Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monsoon Rains

 Arms wide open and tongue hanging out trying to catch the rain- she doesn't mind the Monsoon rains one bit.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meeting a 3 week old sweetheart

I was so excited to hear that my friend Christie had her baby in the beginning of July. But I was super bummed that Taryn was sick and within a day or two, I was sick too which delayed us being able to bring a meal over and meet their precious baby.  It took us a little over a week to fully recover but we  finally got to meet little Savannah! Holding a newborn requires completely different muscles and I have to admit,  I had forgotten just how tiny newborns are. I am so used to having Taryn on my hip and constantly moving that I  forgot newborns are so very still and more often than not, fast asleep. Savannah is adorable and so is her mom. We are so happy for the Dickson's addition to their family. And even happier that we were able to meet her before we left Arizona.

I couldn't believe how big Taryn seemed to us compared to their newborn baby. Taryn was running around, discovering everything about the new place, and dancing for us. But when Taryn sat by me as I held Savannah she was quite, calm, and even kissed Savannah on the head several times. 
Oh so very sweet to see!
Now we just hope that medical school brings them a lot closer to the East Coast in the next few years- right Christie? :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

He's 25 now

I guess when you turn 25, it's ok to get an early nibble of birthday cake and throw an empty pack of candles over the hole hoping your wife won't notice. 
Yup- it is. 
I let it slide (this time!) because we usually do a traditional birthday breakfast where we eat cake for breakfast (and canned peaches & pears) but because church started at 8:30am we knew it just wouldn't work to do it for his 25th birthday. In the middle of the day, as the cake stared Tyson down, he said, "I like Birthday Breakfasts so much more! I don't have to wait ALL DAY LONG to FINALLY eat my cake!"
Long live Birthday Breakfasts!
For Tyson's 25th birthday we celebrated with family which was wonderful. We know that big family birthday celebrations for us will be few in the next coming years so it's great to take it all in while we can.
We ate at Chompie's (featured on Man Vs. Food) for his birthday meal the day before and all had our fill of pastrami, sauerkraut, and pickles. It was delicious and Tyson claims he could eat pastrami every day of his life and be perfectly happy. 
Tyson helped our neighbors move the day before which gave him a nice birthday bruise (that got seriously worse as the day went on) after moving a fridge on a dolly over a door lip. Ouch!

 As requested by the birthday boy, Janis made her famous egg rolls. I have heard so much about these egg rolls in our almost 3 years of marriage but didn't dare try to make them without a lesson from Janis first. I was able to watch her with every step and then roll and fry the egg rolls myself. I am slowly collecting all of Tyson's favorite "Mom" recipes so that I can recreate them for him at any time. I know I will never be able to make it exactly like "Mom" but I am sure gonna try! Janis also made Tom Kha Ghai - a traditional "Coconut soup" from Thailand- and cabbage.

Before all of the family came, we were able to enjoy another Monsoon while sitting on the front porch. It was a nice 85 degrees outside with just the start of a little rain. Taryn ran around trying to catch the rain and occasionally would hold her tongue out to try and catch it- who taught her that? It was a great relaxing time and I didn't want to go back inside again.

When Texas Sheet cake was had by all, I found Tyson here, with the kids, of course. 99% of the time I can find Tyson playing some kind of game with his nieces and nephews and having so much fun while doing it.

I've learned a lot about the Smith family since living with Tyson's parents for the past 3 weeks. I never knew there was a birthday table cloth...excuse me...THE birthday table cloth, that was used at every birthday and grew to be expected. So of course for his first birthday at home with his parents in years, I pulled out the birthday table cloth. That just might become a new birthday tradition in our family- or at least some take on it. 

Happy 25th Birthday Tyson. 
You are a wonderful husband and father! We love you!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Splashing at the Splash Pad

 We took Taryn to the Tempe Beach Park Splash park yesterday and I thought it was awesome! I wanted Taryn to just go wild and run in and out of the water, but it took her a bit to warm up (and maybe a lot of splashing from Mom and Dad) but by the end she was kicking, splashing, and even trying to drink the water everywhere.  This is the biggest splash pad I have ever seen and the best part about it is that it's FREE! 
Because we were in Tempe (and love it so) we headed to the World Market in the Tempe Marketplace for a special search. Bon Bons. The same kind that were sold by French clubs at Tyson's high school. They brought back floods of memories for him and even though when I hear Bon Bons I think chocolate, these strawberry or apple chewy candies were delicious!

It's amazing how much Taryn is on the go and growing. She turned to Tyson last night as we were reading books before bedtime and said, "I don't want this." So we switched the book we were reading. Speaking sentences! She is trying new words and putting those words together and forming simple sentences.  She is getting so big! We know what she wants because she can tell us which is great! 

We left Taryn in Nursery on Sunday because she was 17 months old- to the date- time to start warming her up to the idea of being in a church class without mom or dad. She ran right in, stopping to stare at our 3 year old neighbor she knows and then bee-lined for the toys. I stuck to the door, not wanting to take a step forward- giving her space. She looked back at me once when she pointed to a toy she wanted to play with but then quickly became enthralled with the other toddlers and toys. I asked the Nursery leader if she wanted me to stay (being Taryn's first time) but she said she would find if if she needed me. Having been a nursery leader I don't like when parents stick around. I prefer to have the parents leave, even if their kids are crying. It's better for the child and for the nursery as a whole. I was happy to sneak back out knowing that Taryn has had so much exposure in Italy to Nursery and knowing that she would love it. And that was it. Our little girl is no longer a little girl. Tyson and I got to enjoy Sunday school together for the first time in years because I was a teacher in Tempe, then he was a teacher in Italy, then I was in nursery in Italy. It was really really nice. 
I love Nursery!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fearless ducks and bike rides

Lately we have been...

Loving the cooler weather. The storm that came through the night before, that brought the lightening that filled our room, cooled everything down.  I wanted to just stay outside, it was so nice.

We buckle Taryn into her stroller early in the morning and go for family walks down the canal. We feed the fearless ducks some bread and Taryn tries to give them hugs over and over again.

 Trying to hug the ducks

Totally fearless duck. We didn't have any bread at this point, they just love people I guess. (even without food)

We pulled my bike out of storage, wiped off the dust from the recent Haboob, blew up the tires, and gave it a test run. Perfect. I am still so grateful to my parents who gave me that bike many years ago. It still looks great and rides great. Thanks Mom and Dad.

We went to see a woman about a child bike trailer and we're really happy about this purchase we made for our upcoming move. Taryn is happy about it too and wants to get in all the time. Now that we all have bikes ( or a trailer)- we are ready for D.C.!

Yesterday we all had a good nap -Taryn had 2- like normal 

Tyson, Taryn and I went swimming in the early evening before dinner. It was refreshing, fun, and I walked away saying, "Let's do that again tomorrow!" We spend lots of time pushing Taryn in the swings

I thought about my Grandma Larson a lot yesterday. July 24th (Pioneer Day) was her birthday and I couldn't help but think of the lovely memories I have of her. The bedtime stories she would tell as we slept beside her bed when she came to visit, her infectious laugh, her unforgettable voice, and listening to her tell stories about her childhood. I know the whole family thought about her.


T-minus one week until we are on the road to D.C!!!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I can do hard things

I have been thinking a lot lately, and mostly it' the same thinking I've been doing for the past few years. A lot has happened for our little family in just a short amount of time and with it has brought lots of trials, lots of triumphs, some good ol' laughs, and some hard cries. 

But, I am certain that no matter what comes my way, that

 I am capable of doing hard things.

It may take a lot of effort, planning, and just plain endurance but I can, I know it. 

I was taught so many great life lessons when I was in high school running Cross Country for all four years. It taught me what I was capable of even when my body said, "Not another step!" My mind wouldn't let my body give up- and I was pushed harder and harder. And I know I am better for it.

I still remember my cross country coach yelling words of encouragement during a terrific race in my Junior year. As I rounded that corner, with the finish line just moments away, it was time to "Kick it in." I was doing better than any of my other races by 3 minutes. For those of you who may not be runners, every SECOND counts. I was elated as I passed multiple clock stands quoting my times along the race course. I didn't really believe them actually. But when I saw my coach, who had been following me closing during sections of the race, I knew the time was true. She yelled the most encouraging words to me that have stuck with me every since.

"You can do it Brianna! This is what you have been working for all this time! You've got this! GO GO GO!!!!!" 

And with those words, I "kicked it in" with tears flowing down my checks as I realized I had accomplished something so great. I had exceeded my goal of race times, I had trained hard for years, and the feeling of crossing that finish line and seeing my time is something I will never ever forget. I cried and cried as I passed the finish line and then slowed to a walk. One of the workers at the end of the finish line said, "Why are you crying? You did great!" 

And that's exactly why I was crying. Because I had done something great.
My coach hugged my sweaty body and we both were excited beyond words. 

I often think of those words of encouragement she gave to me as I face other challenges in my life. 
I think about how in this stage of our marriage, the beginning years, there are lots of things that will make us stretch and grow. We may not have the money for a car, for fancy toys or phones, or for many other luxuries in life. We are on a strict student budget and as we sit and calculate how much money we have to spend each month on certain things, it can be a hard pill to swollen. But each time I think to myself, "this will be hard but, I can do hard things." 
"We can do hard things."
Running a race together 
Circa 2009 

It's kind of a game, or a race, for me. And I will be victorious. 

Can I make it on this much for groceries for each month? Yes, I can.
Can I survive without new clothes? Yes, I can.
Am I ok with hand-me-downs or second hand items? Yes, I am.
Can I move over and over again for work or school? Yes, I can.
Can I be creative with what I have to work with? Yes, I can.
Will I be able to find success in the challenges I know I will face
 in the future with my growing family? Yes, I can.

We will make it on what we have been given. It is a challenge but we can do hard things. 

We have already grown stronger through our trials. I know at the end of the month when our budget works, I will remind myself,
"You can do it, Brianna! This is what you have been working for all this time."

It's exciting really, to be given certain challenges. It may not seem fun or exciting at the time but when I have conquered them, I know that I am greater and feel better about myself and I will have a knowledge that I can do hard things, and be made stronger for it. 

 2008 after a "fun" run with our YSA stake

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Culinary Ladies together again!

Margarita, Maeghan, me, & Julie

Can I just say how awesome these 3 ladies are? 
Without them, Culinary school wouldn't have been the same.
They've got spunk, they've got brains, they've got style, they've got talent, and they've got my whole heart.
I LOVE these ladies!

We met up at Pita Jungle in Tempe, kind of a half way point for all, which brought me back to the old town that Tyson and I spent 2 years of married life in. Each street is packed with memories for me. 

Side tracked.

We talked, and talked, and talked...to the point where the waitress, who diligently filled our empty waters and lemonades every chance she could, stopped coming to the table to ask if we needed anything else. Our plates were empty and cleared away, and I'm pretty sure we could have stayed until closing had we allowed it. 

We shared laughs, trials, triumphs, and smiles. 
Even though it had been 3 years, I still felt very close to the ladies, wanting to know exactly what was going on in their lives.  

Margarita, Maeghan and Julie all inspire me to be a better person, to try harder, work harder, and do more. I am one lucky girl to have them as friends.

Thanks ladies, for taking time out of your busy work weeks and even changing meeting times to come enjoy a bite together. I hope it's not another 3 years until we see each other again.

Wait just a bit!

Oh, things have been busy around here and I have photos and stories to tell. Sadly, I can't yet but hopefully tomorrow there will be another post on our blog! We're tired but happy and Taryn is a fun little ball of energy.
Just want to leave with saying that I am so happy to have Tyson and Taryn in my life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eating the cherries

Tyson giving "kisses" - Taryn style

Grandma and Grandpa have been given a lot of cherries lately. Taryn sat on a kitchen stool in her pajamas before bed time and ate a bunch of them, one after another, asking for more and more each time. I try to take the pit out before she eats so she gets half a cherry with the stem attached. Taryn likes to  stick the whole thing in her mouth with the stem sticking out far enough for her to grab on to once she is done chewing off the delicious dark red fruit. 
She is hilarious.
The many faces of Taryn saying "cheese" and "smiling" for the camera with Tyson

Friday, July 13, 2012

Electrical storms, apartment hunting, and some Mexican food

At Rancho de Tia Rosa, our favorite Mexican restaurant, with Grandma and Grandpa Smith

Taryn is fighting a nasty cold around here that I hope will get better soon. Grumpy babies and little sleep can really take it's toll. But even a sad cold can't stop this girl from her constantly talking, singing and dancing all day long. 

We are neck deep in apartment hunting and scoping out the D.C./ Virgina area- we're crossing our fingers that the places we have sought out will come through! We've been searching for what seems like forever and we are exhausted. So much goes into every little decision that it can start to get overwhelming after the 100th call or email to yet another apartment/condo/house rental facility. We want to be sure that the place we are moving into is the best for us in all aspects. Within the past few days we have accelerated our search as we get closer and closer to what we want. Tyson and I have been sitting side by side, computers up, cell phones dialing, and google mapping over and over again. We hope that our efforts will be rewarded with a good apartment that serves us well.

 The cooler weather and electrical storms from the past few days have been very fun to see.  Tyson and I climbed in bed the other night, opened our blinds, and watched as the lightening struck in various places through the sky. It was absolutely beautiful. We've taken family walks after dinner the past few nights and I still can't get enough of the Arizona sky. It gets even better when you can see the thunder clouds rolling in or the dust storm on the rise.

Today we walked up and down the isles of Lee Lee's International Supermarket while my mother-in-law picked out Thai ingredients for some upcoming meals. There are some interesting ingredients from all around the world and yummy looking international foods. The only Italian item we found was a little box of tiramisu. Tyson's search for Argentinian alfajores was also dismal but it was fun nontheless to smell Durian fruit (bleh!), try to pronounce some of the foo items,  show Taryn the live tilapia, crabs, and lobsters (even though the smell made me want to pass-out)

We get to sneak in a little date on Friday and I am quite excited about it!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eating and Playing with cousins

I love this little picture so much. Taryn wanted to be with her cousins on Tuesday night as we all enjoyed a BBQ. She followed them over to the wall and sat down and even began eating off their plates. Having cousins to play with is the best. I even like that Taryn will eat more when she's with them :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gilbert Temple

While running errands, we made a turn on the road and BAM! There it was....the new Gilbert Temple. And it is beautiful. We got so excited because when we left last year, only the ground had been broken. Someday we will return for a visit here in Arizona and be able to see the completed temple site. It is so exciting!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The week was a blur!

At the Open House for The Smith's
Taryn wore her Thailand outfit that Grandma Smith sent to her. 
Oh the Skousons! When Sandy and Tyson get together they are hilarious. Little baby Tyson is so handsome and he & Taryn are slowly warming up to each other. This picture makes me laugh so much.

 After taking our family pictures on Sunday

This week has seriously flown by in a blink of an eye and I am exhausted. 
We had lots of family in town for the homecoming of the Smiths- many of whom I met for the first time (even after almost 3 years of marriage!)

It was wonderful to get to know family members, learn more about them and their families, and watch as everyone came together to support Mike and Janis. 

Some of my favorite moments of this week

Listening to the 27 returned Thai missionaries sing "Called to Serve" in Sacrament meeting. What a powerful spirit these missionaries brought to the meeting.

Watching Taryn and Caleb (Caleb is older by exactly 18 months) interact. They love each other and I love that Taryn has a great cousin playmate. 
Caleb walks into the house saying, "Where's my friend?" "Where's Taryn?"
Taryn runs to Caleb, arms open or lips puckered, rushing to greet him.

Watching Taryn grow before my eyes. Her word usage has sky rocketed. I love being able to understand her and help meet her needs more each day.

Tyson is the biggest help. He is always helping to clean, straighten up, and pitch in where needed. He always wants to make things look nice, especially for his parents which is so tender for me to see. He loves them so much. I appreciate all the hard work and sweat (literally!!!!!)  he has put in this week to get things done fast. I love him more every day.

Girls Lunch at Sassy's Cafe- the place was all too fitting for us :)

Swimming, cooking, playing and eating with the family

Going to the planetarium as a family for free to learn more about the Sun

and I know I am forgetting a lot

My nephew Caleb came and sat on my lap to show me his cut on his hand. He sat there until he fell asleep and then I fell asleep. He is such a sweet little boy.

Exhausted but happy :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July

We had a happy fourth of July celebration as we gathered the entire Micheal and Janis Smith family together for the first time in years- with four new additions to be documented through an updated family photo! 

Swimming, blow up water slides, movies, food, and fireworks!

We were lucky to have unusually cool weather this 4th with rain in the morning to cool everything off and a constant cloud cover. I think everyone was able to enjoy the day more because of it.

All 13 grandkids in their Thai shirts


The Ladies and their babies

 Giving the "smoulder"

The super awesome blow up water slide

Happy Fourth of July!