Grandma, Papa, Uncle, and Aunt Come to Visit

My family came into town and took us out to lunch and then to hang out at the mall! I didn’t take many pictures but here are the ones I did take!

This first one is my mom’s from facebook. That’s her and her husband holding Lyla in the middle, and that’s my brother and his wife on the right.


Then there’s this video she took, too.


These are the photos I took.01 (5)efbblog01 (6)efbblog01 (9)efbblog01 (14)efbblog01 (17)efbblog01 (19)efbblog01 (23)efbblog01 (25)efbblog01 (26)efbblog

Hi, We’re in Town, Want to Visit?


My sister says.

“Yes. When and where?”

And here we are at the lake with family. My sister and her family and her husband’s, my brother-in-law, family!304efbblog

As you’ll see from the photos, there were a lot of kids and a lot of water and if you’ve followed me for any length of time you probably know my top three fears are:

1) my kids drowning

2) my kids getting kidnapped

3) germs/bugs (but those are more phobia-ish and not REAL fears, they only come out when I’m anxious about other stuff in life)

I bring this up because I was on HYPER ALERT the whole time I was there. Max anxiety for the trip. It made holding a conversation difficult because I was screaming in my head the whole time.





(Vocally, outside of my head:) “Payson, closer to the shore!”


“Everett, come a little closer to me!”

PAYSON, PAYSON, PAYSON. I was always searching for Payson because he didn’t have a life jacket and didn’t know how to swim yet (different blog post, coming soon!) and is a risk taker.

I almost drown several times as a kid doing the same stuff he does so… I mean… as my therapist told me, maybe he got some of that risk through my bloodline?  lol


As you can see in all these pictures (I didn’t have my camera a lot so I took several dozen all during like five minutes so I could put it away for the most part) they found logs floating in the lake and got the biggest kick out of it! I would have too at that age! So fun! 323efbblog

Portrait of the happiest boy:328efbblog

Snapshot of the girl with no fear who thinks she is a big kid:336efbblog337efbblog339efbblog344efbblog346efbblog354efbblog360efbblog366efbblog

I tried to sit on the beach with my sister talking but…369efbblog371efbblog

My kids didn’t really care about the sand. haha374efbblog377efbblog

Here is a picture that shows faces better! My kids with my sister’s two kids. They’re growing up so fast! Here are our kids back when there were only five and back when there were six.380efbblog384efbblog

We need to go visit them again soon. Maybe for fall break.

My Mom Comes to Visit

I called my mom to tell her about my divorce. She told me she would drive to come stay with me the very next day. I wasn’t up to seeing anyone, I was firmly in the isolating stage of grief but I couldn’t say no. It actually ended up being a really helpful distraction from my divorce. I’m sure I was the worst host ever but I couldn’t even muster up any emotion to care. I just gave up on everything besides feeding and clothing my kids that week.
I really love my mom. And my kids were over the moon excited to see her.

Ironically my brother was in the southern part of my state that day and my mom invited him to come visit us, too. So he and his wife came that day. I loved seeing them. I had only met his wife once before for a minute or two back in 2014 so it was nice actually getting to talk to her a bit.
I don’t have to tell you how my kids felt about that, do I?

I felt awkward with Allan being there and everyone knowing we were getting divorced. Not bad, mad, sad… just awkward. Like, do we just hang out and act like everything is normal? That’s what ended up happening. My mom invited Allan to dinner with us, too. One big happy family. haha! I am a comedian. But seriously… it was weird acting like everything was fine. My kids don’t know about the divorce yet, either. It’s all a weird secret right now.

The kids showed their grandma, uncle, and aunt their magna tile creations and Sierra made herself a beak. I love this picture.

We went to Chili’s for dinner. We were a huge group. There was so much confusion around getting a table because we showed up right when another large party showed up… or TWO other large parties. They kept asking if we were the party of 9 and we kept saying we had 11. It wasn’t a big deal, it was just funny.
My mom told everyone she was paying (against us all arguing, haha) and let each kid get their own meal with a fancy drink!

Lyla didn’t care about the meals or drinks… just mom’s boob. Allan offered to take these for me and I really like them. I don’t breastfeed in public like, ever, so it was a rare thing and I like having the pictures to remember it.

Lyla’s favorite part of dinner was the chips and salsa. Lyla LOVES dips and sauces and dressings… like, she will just dip the same chip or veggie over and over and suck the sauce off!

These two best friends ♥

My brother sneakily paid the bill for everyone when my mom wasn’t watching him interact with our waitress. She was mad. They are both just too nice and wanted to do something nice for me and my family during this painful time.

Look at us getting a group picture after! I think I asked everyone if we could do this (outside my usual) and I’m glad we did it even though the lighting was terrible… half shade, half sun.

A man going into the restaurant with a group of people asked if we wanted him to take it instead (the camera had been propped up on my brother’s suitcase) and we happily said yes! Thank you.

And then me, my mom, Allan, and my kids headed back to my house and my brother and his wife headed back to Washington.

Did we skip our daily bike rides? Nope!

Lyla was ready for our big, family bike ride but she rode around on her little… um… ride-on toy? What’s this thing called? We just call it her bike so if I say that, that’s why. She likes it being called her bike… makes her feel included, probably 🙂

Payson wanted to ride Sierra’s bike since it’s bigger than his. He’s been really into riding bikes that are too big for him and asks to all the time.

He and Lyla took turns pushing each other around on Lyla’s “bike.”

Sierra got her bike back!

Payson also asks all the time if I will give him a ride. He LOVES it. So I did.

Everett wanted to stay home with grandma since we were going on a fairly short ride just around the block so Payson got to be on my bike the whole time. We went and saw some nearby cows.

The next day we went to Barnes and Noble because that’s a favorite of ours. We get drinks and treats to share from the Starbucks inside and then we go and read books and play with the trains and my mom bought Payson his birthday presents while there since his birthday was coming up!

We went to Fred Meyer for a couple of grocery things and grandma bought a bunch of games and treats for the kids and Everett and Lyla got candy and stickers!

Hanging out back at home.

This was the next morning. My mom went home that day and everyone was so sad! We took some group pictures before she left!

And I snapped some pictures of these kids being adorable!

Eric and Jeena Come to Visit!

Jeena’s due October 30th with her first baby. She and Eric decided to take a babymoon to our area and stay in a resort. One of the days they were here they stayed with us. Lucky us!

I cleaned the house up before they came. I am not usually so picky about the house being super clean but for the first visit by someone, I want it really clean! I swept and mopped all the floors and when lunch time rolled around I fed everyone outside! No crumbs on this floor, people. lol!

Everett is really shy. Really, really shy. When people are around who aren’t a part of his immediate family he just quietly sits in my or Allan’s arms. He was so shy this day that he just leaned on Allan’s shoulder and fell asleep while we were talking to Eric and Jeena!

We all went to get ice cream at Shenanigan’s. We were slightly bummed that they didn’t have strawberry cheesecake or brownie ice cream flavors this time but they did have huckleberry, birthday cake, and pumpkin pie so that was good! Ember stuck with what she typically sticks with- chocolate!

We walked over to the marina. Stopping to see Mudgie and Millie at the insistence of the kids.

How beautiful was the lake that evening?!

Heading over to the marina!

Jeena and Eric were taking that dinner cruise the next night so we got a picture of them on the chair. Clearly Payson and Ember decided they needed a niece and nephew to join in 😛

I took a few pictures of Eric and Jeena with Jeena’s camera so I don’t have many of them but I have this that Jeena took of Allan and me!

We went the right way around the marina this time and crossed a bridge. It was nice to look out over the lake. It was busy that day so a lot of people had to squeeze by (it’s a narrow bridge!) but it was still fun!

The next day we got to prepare some of the delicious, and huge, veggies Jeena brought from their garden!! We made some typical foods and we also made zucchini bread for the first time! It was delicious!!

Jeena works at a dentist office and brought the kids each a new toothbrush. I don’t even know if she knew how much my kids like toothbrushes but they were about as thrilled as if she’d brought them a puppy! haha! Everett carried his around for days! In fact, this last weekend when we were leaving on the road trip he was really upset when I took the toothbrush from him to leave home! I could’ve brought it but, I didn’t want it to get lost on the trip!
Oh and yes, sometimes he brushes his hair with it!

Thanks for coming to visit us Eric and Jeena!

Our 4th of July!

We were supposed to go to Washington for the 4th of July but this is when my back was severely injured and driving was one of the most painful things for me to do. Just a twenty minute trip to the store had me nearly in tears by the time I got home. That short time in the would have me laying on the couch with an ice pack when I got home. I couldn’t imagine how I’d survive a 6 hour drive to Washington and another 6 hour drive home!
So I told my mom we weren’t coming and not long after she called me and asked if she and Milo could come to our house. I said yeah! That’d work so much better! Me and the family tidied up Sierra and Ember’s room where they’d be staying, washed the linens and stuff, and waited around excitedly to see grandma and papa Milo!

They got here the night before Independence Day and we hung out and I didn’t take pictures… I pulled my camera out for the first time the next day when we went to Coeur d’Alene to see the parade.

You can tell from the pictures, it was hot that day! We went without enough supplies. We should’ve brought sunscreen, hats, more water, and maybe an umbrella or something. haha! It was bright, it was warm, but it was fun!

Because we’d planned on spending three days in Washington we had no food for the weekend! We stopped at Wal-Mart before going home and ate lunch at Subway and bought a bunch of food for that evening!

Once home Payson played Zelda.

And Milo started on a fruit salad while Ember watched 🙂

Me, my mom, and the girls all started a game of My Little Pony Monopoly.

I went in the kitchen to help Milo a bit and Everett fell asleep in his high chair! He’s never done that and hasn’t done it since!

The girls were so cute playing Monopoly with grandma! (I stopped playing about this time)

I asked the girls to smile for a picture and Ember stopped was she was doing and flashed me this:

And I laughed my butt off. And then took a couple more pictures 🙂

Sierra had lost her tooth the night before!

Allan helped Payson play Zelda. They had a lot of fun together.

And then once it got dark and very late we headed back to Coeur d’Alene to see the fireworks! They set them off at 10pm over the lake!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the fireworks because I was just really enjoying watching them. This is the best fireworks I’ve had in years! It was awesome!

Visiting My Family in Washington!

Want to know the saddest thing in the whole wide world? Payson, Ember, and Everett had never ever met my dad and Brooklyn and Sierra only met him once when Brooke was 3 and Sierra was 11 months old for about thirty minutes.
It hurt my heart so deeply that the man I loved most in the entire universe for all of my life didn’t even know his own grandchildren 🙁

I talked to my kids about my dad and showed them pictures and hoped they’d fall in love with their grandpa even just a fraction as much as I love my dad but figured with all the people at the BBQ that day it might not be as impactful. There are some loud personalities in my family (and by some I mean most, haha!) so I thought my very quiet dad might get missed in the crowd.

Imagine my surprise and sheer delight when Payson and Ember met my dad and decided he was the best person they’d ever met. They followed him like puppies and when he sat down to eat off to the side on this porch swing they followed him away from the crowd of family to sit next to him to eat! I was near bawling, you guys. I was in the middle of reconnecting with my family who I rarely see, overwhelmed with seeing EVERYone again and wanting to talk and visit with each person but here I was standing watching my babies go and sit with their grandpa. These new relationships forming without my causing them (besides having been born to my dad and birthing those kids, anyway) watching this family bond just exist and flourish from the first second they all met.

It was as close to magical as life can get. I don’t think I will ever, ever forget it.

I interrupted their moment to take this picture. I had to!

And as I look at it, I tear up every time. For my kids finally meeting their grandpa and loving him so much and also remembering when me and my brother were those ages and how much my dad was my super hero. He was a rock and anchor is a very troubling world for me. My childhood sucked pretty much a lot but my dad was a safe place for me. We are a lot alike and we get along so well and he always made me feel loved and accepted and happy even in my hardest times.

Okay that’s probably enough of my inner feelings about that. Moving on to the BBQ. We were finding out Jeena’s baby’s gender that day!! I was SO excited!! As close to, maybe even more, excited than finding out my own babies’ genders. I have just been SO happy for Jeena. She’s wanted a baby so much and to watch her pregnant and hear about the things she’s going through has been really emotional for me. I want the very best for her and I’m just giddy and relieved and completely thankful she’s finally going to be a mom!

So after everyone ate Jeena brought out a bunch of cute cupcakes she made. The frosting inside was…

Pink! A girl!! I’m SO excited for her to have a daughter! She’s going to be such a great mom and that baby is going to be SOOOO loved!!!

Next my grandma wanted a picture of everyone together so we started to get everyone to come back over to the chairs. I snapped this of Allan and my brother Chris chatting. They didn’t know I took it 🙂

As people were gathering Kyle took off his shirt and hat and was doing something silly. I don’t even remember what but we were all laughing really hard.

This is probably just an Ariana thing but the pictures taken before the one with everyone gathered and smiling are often my favorite. I love seeing everyone just there without posing or smiling for a camera.

Everyone! The only ones missing were my sister Kelly and her family. I wish they could’ve come 🙁

I pulled Jeena and Eric aside with a cupcake to take some pictures.

Grandma finally gets a chance to hold Everett! Papa Milo had held him all up to this point!

It was Payson’s birthday so we had him open presents.

Can you believe this kid is 7?! I truly can’t! I can’t remember life without Payson in the slightest but I also can’t believe it’s been 7 years since he was born! He’s growing up SO fast! Where’d the last 5 years go?!

Everett loved Payson’s stack of presents! He kept trying to play with them!

I had to include all these pictures of Payson opening his favorite present from me and Allan. A snap dragon stuffed animal from Plants vs. Zombies 2!

I don’t have any pictures of him opening presents from grandma and papa Milo and Aunt Jeena and Uncle Eric because I video taped that part but I do have pictures of him playing with those toys that I’ll do another post of!

One thing I LOVE about my family is that pictures aren’t an awkward thing! Everyone asks for pictures and smiles for pictures and it makes my life as a camera addict so much easier! I am pretty shy and reserved and practically never ask if I can take a picture of people because I don’t want to annoy them so when ANYone asks me to take a picture I jump at the chance!! I LOVE this picture of me and Jeena! I’ve missed my sister SO much 🙁 and am so happy to live near enough that I can see her more often 🙂

Then my mom asked for pictures of us together! Yay!

This one’s my favorite:

Then Papa Milo was holding the little kids and my mom was singing trot, trot to Boston. It brought back memories from when I was a kid and she used to do that to us. I remember her doing it to Jeena ALL the time 🙂
My kids were busting up in giggles.

You know, we’ve been so spoiled with warm weather that when packing for this trip I didn’t bring sweaters for my kids! It got a little chilly in the evening so Allan gave Ember his jacket and Everett got his shirt! haha

Grandparents and grandkids! We have this blown up on a canvas in our hallway!

Next we went to Dairy Queen to get sundaes for Payson’s birthday!

Thumb wars!

It was pretty late by the time we got to our hotel that night. We stayed in a really nice hotel in Bellingham. The breakfast at that hotel was good!

Payson loves this plush turtle he got for his birthday.

Ember had worn her boots with no socks (unbeknown to us) and the night before we’d noticed her feet were quite stinky! We let her boots air out and we washed her feet in the hotel sink (it was just too late for a bath, though) and the next morning we let her go barefoot until we bought her some new socks from Target!

I don’t know why Ember was playing the iPad in the car. We usually don’t do that. She must’ve been super tired and cranky.

We were supposed to head straight to my dad’s restaurant and then get headed back to Idaho so we didn’t arrive back at our house super late but we decided to just visit with my mom and Milo and Jeena and Eric a bit more first. It hadn’t been enough time seeing them the day before! 🙂

Jeena’s belly looked so cute that day, I loved how much more she showed while holding Everett, I had to take some pictures! (You other moms know how holding a toddler while pregnant makes your belly show so much more! I think Jeena was 20 weeks along here?)

Poor Everett was traumatized 😉
Ha, not really but his way of coping meeting new people was so different to me and Allan. We’ve had babies act one of two ways: either they are super social and go to a new person and smile and are fine or they are shy but scream or cry when being handed to a new person. Everett was different, he was shy but he’d just get quiet and not make eye contact with anyone. Not even me!

The kids got to taste carrots straight from Jeena and Eric’s garden! They loved that!

It was funny when Eric was holding Everett. Everett doesn’t look anything like me or Allan but everyone agreed he looked like he could’ve been Eric and Jeena’s kid! I loved this moment of Jeena taking a picture of Eric holding Everett so I had to take a picture of my own 🙂

Papa Milo got more time hanging out with Everett. Everett warmed up to Milo and they had fun practicing walking and playing with Jeena’s dogs and picking flowers… lots of fun!

My kids were in love with Eric and Jeena’s dogs. IN LOVE. They begged for pets, they always do, and I just said… no. haha! If I go for a whole year without cleaning someone else’s poop, vomit, pee, or diarrhea maybe I’ll start consider bringing another creature into my home who’s bodily waste I’ll be in charge of. Considering the amount of waste I’m cleaning these days, that’s nowhere near happening :/

The kids were excited to bring grandma flowers.

After hanging out for a couple hours it was time to go. Everyone was sad 🙁

But, remember how I said my kids have never even seen my dad? My dad never gets time with us so I HAD to make time to go see him at his restaurant. We ended up being two hours (or three?!) later than when we’d said we’d get there. But he was happy when we showed up. We were quite the crowd but luckily the kids were pretty well behaved!

My dad had to greet people at the front desk and answer the phone but he’d come back and sit with us any time he could.

You know what’s fun is when I was a kid my dad was a cook in a restaurant (Frontier Pies in Utah) and I remember my mom taking us to visit him at work and he’d let us each get a sucker. So in his restaurant he has a jar of suckers out front, too, and he let the kids come up and pick one out.

Everett had had enough of this big, scary adventure by this point in our Washington trip. During lunch he kept begging for “Na Na.” It wasn’t a good time for that, though, so I kept trying to distract him. I did nurse him in the car as soon as we left.

Allan had our point and shoot and was super awesome about getting some pictures with me in them while at the restaurant. I’m thankful for these 🙂

My brother Kyle is going to welding school and works as a cook at my dad’s restaurant. He came out to visit with us before we left.

And then Allan took this picture which is one of my favorites! I have only a couple pictures with my dad (of my entire life) so each one means a LOT!

And then it was time to do the 6 hour road trip home!

Diaper change stop.

The kids got a bunch of treats from the gas station.


Cousins! Mostly Everett and Asher!

We finally made time to go see Kevin and Jenna and their boys. Actually it wasn’t so much making time as it was trying to find a time where we weren’t all sick! My family is sick almost every day of every winter so it’s tough visiting during those months.
But I’m glad we were finally all healthy and that we got to hang out! Everett had a lot of fun hanging out with Asher. Asher was having some health problems that he ended up needing surgery for (was that when this was, Jenna?) so he wasn’t his usual happy self. He wasn’t cranky but you could tell he wasn’t loving life right then. Poor baby. It’s not fair when babies or kids have health issues. It breaks my heart 🙁

Despite that, I did get a couple cute pictures of the boys together.  photo 013eresized_zpsw1rpw6ti.jpg photo 018eresized_zpsyqs2fjhz.jpg photo 023eresized_zpscy1fkpw0.jpg

Jenna told Asher to give Everett the football and he kept doing that! It was SO cute! Asher’s 4 weeks younger than Everett but was already walking!  photo 033eresized_zpspifk57zl.jpg photo 034eresized_zps6gg9ybxb.jpg

Everett couldn’t walk but was perfectly happy hanging out on the chain link fence the whole time. haha  photo 042e2resized_zpsopr8nyha.jpg photo 045eresized_zpsu0ls2o3v.jpg photo 053eresized_zpsckluqs4c.jpg

I’m kinda sad that besides the pictures of the baby boys I didn’t take any others besides this one:  photo 060eresized_zpsnc0ywiry.jpg

Kevin and Jenna’s Family Photos

I took my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s family pictures. I doubt they want all their photos on my blog but I will share one because it’s so dang cute!  photo 538eresized_zps08c3b6ae.jpg

My and Jenna and our babies! Everett and Asher are 4 weeks apart in age.  photo 741eresized_zpseb4bc008.jpg photo 742e2resized2_zps65458f15.jpg

It was SO dark and chilly by this time. My camera was maxed out on settings to get a shot (6400 ISO, 2.8 aperture, etc) but we wanted to try to get a shot of the boys together the first time they met. They were also both so over being outside and being cold. And then set on the ground with a stranger… Everett had wanted to be held by me this whole time too so I finally pick him up and promptly set him on the cold ground with some kid he doesn’t know? He had NONE of that. haha! Poor babies!  photo 746eresized_zpsd56ff651.jpg

Costco with Grandma

We went to Costco. Before leaving, while we were getting ready to go, Sierra was begging me for some makeup. I said sure. Then Brooke saw Sierra all made up and wanted some, too. I did the same makeup for her and she was extremely disappointed and insisted on bright red lipstick. I didn’t feel like arguing or battling with her over it so I swiped on that bright red lipstick. It was pretty extreme for a 10 year old to go to the store and grandma asked Brooke if she wanted to blot it. Brooke shook her head vigorously and I shrugged. Not gonna fight this one. haha  photo 160eresized_zps3a321676.jpg photo 162eresized_zps6c02c1c9.jpg photo 165eresized_zps2740f8ac.jpg photo 168eresized_zpsd25c8246.jpg

I’m a germophobe. I usually use at least two sanitizing wipes to sanitize the cart but sometimes I wipe the cart and use a cart cover and let Everett sit inside. So of course Everett gets ahold of the cart’s seatbelts. Which are never sanitized. I had to firmly (in my head) tell myself to just forget about it. Take the seatbelt away and tuck it under the cart cover better and just let it go. Normally I would feel a panic attack coming on by Everett being exposed to that many germs. Even though this blog is private I still can’t share the reason why… but I am entitled to my germophobe ways after what I’ve had to deal with with one of my kids the last 6 months!!  photo 174eresized_zpsd3edcdc8.jpg

In the car Ember was playing around with her hat.  photo 192eresized_zps8469f100.jpg

And back at home grandma and the kids played puzzles for a couple hours! The kids were in heaven!  photo 194eresized_zps76c41905.jpg