Friday, April 29, 2016

5 Reasons Why... Children's Programming is Ruining Me

Motherhood has introduced me to so many new things.
The realization that I can function on no sleep.
Endless laundry.
Toddler meals.
Potty training.
Unconditional love.
It has also reintroduced me to children's programming...
Oh boy.

Here are 5 reasons why children's programming is ruining me.

1. Classical songs have now gained words

I have always enjoyed classical music.
I find it calming and soothing and magical.

But thanks to Little Einstein's,
all classical music now have lyrics.

I'm not going to lie.
I actually really like Little Einstein's.
I love that they use classical music and classic artwork in the show.
My children love it too!
And it's on Netflix's so that makes it easy to watch it continually,
whenever they want,
which is great because we don't have a DVR.
Aniston has actually learned a lot about music from this show,
which is something that I absolutely love.
She loves that there is a little girl named Annie,
and we spend a fair amount of time playing Little Einstein's.

I just can't stand that I can't listen to classical music now,
without hearing the lyrics that Little Einstein's invented to go with the music!!!
And they have hit up just about every piece of classical music that I listen to,
except for one of my absolute favorites....

If you haven't seen this movie...
and see it!
So good!!!!!!

But because I now sing along with classical music....
Does that make me less cultured?

2. It's my go to save

Children's programming is completely different than when I was little.
We had the classic Barney,
Sesame Street,
Mr. Rogers,
which my mom so loving referred to as the "ugly baby show",
and Reading Rainbow.

Now my kids watch Kate and Mim Mim,
Daniel Tiger,
Dora the Explorer,
Doc McStuffins,
and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Not that any of these shows are bad.
Kate and Mim Mim is pretty weird.
Then again 17 years ago we were introduced to the Teletubbies...
I love Daniel Tiger,
strictly because I loved Mr. Rogers.
Aniston has learned a fair amount of Spanish from Dora.
She is never afraid of the doctor because of Doc Mcstuffin's,
and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is so great because hello,
It's Mickey

But because my children love these shows,
and I'm so busy all the time,
and the shows are readily available at my hands through Netflix and Amazon,
I am so quick to turn them on to distract the babies in order to clean the house or to get work done.

I feel like children's programming makes me a lazy mom sometimes.
I'm not really sure what else I would do to distract them.
how did my paren s survive without an iPad?
First world problems.
So horrible.
I would probably entertain my children with  something amazing like macaroni art,
play dough sculpting,
or something amazing off Pinterest.
Which a begs me to ask....
How did our parents live without Pinterest? 
Even better,
how did I plan my wedding reception without Pinterest?
I have so much more respect for my parents now that I am a parent!
But instead of getting all crafty and creative,
I turn on the TV.
And that makes them happy,
and I get work done.
But I feel like a failure sometimes...

3. Nursery rhymes have changed completely!

Everyone grows up with nursery rhymes. 
In my fairy tale land anyway.
We all know the tunes and the words.
But I have discovered that sometimes,
in order to avoid legal issues,
some of my children's favorite nursery rhymes change.

I'm not sure how my children stumble across these weird youtube channels,
but they do,
and they become obsessed,
so in turn,
I am stuck listening to them.
And they are weird!
And they are changing everything I thought I knew about nursery rhymes!

4. They are making me go broke!

Growing up,
I remember the Barney stuffed animal,
tickle me Elmo,
those kinds of toys sold to promote our love for our favorite TV characters.

Now there is every kind of toy for every single show!
Bath toys,
Pool toys,
Little People,
Dress up clothes,
feuit snacks,
the list really could go on and on.
Someone out there had a brilliant idea and turned it into money!
I won't lie....
I'm a little jealous.

Of course we need to have the princess dress up clothes,
but we also need the princess Little People,
Princess Pez Dispensers,
Princess bubbles,
Princess crayons...
Do the princess crayons color any different than your big box of crayloa crayons that you already have?

It blows my mind how much money the children's programming industry is bringing in because they suck our kids in and we will do anything to make our kids happy.

Don't worry...
I have drawn a line.
I'm just not always the best at sticking to it...

5. I keep time differently

I measure time in accordance to my children's favorite shows.
Aniston will ask how long we will be at the doctor.
I will respond with, "2 Sheriff Callie's."
And she gets it.
She totally gets it.

When Ani asks me how long until work is done,
I respond with, "As soon as Doc and PJ Masks are over."
And she gets it.

I have tried to teach her about the clock and telling time,
but 3 is just a little too young for that,
so this works effectively for us for now.
I think we need more digital clocks.
She gets the digital clock thing.
The hands are just a little confusing.
Maybe I will make a toddler clock for her so she can understand.
I'm sure they have a good idea for that on Pinterest right?

I find myself using this time telling option a little more than I'd like to admit,
but it's all part of being a mom right?
You make changes and adapt.
And sometimes you forget your not with your children and use your kid tactics anyway.
Time is a really hard thing to convey to a toddler,
but they understand Disney Junior.
So combine the two and you're winning!

I'm sure that there are people who are shaking their head reading this.
I'm sure they're thinking I'm the worst parent ever because my kids watch a couple of hours of TV a day.
Shame on me.
But in reality,
I am a working mom,
and it is what it is.
They are both smart,
and beautiful kids.
And I'm okay that they watch 4 shows a day while I work.
It what works for us.

But I think it usually just becomes background noise for them.
The toy room is always clean every morning,
but after 15 minutes of me working,
it typically looks like this...

I think they prefer to play as opposed to sitting down and watch TV.
They're just like their momma.
They need background noise.

This is what works for our family,
and it might not be perfect,
but it works.

What works for you?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Becoming Benson... Part 1

It's tough being a parent.
Okay... wait.
Let me rephrase that.
It's tough being a good parent.

There's so much pressure,
and not just from the world or other people.
I feel pressure from myself to make sure that my children have their basic needs met.
Clean clothes.
Clean bodies.
No cavities.
Properly dressed
You know,
the normal things.
These things aren't hard to do at all,
the things that come naturally,
but they are time consuming and if you aren't willing to give up some almost all of your personal time,
the basic needs of your children will not be met.

It's hard to be selfish and to be a parent.
Okay... wait.
Let me rephrase that again.
It's hard to be selfish and be a good parent.

I have been blessed to have a girl and a boy as children.
No pressure to have any more right?
Thank you Mormon society.

as a parent,
I feel so much more pressure raising Benson as opposed to Aniston.
And it has everything to do with gender.

 I want to raise Benson as a gentleman,
as a guys guy,
as a guy who opens the door for women,
as athletic,
as smart,
as the kind of guy who will stand up for his sister even though she is older than him,
as someone who parents love and want their daughter to marry.

That's a lot of self imposed stress and anxiety.

So I frequently ask myself as a Mom,
how can I accomplish this?
How do I know for sure that I am doing the right things when it comes to raising a son?

The answer?
There's no freaking way to know,
and I HATE that!
It sucks!
I want a guaranteed gentleman out of my son,
but unfortunately that's impossible.

So what do I do currently to make sure my 17 month old turns out to be a good man?
Yeah I just read that line out loud and it makes me sound a wee but crazy...
Like crazy in the way I see pageant moms as crazy.

But here's the thing.
I honestly think that the only thing I can really do to encourage my son to grow up a gentleman,
is to surround him by men who set that example for him.

He loves my Dad,
and I am pretty sure that my Mom has never opened a car door ever when my Dad is driving.
I'm pretty sure I never have opened the door when I ride with him.
Even when I sit in the back seat,
he has trained my brothers to open the door for me.
Even if my Mom is driving, 
he still runs over and opens the door for her.

I'm doing my best to surround Benson with positive male role models who will encourage and teach him with their actions.
I'm also praying like crazy for inspiration as to how to raise my son the best that I can.
I'm weak...
So I pray a lot.

As Benson grows older,
and develops likes and dislikes,
makes friends,
develops a deeper personality,
and stops throwing temper tantrums,
(that does stop eventually right)
I hope that I have done that all I can do to influence him into gentlemanism.
Pretty sure I just made up that word.
And I love it!

I have seen first hand though,
that even if you are fantastic parent,
sometimes a child just doesn't grow or mature the way that you would like.
Sometimes your children will make you question your parenting abilities.
Even if you are THE BEST parents ever!
It's probably a blessing that I have had that experience in my life because it will help me to be a little less harsh on myself if that happens to me as a parent.
At least I will be able to see that my grown children's choices do not make me a failure as a parent.

Raising children is an amazing blessing.
It is also a crazy intense opportunity.
I am grateful to be able to raise children,
even in this crazy insane,
and sometimes angry world.

How do you best teach your children manners and etiquette in a sometimes lacking world?

Monday, April 25, 2016

DAY 1691... Love

Let's get one thing straight,
if I ever turn on the TV,
or turn on Netflix,
and see the movie The Holiday,
I will stop what I am doing and watch it.
over again.
I LOVE that movie.

I think,
more than anything,
I just love the opening scene where it talks about love.

When this movie came out,
cough 2006 cough,
I was in the same position as Kate Winslet's character,
and that really hit home with me.
I find that I can form attachments with a great many fictional character,
I wanted to stand up in the theater and shout, "That's me! That's my life! I understand everything you are saying! Let's be best friends!"
But that would've been insanely embarrassing for 20 year old me.
It would be embarrassing for 30 year old me!
But 10 year old me...
held nothing back.
When I was 10, 
I went to see Mighty Ducks 3 in the theater.
I had an insanely huge crush on Joshua Jackson,
and while he kissed this girl in the movie,
 I straight up yelled,
"Charlie you're cheating!"
Because of course,
when I was 10,
I was convinced Joshua Jackson was my eternal companion.
So instead of letting the entire theater know intimate and embarrassing details of my life,
I just watched The Holiday on repeat.
It is on my short list of movies I will never get tired of.
Other movies in this category include Fever Pitch,
Sleepless in Seattle,
Little Women,
Pee-wee's Big Adventure,
Les Miserables,
Mr. Holland's Opus,
Fiddler on the Roof,
While You Were Sleeping,
My Best Friend's Wedding,
He's Just Not That Into You,
What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
There's more I'm sure..

so many distractions today,
there are so many different types of love,
all of which I am convinced that I have experienced.
Some more than others,
but nevertheless,
I have experienced them all.

Unrequited Love

This is probably the type of love that I feel was most obvious in my life before I became a mother.
Especially the 2 years before I was married.

I had a bad habit of falling hard for someone who wasn't falling for me.
Or how wouldn't allow themselves to fall for me,
or basically was only interested in using me or keeping me on the back burner.

This is the type of love that made me want to stand up in that theater and proclaim my similarities to Kate Winslet's character.

It is a difficult and mind blowing love.
It will bring you to tears.
It will confuse you.
It will damage your emotions.
It will make you feel like an idiot.
It will break your heart.
It can destroy you.

I can look back now and see that my unrequited love
in the two years before I was married,
happened for a reason.
He was there to distract me and keep me busy until Spencer showed up.

Every day,
every night,
I would watch my phone,
waiting for a text or a phone call.
I spent hours with him.
I spent so much money on him.
I wasted a lot of tears,
and too much time simply thinking about him.

We did everything together for those two years.
Dinner 3-4 times a week.
Family events.
Some crazy insane emotional stuff.
But he always put me on the back burner.
I was never his first priority.
But he was always mine.

I am completely aware how pathetic this all sounds.
Thank goodness I'm not that person anymore.

I had finally had enough and one Monday evening and I told him we needed to talk.
I'm pretty sure he knew what I was going to say because he tried to avoid it.
But that night,
the night I was going to open myself up completely,
and probably make things incredibly awkward,
was the night I met Spencer.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,
and that night,
 the universe straight up slapped me in the face,
and told me that my "friend" was definitely not the one for me,
directing me towards Spencer.

Unrequited love can be really hard,
and completely exhausting,
but in my case,
it was a perfect distraction to get me to my happily ever after.

Unconditional Love

I once had a college professor who began his lecture by stating that there was no such thing as unconditional love.
He said that even God's love is based off the condition that we are his children,
and therefore,
not unconditional.

He was CRAZY!
I called B.S.,
along with every other student taking that class.

My conviction that this statement is false became even more strong and sure after becoming a mom.

There is no one in the world who can make me more upset or more crazy than my kids,
but still I have never hated them.
I always love them no matter what craziness they cause.
No matter what they spill on my floor,
no matter how many times Aniston tells me that my belly,
is the biggest belly,
of all the bellies,
no matter how much sleep I lose,
no matter how much me time I lose,
I love them so much!

I definitely don't love all children.
I have worked with them,
so I know this 100%.

And I don't buy that the fact that someone being a family member automatically makes you love them.

Just believe me on that one.

Unconditional love is crazy intense,
but also crazy amazing!
Probably the most amazing love there is.

Platonic Love

This love is completely non-sexual.
It's basically how I feel towards most of my friends and food.
Taco Bell especially.

I'm not the kind of person to tell others,
that I love them.

I think it's a little weird,
it makes me feel uncomfortable,
and I feel as though it's already implied so why say it?

But let's understand one thing...
I don't love all my friends.
I have friends,
but most of my friends are more like people who float in and out of my life and only last a few years.
Those are the friends who I don't feel a great love for.
But my best friends,
the ones who have been around for 10+ years,
the ones who I know,
without a doubt,
don't judge me or doubt me,
those are the ones that I love.

I probably love food more than I love some of my "friends".

I also felt so much platonic love for my cheerleaders when I coached.
I'll be honest and say that I didn't love them all,
but most of them I did love and still do.

I am so blessed to keep in contact with so many of those amazing kids!

Self Love

To me,
self love is the most difficult love to obtain and to keep.

I have never kept it a secret how unhappy I am with myself and how much I struggle to love myself.
It has been this way as long as I can remember and I have learned to live with it.

I think that self love,
along with every other type of love,
there are different levels of love.

There have been times in my life where I have loved myself completely.
It doesn't seem to last very long,
but I have felt true and strong love for myself.

One time I love myself is the first 24 hours after having a baby.
Maybe that seems weird to some people,
but I feel such a self esteem boost after having a baby,
and I enjoy riding that high as long as possible.
But typically that only lasts 24 hours before exhaustion and emotions and overwhelming feelings take over.

Another time I can really remember loving myself,
was literally days before I met Spencer.
I was stuck in this sticky unrequited love situation,
but I had just graduated from college and I felt good.
I was happy,
I was confident,
I was striving to be the very best version of me,
and it was working.

Self love is so important.
I can tell a huge difference between the days where I love myself and the days that I don't.
And the difference just doesn't affect me.
It affects my entire life and the way I act and react and behave.
It's a HUGE game changer.

Self love is something that I am constantly striving for and wanting to gain permanently in my life.

I am aware that there are other types of love,
but these are the ones that affect me the most and are the most obvious in my every day life.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Things I Love... Mom Edition

I've been totally missing for the past couple weeks,
but that's what happens when you manage men college apartments and have check out's and check in's all within a week of each other.
There seriously is not time enough to clean everything,
fix everything,
and get everything ready.
It's been a very exhausting past couple of weeks.
I'm tired.

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things and figured I'd start out with some of my favorite things.

Growing up,
you never really realize all that goes into parenting.
Even after you have that first child,
or the second,
you are still constantly learning everyday about new products,
new toys,
new things that can make your life a thousand times easier.

Here are 3 of my current favorite things I use almost daily as a Mom.

1. Black and Decker Handheld Vacuum

I have the messiest kids ever!
When they eat it gets everywhere!
I mean E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E!
Even string cheese,
which you wouldn't think was capable of crumbling into a thousand tiny pieces...
but give one to my kids and watch them do their magic.

I don't recommend using this product to clean up string cheese,
it does mold,
and yes,
I learned that from experience...
But you get the point.

It is such a pain to constantly be dragging out the big vacuum after every single meal.
It takes too much work to unwrap the plug,
plug it back in,
wrap the cord,
put it away,
for 3+ times a day.
Not happening.
1st world problems right?

Having the little handheld vacuum works great for a quick clean and it's super portable!
Even my children can use it.

The charge holds really well and it also charges really fast.
It also works great if you had a spill in the car that you want to clean up quickly.
there are no downsides to having toddlers and a handheld vacuum.
Can I get an amen?

You can view the one we have here.

2. Vid Angel

Am I the last person to know about this site?
Seriously though.

So lately Aniston has become super observant.
She will repeat just about anything.
The other day she was playing with Benson and I heard her say, 
"Benson, you're a sneaky little bas****."
Where in the world did she hear that?!?!
I will admit that I laughed.
I honestly cannot think of anywhere where she would have heard that.
She told me my Mom taught her that word.
Little did she know, 
my Mom has probably never used that word ever.
But it really made me realize that I have to be more careful about TV, movies, and music.

Vid Angel is a great way to watch movies,
usually movies that you wouldn't watch otherwise,
and have them filtered to your exact desires.

How it works is that you pay $20 to rent a movie.
They have tons of movies and ones that just have been released on DVD.
You set your filters,
which you can change at anytime for any movie,
watch away,
then you sell it back after you watch it for $19.
The $19 goes into your Vid Angel account and does not get refunded to your card.
This means that you only pay $1 for rental after your initial purchase.
That's cheaper than red box my friend.

To give you an idea of how well and how many options there are to filter their movies.
The Good Dinosaur has 159 filters for it.
What needs to be filtered from that?
Inside Out has 83,
and The Princess and The Frog has 235.
They really give you the option to filter everything!
You would think that these Disney movies,
deemed wholesome family fun wouldn't need to be filtered.
But somewhere out there someone disagrees with you and I and Vid Angel has made it possible for them to watch Disney filtered.

I stopped watching R rated movies about 5 years ago,
so it's been nice to catch up on all the movies that I have wanted to see but haven't.

I also LOVE that I could add it as a channel on my Roku so I'm not stuck watching it on my computer,
or phone.

It's just another way for me to make sure that Aniston isn't running around at church,
swearing up a storm.

Visit their site here to learn more.

3. Oral B Magic Timer

Taking me kids to the Dentist causes me a crazy amoutn of anxiety.
They aren't capable of brushing perfectly and I need to help them do so.
So if they have issues or cavities,
that's my fault.

Recently we went to the dentist.
Last time Aniston bit the dentist 3 times and wouldn't let him touch her.
I prepared pretty hardcore for the past 6 months,
and she did AMAZING!
It was also Benson's first visit.
It went as well as a first visit could go.
But parent win...
No cavities!

Benson loves to brush his teeth.
Benson loves to eat the toothpaste.
But he let's us brush his teeth.
If we ask him if he is ready to brush teeth,
he will run his little finger over his teeth like he is brushing them and runs to the bathroom.
It's awesome.

Aniston likes brushing her teeth,
but it bores her.

So I downloaded the Oral B Magic Timer App forever ago and it does the trick.

You have to purchase Oral B or Crest kid's toothpaste or tooth brush to activate it,
and it used to be that if you had a Frozen tooth brush,
you would get the Frozen experience,
but they recently updated their app so that once you scan your item,
the child can choose their experience instead of just having the Frozen one.
This is awesome!
Aniston would quickly get tired of just one experience,
but I didn't want to run out and buy another toothpaste when she wasn't even half done with her current toothpaste just so that brushing her teeth would be a good experience.
I may have actually done that once or twice,
but I don't have to anymore.
My husband and my wallet thanks you Oral B.

The app is set up for them to brush for 2 minutes.
My OCD self have organized those 2 minutes into sections.
We brush the bottom teeth for 15 minutes,
the top teeth for 15 minutes,
the tongue for 15 minutes,
then the front of the teeth for 15 minutes.
Then we do the bottom teeth again for 10 minutes,
the top again for 10,
and the front together for 10.
Then we rinse the bottom teeth for 10,
the top teeth for 10,
and together for 10,
and then we're done.

I know....
I'm crazy.
But it works.

I know you are suppose to brush twice a day.
If I remember in the mornings,
I am really really bad at that,
I let Aniston do it herself and that gives her the opportunity to learn to do it,
then I help her at night.

Check it out here.

I love discovering new tricks, tips, and products that make being a Mommy a little bit easier.
If you have something that you can't Mommy without,
I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

DAY 1676... Be Still, My Soul

I have never been shy about sharing my struggles and my challenges.
I realize that everyone has something that they struggle with,
and that there's no shame in hiding it.

I know that it's hard to share your weaknesses,
and I know that the fear of what others may think of you is absolutely terrifying and crippling.

The fear of what others may think of me has destroyed some of my biggest hopes and dreams.
The fear of what others may think of me has made me hate myself.
The fear of what others may think of me has kept me in hiding.
The fear of what others may think of me is a struggle for me and it has crippled me in too many ways.

But why does it matter what they think?

Why do we let the fear of what others may think ruin our chances to improve?
Why do we let the fear of what others may think ruin our chances to succeed?
Why do we let the fear of what others may think ruin our hope of getting better?
Why do we let the fear of what others may think ruin our dreams?
Why do we let the fear of what others may think over run our lives?

We are better than that.

We are weak.
We do struggle.
We will fail.
But we can always become better.

So often I forget that my Heavenly Father is there,
and will always be there for me in my time of need.

He is there to comfort.
He is there to calm.
He is there to lift up.
He is there to take our burdens.
He is there is make us strong.
He is there no matter what.

No matter gender.
No matter race.
No matter religion.
No matter our financial status.
No matter what we weigh.
No matter where we have come from.
No matter the mistakes that we have made in the past.
Our Heavenly Father is there for us no matter what.

I sometimes feel as though I am not worthy of his love.
I sometimes feel as though I am not worthy of his forgiveness.
I sometimes feel as though I am not worthy of his grace.

But I am.
You are.
We all are worthy of his love and of his comfort.

I pray for peace daily.
I need to.
I have to.
My struggles with anxiety and depression are only cured through prayer,
and through the love of my Heavenly Father.
I know that some people may think that that sounds crazy,
but for me,
prayer works.
It works miracles.

I know that my problems are nothing compared to the problems of others.
But I pray that they will find peace.
I pray that they will find hope.
I pray that they will find answers.
I pray that they will feel loved.
I pray that they will know that they are never alone.

The hymn, Be Still, My Soul,
is so powerful.

The lyrics read:
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on they side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to they God to order and provide;
In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: They best, they heav'nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: They God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointement, grief, and fera are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

This life is only temporary.
Our struggles and pains are only temporary.
It's so incredibly hard to remember that,
and sometimes it feels like the pain and the trials will never end.
But they will.

"Be still, my soul: The Lord is on they side."

Friday, April 8, 2016

DAY 1674... 365 Days

I have a younger brother who is currently serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Scotland/Ireland Mission.

He has officially been gone for 1 year.

This is the halfway mark people!
It's very exciting.

For those of you not familiar with the LDS Church,
young men at 18 and young women at 19 are able to serve missions,
2 years for boys,
18 months for girls,
to share the Gospel with others.

Here is a short video about the day in the life of a missionary in the UK,
which is where my brother is serving.

My brother chose to leave when he was 19.
My parents are kind of awesome and don't pressure us into doing something when it comes to church.
They allow us to make our own decisions,
and that has made a world of difference in my opinion.
I hope to do the same for my children.

During this time we primarily communicate with him through weekly e-mails.
Every Monday he e-mails us and tells us about his week.
Twice a year,
Christmas and Mother's Day,
we get to Skype with him.
Pretty excited that Mother's Day is only a month away and we get to see him again.

He generally spends his days doing service,
teaching the Gospel,
and eating lots of Kebabs.

I never served a mission.
I am not strong enough to do something like that.
My husband did serve a mission in Alabama.
It takes so much discipline and focus,
and I can't even imagine how much they miss their families.
I'm kind of a wimp.

My little brother is kind of my hero.
He has been doing so well,
and his letters home seem so happy!

My parents are also heros in my eyes during this time.
I cannot even imagine having my child gone for 2 years.
But through prayer,
we know that he is being protected and that he is where he needs to be,
doing exactly what he needs to be doing.

My Mom and I definitely had a good cry session when several missionaries were injured in the Brussels terrorist attack.
We were so grateful for the safety of our missionary,
but our hearts and prayers went out to the families affected.
But when I watched the interview of Matt Lauer with one of the missionaries,
I gained so much strength,
and love for all the missionaries out there.
Their faith is strong.
Their hearts are pure.
And they are blessing the lives of so many people.

The Lord has immensely blessed our family since he has been gone,
and he has definitely blessed us with how fast time has gone by.

1 more year Elder Kinville!
You got this!

If you are interested in reading Elder Kinville's weekly e-mails home,
You can do so here.
Every Monday the blog is updated with his latest letter and pictures.

Everything You Didn't See... March 2016 Edition

March really seemed to fly by for us!
Thank goodness!
It was my last month as a single parent and I couldn't wait for it to end!

At the same time,
I made sure to make plenty of memories with my babies!

The face.
Why is it when you put a button down shirt on a little kid they just instantly grow up?

We love our tiny dancer!

Benson is always trying to be one of the big kids!
Can't quite reach.

Light sabers and necklaces round the clock at our house!

We went to Buffalo Wind Wings when Spencer visited in March.
They gave each of the kids a tablet and assured us that they could not be broken.
Benson definitely put that tablet to the test.
it never broke.

My brother really is THE BEST uncle a kids could ask for!

I threw a surprise 17th birthday party for the world's best uncle.
We invited his friends and family and it turned out awesome!
He doesn't show emotions a lot so the surprise part was kind of not as great,
(see video below)
but it was still a great night.

This cute kid at his 15th month appointment.
Such a skinny boy.

I voted.
I wasn't thrilled about it,
but you have to vote in order to complain right?

Ani has become obsessed with Look and Find books.
I broke out my Where's Waldo collection and she was OBSESSED all day long!

My brother was James in James and the Giant Peach in the school play in February.
Ani insisted that I make him a cake in that theme.
Turned out okay...

I have never in my life seen someone eat so many bananas!
he eats like 3 a day!

My little princess rocked Fairy Tale day at preschool!

Overalls on babies, 
might be one of my most favorite things ever!

Bathtub Games.

I was doing clean checks during March Madness and I found this lovely set up in one of the apartments.
These guys are serious about their sports.

Benson watching Winnie the Pooh,
with Winnie the Pooh.

Model status.

He couldn't quite figure out what was going on with the hat,
or why it was on his head.

I got brave,
or I was really craving nachos,
and I took the kids out to eat all by myself.
I was terrified,
but they did AMAZING!
And yes,
Winnie the Pooh had his own chair at the table.
Choose your battles folks.

Sick baby,
fat belly.

She always insists that she isn't tired...
2 minutes later.

Another sick kiddo.
The flu hit us hard and fast in March.

Benson loved helping Uncle Ry put the tables away.

Aniston drew this.
It reminds me of Salad Fingers...

Women's conference with my beautiful Mama!

My parents have chickens and the different egg sizes are insane!

my 3 year old carries trash to the dumpster.
It's good for her to learn how to work.
She actually loved doing it.
So win-win-win.

Keeping this kid happy and distracted during Aniston's dance and gymnastics class takes work!
Pretzels for the win!

Aniston is DYING to play soccer.
Unfortunately they don't have soccer until you turn 5 here.
Who wants to break the bad news to her?

We should probably never own a cat because this is how Benson insists on holding our stuffed cat...

The shirtless days have begun.

Have I mentioned how amazing of an Uncle this kid is?

According to Ani,
dessert pizza is the best pizza.

I cannot get enough of his giggles!

He gets his dance moves from his Mama.

Like I said... 
The surprise reaction wasn't great.
But still a great night!

Some days,
we spend our time making music videos for our family members to pump them up!