Monday, December 21

christmas cheer!

it's december 21st and christmas festivities are in full swing at the brower home!

when we got back from our thanksgiving trip to Ohio, we decided to start a new tradition of cutting down our own christmas tree rather than picking one up from lowes. we found a tree farm a little ways away and made a great day of it! it was so fun in fact, that i made a video of the adventure.

we've also been eagerly awaiting each new day so we can open one of our treats from the christmas advent aunt rik sent us from germany. it's true what they say, german chocolate is some of the best!

chris and i went to an ugly christmas sweater party at chris' boss's house on the 4th and had a great time. i mean, wouldn't you if you had a sweater like chris?

here's our version of an "awkward family photo"

chris had actually ordered an entirely different sweater. he showed me a picture of the one he ordered and i almost died. he claims to not have noticed how manly this unicorn was when he ordered it.

 i think it was a miracle that they sent us the wrong sweater cause i really didn't want to have to sew some shorts or a bow or some sort of censor over the unicorn!

we've been out delivering bottles of cheer again this year. 24 bottles so far to be exact. it's still our favorite way to say merry christmas to our friends nearby because its so easy and takes all the stress out of delivering goodies. this year i made tags that said "Merry Christmas Ya'll, Love the Browers". thats right, i spelled y'all wrong. after delivering a few with the typo, my ocd got the best of me and i had to remake them. guess i'm not a true southerner yet.

our elf skippy is back at it this year. he had a fall last year and was in a body cast, but when he showed up this year all he had left was a leg cast. well, i guess the doc cleared him and took the cast off. his first night free he found our fudge to celebrate.

charlie had a preschool christmas concert. he stood right in the middle of the group, towering over most of them, with a very stoic look on his face and his hands in his pockets. he said all his lines, but no smiles or hand actions made an appearance. afterwards he said, "when i got up there, i saw too many people and i got scared." cute little (but big) guy. 
we did catch one little snippet of him when they were first lining up on stage. all the kids were waving to their parents, so we were dancing around in the back to get charlie to loosen up. he finally flashed a quick double peace sign, his signature move. we laughed so hard.

 chris put the lights on the house the day we got our christmas tree. the next day, both our neighbors put up their lights, which happened to be a little more festive than ours, covering not only their roofline, but bushes as well. after school charlie said, " i don't like our house anymore." after asking him why he told me "because everyone else's houses have more lights". i laughed and mentioned it to chris on the phone because i thought it was funny. well, chris is not one to be out done, so that night he brought home several more boxes of lights and we now have just as many lights as our neighbors, including rainbow lights over the bushes, and charlie is a very happy kid!

the weather has been great so far! the night chris brought home the lights, we were all outside in jeans and short sleeves. well, all of us except charlie. he was in nothin' but undies.

at the ward christmas party with dani.
i think she's getting a little too big for santa's lap... and they know it too!

charlie got to play the coveted roll of "the cow" during the primary nativity reenactment yesterday.

and because its not a post without a little owen update...
this is owen's new trick he picked up while watching me exercise and stretch

he's also had a really bad cold, but has been in pretty good spirits nonetheless.

only 3 days till christmas eve!!!

Wednesday, December 9

give me an O give me an H give me an I give me an O!

i know I've said this in the past, but this may be the longest post ever. just a warning.

our drive to ohio for thanksgiving break was pretty uneventful, which is a good thing! it looked like this for the majority of the time:

 we did make a stop in indianapolis at a "soul food" restaurant that had really good reviews. we were literally the only white people in the place, which you'd think was a good sign that the food would be really great. well, the food was so-so, but our waiter was awesome. Owen even ended up holding the owners hand at one point.

we were all very glad to get out of the car once we arrived at marc and delauna's place saturday night. the kids were especially excited to see the pups.

poor ladybug is probably still recovering from all the attention.

we spent a ton of time playing in the basement at marc's. the kids loved playing darts and ping pong and we watched the hobbit and youtube videos in their theater. it was fantastic. went out to a couple tasty places to eat while in Powell too. one was called Thurmans and it had some seriously scrumptious burgers and killer fried pickles. my mouth is watering as i think back on those pickles :) the burgers were ginormous and so fun to watch each other try to eat!

grandma and grandpa took us out to a place called bibibop. it was kinda like an asian version of chipotle... but better, or at least, we liked it better.

owen especially loved bibibop... or maybe it was the special attention from aunt delauna :)

owen had a double ear infection during our trip, so it goes without saying that he didn't sleep too well. one afternoon while owen and i napped, chris took the kids to play at a big warehouse filled with playground equipment displays and trampolines (genius idea!) and then to get some ice cream at graeters.

and just for comparison, we also tried jeni's splendid ice cream again while we were there. we really really really enjoyed them both, but i think the overall winner was graeters, mostly because the flavors are more basic and because you get more for the money... not to mention the huge chunks of soft chocolate in the ice cream ;)

charlie takes his ice cream seriously. its either straight up, unadulterated chocolate, or rocky road. he picked jeni's darkest chocolate ice cream and sat by himself as he savored each spoonful.

owen also enjoyed it, but he's no respecter of flavors. he'll eat any and all and enjoyed my brown butter almond brittle and salty caramel.

ok, so i guess charlie isn't all seriousness when it comes to ice cream. he asked to take a serious picture "to make it funny" afterwards.

our next stop on the ohio-brower-train was in Pickerington to visit amy, tyler and the kids!

sleepovers with cousins are The. Best. Ever.
(unless you have a horrible cough and stay up half the night, charlie. try not to do that next time dude, ok?)

we visited Slate Run with amy, denise, and all the kids one morning while chris, grandpa, and cousin hunter went golfing. I'm sure that chris would appreciate if i mentioned that he had a particularly good round too!
slate run is a living historical farm and it is pretty amazing! we would have stayed all day if it hadn't been so cold, not to mention we got hungry. the kids absolutely loved it and it made me wish we lived somewhere with a lot of land so they can spend their days outside adventuring. we saw so many animals, the kids got to check the chicken coop for eggs, they shucked corn and made corn meal, they carried wood for the stove, they played with toys from the 1800's, and best of all, they got to do it all with their cousins.

charlie discovered the "marble machines" as he called them and is now obsessed. 
christmas = check 

evan kissing a piglet

kate, hadley, and madeline washing up

collecting the fire wood

jack and maylee on stilts

frisky pig!

ellie and mason

madeline on the stilts 

charlie and blake

we brought a picnic lunch and climbed some trees to end our visit.

owen suckin' on a pine cone

thanksgiving was one of the best days of the trip. how could it not be with such wonderful loved ones gathered together and some of the most delicious food ever?!? marc and delauna were the best hosts ever, going above and beyond to make the day relaxing and wonderful. we had appetizers for an early lunch and then dinner and then dessert. three rounds of glorious goodness.

here's the whole ohio gang!
(minus our missionaries dayton and caiden, and morgan who's in rexburg with her hubby chris)

while the adults cooked, talked, and took naps upstairs, the kids played downstairs. all except for jack. jack had the flu. he spent all of thanksgiving sleeping and puking in the bathroom. poor kid. he was really scared of passing on sick germs, so he quarantined himself to the bathroom.

but the next day he was feeling better. so much better that he went hunting with chris and uncle doug down in Chillicothe. 

with about 15 minutes left of daylight and legal hunting time, a buck meandered into sight, munching on some corn feed. jack aimed the crossbow and...

 surprisingly, ellie was the one that was fascinated by the cleaning and butchering process. she really enjoyed it... strange.
we spent our time just hanging out, watching football, shooting guns, and playing apples to apples. the girls all went out to lunch and got our nails done too! luckily, no one was sick during our visit to chillicothe, hooray!

even with some sick kids, our trip to ohio was so wonderful! so thankful for this beautiful family that we have been blessed with and love them all so so much!!!

we tried to get back to fort smith as quick as we could, stopping only in nashville and then staying the night in memphis. we stopped in nashville because 
A) its an awesome city and 
B) we HAD to grab a grilled cheese sandwich from the grilled cheeserie (as an appetizer!) and then lunch at the old spaghetti factory and 
C) publix. they have a publix. 

 the spaghetti factory is a special restaurant to chris because it was his family's favorite place to visit in SLC when he was a kid. our kids loved it too!

in memphis we visited this huge bass pro shops to let the kids run around and stretch a bit. while here, owen had a massive blowout which caused us to buy a hideous onsie that will forever make us laugh. 

when all was said and done, we were glad to be home again.