Friday, July 31, 2009


Ben has discovered his pockets, and does he ever love them. First thing he does in the morning is make sure his shorts have pockets, and can't wait until they're on so he can stick those chubby little hands in them shouting "handpocket!". And of course, he doesn't want to handpocket all by himself. Oh no, everyone must handpocket with him! It must be great to be 2 and get such pure joy out of something as simple as putting your hands in your pockets!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Growing LIke Weeds

Our garden is growing like crazy. Check it out! Here it was on July 5th

And here it is today.

We've got about a bajillion male flowers going. None of them have opened yet, but a few are very close.

And yesterday I noticed 2 female flowers starting.

I'm hoping these girls make it to bloom. They are at the end of the vine, so they may not be getting enough nutrients. But I plan on hacking away at the vines this weekend to try to clear out some of the males (sorry guys!) and some of the vines to try to even the score a little... not to mention clear some room!

The butternut squash is also doing great. We've got all sorts of flowers going there too.

Hopefully in a couple months we'll have some beautiful squash and pumpkins to share! We'll see what happens!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Ever since Josh's birthday, we have really been working with him on his letters in our attempt to get him started with reading. He is doing so awesome. He can identify about 23 uppercase letters, and about half of the lowercase letters. Plus, he can spell his first and last name out load without looking at anything, and he can even write it with minimal help. He's doing great and we are so proud of him. Once he can identify all of the letters, we will start working on the sounds that letters make. He already knows some of them, so he's got a good head start there. If we can keep him excited about it, we hope that he'll be reading to us before his next birthday!

Here is a photo of his name that he wrote in the dirt in Payson today. The only letter he got some help with was the "S". Other than that, it was all him. Pretty good, huh?


We took a little "daycation" today up to Payson. Grandma and Grandpa B were camping up there this weekend and invited us to come spend the day with them. What a perfect day to head up north! It was about 85 degrees and cloudy but not gloomy. An awesome day to spend the whole day outside.

We started our day with a hearty breakfast at Bill Johnson's (an old Duncan family favorite breakfast spot) and with our tummies nice and full headed up the Bee Line to the high country. The kids were awesome on the 2 hour ride up. There was not a peep out of them, in a negative sense anyway. Josh of course was gabbing the whole way. =)

We got to the campsite at about 10:30 and just kind of hung out for a while. It was great to not have anywhere to be, or any real plans. We walked around the campgrounds, played with Grandma and Grandpa's puppies, Mazzie and Shea and of course lounged in the hammock

After hanging out for a while we decided to pack a picnic lunch and head up to Woods Canyon Lake, about 20 minutes away at the top of the Rim. It was so nice up there, with the temperature even cooler than at the campsite. We dined on sandwiches, chips and cookies prepared by Grandma, and then headed over to the lake to check out the water.So pretty!

The boys loved using Grandma and Grandpa's walking sticks and throwing rocks in the lake. They had a blast.

After hanging around the lake for a little while we headed back to the campsite for some more exploring and of course some dog walking with Shay and Mazzie (don't tell Copper!) Ben was so happy to be spending so much time outside. Can you tell?

Joshua was super excited that Grandma let him be responsible for walking Shay, who was so good on our walk. He felt like such a big boy!

A while later Grandpa made some yummy hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner, and afterward we started a fire and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. Joshua decided to give roasted marshmallows another try since he didn't like them the last time around, but the verdict remained the same. Loved the roasting, hated the eating. That's okay. More for me. Yum!

After we had sufficiently sent ourselves into a sugar coma, it was time to head home. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for inviting us up. We had a great time with you today! XOXO

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's Official

There are NO MORE binkies in our house. Ben has climbed on and fallen off the binky wagon a few times, and his respiratory troubles didn't help matters (the bink kept him calm for his all too frequent breathing treatments). But since he has been flare up free for a while, we decided it was time to do away with it all together. On our trip Ben was using his binky almost constantly. So when we got home we had to reinstitute our sleepy-time only policy. Then one night about a month ago, Andrew decided to not give Ben the binky when he put him down for the night. There were no tears or tantrums over not getting his binky, so we just never gave it back to him. We still had some in drawers in random places, and on a couple occassions, Ben has found one. But when he found it he didn't put it in his mouth, but brought it over to us. We asked him if he wanted to throw it in the garbage, and he said yes and promptly carried it to the trash and dropped it in. Last night we officially rid our house of all binkies. Sweet liberation!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Respiratory Update

I took Ben back to the pulmonologist last week to follow up on the treatment for his frequent respiratory flare ups. I was so happy to report to the doctor (who I love, by the way) that Ben has not had a flare up, or needed a breath of Albuterol, since the end of April! From January to April the longest he went without a flare up was 3 weeks, so clearly we are thrilled with his progress. Some of it I'm sure has to do with the change in the weather and the wind down of cold and flu season, but we are totally encouraged by the fact that he has had two little colds/allergy attacks since his last flare up. He had developed a little bit of a cough for a day or two, but it didn't escalate beyond that. Used to be that once he had a little cough it would turn into a full blown attack. We think that his respiratory issues (being careful not to call it asthma - no diagnosis yet) are triggered by seasonal allergies. He started on Singulair at the end of April and since then, no flare ups. The doctor was just as thrilled as we were with Ben's response to the medication over these last couple of months. I voiced my opinion that I think the Singulair was the main champion in the improvement, so we decided to keep him on that for at least the next year. We are also keeping him on the Pumicort (a nightly preventative breathing treatment) until next spring, but he lowered the doseage, so we'll see if we can keep these respiratory flare ups at bay.

At the doctor, Ben was such a little chatterbox. The doctor was impressed with how articulate he is. He almost fell out of his chair when I sneezed and Ben said "Bless you, Mommy" plain as day. And he's such a good boy at the doctor. Even with all of the torture they have put him through this year, he has never gone through the "white coat anxiety" that a lot of kids get between ages 1 and 2. He just makes friends with everyone and is too busy watching the doctor's every move to even think about being scared. You can't help but to love him!

Right now I think we might be on the verge of another flare up. Josh was sick last week and it seems that now Ben is fighting it off, and has a bit of that raspy cough we know all too well. But that's not discouraging in the least to me. His flare ups are most likely not going to be completely prevented and we don't expect them to be. Hopefully we can get through this without having to treat, but if we do that's fine. We're still so excited about the progress he's made. Hopefully he can keep it up when this year's cold/flu season hits!

Questions, Questions, Questions

So many questions! Joshua has hit the question asking stage with full force. I guess his little inquiring mind just wants to know EVERYTHING!

"Where is that car going?"
"Why do you wear a necklace?"
"What does 'blessed sight' mean?"
"Why did you do that?"

I love that he is so interested in everything going on around him, and we try our best to honestly answer all of his questions, or try to get him to answer them by asking him "what do you think?" But sometimes we just need a break from the inquisition!

The constant questioning is even starting to rub off on Ben. In addition to wanting to know where everyone is at all times, he's now frequently asking "Daddy do?" when he wants to know what Daddy is doing. And you'd better have an answer for the boy, or else... "Daddy do? Daddy do? Daddy do? Daddy do?"

But I guess we should enjoy it while it lasts. One of these days they're going to think they know everything and won't be seeking answers from Mom and Dad. Or worse, they'll be seeking answers from their friends!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Be Honest Now...

My friend Lea tagged me to post 10 honest things about myself, so I thought I'd give it a try. She called it the Honest Scrap award, which is to be given by other bloggers who consider a blog's content or design to be brilliant. The awardee must then post ten honest things about themselves and pass the award on to other bloggers who fit the bill – in other words, whose blog is brilliant. Thanks, Lea, for the vote of confidence that I can even complete a list like this! Here goes!

1. I am not ashamed or afraid to talk about Jesus to anyone. I love my Savior, and I want everyone to know it. I get such a high off of any opportunity to share my faith with people who don't know Him, and also love hearing about other people's faiths and having open and honest discussions. Some think that Christianity is intolerant, and I guess you could say it is. I know there to be but one truth, and one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus. He died on the cross to save us, because our sin has separated us from God and his perfect justice. Yes, bad things happen to good people and we are never promised that our life will be easy or pain free once we become a Christian, in fact, the bible tells us that we will definitely have trials and troubles in our lives. But I have learned to trust God and I hope that my life is and will be a walking testimony to those who are seeking the truth. In church today our pastor said to preach the gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) every day, and if necessary use words. I love that quote and want that to be my life. A walking testimony of the love of Jesus!

2. I would never survive as a stay at home mom. I totally respect those that can stay home with their kids and live to tell about it. I am simply not one of those people, and I am completely okay with that. Little bothers me more when I feel judged for working outside the home. There are those that make comments that would suggest that I am less of a mother for not staying home with my kids. I would never return that judgment, or think that my way is the only way. I know that I personally am a better mom because I work. Other moms are better moms because they stay home. We all just need to do what works best for our families.

3. I sing in public... frequently. I have always loved singing and for the last almost 5 years I've been involved with the music at our church. But I don't stop there. I am that person you see belting it out in the car, in the shower or pretty much anywhere else without a care of who sees me or thinks I'm an idiot! =) Andrew and I were in a store at the mall yesterday and Soul Asylum's Runaway Train was on and I was singing away. I asked him if it embarrassed him that I sing everywhere we go, and his answer was "not anymore... I've been putting up with it for 10 years." Thanks, dear!

4. I am a mommy of boys.I have two little boys and I feel no need to have a girl. I thought I wanted a girl when I was pregnant with Ben, but when I found out he was a boy, I just said "yeah, that's right." Of course most people have the idea of their "perfect family" in their minds and sometimes that picture is of a mixture of boys and girls. The truth is, when they're here, it doesn't matter at all what plumbing they have. I wouldn't want any other person than my Benny, boy or girl!

5. I am surprisingly crafty. I have really surprised myself with some of the things I have accomplished, especially in the last year. I made Joshua's Halloween costume, and a firetruck birthday cake, and have successfully turned some of Joshua's ripped jeans into decent looking shorts. I love cross-stitching have made cross-stitch birth records for both of my kids and both of my sister's kids. I think most of my success in this area comes from a) my desire to do things on the cheap and b) the fact that I can sit and do tedious tasks for hours! My next project is a Choo-Choo train cake for Ben's birthday next month. We'll see how I do!

6. I have recently become obsessed with gardening. It started out as something to do with Joshua, and has quickly become a passion of mine. I find watching plants grow, bloom and turn into food fascinating. I've always considered myself to have somewhat of a black thumb, but we have been super successful in our gardening endeavors this year and plan to expand as much as we can next year (which probably won't be much given our space, but we'll do what we can). We're working on pumpkins right now and I found a blog yesterday that talked about pumpkin blooms needing to mate (there are male and female blooms) in order to make pumpkins, and how the gardener can perform a kind of IVF. That is so cool, and I'm looking forward to giving it a try. This girl also said that one pumpkin seed took over half of her 10'x13' garden. Um, ours is 3'x4' and we planted 12 seeds. Methinks we'll be thinning it out!

7. I hate silence. I have to have sound at all times. I love quiet times, i.e., when the kids are in bed, but total silence can drive me batty. I need to have music or the drone of the TV at all times. My iPod constantly plays at work. I can't concentrate without it. On a side note, I think the iPod is the most wonderful invention ever. I can load close to 800 songs on it and not hear the same song twice all week long. That's incredible!

8. One of my fondest memories is being the "Band Geek" in Jr. High. I started in band when I was in 4th grade, and by the time I graduated from middle school I was second chair clarinet in concert band and first tenor sax in the Jazz Band. I absolutely loved band in middle school and formed such wonderful relationships with my fellow musicians, a lot of which I am still in contact with and see from time to time. I remember the sense of accomplishment when our jazz band played at the NAU Jazz Festival and we played a ballad ("The Way You Make Me Feel") that featured the first tenor (ME!), and our band got a superior with distinction (the best) rating... and we were the only middle school in the competition. Everyone else was high school. It was such an honor! The concert band also took a weekend trip to California at the end of each year, which were so much fun. Seeing Broadway shows in LA, going to Universal Studios and Sea World, all with every one of your best friends? It doesn't get any better than that!

9. I love how Myspace and now Facebook has reconnected me with so many people that I love. After high school I lost touch with pretty much everyone. I met Andrew in 1999, less than one year after graduating, moved to California the following year and moved into the career world when most of my high school friends were still in college. After joining first Myspace and then Facebook I have reconnected with so many people and love to be able to keep up on their lives and talk to any of them whenever I want. I feel immensely blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.

10. I am a horrible housekeeper. That's not to say that my house is always a mess. I definitely make an effort to keep things tidy and totally hate clutter. But when it comes to things like vacuuming, sweeping, mopping and scrubbing, it pretty much doesn't get done. It's not that I dislike doing it. I actually find it therapeutic to give my house a good scrubdown. But I just don't have the time. I would absolutely love to have a cleaning lady come in even once a month and do the things that I don't have the time to do. Maybe someday!

Hey, I did it! That was a lot harder than it seemed like it would be in the beginning. Now it is time to pass the torch. I tag my brilliant friends Alisha and Nancy.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


We bought our house 3 years ago as the housing market was starting to cool, but before the bottom totally dropped out of it. Since then the mortgage rates have come down considerably, and there has been a new program instituted to allow homeowners a better opportunity to take advantage of the lower rates, we decided to see if we could refinance our house and lower our monthly payment. We started the process back in April. We had to wait a few weeks to order our appraisal because the comps in our area weren't high enough to bring our home's value into the right range. Between the time we signed our loan application in April and had our appraisal done in early May, a new rule concerning appraisals went into effect where all appraisals had to be ordered by the lender and private appraisals were not acceptable. But, since we signed our application prior to the new rules taking effect our appraisal was supposed to be grandfathered in. So everything was submitted to the lender and there it sat for over a month.

Finally we were contacted that the bank was working on our loan and they started asking for all sorts of things from us, making us jump through one kind of hoop after another. But nothing was too difficult and we were able to give them everything they needed.

Then last week I was contacted by our broker who told me that they bank had approved everything, and that they were just waiting for copies of our tax returns from the IRS. The problem was that the IRS couldn't find our tax returns. So of course I had to call the IRS to try to get it straightened out, which I think must have been hoop number 87! But we got it done and should have been sitting pretty to close.

That brings me to this week. I was contacted by the broker on Monday who told me that AFTER approving our appraisal and supposedly being ready to deliver the documents to title to sign, the bank decided that our appraisal was not sufficient because it was not ordered by the bank, so we would need to get a second appraisal and spend another few hundred dollars, and most likely come back at a lower value (I just tend to get suspicious in situations such as these). So after trying to fight with the bank over the rules of the program, the bank told our broker that they were not going to budge on this issue. So in the end, I told her to forget the whole thing. We did not want to be bound for 30 years to a bank that uses these fishy business practices! What have we learned from this? Don't associate with certain banks who shall remain nameless but who use the initials WF!

To top it all off, our homeowner's insurance is coming up due at the end of the month. Last week we received our new policy and declaration page showing that our mortgage lender had been changed to WF. I called our insurance carrier who told me that WF had contacted them and said that our loan was going to close on June 29th... a week BEFORE they decided the appraisal was no good. Give me a break! It really burns me that they would change our insurance and then pull a stunt like this. Absolutely ridiculous. So of course I had to cover our butts and make sure everything got switched back to our current lender so that we know our insurance gets paid for the year. In doing that I got some new information from our current lender that could hopefully benefit us. We can attempt to refinance through them, and they might be able to use the appraisal we already have, and it would cost us close to half as much out of pocket as it was going to with WF. So we'll see where this goes, but we're getting the process started!

Is this all God at work? I think so! Even if we can't refinance, we are so thankful that He answered our prayers. Whenever making a big decision such as this our prayer is always the same. "Dear Lord, we believe that this decision is the right one and what You are calling us to do. But if it is not right for any reason, Father, please intervene and put a stop to it. We welcome your roadblock if we are heading down the wrong road." God is good and faithful all the time! It's strange because we were SO wanting this refi to go through and save us some serious money every month. But as we continued and the costs continued to rise, we were both growing increasingly uncomfortable with it and now that we have pulled the plug we feel absolutely nothing but relief. No disappointment, no regret, no "maybe we shoulda..." Just pure relief and peace with our decision. We know we've made the right choice and we continue to pray for God's direction in this and everything else!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Gardening - Round 2

Last weekend we decided to rip out our tomato plants, which had stopped producing fruit, to plant something a little more season appropriate. We decided to plant some pumpkins and some butternut squash, since those are a couple of the handful of things you can actually plant in our warm... okay, hotter than hades climate. I had dried and saved the seeds from our halloween pumpkin last year, so we pulled those out and planted them last Saturday. Much to our surprise, they had sprouted by Tuesday morning! These plants are growing so fast! They are only a week old and already working on their 4th set of leaves. I'm sure we'll have to thin out the pumpkins once they really get going. Our garden is only 3' x 4' after all! We took some pictures of our new babies today.


Butternut Squash

We decided to keep our green bell pepper plant for now since it seems to be very happy and working very hard lately. Right now we have 3 bell peppers growing. We can't wait until they are ready to pick. These homegrown bell peppers are so tasty!

Joshua's sunflowers are still going strong. He loves taking care of them and watering them every day with his watering can.

We have all really learned a lot in our gardening adventures. One thing we've learned is, if one of your tomatoes falls off the plant and ends up buried in the soil, it just might turn into a new tomato plant!

We'll see if this little guy actually turns into anything!

Hopefully we'll be seeing some flowers starting on our new plants in the next month or two. I'll be happy if we can get a couple good pumpkins so as not to have to buy any for halloween this year, and maybe share some with our friends and/or neighbors. We'll see how it goes!

July 4, 2009

We spent this year's Independence Day having good food with some great friends and had such a blast! Earlier in the day I was surprised with an invite to do some shopping with my best friend and her mom and aunt. So I met up with them at the mall and after helping her pick out some maternity clothes they invited me to join them for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I really enjoyed some time with Gabrielle without children. I think I could count how many times we've done on one hand and still have fingers left over! After lunch I came home and we all got ready to head over to our friends Kevin and Melinda Ridgeway's for a BBQ with our small group friends. We had such a good time with our group of friends, and the kids had a blast all running around together and of course spending time in the pool.

There was so much food and it was all so good. Melinda makes the best cookies, and Lana brought a killer chocolate pudding desert. By the end of the evening we were all stuffed!

After we were able to pry all of the children out of the pool, we all loaded up and the whole group headed over to a park in our friends Dave and Sonja's neighborhood to watch the fireworks that are shot off from Tumbleweed Park. It was perfect. A great fireworks display with none of the hassle of the crowds. And to top it all off, it was totally free! Doesn't get better than that!

The boys both just loved the fireworks. I don't think Ben even blinked for the first 10 minutes of the show! They were both shouting out their "Whoas!" and "Wows!" and "Score!" (whatever that means!). After a while Ben got tired and took a little rest on Daddy's lap.

When the fireworks were over we all came home and crashed out. We were so exhausted! But it was such a fun day. Thank you Ridgeways for opening your home to us. We had a great time!

Um... Thanks?

I got a compliment, I guess, at church today. I was headed back into the sanctuary after helping serve communion when a member of our congregation stopped me. This is how our conversation went:

Him: Excuse me, can I ask you a question? How much weight have you lost?

Me: Er... *smile not really knowing what to say*

Him: You are looking really good. You know after you had your children you were a little heavy, I don't mean to be rude but let's face it.

Me: Well, that happens I suppose.

Him: How much weight have you lost?

Me: *wondering why the number should matter in the least to him* About 20 lbs I guess.

Him: Well, you are looking really good.

Me: Thanks... I guess *that last part to myself*

I think he realized that he had really put his foot in his mouth, and his wife was just kind of looking at me apologetically. I think the exchange sounded much better in his head than it actually came out. I just found it funny. At least it wasn't the other way around... "How much weight have you put on?" That I probably wouldn't have found so amusing!