Back to Class

Ahh! The first day of school. New haircuts, shoes, back packs, lunch boxes, uniforms... a new teacher and a new classroom... the kids are soooo excited to be back in school (even Max). They both had a great day and after school Abby said she hopes she can go back tomorrow. I can hardly believe they are in 2nd and 6th grades- they looked so grown up walking in to school! I, for one, am enjoying the peace and quiet and love being back to a routine. Afton misses them tons and asks where they are all day. When I finally say we can go get them she is so excited and she talks to them the whole way home. When I took them this morning she was so upset that we couldn't go inside with them like we did on Monday. I know one of the reasons I'm so excited is that now the countdown to our new baby really begins... just 2 weeks from today until our planned inducement. That seems so soon, and now that school has started that's the next "big thing" on the calendar! Wow! I am definitely going to enjoy these 2 weeks of peace and quiet and routine while it lasts and live it up (anyone want to go to lunch?... or get a pedicure?... call me)!

We ended the day with our traditional dinner out to celebrate the first day back at school. The kids chose La Dolce VIta, a family favorite, and we had a great evening chatting about their day! I can tell this is going to be a great year for them and hope they will work hard, always do their best, and learn all they can!


My very sweet grandpa (my dad's dad), Karl S. Farnsworth, turned the big 8-0 last Saturday! He celebrated with a nice quiet dinner with his kids and their spouses at The Roof in Salt Lake. I hear they had a wonderful time. While we were not there to celebrate with him, we thought about him all day and were glad to have the chance to see him, give him a birthday hug and take this very cute picture of him with his sweetheart. We want him to know how much we love and appreciate all he does for all of us. He is a great grandpa, I have so many fun memories of him, and I am grateful to have him in my life. Happy 80th Birthday Grandpa... here's to many, many more birthday celebrations!!

Family Night at Seven Peaks

Last Monday (not 2 days ago, the one before that... I'm still way behind!) we went to Seven Peaks Water Park for Family Night. We make it a point to go one time every summer because the kids always get one free ticket from school for completing the "Peak Reader Program". This year we went just a half day (4-8), which was perfect for everyone (except maybe Max). We had a great time, the weather was gorgeous, it wasn't too crowded because it was the first day of school (except for us), and, like I said, it was the perfect amount of time to be there. At first Chris took off with the big kids and I followed Afton around so I couldn't really take pictures. But for the last hour or so Afton played with Chris and then she was so tired (that's why she doesn't look very happy... I promise she loved it for the first 2 hours and was cute as can be) she just sat in her stroller and we followed everyone around and snapped away.


Congrats Grad!

Our cute nephew, Jaremy, graduated from BYU a little over a week ago. We are so proud of his accomplishment and are excited to see what comes next for him (he's planning on med school... go Jaremy!). His family had a party for him that night and asked me to take a few "graduation pictures" of Jaremy. We were going for the official look, but it just didn't fit his personality and the wind was really bad. So, we changed our plan and had a lot more fun with a lot better results! I think they turned out really cool and different (and it was good practice for me... thanks for being my guinea pig). A whole crowd came to celebrate with Jaremy. It started out as mostly family and we had a delicious BBQ and as it got later his friends started to arrive and party late into the night. Again, congratulations and thanks for letting us be a part of your special day!


Lego Robot Camp

I've already talked about how much my kids love the day camps at Thanksgiving Point. Max's favorite are the week long camps. Last week he participated in an awesome camp where they built Lego robots and programmed them to compete certain tasks. It was really intense! Lots of hours sitting at a computer writing code that the little machine inside the robot, that they built, would then take and use to accomplish the tasks. Max eats this kind of thing up and I love that he loves it so much. What a neat thing. This robot was super cool, too. It actually understood Max's voice commands... so Max would talk to it and it would go. Pretty amazing to an unscientific, computer illiterate person like me. Max with his cousin, Alec, who attended the camp with him.Showing me one of the tasks the robot had to do.Max's robot. I think he was actually sad to take it apart at the end of the week... it was almost like a little friend!

Thanksgiving Point really does a great job with these camps. I highly recommend them to all of you local people who have kids. You will not be disappointed in the quality of the instruction and the counselors (and the couple hours of free time for you). You can probably guess where we'll be again next summer!

Arrow of Light

Max has officially earned his Arrow of Light, the highest award a Cub Scout can earn. He worked really hard and we are so proud of him. Cub Scouts has been an awesome experience. He has learned a lot and is totally ready to become a Boy Scout when he turns 11 in October.The ceremony was great. Thats my (not so) little brother, Bryn, in the middle. He played the part of Akela, the Indian leader who guides scouts through the program, and presented them with their awards.This is Max with his arrow. Each of the colored flags represents a characteristic a cub scout has develeoed over the last 3 years... things like knowledge, courage, self control, and a lot more.

Max pinning the mother's pin on me.

Max and Bryn after the ceremony. Max had actually requested that Bryn play Akela. We are grateful that Bryn agreed to help us out and know that it was really special to Max to have one of his favorite people there with him.

A family that plays together...

For Family Home Evening last week (actually 2 weeks ago... I am SO behind!) we took the kids golfing. This is one of their favorite activities and they beg all summer for the chance to go. They love riding the carts and having their dad teach them the finer points of the sport. It helps that we live 5 minutes away from a gorgeous golf course. I came along to take pictures and chase Afton.... and had a great time. I love watching Chris interact with the kids like this and seeing how patient he can be. I know that these are the kids of things our kinds will remember when they think of their dad.



I am not a very spontaneous person. Never have been. I like schedules, lists, routines, plans... and I actually get a little irritated with last minute changes. So when Chris called me last Friday at about 12:30 saying our friends had extra tickets to 'Les Miserables' in St. George on Saturday night my first impulse was to list all the reasons why it wouldn't work... and I'm pretty sure I did (Who would watch the kids, what about the dog, what about the very long list of things we had planned to do Saturday, etc?) He told me to think about it for an hour and call him back. The truth is, I really wanted to see the show, but I honestly didn't know how we could pull it together so quickly. I called Cassidy first and she was available to babysit. That was a huge relief because she knows our house, where things are, the routine, the kids, the neighbors, who to call for an emergency... that cut out a lot of prep and cleaning and laying things out and explaining and all that other stuff... I didn't even have to find someone to take the dog! Perfect. Now I just had to get over my mental hang-up of sticking to the plan and the fact that our Saturday "to do" list could be postponed without the world coming to an end. I think Chris was pretty shocked when I called him back less than 15 minutes later and said we were all set to go. We left home Saturday around 11, had a pleasant drive (with no kids), checked into the hotel and took a nap before going to dinner and then meeting Derek and Emilie for the show. Aah, the show... the show was great... we really enjoyed it. It is probably as close to Broadway quality as you'll find anywhere. And, we were thrilled to learn we had friends in the show.This is our good friend Mindy Smoot (now) Robbins. I actually performed with her when we were kids (she was about 10 and I was 14 when we met) and Chris performed with her when she was in high school. She also went to BYU with us and majored in the same thing, although Chris graduated before she got there. Anyway, she was awesome. This girl has the most amazing voice... seriously. We actually lucked out because she isn't even usually in this show. She has been performing the part of Maria in the 'Sound of Music' at the same theater on opposite nights of 'Les Mis' (SO wish I'd known so we could have tried to see that too) but they had her play the part of Eponine 3 times during the summer (I think because she played it on Broadway- that's right- BROADWAY!) and we lucked out because the last one just happened to be this night. Anyway, I can't say enough good about her. She's an amazing person and a performer that can't be matched. Hopefully you'll get a chance to see her perform someday. She actually lives in Alpine and teaches voice lessons... if you are interested let me know and I'll give your her contact info. I'm actually thinking of signing Abby up. Anyway, she's beautiful and did great!I don't actually know this guy, but Chris and I LOVED his performance. He played Marius beautifully... we were really impressed. I thought he looked familiar and while reading the program realized he was THE John Preater from THE American Idol. So, of course, I had to get a picture with him... I actually was a fan of his. Turns out we have friends in common because he also went to BYU and majored in the same thing as us (way after us). He was really amazing.... one of the best parts of the show. (How scary do I look in this picture?!?)This is beautiful Malinda Lockwood (she's married now but I can't remember her last name). We've known her since she was a very little girl (I choreographed her in a few shows and her mom was Chris' and my voice teacher at BYU, and we know her extended family pretty well). She played the role of Cossette and Chris and I both swear we've never heard anyone sing it more beautifully (and we've both seen the show more times than we can count!) Hopefully you'll get to see her someday too... she's local so you might. Hard to believe she's all grown up... not hard to believe she's so amazing!Here we are with Derek and Emilie. We were laughing that we took a similar trip together as couples 14 years ago! Man, time flies! Thanks for thinking of us and inviting us to come along!

(**Special Note: 'Les Mis' plays at the Tuachan Amphitheater in St. George until mid- October... we highly recommend it if you get a chance to go. We're actually thinking of heading back down so the kids can experience it. And if you've never seen a show at this theater you definitely have to someday... it is an amazingly beautiful place!**)

The rest of the trip was relaxing. Sunday morning Chris golfed and I slept in and read. Then we had lunch and headed home. We were in St. George for less than 24 hours, but it was fun to relax and be alone. We returned home to find the kids safe and sound, Cassidy still sane, our house in one piece and Chris' parents even fed us dinner. A perfect weekend... I'll need to try and be a little more spontaneous from now on!


Lehi Girls Soccer Rocks!

I did a fun photo shoot with the Lehi Girls Soccer team last week. This is the 2nd year I've done their picture for their poster and they are always fun to work with... just a really cool group of girls. This year their slogan is "Bustin' the competition...one team at a time" (or something like that) so we found a cool old alley and got the Lehi Police to let us climb all over their cars. If you live in this area, look around and maybe you'll see one of their posters somewhere! (BTW- that's my cute niece, Alyssa, in the middle right in front of the coach... she rocks the most!) Go Lehi Soccer!!

Because people are always asking...

... where her fair skin, blonde hair and bright blue eyes came from. This is where!
My Swenson side of the family (as you can gather by the name) came from Iceland and Sweden. I was actually a blue eyed tow head as a little girl, but my hair got darker as I got older. With Chris being as dark as he is, and dark being the more dominant gene, we are as shocked as everyone that Afton got the coloring she did. While she looks a little out of place with the Higbee crowd, she definitely fits in here (and this is only a few of the blonde haired blue eyed bunch... there are a lot more where they came from)! I'm super curious to see how this next one turns out.

ANOTHER Family Reunion!

Can you believe it? Chris and I both come from very large families (that actually like each other a lot) so we end up having a lot of reunions. This summer has been particularly packed, however, and we couldn't be happier about it! Every summer there is a reunion for my grandpas family (through my mom). He is almost 86, is one of 11 children and grew up on a farm in Spanish Fork. The reunion consists of all of his living siblings and their descendants. I thought this years reunion was especially fun... here's why: 
#1 Our particular branch of the family tree had quite a few people in attendance. It was great to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I'm pretty sure we had the biggest group there. As always, my kids had a great time playing with cousins and we barely saw them the whole time.
#2 The reunion was held at the actual house my grandpa grew up in! Yep, it's still in the family. While I had been there before, it was really fun to show my kids the house and tell them some of the stories I knew.
#3 It's always a pleasure to spend time with my grandparents... they truly mean the world to me! I love that I have such a great relationship with them and that my children are able to know their great grandparents so well. During the picnic they had people get up and tell old stories about the house. I loved listening to my grandpa share his memories and the fact that he kept referring to the house as a "house of love". I hope that is how my children look back on their childhood homes. They also had some old footage of the house, and of course the people who lived there. I've seen photos of my grandpa, but it was cool to see him in action. He was so cute!!

Every other month we have a Sunday dinner with all the "locals" from the Swenson family. There aren't a whole lot of us in Utah so it's fun to get together so often. Because Grammy and Grandpa were here we decided to change the date and do it this weekend. We had so much fun, the dinner was awesome, and we ended the night with a water balloon fight. It was a beautiful evening and the perfect way to extend our reunion! We are grateful to Uncle Joel and Aunt Melanie for letting us invade their space last minute!

To wrap up Grammy Grandpa's visit we all met at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens for a morning stroll and then had lunch at the deli. Although it was way more crowded than usual and it started to sprinkle a little bit, the flowers were beautiful and we had a lovely time!
We can't wait until Grammy and Grandpa come to visit again! (No, seriously, come back really soon!)


Trying to get caught up...

I'm working on it! We're just so busy having fun (and preparing for our new addition) that I can't seem to find the time to post. BUT... I'm getting there. Be sure to scroll down because I finally finished the posts about the big hike and the Higbee family reunion and I wouldn't want you to miss them. More to come tomorrow (hopefully), my goal is to be caught up by the end of the weekend!

3rd Annual Golf Tournament

On Aug. 2nd Chris competed in the 3rd Annual Saratoga Springs Golf Tournament with his Dad, sister Karen and brother-in-law Mike. They placed 4th... not too bad, but they actually got first place a couple years ago. They had fun and that's what really counts, right?


Fireworks... finally!

After spending the 4th of July in a county in California that didn't allow fireworks (not even sparklers) and the 24th of July camping up American Fork Canyon (also no fireworks allowed), I thought we were going to get through the summer without seeing a single firework. I was very disappointed... fireworks are a necessary part of summer in my family! Well, my parents came through. Last Sunday, the very last legal day to do fireworks in Utah, we went over for dinner and finished up the last of their summer stash. It was actually raining and very windy, which made it a little challenging, but we didn't let that stop us. In fact, it kind of made the show more exciting!

Shoes can change your life...

...ask Cinderella!

Afton is obsessed with shoes right now. She is always putting on everyone's shoes, usually on the wrong feet, and prancing around. Last Sunday she found Cassidy's bright red heels and I couldn't resist the photo op!

Higbee Family Reunion

We had a wonderful family reunion with the Higbee's over the 24th of July weekend. Chris and the kids pulled into the garage from their exciting hike and we unloaded some camping gear, loaded some more, showered everyone and were right back out the door. We went up American Fork Canyon and enjoyed a lovely evening under the stars. The campsite really was perfect, we had a great time visiting, the kids had a blast with their cousins (we hardly saw them all night), dinner was great, S'mores were even better, we got to hear a little family history, even the dog enjoyed herself. In the morning we had a huge, very delicious breakfast and packed everything up to head home. Friday evening people sort of did whatever they wanted (hopefully with family). Some went to the movies, had game nights, etc. We stayed home and caught up on some sleep, although Max went to the movies with Alec (thanks Aunt Karen). Here are my favorite pics from the campout. It's mostly my family, but if you follow the link on the right to the J Marvin Higbee blog I posted a slideshow that included everyone!

Saturday we all got together again for dinner, swimming (including water basketball, wrestling, lots of sliding, etc), train rides (which Afton especially enjoyed... she rode twice and kept signing "train" and making whistle sounds), indoor soccer and more! My kids LOVED playing with their cousins (as usual). It was great to have everyone there, the weather was great and everyone had a really good time! Again, this slideshow is mostly my family, but there is a longer, more inclusive one on the Higbee family blog.

Family reunions are great... we can't wait for next summer... Beach House or BUST!

They Survived!

It is a little difficult to post about a trip you didn't actually go on. I will say that it is probably a good thing I didn't go. As I looked through the pictures there were a lot of things that happened that I'm glad I didn't know about until after the fact... things that dads let their kids do and moms (at least me) would cringe at. For example: hiking a mountain of GIANT boulders (much too unsteady... someone could fall or get crushed!), swimming in their underwear in a freezing cold lake (hello hypothermia!! And I'm sure I packed swimsuits for them), crossing rivers on logs, etc. I guess that is one of the main purposes of trips like this... they need it to grow. There ended up being quite a crew on the hike and it was very challenging for the littler ones (you'll notice no backpack on Abby for the end of the hike... I guess it was divided out into bigger peoples packs... thanks to everyone who helped with that!), but they made it and all got home in one piece (and with enough bug bites to look like they had the chicken pox!). Here is the basic itinerary... Monday: drove up and set up base camp, Tuesday: hiked 6 miles to lake and camped overnight, Wednesday: hiked 6 miles back to base camp, Thursday: drove home. So, here is my little slide show followed by what the kids thought of it all -in their words- and then a really cool panoramic video of where they hiked and camped Tuesday night. Absolutely gorgeous!

Max's words: "I liked the big huge rock wall that we climbed up at Big Sandy Lake."

Abby's words: "I didn't like that we had to walk six miles, but I loved that we got to camp in a tent and have a camp dinner. I thought that the fish that we caught to eat looked yucky. It was really cold when we were swimming in the lake... it was like ice cold. I was the first one to get in... Max freaked out and didn't want to get in."

Extra special thanks to my brother, Sam, for organizing the whole thing. What an adventure and a great memory for my family!