five on friday

1. Last night our Cougars earned their first win of the season.  We had so much fun watching and eating with the Shurtz's.

(poor Jilly was very very tired, and a blurry picture had to do)

2.  Bryan and I started listening to the Maze Runner series on our recent drive.  I'm halfway through the second book and kind of disenchanted with the series.  Has anybody read them all?  Should I persevere?

3.  Re-watching Season One of Downton Abbey was one of my better ideas this week.  January can't come soon enough.

4. Tonight we are having our first paid babysitter for Jillian.  I'm equal parts excited and nervous.

5.  I love Ann Romney, and Mitt's not bad either.


Three Summer Recipes

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking in the summer.  I love all the fresh fruits and vegetables, but I hate wasting play time in a blazing kitchen.  These are 3 recipes that we love, and that make frequent appearances at our table.

1. Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad
recipe and picture found here 
One night Bryan came home from work and declared it was the perfect night for a picnic.  I had already made this salad, and it was perfect to throw in a tupperware container and take to the park.  It was one of my favorite nights of the summer.

2. Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach

recipe and picture found here
This has been one of my favorite ways to use up our basil.  I am really loving the lemon/basil combo these days.

3. Southwest Pasta Salad
recipe and picture found here 
There are a few wonderful things about this salad.  1. It has lots of vegetables,  2. It makes a lot and stores great in the fridge,  3. It's very filling; I made it for Bryan and his brothers last year before they did the Tough Mudder and they all attributed their success to me (okay, maybe not, but they did say it was the perfect pre-race meal.)


Hello Disneyland

Hello Happiest Place on Earth
We drove 7 hours on Friday afternoon, spent Saturday in the park, and drove 7 hours home on Sunday
Driving was looong, but so worth it

Hello Carousel
this was probably Jilly's favorite ride 

 Hello lovebirds
Kylie and Chad are getting married this December!

Hello Tarzan's Treehouse
Jilly made this surprised face for much of the day
It was so magical to watch her experience Disneyland for the first time

Hello Thunder Mountain 
Jeff + Laura, Chad + Kylie, Bryan + Rachel
Bryan looks kind of scary
And poor Kylie is blocked by my big head

Hello naptime
The BOB earned its keep on this trip
Jilly took two great naps while we went on the "big people rides"

Hello Spoiled Girl 
During the parade Jilly saw lots of these balloons which began a chorus of "I want ba-oon" 
until her kind Papa got her one

Hello Glasses
Captain EO Tribute was fun
and my soon-to-be sister-in-law is super great!

Hello Minnie, Donald, Goofy
Jilly really loved the characters
until we got close, then she always got a little nervous


friday five

Five things that made me happy this week-

1. Bryan made french toast for breakfast twice this week.  I married a rockstar.

2. We had a super fun and delicious barbecue with our friends and their adorable baby.  We had tri-tip, jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon (I'm not usually a jalapeno eater but I gobbled these up), spinach and strawberry salad, watermelon, and popsicles- yumm.

3.  Jilly has finally learned to say "thanks" and I love love love it.

4.  Bryan's cousin Mia Love is speaking at the Republican National Convention.  Yay Mia!

5.  This afternoon we're heading down to Disneyland!!!



Living all the way across the country from my family is pretty lame.  Not that I'm unhappy here, I just hate that they are so faaaaaaar away.  But one thing that has made the separation easier is Skype.

We skype with my family almost every Sunday.  It's so great to get to talk to everyone, and it almost feels like we're sitting at home in the family room all together.  Jilly gets so excited to see them and show off all her tricks; she especially loves to make funny faces with her Uncle Ty and Grandpa.

The best thing about skyping every week is that when we get to actually see my family Jilly never misses a beat.  She knows them already and is so excited to play with them, even after not being with them for a few months.  I'm so, so grateful that Jilly knows and loves her grandma, grandpa, aunties, and uncle in Virginia.

Last Sunday- Jilly was showing them her new Elmo movie


first day of school

Last week was the first day of school around here and we have a few friends with new kindergarteners so we were caught up in the excitement.  It made me think of all my first days of school- the new clothes and school supplies, the anticipation, and the nerves.  My most recent first days of school were as a teacher, and despite what it may seem, teachers are just as nervous as the kids on the first day!

I remember my very first day of teaching.  I was so nervous- I remember holding back tears as I tried to be friendly and smile at all these children sitting in front of me.  I had written out a script word for word to follow (that's what they tell new teachers to do) and as lame as it sounds, it was a major life saver.  I made it through that day and many subsequent others and was even brave enough to come back for another year.

On my second first day of school as a teacher I was once again feeling butterflies in my stomach.  I went to pick up my new class from the gym and saw Mary, one of my previous students.  She gave me a hug then said, "Mrs. Martinez, that's the same outfit you wore on the first day of school last year!!"  I had no clue that I was recycling an outfit, and couldn't believe that Mary remembered what I had worn a whole year previously!  It was a funny little moment that eased the tension of the day.

This is not my first day of school outfit, but it is one of the very few pictures I have of me as a teacher


Jilly's favorite books

In Jilly's room we have a basket full of books and each night before bed we read 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6 or 7, depending on how persuasive Jilly is that night.)  There are quite a few books in there but Jilly has decided on a few favorites that seem to show up every night.

Ladybug Girl Dresses Up by David Soman, Lulu is a little girl that likes to play dress-up.  Our favorite part is when Lulu dresses as a pirate; Jilly gives a great "Arrr!" every time we reach that page.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, This is an old classic.  Jilly loves to "put her finger through Mummy's ring," "touch Daddy's scratchy face," and especially to "smell the flowers" by exhaling very deeply.  She then pushes the book into your nose so you too can appreciate the fragrance, which smells exactly like every 86 year old woman I've ever met.

Peekaboo! by Matthew Price and Jean Claverie, There is nothing special about this book except that it's a popup book (which makes it amazing to Jilly.)  The thing that irks me is that when you go looking for mommy, you find her in bed.  It sounds fantastic, but what are the chances of a mom really being able to escape to bed without kids?

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, I'm not a huge fan of most of Sandra Boynton's books, but I do love this one.  We all crack up when the animals "go upstairs to exercise," and the last lines are so soothing "the moon is high, the sea is deep, they rock and rock and rock to sleep."


Temple Walk

We are so lucky to live just 10 minutes away from the Sacramento Temple.  We went there yesterday afternoon for a Sunday walk on the beautiful grounds.  


five on friday

1.  We came home from the library the other day and Jilly immediately sat down like this to read her books.  It was one of my proudest moments (but please ignore the mess!)

2. I got this cup at TJ Maxx for $4.  Best. purchase. ever. Especially since we've had 105+ temperatures for the past week.

3. Jilly has become quite the little diva.  Some friends gave us these boots and despite aforementioned temperatures, she insists on wearing them.  She also doesn't go anywhere (including early morning walks in her pajamas) without her purse, cell phone, and bracelet.

4. Lisa and Blake came for a lovely visit this week.  Pretty sure these two could not be any cuter-

5. I ordered a case for my phone without realizing that it would be coming from Taiwan and would take 1-4 weeks to get here.  I bought this $2 case (also at TJ Maxx) to hold me over.  So for the next few weeks I'm a huge University of Georgia fan.  Go Bulldogs!



When I was pregnant with Jilly I pretty much ate all the time.  This was partly because I was hungry, and partly because if I stopped eating, I started to feel icky.  And the thing I wanted to eat the most was cheese.  While my students were testing that Spring, they got a snack of American cheese and pretzels every day.  Those stacks of American cheese on my desk each morning looked divine.  After passing the snack out to my students I'd always snag a square of cheese for myself.  Gross, I know.  But on many occasions it was that slice of cheese that got me through the morning.

Apparently my love of cheese passed on to Jilly.  Repeatedly throughout the day she'll open the fridge, grab the block of cheese, and get a spoon (she can't reach the knives.)  I have become very proficient at slicing cheese with a spoon, and then we share a little snack together.  I love that Jilly and I share such a refined palate.



Last week my neighbor called and asked if we'd be willing to watch her dog for the weekend.  My inclination was to turn her down since I am most definitely not a dog person.  But I thought about how much Jilly would love it so I decided we could handle an animal around here for a few days.

Turns out it was a great decision because we all thoroughly enjoyed Roxy.  If there is such thing as a perfect dog, Roxy is that.  She hardly barks, she doesn't shed, she's little, and she's potty trained.  She'd follow us around the house and then snuggle up whenever we sat down.  She was patient with crazy Jillian who could not get enough of her new furry friend.  Don't get me wrong, we're not about to run out and get a dog of our own, but we'd be happy to dog-sit Roxy every once in a while.

Jilly trying to feed Roxy with a spoon- didn't work very well
 taking a walk (before having her hair done for the day)
 I asked my neighbor where Roxy usually sleeps and she said in bed with her.  I thought, "no way, not happening at my house."  The first night Roxy was crying and begging to get on the bed so softy Bryan let her up.  Luckily she just stayed on the end of the bed, but sometimes I would forget she was there and kick her in the night.  Poor little girl. 
 going in for a hug
We all kind of miss Roxy now that she's gone!


new phone

As I mentioned last week, my phone broke while we were in Utah.  For a week I shared with Bryan which was fine because we were always together.  But then we came home and he went back to work. And I needed a phone.  Immediately.

I decided to take the plunge and join the rest of the world and get an iPhone.  I never stopped smiling as we entered the store, purchased the phone, and left for home.  That night Bryan and I sat on the couch playing with and figuring out our new phones (he got a new smartphone as well) and after an hour I burst out, "Bryan we can't become those people!"  "What people?" he said.  "The people who don't talk anymore and only sit playing on their phones!"  He laughed and promised he wouldn't let us become "those people."

While I am determined to not let my phone consume my life, I am loving my new toy.  It's so handy and so fun.  Jilly also loves the iPhone.  I showed her one day how it takes pictures and now repeatedly during the day she'll grab my phone and say, "cheese!"  Which has led to lots of pictures like these-

Follow me on Instagram @rachelmar4


The rest of Utah

This was seriously a marathon trip- I can't believe how many things we did in our two weeks in Utah.  And yet, there are so many people we still didn't get a chance to see!  Here is a photo dump of the rest of our Utah trip.

On Pioneer Day we hiked to Ensign Peak.  Bryan hadn't arrived in Utah yet so my Uncle Scott volunteered to carry Jilly.
I love this hike and the great view at the end
Always living on the edge- Jilly's favorite thing to do was climb back and forth under this railing.

We went down to BYU to see Bryan's brother Chad and meet his cute girlfriend Kylie.  It was so fun to watch Jilly run around campus.  Hopefully she enjoyed it so she'll remember to head back there in 17 years.

One night at my Grandma's house I was giving Jilly a bath and it looked like so much fun so Tyler ran and put his swimsuit on and got in.  Jilly loved having her fun uncle in the bath with her!

 Seven Peaks- we went down this slide approximately seven thousand times

 We went to Snowbird one day and took the tram all the way to the top of the mountain.  It was an amazing view, but very stressful because Jilly was dying to run around and I was having visions of her tumbling 11,000 ft down the mountain.  Finally we went inside the lookout room so she could be free.

 There were also some fun bouncy toys up at Snowbird- the older kids took turns going down with the Jillster.

Bryan made some awesome friends his freshman year, and we were lucky enough to get together with a lot of them on this trip.  We had a barbeque up in the canyon then came home and put the kids to bed and stayed up until 3am playing games- that's something we definitely hadn't done since college!

Cute Adelaide and Jilly had so much fun playing together

We went up to my cousins' cabin in Midway for a day.  There were lots of wild 4 wheeler rides.

 Jilly and my cousin's daughter Abilynn had a blast playing in the dirt together.  They were covered in dirt by the end- the bath water was disgusting.
 My Aunt Jodi put together our very own Olympic competition.  These three were the weightlifters.
 and their weight turned out to be Abilynn!  The poor girl was a good sport.

And that's the end of our vacation re-cap.  We're already counting down the days until we get to see all these people again!