Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Thought I'd do a list of some of my favorites for 2008. Not much new - but just a record of things I love right now:

  • Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Shampoo - this is one of my favorite shampoos and conditioners of all time! It has the most invigorating mint smell and makes your head tingle (in a good way - not in a "my hair is falling out" way). It wakes me up and makes me feel great. And a lot of times if I have a bad headache I'll soak in a bubble bath with some of this on my hair and it really makes my headaches feel better. It's great stuff! (I haven't used the other Tea Tree products - just the shampoo and conditioner).
  • Loreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara - I just started using this a short while ago and I'm HOOKED! This is the first mascara that I haven't had racoon eyes with. I have tried SO many, and it seems like I end up with smears under my eyes just a couple hours after wearing it. But with this stuff I don't have any problems with it at all. It's awesome.
  • Disneyland - This was a great trip with the kids. Yeah - it was busy (SOOOOO BUSY!) and we didn't get to do all we wanted to - but it made great memories for Gabe. He seriously talks about Disneyland almost every day and the magical place it is. That alone was worth it! Can't wait to go again someday. (someday soon....? I wish!)
  • Lip Smackers - You'd think I'd out-grown this by the time I am almost 30 - but I still love tasty chapsticks. I got a new one this year called Candy Cane Treat. I love it because it's a little sweet, and a little minty - perfect! Now if they'd just go back to making the ones with just a tiny bit of glitter in them - I'd be happy.
  • Diet Dr Pepper - LOVE IT! Wish I could break the habit - but it's just so tasty....
  • Scentsy scents - YUM! I LOVE most of the Scentsy scents - but my favorites right now are Black Raspberry Vanilla, Verbena Berry, and Cinnamon Cider.
  • Scentsy sprays - I am so addicted to yummy smells and these sprays are the BEST! They have the same smells as the scentsy warmers - but it's instant (no waiting for the wax to melt) and I can spray around my house and it INSTANTLY smells great. Now I don't have to worry about having a stinky bathroom, or Hunter's room stinking after changing a diaper. They have multi-packs too - so you can save money when buying them.
  • Pizza Hut Tuscani pasta - this might sound silly - but we had it for dinner a couple of months ago and it was great! The boys really liked it and so did Cory and I - that doesn't always happen. We only tried the alfredo one - but it was good.
  • Redbox - man, whoever invented this is GENIUS! I love that I don't have a set time to take them back, I love that I can reserve online and then go pick them up. I LOVE REDBOX!
  • Facebook - This darn site is addicting! But it's fun to see what people are up to and reconnect with old friends.
  • Digital Scrapbooking - I have just loved this more and more! I think if I had to pick one favorite Digital Scrapbook thing this year it would be templates - they have made my life so much easier!
  • Our BLOG - I love that I have a place to journal, with pictures, and be a bit creative. I could care less if anyone read it (because I doubt anyone other than my mom does most of the time) - but I do love that I'm leaving a mark, saying I was here, and keeping a record for the future. It makes it easier for me to scrapbook things later too - because I've journaled ahead of time - I love it!
  • MY FAMILY - Ok - I know this shouldn't appear last on the list - but think of it as a countdown - I've listed them last because they are by far the most important thing in my life - a definite favorite! I love having a family of 2 boys, I love doing things the 4 of us, and I love being a mom. Yeah - it's hard, really hard - but I love it. I love the times at night when I get to snuggle with Gabe in his bed, or when Hunter gives me kisses instead of saying "thank you". I love it.


  • This morning we were telling Gabe that it was New Years Eve. He got all excited and said, "So tomorrow is Valentine's day?!?!?" We explained that it was still a while until Valentine's Day. We said that first we had New Years, then Martin Luther King Day and then Valentine's Day and President's Day. Then Gabe yelled out - as sure as he could be, "And THEN it will be PILLOW FIGHT DAY!" (We have determined with him that Pillow Fight Day is after President's Day and Grandma Tammy's birthday - but before St. Patrick's Day and Daddy's birthday - we've decided it's roughly March 12th - for those of you who are like Gabe and are DYING to celebrate!)
  • On Christmas night after everything Gabe would NOT go to bed. He was being such a stinker and had gotten up several times. I got mad at him and turned to him on the couch and said, "Get your bottom off the couch and into bed!" He looked at me so sincerly and said, "But Mom - I can't!" I asked him why he couldn't. He said, "I'm stuck to the couch - I think it was from all the glue I put on the couch...."
  • Another bedtime a few days ago I came into his room to turn off the light (he likes to read books for a while by himself) and he had a glass of water in his hand. He will generally ask for a drink of water - so we keep a glass of water by his bed - but he would have to get out of bed to get it (which he had been instructed to stay in bed). He looked at me and said, "Mom - I just don't know how this glass of water got into my hand - it just appeared! One minute it wasn't there - and then I guess it just flew into my hand"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Christmas Eve:

For the last several years we have spent Christmas Eve with our good friends the Springers. They like to be home for Christmas so we have made a tradition of having dinner together the night before. We have stuck with my family's Mexican dinner theme and had different tasty Mexican meals over the years. This year we had our own Cafe Rio type burritos, chips and dips from Chili's, and peppermint pie for dessert. I also made these for the kids to eat for dessert (they were so messy though that I didn't take a was too embarrassing).

In the past we have had a pinata - but we decided to skip it this year. Cory always spends SOOOO much money filling the pinata (last year it was FULL of chocolate!) and we all eat way too much. So this year we decided to skip it. I was a bit sad as we've done a pinata every year since I was little. Then we let the kids open a present - our boys got jammies. It was late so we drove around to see a few Christmas lights and came home. The boys got in their new jammies and got to open another present. The last couple of years I've been adding to our Christmas book collection. I want to give them a nice Christmas book each year with their new jammies. But this year, as with most everything, we cut back a little and I just got them little books from Walmart. They didn't know the difference and had fun with it. We made Santa up a plate of goodies and wrote him a letter - you'll have to read the letter - it's word for word what Gabe told me to write. Then after reading the Christmas story (Gabe loves the fact that the angel that visited Mary is named Gabriel - he thinks that is pretty great) we tucked the kids in bed and got busy with Santa stuff.

Christmas Morning:

Cory is just like a little kid with Christmas morning. Anytime after 6:00 am is fair game. So I think around 7:30 we were up and at it. When Gabe came out he was a bit disappointed that Santa didn't bring him the Geotrax stuff he wanted - but he got over that pretty quickly when he saw all of the cherry candycanes Santa brought! We always have our stockings first, check out the tree and what Santa brought. Then we'll take a break for breakfast before we do more presents. This year we made cinnamon rolls (from a can - blasphemous huh Tammy?) - but Cory was in charge of them, and they didn't quite get cooked enough.....but we ate them and some cheesy scrambled eggs. After breakfast it was time for presents. Gabe had a ball this year and was much more into it than ever before. We tried to stretch it out (since we didn't have any other plans for the day or people to visit) - but we got done pretty quickly. The boys loved their presents and my favorite thing to hear was when Gabe would open something and yell, "That is exactly what I've always wanted!!!" Gabe was pretty sure that he was going to get a Geotrax Barn and when he opened that very last he was thrilled that he got everything he asked for.

We snacked on food during the day, took it easy, cleaned up (Cory likes all of the Christmas goodies put away immediately), talked to family on the phone, watched a few movies and just hung out. It was a really kicked back and relaxing day - and we loved it. We missed seeing family more than normal, but we felt their love and know that another year we can spend together.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fun site

I am working on my Primary lesson for later today and I have been looking online at some fun websites that offer supports for lessons, teaching your children, or FHE ideas. Here are a couple of fun links: Fun games & Great Primary support materials. I'd love to hear of other sites you guys use for lessons and FHE.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Card 2008

Well, as I've done in the past few years I decided to send out a Valentine's Day card instead of Christmas card. It just takes the stress off of sending them out at Christmas time, but still helps me keep in touch with people. However, I started feeling a bit guilty this week - wishing I had sent one out. So instead I'm going to send one to you via our blog and email. Hope you'll feel of our love and appreciation, and know of our well wishes to you and your family this year.

And as any good Christmas card will have - here's a little synopsis of our family in 2008:

  • Cory has been busy as usual with our family business - The Blind Guy. In August Cory moved into his own commercial space which includes a location for shutter manufacturing (which he took on this year), a showroom and offices. The timing of this was tough with the economy taking the downturn that it has, but we have also been grateful for the business we've gained by adding shutter manufacturing to the list of our products available. Cory and Joanna also celebrated their 10 year anniversary this year! Quite an accomplishment and they look forward to many more years to come. The celebrated by taking several trips (which also coincided with work trips) to Hawaii and Jamaica.

  • Joanna has kept herself busy by staying home with our 2 little boys. She has also done more and more with digital scrapbooking and does that almost exclusively now (if she could only print some of the pages she's been doing...) She enjoys keeping up the family blog, watching Gabe and Hunter learn and grow and trying to stay organized with life. Joanna was released from working in the Young Women's program in church after serving for over 4 years. Although she misses the girls she enjoys her new calling teaching in the Primary.

  • Gabe has had a big year this year. In September he started preschool and a tumbling class. He loves going to school and has been learning a lot. He also loves playing with his buddy Noah and rough-housing with his baby brother Hunter. He has recently developed quite the imagination and has started to enjoy singing (which has made Mom very happy). Gabe is a strong willed little guy but can have the sweetest, loving side as well.

  • Hunter is growing up way too fast! This year has been a big one for him - crawling, walking, learning to get into everything....Hunter has recently discovered stickers and enjoys sticking them on everything. He also loves wrestling with his big brother Gabe, reading stories, singing songs and making the world's biggest messes with food.

We look forward to 2009 with some apprehension, but also hope. We know that these are hard times, and will likely continue to be such. But by placing our trust in our Heavenly Father and working together as a family - we can accomplish anything. We hope and pray that your family will have a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Love, Cory, Joanna, Gabe & Hunter

Monday, December 22, 2008

some more from Thanksgiving photo-shoot

My sister-in-law Ashley sent us some disks with pictures from our family Thanksgiving photo-shoot. I felt good about the pictures we did - but after looking over the TONZ of pictures all the other individual families took - I wish my boys had been a bit more cooperative and we could have gotten a few more. Oh well. Here are some fun ones.

MORE Santa (3rd time this season)

Saturday was our ward's children's Christmas party - Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The night before we were out with friends when we remembered that we were supposed to go the next morning. We talked about it and 8:00 am for a Saturday seemed to be REALLY early - especially with the kids.

Unfortunately (for me) - I was WIDE awake at 5:00 am Saturday morning. That seemed like it was going to work well because we could go (I'm generally the one who takes the longest to get ready, and I'm also the one who wants to sleep in more than anyone else) - but the boys both decided to sleep in until almost 8:30. Once they were up we decided to run into the party before it was over. We made it in time for Santa - but didn't get much to eat (which was ok).

Gabe was SO cute with Santa. He wasn't nearly as nervous as he had been the first time this season (where he was SHAKING and totally speechless) and was excited to talk to Santa. When Santa asked him who his favorite reindeer was he piped up "Rudolph - and I even know a song about him!" So he sang with Santa and it was so cute. Hunter wasn't jumping up and down to get in Santa's lap, but he sat with me next to Santa and didn't even cry when I put him on Santa's lap. We're making progress!

STICKERS (aka driving me nuts)

Gabe was a huge fan of stickers when he was little. He loved having me put stickers on paper with him, and he still really enjoys sticker books where you match stickers with things. It's taught him a lot about matching and I love it.

Now onto Hunter. Hunter has recently discovered stickers - and he's making me CRAZY with them. He knows which drawer we have the stickers in and he has actually figured out how to get into it (it has a child lock on it). He doesn't open the drawer - but he can stick his hand in there and magically pulls out stickers.

The problem is that his favorite place to put stickers is on the kitchen floor. I am constantly finding stickers all over the kitchen floor! He also tries to pull them off and put them on things again. This means the sticky stuff isn't quite sticky enough to keep it to the floor - but it is sticky enough to stick to the bottom of your feet, socks, or shoes. I can't even tell you the # of times I find stickers stuck to the bottom of my feet. I'm also finding pieces of them in the carpet, on the fridge, in Hunter's clothes, and pretty much all over the house.

Love the little guy, love that he wants to be 'creative' - but it's making me nuts!

(These pictures don't really look that bad...I think the fact that it's CONSTANT is what's making me crazy)

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Today is one of my favorite people's birthdays - my mom!

Now my mom is pretty amazing. I know that most people probably feel that way about their moms - but I am pretty sure that mine is one of the best out there. What I think is most special to me about my mom is that she's not just a mother to me - she's my best friend. She is always there with a listening ear as I am stressed or worried about something. She'll have a word of advice or just words of comfort. She also is the first one to say she's praying for me and I know that she always is. My mom and I are also so much a like that I know that she really knows how I feel. It's funny at times because I look at her and can see what I'll be like in a few years - if I'm lucky enough.

We love you and hope your day is fantastic!

Friday, December 19, 2008

candy cane cookies - a Rhien tradition

Now most years I haven't made these cookies - because I can't seem to master them like my mom has. I'm one of those people who want things to turn out great the first time around, and don't like to work at them (for instance - when I started gymnastics I was pretty ticked on the first day when they didn't teach me how to do a back handspring - what a waste of a lesson!)

Anyway - this is probably the 3rd time I've made these. This year I was feeling extra nostalgic and wanting to work on passing on traditions from my childhood to my children. As I looked through a Christmas cookbook that Mama Rhien put together for us I saw the Candy Cane Cookie recipe and thought the idea of making cookies for my kids that my grandma had made for her kids was pretty cool.

After I made them I called my mom to talk about things I coudl have done differently, found out that hers haven't always been perfect, and laugh. She mentioned that Nicole had made these recently and had made them skinnier than my mom makes them, but that Paul had said they turned out. She said, "I don't know how she did it - she made 4 dozen cookies from the recipe". So I counted my cookies.

19 cookies

Apparently mine were a bit 'chubby', Nicole's were a bit 'skinny' and I bet when my mom makes them later this week - they'll be 'JUST RIGHT'. (There is a HUGE difference between the 48 cookies Nicole got, and the 19 I got - 29 cookies difference!)

Anyway - here are our cookies. I had to take picture of the broken ones and the ones that (all-be-it chubby) turned out.

(Side note - as I ate one I thought, "Wait a minute - I don't even LOVE how these taste - why go to all this work?" I guess it's all about the tradition.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My little break

Well it's been snowing here for days, and today all I wanted to do was snuggle up with a good book or my laptop to scrapbook. So when the boys both fell asleep at the same time (which NEVER happens - Gabe very rarely takes naps anymore and if he does Hunter seems to be awake) I indulged myself a bit. I should have probably been cleaning my house, folding laundry, wrapping Christmas gifts, making my last (*^&%) batch of caramel corn, etc. But it felt good to take a minute for myself. It was also fun to scrap some pictures I had just taken hours earlier (the snow layout and the lucky layout). The cousin and christmas layout are older but I finished them up today.

  • template - Jen Caputo #27
  • kit - it's pieces from the daily download on this blog - you can go back and download past days - it's a really cute kit!
  • snowflakes - Merry Kit by Designs by Krista

  • template - With This Ring by ChrissyW
  • kit - Tannah by Sweet Digi Scraps (this was one of her free give-aways - but it's a one day offer - but check out her blog for more)

Ellis Family Christmas 2007
  • template - Mixin' It Up - 4
  • kit - Very Merry by Jannylynn (I got it for one of their $1.00 deals - watch for those - they can be great deals!)

  • template - a freebie from ChrissyW (I couldn't find it in her store)
  • kit - Bounce by The Shabby Shoppe

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever

Tonight I was lying down with Gabe, singing our bedtime songs (which have started including Christmas songs for the season) and telling my "when you were a little girl" stories. I told about how I'd stay up alot of the night because I was so excited, how my siblings and I would go in and wake up my parents, and how we'd line up from youngest to oldest before going down the stairs. I told him we'd open our stockings first - and he wanted to know what I'd get in my stocking. I told him what the usual items were - he got a chuckle out of the idea that I would get underwear in my stocking (poor kid is going to be disappointed when he sees all the undies 'sants' bought to stuff into his stocking this year....) Then as I thought it was about time to sneak out of the room and escape to my own bed Gabe says, "Mom - what was your very favorite Christmas present ever?"

I thought for about a mili-second - but I knew right away what my favorite Christmas present was - it was Gabe. It was just a few weeks before Christmas - 4 years ago - that we found out (totally surprisingly) that we were expecting our first baby. I remember finding out while I was working on Cory's Christmas present (a quilt I made him as a surprise) and wondering if there was any possible way I could hold it in until Christmas morning to tell him. (I think it was like the 10th of December - or somewhere around that). I remember thinking of creative ways to break the news, and after telling Cory - I wondered how we could make it a surprise for others.

So during this season as we talk about the little baby Jesus, and about his mother Mary at Christmas-time - I feel a little connection. I think of my little baby who had been only a dream until my Christmas wish came true. I think about how just weeks before finding out about the pregnancy I had hit my lowest point of frustration and depression about the lack of a baby. I think about the "deals" I made as I prayed to Heavenly Father - telling Him that all I wanted for Christmas - or the rest of my life - was to be a mom and hold a little baby. I begged and pleaded for my righteous desires to come true - and for my wish to be granted. So when I think of Christmas I think of those elated weeks before Christmas in 2004 when my Christmas dream had come true.

Then flash to tonight as I said goodnight to Gabe, with tears in my eyes after telling him that finding out we were going to have HIM was the best Christmas gift I'd ever been given. He said, "No Mom - what was your favorite present UNDER THE TREE?!?" I explained to him that the best presents don't always come under the tree, or are even wrapped in paper and bows. He seemed a bit confused - but said, "Ok Mom".

Then I tucked him in and gave him a kiss. I walked out the door of his room and heard a whisper, "Wait Mom - come back." I kind of rolled my eyes - hoping that he wasn't going to stall for hours - I went over to the side of his bed and asked "yes Gabe?". He held his arms out wide and said in the most tender, sincere voice I've heard, "Mom - I will love you to infinity and beyond." He then gave me another special Christmas gift. Not one that is wrapped, or one that costs money - but an amazing hug and kiss. I was taken back to the moment when I first told Cory we would be parents - and all that love flodded my heart. Those tender mercies we are allowed are truly the precious gifts of the season.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gingerbread House FHE

In my effort to squeeze as much holiday fun out of this season as possible we decided to have friends over to make gingerbread houses for FHE tonight. We decided to just do the little kits they are selling in all of the stores.

In some ways that was nice - the gingerbread is all cut cute for you and it comes with a tray you can just stick the house into. It's also great because I didn't have to make that nasty Royal Icing or get out pastry bags - the frosting was all made and in these little tubes you used.

But in other ways I didn't love it.....I would have liked to have some different choices for the candies. They were fine....but there wasn't any chocolate! (Sheez!)

Overall it was fun though. Cory thought it was a contest to see whose house could be done first - which he thought involved frosting Hunter and my house for us (and sloppily I might add!). Gabe decided to tear off the roof of his house before we were even done (it's the photo in the center - after we repaired things.) And Hunter was content as long as we were shoving gumdrops in his mouth. It was fun to be with friends and a fun tradition we might keep doing.

Tomorrow night we don't have anything holiday planned (yet) - but we are having some friends kids over - so we might have to figure some fun Christmas-y thing to do for the evening.

Part of the reason I'm trying to suck as much holiday cheer out of this year is that it's a tougher Christmas for everyone financially. If I start thinking about that aspect of things I get sad and wish there was more I could do to help others. When I start thinking about presents and that aspect of the season - I get sad that I don't have much of a budget this year to buy the presents I'd like to for family and friends. Or if I start thinking of things I'd like for Christmas I find myself getting greedy and thinking about all I want instead of focusing on all of my blessings I have right in front of me. Instead of focusing so much on presents - both giving and getting - I am trying to focus on memories and time we spend together. When I ask my boys 15 years from now what they remember about Christmas I hope they will say that they remember doing things together as much as possible. I'd even be ok if they said, "Our crazy mom always made us do cheesy family stuff together". That would be just fine with me!

"I looked out the window.....

.....and what did I see? Yummy caramel popcorn smiling back at me."

I have been busy today working on making our neighbor gifts for this year. Most year I do something store-bought - a bottle of sparkling cider, pop/popcorn, an ornament, etc. But this year in an effort to save money and give a heart-felt gift - I thought I'd make homemade caramel popcorn instead of buying something. Oh goodness! The recipe I have been using (from my Mama Rhien) is DELICOUS. It's the crunchy cooked caramel corn - so if you like it a bit crunchy - this is perfect.

But - if you're making 35+ bags of it - it takes - FOREVER!

So I'm 1/2 way done - hopefully I can finish (or come close) tomorrow. I wanted to get our goodies out to the neighbors/friends before they are all goodied out. I want them to still get to enjoy it. (You know how there comes a point when you have had WAY too many sweets and can't stand the thought of another treat. I wanted to hit BEFORE that happens).

Here's the recipe - it's tasty!

Caramel Corn

  • 5 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Light Karo Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Pop popcorn and take out any of the duds (so you don't break a tooth). Mix butter, sugar, syrup and salt and cook until boiling. Boil for 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat evenly. Place in an oven-proof pan and bake at 250 degrees for one hour - stirring every 15 minutes. After one hour pour popcorn out onto wax paper, tin foil or cookie sheets until cool. Break apart and enjoy!

(My notes: I used more than 5 quarts of popcorn. It didnt' seem like 5 quarts was enough. I also doubled the recipe each time I made it and cooked the popcorn in my roasting pan - it worked great.)

Yummy Dinner

Tonight I made a tasty and easy dinner. Thought I'd share the recipe since I know we're all looking for tasty and easy recipes. I got the recipe from here.

Creamy Italian Chicken

Serve this flavorful crockpot chicken recipe over rice or noodles.

Cook Time: 6 hours


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 package (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (10 3/4 ozs.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (4 ozs.) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • Hot cooked rice or noodles


Place the chicken breast halves in a slow cooker. Combine salad dressing mix and water; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 hours. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together cream cheese and soup until blended. Stir in mushrooms. Pour cream cheese mixture over chicken. Cook 1 to 3 hours longer or until chicken juices run clear. Serve Italian chicken with rice or hot cooked noodles. Serves 4.


I've been meaning to keep an ongoing list of things we've done this holiday season - for our scrapbook (since I am prone to forget EVERYTHING lately - and this blog serves as my journal). So here it goes:

  • Relief Society Christmas Party - Friday December 5th: Cory and I were asked to be on a committee for our ward's annual Relief Society (big) Christmas dinner and somehow ended up in charge of the food. We didn't have to cook all the food - but coordinate it and make sure it was ready to serve Friday night. Talk about stress! We ended up with way less people than we had planned, and a TON of food leftover. It was good to be a part of, and helped me to appreciate those who have coordinated events like this in the past. It was a GREAT feeling to have it over with though.
  • Storybook Cavalcade Parade - Saturday December 6th: I posted a scrapbook page of this already, in the afternoon we attended the local Storybook Cavalcade Parade. It's one of our favorite parades that Cedar City puts on each year and the boys enjoyed themselves. Gabe was disappointed that they didn't throw out candy like they do in so many of the parades, but we did enjoy the nice weather and had fun with our friend's the Smith's.
  • Festival of Trees/Fantasy in Frost - Saturday December 6th: Later that evening we went into a festival that the city had (not sure of the name of it off the top of my head). It was like a festival of trees, a small craft boutique, and you could sit on Santa's lap and have your picture taken. Last year we got the cutest picture of the boys on Santa's lap so I was excited to do it again this year. Ha - not quite the case this year. I was really diappointed because when the lady taking the picture took it she looked in her camera and said, "Oh - how cute! That's one of the best shots I've gotten all night!" So I had high hopes. But when we picked up the picture...I wasn't impressed. Oh well - better luck next time huh? When we were visiting Santa we ran into our friends the Smiths and ended up staying to watch their little girl's dance performance. Gabe and Hunter both LOVED watching all the cute little girls dancing. Hunter kept cheering and even imitating some of the dance moves. Gabe sat still, watched intently and got upset when we were getting ready to leave. We ended up staying a bit longer than we had planned because the boys were having such a great time. My favorite comment was when the 3-4 year old girls got up to dance. They had these adoreable red and white polka dot dresses on and when they were going on stage Gabe yelled out, "Hey - we have that wrapping paper. Our wrapping paper matches those girls!" He was right - the dresses did look just like some of my favorite wrapping paper :). He also was quite concerned when one of the little girls was scared and left the stage before the performance. He said, "Wait - you can't start without that one! You need that one to dance with you!" It was so funny for me to see my two little BOYS want to watch little girls dance and enjoy it so much. Glad they had fun!
  • Driving around to look at lights - we took a trip out to look at the lights one night this week. We put on the Christmas music and drove around town. It was fun to see the boys looking for fun decorated houses. We passed one that was so cool - it was really well lit - but then there was a sign that had a radio station listed on it. You would tune to that radio station and the lights were syncronized with the music - it was quite the show! Gabe's favorite that night was a big Grinch inflatable decoration in someone's yard - he was pretty sad when we didn't see anymore of those.
  • Trip to St. George to the Tuachan - December 12th: I had really wanted to go to the Christmas concert that they put on every year at the Tuachan - but had to miss it because of our RS Christmas party. But the Tuachan has a nativity program that they run through December that I wanted to go to. So Friday night we loaded up the car and headed to St. George. First we stopped at In-N-Out burger for dinner. Then we headed to the St. George Temple to see their nativity display and walk around the visitor's center. Gabe loves the statue of the Christus and so we sat through that short presentation. I love watching my boys faces so enthralled with the large statue of the Savior. Then we headed out to the Tuachan. They did a nativity presentation with music, narration, live animals, actors - it was very touching and well put-together. I would like to make it a tradition as a family. Afterwards Gabe was pretty insistant that we ride the "train" that they had there and see Santa. Hunter still wasn't a huge fan of Santa, but Gabe did a better job this time. We tried talking a lot about how Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, and I think that Gabe got at least a little bit of that spirit. We ended the night with a trip for me into Target to get some of my last Christmas gifts for the boys and we headed home.
  • Toys-for-Tots: I have wanted to encourage the boys to give to others through the holidays. We have done it as a family in the past, but I want it to be something they cherish and enjoy. We had talked about how some kids don't get toys and presents for Christmas and that made Gabe really sad. So all week long he talked about how we were going to go to Walmart and "buy lots and lots and lots of presents for all of those kids - you know - the ones who don't have toys?" So we braved the Saturday Christmas-time crowds of Walmart and let the boys each pick out a toy to give to Toys-for-Tots. Gabe wanted to buy all the toys in the store (and I wish we could have afforded to) but after much deliberation we picked the toys out and let the boys put them in the collection bins. I thought Gabe would have a hard time giving the toys away when it came down to it (he picked something he would have liked to keep) - but he was so good about it.
  • Light Parade - December 13th: Another parade! But this one wasn't quite like we had hoped. A big snow storm had been working its way into the area and started dumping snow right before the parade was supposed to start. Gabe had been so excited about the parade that we decided to brave the weather and see if they were still having the parade. We sat in the car and watched what there was of the parade, and what we could see through the snow. There weren't many people participating, and it was chilly - but we had fun together. That's what it was about though huh - being together.
  • Creche Festival - December 14th: One of my favorite traditions we have is attending the local Creche Festival every year. One of the churches has musical performances, a children's nativity and a cultral hall full of nativity displays. There are nativities from all over the world and I love seeing the different ways that the Savior is depicted in these. There are children's play-nativities, beautiful glass nativities, wooden ones, plastic ones, fabric ones, paintings - a huge variety. It's a good reminder of the reason we celebrate the season and gave us another chance to talk about the Savior with the boys.
  • We have more things coming up this week - tonight we're making gingerbread houses with some friends for FHE, we have a breakfast with Santa for the boys, making and delivering neighbor gifts and a few more fun things planned.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

family pictures

I *LOVE* family pictures. I love capturing the love families have for each other. I love having pictures all together to document the passage of time. I love pictures with silly faces, happy faces, even toddlers who are fussy or frustrated. That being said - I seriously think I would have professional family pictures taken every month if I could afford it (and if Cory and the boys would humor me that often!). We had our family's pictures taken fairly recently (see this post) but when we were all together for Thanksgiving with the Ellis family we tried doing a large family picture. I haven't seen the results of that (and with the way the kiddos were all acting - I'm anxious to see it) - but here are some pictures of our family.

The photographer's name is Antonio Neyra and is a good friend of my sister-in-law Ashley's. He spent HOURS with all of the families and took some great pictures. Thanks Antonio!

(And when I got us all dressed in our brown again - the same as we used for our last pictures - I didn't realize that they were all such different shades of brown....I'm hoping to convert these to black and white, and hope that won't show up as much....)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some Holiday Cheer - From, Gabe


In a recent template grab bag I bought there were some 2 page layouts. I have never done these digitally before - so I thought I'd give it a try. Kind of fun....

Templates: Both are from the large December grab bags from Janet Phillips @ (the grab-bags won't be available forever- but if she offers the individual items later in her store they are called "Make That a Double 8" and "Make That a Double 7")


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fun kit from here.

Template from Janet Phillips. (It was in a past grab-bag and I don't see it on her site sold individually)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More digital scrapping stuff

Man - I spend way too much time browsing digital scrapping websites - wastes so much time I could be actually SCRAPBOOKING!

Anyway - thought I'd waste a little more time and share a few of the things I've found lately. Didn't necessarily buy them - but they're fun finds none the less. Now if I would just spend a little more time USING the things I find....I'd have millions of albums done (although that would involve actually having the pages I've done PRINTED....another little problem I have.)

  • SUPERSIZED GRAB BAG ~ December 2008 I love Janet Phillips grab bags she has each months. She has the greatest templates, and it's fun to get so many for such a low price! She has 2 different sizes of grab bags - big and small. I also love the year in review tempate, and her calendar templates - both of them.
  • More offers for "buy my whole store" - WOW! That is a ton of stuff available for a low price! Check them out at the top of the shoppe:
  • Calendar-PreviewI LOVE this calendar template! And guess what - it's free! This girl has tonz of really cute templates on her website - and they are all free. Check them out.
  • Another fun freebie template - I love this designer's (ChrissyW) stuff - it's really cute. She also has a grab bag for just $3.00 that I think I might have to pick up. Grab bags are a fun way to get a bunch of stuff for cheaper.
  • **Cookies 4 Kids** by Sweet Shoppe DesignsHere is a fun set of templates and proceeds go to charity!