Ahoy, Matey!

It’s been a pirate kind of afternoon at our house today.Feb6001

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Of Valentine Ninjas and Mountain Men

I think I’ve created a new holiday character. Introducing—-the Valentine Ninja! Here’s the story…Feb4005

Back in my Utah days, my roomie Tara and I hosted a Valentine sleepover for the teen and tween girls at the school where we were teaching. That night Tara introduced us all to a “heart attack” as we forked the teen boys’ yards with paper hearts in the dark of night.

I loved it so much that I had been itching to do it ever since. (If you’ve been reading this blog for several years, you might remember that I dragged Stephen along to give the Horkavys a heart attack the first February we were in Arizona.) Well, I couldn’t resist doing it again.Feb4002

But this time, the boys and I gave “heart attacks” in broad daylight to my two closest friends from MOMS Club, Kristy and Randi. We did the dirty deed on a morning when I knew both of them would be at a club board meeting, but I still wanted the boys to be quiet. And thus the Valentine Ninja was christened.Feb4001Feb4003

(Parent tip: One of the best games for noisy little boys to play is Ninjas. They sneak around the house as quietly as possible {which is to say that you have to pretend to ignore them since their “sneaking” is so obvious}, and as long as you don’t glance their direction, you and your spouse can hold an adult conversation without interruption!)

We celebrated Valentine’s Day all week. Tuesday was craft day at the park where the boys decorated valentine boxes and exchanged valentines with their friends. Friday, I dressed Brynn in her valentine tutu so we could surprise Stephen at his office with his gifts. Feb4008(Even mini ballerinas sometimes don’t like to have their picture taken.)Feb5001Feb4007Instead, Cooper decided to go all out for the holiday and contract pink eye. So festive!

Silas got his first WarHeads candy, and it was fun to watch his reaction.Feb4009YouTube Preview Image

Sunday afternoon we loaded up for a family outing at nearby Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Upon seeing the desert hills, Silas excitedly said, “I’ve always wanted to walk up a mountain.” He picked a mountain, and we climbed it. Feb4011Even Cooper made it all the way to the top by himself—though he did need some carrying on the way back to the car.Feb4010Feb4014“Mount Silas” (as we named it) was over 1,200 feet in elevation, which meant we climbed up about 400 feet. Feb4016I’m proud of our hiking crew!2016-02-14 14.56.02aFeb4013

Stephen and I rewarded ourselves with Dutch Brothers iced coffees.

Another Valentine’s Day with the person I love most!

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Brynn on the Big Screen

This has been a big month for Baby Girl. Feb2001She turned 8 months this past Thursday and can now sit unsupported, pull herself from lying down into a sitting position, do the army crawl, and even get up on all fours. Feb2003She’s exercising her voice through babbling and making the motor boat sound. Brynn sometimes sings herself to sleep or sings as she rides in the stroller—cuteness overload! I think I feel two teeth starting to make their entrance on her lower jaw, but it’s still pretty early to tell.

When Brynn is happy, she kicks her feet for all she’s worth. You can see her kicks and hear her motor boat impression in this clip. YouTube Preview Image

She’ll raise her hands and kick her feet like crazy when she’s on her belly and sees something or someone she wants. I’ll miss it when she outgrows that move.YouTube Preview Image

Cooper wanted to have his picture taken with little sister, and he was too cute as he read this book to her. Feb2002YouTube Preview Image

Videos help me remember their voices and expressions so much better than pictures, but it’s hard to capture the best moments without ruining them.

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New Beginnings

January is my favorite desert month. The holiday busyness is over, my home is clean and simpler with the seasonal decorations put away in the garage, the weather is sunny and silent—which makes me smile inside, the new year has begun with whispers of goals to be met, and my mood is both reflective and hopeful at the start of a new year.

At least that’s how Januarys have felt in the past.

But in 2016…January is a different story.

This would be a good time to mention that we’re planning to move to Portland, Oregon this spring. Our upcoming move has been planned for a while, and we’ve told our family and friends our intentions, but now our move date is approaching and things are starting to get real.Jan1007

Our project this month was to paint the interior of our house. I began by gathering paint samples, and after a patchwork of colors was painted on the wall in almost every room, we chose Churchill Hotel Ecru as our neutral. Jan1001Our home was built in 2006, and most of the rooms hadn’t been painted in those ten years. Believe me, white flat builder-grade paint shows every scuff mark and dirty fingerprint.Jan1005

As of now, the guest room, hall bathroom, front room, and entryway are completely finished. The kitchen and family room have just a few touch-ups left, and then we’re on to the master bath and bedroom and the hallway. Jan1006The front room has been the worst so far. The people who lived here before us had painted the walls and the ceiling a dark tan, so it took primer and several coats of paint before we were satisfied.Jan1002Jan1003My days have been filled with moving furniture, clearing out clutter and unwanted toys, puttying and sanding holes in the walls, taping, painting, and washing out paint brushes and rollers. The kids are at a great stage now where Brynn can’t really get into the paint supplies, and Silas and Cooper know enough not to bother all the paint gear.


Add to that, the search for a school for Silas’s kindergarten, and it’s been kind of an overwhelming month!

We’ve also been busy transitioning away from our responsibilities at Crossroad. Reminiscent of prepping for a substitute teacher, it’s often more work to teach your job to someone else, but we’re thankful for the opportunity to have served Christ at Crossroad.

I guess I should also explain the exciting news surrounding why we’re moving. For the past five years, Stephen has been employed by GreenLoop IT Solutions. It’s been a wonderful fit for him and a great company to work for. Their main office is in Phoenix, and a few years ago, they opened a branch office in Bend, Oregon. Now Stephen will be opening another branch office in Portland. It’s a great opportunity for him and for us. He’s worked his way up to Head of Engineering, and I’m very proud of his diligent and capable hard work.

We are sad to leave our dear friends here in Phoenix, and we will miss them! But we are also excited for this new beginning (and we can’t wait to see some green again).

Our move out here to Arizona was stretching, to say the least, and we learned to walk by faith. However, our move to Oregon will be its own kind of stretching as we move with babies in tow for the first time, as Silas starts school in August, and as we search for a church home in Portland. Hang on for a roller coaster ride!

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Love x 5

{My friend Jen Barnes took these family photos for us in Verrado. Jen is a talented photographer, and I’m happy she did such a beautiful job for us!}

Our family of five.Jan7001Jan6006Jan5022Jan5020Our three treasures.Jan5010Jan5008My love.Jan5025

My baby girl.Jan5015Jan5017a

Brynn and her brothers. These boys love her so much.Jan5004Jan5009Jan5026Jan5027Jan5028Jan5029

God’s grace.Jan5001

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A Moody New Year’s

Happy 2016! Jan4012We rang in the New Year, little-kid-style—and it was a very stressful New Year’s. Mommy and Daddy were irritable and the little guys were hyper. Don’t let these pictures deceive you—we were moody Moodys, and it was all we could do to make it to 8:30pm!Jan4003Jan4008

The boys helped me filled yellow balloons with confetti, and I strung them up above the doorway. We popped one every 15 minutes until “the countdown.” Jan4002Instead of a usual meal, we ate finger foods for supper. Our after-dinner entertainment was making our own butter. I had bought a carton of heavy whipping cream, and we took turns shaking it.Jan4004Jan4005 Finally, we put the cream in the food processor and added some kosher salt for a tasty result.Jan4009Jan4007Jan4006

Thanks to the Netflix countdown, we could celebrate 2016 a few hours early. Our three little party animals loved the noisemakers, but were so fascinated by the countdown that they didn’t quite understand they should make lots of noise once it ended. Jan4011Jan4010To celebrate 2016, we popped the remaining confetti balloons, (we’ll be finding confetti for weeks!) and then drank sparkling cider with Gummi Bears and Sour Patch Kids mixed in. We sang Auld Lang Syne and All Glory Be to Christ, which shares the same melody—a song perfectly fitting for the beginning of a new year.YouTube Preview ImageJan4013

On New Year’s Day we took the kids to Food Truck Friday at the Peoria Sports Complex where we enjoyed a progressive dinner, eating a little something from the various food trucks that caught our attention. Jan4015Jan4016And to top it all off, we ended our holiday at a Burger King to let the boys get out some wiggles in the play place.Jan4018

Nothing says New Year’s-with-three-kids-in-tow like a Burger King play place. Jan4017

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Escape the Room–Indiana Jones Style

My Indiana boy turns 35 this summer, so I surprised him with an early celebration over Christmas while David & Tammy were in town. So fun!

I planned an adventure game for us and eight of our friends at Escape the Room AZ. Some friends of mine did it and gave good reviews. As soon as I heard about it, I knew it would be perfect for Stephen’s birthday.

The game was that ten of us would be locked in a room and have one hour to escape by solving clues and puzzles. I scheduled us for “The Dig”, an Indiana Jones-type room, for the day after Christmas.PicMonkey Collage1

On Christmas morning, Stephen opened an Indiana Jones birthday card with a paper explaining his surprise. As Connie described it, “Stephen was even more speechless than Stephen usually is.”

We had a blast figuring out the game together, and with a little help from the cluemaster, we escaped the room in under an hour. It was fantastic!

Then we headed to Mellow Mushroom in Tempe for some pretty great pizza and some bundtinis (cupcakes) from Nothing Bundt Cakes to celebrate my man.PicMonkey Collage4

Stephen, you’re worth celebrating, Babe!

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Daddy, Read to Me

BrynnBear is 7 months old. While having a daughter has come naturally to us, there are sparkles of delight that surprise us along the way. Parenting a dainty baby girl is beautiful.Jan3001

Brynn received a couple books this Christmas, and she loves this little light-up book from Uncle David & Aunt Tammy. Jan3002Just tonight, a Raggedy Ann book from Aunt Ruth Anna arrived to accompany Brynn’s new Raggedy Ann doll.Jan3003

Brynn LOVED it! Stephen started reading it to her, and she was fascinated by the pictures and kept touching the pages. (Stephen reached a new level of parenting tonight too!)

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Family & Friends for Christmas

Jan1001After all the busyness of Christmas preparation, we celebrated a relaxing and quiet Christmas Eve with David and Tammy visiting from Colorado. They flew in late on the night before Christmas Eve—while Mom and Dad Moody were still in town—and Brynn met Uncle David and Aunt Tammy for the first time.Jan2001Jan1015PicMonkey Collage2Jan1005

Christmas Eve was beautiful and sunny, so we took a walk/bike ride along the Canyon Trails bike trail. Silas and Cooper were more interested in playing at the park than in riding their bikes.Jan1004Jan1003After the park, I made some holiday pretzel treats, and Silas and I delivered them to our neighbors. It was fun to spread some Christmas cheer.

Stephen led us in family worship which included reading from The Big Picture Story Bible,Jan1007 doing our Jesse Tree ornament/scripture, Jan1006singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven,YouTube Preview Image

and reading a poem called The Innkeeper about the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem—a violent picture of why we need God With Us, Emmanuel, to come rescue this broken world. Then the kids opened their stuffed-full stockings from our friends, the Floreses, and some finger puppets from David & Tammy. Jan1017Jan1018Apparently holiday specs are just about the best stocking stuffers around.Jan1019Jan1020

I think I prefer the quiet reflective time of Christmas Eve to be the main devotional time at Christmas. We could savor it more since we didn’t have the mountain of presents calling us to open them immediately.

Christmas Eve night we four adults played Settlers of Catan—a rare treat for Stephen and me to play a board game.

Christmas morning was magical—filled with family, friends, presents, surprises, love, babies, and little boys. Connie and David Goodman arrived at 8am, and we greeted them in our jammies. Jan1021Stephen led is in opening our final ornament box for the Jesse Tree—the Star of Bethlehem. Jan1022Jan1023Jan1024We sang carols and read Romans 8 and Luke 2. As I’ve mentioned on our “About” page of this blog, Romans 8:32 is one of our favorite verses, and it points to the reason we celebrate Christmas. God gave up His only Son for us, so that Jesus Christ could come meet our greatest need—a way to get to God. If God could give us His greatest gift, of course He will give us everything else we need.PicMonkey Collage3

The house looked like we were buried in wrapping paper and presents by the time we were finished opening all the gifts.Jan1040David & Tammy are expecting their first child, due July 16th. We were thrilled to give them one of their first presents for the baby. Jan1031Jan1032Silas and Cooper both received scooters and a wooden train set to expand their current set.Jan1034Jan1033Jan1029 Look at that thrill of excitement on Cooper’s face when he opened his present from “The Aunts” (my sisters). Jan1013Connie and David helped Brynn open her stocking and presents. Jan1008Jan1039Little Brynn celebrated her first Christmas like a champ, but it was exhausting! Jan1043A lot of us went in together to buy Stephen his first guitar. He’s been wanting to learn to play for family worship.Jan1011

We topped off the morning with a Christmas brunch, and then spent the rest of the day enjoying our new gifts, relaxing, talking with family and watching movies. Jan1042Stephen put together the entire USS Missouri for Silas. Jan1045Cooper’s mission in life was to open every single present package and to eat all of his Christmas candy. The kids were in turbo mode!

I’m so thankful for a day of celebration with the ones I love.Jan2002Jan2003

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Christmas Collages

Mom and Dad Moody came for five days before Christmas! We introduced them to the meaty deliciousness that is Miracle Mile Delicatessen and then drove up to a lookout on South Mountain. The road to the summit was closed due to storm damage, but the view was still impressive. Silas was thrilled to be “climbing” on a mountain.PicMonkey Collage1Back at home, Stephen, Dad, & the boys made fresh lemonade from the lemons Connie gave us.
PicMonkey Collage2In a surprising turn of events, Dad tried his hand as a sushi chef. I had mentioned that we made our own sushi this year (we followed this online tutorial) and had bought a bamboo mat and everything. Dad was so intrigued that he wanted to try it himself. Instead of using raw fish, we made California Rolls with imitation crab meat and smoked salmon.
PicMonkey Collage3It was Baby Brynn’s first Christmas, and she loved cuddling with Grammy. Of course, Grammy was happy to indulge her.
PicMonkey Collage4I guessed what one of my presents from Stephen was, so he let me open it early so we could enjoy the firepit and s’mores with Mom and Dad.
PicMonkey Collage5Silas had been asking to make a gingerbread house, so I picked up a pre-assembled kit at Walmart. Best idea. The boys and I had a lot of fun decorating the house, and I think I enjoyed it just as much as they did since it was the first one I’ve ever made too.
PicMonkey Collage6Dad was excited to play with the boys, and he certainly delivered! Silas and Cooper wore him out with all the constant requests to play. Grampy played Battleship and built circuits and played his heart out. We took a chilly, windy walk one day to get some fresh air and burn some energy.
PicMonkey Collage7One night we wanted to go see Christmas lights, and Stephen suggested a place along Baseline Road that he spotted on his commute home. It was a little bit of a drive, and I was starting to wonder if it would be worth it. As soon as we turned the corner and saw the place, I was shocked. So many lights on one property! First we drove through and exclaimed in amazement, and then we walked around to get a closer look at all the cut-out characters and lights.
PicMonkey Collage8We love having family visit, especially at Christmas.

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