Monday, November 30, 2015

Mesa AZ to Bountiful UT

Mapquest tells us that this drive should take 11 hours and 24 minutes. In reality, the drive took 14 hours and 7 minutes.  We thoroughly enjoyed that special hour and a half where traffic was stop and go, and we traveled about 13 miles.  In all seriousness though, we arrived without an incident to our lovely home, which means that the trip was a success, even if it took 2 1.2 hours longer than we would have hoped for.

I love AZ.

Subway, eating fresh... but don't get their pizza, ever. It was the worst pizza I've tried in years. (Annie hates sandwiches, but we still love her.)

When we got home from our road trip, Norman wasn't ready to go to bed just yet, so Ryan read to him. How cute are they?!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Party with the Smiths!

Starting the day out right. Norman needed a bath, in the sink, whilst holding a giraffe. So he got it.

What is that in the trailer? Why, it's my brother and sister in laws "Angry Birds" slingshot.
There are even giant stuffed angry birds in the trunk.

Annie's aiming. It's going...



I absolutely love this poster. I want it up in my house, with a never ending supply of donuts on hand.

A wild game of Bingo.

Loads of cousins. Had a wonderful time with those who were here. 

Black Friday - No Shopping:~)

I would like to completely avoid shopping this year for Christmas, not just stores but actually shopping. I wish that Christmas was similar to Thanksgiving.  For turkey day we focus on the food and blessings. Christmas we could focus on the food and Christ.  Some of my dear friends love to shop, are skilled at finding that perfect gift, have some system, whether it be a "want, need, and a read" or gifts that follow a "gold, frankincense, and myrrh" pattern.  My frustration  is not about a desire to avoid demonstrating love, it's about the organizational skills that I lack. So it's Ryan's turn this year... it's his turn to figure our how to do Christmas gifts this year, exactly the way I want them done, within a budget, with a smile, not going overboard, but doing enough to make it meaningful, with some form of equity between the kids, with their hopes and dreams coming true, whilst focusing on the real reason for the season. He's totally got it under control. (In reality, if Ryan were in charge, I'm sure he would have a different approach.)

My niece Emma put together an amazing scavenger hunt in a huge park (The Riperian Preserve in Gilbert, AZ.) Each adult was at a different location. The kids had clues to figure out about each person and they went to go find them to get their next clue.  The little cousins were paired with a big cousin.  It was epic.  It took about 2 1/2 hours, which meant everyone got some good exercise and the kids slept soundly at night.  10 points to Emma!

What is an uncle for if not to turn Owen into a backpack?!

SO tired that now the younger cousin is carrying the older cousin.

At the finish line! Everyone got a little gift from Nana and Papa.



Party pooper.

Deacons. Enough said.

Family shot.

My parents loving on their youngest grandson.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving, In All It's Glory!

Family, Photos and Food. I LOVE Thanksgiving!
Counting my many blessings, too many to name them one by one.

We got up super early for a lovely photo shoot.  All the kids behaved.  All the women were beautiful.  All the men were strong... We changed Norman about thirty seconds before we started our photo shoot, so naturally he spit up about four seconds before the first picture was taken. I was attempting to clean the spit up. Luckily, non elf it landed on my mum.

My parents with their 20 grandkids.
Boom, baby.

Lots of waiting during the picture taking. Lots of fun hanging out.

Everyone took turns snuggling Norman, because he's just a piece of baby fudge.

I am so excited to see how his pictures turned out.

How lucky am I to have this nut as my daughter?!


All the men.

Giant turkey, only 24 pounds. But this year, I did not injure my rotator cuff.

Lots of help to feed this baby. What a good big brother Owen is.

How am I not supposed to want to live next door to this woman?!

The kitchens fairy godmothers, making culinary dreams of deliciousness come true.

Beautiful table settings, thanks to my mother and some help from grandkids.

Ryan isn't angry, I think he's just hungry.  Good thing that a feast has been prepared.

***Happy Thanksgiving! November 26th, 2015***

Thanksgiving Eve

With eight hours of the trip done yesterday, we only had 5 more hours to go today.I was super anxious to see my family, so even with a tasty breakfast buffet at the hotel, I ate fast and encouraged the crew to do so.  If I'm passing on food, you know I mean business.

They even had some cheerios for Norman to munch on, and some yogurt which is one of the few things that doesn't hurt Preston to chew (with his new braces.)

On the road. Beautiful. Why? Because the kids all got along very well, and no one had to go to the bathroom a million times.

My brother has grown out his hair. I hear from my sisters that it was long, and was glad i got to witness it for myself.  He claims now that he has finally seen his new nephew, he can cut it. But will he? Will he?

Cousin time!  I think I would love a family commune.  Ryan agrees!

***This post is for November 26, 2015***

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

AZ or Bust

We are in the midst of taking my most favorite car trip: heading to AZ to spend the Thanksgiving, Gratitude, Overeating, Family Fun holiday together with our siblings, nieces, nephews, brother and sister in laws, parents, pets, etc.  It is bound to be amazing.  I'm always crazy eager on the drive down, but the drive back to life and reality? That's another story.

Wendy's on the road. The line inside had about 30 people, with so many travelers heading away for Thanksgiving.  The food was certainly not equal to the wait:~)

I loved the zippy carpet however. And so did Norman.

***This post is for Tuesday, November 24, 2015.***

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tis the Season

Is there an ingredient more lovely and fall-ish than cranberries?! (Probably, but I don't want to talk about those other food items.) A friend of mine gave me this cranberry recipe.  It basically turns them into cranberry candy. Easy to make. Beautiful. Delicious.

Make a simple syrup: 
1 c sugar with 1 c water
Boil till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool a little.

Put a bag of cranberries in a container. Pour the warm syrup over them, 
Close em up and place in the fridge overnight.

Drain cranberries. Roll in super fine sugar and allow to dry.
Mmmm. They're still a little tart, but the sugar takes the edge off. They pop in your mouth, and bring joy to your festive heart. Plus, they're just so very beautiful!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Killing Time Till....

Saturday always consists of early morning chores. No fun. Totally essential. Ryan's flight landed tonight at 9:00pm. So mom spent the entire day killing time (shopping, cleaning, gently encouraging forthright behavior) just waiting until Ryan's flight landed. And land it did.

Annie and Norman at Costco.

Simon and Annie practicing their floating at swim lessons.

.... And he's finally home.

Friday, November 20, 2015

What's for Dinner?

"What's for dinner?" is always a fun question when something amazing is in the works.  But when the lights aren't on and nobody's home?  The question is almost asked as a threat, or a dare.  Like "I dare you to come up with something that I'm going to actually want to eat. " For as much as I love to cook, and for as much as I love to eat, I can really appreciate a good dose of low quality, high fat, fast food. Especially on a Friday night, after a somewhat long week.  So the answer to tonight's "Whats for dinner?" question was actually pizza, breadsticks, burritos, tacos, and soda.  What's better than one fast food joint? Hitting two of them on the way home from the swimming pool.

Del Taco and Little Caesars, aka "Mother of the Year"... but what kind of a mother?

My man cub loves to swim. Isn't he excitable!

He fell asleep holding my hand. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. Everything Norman does is baby art.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brace Yourself

My oldest son, now a junior in high school, officially joined the ranks of all the brave, crooked teeth people who are aligning their jaws, straightening their chops, and turning their yellowish teeth into a pearly white. Preston got braces today. His face hurt a bit tonight, and he was told that tomorrow he would feel even worse. Bummer.  Somewhat related, when I think of my husband, I am grateful to his parents for several things but two items really cinched our wedding: #1 They taught my husband to work.  He got to mow his 2 acre lawn, using a push mower, for about 3 hours every Saturday, and #2 They got him braces.  His pre-teen pics are darling, but his big, beautiful straight teethed smile is what caught my attention right off the bat.  In only 18-24 months, Preston's braces will be a thing of the past. For now, we're super glad he landed the role of "Tin Man" in his schools upcoming play " The Wiz." He's always been very good at getting into character.

Doesn't he look happy. And i even get to photobomb his pic!

Wait for it...

Preston and braces!

My Simon is on the safety patrol at school. Two afternoons a week he volunteers his time to help kids cross the parking lot safely.

What a champion.

We're also working on his science fair project. oohing quite like buying 18 bottles of soda.  
I still think that soda is the devil, but that's not what his experiment is about.