Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Great to be Eight

Wow! Our daughter Reina celebrated her golden birthday (turned eight on the 8th of January). This is a special year not only because it is her "golden" birthday but because she is now an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! We had a joint baptism with one of her good friends at church, Violet. Somehow it made the evening extra special with double the guests. My sister Sanni was the pianist, her son Riley played a special musical number while the girls were changing, Mummi gave a talk on baptism, and Violet's speaker gave both girls a bag of special baptism things including a blanket! It symbolized the Holy Ghost as a Comforter. The weather was sunny and clear with snow still laid on the ground. It was a perfect symbol for sins being as white a snow. It was a good day. Afterwards we had family and a few friends come to our house for snacks and homemade birthday cake. Reina requested a chocolate oreo cake. I wasn't too sure how it would turn out since I don't follow any one specific recipe so I also made a carrot cake. I don't know why I always over-do it. There was plenty of cake and ice-cream to go around! Grandma Guinn always gives each grandkid a Grandma Guinn Signature scripture case and a set of scriptures. Reina was sooo excited to get her very own special scriptures WITH her name inscribed.
Reina is also super-excited to be in Activity Days! I am excited because I am one of the leaders! I was in charge of January's lessons. We focused on goal-making and new year's resolutions. One of mine is to stretch more. I seem to have such little time now days that stretching has become almost non-existent, so I included some yoga with the girls. They always love when I do something active with them such as Zumba or hiking. It's tricky going anywhere or cost of things because our group of girls is currently seventeen! I enjoy my calling tremendously.
As one of her gifts she gets some ice-skating lessons. Reina loves to roller-skate and ice-skate. She has only gone a couple of times ice-skating and I found a great deal on Living Social for a group of sessions for just 30 minutes a week on Saturdays. I can do that! She gets practice time after class too. It's been a bit challenging watching the boys while getting her all laced up since the arena is huge and both boys are running in opposite directions often and I'm trying to keep my eye through the crowds on them. I wish I had the option of taking just one kid at a time to things, although I'm happy to have my three cute kiddos so I really can't complain. They are so fun! Hopefully I can skate with her a couple of times before her session ends without the boys.

Like I said, we've had lots of snow days that have really lasted! We've taken advantage of them and got some good sledding in and even teaching Reina a little cross-country skiing- even if they were adult size skis!
Reina's Valentines' cards were cute. I actually have a different idea next year...hoping I remember! Strangely, Baelor will be doing them too as he will be a kindergartener. One of my favorite Valentine's this year because as I was teaching my driver education class (correcting tests), my family surprised me carrying 3 roses each and gave them to me right in front of my class. There was lots of "awwwws" from my students. I'm not a "flowers" kind of girl but this was really worth it. This year we also have a "love mailbox" with little notes we have been writing to each other. The kids got some super special ones from grandpa Guinn. So sweet.
We've kept ourselves very busy. Since buying our home in November, we've started doing some updates. Yes, we have already updated some knowing that we would be buying it soon such as the playhouse, fire pit and front lawn, but we've also started some painting and renovations in the bathrooms. I'll get to all the home renos post soon! Lots of expenses including a new fridge! On top of that, Paul has started at the new chiro office in Brush Prarie. Dr. Dan and Paul have expanded and are now in two locations. His schedule has changed a little which means more time gone, but we are hoping that the practice continues to grow. If it grows, I'll get to substitute less and be home a bit more. I look forward to this. On the plus size, his commute is shorter which means we get an extra 20 minutes with him at night!
When I'm not working, I really try to use my time wisely. My days always seem like a puzzle that I'm piecing together...now add in a timer with each puzzle piece. It can be daunting knowing that almost each hour is perfectly timed to meet the expectations for the next hour with no time between for miscalculations. I need an outlet! I'm lucky that after tucking the kids in bed I can go dance a couple of nights a week. It's my passion, my outlet, my communication. I have a husband that supports me in this too. I look forward to him joining me *sometimes* when the kids can watch themselves. I'm also excited to bring Reina with me as she gets older and can stay out later. She's gone just twice and continues to ask when she can go. Can't wait!
Did I already mention that this year we've had more snow days than normal? Did I also mention that we've had more rainy days than normal? Yeah, it's been pretty dreary this year. Even though I don't get seasonal depression, even I am so done with the cold. I chaperoned Reina's class to the zoo. It. Rained. The. Whole. Day....Hard. Thank goodness the Pacific Northwest knows our weather and most of the exhibits were undercover, but not all the animals were out. We'll have to go back again as a family. Baelor is very much into animals these days and would love to see the variety! We've really seen Baelor grow up in his character lately. Although he still is in his own "Baelor's World", we've seen him grow with his formation of sentences and vocabulary. He struggles still with certain pronunciations of letters but he does not lack in understanding. We hope that he can really grasp those motor-skills and direction-skills that they are looking for in Kindergarten these next six months.
Rowen is growing up too fast! He is our little smarty-pants! For just barely turning 18 months he is already singing songs and understands so well. His current songs are the Happy Birthday song, the Lullaby song, and Twinkle Little Star. He reminds us of Reina at this age...quick as a wick and full of personality. If I say "guys, we need to go!" He is already finding his shoes and sitting on the stairs for me to put them on. He'll grab our hands or tap us to direct us to something he wants. It's so cute to hear him say "cheese" when I open the fridge and he point to the cheese drawer. He naps and sleeps really well, as long as he doesn't have a cold. He adores his siblings with hugs and laughter and continues to call his favorite brother's name "Bay-yuh". He loves to chase and be chased around the house and has those "special hiding spots" where he should know by now that it's just a trap to get tickled. Actually, I just realized that he knows he'll get tickled in these spots and eats it up! What a sneak. And now when he is mad he likes to stamp his foot with furrowed eyebrows and a perfect pout. It's seriously the cutest thing ever.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Christmas and Winter Vacay 2016

This year was a surprise with Christmas because winter break started two days early! We actually had a little snow that allowed both myself and Reina to not have school going into the two-week break! It wasn't enough to do too much with so we just spent time together playing while Paul worked. Rowen wasn't too thrilled with his first snow...yet. We had plans for Christmas eve at my sister's house with Mummi, Pappa Will, Karter, and Grandpa Scarborough. Everyone else enjoyed the day but I was completely sick! I had fever and chills all day and was a bit worried that Christmas day would be ruined! Reina got sick as well but since she actually threw up, she was better by early afternoon. Mommy can't be sick on Christmas?!? Luckily I started to feel better about when the kids were getting ready for bed. I felt bad that we couldn't make cookies for Santa this year. Reina wrote a note explaining to Santa why we didn't leave him cookies. We did leave some carrots for the reindeer though. Paul was left finishing up wrapping gifts which always takes longer than expected. Good thing I had already wrapped extended family gifts so that just the kids' gifts were left. Christmas day was fabulous! Our kids are really good about being patient with "presents time". We always have them wait to come downstairs until we are ready. In fact, everyone was in bed til at least 8 o'clock naturally! Awesome!
While I make traditional Christmas morning breakfast of Finnish-style pancakes, turkey bacon, eggs and hot chocolate, the kids get to open stockings. They always get fun toothbrushes, an orange, chocolate coins and then some other unique toys. So the kids got way more presents than originally thought. Funny how you think that you hardly got anything for them until you start wrapping. Oh my, it took a couple hours and we barely had time to get ready for church at 1pm! The one time I was thankful we had church so late...I do love church on Christmas day though with the music and simple reminders of Christ and His love. We had Christmas dinner with Paul's family and of course since Grandma Guinn made the food it was delicious! Prime rib? Yes please!
The day after Christmas we headed out to Coeur d'Alene to my brother's home to start our 8 day vacation. The BEST winter vacation to date! They had plenty of snow for every winter activity you could think of! We built our first igloo, had "snow cones", made a few sled runs down the mountain, cross-country skiing to the park, snow-shoeing, and even brought our 4 quad for some added fun. There was never a dull moment with all the cousins! My sister Tarja and her family surprised us from California! They were not planning on coming and we were happy to have them join in on the fun!
One of the highlights for me was when the guys drove us girls up the mountain on the quads and then we got to snowshoe down the hill just as the sun was setting. The weather and scenery were exceptional! I also felt like I got a great feel for cross-country skiing. I've really only done it two other occasions years ago and realized how gentle and good a workout it is! I forsee my old-lady self doing this for exercise. One of our days there I went for a nice, long run everywhere imaginable. I love the scenery and super-cute cabin-inspired houses I get to see, and at least five deer! One of my favorite runs ever. I'm sure I ran at least seven or eight miles and still could have kept going.
I think Paul especially loved all the skidding on the quads and easiness of just jumping on the toy whenever and going wherever. I forgot to mention that Paul, Teem and Richard slept one night in the igloo...comfortably I might add!  Of course the kids loved not being on any schedule and sledding with their cousins. Rowen pretty much stayed indoors and ventured around their house.
Mummi and Papa Will just bought a lake house which we named "Kalakoti" (Finnish name for a fishhome). It translates not very pretty in English but in Finnish it's apparently a nice name. This was our first visit to the lakehouse on Lake Roosevelt. The past two summers we have rented a home from a friend which has been fabulous. We really LOVE this lake and that we plan a family gathering every year. Last year I had noticed this home for sale as we were passing by on the lake and had a very strong prompting that it would be ours. I mentioned it to my parents (as they have been browsing the past few years for lake property). They inquired and the price was not right so they passed on it. Months went by and they were hardly looking at any properties. I briefly asked if this house was still up for sale? Guess what...it was. The price was reduced too. I think they got a steal of a deal for the location...best spot in the neighborhood! Although it needs a lot of work, we are excited to make this home a part of our family. We had a good time testing out the path that leads to the lake. Weird that a normally sand-covered path was instead a snow-covered one. And how often do you get to make a snow-angel next to the water? It's fun to contribute and see the changes being made.
We had a fun New Year's Eve celebration by setting off a few fireworks and Chinese lanterns. The adults had a fabulous meal of "Raclette". It's a cheese grill that includes the raclette cheese and other fancy cheeses melted and poured over meats, veggies, potatoes or whatever. We even had "to our heart's content" of crab that Teem and Emily caught in the Pacific Ocean. We stuffed ourselves. Since Baelor's birthday is January 2nd, we celebrated it early with an igloo cake inspired by our real igloo in the yard! We didn't want the vacation to end it was so fun. Until summer!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thanksgiving 2016

Our family has had some fun on our new quads this year...but I'd have to say that the muddier it is, the better! This Thanksgiving break we had quite a bit of rain which made for some fun times at Uncle Bryan and Wendy's house! Paul's brother Matthew and his family came to visit from Utah and they joined in on the fun, too! We had a great time with them and sure wish they would move up here where more than half of the Guinn family lives! (hint, hint). We had, I think, six quads going at a time around the dirt-bike track on their property. So fun! We even had a campfire going to warm up. Afterwards we ate dinner, played, and talked. Couldn't have asked for a better day.
Look at that action shot!
I love how excited Reina gets when her cousin Madeleine comes to visit. They share the same birth month and definitely resemble each other, and even have some similarities in personality. Go figure with twin brother dads! Even Baelor was old enough to really appreciate his cousin Benjamin who is a year older than him. They played so well together! As for Rowen and Suzette, they toddled around as toddlers are known to do. I was pleased that there was not one argument amongst the kids the whole visit! The girls even got to help make pies with Grandma for Thanksgiving. They looked so cute helping out in their aprons.
In early November, when the weather didn't quite switch to super cold and wet, I took the kids on a hike nearby at Lacamas Lake/ Round Lake. I am aching to do some hiking and wanted to test the kids out for some future hiking in the spring. They did FABULOUS. I was pleased that rather than complaining they were even more thrilled as the path became more treacherous. (I like to go off the path sometimes to get a better view!) I promise the kids were not in danger *too* much.
I had to put a few cute pictures of our cuties! It's crazy to think that when these pictures were taken of Rowen he wasn't quite 15 months yet! This child is officially growing up too fast! I don't know if he will be my last so I want him to stay my baby just a little longer. But it sure is fun to see him run, sing, and see his mind figure things out. Everyday these three make me laugh and get frustrated. I'll take it all for moments like these.
 We finally played "Pie Face" again one night for FHE. Rowen did NOT like it at all. He did not think it was funny to see us get smacked in the face with something white. I TOTALLY see his perspective. We only got through one round...just enough for everyone to sneak some whip cream.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy Halloween from the Guinns!


Halloween is one of my FAVORITE holidays! Okay, I know it's not actually considered a holiday but who doesn't treat it like one??? We've been doing themes every year since we got married and the kids love to be involved in brainstorming ideas. We've gone from extreme ideas like bugs, but when I consider the amount of money it takes or the sewing I always have the presidential executive order of "nope". Some ideas sound splendid but I've already learned my lesson a time or two of how long or how expensive homemade costumes can be! We went SUPER cheap this year and SUPER easy to pull off. I still think my kiddos look spectacular despite the only thing bought was Reina's wig, my squeezed-in big girl costume, and Paul's helicopter hat. We all had a good time trying the wig on and laughing til our bellies ached! The funny thing is when Reina first put the wig on (without all the old lady gear) I thought she looked like Dr. Laura Schlessinger! Okay, if you don't know who she is you gotta google search her. I grew up listening to her advice and do still hold some of the things she has said/written true. She can be quite brutal. Now you can only listen to her radio program on XM radio which we do not have.
Reina is a natural with writing. She just made this up one Saturday morning!
We went to my parents' ward's trunk or treat the weekend before, then our own trunk or treat, and finally Halloween night where cousin Karter joined us. Thank goodness it didn't rain on us despite having a lot of rain the month of October. The field behind our house where the corn crop used to grow is literally a lake! In fact, recently we saw little orange flags behind our house. This has worried us because this was an indication that they have something planned for the nice, open space we've enjoyed the last 4 years. We love watching people walk their dogs, ride bikes and motorcycles, camp, watch the fireworks display on the 4th, hear the coyotes howl like a bunch of hoodlums, hear the chorus of "ribbit" from the frogs, watch the various birds come and go in their fabulous synchronized waves. It's breathtaking the amount of birds we see! We have been fearful that they are going to build apartments or some shopping center there because it has been for sale for commercial real estate for over a year now and this means that someone is buying it!
We just got confirmation that they are keeping it as a natural habitat. I think they are going to do some tweaks here and there to make it even more conducive for the variety of birds. We are SO happy!





Paul and I were invited to check out an "escape room" with some friends of ours. We were the guinea pigs for a brand new one here in Vancouver. It was very difficult, pretty spooky, and totally fun! We felt like idiots when it took us 13 minutes (of our allotted 60) just to solve the first puzzle! But then we got rolling and made it pretty far. We didn't get out, though, which left an itch for us to try again. So we did at a different escape room, this time in Portland! This time there were six of us instead of four and we had a better idea of what to expect. Well, we mastered this one and got out with eight minutes to spare! Now I think Paul is hooked (the only thing I am hooked on is dancing and digging through other people's throw away stuff, I mean second hand shopping). We have another one paid for and now we just need to get on the schedule and try our luck a third time.