Monday, November 30, 2015

Colorado Springs Thanksgiving

For the first time in many, many years, we didn’t host Thanksgiving. Instead, we went down to to Colorado Springs and spent the holiday with Brett and Kami and some of the Johnson family.  It was such a fun time. Kami was an amazing host and it was really fun to get to know some of her family better.  Here we are packing up all the pies. We wouldn’t be able to get them in a fridge for about 8 hours, so it took some creative packaging and a lot of dry ice to pull it off.
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The fun began on Wed with our second annual trip to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole.  Last year we went the day after Thanksgiving and it was a total zoo.  This year we went the day before Thanksgiving and it was so calm and uncrowded.  We enjoyed ourselves so much more when we didn’t have to fight long lines for the rides and huge crowds.
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The day started at a beautifully sunny 55 degrees.  By the time we left around 4 pm the temp had dropped to about 30 degrees, and we were were freezing!  Brayden had forgotten his jacket and was in short sleeves.  Poor little thing looked like an ice cube at the end of the day.  The older kids had a blast going on the scrambler and the tilt-a-whirl about a million times.  Kami and Rusty both have weak stomachs, so when Blake and Kali wanted to go on a fun ride, I went with them.  Hearing their cute little screams on the tilt-a-whirl just made me laugh.  It was so fun!  Blake and Kali also got to sit on Santa’s lap. 
North Pole 2015
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A storm blew in that night and when we woke up in the morning there was a sheet of ice covering everything.  The die-hard crazies still decided to go hike the Incline.  I volunteered to stay with the kids Smile 
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2015-11-26 12.05.33(Rusty, Brandon, Tina, Jordan, and Stacy)

We cooked the afternoon away and sat down to our Thanksgiving feast around 5:00pm.  Everything was delicious.  Brett was working at the hospital, so Kami and Rusty packed up a slice of each of the different kinds of pie and braved the nasty roads to deliver Brett a Thanksgiving treat.
Thanksgiving 2015
The next day was still freezing but everyone was going a little stir crazy.  Brett didn’t have to be at work till noon so we got everyone dressed in their snow gear and into the cars to go drive through Garden of the Gods.  That was no small feat!  Garden of the Gods was beautiful in the snow.  We got out at a few scenic spots along the way, snapped some pics, and rushed back to our warm cars. 
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The kids really wanted to go sledding even though they knew they wouldn’t last long in the cold.  We found a great park and had an amazing 15 minutes sledding down the hill. 

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We went back to Kami’s, scarfed delicious Thanksgiving leftovers and left to see The Good Dinosaur.  The big girls were sitting a few rows away from us and they had some popcorn.  Blake really wanted some, but for some reason was too shy to ask the girls.  I refused to buy him some and he was so mad.  We had been staying in a hotel and the kids were going to take turns sleeping on the roll out bed.  But Halle really did not want to sleep in the big bed with one of the boys so she paid Blake $5 for his night in the roll out bed. After the movie was over Blake ran to the car to get his $5 and buy himself some popcorn.  A teeny tiny bag cost him $5.05, but he was determined to get it anyway.  He ate about a quarter of the bag and then promptly forgot all about it.
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After a delicious dinner of Turkey Noodle Soup we hit the road for home.  It was a perfect Thanksgiving weekend.  Thanks so much to Brett and Kami for hosting all the fun!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kids Against Hunger II

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This year Kids Against Hunger was bigger and better!  We had so many friends come help us package food and everyone had a great time. My kids were able to donate $80 toward the cost of the meals.  All in all our group donated around $600!  We were able to package 2592 meals, which shattered our record from last year.  That night as I was tucking the kids into bed both Halle and Josh expressed how proud they were of their efforts. I was pretty proud too!  The director gave us a package of the food and the kids are kind of excited to try it out and get a taste of what things are like for many children around the world.  I hope experiences like these help develop their empathy and give them a world view.  They have such helpful hearts and I am proud of their desire to “Be the Good” in the world. 
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Friday, November 13, 2015

Happy 12th Birthday Halle

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Dear Halle,
What a special birthday this is!  You are now officially a Young Woman and I couldn’t be more excited for you.  This is a big step in growing up and you are ready to take it on. 
This has been a big year!  Your transition to middle school has been flawless.  You love your classes and are surrounded by such fun, good friends.  Band and Science are two of your favorite classes. 
You continue to be such a positive light in our family.  Your brothers adore you and I can always count on you to help me.  This year you’ve taken on a lot of babysitting responsibility and I’m not sure who loves it more—Dad and I because we can go out whenever we want, or you because you get to be in charge of the boys Smile You’ve also babysat for a few of the neighbors and love the chance to earn a little cash.
It’s also been a tough year with your Crohn’s diagnosis this summer.  It was so hard to watch you be so sick and to lose so much weight.  I know you were in a lot of pain and really miserable.  But it was also inspiring to watch you steel yourself and meet your challenges head on.  You put on such a brave face and hardly ever complained. I am in awe of your strong and faithful spirit.  When Dad and I were leaving for Germany both you and I were pretty sad.  We were snuggled up in the bed in the basement of G&G Banks’ house and we decided to say a prayer together.  It was one of the most powerful moments of my life.  We pleaded with Heavenly Father that he would take special care of you while I was away and that you could be well.  I felt such peace and knew you were going to be ok while I was away from you.  It was still hard to leave but we both put our trust in Heavenly Father and he came through for us. 
We also experienced a miracle as your body began to heal without the aid of medication.  We still don’t know why it happened but we are so grateful for everyday that you are healthy.  Always remember to take care of your body, because, as we’ve learned this year, good health is such a gift. 
You love soccer and I was one proud coach/mama when you scored your first goal this year.  I love watching you give your all and I love when we could feel so proud of the effort we put forth as a team.  Go DRAGONS! 
Some of your favorite things include: Studio C, blueberry muffins, Navajo tacos, reading, (I asked for your favorite and you said, “Gosh…that’s like asking me if I like breathing air.  I could never pick) and Princess the pink seal.  I love coming in to check on you before I go to bed and seeing you snuggled up with Princess.  She goes everywhere we do and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 
My favorite time with you is our daily walks to the bus.  We just chat along the way and I love those few moments when it is just us.
Halle, keep being the kind, level headed, fun girl that you are.  As with every year, I know this year will bring so many new adventures and I can’t wait to see where life leads us. 
This year was a special bday for our Halle girl.  I got tickets to the Lion King for me, her, Sadie and Grace. We went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, saw the Lion King, and then spent the night at the Denver Marriott. It was pure magic.  I could hardly watch the stage because I loved watching the girls so much.  They were on the edge of their seats for the whole first act and the wonder in their eyes was way better than anything happening on stage.  Halle brought her Pumpkin Pizza Palace $ and bought a baby Simba doll.  He is pretty darn cute and looks just like the prop they used in the play.
halle bday lion king
We saved most of our cheesecake for after the show and it was pretty darn fun to eat cheesecake at midnight in bed. 
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The next morning we grabbed a quick breakfast and then the girls went swimming at the pool.  The water was warm and I think they could have stayed all day.  It was a perfect 24 hours. The girls made an iMovie on the way home. I’ll see if I can attach it here. 

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And that was the weekend before her birthday!  The day of her birth was also pretty awesome.  We rushed to open presents before she had to catch the bus. She got new doll bunkbeds, ANOTHER American Girl doll pet, Scooter, from G&G Cornell, Anne of Green Gables the Sequel from G&G Banks, and joy of all joys—a cell phone. 
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We had French Toast for dinner, and ice cream for dessert.  A perfect day for our perfect girl Smile
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Friday, November 6, 2015

Happy 9th Birthday Josh!

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Dear Josh,
Happy 9th birthday my sweet, wonderful son.  You are such a joy in our family and we love you so much.  Your cute face has had me wrapped around your finger since the day you were born.
This year, the one word I think describes you best is “thoughtful.” You are aware of the feelings of others and you try to be kind and helpful.  Two stories come to mind.  You overheard me talking to dad and I was complaining that I always spend so much time planning and prepping meals and all anyone ever did was complain and tell me it was gross.  That night after dinner (that you didn’t really like) you came up and gave me a huge hug and said, “Thanks, Mom, for making us dinner.”  It made me feel so happy inside.  You always tell me thank you after we’ve had a fun day, or you are always quick to give me a hug when you can tell that I am stressed.  The other story absolutely melted my heart.  Blake has a very hard time getting ready in the mornings and I was at my wits end.  I had threatened with everything I knew how and nothing was working so I told Blake if he wasn’t downstairs ready to go I was going to leave him behind and he’d have to walk to school.  You ran upstairs and said, “Blake, hurry! I’ll help you!”  Well, Blake still wouldn’t hurry and it was time to go.  I called for you to come and you slowly came down the stairs.  Then you slowly checked your backpack to make sure you had everything you needed for the day.  I realized you were trying to buy Blake more time and I gently said, “Josh, this is so nice of you, but Blake needs to learn from his consequences.” You looked up at me with tears in your eyes and said, “But Mom!  He might be scared here all alone.  Please don’t leave him.”  How could I not honor that request?  I gave you a huge hug and then went to drag Blake to the car.  I was so proud of you for putting the needs of others before yourself.  Never change that about you. 
You are also so fun to talk to.  You ask such good questions and love to listen and learn.  I love that you are getting old enough to have your own opinions on things and we had some fun discussions. 
Some of my favorite moments are snuggling you in your bed with your electric blanket.  Usually you and Daddy read Harry Potter together at night, but you let me read the 5th book with you.  I had so much fun going on adventures with you, Harry, Ron and Hermione (even if you often read ahead Smile)
You still love your alone time in your bedroom each day.  You love audiobooks and we will often find you in bed at 10pm still listening. Your favorites are Land of Stories and the Hero’s Guide series.  Your favorite ipod app right now is Goat Simulator and you are also learning to make Minecraft Mods. Your favorite food is pizza and you are so happy when it’s Friday, which means Pizza day at school.  You love to play at the park and groundies with Dad is your favorite thing to do there.  You also love kid dates.  I think you like kid dates the most out of all the kids.  It’s so fun to plan dates with you because you are so excited.  And Dad and I love that one on one time we get with you. 
You love to be home and it is sometimes a challenge to get you out and being active.  It takes a lot of work to convince you that we’ll have fun, but you always come back with a smile on your face, happy that you came.  And sometimes I see you struggle when I know you want to complain, but you’ll give a big sigh and then try to smile and “have a good attitude.”  I know it’s not easy, but I really appreciate when you do that.
You are so funny.  You say the cutest things and always bring a smile to our faces.  My recent favorite came after our ward switched all the sacrament bread to gluten free.  You said, “Mom, it’s really hard to think about the Savoir when you are trying not to gag.”
But perhaps your favorite thing ever is beating Dad to say, “Oi es el dia!” every day.  You run into our bedroom first thing, or often  hide when dad is coming home from work so you can jump out and scare him.
Josh, keep learning and growing, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and take some risks.  You don’t have to follow all the rules all the time Smile.  I love you so much and can’t wait to see what adventures this year will bring. 
Lots of love,
Josh planned a pretty fun birthday this year.  He was up at the crack of dawn to open presents.  He got a Quarter Map, Minecraft Mod software, and a quardcopter drone which he named Fred.  We’ve had lots of fun learning to fly him!  G&G Cornell gave him an Amazon gift card so he could buy Inside Out and G&G Banks gave him a game called Pie Face.
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josh 9th birthday
Halle and Blake made him the cutest cards.  Halle’s is shaped like the Audible app, and Blake’s sings Happy Birthday.  Blake included coupons that said things like, “make you egg sandwich,” “Anki races,” and “alone time.”  So cute. 
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Then we had his favorite breakfast—Egg and bacon sandwiches and Reese’s Puffs cereal.
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The party didn’t stop for school.  I picked up Chic Fli A and came and ate lunch with Josh and his buddies Nick and Nolan. 
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The evening concluded with dinner from Noodles and Co, Lamar’s donuts and watching Inside Out as a family.  G&G Banks helped us sing Happy Birthday to Josh through FaceTime. 
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