Holiday Street Dinner

December 31st, 2015 in Parties

I have a lot of guilt that I am not the most involved neighbor or friend. We moved to a new part of the neighborhood and I feel like I haven’t got to know anyone over here. We are gone every single afternoon that everyone is home. I can’t do birthday lunches with them or really anything. I always feel bad. So I wanted to invite my new neighbors over for a holiday dinner.

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I also had no time to make anyone a holiday dinner. So I did the catering from Whole Foods. I love Whole Foods, I realized for the second time I do not love their catering. I made up for it by buying pastries from Gourmandise. And making yummy mocktails although I think that I live next to a bunch of very healthy women. So I don’t know if they normally drink sugary drinks.

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I had everyone bring a gift with their favorite holiday item wrapped up in it. We played a game and based on how well you did you got to pick a gift first or last. Then we opened them and the person shared why that was one of their favorite things.

I’m trying to remember what game I did…I think I had everyone write on an index card the answers to these questions:

What is the laziest thing you do?
Where is the furthest you have traveled?
What states have you lived in?
What do you eat when you are stressed?

Eh I think some of those are wrong and I’m missing some, oh well.

They didn’t put their names on them, I mixed them up in a bowl, and everyone took the same number out. Then we went around and everyone had to guess on the cards they had, who they thought had wrote that.

It was fun, I wish I could see all these ladies more!

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Things I Loved This Christmas Season Part 3

December 31st, 2015 in About Me

This season we did have a couple groups of visitors and we were also sick a lot. Which made it so I don’t know if they were the ideal situations. I felt bad, the weeks leading up to Christmas are a hard time to have visitors. That combined with going through so much sickness made it so we were not the best hosts or people to visit. Christmas week and the week after are magic and I vote for people to come then. I’m much more myself!

My in laws came for Cameron & Lydia’s baptism (more on that) and to have a Christmas dinner. That part went beautifully and I’m glad it did. Because after that everyone got sick and fell apart. Our poor visitors!

My mother in law planned some games and gave beautiful gifts (she is the best gift giver), my father in law worked hard at all his work meetings, and my sister in law fed us for the holiday dinner. Which is good because I don’t ever remember having such a bad flare up of my lifetime disease ever.

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My sister came to visit as well when I wasn’t feeling very well. My sister and mom rented a bounce house and thought up all these fun activities. We took them to the movies and spent Christmas Eve with them.

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Thank you visitors for coming, hopefully next time it goes better!!

Things I Loved This Christmas Season Part 2

December 31st, 2015 in About Me

Decorating the new home for Christmas was fun. Still trying to figure out where things would look the best. I bought fresh garland this year but bought it very early so it could be ready for early holiday celebrations. By the time I took pictures it was looking very dried out. Then when I took it down it was a bomb of little green dried pine.

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I took awhile to buy a tree, Tyler asked if we could go buy one. I really wanted to cut one down in the mountains but the way they pass out permits is just silly. They need to put it online already. Can you tell someone was pretty peeved about the Christmas tree we got?

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She felt better after she got to pick out a little one for downstairs. The littles ones had fun helping me decorate the big tree and the big ones had fun having me NOT HELP AT ALL decorating their tree.

I love doing neighbor gifts. Unfortunately (and fortunately…maybe) I have the fear of leaving anyone out. So I give neighbor gifts to everyone. Which makes it so I can’t do any homemade things. But I sure did love the homemade gifts that came our way. I hid three of them just for myself. The girls helped me pass them out to all of the neighbors with a wagon.

We did the same for teacher gifts. Oh my would you believe it…these homeschool kids have in total…29 TEACHERS! Really, they do.

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I asked my mom if she could teach us how to make her famous holiday cookies. She has made the same types of cookies since I was little and I finally snapped pictures of the recipes and processes while we were there.

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We went sledding. I would like to outsource sledding. It is fun once we get there for 10 minutes. I just don’t want to deal with the before and after.

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Shae & Reagan helped me with tons of holiday cooking, they are so fun to cook with.

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Abby & Cameron decorated some beautiful gingerbread houses late at night when we could fit it in!

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Tyler had his company party, we took everyone to Alamexo. I feel so uncomfortable at these. Tyler has great people who work for him, I just feel so out of place!

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We have the tradition of Genevieve the tiniest elf. She has a story to go with her that my mom wrote. You take her and do service for people and leave the little doll where you did the service for the person. Then it is their turn to do service. I was chosen one night and she left me a little spa! Too cute.

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Lastly for this post, I love reading Christmas books to them at night. I love this tradition with them.

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Things I Loved This Christmas Season Part 1

December 31st, 2015 in About Me

I wanted to try some new outings to see if they could turn into traditions this year. I didn’t make it to one which is on my list for next year. I really want to go to This Is the Place for the Lantern Festival. It sounds like it would be gorgeous. Who wants to go with me in 2016?

In September/October I wrote out on a piece of paper everything available in Utah for the holidays and things we have done in the past. Then I went through and chose the ones we would do this year. And promised myself that I would set aside a lot of nights for things Tyler would enjoy. Which would be tons of movies nights and going to see the Temple Square lights with hot cocoa. He does not have very many requests.

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We did book a wagon to go through the Thanksgiving Point lights, but I’m over those. I think we need a break from that tradition for awhile, and maybe we won’t ever pick it back up again. When they called to say they were canceling our ride due to the weather no one was really bummed! We were sad we couldn’t see our friends that we had invited to go with us so we had them over for a movie night instead.

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We always attend the ward Christmas party. It is always beautiful and a lot of fun. This year it was an adult only ugly Christmas party. Tyler and I won something and were mortified to stand up in front of everyone. Next year we will not wear good sweaters.

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The Alpine Nativity with  my mom is a tradition I hope never stops. Even though the idea of live nativities are everywhere now and there is one really close to my house. I will always want to go to the one in Alpine with  my mom.

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Speaking of my mom we took her to Ballet West’s Nutcracker again this year. This is another tradition I don’t want to let go. Next year we will for sure start bringing Shae. I’ll have to think about Reagan.

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The Lower Lights concert is actually something Tyler gets excited for and wants to go to. This year we treated ourselves by NOT bringing the kids. The parking was so terrible we missed the first 15 minutes where of course they opened with my favorite song. I wasn’t feeling very well but made myself go and was glad I did.

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I tried something new this year and took the girls to the symphony. We attending a viewing of Home Alone where the symphony plays along with it. It was fun and beautiful. But man I’m not sure if I want to pay that much for a seat unless it is just the symphony highlighted. I think we will try again but with another event. Sweet Shae came along with the older girls to this one and sure was exhausted.

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Abby & Cameron tried something new and did a holiday cooking class at Salt Lake Culinary Institute. They each invited a friend and had a ball. I was very impressed, this was a REAL cooking class, not just something to babysit the kids. They learned how to make some complex beautiful cookies. This is something we will do more throughout the year. I can’t wait to take a class there myself!

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I think the last BIG outing we went on for the holiday season was to a CAFETERIA! It cracks me up but the only complaint (so far–I’m sure it will change) I’ve had about the girls not going to a school is missing out on the cafeteria. So I’ve been telling them for a few months that I would take them to the Lionhouse cafeteria downtown for them to experience that. They loved it. And then Reagan mooned a table nearby. And it cost 60 bloody dollars to eat there. So we probably won’t be allowed back or want to go back. Ha!

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I can’t wait to share some more about the holiday season.
And I’ll have to do a whole separate post about Reagan’s first mooning as well.

Breakfast with Santa at Grand America

December 31st, 2015 in About Me

The Santa & Mrs. Claus at Grand America are the best ones out there. It was our first year of no screaming or crying while visiting Santa. Still some shyness, but that is a-okay.

Video here

 

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We won’t ever go anywhere else to see him. And in our house more importantly HER. The girls are very into worrying about what she is doing, what she would like on Christmas Eve, and leaving her a note.

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Grand America Getaway

December 31st, 2015 in About Me

The Grand America is such a beautiful place here in Utah and a perfect little world to run away to for a mini vacation.

During the holidays it is a one stop shop for us. Christmas lights, Christmas displays, visit Santa, have some spa time, swimming, have cookies delivered to the girls in bed, live Christmas music, shopping in the toy store for sister gifts, eat a fancy holiday dinner or breakfast, and spend lots of time together.

It’s perfect, we ran away the day after Thanksgiving for a couple of days & nights.

 

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Doesn’t it look like such fun?

It was.

Thanksgiving 2015

December 28th, 2015 in About Me

For Thanksgiving we invited Tyler’s sisters family over. That night we went over to my parents house for dessert. Last year we went to a restaurant for Thanksgiving which was my second favorite Thanksgiving ever. I really loved when we were first married and did a Thanksgiving dinner for a homeless shelter. Can’t wait until the girls are old enough to start doing that again. I wanted to go out to eat again but was outvoted by Tyler Ray Brown. Who wanted a nice relaxing day at home and to cook the food. But then he was gone the day before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving helping at work and I got stuck with all the work. So he will not win that vote again.

I love decorating my dining room and my dining room table. I had this table in the old house but it was in an office used as a homeschool table. I love having it out and getting to make it look beautiful. The night before Thanksgiving I wanted to have this be our centerpiece.

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It is true even when you are struggling. If you have someone who loves you, live in a warm house, and have food to eat, you are blessed. You are far more blessed than many others in the world. If you get to have children when many others are struggling and would do anything for one, you are blessed. If all of your children are alive and well, you are beyond blessed.

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Young Women in Excellence Theme

December 28th, 2015 in Parties

I have a calling (assignment–unpaid–but oh so worth it) in my church as the Young Women President. We have 30 girls between the ages of 12-18 that we teach each Sunday and do activities with every Tuesday night. There are a few things in the summer and I have 7 hard working women that help me run this organization of the church. It is a lot of work. When I get released (hopefully not for a long long time) I will cry like a baby just like a did when I was asked to do it. I love all the girls a lot like I love my daughters and hope I’m in their lives forever. It is also a lot of work, really part time job hours. But worth it in so many ways. The main way is that I know that our Savior’s love for us is very real. He is very real and how He loves us is very real. I feel it from him for these girls every moment of every day.

Once a year we invite the parents to come along with the girls and we have a special program. We honor the girls for accomplishments they have completed and close out the year’s theme. It is an activity that is fancier—in dress and refreshments and decor.

This year we had a garden theme in our decor and words. Thankfully someone better with words spoke and I did the decor.

I’ll show you our idea because it turned out really beautifully:

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We had the girls grab a flower crown on the way in to wear.

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You can really only put tacks in the ceiling to do decorations so I had to get creative. I hung the lace fabric up with tacks and then had to sew on the letters and fern.

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All the leaders dressed in a value color and brought a treat in the value color as well.

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We had thoughts on how you can compare Jesus to a gardener who cares for us. Also some words on how personal progress instills in us good habits that we will have for a lifetime.

It was a wonderful night! I just wish it had been on a different night, so many of our girls couldn’t come. It is a busy time of year for everyone! Maybe next year we will try for October to do this.

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2015 Halloween

December 28th, 2015 in About Me

I had this marvelous idea for Halloween costumes. Abby & Cameron could dress up as mad scientists. Shae & Reagan would be their little monster creations. It was going to be amazing. Then they all revolted and told me they were going to pick. Abby was Katniss from Hunger Games, Cameron the Statue of Liberty, Shae a Moon Fairy (no I have no idea what that is), and Reagan a Pink Fairy.

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We also added a new addition to our house. Tyler and his three dogs in skeleton form. We put green spooky lights on it on Halloween night. We even brought it with us to the ward Trunk or Treat so it could pass out the candy.

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On Halloween night my brother helped me take the girls trick or treating in his SUPERMAN suit, which they all loved. Everyone got so much candy it was disgusting.

For Halloween breakfast we had some special food & for Halloween dinner. I’m glad I have all girls–these things really excite them and make them happy.

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The only thing we all need to work on together as a society to make Halloween better for my family is…

QUIT STARTING TRICK OR TREATING IN THE 5 O’CLOCK HOUR!
6 o’clock hour is pushing it, after 7 is fine. But who goes around that early?! Tsk tsk, lets all knock that off.

Things I Loved This Past Fall 3

December 26th, 2015 in About Me

I’m trying to balance my two bookends without ignoring my two middle kids. My two middle kids really right now need more attention and are having some behavior problems. But my oldest is turning into a tween and my youngest is navigating through toddlers terrors part 12. Loved these snapshots of one all the sudden growing up and the other one still being little.

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Yes, am I right? Abby needs to quit growing up.

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The girls did a lot of fun sewing lessons with my mom this fall.

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Did quite a few trips to the library, Cameron can go through such a stack during the week!

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It really is fun to watch them grow and interact more as sisters. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes I want to die.

 

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My sister & her boys came for a quick visit. We went to Logan to visit the pumpkin walk & jump in the leaves. On the last day we switched kids and I had a fun day with just my nephews.

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That also meant we did SIBLING NIGHT!!! Which involved smashing barbies in high heels. Long story people….long story.

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I helped my sweet neighbor friend throw a dinner party in her backyard. Made the lasagna & bread and she hosted it in her backyard. Just to get to know some new couples in the neighborhood.

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Spent tons of money on dance clothes.

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We try all the time to be involved with local cousins and our neighbors. It is hard because with the life I have chosen and most of the time love…it doesn’t really run parallel to other’s lives. I home school, I work, I have a very time consuming church job. I am very picky and put a lot of effort into the classes my girls go to, it is a bit intense. So they don’t match up with what a lot of moms (smartly!) do with local close by classes. I don’t mind driving and love field trips to the mountains, far away museums, and university classes. Most moms don’t home school so there is no way they can pull that off. I always have to be available to answer the phone for approving expenses, adding in/removing employees from the system, doing payroll, book keeping. It is not a better or worse life than anyone around me. It is just different. I love it, it is hard, and it is right for us. I do have a lot of guilt though because I don’t feel like we are close enough to or have time for sweet neighbor kids or family close by. So when we have time we really are always reaching out to people. With grabbing kids to take them to stuff with us. Or hosting things like huge movies nights at our house. We do try!

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I think the last thing I want to highlight is Shae’s very special weekend. She had her classroom Fredy the Frog to take on adventures and take pictures of. I don’t know how many pictures we took but she was in heaven. HEAVEN. We took him to the dinosaur museum and also to one of the fall festivals. Shae adored showing the pictures to her class and felt so special with all the extra attention.

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THAT WAS OUR FALL!