Dec 31, 2016

Sharing Amanda's Wedding Day

We had a wonderful time this morning in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple watching our beautiful niece, Amanda, be sealed to her sweetheart. The Dog Walker, Drama Queen, my sweetie and I all managed to get up early and brave the inversion.

Later in the evening, we went back to Lehi for the reception. It was fun to reconnect with my sweetie's side of the family. So I have to tell you something I find pretty crazy! When we were in the receiving line, I asked Amanda where they were going on their honeymoon. It turns out that they will be on the exact same cruise as Princess and the Frog! Princess's in-laws gave them the cruise for a belated honeymoon because The Frog was unable to get away from work back in August.

Princess wasn't feeling well tonight, so when I called and told her, the first thing she said was, "Oh, that will be so much fun!" I sure miss her kind and loving nature in my daily life. So glad they will be spending the New Year's weekend with us before they leave town.

We don't have much planned to ring in the New Year. I love just staying home and hanging out with the family. We picked up Teach and Twiz from the airport tonight so they will be home too. Hopefully they won't be too tired to spend the evening with us.

Hopefully I won't be too tired to spend the evening with them...

Dec 30, 2016

Guest Blog: Another Belated Light Display by the Dog Walker

I'm sorry that it's after Christmas for me to tell you about our Christmas display for this year. Things have been going crazy around this time of year for me, especially when trying to go through the rest of fall semester and being employed at Walmart at the same time. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to handle going to school and being employed at the same time, but things slightly worked out amongst the family and me. Throughout some of the times, I just have a display-block, meaning I can't think of any other idea to hang lights or any other holiday attraction on our yard.

There were a lot of days when I had the day off from school and work, and that would lead me to an opportunity or two to just head out and work on the display before uploading it on our local news website. Unfortunately, a lot of times, I just get both too busy and distracted at the same time, especially when I'm just either receiving so much homework in one day, or if my employer was calling me and asking me to come work on that certain day. There was even some other times when instead of snow, we just ended up having rainy days and that it'd be too wet and cold to be out there to add more to the display.

There were even some times when I experience strands of lights from the past years that just stop working for me. It was really frustrating to try to find some lights that work all the way so that nobody could judge on a strand of lights that they might find either out-of-date, or just broken-for-a-token. However, I know that a lot of you know that I'm a hard worker and try to make things look as best as possible and that we're not always perfect on everything we do and it's not even easy to make things look or seem perfect to impress everybody, especially our neighbors during the holidays.

I even had to go to Walmart once again to buy a lot more tent pegs to stake down the rope lights around our lawn and I even staked some to our new parking strip. Mom and Dad are still always worried about me spending all of my money just buying stuff for this or even other things, like buying so many candy canes for our garland, when I should be saving the money for college tuition. Well now that the holidays are over, and we're looking forward to the new year, I'm still doing the best I can to save enough money for college tuition and that I'll be to, someday, have the career of a lifetime that would best suit my future and one of the best Christmastimes to come again. I hope you've all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)

Dec 29, 2016

A New Diary of a Wimpy Zombie Book

Back in October, this guy named MC Steve asked me if we would be willing to review his book, Diary of a Wimpy Zombie. It was a Halloween tale and my kids loved it! Then a couple of weeks ago, he emailed me again and asked if we wanted to review his third Diary of a Wimpy Zombie book. My kids were all over it and we managed to read the book quickly. I wrote the Amazon review, but I haven't had a chance to write one for my blogging friends.

Until today.

About the time we finished up the book, Curly got an assignment from school to write a letter to an author that he could share with the class. If he got a response back from the author, he got extra credit. We decided it would be fun to contact MC Steve.

Curly wrote him a sweet (and short!) email:

Dear MC Steve,

First of all, thanks for the new Diary of a Wimpy Zombie Christmas book. We started it on Sunday. You are a really good author.

For school I could write a letter to an author for a writing project and I chose you. Can you send me an email back? I will share it with my whole 3rd grade class.

PS. I kind of want to read the first book.

Less than 24 hours later, Curly received a response from MC Steve:

I'm really happy to hear from you. It really is amazing to know that you enjoy my stories! I wasn't so confident in publishing my books at first, but I gave it a shot and am really happy with the results! I hope to continue the series of Wimpy Zombie, so if there's any specific character you want to see more of, let me know and I'll think about it. :)

Also, what did you like about Book 3? I appreciate all kinds of feedback, positive or negative. Thank you!


A couple of days later a package arrived in the mail. It was addressed to me and I just assumed it was a Christmas gift. Instead I pulled out a copy of the first Diary of a Wimpy Zombie book! Curly was so excited! Not only does Steve write great stories, but he is a genuinely nice guy.

Thanks, Steve. :)

Dec 28, 2016

Visiting SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium with Utah's Adventure Family

I don't know how many of you know this, but my little brother and his family are the Utah's Adventure Family blog. Since we are both bloggers, sometimes we get identical offers to do fun things like the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium they just opened up in Layton.

On December 23rd, we met up with them so we could share an adventure together. This new aquarium is in the Layton Hills Mall, but we weren't exactly sure where to look for it. We finally discovered a sign on the building, but when we went in we found ourselves in middle of the food court. I asked one of the workers and he told me that the aquarium was under our feet and if we just took the escalator to the bottom floor, we would find it.

We got in line to redeem our annual passes and that is when Utah's Adventure Family joined up with us. We were given the passes free, with a commitment of 3 visits/reviews over the next year, but I don't think my kids will find that too painful since they really enjoyed the fun.

One thing I need to tell you upfront is to make sure you buy some tokens. They were priced on a sliding scale, so the more you got, the cheaper they became, but they were roughly $2. In the very first room, the kids wanted to feed the lizards and iguana, so they gave up a single token for some lettuce. The animals were literally eating out of their hands!

My little brother's family are truly "bird nerds," so they waited in a super long line to enter the bird cage so they could feed and play with several different kinds of birds. My kids were more interested in feeding the trout. Drama Queen started out by tossing in a few pieces and pretty soon we had every fish in the tank fighting for a morsel. The food floated on the water and they would jump to grab it. Their tails flipped water up (and sometimes out!) every time they surfaced.

The next area was the mermaid tank. Prima Donna has a friend who works there and she just happened to be the one on display when we got there. She was so good to the kids that my 6-year-old was convinced that most of the time she was a mermaid, but sometimes she would get her human legs so she could attend classes at Weber State with Prima Donna.

After the mermaids, we crossed over to an area with huge signs that read "Fish Spa." I was intrigued until I saw several women with their feet in large tanks and fish about an inch long attached to them in various places. They assured me it didn't hurt; only tickled. I watched for a few moments until the kids started daring me to try it.

You know I am not one to back away from that sort of challenge, so I plunked down my 6 tokens and climbed into the seat. After removing my shoes and socks, I plunged my feet into the chilly water. It wasn't long before the fish surrounded my toes and ankles and began to suck on the dead skin.

Honestly, it just tickled, and by the time my 15 minutes were up, I'm pretty sure my feet were a tiny bit softer. Either way, I got to be "cool" for the kids.

The shark tank was last, but it wasn't nearly as exciting as the tornado booth. Dog Walker stuffed most of the kids in there, paid his $2 and blocked the door so they couldn't escape. The wind tunnel got up to 78 mph and Scout's hair was flying everywhere.

Little brother's family took their turn in the booth and then they bought food to feed the sharks. We decided it was a good time to leave since the snow had started falling, so we loaded the kids in the van and headed for home. The kids are pretty excited to visit again soon.

I wonder what plans Utah's Adventure Family has for next week...

Dec 26, 2016

Merry Christmas!

What a fun and happy Christmas! I hope yours was as amazing and generous as ours was. The kids were up late on Christmas Eve, so we were thrilled when they slept in until about 8:00. As usual, the gifts piled high and deep. Most of my kids are still in the habit of giving a separate gift to each sibling, so do the math...

We missed our recently marrieds, but know they were having exciting Christmas mornings of their own. They would all join us later after church to devour my sweetie's delicious prime rib dinner.

Baby Doll was thrilled with her new bike and Curly got a big remote-controlled truck. Scout got a huge Barbie set and Sport was sort of excited about his ski lessons and snow gear. (I think he's a little nervous too.) Crafty got clothes and 2 pairs of pointe shoes. Prima Donna loved her tap shoes and new printer and the Dog Walker got clothes and a Fitbit. All the others got expensive Tupperware stuff they would never buy for themselves, but love receiving.

The kids played games and hung out together most of the day. Our marrieds showed up a family at a time and we shared gifts and treats. After dinner was over and cleaned up, we took family pics in our blogs shirts (they are currently trapped in my sweetie's camera, but I will share them later this week).

We packed up Prima Donna since she was thinking she might have to work today and we stowed all of Teach and Twiz's luggage before dropping them off at the airport for their trip to New Jersey. Then we drove the rest of the way to Ogden for Prima Donna. The roads were slick and icy and we dodged the ground fog. Utah got about 10" of snow along the Wasatch Front, so we had a beautiful white Christmas but driving in it was a bit dicey.

My sweetie is out sledding with the little kids now and everyone else has gravitated to their own homes. Even Drama Queen is gone since she is staying at Teach and Twiz's place to take care of their little pup. The Dog Walker is getting ready for work, and Grandpa is taking off soon to visit other relatives.

Isn't it funny how life is like that? Yesterday we had 25 people here for dinner, laughter, and the holiday. Today it is just me. Forgive me for waxing melancholy, but please hold onto those memories and those precious moments. There is nothing more important than family.

From mine to yours,

Merry Christmas.

Dec 25, 2016

And to All... A Good Night

It's been a beautiful, happy and fun month of December leading up to Christmas Eve. We spent most of today at home as is our tradition with only a couple of quick trips to the grocery store for things we forgot for Christmas dinner tomorrow and a few more deliveries to friends and neighbors.

Opening gifts together on Christmas Eve
Teach and Twiz came over for a while and played games with the kids. Then later Bossy and Gamer and their family showed up to open gifts and play games. Now they are watching Polar Express after we shared the Christmas Story from Luke 2 and sang carols together.

Drama Queen gave Baby Doll wings for Christmas!
My sweetie and I spent a good portion of last night and today wrapping gifts, so I'm thinking it's time for a quick shower and then sleep. I hope you get a chance to get a little rest tonight.

My Christmas wish is that we all remember that our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born over 2000 years ago to save the Earth. May we all try to be like Him; humble, meek, loving, and charitable, not just at Christmastime, but all year round.

We love you and appreciate you, our readers. Thank you for sharing our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Dec 24, 2016

Twelve Makes A Dozen presents The Nutcracker

We love family traditions! I have struggled with finding a path that works for our family now that more are getting married and establishing homes of their own. Then something happened this year that seems totally unrelated... our ballet company didn't perform The Nutcracker.

Baby Doll as Clara and Curly as the Nutcracker Prince
So right after the dance recital, my kids were sitting around remembering how much they all missed The Nutcracker and they decided they wanted to have their own. My sweetie and I thought they were kidding at first, until Drama Queen pinned down a date and asked me to try to get time in the church so we could use the stage.

Bossy's Family in the Fight Scene as Curly defeats the Mouse King (Burrito)
Her first choice was Christmas Adam, but the church was already booked and the kids wanted a real stage. That's when we discovered that the 22nd would work just fine. As her ideas grew and morphed, so did ours. We decided this was the perfect opportunity to make this a new tradition as our own family Christmas party.

Watching others perform

My sweetie ordered pizza and we set up tables in front of the stage. Baby Doll was assigned to be Clara and Curly was the Nutcracker. They did a fabulous job! Each dance was mostly unrehearsed (except for those super over-achievers... you know who you are...;). My sweetie and I were Clara's parents and we got to be in charge of the party scene.

Princess and The Frog doing Spanish
Sport was Drosselmeyer, Grandpa was the narrator, and Burrito was the Mouse King. Drama Queen even made programs for us! I loved all of the dances, but one of my very favorites was The Beast as Madame Ginger with Beauty being the Buffoon who came out from underneath his skirt.

Prima Donna as Arabian
Beauty and The Beast as the Buffoon and Madame Ginger
Teach and Twiz as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier
Honestly, it was all so fun!

After our show was over and everyone took their bows, we cleaned up dinner and had a shoot out for gifts selected by my sweetie. I want you to know that Grandpa, Twiz, and Scout were the 3 winners of the free throw contest.

The final bow

We played dodgeball, basketball, and opened gifts that included pajama pants from Beauty and The Beast and new blog shirts from Princess and The Frog. I'm thinking in the future we can have all of the individual families give their gifts at this party so that their families can spend Christmas at their own homes with their own kids and not have to worry about offending Mom and Dad.

Playing a little basketball after cleaning up.
Of course, they will likely all want to show up on Christmas Day anyway since Prime Rib is one of my sweetie's favorite Christmas traditions.

I still have so much wrapping and prepping to do. Are you all ready for Christmas?

Dec 23, 2016

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

We had a super busy day, but I promised to tell you about Curly's class party and since it was pretty traumatic, we can talk about the family Christmas party tomorrow.

I have been super excited to help with Curly's party because my friend that made the Christmas trees for us also cut and sanded blocks of wood for me that the kids could assemble into snowmen. Curly spent hours painting, cutting, and prepping so that he could use that part as his service project for school.

We got home late last night after visiting family, so I just loaded everything into the box so we could be ready to go. The craft was a huge hit! The kids mostly loved working with the hot glue and everything was running smoothly until one of my mom helpers mentioned that it looked like we might not have enough wood for everyone.

I assured her that we were fine. I had ordered 27 sets, so we should be perfect. A few minutes later she confirmed that we were indeed missing 9 center blocks. I panicked and quickly called the house. Of course no one answered, so I hustled to my car and ran home in an attempt to fix my problem.

After totally trashing my room (and several others) without any success, I had Drama Queen take me back to the school. We had the rest of the kids make their snowmen with only 2 blocks rather than 3. They were just as cute, but I felt awful.

I still can't find the blocks. I guess when I do we will use them to build a snow fort since they are all the same size...

Dec 22, 2016

Santa's Chocolate Sleigh

I've gotten myself awfully stressed out about these two class parties I have been helping with. I made sure I didn't sign up to be a Head Room Mom this year, but that doesn't keep me from the classroom. Today I helped with Baby Doll's Christmas party. I was in charge of a craft, so I got on Pinterest and looked at candy trains like the lady in charge suggested, then I promptly changed to something else.

The Santa sleighs we made were so cute! We started with a Hershey bar and glued two big candy canes on the bottom for runners. Then we added 5 chocolate nuggets because they looked like gifts to the back. One of my assistants glued string into the hands of each chocolate Santa. Then we tied the twine to the packages and glued on Santa and we were finished.

Everyone thought they were great and honestly, they just weren't that hard, not like the project I designed for Curly's class tomorrow. It's made of wood and fabric and buttons...

I'll show you pictures tomorrow after the party is over. If I survive, that is.

Dec 21, 2016

Huge Family Christmas Party

I've been AWOL for a couple of days, but my sweetie and the Dog Walker were nice enough to take care of me. I wanted to tell you about our big family Christmas party we had on Sunday. Every year we have my brothers and sisters and their families over for dinner and Santa and a fun activity.

This year my sweetie prepared BBQ ribs and homemade rolls. I did the acquiring of food, not the actual cooking. Everyone brought a salad and we served dinner to more than 50 of us. After that Grandpa gave a speech and then we settled into our craft project.

I thought long and hard on this project. I wanted to make a family tree that would help all of us to remember names and get to know the cousins as they grow and change. The same cute girl who prepared our boards for the girl scout party put together the trees for me. They are about 3 ft tall with a gold star on top.

For the last couple of weeks I have been collecting pictures of all of the families. Then I bought plastic keychain frames and little gold hooks and we hung everyone on the family tree. Actually it was multiple family trees because we had one made for each household (if you were counting, that was 15 trees). They have the pictures on the front and the names of each person on the back.

They turned out even better than I had hoped and everyone was super excited about keeping them updated every year. After that, Santa came by to visit and he brought gifts to all the kids under 18. They loved the 3D holiday glasses that turn lights into reindeer, snowflakes and a whole range of Christmas pictures.

After eggnog shakes and exchanging of gifts, the families drifted off to their homes. I always love having everyone together, especially on holidays. There's just something about hanging out with the people we love...

Dec 20, 2016

Guest Blog: Scrape-A-Round Review by Sweetie

I was super excited when my wife first showed me the Scrape-A-Rounds. They looked like they would probably work well, and we were the perfect reviewers. You might say we have a lot of cars. Each night there are 3 cars, two trucks an SUV and a large passenger van parked on our driveway. At least 5 of these go out and about each day. How many vehicles are in the three-car garage?  None... unless you count bikes, trikes, skateboards, scooters and power wheels...then it's well over 25, but sadly not a single licensed vehicle gets to sleep out of the reach of Jack Frost.   

I won't say I was sad or disappointed when day after day I went out and no frost, but I was anxious to try this new product. I grew up not spending money on ice scrapers. My father was in construction including electrical and we always just used a spare light switch cover. It worked, but my hands got all frosty. Later, out of desperation, I once took the sippy lid off a kids Tupperware cup and used it to clear the windshield.   It worked so well, that’s all I used for years. The Scrape-A-Round reminded me of using the tumbler, only bigger and easier to grasp. 
The first test turned out to be a hard one. It was not just frost, but a skiff of snow followed by a bit of freezing rain. Would the Scrape-A-Round handle it? I started on my wife's SUV and then onto my precious G8. The snow and ice came right off.  (I should mention that I had applied Rain-X a few weeks ago which always makes frost removal easier.)  It worked so well I had to take a closer look. 

One of the reasons it works is because applied pressure is a much easier proposition.. no handle .. no awkward angle.. just down. Another thing I like is that there is actually an edge the looks like a little snow plow... It really worked well. Plus I loved that it took so little room in the car and wasn’t likely to put a hole in my upholstery. 
The only real downside I could see was the lack of a handle made it a bit less useful on a tall truck or van. Overall I would say this is a great scraper for a car or smaller SUV. It might be OK for a truck, big van, or large SUV... if you're 6 4 or taller and have long arms.

*** We were given a free 3-pack of scrape-a-rounds for our honest review.***

Dec 19, 2016

Guest Blog: 12 Siblings of Christmas by the Dog Walker

My mother asked me to write a post for her, because she was super tired after all that stress of getting ready for our traditional and yearly family Christmas party. Throughout the fall semester of college, I enjoyed two classes that helped me gain some skills. You may haven't known that I figured out how to make a slideshow or if you're a digital media expert about it, you would probably already know. Anyway, right after the semester ended for a little while, I made this video of all of my hard work of PhotoShop and figuring out how to make digitally shown on the media.I made this video that inspires both our blog and family. I call it 12 siblings of Christmas. They are shown of each sibling in the order they were given birth to our mother. I hope you enjoy it and Merry Christmas!

Dec 18, 2016

Running, Running, Running...

When I was a kid, I used to love Saturdays. It meant we could have pretty much the whole day to do whatever we wanted to do. My sweetie says he had to work all day on Saturdays. It's been difficult for us to mesh those two activities, but we try our best.

This morning was my kind of day. Baby Doll's basketball game was at 8:00 AM with pictures scheduled right after that. We had just long enough to eat breakfast at the ward party, regroup, and run off to Scout's game. They lost in a heart-breaker by 2 points in the last 30 seconds of the game.  Then it was pictures for her team.

By the time we finished 4 basketball games and the ward party, it was just past noon. The girls had ballet rehearsal, so I ran to the store to pick up the ribs we are having at our family Christmas party tomorrow. It the meantime, my sweetie and the Drama Queen got the kids working and helping be Christmas elves so I could take a short nap after I made two trips to the Home Depot to bring home almost everything my sweetie needs to finish the downstairs bathroom for Grandpa next week. Curly was my helper and he only dropped one box of tile as we were loading the truck, so that's not too bad.

We finished the evening with a wedding reception for a close neighbor out in Saratoga Springs and another trip to the store to get everything I forgot. The party is at 5:00 tomorrow and I'm not sure how we are going to pull everything together by then, but somehow we always seem to manage.

Anybody have the phone number for those Christmas elves?