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:

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.


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


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.



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!!


We wore matching dresses for the holiday :)


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




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!



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



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


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.




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!


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



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.


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


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




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.


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


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


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.


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!


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


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.


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


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!

Summer Visitors

November 14th, 2016 in About Me

Willden Mini Reunion 2016

I guess that we had a mini reunion with the Willdens this past summer. Not an on purpose one, but it will count! My sister Sarah came out so our kids could go to dinosaur camp together. We have been waiting for years for Shae & Mason to go to camp together.

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Matthew & Reagan played the time away while their older siblings were in camp.


Our family got together to go jet skiing for my Father’s Day. The water was gross but the jet skiing was fun!


Then we met for our annual cooking contest. This year my brother Bryan was in charge and ordered for tacos to be made. I only know how to make one kind of taco—fish tacos. So I made them and WON! And you know what? You know what? There was no congrats, no high fiving, no trophies. There was only LOOKS OF ANNOYANCE. ANNOYANCE! Ra-uuuu-dddde.

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Lastly, the siblings, the original five got together for sibling night. It is a very confusing sort of night to explain to people. It is a game–and this game ended like this:





Too hard to explain to normal folk.

4th of July with Tyler’s Family 

Tyler’s brother and his family came for the 4th of July. We did some hiking, park visiting, conference center touring, jet ski fighting (sorry–I have a temper), snapchat filtering, cookie bake offing, meal making, firework watching, and movie going.

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It was my nephew’s birthday during the family vacation and I love these pictures. I was overhearing his parents in the house wondering if anyone was paying attention to him on his birthday. And it made me chuckle because, oh yes was he getting attention.



Abby has a fun idea to do a cookie bake off. So I let her be in charge. She decided to have a bunch of random ingredients on a table and tell people they had to make up a recipe they had never had before.


Then she divided them up into teams and let them get to work.

firstplace 2ndplace


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But right before they rolled out their dough Abby brought around their surprise ingredient! They had to put that ingredient into the recipe to be able to win!

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The cookies turned out great! I wish I could remember how they made the potato chip one, because I want that one again!


Lastly we had my favorite girls come to visit us from Idaho. I adore these nieces of mine, I wish I could hang out with them every single day.



‘Tis the Season for DANCE, DANCE, DANCE

November 14th, 2016 in About Me

I finally have all my girls in dance, it was Reagan’s first year. Reagan and Shae got to be in the same dance classes over the dance season and performed in the same dances.

Reagan had to get used to the idea in dance class that she had to LISTEN and FOLLOW DIRECTION. But she did! After a few rough go’s it starting clicking for her.

Shae was a sweetie and had so much fun in dance class. Her and Reagan didn’t bug each other which I was so proud of. Abby was an assistant dance teacher for one of their classes.

They had Ms. Sarah for ballet and performed to “Lets Go Fly a Kit” in the recital. Ms Sarah is a teacher that all four of my girls had that we hold a special place in our hearts for.



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They had Ms Aubrey for Tap & Jazz and performed a cute number with top hats and marching wands. It was the only year that they would be in the same classes and it sure was sweet.

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Cameron enjoyed ballet, started enjoying Jazz after a few hard months, and had a hard time in tap. I was very proud of her with committing to her tap class and following through with it till the end of the year though. In ballet she performed to a chinese dance which she loved. In jazz she performed AND acted to a dance about a first concert. In tap class she performed to a piece that was about the countdown of a clock.

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Abby this year took ballet, jazz, tap, and ballroom. Ballroom she had a blast in and got to be partners with one of her life long friends George. For ballroom they performed a piece about break ups, which was just adorable. In jazz they performed a piece about a science experiment gone wrong. In ballet they performed a beautiful piece about a music box. And for tap they performed a piece about waiting for a piece of mail.


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Abby & Cameron are also still in a dance team and got to perform the coolest Disney dance. It really put me over the edge and made me decide to take them to Disneyland finally. I even surprised them with the trip on their dance recital day.

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Also in their dance team they put on a”Faerie Tale” which was a dance performance that had the most beautiful story. People could come to their performance danced in their fairy dress ups and watch them. This was the main highlight of the year for dance, being a part of this. Abby was a butterfly fairy and Cameron was a firefly fairy. They also both got to be in the final number of the show.

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Every year at their recital I am so proud of all their hard work and great attitudes. And I fall even more in love with our dance studio and all the women in my girls’ lives that care about them!


Here are a few small clips of the girls:

Hearing about getting to go to Disneyland:

Disney surprise from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

Clip of their Disney dance:

Disney dance from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

Behind the scenes going into perform for the Fairy Festival:

Cameron fairy from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.

Lastly at the end of year party at a local water park they have an awards session. They have people vote at the end of the recital on the best dance. Two of Abby’s classes won 2nd place. Also one of the classes she assistant taught for won first place. AND CAMERON’S CLASS ONE FIRST PLACE! She was so excited!


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Grand America Girls Trip & Annual Pictures

November 13th, 2016 in About Me

Before summer started the girls and I ran away to our favorite fancy place–The Grand America. We do our annual pictures with Kim Orlandini and decided to do them on our mini vacation. Before pictures we ate by the pool, swam the day away, got pepicures done, and jumped on the beds. screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-40-10-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-41-20-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-41-31-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-41-38-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-41-47-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-41-58-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-42-08-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-42-16-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-42-24-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-42-31-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-42-43-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-42-50-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-42-58-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-43-06-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-43-13-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-43-23-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-43-31-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-43-39-pm

Didn’t their pictures turn out wonderful? We did Christmas pictures in the late spring with all the tulips!

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Shae’s Preschool Graduation

October 17th, 2016 in About Me

Beautiful Shae had a preschool graduation! She had teachers that really loved her and helped her grow so much socially. I will forever remember them and be thankful to them.


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Reagan went to the same preschool but they were in different classes but did see each other for lunch.


Shae’s favorite parts of preschool were:

**Her teacher Ms Sherene, who has the kindest heart.

**Playing with all the boys in her class.

**Talking about her future job, being a chef at Shae’s Bakery.


**Taking home the “class pet” Freddie the Frog and taking him on her adventures. You were supposed to take pictures of him everywhere you went and she got so into it. I would let her pick where we went during the weekend and she would direct me in what pictures she wanted.


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Utah Dance Artist’s ‘UDA Creative Arts Preschool‘ is such a wonderful place. They are in Draper but right off the freeway and right off Bangeter, so people from all over the valley go.

Odds & Ends

October 17th, 2016 in About Me

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We think Honey is going to pass away any day, but they she keeps hanging on. Which is fine, I want her to last through the holidays. Then she can leave us and go play with Rocco.



I have such wonderful kids. I would freeze them all at their ages right now if I could. No huge problems, no diapers, no naps, I can stay like this.


I found this gem on my camera while cleaning it out. I think Abby took it and it just cracks me up.

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I love when my brothers stop by, it doesn’t happen often, and I have to invite them. But I love having them around.



For Father’s Day we got Tyler a very nice kayak. I did a lot of reading on which one would work for him the best. He really needs time each day where he is not on his phone and can just BE STILL. He was able to use it for about 3 weeks. Then at the gym he ripped his chest bad (ER trip was a fun one) and couldn’t use it for the rest of the season. Also during that 3 week time, he accidentally hooked it on the garage door and ripped the garage door apart. Kayak is still in tip top shape though.


I got a new van! Which is wonderful because my old van was permanently stuck in skid mode. Hard to explain, even harder to drive. I had to do lots of little tricks to get to and from places. A friend of ours owns car dealerships in Washington. He drove had someone drive one to me, I signed papers at my kitchen table. I had to sign them at 5:30am to fit into my schedule and they actually did that for me. It was above and beyond.

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We went on a couple hikes with my parents. They are such wonderful and attentive grandparents. They really love my girls and spend so much time really talking to them and caring about them. Makes me excited to be a grandma one day.

5k Goal

October 17th, 2016 in About Me

Abby & Cameron worked hard for 9 weeks training for a 5k. They followed this app that worked them up to a 5k. It tells them how to warm up, when to run, when to walk, how to cool down. You can change the “person” training you on the app. A zombie voice, Dracula, a female trainer, or male trainer, and a few more. I would just sent them out together three times a week for 30 minutes and they worked hard!



I talked my dad into running it with them. The girls did it, it was hard, they were VERY glad this goal of theirs was over. I was really proud of them to finish something that was hard for them.

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Here is a video of them towards the end and then at then at the end of the race:

Spring Piano Recital

October 15th, 2016 in About Me

I missed the girls main spring recital while I was at youth conference. My mom was sweet enough to take them to all their busy places on Saturday including their recital.

But they had another type of recital this spring. It was at the mall and had tons of pianos going at the same time. Their teacher asked them to dress as fancy as they could so they chose their fanciest outfits. My beautiful niece had the same recital with her studio right before ours. So I got to watch her do her thing. While at the mall I took the girls to Bath & Body Works for the first time ever. I have never had so many sprays and lotions put on me at once. Who knew they would love that store so much. I think Santa could just go shopping at that store for gifts and everyone would be happy.

Abby like working with her piano partner. Cameron….haha can you see her face? It was A BOY! But honestly it wasn’t a very friendly family. I kept on trying to say hello to them and get the kids to introduce themselves to each other. They were not having it! Who knows, maybe that boy can’t stand girls either, haha!

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They have a very fun piano teacher with an amazing studio. I am glad we jumped on the piano train a couple years back. It took a lot of talking Tyler into it but we did it!
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During the performance Reagan threw a fit and right after I said DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH THAT PHONE. She grabbed it, and threw it as hard as she could on the tile ground. And I just about left her in the mall alone to be raised by the mall staff. That girl sometimes still is so freaking hard.