Monday, March 9, 2015


I had never been to Houston before, so we wanted to go check out areas so that I would know where we should focus our online house hunt. We just went for a weekend, which happened to span Valentines Day and Derrick's birthday. It was a fun and very productive weekend. We did a lot of driving, so it was essential to have a hotel with a good pool. That's pretty much the only part of the trip that the kids loved.

We had heard that Sugarland and Pearland were good areas so we first checked out Sugarland. It was nice, but then we went to Pearland and instantly fell in love. It has awesome school systems and just felt right for us. So we looked up a church house, which are much more few and far between than we are used to. And we found that we absolutely loved the area it is in and that it's close to the freeway, which will cut time off Derrick's commute. So on Sunday we attended the ward there. A sister, about my age, got up to speak and she mentioned that they had four kids and had only been there a year and had loved it but were moving away this summer. I instantly knew they must of been there for fellowship, and probably had a house that would be available to rent this summer. So after the meeting we went up to her and her husband and found out that he was completing a fellowship in Cardiothoracic . They stayed and talked to us for about a half hour after sacrament. They were so kind and friendly and answered a lot of the questions I had. It was so great to talk to someone else who had gone through the same process as we were embarking on and to get some insight from them. They were truly an answer to our prayers. They gave us their address and contact info and then even showed us around their home. I really believe that once again the Lord is guiding our paths.
Yard Work
Kennan has had a bit of a problem as of late with being a Klepto or taking things without permission. We thought we had addressed this issue sufficiently but after his last incident (taking the hotel key card) we knew we needed to handle it more fiercely. So his punishment was to pull weeds out the the backyard flower beds for one hour every day for a week, as well as no friends for a week.  I was so proud of him for maturely accepting his punishment as he came home every day from school, put on his gloves, and without being asked or reminded he went directly out to do his job. He worked really hard and filled four garbage sacks with weeds (among other things that probably should not have been pulled).

 He did have some "help" from little sisters.
 I love that Alyssa is in that stage that she can independently fall asleep anywhere. She has almost grown out of naps, but when she needs one she just passes out wherever. 
 Garage Sale
Everyone knows I love to garage sale shop and every time I take the kids, which is pretty much any time I go, they ask when we can have our own garage sale. So with the baby coming and in preparation to move in a few months, I've been going room to room, closet to closet, and drawer to drawer making a huge pile of things to sell. Since housing is going to be more expensive in Houston and we may have to downsize, I've been trying to de-junk and get rid of non-essentials.The girls closet had three totes full of toys and I was able to get it down to one. I also realized that I don't really need a closet full of sheets, since I only ever use the one that is currently on the bed, or so many blankets. We also got rid of lots of stuff from the garage. At first the kids were a bit resistant to getting rid of so much of their stuff, but when I told them they could have the money from things they sold, they quickly became anxious to get rid of a lot of stuff. But as I was moving everything from the piles in the front room to the garage a few days before the sale, I was listening to a conference talk that was saying you should give generously of your means to the poor and needy. This made me question having a garage sale and ponder just donating it all to a charity. So when the kids came home that night I told them of the prophet's council, as well as the story of Jesus telling the man that in order to get into Heaven he should give all that he has to the poor and needy and follow Him. I wanted them to come to the same conclusion that I had of being more charitable, so I told them it was up to them to decide what we should do. We sat quietly as they pondered it, and I was hoping my stories had pricked their hearts. After a few minutes we took a vote and they were still adamant that we have the garage sale. Seeing how important it was to them and not wanting to deprive them of the experience, I told them we could compromise and have the garage sale, but then anything we didn't sell we would donate.

 Our dear friends the Francisco's were feeling adventurous that day and rode their bikes a long distance, across busy roads to our house. Jan is 20 weeks pregnant and much more energetic than I.
 Here is Cami selling a toy to a little girl.
 As soon as the garage sale started people starting coming in droves. I couldn't believe how quickly things started flying off the lawn. The thing that shocked me most was how popular the sheets and blankets were. We were selling most clothes, toys and stuffed animals for a quarter each, and they sure went fast. I was hoping to make a hundred bucks from the sale and we ended with $115, so it was definitely worth three hours of my Saturday. The kids loved and enjoyed it immensely. 
This is all the stuff we didn't sell. I know it looks like a lot of stuff, but it was nothing compared with what we started with. (We sold probably 2/3rds of our stuff). Lesson learned is that people will buy anything if you sell it for cheap enough (except VHS' can't even give those away)
The best part of having a garage sale was this rug. Jodi bought it over and put it in my garage sale pile cause she wanted to get rid of it. When I pulled it out to look at it I fell in love with it and decided to keep it for myself. It looks so good in my front room.
YMCA basketball
The parents and teammates are lining up to take the YMCA sportsmanship pledge.
 Kennan had to carry this stuffed bear with him all weekend as a part of a class project.
Thanks in part to this little girl, Kennan's basketball team was undefeated this season. The second to last game was really close. Towards the end of the game a player on the other team was about to take a shot (that he probably would of made) when Alyssa ran across the court and so they had to stop the game. We ended up winning by one point.
Family Scripture Study on the Mormon channel. My kids love the Mormon channel.
Oh, the climbing phase... 
Brynlee did this crossword puzzle all by herself one week in church. She just needed a little help with some spelling. I hate doing crossword puzzles but Brynlee is good at them. I thought this was pretty impressive for a kindergartner. 
One morning I woke up to the sound of the kids sneaking around. When I finally got up I found they had showered, dressed, and gotten all ready for school. Brynlee was so proud cause she washed her hair and fixed it all by herself. It took all my self control to just let it be and not try to "fix" it. I just bit my tongue and let her go to school with it that way. She said a friend at school taught her to do a pony tail.
Cami's 4th birthday party
 I got a Groupon for a couple of hours worth of bouncing at "Pump it up" so it only cost $3.50 a kid. Cami invited her three best friends for her birthday party. We went during the day during school hours so these girls had almost the whole place to themselves. They had so much fun.
 Unfortunately Faye wasn't feeling well so she had to go home early. But Cami loved the necklace kit that Faye gave her.
Next I took the girls to McDonalds and bought them Happy Meals.
 Kim made Cami these cute cupcakes baked in teacups. They were decorated on top with these little "princess pets". 
 Cami could hardly wait to open her gift from Grandma and Grandpa Allred. It's a good thing they have her covered cause I'm terrible at gift giving, and grandparents gifts are way more fun.
 Alyssa loved trying out Cami's new lip gloss.

 I was thrilled that Kim made enough cupcakes to take home and share with the other kids cause I had no desire to make or buy any after having a long and busy day.

 "Things I love" Relief Society Birthday Dinner
A few months ago I was put in as the Relief Society Meeting Coordinator, formerly known as "Enrichment Committee". This has to be the easiest calling ever cause the Presidency member over my calling is really good at organizing and delegating. She had a meeting at the first of the year and had us each choose a month to be in charge and plan the activity. I wanted to do my activity in February before the baby arrives. At first we talked about doing something boring and having a baked potato bar. But at the end of the meeting I told them I thought we should do something fun and make it like a real birthday party. So I came up with the idea as explained above.
 I made these centerpieces for each table. They were super easy and cheap and turned out cute.
Then I cut up a clean pink sheet that I had in my garage sale pile to use as table runners to frame the centerpieces.

 I had a sign on the food table that read "I love "mini" things". Get it...MINI instead of MANY...I thought it was cleaver, but I'm not sure if others caught my pun. We served Mini foods: Mini Taco cups, Mini carrots, black bean salsa with Mini chips, and mini fruit Kababs. 
We also placed conversation hearts around each center piece, to go with the "Love" theme. And Jan let us borrow these cute paper bag puffs that we hung around the room. It turned out adorable if I do say so myself.
Each sister brought something they love, wrapped and we had one sister come up and choose a gift. Then whomever brought that gift got to come up and tell us why they love that thing. The sister who opened it would keep it and the one who brought it would choose the next gift. It was a great way to learn a little bit about each other. I was super impressed with the creativity of each gift. And it was fun that everyone went home with something new to love. From the response I got back the sisters really enjoyed this activity. Jan even told me it was the best one she had ever attended. :)
 We had a great turn out and had planned perfectly food and table-wise.

 Kim made this beautiful cake to share with the ladies since making cakes is something she loves.
My mom sent this doll for Alyssa's birthday. Watching her love and kiss on the dolly makes me so excited to see her with the new baby when she comes. Derrick thinks she is going to be jealous of the new baby but I think she will do fine and will love helping me take care of her. Now if I can only get Alyssa out of my bed before the baby comes. For me potty training is way easier than sleep training cause I'm just too tired at night to deal with crying.
My kids still love to play games, and this was definately a Kodak moment. Cami kicked butt playing "Eye Spy". She made 5 matches before the other two even scored. And Derrick didn't help her. In this picture he is just checking to make sure she really found a match. Kennan and Bryn were so embarrassed to lose to her so profoundly.
 It was "Crazy Sock Day" at school and being the boring mom that I am we don't own any crazy socks. But instead of insisting we go out and buy some, Brynlee asked if I have some socks she could decorate. So I gave her some old tube socks, which needed to retire anyway, and she used fabric markers to decorate them. I love that my kids are learning to be creative and use what we have verses going out and buying everything. And she used this box to ensure she didn't get marker on my table.
 8 months pregnant
 The good new is that we now know that this baby won't be born as early as Alyssa. It's crazy to think that Alyssa was already 2 weeks old a this gestation. Derrick says I'm already way bigger than I have been with any of my other pregnancies. And he is right. I can hardly wait for little Emmaline to come. But for now, I'll just enjoy having a built-in table to eat my cereal on cause I'm feeling too sick to go to the dinner table and eat real food. I tend to get more nauseated again towards the end.
My Baby shower

Let's be honest, women shouldn't be having baby showers for their 5th baby. But when Page Otto told me she wanted to throw a party for me I agreed on the condition that no one brings gifts. I was just happy to have an excuse to get together with my friends. Page did a killer job with the party. The food was amazing. She told everyone that in lieu of gifts to sign up to bring me a meal. She posted calendars on side of her fridge that spanned from April till June and people signed up for whatever date they wanted. I love that it's spread out like that cause I ended up with a meal a week for three months!
Then we sat in a circle around Page's living room and we each took turns telling our best "life hack", which is something we do to make our lives easier. It made for great conversation and was fun to share ideas.
My annual Haircut and color
 My hair was long and fried so I chopped several inches off. I was a little reluctant to do so cause I love having long hair, but I knew it was necessary. 
My sister Rebekah who sews for a living sent me that. It was too funny not to post on here so I can keep it forever. It makes me smile every time I read it.
Photography class
 I've been going to a weekly photography class at Kim's house. She bought an online course and burned it to a disk so we could watch it with her. I have learned so much about what adjusting the settings on a DSLR camera can do. Although, I'm not very good at it yet and need lots of practice.

 Potty Time
 I am so proud of this little toddler. She was super easy to potty train. I only wanted to throw her out the window for like the first three days, then she totally caught on and is 100% trained. No diapers or pull ups day or night. She was only 22 months old when she learned. She has only ever had a couple accidents. And I feel completely comfortable taking her to the store or anywhere without worrying about accidents. She has good control and is good at telling me when she needs to go "pawee". I must admit, although doing this before the baby comes was very important to me cause I didn't want to have two in diapers, my main motivation was my mother telling me that she was too young and wasn't ready. Derrick even doubted her readiness. But that made me really determined to do it and it felt great to prove them wrong. 
 Derrick's Drill Weekend
 Dad preparing for a three day drill. He stayed up all night to get ready, which was unfortunate since he had to sleep in the cold in tents for the next two night. I take that back, he didn't do any sleeping there either. I'm so grateful to be married to a hard worker and such a good provider.
 Alyssa's 2nd Birthday
 Where did the last two years go? This cute little toddler is growing up too fast. She is a very happy and sweet little girl. But she is a little shy and doesn't like strangers. She is the most attached to me of any of my kids at this age. She is also the most polite, which is saying a lot following Cami. Without prompting she tells me "thank you" all day long. I mean every time I wipe her bum, give her a cup of water, put her shoes on...etc...she says "thank you" which sounds more like "dank ooo". It's super cute. She also says "Your welcome" a lot, which sounds like "ur kakam." She also says "excuse me" when she sneezes and "sorry mommy" if she does something naughty (like spill her milk). It's amazing how far she has come in the last two years. Her precarious and difficult beginning has not interfered with her development at all. She is right on track of where she should be. She talks a lot but her articulation isn't great, which is probably due to the fluid she had behind her ear drums for so long as a baby. But it's getting better all the time. She does struggle with a little eczema on her torso, which doesn't seem to bother her. Other than that she is very healthy and perfect. Alyssa has brought so much joy to our family and we feel so blessed to have her.
 Toddler's first Selfie:
 I'm glad she will smile and hold still while taking her own picture cause she definitely didn't do that when I was trying to snap pictures of her.
 She had her two year well child check on her birthday, which was mean to do since she had to get up to date on her shots. She is in the 50th percentile for height and 50th percentile for weight. She is practically perfect in every way.