New Orleans Part 3 of 3

March 17th, 2015 in Our Travels Worldwide

My inlaws left in the morning and we had the rest of the day to wander around. It was so fun and relaxing to spend time with my Brown mom and dad. They are such kind people. We will be thankful for a long time for this trip and the time we got to spend with them. Love you two.

But of course since we are both still 14 years old in our hearts we went to the places mom and dad told us not to. A cemetery that they said lots of muggings happen. And to go walk around the streets of Treme. I had to! It was actually the last day you could tour this very old cemetery. And by tour I mean you were supposed to go with a tour guide but I snuck in and looked down. Why do I love cemeteries so much? I always have. Boy see? New Orleans and Vanessa go perfectly together. Now you have to prove you are a relative of someone buried there or pay a 4 grand fee to go into the cemetery. I guess really awful things were happening with the bodies there by people, and robbers, and by some tour groups.

Isn’t is a beautiful cemetery though?

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Treme was interesting to walk through as well. Actually we stopped in this little photography place where the assistant was there. She told us really what is hurting New Orleans right now, the people of New Orleans. And more about really what the flood did to everyone.

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We walked down Frenchmen street which I was sad my in laws missed. So many more fun shops to go through and designs to see.

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Can someone transplant a New Orleans house to Daybreak for me?

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and jazz in the streets. I’ll take that too.

It was a wonderful trip. Tyler & I had a lot of fun together and didn’t squabble once. I did pinch him really hard in the movies one day. Other than that, its nice to go exploring a new town with your best friend.

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New Orleans Trip Part 2 of 3

March 17th, 2015 in Our Travels Worldwide

Friends! The street performers. When I go back I will bring a lawn chair and sit and watch street performers. Want to join me?

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While in Louisiana we went on a plantation tour. I have aways wanted to tour one of those. It was funny though all I ended up wanting to look at and spend time with was the trees. Trees, food, and buildings. Oh and the street performers. That is what makes me happy.

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I miss big old trees. I think that is why I love parts of Salt Lake & Sugarhouse so much. Those old big trees are a comfortable companion.

Well we also went on a Bayou tour on an air boat. Tyler and I checked that off our list. Why we both wanted to go on an airboat I am not sure but we did it. It was so cold, so cold that week. I think not normal cold so the air boat made our bones cold. It took us awhile to feel warm after that. Boy are those swamps just cool. Ok so add nature to the list, I can sit and listen about nature all day too. Can you tell New Orleans is perfect for me yet?

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All the alligators were burrowed deep and asleep from the cold. Which is fine for me because I’ve seen a lot of creepy large reptile things in my life. I was just happy to air boat through a bayou. THROUGH A BAYOU! Now I need to go watch Princess and the Frog.

We can leave out the voodoo shops, we are ok to skip those forever and ever. Ask my Father in law how much he liked those. Creepy eeebie jeeebies!

 

New Orleans Trip Part 1 of 3

March 17th, 2015 in Our Travels Worldwide

Tyler’s parents invited us to New Orleans, how fun is that? Wow is that a fun city. The different cultures shine through in the accents, architecture, food, and traditions. You can see it in the tile pieces and the stones on the sidewalk. That place you will want to walk and walk through, the same streets over and over. That is what we did, our last day there actually was spent 100% walking.

I was very ready for a trip without our kids, very ready. We also had/have a lot of high stress things going on in our life. That time, that February, was the highest of them all. The stress and problems I had to deal with didn’t go away as soon as we got on that plane. Actually I dealt with many of them every time our plane hit the ground and while walking onto the New Orleans streets for the first time. The New Orleans air met me a screaming, ranting, wound very tight, very hurt and stressed individual. Thankfully New Orleans did not reject me and gave me a free pass. I can say though that just showing up to a city not having to do one ounce of planning was perfect for me. My in laws are planners, I knew we were going to be taken very cared of. I remember one day clicking on the link of the hotel they sent us but that is it. I showed up and had a blast. My girls were well taken care of by aunts and grandma. And voxing me non stop through our cells. I was sad to say goodbye to them but not sad to say hello alone to New Orleans.

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Tyler and I dove headfirst into the city by sitting down to eat alligator.

Alligator. I grabbed a bite and thought it was very good, tasted just like fried fish. No one else thought it tasted like fried fish. My second bite did not taste like fried fish. I think a piece of fried fish accidentally made it into the basket.

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The hotel we stayed in was a true reflection of New Orleans, man I love this city.

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The next day we took care of some very important business first thing. Getting beignets. We did learn through the trip where you really need to go to get beignets. Of course we tried the three main places. Of course we were not sad to eat any of them from any of the places. You will be fine wherever you go but my vote is going to Cafe Beignet.

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Save all your birthday and holiday shopping for New Orleans. Bring empty suitcases. Know that you will find something charming and perfect for everyone on your list in all of the shops. You will, trust me. Window shopping in New Orleans is affordable, unique, and actually fun. Even for my husband. Yes he had fun doing it.

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It was so fun to see the Mississippi River, I ran right down to it to stick my finger in it. I am proud of Linda for following me. These things need to be done. I still have shells jiggling around in my purse from the Mississippi River.

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Oh goodness the buildings, the building with depth. With history. With sadness, tiredness, hopefulness, family, and knowing. I could fly to New Orleans to just walk around and take pictures of buildings.

But listen if you take one little piece of travel advice from these New Orleans posts here it is: take the local food tour on your first day in town. The Tastedbud New Orleans Food Tour to be exactThis way you will know where to eat throughout the whole trip. Where the locals eat. Where the families from hundreds of years eat, work and own the joints. You will learn the history of the food, what groups of people brought it, or why the needed that food  & what it turned into.

I will give you a short list of where we went : Laura Candies for the pralines (6 different kinds of pralines) and Mississippi Mud. Johnnys Po Boys for a Roast Beef Po Boy. Serio’s Deli for a Muffaletta. Go back a second time for a Muffaletta. Then when waiting for your flight get ANOTHER Muffaletta to eat while waiting. I did all of those things. THEN try to make it at home, I am still waiting to do that thing. They also took us to get gumbo and jambalaya that somehow was so much better than the other places we had it. I am not sure how because the other places were delicious. I wish I could remember the name of the place. 

You will learn a lot of history, the cultures that are there, the people who settled there, everything. You will learn about some of the buildings and even signs. Do that, do it.

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Since I am on the food path let me give a shoutout to two other places we dined and has superb meals.

Felix, for Char Broiled Garlic Butter Oysters.

EAT, boy oh boy if that place was in Salt Lake I would take it over The Copper Onion and From Scratch. Which is saying a lot because those are my two go to, everything tastes so good, places. Everything everyone got. Boy that was a fantastic meal.

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pssst this is the beignet place we liked the best:

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Food heaven my friends, absolute food heaven. A food heaven that thankfully only dipped into working with our nutrtionist 1 pound. Just 1 pound, we got lucky friends.

Things I Loved This Winter

March 17th, 2015 in About Me

hello world!! my family journal is so behind. what will all of my future great grandchildren read off of their ipads installed in their eyeballs?

I loved realizing that my third child, that for in a phase of my life would never happen, wore this dress. During the years of trying to have kids and it not happening I bought baby stuff. All of the boy things my four nephews I see wearing around. All of the girls things I have put to use. This dress I bought in tears, it was the last baby thing I bought before finding out I was pregnant. Miss Abby finally wore it on this day. And Miss Cameron on this day. My heart hurts for anyone who is going through this 10 seconds longer than I had to or 30 million seconds shorter than I had to deal with it. Also Shae is an angel. One day her and I will go on a long trip together and I will do nothing but pay attention to her.

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Tyler and I realized before going on our first TRIP WITHOUT KIDS (ahhh!! can’t wait to show you where we went) that Reagan was fun! She is still busy, tiring, high energy, and a lot of work. But she does not scream all day like she did for the first at least 18 months of her life. She cut that out! And then leaving her messed all of that up but she will phase back out of it. Do we look alike at all? Someone say yes.

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Shae is a sunbeam! She did not have any stress about going to sunbeams. Shae wanted (why do all my girls feel the need to sign up for every talk they possible can?) to give a talk in Primary. For FHE when Grandpa Brown was in town we all gave her a line for her talk. She practiced it throughout the week into a spatula. She was not nervous to go up and give it but also gave it in the tiniest whisper.

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Speaking of Grandpa BRown we now get to see him once in a month because of his new job. The girls love spending time with him. We even got him on his birthday!

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Christmas jammies all winter long make me smile. It also makes Shae think her stocking will be full when she wakes up every time she wears them.

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11 am church is not something I am loving this year. Reagan had such a meltdown this past Sunday that Tyler recorded it out on the church lawn. 30 minutes of video. Her diaper was full of dry leaves from throwing her body all over the place in the grass.

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Shae’s baking obsession has been contained. I put stars two times of the month on the calendar and those are the only days we bake her treats. When she can bake without help I will weigh 457 pounds, I am pretty sure of it.

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The girls for New Years Eve all got to pick a treat to make for the family. It was….it was quite a bit of sugar.

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The girls worked really hard on their aprons with their Grandma. And by that I mean my mom worked really hard on dealing with super silly girls getting them to sew their aprons.

 

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Abby’s skills in dance have really soared. This year has been a huge one of growth and hard work. She dances & stretches all day every day. If we are on a walk, grocery shopping, in the library, in line, it is crazy. And quite impressive.

 

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We had a sweet & simple Valentines day. If I can remember what happened…oh we went and bought ourselves chocolates like every year. Because my girls can learn that if they want something they deserve it and to buy it for themselves. I stayed home on Vday so Tyler could take the girls to a magic show and a fancy restaurant. I put the babies to bed and watched hours of Gilmore Girls. Which was my MASTER PLAN!!

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CAMERON LIKES THINGS! Listen this a big deal, she is very particular girl. From the texture, flavor, and temperature of her food to the textiles of her clothes. Shoes…oh my don’t get me started on shoes. I have a system that to other moms looks quite heartless. On most occasions I throw her into new things and turn my back. She cannot be bribed, talked into, coddled into, whatever you want to say, into anything. It has to come all from her. So I proud to say she adores her dance team, I mean ADORES it. Still don’t ask her about her Monday tech class that poor Grandma drives them to and I am sure gets an earful. But ask her about her dance team classes and watch her in them. Oh that girl is beaming. Also she found more books she likes. She loves to read but all books must be all of her picking and approval. Library trips lots of times end in fights and someone acting like a baby. Which is me, I’m the tizzy throwing fit baby.

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Lastly what I have loved this winter and now am very fearful of from this winter is the warmth. Maybe all of April can just be rain? Even May, take both of those months to rain, I support that. I like to buy the girls all SPRING dresses on the first Sunday it is warm enough to wear them. The first Sunday this year was I think February 15th. Which is crazy. And nice. And I guilty for saying it is nice because I know it is only causing problems.

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Abby’s Healthy Lunch & Snack Ideas

January 26th, 2015 in recipes

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Abby did a project on showing how you can run into a grocery store really fast and pick up items instead of sitting in a drive thru line. Things you can pick up for an energy boost, or snack, or lunch meal.

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Fig, Prosciutto, Fontina Crostinis with a Honey, Fig, Balsamic, Sugar Drizzle

January 26th, 2015 in recipes

Here is a more detailed how to on the Fig, Prosciutto, Fontina Crostinis that won first place in the family cooking contest last year. Boy, these are good! And I thought them up on my own, which makes me pretty proud in this Pinterest world.

Fig, Prosciutto, Fontina Crostinis with a Honey, Fig, Balsamic, Sugar Drizzle

makes about 35

Ingredients 

For the Crostinis:

Package of Crostinis from your favorite bakery (I like to get them at Harmons, you can always make them on your own too)

1/2 lb of proscuitto sliced very thin (ask the deli to do it for you)

Wedge of fontina cheese

1 jar of fig jam (you can find this near the speciality cheese case)

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For the Drizzle:

1 T. Fig Jam

1 T. Balsamic Vinegar

1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup of sugar

Directions

1. Spread a thin layer of fig jam on the crostinis, place a half or a third of a single slice of prosciutto on, then a slice of fontina on top of that.

2. To make the balsamic reduction/glaze put the vinegar and sugar in a pot. Let it come to a boil, then reduce. Add in the honey and balsamic and let the reduction thicken on a lower heat till it coats the back of the spoon.

3. Drizzle the glaze on top and eat!

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Growing on Up, 2nd Edition

January 20th, 2015 in About Me

Cameron (like Abby last Christmas) received a card for a gift and inside the card it told her she was getting her ears pierced in 2 days. Which was such a relief to her because it was taking FOooooOooorever for her to turn 7 1/2! She did not want to wait until then so got to do it at 7 years and 3 months.

This Cameron of mine ,she just processes things in a way that is so foreign to me. If she decides she wants to do something, as soon as she decides it, she jumps right in and does it without an ounce of nervousness. Oh but it doesn’t help to push her, or talk to her, or bribe her, or anything else. That little mind of her has to decide on her own; I will do the play, I will pierce my ears, I will talk in church, I will go make that new friend across the street, I will take a new dance class. And if she decides to do it, she does it superbly and with this confidence that I cannot wrap my head around. She had a group of adults and kids laughing their heads off during her two theatre performances. When she dances on stage man her stage face and extra pizzaz she puts into her dance moves. She either says heck no and don’t ask me again and refuses to do something. If you push her to do something she fights it, her body, her heart, her emotions. She shuts down and she will not let you in on if she changed her mind and starts to like it. Or she decides on her own and KILLS IT LIKE A PRO.

Taking her to get her ears pierced was so different than taking Abby a year ago. With Cameron I did not get asked once if it was going to hurt, or how fast it was going to be, or if it would bleed, or wondering if she shouldn’t do it, or stressing about it or whining about it. NOTHING. She decided she was going to do it, she marched up to those doors feeling like the woman of the town, and did it. I did catch one teeny tiny look of nervousness and I had to snap a little picture of. But that lasted only a moment when the lady got out the piercing guns.

This love of mine, her personality is complex, it has many layers. She is creative beyond belief, she has an imagination that is wonderful. She is drawn to things that are just so puzzling and interesting. She likes to study dream decoding, reading palms, ghosts (I have to monitor that one closely), spirits, reading people’s energies. One day she came up behind me and said, “Mom stand still I am scanning a ghost that is standing right next to you.” At night she scares the daylights out of me because she just stands above me and when I wake up (with a scream) she says, “Just wanted to say I love you.” That Cameron Anne knows how to read people so she can calm them. She loves touch, from fabrics to people. This little girl of mine will love you so fiercely if she decides she wants to love you. I have to watch her closely because she will let people that she loves treat her not the best and make excuses for them. But if she decides she isn’t that into you (she turns down playdates and does not “pretend” to like people that she isn’t interested in) she won’t give you the time of day and will be very blunt with you. Oh goodness me, she tells her teachers if she hated what they did that day. If we have a new friend over that she isn’t “feeling” she will tell the kid why and ask for me not to invite them over again after they leave. We have a lot of talks on being polite. But…wow how would it be to have so much confidence to say no and spend time on only things and people you love. So I don’t want to kill that in her.

She is one that is going to love having someone to love with her whole being. She has said for two years now that she will have 10 kids, they will all be girls, and some of them will be adopted. She has strong crushes on boys that last a good 1-2 years. She has only had 3 so far but she talks about them every day. The first one was in her Nursery & Sunbeam class and during the Primary program could not stop stroking his back and arm with this grin on her face. The second one was all through kindergarten and into this year. She has many reasons for loving him, and they really are all quite perfect. Her crush is starting to change to a boy in her Primary class who she loves because, “He is very smart in church things.” This baby doll of mine loves to love. If she decides on her own that she loves you. Whoever she gives her heart to is going to be one lucky lucky person.

Thankfully everyone in our family has been chosen to be  a part of her heart and we are all lucky for that.

 

I love this Cameron Anne of mine, I also love that Anne as the perfect middle name for her.

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Christmas Day 2014

January 20th, 2015 in About Me

There is not much I remember about Christmas morning. Tyler two years in a row has put together the most creative, time consuming, and thoughtful gifts. I need to take pictures of the two gifts he has given me so I can share them. This year I tried to spoil him and he never acts excited when he receives presents. So it is a bit of a let down, but he will be excited when popcorn is coming out of that retro popcorn maker in our new home!

It is always so funny to see what the kids end up loving the most. This year it was these knit scarves & hats their great grandmother gave them. And crayons! Two of them got a huge box of crayons and they were a huge hit.

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My in-laws gave me a really fun gift of pasta and oils. The girls and I every day talk about what we should make with the chocolate pasta. We have raised the bar so high on that chocolate pasta and what we can do with it that we haven’t cooked it up yet!

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Watching the girls open the gifts that Santa & that we have spent a few months trying to decide on is fun. This year Tyler asked that no one got toys, more kits. Science kits, wiring your own iPod dock kit, designing your own headbands, etc. I think in total there were just 4 toys in the whole pile. It is always funny to see which ones they aren’t as enthusiastic about as others. I never guess right!

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Ok but this is the most hilarious and awful part. I get the girls all the same amount of wrapped present and we go through a rotation of taking turns opening them. I put 4 little piles out so the girls knew which one they could grab when it was their turn to open up a present. Man Christmas morning I am tired! When I hear my voice on the video recording we do of Christmas morning I always sound half awake. So I did not even notice that Reagan was opening all of Shae’s presents. Until the end when it was Shae’s turn to open a present and there were none. And somehow Reagan still had a stack. I LOVE these pictures of Shae watching Reagan open HER presents.

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See above, Reagan opening a Frozen doll meant for Shae.

See below, Shae looking at Abby wondering why Reagan would have received a baking game.

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You know thankfully those two are still little that after they were all done opening I just switched their piles around when they weren’t looking and no one noticed.

Videos of Christmas for grandparents here.

Things I Loved This Holiday Season

January 1st, 2015 in About Me

Things I loved this holiday season, and that I didn’t love. This holiday season was a bit lonely, stressful, and we fought as a family during a couple of our favorite annual outings. And then we had a lot of great times.

Our ward puts on the most beautiful, organized, beautifully thought out parties. This one was a “Back to Bethlehem Night” that we were so excited to go to. We dressed the part, brought the food we were assigned, and it was gorgeous inside. Everyone but Abby was so awful that night that I ended up just giving up and leaving in a huff. And crying about it because goodness gracious, I JUST WANTED TO BE THERE! My life is great, there are a lot of happy smiles. But I don’t think it does anyone a favor to sugarcoat everything. People need to hear the stories behind a cute picture on social media. So we can all laugh or cry or sigh or be sad for each other or be happy for each other together. I don’t want to raise my girls to think they need to put on a facade of perfectness, they can be real. Real is better anyhow. So this night was a flop, poor Abby could have stayed the whole time and really enjoyed herself.

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Now the Alpine Nativity was a success! We arrived at such the perfect time we did not wait in a line, and did not get stuck in traffic, and were not walking around in a huge crowd. It wasn’t freezing either! Which made me not feel bad for this little family this year:

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This below is the night my family all bawled as loud as I’ve ever heard us cry all the way home after leaving early. The Lower Lights concert is what Tyler and I look forward to the most every year. We love their music and when we showed up there were tons of special guests. People I probably should know and be able to name, and then also Neon Trees & The Fictionist. We had a babysitter who canceled, but we decided we wanted to brave bringing Reagan. If she was awful one of us could listen from the hallway which is not the end of the world. She was the best one. Tyler has a video on his phone of her jamming with her whole heart. I mean the girl was dancing, and singing, and I’ve never seen her move like that. She kept head bopping me so much that my earring ripped out and was bleeding. Its still a bit swollen. But I was willing to bear that, IT WAS WORTH THE CONCERT. Shae was awful, I mean awful. Abby was on one, see her face in the background and then her thumbs down photo bomb? She was so mad she wasn’t sitting next to me. Goodness, goodness. Cameron was great but had to pee in the middle of everything. Then fighting between the girls started, sobbing from one girl, Shae screaming, Reagan kicking someone in front of us. Even though it was a family concert everyone around us wanted to kill us. Which I get with screaming or kicking seats. But even if the kids would breathe, or clap too enthusiastically, we had some grown up grumps around us. So Tyler and I left, we lost it in the parking lot, both of us were in tears. And then on the way home I just bawled and bawled like I never have. So the girls bawled and bawled because they have never heard me cry like that. And I was thinking in my head, “I HAVE REALLY DONE AN AWFUL JOB AS A MOTHER!!” Ok it was an awful night, and we were pretty disappointed.

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The next night we were crazy parents and decided to brave something again right after the Lower lights Concert disaster. Reagan was screaming all the way down, and Tyler started giving himself a weird pep talk while looking like he wanted to drive in oncoming traffic. So I secretly have him doing this recorded on my phone, it is hilarious. We arrived and since everyone was stressed from the 30 minutes of non stop screaming, everyone was grumpy. So I had a SO HELP ME, GET IT TOGETHER SO YOUR DAD STAYS WITH US talk. Just kidding, I didn’t say that dad part. But they got it together, we chased Reagan all around temple square, and had a grand time.

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Our family did a lot of baking, because all our girls really love to cook. Shae is very very into it, I’ll have to save that cute story for our Christmas day post. Reagan likes to get super close to the mixer, and I like to make a snowstorm on her face. Tyler and I have emotionally eaten our way through our first year of owning a kennel, so we enjoyed the holiday baking too. No one is sad when they are baking, I mean, how could you be?

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The girls had 4 holiday performances with their dance teams. I beamed, teared up, and love attending all their performances without any of the younger ones. They also had little “in class” Christmas performances. It is the only time during the year you can sit in their classes. Abby has no video of her dances, but pictures. Cameron has only video, so don’t think I forgot about her completely. Shae has both, because come on, its her first year of dance, and SHE IS BEYOND ADORABLE. If the grandmas want to watch their in class dance performances and their fancy dance team performances, they are all on my VIMEO account here. (Along with their end of year theatre performance, where Cameron does a performance as me belting out moulin rouge. Because in case you were wondering, I for real run around my house dancing and belting out songs. I really do.) Oh and their piano recital, that one too. Which for only being in piano for 2 months before the recital, they are kind of wizards. See here.

 

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Oh you guys, the Nutcracker was my favorite outing we did this year. Why haven’t I been going to these Ballet West performances for years? Cameron and Abby’s mouths were wide open watching the dancers’ moves. We brought along Grandma, and left the younger ones behind. But I really can’t wait to take all four of them, it was beyond beautiful. I really think it was one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever seen. Ballet West at Capital Theatre you all, go go.

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My parents had the girls over for a craft & cooking making day. My girls have so much fun with my parents. And I lie on the couch a lot. And then my mom wonders if I’m pregnant. Which I’m not, or never will be. I’m just tired and look there are other adults to entertain them!

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There were a lot of last minute things we did because I did not have a well planned out holiday season. Normally I’m the lady who plans everything months and months out. I tell you the amount of work I do for our business, how it is grown the past year, is unbelievable. I would like to be fired or let go, so far it has not happened. Something about hiring more help, giving people raises, and more expenses above me. The nerve ;) So Santa was a very very last minute trip but a great one. City Creek in the winter time is another beautiful place to go. I took the girls to lunch at their favorite spot, Blue Lemon. Reagan would not look or sit on Santa’s lap. Which I was ok with, she sat on Abby’s lap for the picture, and sat cuddled into my chest right after. Look how adorable Shae is, oh man that girl, is my angel. She saves me.

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Also, can I get a round of applause for the weather this year? It stayed warm until the day of Christmas. The snow fell, everything iced over, it hurts to go outside. But before Christmas, it was so comfortable to drive and walk around in.

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The tree of life in Draper is pretty. I mean, maybe bring a sled to do some sledding there and go out to eat. I don’t know if I’d drive more than 15 minutes to see it on it’s own. But Shae, this is the thing we went and did that she was beyond excited about. So I am glad we did it just for her reaction to it.

 

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We had a easy company party, took everyone to the Pie.

I have such a fun time picking out the girls’ dresses for Christmas and Easter. Can I admit to something? I already have Abby’s Christmas outfit for 2015 and half of their Easter dresses for 2015. I have a problem. I bought Abby’s dress just because of the back and worked everyone else’s dresses around hers. I also bought the same dress for Cameron off Zara two years in a row.

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We survived the holiday season with a lot of fun and also a lot of tears. We survived, had a lot of fun too. The girls would love to wish you a happy holiday season too:

See? They didn’t run away from me yet ;) Poor girls, it has been a stressful year!

Christmas Tree 2014

January 1st, 2015 in About Me

We cut down, dragged home, and put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. In doing so I wiped out (meaning all fell down, crashed to pieces, I superglued) a wall of frames. Then the tree did not have time to be decorated until two days before Christmas. You have to pay attention to Reagan’s face, her reaction to the tree being cut down is priceless. Then at noon on Christmas Day I yanked down that tree and threw it outside.

 

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