Monday, December 8, 2014

We gave thanks.

This was our first Thanksgiving eating with family in awhile.  We always stayed in California while we lived there and last year was "off" for both of our families, which meant this year we were all "on".  Unfortunately, a stomach bug and bronchitis among cousins changed our location last minute and made my family's dinner smaller than we were planning.   

What we lacked in numbers, though, we made up for in the number of cheese balls (3!) and the pounds of potatoes consumed (the kind where there is more cream and cheese than potato--yum).  The Gourleys are trying to adopt a new practice of "chilling out"...not easy if you know us.  We were all about visiting and hanging out this year, trying to avoid any rush or try-to-just-get-it-over-and-cleaned-up attitude.

Everything was right with dinner--the kids were full from sneaking rolls before we even said the prayer and they all said "family" and "grandpa/grandma" when saying their thankful lists.  Tessa took full advantage of her first Thanksgiving holiday by eating her weight in turkey.

She continued her immersion into the holiday by ad shopping and watching football with her Uncle Chris.

From there, we headed to the Schows where we walked in to find this:

The gold and purple were SO beautiful.  Dinners at a table setting this nice just taste better, don't they?  I think they were channeling Downton Abbey and the only thing missing was Carson to oversee us eating.

Even the kid's table was decked out, complete with turkey napkins.

While Chad and I talked for a bit about the memories we made on Thanksgivings in California and guessed what we'd be doing if it was just our little group of 5, the truth is there is nothing like spending the holidays with our families.  I love this time of year when our hearts are so full and focused on the many blessing we have received.  Indeed, we have so, so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24

Happy Birthday to my most faithful blog follower (actually, maybe my only blog follower.)...

To the  person who waited for me after each of my classes on my first day of BYU, who once deposited a penny (that he found on the ground) into his bank account, who showed up to each of my softball and basketball games, who took Chad and I to Cancun and Alaska, who "taught me how to fish" and what the option play is in football and let me "help" paint the deck when I was 10...Tom G.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Viva Las Vegas

Chad had a conference a few weeks ago in Las Vegas.  I wasn't going to go, then I was, then wasn't...then Chad found out he was staying in a nice hotel and then I decided I for sure going.  Chad flew down on Monday.  He settled right in to a life of luxury and I warned him that life wasn't going to be the same once we got there.

The kids and I left Wednesday morning and headed down.  Caden knew it was 6 hours and asked over and over how many hours we still had left.  He was a pretty good helper at keeping both Tessa and Bryce happy.  I kind of enjoyed the drive actually, because there are just so many good memories of road trips to and from California.

It did take about 40 dum dum suckers for the boys and several graham crackers for Tessa, but we made it.  When we got to Vegas I had to run a few errands (get gas, pick up dinner) before we went to the hotel.  Caden told me, "I just feel like I need to introduce myself to everyone and let them know I'm a visitor here." And that he did.  I thought we drove by the Vegas temple and I made this huge deal of it until I realized it was just a fancy stake center.  Bummer.

I was not looking forward to the actual arrival at the hotel. There was no self-parking, only valet.  And as much as I love my minivan, it obviously didn't fit in next to the two limos and black lamborghini.   And then of course our luggage pile included a spiderman backpack, CARS undies showing in the side pocket and a huge stroller.

We hung out in our room for the evening and I put the kids to bed around 7:30 and followed about an hour later.  It was blissful...for about an hour.  At that time Chad came back from an evening meeting he'd been at and tried to move Bryce, who was in bed with me.  That set Bryce off, which woke-up Tessa.  She would only go back to sleep in bed with us, bringing the total to 4.  Since Chad and I don't usually let our kids in bed with us, they are not used to it.  This means that Bryce would sit up every 45 minutes and yell, "Mom and dad, you are squishing me!"  Sleep was kind of a joke, which was a shame because the bed was so stinking comfortable.

Chad had meetings all the next day so I put on my brave pants and took the 3 kids out to explore.    Our first stop was the m&m factory which was hugely misleading.  I thought it would show us how m&ms were made or something cool.  Instead, it should just be called the m&m store.  The store is 4 floors and only accessible via escalators, which Bryce decided at that very moment he was afraid of.  He wouldn't go up an escalator and so I had to take Caden and Tessa (in the stroller) up, leaving Bryce alone at the bottom, then ride back down and carry Bryce up.  We only made it to the 2nd floor.

After the m&m store, I convinced Caden we could walk all the way down to the Bellagio to see the gardens. Luckily, Caden was in a great mood and happily walked the whole way.  

If you want to know just how wildly inappropriate the Las Vegas strip is...walk it with a 6 year old.  I told him, "Do no talk to anybody, do not take anything from anybody, do not leave my side."  Unfortunately, we still had mishaps.  First, he picked up a card with a naked woman on it.  Then, it took my best creativity to explain the large hairy man wearing a wedding dress.  Caden thought the Transformer robot looked awesome, until he took his mask off. And luckily most of the jokes that the magician we stopped to watch went right over Caden's head.  Caden is becoming a really good little reader, which I am proud of, but wished just for that morning he would have forgotten how to.

Despite the colorful walk, the gardens were beautiful and worth it.  

By this time Caden was getting tired, I gave Bryce my last dumdum and Tessa was running out of crackers so we headed back to the hotel for lunch and naps.

Here is Bryce checking himself out in the Dolce and Gabbana store side:

The boys loved going on the elevators.  The hotel had the lobby on Floor 23, so you had to go to that floor to enter another elevator to get to your room.  Good thing the elevators had velvet benches to rest on while we were waiting.

We also spent a fair amount of time that afternoon at the swimming pool.  The pool, however, was not the type we were used to.  There was serene music playing and a bar serving fruity drinks that my boys were dying to try.  My kids couldn't understand why I kept "shhhing" them and reminding them to not splash that lady!  I counted myself lucky that the boys didn't comment on the two men who appeared to be honeymooning.
On our way out, an older, obviously well-off woman stopped me.  I was nervous, but she went on to tell me that she was impressed with my children and that they were very well-behaved.  

That night, Chad's conference was over so we went to Outback for dinner and to see a few more things.  We watched the BYU game and settled in for another night.  We demoted Bryce to Caden's bed and though Tessa still found her way in the middle of Chad and I, we slept considerably better that night.

Despite insisting that they were family friendly at the hotel, I can't imagine they were that pleased with my boys laying on the dragon, leather ottoman:

Or checking out the tassels on the statue of the naked woman (or the mom who quickly snapped a picture before asking him to put it back):

 And they might have been a little happy to see our minivan and jogging stroller leave their nice valet area the next morning:
 So maybe I wouldn't consider our Vegas trip a "vacation" but since we survived and Bryce still asks me every day if we can go back, I'll call it a win.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Bryce is usually the first kid up in our house.  He wanders around, hangs out with Chad for a bit, then requests his daily cup of coconut milk.  This morning he and I sat on the front porch and watched the sunrise together--it was so fun.

Later on, after Caden goes to school and Tessa lays down for a nap, it's back to just Bryce and I spending a majority of the day together.  We do some jobs, work on his "school work" and play outside together.  I spend a lot of QT with him.

Like any 3 year old, Bryce has funny quirks and is figuring out how the world works.  He will only wear certain clothes, changes several times a day, and has to wear pajamas at nap time.  

He insists on holding Tessa the second she wakes up--something that she tolerates for about 2 seconds.  She usually has a bottle once a day and he loves helping her take it.  Even on this day when he hadn't had a nap and was falling asleep while giving it--

Lately I have learned to watch what I say as so many of his sentences start with, "Remember you said...?"  It isn't until I have all of it repeated back to me that I realize how many things I say in a day.

Also, when I ask him to do something and he doesn't do it and I ask again,  he will sometimes say, "O-KAAAY.  If you'll stop saying that I'll do it!"  Little sass monster.  

He'll also say to me randomly when someone walks by us at the store or park, "I hate that lady, mom." And when I give him a sad look he asks, " you love her?"

Bryce still idolizes Caden.  Caden can talk Bryce into anything.  The other day I heard Caden whisper to him, "If you let me go first, I'll give you a thousand pieces of candy..." and poor Bryce buys it.  Some day he'll wisen up.  

Bryce loves getting in the bath.  If anyone in our house is bathing, he feels it his right to also be bathing.  The other morning he poured half the bubble bath in while I was getting dressed.  When I turned around he just said, "Sorry, mommy. Are you mad?"

But how can I be mad at this face?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Summer 2014

Sure it’s October, but we can still reminisce about summer, right?
Gratefully, my apprehensions about a long summer with endless days of entertaining my boys were for naught.  We quickly got into a groove which included daily swims, picnics and plenty of popsicles.

One night we were heading to a neighbor's wedding.  I told Caden to run up and change and I’d meet him to do his hair soon.  A few minutes later, he called from the bottom of the stairs, “Presenting...CADEN!” and stepped out like this.  He was so proud of combing his hair all on his own.
The funny thing is, about an hour later, he told us his head hurt and he couldn’t move his hair. lol.

I love having so many girl cousins for Tessa.  She’ll never go without someone to play with.

Love all the thighs going on in this picture of Tessa and Kambree:

So cute how Tessa is reaching over to grab Lexi:

A majority of our summer days were spent at the pool.  Caden is a great swimmer--he's always loved it.  Bryce took a bit of warming up, but was definitely better by the end of the summer.  It was my happy place...sitting by the side of the pool watching the kids swim.  

There were a few days I would tell Caden that I couldn't bring myself to go swimming that day.  It was usually on a Friday after 4 straight days and I'd say, "I just can't handle getting everyone in swimming suits, sunscreened, shoes on, snacks, towels, and loading us in to the pool."  But almost every time I proclaimed that, I'd change my mind around 3:00 in the afternoon and we'd end up there anyway.  

The boys were so brave to go down the slide alone.  Even Bryce would go down all by himself.  That's them on the stairs in this picture.  I heart those stairs and the way they would wear my boys out whilst I sat on a lounge chair at the bottom.

And, of course, Tessa got cuter.  Her personality is starting to come out and we love getting to know this new person.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Can I still blog about something that happened almost 2 months ago?  Good, because I still have some summer pictures that are coming.

At the end of August, Chad and I headed to Seattle for a long weekend to attend a wedding of one of Chad's classmates from veterinary school.  Of course, we had Tessa in tow, but it's amazing how easy one baby feels when we're used to 3 kids.  We didn't know just how breezy life was 6 years ago when all we had was Caden.

The couple who was getting married listed some of their favorite eateries in Seattle and we pretty much planned our entire itinerary around hitting up as many of them as we could.  Sometimes, when I lay awake at night, I think about the pork sandwich from the Honey Hole.

We saw the original Starbucks (in the background) and you can tell how thrilled Chad was by it.  Starbucks is everywhere in Seattle.  I think Starbucks is to Seattle what church steeples are to Utah.

We were just walking down a path when we unintentionally came to the gum wall.  I was gagging and could barely stay long enough to take a picture, let alone add my own spit to the wall.  Next time, maybe.

Pike's Market was a highlight, of course.  So many beautiful colors and fun things to see.  I had a fresh crab cocktail (yum!) and Chad ordered garlic fries.  And by garlic fries, I mean burn-your-mouth, smell-for-days amounts of garlic.  I'd pass on those next time.

We hiked around different parks and trails around the city to see different points of view.  Again, it's amazing how easy these things were with just Tessa.  I can only imagine the handfuls of skittles it would have required to get my boys through the day.

The non-food highlight of this day was the Ballard Locks and Salmon ladders.  I won't bore you with all the details of the salmon life cycle, but the transient woman who was hanging out there made it all so fascinating.  We stayed here for awhile watching ships pass through and salmon swim the ladders and I all but dragged Chad away to go to dinner.

On our way to the wedding the next day we stopped at the salmon fish hatchery to see the end of the process that we'd seen at the ladders the day before.  It was in such a beautiful area and really, truly amazing to see what the salmon do.  I know it's crazy, but the salmon were really one of the highlights of our whole weekend.

We also stopped at Snoqualmie Falls, but since Tessa was asleep in the car, we took turns getting out to see them.  

Selfie at the falls.  I sent it to Chad since he was in the car.

And the wedding was beautiful.

Seriously--look at this.

We had fun seeing Chad's classmates that had flown in from all over the country.  We danced, drank (lemonade for us--which was funny because we instantly picked our the other LDS couple there) and enjoyed being in such a beautiful place.

And this girl--she was a trooper.  But even the best of them get tired--

Monday, August 25, 2014

You know the saying, "When the cat's away, the mouse plays"?  Around our house we say, "When Tom G is away, Martha plays."

A few weeks ago, my dad was out of town fishing in Alaska and my mom took the opportunity to throw a week-long party.

I saw my mom six times that week.  One time was to meet up for snow cones at our favorite spot.  Three times were at the swimming pool where she carried a bag full of candy, snacks and squirt guns.  Another time was at the carnival where she purchased enough tickets to keep the grandkids busy for hours.

Favorite uncle:

My mom and sister were more than a little nervous when all the kids went on "The Magic Genie" ride:

And finally, at the end of the week, my parents gave all of us girls an early (very generous) birthday gift: dinner in SLC and Wicked tickets.

I hope my dad keeps up his annual fishing trip.  We'll take mom off his hands anytime...