Wednesday, February 29

what nightmares are made of

i had a nightmare
last wednesday night.
but it didn't only last wednesday night,
it continued on in all its horrid glory through thursday.

and just when i thought it was finally over,
it came again on friday.

i know what you're thinking.
"it couldn't possibly have haunted you again?!"

but sure enough,
it returned yesterday for hopefully its final haunting.

"what was the nightmare?" you ask.


and barf.
and more puke.
and even more barf.
with a little bit of.... well, you can imagine what else.

it started with ellie throwing up all over my mom's bed.
(sorry mom! we owe you a new blanket! i haven't forgotten!)

when we got home, it continued. 
then after thinking she was somewhat settled, i.e. empty,
she proved us wrong.
then jack joined in the fun.
then charlie thursday morning.
then me thursday night.
then ellie and charlie both started up again on friday.
and, don't you worry, chris picked it up yesterday.

we pretty much lived in the towel-covered-living room for a solid 2 days,
doing nothing but watch Sprout like little preschooler zombies.

jack was the best sick-o you could ever hope for.
ellie wins the award for the worst.
and charlie, well, he was just a pathetic little puking babe.

 i hate throw-up and hope this never happens again.
there is nothing worse than taking care of three sick kids and being sick yourself.
its so dang hard.
and it smells real bad.

Wednesday, February 22

v-day catch-up

i have a great little family.
and they're cute too.

rather than chris and i both taking ellie out for a special birthday dinner this year, chris thought it would be fun to take ellie on a special daddy-ellie date. this little miss was beside herself! when i told her the exciting news, at 10 am the morning of, she ran and picked out a special dress and put on some glitter lipgloss she got for her birthday. then she came up to me and asked if i could put her hair in a bun, because "daddy likes my bun!". we waited until closer to their departure, 4 pm, and she got all spiffied up with some of mama's make-up. she was so excited for her date!
she wanted to go to "puh-neeeeeeras" (panera) for some yummy mac n cheese. good choice, ellie bean! 
afterwards, chris surprised her with a trip to get some ice cream at yogurt mountain. 
what a lucky girl. and what a great papa.

on to some valentine's day goodness!
jack had a fantastic party at school. he still is enjoying all the candy. it was practically halloween!
ellie also had a great valentine's day party at preschool this year hosted by miss carolina. they played a really fun game. they each had to pick a heart, read the letter on the heart, then run it across the house and match it up on a poster board. when all the hearts were in place, it spelled a special message. ellie loved it!

these 5 kiddos amazed me with how well they know their letters. smart cookies!

they had some great snacks and even decorated sugar cookies.

 then they passed out valentines to each other and ellie could. not. stop. saying how much she loved each kid the whole car ride home!

i had a lot of fun with the kids valentine's! this was the first year we have ever really done them, so i took full advantage of jack not knowing what was available at the store. i.e. transformers or captain america. but now that he knows, i will let him do what he wants next year ;)

this last picture is totally crappy, but you can get an idea of how the finished valentine looked. i got the idea from
 they turned out pretty darn cute, if i say so myself!

we met up with lari and the kids at the park to launch some rockets with grandma and grandpa. this was the only picture we took, but i thought it was a perfect picture to show how well larissa is balancing this mom of three thing!

one last valentine's day treat. this is the last one, i promise!
before the month began i took about an hour to make up a bunch of little valentines notes for jack and ellie. they were super cheesy, had a sticker on them, and were really simple. then, each morning leading up to valentines day i would put one of the little love notes in a special box for them. they looked forward to it each morning and would be pretty sad if i forgot... not that i forgot... very often... :) we will definitely make this a tradition each year. the last couple days i added a little gift from the dollar section at target like a bath fizzie or a notepad. they sure enjoyed it and it was good to let them know how much i love them.

ode to dad

although this is not a true "ode" as in a lyrical verse, it is a blog post in praise of my dad, who had a birthday yesterday. i'm about to brag about how awesome he is. and i'll post a couple fun facts at the end :)

i have always had a special spot for my dad. we have always been buddies. he is pretty much the coolest guy in the history of the world. ever since i was little he would tell me the story of when i was a baby. this was pop's version... not necessarily the true version. but it is my favorite.

when i was born, i was so small that he had to feed me with a q-tip. i would sleep in a matchbox on his desk while he was working on designs for his landscape business. when i was big enough, he kept me in his front pocket on his shirt and took me everywhere with him. I'm pretty sure that part is right because i can imagine perfectly how he smelled and the way he held his wide pencil behind his ear. or maybe thats just because i used to sneak downstairs at night and hop up on his strong knee and sit with him while he worked at his design desk and the rest of the house slept. i would drink up that smell and rest my head on his gray hoodie until he would carry me back upstairs to bed. whenever i was sad or even in trouble, i would go to dad to be held. i don't remember ever seeing or hearing him upset with me (until i was around 14, when my bedroom flooded and rikki and i decided not to tell him because we thought he'd be upset... then he was upset. remember that rik!? HA!). he wasn't even mad when i tossed my fishing rod over my shoulder and hooked his hand. oops. or when i skipped a day of first grade because i was late and afraid i would get in trouble. he found me in the back yard (thanks to alli's excellent tattling skills) and walked me to school.

i grew up thinking that all dad's were like him. but since i've gotten older, i realize that he is the only one like him! he is so capable and can do anything. and i mean anything. he is more patient with most people than is humanly possible. he does whatever it takes to get the job done at home, at work, and especially at church. you ask him to do something and its done. i am amazed that i was able to come to earth and have the dad that i have. i realize how blessed i have been through out my life because of his never-ending example of goodness and kindness. and to top it off, he is the image of the perfect grandpa!

alrighty, on to the fun facts about dave browne!
and since he is now 59, 
i will pick 9 fascinating facts.

* his 'fro could rival any black man's back in the 70's. his classmates used to see how many pencils they could hide in his hair during class.

* this guy knows his music! most evenings he can be found listening to iTunes next to the computer.

* he has gone cross country 5 times on his bicycle. (once to atlanta and back-1500 miles, and the others out west or back- 2500 + miles. holy crap, this guy's amazing)

* he'll eat pretty much anything, including things that are years past their expiration date. guts o' steel.

* only fear he has is snakes.

* tarpon and snook fear him. and probably dolphins too. he pretty much rivals chuck norris.

* he has been to girls camp more years than any man should have to. not positive the number, but it's easily been over 10 times.

* he worked at a tyson chicken factory in college. his job: breaking the chicken legs by slamming the legs straight down on the table as hard as possible. he also worked at a window company in provo while at college too and ate at the hostess outlet next door for lunch each day.

* he traveled to samoa twice to learn the language, plan out where we would live, and change is career- just because my mom hated cold weather. obviously, they decided on florida instead. but he still had to change his career, which i don't know of many men that would be able to do that with a family of 7.

Sunday, February 19

adventure is out there

we had such a wonderful time with grandma and grandpa!
the kids have missed them so much since they left and remind me regularly that grandma is the best because "grandma would let me do...". and they are right, grandma is the best! ellie even cried as we drove away from the airport. so sad!

because mom and dad are serving as missionaries and bart is the medical director for 12 (or 13?) missions, his phone rang constantly for a few of the days they were here. it gave us a pretty good idea of how often he is on the phone everyday and how much time and effort they are putting in as missionaries. what a great example they are to us and the kids. 

but we had plenty of play time too! 
chris and bart were able to play a whole lot of golf (3 rounds = a whole lot to chris who has been golf deprived for the past couple years). they even took jack to the driving range. janie and i were able to take the kids to the library, out on bike rides, to target to pick out "surprises", and a whole lot more. it was a fun and eventful 6 days. we even managed to get a trip to the beach in. it was so great to have an extra set of hands around. janie helped prepare meals, bathe kids, read stories, sweep, do dishes, and the list goes on and on. after having 8 of her own, she sure knows how to balance housework, kids, and fun! now I'm starting to realize that maybe those polygamists don't have the wrong idea after all. except, maybe, for that minor detail of all being married to the same person... :)

we didn't take a bunch of pictures during their visit except for graduation and then a trip out to skunk ape in the everglades. janie was pretty nervous, but quickly those nerves turned to steel and she was touching and holding all sorts of animals.

jack wasn't as brave as he has been in the past, but slowly started to warm up to some of the animals. now its all he talks about. he has even taken pictures in to show his class how awesome he is. and he is awesome!

even little charlie got in on the action

 before hand, i decided i would toughen up and hold some creatures i haven't before. first up was this awesome scorpion that turns turquoise under a black light! so cool!

 i couldn't bring myself to actually touch this guy so i asked the guide, rick, if he would just put him on my shoulder. SICK!

 this bird was great. he would poop on command! wish we could get the kids to do that...

ellie was pretty scared of every. single. animal. 
but now she keeps stealing my belts and pretending they are snakes. what a rebel she is!

 after skunk ape we continued on 41 for a couple minutes and stopped at turner river road. it was a fantastic spot for a picnic and a great place to release some wiggles. would highly recommend it. a river runs along side it and there is a nice little boardwalk to view gators, birds, and fish.

 we had a really fun and FaNcY valentines dinner with grandma and grandpa too! we went all out and decorated, had candles and glass goblets and went out for ice cream for dessert.

 ellie, grandma and i made chocolate dipped strawberries for the occasion, but with ice cream we didn't get to them... until the kids were in bed. i think my favorite part of their visit was giggling and laughing while eating chocolate strawberries and drinking bubbly with bart and janie after the kids went to bed. it was the perfect valentines day!

thanks again mom and dad for making the time to come celebrate with us. we sure love you both and couldn't be any prouder of our missionaries!!!

Thursday, February 16



chris last day of school was on the 3rd and graduation was this past sunday, the 12th!

MAN, it feels good!
i couldn't be more proud of chris.
he done good. he done reeeeal good.

bart and janie were able to take 6 days off to join us for the festivities.
we had SO MUCH FUN while they were here!
i'll post more about their visit next.

here's a picture of our whole group, minus bo & everett, and danny, carolina & kids, who made it for the ceremony but had to leave before we took pictures. thanks everyone for your support. not just at graduation, but for these long 28 months!

a special thanks to larissa for watching charlie so we could all sit and watch the entire ceremony. it was located at the hyatt coconut, so i was able to swing by afterwards and grab him so he could be in our pictures afterwards. thanks again, lari, it made it so enjoyable.

here are the 4 guys that survived this journey together:
aaron lancaster, steve carpenter, ryan wojnicki (graduated with 4.0!), and our chris

 and my lifesavers through this whole thing:
natalie lancaster and kandie carpenter

i thought, since we were only two minutes away from our house,
"how fun would it be to surprise chris with a tandem bike to ride home on?!"
so i called this bike-man that we know and had him set it up for us.
thanks bike man ;)

only problem: it was FA-REEEEEEZING!
so we rode around the parking lot a couple times for pictures and called it good

i love this CRNA

we really were meant for each other 

 the after party:

all thats left now is passing the boards
...piece of cake!