Happy New Year! Quick 2018 Recap


When folks ask how we're doing and I answer that there's nothing exciting to report but we're doing well, it's the truth!  It may have been a relatively drama-less year (counting my blessings) but life is anything but boring.  In fact, I feel like with two boys in school now, our lives are becoming more full of absolutely everything!  It's downright busy.  I am neck deep in motherhood.  I am learning and relearning every single day about patience, unconditional love, time management, self-care, and what selfless service really looks like.  I fail and I fail again, but I get up to try over and over again because this unquenchable love for my family fuels me.  I know I live a charmed life.  I am so grateful for all that I have.  Cheers to a new year ahead and all of the fun memories and lessons that 2019 will surely bring!

Here's what happened in 2018:

January: I spent a week visiting my sister in Arizona during her radiation treatments.  The warm sunshine felt divine!

February: A big snowstorm blew in and then the weather warmed up so much that we spent a Saturday exploring Black Magic Canyon as a family. I started coaching the Magic Valley Girls' Lacrosse team.

March: We enjoyed an epic Spring break week as a family playing in St. George, Utah.  My sister was technically declared cancer free!

April: Jed turned eight years old and Levi lost his first tooth! I also attended the Instainspire retreat to geek out about all things photography.

May: Bron took the leap and started a new job as an Independent Dairy Nutritionist.  We were overwhelmed by the love and support we felt from family and friends at Jed's baptism.  We went camping and rock climbing in the City of Rocks one weekend. Finally, we found the elusive Phantom Falls on a Memorial Day hike.  

June: We played on the tallest and fastest slide at the Nelson Family Reunion and enjoyed all things summer: mowing and weeding the lawn, fishing and swimming at Bass Lake.  Our lives were also temporarily consumed with baseball.

July: Bron and I snuck away to McCall for a weekend of food and mountain biking and sweet alone time.  I backpacked into Lake Imogene with the Young Women and Bron floated the Middlefork with the Young Men.  

August: Bron raced Pierre's Hole for the 5th time. Levi celebrated turning six and we visited my dad in California for his big 60th birthday!  We had the best time with the big boys at Disneyland!  Jed and Levi began 3rd and 1st grades.

September: My photography business took off for the season and the boys began their first football season.  Levi began piano lessons!

October: We enjoyed all the Fall colors and things with a visit to the corn maze and walks in the South Hills and around town.  We teamed up with what felt like the whole neighborhood for Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night.

November: Conrad turned two and went on his very first "mountain bike" ride when my mom and brothers visited for a day.  We celebrated Thanksgiving on the Nelson Dairy.  The boys started their wrestling season.

December: We welcomed a puppy into our home to love!  We spent a weekend in Utah visiting my grandma, touring the lights at Temple Square, and swimming at Crystal Hot Springs.  Our Christmas season was full to the brim with family and friends, cookies and candy, a little service for the boys, and a LOT of new toys.  

Christmas Day 2018!


This year, Bron and I promised each other that it would be a small Christmas.  We're fortunate that all of our needs are met and many of our wants too.  The last thing the boys need is more stuff.  Turns out, spoiling our boys is just too much fun!  We've been hoarding gifts since October.  WE BOUGHT A FREAKING PUPPY!  And you'll just have to scroll down to read a little story about the biggest and best surprise Bron has ever pulled off for me.  Simply put, Christmas was over the top this year.  The season was filled to the brim with everything good: candies and cookies, lights and trees, friends and family, but it overflowed with gifts.  I can't help laughing at ourselves.  However, I don't regret a thing, especially when all three kids are still wide eyed believers in Santa Clause.  Christmas is magic.

Bron and I were both wide awake at 6:00AM, anxious for the boys to wake up.  Finally, we heard Jed and Levi whispering in their room waiting for their clock to turn 7:00AM.  I woke Conrad -- who had absolutely no idea what was going on -- and we all paraded into the living room to celebrate Christmas!          

A Very Merry Christmas Eve Sledding Exploit


A very Merry Christmas Eve!  We had the best day adventuring in the thick snow of the South Hills with good friends burning off some of the boys' over-excited Christmas energy.  Getting outside is the only way to kill those last waking hours before Santa comes to visit.  Otherwise, I think the kids would go absolutely bonkers and tear the house apart board by board.  A snowshoe/sledding exploit was just the ticket for making fun memories and getting the boys sound asleep before 10PM... because, you know, Santa had some wrapping to do!

The sledding hill at Penstemon was so packed full of people that cars began parking on the road.  Wow!  Bron didn't hesitate to drive right on past it.  Instead, we made it to the top of the peak, parked, and strapped on our snowshoes.  I am so glad we have these snowshoes and that the boys enjoy it.  Even Conrad couldn't wait to get into the backpack for a ride.  The Horsleys met us up there and after the kids sledded down one small hill for a few minutes, we trekked maybe a half mile with our snowshoes up to our very own secluded bowl -- the absolute perfect sledding hill.  We had it all to ourselves!

The kids immediately began breaking in a track.  And it just got faster and bumpier and faster.  It was such a blast!  I may have mowed Conrad over on our second trip down, but he still begged for more.

Okay, so each boy had a meltdown somewhere along the way.  Just keeping it real.  There was a point in there where Jed face planted after a run and wailed, "I CAN'T FEEL MY FACE!!!" over and over again.  (He didn't know that we were secretly giggling from atop the hill.)  Fortunately, my boys can be tough.  They worked through their fits on their own and wound up having a grand time when all was said and done... in the truck with plenty of hot chocolate, candied nuts, pretzels, oranges, and brownies; all the elements of a magical beginning to Christmas.                    

Celebrating a Full Week with Our Misty Girl


They say the universal language of the world is math, but I say they might be wrong.  I think the universal language that nearly every human being can get behind juuust might be puppy love.  I submitted this photo above -- Misty's very first portrait -- to a few places online and was overwhelmed by the response!  It was fun to hear how much everyone loves their dogs!  Not one negative thing was said about Australian Shepherds.  And Misty here, well I may be biased, but I think she is a beautiful looking dog.  She's like a real life teddy bear.  Her eyes are two different colors!  Every time I hold her, all I can think of is that line from Despicable Me: "IT'S SO FLUFFY!!!"

Our first week with Misty has thankfully been pretty uneventful.  It's looking pretty obvious that I will most definitely lose a pair of shoes sometime in the near future along with a handful of other items, but so far, she's been a dream.  Misty is ten times easier to handle than Conrad.  Potty training?  Sure, she's had a few accidents but when we let her out on time, she does her stuff in the yard in a jiffy.  Plus, I never have to change her diaper and she can feed herself.  Her favorite spot to nap is in mine and Bron's closet.  It's a dark and quiet den where she can find shoes and dirty clothes to lay on.  The boys love entertaining her.  In fact, we could hear Conrad crying for her one night.  "Puppy!  Puppy!" he cried around 11pm.  Misty is going to be so good for Conrad.  She jumps on him for attention and tries to eat his food.  He pesters her right back by picking her up and carrying her around the house, hugging her around the neck.  They're a funny pair already.  After two days, even Tyke came around and adopted her.  He looks out for her in the yard and wrestles her on the living room floor.  It brings a smile to my face every time I witness this new side of Tyke!

Misty is definitely an addition to the family I'm so happy to have.  I'm looking forward to many years of having her by my side on the trails and at home.

Next up, a bunch of pictures I took this week.  I feel like I need to document her puppyhood!  She'll be all grown up before we can blink twice.

Visions of Sugarplums


There is no doubt that Conrad is a full-fledged busy terror of a two year old toddler... until he's sleeping.  Then he reverts back to looking and acting like a baby; it's his soft squishy cheeks and the way he stretches.  He's still my baby.  Always will be.  And I can't get enough of him.

Well, I take that last statement back.  You see, I am in the throes of the very bipolar phase of parenthood right now.  On a scale of 1 - 10, Conrad's cuteness level is a 10.  His fun level is a 12. But his stubborn turd level is definitely pushing past 15.  One minute I'm kissing his soft cheeks, laughing, and soaking in all his cute little details and the next I'm ready to sell him to the zoo where he belongs!

Have you seen Incredibles 2 yet?  We watched that movie as a family a few weeks ago and Bron and I were rolling because we could relate so much to parenting Jack Jack.  Better yet, Jack Jack has become Conrad's hero; he likes to pretend he's Jack Jack!  Oh boy.  We're in so much trouble.

Anyhow, when I snuck into Conrad's room to wake him this morning, I quietly ran back out to grab my camera.  I caught him stretching, resting, and finally awaking.

Only three more days til Christmas!  

A Weekend in Utah to See the Lights and Meet Someone Very Special


We had been planning this special trip down to Utah in mid December for weeks.  The best part about it all is that it came with a special surprise at the end that both Bron and I were busting at the seams with excitement about!  It was so hard to keep it a secret from Jed and Levi.  We love making memories with our boys.  I hope they remember exceptional weekends like this one where everything we planned and did was for them.  It sure helped bring the magic of Christmas to life.

The kids played hooky from school and we left on a Friday morning.  First stop: Grandma's house!  (The boys' Great Grandma!)  I have so many fond memories of my great grandma that I wish for the boys to have the same.  Grandma Smith is the sweetest woman.  She has a unique talent for making everyone around her feel loved.  She says positive things in a way that just bring people up.  Grandma hugged the boys multiple times saying, "You kids are so precious!"  I think they believed her.  I know I want to believe her when she says, "You're such a neat girl, Jessie!"  Aww.  Grandma is the best.  It was just a short visit.  We ate lunch and chatted for a couple of hours.  I didn't want to overwhelm Grandma, but it sure is good to see her.

A Family Snowshoeing Adventure


We kicked off December in the best way I could possibly think of: fresh air and fresh snow!  After all, it's beginning to feel like Christmas around here.  I spent all of Friday decorating the house.  Little twinkle lights and pops of green and red all over the place are making me smile just a little more broadly.  Plus, the boys and I made (and ate) an entire gingerbread house all in one evening already.  It only seemed appropriate to spend the first day of December enjoying the new snow in the hills.  So Bron and I gave Jed and Levi one of their Christmas gifts early (I bought their snow shoes in the Spring on clearance!) and we piled into the truck.

The South Hills were crowded with folks looking for Christmas trees so we opted for the road less traveled -- literally!  We criss-crossed our way over a trail system but it hadn't been walked or skied on since the new snow fell.  We were the first to lay down tracks in the knee deep powder!  I'm not sure the boys were as thrilled as Bron and I were.  They complained that it was hard work, but fortunately weren't too uncooperative.  I know they secretly enjoy this stuff!

It was snowing but relatively warm as we made our way through the flocked trees.  I won't ever get over how pretty a fresh layer of snow looks on evergreen trees.  And then the sun came out and my photographer heart pitter pattered out of my chest.  The scene was sooo pretty!  I'm counting my blessings because I truly do have it all right now: family, health, and a beautiful place to call home.  I think snowshoeing needs to become an advent tradition!

Speaking of Christmas traditions, I had a thought the other day that was quite profound for me personally.  Throughout Biblical and Book of Mormon history, people prepared for Christ's foretold birth.  They looked forward to the grand event with joyful anticipation.  Likewise, today, we prepare for Christmas with joyful anticipation.  We decorate the tree, hang up lights, wrap presents, bake cookies, deliver service, and a host of other symbolic actions of the season.  Then it occurred to me: Christ is coming again.  He is coming again!  What a glorious message of joy, hope, and peace.  And I get to be a part of this preparation every single day of the year, not just at Christmas time.  I suppose I've always just assumed I'll be dead before it happens, but that's really beside the point.  I need to live my life in joyful anticipation of Him and teach my boys to do the same.  It really is a neat thought that has transformed the way I see Christmas this year.

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