Back to School 2016

January 30th, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

It will be a sad day when I have girls refusing to do our Back to School Fashion show. It hasn’t happened yet and they still are quite into it. They try on all their back to school clothing down a runway to music. Then they pick out their favorite outfit from the bunch to take their Back to School Pictures in!

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Every year I look at these pictures and think, where did my little girls go? Well two still seem young. Cameron doesn’t seem that old yet. I guess it is just mainly Abby, she is teenage sized now.

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Check out our back to school Fashion Show!

Back to School Fashion Show 2016 from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

Montana–Flathead Lake

January 29th, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

Even though the water was cold one of my favorite parts of the Montana vacation was sitting on the hammock, looking through the trees at the lake.

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Sitting by the water late at night…

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Watching the little fish and tadpoles in the lake…

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And swimming in the lake. It was cold and it took a couple of days to get used to. But we got used to it by floating around in our floaties and staying together while hanging onto each other’s squirting sticks.

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Lastly, I made a family video of our trip. The first part of the video shows the reaction of the girls after jumping into the lake for the first time. It was not what I expected!

Montana Family Vacation from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

This Montana family vacation gets two thumbs up.

P.S. Sweet Peaks Ice Cream is amazing in Montana http://www.sweetpeaksicecream.com/

P.P.S. How can I order a screen door, picnic table, and tree covered backyard to eat all our meals at?

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P.P.P.S. Love the way my girls sleep on vacation too.

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Montana–Day 6: Llama Trek

January 29th, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

On our way home from our vacation we stopped to do a llama trek. I booked this activity mainly for Tyler, he loves llamas and has always wanted to do this.

All of the activities we did were fun, adventurous, and a success. But like I said, the people were not very warm or polite. So when we arrived to our last activity I was a bit apprehensive. I was really quite tired of feeling like I was a bother to people WHILE I was paying them to I guess, be a bother. I was so glad when we were greeted by kind tour guides, who were excited we were there and to take us out. This facility offers a lot of different things in Montana and I could write a long post just about how much I enjoyed working with them. So let me link to them right here: Swan Mountain Outfitters. Because they were generous, attentive, kind, and FUN.

Back to the trip, I knew this activity would push my girls (and who are we kidding, myself too) physically the most. They were going to do a five mile hike while pulling llamas. Note to parents, if you want your children to not whine during a hike and not stop a million times….HAVE THEM PULL A LLAMA. It also helped that it was shaded, gorgeous, and fun facts were given the whole way. The tour guide showed us the roots that they use to make Root Beer (or Sarsaparilla, I forget which one), the names of wild flowers (Aster was out there, Reagan’s birth flower), and lots of different facts about animals. Cameron is a big fan or minerals, plants, etc and was excited to find her favorite kind of tree out there. The tour guides even helped me carry Reagan on their shoulders.

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They took us on a wonderful hike, we crossed a stream, and had a delicious lunch in a meadow.

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But most of all I loved watching my girls pull llamas through the Montana forest. It also was the most random thing to turn my head and see a llama face right over my shoulder.

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I wish I had a picture of our tour guides so I could give them a proper shout out. But I’m so thankful to them and this company for helping me have such an unforgettable time with my girls.

Montana–Day 5: Boating on Flathead Lake

January 29th, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

My girls have been jet skiing a few times but never boating. While growing up myself, a couple of summers we had a boat. Two big memories I have from boating as a teenager are: #1 Having to jumpstart the boat in the dock from the car, hahaha #2 Having SO much fun with my dad. I wanted my girls to go tubing behind a boat but little did I know there would be someone in my family that all the sudden becomes very protective around boats. TYLER. Oh my goodness you guys, it was cute and cracking me up, and sometimes really annoying. He was so scared the girls were going to get hurt, left in the water, scared, etc. He showed me a line that he wanted me to drive back and forth in and not divert from. He wanted me to go a certain speed limit. And lastly, he wanted to be on the tube with the girls. Anytime he felt like I was speeding up too fast he would start screaming like someone had died. Oh goodness, I have never seen him that protective over his girls.

Quite possibly the girls could be scarred forever from being on a boat. Or maybe they didn’t even notice and had fun anyways. The water was pretty cold but by then they were getting used to the cold water and took turns jumping off the boat or jumping off the big tube.

 

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Can you feel his protective, suffocating love from the screen?! Hahaha, I laughed so hard that day. After we boated for a long time we were STARVING. I thought it would be fun to take the girls to an old time soda fountain shop. It was also a old time candy store and the girls really enjoyed eating there. The food was so good too, I told you we didn’t have a bad meal while in Montana! It was called Norm’s News Soda Fountain & Candy Shop. It was a hit!

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Montana–Day 4: Horseback Riding

January 29th, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

I knew horseback riding was going to be a stretch for some of my girls. It took awhile to find a ranch that would work with me on what I wanted. The ages of my kids, duration of the ride, etc. Actually took a long while but I was glad I finally found a spot. Abby and Shae are familiar with horses so I knew they would be okay. I never know how Reagan will react but once she decides to do something she is completely fine. She hopped right on that horse and didn’t look back. CAMERON on the other hand gets very nervous and can hold onto it. Most of the time when she tries something new and gets worked up I have to walk away. Which is sad–but it is just how she gets over things. She has to do it on her own, in her own head. So for horseback riding she was very nervous to get on. And when we started the trail ride she cried for a good 10 minutes. Tyler kept on just about getting off his horse to just stop the ride to get her back. LUCKILY the staff was 100% fine with me saying to just continue on and ignore it. 10 minutes in she took a breath, did SO well, and really enjoyed herself. I was unbelievably proud of her.

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It was so cool to watch the line ahead of me of my daughters riding their horses. I wasn’t worried about Reagan slipping off or Cameron started to freak out again. It was just beautiful to watch and really comforting. I hope we can be friends forever and do things like this as a family.

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After our ride the little girls got to take a ride on the tractor.

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After our ride we ate at a restaurant that I PRAY comes to Utah. How was everything from their lemonade to their macaroni and cheese to their rolls to their meat, the BEST I have had? I wish that I could transport this restaurant here. THE DESOTO GRILL

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Montana–Day 3: Glacier National Park

January 29th, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

Glacier National Park is something I should have devoted two (or more) days of our trip too. I didn’t know much about that national park but after a little taste of it I fell in love. Wow is that a gorgeous and magical place. Can you tell I love being around trees yet? It sits with my soul even stronger than the ocean does.

We only drove around and did a few walks around a small section of the park. I was sad to go but sometimes I can push Tyler only so far on our adventures.

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Afterwards we ate at a Saloon with the kids which was such fun and had some of the best pizza we have ever had. It is called Moose’s Saloon–customer service lacking quite a bit, food stupendous.

Montana–Day 2: Wild Horse Island

January 28th, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

While we were in Montana we had not one bad meal. Boy oh boy do they have some talented restauranteurs and chefs in the area. We usually went out to one of the meals each day and I cooked the other meals during the day. We had a very warm, cozy, and homemade meal from Farmhouse. If I hadn’t have had so many other places to try on my list I would have just gone there for every meal.

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It is in a really party of town by trees and with an outside stage that people perform on at night. The girls played out there for awhile and had a ball. Tyler likes to play a game with them called “Improv” where he thinks up stories for them to act out. We also had a little photo shoot where Reagan stole the show. I love watching her make her sisters laugh, be silly, and relax.

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For our activity that day we took a boat tour of Flathead Lake over to Wild Horse Island. I have one bad thing to say about Montana—most of the tour guides were pretty rude. So were the waiters, store clerks, etc. We were at the very end of their busy vacation season so I think they were very done with tourists. But our kids were so behaved, the surroundings were so beautiful, and the tours themselves were great. So we pushed the rudeness off with a  lot of patience, I was proud of us!

Back to Wild Horse Island, we started the tour learning about the hieroglyphs in the area and about the glaciers melting. My girls love anything to do with Native American tribes so that was a treat for them to hear the story behind these:

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The boat ride was relaxing and gorgeous. You guys, can I live there?

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Driving up the island we knew it was going to be a special treat. It seemed like it was a setting for a novel, something that isn’t real in actual life. That it was made up in someone’s imagination and came to life.

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We were told that there was a lot of wildlife on the island, but that the wild horse number had dwindled over the years and that they were hard to catch a peek at. After we docked the boat, ate our lunch, got the how to on the bear mace, and played in the water a bit…shaewildhorseisland
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….some beautiful RAMS came running down the hill to drink at the water’s edge. Oh you guys we were so close, and they were so beautiful. I still cannot believe we got to experience that together.

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We hiked around the island, that was a dream as well. It was so, like I said, novel like. We saw the girl RAMS (how embarrassing, what are girl rams called?), some beautiful deer, and saw the water all around us.

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The girls did a lot of just playing in the dirt, being free. I loved how dirty they turned out at the end. Shae really enjoyed this trip and led the way on all the hiking.

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As we drove away at dusk and then watched the sunset over the lake, I decided that is one of the most magical places I have been with my family. How lucky am I.

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Montana–Day 1: The Cabin

January 21st, 2017 in Our Travels Worldwide

Tyler and I have always dreamed of a vacation where we stay in a cabin on a beautiful lake. I needed it to be around the forest, that was a must as well. So that is just what I looked up–something that was less than 12 hours of driving that could be that. After a lot of research, asking for other’s opinions, and looking at rental properties online, I found our place! Montana, staying around Flathead lake, specifically the little town of Lakeside.

This is a vacation that I would relive over and over and over. The girls were happy, the cabin was beautiful, all the activities we did were such fun, and we did not have one bad meal. Actually I would love to live that life, a slower life in a cabin on a lake. The only thing was that we went the last week of August and it made for too cold of water. I was hoping we would spend a lot of the day just on the dock jumping in and out of the water. But it sure was chilly, next time I will go in the middle of July I think. If you would like a link to the cabin to rent, here is it: http://www.montanasbestrentals.com/unit/details/90728

The drive was long, but our girls are now good travelers! It is pretty amazing to not have screaming girls the whole time we were driving. I still despise road trips but it is a lot better with that factor taken out of it. If we did this trip again we did decide we would fly. It was fun to do little ice cream stops along the way though.

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Plus the drive was gorgeous, spooky, like a dream.

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Anywho, the first day we arrived and I dropped the family off and went grocery shopping. They had a little mart close by, but not with good enough stuff to make meals so I drove 40 minutes to a grocery store to stock up the house.

The cabin we stayed in was gorgeous and the girls loved sitting out on the deck, watching TV down in the media room, and trying to find wildlife outside.

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Things I Loved This Summer

November 15th, 2016 in About Me

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Shae during the summer got to sign up for speech therapy involving horses. Every week we went to the stables at 8am so this cute thing could fall in love with horses. She got to brush them, saddle them, feed them, and go on a ride. This girl adores horses and was in heaven all summer.

Shae horse therapy from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

 

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Farmers Markets are some of our favorite things. Tyler buys all the cheese he can find. Abby always finds the lavendar. We play with the bubbles, eat an early lunch, and find all the good baked goods.

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The girls got to spend time with their grandparents. Fishing with grandpa and a BEE party with grandma.

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I took Abby & Cameron to a midnight book release party. Can you guess what book? King’s Bookstore in SLC puts on some amazing events.

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We were there for the ghostbusters movie opening, we were there for the party, we showed up in the right clothing. WE CRACKED UP THE WHOLE TIME!!

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We wore matching dresses for the holiday :)

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We went on one field trip with local family. Wish it was more, but its hard to get schedules together.

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Hair coloring from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

I gave in and let the girls color their hair the colors they wanted. Then at the end of the summer we chopped it off!

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And we did some family and date night hiking. Not as much as last year, and not as much as I would have liked. But we did get some in!

2016 Summer Classes

November 15th, 2016 in About Me

Summer is summer camp time in our neck of the woods. This is not something I did growing up or that Tyler did. It is not something people that live around us do. I’m not sure why I have got us in this tradition but I feel like it is important for my kids. They are very lucky that they have parents that take the time and money to do this for them. But we are more than willing to do it. The things they learn and experiences they get to have are worth it.

Summer Week #1 Club U Camps

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Could I be trying to push my girls to go to the U of U above BYU already? Quite possibly. But these camps sell out in a flash and are jam packed full of hands on education. I signed them up for a week about “Culture Appreciation” that had everything from yoga to making rice noodles to fire eating to drum music. It was Shae’s very first time at an all day camp. I would watch her from the sides to see how she was doing. I noticed that she would sit out a lot and to the side. But that she had the biggest smile on her face being there. She loved to do the activities sometimes. But then a lot of the time she loved to just sit out and watch people have fun. These camps I really think are good for my kids because they push them physically. I like that because they need more of that! They were BEAT at the end of every camp day during this week.

Summer Week #2 Natural History Museum of Utah

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Shae got to attend her very first Natural History Museum camp with her cousin Mason and they did a Dr. Seuss themed science one. Cameron attended a camp that was in partnership with four other camps in the area. So their group got to go to a new place every day of the week. One day she went to the Zoo (this was her favorite day), then This Is the Place, then Natural History Museum, then Red Butte Gardens, and lastly a camp for special needs. Abby is in the oldest (sob, the oldest group!) classes and chose Art & Science and then Geocaching.

Summer Week #3 Abby–Overnight Girl Scout Camps, Shae & Cameron—Peterson Farm Camp, Reagan–Stuck with Me
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Shae & Cameron along with their two cousins attended a farm camp. They helped farm, do work, take care of animals, and play games. Cameron overcame fears of certain animals and because even more obsessed with goats. Shae had fun being with her favorite person Emma. Check out this cute video of them showing me around the farm:

 

Farm camp from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

Abby went to an OVERNIGHT Girl Scout camp, a Horse Lovers one. We had been waiting for the program to be announced, then sign up, and then wait. All of which took a full year and it drove us both batty. So much tension and excitement and problems came up waiting for this to start. Abby did WONDERFUL being away from home for a full week and really grew as a person. I was so proud of her.

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Cameron was so worried about missing her that she bought little presents and wrote notes for her to open each day she was gone. I wrote notes as well and we patiently waited for letters to come each day she was gone. NO LETTERS CAME—SHE HAD NO TIME TO WRITE LETTERS BECAUSE SHE WAS HAVING TOO MUCH FUN!

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Summer Week #4–Abby, Cameron & Shae Leonardo Camps and Reagan Puddle Jumper Camps

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The Leonardo camps won the award for best liked this year. Abby took a Robotics camp and then also a surviving a Zombie Apocalypse camp. The way their staff does camps reminds me of how into birthday parties I get. You can tell they LOVE IT, have put tons of thought into it, and so much creativity. Cameron & Shae took an Alice in Wonderland and a Harry Potter camp. The way they fit science, engineering, and computer programing into these camps was amazing.

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Reagan went to our favorite neighborhood camp at Puddle Jumpers. Such a fun preschool that offers great camps with a loving staff.

Summer Week #5—Utah Children’s Theatre

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This year the camp we signed up for at the theatre was Heroes & Villans. It the end of the week production Reagan was a ninja, Shae a batgirl, Cameron a cat lady, and Abby a girl from the 50s.

You can see them in their plays here:

Summer Week #6—Mom at Girls Camp, Abby & Cameron at Zaniac, Shae & Reagan at Puddle Jumpers & Camp Alex

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I am the YW President in our ward and get to hang out with the best girls in the universe for a week each year. This year was very tricky, Tyler had some health concerns going on and different girls needed to be driven to and from camp a lot. So basically I drove hours and hours every day, cooked one awful dinner for the girls, and surprised them in their camp skit in my T-Rex costume.

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Abby & Cameron attended a camp at their Math & Stem school and learned how to create a website! Abby’s website is here http://abbythemango.weebly.com and Cameron’s is here http://dancingpotato.weebly.com. They also learned how to use a fashion design software.

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Shae & Reagan went to “Camp Alex” at my dear friend Alex’s house where they swam and played. Then in the afternoons they went to our favorite neighborhood camp place–Puddle Jumpers.

Summer Week #7–Abby & Cameron Salt Lake Culinary Center, Shae & Reagan Swimming

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Abby & Cameron took a 3 days workshop at the culinary center focused on “Foods Around the World” and their class chose Asian food. On the last day they set up a fancy dinner for their guests, which were myself and my dad. They were so proud to serve us their food, it was so fun to see.

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Shae & Reagan swam every day for a long long time. All four of them had swim lessons from our wonderful neighbor for a couple of weeks.

Abby also got to attend Camp Tracy with her Activity Day group. Both girls got to invite friends over for a summer late night as well!

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Summer Week #8–Cameron–Art Camp with J.Kirk Richards, Abby–Fencing at the U of U, Shae & Reagan Swim Swim Swim

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Cameron went with her cousin Lydia to an art camp by J. Kirk Richards. Lydia’s parents were so kind to drive Cameron every day because it was an hour down south. And where I needed to take Abby at the exact same time was up north 40 minutes. Cameron enjoyed the pencil and pen art the most, she likes very detailed art. I took her to her “open house” at the artist’s home and she showed me all her art on display.

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Abby fencing from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

Every year we get the catalog from U of U showing off what classes they have coming up in the summer. Fencing is a class Abby has had picked out for a couple of years but it just now finally worked with our schedules. To be honest it was a little bit of a rough start. We got lost, lost, lost, and she walked in hours late. Then on the last day she got hurt, yelled at, and embarrassed. My heart completely broke for her and she wanted zero help from me. The teacher was great, the way they had everything set up was done so well. I just really think we ran into some bad luck and crossed paths with a grumpy person.

Summer Week #9–Salt Lake Culinary Center–Baking Workshop

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Abby & Cameron finished up this summer’s classes with a baking workshop. Boy did those girls learn to make some yummy breads, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, etc.

Shae & Reagan spent weeks just swimming their guts out! Boy do those two LOVE water!

Such a fun summer!