In Honor of Our Pioneer Ancestors...

...our church has an annual Pioneer Day celebration that includes a children's parade, pioneer activities, a cook-off and some entertainment. For all my non-Mormon friends: Pioneer Day is a Utah State Holiday celebrated July 24th in honor of the Saints entering the Salt Lake Valley and Brigham Young declaring "This is the Place!" We joined in the fun for the 3rd year in a row and had a great time visiting with our friends and neighbors. It was soooo hot so the Root Beer Floats were my favorite part! Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make such a fun event for us all!

Abby and her Sunday School teacher carrying the banner for her class.

Max carrying the banner for their Scout Troop.

Abby obviously loved the wheelbarrow race! (Thanks Brother Hunter)

Afton obviously did not. She screamed from start to finish. (But thanks to Max for trying- it ended up being the first and last activity for Afton!)

Just because she looks so cute. 
(Do like my lame attempt at a Pioneer costume? It's the best I could come up with. Max and Abby's turned out pretty cute, though, even without Abby's adorable bonnet that, of course, we couldn't find. Chris and I did not dress up... we're party poopers.)


Webelos Overnighter

Last weekend the Cub Scout Webelos Den had their overnighter. Chris and I were sort of in charge (he's the Cub Master and I'm the Cub Committee Chair) so it was a little stressful but ended up going really well. I think the boys had a good time... I know Max did. All 5 Webelos Scouts were able to be there and their den leader, Brother Rea, provided great activities for the boys and their dads. We didn't take too many pictures, but here's a few.

Max enjoying his yummy dutch oven dinner.
Steven and his Dad.
Their fearless leader.
Showing their fire-starting skills... 3rd year Cub Scouts... 
they should be able to do it, right?
 Sweet Success!!
The perfect fire for some after dinner S'mores!

Fishing= Family Night Fun!

"It's not about what you catch- 
they say the fishing is far more important than the fish."
- Anonymous

A couple weeks ago (man, I'm behind on my blog!) we went fishing up American Fork Canyon for Family Night with my Dad. He loves to fish... I think it is probably his all time favorite activity. He especially loves it when his grandkids are involved and he can teach them all he knows. We had quite the crowd, too: My dad and step-mom, little sis' Aubrey, Sister-in-law, Melody and her 2 little munchkins, and my entire crew... including Cassidy and the dog! Awesome company for the night. We all had a great time, it was a beautiful evening, and everyone who wanted to catch something did! We even BBQ'd our fish for dinner the next night. We can't wait to do it again and are glad my dad invited us to come along.

I know I said no more slideshows for a while, but there were too many cute pictures... I didn't have a choice! Enjoy.


Lucky Me?

Chris left this morning for 4 days WITH Max and Abby. They are on a kid friendly backpacking trip in the Windriver Mountain range in Wyoming. That's right, it's just me and little Afton. I have been looking forward to this for quite some time... thinking of all the projects I would be able to accomplish and how clean my house would stay with no one to mess it up. So, how strange is it that it's just a little after noon on Monday, I haven't really accomplished anything, and I am missing them terribly. Not only are they gone, but they are out of cell range, leaving me to worry about if they are safe and happy and getting along with each other (Are the kids packs too heavy? Are they getting enough to eat? Has Abby wandered off, as she is prone to do? Is Max staying positive? Is Abby's hair getting brushed? Are they getting enough water? Is Chris feeling stressed? My list of worries goes on and on!). I'm sure this will pass and I'll end up getting a lot done... eventually... but right now I just miss my sweet husband and kids and hope they are having a great time!


Ma! He's makin' eyes at me...

Meet Austin.
His family lives in our neighborhood and we go to the same church. Austin is just a couple months older than Afton, although it looks like more because she is so teeny... and the whole hair thing. How unfair is it that he has that beautiful head of blond curls and she is still mostly bald! Since they were born his mom and I have often joked that some day we will have to urge them in each other's direction. Well, we may not have to wait that long... and it may not take much urging.

Here's how it all went down...
We noticed that Austin was inching his way closer and closer to Afton. He actually started about 10 feet away, but I wasn't quick enough with the camera. Afton actually inched away a couple of times and gave him a few sideways glances (playing hard to get, I suppose), but eventually allowed him to get closer...
and closer...
until they were right next to each other. 
Will noticed cute little Afton and decided to try his chances with her. Austin quickly took care of him with a little shove...
Just enough to knock him off balance... rattle his nerves a bit.
Will decided it wasn't worth the fight and threw in the towel... which made Austin very happy.
So, after some pleasant conversation...
some whispered "sweet nothings"...
a tender little kiss...
and some affectionate touching... Afton was obviously hooked... 
And she followed him off into the sunset (and the playground). Can you blame her? Austin is a pretty cute kid! Austin's mom and I are anxious to see how this story unfolds... more to come?

(P.S. That's chocolate cookie smeared all ever his face. I guess it made him even more irresistable... what girl doesn't love chocolate?)

Webelos Scout

Max has officially earned his Webelos Badge and is on track to earn his Arrow of Light (the highest award a Cub Scout can earn) by next month's Pack Meeting... just in time to move into the Boy Scouting program when he turns 11 in October. He has worked really hard and we are really proud of all he has accomplished in the scouting program the last few years. Here Max is pinning my mother's pin on. 
The rest of the Pack Meeting consisted of a visit from our local Fire Department. It was very educational and the boys and their families seemed to really enjoy it. 
You can't see it, but they pulled out the jaws of life for everyone to see. The boys though that was pretty cool. They brought a fire truck, an ambulance, the Chief, and 3 firemen. 
Covering their ears because the sirens were so loud.
Showing the kids what they look like all decked out in their gear. 

We are grateful for the guys that came to talk to us and for the presentation they gave. I've been to 3 or 4 similar things and I thought this one was definitely the most informative.  

Abby "The Tool Girl" Higbee

How cute is she!! One of our favorite things about summer is day camps at Thanksgiving Point. Max and Abby each go once a week (different days... which gives me 2 full days with almost no sibling conflict... makes it worth every penny!) and they are really cool. Each week has a different theme and they are really elaborate, well thought out and educational. And the camp counselors are awesome, my kids adore them. This is our third summer participating and my kids really look forward to it and always come home excited about what they did that day.

Last Thursday, Abby came home even more excited than usual. The theme had been "Tool Time" and they spent the day building: sawing, drilling, hammers, nails, etc. I actually thought this was one she wouldn't really get into so I was thrilled that she had such a good time. She made a memory box from scratch, learned how to stain wood, used a power saw BY HERSELF, and tons more... I'm actually surprised how much they did. She loved telling me how to do everything and was quite pleased with herself. She even got this cute apron and goggles to keep and earned an award for being the "Best Builder" (I'm not sure if that is something everyone got, but she was really excited about it!) This is the only time either of my kids have wanted pictures of their day camp experience and, of course, I was happy to do so... and now all of you get to enjoy my little Tool Girl!


3 Years

This week is officially 3 years since we moved into our house. We have loved living here and have had awesome experiences and opportunities and have met a lot of great people. It has truly become "Our Home". When we moved here we figured it would be a transitional kind of place and eventually we would move to something bigger, nicer, whatever... but now we are always saying that we could stay here forever, lay down some roots, and just be happy. We love to do little projects and have ideas that can keep us busy for the next 5 years or so. Perhaps I'll have to post an update every year to see how it changes. Happy Anniversary to our "Home, Sweet, Home"!
This is the house literally the minute we pulled up 3 years ago. We hadn't even walked through the front door yet! Everyone's looking really good from 11 hours in the car... and look how young they all look. 
You've come a long way, baby! Chris has put a ton of work into our yard and it shows. I love it and can't wait to see it in a few more years as everything grows a little more and the trees get a lot bigger.


More Funny Faces

While we were visiting Balboa during our vacation I was trying to get a picture of each of my kids. The sun was setting so the lighting was perfect, the ocean was behind them, there was a slight breeze for a very natural effect (I guess just for Abby, really). The point is, conditions were perfect for some striking portraits. Well, I've told you how much Afton likes to make faces... and she definitely knows what a camera is for (I mean, she IS my daughter... and you could sort of call me the "momarazzi")... Anyway, this is what she gave me! Not exactly what I was hoping for, but super cute and really made us laugh!
Just for fun, here's how Max's and Abby's turned out. I'm not loving Max's expression, but I do love the lighting (especially on Abby's).


Playing Catch Up

I'm feeling very behind on my blog. I have a ton of things I want to post... I know, I know, I don't have to post everything I think of, but that's the OCD in me! Besides, this is kind of like my journal so I don't want to miss anything. The plan: post 1 thing everyday until I'm caught up... even if it's something that happened a while ago. So, this will be a good week to check back frequently and you can catch up on my life with me! (I promise no slideshows.)


Vacation Wrap Up

I know. I've been a little slow getting caught up on my blog... it has been a CRAZY week. But, I'm ready to post the rest of our wonderful vacation for your viewing pleasure. We traveled North for the second week of our trip. We stayed with Chris' brother, Rich, and his family. Our families have a great time together because the kids all match up in age so there is always a buddy for everyone. We really had a wonderful time... here's a recap!

Fun in the Sun

Rich and Traci have the greatest backyard. It is so much fun to hang out in and has almost everything: pool and hot tub, playhouse, hammock, outdoor kitchen and BBQ, eating area, fire pit, beautiful flowers and trees... it really is the perfect backyard! The favorite activity of the week was definitely swimming. The kids swam 4 of the 5 days we were there and each time they stayed in the pool for hours! Diving, snorkeling, races, and games... they all had so much fun together!
Riding the Bart

Tuesday night Chris, Cassidy, and Max had plans to go into the city to watch the Giants play so we decided to make an adventure out of it. Chris, Traci and I took the 8 kids and we rode the bart (train) into the city and had dinner and then Traci and I brought the littler kids home while Chris stayed in the city with the older kids for the game (the Giants played the Chicago Cubs and won... they said it was a great game and they had a blast). Riding the bart turned out to be fun little adventure and the kids seemed to enjoy experiencing something new.

San Francisco in a Day

Thursday we took the day to enjoy the city. We really wish we could have had more time, but we did as much as we could in a day and it was probably just enough for the kids (they just wanted to get back to their cousins and the pool!) We started by driving South to San Mateo (about 20 minutes south of the city), where Chris and I used to live back when there were just 3 of us. We drove by our apartment, had breakfast at Stacks and walked around Burlingame a little. This was one of our favorite places to live and it was really fun to be back and show Max some of the things from when he was little. Then we drove into the city... we sort of took the long way so we cold see lots of things, cool houses, Golden Gate Park, etc. and we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. We tried to get a cool family picture in front of it but it was so foggy you can't even see it. Still fun! Then we drove back into the city, parked and got on the bus for a bus tour. This is he best thing to do with kids in big cities! We saw everything!! I won't even try to list it all. We got off only once... to eat at our favorite restaurant: The Steps of Rome in the North Beach area of the city. We also enjoyed relaxing in the park. The kids thought it was funny that people would just walk into the park, take their clothes off and lay down for some sun... so Max decided to join them. There were even girls in bikinis and one guy stripped down to his underwear! Right in the middle of the park in San Fran... crazy! We got off the bus for good at the famous Pier 39. We walked out to see the Sea Lions, but there were only a few because they have gone south to have their babies, we also tried to see Alcatraz but it was still too foggy. We did catch a magic show and both kids were called up to help out (Max stole the show). Then we walked down to Ghiradelli Square (passing Fisherman's Wharf and some other things on the way) to top our day off with a ice cream sundaes. It really was a very fun, very full, day and we were very ready for bed by the time we got home (except Chris, who went to a movie with Rich).

Fourth of July

What a fabulous holiday! We started the day driving to Sausalito (just North of San Fran on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge... such a beautiful place!) and having breakfast... the french toast tasted like funnel cake! Then we went to Muir Woods to enjoy the beauty of nature and admire the amazing Redwoods. The kids loved it. Afton was signing everything she saw (tree, leaf, rock, sky, clouds, birds, etc), and Chris and Abby looked for fairies and even did a little meditating. Mostly they just loved hanging with their cousins and enjoying a nice little walk through the forest. Then it was back to Rich and Traci's for, what else, swimming and a BBQ. Super Yummy!! It was a great day and fun to spend it together!

Well, that's it. A few other highlights of the trip were date night with Rich and Traci (thanks for babysitting AGAIN, Cass!) and a full day of scrapooking with Traci (thank you, thank you, thank you to our sweet husbands!) while everyone else went to see "Wall-E" and swim some more (I guess they just hadn't had enough!).

It was a great 2 weeks! Sorry for all the slideshows, I'm actually a little sick of them myself so you probably won't see one here for a while. But how else could I fit all our wonderful adventures into 3 little posts. Thanks for enduring it all... they say there is nothing worse than looking at someone else's vacation photos but I hope you enjoyed looking at ours!


Still Vacating...

...and loving every minute of it! Keep reading to see what else we've been up to.

Corona del Mar

Saturday (6/28, my birthday)... My mom took Max and Cassidy to see an awesome exhibit of the Chinese Tera Cotta Warriors and then we met up for lunch. Then it was off to the beach. No trip to So Cal is complete without a day at the beach... especially in my family... we practically lived at the beach growing up. We went to Corona del Mar, which I think of as "my beach" because it is literally down the street from where I grew up. It was a beautiful summer day... causing the beach to be very crowded! The kids had so much fun. Max and Cass spent most of their time in the water and Max is much braver than I would like (towards the end of the slide show there is a picture of a big wave and a little head... that's him!). Abby and Afton mostly enjoyed playing in the sand... although they are both little fish as well and would take advantage of every opporunity they had to get in the water. It really was perfect. After that Cassidy volunteered to babysit so Chris could take me on a birthday date (thanks Cass), so we went to the Irvine Spectrum for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and then saw "Get Smart". It was a great day and a fun birthday!

A day of rest (and no pictures)

Sunday (6/29)... can you believe no pics? What's wrong with me? It was a fun day though. First we went to church in our old ward. It was great to see old friends and catch up. It was one of our favorite wards ever and it was so fun to be back... it felt like we had never left! After lunch and naps back at Grammy and Grandpa's we drove to Long Beach to hang out with my mom for a little bit. We went for a walk along the beach and played at the park. It didn't last long because Afton was pretty grumpy (too many days with crazy vacation schedule caught up to her... and me too quite honestly), but it was nice to hang out for the afternoon without any big plans, just resting and visiting.


Monday (6/30)... we went to breakfast with our good friends, the Bakers. We met the 2nd day of School when Max started kindergarten. Adam was in Max's class and I noticed that he had a little sister about Abby's age so I introduced myself to his mom. The 2 of us ended up having a lot in common and we became fast friends... so did the kids. We started having weekly play dates with the little girls so we could take turns helping in the classroom, and even did after school and holiday activities together. We really did almost everything together. Amanda was Abby's first "best friend"... they started playing together when Abby was 15 months old and we moved away when she was 4... that means they were younger than Afton is when they became friends... that is so weird to me! Adam and Max are perfect together...same interests, similar personalities, pretty cool guys! They are an awesome family and we have really missed them. The kids picked up right where they left off and loved seeing each other again and it was great to visit with Lisa again. I'll need to finally learn how to use my scanner so I can post some then and now pics of them together. There were a few other friends we had hoped to get together with and hope we can pull it off next time we're in town. Now we're jumping in the car to make the trek North. We're headed to Northern California to spend some time with family up there. Keep checking back... we're sure to have some awesome adventures up there!
Grammy and Grandpa: Thanks for letting us crash at your house, invade you peaceful home and eat your food. Of all the fun things we do when we visit Southern California visiting you is definitely our favorite. You mean the world to all of us and I am so grateful that my kids are able to know and love their great grandparents. Saying goodbye to you is always the hardest part of leaving! We love you!!