Monday, December 24, 2012

The Best Christmas Present So Far

When it comes to buying Christmas presents, Justin and I have always been able to pleasantly surprise each other.  Justin  made me cry last year with a surprise present sending me to see my BFF in Cali.

But this year, I paid him back in a big way.  When Steven Tyler was a judge on American Idol, Justin said he would love to go to an Aerosmith Concert.  So when I got an email for a super awesome deal for a 4 day 3 night stay in Lakeside Property with Suite Tickets to see Aerosmith in Orlando, I jumped all over this deal and suggested to Justin this could be our Christmas present to each other.  We had some flyer miles to use up, so our R/T tickets cost a whopping $15.  Yes, this was the best Christmas present so far…


The best part of the trip that made it such a great gift to my hubby was that we met up with his friends, who are now my friends.  He admittedly he loves them more than some of his family!   He met and baptized Guillermo on his mission in NYC 13 years ago.  Luckily, Yesenia and Guillermo recently moved to Florida just 3 hours away from where we were staying.  They drove to meet us and hung out with us for the few short days we were there.   Wouldn’t you know that I forgot my camera and have very few pics of this once-in-a-lifetime event?


We had plans to go zip lining, to Universal Studios, and maybe even on some air boat tours.  But we ended up hanging out on the grounds of the Orlando Temple, in our hotel room watching movies together, visiting, reminiscing and eating out.  It was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable mini-vacations to date. 




We even got to see some gators before departure. 


Thank you to Grandma Adele and Grandma Carmen who covered for us while we were gone.  I know this was a very special trip for Justin.  It was amazing that the timing worked out for us to get together!

Friday, December 7, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog…That Is the Question!


I originally started blogging because I was adjusting to being home all day with a busy special needs toddler, a preschooler, a kindergartener and 3 elementary-age school kids, making someone else’s house my new home, and fusing 2 families’ lifestyles, routines, and traditions into one.   Life became overwhelming very quickly.  I needed a reason to look for the good in every day, even if it was a small moment that made me smile, or venting and recording the realities of daily life.  I know it could have been worse, but daily life was hard!  My health took a downward turn, I was stressed to the max, my body was not functioning well or absorbing nutrients, my hormones and adrenal glands were a mess, and blogging seemed to be my only outlet and contact to the outside world.  It was also a way to not only look for the good, but kept my friends and family posted on what we were up to because I felt like I moved away from all my family and friends, quit my job and had no time to make new friends because of the new load I took upon my shoulders.


I am not sure I have a “need” to blog anymore.  3+ years later, the kids have grown up a lot.  Instead of wearing myself to the point of exhaustion doing everything for everyone, the kids have been taught to be a great help around the house and everyone pitches in.   They are in school all day (a 4th year of 2 1/2 hour staggered special needs preschool and kindergarten schedules would have done me in).  I have adjusted to the amount work (ie:  cooking, mountains of laundry, shopping, etc.) that goes into a large household and have it down to a science for me.   We have established house rules, routines and have “our” way of running our family, not “mine” or “his” way. 

I have 2 months to go with my 6 month treatment of getting my endocrine system back on track.  I found out I had a gluten and egg intolerance which were contributing to making me feel sick and sluggish.  As an awesome side effect, I have lost 24 pounds since August 1st, and have 80-90% of my energy back.  I feel better than I have in years.  I smile again, I enjoy life.  The kids are at a fun age.  I can go anywhere or do anything with them.  Cam is almost 13 and able to hold down the fort if Justin and I want to go to a late movie or dinner.  I have made time to see my friends, and Justin and I make time for each other.  We enjoy hanging out with our friends that we have made together, not “his” friends or “my” friends.  We have a beautiful new home in our own part of the neighborhood that know us as “Justin and Kari Bancroft”.  Our home is functional, comfortable and fun and meets our families needs (there are a few “wants” that it meets too)!

I couldn’t ask for a better family life than I have at this very moment.  The struggles, pain, sadness, frustration, effort and sacrifices made and experienced over the past 3 years have been worth the peace, calm, contentment and happiness I feel now.  We still have challenges, hectic schedules and problems to fix, but they are manageable now.  I feel blessed and I feel thankful. 

So, now what?  I haven’t kept up on my blog because I am not sure what direction I want to take it.  I do not want to turn it into something I always feel behind on (like laundry or dishes) or a “have to”.  I don’t need to earn money with it, or drive people to my site for fame.  I’m not sure if anyone cares what happens in our house day to day, or what our house looks like each holiday.  I want to record our family memories, but am not sure if this is the way I want to continue to do so.  So please be patient with me while I am in my “wishy washy” frame of mind.  I have been told numerous times by various people, “You should write a book!”  Maybe one of these years I actually will.  I’m thinking biography,  historical fiction or self-help, maybe all three!


I have been neglecting this blog because we have been in “birthday mode”.  In addition to vacations, a baptism, holidays, football season and regular life, we have had











…And there’s one more birthday in 14 days!   We also have an upcoming family wedding, and another getaway to Florida before Christmas!  We are busy creating memories, which is why I don’t have time to blog all of them!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas–Home Tour 2012

Justin and I have asked ourselves many times recently, “Where did this year go?”  This time last year was a nightmare.  We moved 5 days after Christmas, Matti got pneumonia on our moving day, and life was too hectic to enjoy any part of the Holiday.  I felt disorganized, stressed out and like I was just going through the motions.

This year has been quite the opposite.  Since we left for a mini-vacation to Orlando on December 10th, I decided to get everything done before we left.  Gifts were purchased and wrapped, Christmas cards were done and mailed out, and the house was decorated.  We have gotten to enjoy the holiday season this year with many movie nights, sipping hot chocolate and driving around looking at Christmas lights at an unhurried pace while staying away from the “hustle and bustle” and crowds!


We started a few new traditions.  This year “Skippy” the Elf  joined our family.  He has been a huge hit this year.  Wyatt was thrilled when he wrote Skippy a letter and Skippy replied and left him a penny to put in his pocket to remind him to be good at school.  Matti is the first one to wake up and find him each morning.  I love hearing their giggles and seeing their smiling faces when they find him.  They tell me where he is and what he’s done (as if I don’t already know).


And we’ve kept some of our old traditions.  We decorated Gingerbread houses, snuggled up together and watched our favorite Christmas flicks.


A new 12’ tree was “needed” this year.  Our little 6’ tree would have looked out of place with our 18’+ ceilings.   This picture doesn’t do it justice.   There are ornaments from 3 or 4 different styles of trees from Christmas past all blended together because I simply did not have enough to fill this tree!   I didn’t realize how many ornaments a tall tree needed, especially large, oversized ones!  I ended up using some old snowflake ornaments I purchased from the Dollar Store that I used to decorate a church Christmas party a few years ago.  They were perfect!  


I learned how to make a “vein of ribbon” from my one of my best friends.  I used to make bows or wrap ribbon in circles around the tree and never really loved it that way.  She  taught me to put 3 different sizes together and tuck it in the tree at an angle.  I love it!


We finally have a new table that seats 10 to feed our large family comfortably.  No more squishing 3 fighting, growing kids onto a tiny bench to fit everyone! 


I got a few new decorations to add to what we already had.  This one was a necessary reminder.  I’ve only had to say it one or two times…


Our 15 year old little Wal Mart tree found a home in the bonus room over the garage where the kids and their friends hang out.  It is now their tree to decorate.  I’ve even resisted the urge to rearrange the ornaments after they’ve gone to bed!   This is where all the home-made and school-made ornaments go.  This year we started the ornament tradition where they get to pick out one ornament that represents them or something they like.   When they leave home they get to take all their ornaments with them, but they don’t know I get to keep all the ones they’ve made!



Matti has the “decorating gene” in her blood.  She made this paper chain for the piano room and has adorned her bedroom with all the ornaments, “poke art”, pictures and “stained glass” she made at school. 


I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with my family tonight.  I am looking forward to playing games, hanging out in my pajamas, tracking Santa and staying in my cozy home!  What are you going to do?


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our “Real” California Adventure

As a last-minute decision, we decided to take the kids whale watching.  There was a little rain, but no wind or fog, so we were safe to continue our adventure!


We didn’t see any whales, but we saw nature at its finest.  A waterspout formed just a few miles away from the boat, and it was not the kind of waterspout the itsy bitsy spider climbed.  The captain said he had only seen 3 in 38 years of sailing.  He called the local news station and we were on California’s Channel 4 news that night. 


Shortly thereafter, the weather cleared up and the sun made its way out.  We learned that dolphins actually are whales, the differences between saw sea lions and sea otter and saw many species of birds all within 7 miles outside Newport Beach. 



By the last picture, my camera had gotten soaked in the rain.  But this trip was better than any in-class science lesson! 

The Story of the Bancroft Bunch and the 3 Trips To Disneyland

In 2010 we were off on our quest to the Happiest Place on Earth!   The weather was supposed to be in the high-70’s, so we packed shorts for sun-filled days.   But the weather turned out to be filled with cold temperatures and an entire week of moisture.  We were miserable and couldn’t wait to leave the monsoon-type rain plaguing us at Sea World and the rest of the parks.   It was too COLD! 


We tried to stay dry to remain warm in our rain ponchos, but these smiles quickly turned into tears at Sea World. 

October 2011 rolled around and we decided to make up for the prior year’s chilly temperatures by returning to Disneyland for our yearly family vacation.  Once again, the forecast gave us expected temperatures in the mid-70’s.  Since we froze in our shorts the year before, we decided to err on the side of caution and pack long pants for the majority of the days to wear with short-sleeved shirts (and hoodies to wear at night).  But this time, the weather surprised us again upon arrival and turned out to be filled with hot temperatures!  It reached a high of 104!  Standing in lines, with sweat dripping from our bodies, we were miserable and couldn’t wait for relief from the sweltering sun beating down on us for 12 hours a day!  It was too HOT!


Here’s Matti taking drastic measures to cool herself down by emptying the contents of her water bottle on her head to keep cool!   It didn’t help that despite the fact that we thought Colton would enjoy the spinning and lights of the rides, it was just over-stimulating to him and he cried all day, every day, in every line, the entire trip.  And half of California Adventure was under construction preparing for “Cars Land”.   California Screamin’ and Pirates of the Caribbean were also closed.  What?   You can’t visit Disneyland and miss out on those two rides!  That’s like having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly!

Justin and I were planning on heading to New York this fall when I thought we needed a re-do of the last 2 years.  October 2012 rolled around.  The kids were all in the perfect age range (no one too young or too old) to enjoy all the theme parks and attractions.  They were all tall enough to ride everything.  We didn’t have to do the rider-switch or worry about diapers or naps.  We all rode together on every ride.  And guess what the forecast was?  Yup.  Mid-70’s.  When we arrived, the temperature stayed in the mid-70s all week long!  There were short lines to offset the longer lines.  After 3 years, I am happy to finally report… It was just right! 

Universal Studios



They got a little too close for comfort to Jaws…


But thought King Kong and the new “Transformers” ride were the bomb. 


Disneyland/California Adventure




Sea World



Feeding Stingrays


Picking up starfish


Looking for land


Exploring underwater sea life

We will not be returning to Disneyland for a long time.  I’m glad we finally got it “just right”.  This chapter is closed…for now!