eliza's first recital.

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Eliza had her first dance recital a couple of weeks ago. She has been taking a ballet class at my studio all year with her best friend, Sage. It fulfilled all my mommy dreams.

Sara and I would switch off taking the girls to class each week. On days that I took them, we always got there a little early so they could play in the big grassy field next to the studio. They would climb the fig tree, and build houses in the plants. Then, we would run inside for class. Eliza was always wearing a random concoction of tutus and leotards, and rarely ever tights. The girls would run around the studio, laughing and playing until their teacher turned the music on. I would sit on the side, bouncing Sadie, while the girls tiptoed around the room. I loved watching her little bourrées- her tiny feet and skinny legs, and the last bit of baby belly hanging over her skirt. Sometimes she would be overly-silly and wild, and sometimes she would be very serious. She was especially serious about her "first position" and would often miss half of the dance, trying to force her toes out to the side.

Ariana taught her class this year, and they learned three whole dances- "Bongo," "Twinkle, Twinkle," and "Winnie the Pooh." I got to be backstage for one entire show, and then sit in the audience for the second show. I loved being backstage. The girls were so giddy with excitement. They loved putting on make-up, especially the glitter. And, Eliza was really into her crowns. 

They both did such a good job during their performance! I was nervous for Eliza, because she got very scared and worked up during dress rehearsal and cried for one entire number. But, she was all smiles for the recital. Well, on stage she was mostly deer-in-the-headlight. But, she still had fun. 

My favorite moment was when she found a shiny sequin on the ground in the middle of her dance, and spent the second half of the dance trying to pick between her fingers. At one point, she dropped it when she had to loop elbows with Sage and skip around and around- but she kept her eyes on that sequin, whipping her head around with every turn. When the lights turned off, she proceeded to feel around on the ground for it until she was ushered offstage.

Another favorite moment was the first time the kids practiced on the stage at dress rehearsal. The balancing at the end of "Twinkle, Twinkle" was so, so good (hilarious). Also, at the end of the dance, the kids were supposed to bourrée off into the wings. But, since they had never danced on the stage, and the wings weren't dropped yet, they all sort of slowly scattered out towards the audience. Ah, dance mom dreams! I firmly believe that the funnier a 3 year old performance is, the better. 

I loved waiting around backstage with them. The girls would play and laugh, and chat nonstop. These girls are such good friends. We waited outside for awhile, and they made up this game where they would hide behind a wall, pop out and dance, bow, and then run and hide again. Over and over, until I thought my face would bust from happiness, and I they would melt into a fit of giggles. 

I got the girls each a bouquet of roses after their last performance, and Eliza was so happy. I love this girl so much. And, I am so proud of her for sticking with it this year and having such a lovely recital performance. She makes me smile!

I don't have the official performance video yet, but I did catch this video of her at the dress rehearsal. It's the "Twinkle, Twinkle" dance I mentioned before. Eliza is the third from the left, with the super exaggerated balances at the end!


Redwoods Graycation.

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This is so late, but I have had zero time to sort through my life lately. But, I had to take a minute to remind my future self that we had THE most amazing weekend out in the woods with our family, and I wish we could all go back!

Sam's youngest brother just returned from a two-year mission for our church, serving the people in Northern Texas. Literally, two days after he stepped off the plane, he was whisked away for an entire week of Graycation 2017! We have been talking about doing something like this for years and years. After Sam and I found our "Redwoods Cabin" we often thought, "This would be the perfect place for the Grays." The place has a huge lodge, super long dining table, massive deck, enough beds for everyone and then some, and endless amounts of outdoor games and fun. But, I was still actually a little surprised when we somehow convinced the entire family to fly/drive out to California for a reunion in the Redwoods. I say "reunion," but really they all live in Utah and we are the only ones who live away. So, I am so grateful that they were willing to come out here for the fun! Unfortunately, one family was not able to come out, and their absence was definitely felt. We missed you guys!

We spent a couple of days hanging out in Berkeley and San Francisco, and some were even able to catch a Giants game. And, then we all packed up for a five day stay at Camp Liahona Redwoods. That is, after we had the most epic Costco trip and filled an entire pallet with food. We bought so much food. We obviously ended up bringing quite a bit back with us, but you never know with this troop. Those boys can eat.

We spent our days playing in the lodge, making puzzles, playing cornhole on the deck, eating, pitching in the field, kayaking in the river, eating, lounging, sleeping, and eating. We spent one day out at the coast, playing spike ball and dipping the babies toes in the ocean. We had the best gaggle of babies to entertain us. The second to last picture is of Anthony with all five babies that were born while he was gone on his mission. Sadie will have so much fun with these cousins when they are older! For now, they tentatively played next to each other, occasionally stealing each other's toys. Sadie is, unfortunately, used to some intense rough play from her older sister, and kept hitting and climbing on the twins. Poor guys.

Speaking of, we all got to celebrate the twins' first birthday on the trip! We had a little cake smash and everything.

Eliza was so excited to have so many people to entertain her. I was nervous that she would be jealous of all of the babies, but everyone was so generous in giving their time and attention to E. Every time i turned around, someone was happily reading her a book or playing a game with her. And, I think she felt special to be able to play in the water and float in the kayaks with the adults, while the babies played on the beach. She even found a tiny toad, and collected endless amounts of treasures. And, one of my favorite memories was making art crafts on the deck with her.

I will say it again and again- I am so grateful to have married into this family. They are so loving and kind, and such fun. It was fun to be around Sam's brothers' new families, too. We haven't really been all together a lot since the addition of these new babies. I always find it interesting to see what kind of parents your loved ones become, when you have known them before they had kids. They are all stellar parents, and I feel like I learned so much from them in that short week! And, Sam's parents are always such examples of patience and love. Thank you, Grays. Here's to next year's Graycation!

eleven months.

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Sadie baby is another month older, and only getting cuter. I can't even. I really can't. I'm really obsessed with this child lately. Smother Mother status.

She has just blossomed these last few weeks. Her personality is sparkling, and her list of talents is growing leaps and bounds. She is patient and accommodating, and such a pleasure. I am loving this age.

My favorite development lately is her ability to come up with the most creative, and sometimes creepy, ways of moving about. Sadie decided to skip the traditional route of baby development: rolling from back to front > army crawl on the belly > crawl on hands and knees. She hated being on her belly so much, that it just never happened. Once she figured out how to sit up on her bum, she was set for life. I really didn't think she would ever start moving.

But, this last month she started to figure it out. First, she scooted backwards on her bum- using her hands to push off. Then, she slowly started to scoot forwards- using her legs in a very strange, octupus-type fashion. (Think: Ursula from The Little Mermaid, with her ungulating tentacles and pudgy arms moving her across the deck of the ship during the wedding crasher scene.) She is disturbingly flexible, in this way. She soon realized that she could push all the way through the center, straddle split to her belly and push back to her bum again. She started using this technique to retrieve items to play with. Then, she started to scoot forward in the splits with one leg forward and one leg back. (Think: fat, chubby inchworm.) She also started to do a "peg leg" scoot with one leg out to the side to steady herself, and her fat, little hands pulling her weight forward. Now, imagine all of these strange modes of transportation in super fast motion, which is what happened after she gained traction of the past week or so. (Think: a super cute version of that creepy girl from The Ring.)

And, that's where Sadie is these days. She has gotten pretty darn fast at moving. So, we have to keep an eye on her. But, really she's not that fast at all because her movement is restricted by the fact that she refuses to lift her bum off the ground. Although, the last couple of days I have seen a very tentative splayed out, froggy hands-and-knees crawl, and even a hands and feet monkey walk stance. When she starts moving normally, I will be so sad!

She is such a funny, happy girl. She gets a huge smile when she sees any one of us. And when she's extra happy, she will laugh and laugh and shake her head around. She makes us all smile,

Sadie lately:

growl- She is often growling these days. You hear it often when she is absentmindedly exploring. She will be scooting about the house looking for items to play with, with a low growl in her throat like some sort of creature.

in her mouth- Sadie is always putting things in her mouth. Duh, all babies do that. But, what I love, is that she knows she's not supposed to. So, if I see her suspiciously rolling something around in her mouth, I hold out my hand in front of her pursed lips and say, "Sadie??" And, pfft! She will immediately spit it into my hand with a look of, "Well, you can't blame me for trying."

cuddles- I love cuddling this child. I love it, because she loves it. She could lay in my lap almost all day. And, if I lay down with her on the couch, her left thumb always finds her mouth, and her right hand always floats up to the side of my face and rests there, pressing my cheek into hers. My baby love.

Eliza game- Sadie loves to play games lately. She loves to throw things on the ground and have you pick them up (my favorite...) She loves to knock down towers. She loves to slowly tear paper up. She loves to take things in and out of containers. And, she LOVES to play games with Eliza. The "Eliza Game" is when Sadie sits on my lap, with her back to the room, while Eliza runs into the other room to hide. When I yell, "Eliiiiizaaaa!" Sadie will immediately start turning her head this way and that and cracking up with anticipation, especially when she hears Eliza's footsteps coming close. Unfortunately, by the time Eliza actually reaches her and she gives her a huge, uncomfortable hug, Sadie is totally over it. But, she's always up to play the game again once she is free from her grip.

food- Sadie eats so much food. I know I keep saying this, but I am always so surprised at how much she consumes. I feed her all. day. long. She eats her food and half of Eliza's, and still bangs her hand on the table for more. Lately she loves cut up berries, and stuffs whole fistfuls into her mouth. This is the lovely age where they are constantly and completely filthy.

happy gestures- She has the cutest happy gestures. When she is excited about something, she will shake her head back and forth and laugh. When she sees something she wants, like food on the table, her arms will flap up and down or they will hover to the side and she will roll her wrists over and over in anticipation. And, when she's happy and content, she will rub her belly and tug on her shirt. When she is feeling love, she will wrap her arm around yours and hold you in a most precious embrace. She is everything I imagined in a baby.

cozumel, part 3.

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This last post is dedicated to my two favorite places on the last two days of our trip. It was the end of the week, when everyone was feeling settled and content. It was really the happiest few days we have had as a family of four.

We found our favorite beach. It's surprisingly a bit of a cruise ship destination, but more calm and relaxing. Buccannos is a restaurant with a beautiful, sandy beach and pool. It used to be attached to a hotel, but the hotel was destroyed during a recent hurricane. You have to pay a small fee to enter, so between the fee and the fact that their are no actual people staying at the hotel, the beach is really just perfect. Also, all the cruise ship people have to head out around 2, and then the beach is virtually empty.

You can order food and have it brought to your chair, and it is surprisingly good and affordable. I ate my weight in nachos, fish tacos, and piña coladas. We saw tons of other kids, and the music playing was fun and not obnoxious. The view was amazing, the water was perfect- need I say more?

We hung out here all day for those last few days. It was a great spot for us to keep track of Eliza, while still letting her play freely. We could also split up easily to spend time with each girl, so that Eliza felt some attention. She loved to jump off the edge so we could catch her, and to doggy paddle around and around the pool. I can't tell you how happy it made me. This was what I had been imagining when we planned this trip.

My favorite part of the entire trip was when we finally got the entire family in the ocean at the same time. The girls were floating freely in their floaties, and we were all just bursting with smiles. Eliza got brave and would float beside me, without me holding on. She had been nervous to get into the ocean until this point, but discovered that she loved the way the waves would gently push her along. Sadie finally decided she loved it, as well, and would rest her head on the edge of her floatie and smile her toothy grin. We laughed and made up silly songs, and just swam around in the sun.

It's also a great spot to snorkel. We saw several colorful fish, a puffer fish, a trumpet fish, and a slow-moving conch. We didn't end up paying to do a snorkel out at the reefs this time, which was a bummer. But, our friends tipped us off to a great spot in front of the Mexican President's home that Sam got to snorkel on the last day we were there. I stayed with the sleeping girls in the car, while Sam snuck around the side in and he said he was blown away by the sea life. The place is empty and unguarded while the President is not visiting, the coral is untouched and healthy. 

On one of the last nights, we left the girls with Jen and Jeff and got to stay the night at the hotel from our honeymoon. It was just as beautiful as I remembered. We decided if/when we come back, we are just going to stay there. Playa Azul is peaceful and quiet, but right next door to Buccannos for good swimming and play. They have an amazing breakfast, and the snorkeling is also good. I love that place. It was so nice to be alone. We haven't been alone in a long, long time. And, I think we really needed it. 

Life with kids is exhausting, but I'm glad I get to do it with Sam Gray. And, I'm glad we get to do things like this together. I love my little family, and I'm so grateful we are able to travel together and make memories like these. Cozumel will always be my happy place...