Sunday, May 31, 2009


One of my favorite Erin quotes of late was one day as she was watching her second hour of TV before school, she turns to me and says "Mommy, do you think you could clean up a little while I'm at school?"

It still cracks me up that she said that. What this really means is 1) she isn't going to do anything about the mess (obviously it's my job-and one that should be conveniently done while she's not there) and 2) I'm not doing a very good job of it because she needs to remind me to do it.

I am going to be honest about my housekeeping skills; I am not great. Sure, I had school as a crutch. Of course my house wasn't clean then. But now... what's the excuse? She was right, I should clean up a little once and a while. In all reality, I do clean up a little. I actually clean up a lot. It feels like I am always cleaning up and it never matters (like stringing beads onto a string with no knot on the end of it). Like today, I already cleaned the whole kitchen, loaded the dishwasher, swept the floor, wiped everything off, made cupcakes and dinner and guess what? I am back to where I started. Dishes are still on the table, crumbs are on the floor and spaghetti is drying on various surfaces that Marissa artistically flung off her high chair.

Every couple of days I get the urge to really clean, to de-junk, to organize everything, to be a good mom. That lasts until the baby wakes up or I have to break up yet another lame fight or until I feel it's time for my nap again (I've always been good at sleeping). Why can't I just be a clean freak? Can this be learned? Honestly, I admire you clean people a lot. It's not that I don't like it clean, it's just not my natural inclination to constantly clean up.

Some days I just have no motivation. The other day I drove Erin to school (you know, a public place) and then looked in the rear view mirror to see myself: un-showered, no make-up, hair completely disheveled, over-sized shirt I'd worn to bed the night before--and it was 11:00 am! I had to wonder how I had let myself sink to such a state. Years ago I would have NEVER gone a day without putting on at least mascara let alone taking a shower. But ever so slowly another good habit has gone by the wayside (rest assured, I haven't dropped teeth brushing quite yet... or deodorant). All right, I'm painting myself as some loser housewife, but I find it hard to rationalize getting all ready when my main objective for the day is to beat my child in Memory. Looking that way at home? Fine. But how has it become acceptable for me to waltz into Target as long as I've brushed my teeth and put on a bra? I don't speak to anyone, and never make eye contact... that's okay, right? Well, probably not, especially since those are the days you inevitably run into someone you know.

And it's probably not okay that my house is so bad that my preschooler is nagging me over it. Last conference there was a talk given about making our homes more like Temples. This struck me as something I need to do, and I have been trying. This is what I want and will continue to strive for, if nothing else to fulfill Erin's request. I guess I'm just in a funk right now and needed to get this off my chest.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Beach

For Memorial Day we went to the beach with some friends, and I had to document the rare occurrence. This was the first time Marissa has been to the beach and I think only the second time for Alex (and his first time wasn't even in Florida!) We are major slackers when it comes to going to the beach. We live 10 miles away but we never go. This is probably why the kids always scream when we go (either that or this is the reason we never go). In any case, we are glad to have friends that do fun things and invite us because it seems to never occur to us.

This conversation as we were getting out of the car tells you how often we've actually gone to the beach:
Erin: We should all get in the pool and play with this beach ball.
Me: We're not going in a pool, we're going in the ocean.
Erin: (confused) What? A real ocean?
We might as well live in Nebraska.
Like I said, there is always some screaming when we go to the beach. Our kids are a bit wimpy- scared of Santa, scared of big waves coming up to get them. (Oh, Erin just told me "I love Santa, but I'm afraid of him.")
If it's not one kid...'s another (that's the nice thing about three kids:)
I have to say that it wasn't as bad as past beach experiences. Erin really loved it, except getting dumped off a surf board she was floating on. For the most part she had a great time and gave me hope for the future. It's probably easier to deal with when you are bigger anyway. Eventually everyone was happy. Marissa just kept saying "wow" when the waves hit.
Erin even let us bury her.
It was also a perfect weather day too, considering it's been raining a lot lately. Okay, there was a torrential downpour as soon as we got home, but the beach was great.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Costa Rica: Part 4

Last one, I promise.

So our final adventure was an all day trip which drove us 3 1/2 hours across the beautiful, mountainous countryside--through the dry forest, the cloud forest and the rain forest. Believe me, we know more than I ever thought possible about the differences in forests--and monkeys, birds, reptiles, volcanoes, Murphy's law, you name it--due to our very knowledgeable tour guide. How do some people store that much information in their brains?

At the end of the drive we turned on to the bumpiest (and steepest) dirt road I've ever been on, to get to the nicest resort I have ever been to. It's this place called the Springs which has only been open for 7 months (translation: everything is really new, really nice, really modern, and really luxurious) and it's on the side of a mountain overlooking one of the largest volcanoes in the country.

The resort itself has everything from spa services, a gym, game room, four types of restaurants and some very expensive hotel rooms (which we did not stay in). Since it's so new they only have 20 rooms completed, out of 150, so there was hardly anybody there. The best part about this place, and the reason we went, was the incredible natural hot springs (hence the name Springs). They have 19 different pools ranging in temperature. Some flow into each other, some have waterfalls, one has seats with a wet bar and one has a really fun slide. Half of them are known as the lost springs because you have to walk down twisting forest lined steps to get to the next one. It felt so exotic and secluded.The view: a little cloudy to see the volcano, but it didn't rain. The weather was perfect! Apparently the owner actually designed the whole place. Really, who needs an architect anyway? (oh yes, our tour guide told us that tidbit of information too)We spent hours soaking in the luxurious pools and had so much fun discovering what the each one would be like, and playing in them like we were 12.

Having fun on the slide. Isn't this gorgeous?Me about to plow into Jared.
Ahhhh!Look at that form. When are the next summer Olympics?
Honestly, the pictures and my description do no do this place justice. It is absolutely fabulous. We had such a fun and relaxing day. Check out the website for really good pictures. I highly recommend Costa Rica to anyone. It was truly one of the best vacations of my life, and yes, I will stop talking about it soon.

We did get first class again going home (great, I'm way too used to it now), but the flight back from Atlanta was another crapshoot. They actually put us on the cleared list but what do you know, mistake! (oooh, Atlanta....) Then they called all the standby people by name and said "go ahead and take any available seat in coach." Does this sound good to anyone? Not us either. But you would think if they sent 6 people on the plane that there would be 6 seats available, right? You'd be wrong though, there was only 5 and Jared was number 6. I watched as he almost walked off the plane and then this other standby lady stood up to get off (I guess she had a lower priority than Jared-phew).

You know, there really is something kind of neat about buying a ticket and expecting there to be a seat for you when you show up. Call me crazy. You do have to be flexible, and a bit insane to do standby, but it has been such a great opportunity for our family and we will miss it (unless those DGS people come to their senses and reinstate the program, dangit!). We would probably have not taken any of the 5 trips we took since November. Good times, good times.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Costa Rica: Part 3

Our next adventure was river rafting. These first two are while we're getting a little river orientation. Of course I'm thinking... yeah, yeah, nobody's going to fall in or anything. Jared also observed that essentially every picture of us on this trip has the exact same expression, a huge smile. These may be some of the only ones that are not like that.

Once we got going it was clear that this was not going to be an easy ride down the river. Now I've been rafting before so I had an idea in mind, but this seemed slightly more treacherous. Really, things were fine until the rapid right after this one. The main reason is that our guide was trying to yell the commands to us in English with a thick Spanish accent. Half our boat only spoke Spanish so that didn't help, and the rest of us could not understand him. That is why our boat is completely sideways and about to hit a rock in this shot.

Again, sideways...
High fiving after making it through the first rapid (shirts are still dry). The next rapid was no better in the whole understanding department, "was that left back or forward?" Not to mention the sound of the waves crashing about us as we swiveled in every direction but where we were supposed to. Oh it was still fun, just crazy. We ended up hitting some wave on the side of the raft that dumped me and the guy in front of me out. Jared contests that the spill was very graceful as I plunged on my back in the middle of the rapids. (Sorry, no pictures of this as everyone was busy rescuing people and paddles). Did I mention that it was also pouring rain at this point? That, my desire to stay in the boat, and the fact that we still couldn't hear instructions made the portion after that feel like we were in some crisis/must survive/dramatic movie scene or something... also pretty fun actually.

The rain let up, completely by the end, and we began to be able to control the raft and understand our guide more too. We had some really great runs through the rest of the river. It was an absolute blast, as our faces prove.

They also let anyone who was brave enough jump in the middle of a rapid at one point. That was great too (and much less scary than holding on for dear life on the raft :) I love this one of Jared.Watch out Michael Phelps
And here's me
The group of survivors
I was pretty sure they said to look sexy or something and this is my feeble attempt, showing off the pasty whites... but apparently I was the only one who got the memo.

This was so much fun!!! I'm really glad we went. We got to go rafting through the beautiful rain forest of Costa Rica! So cool.

Costa Rica: Part 2

The first adventure we went on was called Canopy, our Tarzan and Jane moment--with more clothes of course. You basically zip line from tree to tree up in the rain forest. So much fun!
A few of them were different things you had to walk across suspended above the trees.

The last one was called the superman because you got to go on your stomach. That one was also the longest so you really felt like you were flying.

Last, you got to repel down.

All the tours included a traditional Costa Rican lunch and dinner. Delicioso! All the food was seriously spectacular!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Costa Rica: Part 1

Last week we found out that our flight benefits would be ending on May 12, so we decided (spur of the moment) to go somewhere last weekend... we didn't know where, but we had to take advantage one last time. Here was the criteria:

1. I wanted to use my passport since I just got it renewed
2. We wanted to go somewhere out of the country, yet close enough that we could go over a weekend.
3. We wanted to fly first class... meaning we had to choose a flight that had enough empty seats for us to have that possibility (you can't get first class on standby with kids under 8 so this was really our only chance)

After a small amount of research, we decided on Tuesday to go to Costa Rica! On Thursday I called a couple families to watch the kids (we have THE most amazing friends to do that for us!!!) and on Friday by 5:00 am we were off on our adventure.

First of all, we were holding our breath to get on the flight to Atlanta. We kept watching the screen and it looked like we would make it, but maybe not, but maybe... quite the rollercoaster. Finally, they called our names as the last two people (yay!), but when we got to the door they said there was only one seat available. We were left--jaws open--holding our belongings as they literally closed the plane door in our faces. How we will miss you standby.

The next flight was the exact same situation, only we got the last two seats this time--wohoo! We made it up to Atlanta, but not in time to make the Costa Rica flight at 10:00 am. The next one out was at 7:30 pm! So we decided to rent a car and go to the temple in Atlanta (all my trips seem to revolve around going to the temple, but somehow it's easier than the 3 hour drive to Orlando and heck, we didn't have kids to worry about and it seemed to beat sitting in an airport for 8 hours).

This was our rental car, the silver one... and that little red one in the back was ours until those ladies came over and said it was theirs. I know how it works, you just go to an open car and take it so I have no idea what made them think it was theirs when we already had our stuff in it, but whatever. We only needed it for a few hours anyway, but for the record, it was sooo ours.

Next stop, Quiznos... (ham and cheese for me and roast beef for Jared--the usual)
...and then Seinmart. We didn't have much time, but since this wasn't planned we had to get some church clothes. We dashed around and 15 minutes later ended up with some interesting outfits. You can't see the shoes in the pictures but I was wearing old flipflops and Jared was wearing some scuffed up brown shoes with white socks. Walking in must have been comical because my skirt kept bunching up, since I had no slip and Jared's pants kept threatening to fall down, since he had no belt, but I suppose we were at least semi-acceptable. They let us in anyway.

After returning the car, we made it on the evening flight, but there was only one seat left in first class. One of us had to take it (since it was one of the goals) so Jared let me have it. As luck would have it, the person with the seat next to me never made it so Jared got bumped up too. Sweet! We were a little embarrassed to take pictures with the flash on so they didn't turn out great, but who knew the seats were so roomy and the meals were so good up there? We were definitely spoiled.
We stayed at this Bed and Breakfast which picked us up from the airport and hooked us up with some great adventures. I loved that because I'm usually no good at planning things. It was so great to just have them do everything at such short notice. Here we are with our empty wine glasses from the complementary wine in the room. Nice touch anyway.
The place we stayed was so cool because it had this garden courtyard right outside our room (you can see it in the background). It was incredible to me because everywhere we went was outside. You'd walk in and be under a roof but soon realize that you were still outside and no AC was necessary. The air was the absolute perfect temperature with no humidity like I'm used to. Seriously, all the restaurants and even our room were open to the air and it was beautiful! It would be so awesome to live in such a temperate climate all year so that you could actually build like that.

We woke up each day to their pets--a cage full of assorted birds and Don Kiko, the monkey. Also, it was completely light at 5:30 in the morning so that was pretty cool too.

Stay tuned... this was only the first day :) I have to say that a getaway without kids and the mound of equipment needed for them was a pleasant change. We only had 3 small carry-ons for the both of us (last time we traveled we sent 12 items through the security checkpoint). Nice!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New York

A couple of weeks ago we flew up to New York City. We'd never been there so it was really exciting to see everything there. We got to go to the Manhattan Temple, see Central Park, go to the top of Empire State Building and walk around the city pretty much not even trying to not look like tourists due to the fact that I was taking in as many details of the city and buildings as possible (oh yeah, straining my neck to see the tops of buildings, oohing and awing at how incredible the place was and totally embarrassing the people we were with I'm sure). Surely NYC isn't such a novelty for most people, but man that city is awesome! Maybe it's just getting over my semester focusing on urban design, but I just love the way the city works, how people live, all the dynamic public spaces and how much energy there is there. First timers, I know.

In Times Square

In front of Central Park

We were just there for the weekend so we didn't get to see a whole lot, but it's definitely on the list of places we need to visit again... without kids. One minor detail I may not have mentioned, we brought our kids with us.

Proof of how crazy we are for carting our kids around with us.

Yep, we traveled all the way up there so our kids could do this.

Our attempt at a family picture where Erin (unsurprisingly) will not face the camera.

One reason we chose New York is because one of my roommates from BYU lives close by. Laura and I met our freshman year and then fate brought us and about 10 other girls together to King Henry our next two years. Living with someone with the same name as me was great, especially when one roommate's boyfriend kept calling and talking to "Laura" who was mysteriously always home and kept switching personalities, interests and majors. The poor guys was so confused. But not us. After all, we had our nick names which naturally were also the same, Lamar--only adding to the confusion. One day our roommate wrote a message on the board for Lamar Evens (my maiden name is Evans) which we all got a kick out of and from then on I was Evens and she was Odds (or Weirds)--much easier to distinguish. Interestingly, all of the birthdays and anniversaries in my family fall on even days and hers on odd days. Again, fate. Most of my fondest memories of BYU involve just hanging out (which I certainly would have gotten an A in if it had been a class... Lamar Odds seemed to study more than the rest of us, but somehow still managed to join us) and also everyone sitting on one couch for some reason. Those were some really good times! We had a great time visiting her and her family and pushing 5 kids around the city. Thanks for showing us around. You guys are awesome!

Lamar Evens and Lamar Odds

Also, this is how you entertain your kids on the airplane. Items needed? A laptop with a camera, iPhoto effects and a weird dad.

And this is what your kids look like when you marry someone this cute...