So most of you know that we went to Michigan for Thanksgiving this year. I haven't been home for Thanksgiving since...highschool. Honestly I can only think of once that I've been home for Thanksgiving since highschool. We decided that since it was the last time we'd only have to pay for two tickets instead of three we'd go and since we were going to spend all that money we might as well make it worth our while and stay until Christmas. We toyed with the idea of all of us staying that long but it just wasn't going to work so we decided that Derek would go and come back for Christmas. We thought we'd make it a secret and since we're always surprising my parents we decided to keep it from my sisters instead.

We played it soo good. No one had a clue we were coming. We traveled across the country and got here to Michigan without much hassle (besides Derek calling into a team meeting in the Detroit airport- you don't realize how loud it is in there)

We only had to remain incognito for a day in a half before all would be revealed. I was up emailing on the computer trying to make sure my friends on facebook wouldn't write anything on my wall about us being in Michigan. All of a sudden a skype call starts ringing from my sister Nikki in Buffalo...I run out of the room and my dad answers the call. Then my mom comes up to me and asks "Did Derek put on his facebook that he's in Michigan?" Derek hearing the commotion was coming up the stairs. " You said that you were in Michigan on facebook?!?!?" Surprise!!!

Thanksgiving day came and early in the morning we get a call saying that my great great aunt (this is my GRANDMOTHER'S aunt) is in the hospital. Surprise!! So my mom is making all kinds of calls to different family members keeping them up to date while Hyrum scurries around her ankles I peel potatoes and Derek and my dad go to the hospital to give blessings as needed. I'm trying to keep Hyrum quiet but there are a few questions to which she gives her best excuses. As it turned out my great great aunt had had a heart attack and had to have a stintput in but was feeling much better when my dad saw her. She gave strict instructions to my dad to go to her house pick up the salad she promised for dinner and take it to our house. Meanwhile my sister Holly gets here for dinner. I have the video camera poised to record her reaction and digital camera in hand to get a picture as well. Surprise!!!

The picture really doesn't capture it. What was really classic was when I told her how long we were staying. It seriously took her 5 minutes for it all to sink in. She just kept saying "January 5th...January 5th?...January 5th...January 5th?...January 5th" CLASSIC!! Surprise!!!

Dinner was fabulous. Good food, good company, good everything. We all had our fill then we got down to hitting the ads and planning our route for the next morning. Traditionally the women pour over ads and the men watch football but we must have a different breed of men in our family these days because the men were pouring over ads too. Then my cousin Abigail came over with her beau who she introduced as her HUSBAND and announced they were expecting! Surprise!!! Does she look pregnant to you? Didn't think so either but she had the ultrasound pictures to prove it. A girl in March!

All in all a great start to the visit. More to catch up on soon...

My sister called me yesterday as they were getting 6 plus inches of snow in Michigan and asked me if I was getting my neighbor gifts ready yet. It's been in the low to mid 60's here and sunshine here ( I was actually outside in a short sleeved shirt yesterday ) so I have NOT been thinking of Christmas at all. But I was looking at last years posts and realized that I had requests to do a refresher post this year of some neighbor gift ideas I've had so that others could use them. (hopefully our blog is still private enough, Hol)

I've gotten some really cute and easy ideas over the years that I liked. ( ok only like two...this is not a very useful post is it?)

Well to start I'll remind you what I did last year.

Thin Mint snowmen and little bags of "Puppy chow/ Muddy buddies" ( whatever you want to call it depending on your spunky note. )

This year I'm not telling what I'm doing because I don't want to ruin the surprise and I may or may not have decided yet... :)

These first two ideas were courtesy of my darling step garden hostess. I post them with her permission. :)

This adorable tag was attached to a bag of Lays potato chips. :)

I don't know if you can see what the tag says so I'll tell you what it says. "The weather outside is frightful a cup of hot cocoa would be delightful! But if it's too hot you know... Better blow, Better blow, Better blow."

And this idea is for all you ladies out there who have a lot of time and are pretty handy as well.

Our bishops wife made these for neighbor gifts one year ( frame and all ) and I can't tell you how many I've seen around the ward. She probably made upwards of 50 of these babies. Wow! She's amazing!

So there you go. That's all I got...not to creative or spunky but it works, right?

Have a great day. Promise the next post will be on the holiday on hand. :) Instead of being super late on one holiday and super early on the next!

So it's halfway through November and we've yet to post pictures of Halloween. Sorry but I don't think the Omniture Halloween Party video is going to happen this year so if you want to see what it's like you should go to last years post to get a flavor. But really it was even more insane than last years. This year they had TWO buildings of total madness and you had to have a bracelet to get in ( given only to immediate family members of employees ).

Derek had planned to take a few days off work when my parents were here but as the time got closer he knew it wasn't going to happen. There was just too much regular work to be done not to mention Halloween preparations. He worried that he wasn't going to get it all done but I promised that my dad would probably like to help with Halloween preparations. As it turned out he was more than happy to help out...
Creating a dry ice fog machine out of a regular fog machine and a cooler...
The finished product...

They spent most of the day and night before Halloween putting everything up. Customer services (the department that Derek is in ) did a Superhero theme with sections of Teenage mutant ninja turtles, Ghostbusters, Men in Black ( they were taking this super hero theme rather loosely ) The Dark Knight ( Derek's section) Super Mario Bros and early Batman. And Customer services won for best decorations.
( Derek: Batman and their two "Joker"s )
Our Superfamily Derek and I ( Batman and Catwoman) and our little Jack Jack Incredible
The complete Superfamily! Including Papa Fett and Mema jedi! ( we had to borrow a lightsaber because we couldn't find Derek's last minute )
They had a BYU/Utah room where they'd actually brought a tail end of a truck for tailgating and had laid sod on the floor to create a field. I won earrings because I could name four members of the BYU coaching staff. :)
The executives had a theme of The Wizard of Oz and the CEO flew in little people to be the Munchkins this year. ( he does this every year)
Dorthy and the Cowardly lion and our little Cowardly Hy.

The stages of over stimulation coupled with sugar withdrawal

I was convinced he was about to burst into flames at any second.

After all that excitement we went home had a quick dinner and we were off to go trick or treating. REAL trick or treating. We didn't have a trunk or treat this year so we headed out around the neighborhood. It was so fun.
We dressed him in a Micky Mouse costume for that night because it was cooler and a little drizzly.
It was the most photographed trick or treating I've ever seen but it was fun and he got a lot of candy. He was a very friendly trick or treater. He walked into every house we went to. Good thing we knew most of them.

Derek carved Hy's pumpkin alone this year; all he was interested in was the sharp knives. We have high hopes for next year.
Just one more picture of my parents dressed up. Get a good look because this is probably the last time it will happen...
I still can't believe we got them to dress up!!

It's my Big sisters birthday today. I decided to do something a little different for her birthday. Something a little retro. :)

N - Neat ( in both senses )
I - Inspiring
C - Creative Cake maker
O - Only 36
L - Late ( Nik, It's true, you know it, and it's ok)
E - Everyone loves her

N - Never sleeps
O - Overly critical of herself
E - Everyday hero
L - Loves my son :)

W - Wouldn't be the mother I am with out her influence
A - Always patient ( has the patience of a saint :)
D - Domestic Goddess
S - Skinny :)
W - Wonderful Mother ( Mother earth incarnate )
O - Only the best sister EVER
R - Rode the city bus into downtown Grand Rapids when she was only in seventh grade
T - Took two lines for her name in her college graduation program
H - HOME maker

G - Gorgeous
A - Always puts FAMILY first
R - Rock ( as in she is immovable in what she knows is right and true )
R - Really wanted to be a full time missionary
I - I drive her crazy with my indecisiveness and insane caution and frugality
C - Can't believe she does so much
K - Keeper :)

We love you Nik! Happy Birthday!

I've had some requests to see the Family Pictures my Dad took when they were here. Trust me I will get to Halloween someday soon. I don't want to post many of the family pictures because we are going to use them for our Christmas cards so we don't want it to be old news when you get a darling picture in the mail come December.

Those of you that live in American Fork or have ever lived in there will know where this is. It is by far our favorite park in American Fork.

This is what happens when the photographer has to look at too many things at once. My dad was trying to make sure that cars were not in the background and my mom was out of the picture and make sure Hyrum wasn't trying to throw himself out of the tree. Can you tell who my Dad was focused on in this one?

And these are a few examples of why...

That's right he'd completely taken off his shoe in that last one. He was a trooper but after awhile...all together too soon as far as we were concerned...he was DONE!

But at the end of the day we got some really good ones. We really owe you Dad!! I wish I could have taken a picture of the other side of the camera. My mom is really good at getting little ones to smile. She'd be a great photographers assistant. She even got good smiles out of us. :)

My wonderful parents came to visit us. They bought us lunch, fixed our broken things, babysat, took our family pictures, they helped in every way they could and how did we treat them? I'll let you judge for yourself...

We introduced them to the Wii and filmed them boxing

We insisted they wear dark blue sweatshirts and took them to a football game on reflective stands in 70 plus degree weather.

Then we dressed them up like Star Wars characters and took them out in public!

We embarrassed them so much while they were here but they were such good sports about it all. You may not call it "elder abuse" but I think I hear the sirens coming closer. If for no other reason than for calling them "elders". :) We miss you! Come back soon!

About every other year I realize that my hair has just gotten too long and chop it all off. Most of the time I donate it but this time it was highlighted so I couldn't. I don't know why I don't think to cut it when before it becomes three feet long but I don't so here's the latest chop! :)

Yeah I know you can't really see it but seeing a picture that close of yourself is miserable. And my arms are only so long. :)

When my parents got here my mom was dismayed at how dark my hair was so the next day we went off to get it highlighted and the beautician styled it a way I'd never done it before.

That's one of the funnest things about getting your hair done is the different ways they style it. Sometimes you want to go right home and wash your hair and do it again and other times you find a new style. I liked this but have never had that many hair products in my hair at one time...EVER. So I doubt I'll be doing my hair like this very much.

I've been lamenting how fast Hyrum is growing up. But I've decided that this time goes so fast that I can't waste anymore time on longing for the cuddles and coos of the past. I just need to savor the present. This is why I love this age...

I don't have to carry him up the stairs

He can just walk up himself

In fact he climbs up on everything...
And he can get his own milk
And he can get his own mail
But he is yet to do his own dishes.

He makes the best sounds when he has a big drink.

Doesn't that sound refreshing? :) LOVE IT!!

He's figured out how to blow out candles. He'll be ready for his second birthday! That's for sure.

He's all boy and loves his diggers! We watched the construction on our street every day.
He does this when you tell him to smile. His 18 month pictures should be interesting...
Yep! I'll take this age! There is so much more he's doing that he won't do on camera so stay tuned for future posts. Until then....

Hyrum has been OBSESSED with candles these days. Every morning when he wakes up the first thing he wants to do is light the candles. He smells them and then tries to blow them out. He holds out his hand emphatically and screams some crazy thing that changes slightly every time he says it. Then when you say "Candle?" he smiles and sighs. It's so cute so I was trying to get a video of it. But of course when I got the camera he wouldn't do it. Then all of a sudden he just started a love affair with the camera you can watch it's succession.

It started with hello...

Then he went in for the kill....

Even a tantrum was no match for his love for the camera...

So maybe this is only funny to us but I thought I'd share. :)

The boxes that got me thinking!

This year I've just wanted to decorate for fall like it's 1799! I want corn stalks, indian corn, pumpkins and whatever...All homegrown. I don't know if you would call it country, old school or just quaint but I'm all about it this year. Maybe it's because I had a garden this year...

Close up of the corn

I thought it was cute to have three little indian corn and three little pumpkins. Not only is it better design wise but it could represent the three of us. Fun and festive! I have to hand it to my muse in this endeavor. My darling artist, domestic goddess, garden fairy, and Harley honey friend Cristall. :)

Hyrum is growing up before my eyes. It's exciting and sad all at the same time. The other day I needed Hyrum to be tired out so we walked down to the park at the corner and let him play on the play ground. We'd been there before and I coaxed him here and coaxed him there and encouraged him down the slide with outstretched hands. Sometimes he'd only consent to it if he was on my lap. I brought my camera to capture his adventures and got more than I bargained for.

This may not seem big to you but he's never gotten off a slide without me helping because I've always been there at the bottom lifting him off . Then he did this...

Yes he climbed up that all by himself. I put a hand on him a few times just for my own sanity but he's perfectly capable of climbing up all by himself.

I'd gone to grab my camera because he was WALKING up the stairs to the big slide instead of crawling and I figured he'd wait for me to get back to go...not so.

Of course the joy is in the journey too. On our way to the park he stopped to smell the neighbors flowers.

And on the way home he insisted on dragging my jacket home. I have no idea why but it reminded me a little of Linus from the Peanuts.

I'd searched, and searched but hadn't ever found a u pick farm in Utah. That is probably due in part to the mini farms that grace the back yards of so many Utahns. But a month ago I was driving home from grocery shopping and saw a sign advertising a u pick raspberry farm in Payson ( which is a small jaunt from here) In my frantic search for the website I came across a u pick farm finder website that I'd previously searched for farms and came up with a big ZERO. But lo and behold this time there were 3 u pick farms listed. So we set a date to go picking raspberries and blackberries.

Hyrum was really excited about the blackberries. They are his favorite right now and has the berry stains to prove it. Believe it or not we'd wiped off his face at least twice by the time I took this picture.

We also picked raspberries. Hyrum wasn't nearly as excited about them and we couldn't figure out why until we got him home and de berryed and found the scratches on his hands, arms and fingers. He discovered that raspberries bite back.
What Hyrum WAS interested in was the little eclectic animal farm next door to the McBrides briar patch. They had everything from chickens roosters and geese to ramming goats, deer and stags.
Do you see the white stag?!? Don't we get a wish if we catch it?
My boys and the goats...the deer are in the back ground.

The berries were big and beautiful. We munched on them all day.

K, I don't know why that blackberry picture is the way it looked normal in my picture file.

But my big plans for the loads of berries we picked was fruit leather!! My mom used to make it all the time when we were young and I loved it. So I mixed some blackberries and raspberries together and made some up.
Sounds like I just threw it together doesn't it. Well unfortunately it was in the oven ALL night.
Someday if I get a dehydrator it will go much faster I'm told but in the meantime this was GREAT! A little seedy but SOO good! And now I have big plans for the apricot nectar my mother in law always sends down to us. :)