Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Visit to The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve

I often forget how close we live to the Great Salt Lake. We live just a few miles from it's shores, yet we never notice it. My mom and I picked a morning a few weeks ago and took the girls over to the edge of the lake.  We went out to Layton and visited The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. It is a nature preserve on the banks of the Great Salt Lake where over 250 species of birds (between 4 million and 6 million total birds) migrate to and spend their summer there each year. 

The preserve covers a space of almost 11 miles. There is a boardwalk to travel along that winds through it. I don't know how far the boardwalk will actually take you, but we spent about an hour there wandering around. 

Sadly, we never did spot any birds. 4-6 million birds and we didn't see a single one!? That grass is pretty tall and thick. And apparently the best time to visit is in April and October. We went in September, so maybe just a little bit prematurely. We didn't see any birds (we did hear a few) but we did come across a fuzzy black and yellow caterpillar. He crawled down in between the boards before I could get a picture of him. He piqued the girls curiosity, so we stopped to watch him for a few minutes.

It is amazing how close to urban life this preserve is, yet you can stand in the middle of it and feel like you're in a whole different world. It is it's own kind of beautiful.

In the middle of the preserve is a 30 ft. look out tower. We climbed to the top and the girls ran around looking out from all the angles. Still no birds. Darn it. But the view was pretty awesome.

I tried to get a nice shot of the two of them in front of the tall grass. No such luck. When you're little you just have to be silly. It seems to be a requirement. Even if Mom wants one good picture. Just one. Oh well. 

We may not have caught sight of any birds, but we enjoyed our walk outside in nature. It was good just to get out and roam. We'll have to try again in April and maybe we'll have some better luck.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Those Terrible Twos

We have arrived. 

Keira may not "technically" be two, but boy does she act it. Developmentally that girl is right there. I've seen it coming for a few months now, but in the past couple of weeks we have really hit it. 

Seriously, so much screaming and body flailing. Crying and whining. She has sought to strike out her own independence and she lets me know it. What once was 30 seconds to get seated in her car seat has now become a minimum of 5 minutes. That doesn't sound that long, but when you're standing there, watching your child slowly creep themselves into their seat it nears on agony. I can't pick her up and set in there anymore, she MUST do it herself and at her own pace. Boy I'm trying to be patient. And you know what, to be honest I think I'm doing ok. For now. 

It isn't all bad. We have our good moments, and our bad. Quite often though it changes within the blink of an eye. What once was so good quickly becomes so terrible.

We went to the library for storytime today and she was fantastic. The firefighters came, so it was extra crowded, which I think is what kept her close to me. Otherwise that girl likes to run and pull out as many books as she can. She sat (mostly) and listened to the stories, and when we went outside to see the firetrucks she kept right with me without a complaint. Fantastic! 

But then after our very successful library trip we stopped by the grocery store on our way home. And that is where it turned ugly. We stopped in just to grab milk. And then I got distracted by the good deal on Halloween candy so we picked up a few bags. But that was it for our grocery trip. Easy in, easy out, right? I even let the child walk, which for me was torture. 

And this may have been what did us in. 

As we made our way to the checkout she refused to follow me, She was having fun. And so began the screaming. I probably should have secured her in a shopping cart from the beginning, but since it was supposed to be a quick trip we didn't. Had I done that at least she would have been screaming in a controlled environment, not in my arms and all over the floor. The cashier jokingly said to me, "Having fun?" She then told me how she remembers those days. 

Honestly, I hope I forget them. 

Our trip then ended with us walking out to the car, me with two gallons of milk and a bag of candy in one hand and a limp screaming toddler being drug through the parking lot in the other. I then wrestled her into the car seat and we finally set off home where she was perfectly happy and adorable.

I love two. Oh I do. But why is it so bipolar? 

Somedays I may think I am losing my mind listening to her tantrums, but most of the time she is so stinking cute. I love the way she says "hi" to anyone walking by us. How after an announcement is made over the intercom at the store she always replies with a quick "thank you". She is generally so willing to share with Hailey and is just happy to be playing with her. And then there's those times when she puts her face right up close to mine and whispers a jumbled string of sounds, then pulls back and smiles at me. Oh her singing! I MUST video her singing someday- the intensity of it is hilarious. 

She also has a magical way of softening my heart. She really helps me see the bigger and much more important picture.

She brought me a book yesterday and I really was ready to begin working on dinner, plus I really should fold those clothes that have been in the laundry basket all week, along with the vacuuming that has been in the back of my mind but I just haven't gotten to. 

So I tried to put her off. 

But she was so insistent that we read. Ok, 5 minutes. I reluctantly sat down with her and pointed out the animals. I asked her to find a few and she was so excited each time she spotted them. Very quickly I relaxed and even I began to have fun. And then I wanted to completely forget about dinner and any other sort of responsibility I had. I just wanted to sit and cuddle with my cute girl. And so we did.

Those terrible twos are pretty terrible when they're bad. But they are also pretty fantastic when they're not so terrible.

She may scream and whine, but I'll keep her, because her smile and infectious laugh more than make up for anything else she may throw at me.   

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Haileyisms: 4 1/2 years

It's time for another installment of Haileyisms. Please excuse the potty humor, it's just a part of growing up life at our house. :)

1. Little girls all need to learn how to properly wipe their bum after using the bathroom. Hailey is no different. One day Hailey ran off to use the bathroom and Kyle called after her to "wipe good". She yelled back, "You wipe good!" and then a "Yes ma'am!"

2. Hailey sat on the toilet going #1. Keira was in the bathroom observing. With the tinkling of the pee hitting in the porcelin Hailey said to Keira, "You like that music?

3. I asked Hailey a question. She responded by walking around in circles saying "I'm loading... I'm thinking, so I'm loading."

4. Hailey asking for my help said to me "Come here party pants."

5. After a bike ride home from work, Kyle sat at the kitchen table resting. Hailey excited to see Kyle, burst out of the playroom and from the top of the stairs announced "Dad I have something to tell you". She then came down stairs and leaned in close to him and whispered in his ear "It's a secret." Then in a deep voice "I'm Batman!"

6. I overheard Hailey speaking to Keira, "When I was a little girl..." Because now she is a big girl and those days of being a little girl are so far gone from her... I mean, she is nearly 5.

7. While I was tucking the girls into bed Hailey went in for the bedtime hug, She then surprised me with "Are you ready for this big squeeze? It might shake your bones out." (Apparently Kyle has said something similar to her before.)

8. I watch Hailey's friend Cate for a few hours each week in the afternoon after she gets home from preschool. Cate loves to show off to Hailey what she made that day. The two had gotten into her backpack without me realizing it. Not knowing what they were doing all I heard was "Mom, Cate lost her eyeball... Oh, here it is!" (Cate's cute ladybug craft had lost it's googly eye, not Cate's own eyeball.)

9. Hailey announced to me one afternoon that she had decided on a new name for herself. Batgirl Dangerous. "Just call me Batgirl Dangerous. When I need to clean up my room say, Batgirl Dangerous come clean up your room. Then I'll go clean it super fast!"

10. Upon leaving Papa and Rara's house one evening Hailey told them "Next time let's do something fun when my mom's not looking."

11. Not long after the girls had been tucked into bed Kyle and I heard thumping upstairs coming from their bedroom. I peeked my head in to see Hailey laying in bed. I didn't say anything to her, but she looked at me and said "I was practicing my jumping jacks so I can do them fast!" I walked back downstairs laughing to myself.

12. We have been practicing counting to 100. Hailey was counting to herself and came up to me excited, "I found a fast way to get to 100! 99... 100."

13. I love Hailey's curiosity. She is always asking me questions that I often have no answer for. The two I have written down are, "Why did Jesus send thunder to earth?" and in reference to the ceiling fan hanging above our kitchen table,
"How did the construction guys make that fan?

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Birthday Surprise

All last week I had been fretting over what I was going to do on my birthday. It couldn't be any ordinary day. I was turning 30, it needed to be good.

I mentioned to Kyle that I was thinking about taking the girls during the day into Salt Lake City and playing around there. I wanted something fun to do. Turns out Kyle had other plans for me. A little over a week before the big day Kyle called me while he was at work and told me he had bought my birthday present so I couldn't look at our bank account. This about killed me, but I was good and I didn't look. A day or two before my birthday Kyle then told me that I had a package coming for me on the morning of my birthday. I needed to stick around home because I had to sign for it. This got me curious. And drove me nuts. (I love to figure out what my presents are. I always have. And I tend to be right.)

On my birthday morning I finished up a blog post I had started while the girls watched a movie. We don't usually do that, but it's my birthday, why not? I took my time getting dressed, I didn't have anywhere to go that morning, I was stuck waiting around for a package. By the time I was ready to get dressed it was prime delivery hours and I didn't want to miss the package. I can't always hear the door from my bathroom, so I didn't shower or do my hair and make up. My mom showed up just as I was getting lunch ready. That darn package still hadn't shown up! My mom offered for me to shower, but I decided to continue to take my time. What's the hurry? I was still waiting for the package. Finally a knock at the door... I opened it only to see Kyle standing there smiling at me! 

He told me to pack up and pack the girls up, we were taking off for the evening! Of course, I had been waiting around for a fake package and hadn't gotten ready. So, off to the shower I went while Kyle and my mom fed the girls lunch and packed up their bag. Kyle didn't give me any details of where we were going, except that he said I would need a jacket, some gloves and a swim suit.

Turns out Kyle had made reservations for the two of us to stay kid free overnight up Provo Canyon at Sundance Resort. Hooray! And our room had a porch with a swing and a private hot tub. Double hooray!  When we arrived we checked in, and pretty quickly found ourselves soaking in the hot tub. I love to be warm and absolutely love hot tubs, so of course this was perfect. We then enjoyed dinner at the Foundry Grill and completely stuffed ourselves. Back to the hot tub we went and then some relaxing while we tried not to watch the terrible BYU football game. 

The next morning Kyle surprised me again with a photography class. I've thought it would be fun to take one for a little while now, but haven't ever done it. I think Kyle signing me up would be the only way it would have happened, which I'm grateful for. Annalisa, our neighbor from when we rented a house in Provo, is a photographer and teaches photography classes at Sundance. Kyle called and requested her as the instructor, which was awesome. It was fun to catch up with a friend I hadn't seen in 3 years!

I learned a few new pointers, but a good portion was review. The review was good. I have become a very lazy photographer. This class re-instilled a determination in myself to try a little harder to think more before taking the picture. I loved that the class was one-on-one, so I could ask any questions I wanted. It really was pretty awesome, and definitely something I wouldn't have ever done for myself. 


After the class, Paul came up and met up with Annalisa. They invited us to go to lunch with them. It was a lot of fun eating lunch and chatting with them. They were good neighbors. I'd take them back any day! 

So, Kyle really came through on my scariest of birthdays yet. I seriously had no clue he had any of this up his sleeve! It was so fun to have surprise after surprise pulled on me. Kyle said he was excited to do it. Win-win for us both, right? 

Now a few days later, I am officially 30 years old and it doesn't seem so bad...yet. :)

Friday, October 3, 2014


This is what 30 looks like. Not so bad, right? (For my sake, just say yes.)

Today I am thirty. Sheesh... sounds so old. I know it really isn't, but it feels so momentous to me. The loss of my 20's, my youth, fun... Ok, maybe not fun. That's a bit dramatic. But I do feel like it is an official entrance into being a "grown up". Not that being a college graduate, being married, having 2 children and owning a home didn't categorize me into being grown up. But I feel like 30 really seals the deal.

I have been dreading this birthday since my last birthday. 29 was a little hard to swallow, that meant 30 was just around the corner! Now 30 is here and it's a little terrifying. Though my good friend Brittney turned 30 last month and has reassured me that it isn't so scary. She's still ok. :)

To celebrate, since this is the one day of the year that can totally completely be all about me (and the BYU vs, Utah State football game tonight...) how about a post just about me? 30 facts about Renae.

1. I was born in American Fork, Utah, 30 years ago to the day.
2. I am the oldest of 3 children, with one brother and one sister.
3. I have lived in a total of 5 states: Utah, Illinois, Florida, Washington, and Texas.
4. Of those 5 states I have lived in Utah the longest. The current count is 11 years (with a brief summer in Washington and another summer in Texas).
5. I currently live in Farmington, Utah and have been for 2 years- the longest Kyle and I have lived at one address since being married (and even since we both graduated high school 11 years ago).

6. I stay home all day with 2 adorable little girls and love it.
7. Babies and children intimidate me. I never liked babysitting as a teenager. When my cousin Angie with her brand new baby offered her baby for me to hold I responded with "I don't DO babies." Before Hailey was born I was afraid I wouldn't have any sort of motherly instincts. We've made it through almost 5 years, we're doing pretty good. I have mostly gotten over my fear.

8. In high school I dreamt of being an interior designer and even considered graphic design. My best friend Julie and I would watch episode after episode of Trading Spaces on TLC together. We were going to be interior designers together.
9. I took an interior design class at BYU and was BORED. Nevermind that.
10. Instead, I have a bachelor's degree in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology from BYU. I chose to pursue a career as a speech therapist.

First day of kindergarten. Just a stepping stone to a college graduation.

11. I was accepted to graduate school at the University of Utah and went to classes for the first week. And then I dropped out. The timing just wasn't right. I still have the student ID card as proof.
12. I speak Spanish. Not as much as I would like. But I can understand enough and hold my own. Languages seem to come relatively easily to me. I took 4 years in high school and a class about every other semester while at BYU.
13. After interior design I almost majored in Linguistics. I still find languages fascinating. Is that nerdy?
14. I was one class away from a minor in Linguistics. I took a Spanish class instead. A minor doesn't really do anything for you right? Except maybe make you look a little smarter?

Jennifer and I. For the record, it was harder than it should have been to find a decent picture of the two of us. We took so many ridiculous (but fun at the time) pictures in college!

15. One semester I did a small paper on some of the language aspects of Swahili. For the paper I checked out a phrase book from the library. My roommate Jennifer and I attempted to teach ourselves Swahili. Nyoka ana kichwa ndogo. Translation: A snake has a small head. That's about all we learned.
16. My first job was a physical therapy aide. I was a senior in high school. I loved it. In fact, it is what led me to Speech Pathology. The idea of mixing language with a healthcare service career seemed to fit.
17. My second job was working in the copy center on campus at BYU. I was a freshman. And my roommate Jennifer and I were dumb enough to apply for the same job which had just 2 openings. Luckily we both were offered jobs and it was awesome. I worked there until I graduated.
18. That job began my 7 year occupation in copy centers. I worked one summer for FedEx Office, after graduating I spent 6 months at Staples in the copy center (and really, really didn't like it) and then as luck (or just fate) would have it I was offered a job back at BYU working 3/4 time (and eventually full-time) in the copy center.
19. Pretty nerdy, but the copy center opened the door for me to learn aspects of document set up and design I may never have picked up. I was introduced to InDesign, taught myself Photoshop, and then Kyle has tutored me a bit in Illustrator.

20. I began sewing after I stopped working. I sewed some growing up, so I knew the basics. Once Hailey came around and I was home during the day a whole new world opened up to me.
21. I like to do things my own way, be a little different. Which almost always ends up being more complicated and time consuming. But, who wants to be just like everyone else?

23. I have a bit of a love affair with peanut butter and chocolate. So hard to resist...
24. It's also nearly impossible for me to ignore an open bag of chips. So addicting. When I have them I love to put chips on my sandwiches. Any kind of chip, any kind of sandwich (except PB & J). When chips aren't an option I go for anything else with a salty crunch, crackers, pretzels... I'm also a french fries on the hamburger kind of girl.
25. I absolutely can not handle chewing ice. Even just the thought of it gives me chills. I have goosebumps right now. Seriously. Kyle of course thinks it's funny and bites his popsicle right in front of me. Shiver.

26. I hate sweat. It's not really my sweat, it's other people's sweat. So gross. In high school my brother would chase me around the house with his sweaty basketball jersey or nasty lawn mowing socks and wipe it all over me. Kyle does the same. Any sweaty bike ride nearly always requires cornering me for a sweaty hug. Of course he has to swipe his head across mine, because that's not disgusting.

27. I was a bit gullible and maybe a little bit ditsy as a 14 year old. Comon' I was a 14 year old girl, aren't we all that way a little bit? While driving through yellowstone I announced that I thought I had seen a white kangaroo in the woods while trying to spot a bear. I still am teased for it to this day. I also told my brother he was a fox. I meant it as an insult- he's a wild animal. Fox was not the best animal of choice. He is still known as Curtis the Fox.
28. The longest plane flight I have been on is just 3 hours (Salt Lake City to Austin, Texas). Any flight with first class on it (even just a couple of rows) is a large flight to me.

29. I play the piano, but have terrible rhythm. I love to play, but am no natural. I'm comfortable enough to play in church or for the choir. But I tend to play at my own pace, which is usually fast.
30. I am a serious weenie pants. I don't like roller coasters, I refuse to go sky diving. I get car sick easily. I hate that stomach drop feeling when you fall from somewhere high (like cliff jumping or on a rollercoaster). Since moving to Utah I have acquired a fear of being eaten by a bear. I really am a huge worrier and over think EVERYTHING.

And... I'm 30.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Week in Washington

(Excuse me while I play a little bit of blogging catch up...)

After spending nearly our entire summer laboring on our backyard we finished off August with a relaxing week visiting Papa and Rara Hill in Washington. It was a fantastic week with nothing we had to do. Actually, at first I was feeling pretty guilty about lounging around on the couch watching TV. After a few days I warmed up to the idea and relaxed completely guilt free. It was FABULOUS! Just what we all needed. The busyness of life had caught up with all of us and we needed to take some time to forget about it all and just enjoy each other. 

We spent a good part of our week in our swimsuits. Hailey helped Kyle mow the lawn, Keira ran around in just a diaper- and loved it. And I soaked it all in.

Keira's classic underbite smile.

Kyle found his grandpa's old pellet rifle in his parent's garage. He set up some tin cans to use as target practice while the girls looked on.

One evening we went out and played some pickleball. That was a blast. I really am not very good at it, but after a little bit of practice I began to warm up to it. Hailey took a shot at it too. When we really got down to playing she became the ball girl. She took her duties seriously, when she was paying attention. :)

And of course there was the pool. We spent some time nearly everyday swimming. The girls loved it. In fact, I loved it! I get bored swimming pretty quickly, but this time was different. I didn't have anyone clinging to me for dear life. Hailey finally opened up to the idea of swimming on her own with a floatie. Keira just went for it, with no thought of fear. She was perfectly happy to bob along on her own next to someone.

Both girls loved jumping in and out of the pool. On the side and off the diving board. Kyle tricked Hailey into jumping off the diving board all on her own. He stood on the board with her, counted down, and she jumped while he didn't. After that she did jump after jump on her own. She even swam all over the deep end all on her own while wearing her floaties. It was so good to see her enjoying herself and learning that she is capable of doing more than she thinks she can.

Keira the little daredevil saw Hailey jumping off of the diving board ran straight for it herself. I swam to the deep end as fast as I could in an attempt to beat her there, knowing full well she'd climb aboard and step right off. She is still working on getting some air when she jumps, so Kyle caught up to her and helped lower her into the water while I caught her. That satisfied her desire enough. That girl is crazy.

Keira also got a huge thrill out of being thrown into the air and splashing back down in the water. Kyle and Papa heard constant pleas of "up-please!"

We also were able to catch up with some longtime friends, nap in the afternoon, and enjoy quality family time.  And with the beginning of the college football season and the US Open going on we watched an unhealthy amount of football and tennis. Isn't vacation fantastic?


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