Thursday, November 5


it's so nice having good friends! we decided to do an overnight babysitting swap with the smith's back in the spring. they watched our crazy crew in june when we went to the third eye blind concert. a few weekends ago we were able to have the girls stay with us while ben and katie went to mt magazine for a relaxing getaway. these kiddos always get along, but for some reason this time it was like all 6 of them were the absolute best of friends! they did everything together, all 6 of them... and if owen could be included, brynn and dani made sure he was :)

we made ghosts for a "haunted forest", tie dyed shirts, made and ate caramel apples, went shooting, watched the new cinderella movie, and stayed up way too late. but probably the very favorite thing that the kids did was play across the street in a little clump of trees. it became their "secret spot" and was used as a spy training center. they spent as much time running around outside as they could. having 7 kids under one roof could not have been any better!

Monday, November 2

dad's week off

chris had the 23rd-1st off of work. originally we planned to go south to crater of diamonds park and dig for diamonds and go camping for a couple days, but there was nothing but rain in the forecast so we had to quickly come up with plan b. we decided to go an hour and a half north to bentonville and spend the weekend there instead. 
our first stop was at war eagle mill for breakfast and exploring around the river.we had to leave pretty early to make it there in time for a scrumptious breakfast of biscuits and gravy, but it was well worth it, not only for the breakfast, but for the beautiful fall morning.

our next stop was at the Amazeum, which is the new children's museum right next to crystal bridges art museum. it was pretty small, but still a ton of fun!

they have a science lab that is sponsored by hershey's and luckily the experiment for the day was mixing and taste testing various flavors of chocolate. definitely our kind of experiment. even owen was able to get in on the action.

after the museum we went to the movies! we don't do that a whole bunch, so the kids thought it was pretty exciting. chris took jack to see goosebumps because he reads the books and, duh, its halloween. and i took the little ones to hotel transylvania 2 even though we didn't see the first one. it was a good way to relax a little bit and let owen take a nap.

afterwards we picked up dinner at chipotle and went swimming at the hotel. then we ventured out for some andy's frozen custard even though it was getting late and it was freezing outside. totally worth it.

good to the last drop!

 we came home sunday after church, but then did something really crazy. we drove BACK to rogers the next friday to meet...

the pioneer woman!!!

i don't know who was more excited, chris and i or jack and ellie. those two LOVE THE PIONEER WOMAN!
we waited in line for 2 hours to meet ree drummond and she was so incredibly nice. and oh my goodness, she is gorgeous. her eyes are stunning. she was able to sign books and plates (we grabbed a couple from her line for the kids teachers christmas gifts because they are huge fans), and chat, and take pictures, and even told charlie that she loved his name because her favorite dog is charlie.

owen was pretty fussy waiting in line, but when we got up to meet ree, he just kept giggling and it made ree laugh so hard and she kept saying "oh my word. stop it! you can't do this to me! who let him in here?!". it was so sweet.

walmart was actually a pretty great place to stand in line because they passed out waters and snacks and chris and the kids walked around and shopped for a couple things. in fact, chris was pushing owen in the stroller down an aisle before the signing started and ran into ree and the walmart crew on their way out to the signing.

as we walked away jack said "my palms are sweating!" and i asked if it was because he was so excited and he said "yeah! ... and she's really pretty too".

other than those two things, the only really exciting thing we did while chris was home was celebrate halloween!

we had the ward party on wednesday night that the young women were in charge of, so i was pretty busy with setting up and games for the carnival. chris had the hard job of keeping up with the kids and entering his chili in the cook-off. man oh man was his chili a winner! he smoked some tri tip and added sausage and bacon to it. then on saturday night we went to the smith's house for their annual halloween mexican fiesta! we ate so much good food and then the dad's took the kids trick or treating while the moms stayed back with babies to pass out candy.  when they returned the kids spread out their loot and had a huge trading party. the kids were like stock brokers on wall street. it was a great evening.

i made a chocolate bundt cake for the fiesta and decorated it with little skull cakes made with a pan that chris got me for our anniversary on the 22nd... thats true love right there :) 11 years with this man i love. chris was thoughtful enough to see what type of gift you're supposed to give on your 11th and it was steel. obviously that translates into a skull cake pan.

four of us were lumberjacks (even though owen refused to wear his beanie or let me draw more than a goatee), ellie was a cowgirl, and charlie decided to be superman again this year. 

just jack

so many exciting things take place in october. its right up there with november and december for our favorite months of the year. probably the most exciting thing in october besides halloween is our jack man's birthday!
we had a surprise party waiting for him after school two days prior to his big day. he was pretty happy! i really love that our kids don't expect to have huge parties. they never ask to have a bunch of friends, just our little family. and that makes my heart happy. not that i don't like to plan big parties because we all know i do, but it's nice to have those intimate times with the kids without the distractions of other little ones.

ellie and charlie both picked out cards and a game for jack and it was so fun to watch how excited they were while he opened them. one of those heart melting moments. i mean, come one, look at charlie's face!

 jack is extremely difficult to shop for. his birthday list included the captain underpants books because he likes to reread them over and over, a new pocket knife since he tossed his other over a cliff, and to play soccer in the spring. so we had to be a little creative with his gift this year.

the unicycle is proving to be a difficult skill to master!

on jack's birthday we kept the kids home from school because jack wanted the family to do 9 acts of service. so we went out to breakfast and then let the good times roll!

first up was donuts to one of the fire stations in town. 
it. was. awesome.

they took us on a tour and let us climb all over everything! seriously cool!

jack and i made chocolate chippers to take to a couple families in the ward and also some of the nurses at the hospital.

we sent missionary care packages to cousins in honduras, ogden, and ireland. jack also put together a smore's package for a family with a few little kids, visited a man in the hospital with chris, and took some hershey's "hugs & kisses" to our dear friend doris maybray.

the two oldest boys (aka chris and jack) went out for jack's favorite: sushi!

that night we had our friends the sexton's over to roast marshmallows and play jack's new game PieFace. their  boys are wild and crazy just like our gang and we always have a good time.

the next morning we packed up and headed to bentonville for a little getaway, which i'll post about next. I'm pretty sure jack had a great time celebrating his 9th birthday and felt a smidgen of the love that so many have for him. he is one of a kind and we love him so.

it's time to brag about our football player cause he's pretty freakin' awesome. i guess thats one of the perks of being this kid's mother.
jack's last football game was on halloween afternoon. the steelers came in 3rd place overall. 

(our quarterback is the one with his head down in the picture... his name is george herrell and we're pretty sure this kid will be famous some day. here's the proof that jack played with him ;)

i never thought i would enjoy having my son play football. but jack has really grown so much during those few weeks. he had to work really hard, physically and mentally, and it was so rewarding to see all that effort pay off during those few catches, blocks, and touchdowns he made throughout the season. the smiles on his face after those games were priceless. he's pretty much our favorite running back of all time. 
his coaches were fantastic. so grateful for the time and encouragement from coach johnny. he's really helped push jack. jack was chosen as offensive player of the week after game 4. this is what his coach wrote about jack on the team website:

"Our offensive player of the week is Jack Brower. Jack had a good game versus Zero Mtn on Monday night. Jack carried the ball 2 times for 44 yards and scored one touchdown. He also caught one pass for 17 yards in the game. jack is a great kid and is one of several very good third graders we have on our team. Can't wait to see how good he will be next season. Cause he sure is doing a great job for us this season. Way to go Jack, we are very proud of you!"

here are a few of our favorite highlights from the season. jack is the one in the dark blue helmet.