Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why I work for the National Park Service

It's certainly not for the pay. But there are a lot of perks. One of them is training. In the ten months since I started working at Death Valley I've started training to be a firefighter, emergency medical responder and perform search and rescues. And those aren't even parts of my actual job description. On top of all that, for in depth training we are sent to some of the most amazing places. For example, for the first two weeks of December, I went to the Grand Canyon for training. And I do mean at the Grand Canyon, not close to it. A short walk and we could be on the rim at any time. As I continue my career, locations such as Yosemite, Hawaii Volcanoes, the Statue of Liberty, Washington DC, Gettysburg are all places that we fully expect to live/work/train at. And those are just some of the reasons we love the NPS!

The photos below show the changing weather I experienced while there (in reverse order). It was great weather for the first few days, then it got cold and started to snow, and kept snowing. Normally 18" of snow and -10 degrees might not be too bad, but coming from Death Valley, I almost died.

(On a side note, Crystal and the girls were unable to come along this time, but instead her sister and 2 kids visited for a week. Also, her brother and 2 boys came to visit. Do I love my family?-Yes I do. Am I glad I was gone when there were 6 kids (4 under the age of 3) & 4 adults trying to go to bed?- Yes I am.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some videos

I thought I would put some of our recent videos on the blog while I have a chance, so here goes:

Leah falls asleep in the highchair about ever 3rd or 4th time she's in it.

I meant to put a different video on instead of this one, but now I don't have time to change it. So here's Kaiya singing and then grabbing the camera to see her "Kaiya movie".

Kaiya in her Halloween costume saying her Japanese words.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Update

I haven't blogged in a while due to the extreme slowness of dial up internet. But since we are here in Idaho with civilized internet, I thought I would take the opportunity to post a bunch of pictures from the last 2 months or so. I don't have all the pictures here that I wanted to post, but here's a pretty good update of what we've been up to in no particular order (mostly because I can't figure out how to drag and drop pictures wherever I want them anymore... what the heck?) So here we go: This is a picture of Kaiya's first time sitting in the regular seat on the airplane (and Leah's first time flying) on our way here
Kaiya loves pushing Leah in the swing at the park

These few pictures are from Kaiya's first time painting. She painted a snake (a new love these days... I don't know where she got that) and really enjoyed it.

Kaiya loves to dress Leah up in her dress up clothes. Unfortunately for poor Leah, this often means that she gets a hat right over her face and can't see anything. Most of the time she likes it though.
Kaiya and Leah in the Ball Pit

Leah loves the ball pit and will sit in it for quite a while playing with all the balls.

Here's Kaiya Trick or Treating for the first time. She caught on rather quickly. Normally she's really shy and won't even look at people she doesn't know, but once she realized she was getting candy she would say "Twick o Tweat" and go right up to people. So funny.

We dressed up in our Japanese garb and went out together. Most people didn't know what we were supposed to be, but we still had fun. Also, in our neighborhood, there's our kids and one other family with kids. Needless to say, not everyone was ready for Halloween. We tried to go only to the houses of people we knew, but sometimes if the porch light was on next door we'd go there too. Kaiya got some interesting things in her candy bag as a result, such as some mixed nuts wrapped in aluminum foil, and a few handfuls of change. She didn't seem to notice though.

Leah sometimes falls asleep in the highchair. So funny.
Leah has been eating solid foods for a few weeks now and always makes this face when she tries something new. She usually ends up liking whatever it is though and so far I haven't come across anything she won't eat. These are the other Halloween costumes the girls had. I thought they were super cute, but Kaiya didn't like to wear the Giraffe very long. So we opted to wear the kimonos instead.

One more of Kaiya playing dress up/toys. Mostly she just likes to empty out all the baskets and make a giant mess.
So that's what we've been up to! I'm hoping we get a chance to put a few videos on before we leave, so check back!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Patrick finished his Master's Thesis! He has been working so hard on it and is finally finished! We are in Idaho this week for his defense (which he did Monday), so that means I get to update the blog too! And once I put pictures on our computer, I intend to do just that. But I am so proud of Patrick for all of his hard work and for doing such an awesome job!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


On our way back from a visit to our friends in Palm Springs (which we'll blog about at another time), we stopped by a ghost town called Calico. It is very commercialized now, but still pretty interesting. It's a lot like Virginia City for those of you who know it. The main reason we went was to get our first family portrait. For the countless thousands of pictures when we couldn't get Kaiya to smile, this one actually worked out best that way. Her and Leah both look very 1880s. I guess they were just born 120 years late. Leah had been screaming the 30 minutes leading up to the photo and was asleep about 2 minutes later, so we got pretty lucky. It may be a little odd for a family photo shoot, but we like it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What We've Been Up to

It has been a while since we've posted anything, not because we haven't wanted to, but because of our lame dial up internet. So if anyone still reads our blog, here's the latest from us. We recently moved into another house in the same area, and are getting all of our things put away in new places. We really like the new house, and since it's right by the playground Kaiya really likes it too. When we were still in our other house, and during the hottest part of the summer (130 degrees outside), our air conditioner broke, and for a week the temperature inside our house was above 90 degrees. Luckily, we had our window air conditioner from our house in Idaho, so Patrick installed it in our bedroom and the four of us camped out in there.

Leah seems to finally be over her colicky stage, and is becoming quite a happy baby. She still isn't laughing, but smiles all the time and last week rolled over for the first (and only, actually) time. Here are a few updated pictures of her at 3 months.
Kaiya got a new "big girl" bed when we moved in to the new house. She was really excited about it and has done really well with the transition. We have been really lucky and she hasn't tried to escape from the bed yet. She just lays down and sings and plays a little and then falls asleep. She even waits for one of us to get her when she wakes up in the morning instead of climbing down by herself. It's great. The girls and I are also trying to get out more so we don't go crazy being in the house all the time. Last week I took them to Beatty (an hour away) to a little candy shop that also sells ice cream. Kaiya was so excited to pick out her own ice cream and eat it all herself (this is the first time we've let her). She of course picked chocolate so it got everywhere, but it was worth it to see how happy it made her.
That's basically what we've been up to, and now that Leah is screaming again (she gets mad when no one is paying attention to her) I better end this.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Look Alikes? Not so Much...

My friend Stephanie recently posted on her blog a picture of each of her kids at the same age and the same pose to show how similar they look. You could guess which one was which, and then look at the answer. I guessed, and was totally wrong. She even has a boy and a girl, but they look so much alike, they are practically identical. It was a fun post, and made me think of how I thought our girls would look alike. When Leah was born, both Patrick and I were surprised that we hadn't just had another little Kaiya. So I thought I would post a picture of each of them at one month old to show how different they are. Of course, they are baby pictures, so they both have the baby look, but you can see that they don't really look alike. But we think they are both cute:)

In other news, we took Leah to the doctor for her 6 week checkup. When we told him about her crying pattern, he said, "so she has colic". I was trying to convince myself that I could have a baby without colic, and since she wasn't crying all day long like Kaiya did, just keeping to the entire evening, I thought maybe it was normal newborn crying. But apparently 5 hours in the evening isn't normal. So even the going off of dairy didn't seem to help, at least not enough for me to continue restricting my diet so much. The funny (or not so funny) thing is that her crying got much worse after our trip to Carson for her blessing, and with Kaiya her colic started right after our trip to Tokyo. We've decided never to travel with a newborn again.

Blessing Day

Two weeks ago we took a trip to Carson for Patrick's 10 year high school reunion, and while we were there he blessed Leah so that the family could be there. Despite all the chaos of the trip and trying to get everyone ready for 9am church, Leah did really well and didn't cry during the blessing. She was even awake the whole time. Patrick gave her a beautiful blessing, and it was really nice to have family and friends there for it. Here are some pictures of our little cutie in her blessing dress:

This picture kind of summarizes how Kaiya felt about Leah getting so much attention.

First Video

Poor Leah is the classic second child. By six weeks old I'm sure we had at least 500 pictures of Kaiya and several videos. We have considerably less of Leah. Even though she has been smiling for 3 weeks now this is the first time I've attempted to capture it on camera (amazingly, I was successful on the first attempt) and this is also the first video I took of her. I wanted to get her smiling on video, but instead, she sneezed, and Kaiya politely responded, "Bless you Leah". I thought it was cute anyway.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Whole World is a Stage

I know the setting of this video is kind of odd, but it's the only place she will hold still long enough to film even a short movie. A few months ago, Kaiya started repeating the songs she has been hearing. At first it was just portion of them, but now there are several songs she knows all the way through. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, ABCs, Popcorn Popping, Once There was a Snow Man are some of the songs she sings all the way through now. She usually won't sing the whole song unless she's doing it for herself, but this filming site is the other location that seems to be her stage. We are super proud of how fast she is picking up new words and that for the most part she even knows what she is saying. Not Bad for a 25 month old.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Week in Review

Today is Patrick's first day back at work after his 2 weeks off and home with us. Besides Kaiya not taking a nap and Leah having a few screaming bouts, it hasn't been too bad. Hopefully things will continue to go well. This week finally feels like we're getting out of the fogginess of having a newborn and resuming somewhat of normal life. At least sometimes. We took Leah to church Sunday for the first time. Here's a photo of the girls in their matching dresses:Too cute! I hope they don't hate me for it, but I like to dress them up to match. Leah did pretty well for her first time. But I remembered why heels aren't the greatest when you have to pace the hallways. We also tried giving the girls a bath together. We had only one incident, where Kaiya tried to help rinse Leah's hair by dumping a cup of water over her face, but besides that She was really good, and you can tell by the photo that Leah seems to like the bath just as much as Kaiya does. We took Leah to her two week checkup last week. She's gaining weight and doing great, but we were a little concerned that she was becoming very much like Kaiya was as a newborn. Kaiya began crying more and more every day and at about 3 1/2 weeks we knew she had colic. So we spoke with the doctor about that, and he suggested I eliminate dairy from my diet for 4 days, then on the fifth day start eating it again, and see what happens. So I did. Leah seemed really happy for those 4 days, and we thought maybe we were wrong and she was going to be fine. Then I went back on dairy the fifth day, and everything fell apart. It reminded me so much of Kaiya as a newborn. So we had a difficult day and I'm back off dairy. And now Leah seems fine again. Unfortunately for me, this means no ice cream or chocolate, not to mention all the rest of it, for some time. But it's definitely worth it to have a happy baby. Otherwise, Leah is getting bigger everyday and finally filling out her newborn clothes. Kaiya is (most of the time) liking her new role as a big sister, and Patrick and I are trying to function on less sleep. But we've survived the first 3 weeks!

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Leah

Here are a few more pictures of the newest addition. She's already a week old! Also, the results for the baby game are in, and Laura Rasmussen is the winner!! Amazingly, she was only off by 2 hours on the birth day and time, and 3 ounces on the weight! Hopefully she'll be that close on guessing for her own baby! By the way, I can't believe I came in absolute last. So much for motherly instincts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Leah Rachel Taylor

She's here!! Our little Leah Rachel was born Monday morning at 5:48am. I started having contractions Sunday afternoon, and by dinner time I knew it was the real thing. I wanted to stay home as long as I could, so after washing dishes, sweeping the floor, picking up toys, and putting Kaiya to bed, we tried to relax a little and watch a DVD. I still didn't feel like I was ready to go to the hospital, so after a while we tried to go to sleep. I couldn't sleep at all, and at about midnight I decided we were definitely going to have to go to the hospital before morning. So I got up and started fixing Kaiya's food for the next day, since we were going to leave her with our neighbor, and we finished packing up and got ready to go. After our neighbor Nathalie came to stay with Kaiya, we started our 2 hour drive to the hospital. after a few bathroom stops and one very curious gas station attendant, we made it to the hospital around 3am. When we got there, I was only dilated to 3, but the contractions were coming really close together, so we were admitted. I didn't want to be hooked up to anything, but the nurse insisted I wear the fetal monitor and come back to the machine every 20 minutes to check it, so I wasn't able to walk around as freely as I had hoped. Patrick was so amazing during the whole labor. He rubbed my back during every contraction and helped me stay focused. After about 2 and a half hours the nurse came to check our progress, and said I was at about an 8. I was so relieved. I never thought during the labor that I couldn't do it anymore, but there were a few times I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it anymore. But once I heard how far along I already was I knew I could make it without any drugs. It was only a few minutes later that my water broke, and right away I needed to push. I told Patrick to go get the nurse, and when she came in she started yelling at me to stop pushing and wait for the doctor. I told her I couldn't help it and when another nurse came in to help she said "it's too late, she's crowning". So they flipped me over and the nurse delivered the baby as I lay sideways on the bed. It all happened really fast, but everything worked out great and the baby and I were totally fine. The doctor showed up about 15 minutes later, a little surprised that everything was overwith already. It was an amazing birth and this recovery has been so much better than it was the first time around. We're all home now and getting used to having a family of 4. Kaiya loves her little sister and wants to help out all the time. I realized when we were putting these pictures up that we don't even have a decent picture of the child yet, so more to come. But that's the good news for now!!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Monster Catch Up Post

No, we haven't had the baby yet. There are still 9 days until the official due date, so we'll keep you posted. I have been wanting to blog for weeks, but haven't found the time to go down to the visitor's center to use the wi-fi, and when we thought we could blog at the computer center down here we found out we were wrong. Apparently, you can't use a USB drive on certain government computers, and we were blocked. We finally figured out a tricky way to do it, so here's our catch up of April: Kaiya's birthday, Patrick's new job, and Easter. The pictures are in backwards order, but it would take far too long to switch them, so use your imagination.
Kaiya turned 2 on the 18th of April!! I can't believe my baby is 2! It seems not that long ago when she was just learning to sit up and all that other baby stuff. She had a pretty good birthday, although plans had to be shifted many times and things didn't work out quite likeIhad planned. But she didn't really seem to notice. This giant giraffe was a gift from her Grandma Ginger. Kaiya has a love for Giraffes and has quite a few of them. The funny thing is, they all have names, well, labels really. We already had a "big raffie" (they are all called something raffie), so this one was deemed "big daddy raffie". She also got a baby raffie and a tiny raffie for her birthday.

Kaiya enjoying cake

She really wasn't sure about the candles. At first she didn't want anything to do with them, but then she wanted to touch the flame, so Patrick ended up blowing them out for her.

Remembering her love of balloons

The cake. We went with a jungle animal theme for the birthday, so I attempted a character cake. It's a lion in case you couldn't tell.

She really got into opening gifts this year. At Christmas, she still was not even interested in trying to tear open the paper. What a difference 4 months makes. And yes, that is the Elmo Live she is opening. If you were thinking about purchasing this toy for your child, please reconsider! Not kidding, it's not a very good toy. At least we got it for half off.

The birthday girl:)

Patrick had to work on Kai's birthday, so we decided to drive out to Scotty's Castle and go on his tour. It's really amazing and Patrick is a great tour guide! He was embarrassed because I took pictures of him, but of course I had to do it! The following are some of what I got.

Ginger came down for the birthday and met us at the castle for the tour.

Just starting out at the front of the house. He's in costume, by the way. He wears his regular ranger uniform when he's not giving tours.

Here's Easter, in random order. The first one is, obviously, the cake. I wanted to put Easter eggs on the top but, not thinking ahead, I colored all the frosting green.

She really is having fun hunting eggs. Classic Kaiya face.

Kaiya in her Easter dress

Examining the contents of the basket.

And the Easter morning shot. After waking up to an Easter basket, she was convinced that every morning she should be getting a present, and would ask where her present was upon waking each day. Having her Birthday the same week reinforced this idea with her, and it has taken a few weeks for her to realize that not every day is a present day.
Well, that's what we've been up to in the last few weeks. Other than that, we finally (at 36 weeks) found a doctor that we liked and are now driving to Las Vegas (a 5 hour roundtrip drive... with a 2 year old) every week for appointments. Needless to say, we are all anxiously awaiting this baby's birth!