Monday, January 27

you've got a friend in me

we have some wonderful friends in arkansas.

we had the smith girls over the other day and the kids came up with a great activity!
luckily the weather was warm over the weekend and they spent a couple hours in the backyard riding the skateboard down the ramp that chris made and through an empty box. they had an extremely good time and laughed nonstop. they laughed so much, in fact, that one of the six kids wet their pants. thats the sign of a truly wonderful time! and no, i won't name names :)

this is how charlie and brynn do it when the big kids are at school:

two weekends ago i joined this lovely group of ladies for a night away in paris!

that would be paris, arkansas. 
it was a blast! 
it was katie's birthday, so ben rented a cabin in mt magazine for us to spend friday evening and saturday. we spent our time away from kids hot tubbing, watching a horrible movie, eating and just hanging out. we even managed to surprise katie with an awesomely embarrassing cheer that we made just for her and each wore a shirt with her face on it hahaha! it was wonderful getting to know these girls better. 

this past weekend, chris met up with his buddy steve in branson for some manly time and fishing. steve and kandie live in kansas city, so branson is a pretty good half way point for our families. those two are such good friends and i know chris really enjoyed seeing steve again. 

we are blessed to have so many wonderful friends here!

Tuesday, January 14

bike ramps, bunk beds, and pedicures

look at that handsome fellow.

chris and jack made a bike ramp together.

jack is feeling like an awesome dare devil.

but he also has a soft side.
is there anything better than finding your kid reading?

we finally got a bunk bed for the boys and they are loving it.
ellie loves it too. she gets her own room and a queen size bed. i think i'd be pretty happy with that set up if i was almost 6 years old too.

jack and ellie both got straight A's this quarter. 
i was able to attend ellie's award ceremony last friday. 
not only did she get the "principle's straight A award", but also the "unusually good award". we thought that was unusual and good.

ellie gave me a pedicure last saturday.
its going to take a drill to get the glitter off.

 after 2 ½ weeks of the world's worst cold, we went to the doctors.

 charlie and i are both taking antibiotics and steroids and feeling SO MUCH BETTER. we are enjoying the little things like breathing out of our noses and swallowing without pain. its amazing.

Tuesday, January 7


 our little charlie man is three!

he had a wonderful birthday and he couldn't believe he got more presents just two days after christmas. it was more than his little heart could handle, but somehow he managed!

he loved his blanket from grandma linda and snuggles with it every night. he even sniffs it and says "mmmm! gamma winda on my mcqueen blanket". 
it does smell like grandma and i have to admit, i snuggle up with it just to feel close to her. little does he know, grandma janie is making him a blanket too that actually does have mcqueen on it! he's going to have the sweetest dreams.

we went to a place here in fort smith called The Monkey House. its filled with huge bounce houses and an absolute blast for the kids... hence the fact that every picture we took was blurry- no standing still in a place that fun!

some of the bounce houses are set up like an obstacle course that you can race on and believe me, they are exhausting! chris and i got a workout.

for a few months charlie has been saying that he wanted mcqueen cupcakes for his birthday. easy peasy! then a couple weeks ago, while at sams, he said that he wanted to eat a hot dog and a soda at sams for his birthday. we laughed and figured he would change his mind or forget, but nope, thats what he wanted. easy peasy again!

he got a hot dog and his own soda!

and a mcqueen cupcake

we love this boy.
he makes us all happy.

a few days ago, my friend made a video of her little man's first birthday, who just happens to be born on the same day as our charlie, that was so adorable and i thought "i wish i could do that". 
well, why not?? 
it inspired me to figure out how to make our own movies. so, thank you carolina for helping me try something new! here's a video of our little charlie man's first three years.

christmas crafts

the kids did a lot of crafts during december. all the typical ones that involve an insane amount of glitter, paint, and cotton balls. but one project that they helped me with was a gift for their school teachers and grandma janie. we decided to make little tote bags. they turned out adorable. 

this was our first time using freezer paper and paint, so we experimented on grandma's and quickly learned what NOT to do. the paint leaked a little bit here and there and the lines weren't as sharp as we would have liked.

the teacher's bags ended up a little neater with crisper lines.

this is the front

and then the back had the teacher's initial in a heart.

the kids made a card and wrote a heartfelt note inside and we attached it to a bottle of sparkling grape juice to put inside their bags.

Monday, January 6

a happy christmas!

christmas was
although we are sad to be away from our families, we found it fun being our own little family this christmas season.

we took our annual christmas eve morning photo and headed out to try a new donut place. or should i say palace since its called "donut palace"? i think most donut places should be called palaces from now on because when you're eating a warm, fresh donut, its hard not to feel like you're on top of the world, right? 

it was pretty tasty, but our hearts (and stomachs) still belong to Bennett's in fort myers.

after our donut run we met up with two families from church for some dodge ball!!!
ever wondered what a dodgeball game consisting of 10 kids under the age of 10 looks like?

pure mayhem.

we also played a game of kickball with the adults and it was great fun. then the kids put on a little impromptu christmas carol concert for us that was adorable.

christmas eve was spent with our "family away from family", the smiths. what would we do without them?! the elders came too and we had our traditional spaghetti dinner and then acted out the nativity.

 jack and jenna made the cutest joseph and mary

ellie and dani were our angels, charlie was the donkey, brynn was a duckling (you know, the duckling in the nativity... no?.... I'm sure its mentioned somewhere in Luke chapter 2... somewhere...) and the men filled in as shepards and wise men.

during our evening we had a surprise visit from st nick and the kids were thrilled!
this is our friend geoff (married to steph). what an awesome guy!

is there anything better than christmas eve? 
seeing little ones so excited and their eyes so full of anticipation when tucking them in bed is the best! jack and ellie were determined to stay up to sneak a peek at santa. we told them to try and if they saw him, to wake us up too since we never have been able to catch a glimpse. but, unfortunately we were all pooped, especially after chris and i stayed up till 2 am wrapping gifts and watching movies... not the smartest thing waiting till christmas eve to wrap every single gift.

i had to include this letter that jack wrote to santa. he's such a good boy.
in case you can't read it, it says:
Dear Santa: How have you been this year? I hope you got enough of rest. I was wondering if I could have a GoPro. And can you please give the homeless a jacket for the winter please. thank you Santa! Love, Jack

for the record: we just couldn't justify buying such an expensive gift for a 7 year old even though a GoPro has been on jack's wish list for two years... but chris caved after this letter was written :) we decided to put the money given to us from grandma and grandpa brower towards a GoPro for the family. we waited till the afternoon to open it, when all the hype of christmas morning had passed and jack was beyond thrilled 

we've been very blessed this year, as is apparent by the abundance we had christmas morning.

ellie and jack's big gifts this year were music lessons!
jack will be taking banjo lessons (yahoo!) and ellie will be taking violin (yay!). 
a dream come true for this mama!!! so happy that they have such an interest in music and art.

ellie got this cute notepad from aunt layna and uncle tony in hawaii and i think its been the most played with of all her gifts. this girl writes and writes and writes. she must have some of her great grandma browne's writing talents in her blood.

ellie also got a real tea set and we had to have a cocoa party first thing!

jack got rollerblades and after a few days of practice, he is rocking it! but the videos he's made using the go pro while rollerblading are so crazy, they make us nauseous watching them!

charlie got some geotrax, but his absolute favorite toy ended up being a little lightning mcqueen toy. go figure. he even wanted to take a picture with it next to him, silly kid. this picture says it all- pure happiness!

I'm certainly no videographer, but i put together a video for the grandmas of a few of our favorite moments from our christmas videos:

what a wonderful year our family had. we've truly been blessed beyond measure.