Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Newsletter

Well this blog is meant to serve as a periodic update to our lives. So we don't have the task of completing a year-end wrap up to stuff in your christmas cards. Where you inevitably ramble on for far too long or forget a few key things. Or if you're me, quite likely you end up guilty of both.

But since I'm an abysmal blogger, I usually end up writing a pretty long year in-review post anyway. Because only a handful of events are written about as they occur.  Insert the usual apology and vow to do better. Being real, y'all know how the next year will go.



So big updates. H has begun school. We weren't sure if we were going to do preschool, but we decided on a great Montessori school. She's doing really well. She's a rather strong willed child, and likes to do things in her own time & way - which is one of the reasons we wanted to put her in Montessori. She had a bit of a rocky start with defiance of the teachers. But at her conference before Thanksgiving everyone agreed she is doing very well now. Her progress report was marked as M (mastered) W(work in progress) N (not introduced). She had a lot of Ms but most of the boxes were for letter recognition and sound - which we taught her (ha, no which she somehow picked up on her own) at home before school began.

She's working on numbers 11 - 20 and reading 3 letter words. Overall I think this was a great decision. She's making friends, she likes going to class, and she's learning things I don't have the skills or patience to teach her at home. If only it weren't so far away and expensive. #whitewhine.

Speaking of school, T is almost finished with his master's degree. He has been working very hard over the last year+ doing his job, family, and online coursework. He would have liked to continue on the computer science path, but the practicality of it in his current AF job just wasn't there. And anything he would've learned would be antiquated by the time he plans to separate from the military. So he chose a program to help him more with his AF career as he (hopefully) moves up the chain of command - Organizational Leadership. It's been a really flexible course with his research and paper topics being able to focus on military and sometime even focused Air Force specific.

He would have been done by the end of this calendar year, but circumstance at work caused him to defer his capstone class to the spring session. But with just one class left and as long as things at his job progress as intended he should have the degree finished up around the end of April!

B & I are less exciting. But we're super cute so that counts, right? He actually is talking a lot and may actually be as smart as his sister. We were pretty sure she was gonna carry his grades so he could stay sports eligible, but he might make 'em on his own :).  He's kind of interested in the potty, but I'm definitely not ready for that so it's not making great progress. He does pretty well on days he wears his "turtles panties" -- in hindsight we probably should've used a more generic term like "undies" but we trained a girl first and she got to pick out her own big girl panties and now we all wear panties. Even daddy's undergarments are daddy panties. *see shrug from above*

Aunt K is getting married next spring so we have a little flower girl & ring barer to prep. And currently planning on taking 2 weeks of time to spend in the area - 1 to see the Whites if they're still there and wedding prep & 1 for family after the wedding festivities are over. Actually she and Uncle J are getting married on our anniversary SO grandma & I decided that's our thing now. Uncle D can only now get married in 2020 or 2026 so he and his wife-to-be will also be married on that day. If she's not okay with that, she clearly isn't good enough for you D. It's a Clark family tradition. Then instead of having to coordinate who does what on which holiday we just all get together and Gamma & Gampa's for a party each May, and on special years drop off our children while the 6 of us go on vacation somewhere. It's perfect. And practical.



I will turn 30 with the dawn of 2015. We're doing Vegas like 21 year olds. Like Bachelor/Bachelorettes. Like the movies.* We have hotels. We have childcare. We have loved ones joining the celebration. I currently plan on winning a massive jackpot. I've offered to sponsor private school tuition for one year for our friends with my winnings. I'm also going to pay off our house and possibly move to the magnificent houses I jog past and decorate in my head to pass the time. There will probably be no sharable pictures and the recap will be. . .



*(Let's be real, not really. I'm prematurely old with a body that aches when it rains. I'll probably be asleep by 12:05 and too hungover the next day to function)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas Card Rejects

We went down to Town Square today with friends to see Santa and take pictures for our Christmas Card. We thought it most practical and fun to just go with another couple and take each others' photos. No hiring a photographer or visiting a studio.

We got enough good ones for the card. Which I have designed & paid for. It should arrive next week. The bottleneck in the process is addressing & mailing. If at this point you're thinking, did I get a card from them last year? No. The answer is No. I still have a stack of these. That was your card last year. 

I hope I've gotten them early enough, and with T not TDY this year I'm optimistic I'll get them mailed. But the cute card you get in the mail isn't nearly as fun as the attempts to achieve the cute card you get in the mail. I present for your enjoyment, the rejected holiday card photos . . . 





Aaaand we tried to get one of all 4 kids together. Just a reminder it's ages 5, 3, 2, 1. 





Oh well. We tried. And we had fun. Plus we saw Santa. 

Happy Holidays, Everyone!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Costa Rica

Earlier this month we went on a 9 day tour of Costa Rica. It was beautiful. Wet & cloudy, but still beautiful. We definitely want to go back not during the rainy season. Our tour guide told us that the best time to visit the country is December - February. Someone's birthday just happens to fall right in the middle of that. . .

Most people know, but some do not, that we won our trip on Wheel of Fortune. That was a very exciting experience worthy of it's own post. So at this rate I'll get around to posting about it in about 5 years. ;-) We had remembered the country and that was about it for the details of the prize. I had spent months dreaming of our relaxing trip in Costa Rican paradise. So when we found out it was a tour I was initially disappointed (I know, I know, the very definition of a high class problem). I've had a fantastic time on tours before with my aunt, but they can be exhausting. You move hotels every night or two, spend a lot of time traveling, and don't have much time to just settle down and do nothing. 

But I came around to the idea. I actually got excited for it. I realized we'd get to see so much and it's perfect that we won the tour because it's a vacation I'd never pay for. If we finally were taking time off to go on vacation for which we were shelling out the cash I'd make darn sure it was 7 days of reading and drinking on the beach. 

So we flew out of Vegas at 6am on June 28th. We connected through Miami which was a little out of the way, but our other options were a red-eye through Houston or a late flight through Phoenix which barely landed in time for dinner & welcome brief and I was paranoid that any delay would mean we'd miss it so I wasn't comfortable taking that flight. 

airport selfie

The flights were fine. Long, but uneventful. We landed and had to find our Caravan transport guy, which was pretty convenient but you have to walk through a swarm of taxi & private transport company folk all trying to get your attention and your business. It was overwhelming, for sure. We lived to tell the tale. We checked out the hotel, had dinner, made our welcome brief and went to bed to be rested for the next day! 

Day 2 - Volcano Hike

We hiked up to the crater of the Poas Volcano. It's still active with ash & gasses, and it was amazing to see. There was also another trail up higher to a lagoon.  I just wanted to build a house up there and have my coffee every morning overlooking that turquoise pond. 



After the volcano, we had a really good lunch before touring a coffee plantation. Guys. The Coffee. It's so good down there. They drink it all the time, with every meal. We only brought home 2 bags and we're almost through 1 of them. I am sad. 

**INNERPOST ANNOUNCMENT: We have more pictures. We have hundreds; I have selected about 85 for sharing. They will not all appear in the post. There will be an album on facebook soon.**

After the coffee tour, we went back to the hotel. Costa Rica was playing in the World Cup and we went to the hotel bar with new vacation friends and drank and watched them win. It was so exciting, and turned us slightly into soccer fans. I still know nothing about the game, but I'm much more interested in watching it. 

Day 3 - Rainforest

This was my most dreaded day. The walk through the rainforest. Because sloths, monkeys, and birds are exciting. Snakes are okay. Jungle spiders are NOT. They do great things for the environment, yeah, but they need to do it far from me. 

It was raining so there wasn't a lot of creature activity.  We saw a sleeping sloth & a big dangerous snake (bushmaster) from afar. My group saw a web by a "small" spider - guide said about an inch and half in body - but she wasn't visible apparently. I did not look at the web or the home. I stood up on the path and did my breathing exercises. The guide looked off, asked me how I felt about tarantulas, and then decided to move on. 

I made it out of the forest without seeing a spider and then we went to the butterfly garden. Which because of the rain we did not see too many butterflies. They are delicate and were hiding from the heavy drops. A really pretty one was hanging out by some food though:


Day 4 - Riverboat Tour & Hot Springs

We took a boat ride on the Rio Frio. It rained, again, so there wasn't a whole lot of activity. Saw another sloth, some lizards, and a few birds. It was still calming to float through the greenery and listen to the raindrops on the water - at least to this desert dweller.  And we floated in Nicaragua for a few minutes so even though there's no stamp in the passport, *technically* we've been there, too :-). 



snapped a quick selfie in Nicaragua!

After the boat we had lunch and headed off to the hot springs. It wasn't what I had pictured when we heard hot springs. I thought walk through nature, over dirt and rocks to arrive at a very hot pond. It was definitely a resort built around the springs - more like pools filled with hot springs water. But it was still really neat. The higher up you climbed the hotter the pools became. And they had one with a swim up bar so we got to check in to the US game and have a beer as well. Can't get those amenities in nature, haha. 


Day 5 - The Cross-country Drive

The least exciting day was the day we crossed over their continental divide to get to the pacific ocean and our relaxing resort. It was like 5.5 hours on a bus. Broken up with "lunch" at about 10:40 in the morning, a pee stop at a local supermarket, and a trip to the guanacaste turtle beach. Where sea turtles lay eggs and such. Which would've been SUPERCOOL if it were turtle season and there were actual turtles or nests to see. Most of us agreed that skipping it and getting to the Marriott sooner would've been better. 

We were meant to watch a video on turtles but the guy couldn't get his comptuer to work. But when you have a computer science engineer and former comm officer for a husband he has an uncontrollable impulse to help

He did manage to fix it, but that only helped the next group because we had all evacuated the classroom. We watched the DVD on the bus and then walked down to the beach. To see nothing because it's not turtle season. But I got in the Pacific anyway. 

it was supposed to be a silly, fun candid but Ansel Adams kept messing with settings and was never ready so I told him what I thought of his perfectionism. 




Day 6 - RESTING BEACH DAY!!!!

This day was set aside to enjoy resort life. We didn't have a wake up or report time. We didn't have anything on the schedule except for an open bar from 1-4pm. T & I got a couples massage in the morning, and then we went to the beach to listen to the waves and enjoy the sun. We had lunch with our new friends and enjoyed the pool & booze. We played water volleyball with the group and some other family just there on vacation. We ended the night playing Heads Up (charades) in one of the rooms which was hilarious! I loved all the experiences and different aspects of the country, but this was a much needed day. 


Day 7 - Crocodile Cruise & Sunset Party

We headed out  away from the beach and toward Manuel Antonio National Park.  On our way there, we stopped off to cruise the Tarcoles River for more bird watching and this time crocodiles! Or as we have taught B to say cocodrilo. It was amazing how many we saw especially after the boat captain told us how territorial they are. We got super close to them and a few of them came close to the boat. So much so that we were instructed not to lean out or place our hands over the side lest a crocodile jump up and eat you. 

After we all survived, limbs intact, the crocodile cruise we arrived at our hotel for the night. The tour provided another happy hour so we could enjoy the sunset from the hotel rooftop. Although, as I mentioned before, it was rainy season. And unfortunately it was too cloudy to see the sun. But the view was still spectacular. 




Day 8 - Manuel Antonio & Rainforest

We started off this morning by walking through Manuel Antonio National Park. We managed to see a capuchin monkey on our way to the beach. The plan was a walk through the forest to a little cove where we had 2 hours to enjoy the beach, water, and nature. But the weather had turned the water rough! When our tour guide arrived after us and saw it she advised people against going into the water. She had said she'd never seen it like this. That usually it's a calm, crystal clear oasis. But it was filled with downed branches and debris and CRAZY waves. T was at the back of the beach and almost got knocked down by a wave. I had gone in the water as far as my knees and after two sudden, large waves I was neck deep. I decided to ride the next one back to shore, got halfway there and then basically was swimming in place. I wasn't dragged back, but I definitely couldn't make progress. It was rather frightening. After the drag subsided I high-tailed it outta there and we remained off the shore until hiking back to the room to shower & pack up. 

We did see an actually active sloth which was so awesome! I stood there and watched it for probably 15 minutes. I just wanted it to come down from the tree.  




We also saw a capuchin monkey on the walk to the beach, but moved on too quickly because the group behind us saw a whole pack. 



After getting all cleaned up and back on the bus we headed out to another rainforest. There was no walk through this one, just a gondola/tram ride.  We got to see the vegetation on the Pacific side of the country, and although I couldn't really tell one lush vegetation from the other, the guides seemed quite knowledgable on the differences. This one had more running water which for some reason I'm obsessed with. And also an area of land that has never been explored or altered. It's completely virgin terrain.




Then we headed back to San Jose to our hotel. We made it in time for the second half of the Costa Rica game, where sadly they lost. But we had our farewell dinner to console ourselves with so the night still ended on a good note! Most people went to bed shortly after as we all had airport transfers in the morning. 

Day 9 - Back to reality

We were on the second transfer to the airport. Fortunately we did not have to go at 4am on the first one. We headed out around 9. Costa Rica requires 3 hours ahead for international travel and traffic can be bad on the way to the airport so even though our flight wasn't until 1pm that's the time we were assigned. It was sunday and there was no traffic. And not that many people in the airport yet. We were hotel door to gate in 40 minutes.  But I am glad we had time just in case, and also that everything went smoothly.  We had a LONG day getting home, but we made it back to Vegas around 11 and were welcomed by the smiling face of my father-in-law! He and T were chatty all the drive home but I laid down in the back because I'm not the sunniest of people when I'm tired and hungry :-). 

The trip was a blast and we met a lot of great people! The craziest of coincidences was another young couple who live in Vegas and also won their trip on Wheel. They were using it as their honeymoon. They were so fun, and we look forward to getting together with them back in town. Unless we got fake numbered . . . 



Friday, April 18, 2014

Flashback Friday: Easter in Clovis

I hope everyone is having a blessed Good Friday. I thought I'd take a little trip back to New Mexico and recall H's first Easter. I mentioned it in passing when detailing last year's Easter (lack of) festivities.

As I continue to beat the point to death, I remind you we spent 6 months basically living in a hotel room in the summer in New Mexico. This included Easter 2012. Not much room for entertaining and certainly not the best equipment to cook with.  Allie to the rescue! I think this is the trip that Jenn & I could not wait for the boys to get done with their training so we took all the babies up early and the boys drove up later that night.


Loki is such a patient doggie


It was great to get to a house with a yard and spend the holiday with friends!  Like I disclosed before we did not make it to Easter mass. Clovis is small and there was only one catholic service that morning. H had worried us all with her exorcist like puking the night before and the twins were up at 4:30 so it was time for a nap by the time we'd all need to leave. Fortunately for us, we know Notre Dame broadcasts its masses from the basilica weekly and on holy days. So we pulled up service and made sure to dedicate some of the morning to prayer. Then we continued on to brunch.




Three good cooks and a nice kitchen led to a tasty spread!  After fueling up and trying to get the babies to eat something of nutritional value, we moved on to the egg hunt/baskets.







They were pretty easy to find, but it was still tricky for the 1-year-olds. And they LOVED it. Allie was kind enough to fill the gifts with crackers and cheerios and puffs instead of candy, which we parents who had long drives ahead of us greatly appreciated.

It was a super fun day. I only wish the life of the Air Force didn't prevent it from becoming a tradition. We miss these friends so much, every day! xoxox




Monday, March 3, 2014

Handykids

This morning we had an event with MOMS club which was a tour of Lowe's (thanks, Sarah!). It was really neat!  The kids got goody bags and a small apron. We started outside in the garden section and everyone got a flower to take home and take care of.



Then they walked us to a few different departments. There were treats at every stop which kept the kids excited. We saw appliances, flooring and the lumber area. Back there, we all got a little project to make! It's really cool.  I didn't think to ask if this was a thing all Lowe's locations do, or just our local one, but every other saturday they have project workshops like this for kids. You can sign up online!

We did a valentine "wheel of love". We got small hammers and the wood pieces that we had to hammer together. H wasn't so much into the goggles, but B thought they were pretty cool.



Poor little bub had to be stuck in the cart, but I was not brave enough to try and keep an eye on him while doing a project. We did get a project kit to take home to put together for him. Maybe now that I know what I'm doing, his will be better!



She used the hammer once, to humor me, but then she just sat and talked to me while I put it together. When it came time to decorate it with stickers, though, she was all ready to participate!

"It's so beautiful".

I'm definitely excited to do this again when they're a little older and can really appreciate what's happening and how to help a little bit. A friend and I were talking about how we'd love to do one for grown-ups, too!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Finger Art

We recently added a display area for artwork in our playroom. We had been wanting to this FOREVER but we needed Ikea. Which is in California. Which is not convenient.



I'm sure there are other ways we could have accomplished this same goal but I didn't want to figure it out. The Ikea curtain string was perfect for what I wanted and I was fixated. Fortunately for me, they recently expanded their online shopping function to include some of their smaller items. Beats a 5 hour drive to Covina and having to actually go to Ikea which tests even the strongest of relationships.

Well T got it hung up last night and I decided we needed to put some artwork on it. We tried coloring this morning but it just wasn't as fun as tearing all the pages out of the coloring book. And H wanted to use colored pencils which didn't last very long in the hands of toddlers.

I remembered we had finger paints. Cheap and very very old finger paints. We bought them in New Mexico for a mother's day project in 2012. Which of course didn't happen. I was pregnant living in a hotel room and H wasn't even 1 yet.

So we ventured into the age old art of finger painting. B did much better than I expected he would with staying seating and also not trying to eat too much of the paint. H is in a layering phase with all her art where instead of utilizing the whole paper, she fixates on one spot and just colors over and over. We have a rainbow colored Pongo hanging up on the wall, too.






Needless to say, bath "night" got moved up to bath "early afternoon". But now they're clean and it's one less step before bed time. Plus they took naps after so it's not like we ruined the whole take a bath and then go to bed aspect of the routine.



H was very happy to show off her masterpiece. B, however, was OVER IT!

I made a picture, too.


That's a Pony by a rainbow. I am so talented.

Love & Hugs