Cameron is *7* Native American Party

October 15th, 2014 in Parties

Cameron, Cameron, Cameron has the most fantastic mind. I want to be in her brain for a full day and just be able to see how she can see things and all her little ideas. She decodes dreams for people, has a manual for it, and a notebook she writes them down in. She taught herself through library books how to read palms. She is the one you go to for calming, she can read feelings well. But then she also loves to make people laugh. Right now she is trying to figure out her sense of humor I think. In a few of her classes her attempts at humor have not been….appreciated. So she is just learning how to handle herself. But humor her and when you see her laugh at her jokes. She needs it! Right now she adores her dance team and hates her dance technique class. All of her free time is spent begging to play Animal Jam. She is a big reader and I am amazed at how many chapter books she can get through a week. Usually she falls asleep when I go to bed, so she sits in her bed for a good 2-3 hours just reading. In the morning she will show me what books she started and finished. Friends are starting to become more important to her and she gets along with Abby (or I should flip that wording) much better this year. For Christmas she has asked for the same things a couple years in a row and Santa has ignored her request. But I think this year she will finally get her cotton candy maker. Cameron makes life diverse and fun, watching her grow is going to be so interesting. I have no prediction on what she will be or where her life will take her. But I do know if she decides to have children, or as an aunt, she will be the one they go to for comfort.

beautifulcameron sillycameron

Her birthday day was actually a bit boring! She had breakfast in bed, which was a tradition SHE asked to start last year. Later on that night she went to the movies with Tyler. Her birthday party was late afternoon so I think it was a pretty lazy day in between. I let the girls open their four presents from us (something read, wear, play with, and something pretty) first thing in the morning. Making them wait is just mean!

breakfastinbed presents

 

At the Natural History Museum her and Abby both have attended the Native American Culture summer camp. I finally took them to a real Native American restaurant in Provo to have some delicious food. For her 7th birthday Cameron wanted a Native American party! But I wanted to do it the right way, not with clichéd inaccurate things. So it took work on my part to be inventive! I bought nicer posters and dreamcatchers because when we get into a home with love, I want her room to be decorated in them.

INVITES

cameroninvite

DECOR

I bought prints from the artist Maxine Noel, bought a dreamcatcher off of Etsy, and set the table with things from around the house. I dried that burlap in my dryer thinking I would get the wrinkles out, not so, and my clothes were all covered in burlap pieces. I also (don’t judge me) gold dipped and sprinkled feathers to hang. This teepee is from The Land of Nod clearance section that we will use in the playroom now.

backdrop

partysetup

cameronanddream cameron7thbirthday

FOOD

I had cactus candy for them to try, pear cactus lemonade, and Navajo tacos. I am sure none of this food was authentic. Of course we had a gorgeous cake to eat as well.

cake

CRAFTS

dreamcatcher

The first craft I did was to make a dream catcher, star style. They are easier to do just as a five point star. I bought embroidery hopes and painted them gold ahead of time. I also tied the string to make the start at the top ahead of time. Also the two strings on the bottom, I had those pre done.

beadcraft

The second craft I did was I got some empty CD cases, a bottle of glue, and a bunch of dried beans. The girls put down the layer of glue and made a pattern out of the dried beans.

teepees

The third craft I did was to make a paper teepee, not much explanation for that one.

GAMES

We did our basket tossing game, we did a news spot where we demonstrated how to play this. The more detailed post is here. The kids always love this one you guys! Make it for them for Christmas!

basketgame

The second game we did was an almond and bead game. You sit in a big circle, flip all the almonds to the UN marked X side, and have them take a turn flipping the nuts in the bowl once. However number they get they take that many of the beads. When everyone has had a turn in the circle you let the people who had 4 or more play. Then just let the circle get smaller and smaller till there is a winner.

 

nativeamericangame

PARTY FAVOR

Well they took all their crafts home. When they walked in they had feather strings tied to their hair. Also they had a pretty ribbon tied around their head as well. The only extra party favor they got was a dream catcher necklace.

partyfavor

I also throughout the party told them what feathers meant to this culture, what dreamcatchers meant, little facts and tidbits here or there. We also talked a lot about storytelling and I read them this book:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.45.14 PM

Cameron had such a wonderful time with her 2 cousins, 2 sisters, and 9 little friends. She tried to make them laugh the whole time, even when blowing out her cake and loved the attention.

cameronandreagan cameronflowers

blowingcandles

 

 

things that have been saving me the last little while

October 5th, 2014 in About Me

Clouds

Utah’s summer sky was gorgeous this past summer, thanks to the rain. Rainy summers remind me of Maryland where I lived 6 weeks to 12 years old. Now if we had just had extremely loud thunder storms with the power going off it would have been perfect.

Oh and fireflies. Which I heard have been sighted in Utah so I talked my siblings into going on a trip with me. I investigated the reports from the Natural History Museum, read fisherman websites, emailed the fisherman asking for more exact directions. One of them even made a map for me. I was prepared for the hour and half drive and to keep all of my children up past bedtime. My brother went to check it out the night before and sadly…no fireflies. They haven’t been sighted this summer as well. One year we will see the fireflies!

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 10.25.57 AM

My Girls

Homeschooling them has been such fun. I have it set up in a way this time that they enjoy it more. Control, they must have more control. I have four very strong willed souls in this house of mine. You should hear what happens during hair time. Oh my goodness, when can they all do their own hair? I should say last week we had an awful homeschooling day that ended in every one being forced to the basement to re-organize it. However I had them re organize their memory boxes so they ended up having too much fun for a punishment. Oh well!

Sisters

Sisters who send me voxes, texts, pictures, messages throughout the day. You save me.

Watching the girls with each other during good moments. How one falls asleep in her sister’s bed, sprawled all out over their face. Sisters who bond over how rude their mom is. Sisters who pretend to be kitties or puppies all day long. Four sisters who have such strong, stubborn, wonderful personalities that I wonder how in the world I will survive all of them being teenagers at once. Yep, every single one from a Beehive to a Laurel.

The way they exhaust me but fill me up all at the same time. How I can put them to bed but then two hours later want to wake them all up.

Exercise

I’ve been working with a personal trainer a few times every week for 5 or 6 weeks now. Boy is it hard, some days I have to work hard to not spew (did you want to hear that? ha, sorry) during the workout. It feels good to push my body and to see my arms, legs, back tightening and getting stronger. My middle section? Birthing four babies that were in the 9-11 lb range has made that section a project. I don’t ever want it to look like I haven’t had four beautiful babies. But I would like to feel my core stronger, that section is just going to take work. But work that makes me feel proud, sleep better, feel stronger.

Women’s Meeting

This year’s Women’s Meeting/Conference was wonderful. I have a long list of things I learned or am inspired to work on. Here are a few:

**making my home a place where the spirit can be felt

**make the way l lead my life reflect my love for the Savior. Leave a legacy to strengthen those after me

**NEVER STOP YOUR STEPS TO THE TEMPLE

**to remember that “You carry a circle of influence with you wherever you go.”

**leave a strong legacy so I can be a stronger angel to the future women in my line

**bring more sunshine. Not the fakey empty kind. A REAL kind.

President Uchtdorf spoke of Heavenly PARENTS. I have a strong testimony through personal revalations and experiences of our Heavenly Mother and the errand of our angels. Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Ghost who help us and bless us every single moment of the day.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 10.26.25 AM

FALL

Driving with the car window down, weekly Friday trips to the color, birds flying by hurrying to warmer weather. I just adore it all.

I don’t know why it has been a rougher past little while. Boy am I glad for these sweet things that save me on rough days.

hiking girlsinmountains alpineloop

Cousins

Surprise visits from cousins. Another new nephew and the other nephew getting better. These are a few of my favorite things.

lauraandjackson idahocousins 3cousins

Date nights, being in Young Womens, going to their games to get to know them better, sweet neighbors, and potty training. These are a few of my other favorite things. (Which one was sarcastic?)

Thank you to things these things for saving me lately.

Abby’s Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Drink

September 29th, 2014 in cooking, Health, recipes

Abby, my 8 year old, is guest posting today for a homeschool project. 

 

My mom and I love to go to Starbucks and get their pumpkin drink until we learned that it was not healthy and had no real pumpkin in it. When I made it, it tasted EVEN better!!!!!

Abby’s Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Drink

Ingredients:

-1 tsp pumpkin spice

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-half a can of pumpkin

-one bar of chocolate, chopped

-4 cups of coconut milk (or any other milk)

-3 spoons of honey

-2 cups of ice

IMG_5647

Directions:

Put every thing in blender BLEND!!!!!

IMG_5663

 

Watch my video to see the whole process:

 

Cameron’s Healthy Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

September 29th, 2014 in cooking, Health, recipes, Uncategorized

My 7 year old, Cameron, is guest posting today for a homeschool assignment. 

Cameron’s Healthy Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

I like this smoothie because its chocolate and healthy of course.

Ingredients:

4 cups milk

2 bananas

3 spoons honey

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup peanut butter

2 cups ice

*****Important, to find out what my secret ingredient is, WATCH MY VIDEO AT THE END!

IMG_5534

Directions:

Put everything in blender and blend.

Don’t forget my secret ingredient.

 

IMG_5544

Curious George Party

September 15th, 2014 in About Me, Parties

Reagan turned two, my baby turned two! I am ok with this, I am burnt out from the baby stage. I had no idea what to buy her or what party to throw her for her birthday. This sweet thing of mine, her hobby is getting into trouble. I was thinking of doing a really loud dance party for her birthday or a puppy party. But just a couple weeks before her birthday she started loving Curious George. Sure she doesn’t sit down to watch it. But she likes it in the background in the house while she climbs onto counters, finds black markers to color new furniture, and tear apart my purse. Oh! And taking a green marker to our brand new iMac.

Man, this love of mine. She causes me to cry more than anything else in my life and I have not had a life since she was born. But boy oh boy her hugs, smiles, energy, personality…it is what we need in this home. She makes it a fun place to be. The older ladies at church like to stop me after sacrament meeting to laugh at Reagan. Today one of the ladies said, “This is good, she is going to be a STRONG one.” Boy it is true.

So the theme of Curious Reagan turned out to fit her perfectly:

curiousgeorgeparty

I had the girls wear yellow shirts, black leggings, and yellow fedoras. We had to have some “Man in the Yellow Hat” characters! We also had some monkeys.

curiousgeorgetoddlerparty

reagancake

curiousgeorgecutout

curiousgeorgecake

We had an extended family emergency (better now) so I did not do any of the activities. We just took out NERF guns and shot each other. Then did some dancing.

dancing

I followed out four present rule (and had her birthday flower) but I didn’t want to spend money on her presents. She destroys things. So she did not get cute handmade items or fun picks from Etsy. She got Curious George things that it is ok if they are destroyed.

reagancuriousgeorge

presents

aster

Her day was full of playing with cousins, playing at parks, and watching Curious George with donuts. I think it was a pretty perfect day for her.

breakfast

This Reagan Jo of mine she takes everything out of me but fills me with what is important. If that makes any sense. She has made me a better woman. I cannot wait to see who she becomes.

reagans2ndbirthday

reaganistwo

What Home schoolers Love to Hear & Back to School 2014

September 2nd, 2014 in About Me, homeschool, Homeschooling, Learning

I think we are the last ones around to have our official back to school day! I grew up on the east coast and school did not start until after Labor Day. That is how it should be, am I right?

After an extreme amount of thought, exploring options, involving the girls in our decision, excitement, and lots of deep breaths. We have decided to go back to homeschooling. I love you all and want you to know I mean this post in a playful, nice way. Also, if you have said these things to me, do not fear, I am fine. I was totally talking about the other person that said them to me ;) But seriously, I love you all, don’t over worry. 

4 Things Home schooling Parents Love to Hear

#1 Explaining why you couldn’t ever home school after someone tells you that they home school. You say you aren’t “patient enough” or “smart enough” or  “educated enough” or “organized enough.” Which puts us in an awkward position because we aren’t enough of those either. Sure we have our strengths in all of those areas! But after you say that are we supposed to point out how we do have some of those qualities to an extent? And sounds all stuck up? Or in some cases is the person trying to point out how the home schooling mom really isn’t qualified as well. Who knows, people are kind, I assume the best. But sometimes the way people phrase things, it can make me cringe!

#2 When you blurt out, “Oh no, you can’t turn your kids into those weird home school kids!” YES, I have had this said to me already four times this summer. Oh friends, there are weird kids everywhere. I have met some really odd home school families. I have met some home school families that have the most wonderfully happy, adjusted children. I have met some really odd public school, charter school, and private school kids. I have met some public school, charter school, and private school kids that are wonderfully happy and adjusted. Stop generalizing and putting harmful labels on groups of people. We’ve all had experiences where we have met all different sides of everything. Don’t latch onto one and slap a label on it.

#3 When you ask about socialization. I think some people really are interested to learn more about home school and how that aspect of it works. But I think some people are trying to make a point, like they are opening our minds to something we haven’t even thought of! Socialization doesn’t need to come in one form, the form that public school provides. I’m not saying anything bad about that form. But socialization doesn’t need to be a certain set of hours or under certain conditions. My girls with their schedule for this year learn from twelve different adults. That isn’t counting the adults from church and extended family members or even Tyler and I! Or the adults we meet at museums or in the different winter/spring/summer camps we do every year. Oh and the friends! They have four playdates a week, are in numerous clubs, and live in a very social neighborhood.

#4 Becoming defensive or cynical or worried when my children’s education sounds different than your child’s. Education can come in many different forms. Many different, interesting, wonderful forms. Not everyone needs to learn from the same plan.

I am excited to show you all what we are doing in homeschooling. Although when I tell people a more detailed plan of what we are doing they say it sounds more like hackschooling. Who knows, it’s the Brown way of schooling. I’m excited to show you what we are doing to help other homeschooling parents. But also lots of them are just ideas for learning together with your children during the week for a few minutes here or there. You don’t have to be a homeschooler for these ideas.

Alright…most importantly! Here are our official back to school pictures:

abby3rdgrade
cameron1grade
700

reaganis2
abbyandcameronbts

abbybtscameronbacktoschoolshaesilly

 

shaebts

shaeandreaganbts

Back to School Dinner 2014–Speak Softly and Listen

My girls are too cute, they request the same thing every year for our Back to School Dinner.  Prosciutto alfredo, breads with dipping sauces, brussel sprouts, a fancy drink, and a treat. I like to spend my time on the creating our new family theme and decorating. So for the dinner I head down to an italian market, pick up the nice pasta, alfredo sauce, baked cake, bread, and fancy drink. So there is very little cooking involved.

food

reagan

This year I made the decor represent last year’s theme and this year’s theme. In 2011 it was Jesus said love everyone, in 2012 Be strong and of good courage, in 2013 Let your light so shine, and this year Speak softly and listen. I told the girls that they did such a beautiful job of letting their lights shine this past year that I bought them their own star. (Yes! These are the same ones that Nie uses in her dinners, I’m a copy cat). What is with my girls stealing my favorite color, blue is MY favorite color! They all have different shades that they love the most, and sweet Cameron’s is YELLOW!

backtoschooldinnerstars

letyourlightsoshine

Alright so this is how I taught, “Speak softly and listen…” Which I should have entitled, “Speak softly and listen TO EACH OTHER.” I didn’t mean that I want soft-spoken girls, I like how they speak their mind, and loudly. I meant as a family, to each other, that we need to STOP, speak softly, and really listen to each other. I played a soundtrack of the ocean really loud and tried to yell what I was teaching over the waves. Then I walked around the table to each of them and whispered it softly in their ears. I asked them which one they heard better and they all responded with the whisper. I taught them that our house really is a busy loud beautiful ocean. So when we feel frustrated with each other, or tired, or annoyed that we need to do this. To be loving, stop, speak softly, and really listen to each other. I need to do this as a mother more as well. I always get this as a print to display in the busiest part of our home. I also like to bring it up during breakfast time and ask them how they are doing with the theme.

speaksoftlyandlistentoeachother speaksoftlyandlisten

It was such a sweet, peaceful dinner. Which never happens in our home!! Someone is always screaming!! So it really was a special night.

nametags

table2

table

names

girlsatdinner

foodtable

branch

backtoschooltable

backtoschoolcake

We ended the night with back to school blessing from their Daddy. Oh man you should have seen their faces! They were all just beaming as he gave them a blessing, with the biggest smiles. These four girls are strong, important girls. We are lucky parents I tell you. Even on the nights that everyone is screaming at the dinner table.

Summer 2014 Part 4 & Final

September 2nd, 2014 in About Me

Our summer always ends with the same event, well at least for the past five years it has. The Sheepdog Festival at Solider Hollow. We always go and watch the same shows with the girls. That include cool dog tricks, dogs jumping into water, dogs herding sheep, wild animals, etc. We always enjoy the cooler air and dream about how we want to live in that area one day.

dogpool sheepdogfestivalutah skunk

Before the last day of our summer we did a few other things here and there. Tyler’s parents came back from their wonderful year in Detroit on their mission. It was so fun to hear about their year and see how they were in person. The girls sure do love spending time with them when they come. I think their favorite thing to do with them is to just talk and hold hands with them.

grandparentpicture
photo 1 (10)

The newest member of the family was blessed when they were here. Look at the fabulous cousin picture we got! haha

photo 2 (10)

We went to fun breakfasts with Daddy, played at parks with friends, were brave and did two more hikes. I could only fit in one night of the Timp Story Festival (man I wish I could make it to the whole thing). I need to come back and tell you about two new storytellers we discovered, you’ll love them. The girls had fun going with their sweet grandparents.

photo 3 (9)

photo 2 (11)

photohiking

photo 4 (9)

What else….oh the lemonade stand. I always tell the girls they can do one lemonade stand during the summer. I put it off as long as I can. I don’t mind making drinks and treats with my girls. It’s just the standing out there and selling it, I am not a fan! But they had a lot of fun. Abby, Cameron, and Shae each picked a flavor of cake cookies to make. I hadn’t had those things in forever and they are so easy to make.

lemonadestandb

lemonadestand

goodies

The annual back to school fashion show is always something the girls get excited for. When I pulled out their new fall clothes they politely ask me, “Uh mom, where is the color?” I have no idea why I bought such gray/white/black clothes this year! Oh well.

oldergirlsfashionshow

girlssinging

cameronfashionshow

babiesfashionshow

abbyfashionshow

This past weekend we also ended summer with our third annual customer appreciation night. Tyler always does a movie in the park, and this year it was 3 Amigos. The girls passed out promptly in the car after the movie.

photo 2 (13)

photo 3 (11)

I have one quick thing I wanted to mention lastly. If you live in Utah, have you heard of the Pop Shop that opened in Riverton?  It’s a cute shop that is perfect for a morning smoothie, morning energy soda fix, after school snack, birthday treat, cheer someone up delivery, date night, girls night out, meeting for book club, yadda yadda. The other thing I really like about them is their menu is SMART! It has things for breakfast, food for a quick lunch/dinner, sodas, amazing cookies, milkshakes, etc. AND they have things for the cold weather and warm weather. In the winter you’ll have to go for different hot cocoas and warm breakfast waffles.

You can always fan them on facebook so you can learn more about them. We have needed a place like this!

photo 3 (8)

Summer 2014 Part 3

August 14th, 2014 in About Me

I really want to be a hiking family. I really want to feel strong, not be skinny, not to make my body look like it has never had kids, I just want to feel stronger. Man these kids keep me busy, this year I really wanted to be a hiking family. For our first hike if it had not been for my sister and brother in law I would have given up and gone back down the mountain. But we did Scout Falls. I also started sliding down the side of the mountain with Reagan hooked onto the front of me. True story. The second hike we went to, the girls just wanted to play. I felt so frustrated and was snapping at them to GET A MOVE ON. Then I realized we were all miserable and gave up. I sat on a log in a field and I kid you not, the girls played in that field for two full hours. It was wonderful. For our last hike (yes it was hard, and yes I decided it is our last one for this season) I had a group of oriental tourists help us up and down the hike. You know…what do you want from me? They were worried about me. I had 3 little old ladies, 2 little old men, and their two daughters offer to help. So I said yes yes yes. It was a wonderful hike and fun getting to know new people. But I do not think this was the year for us to become a hiking family. I SHALL TRY AGAIN!

hiking

One of those pictures is of Tyler jumping off a bridge. Which was NOT his idea like everyone thought when I posted it. During date night I was telling Tyler that I really one day was to check bridge jumping off my list. And he told me of his old days jumping off bridges in his birthday suit. So one night for date night (date nights also have been a favorite part of my summer) we went on a hike. At the end of the hike I noticed some people jumping off the other side of a damn into the lake. I wanted to do it! I did not want to climb the locked gates over the water. But I did it. Tyler didn’t think I was really going to jump in, but I did! And it was so much fun! Summer was full of a lot of great date nights.

Summer was also full of lots of yummy treats. I forgot I had given them this blue ice cream. On the next day when they went #2 I just about died and took them to instacare. But then I remembered the blue ice cream. Gross.

summertreats

Summer was full of visitors from Seattle, some of my favorite people in the world. I loved how my kids were so taken with them and really bonded with them right away. Family is important.

seattlevisitors

I went to a couple concerts this summer. One with my love Emily to see Neon Trees. Oh my do they put on a good show. And oh my was I a tired woman the day after. I went to a hip hop concert on the Rooftop with my brothers. We were having so much fun and I was screaming to loud, and jumping so much, and dancing SO FANTASTICALLY. That I might have had a wee bit of an accident. Listen, I’ve had four kids, its ok. Courtney, thank you, I loved that night.

summerconcerts

Summer has been spent with weekly visits to see my nephew Rex and lovin on him. The days have been spent doing some Yoga. The days have been spent getting to know sweet women at girls camp and getting together with friends. Summer has been full of cookies bake offs and cookie wars. Summer has been spent doing swimming lessons and attending Art Festivals. Summer has been great.

randomsummer

Lastly, my husband worked his butt off this summer. This has been a very busy, business growing, super stressful summer. I am so thankful to my husband and his hard work. He is wonderful. HE ALSO NEEDS A BREAK.

Summer 2014 Part 2

August 13th, 2014 in About Me

Lets leave where I left off, summer has been great, but also has had a lot of this:

badsummer

One of my kids is really good and leaving passive aggressive notes under my door. And one is really great and climbing on things and screaming until someone gets her down.

readingbooks

Summer has been full of reading. There have been many trips to the bookstore. My girls are both really into a certain series. Abby is finishing up the last book of The Sisters Grimm and there have been tears about it ending. She already has it planned when she will start to re-read them again. If a movie was to come out based on these books, we would be at the first showing. Cameron picked a series that has a billion books in it, it is never ending, so she will not know this sadness yet!

girlstalking

There were many summer playdates with friends but also days filled with playing with sisters. That I think is when I am the happiest as a mom, when my girls have days where they get along so well. They happen a lot, but sadly not every day.

summercamps

Summer is the busiest time for Tyler and his business. So it is not the time to do a vacation so we do summer camps. We always do one at the Natural History Museum of Utah. This was Abby’s 5th year of attending those, always a favorite. This year we tried 3 other new ones; a Farm Camp at Peterson’s Farm, a claymation camp at SpyHop, and a Club U camp at the University of Utah. Feel free to email me with questions about camps, I will give you good notes and opinions. But my girls had a ball.

During camp the babies (I guess I can’t say babies anymore, maybe the littles?) and I had fun on the town. Hikes, Build a Bear for the first time, back to school shopping, bakeries, museums, and parks. We had so much fun and really missed naptimes. Shae felt special receiving her potty trained box from grandma. She carries that thing around with her all day.

babies

Personally my favorite days of summer this year were the rainy ones. They reminded me of the rainy season in Costa Rica. It made me just move slower and relax. Best of all, we always went out to splash in the puddles when they were done. Or if you were Reagan you ran around outside naked with one shoe in the rain. I HAVE GIVEN UP PEOPLE, SHE CAN DO WHAT SHE WANTS.

summerrain