Monday, January 19, 2015

"Broves" Part 2

I know I've talked on the blog before about Bryce being a great helper when Tessa was born.  Anytime my tiny little baby would cry, he would run from anywhere in the house to help.  Except, it was more like "help".  As in, not really.

While she's not a tiny little baby anymore, Bryce will still drop anything he is doing when Tessa cries to come to her rescue.   And more and more often, he offers legitimate help.  He will entertain her while I exercise every morning, get a tissue and wipe her nose when it runs and yell to me anytime she puts something in her mouth.  He shares his snacks and brings her toys and reads her books when she is bored.

This particular morning, Tessa was awake and playing downstairs when she saw Bryce sitting on the landing, taking his time to wake up.  She started squealing and yelling for him and crawled over to wait for her buddy to come play.

Tessa loves Caden just as much.  I love taking her in with me to wake him up in the morning.  Not only does she get so excited to see him (she'll crawl all over him and give him slobbery kisses--actually a lot like this), but he loves having her come as well.  I usually get a grumpy look when I wake him up, but Tessa gets loves and giggles in return for hers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Here's the thing about Christmas.  It is childhood magic.  Some of my most vivid memories are of Christmas mornings when I was a girl, and those are the family home videos we watch over and over.

But then I grew up, and my bell stopped ringing, and I had finals and work and the magic was still there, but a little more distant.

And then we had kids.  And our kids got old enough to appreciate it.  And the magic of Christmas morning came back.  And this time around, I am enjoying every minute because I know that just like before, it will fade and our kids will be teenagers and we'll say, "Remember the year..." that was so magical.

For Christmas Eve, we invited my parents over for dinner.  I had talked to Caden about something we could do to remember Christ on that night, and he said he would plan a "ceremony" which consisted of him telling stories from the scriptures and Bryce singing songs (some of which were Bryce originals).  It was actually very cute and they were sincere while doing it.  We ate fudge and opened our Christmas Eve book before getting on new jammies and heading to bed.

I'm not sure what Caden is worried about in this picture...maybe if he was on the naughty or nice list?

We woke up to a few inches of snow which was just as exciting as waking up to all of the presents.  The boys opened their stockings first and then we ate cereal (well, Chad and I ate cereal--the boys ate candy from their stockings) before really going for the presents.

I don't think we'll always get the boys to do this, but after opening a present each, they would sit and play with the presents, or we'd look at it, or read about it, and enjoy it for a bit before opening the next one.  It made the fun last all morning.  Caden got a waterproof watch, Pokemon cards, laser tag, a lego table and some books and games.  Bryce got new trains, new race tracks, books, and a game.  They also got a fish tank with a little crab that we named Kringle.

Tessa knew just what to do and was in heaven with all the paper and boxes to play in.  She is at such a fun age and we are so happy to have her in our family.

Later that day, we headed to my inlaws for their traditional brunch and stopped by my parents for dinner that night.  After putting the kids to bed, Chad and I watched a Christmas show and ate even more fudge, enjoying the last minutes of the best time of the year.

Monday, January 12, 2015


December is the craziest month!  It always seems to fly, but then when I look back I am impressed with how much we crammed in over just a few weeks.  Not to mention I squeezed a weekend trip to was a busy month.

Our first Christmas activity actually ended up being my favorite.  It was the Bluffdale Live Nativity.  I was talking with my neighbor about it--unfortunately they didn't have that great of an experience.  They had a 3 hour wait and didn't get through to see it until 10:00 that night.  I then realized a lot of what made our experience so great was that my sister went an hour and a half before it opened and saved a place in line for us, so that when we got there we just drank some hot cocoa (provided by her, of course) and were through to be home in time for dinner.  Thanks, Kat!

The nativity was so detailed.  There was a real camel, the tax collector and people making pottery in the village.  And the actual was amazing.  There was the tiniest little baby laying in the manger with live chickens perched on the side. Talk about dedication!  When we came out, Caden said, "I just feel so, so good."  Loved it.

If the nativity was our favorite activity, going to Temple Square was our most adventurous.  We rode Trax up and Bryce acted like he'd won the lottery at his chance to be on a fast moving germ pool with 50 strangers.   After we missed our connecting train (stupid stroller!) we had to wait awhile to get back on.  When we finally arrived at Temple Square , we shuffled along with the masses to enjoy all of the attractions there.  It doesn't matter how crazy it is, though, I always love seeing the lights and experiencing the excitement there with my kids.

We had promised our kids ice cream at the City Creek food court, so even though it was already getting late, we hurried over for dessert.  Bryce insisted on "saving" his ice cream for his crush Allie, and carried around a cup of melted sticky mess while we jumped back on trax.  Already tired, we were ready to switch trains and get home when we encountered a major problem.  The connecting train wasn't going to come for 38 minutes.  And when it's past bedtime, with 3 kids at a trax station, the eldest not wearing a coat in December weather, and the middle child still holding onto his offering to his hope-to-be girlfriend....38 minutes feels like an eternity.  Not to mention the...colorful...crowd that rides trax that time of night.

There were a few times that I told Chad, "That countdown clock can't be right.  Next time we're timing the minute" and every time it was exactly 60 seconds.  We passed the time by playing I-Spy and doing some kickboxing aerobics to try and stay warm.  Bryce made it all worth it, though.  He said over and over, "I can't believe I get to ride the train!!  This is the best thing ever!"  Don't tell him--next year we're driving.

On my birthday we went to Riverwoods and enjoyed the lights and festivities there.  Bryce was super excited to see Santa, but sort of froze when asked what he wanted for Christmas.  I don't know if all parents are like us, but we are so anxious to hear what the kids ask Santa for--you never know what they are expecting.  Finally, Bryce said a decoration for the Christmas tree (?!?!)

The ward Christmas party was the usual mixture of chaos and breakfast casserole. We have a huge ward, so they just had Santa sit in the front and answer questions from the kids.  This was after he handed out candy canes by just throwing handfuls to the crowd.   There was a few times I was worried he was going to blow it that he wasn't the real when he didn't know how old Santa is or when he fumbled the words to Jingle Bells.  Luckily we survived with believers in tact.

Gingerbread houses are always fun.  Right?  Tell me yes.
We let the boys pick out the candy at Winco the day before.  I swear when we were in the store, it felt like we were buying so. much. candy. But then when we got it all up, our houses felt a little bare.   Bryce and I cheated by using hot glue gun which will was awesome.  Chad is a purist--no contraband for him.

We had a very magical thing happen when we got a real Elf on the Shelf.  In the past, we had an eraser that somehow became magical, but one night the real thing arrived.  Strange coincidence--it was also the same day Caden mentioned to his Grandma and Grandpa Schow how lucky they were to have a real elf.  Caden named him Chuck T. Red and it really was the most magical thing to find him moved every morning.  

The night school let out, we invited some of the kids we carpool with over for a Christmas party.  We played pin the nose on Olaf, roll a reindeer and snowball (marshmallow) toss.  We had called it a "Polar Express" party, but let the kids pick and they chose Grinch instead.  We'd told the kids they could have hot cocoa, but ran out after 2 cups, I didn't want to fill them with tons of sugar right before bed so I gave them each 5 gummy bears (yippee.) and the fire alarm went off because we were cooking sausage for a breakfast casserole for the ward party.  Chad and I were laughing at all the mishaps, but of course, the kids didn't care.  

And the last event before the big day was the Gourley family Christmas party.  My mom text assignments for the nativity that night, but when we got the kids together, Morgan wanted more than her angel part, Caden wanted to play with Bennett who was a shepherd, Bryce insisted on marrying Abby and Collin is always the wiseman.  So we switched parts around. Turns out Bryce was a great Joseph--taking special care of his new baby.

Other highlights of that night include my dad sitting on (and consequently popping!) a whoopee cushion, "lights left on" and the boy cousins all getting matching batman costume pajamas.  

This is always the best time of the year, but by December 24th, we were ready for the actual event.  Next up...the big day!