Last year was our craziest and maybe most fun Thanksgiving ever. This year, on the other hand, was the exact opposite and I enjoyed every last low key second.With nothing to really prepare for the next day, I spent Wednesday getting the Christmas decorations up.

I woke up around 5:30 to go running with my girlfriends before our heading to our Turkey Trot at 7 am. Or should I say our *almost* Turkey Trot. The city decided to close the canals to do some upgrades which meant nowhere to run. We did a quick revamp and ended up having some small races at the church park instead.

This meant way less work for all of us. PLUS, the kids are growing up and want to help. We made them make all the signs and run most of the races this year. Big kids are the best.

We had a fun run with some physical challenges, sack races, a 3-legged race, and my personal. . . beat the turkey. Complete with dressed up turkeys.

 The boys raced against each other, but were beaten by Brenna and her twin sister. Dustin and Mike decided they couldn't let that happen, so they challenged the twins to a race.


Even the adults wanted to get in and try to catch the turkeys

The best part is just hanging out with friends. 

After the races were over we had a pie eating contest which only children would participate in. Grown ups are not fun.

None of my kids won. Ellie couldn't even get past the whipped cream before she gave up and Luke wouldn't even try.

 We had planned on playing kickball, but everyone was having so much fun and the guys ended up with their own Turkey Bowl.

Thanksgiving dinner was back out the Bryner's this year, for which I am eternally grateful. She is such an amazing hostess and I could never hope to compete with her. Dustin worked some magic with the birthday boy, the boys played some more football, and ate the most delicious rolls.
It was Kallen's birthday. I can't believe a year ago I was racing to the hospital to see him being born

My favorite part was the Thanksgiving play Sadie put together. She had planned on costumes, but I guess everyone decided on their own. Luke was the best turkey ever. Literally.  He hit every cue and knew every line ("Gobble gobble gobble").
We are a weird group and no one really likes pie. I ate a little pecan pie, but the biggest hit is always my lemon bars. Around 8 pm, we had eaten too much food, so we headed home to a clean and decorated house.

Since we had nothing else to do for the weekend we took it easy. Nate really wanted to see what Black Friday shopping was all about, so Dustin took the kids out while I wrapped presents.

 I let the kids put up ornaments on the Christmas tree, we saw Frozen, and went out to eat.
We are so very thankful for all of our blessings.


Birthday Princess

It's no secret that I LOVE my birthday. My sister is the same way. She once told me she wanted her January decorating scheme to be "My Birthday," like it's a holiday. And I thought it was one of the most brilliant ideas I had ever heard. I think "My Birthday" is an entire love language for me. And I felt SUPER loved this birthday.

The curse of my birthday is that I was born the day after Thanksgiving. Since Thanksgiving is a rotating holiday, sometimes my birthday falls *on* Thanksgiving. Or the day after. Or the day before. Or whenever it's impossible to celebrate it because everyone has so much stuff going on. I've had years spending it with Dustin's family where everyone has completely forgotten it. Which probably wouldn't be a big deal to some people, but when you're pregnant and it's your favorite day of the year it really stinks.

This year was AWESOME, however, because my birthday was as far away from Thanksgiving as it can possibly get. To start off with, my mom sent cake!!
Last year she promised to make me a cake for my birthday (which was the day after Thanksgiving), but between hosting Thanksgiving for 25, our race, 10 out of town guests, and Nate's baptism that morning we were all exhausted. She made up for it this year with some Wicked Good cupcakes.

My cute family also took me out for dinner the night before and we ran to Trader Joe's where they had all the holiday peppermint treats in stock. Just for my birthday!!! We looked like one of those extreme coupon shows the way we cleared those shelves. Only we paid full price because it's *that* good.
Saturday morning I woke up to birthday cuddles and a little drizzle of rain, which is a rare and unheard of phenomenon in Arizona. But it means we get to wear sweaters and boots and COATS! All the things I've been dying to wear.
I went out for a quick birthday run with my girlfriends who I assure you are all gorgeous despite the fact that we look like death in this picture. But it was early, cold, windy and rainy.  Yet somehow it was an amazing run.
When I came home, Dustin had drawn me up a nice warm bath which felt like heaven. Then we headed off to a baptism for my girlfriend's cute little Mia. It was the perfect way to spend a birthday morning.
The afternoon was spent opening gifts from my kids, napping, watching BYU football (if only we could have pulled out a win), and Dustin putting up the Christmas tree for me.

I also had so many of my girlfriends stop by with treats and gifts. My kids at one point said, "You're getting a lot of presents for not even having a birthday party." I know it's totally cheese ball, but the best gift was just getting to see all of my favorite people in one day. I wish I were as thoughtful and sweet as the girls I surround myself with. They are amazing and I am lucky that I get to go through life with each and everyone of them. I can't put into words how awesome my friends are.  Just trust me. They're the best.

That night the real party began. Since it was a Saturday and nowhere near Thanksgiving, 6 other couples were able to squeeze a birthday dinner into their schedules. We went up to La Grande Orange and with Dustin's mad driving skills (despite the pig loose on the interstate causing a traffic jam) we still managed to make it there fast enough to get the giant table so we could all sit together.
We played a game called, "Maddy's so old. . .", passed around the baby, spoke in British accents (or Southern depending on your skill level), Molly raised her hand every time she wanted to talk, Tia's gift turned into the birthday sentiment kitchen towel, Kristin played waitress but got iced tea instead of water. . . It was a perfect end to a perfect day. I love my friends. I love that they all took time out of their busy schedules to drive forever because that's where I wanted to go.
And I love that they would take this picture.


The other stuff

Other than holidays and birthdays we've been having lots of fun.

We ended up being vested in the Red Sox winning the World Series.
 Our friend is a huge fan and they had us all over when they ended up winning their 2nd game. So they invited us back for a potluck dinner for the 3rd game. And then the 4th. It was a great time for all the kids and my kitchen stayed SO CLEAN that week.

Somehow Jared convinced Dustin to dress up like a turkey and told the kids a ghost story about a giant turkey that roamed the land and pooped candy. Then he had all the kids call to the ghost turkey to see if he'd come out. Luke promptly ran into their house and slammed the door. This is the only picture Dustin will allow me to post.

Taught Art Masterpiece to 1st, 3rd and 6th graders.

My girl friend Julie found out she's having a baby girl! Her youngest is 8!

Soccer, soccer, soccer. Sadie literally only orders rice.

We did the JDRF 5K for the cure for Nate's friend Dayne who has type 1 diabetes. The kids were more excited about all the freebies.  Gatorade everywhere, free Rubio's meals, toy cars and Ellie won a florescent green chair from Go Daddy.

 Stake Fair!! 

 Ellie earned a principal award for her excellent class participation and wonderful oral reading skills.

 We painted dished for my parent's Christmas present. I even got complimented on how well behaved my children were.  I wanted to pack up shop right then and there before they proved her wrong. I made Luke write his name on the plate and he was pretty upset because he wanted to write my dad's name on it.  "Grandpa is going to be SO MAD at you, Mom."

Baby Sprinkle for my gorgeous friend, Sara

 Who had her perfect baby Allie -- not even an hour old

 Birthday dinner for the birthday week boys and girl (we have 3 friends with birthdays right in a row)

 Followed by a rousing game of Head Bandz. That game is freakishly hard. How can we expect kids to play this??

 My birthday lunch with girlfriends

 Zoo with Luke's best buddies

 Dustin traveled, and traveled, and traveled some more. But at least when he went to Provo he brought home an AWESOME gift.

 If you appreciated Should Angel, you'll love Lobster Bisque

 Luke told me what he wanted for Christmas is a baby. "A REAL baby. How do you get one of those?"

We are blessed!



I took exactly 3 pictures on Halloween.  All of which are terrible.  See:
I made Halloween pancakes. Obviously I did not think these were going to end up on Pinterest, but why did I not put these on my Halloween plates? Obviously, no cookie cutter anything either. But my kids thought they were AWE-SOME!

On Halloween Eve we were at a friend's house and her husband read all the kids a story about a witch with special pancakes.  There was even a recipe on the back. On the way home that night Sadie mentioned, "I wonder what Mom will make for breakfast in the morning? Will it be donuts? Will it be a spooky breakfast? I *HOPE* it's the Witch's special pancakes!" And so I ran home from the gym at 6:30 am to make my kids pancakes.

Luckily, you will not have to suffer through all terrible phone photos because I took some pictures before our Ward Trunk-or-Treat.


Luke was Captain America.  Along with every other 3/4 year old I know. It's probably because they were a super fab price at Costco.

Sadie was Shoulder Angel. If you don't know what I am talking about, you must watch. We walked into a store one day and Sadie saw an angel costume on the rack. "Oh Mom, I've always wanted to be Shoulder Angel. I never knew they made the costume." How could I resist? She was ecstatic for weeks.
And every good Shoulder Angel needs a shoulder, so she talked Dustin into being her robber.  I thought it was so adorable that she came up with the idea all on her own.

 Nate decided to be a Vampire. I did his make up. Not the best work, but it's MY best effort and Nate loves me so it was perfect for him.  Plus it's dark.  No one knows.
Ellie wanted to be Little Red Riding Hood. I really went easy on the costumes this year. It's amazing how my commitment to costumes has declined over the years. Red cape and basket? SURE!
Somehow she talked me into being the Big Bad Wolf. Only I could not find a wolf mask anywhere and I had to let Nate use my teeth because the teeth I had purchased for him were not child friendly.

Now let's return to the horrible phone photos:
On Halloween night we had a little pot luck/bonfire and I got to sit and talk to Chelsea while the husbands took the littlest kids around. Ellie actually went trick-or-treating in a totally different neighborhood with a friend.  I about died that she was old enough to want to do that, but then I was even more put out when I realized that my costume only made sense with her around.Curse the "tween" years. They want you, but they don't! Nate ran off with the Tylers but Sadie stuck with Dustin because she insisted that she had to actually sit on a shoulder the entire night.

We ended the night with a Haunted House in the next neighborhood. Nate was actually too scared to go, so I quickly agreed to stay home with the boys. It was like my magic night of doing nothing. Plus I found out Luke is as obsessive about sorting candy as I am! Best Halloween yet.