Friday, January 31, 2014

4 weeks

In four weeks (from yesterday), the Big Iggy leaves for two years to serve his LDS mission in Lithuania.

I know he is ready.  I know he is excited and nervous and will be an amazing missionary.

I know I will miss him.

I know he's got almost all his stuff.  I know he's probably sneaking his superman socks (with capes) into his suitcase even though he'd probably get in trouble for wearing them.

I know he's been practicing Lithuanian like a James Bond villain.  I've heard him.  He sounds like a villain.

I know that I still have a lot to do to get ready for him to leave (I'm full of surprises, don't ya know!).

And I know one little buddy who is going to have a hard time figuring out where his favorite lap disappeared too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Elliott Moyle :: 7 years old!

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!

Today, early this morning in fact, you turned seven years old.  Once I get over the fact that I am the mother of a seven year old, I'm sort of at a loss of words, but a mind racing with thoughts about you, my oldest son.  You are a brilliant boy who is kind to everyone, thoughtful, helpful, and always ready to laugh until you fall on the floor or squirt milk out your nose.  You are emotional and sensitive, but tough and resilient as well.  You are an excellent big brother, and getting to be a pretty good Spanish speaker, too.

When I sat down to look at the last year's worth of pictures to find the few that I wanted to use for your birthday video, it was hard to pick.  In the last year, there are almost no pictures of you alone.  In fact, only a handful.  Every picture I've got of you, you are with someone you love and take care of.  Your brothers, your cousins, your grandparents and your Uncle Willie....oh, and a few with mom and dad, too.  Mom and Dad are always bugging you to "be a leader" and when I sit down and look through pictures I realize that you are becoming one.

When you were a baby, Grandma Judy got you and dad shirts that said, "Me" and "mini me".  In the last year in particular, it is pretty obvious that you are your dad's son.  Yes, you've got my quick to fire temper and the patience of a fruit fly, but oh, you are so much like your dad.  Your mannerisms, your interests, gadget obsessions, routines and rituals, general impatience (okay, that's me, too), and the way that you obsess over tiny details that no one else even thinks about.  You two are peas in a pod.

You take such good care of your brothers.  Yes, the are annoying and drive you crazy and sometimes there is fighting and screaming and crying and gnashing of teeth.  But, when I sit in the office and listen to you and Wyatt quietly giggle before falling asleep, or watch you patiently play with Quinn and let him climb all over you, it melts my heart a little.  I never ever thought that I'd be the mom to three rambunctious little boys, but seeing the three of you together, and how much you all love each other, makes me confident that you'll always be best friends and always take care of each other.

You told me a while ago while tying your shoes in the morning, "Mom, I think I've finally figured the system out and guess what - I LOVE SCHOOL!"  And love it you do.  When I went with you to parent teacher conferences last November and listened to your teachers rave about you, and listen to you converse in Spanish with Ms. Cerezo I was just blown away and so proud.  Even at this young age, school is important to you and doing well is so important to you.  It's just so cool.

You love to dance and play video games.  You are absolutely loving playing basketball and are a fantastic reading, reading almost completely at a third grade level.  You love Lego's and drawing pictures.  You take hours to tell me a story and every night at dinner when Quinn does something goofy, we have to reprimand you for laughing SO HARD and being crazy disruptive.  You love to eat and have almost taken over the reigns of salsa maker and taste-tester.  I do all the major cutting, but you do everything else.  You are so helpful and even though sometimes you are a handful at home, are always on your best behavior at church, school, and out in public.

For your birthday dinner today, you are having a tough time deciding between Dickey's BBQ and Crown Burgers for a corn dog.  I vote Crown Burger's but we'll see what you choose.

Kiddo, every day when I go to bed, I count my lucky stars that you are my boy.  You made me a mom, and unfortunately for you, you are still my guinea pig as I (and your dad) figure out all this parenting stuff.  But, there couldn't be a better guinea pig any where in the whole wide world.

Love you so much!
Happy Birthday Baby Boy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


My sister had the day off of work today, but had a lot of work to get finished before the second semester starts tomorrow.  She asked if I could watch her kids for a few hours and she would pay me in my most favorite way.  A diet coke!

Never one to deny myself the company of my niece and nephew, and a ice cold diet coke, of course, I said yes.  So, for a few hours this morning, I was the mama hen to four little chicks.  Two of which are perfectly self sufficient and got along beautifully.  The other two, the almost twins?  They struggled a bit, but they love each other lots.  And, they wore me out!

Jack can say "Annie!"
Quinn can say, "Jaaa!"

And both of them are excellent at stealing each other's toys.

While Molly and Wyatt were in the basement playing, I brought the little monkeys upstairs with me and decided to take a few pictures of them.  They are so much alike, being only three months apart, but there is a sea of difference between them in their speed and mobility, dexterity, vocabulary, and personality.  Jack is a man of action!  He doesn't hold still, hardly sits down, and is super busy and pretty independent.  Quinn is a dawdling sloth, who takes his time, meanders around, and never strays too far from his mama.  Because of the difference in their birthdays, Jack will graduate high school the same year Quinn starts his senior year of high school.  Crazy what a difference a few months can make.

But, they are both super cute and I love them lots and lots.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

#HandmadeChristmas :: 2013

At the end of the month of July, I bought a sewing machine.  I didn't do a whole lot of research, but I found a pretty awesome deal on amazon, asked Ross if it was okay to make such a big, spur of the moment purchase, and went for it.

I bought the machine because I wanted to make stuff.

Mostly, because I wanted to make my kids this:

Pillows for their lost teeth.  Then, a few pillows, aprons, table runners, skirts and and a manatee later, I got the brilliant idea to make, with my sewing machine, the majority of my Christmas gifts for the holiday season.  So, I came up with a plan and a schedule.  A list of items I wanted to make and set to making them.  After, of course, asking my sewing friends and YouTube lots of questions.

In the end, it took me nearly all of four months to finish my projects.  And, I finished a lot.
The tally:
10 pillows
9 quilts
1 table runner
12 aprons
5 dish towels
4 tote bags
6 make-up clutches
7 drawstring bags (as gifts mostly for birthday parties for little friends)
a couple zippered pouches
a knee length skirt for myself.

That was a lot of sewing - especially considering about 70% of it happened at night, after the kids had gone to bed and I had some time alone.

Late nights.

In the end though, I have a new hobby which I am slightly addicted to and I was able to give a lot of people some gifts which, I hope, they really liked and can put to good use.

Monday, January 13, 2014


On Saturday morning I was downtown, by myself.  If you follow me on Instagram, I was headed into what would be an ill-fated hair cut appointment.  But, before all of that, I met a stranger.

In the parking lot, a man, probably the age of my parents,  and his large, what I would guess - labradoodle, were going for a walk and as I was headed into my appointment, he stopped me.  He told me that he was from Ohio, bringing his son and new daughter-in-law to Idaho and that they'd stopped in Utah for a few days.  He had never been before and wanted to know if the weather was always "this nice" in January.  Now, on Saturday morning there wasn't much of an inversion, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it was 45 degrees when I got out of my car so "nice" was a bit of an understatement.  I told him that yes, generally speaking, the weather is nice like this often in the winter, but that we'd had some pretty cold and icky days - you know....talking weather with a stranger.

I turned to go into the building, and he kept talking.  He told me about Betsy, his wife, and their three children.  He told me how nervous he was that his son was moving so far from home (his other two children live close by - his youngest going to the University of Dayton) and that he and his wife would be first time empty-nesters.  He asked me about my parents (Are they both living? - odd question) and my siblings and I mentioned that my parents would soon be of the empty nest variety, too because my brother was leaving for two years to serve an LDS mission.

Well, that comment apparently opened the door he was waiting for, and I was - in a kind and sincere and curious way, bombarded with questions.

"Are you a Mormon?" he asked point blank.  "I assume that you are because you have just been so nice." He said.

"Yes, I am."  I replied.

He wanted to know all about my brother's mission.  He wanted to know if I had served a mission.  Had my husband?  Had my father?  He wanted to know what Welfare Square was (he saw it from the freeway).  He knew a Mormon in Ohio 25 years ago and that Mormon worked for the Church for a church farm and wanted to know about Humanitarian aid.

After about 15 minutes of talking in the parking lot I started to get cold and was late to my ill-fated haircut appointment.  But, I kept talking (good thing I was early to start with).  He was going home in the afternoon so he had a couple of hours to kill before his son dropped him off at the airport, and he wanted to know what to do.

I told him:
You cannot come to Salt Lake City without seeing Temple Square and to go there first - temple square, the church history museum and the family history library.  I told him that if he still had time, he could wander around City Creek and grab a bite to eat.  Then, I told him he could go to Library Square because the Library is cool.  And finally, I told him if he wanted, to ride trax straight up 4th south and wander around the University of Utah campus because college campus' are cool.

Finally, he apologized for taking so much of my time.  He shook my hand (two handed shake, for the record though, I got the vibe that he wanted to hug me) told me that I had a beautiful city, and walked away with his giant fuzzy dog.

It's kind of a funny thing.  Stuff like this happens to my mom all the time.  She seems to have a sign painted on her forehead that says, "Talk to me.  Tell me your life story.  I am a good listener."  I cannot tell you the number of times I've been with her, on a metro, at a restaurant, on an elevator, walking through a new city, where someone finds her and gabs her ear off.  This generally doesn't happen to me, largely because I scowl and avert my eyes to the ground to avoid the gaze of others.  But, the older I get, the more it seems that I have the same thing stamped on my forehead.

And, the reality of it is, it's a pretty cool thing.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Weighing in, in the new year

2013 was a frustrating year.  That year after you have a baby is rough.  Everything on your body trying to find it's old spot, you've got an infant to a mobile baby seemingly needing you every waking moment, and none of your clothes fit the way they used to.  It was rough.
I started the year with good intentions to have it be the "year Annie figures it out".  I had, in my vast expanse of a hollow brain, a list of things I was going to do: doctor's visits (general, dermatological, arthritis, etc.), lose 30 pounds, eat healthier, be calmer and all that stuff.  The dreams failed new years resolutions are made of I tell you what.
Well, now we sit eight days in to the new year and today I had that dermatologist appointment.  At least I have one thing I can check off my list.
In February of last year I joined a gym and from that time until June, I sporadically showed up to walk on a treadmill.  In sketchers.  Sometimes without socks.  It was probably more just an opportunity to leave the kids for 30 minutes than to really break a sweat. 
In June of last year, I decided to start trying harder to be fit.  My gym attendance became more regular, I got sweaty lifting weights and tried to be a runner.  I failed miserably at running, but I did manage to get myself from incapable of running a mile to running a 12 minute mile on the treadmill.  But, when the 5k came at the end of August, I walked.
The month of September was full of frustration and Internet research.  The exercise and moderate efforts to watch what I was eating hadn't done a thing for me and I was frustrated.  Ross and I started looking into a couple of fad diets and nutrisystem.  That sort of thing.  I needed help, a jump start, a positive result for the work I had been putting in and had, at the time, nothing but a t-shirt from "The Color Run."
The first week of October I'd decided enough was enough and I rejoined Weight Watchers Online for the 3rd time in seven years.  And, like the other two times, in the first 5 weeks, I lost 10 pounds and was feeling pretty positive about myself.  This 10 pounds coincided with a night I went to the gym, the week of Halloween and saw a poster advertising an 90 day group life challenge called Liv-a-Betes.  I read the poster and thought that I was a perfect candidate and applied.  I was accepted into the program and met the coordinator to get nasty "before" photos taken and to do my preliminary weigh in and measurements.
There really isn't much that is more motivating than seeing "before" pictures of yourself.  By the end of November I realized that I couldn't make changes on my own so after talking to Ross, I bit the bullet and decided to pay for a trainer at the gym.  I signed up for three months, 12 sessions, to see where I could get myself by the end of January, 2014 - when the challenge is over.
The whole challenge has been nothing like I thought.  In fact, it's been nothing but a couple of canceled seminars and a few e-mails.  But, the trainer?  She's been everything.  Knowing that I am paying her real money, and that I have to meet with her weekly and show some visibly progress has been some mighty intense motivation to get my act together.  The trainer, combined with the fact that I sucked it up and switched from trying (and failing) to go to gym at night and going crazy early in the morning (yes, 6:30 isn't that early, but it is for me) has really started to make a difference.  In one month, I've lost 3 inches from my waist; one inch from my thighs and half an inch from my arms.  My weight is still 30 pounds more than I want it to be and my body fat percentage could always be better, and I still eat too much nutella but.....BUT, there is change happening.  And, I can do things I physically could not do months ago which is pretty amazing.
It's the first real progress I've seen in a long time.
Back in November, one of the goals I'd set for myself was to buy a size smaller pair of jeans for Christmas.  Well, Christmas came and I bought myself a new pair of jeans - the same size as normal and....they are too big.  I'll admit here, that I've been buying my jeans at Lane Bryant for years now, because they have built in tummy tightening elastic and I need that elastic.  I haven't worn a pair of "real" jeans (actual denim with no stretch) for about 4 years now because I've been too uncomfortable, but when the L.B. jeans were too big I decided to go to a "real" store and try on a pair of "real" jeans.  I found a pair I liked, in my normal size because I was too chicken to try on something smaller in the privacy of my own dressing room.  I bought the jeans, brought them home and guess what.
They are too big.
I have to wear a belt.
I might have to sign up with my trainer for another three months.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Making Choices

On Friday night, my brother, in preparation for going on his mission at the end of February, went through the Jordan River Temple to take out his own endowment.  Going through the temple is a really big deal for us Latter Day Saints, and the promises, covenants, and commitments one makes in a temple are heavy, powerful, and vastly significant to the rest of our lives.  You see, the temple and the sacred things that happen in the temple are essential to our salvation and eternal life.  It's the biggest and most essential step in helping us to secure the right, in heaven, to be with our families again.  It was such a great experience for all of us, too.  I was proud of my brother and all the family and friends who were there to support him.

Our experience on Friday night, along with a few other things that happened because of our experience Friday night, have got me thinking a lot the past few days about agency.  About the choices we make and the consequences of those choices on our lives and our families.

When I was a high school teacher and students would come to me panicked about their grades at the end of each term, I wasn't always the nicest or most forgiving.  I kept a poster at my desk that said, "Failure to prepare on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine."  Depending on the kid, how big of an "F" they had, and how tired I was when they came to talk to me really played a big role in how I'd be willing to help and I made sure to always really make a kid sweat before I'd work with them to bring their grade up.  I would always tell those students, "It is much easier to pass my class than to fail.  To pass my class, all you needed to do was show up every day and do what was asked of you.  To fail my class, you had to make a conscious decision every single day to: not attend; not do or turn in assignments; not participate."

Those kids had agency.  They made their choices and were not happy with the consequences.  Though I was never a benevolent teacher, I tried hard to help kids be successful.  But, there were never very many football players in my classes.

In life, as adults, we make choices.  We choose a path and that path introduces us to people and places, experiences and opportunities, success and failure, gratitude and heartache.  Whenever we face a bump in our path, we are lucky enough that we get to use our agency, again, to get us back in the right direction.  For most of us, our path, though not straight or smooth, is full of joy and opportunity.  For others, their path has lots of briars and thorns.  Regardless though, we choose how to move, deal with, and relate to the experiences in our lives.  Some see the glass half full, others half empty.

Here's the thing.  I chose my path.  You choose your path.  I own up to my choices, good or bad, and face the consequences and reap the blessings.  A big part of my path is my faith.  Okay, the biggest part of my path is my faith.  There are a lot of things that make me, me, but when it comes right down to it, the path that I have taken, the choices that I have made, have led me to the life I have.


Temples are sacred places.  In the last 9 months, I've had two experiences in a temple that have made me believe and know without a doubt, that the choices I've made are right, and that the path I am on is good for me.  For our wedding anniversary, Ross and I went to the Salt Lake Temple.  I got a little lost when we parted ways for a bit and when I rounded a corner, I saw an elderly temple worker sitting on a chair. This woman, in the briefest of moments, looked exactly like my grandma.  There was no one else around, she looked me directly in the eyes and winked at me, showed me the direction to go.  It took my breath away! She was in the briefest of seconds, the spitting image of my grandmother and, when I turned back to look at her a second time, she looked nothing like the person I had initially seen.  I was covered in goose bumps and a little confused.

On Friday night, I had a similar experience.  I rounded a corner alone in the temple and saw a woman who at that moment looked exactly like my grandma.  She also winked at me.  I kept walking and this time, I didn't look back.  I wanted to keep the image in my head exactly as I had seen it.

Of all the things that I could have chosen to do with my life up until this point in time, I have chosen a path that gives me the opportunity to know without a single doubt, that what I am doing is right.  That I will be with my family forever.  That I have family in heaven looking out for me, protecting me, and guiding me.

Agency is a pretty amazing thing.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Quinner :: 16 months

Hi Big Guy!

You make me laugh and smile.  I could probably end it right there, but as always, there is more and I'm a pretty wordy and long winded type person.

Yesterday in church, during the passing of the sacrament, you were looking at an animal book and LOUDLY making animal sounds.  All the folks sitting around us were silently laughing at you.  At one point, you were doing such a loud monkey I could hardly contain myself and I whispered to your dad, "What is he looking at?" and your dad whispered back, laughing pretty hard, "A fish!"

Sense of humor you have.

Soon after that, you busted out a toothbrush from the back and had everyone around us in stitches.

The life of the party you are.

In addition to being pretty much the cutest thing around, you are "THIS CLOSE" to running at lightening speed.  And, you've started to dance, even though it's mostly shoulder dancing.  And, you've decided that Jack is your frienemy, instead of just your enemy, and it's pretty fun to watch the two of you try to play with each other.

Lately, your best person is Uncle Willie.  Maybe it's because you know he's leaving soon and you'll be three years old when he gets home from his mission.  Or maybe, it's just because you love him a lot, but when everyone came over for dinner last night, you bypassed them all and made a beeline for the giant blond uncle and climbed right up onto his lap.

When I bust out the camera, you stop, freeze, and smile.  When I ask you to throw something away, you head right to the garbage can and do as you've been asked.  When I tell you no and to stop scratching my face, you sob giant crocodile tears of sadness.  You love to go bye-bye and if Grandma Judy is around, and she says bye, you run to her (just like Jack) and think that you're leaving with her.  You love to explore and to play.  You love to color and draw and only want to use markers, even though I only get you crayons.

Like your brothers before you, you love books of all kind.  You are OBSESSED with animals of all shapes and sizes, and are starting to get pretty attached to blankets, though you aren't too particular about what kind.  You are an excellent mimic, trying to do everything your brothers do from wrestling, to light sabering, to jumping on piles of pillows to racing cars.

You are still a really good eater and will shovel just about any food into your mouth - but not until you have smelled it.  You smell everything!  Not just food, but every single thing you put in your hands, goes directly to your nose for a good long sniff.  It's the strangest thing and makes us laugh every single day.

Little buddy, you are growing up faster and faster by the minute.  I am stuck in the middle of wishing you were still a tiny little thing to being super excited at how fast you are growing and learning.  It's all pretty amazing and everyone loves you lots and lots.


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