love it too! He loves his sister so much and just follows her around the house and tries to play with her (much to Nicole's dismay). "Mama! Dan is following me!"

Dan is almost 15 months and he is so very physically active. Nicole at 15 months had just learned to walk. Dan at this age is running, climbing, jumping, and all over... everything. Dan can run faster than Nicole can... right now. This is probably because Dan is fearless. He runs full tilt with no fear of falling. Nicole is a careful runner. She runs with determination and is very exact.

Dano is such a good eater. He eats almost anything that we put in front of him and he loves to eat. Which is such a change for us as Nicole is such a picky eater. For Nicole, eating a necessity, for Dan, it is a fun activity.

Dan's favorite food is macaroni and cheese (no shock there).
His favorite drink is milk. He is a milk lush! He still drinks at least three bottles a day.

Dan has gotten really good at going down the stairs forwards. He is desperate to go down like his older sister, so he clings to the rails and walks down the stairs. Even though we tried to prevent him from doing this because he has fallen down the stairs so many times.

Dan's vocabulary is... limited. His understanding is great, but his speech is small. I think he is so focused on getting places and doing things, that speech just does not matter to him. Whereas Nicole, had 30 words at this age, but had just learned to walk. Dan can run, but only has a handful of words.

Here are Dan's words: Ball, Baby, Bottle, Balloon, Book (which all sound exactly the same, "bah"), Mama, Dada, Dooey (that is Coley), Up ("bup"), More ("mah"), and Down ("Dah").

The only clear word that we hear from Dan that has all the correct syllables and vowels is Buh Bye. He says this all the time. He goes to the door and says, "Buh Bye." Or hands me my shoes and says it. He loves this word. He used to say "Hi" but now he won't say it any more, he only says bye.

Dan likes tv, but doesn't love it like Nicole does. Dan's favorite shows are: Seasame Street, Potty Power, and Yo Gabba Gabba. All other shows he ignores and doesn't take interest in.

Dan is a happy boy. He is such an easy child to take care of. He is laid back and happy and there is not a lot of drama. He is very active and tires me out and has made me baby proof more than I ever needed to with Nicole, but that isn't as hard to deal with as I thought it would be.

Weight: 23lbs (30%)
Length: 31.5 (60%)
Head: 18.5 (40%)

I love my little Dan Man.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Helper Boy

Dan loves to be with me all the time. He follows me around (usually crying) and he just wants to be doing what I am doing. This seems to be especially true when I am trying to get the dishes done.

Except that Dan is more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to the dishes. He is always taking all the spoons out and putting them in his mouth (whether they are dirty or clean, it doesn't matter). And he loves to try and take the bottom rack out so that he can stand on the dishwasher door.

It drives me crazy! It makes the dishes take twice as long as they normally do and I am constantly putting him downstairs while I am doing dishes so that he will stop playing with the dirty dishes.

But Dan just perceives this as an awesome game and chases me back up the stairs laughing and resumes his playing with the dishes and the dishwasher.

Maybe he wants to be a helper boy, but right now he is just a wild boy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sleep Training Update

So, it has been a little over a month since Matt and I started sleep training with Nicole and I feel like we have FINALLY gotten into a rhythm. The first 3 weeks were awful. Nicole fought us and fought the training and cried... a lot and we had to tweak what we were doing here and there and this is what we finally ended up with that works for us and works for her.

7pm: We start our bedtime routine. No matter what, we try and be home by 7pm so that we can give the kids consistency in bedtime. Obviously, on special occasions we may not get home by 7, but on regular weekdays, this is our goal.

I put both of the kids in a warm bubble bath and then get them out and put them in pajamas.

7:15pm: Get Dan a bottle and put him in his crib. Then, I take Nicole into the bathroom to go potty and brush her teeth.

7:25pm: I take Dan's now empty bottle, give him his pacifier, turn on his mobile, give him his blanky and sing the "night night song" (this is a song that Nicole made up when she was young and we liked it so much it stuck).

7:30pm: Nicole gets exclusive Mommy time because I have been at work all day and she needs time just with me. We will usually snuggle up and watch one of her short shows.

8pm: Prayers, hugs, kisses, and bed.

Some of the things we have changed in the room is that we are now down to one night light, but Nicole now has a lamp clipped to her head board that she can turn on at any time that she needs it. Being scared of the dark was a big thing with her, but there couldn't be too much light in the room or Dan couldn't sleep. So we got this lamp that is clipped to her headboard that doesn't give off much light and she can use it whenever she needs it. It has helped her SO much! She actually doesn't even use it every night. I think the comfort of knowing she CAN turn on a light was all she needed.

8:10pm: Go and check on Nicole and give her kisses. Repeat every 10-15 minutes until she falls asleep. She usually falls asleep between 8:30 and 9pm.

Even though she isn't falling asleep until later in the evening, I don't even care because she is going to sleep by herself and she is no longer crying, coming out, or throwing tantrums.

We started a Bedtime sticker chart to reward her when she had a good bedtime and Nicole just finished it up yesterday.

In case you can't read it, it has our mission statement at the top. She gets a sticker if she:
1. Doesn't cry at bedtime.
2. Doesn't throw up at bedtime.
3. Stays in her room at bedtime.

It took 7 weeks, but she finally filled out the chart with stickers. The reward system works so well with Nicole. She is so much better behaved if she is rewarded for good behavior than if she is reprimanded for bad. Snapping at her for bedtime or yelling at her or taking away her privileges does NOT work, it only makes her escalate.

Instead, we've replaced it with the reward of us checking on her every 10 to 15 minutes if she is good. So, she knows, now that we have had weeks of practicing, that if she is quiet and in her room, we will come in and check on her.

We still get incidents where she will come out because we have waited too long to check on her. One night, she came out of her room and saw Matt and I just laying in bed and said, "Daddy! I wanted you to check on me but you are just lying there. Why aren't you checking on me?" And then she immediately started crying. She was so hurt that Matt was just lying in bed instead of taking the time to check on her. It was a little funny.

Sometimes, Nicole gets a little confused when she wakes up in the morning. She wakes up, thinks no time has passed and it is still night and comes into my room crying, "Mommy, I wanted you to check on me but you never came!" When, in reality, she has just been asleep all night. I just have to remind her that it is morning and I can't check on her while I'm asleep.

So, for finishing her bedtime sticker chart, we took Nicole to the store to pick out a toy. She already knew that she wanted a new puzzle. We got her a box that has four puzzles in it and you can put the puzzle together on the top of the box. I love these puzzles that come with a surface to put them together and a storage place in the box for each puzzle. Whoever invented these is a genius! Nicole loves her new puzzle and she is so good at putting it together. I thought new puzzles would challenge her, but she put them together like she knew where every piece goes. She is just so smart.

One other thing that we have discovered is a big contributer to a happy bedtime is an ample nap. Nicole used to stay up until 10pm at night, so we decided to cut her nap to get her to go to bed earlier, but the more we cut her nap the later she tended to stay up. Our approach seemed logical to me, but after reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, I realize that day time sleep and night time sleep are not created equal.

If we let Nicole nap for 2 hours in the early afternoon, not only is she a happier child at bedtime, but she actually falls asleep faster. Weird how that is. But, because she isn't exhausted at bedtime, she is able to relax and fall asleep more easily. If she has her naptime cut to one hour because we have to wake her up to.... say, go to church, then bedtime is a lot harder. She cries more, she stays up later and it is harder on everyone.

So, we have finally hit our groove! She naps every day in the afternoon for two hours and always starts our bedtime routine at the same time and we have a much happier child and happier parents. It feels like it took forever to get to this point. Hopefully it lasts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

We Did It! We Made It!

First weekend of Matt's new job and we made it through. It was hard, probably harder on Matt than me, but we made it.

Matt went to work Friday night and stayed up all night after being awake all day on Friday. It was kinda like staying awake for 24 hours. Saturday, Matt got to sleep during the day a little. I took the kids out shopping and to a birthday party so that he could have peace and quiet, but daytime is hard to sleep through. Matt only got 5 hours of sleep before the sun and the day got the best of him and he was awake again.

Matt said the second night was better than the first night, but he had a harder time sleeping through the day on Sunday. The kids and I were stuck in the house and as much as I would like the kids to stay quiet all day, it is not in a child's nature. We woke up Matt and the phone woke up Matt and a meeting a church... Matt did not get a lot of sleep and then he had to stay awake all night again.

I hope Matt gets more sleep today, but we shall see. We have Matt's sister watching the kids during the day while he gets some rest. I hope it goes well.

Things were hard on me too this weekend. I am not used to being full time, alone parent. I'm used to taking care of my kids, but Matt is usually there with me and I don't know all of their daytime schedules. It got frustrating at times just because I'm not used to it. Bedtimes were fairly easy because that is what I am used to. I always put the kids to bed.

But, bedtime for me was more challenging. I'm not used to Matt not being there with me and I kept waking up and looking for him, only to find empty space on the bed next to me. Additionally, I was the one waking up with the kids at night every night because I was the only one there. During the week, Matt wakes up with the kids in the night because I work during the day and I am used to sleeping through it.

This will definitely be an adjustment. But, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Next week, we will be armed with more things to help Matt sleep during the day. More curtains, earplugs, white noise, and sleep eye shades.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Job, New Adventure

A few weeks ago, Matt got a lead on a contract IT job at Adobe that is a graveyard shift. Matt applied for the job, went through the interview process and was offered the position. He passed the background check and he starts the job today!

It is an amazing opportunity that gets Matt's foot in the door with a great company and it works great with our schedule. Matt will work weekend nights on the graveyard shift and then rest during the day on the weekend while I am home to watch the kids.

It will also work while he is in school in the fall because Matt doesn't have any Friday classes. We really hope that this opportunity may turn into a permanent position for Matt after he graduates.

Even though this new job is really exciting and will give Matt the job experience that he needs, I am also a little sad that it has come at this time. With Matt's school schedule, my work schedule, and Matt's new work schedule, we will have even less time together as a family then we did before.

In the past, Matt has had school on week nights, but we always had time together on the weekends, but we will no longer get that time together because Matt will be working at night and sleeping during the day. This job will most definitely be a challenge for us. But, I feel like the sacrifices we make right now, will benefit us in the future.

I can sacrifice my time with my husband for the next few months so that Matt can have a good paying, solid, job when he is finished with school. And then, I can stay home with my children, which is what I really want to do. It will be difficult, but I know that we can do it.

So, he starts his job tonight and he is so excited to be getting back to work. It has been more than two years since Matt had a job and he really feels most comfortable when he is working and making money for our family.

This job will also provide a second income for us and may allow us to get out of the debt that we have accrued while Matt has been in school. I would love to say that my writer's salary pays for all our bills and needs, but it simply isn't true. So, this second income will really help us.

So, we move forward again to a new adventure in our lives that will hopefully get us to our end goal. It is exciting and scary.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Swimming Lessons

Ever since Nicole was 1, we have put her in swimming lessons every summer. This year, we got to put Nicole AND Dan in swimming lessons. This is Nicole's first year doing the lessons by herself (without a parent by her side) and this is Dan's first year doing it ever.

After the beach debacle, we knew we were in for it with the swimming lessons. Dan hates swimming. He even hates the kiddy pool in our backyard. He screams and cries and desperately tries to get away from the water. Nicole also has water fear.

But, we knew that swimming lessons would be good for them and get them used to and comfortable with the water. We hope that it will help them conquer their fears.

I was able to go to the first lesson with them because I had the day off from work (because it was the day we came back from Bear Lake). So, I got to take some pictures of the kids during their swim lessons. But, the quality is bad because I was taking pictures from the side of the pool and was quite far away, so the flash did nothing.

Dan swam with his Daddy and cried the whole time. The pool toys made him happy for a very little bit, but then he was back to crying. He kept shivering too, so we think a lot of his tears are due to being too cold even though the pool is heated.

We bought him a little swim shirt after the first day and he did a little be better the second day because he was a little bit warmer. But, he still cries during lessons. That's okay though, it is good for him.

Nicole hugged the steps. She didn't mind being alone with her class, but she did not want to get off those steps and she kept getting into the pool toys before it is time. Her teacher kept having to put the toys in the basket and try to get Nicole off the steps.

Eventually, her teacher did get her off the steps, though Nicole was then plastered to her teachers side and would not let go of her.

But eventually, Nicole got involved and did really well. Until it was time to go. The second she saw Matt and I (because I made myself scarce during her lessons so that she would do it on her own), she started crying. She said, "You left me! I couldn't see you and I was alone!" We tried to tell her that we were there, and watching her, but she was so hurt that we had left her and she couldn't see us.

Since her first day, she has done a lot better and now cries when she has to leave the pool because she is having so much fun.

They have more lessons next week. I hope the kids are better in the water by the end of it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kimball Family Reunion

Every 3 years, the Kimball side of the family (Matt's Dad's family) has a reunion. This time was Momma Kimball's turn to plan the reunion and she planned for us to go to Bear Lake.

We rented two cabins, the Papa Bear Cabin (15 bedrooms) and the Baby Bear Cabin (3 bedrooms). Nicole, upon hearing these names, asked me, "Are we staying in the Three Bears house?" The whole time we were there, she thought we were staying at the three bears house and it was super cute.

The Kimball side of the family is not a small family. There are the children of Grandma and Grandpa Kimball: (Claudia), Janet (Roger), Linda (Dave), (Diane), Grant (Brenda), and Kevin (Theresa). Then, there are their children who also have families: Matt and I, Anne and Carlos, Kristy and Omar, Alicia and Brian, Lindsy and Hubby, Jessica and Jesse, Scott and Renee, and Ryan and Vicky. That is... 14 families... over 50 people. We are one big group. But, the cabin we were staying in was huge and Matt and I were able to have a room for us and our kids.

We left Provo on Friday afternoon and drove for 3 hours to get up to Bear Lake. The drive was not so bad, the kids napped for half of it. But, we had to drive through this windy canyon up past Logan and it took an hour to get through and I got car sick and Nicole had to go potty in the middle of the canyon and we had to stop at a potty at a camping ground that was a hole in the ground. Nicole took one look at the potty and freaked out. She said, "No, no, no! It's too dirty, lets find a different potty." But she was brave and she did it.

Friday night, was game night and we played Family Feud and Minute to Win It Games. Then we spent many hours trying to get the kids to go to sleep in our room. Dan was sleeping in a playpen and Nicole on a blow-up mattress. They were so excited about being in a new place that it took a long time.

Saturday, there was a funeral service for Great Uncle Ted Kimball who died a couple months ago. This happened right during the kids nap and lunch time, so we did not attend, but rather decided to let the kids eat and nap to keep them on their schedule.

In the afternoon, we drove to North Beach in Idaho on Bear Lake. The kids have never been to a beach before and we thought that it would be a fun new experience for them. We thought wrong.

They hated the beach! They were fine when we were under the canopy, sitting in the shade on a blanket. But the second we took them down the beach to the water, there was screaming and crying and two little kids clawing their way up me to get out of the water.

Dano enjoyed playing with the squirt guns while under the canopy.

Carlitos, Lucy, and Nicole discovered that the sand was full of shells and then all Nicole wanted to do was sit and collect shells. That was the only time that she was happy while we were on the beach.

There were a couple of volley and soccer balls that someone brought, and Dan just wanted to throw them and chase them. Who needs a beach and water when you have balls?

Matt and I both tried multiple times to get Nicole to like the water. To no avail.

Collected seashells.

Matt finally got Dano to be close to the water without crying. He found him a shovel and Olivia and Dan sat and shoveled the sand.

After an hour and a half, we called it and decided to stop trying to make the kids like the beach and we headed back to the cabin.

After the beach, we ate dinner and Nicole said that she wanted to go to bed. So we put her in the room, closed the door and went off to play some board games. Someone came to us not much later to tell us that they heard screaming and crying coming from our room. Matt went to investigate and discovered that Nicole had locked herself in the room, panicked, threw up, and pooped her pants. Sigh.

We felt really bad because she got so scared and didn't know how to unlock the door and just panicked and we had no idea. So, we cleaned her up, cleaned up the carpet and got her calmed down. We did not close the door again when she was in the room. We learned our lesson... the hard way.

Sunday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast and headed to church at 9am. The church was crazy packed! Everyone on vacation at Bear Lake was going to this one church building and it was crazy. The chapel, cultural hall, stage, and all the surrounding classrooms were full of people for sacrament meeting. There were a good 1200 people there. Just passing the sacrament took almost 30 minutes.

The rest of Sunday, we decided to just chill at the cabin and let the kids play. Their favorite part of the cabin was the playground. At first, Nicole was afraid of it and wouldn't climb up the ladder or go down the slide, but by the end of the weekend she was a pro. Even Dano was a pro. He kept trying to get up the ladder and LOVED going down the slide. Dan is definitely more adventurous than Nicole.

Dan, of course, loved playing with the volley ball on the lawn.

Sunday afternoon, we took family pictures with everyone. I did my makeup outside while the kids were playing on the play ground, but once they saw what I was doing, they came over to check it out. Nicole wanted to curl her eyelashes too. It was pretty funny.

Monday morning, we got up at 5am, and headed back home. The drive home was just as windy and curvy as the ride up and Nicole got a little car sick this time around. We had to stop after the canyon and let her regroup lest she throw up.

We made it home okay around 9am, which was the plan since the kids had their first swim lesson at 10:30am.

More on swim lessons tomorrow.

The whole trip was a lot of fun. We got to play and relax and the kids loved waking up and having friends to play with every day. It was a good vacation/reunion, but I am glad to be home in my own bed and my own home.