Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Post Christmas fun

The kids had a blast making pom pom animals.  I bet all in all we made about 50 fun and inventive creatures. 
Always a favorite: Seldding behind the tractor
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Taking Alan and Sharon to dinner in SLC for their Christmas present.  We found this adorable, small, mostly quiet Italian restaurant called Cannellas.  It’s always so nice to share some adult time.
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Annual Miller Family party.  Lindsey planned some awesome “Minute to Win it” games and they were a HIT.  Fun times had by all.
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Breakfast at Kneaders with the best friends a girl could ever hope for.
Freezing our Tushies off at Temple Square.  I think wind chill was –9 degrees.  Yikes!  We didn’t last long, but it was pretty cool having the place to ourselves.  Leo told us his chin was frozen!  temple square Collage

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Day

When we woke up Christmas morning, it was snowing.  The world was silent, peaceful and perfect.  This year our family has been taking a lot about how Santa is a symbol of Jesus Christ.  He love us, he gives us the best gifts, he wears red and while, and he spends his life serving others.  We’ve talked about how all things at Christmas time point to Christ and how believing in the magic of Christmas is just another way to express our faith and belief in Jesus Christ.  So this year, the ornament that Santa left for the kids was a figurine of Santa with the word “believe” written across his sack.  I hope as the kids look at it through the years they will remember that Santa and all the magic and hope he embodies are representations of our Savior and his ultimate gift to us, the Atonement. 
Santa brought Halle an amazing doll kitchen for her dollhouse.  She also got her favorite book, “The Limit,” a doll science set, and a Sequence game.
Josh’s Christmas was so fun this year. He did not make any sort of list, or make any gift requests.  He wanted to be totally surprised.  And I think Mom and Santa did a great job.  Santa brought him an Anki race track with two cars that are controlled by his ipod.  It was a huge hit.  He also got a Timeline game, Lego Fusion set, and his favorite book set, “The Land of Stories.”  He was so excited when he opened his books.  I was sitting next to him and he tackled me with a giant hug and said, “Thanks so much Mom!  I just love this Christmas.”  Melt my heart.
Santa gave Blake an awesome Hot Wheels set that adheres to the wall.  He’s had a great time putting it together and zooming cars down the track.  He also got a giant stuffed monkey named Coconut, a cool electronic dog named Spot, and the Ultimate Dot to Dot book.  Fun stuff! 
I didn’t get any pictures, but the elves did an excellent job hiding stockings this year.  It took the kids FOREVER to find them. They were finally discovered in the shower :)
Christmas morning Collage
After the snow quieted, Rusty and I decided to go for a run.  We took Fenix with us, and Fenix basically dragged us along for 4 miles.  We’d take off sprinting as fast as we could and he was still tugging at his collar, begging to go faster.  Running with dogs is so much fun. 
We spent the rest of the day just hanging out with family.  We headed up to the Banks house later in the evening where all the cousins got to show off their new Christmas toys to each other.  All in all, a perfect day!

Monday, December 29, 2014


Skiing on Christmas Eve is a tradition we all look forward to.  Well, everyone except for Josh.  He really did not want to ski this year.  We were holding firm in our resolve to drag him along with us, much to his chagrin.  That night, he woke up in the middle of the night with a fever.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid so excited to have a fever as he was.  He knew that fever bought him a free pass out of skiing.  Instead, he got to hang with Grandma B and play the Wii all day.  It was probably his favorite Christmas Eve ever. 
The rest of us loaded up the cars and headed to Alta.  Blake forgot his coat.  He is darn lucky it was a very mild day.  After the hassle of renting skis, we were finally off to the mountain.  Rusty and Alan were taking Blake and Cohen to the tow rope and Cory and I were headed up the lift with the big kids.  Everyone did great.  Halle is a natural skiier.  She is totally in her element on the mountain.  Blake got bored after a couple of hours and so he went to hang out in the lodge.  After awhile I came in and switched with Rusty so he could go with the big kids a few times.  Alta is just so beautiful and I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend Christmas Eve than out in the beautiful mountains surrounded by the serene, fresh, white snow. 
Alta ski Christmas EveCollage  
Later that evening the Cornell Clan gathered for a delicious dinner of Ribs and funeral potatoes.  We were all stuffed to the brim! 
We waited a little too long to do the Nativity story and the kids were pretty grumpy about putting their costumes on.  This is about the best pic we could get.
The kids thought their pajamas were so cool this year.  They all got pj’s and slippers.  I wish you could see Blake’s dino slippers in this pic.  He thinks he is the coolest, most ferocious pj clad kid who ever lived.
And Fenix stole the show with Santa on his back.

Pre Christmas Fun

As always, our trip to Utah was packed with fun things to do.  We loved our dinner, talent show and Nativity at Grandma and Grandpa Banks house. The masks were hilarious and we said this was the easiest year ever to get a cute pic.  It didn’t matter if they were smiling or looking :) The kids were so cute and they all loved their present from their grandparents.   
I got to hang out with my Hawaii girls at Jessica’s house in SLC one Sunday evening.  It was so much fun and we chatted for hours.  I don’t think any of us wanted to leave.  What a blessing these ladies have been in my life. IMG_0694
Instead of a gift this year, Grandma and Grandpa Cornell got the kids tickets to the Polar Express in Heber.  It was a surprise, so Grandma gathered all the kids and read them the Polar Express book.  She then gave them each a bell and told them to get ready for their own ride on the Polar Express.  They were enchanted! 
The train ride was really cute.  We sang carols, ate cookies, and drank hot chocolate.  We were all singing “Let it Go” from Frozen, and Jack got the mic.  He belted out the words and didn’t miss a beat.  The entire train cheered for him when he was finished.  Poor little Josh wasn’t feeling great and he just laid in Rusty’s lap the whole time.  We were treated to a visit from Santa and a look at the North Pole workshops.  What a fun time we had!
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This picture is not a reflection of our feelings about the Polar Express.  It is a reflection of the late night and sugar crash the kids are coming off of :)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cornell Family pics

This year for Christmas we all pitched in and got my parents some updated family pictures.  We used my cute friend Sarah, of Sodabee Photography, and she did a phenomenal job! 
cornell extended white wall 1 printcornell extended black wall 2 printCornell extended stairsCornell Collage 2 Cornell collage  cornell extended silly 1 print   Son 1

Monday, December 22, 2014


I love our tradition of Christmas advent.  We have an advent calendar hanging on the wall and inside each little pocket is an activity we do together each day.  It’s a lot of work to put together, but I love the conscious time we spend together and I love coming up with new experiences each year to fit our stage of life, or to fit in with themes I am trying to teach the kids.  Here are just a few of my favorites from this year.
We took the kids to see How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Buell Theater in Denver.  We all dressed fancy and went to dinner before the show.  The show was absolutely darling and Halle and I loved it.  The little boys liked it too, but it was just a bit too long to keep their attention.  Halle and I even stayed after the show for a Q&A with the actors. 
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The Parade of Lights.  Again this year we stayed at the Hilton in Denver. Funny story: There are two Hiltons in Denver and I was sure we were staying at the Grand Hilton.  So we went there and tried to check in.  I asked if they had remodeled the lobby because it looked so different.  Turns out we were booked at the Hilton Regency :)  Good thing they are only about a mile apart.  The Rowberry’s drove down to watch the parade with us.  And the next morning our family enjoyed a delicious brunch before heading off to church. 
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Our animal siblings watched the parade from the window of the hotel room.
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Josh had his very first piano recital!  He did great.  We just love Paige as our teacher.  Halle has improved leaps and bounds as well.
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We took a shift ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.  The kids were adorable and no one could resist their charms.  They were proud of the money they earned and I was proud of them for being brave enough to look people in the eye and tell them Thank You for their donation. :)
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We “Candy Cane Bombed” the teacher parking lot at school.
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And another yearly favorite: Fondue under the Christmas tree.  I just love our tree this year.  It is filled with handmade ornaments and reminders of places we’ve visited.  I feel like our tree is a representation of our life—full.  Full of love, life, memories, and sweet reminders of my growing kiddos. 
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We had a fun afternoon playing Christmas Bingo with our friends and getting all sorts of nifty dollar store prizes.
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And technically this wasn’t part of Advent, but it was so cute I must include it.  Josh’s class did a poetry reading for the parents and his teacher told them to dress nice.  Josh got up that morning and without any prompting from me, put on his suit. Which   He got the “best dressed” award :)
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Here is his two word poem
Makes Toys
Helps Santa
Feeds Reindeer
Prepares Sled
Likes Santa
Wrap Presents
Hat Jingles
Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chicago is my kind of town

I'm pretty sure Josh has been looking forward to his 8-year-old trip for about 2 years now.  We talked about it all the time, schemed where he would want to go and what he would want to do.  As it drew closer, he decided on Chicago.  It had all the things Josh loved.  Public transportation, sky scrapers, lots of food, and fun museums.  I was super excited he picked Chicago because I'd never been there either! I bought him a guidebook and he spent endless nights pouring over its contents, memorizing facts, and planning itineraries. 
We scored a killer deal on airfare ($100 round trip!) and also booked the beautiful Hilton Chicago for $99/night.  We decided to take a chance on Chicago weather in Dec and I’m so glad we did.  The weather cooperated wonderfully—it was very foggy, but about 45 degrees. 
Josh in front of the Hilton
After we landed at Midway and taxied into town the first item on our agenda was exploring the town and getting Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. Delicious!  They also had deep dish cookies which are Josh’s absolute favorite thing.  We ended the night swimming in the pool.
PicMonkey Collage
The next morning we were headed to the Field Museum and stopped by Yolk for breakfast.  We both loved it. I had cinnamon roll french toast with eggs and sausage and Josh had a bagel breakfast sandwich with a side of fruit. We then walked to the Field Museum, excited to see Sue, the biggest T.Rex skeleton in the world.  We walked past a dino skeleton on our way in, but it wasn’t huge, so we stopped to ask where we could find Sue.  The museum guide chuckled, pointed at the small dino and said, “You’re looking at her.”  Josh and I both cocked our heads and went, “huh.” She wasn’t quite what either of us were expecting.  I guess even the very biggest T.Rex just isn’t all that big.  We really enjoyed this museum.  One of our favorite exhibits was where we were “shrunk” to 1/100 of our size and then we got to explore the bug world.  When we were done we headed back to the hotel for a rest and for some screen time.
field museum
Then it was off to Millennium Park for an ice skating adventure.  We stood in line forever and finally got our skates.  As we all know, my children aren’t known for their athletic prowess, so ice skating was a challenge.  We went around the rink one time and Josh was ready to be done. :)  We took a little break and then tried again. He was getting better, but losing the love quickly.  Luckily the Zamboni came out to clean the ice giving us another little break.  We had a funny joke going on.  Every time I’d say, “Josh, you are doing so great!” he’d slip and fall.  So we decided it was best if I just didn’t say anything at all.  lol. The famous Chicago Bean was just above the rink so we went up to have a look.  It was pretty cool to see the whole city reflecting off the surface. 
ice skate Millennium Park  IMG_0428 Josh was SUPER tired that night, so I told him to sleep as long as he wanted in the morning.  Well, that ended up being a very, very long time.  He slept till almost 10 and I was confined to my bed, trying to make as little noise as possible. 
In the morning the clouds had lifted and we went back to Willis Tower. after having tried before only to discover it was totally fogged in at the top. Josh had a friend who told him the glass could break at the top of the tower and you could fall to your death.  Totally untrue, but scared Josh enough to ruin this experience for him.  I had to practically drag him to the top.  I was sad about this because he had enjoyed the Hancock Tower in Boston so much and had loved gaining perspective on the city and seeing all the famous landmarks from above.  He also said, “I like skyscrapers from the street, but when I’m at the top I get a funny feeling in my tummy.” 
I tried not to let him ruin it for me, but he kinda did.  All he did was mope and whine and ask to leave.  I LOVED this building.  The history, the architecture, and especially the Ledge.  The Ledge is a 4 foot glass box that extends from the skydeck on the 103rd floor.  It is 1353 feet high and feels like you are stepping out into thin air above the streets of Chicago.  It was exhilarating and breathtaking!
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We decided to quickly move to our next adventure, the Children’s museum on Navy Pier.  I was consulting the L train map  and Josh said, "Mom, we just get on the red line here, transfer to the orange at Roosevelt, then take the orange toward The Loop.” I asked if he was sure and he said, “Trust me.  I’ve got it under control.”  And he was right!
Josh absolutely loved the Children’s Museum.  We built forts and had a fake snowball fight, climbed up tall towers, played checkers, and took our picture in a photo booth.  But his favorite part was an exhibit called Waterways.  It had an intricate system of rivers, pulleys and dams.  And lots of rubber ducks and boats to play with.  We spent the most time in this room.  He made a little friend and they played cops and robbers with their rubber ducks devising ways for the ducks to escape from prison once they were caught.  It was so fun to watch him and his little imagination.
children's museumCollage
It gets dark very early in Chicago!  It was only just after 4pm but the sun was setting.  We decided this would be the perfect time to ride the ferris wheel.  I love seeing the city from the sky.  To me, it is one of the most beautiful sites in the world. 
ferris wheel on navy pier
The night was still young so we went searching for the Christkindlemarket, touted to be the most amazing German Christmas market.  And it did look cute.  But it was MOBBED with people.  So many people that you couldn’t move, breath, or think.  We high tailed it out of there pretty quickly.  We walked by the Macy’s windows, which I absolutely loved and Josh absolutely couldn’t have cared less.  By the time we made it back to the hotel I was beat.  But not Josh—he was up for a little late night swim. 
chicago Collage
We beat our goal of 20,000 steps!
On our final day we made our way back to Yolk for a fantastic breakfast before hitting up the Shedd Aquarium.  I had stumbled on a Groupon with discounted admission and I’m sure glad I did!  Why are aquariums so expensive?? 
We had a really fun time watching the Orca show, meeting a seal, enjoying a 4D movie, and learning about Nickel, the famed Chicago turtle who was hit by a boat propeller.  When then were doing x-rays, the drs discovered a nickel from 1975 lodged in her throat.
All too soon it was time to head to the airport.  We decided to take the subway out to O’Hare, because, well, by this point we were broke.  Taxi = $40ish. L Train = $3.  Getting to the L was a bit crazy.  It started to rain when we had about a quarter mile to go.  So we just went as fast as we could.  We were both a bit wet, but no worse for the wear. And it helped us toward our 20,000 step goal.  We fell just a bit short today.
This is how we feel about leaving:
 IMG_0646 I loved getting to spend all this one on one time with Josh.  He has such a special place in my heart.  I love the way his mind works, I love to talk to him and listen to his many ideas, and I love to share adventures that help us both to grow.  I’m sure we will be talking about this trip for many years to come!
Other things we did:
Ate our first Chicago Dog.  Well, I did this.  Josh wouldn’t touch it with a 10 ft pole.
Visited the Lego store and got to pick out a lego set. 
Walked along the Magnificent Mile for as far as our legs would carry us.