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Sunday, March 30, 2014


Dear Jessa,

This is probably going to be a shorter letter, as it's BJ writing, and not Tianna. (Tianna is very descriptive in her writing, you may have noticed.) Tianna's busy working on some stuff tonight.

For the last couple weeks, we've been getting some bids on finishing our basement. I've been working down in the unfinished basement, which has been mostly been fine. It's been a little chilly in the winter, but with a space heater that hasn't been much of a problem. At some point, though, we'd like to finish it so we can move the play room away from bedrooms, etc. We got a few bids in, and they varied wildly. The highest bid was more than double the lowest bid. Of course, there would likely be a difference in quality as well, but even at the lowest bid, it was going to be almost a year more before we could finish it. We weren't terribly thrilled at waiting that long.

When we mentioned this to Tianna's brother, Damian, he said that he could do it at a much better price by doing a lot of the work himself instead of subcontracting most of it out. He's done a bunch of work on his own home, so while he doesn't build homes professionally, he's got quite a bit of experience with it. He's self-employed, so he can mostly set his own schedule. In face, it turns out that he has quite a bit of open time this next week! So we talked about it, debated back and forth for a bit, and decided to go for it.

Yes, this means that we're finishing our basement this week. Or starting on it, at least. It might take a couple weeks to finish it up, but we hope to get a good portion of it done while Damian is down here this week. We've moved my computer up to our bedroom, so I'll be working from up there for the week. Tianna's working with Damian to get everything ready to go first thing tomorrow so we can get as much done as possible before Damian has to go back, which is why she's not writing this right now.

So, you'll get more details from us next week. One quick story, though.

Kessa's had her second loose tooth for a couple weeks now, and this morning it was to the point that it was pretty much laying sideways, just waiting to fall out. Kessa's still not used to losing teeth, though, and was very protective of it. She didn't want us to even touch it, much less wiggle it. This morning, Kessa was showing it to uncle Damian while talking on FaceTime to her cousin Lexi (Damian's daughter, and one of Kessa's very favorite cousins.) Lexi was telling Kessa that Damian is a great puller of loose teeth. "He just pops it right out, and you don't even feel it." Somehow, they talked Kessa into letting Damian pull it out. (Tianna and I were shocked at this.) So he reached in and popped it right out! I managed to get a picture of it.

He's holding the phone so Lexi can see too
So that's our news for the week: Kessa lost another tooth, and we're finishing the basement. We'll take some pictures of the basement along the way so you can see the transformation next week. Until then, have a great week and enjoy General Conference!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Drama, debates, and spilled cheese.

Jessa ~

Monday was St. Patrick's.  There are now Mommy Wars about holidays.  Part of me is amused by it. In the rolling-of-my-eyes sort of way. Seriously?  Why do mommies keep warring about things like this?  It gets to the point that people are afraid both to make holidays special and also to not make holidays special and really, no one wins.  Someone wrote a blog that was basically like, "Dude!  Moms!  Tone down the holidays a little!" and it went viral.  It spurred other people to write counter posts of, "I like to make big deals out of holidays because I like to make things special for my kids."  Which spurred counter-counter attacks of, "But you make the rest of us look bad and our kids think they're hated!"  Which was counter-counter-counter attacked with, "Just because my kids do it doesn't mean your kids have to do it.  Don't try to make me feel bad because I do something you don't."  It was ridiculous.

So basically, what it boils down to, is that now there is this trending idea of The Leprechaun that comes to people's houses the night before St. Patricks Day and plays tricks.  Leprechaun footprints in the bathroom.  Milk turned green.  That sort of thing.   Except, I believe, he might also leave treats?  At least at some houses. Kids make leprechaun traps with candy and such, trying to trap the leprechaun so they can get his gold.  I blame Facebook and Pinterest for this very sudden and very widespread trend.  I can see both sides.  On the one hand, it's super fun and magical and kids lap it up.  On the other hand, if you don't do it, then your kids come home from school upset because all their friends had really cool mornings, and they didn't.  I had neighbors post on Facebook about how their kids came home from school grumpy because The Leprechaun doesn't like them as much as he does their friends.

This is one time when our policy of telling the truth comes in handy.  We did some fun things, but with Kessa.  She watched us turn some milk green to put in our cereal.  (And bonus: we didn't have to drink the rest of the gallon of milk while green.  It was really trippy putting on our cereal.)  She didn't come home from school wondering about The Leprechaun, which was nice, but I am a little curious to know if some other kid mentioned The Leprechaun turning his milk green and Kessa was like, "Yeah!   My mom turned our milk green, too!"  And then this poor kid is like, "What?!  Your mom?!  Wait... did my mom do it, too?"  I've decided that I'll try to convince my kids to keep "the Santa secret" but I'm not going to fight the other ones.  And I'm not going to feel guilty if my kids spill the beans on them.  Because, let's be honest here.  I put a lot of work into doing fun, special things with my kids and so help me, I want the credit!  Not some imaginary mythical creature.  So if my kids end up telling their friends that their parents are more fun, no guilt here.  :D  Haha.

I also did Kessa's hair into shamrocks.  (She needs longer, thicker hair.  But it was good enough.)  And for dinner we had a mashed/grated potato pancake, which is apparently a traditional Irish dish (and was gobbled up) and a pistachio pudding (thus, green) dessert that my grandma used to make.  Simple, but fun.  Oh, and everyone wore green, of course.

Tuesday Frozen came out on DVD.  I knew this, but had forgotten.  But then Abby and I happened to be at CostCo during Joy School and saw it, so we bought it.  We bribed Kessa into being happy and quick to obey with a promise of watching it after dinner if she did.  I had dinner ready to go just after 5, which BJ usually gets home, just to find out that he had had a huge project thrust upon him at 4:40.  And it had to be done by 9:00 am.  So he was a little late for dinner, but then that night I went to bed at 10 and he started programming with his coworker and didn't come to bed until 3 am!  In general, deadlines like this are supposedly common in the programming world, but thankfully we don't deal with them very often.  But he was a good daddy and chose to stay up late instead of working all evening so that he could watch Frozen with us.  Kessa, of course, loved it.  (Though she's still not entirely used to full length movies and about halfway through started commenting on how long it is.) Abby didn't care at all and mostly self entertained throughout.  She did dance through the songs, though, which was adorable.  She did have a tantrum halfway through, but I took her into her room and read her a book, which calmed her down, and all was well after that.

There's more drama surrounding Frozen, but it seems silly to write about it, seeing as how you've never seen it and I don't want to spoil it for you.  But I will say that for the most part, I disagree with the nay sayers and still love it.  (Not as much as I love Tangled, though.)  I think the majority of my love from it comes from Kessa.  In part, it's hard to not like something that she loves so much.  It's magical to see things through children's eyes.  There are a couple of songs that are duets and one in particular ("Love is an Open Door") Kessa and I will sing together and it amazes me how much of the duet she's picked up.  Apparently her brains are rubbing off into the musical realm, too.  No surprise there...  But mostly it's because of how many good teaching moments we've had because of the music.  Kessa has most of the lyrics memorized.  And she thinks about them.  And asks questions about them.  "Why does she say X?  Is that true?"  And then we talk about what's happening at that point in the movie, why she would think that, and how the character learns it's not true, and how that can apply to our lives.  I often find moments when I can use the story to teach Kessa a real-life lesson.  Something happens and I'll say, "Kessa, remember when Elsa does X?  Was that right?  Well, that's kind of what you're doing right now.  How can we learn from her mistake right now?"  I'm excited for her to learn more scripture stories so we can apply those stories the same way.

Thursday was our local caucus meeting.  If you're like me, your eyes just glazed over and you have no idea what I just said.  I knew it was something political.  I knew there was voting. And I knew that it was something the Church has asked us to attend.  I knew Democrats and Republicans both have one.  In fact, no Church meetings were allowed to be held on either night.  (The church is politically neutral, but the members shouldn't be.)  And I knew that the stake president specifically asked me to go.  So I went.  We got a neighbor girl to babysit and BJ and I went together.  I really had no idea what to expect.

So, assuming you're like me, I'll explain a little more.  Basically, the state is divided into little precincts.  In my case, it covers about 4-5 wards in size.  Ish.  Maybe 4 miles in length and my street length in width.  Each precinct gets to vote leaders to represent our neighborhood.  Then those leaders go to county or state meetings where they represent us to vote for leaders the next level up.  It started at 7 and lasted till midnight.  (Though BJ and I left at 11 for the babysitter's sake.)  It was interesting.  We'd start with a position (like Precinct Chair) and then people would nominate other people or themselves and then those nominated (you could decline if you didn't want to do it) would have to give up and say in 2 minutes or less why they'd do a good job.  Then we'd vote on paper and they'd go back and count up all the votes, declare a winner, and we'd move on to the next position.

My bishop nominated me for Precinct Chair!  I was like, "Whaaaa-aaat?!?!  No ways!" and declined. I'm sure I was beet red.  He turned to look at me and was like, "Tianna, you'd do an excellent job!  You're dedicated and passionate and blah blah blah (I don't remember it all.)"  To which I retorted, "And I'm having a baby in like 3 months and have a busy calling already!"  "You would do great!  I'm not letting you get out of this!  I'll just nominate you for something else."  "[splutter]  But Bishop!"  Then I turned to Melanie, who was sitting next to me, and said, "And now you see why I blame Bishop for my calling!"  Thankfully he didn't live up to his threat.  And then when he was nominated for another position, the punk declined, saying he was too busy.  Psh.  :D  It's a good thing I really like our bishop!

Maybe in future if I become more politically aware I might enjoy participating in something like this, but honestly, I think someone should at least know what a caucus is before serving as the president.  :D  Unfortunately, the whole thing left me feeling like I really should learn more about the issues.  I've already been feeling like I should learn more about Common Core (the government-driven educational standards that are also a highly-charged topic), seeing as how Kessa will be directly affected by it this fall.  And then other topics were brought up that I started feeling like I should be at least somewhat knowledgable in.  I keep thinking about the quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  And makes me feel like I'm being prompted to do more things.  And be more aware.

Unfortunately, I'm feeling prompted to start doing lots of things lately.  Family History and temple work is one that I've been acting on.  I feel like I need to index more, even though I really don't like doing it.  I need to research Common Core more.  I need to be more politically involved.  I told BJ the other night that we should go on more dates, even if it's just, "Kids, go play at a friends' house for an hour so Mommy and Daddy can go on a walk."  He laughed and pointed out that, while a very good idea, it was one more thing I'm trying to add into my life.  Let's not mention that gardening and yard work season is drawing nigh really quickly.  Put it all together and it's almost overwhelming.  But to top it off, I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy!  Which not only makes physical things harder, but I'm also going to have a newborn soon and will be lucky to keep up on laundry!  How in the world am I going to fit all this in!?  Why am I feeling prompted to do all of this now?!  A friend pointed out that maybe it's my version of nesting.  I know I won't be able to do it all in 3 months, so I feel the need to do it all now.  Yipes.  Can't I just have the overwhelming urge to clean and organize like normal women?  :D

Ok, enough of the drama stuff.

Wednesday your mom watched the girls in the morning so I could go to the temple.  Teresa did some baptisms for me, so I went and did the initatories.  So all that's left, for the girls anyway, are endowments and sealings.  My nephews are going to do the remainder of the male baptisms and then BJ will need to do those initatories (and some that we currently have for him).  But we're making marked progress on the girls!  Too bad it's the endowments that take the most time, so progress won't go nearly as fast from here on out.  But seriously, hooray for your mom!  Abby especially has been incredibly drawn to her lately and at least once a day will ask for her.  "Mama Homer?  Shoes?  Car?  Jacket?"  And when I tell her we're not going to Mama Homer's right then, she'll throw a huge tantrum.  One day she wouldn't be deterred, so we called Mama Homer and let Abby talk to her on the phone.  Then got mad when we hung up without talking to Papa.

Thursday was also my mom's birthday!  Happy birthday, mom!  We got to video chat with her, which was really fun.  Abby had just woken up from a nap and was cranky and shy, but they got her to come out of her shell and be adorable.  Kessa was fun for the first half, but really wanted to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates and was cranky because I wouldn't let her while we were on the phone, then somehow managed to get on the iPad and watch it during the latter part of the conversation.  Sorry about that, mom!  But in good news, the pajamas she made them for Christmas are still the favorites by far (why did I spend money to buy them new pajamas for Christmas?) and Kessa is starting to get worried about what will happen when she outgrows hers.  (So Mom, be ready to make her a new one!  Or 3.  So that she'll switch them out every once in awhile.)

BJ's been teaching Kessa about space.  I think she's got a decent grasp on the fact that the sun is a star and is ginormous.  She knows that the earth orbits the sun and the moon orbits the earth.  Tonight we were walking home from a friends' house and she noticed there was no moon.  But on the way to church today we had noticed the moon in the sky during the day.  So we talked about how when we see the moon during the day, that means you (Jessa) don't get it at night.  So when we didn't have it here tonight, you must be seeing it during the day there.  So we decided that when we see the moon during the day, we'll ask it to tell you that Kessa loves you.  So if you see the moon during the day today, make sure you listen for it to deliver the message, ok?

You have asked a few times about how BJ and I don't seem to ever fight.  And we don't.  But that doesn't mean we're without conflict.  We had a disagreement the other day over grilled cheese sandwiches.  Specifically, what the term "grilled cheese sandwich" included.  The climax hit when BJ jokingly and dramatically exclaimed, "I can't believe I married a woman who doesn't know what a grilled cheese sandwich is!"  Now, dem's fightin' words.  So I took it to Facebook to get a large number of opinions.  This was the conclusion:

Official results of the Great Grilled Cheese Debate of 2014:
- A grilled cheese sandwich must have two pieces of bread and end up toasted on the outside. (1 point to Tianna. Not that BJ disagrees with this definition, but because, as is stated in the following result, believes the definition to be larger than it really is.)
- If it only has one slice of bread and is broiled in the oven, it is no longer a grilled cheese sandwich, but rather "cheese toast" or "a melt". (No points awarded. Though if one *must* be awarded, it would also go to Tianna as "cheese on toast" is much closer to "grilled cheese".)
Final verdict: Tianna wins and BJ's cooking vocabulary has been expanded and has learned something new today. All is well in Zion, once again.
Thank you, Facebook friends, for your input.
The results were almost unanimous.  That is until I posted the results.  Then suddenly several people commented and declared that the one slice of bread option they called, "open faced grilled cheese sandwiches" which backed up BJ's point of view.  But seeing as how I had already closed the polls, I conveniently ignored them.  ;)   So there you go.  Proof that BJ and I don't agree on everything.

Friday, after a tantrum about wanting Mama Homer, Abby switched tactics on me and started crying for "Trabis!  I want Trabis!"  So I texted him and told him so.  I then took a video of her tantrum to send him, but she was sitting up by me, so I had to hold the camera so she could see it.  Which had positive and negative effects.  She saw herself and immediately stopped crying.  She curled up on my shoulder so she could watch her self.  Pro: it calmed her down.  (And she stayed calmed down!  After watching the video about 12 times.)  Con: I didn't get to capture the magnitude of the tantrum.  Only the sadness of really wanting "Trabis".  But the final outcome was that Travis agreed to come out Saturday for dinner and then watched the girls so BJ and I could go to the adult session of stake conference.

He brought a friend, Brenda, and they were supposed to put the girls to bed.  But Kessa brought out this book of science experiments we have and Trav jumped on the chance to do them.  So they put their fingerprints on tape, took pictures and then enlarged the pictures so they could see how they were different.  He showed them how a bottle full of water turned upside down wouldn't spill until it got air inside (they blew in it with a straw).  And they made an egg stand on its end, using salt.  They had so much fun experimenting that I decided to forgive them for not putting them to bed.  (It helped that BJ took over the job and I didn't have to deal with it.  :D )

So, the adult session of conference was interesting.  For one, it wasn't really an adult session.  Youth 12 and up were invited.  And it sounds like that decision came down from the 1st Presidency.  Second, and I'm not sure about this yet, but from things said last night and today, I think that they are no longer calling it the adult session, but the "Hastening the Work of Salvation" session.  I don't know if that's church-wide or just our stake or if I'm really just making stuff up, but if that's true, that's interesting.  All of the talks were on that theme.  But only for the adult session.  The main session of stake conference today was all about temple work and families.  Which is similar and was tied in many times, but still different.

Our children's choir performed today.  They did such a great job!  We sat up near the front in case I needed to go up and sit next to irreverent children (2 hours is a long time!), but I never had to go up.  I did have to catch the eye of one boy to tell him to sit in his chair properly, but that was it.  (Oh, sure, they wiggled and fidgeted, but they're 8-11 year olds.  No one expects that they'd be perfectly still.)  They learned the songs really well, including parts, harmony, and dynamics.  They learned to enunciate words and even hit ending t's or d's together so it sounded crisp and clear.  They stood up and sat down together.  All in just 3 practices!  It went so smoothly.  I was so impressed by them.  It was also super nice to not be stressed about anything, even though I was in charge of it.  Our choir director is amazing.  He just ran the show and I was just there as backup.

Random things:

  • Apparently Abby knows the entire alphabet song.  I took her to CostCo this week and while we were sitting in the car in the parking lot, she started singing it.  The entire thing.  By herself.  Perfectly.  Without any help.  I pulled out my camera and took a video (don't worry; I was parked), but she only sang the first part, then would exclaim, "Uh oh!" and start again.  So I never got her to sing the whole song on camera.  But she did do it!  I promise!  I'm still a little in shock.
  • We were introduced to Pizzadillas this week.  And have had them twice.  Basically you cook tortillas (nice and crispy) and then top them like a pizza and bake them.  Then cut them up and eat pizza slices.  We had french bread pizza for dinner one night and had leftover toppings, so the next two lunches consisted of Pizzadillas.  Which aren't much harder to make than quesadillas, assuming you have toppings.  So I think this will become a more common thing.
  • The neighbor cat was out and about today.  The girls were enamored.  They played with it for quite awhile.

  • Me: So Abby. Are you going to marry Reid or Redick?
    Abby, without hesitation: Redick. 
  • Me: Redick?
    Abby: Uh-huh

    Melanie's response: Perfect because he seems to be the most enamored with her anyway. :)
    Here's the two of them tonight.

  • BJ was splitting a CostCo sized bag of shredded cheese into Ziplock bags.  He said, "Now let's see if I can do this" then set the giant (open) bag down on the counter.  It promptly tipped over and dumped a bunch out onto the floor.  Because we are excellent parents, instead of cleaning it up we said, "Abby!  Do you want some cheese?"  She did.  So we let her have at it.

  • Kessa's newest Netflix is called Jake and the Neverland Pirates. There is Jake, Izzy, and Cubby and they earn gold deblumes by working together. Their nemesis is Captain Hook and Smee (and it must be made by Disney, because it's the same artistry and voices) who is always trying to steal their treasures or get it first. But they always end up winning and often pull Hook and Co. out of trouble. And try to teach them about teamwork. It never works. Sometimes they work with Peter Pan. And Izzy has pixie dust, which can only be used in emergencies. Which, of course, happens at least once per episode.

    Kessa loves it. So much that she often tells us the story line from it as if it really happened. It's kind of adorable.


  • Abby just told me that she's waiting for Daddy to come out the Daddy door. :)
  • Me: Kessa, what do you need to so with your plate? [after dinner her plate was still on the table while she ran around]
    Kessa: Yes. I know. Sorry about that. But I need to collect all the coins!

    Maybe she's had too many Mario Kart battles tonight?
  • There's a line in a song in Frozen that says, “I don't know if I'm elated or gassy, but I'm somewhere in that zone.” Kessa apparently thinks elated = a lady, but gassy just didn't fit in her vocabulary. So she asked us, “is gassy a boy?”
  • Kessa: I like the olives that aren't cut so I can stick my finger in it and look like Mickey Mouse.
  • Kessa found a broken ball in a trampoline full of ball pit balls.
    “Daddy, this ball cannot be in here. It's broken. Broken like a see-saw.”
And... I think that's all for this week!  Toodles!

~ Tianna

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A pretty good compilation of pictures and stories and quotes

Dear Jessa ~

Baby 3.0 is doing great.  He's moving around and is now about the weight of an eggplant.  (Approx. 2 1/4 pounds.)  I had a midwife appointment on Monday and she says everything is progressing right on track.  Hooray!  I'm feeling pretty great.  I'm not nearly as tired as I once was.  I'm not sick at all.  I'm not even catching every cold this time around like I did with the girls.  But I do have So Much Mucous All The Time.  (TMI?)  I seriously blow my nose at least once an hour, but as often as every 5-10 mins.  The skin just below my nose is being rubbed raw now.  I hates it.  This is by far my #1 pregnancy complaint this pregnancy.  Ugh.  But other than that, I really am feeling pretty great.  Which is really nice.  :)

I taught Joy School this week.  The Joy of Trust and Confidence.  It was filled with talking about all the things the girls do well and getting them to try new things and building up confidence in trying.  That it's ok if we make mistakes.  What's important is that we're willing to try.  So now whenever Kessa doesn't want to try something, we just ask her, "What does the train say?" and she'll grin and say, "I think I can!  I think I can!" and then she'll try whatever it is.  It's fantastic.

We took the girls to the dentist for their 6-month checkup.  Abby did great.  She just watched Kessa do things (and Kessa was fantastic, too) and then wanted to do them as well.  I like that they let me bring them both at the same time so we can do that.  And she had the hygienists totally charmed.  Afterwards they both got toy rings, which they love.  But then Kessa promptly lost hers.  Twice. In the same day.  We never found it after the 2nd loss, though.  And whenever she sees Abby's ring, she gets sad all over again.  Which has given us the opportunity to talk about taking care of our stuff.  What could you do with it next time if you wanted to take it off to make sure you don't lose it?  So that's been a good positive twist.  Downfalls: Abby officially needs to be weaned from her binkie and Kessa has two cavities she needs to have filled.  [sigh]  But with teeth like her parents' have, it's not a huge surprise.  Oh, she also has one more loose tooth!  But we knew that before we went to the dentist.  And her one permanent tooth is coming in nicely.

Thursday was our stake RS birthday dinner.  So BJ had the girls and had to feed them dinner.  Kessa requested German pancakes, so that's what he made.  Hah!  But the next night he went out to dinner with the other presenters for a conference he was presenting for (I'll let him tell you more about that) so it was just the girls and I for dinner.  They requested German pancakes again and... I acquiesced to their request.  But I got fancier and bought berries to put on and added whipped cream.  Kessa saw the whipped cream and said, "What's that on the table, mommy?"  "That's whipped cream."  "Why do we have whipped cream on the table?"  "Well, I thought since it's girls' night tonight that we could do something special with our dinner."  "Why are we doing something special?"  "Well, if you don't want to do something special I could just put it in the fridge."  ".... uhh... no!  I want whipped cream!"

The next day was Utah Code Camp, so BJ was gone all morning and afternoon.  It was Agricultural Days at Thanksgiving Point, and we did just get a membership, so I called up Melanie (whose husband was also presenting at that nerdy conference) and we went out to that.  I was skeptical at first because it was So Windy.  It was in the 50s, which normally feels nice, but the wind chill made it super cold.  Kessa was immediately like, "I don't want to be outside, Mommy!"  Of course, it was at Farm Country, so it was mostly outside.  Goody.  So I told her that we would give it a try, but if it was too cold, we could leave.  Thankfully they had several things inside, too.  So we got a good mix.  And ended up staying there for 2+ hours.  The girls had a blast.  They made occupational hats (Kessa made a weatherman and Abby a forest ranger).  Kessa made a living necklace (dirt, water and wheat berries inside a clear plastic shell that hangs from string), a bracelet from dyed wool and pony beads, pancakes, and butter.  She started to sprout a bean, ran a relay, rode a pony, and got to walk around and look at all the farm animals.  She also did a scavenger hunt where she learned about all sorts of everyday items and how they come from agriculture.  (Apparently plastic bags use animal fat to make them semi-slippery.  Who knew?)  It turned out to be a great outing.  Heck, we came home, ate lunch, put Abby to bed, then I was so exhausted that I handed Kessa the iPad and I took what ended up being a 2-hour nap!

From BJ about Utah Code Camp:
On Saturday, I went up to a programmer's conference held up at the University of Utah. It was free to attend, so there were a *lot* of people there. They apparently had 1200+ people register, and at least 850 actually showed up. One of our friends in the neighborhood has attended the last few years, and encouraged me to come this year, so I did. 
My friend also encouraged me to submit a proposal for presenting a session. I did so. They get a lot of proposals, so in the weeks before the conference, they let attendees vote on which topics they'd like to see presented. Mine ended up being the 2nd-voted session out of 120 proposed, so I ended up presenting there. (I talked about Git, which is some popular and free software for programmers, used to keep track of versions of their code as they're developing.) 
The conference was pretty good. I ended up presenting twice, as one of the other presenters dropped out the night before and they figured there might be more demand than could fit in one of my sessions. I would guess that the first session had ~80 people, and the second one had 20. It was received quite well, I think. It's hard to know how beginner/advanced your audience will be, and there will always be people who don't quite fit the target audience, but I think most people got something out of it. 
I attended other people's sessions too, of course. As it was an volunteer conference (speakers were not paid), some of the presenters didn't have lots of prior speaking experience, and sometimes it showed. But there were a couple sessions that I found useful, so overall it was a good experience.
Today is Nick's birthday, so we had dinner at your parents' again.  Kessa made Nick a card (that folded up into an envelope), then made him a puzzle coupon.  We cut out pictures of Legos that he had to stack together in the right order to spell out the coupon, offering him the chance to come play Legos with her sometime.  Isn't she just so sweet?  :D  She was so excited about that present.  "Nick is going to love it!"

Random stuff from Facebook:
I know I'm late to the game here, but it just really hit me that my kids will grow up without knowing Pluto as a planet.

Will they even know Pluto? Will they learn about it as Pluto, the former planet? The demoted planet?

I think I'm finally mourning Pluto properly.
Perhaps I should wait two hours to post this, but I'm ridiculously proud of myself.

I just got Abby to fall asleep at nap time *without her binkie*. I think I pretty much win at life.
Bubble machine in a warm (ish) breeze = two very happy kids. #bestideaever #sorryneighborsforanybubbleresidue

Abby wanted to wear Kessa's rain coat and asked me to make it rain. I complied with a water spray bottle.
Abby is on a mission to teach me that I do, in fact, really want a boy. Seriously. How did she get so much attitude already? I thought the turning around, huffing, and folding her arms while screaming, "No!" was reserved until tweens. #practicingpatience #justasknicely
Since when does 51° feel so blasted hot? I went out and cleaned up a lot of my flowerbeds and I'm sweating! So hot!
Turns out, peanut butter on sourdough isn't very good. In good news, my Joy School girls didn't seem to mind.

More on that Abby attitude above.  Holy cow.  That girl only has two settings: adorably charming and screeching mandrake/pterodactyl.  And it can flip back and forth without any notice.  There is no in between.  The other afternoon she was mad about EVERYTHING.  And, I think, just wanted to be contradictory.  Actual conversation:

Do you want a banana?
Ok.  Then no banana.  [start to walk away]
repeat ad nauseum

And repeat that conversation, replacing banana with anything she might possibly want.  Or not want. Legos.  Baby Signing Time.  Cereal.  Water.  Nap.  Books.  You name it.  Thankfully I had nothing else planned that day, so I was able to use it as a learning experience for her.  Basically, "Use your kind voice/words to get something.  Screaming will not get you what you want."  And I was able to keep my cool like this for hours.  Which was somewhat of a miracle in and of itself.  My favorite was when I'd ask her to use her Kind Voice and she'd scream, "No!  Kind words!"  "Yes, use your kind words, too."  "KIND VOICE!"  "Yes.  Kind words and kind voice."  [SCREAM!!!!]  There really was zero logic to it at all.  She just wanted to be mad.  I decided to let her have whatever it was she asked for the first time, within reason, so long as she asked nicely.  It took an hour or two, but she managed to get the iPad to watch a show.  And was happy for a little while.  Incredibly adorably charming.  Until Kessa decided it was her turn for the iPad.  Then it started all over.  But she hasn't had a day that bad since, so  hopefully she learned a little from it.  [crosses fingers]

And now, two cute pictures of Abby so you can see the adorably, sweet, charming toddler:

At the park, about to go down the slide.

She put on Kessa's raincoat and wanted it to rain.
So I sprayed her with the water bottle sprayer thingy.
She loved it.


  • Talking about what to have for dinner. Kessa: If we went to the store and buyed macaroni and cheese, we could have macaroni and cheese!
  • Me: That's why we do it every single time.
    Kessa: What does “single” mean?
    Me: … it means “one.” So… ummm… every one time. Uhhh… It means every time we do it.

    Why is English so full of sayings and phrases that don't break down to easy explanation to four-year olds? I run into this every time I say something like, “The alarm went off.” “No mommy, the alarm went on!” Gooood point.
  • We read the story of Moses and parting the Red Sea before bed one night.  Then we talked about how it was a miracle.  This was part of Kessa's prayer that night: "And please do a miracle if our house burns down and get us out safe."
  • Kessa: When Abby is really tall, and isn't married yet, will her name still be Abby?
    Me: Yes it will.
    Kessa, with a screwed up face: Whaaat?! But that's not a good name for a grown up!
    Me: Well, what if she goes by Abigail? Would that be a better grown up name?
    Kessa thought for a minute, then: No.
  • Kessa was sitting next to me as I was doing Abby's hair. I sprayed it with water and got a little on Kessa. “Mommy, it's ok if you freckle me a little.”
  • Me: Did you wake up happy?
    Abby: No, sleepy.
  • Me: Do you know what's special about today?
    Kessa: Uh-huh. It's Sunday!
    Me: Yup. Do you know what else is special about today? Something that only happens once a year?
    Kessa: Um… Daddy's coming to church?
    (I swear he comes every week!  It would have made more sense had she said Mommy, considering I'm only at sacrament with them maybe half the time the last few months, due to ward conferences.  But I'm done with those now!)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dinosaur Museum

This one is going to be very picture-heavy, with periodic commentary.  All but the last two pictures were taken by my brother, Travis, of Travis Lovell photography.

This gadget represents number of years and helps kids get a sense of how long a million years really is.  Kessa is turning the small "one year" wheel.  Every ten turns it turns the "10 year" wheel once.  Every time that one turns 10 times, it turns the "100 year" wheel once.  And so on and so forth until the big "One Million Year" wheel in the middle.  She managed to turn the "100 year" wheel once and wanted to keep going, hoping to eventually turn the million year wheel, but we talked her into leaving and continuing on through the museum.

This one let you push a button and open the shell inside the glass, so you can see what's inside.  The girls loved opening it and closing it.

Kessa loved all of the hands-on displays.  She would specifically look for the signs saying she could touch something.  (Down by her left knee is a green and white circle.  That's the hands-on sign.)

They had this fun "Design a Dino" area.  She got to choose what head, tail, legs, spine, etc. to put on. She had to completely tear everything off that the person before her put on, then build from scratch.

This room taught about erosion and its part in preserving dinosaurs and then uncovering them again later.  There is sand all over, and plastic dinosaurs.  Then there are periodic water fountain things (you can see one in front of Abby).  The water didn't flow steadily.  Sometimes it was slow, sometimes fast.  Here Kessa and a boy are building a dam with dinosaurs all over it.  Some inside, too.  Later BJ helped Kessa make a slot canyon in the dam when the water was flowing faster and watched how the water would slowly erode the sand away, making the canyon wider and wider, and uncovering all the dinosaurs buried inside the dam.  Poor Abby was too short, so BJ had to hold her up so she could play.  (Poor BJ, more like it!  Haha.)

Weighing the girls to see how they compare to dinosaurs.

These fish are one of the few living things that are the same as the fossilized versions we have.  Or something.  I honestly can't remember.  But there was something special about them.  Of course, Abby loved watching them.  "Fishies!"

But even more, she loved the shark.  She seriously spent probably 10 minutes in this room, just wandering about, pointing out the shark and all the fishies all around.  (Which were actually other kinds of sharks.) She kept coming back to the massive shark, though, and I had to keep her from climbing over/under the rail several times.  She just wanted to get closer!  As we were getting ready to move on to the next room a girl came through, she was probably 6 or 7, and she burst into tears because the shark scared her so much.  Abby, however, knows no fear of sharks.

Talking about stuff on the wall while the human skeletons kill the mammoth skeleton behind us.

Digging up fossils in the giant sandbox.  Kessa first carefully buried this one, then used the paintbrush to discover it.  Abby was done with the sandbox pretty quickly, but Kessa we had to drag out after 15+ minutes.

Proof that Travis was there (and the beginning of our pictures)!  Here Abby is comparing pictures of animals, with pictures of their skulls underneath, to the giant display of skulls in front of her.  The point is to guess what skull goes to what animal.  Kessa did pretty well.  She guessed the giraffe and the walrus.  She got the human wrong, though.  Guess we'll better keep going back.  (Oh, did I mention we got an annual pass?  Hooray!  So we can take you for half price when you get home.)

When we walked into the Mammoth room, Abby looked up at it and yelled, "Heart!"  Why yes, Abby.  His trunk sure does make a heart.

It was really fun.  We spent about 2 hours there total and had to drag both girls away from various displays multiple times.  Hooray for living only about 10 mins away and having a pass now!  (There were many displays not pictured here.)  We really could have spent longer.  Though, to be honest, I'm glad we didn't.  My feet were killing me by the end.  Haha.  And it was fun having Travis there.  (And not just for his pictures, though we are very grateful for those, too!)  The girls loved being able to show him things, and it was nice to have another adult to talk to and discuss things with.

Overall, it was a huge success.  We'll do it again.

BJ's birthday week (with a lot of other stuff, too)

Jessa ~

Tuesday Words of Radiance was released!  But somehow BJ has really good karma and the iTunes ebook he pre-ordered was delivered at 9:00 pm Monday night.  What?!??!  So we both stayed up reading that for several hours.  :)  And pretty much as often as we could all week, finishing Friday night.  It probably would have been sooner except BJ had work, I had kids, and every evening was something.  Also, despite pre-ordering the hardback on Amazon, it still hasn't shipped (six days after the release date!), so we had to read the whole thing electronically.  He did it on the iPad/his computer and I did it on my Kindle.  Hooray for both of those!

Our youth fundraiser was on Tuesday.  It was a Mexican fiesta.  There were carnival games and dinner and then a Mariachi band and a vocal and silent auction.  It was really fun and the girls loved it.  We ended up walking out of there with a baby boy blanket with two matching burp clothes, a MoTab CD, an auto detail, tax prep (I really need to use that one soon), 4 hours of labor building shelves (for the cold storage for my canned food!), and a $10 gift card to ColdStone.  It was pretty darn impressive, if you ask me!

Wednesday was Kessa's unbirthday celebration at preschool.  That morning we headed down to Orem so I could get some stuff for my craft night that night.  And locked my keys in the car at Joann.  [sigh]  I learned that USAA will send someone to unlock the car, but from SLC.  So it would take an hour.  On the other  hand, Orem police will come in about 5-10 mins.  Unfortunately I called USAA first.  Then my neighbor who was going to come, but because of bad decision making on my part, she ended up not being able to because she was driving car pool and was going to be late.  By then I had cancelled USAA, so then I finally called Orem police.  So it still took an hour.  And then we had to stop and get lunch and drive Kessa straight to preschool where she was 20 mins late.  It wouldn't have mattered at all, except it was her unbirthday party.  So I felt bad.  But she took it well and still had a great time.  Then that night I hosted my craft night.  It was really fun.  I believe there were 7 of us there.  I made a really cute leprechaun hat out of 2x4 blocks.  I definitely think we're going to make this a regular thing.  It was good for me.

Thursday morning Abby and I went with Kessa to Joy School. They had been studying They Joy of Spontaneous Delight and wanted to share that delight with us.  So they got to choose their favorite things they did on Tuesday and do it again with moms and siblings.  We blew bubbles with straws in a bowl of water and dish soap. We shook hands with a doorknob with a glove on it.  And we played a finding game called Huckle Buckle ... something.  I forget.  But it was really fun!  Thursday afternoon I went through two large tubs of boy clothes my neighbor gave me and sorted them by size and put them in their own bins.  Holy cow.  I think I'm set for his first 18ish months of life.  I really have the most generous friends!  I hope to be able to pay this forward someday.  Then that evening I had a 2-hour district scouting meeting.  Which is always fun.  [cough]

Friday... I think may have actually been free.  I can't remember anything specific for that night, anyway.  Which is probably why we finally finished reading that night!  :D  I was ahead of BJ (he may read faster, but I had time during the day when he worked) and we decided to read the last couple of chapters together, so I speculated and looked things up while I waited.  Then we read one viewpoint at a time in the last two chapters, then stopped and talked about them.  Holy cow, there is one part that just blew me away.  But... I can't tell you what it is.  Obviously.  But I sat there, eyes wide, gasping with BJ laughing (he hadn't read it yet) and saying, "I wish I had caught that on video!"  So, without spoiling anything, I'll just say it's really, really good.  (And anyone reading this that has also read the book and wants to talk about it, let me know!  I wanna talk about it!)

Saturday was BJ's bday!  He's the big 3-0!  A whole new decade.  (That young chap finally caught up to me.  About time.  It's weird being a decade above your husband.  :D)

We started with German pancakes (at Kessa's request.  "Daddy can choose what we have for lunch and dinner, but we get to choose breakfast."  Hahaha)  Then he did tech support for my mom.  Then we went up to your parents' where Abby napped and we played Ticket to Ride Marklin with your parents.  And ate paninis for lunch.  Mmmm.  Then we went down to the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point and met up with Travis.  I'm going to make that its own post, though, because of many pictures.  Then we went to Cafe Rio.  Because it's the one time of year I just can't deny BJ his favorite restaurant.  Haha.

Today was Daylight Savings.  (Which we're assuming you don't have there.  So just know that we're one hour off from what you're used to us being now.)  I was bragging about how it's not so bad to lose an hour when you don't have church until 11.  So then I got an email telling me I had a 7 am stake council meeting.  [sigh]  Fair warning: don't brag about things.  So I got up before the crack of dawn, went to a meeting (an incredibly short meeting, I'll add), then came home and slept for 2-3 hours.  Then went to church at 11.  Haha.  This week was my ward's ward conference, so that was fun to be there in my own Primary.  Kessa even had the scripture and I was already in there to help her!  She was adorable to watch during Sharing/Singing Time.  She sat on her teacher's lap for half of it.  She sang with all her heart.  And when she actually paid attention, she was very into it all.

My secretary sat in on the first half of nursery.  She came out telling me that Abby is the perfect nursery child.  She did everything she was supposed to.  She played, cleaned up, and sang songs.  Awww.  Way to make my day.  BJ said he didn't even have trouble dropping her off.  She just walked in, saw her friends, Reid and Redick, and was good to go.  (Funny story: those two boys have developed a 2-year old crush on Abby.  Apparently they're constantly asking their mom, "Abby?  Abby?"  Awww.)

After Abby's nap we headed up to your parents' for BJ's bday dinner.  We played Clue with Shawn, Resa, Nick, and Chelsea.  (Chelsea won, though BJ and I were both going to guess the same thing that very round.)  And guess what BJ got from your parents?  Scripture Scouts!  Did you ever listen those those?  Or was it just the boys?  Anyway, that's gonna be fun.  We listened to Jesus' birth on the way home, and Abby would sing along when she could figure out the words.  Especially the word "birthday".  She tried to get us to sing Happy Birthday to BJ about a dozen times in a row tonight.  We only did it once.  But she kept trying!  She apparently loves that song.

Other randomness/Kessaism:

- Abby is obsessed with the book Fancy Nancy.  She knows at least one word for each page.  Words like: accessories, posh, ooh-la-la, and pinkie.  She makes us read it to her probably 5 times per day.  Her favorite part is "I slip.  I trip.  The tray does a double flip."  Which is what we say every time she or Kessa trips.  When Nancy trips she spills a bunch of ice cream and makes a huge mess.  Which Abby loves to point out.  Sometimes she'll just sit there for 10 minutes, with the page open to the mess, doing other things, but refusing to let anyone turn the page.  She's got a thing with messes, too...
- We put a stool under our front window so Abby could see outside. Best decision ever. She's up there right now announcing everything she sees. "I see car!" "I see truck!" She spends hours up there over the course of the day. Though, she's pretty sad that there are no longer construction trucks across the street.
- Kessa: You know, mom, it’s not all that much to count to 100.

Me: Oh? It’s not?

Kessa: No! See, all you do is [proceeds to count to 100]. That wasn’t so much, right?
- The morning of BJ's birthday Kessa came into our room and told BJ happy birthday and proclaimed that he was now 30.  BJ: "I know, I'm old, huh?"  "Don't worry, daddy.  When you die and come alive again, you'll be a smaller number."

A drawing Kessa made.  The four tiny bodies up top are: Abby, Lucy (neighbor girl), and Reid and Redick, Abby's admirers.  The three at the bottom are Kessa (wearing her "nitgawn" (nightgown)) and her friends Izzy and Riley.

~ Tianna and Co.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Just randomness with only one picture.

Jessa ~

We got new iPhones this week!  Hooray!  It's exciting; we got the iPhone 5s's.  Which  means, in short, that our cameras are cooler, we can unlock our phones and check out in the iTunes store with our fingerprints, and apps load way faster.  Also, the screen is taller, so my fingers no longer can reach.  Small finger problems, I guess.  Kessa likes to try to unlock mine with her thumbprint and thinks it's really funny that she can't.  Silly girl.  I've named my phone Syl, after a character in The Way of Kings.  So you'll have a little tidbit to look forward to when you read that. ;)  My phone is silver with a blue case.  And 64 GB!  I have so much space.  It's ridiculous.  I love it.  BJ got a black 32 GB with no case.  Because he's crazy like that.  I ended up taking the girls with me to the Verizon store to upgrade.  By myself.  With a 40 minute wait.  I know; I'm insane.  But I came prepared with snacks, coloring books, iPad and iPod.  And they actually did really well.  After each eating a fruit snack they proceeded to march around the store for about 5-10 minutes.  And then ate goldfish crackers.  And then danced to the music being played.  And then laid on the floor to "sleep" but really danced to the music while laying down (hence the picture).  And then at the very end we pulled out the electronics while I actually worked with the people to get our phones.

Speaking of The Way of Kings... its sequel, Words of Radiance, comes out in two days.  Crazy talk, I know.  I'm super excited.  Get ready for non-spoiler gushing next week.  Haha.  But, of course, the day it comes out I've scheduled an appointment with a contractor to give us a bid on our basement, and we have our youth fundraiser that night.  Then the next day is another bid and my homemaking craft night.  So, clearly I'm either going to have to stay up all night, or not get it all read in one day.  It's gonna be tough.

"Wait.  Bids on your basement?  What are you talking about Tianna?"  Glad you asked.  We've been saving up money to finish our basement.  Sadly savings for it has slowed as we've been needing to put extra money aside for Baby 3.0's birth.  But once that's done, basement finishing will be looming on the horizon for us.  Hopefully.  We realized that we didn't even know about how much to save.  So we didn't even know how far away that horizon was.  So we got some recommendations and have been having companies come out and give us bids for finishing our basement.  We've had one this week and will have two more next week.  And maybe we'll do just a little bit at a time.  Like, the bedroom (which will double as BJ's office unless he decides to stop working at home) and the bathroom first.  To make work nicer for BJ.  And then shelves in the storage areas.  And then the living area/game area/furnace closet/hall/stairs.  We'll see how it ends up working out...  So maybe we'll have a finished basement when you get home, and maybe we won't.

Our neighbors to the west decided to put in a fence.  The posts are in now and the fence goes in on Tuesday.  Kessa is devastated.  "But Mommy!  Now we'll have to ask permission before we can go play on their swings and slide!"  "But Mommy!  Now if I want to jump on the trampoline (which is the house on the other side of the one being fenced) I'm going to have to climb over both fences!"  (Hah!  We explained that we'll still be able to walk around the house, through the front, to get to the next neighbor's house.  It's interesting, because I feel the same way.  I mean, I totally understand why they're doing it, but that doesn't mean I'm any less sad about it.  But interesting because when Kessa is sad about it, I can empathize with her, and she calms down really quickly.  "I know honey, I don't like it either.  But we'll get used to it and it'll be ok."  I need to try empathy with her more often when she's upset...

I went to the temple really early on Thursday.  I told you I printed tons of temple names, right?  Well, BJ and I decided that we need to do those names.  So we worked out a schedule where once a week one of us will go early in the morning while the other gets the girls ready.  Then the next week we switch.  So Thursday I woke up at 5 and went.  I did pretty well until the end.  And then I got hot and stuffy and just ready to Be Done.  And I couldn't have water with me.  So I was basically praying that I would be able to live through the rest of it.  Haha.  I made it!  Hooray!  But now I think I need to re-think my schedule.  I don't think getting less sleep is good for me while pregnant.  So now I think I'll try to figure out babysitting for Abby during Joy School or something.

Did you know there are new temple videos?  One came out several months ago and it was really cool.  It's nice to have an updated video with modern technology to replace the ones made in, what, the 70s or 80s?  Well, there's another new one.  So, two new ones.  And I got to see the second new one on Thursday out of sheer luck!  I love it.  I don't care how many times I've seen the temple video, and all of them are the same in words, of course, but this time, I actually cried.  They add so much emotion to it.  It really touched me more than any of the others have.  So I hope to see that one again soon.

Our stake is doing a children's choir for stake conference in a few weeks.  At my request.  Because, y'know, I don't have anything to do with my time.  Totally bored.  ;)  But I'm so glad I've taken the time to put this together.  Tonight was the first practice and they are so adorable!  I loved it.  Our stake music director, Bro. Hunsaker, is incredible.  He really works well with children.  We've only got two more practices, and I was nervous about that, but they're learning the music really well already, so hopefully they'll have it down pat with two more practices.  And, let's be honest, it's a children's choir.  Everyone will just think they're adorable.  :D  Hahaha.

The two houses across the street from us, in the other cul de sac, are done.  Well, one is done and one is almost done.  A new family moved into the one that's done yesterday.  So we had them over for dinner.  They're cute.  I think I'll like them.  And they've got a 3-year old boy, a 1.5 year old daughter and a baby on the way.  So they're a goodish fit for our kids.  So that's fun.

Today, thanks to questions by my 4-year old (and and BJ Homer) I learned several things:

1) Antarctica looks like a duck.
2) At the south pole, the sun rises and sets once per *year* (At the equinoxes). Which means they have 6 months of sun and 6 months of dark.
3) Antarctica has 24 time zones.
4) At the south pole, a clock synchronized to *any* time zone would be correct.
5) Due to resupply missions from New Zealand and sake of convenience, they just say that Antarctica is all on New Zealand times.


  • I think it’s hilarious that when Abby has her binkie and isn’t supposed to, she comes and finds me, but tucks her head down, like that’ll keep me from seeing it.
  • From BJ:
    Kessa asked me to make up a “butterfly song” to sing to her tonight. To the tune of “Once there was a snowman”:
    Once there was a butterfly,
    butterfly, butterfly
    Once there was a butterfly,
    In the wind it blew,
    blew, blew
    In the wind it blew,
    so so high.

    When I finished singing, Kessa said “Thank you for singing that song, Daddy. It was very wonderful and nice.”
  • Kessa was whining about something and I asked, “Why are you whining about everything today?” “No I’m not.” “Ok, let’s just take a deep breath.” “No, I’m done!” Complete with arms flailed out and walking out of the room. Turns out, she pays attention to what I do when I’m frustrated.  Oops.  :)
  • Kessa: I'm so excited to bleed again, do you know why? So I can have one of these bandaids!
  • Kessa: Can Izzy come over and play? If you say no, I’ll just ask Daddy.
  • Abby's two most commonly used phrases lately are "Don't!" and "Do not!"  Apparently a simple "no" no longer suffices.  Also, every time it reminds me of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when Mrs. Dursley is proud that Dudley learns a new word: Won't.  Hopefully we do a better job with Abby than the Dursleys did with Dudley, though...