Sunday

My buddies

 While Avery is away at school these two are my peeps.  They follow me all over the house and are my little shadows.  They are all growing up and it is so bitter sweet for me.  They are becoming three completely different individuals and all I can do is stand by and watch.  When I look into their faces I know I am blessed.

Little Owen

My little sister had her first baby over a month ago and our family got to see him for the first time over conference weekend.  She named him Owen and he is my first nephew and the only little boy on our side of the family.  My girls and I instantly fell in love with him, it was a constant fight to see who would get to hold him. I was able to get a few shots of him and his proud parents while we were visiting and although I am not even close to being finished with all the editing I did have to post a few of the pictures on our blog.  He is just too sweet!

The football we used in these pictures was my Grandpa Butler's football he used as a kid.
The little Tepee he is sleeping in was made by my mom and we all played in it when we were little.  It was fun to have the props in his pictures actually have significance to our family.

Where has time gone?

Mattie had her 2nd birthday in February and as the months have gone by I realized my baby is not a a baby anymore.  She is officially a little girl with attitude, opinions, mischievousness, and a silly sense of humor.  She loves all Disney Princesses and loves to sing their songs.  She loves Ariel and her Minni Mouse and she loves to dress up. She wants to be totally independent and just like her older sisters.  She is so unique and wonderful and a handful all at the same time.

She is my only child that refuses to cuddle me and giving affection to others has to be on her terms.....being rejected daily by a two year old is something I should be used to by now but is still pulls at my heart strings when it happens.  Everyday with her is a new adventure, I never know what side of her I will get and she constantly keeps me on my toes.  While she may be a handful at times she also has a sweet and loving side that melts my heart.  She loves to tease, wrestle, and be my big helper.  Being a parent is an adventure and I love getting to experience all the new stages my girls are going through.



 This is what she does when she chooses not to do something.

The rare moments when she actually snuggles with me.

So You Think You Can Dance!!

This year has been our first experience with dance.  My girls love it.  They have wonderful teachers and seeing them in their little dance outfits melts my heart.









Friday

Valentines Day




Happy Valentines Day

This year Matt and I are not doing anything special for Valentines Day....for us.  We are doing something fun as a family and did little things for our girls but did not feel the need to make it a big deal.  When Avery asked if Matt was going to get me a present it got us talking about our feelings for this "holiday."

So here is why we both kind of hate Valentines Day and maybe some of you can relate. But also why our perception of this holiday may need some tweaking.

1.Cheesy and Tacky
          I hate that the day after Christmas.... Valentines stuff is put up in stores.  In my opinion the decorations and presents are cheesy and tacky.  The gross box's of chocolates with the tacky picture of roses on the front.  The teddy bears holding a heart saying something like, "you are beary special." All the hearts and lip paraphernalia. Cupid...who is supposed to be baby with wings and a bow and arrows...is well....kind of creepy.  I just have never been a fan.

2. The expectations
       I never really cared about flowers and candy and never really expected them.  Then all of a sudden Valentines Day rolls around and now I am supposed to want them and if my husband does not give them to me then he is kind of a jerk.  Well there are no flowers and chocolates on my table and I still adore my husband.  He does amazing things for me everyday and goes out of his way to show me that he loves me.

After being together for almost 9 years and going through good times and our lowest of times I realize that I would choose 15 minutes of cuddle time over flowers any day.  Flowers will wilt and fade and they make you feel special for a moment.  It's like in high school when you only cared about having a boyfriend around valentines day because all your friends were getting flowers.  You only want it because everyone else is doing it.

3. Commercialized tradition
       I am not even sure of the meaning of valentines day.  I feel it is very commercialized.  I know the stores, adds, and TV commercials say we need to celebrate our love! The man needs to go out of his way to give his wife a special gift and the wife needs to do something special for her man.  This is where is gets tricky.  Men need to remember the kind of flowers that you like as well as the colors.  They need to remember the kind of chocolate you like and then pour their heart out in a love letter for you and if they are really on top of their game then there is a romantic dinner where he presents you with beautiful jewelry.   "Uhmmm aint nobody got time for that!"

Well that is just very romantic but seriously what guy has time to do all that.  I could not even do all that for my hubby.  Then as his wife I am supposed to get him something.  I mean I guess I could get him some boxers with lips on them or a bear holding chocolates or we could get matching tattoos....but I know my husband and he does not want any of that.  So it becomes a nice gesture that is a waste of money.  We all know what they really want;)

4. K.I.S.S
So I sit here at my computer while my cute neighborhood girls are putting hearts on our door "heart attack" and then I realize that maybe my views on this holiday have been more about the gift giving and expectations instead of the simple things. Keep it simple stupid! It is a holiday that has been lost in translation.  Instead of expecting your significant other to make a huge gesture to profess his love to you, we need to refocus and to remember those we love and to remember what we have been given and not what we don't have. I have been given an amazing husband who does so much for me. I have been given three beautiful girls who make my life special and an adventure.  I have been given friends and family who go out of their way to put hearts on our door and send texts abut how much they care. 

While flowers are beautiful they only last but a moment in our memories but it is the everyday actions of our loved ones that last in our hearts. Like all the times Matt has painted my toe nails and done my hair.  The times he has sat with me while I cried.  Brought me home my favorite treat because he saw it in the store.  All the times he has taken my car to be fixed, ran out to get me more feminine products, held my purse while we shopped, tied my shoes, helped me find my phone and my purse.  All the times he has rubbed my back when I am in pain, reheated my rice bags in the middle of the night and then running to Walgreen's to refill my prescription.  All the times he has let me sleep in while he got the girls ready for the day.All the Disney princess movies he has watched, all the diapers he has changed. All the hours he has listened to me talk and trying to understand me.  All the times he has made me feel better about myself and helped me see the good in myself.  Most of all the daily I love you's and his way of making me feel more then just a mom...but His wife. These are the things that have meaning and I guess Valentines Day is a great way to remind me of all these things.    

     




Thursday

Pinning Perfection

Build a stellar set of ABS for 2013 with this intense, 8 exercise abs workout plan
Picture from Pinterest 

 
WARNING this is a long post with a lot of opinions and probably too much information about me!
This year has been the first year that losing weight and getting the body I have always wanted was not on the top of my goal list.  As I browse pinterest I see many pictures that look a lot like this.  This in fact came from my own fitness board.  So while the information the comes with this article might be useful, why do these pictures bother me?  Well I will tell you why... because this is what the world is telling us we need to look like.  We need to have these sexy perfect bodies.  While I applaud these ladies for working their butt off, this is just not for me.
As women we tend to get caught up in pinning the best of people's lives.  We pin their big houses which are perfectly decorated.  We pin their beautiful hair, their fashionable outfits, their gourmet meals, their slim down diets.  We want those perfect things and we tend to loose focus of what we actually have....well at least I have.  I am a culprit of this and I found the dangers in it.  
I have lived with body images my whole life.  I have looked at these girls and hated myself for not being them.  This is what I wanted to look like, not a 5'10 women with a thick build, size 12 feet, short waist and round face.  I would tell myself lies that I could look like this if I just tried hard enough.  I would compare myself to others and was never satisfied with what I had.  I stressed about loosing weight so much that I think my body stopped loosing weight because I was so stressed. I judged myself so much harder then I judge others.  I would have unreasonable expectations for myself. Well this last year I learned a few lessons...the hard way.
                      1. There is no such thing as Perfect
2. Focusing on the world's standards of what is important and beautiful is a trap.
3. Focusing just on me and trying to be like someone else does not bring happiness.

1. I had to learn how to change my whole way of thinking and to get this idea of perfection out of my head.  I think women in general have these false expectations of what they think they should be or what people expect of them.  I know I do.  I felt that if  I was not this perfect mom who had it all together then I was failing.  So I was focusing on my imperfections and trying to be perfect.  I tried dieting, I tried having gourmet meals on my table, having a constantly clean house, having a schedule for my kids, trying to exercise so I looked sexy, trying to always look cute.  I was trying to do it all.....and still not happy!  I learned through therapy...yes I have had therapy....best thing I have done....that there is no such thing as perfection but that our focus needs to be on progress and that it is human to make mistakes and not always have it together.  I also learned that I needed to love myself and accept myself for who I am or I would never be happy.  

2. The world has built these stupid standards for women and we just go along with it.  How many celebrities get front pages of magazine covers because they lost their baby weight in a month.  We are constantly being subjected to false standards of beauty and turned into sex objects.  We are told what will make us more beautiful and while some of it may be good information the rest is a load of crap and not worth stressing about.  We can't change the way God made us...well we can in some ways, but I feel that we probably shouldn't.  Yes I can get bigger boobs but I can also starve myself and still weigh more then the average women.  Seeing these beautiful women and feeling like you have to look like them is a trap....that only makes you feel bad about yourself.  We are all different and that was the plan, that's how it is supposed to be.  There is not just one kind of beautiful.  I will never have the body of a model, I will never have abs of steal, I will never have long beautiful hair, I will never have really cute shoes that fit right.  Don't fall into the trap of the world's standards of beautiful! I am sure your husband did not marry you hoping that one day you might look like a Victoria's Secret model.  

3. Satan is a tricky fellow, he wants us to have false idols and to hate ourselves.  He wants us to look at these celebrities and think that we need to be just like that.  He wants us as mothers to struggle with self image and to be consumed with ourselves.  The more I tried fixing all my imperfections the more I became consumed with myself and had totally forgotten God and the things really important in this life. And you want to know where that got me...... the Loony Bin (seriously...but that is a story for another time)The moment I realized to forget myself and served others and made God a priority in my life is when I found my happiness and confidence again. 

I had to totally change my way of thinking...not just for me but for my own daughters.  As mothers we model the behaviors our daughters will adopt. As my girls see me criticize and get depressed over my weight....what do you think they are going to start doing? As they see me tug on my belly and only drink my smoothies because I want to loose weight, what does that tell them?  I want my girls to be confident and to love the bodies they have been given.  I don't want them to never go through what I went through and the hate and disappointment I had for my body.  I am constantly trying to be happy with who I am.(it is an ongoing process)  Being healthy is my focus, if I drop weight that is great, but I don't have to fill a false standard of sexiness.  My body is a tool to doing the things I need to do in this life, to doing the things God has planned for me.  This is what I am learning and will continue to learn.  I know I may get side tracked and I am sure there will be times where I may revert back to feeling inadequate, but I hope in that time of self loathing I will know who is making me feel that way and that I have a choice and the courage to change.

So as I spend time looking on the web and pinterest I need to remember that I don't have to pin perfection.  I can pin the things that will help me but I don't need to stress about the amazing things other mom's are doing, or the amazing bodies other women have, or their amazing houses.  I just need to enjoy our differences and be grateful for the things I do have.  Just because it is popular on the web doesn't mean I have to do it and if I don't I am not a failure.

So when we learn to love ourselves and not get consumed by our imperfections then we will know true happiness.

Here is what you wont see on Pinterest and what I spent most of my life wishing I could change and hating about my body.
1. My love handles and my big hips and bottom.   I also have a short waist a large rib cage and larger bones (big boned is what everyone referred to it as a kid) But on the positive side these big bones kept me from being paralyzed...so I think that trumps being petite:)

2. I bite my nails.  No matter how hard I try I can't stop.  They are also really thin and bend and tear easily. So no cute manicures for me.  Every time I paint my nails i bite it off....gross I know!

3. My freakishly long fingers.  I would have made a great piano player!  The kids in my sign class used to laugh when I signed because it looked like Edward Scissor Hands trying to sign:) But I could palm a basketball and I think my long arms and hands gave me an advantage in basketball.

4. My big feet.  Yes sir these are size 12 feet.  My toes are really long.  I used to call them my fins in swim team.  Kids in school would call them Ronald McDonald feet. Trying to find shoes is impossible, I usually have to order online.  If you want a good laugh go to overstock.com and search shoes in size 12.  These are a few of the things you will find.
 Demonia Women's 'Gothika-100' Black Platform Steampunk Mid-calf BootsFuntasma Women's 'Candycane-48' Striped Chunky Heel PumpsPleaser Women's 'Delight-698' 6-inch Stiletto Heel Lace-Up SandalFuntasma Women's 'Indian-257' 4 1/2-inch Stiletto Heel Knee High SandalWomen's Devious Femme-12 Black LeatherThese are just a few of the 1000's of hideous shoes.  I think their specialty market is for hookers, transvestites and old ladies.  I would die to be at least a size 10.  Although we would probably be in the poor house because I love shoes....I just can't fit in any.  So if you see me wearing mens shoes or flip flops in winter....you know why.
5. My thin hair and round face...gotta love the bags under my eye's....apparently my expensive eye cream is not doing it's job:)
6. My chubby arms.  These babies keep me in long sleeves almost all year round.  Oh and speaking of babies, who can forget the soft baby belly you get from having kids....my baby is two and  I still haven't dropped the baby weight....and then I have to add the saggy boobs you get from having babies.....thank goodness for push up bras!

7. My sexy scar.  This is the least of my insecurities because this is a reminder of perseverance and getting through those hurdles that life throws at us.  My wound is healed but the scar is left as a reminder...a reminder that having a sexy "Perfect" body is not what is most important in this life.  So yes I may not have what the world thinks as a sexy body and I spent most of my life worrying about it....and now it is time to change.  What is most important in this life are the good choices I make, and making sure that this body stays healthy so that I can do the things my Father in Heaven would want me to do.  I have wasted so much time consumed with myself that I have missed many opportunities to be of service to another person.  My insecurities kept me from reaching out to others and from  making a difference in the lives of those around me.

So here is to a new year, new priorities and new ways of thinking!  Here is to loving me for who I am and accepting my imperfections and loving my body even though it does not fit the worlds standards!

Outsourcing



 This year I had to evaluate my responsibilities and job title and decided after 9 years in my job I would be making some big changes.  I would no longer be doing my regular duties.  So I will no longer be doing my regular mommy responsibilities and instead outsource them all to my family.



 So far I have not had to make one single meal.  My neighbors have taken care of that. Ya I live in an amazing neighborhood.  Matt has also learned how to make me yummy salads, but we are still working on perfecting cooked cereal.


 I no longer dry myself after my showers, I outsourced that to Matt, as well as picking my clothes out and getting me dressed. Luckily, I still have a say in what I wear.  My children also help me get dressed and are very good at fetching me the things I need.  They also like to drop my pills in my mouth. I think they think it is fun, like feeding a baby bird.  My kids are also very good at reminding me to not bend, and to be careful and drink my water.


 Matt is also a natural at doing hair.  After one lesson he learned how to blow dry my hair with a round brush and knows all the products I use on my hair.  Let me just say that this is what I will miss the most when the doctors give me the OK to do my daily routines.  He also does the girls hair.  For a while I would let it go that the girls pony tails were crooked or had bumps but lately he has stepped up his game.  The other day Hailey came in my room all ready for preschool rocking a french braid!

Not only does Matt bath and dress our kids, but takes them to practices, feeds them meals, he does all the bills and finances, cleans (occasionally), does laundry, plays with the girls, takes care of my pills and keeps me on schedule and does his full time job.  The guy is amazing and I wonder how he does it all.  I thought for sure that he would be struggling and wondering how I do it all....but he has handled it like a pro.

When Hailey came in with her french braid I was amazed and then I had this feeling of sadness, like my family didn't need me as much as I thought they did.  My baby cries for her daddy and rarely wants to snuggle me.  My two older girls seem fine but I feel distanced from their lives because it is harder for me to be totally engaged in them.

I know this is off topic but one of my biggest fears is that I will die before I get to see my girls grown, before I get to see my gran kids.  I know that is a morbid thought and something I can't control, but I used to think that the Lord would keep me here, because without me my family would crumble and could not function.  Now I know they can and it is a bittersweet feeling.

As cheesy as this may sound I really do have an amazing husband.  You hear the phrase, "we were meant for each other," well I have no doubt that Matt was meant to be in my life.  We have gone through a lot this past year and if it was not for him I would not have made it.  He had been prepared in other ways of his life to deal with the things that were to come.  Where I am weak he is strong.  My life is not perfect but it does not need to be...there is no such thing as perfect.  I know I have been blessed.  I have a wonderful best friend who looks out for me everyday and I have three little girls who make my life better and love me and needed me in ways I have never been needed before and I have a loving Savior who watches over and blesses my life constantly.

So while I have enjoyed outsourcing all my jobs and I have enjoyed my vacation I am ready to get back in the game and take some of these burdens and work off of Matt.  I am ready to do my mommy duties as tasking as they can be at times and I hope that I am able to do this in a body that finally works and lets me move and be able to play with my kids.  I want to be able to exercise again and help my kids with their sports.  I want to be able to climb the stairs, and sneeze without wanting to cry out in pain.  I hope and pray that this surgery will change all that.....but time will tell.  So while I wait....Faith and relying on God helps get me by and knowing that Matt has everything taken care of....ohh and the fact that this is probably the only time I will get to have these freedoms till all my kids have moved out of the house:)


Wednesday

New Year, New Me

 This year we decided to finally get me in for a tune up.  As you all know I have a crappy back that has gotten worse after having my third baby.  It was limiting me in what I could do and I was in constant pain....so this was the year to do it.  So we headed to Utah to have the surgery and to get some playing in before I was down for the count.  We spent New Years Eve with my brother Kurt and his awesome wife Taylor.  They were a blast to hang with and we actually did something fun on New Years....which I don't think has happened in years.
 We spent some time on Temple Square and then headed over to get our eating on!  No holding back....this was a celebration so Lobster and Filet Mignon was a must.
 The cool thing is we got to watch it being cooked before us...it adds to the entertainment and you will never leave wondering if the cook/waiter spit in your food!



 Night before surgery.  I know this is a fuzzy picture but it was the only one that Matt smiled in...the guy does not smile for pictures...I guess he is too cool.  So you will not see very many selfie's of this guy on the web....and you won't so him smiling....unless his has killed something or purchased a new toy to kill that something, then you will see his beautiful smile. (oh and when I say kill something that means animals...not people....just wanted to clear that up.)
 Morning of surgery I was a nervous wreck and he was cool as a cucumber.  We got to the hospital we went to the floor where I would be having surgery.  Other patients sat in the waiting room with their loved ones.  Then the receptionist all called us up and opened the doors and instructed us to follow her in.  From there she assigned us to our specific rooms where a nurse would give us further instructions.  I found this a bit humurous becasue it was kind of like surgery camp. They assign you to your room/bunk while others wait to be assigned to their own.  I was one of the first so as I walked by the crowd I received sympathy smiles and head nodes...like you can do this...or don't worry, you'll be fine....or I hope you don't die on the operating table.

I sat and waited what seemed like forever and then a bossy nurse from Brooklyn who was not into making small talk had me pee in a cup and then put my sexy gown on.  My anesthesiologist came in and talked with me, she totally rocked and I could not even feel the needle she put in.  Then the Doctor's assistant came in and told me what to expect and then I was off.  I gave a brief hug to Matt and then I was wheeled down to the surgical room....and from there I don't remember anything but waking up.

The last time I had been in surgery was when I was 14 and I talked a lot about my worries about taking my ISAT'S and making the basketball team.  Apparently the surgical team got a kick out of that and told the story to everyone, so this time I wanted to act ...not so drugged up.  So when  I started coming to I remember thinking...ok be calm, don't say anything weird.  So I am not sure exactly what I said but I think I asked the nurses about their families and tried to be adult about it.  I also remember feeling like I got hit by a truck.  My whole body hurt and not to mention my eye kept twitching and burning.  Ya I felt like crap and was very disappointed when I found out I would not be getting a morphine drip!
 The cute flowers my nieces brought me...who I am not sure I said a word to because I was in a lot of pain and really just wanted to vomit.  After surgery they wheeled me into my recovery room and I was put on some narcotics to help with the pain....which for awhile it seemed like I was taking placebos.  Not to mention my eye kept burnig.  They had to bring an optomogist to look at my eye and discovered that my cornea had been scratched durning surgery.  I had to have dye in it, then a numbing cream and then daily cream put in it.  Which got me thinking, how in the hell do they scratch your eye during back surgery? I know they tape your eyes shut but come on!  Then I started to think it was a conspericy to make more money.  They would damge another part of you so that the eye doctor and hospital would make more money.  The guy wanted us to come back in a week to check it out and I was like, " ya that's not happening."  He looked a little disapointed that he would not be getting more of our money:)

My overall hospital experience went pretty smooth.  I had a lot of support.  Matt was by my side almost the whole time....except for the time he went out to get food and did not come back for hours...it scared the crap out of me! I was sure he got mugged but he had just met up to hang with a buddy.  But Matt's mom was there in the beginning to help me and was seriously an angel.  Her nursing background came in handy and I was so glad to have her and Ron there.....Ron was great at bringing me the food I actually wanted to eat, rather then the crappy hospital food.  My family also came and it was so great to have them.  My mom stayed by my side and stayed the night with me...which was such a blessing...my sister Lara sat with me so Matt could go get some good sleep and her hubby helped chase down nurses when I needed some more meds.  My brother Kurt came and stayed and was so adorable as he stayed by my side and helped out and my dad and his support....sticking around and holding the barf bucket for me.  There is nothing like family support to get you through the tough times.

Getting through this was harder then I expected and I did not bounce back as quick as my little 14 year old self.  A few hours after surgery the physical therapist came and wanted me to get up and see if I could walk.  I seriously thought it was a joke and I am pretty sure I said something like, "you gotta be shitting me." (sorry for the profanity but I felt like I got hit by a truck and he wants me to get up and walk it off)  So I rolled out of bed and walked a little...just to make this jerk happy.  I did not connect with him well.  Also the narcotics were really affecting my blood pressure.  I already have really low blood pressure and the narcotics would bring it down very low.  The first night my nurse was scared and wanted to limit the drugs...which made me a very unhappy patient.  The next day I had a great nurse who scheduled my drugs and when the CNA's came in to take my blood pressure when it showed 71 over 35 she assured them that I was ok.  I had some great nurses except for the one that could barely speak English, I really disliked her. Not that she could not speak English but that she did not do her job and was not there when I needed drugs...I waited over and hour and a half trying to get her to come in and give me my meds......not a happy camper.

It was intersting to me how I connected with some of my nurses...to all you nurses out there I solute you, you can make a world of difference.  My low blood pressure made me nasues and slightly dizzy.  One day after my morning walk with the PT I had to use the bathroom, which is a community affair.  As I got up I instantly got dizzy and could feel the blood draining from my face.  I notified Matt that I was going to pass out and probably vomit...which both happened.  Somehow I made it to my bed...and laid down.  Later that day my nurse told me how scared it had made her to see me go so white.  She promised that she would help me get to feeling better.  She took her job seriously, and talked to me more like you would a friend.  When her shift was up she left excplicit instructions for the next nurse and even wrote them on the white board in my room.  A few days later she was on again and I was having a bad day, I had just vomited agian and the PT showed up wanting me to walk some more.  She yelled at him to get out of the room and that I would not be going anywhere today. I was so grateful for her.

My last nurse was the cutest lady and it felt like having your grandma take care of you.  I will never forget her potty dance, as she tried to get me hyped up about having a bowel movement.  She was darling and when it was time for me to leave I felt a little sad, like I would miss her.  She gave us our goodbyes and wished me the best and as we stood in silence I asked for a hug.  She gave me a hug and I told her how grateful I was for her and her help, she was a wonderful nurse.  She shook her head and said, "a good nurse is only as good as her patient, and you were one of the best."  It is funny to me how people like that, who you will never have a lasting relationship with, can still make an impression in your life and change your circumstances. 
 This is my hardware.  The one was taken out in 1997 and the other in 2014.  I requested that I get my hardware back because they have been a part of me for 15 years.  I used to let people feel them where they poked out and told them that it was my tumor.  They were there through all my basketball career, track and high jumping.  Holding me together as I had all of my babies, through all of my falls and then in the end when they were a main source of my pain. They have been there for half of my life and I really couldn't let them go.
 You can see how bent up they got as they tried to pull these suckers from my body.  No wonder I felt like I got hit by a car.  I kind of wish I could have had the surgery filmed....just to see how they actually did it.
The new me!  New hardware on both sides, a new fusion and a spacer...which I just found out was made of cadaver bone....which creeped me out and made me grateful at the same time.
My new scar.  It went a bit higher then the old one and not as low as the old one.  And to tell you the truth looks much better then the scar I got in 1997.  Ya it is pretty sexy!  Who needs a tattoo when you have this thing! Although it is really going to effect my modeling career:)

christmas Morning 2013


 Christmas morning was gone in a blink of an eye.  I had worked so hard this month getting everything ready and was making gifts till last minute.  I was actually sad to see it come and go so fast.  The end of my favorite season.  The end of Christmas cheer, decorations, special traditions, and no more using Santa as way to get my kids to behave! 
 We have spent Christmas morning with Matt's parents for many years and it wouldn't be the same to not be with them.  They expanded their office this year and I thought they were in need of some decor to go on the walls, so I painted Ron some vintage signs to go in his office.
 Oh and what would Christmas be like without aunt Jess.  After we open presents at our house we go to her house to see what Santa left the girls there, and to see what Santa left for Jess's toy closet.  She is a very prepared Aunt.  I am not sure what we would do without her, especially at church.  When she has all the goodies and coloring books for the girls.  The girls love hanging out at her house.

 I would make a post about this eligible young bachelor, but since anyone who still reads this blog is probably family....that might be pointless.  He is also a great gift giver.  The present he gave Avery....I have taken over and have found my new hobby.  I have been learning how to make friendship bracelets, it's been a fun past time.
 The aftermath of Christmas morning!
 At least someone showed some excitement!  I planned and prepared and could hardly sleep Christmas Eve because I was so excited to see the looks on my kidos faces.  But instead Hailey was quiet and a little moody, Avery tried to act excited, and Mattie just wanted the candy.
 Grandma and Grandpa Erickson always stop in to share the experience and drop off the girls gifts.  I honestly don't know how she does it.  She gets all her grand kids and great grand kids presents and there are a ton of them.  She got my girls the cutest Pj's.  This really is the best thing about Christmas is just enjoying all of our family.
 We decorated the outside of our home for the first time ever.  We kind of had to because living in a subdivision with lots of kids means lots of fundraisers.  So we bought wreaths and garlands off the little cuties that came around selling them. 
My girls modeling some of their Christmas gifts.  I think Avery is turning into a little fashionista.  This kid loves clothes and when she says things like, "I look gorgeous," and "I look adorable in this ourfit," I hope that is just her being confident and not slightly vain.

Later that evening we packed up and went to Gooding for our Nelson Christmas party.  I have no photos of this experience because I just let my brother who has the amazing camera take all the photos.  But it was a blast.  I love my siblings and spending time with them was kind of like being a kid again.  We played and teased the only difference is we all had our spouses with us.  My Aunt Becky and Uncle Charlie were also there as well as my Grandma and Grandpa and it was a great reunion.

My mom even offered to babysit all out kids while we went to dinner and a movie with all the siblings (except Lara, she was the only one who did not come this year) and it seriously was the best Christmas present ever.  Grams took us to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant and then from there it was party time.  As we had time to kill before the movie the words FREEDOM kept running through my mind.  I am not going to lie, going out without kids is amazing!  While we played my mom had a party for the girls.  A pajama party that included chocolate fondue and games and movies.  The girls had a blast!  My mom is pretty awesome like that.

So that week we sat and watched movies, talked, put together puzzles, watched more movies, played games, had our Nelson gift exchange, ate way too much junk food and ate an insane amount of mom's famous ginger snaps cookies.  It was a great Christmas.