Thursday, January 15, 2015

After Christmas Trip to Arizona & Vegas

For the past several years, we have left the day after Christmas to go visit Jon's mom in Oregon.  We love seeing her, but we are always (okay, instead of "we" I should say "I") worried about weather.  We've had some nasty fog and slow driving conditions that absolutely stress me out to the max.
So, this year, we decided to go south to enjoy some "warm" weather and not have the stress about driving conditions.
Uh huh!  So, an unusual snow storm hit central and southern Utah on Christmas and continued into the next day.  We decided to still try it and had some snow and slower driving for a little while, but rather than turning and heading over the mountain pass right after Nephi, we decided to stay on the Interstate and go across on I-70.   It was a great decision and with the faith our prayers and my mother's prayers, as soon as we crossed, we had dry roads and blue skies the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon.
We got to a little town called Tusayan at the base of the southern rim of the Grand Canyon around 7:00 that night.  We checked into our hotel and then went and got pizza - really expensive pizza.  $30 for a large pizza!  Geez!  It was okay - not great, but okay.  It was freezing, so after dinner, we were happy to just go to bed.
The next morning, we got up and went to an IMAX movie about the Grand Canyon.  Then, we drove into the canyon to find look-out spots to see it.   We stopped at our first one and the parking lot was packed so Jon let us out and waited for a spot.  It was pretty cold, but gorgeous! 

While we were there, Hailey got really sleepy and I could tell she was really, really cold.  We got back in the car with the intent of driving to the next lookout, but Hailey started to dry heave and looked awful.  I think between the windy roads and the IMAX movie, we made her sick.
Plus, it was starting to get really, really crowded, so we just decided to head towards Phoenix. 
The kids were great in the car and we got to Becky's house about 4:30 in the afternoon or so.  My parents have flown there on Christmas Day, so it was fun to overlap with them for a couple of days.   From this point on, I was terrible about taking pictures!
Most of us stayed in a La Quinta Inn (we had Emily and Kate sleep at Becky's so that we only needed to get 1 hotel room).   It was great!  We played games and hung out with the Mortensen's and my parents.  The kids played outside (even though it was probably the coldest week of the year in PHX).
On Sunday, we went to church with the Mortensen's, went and saw the new Phoenix, AZ temple and had a yummy Sunday dinner together.
On Monday, Jon, John, Emily & Jack went golfing (even though it was quite cold).  My parents left around lunch time to fly home.  We went back to the hotel and let the kids swim.  They spent most of the time in the hot tub and a little time in the heated pool.   The Mortensen's came over and Brooklyn & Jake swam too.   The only bad thing was that there was so much chlorine in the water that it literally took most of the color out of several swimming suits :(


After swimming, we got the kids dressed and walked across the parking lot to Red Robin for dinner.  We all love that place and it was fun to all have one last meal together!  The kids were really, really good! 
We hated to say goodbye to the Mortensen's the next morning, but we left about 8:30 or so and headed towards Las Vegas.  Again, there was an unusual snow storm expected in Las Vegas and Southern Utah, so we debated on the best, safest way to get home.  We ultimately decided to stick with our original plan and drive to Vegas to spend the afternoon and night with our friends, the Larson's. 
We were so excited to see the Larson's!  The kids and Jon hadn't seen them for quite awhile.  I had got to see Becky and their cute baby Sarah in September, but what a treat to see the rest of the kids and Doug too!   The Larson kids are so fun and sooo friendly and made the kids feel so welcome.  They had a great time playing together while we visited with Becky.  Their home is beautiful and it's just always such a treat to be with them!
After a little while, we took all our kids (except Lindsey), down to the Las Vegas strip to see M&M world.  We attempted to see the fountains at the Bellagio, but they must not have been turned on.   The strip is not an uplifting place at all - obviously, so we had to keep telling the kids not to look up, but yet not too look down! 

We got back to the Larson's house just in time to leave with them for a Las Vegas Buffet dinner.  The Larson's treated us to dinner (which is such a rare treat for us).   It was really perfect!!  There are 11 kids among us so the fact that they could get up and get whatever they wanted was absolutely perfect!  (Again, I was just an idiot and didn't get one single picture with them)!  We had a great time and the kids were fantastic! 

We came home and put the kids to bed, visited more and then went to bed.  We were supposed to hit bad weather on the way home, but we were so blessed with perfect roads and blue skies.  I literally kept tearing up because of how calm the drive was.   The Lord answers prayers!
We had a wonderful time.  As always, it was so nice to get home.  The house was a disaster from Christmas day, gifts, preparing for Christmas, etc., but thankfully over the next couple of days, we got it all back to normal.

Thank you to the Mortensen's and Larson's for letting the Clampett's come and crash at their houses!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas 2014

We had a wonderful Christmas season!   It was busy, but not as crazy as it has been in other years.  My mom hosted the majority of the parties, which made it such a great for me to just go!    Some of the Christmas traditions that we enjoyed this year:
*  Brown Christmas party (hosted by my mom)
* Opening a Christmas book each night of the month to read before bed
* I took each child Christmas shopping.  They drew 1 name of a sibling and shopped for that person.  It was fun to see them think about and be excited about giving to each other.
*  The Dance show
* Our Ward Christmas Polar Express Party
* We were invited over to our neighbors, the Rubens, to watch "The Polar Express" with their amazing surround sound. 
* Watching several Christmas messages on
* Decorating the house & tree
On Christmas Eve, we spent the day finishing up last minute things.  Jon went phone shopping - bless him forever!   I made our traditional cardamom bread, which turned out to be the best loaf yet.  Then, we picked up Chick-Fil-A nuggets and headed to my mom's for dinner and a white elephant gift exchange.  We had a wonderful time being with our wonderful family!
We came home and got into Christmas pajamas (which we now open on Thanksgiving night so that we can wear them all through the holiday season), watched Luke 2 and then opened gifts from Grandma Bowen.

The kids were really good about going to bed even though they were super excited!  We found out on Christmas Eve that my grandma had the flu and with my dad doing chemo treatments, my mom and he wanted to get on Tamiflu.  Jon worked on Christmas Eve finding a pharmacy that wasn't sold out and then went and got it for my parents.

 Christmas Eve excitement!

On Christmas morning, the kids were insistent on setting an alarm.  You'd absolutely hate to sleep past 7:00.   They got up at 6:45 and came and got us.  We had a wonderful, exciting morning.  Each child was so appreciative and took their time to admire the things that Santa had left for them.

Santa brought Emily an iPhone, Lindsey a Kitchenaid mixer, Jack an x-box, Kate a guitar, and Hannah & Hailey - a princess dream house.  What fun!

After opening our gifts from Santa, we had breakfast.   We really only sit down and eat breakfast together like that on Christmas morning, so it's always a treat!

Jack was taste-testing the whipped cream, which some of the kids like to put on pancakes.

After breakfast was cleaned up, we took our time and opened gifts from each other.  All the kids loved what their sibling got for them and loved the gifts that we gave them.   Emily got gift cards for new clothes, Lindsey got her first cell phone, Jack got x-box games, Kate got Legos, Hannah got a Barbie camper and Hailey got a Frozen tent.

That afternoon, Rich & his family and Mike & his family came over for dinner.  We had French Dip sandwiches which was so easy and tasted so good.  We enjoyed each other's company, opened gifts from each other and then the kids went sledding on newly fallen snow that day.
Jon went to work for a few hours that afternoon and even though the house was an absolutely disaster, we had a wonderful day spending time with each other and soaking in the Christmas spirit!
We hope all our family & friends had a wonderful Christmas Day as well!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Christmas Dance Show

The weekend following our ward Christmas party was the Murray Community Dance Christmas Show.   This year, instead of 6 shows, there were 4.   My parents and Jon and the kids came to the first one.   Lindsey did a jazz dance, Hannah a ballet, Kate a ballet and Kate a jazz dance.    They all seriously did spectacular!    As usual, Hannah just loves being on stage.   Kate has the best smile and really learns her dances well.  And Lindsey, was beautiful.  She danced in all 4 shows since she's in the highest level of Jazz.   I was really, really proud of all the girls!

My parents with the girls right before their first show

 Kate in her jazz costume

 Hannah's Christmas Island dance - she's 3rd from the right.  She has really sharp, crisp arms and when they exited the stage, she had the best Hawaiian hips out there.
 This is Kate's jazz number.  She's second on the left. 
 Lindsey's jazz number
 Lindsey's in the middle

 This is a terrible picture but the only one I got that turned out of Kate's ballet.  I tried to hurry and switch lenses on my camera, but I didn't realize it was smudged and they all came out blurry.  She loved his costume!
 Heidi & Hannah
 After each show, there was a finale and all the dancers returned to the stage.
Lindsey is front and center