Almost There

Brynn Kathryn is getting close to turning one year old. She’s now 11 months, and it looks like we’ll still be here in Phoenix for her first birthday. May2001I’ll be glad to spend time with friends who know and love Brynn for the first of her birthday celebrations. She even received an early birthday present from “Aunt” Bekah. A Supergirl cape and bib set fits our family’s personality perfectly!May2006May2007

Brynn has mastered the cheesy “I-know-I’m-cute” grin. She squeezes her eyes shut and smiles wide. She can stand for several seconds all on her own, but it might be a while before we see a step.May2004

This past month Brynn survived her first bout with the stomach bug. It was truly miserable since all five of us came down with it in one week. Believe it or not, this was the first time any of my kids have had the stomach bug in over five years of mothering. I’m thankful we put it off that long, but our carpets and sectional had to be professionally cleaned as a result. Baby Girl also managed to bust her lip open, so she was sick and had a swollen lip all at once!May2005May2002

Brynn has been saying, “Silas” and waving. She and I even played our first game of catch at the park. It was more a game of you-hand-it-to-me-and-I-hand-it-to-you, but Brynn was elated. Of course she LOVES being entertained by her brothers, and continues to be the easiest baby in the world.May2003

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Legoland Discovery Center

May1001May1002It was the perfect surprise for the boys, and it was fabulous! The Legoland Discovery Center opened at the AZ Mills Mall in Tempe on a Friday, and we were through the doors Saturday morning.May1003May1004

I was just as wide-eyed and giddy as the boys since it was thrilling to be able to take them to such a cool place. They rode the first ride with Stephen while Brynn and I checked out the Lego Phoenix. It was impressive! May1005May1008We loved walking around spotting city landmarks, the Cardinals’ stadium, ASU, Chase Field, and destinations around Arizona—all carefully constructed out of Lego bricks. Some of the displays were even interactive.May1007May1012May1013

Then the discovery center opened up into a big play area with lots of Lego brick building “sandboxes” including Duplo blocks and large foam bricks. Brynn loved the Duplo farm animals. May1016There was a Lego themed play place, another ride where Silas and I got to “fly” together, a parent lounge, and a race track for Lego cars. Stephen and the boys talked to a Master Builder who was hard at work. For lunch, we ate at the cafe and bought the boys the kid lunches that came packed in Lego lunch boxes to take home.May1020May1021

The 4D movie was super cool, especially because the idea of 3D was new to Silas. He thought it was pretty awesome how the characters looked like they were reaching out to touch him. Cooper, on the other hand, refused to wear the 3D glasses, so he enjoyed a blurry movie with some extra water and wind effects.May1018

We played hard all day long and built lots of happy Lego memories.May1022

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Artsy Date Night {& 700th Post}

{This picture is in honor of reaching our 700th post here on The Moody Side of Life. What started out as Stephen’s blog, became both of ours, and now it’s my way of recording our family’s memories. Cooper chose this plastic rose from Walgreens to give me as a token of his love. This is one special dude.}April6001

Last Friday night, Stephen took me out on a date. I was so looking forward to it! We enjoyed some new flavors and dishes at Culinary Dropout. The restaurant was pretty hipster and had ping-pong tables, corn hole, and fire pits around which friends could gather.

After dinner we found ourselves in Old Town Scottsdale along the Art Walk. April6002It was a beautifully windy night to be outside looking in the lighted windows at paintings and sculptures. I discovered that Stephen has more of an artistic eye that I knew. His interpretation of color, texture and contrast helped me appreciate the art in a way I would have otherwise missed. We found the Art Walk provoking even though neither of us are “artsy.”April6003

For dessert, we happened across a vintage (& very pink) ice cream parlor called the Sugar Bowl. April6004I chose the 23 Skidoo parfait since it was made of one of my favorites—coffee ice cream. At the soda counter we saw the Norman Rockwellish sight of a Daddy—decked out in a suit—who was on a date with his daughter.April6005

Maybe one day Stephen can take Brynn on a date…and maybe I’ll document it on this blog.

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Belonging

Back at the start of April, my Aunt Debby flew to Phoenix with her mom and three sisters to visit a cousin of theirs. She invited us to come spend an afternoon at the hotel pool with her and her sisters while they were in town. I have to tell you that it was such a special experience for me. 0405161507_HDRa

As soon as Aunt Debby greeted me with a hug, it was one smile after another that I was tucking away in my heart. Perhaps I’m emoting too much over one small visit (as I’m very often prone to over-emote), but I just hope to somehow capture what I was feeling by writing this blog post.0405161559_HDRa

I felt welcomed by open arms. Aunt Debby immediately began helping me and caring for the kids while connecting with them on their level. Even her sisters jumped in. I had only met one of them before, but since they are veteran grandmas/aunts, relating to my kids and relishing in their childish delights came as naturally as breathing. I could see grandmothering woven into the very fabric of who they all four are. It was gorgeous!

The pool was beautiful, and Silas took to it right away. 0405161558a_HDRCooper struggled at first, but ended up loving it and wanting to stay swimming long after Silas was done. April5006Brynn fussed and fussed, but she loved splashing her feet in the water and was finally won over. April5003

We soaked in the afternoon sun, and caught up on family news while snacking in the grass poolside. When it came time to clean up, I felt a sense of belonging I hadn’t felt in a while. It seems silly to feel so deeply about sharing toiletries in my aunt’s hotel room, but it meant someone was caring for me. In that moment, it was okay that I wasn’t self-sufficient. It was okay that someone else was feeding my baby so I could take a shower. It was okay to just be accepted.

Then we met Stephen at Pizzeria Bianco to introduce Aunt Debby to the best pizza we’ve had yet. I tried the Wise Guy pie with no sauce, fennel sausage, cheese, and onions. So good!

I drove Aunt Debby back to her hotel, and before we said our goodbyes, we spent some time praying for one another. A fitting ending for such a dear memory that I’ll treasure. IMG955357 (1)a

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Planes, Planes, and More Planes

Falcon Field airport in Mesa had an open house the last weekend in March. April4001We drove across the Valley for a family day. An Army Cobra helicopter was offering rides to paying customers, historical aircraft was on display, and food trucks and bouncy houses rounded out the family fun.April4002April4003

We especially enjoyed the historic restored B-17 that we were able to crawl/walk through. April4004April4005April4006First, Stephen took the boys inside, and then I was able to tour it while Stephen watched the kids. April4007We climbed up a ladder to view the bombardier’s and navigator’s positions in the nose of the plane, and then we viewed the cockpit.April4015April4016 Silas climbed up into the top turret, and he especially enjoyed walking through “the dangerous part” (i.e. the open bombay). April4009April4011Next came the radioman’s station and the waist gunner positions. April4017April4012We could see the ball turret and tail gunner position from the outside only, but it was super cool to be inside such a historic aircraft that still flies!April4013April4019

The very next Saturday, we invited some friends along to watch the Luke AFB air show with us. We learned from the last air show that it wasn’t worth it to try to get on base. Instead we set up our chairs and watched from Glendale Ave and Reems Road, giving us a great view of the aerial acrobatics. The Thunderbirds are always an amazing grand finale, but I especially enjoyed the “Tora! Tora! Tora!” re-enactment of Pearl Harbor.

Silas was smitten with the B-17 and even constructed his own out of Lego.April4020PicMonkey Collagea He made this video to show Grampy his very own version of the Flying Fortress.YouTube Preview Image

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Brynn Bear

IMG_20160405_130416999Baby Girl’s fourth tooth popped through her top gum on her 10 month birthday. She has another one coming through any second now, so Brynn’s been a little fussy lately. Now that she has some teeth, I’ve been giving her more solid food. She’s tried avocado, Kix, Doritos (once child number three comes, this makes perfect sense), bananas, yogurt bites, and whatever else we’ve thrown her way.IMG_20160405_130511031

Brynn can really get where she wants to go. This month she progressed from army crawl, to the “Gollum” (hands, one knee, and one foot), to all fours and to the bear walk (hands and feet). She’s quick and quiet. I’ve lost her a couple times around the house because she doesn’t make any noise when I call her name.April3001

Skills include clapping and maybe even a few first words. It sounded like she repeated “mama” one day, but I have to tell you about Easter. Brynn wore her yelllow dress to church, and when a friend asked her, “What color is your dress?” It definitely sounded like Brynn answered, “Yellow.” Of course, she didn’t really said the word, but both my friend and I were startled.

As the doctor says, Brynn is “long and lean.” A month ago she was in the 87th percentile for height and just the 26th for weight.April3008

We love you, tiny ballerina!April3007

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Celebration of Our Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 ESV

This year we celebrated Easter. Of course, we’ve always observed Easter by attending church on Resurrection Sunday and wishing each other a “Happy Easter!” We’ve even done egg hunts, new clothes, and potluck dinners over the years. But this year we were more purposeful. And we partied. We partied because Christ is risen from the dead! And that’s worth celebrating.April1022

Easter is about life.

Eternal life. Life in Christ. New life. Abundant life right now through the Spirit. Life on earth. Life to come in heaven. Christ’s righteous life in our place. Christ’s coming back to life, announcing that God accepted His payment on the cross for our sins.

Our living hope is a Person, and His name is Jesus.

The Easter party started early with Easter buckets from the Floreses on Palm Sunday. The kids got all sorts of candy, toys, and clothes. The boys’ favorites were the mini paratrooper action figures. Later in the week, Connie and David delivered Easter baskets filled with bubbles and chocolate and love for our three kids.April1005April1007

April1008Every party needs decorations, so the kids and I shopped Hobby Lobby in search of some Easter decor centered on Christ. I was happy to find a “He is Risen” banner, a wooden sign with the quote, “He has risen indeed,” and a set of Resurrection Eggs. Walmart had an egg centerpiece that I thought would tie in nicely too.April1024

In case you’re unfamiliar with the idea of Resurrection Eggs (like I was), they are a countdown to Easter with one egg to be opened each of the 12 days. (There’s no significance to the number 12 except that eggs come in dozens.) Inside each egg is a trinket that helped us teach the kids the story of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. For example: a donkey for Christ’s triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, a cup for the Last Supper, a crown of thorns, and a stone for the tomb, etc.April1001April1004

{You can definitely make your own Resurrection Eggs, but this set was on sale and was better than I could have come up with on my own. The accompanying booklet from Family Life is helpful, but I recommend it with one caveat. When the booklet said that “The Bible tells us that Jesus was stronger than any man” (p.16), we skipped that part. The book’s point was that Jesus had the power to stop His own crucifixion (which of course He could have since He is God), but Philippians 2:7 teaches that Jesus “emptied himself…being born in the likeness of men.” Though still fully God, Jesus was not a human with Superman-like strength.}April1002April1003

On Easter morning, we opened the last egg. It was empty because the tomb is empty. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! We sang the Resurrection Hymn together. Then came church, a fellowship dinner, and an Easter egg hunt at the church house, and watching It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown.April1020April1021

Decorated hard boiled eggs and plastic eggs were hidden for the hunt at the church property. Cooper figured out that plastic eggs were a lot more fun, so he went straight for those. He picked up only one hard boiled egg, and that was only by mistake! Silas decided he wanted to find only the eggs that were actually hidden. No picking up eggs lying on the grass for him. Brynn watched from her blanket on the grass.April1023

This was the second of our egg hunts this year. The Friday afternoon before Easter was the annual MOMS Club egg hunt. It was at a new park this year, so the kids enjoyed exploring the new playground equipment while the eggs were “hidden.” April1010April1011April1012April1013After the hunt, we invited Kristy and her three boys over to dye eggs with us. It was the first time I had ever colored Easter eggs, and a first for Cooper and Silas too. I read the story of Christ’s death and resurrection to the kids while Kristy prepped the egg-dying kits.April1009April1014

We colored a dozen eggs for each family. Silas and Cooper were really interested at first. After a while Silas just wanted to play with friends, but Cooper stuck with it a little longer. It did take some time since the eggs had to sit in the dye for a few minutes, and we had to take turns with friends. I thought it was great!April1015April1016April1017April1018

I’m learning that while Christmas is amazingly special, it’s just the beginning of the story. Easter is the party time that calls for some big celebration.

But, really, Easter is a beginning of its own too. One day we’ll party forever with Christ as we treasure Him Who is our Life.April1019

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Shamrock Birthday

Last Thursday was my 33rd birthday. I felt known, loved, and treasured.

(I also fell apart by the end of the day, but birthdays are a weird mix of emotions like that for me.)

Stephen got up early and brought me back a Starbucks coffee. March3003Then he surprised me with a present that anticipates our coming move—red rubber rain boots. Can’t wait to try them out in Portland!March3002

Earlier last week Silas made me a card that said “I love you,” spelled out in his adorable handwriting. Cooper drew me a picture of hot lava with lava snakes and lava snails. Oddly specific artwork, but just the sort of thing a mama of boys would love to receive from her 3 year old man.March3004

My thoughtful friend, Jen, pampered me with an afternoon out. Not only did we enjoy a relaxing pedicure together, but she gave me my inaugural ride in a convertible. A red convertible, no less!March3006March4001

Cards, phone calls, birthday wishes, and gifts from family and friends peppered my day with love. My cousin Laura even sent me a package full of some of my favorite things. (In my opinion, striped paper straws are the height of civilization, and I have now fully arrived as an adult.) As I opened the gift, I felt like Laura was reading my mind. Come to find out, my mom and sister had given her some tips on what types of things I loved. And because I tend to be the oddball of the family, I was shocked to discover they knew me so well!March3001

After a supper cooked by Stephen, we celebrated with these elegantly delicious St. Patty’s Day strawberries from my bestie, Rebekah.March3007

Thankful for another year to mark God’s grace in my life.

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A Lesson in s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g

Cooper seems to have a good ear for music—not so much for spelling…

YouTube Preview Image

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Money 101

Silas has been drooling over the Lego “Gray Avenger Ship” for months now, but recently decided he’d like to get the “Blue Avenger Ship” instead. We’re letting him earn money for simple jobs and {hopefully} teaching him some diligence, discipline and patience in the process.

The concepts of pennies, dollars, and how much things cost are rather hard for little people to wrap their brains around. So, the other day I created an earning chart for both boys. {Cooper is now earning his way towards buying the Lego “Fire Helicopter.”) I glued on pictures of the toys they want, and now the boys have a visual of just how many dollars they need to earn.March2002

Since the pay is pennies at a time, I needed a way to track the boys’ earnings until they reached $1 to add to their chart. Using a variation of a Pinterest idea, here’s our counting-pennies Lego tracker. Each little circular “peg” represents a penny. An easy way to help kids visualize that 100 pennies make up 1 dollar.March2001March2004

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