At the end of March, my Mom sent out a message that my Grandpa Ruske was only expected to live a few more days. It was something that we all knew was coming. In fact, that's why she made such a big push for everyone to go to Utah for Thanksgiving, and I'm so glad she did, because I almost didn't go. But it was still really hard to deal with. This was the first time I've lost someone close to me. He passed a few days later. He is now out of pain and though it's hard knowing he's not here on Earth, especially for my sweet Omi, I'm so grateful for the plan of salvation and the knowledge that families are forever. I love you Grandpa!
So April 1st the kids and I, my parents, and my sister all got in the car for the long, 2 day drive up to Utah. We really packed everything in. Missy was smart and flew home.
Being stuck in the car for 2 days is tough, especially for little ones! I was impressed with how well they did.
They were actually really sweet to each other.
And then I drove for a few hours and came back to find that Kayla had used crayons on her water wow book. (you color the picture with a pen of water and when it dries it can be colored again.) But luckily I'm already a control freak and only let her use washable crayons. So I guess it wasn't that bad ;)
Taking advantage of those pit stops and letting the baby out of his car seat!
So happy to be out of the car and almost to Omi's house!
We got there Sunday evening and the funeral wasn't until Tuesday. So Monday, me, the kids and my dad met my Uncle, 2 of my cousins, and their kids (they each have one) at Hogle Zoo.
It was really sunny, so every time I looked at my phone I thought the sun made it hard to see... turns out some how my lens got dirty. But I didn't realize it until after we had left.
Kayla and her 2nd cousin Jayde
Luckily, my dad had brought a camera and got some better shots ;)
Kayla, Elliott, and Jayde (2nd cousins)
Watching the stroller fall over and hit someone... too heavy on the back, oops.
At least the peacock & I are looking...
I think the slide was her favorite part. Well that and the gift shop. But I was a mean Mom who wouldn't buy any over-priced toys. Seriously, she doesn't even know the tiny but pricey giraffe we got from the Houston Zoo exists. Don't feel too bad for her though, she got an over-priced Moana from the Disney store a few days later ;P
It was so fun to watch these cute kids play together. It's too bad it couldn't have been for a different occasion though. And Wilson passed out. Zoo trips are tiring for little ones! Lol. He's my good little sleeper.
Omi really enjoyed getting to love on baby Wilson <3
The day before we left to go to Utah, I was told that each of the grandkids were asked to share a memory. Well it turns out there was a miscommunication and it was one grandkid from each family. Somehow I volunteered to speak for my family. I don't know what I was thinking. I was the only one who had kids there with me (2 very attached kids, by the way. Kayla ended up at the pulpit with me, but not until after I tried to leave her backpack in the pews where we were sitting and she cried for "Anna Elsa" as we walked up to the pulpit), I have a fear of speaking in front of crowds, and I'm way too emotional. Tuesday, the day of the funeral was another really hard day for me. It was awkward and uncomfortable and sad. I blubbered through my portion of speaking at the funeral. Afterwards, my brother said he wanted to take my phone and do it for me. (I'm super nervous in front of crowds, so I have to write things done word for word and read what I want to say) But Omi said she enjoyed what I had to say, and that made me happy.
My family. My brother, Stephen, was the only one of our part of the family that couldn't make it. (Besides spouses and kids.)
I was quite surprised at how many of the grandchildren were able to make it. All but one person from each of the 4 families. Also, I love Omi cuddling Wilson in the bottom corner. This is all of the grandkids who came in order from youngest to oldest.
If you look close enough behind me, you can see Kayla hiding. She realized I wasn't at the table anymore and was not happy. So she stood behind me in all of the pictures. Lol.
One with our Omi
All the granddaughters that were there
Wednesday morning, the kids and I hung around Omi's while my sister and Dad made trips to the airport to drop people off. That afternoon we went went to Deseret Book and DI. I wanted several things at Deseret and resisted. I did spent $2 on books from DI for the drive home. (Which only lasted me about .5 days of the 2 day drive home) Thursday we went Temple Square. My parent's and oldest sister went to the Temple, while the kids and I walked around.
The flowers were Kayla's favorite part. She loves to smell flowers.
Okay they may have been pretty up there on my list too ;) They were beautiful!
And Kayla also insisted on pushing Wilson the entire time... Except the last 20-30 minutes when she was exhausted and wanted me to hold her. Poor thing. She really was a trooper on this trip. (Well except for bedtime, but we'll get there...)
I forgot to grab my umbrella stroller before we drove up to Utah, so I ran and bought one once we were there. (Let's be honest, there wouldn't have been room on the trip there if I had remembered) I don't know if it was because it was new or what, but Wilson's hair was so static-y. Lol.
Kayla was out as soon was we started driving (and Wilson was fighting sleep)
On Friday we dropped my sister off at the airport and went back downtown to the Mall. Wilson was so happy to be held. I finally caved in to one of the things I wanted at Deseret, that picture is later though.
And we stopped at the Disney store and Kayla got baby Moana.
She adores her, so I've (mostly) gotten over over-paying for it ;)
We also got to see the Parkers for an hour or 2 the day before we headed home. Look at these two cute cousins!! They're about 3 months apart.
Wilson is a fan of swings, and I can't get over his chubby, happy face.
Sweet cousins (and uncooperative Kayla, but whats new?) ;)
Every night on this trip was rough!! When I got home I thought maybe if she would have been in a pack n play it would have been better... But we've been having trouble at home in her crib and at grandma's house in the pack n play too. So I'm at a loss for what's going on. We all survived though. Kayla and I were definitely sleep deprived and cranky, but we survived none the less...
And then for another 2 days in the car to get home. Ugh. I'm really glad we could make it though. Omi said she enjoyed having us, and I'm hoping that was true and not just her being nice. 2 year olds are tough some times! And teething babies who know that there are more than enough people to hold them and want nothing but to be held...
Funny story... every time Kayla saw one of these wind turbines, which is a lot in west Texas, she called it a train. And when we'd see a train and try to show her, she would look out the window right as it passed and see the wind turbines. I guess she'll figure it out one day ;)
I bought this print at Deseret. I've had my eye on this artist for a while. Mainly because my sister in law Kristy and Jacob's Aunt Margaret are friends with her and have mentioned her and her pieces before. She's started to get really popular now in different Deseret publications. And actually I had seen a book called "Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families" a while back that is filled with her work that I wanted. I was SO close to buying it when we were in Utah for Thanksgiving, but I didn't. And then a few weeks later, we got a package in the mail from Aunt Margaret with books for the kids... and it was in there. I was so excited! So anyways, I've had my eye on her for a while, and saw some prints at Deseret and finally got one. This one sums up my life currently. It's hanging where I can see it when I walk out of the kid's bedroom and it's the perfect reminder for me when things get rough. I may be climbing a mountain with my kids, but we're all climbing this mountain together. That's how I see it at least. I am so happy with this in my home, and it made me want some more of her work...
I told Jacob I was going to leave him a honey-do list when I left (we were gone 9 days) and I was serious. I was super impressed when I came home to actually see things marked off. (He really dislikes doing things he doesn't want to do, I mean who doesn't, but normally he just won't do it if he doesn't want to. Or until I nag him enough...) ESPECIALLY some of the bonus point ones. I was so happy to see this when we got home :)
Even though my kids don't care for pictures, I promise we were all thrilled to be home with him!!
Also, it wasn't until we got home that I realized the reason Wilson was so crabby and that he always wanted to be held was because of teeth. That's #3.
How sweet is this!? <3
Happy to be home (and out of the car!!) and going for a walk!!
So the night we got home, I told Jacob "I think Wilson can crawl now." He didn't understand how I could think that and not know. A few minutes later Wilson started crawling to grab toys. And I told Jacob "I think" because Wilson only wanted to be held the whole time we were gone, so he never had the opportunity to crawl. We both thought it was pretty funny though. ...And then (a day or two later) he started pulling up on everything!
We finally found a balance bike for Kayla. It took a good week or so for her to figure it out and not just walk with it awkwardly between her legs. Lol.
Cousins are the best. Haha. This cracks me up! Jacob was surprised Kayla sat still long enough to let Bella do this. Lol.
Multiple times a day we go from "aww that's sweet" to...
"Ok stop, you're hurting him"...
She loves to grab her books and use them to play the piano to. She cracks me up!! Also, Aladdin is her favorite one to do it with.
Did I mention that she LOVES her baby Moana. I went to put Wilson in bed and saw her cuddling Moana. She walks around with her all over the house. I normally have to stop her from bringing Moana on all of our errands.
I thought I'd hit 2 birds with one stone and bake cookies with Kayla and then have cookies to take to my primary kids. I should have know that I'm too much of a control freak to let a two year old do very much cookie decorating. She did do the sprinkles... Ok I helped her do the sprinkles. Baby steps, right? ;)
It didn't take long and I ordered another piece of Caitlin Connolly's work. I really wanted this one but decided to go with the one above instead. (Honestly I'm surprised Jacob even let me do it, I don't see him as caring much for art, but I'm glad he agreed to it) I've been really struggling lately with depression, and Jacob has been a HUGE help. I can't even go in to words, it wouldn't do him justice. In fact tonight, the depression hit me hard again, and he has been heaven sent all evening. I don't know what I did to deserve him. This picture makes me think of him helping me. I have an idea, but honestly I don't really know what was going through her head when she made this. But this speaks so much to my soul and what I'm fighting and who is fighting with me, I can't wait to hang it up. But our lease is up at the end of July and I haven't even found frames yet... so for now it waits.
I thought it was pretty perfect that she sent a little card along with what I bought. She had this piece online that would have been my next choice. It's called "Sorting Through Truth and Fiction" and again, it totally speaks to me and some of what I've been dealing with. I told Jacob "I don't care if it's just her 'stationary' (because she used it as a card to write thank you and sign it), I'm going to frame it too", and I totally am.
We finally had to start blocking Wilson in the living room. He is so busy!
It's funny though. He either wants to be held and cuddled/sit in our laps and chill or he wants to be on the go. Kayla did not like to just sit with us or even be held, she was always happiest to sit on the floor by herself and play with toys.
The best we could do on Easter Sunday for a family pic. I try not to get too hyped up in the more "commercial" side of holidays, but I wouldn't mind an Easter picture of everyone in their Sunday best. (Not that a picture is "commercial", just that it's so easy to focus on not as important things.) But life happens and we were running late to church and the kids were too tired afterwards to even attempt pictures. One day... Aside from that, we are so grateful for Jesus Christ. For His birth, His life, and for His death. I'm grateful that He has risen. And I know that He lives. He has provided a path for myself and my family and I am so grateful.
Crazy kids! I love walking into their room in the mornings. They wake each other up and are so happy and playful. It's the cutest.
Wilson started doing this ^ He mostly does it when he's in his jumper. He'll see one of us looking at him and he'll just tilt his head and have the biggest smile. It's so sweet.
Kayla is a big fan of ice cream. We went from this, to putting it in a bowl for her to better manage (she's barely figuring out that cones can be eaten), to her not even finishing it. She loves the stuff though! Lol.
This never happens. I loved the extra sleepy cuddling though!
Kayla starting to grasp the concept a of balance bike a little better.
Happy babies! Also, what was I thinking?? I ended up holding Wilson half of the trip because he was so tired. I guess a regular cart wouldn't have fixed that though.
Then again, maybe this crazy cart was good luck. The cashier gave us buddy bucks (I never ask if they don't give them to me) and Kayla got 50 points with the 1st spin! I never thought that would happen. And her second spin she got INSTANT WINNER! I definitely never thought that would happen. Hahaha. And then she got a one or two but who cares because INSTANT WINNER. Ok, maybe I was more excited than she was, but she does really like that bucket! And the ball too, but Wilson got a hold of it and it had to be thrown away. And I'm a mean mom who threw away the markers after the first day. We have the cup, she just hasn't used it yet because she has 50 others that she hasn't completely chewed the top off of yet. ;P
Camping round 2. Waiting for the Esquivels, Hecks, and Joneses (is that the proper way to pluralize Jones? I don't even know) to arrive.
Kayla loved this little park right by our campsite. And there were tons of long sticks everywhere. Kayla and Alyssa are either sword fighting or light saber fighting with them in this pic. Once the fire got going, the older kids (and pyro me, but I tried not to do it when the kids were around) enjoyed playing in the fire with them.
I knew it was supposed to rain. In fact, we got lucky and it wasn't anything as bad as was expected. I did not pay attention to the cold front though. I was so unprepared for it. Wilson had to layer up with Kayla's extra pajamas and socks (luckily I knew we were staying at my sister's house the next night and had extra clothes) because all I brought him were onesies. It was kinda cute though. Lol.
And Kayla borrowed a too big shirt to help keep her warm. Luckily Jacob grabbed a jacket right before we left and I used it, and he was a trooper and dealt with the cold.
I should probably take note the Kayla doesn't like Whataburger chicken. The last few times we've gotten it for her she wouldn't touch it. And as seen above ^ the most recent time they sat in her cup holder the whole drive home.
This girl LOVES Buc-ee!! Also she does not like taking pictures, so the fact that she so willingly and excitedly posed for this is a big deal. She was in heaven!!
I was gone for an hour or 2 and was almost immediately tackled by both kids. OK, really, I got home and sat down and they both came up to me and wanted to sit/be held and just stayed there.
It last a good 20+ minutes ...meanwhile, Daddy enjoyed playing his video game unbothered by children ;P
Seriously, I love walking in to this sight in the mornings!!
Poor kid finally got his finger stuck in between the piano pedal and the piano (We knew it was bound to happen at some point) His sister did it a few times. She cried for a second and then went on to play. This guy cried for like 10 minutes. We knew/know that Kayla is tough, and I'm not doubting that the poor kid was in pain, but he's kind of a wimp compared to her. We love him no matter ;) Also, I feel like this is a really bad example because look at that sad purple finger, but even falling down when he was standing up he gets upset about every time, and big tumbles and bumps still never bother her. They're so different!!
Cute kids with Daddy and his old truck
Jacob was trying to teach Kayla the stick trick, or how to walk through a stick, something he learned from his Grandpa Lazenby. Here's about as much as her attention could span for/as long as she could hold on without letting go.
Sometimes these kids are sweet and cuddly and not crying and fighting over toys. I love these moments <3
Michael and Kiya & family have been living in Texas his last bit of AF training and we finally got to see them! It was definitely interesting having 2 - 2 years old around each other (they're about 3 weeks apart and it totally made me feel more normal to know some of her craziness is just a 2 year old thing and not just a my crazy kid thing ;) ) plus the babies (2 months apart) and Crew! We love all of our cousins and are so happy we got to spend some time with them! After an eventful evening, they made it to Grandma and Grandpa McConnell's house super late Friday night, so we went over there on Saturday to see everyone. They were pretty cute watching a movie together (I thought Kayla might fall asleep, I should have know there was too much going on for her, rookie mistake ;P)
Grandpa McConnell had to work on Saturday, so we (Grandma, Michael, Kiya & fam, our fam, and Adam & Ryan) went to the vet school to visit him.
It was super windy in between the buildings. And I love Ryan's facial expression and the fact that Wilson is crawling away.
We switched sides and got at least a less windy picture with the older kids.
Kayla really likes baby Sage, who wouldn't though ;)
About 2 years ago, we got a picture of the 3 older kids together at church (as seen below) so we had to take a quick (this was about as cooperative as we could get) one again to compare.
I caught her climbing like this to play with Wilson, a few times. I shouldn't laugh because Kayla would get in trouble if I caught her doing it, but it was pretty cute and funny.
Comparing Wilson to pictures of Jacob as a baby.
He was so sweet sharing with her.
Splash pad... why have I waited so long to take Kayla here? April water was a little too cold, (poor kid was shivering when we left) and I guess last summer I was too pregnant and the summer before that she was probably too young. But this summer, we'll be spending more time at the splash pads around town ;)
So cute watching them play! If they weren't fighting over a beloved toy, they were so sweet together! Sweet 2 year olds ;)
He was happy to hang out!
They had so much fun! And it wore them out!!
3 generations of McConnells looking at car stuff... (don't tell Jacob but this makes me happy, at least the bonding/common interest part... not so much the look how much I could spend on car parts part ;P)
Some of Kiya's pictures from the splash pad. Jacob and I hanging out with the babies.
It took Kayla a while to get wet, and even when she did, her back was dry for a long time, Jacob finally had to go and help her ;)
Grandma and Grandpa doing FHE. It's not the best pic, but by the closing song, all but one kid was up there with them (in her defense, she isn't as mobile as the other kids) and it was super cute to watch.
This one I need to send to Omi. She got the kids these cute outfits when we were in Utah.
Kayla really likes being able to sit next to Wilson in the big Sam's shopping carts
Our last day with cousins. Wilson was so cute asleep in the stroller!
Kayla and Lina really enjoyed the swings. They did not want to get off. Kayla totally threw a fit. (Other kids were waiting, AND I was getting tired of pushing her... Grandpa had already been pushing Lina before Kayla got on the other one)
She was hesitant the first few times she tried and got down and did something else, but she kept coming back to this little rock wall. And then she climbed it all by herself! Seriously, I wasn't even hovering ;) She was so proud of herself (as was I of her)
Hey Gina! I think Nathan and Wilson feel a little differently about grass ;)
This melts my heart <3
So does this. We are so glad we got to spend some time with these cousins!!