Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Look Back at 2012

Another year is coming to an end.  Time for a review of 2012.

The kids loved getting scooters for Christmas and spent most of January riding them.

Ben and I ran in the Color Run.  I am proud to say that, despite the last few months being bad, I weigh less at the end of the year than I did at the beginning.

March was marked by my birthday and Hunger Games.  This year provided a ton of entertainment at the theaters, our favorites being The Avengers, Brave, The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, Wreck It Ralph, Skyfall, and my most favorite, Les Miserables.

We dyed eggs as a family the first time in April and I was grateful for surviving wisdom teeth being pulled and a superficial blood clot.

 I love this picture of me and my kids from Mother's Day...the best part of May.

 June was a busy month.  I spent a week in Utah with the kids, helping prep for Rachel's wedding.  Aunt Rachel became Rachel Morris and the Brown family grew some more.  Soren was the ring bearer and I was photographer.

 I went to Girl's Camp in July.  It was such a great experience and I feel super lucky to have been able to have gone.  That month we also bought our new car.

 All three of my kids started school in August.  Stryder in 4th, Shelby in 2nd, and Soren in kindergarten.  My schedule of going to the school 3-4 times a day is getting really old but I do love my alone time in the afternoons.  Still not sure how all day next year will be.

 In September, we saw Wicked!  It still makes me so happy to remember that day and how great it was.

 Of course, Halloween is a big deal to our kids and enjoyed another fun day of dressing up in October.

Shelby had a big couple months as she turned 8 in November and was baptized the next month.

 December marked another great Christmas in this house.  We will be starting our 3rd year in this house in 2013, and we are still loving it.  Well not loving the months of road construction but it has made it a lot less busy.  We are hopeful that in the next couple of years we will be able to buy this house and permanently call it home.

2012 was a very full year for us.  A couple trips to Utah, lots of family gatherings, finishing one school year and starting another, swimming at Grandpa Day's, saying goodbye to our cousin missionary, new church callings, and just living life.  I took lots and lots of pictures this year for others too, a baby shower, birthday party, engagements, a sealing, a wedding, a few family sessions, a one year old, a new missionary, and Santa.  And I loved it all.  We are super hopeful for 2013 and look forward to what it may bring for us.  So long 2012...really glad the Mayans were wrong :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas 2012

Another amazing Christmas has come and gone.  I love this time of year and it makes me so sad to see it go. This year we had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of stuffed cabbage with Ben's family that live in town.  We all wore our pajamas and enjoyed the time together.  We ended the night with Ben reading the Nativity story from the scriptures and the kids anxious to get home and in bed.  Once the kids were bed, Ben made me finally watch "The Christmas Story".  Oh man, it was funny, I'll admit, but not my favorite.  My favorite is White Christmas and that's what I watched while wrapping and wrapping.  We were in bed by 12:30 and waking up with the kids around 6:15.  We told the kids to wait til they saw sunlight and then they could come wake us up, but Ben and I were just as eager and we were all up before to much sunlight was showing.

I snapped a quick picture of the presents under the tree before they were opened.  I loved the coordinating paper I got this year.  All the presents under the tree were from Mom and Dad.  Santa left his gifts on the fireplace and the kids were too quick to them that I didn't get a picture.

Shelby got a karaoke machine from Santa and we had a great time that morning and later at my parent's house, singing our hearts out.  I love seeing the mess behind us in that picture too.  More of that "joyful mess" I love.
The boys were quickly off to try out new xbox games wearing new pajama pants and shirts.  I think the kids really loved everything they got and it was all perfect, despite the head colds Shelby and I have been suffering with.
After presents, we headed to the Gainey's for our traditional Christmas Breakfast.  It's just not Christmas without aebelskivers and sausage fondue.  I'm so grateful it has been continued all these years and that my kids love it too.  Once we were full, we headed home and relaxed and played some more.  Later in the afternoon, we headed to my parent's house and hung out and munched and laughed and ate a yummy dinner.  Then it was time for more presents.  Our theme for this year was books and I loved it!  And the kids were actually really excited about the different books they got too.  I love the themes idea we do and seeing everyone's personalities come out in their gifts.  I think my favorite gift of the day, came from my parents.  It was three boxes stacked up.  The top box was the new Les Mis movie soundtrack.  The next box was 20 bucks and a paper giving the times for the Green Valley Ranch Buffet.  The last box was 2 tickets to the earliest showing of the Les Mis movie for the next morning.  Ben had been secretly plotting with them and got all the details worked out.  I loved it!  And I loved the movie!  It was the best movie I have ever seen and really want to go again.
I am so grateful for family and the feelings of love and giving that accompany this time of year.  Hopefully, we can keep it around all year long.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry and Bright

Last few days of school before winter break...

Gingerbread house making...third year helping in the kindergarten class.
 Christmas program and mulit-cultural feast...

Love Ms Greenough and how much she loves these kids and has so much fun with them.
 Really hoping this wasn't my last kindergarten program...

 And having fun taking pictures of our decorations.  Love our new tree this year.

 Yep...pretty much sums up my house and life.  Also my favorite spot in the house these days.

Colored lights outside.  I always thought I was strictly a white lights type of girl but I love our colored lights this year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Her Second White Dress

Having a girl can be so much fun!  We did 2 little photo shoots in her white dress.  The first one was with her cousin Olivia, who got baptized on the same day.  The second one was with Olivia and Lydia, her cousin who is getting baptized in April.  These girls were born within months of each other and have always been the best of friends.

I also just had to share a picture of Shelby in her first white dress.  Oh how I miss that chubby face!  Hoping for a LONG time before we have to pick out a third white dress.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Shelby's Baptism Day

Words cannot even begin to adequately describe this past weekend.  I'm going to try and write down some of my feelings and memories so I'll never forget.  Family started pouring in Thursday and Friday and we spent any free time we could together.  My family was also gathering to celebrate my sister's birthday Friday night so it was back and forth between the families.  I love big gathering at my parents' house.  It gets loud and crazy but so fun.  Saturday was baptism day for Shelby and her cousin Olivia.  In the morning, I was feeling frazzled and overwhelmed and had a bit of a short fuse.  I was just so worried about it being perfect and everything going good that I was failing to see the true importance of the day.  After some gentle and encouraging words from Ben and my sister, I collected myself and tried to get close to the Spirit.  Shelby was a little nervous about everyone staring at her and what she was supposed to do but I told her to just look at her daddy and Ben practiced with her a couple times and she became a ball of excitement.  We headed to the church building and got her in her white jumpsuit.  She told me she felt so warm, on the inside, and was so excited.  The chapel was full of family all there to support her in her awesome decision to be baptized.  Our ward was hosting so everyone that participated in the program was someone Shelby knew.  Our primary president Natalie Kephart gave the talk on baptism and the Holy Ghost and Ben's sisters Jana and Rachel along with my sister Katie sang "Come Follow Me".  It was beautiful and brought the Spirit so strongly and I'm so grateful those girls could put it together at the last minute.  Then it was time for Shelby to be baptized.  The font wasn't very full, maybe to Ben's knees and with how tall Shelby is, it was a little nerve wracking hoping she was going to go all the way under.  Ben did an awesome job and she smiled ear to ear. I was there with her towel and wrapped her up as tight as I could.  She expressed how good she felt and I was so proud of her.  While we were changing, the family was gathered and Soren bore his little testimony.  I wish I could have heard it.  He's such a sweetheart and I can't believe it will be his turn in a year and a half.  Then Ben confirmed Shelby and gave her the most wonderful blessing.  She had quite the circle of priesthood around her and I'm so grateful for those amazing men in our lives.  Once we were all done we headed off to Olivia's baptism and felt the Spirit there again.  It was such a great day and I just couldn't have pictured it any more perfect for my Shebby.  That night we gathered back at our place with Ben's family...about 39 of us and had dinner and our Christmas gift exchange.  It was crowded and loud and a little crazy but truly unbelievable to have so many together.  I hope we all remember that day always.  Sunday the kids sang in Sacrament meeting and we had another family dinner with my side.  I can't even begin to express our thankful I am for our families.  We are truly blessed beyond measure.  When I sit back and see my grandpa with his daughters and grand kids and great grand kids (just those few that were there) and my mother-in-law with her 22 grand kids that were there, I like to think that that is what heaven will be like,  family always gathered together.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Decade of Wedded Bliss

Tonight wraps up our Anniversary week.  A week ago, on November 29th, was our 10 year wedding anniversary and today is the 9 year anniversary of our sealing.  I can hardly believe it's been 10 years already.  And I didn't think it was possible to love Ben more but after our anniversary weekend, I can say that I do.  We didn't do a fancy trip or even a hotel.  Ben's mom took the kids for 2 nights and we enjoyed an empty house and each other.  I got spoiled with a couple gifts and Ben got to pick where we ate for dinner.  He made an excellent choice in picking Texas de Brazil.  It was our first time and dang, it was good! I simply loved just getting to spend some much needed uninterrupted time with him.  Life is busy and there are so many distractions, so it was nice to focus on each other for a couple days.  Don't mind me as I get all sappy but I love my husband.  He is my very best friend and I can't even imagine life without him, I try not to actually.  He makes me laugh on a daily, almost hourly, basis.  He works so hard for our family and I love how adamant he is that I stay home and take care of the kids.  He's an amazing dad and I love seeing him play and interact with the kids.  I just feel so lucky to be loved by him.  We have definitely not had an easy 10 years.  We have moved 8 times in those 10 years. Ben's had 7 different jobs.  Only 3 cars, 3 kids, and 3 pets.  There's been a few different health scares and lots of prayers and tears.  So many struggles over the past 10 years but Ben and I regret nothing.  We would not be the couple we are today had we not gone through those rough, hard times.  We know how to communicate and persevere through whatever may come our way.  Our relationship would not be as strong without them.  I'm so grateful that I am married to my best friend and that I get to be with him for eternity.  Stryder loves hearing the stories of our sealing day and I feel so blessed knowing that my family is mine forever.

Here's a collage of us over the past 9 years.  Boy, what a crazy and wonderful ride it's been.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fall is Here

I can't believe we are 5 days into December.  It just doesn't feel like December to me.  Christmas lights are up all over town and our house is decorated but it still doesn't feel like Christmas is 20 days away. We are still running around in short sleeves and flip flops.

Our big tree out front just changed colors last week.  It's been slow getting to winter too.

Sunday brought a strong wind and now the tree is bare and the ground is covered in gold leaves. Just another stunning example of the Lord's work, letting us shed the old, in preparation for the new.