Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Think this kid is happy to see the man or what?
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
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!
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!
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.
Happy Birthday, Afton! You are the best!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
MVT: Mountain View Toros or
DVD: Digital Video Device.
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
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.
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.
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
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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! They'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
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.
Easton, Rowan and Lily all tickling Tara in the lawn after dinner. They had 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.