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Wow... where do I even begin. I am SO behind!

All I can say is, life is REALLY good right now.

We are enjoying the cooler AZ weather, school and routines are in full swing, photo shoots and friends are keeping me busy and most importantly, health and happiness are at its PEAKS right now.... I can't complain!

Heavenly Father continues to fill us all with peace and bounteous blessings.

I am SO grateful

I can't have a post with NO pictures... so I'm jumping ahead and just going to post some photos from little Ms. Hallie Mae's baptismal photo shoot:

Blog posts galore coming soon. There is SO much catching up to do ;)

Babe, I miss you incredibly, but I have a feeling you are smiling down on all of us right now.

I love you, ALWAYS


SO happy!!!!

I couldn't be more excited for the month of July to come. It's your baby girl's birthday month and a pretty important one at that- she is turning 8 and getting baptized. It is now time to pull out these special items and wrap the MOST important gifts your baby girl is going to get :)
How grateful I am that you took the time to make the kids these videos for their major milestones/Birthdays.
I cannot wait to hear the words of love and advice you will give Hallie. What a special gift!
Since Hallie will be receiving a set of scriptures as part of her birthday/baptismal gift, you wrote her a special letter
I still am in AWE of everything you did for the kids and I before you passed.
Thank you for helping to make this day so special

Loves you MUCHO


I'm BACK...

Wow, almost a 2 month hiatus from blogging- BUSY, fun, much needed Summer break and LOVING it!

Let's go back a little bit to May... it was ROUGH. Like I've said in the past, I have had moments that were hard, but nothing beyond that. However, May's "moments" seemed to last just a TAD bit longer, like ALL month long- YUK! I was missing you like crazy, had some decisions to make, had a heavy heart and was feeling a little lost. Thank goodness for answered prayers- I have WONDERFUL friends here who were my pick-me-up when I needed it most. They let me cry, vent (basically ramble), all while talking me through things and making me laugh. I needed them more than ever during that time and I am so grateful they were there for me.

Although my friends helped me get through many rough patches, I still had a lot going through my mind. I have never really loved how early the kids start school here, but I do LOVE how early they get out. So, the day after Hallie finished school, we left on a 6 week vacay. Boy was it NEEDED... it saved my sanity and left me feeling VERY rejuvenated.

So what were we up to?
We went to one of your FAVORITE places... Wyoming
SO beautiful!

While there, we went to Utah and Idaho to visit family and friends. Then we flew back home to AZ and quickly packed up to head out to California for more family time.
The beach is SO relaxing and peaceful...LOVE IT!

We had a BLAST during all our travels visiting family and friends

So what are we up to now?
Busy, Busy, Busy
Enjoying the rest of summer and preparing for lots of company. There are some special things going on at the end of this month- a little someones 8th birthday and Baptism

BUT, busy is always good!
It feels good to be back home...

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A year ago today...

I still remember that day, it is so vivid in my mind. It was early in the morning and I can see the dim lamp on in the room, the shadows of everything else all around. I decided to crawl into your bed and say a few things...

During your fight with cancer, we talked about EVERYTHING and ANYthing. There was nothing left undiscussed. From the sad, to the serious, to the funny and happy topics, we talked about it ALL. But on this very morning one year ago, I still wanted you to know ONE more time how I felt.

As I lay there next to your tired, resting body, I began by thanking you. I was in awe of everything you had been through and the way you carried yourself through it all. Years of serious complications from your Chron's Disease, to your almost 1 year battle with cancer, you NEVER complained. I thanked you for your courage to keep fighting, when it would have been easy to give up. You continually remained faithful, hopeful and optimistic. You are an example that I will never forget and only hope to emulate as time continues to go on. I thanked you for taking such great care of the kids and I. You were our provider from day one, and you did everything in your power to make sure we had the things we needed and yes, wanted too ;) I was so grateful for that final trip we took to California just days before and I thanked you for giving me that time. I was so lucky to have found someone so wonderful and good to me. I was so thankful for the 9.5 years you blessed my life. I couldn't have asked for someone better to be the father of our children. How thankful I was for your devotion to our family. I know it was your family that helped keep you going during that last year and I was extremely thankful for that.

Next, I told you how much I loved you. I married my best friend, you truly were the light of my life. You made me the happiest at times and drove me crazy at times, but no matter what, our love was SO strong. I told you EVERY day that I loved you- there was NO doubt that I loved you with all my heart. But the moment the Dr told us this was going to be the "end," I made sure to say "I LOVE YOU'' at every chance I had. Every time you opened your eyes and EVERY time they closed again, I made sure to say it because I never knew when it would be the last. I love you babe, always and forever.

Then came the hardest words to say...
If it was time, then it was time.
I told you that I was okay with everything- you had fought long and hard enough and your poor body was SO tired. I wanted you to know that the kids and I would be okay. Of course we would ALL miss you like crazy, but that we would be okay. I thanked you some more, told you I love you some more and I am sure said a million more things to you, but those things are for you and I to always hold close to our hearts, remember and cherish forever...

I got out of bed, gave your head a kiss and laid down on the couch next to you and watched you sleep.

The rest of morning/day was spent watching your tired body sleep until it was time. Watching those final breaths was so heartbreaking, but lovely at the same time because I KNEW where you were going. I KNEW that you were finally at peace and could live full of life and joy until we are reunited once again. At that very moment, I had a peace come over me that has NEVER left and I am so eternally grateful for that.

Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and wonder what you are up to. I often find myself wondering what you would have done or said in particular situations and find myself laughing at my response. When I am frustrated with something, I find myself talking out loud asking you to help me out. On the other hand, when I am really happy and proud about something, I find myself squealing in excitement asking if you are just as proud and/or happy for the kids and I too. I miss having my best friend, my lover, my helper, my tease, my confidant, my peacemaker, my light and my love by my side, but i know you are there. At the end of the day, when I get into bed without you, I give thanks that I had 8.5 years to have you by my side.

Thank you.
I love you.
and of course...
I WILL see you again.
Love and MISS you so very, very much.

{Ryan's Life slide show}

Lastly, Happy Birthday to your sweet Mom.

Debra, I hope this day is full of love and peace.
Thank you for raising such a beautiful, beautiful boy...

With all my heart Babe- i LOVE you.



I laugh, I cry, I smile...

I already knew some boy in Hallie's class liked her and she kinda liked him. But whatever, it would probably only last a day anyways, so NO BIGGIE.

That was until she brought home THIS, from a different boy:
I smiled, laughed out loud and THEN, it hit me.

I don't want this yet.

Yes, she is a cutie pie. BUT, she is also my BABY and I don't think I am ready for this. Not now and not ANY time soon.

Days like this, make me miss you in a happy way. They make me wonder what you would have said to Hallie and what we would have said to one another about it. For sure you'd tease her like CRAZY, but then.... ?!?

Then it hits me {once again} that it is now May and your anniversary date is just around the corner. It will be here in less than 2 weeks and I can't help but cry because I miss you SO much.
Your voice, your touch, your smirkey little grin, your silliness, your helpfulness, your hard work, your love, your light and those gorgeous blue eyes- I just miss everything!

There is not a DAY that goes by that I don't think about you, but thank goodness for memories. I have 9.5 years of happiness stored up to bring a smile to my face :)

Missing and loving you, ALWAYS
~Love you Ry~


Fun in the SUN

This marks our 1st year of a sisters trip and we already can't WAIT for next years. We decided this year to meet up in Indio, CA, which was a reasonable meeting place for all of us.
As soon as we got in, it was time for the pampering to begin...
We all had an hour long massage and it was GREAT! {Okay, I lie... there were a few times I had to hold my breath because the pressure was a little TOO intense and downright painful. But other than that, it was great!}
We then checked into the condo...
Worldmark @ Indio, CA
This location was BEAUTIFUL. I would have NEVER guessed I was in the middle of the desert- a true oasis!

We enjoyed our dinner around the jacuzzi and then went back to the room where we stayed up till 1:30 chatting. {This makes me laugh even writing that. I remember when 1:30am was just the beginning of our nights. Ya, NOT anymore- that's what having kids (and old age) will do to you!}

We woke up the next morning, headed to the gym and then came home for breakfast.

The cooks:
{Jen, Anna, Jess}

Then headed to the pool for some sun
{note to self: NEVER wear spf 4 on areas that have not seen sun in 10+ yrs}

After laying out, we went straight to get our pedi's and eat lunch

Sushi @ Frankie's
{Annalee, Jessica, Jennifer}

Quail eggs anyone?!?

My lunch:
Most delish tempura shrimp rolls EVER

We went to the grocery store to find the most AMAZING candy/bulk food isle.
And YES, the idiom 'a kid in the candy store' was a literal experience for us- overwhelming and awesome!

The rest of the trip was spent at the condo in the lazy river/pools, laying out and eating...
when we got too hot, we cooled off with some Pina Colada slushies from the Market

The meals we made were SO simple and SO good
and of course, what is a celebration without "CHEERS"?!?

Store bought pizza and salad never looked SO good...

On our final night, we headed to the Mexicali Cafe for dinner

Saw a beautiful sunset
ate to our little hearts content

Can't wait for Sisters Weekend 2012...
I feel so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful family...

Love you babe and that AMAZING fam of yours!
PS- i LOVE this song. It's one of those songs that the beat alone makes me so incredibly happy. Then the lyrics- LOVE IT!

"This is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine.
Oh, you'll turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you'll turn out fine...
I know it's hard, know its hard,
To remember sometimes,
But you gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh...
Only rainbows after rain
The sun will always come again.
Its a circle, circling,
Around again, it comes around again.

"Keep Your Head Up" -Andy Grammer



The TRUE meaning of Easter:


What a blessing it is to know that we will be a family, FOREVER...


I blogged...

On your blog, with a smile on my face...
and it felt SO good!


Selfishness, tears and never-ending LOVE...

Over the past month and a half, laziness and I have became good friends.
I got very used to lying around while reading, surfing the net, writing the occasional blog post and just "resting." {I sound like quite the winner, huh?!?} So when my leg could finally handle being in a position OTHER than elevated, I knew it was time to start work again...

So after a busy past couple of weeks, I finished up with these yesterday:
and boy does it feel SO good to be done!

After several consecutive full days and late nights of work, I was ready for a break!

So, on my way out of the grocery store today, I got myself a DVD to go home and watch. Usually, if I am to watch a movie, I do so after the kids are in bed. BUT, not today...

I came home and let Max put on a movie in the play room and I selfishly, sat down and began watching my movie. There was laundry to be folded, carpets needing vacuuming and probably 20 MORE things I could have done, but as I sat there like a LAZY BUM, I didn't feel remotely guilty about my decision or my actions.

It's OK to be selfish sometimes.

...and selfish I will be at the upcoming girls trip planned with your 3 BEAUTIFUL sisters! We are ALL very excited for our weekend getaway. Since this is a childless trip, I look forward to no whininess, no fighting and lots of uninterrupted conversations. I guess there could still be all of that, but at least it won't be from kids{ha ha} JUST kidding! I have started to feel sad about leaving the kids because I know I will miss them. However, the thought of being able to be COMPLETELY selfish and NOT feel guilty about it is a strange, but VERY welcomed feeling.

GEEZ, I hate how guilt so easily creeps its way into things!

So feeling kinda sad/guilty about leaving the kids and wanting to do something fun before I leave, I decided to take the kids out to dinner tonight. As we sat there talking and eating our pita bread with the yummy Tzatziki sauce and hummus, I started feeling weird. I tried to push whatever feelings aside and just focus on being with the kids- YAY!

Except "YAY" was NOT how I felt, I felt more like "blehhhhhh"

I kept trying to tell myself that we were out to have a GOOD time
It WASN'T working.

My eyes started to well up with tears and I was trying like MAD to hold them back. At that moment, I knew what the underlying cause of this sadness was- I felt empty. I looked around the restaurant and it was NOTHING but families/couples. Yes, I was there with our little family, but a BIG part of that family was missing, and it hurt.

I felt alone in my sadness, as everyone else there seemed so happy and content. {It was one of those, I just want to crawl into bed, feel sorry for myself and cry moments} Luckily, the two little munchkins saved me- I found myself frustrated with their craziness and laughing at their silliness and with that, the pain eased. I was able to continue on with the night and enjoy myself with the kids. We DID have a good time! {I must also thank the person who texted me with some Vanilla Ice lyrics for making me smile too- that was pretty funny!}

How grateful I am though for our two little cutie pies that keep me going each day.
They give me something to smile about {and yes, sometimes be frustrated and frazzled about}, but I love them to pieces.
I love them, just as I love you and
Some things, will NEVER change...