Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Rowan!

Here she is.  Our birthday beauty!  Miss Rowan Sue turned 6 today...a little hard to believe.    This morning as I was braiding Rowan's long blond hair, I started reminiscing about Rowan's beginnings in this life six short years ago.   The trial seemed monumental to me at the time.  My first two pregnancies and deliveries were a piece of cake in comparison, and I'd never really experienced any significant adversity that compared.  But with the benefit of 6 years of hindsight and the wisdom and experience that comes with each passing year, I realize that our trial back then still pales in comparison to some of the adversity that others in our family and circle of friends have and continue to experience.  I am grateful for the life I have, for the trials I have been given to deal with in my life, and for the things I have learned along the way.  

Today, I am extra grateful for my sweet Rowan.  I am grateful that she is spicy and determined and headstrong and beautiful and loving and funny and smart...Yes, all those things and so much more, bundled together in one perfect little six year old package.  She gives me a run for money, that's for sure, but really...I wouldn't want it any other way.  I know that the strong personality she has developed so far is all part of the package she needed to endure her early life trials.  

She is truly our miracle baby.  No question.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Rowan from this past year.  Each makes me smile every time I see it.

Fourth of July in Rocky Point.   We have so many fun memories from the beaches of Mexico.  Rowan loves Las Palomas (the resort we stay at), and she loves going down there with our awesome friends, the Ellingsons, as well as with our fun cousins.  Check out her guns in this picture.  We always marvel at what a great little body our Rowan has.   She's totally ripped!

Barrett and Rowan did make-overs one day (as they do many days), and Barrett took this picture.  It was fun to see the 25 or more pictures from this little photo shoot and laugh at all the crazy expressions!

Rowan also really loves spending time at the cabin in Pine.  Both of these pics were taken this year during our various excursions up north.  We are so looking forward to spending more time there in 2010. 

In 2008 when we started doing P90X workouts, we'd often quote the funny lines from Tony Horton's workouts.  One of our kids' favorites was, "Do you have tickets to the show?"  Reply:  "What show?"  THE GUN SHOW!  And then they flex their muscles and giggle away.  Rowan truly has the guns!

Summer 2009 in Rocky Point.  Totally accessorized for a day at the beach.  So Rowan!

Just for memory sake, I thought I'd post of few pics from Rowan's first days of life.  I often go back and look at these and marvel that she has come so far.  

Here is our Rowan, just a couple of hours old, laying in the NICU, waiting for her surgery.  Rowan was born with gastroschesis, a condition that developed within weeks of conception.  The four walls that typically grow together around the umbilical cord to form the stomach never quite closed up.   A tiny hole was left open, and soon her intestines popped out and ultimately grew on the outside of her body.  They, along with a bunch of Rowan's other organs, were floating around in the acidic environment of my uterus, unprotected as they should have been by her own skin.   When she was born, Rowan's intestines, colon, kidney, ovary, fallopian tubes, and appendix were all on the outside of her body.

You can see her intestines pretty clearly in the picture above, just laying in a pile, all stuffed inside a sterile plastic bag to keep them moistened while she waits for the doctor to arrive.  

Every time I see this picture I cry.  I didn't get to hold Rowan when she came out.  In fact, I only got to see her for about 20 seconds before she was whisked away to the NICU.  When she was just about ready to head up to surgery (at 3 hours old), and after the doctor had stitched me all back up from the C-Section, they wheeled me up to the NICU to see my tiny angel for a short minute.  I got to touch her cheek and tell her I loved her.  The look on my face says it all.  I was heartbroken to leave her, but so grateful that she was in the care of an amazing surgeon.  Dr. Kelly Miller, who, with the undeniable help of our Heavenly Father, performed a miracle that day.  

My parents, Ryan's parents, and Ryan and I all waited in my room for hours, fading in and out of sleep, before the surgeon came in around 1:30 am on December 30th, to let us know that Rowan's surgery had gone remarkably well.  They were able to get all of Rowan's organs back inside in a single surgery, a feat they were not anticipating to be able to do given the magnitude of the organs and the trauma to her body.  In our prior meetings with the NICU doctors and surgeons, they had prepared us for a multi-stage process whereby they would attach a "sack" to her abdomen area, and gradually squeeze in all the organs over a period of days, culminating with the stitching up of her tummy at week's end.  They said the trauma to her body would be similar to a woman's journey from zero to nine months pregnant in one day.  Too much to bear in most cases.  But, to their surprise, all of Rowan's organs seemed to just "fit" back inside and they felt it was safe to do the single surgery.  

We were thrilled at the good news.  I cried as the doctor told us, "It was just so strange.  So easy.  Almost too easy. "  We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that our prayers had been heard, that the fasting and priesthood blessings gave her strength, and that our Heavenly Father was watching over Miss Rowan and all those attending to her.  We were so blessed indeed.

The two days following Rowan's surgery were tough on all of us.  She laid motionless in her tiny NICU bed, attended to 24/7 by the amazing nursing staff, while she was resting under the blanket of a medically induced paralysis.  They told us that the stress on her body from putting her organs back inside was so intense that even the mere strain of breathing would cause more pain that she could bear if she were awake.  So they had to paralyze her while her body adapted. 

I finally got to hold Rowan, albeit for a very short time, on January 2nd.  I was thrilled to say the least!

Rowan recovered with amazing speed, again surprising all the doctors and nurses.  I was able to start nursing on January 10th, but she had a hard time latching on.  The feedings were slow and hard for both of us, but she eventually figured out that nursing was where it's at.  After a week or so, she had it down pat and ended up nursing for a full year.  I was getting so tired of the constant pumping that I was ultra thrilled when she finally came home and could nurse full time!

Rowan only ended up having to stay in the hospital for 19 days, which was much shorter than we were planning on during the pregnancy.  They had prepared us for 6 weeks to 3 months, but each day during Rowan's recovery they continued to comment on what great progress she had made.  

Barrett and Afton never got to see or hold their baby sister in the hospital, except for one short look through the NICU window.  When she finally came home, they were so happy to meet their baby sister.  Here are our 3 girls just a few weeks after Rowan came home.
Rowan thrived at home, developing quickly, but always measuring small.  Or petite, rather.  At each of her checkups, Rowan measured in the 5th - 10th percentile for her age.  But that was just fine because she was doing so well on all the other areas of growth and development.  Perfectly healthy.

You've come a long way, baby!

Happy 6th Birthday, Rowan!  You are such a blessing to our family.  We love you with all our hearts!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Feliz Navidad

The infamous Christmas preschool program.
30+ toddlers, 12 songs, 6 costume changes, props, decorations, handmade treasures, gingerbread houses, a visit from Santa, a potluck luncheon, beaming parents, and too many video cameras to count.


Think this kid is happy to see the man or what?

This was waiting for us on the table when we arrived. A custom gingerbread house constructed with the perfect hands of my incredible 4-year old boy, a super cute framed picture, a spray painted gold angel, plus a gift bag of homemade crafty delights. Gail McClure, Easton's preschool teacher, is really nothing short of amazing. She goes all out and then some for her preschool and we love it! Most importantly, Easton loves it and is making some good friends and learning so much.

Ryan and I were among those beaming parents, so touched by the adorable kids on stage singing away and smiling ear to ear. Easton was pretty much a crack up. He stayed up a little too late the night before, so he kept yawning during the program. At one point, his hands seemed to be glued inside his pockets and he just sort of moved his body around and scrapped all the hand motions. Later, he turned around, put his hands on the stage so his booty was facing the crowd, bent over, and started jumping up and down. Sort of "shaking it" for all the crowd to see. So funny.

I asked him what his favorite song was, and he said, "The big candy cane one." That was Deck the Halls. The kids all got to hold these giant canes as props, pound them on the ground, and dance around them. He loved it. Feliz Navidad was also super cute. They all wore sombreros and held shakers. Merry Christmas, Easton! You were terrific!

Easton and Dad after the program 12-17-09

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jingle Bell Rock

Afton's first ever guitar recital was last week at the Mesa Women's Club in downtown Mesa, just around the corner from Milano's Music. She played Jingle Bell Rock with her awesome guitar teacher, James, strumming some background cords for harmony.

Click on the link to watch and hear it.


We were so proud of her. She can actually play it much much faster than this, but her teacher wanted her to slow it down for the recital. She's really doing great. Her teacher is so good with her too. To keep her really interested and engaged, each week he assigns a rock song in addition to her traditional "book" songs, so she's having a blast learning to rock. I was beaming a couple of months ago at one of her lessons when he told me that Afton had an incredible aptitude for music and that in all his years of teaching (which are many), that he's really only ever had maybe one other student who could just sight read music like she could and pick up the notes so quickly. So...with continued practicing and diligence, maybe someday soon she'll be full on jamming. Way to go, Afton! You rock!

9 years & counting

Before the whole month flies by, I wanted to post some of the pictures from Afty's 9th birthday. Someday, I plan to print my blog and bind it in a book (with many volumes to come in the years ahead), and I don't want this precious memory to be left out! Our sweet Afton turned 9 on December 4th and we had the good fortune of celebrating twice. The picture above was taken at our family dinner the Sunday after her birthday. She requested her favorite dish, chicken fettucine alfredo, with lots of tasty bread and salad. We threw in some chicken spinach ravioli with marinara sauce for good measure, and called it an Italian feast.
But the real party was on Afty's actual birthday, Friday, December 4th. She and six girlfriends plus our crew went out for a little GNO (modified to include one Dad, one brother, and one Grandpa who we were thrilled to have along with all the girls.) As our car load of giggling girls walked into Red Robin for dinner (Afton's favorite going-out-to-eat hot spot), the host said, "Let me guess...Girls Night Out?"
You got it!

Avery, Afton, Lily, Madison & Linda in the midst of their chicken finger/hamburger/french fry feast. They were all smiles and all girl for sure!

Lily, Madison, Rowan, Avery, Afton, Barrett, Linda, Riley & Sophia at Red Robin after dinner.

After dinner, we all came back to our place and Afton opened up her gifts in front of the Christmas tree. She got so many fun things, including 5 or 6 Webkinz, which she loves! Grandma Cindy & Grandpa Steve got Afton a new iPod shuffle and iTunes gift card. Afton was totally stoked! Her old MP3 player has been on the fritz, so she's been dying for a new music device to jam with. She's our little rocker in the making for sure.

Just so you know, Afton is pretty easy to please. Her Christmas list included a few from the heart gems, like duct tape, rope, pipe cleaners and a box of chips. Seriously, how cute is that? So Easton decided to get her the box of chips for her birthday instead. Both of them were all grins when she opened it. This might just be the best present ever! Easton decided that he, too, wanted a box of his own after declaring Afton has "TOO MANY CHIPS!"

Barrett got Afton a poodle Webkinz to add to her stash.

Rowan gave her a package of Nestle Crunch bars and a monkey Webkinz.

Riley hit a home run with yet another Webkinz, a package of rope, and a giant box of popcorn. Afton could eat popcorn all day if we let her!

After the gifts, we played a fun gift exchange game and each of the kids ended up with their own Webkinz! They loved it. Here is the crazy crew showing off their new pets.

And is if we all weren't stuffed enough from the bottomless french fries we ate at Red Robin, we decided that we still had to have dessert, of course. Afton had picked ice cream sundaes as her dessert of choice. The kids created piles of decadence too sweet to finish in their heaping bowls.

Ice cream. M&M's. Whipped Cream. Chocolate Sauce. Caramel. Oreos.

Afton & Lily enjoying their creations.

and Easton...

and Avery...

Happy Birthday, Afton! You are the best!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Not to be confused with MVP: Most Valuable Player or
MVT: Mountain View Toros or
DVD: Digital Video Device.

MVD: Motor Vehicle Division.
A true melting pot.
People watching at its finest.
It ranks right up there with the airport and blood labs in terms of the interesting mix of people you see.

It’s where I spent my lunch hour and then some today. Much to my dismay, my driver’s license picture apparently was due for a refresh (I guess they only let you keep your picture for 12 years). I’ve been putting it off for months now, but recently was reminded that I needed to get that done due to some MVD misfortune in the life of a relative to remain nameless.

So why not today? Today seemed like a perfect day to go. Mid-week, middle of the month. No lunch plans. No urgent shopping or errands. I looked up the locations online and was delighted that there was one not too terribly far from my office. I work in the Esplanade at 24th & Camelback, right across the street from the Biltmore. The closest MVD office was at 28th and Washington, so I figured I’d just pop in and out real quick.


There was no “popping” and nothing “quick” about it. The man who assisted me assured me that today was slow compared to a typical Monday or Friday. Slow? Is that what you call a line out the door (literally) and a packed waiting room? So glad I didn’t go on Monday or Friday.

On the way there, I hit every single light red. Every one. And I’m pretty sure that everyone with a car in central Phoenix was in it today at 12:00. Crazy lunchtime traffic. Call it Christmas I guess. I did take the opportunity to read lots of bumper stickers and billboards and check out the scenery of aging central Phoenix as I journeyed south on 24th street towards Washington.

One billboard that caught my eye was plastered with a Coke ad. The picture showed two bottles of coke packaged together, with the tagline “New 2-pack. Enough for your whole meal.”

As if we don’t get enough caffeine and sugar in one 32 oz bottle of pop. Now we need two 50-ouncers at a sitting to jack our metabolism into overdrive. Nice.

I also watched with sadness as a quite heavy-set elderly woman limped in slow motion across the crosswalk, taking the full 30 seconds to cross, cigarette burning in one hand, shopping bags in the other, clearly living a hard life.

Even more disheartening was the sight of 7 firefighters/paramedics crouched around what appeared to be a large pile of a man on the sidewalk at Washington and 24th, in an attempt to resuscitate life. No cars around. No signs of an accident. Perhaps a full-time pedestrian. Very sad indeed.

The MVD provided its own set of unique characters from all walks of life, every shade of skin, several languages being spoken, multiple cultures and religions manifest through headdresses and gowns, Jesuit school uniforms, tattooed symbols and crosses. I was clearly overdressed for the crowd, coming during my lunch hour and all, dressed in my gray slacks, sparkly turtleneck and high heels. And I was clearly the minority today as I sat in the waiting area with at least 50 other Arizonans waiting their turn to meet face to face with one of the MVD employees.

But in the end, I am really not much different than any of them. Not too different at all. We are all children of God. All of us. Me, you, the old lady crossing the street, the homeless man on the sidewalk, the tattooed teenager in the waiting area, the government worker behind the counter, the 4-year old little girl wearing a headdress. All here because we chose Christ’s plan in that great council in heaven before we came to earth. All trying our best to make it through this life and make sense of it all. All pursuing joy and happiness in our own ways.

I am beyond grateful today, however, that in my quest for happiness and joy, that I know where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going. So grateful for the incredibly blessed life I have and the gift of family. So grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the incredible sacrifice he made so that I can return to him someday with my eternal family. So grateful to be me.

And so glad that my new DL picture is good for another 12 years…

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deep Thoughts

I've always been told that when inspiration comes or when you have a strong testimony strengthening experience, you should write it down. And write it down right away before you forget the vividness of the moment...

Last night as Ryan and I were winding down from a busy weekend, getting ready for bed and talking about the week ahead, we started talking about church. Specifically, what an awesome day at church it was. And then he said, "Man, hasn't it been a power-packed 4th quarter? It seems like every Sunday we come home talking about how great church was."

I couldn't agree more. I don't know if it's us just being extra receptive lately, or if everyone is leaving with the same feeling, but I have been so touched every week. My heart has been softened and my emotions are running so close to the surface when it comes to spiritual things. We've had great testimonies, powerful return missionary addresses, a phenomenal primary program, and awesome talks and lessons. As I was sharing my thoughts with Ryan last night about our Relief Society lesson, I started crying as I told him about the lesson and how strongly I felt the spirit in that room. I bore my testimony to him about my love for Joseph Smith and the amazing sacrifices he made so many years ago to bring to pass the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.

In sacrament meeting, the young men and young women sang a beautiful musical number and tears started flowing right away. I looked up at those boys standing proud and singing loud, and I immediately had the strong impression that that will be Easton one day before I know it. And then I scanned the beautiful young women up there and realized that in 10 short months, Barrett will be joining them. Holy cow!
Corinne & J.R. were on for talks yesterday. I was giving them some grief last week that they'd been in the ward two whole months and hadn't even had to speak yet. We got asked to speak the first day we were at church. And I had a calling before I even went to church in our new ward. No joke.

I knew they'd get their turn soon. Corinne's talk was on the 13th Article of Faith. Her remarks were all tied together with a Superhero motif, which was very clever and articulate and perfect. She made analogies about superhero powers, duties, responsibilities, virtues, strengths, adversaries, and weaknesses, and tied them into the virtues spoken of in the 13th article of faith:

"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. Indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul. We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

I typed that from memory...I'm pretty sure I got it right.

Anyway, it was an awesome talk! J.R. was next. His assigned topic: favorite stories of the prophet Joseph Smith. What a power-packed and testimony-filled talk he gave! I, of course, cried again (go figure), as he talked about the love of this prophet, the sacrifices he made, the busy devoted life he led from the time he was just a young boy, and the cruel death he suffered as a martyr. As soon as J.R. said "Amen," Ryan leaned over with glossy eyes and said, "Wow."


How appropriate it was that our Relief Society lesson was also on Joseph Smith this week. Specifically, his martyrdom. Faie Solheim gave the lesson and did a good job, but the real impact for me came when she talked about the time when Joseph & Hyrum Smith were in Carthidge jail in Illinois along with John Taylor, who later became the third prophet of the church. It was a hot, sultry day and the jailsman finally agreed to move the prisoners into another room with a window so that they could get a small breeze and breath of fresh air. With the window open, John Taylor began singing a cappela "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," one of the hymns now in our hymn book. Faie then said that John Taylor was with us today, and introduced Eric Shumway in our ward who came up and sang that same song for us.

A cappela.
He teared up in the final verse and I was bawling.
What a day.

Of course, my head was pounding in the afternoon as it typically is on Sundays. Tears tend to do that. I'm sure that being extraordinarily tired had a little something to do with that too :)

Last night, since we already had all our family room furniture moved out for our Christmas party and the garage was already set up with tables, we had planned to do the annual Brown Family Christmas night.
A perfect combo of leftover Christmas party Mexican food delights, a very professional and super high quality re-enactment of the beloved Nativity (with all the kiddos in full costume), and...the 2nd annual gingerbread house throwdown.


Such good times. I'll post the pictures and blog about that soon. I feel like I need a vacation to recover from the weekend though. Or maybe just a nice long nap!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Going Seinfeld

Most of us have probably watched a hundred or more Seinfeld episodes in our lives.  At least I have.  Even though the show stopped running a decade ago or more, the re-runs are practically classics.  

Well...Ryan and I have this long-standing joke between us.  Whenever either of us puts on a pair of tennis shoes with jeans (especially when I do it which is a rare day for sure), we tease the other that they are "going Seinfeld."  Check out Jerry's look above. This is it.  It was Jerry's unmistakable signature fashion don't.  

Seriously...white tennis shoes and black jeans?  It's so awful it's just comical.

Generally speaking, I think I have a pretty decent sense of fashion sense and think that most of the time I'm pretty "with it" when it comes to my clothes.  And I can firmly say with strong conviction that I will never wear black jeans with white tennies.  

But today...today was one of my near-Seinfeld days.  Regular denim and gray tennies.  I knew that I would be on my feet all day and I really wanted to be as comfortable as possible.   Still, as I laced up my Asics and took a quick gander in the mirror, I smiled and said out loud, "Going Seinfeld."  But the real affirmation that my look was bordering Jerry's fashion faux pas was when Ryan came home, gave me a smile and the once-over, and then said, "Going Seinfeld, eh?"  We both laughed.  There was no doubt that he'd lay down the line, just a question of when.

So it's midnight now, and I've been doing the Seinfeld look since 8:00 am.  I'm finally sitting down and my feet are super tired.  But not nearly as tired as they would be if I'd just worn my trusty Roxy flops that typically adorn my feet.  GO JERRY!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3 Beauties x 2

Would you believe it if I told you that I finally gave in and agreed to let my kiddos have a puppy? What about 3 - one for each of them?


We'll, you'd be right. I'm still the same mean mom I've always been. Anti-pet. No dogs at our place. But thank heaven our awesome cousins, the Berrey's, live just around the corner from us now and they are dog lovers galore. Two of their grown labs recently had a litter of 5 pups (sadly only 3 of them made it), and they are getting so big! My girls have been in heaven being able to hold and play with the little angels. J.R. says they don't give the pups names so they won't get attached. Any time they name one, it ends up joining the Berrey clan.

And just so all of you dog lovers don't think I'm evil, I will be the first to admit that these beauties are just absolutely adorable. And yes, my kids look happy. And yes, a small part of me thinks it would be fun to have one of our own. But none of that will ever get me over the pet-owning hurdle. Unless of course we move to a wide open Ranch in Montana or someplace where the lovely beast could roam free and always stay outside. But since that will never happen, this is the next best thing! Seriously, they are soooooo cute!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Update in Reverse

We had such a terrific weekend! Going in reverse, last night we enjoyed a nice family dinner Italian style (Afton's request) in celebration of Afton's 9th birthday. Yes, she is growing up fast. I was just telling a friend of mine at work about our weekend, and she was shocked that Afton was already nine. When I started working at Pivotal just after 9/11, she was only 9 months old. Man how time flies.

Both sets of grandparents, plus Afton's great Grandpa Reid and Aunt Krissie came over, along with Mike & Shari's crew and all of Ryan's siblings and their families. It was a full house for sure, but always good to get together. Sunday afternoon was nice...at one point, I found myself nestled next to my irresistably handsome husband in our rocking chair upstairs, just talking about our kids, the holidays, life. Just rocking and talking. It was nice. Church was great too, as it typically is these days. I really enjoyed sacrament meeting today and loved being in primary. Once again, I substituted a class, this time the Sunbeams. It was tiny - just Easton and his buddy, Garrett, but we had a good time. Sharing time was great. I cried as Cadi shared her thoughts about the Savior and his birth and life. The spirit was so strong in that room. We sang lots of Christmas songs - ones we don't often sing - all talking about the life of Christ. It was a good day for sure.

Saturday night Ryan and I went to the temple with many in our ward, and enjoyed a nice session, followed by a terrific holiday potluck of soups and salads at the LeSueur's house. Louisa's house is just amazing. Decorated to the hilt and so beautiful and fun. I made a super delicious tortilla soup (using Shari's recipe in the Enlightened Homemaker cookbook), and it turned out fabulous! That is definitely one I'll make more often. I just wish my kids liked soup a little more. I guess it's just a matter of making it more often so that they can learn to like it. Then again, I don't really remember eating much soup at all as a kid. Pretty much just chicken noodle when I was home sick, and stew when my mom made me. I hated stew. I still haven't grown to love it, although I don't mind it. I pretty much eat anything now. Maybe soup is "grown up" food. I don't know...

The earlier hours of Saturday included getting highlights and a trim a la Jayme. It feels good to hide hide the roots and be fully blonde again... And before that my madre and I went to the annual Desert Club Christmas Idea House in Gilbert where we toured the gorgeous home of Mr. Someburros (I don't know his real last name, but I love his restaurants!) There wasn't as much good stuff to buy this year, but the house was beautiful and gave me a few more ideas to put on the dream house list someday...Like four fire places and a private patio off the master suite :) It was so dang cold on Saturday morning (in the 30's when we left) that those fire places felt awesome! Ryan finished putting the lights up on the house and in the bushes. They look great! He is such a trooper to do that - our roof is so dang tall! I love the new twinkling snow flakes that we got for the front yard this year. Costco special. They have like 8 different blink/no blink/fade/dim/ chase/ sparkle settings, so we've been playing with them trying to figure out what we like best. The kids love them too. You can see our house lit up all the way down the street when you come in the gate!

Friday was Afton's actual birthday, and we celebrated with a little GNO. She and six girlfriends plus our crew went out to dinner at Red Robin, her favorite restaurant. We all ate way too much and loved every bite. Those steak fries are to die for. Then it was back home for presents, a fun gift exchange game with Webkinz (all the kids went home with one and loved it), then an ice cream sundae bar. I'll be posting pictures soon. So much fun. Afton is such a gem and such a blessing to our family. She has a heart of gold and such a desire to do good.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I am getting excited for Christmas, that's for sure. I've been having a lot of fun scheming and planning and decorating and shopping and wrapping...I've got all sorts of things floating around up there.

I hope they all come to fruition.

My kids, of course, have the Christmas itch too. A couple of years ago, my SIL, Shari, shared her marvelous idea to give each child a reindeer name. When the presents get wrapped and put under the tree, names like Dasher, Cupid, Rudolph, Blitzen and Prancer appear instead of the real names of my angels. It's awesome that there's no more counting gifts, questions about why someone has more than the other. No more snooping, shaking, or guessing. Just lots of wondering and hoping...I love it.

On Christmas morning, we let the kids try and guess which reindeer they are, which adds to the fun. Easton is convinced he is Rudolph this year. With Christmas CD's being played on the blue boom box pretty much every hour of the day, Easton gets excited every time Rudolph gets mentioned in a song. He knows which CD showcases that song first, so he plays it over and over and over, telling me, "Mom! Listen! TheyItalic're gonna say my reindeer name!" So funny.

Barrett tried to convince me that she had "ways" of figuring out which reindeer belonged to which kid. But then I blew her theory out of the water when I told her that our reindeer have middle names too. She gave me the wide eyed look of disbelief. Priceless. Since Afton was successful in guessing her name last year, she too is convinced that she already knows who she is. We'll just see about that...

So I was looking through some of my 2005 scrapbook layouts just for fun, and I found this spread highlighting Christmas. Our kiddos were so small! I loved re-reading my journaling from 4 years ago.

(double click to see it larger)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Turkey Day...a few more pics

Here's our crew on Thanksgiving after eating a most magnificent dinner at my mom's house. Yes, we wore our matching Turkey Trot shirts. It almost made me flashback to 1988...the summer I was 16 years old and went to Disneyland with the whole Teeples extended family for a little family reunion. Some genious in our group back then (I honestly can't remember who), thought it would be cute if we wore matching red t-shirts at Disneyland. At 16, I thought I was going to die of embarrassment. I was a teenager, after all, and matching red shirts with our family tree on the back were not exactly my version of high fashion. How could you scope out cute boys in the ride lines wearing matching red shirts? We'd be waiting in line, and suddenly I'd feel a random finger on my back, poking around on our "tree" wondering which branch I was.


But at least at this marvelous Thanskgiving Feast it was just family. And the whole entire youth church group from my high school (about 100 kids) didn't just coincidentally show up on the same day (like they did on that infamous summer day in 1988) and see me in my matching shirt.

But even if they did, this time I wouldn't have cared one lick. This time, I was actually very happy about wearing matching shirts with my terrific family. Amazing what 21 years will do to your perspective...

Easton, Rowan and Lily all tickling Tara in the lawn after dinner. They had a blast!

And here's Easton with our Davey, the cousin my kids just can't get enough of (probably because he lets them crawl all over him, they wrestle and laugh and have a blast).

Thanksgiving was great! And it was terrific to visit with all our cousins and family at Aunt Terri's house too. We love catching up with the crew, especially on the holidays.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Our 8-legged Visitor

Church is over. We pull into the driveway and park the Tahoe in front of the RV gate since the garage floor is currently covered with Christmas lights and other would-be decorations waiting to be hung. Click the opener and proceed to the door.
Barrett: "Oh my gosh!"
We all look up and see this little creature on the wall of the garage. Actually, it doesn't look little at all. Here he/she/it is after Ryan swooped her onto the floor with the giant broom. Now we get the full close-up look.

Ryan thought it might actually be a tarantula. I have no idea, but I wasn't thrilled to find it in our garage. He/she/it didn't live too much longer after this picture was snapped. Being the good outdoorsman and respector of nature that he is, Mr. Scoutmaster husband suggested that we just set it free. But I won and he/she/it is no more.

What do you think it is? Just a garden variety spider? Wolf Spider? Any guesses?