Monday, February 23, 2015

Shelob's Victims

So Nathan's penguin friends went missing mysteriously tonight. Daron just found them behind the curtains looking rather mummified in Esther's slipper socks. I don't know about you but to me they look like they were attacked by Shelob, the giant spider in Lord of the Rings. It really made me chuckle.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Laundry Room Improvements

The cabinets and shelves are in! We only had one solid shelf over each unit and a large five shelf free standing unit in there holding everything that would go in a linen closet plus extra toiletries, detergent, etc. I managed to get most all of it into the cabinets. The rest I either got rid of or found a new home elsewhere. 

Daron installed the cabinets on Saturday and the handy wire shelves tonight. That's where my frequently used things go. 

We debated putting a couple of shelves on the back wall but may end up getting another free standing unit made of sturdy metal to put the last items on plus food storage. The food storage idea just came to me today. We've been wondering where to put more for awhile. And now that we finally have a full supply of water (and with tornado season fast approaching), I feel more motivated to fill out our food storage. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

New Tradition

We started a new tradition this year to break in my new fondue pot. Fondue for Valentine's Day dinner!! And chocolate fondue for dessert. 

The only downside was that Esther couldn't eat much. She was diagnosed with strep this morning. Thanks to Nathan who is still on antibiotics for it. Ugh. 
Even Nathan, our non cheese eater, actually got into it! 
It was a mix of Gruyere and Swiss. The pot worked very nicely and kept it warm and smooth. We served chicken sausage, apple slices, small potatoes, broccoli, and bread.
Esther and Nathan got Studio C t-shirts for their gift. 
Jacob got a Thomas shirt. That made him very happy!
Esther insisted on buying a present for her Daddy while we were picking up her prescription this morning. Max is pretty cute. 
Jacob adored the chocolate fondue! What a goofy kid. 
Chocolate was making her feel a bit better!

Valentine's Gift

Daron's very romantic Valentine's gift to me is cabinets in the laundry room. There has been so much wasted space up by the celing. Granted, I will need a tall stool to get to the top shelves but it's mostly storage stuff - extra shampoo, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, sheets, etc. 

They never built a linen closet in this house so we've had to make do. One of the cabinets will be a mini linen closet. 

I'll post a picture when it's all done!


While Daron was out tonight, the big kids and I read scriptures alone tonight thinking Jacob was asleep. As we knelt for prayer, he came flying out of his room bawling. It took a few moments to figure out that he was really upset that we read scriptures without him. 

He went so far as to pull the scriptures all back out again and wouldn't budge until we had read again! What a kid!

Friday, January 9, 2015

And Now...The Rest of the Story

I forgot to write about Monday during the day. It had snowed quite a bit on Sunday evening so the roads were quite slick and slushy in the morning. However, I drove to a chiropractor in downtown Provo as my sciatic was already really starting to hurt (it always hurts during pregnancy). I was quite proud of myself for driving so safely on the slushy roads.

After the chiropractor visit we met up with cousin Diana and her roommate at Wild Ginger for a Chinese lunch and to catch up. I kept up with her during her mission in Taiwan and we've been writing occasionally since she got back. It's been such a blessing to finally get to know at least one of my cousins a little better!

On Monday evening we headed over to the Brick Oven restaurant right next to BYU's campus to eat dinner before the BYU men's basketball game. It had been years since we'd been there. Perhaps graduation was the last time we'd been? What we didn't realize is that nearly the entire community had decided on the same plan!

We had a long wait and we had a seat next to the front door. Which made for chilly waiting as the door kept getting opened and closed. But it was worth it - for right after 6pm Cosmo, the BYU mascot walked in as he usually does at Brick Oven right before men's basketball games and football games. Esther and Nathan were so excited. Jacob was kind of freaked out.

After Cosmo made his way on through the crowd, Jacob suddenly changed his mind and wanted to give Cosmo a high five. He sat on Daron's lap the rest of the wait with his hand up in the air waiting for Cosmo to come back.

Once we were seated, Daron spotted Cosmo again and he and I took Jacob over for a high five.


Now he was a happy boy!

Off to the game! We arrived right before half time, but I don't think the kids would have lasted the whole game anyway. But they did really enjoy it. Jacob had zero interest in the game except where Cosmo was located the whole time.

Tuesday afternoon found us at the Creamery on Ninth. Again, it was super crowded. By then we realized that there were probably hundreds of families like us in Provo for the holidays - alumni visiting family and wanting to spend time back at BYU. So we waited forever for a table. But the grill food was yummy and again, the kids really enjoyed being part of the BYU community.

Esther would not let her new cougar out of her sight!

Jacob was starting on a cold so we spent that evening relaxing at Daron's parents' house watching movies. These boys are so sweet together.

Wednesday afternoon we were running errands and ran into a familiar face at the Target in Orem. If any of you have seen BYU TV's Studio C, you might recognize James Perry. We may or may not have ran after him and his wife and Esther may or may not have kept shouting James! really loudly until she got his attention. I was a little embarrassed but the kids had kept talking about running into someone from Studio C. He was nice enough to chat with us for a moment and take a picture. I could tell he needed to be somewhere so we kept it brief.

We made a discovery on New Year's Eve. If you want to eat out, you should make a reservation. We did some shopping on our way up to Salt Lake and found busy restaurants all over. So we decided to walk around Temple Square first then find somewhere to eat.

It was so pretty and so cold. If I remember correctly, it was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The kids were freezing. Once we were done we started to look for a place to eat. Turns out there isn't much right by Temple Square. We called the two restaurants on top of the Joseph Smith Building only to find they were booked solid.

Then we walked several blocks around City Creek mall only to find the Italian place was an hour wait and The Cheesecake Factory across the way was at least 90 minutes. It was about 7:30 and the kids were cold and hungry. So Daron walked back to the car and brought it around while we waited in the warm restaurant.

We drove back to the Sandy area calling restaurants along the way - each of them telling us of an hour wait. In desperation we pulled into an IHOP and had zero wait. Yeah... who wants to eat at IHOP on New Year's Eve? Our children did! So we had dinner at 8:30 pm with three tired children. We just tried to make the best of it though Daron and I were feeling pretty frustrated by then.

With the news of Tiffany's passing on New Year's Day, we decided to leave that day to try to make it to Houston by Sunday morning. Esther, Nathan, and Jacob watched Wild Kratts on Netflix for hours while Daron and I did laundry, took turns running errands, packed, cleaned, etc. We finally left at 5 pm - destination Moab.

We got to Moab rather late but safely and stayed at a nice Marriott hotel. Friday's destination was Clovis, New Mexico. Unfortunately, we neglected to check the weather, which we'd been doing faithfully up until this point. We didn't think there could be that much snow at the border of New Mexico and Texas. Boy, were we wrong.

Most of the drive through New Mexico was foggy - pretty disappointing as that area has such cool terrain! (Notice Star Wars fighter ships zooming around as the background sound.)

About 80-90 miles outside of Clovis we took a smaller highway that led from the main highway straight down to Clovis. That's where we hit some flurries. Which kept getting bigger and kept coming down. We were driving nearly blind through farmland and miles at a time could not see homes or towns or other cars. The snow got to be about 4-5 inches in about an hour. We didn't need to use our snow chains, but there were a couple of inclines that we weren't positive we'd make it up.

This isn't a great picture but you kind of get the idea of the road. It was like one of those old star screensavers or like making the jump into hyper space. Pretty mesmerizing and scary. I'm so glad Daron drove! Pulling into our hotel in Clovis was glorious.

On Saturday we drove and drove and drove and drove (and I was sick as a dog - achy and tired and sneezing and headache). The snow had reached all the way past Lubbock and the roads had not been plowed. Where the snow was packed, it was ok driving but where it was slushy was still slick. We slid around quite a bit while driving right next to a semi truck. That made me really nervous!

We arrived in Katy, Texas late on Saturday night only to have to get up to make it to church at 8:30 am. Daron's brother spoke in church bearing his testimony of the gospel. He also shared with the congregation the testimony that Tiffany had borne to the families after the wedding. It was an emotional time made even more difficult because I couldn't breathe with my cold. We stayed for lunch with two of Daron's brothers and his parents. We had such a nice talk with Damon. He shared some wonderful experiences that he and Tiffany had the last several months and it really helped me to start having more peace about her passing.

We finally arrived back home about bedtime on Sunday evening. We were completely exhausted and the kids were so glad to be home. They ran around the house as if they'd never seen it before. Luckily the kids didn't start school again until Tuesday so we had a day to get a little sleep, do a tiny bit of unpacking, and visit the doctor.

It was a crazy, fun, sad, amazing, tiring, relaxing trip. We made lots of memories and mostly enjoyed being together - something that we don't always get to do!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

More Christmas Vacation Fun!

I'm slowly catching up on our vacation! On the Tuesday we were at the cabin, it was extremely cold outside and Esther and Nathan were not very happy with the time we spent outdoors. Esther was getting over the flu still and it was pretty cold. However, I enjoyed it immensely. There is something magical about a cold sunny day with the world blanketed in snow. I have missed real winters so much - the trip was so full of snow and the Christmasy winter weather I love!

 Our driver reminded me a little bit of the actor who played Matthew in the Anne of Green Gables movies.
Later that day we went on the Polar Express! It was pretty well done. If I had been in charge, I would have had more excitement and made the "North Pole" much better. But the kids really enjoyed every minute of it - from the hot chocolate to the cookies to the reading of the book to the visit from Santa Claus!
They even had the ghost/tramp guy from the movie. He was hanging out before the train approached and spoke with the kids. 

Christmas morning was very simple. Santa brought the kids one present each and a few stocking stuffers. Daron and I didn't buy each other anything. After all, the whole vacation was our big gift!
 Esther was just a little excited by Grandpa and Grandma Brown's gift! Look at her crazy hair!
Santa Claus decided all the kids would like Legos. Wow - they have had a blast with them! 
 Jacob adores How to Train Your Dragon!
Nathan and Daron started this together and Daron ended up finishing it while Nathan was waiting impatiently to play with it.
Christmas dinner was very simple but very delicious!

We said goodbye to the cabin the day after Christmas and drove to Utah. We ended up taking 70/50 west over to highway 15 rather than chance Spanish Fork Canyon. As it was, the drive through the Fishlake National Forest ended up being really snowy and a bit scary. There was a lot of snow when we arrived in Provo and it snowed even more a couple days later!
Saturday was the wedding day! Damon Jr. married Macall Bowden in the Oquirh Mountain Temple. It was a freezing cold day but the spirit was strong. 

Nearly the entire Janis family and all of Tiffany's family were in attendance on the side of the groom. For those who have not heard, Tiffany (Damon's mother) was dying of cancer. She was weak and emaciated but determined to be there. Damon Sr (Daron's brother) chartered a jet for the day and they were able to make it. It was such a bittersweet day. The sealing was beautiful - many tears were shed - as we watched Damon and Macall make covenants that would bind them together forever. All at the same time knowing that it would most likely be the last time we would see Tiffany in this life. However, it was wonderful to know that because of the same covenants Damon Jr. was making, we would see Tiffany again. We were all bound together by the same Priesthood power.  
Jacob was getting good at keeping his hands in his pockets to warm them from the cold. Unfortunately when he did this in the parking lot on Sunday, he did a face plant on the ice! 
I love this picture and will treasure it forever. It shows the absolute bliss that Tiffany felt that day being able to attend her son's wedding. She spoke to each of the families and bore her testimony to us all. Then we all gave her a hug.

They flew home that afternoon. Damon said the next day she was nearly unable to communicate. The timing was that close. I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for giving her the time to be there. She passed away quietly at home just after the New Year.

On Sunday after church, we visited with Grandma Weight. Lyle and Nola were staying with her. And Becky and her kids came over for awhile as well. By the time we left it was snowing quite hard and it was beautiful!

Visiting with Grandma Weight on Sunday. We really need to teach Nathan to unbutton the top button on occasion and perhaps not cinch his pants up quite so tight!

The rest of the trip coming soon!!