A whole bunch about us you may have never wanted to know.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yard Sale!

Today was my first-ever yard sale. I always thought I'd never have one, but now I think I could fathom doing another. Of course, when you're doing it for a good cause, it's easier to put in the effort AND get rid of some of my stuff.

So, what's my good cause? They have announced an LDS temple in Lisbon, Portugal. My brother served his mission in Lisbon (South mission). He has always wanted to go back, and I figure that it would be pure awesomeness for him to go back during the temple dedication. But a full-time student with three beautiful little girls? Well, that doesn't make for a lot of extra money.

We've been brainstorming ways we can make money to get him there, and a yard sale came to mind. So I decluttered some things in my house (phew!) and gathered other items from family and friends. Needless to say, we ended up with a lot of stuff and made enough for one plane ticket. Hooray!!! We're going to do it again and hope to make enough to cover the other plane ticket.

By the way, they haven't yet broken ground on the temple, so that should give us a little time to raise more money. Definitely let me know if you have any brilliant fundraising ideas! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Looking store

My kids want to make money. They often draw pictures and set up tables to sell them. (They've learned very quickly that Grandma is a sucker and will pay them; Mom pays only in hugs and kisses, which defeats their purpose.) They ask often if we can sell old toys at a garage sale. They ask if they can have a lemonade stand. They come up with various other ways to try to make money -- my favorite was that they wanted to start selling tires. (Of course, we didn't want to put Bro. Atwood out of business. ;)

So Shayla came up with a new idea: a "looking store." This was a "store" in which you were able to come and look at her display but not buy anything. Now that's my kind of store!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I think I've become boring

I read old posts I wrote and realize I used to be witty. In fact, I entertain myself as I read posts from three and four years ago. And now I sometimes feel like I have nothing to say -- or if I say it it's actually kind of boring. Have I been away from my career so long that I no longer know how to "spin" myself? Am I too tired to think of anything witty to say? Is having only 1/7 of my brain depleting the comedic parts and focusing solely on the necessities? I'm not bored with life or unhappy or depressed; so, exactly how and when did I get this way?

Oh, but if you ask my teenager, I am totally boring, no questions asked! However, in her mind I've always been this way ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pinewood Derby Winners

Our pinewood derby was scheduled on a Saturday this year so we wouldn't have any conflicts with the building. The kids looked forward to it all week! (Okay, they got their cars in February, so they've actually been looking forward to it since then.) They cut out their cars pretty quickly, and then the boys got to work on the paint jobs. I thought it awesome that they both had names for their cars this year.

Tyler's car was "The Bullet" and Zachary's car was "Zebra Zoomer."

 Here they are doing last-minute lubes to the wheels:

I love watching the boys' excitement as they're watching. Our boys got to race their car eight times each -- twice in each of the four lanes:

Shayla and Ella were excited to cheer on her brothers:

 Zachary's car started a bit slowly --  he came in dead last his first two races. Paul went to lube the wheels again, and that helped tremendously. Zachary even came first in a heat or two, including this one:

Here's Tyler's coming in third in a heat, although it generally fared better:

At the end their cars all got awards. Zachary got "Best Zebra Design." Really? Good thing since he was the ONLY zebra design!

 Tyler got "Best Ballistic Racer." He also got an award for being the fastest car in the Bear Den.

Needless to say, my boys LOVE the pinewood derby and already have plans for next year's cars. It is so fun to watch their excitement, and they're just fine not winning it all (phew!), although this mom of theirs likes them to come in first at least one heat to see their excited little faces. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friendship, Babies and Life Changes

In staying busy with life and the fun and challenges of summer, I almost forgot to mention that my bff Hilary had baby Melissa last month:

Hilary and I met at BYU about 14 years ago. Man that feels like several lifetimes ago! We were roommates our senior year and moved up to Seattle together. She's moved around tons (I think she said something like 12 times in their first 10 years of marriage?), but finally we live by each other again. And yet with our growing families we aren't able to talk or do as much together as I'd like. :( However, she invited me to be at the birth of her "miracle" baby Melissa anyway. (Miracle because she was "done" having kids for the last five or so years. :) I realized that even though we're not as close as we once were, we're eternal friends. You know, the kind you invite to your child's birth. She's been there for all of my boys' births (she was too far away for Shayla's), and I've been there for all of her girls' births. Needless to say, it's nice to have a built-in videographer -- especially one who understands your desires for modesty and to get a birth video you can show anyone. ;)

This birth was a lot of fun to be there for, because 1) Hilary got an epidural and was the life of the party (especially when she kept thinking her legs fell off the bed since she couldn't feel them anymore); and 2) She invited all of her sisters to come. Lee sat over in the corner and played on his laptop in bliss without his wife in pain. Melissa made her entrance at 12:30 a.m. on June 9 and weighed a whopping 7 lb. 1 oz. (about 2.5 pounds less than Hilary's last baby!).

Anyway, when Melissa was a few days old we took some pictures and had some fun with the little cutie. Taking pictures is a lot easier when babies sleep like you want them to (so they're easy to pose :). Photography (although a lot of work!) turns out to be a lot more fun when you actually feel like you got a lot of cute pictures from your "session."


Every year the Freedom Fest in Provo has a Balloon Fest. It's pretty cool and we love going to watch the balloons. However, we haven't been in years, because the event STARTS at 6:30 a.m. That's soooo early! I guess the heat of the sun makes it too hard for the balloons to go up in the heat of day, so they have to start early. I was tempted to not go this year, but they advertised a Darth Vader hot air balloon. Um, hello -- we can't miss that!

So, we got up really early and headed over. Becca was gone to girls' camp, so we even had to wake up Austin to bring him. We got off later than I had hoped and really was worried we'd miss the Darth Vader balloon. But my sister Rebecca beat us there and let me know that it was just being blown up. Phew! We hurried over and were thrilled that there were also these guys:

Brown boys and Storm Trooper
Tyler, Imperial guy, Zachary
Tyler, Star Wars Pilot, Zach
This Snow Trooper said he blinked in this photo. :)
So much fun!
Tyler and Zachary aren't scared of Vader!
Austin: Vader? Where?
 Austin was hilarious with Darth Vader, because he just ignored him. He knew that we passed him to Darth Vader, but I guess he figured if he didn't look at him it didn't matter. What a funny, funny boy! Totally opposite of my nephew Gavin, who had this reaction to a Storm Trooper:
(Such a classic pic I had to steal it from Rebecca's Facebook. :)

The Darth Vader balloon was definitely a favorite this year. In years past our favorite has always been the pig (which is still pretty cool):

But this year Vader was definitely the coolest. Apparently he's something like 86 feet tall and 75 feet wide. Or was it yards? I was so busy remembering the numbers that I forgot the measurement used. Helpful, huh?

Shayla didn't want a thing to do with any of the Star Wars guys. She liked the flower balloon best (and you can see Smokey the Bear to its left):

It was a great way to welcome the sunrise ... maybe even better than staying in bed (for one day, anyway :).

One of the best things about being a mom is seeing your kids thrilled with simple things like this. I love my family!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Downstairs Carnival

I love that my kids are creative and can have fun with very little provided entertainment. In fact, I count on it for family gatherings, and I'm generally not disappointed. My brother Ryan's family wasn't able to join us for the family campout, so he came up later for us to see his fam.

While they were here, the kids disappeared into the basement for a bit, and then they wanted us all to come to their carnival. Fortunately everything was free! (Sometimes they draw pictures and try to sell them to us, but I'll only ever pay with hugs and kisses. They don't like that, but Grandma is usually willing to cough up some coins.)

Anyway, here were the signs at the bottom of the stairs advertising the puppet show, a scare chamber and fishing:

Here's the scare chamber in action:

I think the favorite of every adult was the "booth" with free massages. That little Kimmie has STRONG fingers -- she really should go professional one day! Here's Ryan getting his free massage from Zachary. Ahhhhhh:

And this has nothing to do with the carnival other than Shayla looked adorable the day of the carnival. What a cute Minnie fan:

Camp JJ

Last week we got to go to the boys' cub scout day camp. Paul took the day off of work to accompany us since this is the only year both of our boys will be there. Our Tyler is lucky to have gone three years now -- most boys only go twice (Wolves and Bears), but because of how his birthday falls he was able to go right before his birthday the first time and then as a Wolf and Bear. He'll sure miss it next year! Zachary had a blast his first year. It was so fun to spend the day with Paul supervising 18 little guys having a blast!

Our cubmaster arranged for our pack to be in charge of the cub scout promise and leading the flag ceremony. Both of my boys got to participate (the advantages of having your mom as one of the leaders :), so Zachary lead the flag ceremony and Tyler lead the promise:

Here are the four Browns, with significantly less musical talents than the five Browns:

And here the boys are enjoying almost every minute of the fun:
Zachary in rain-gutter regatta

Tyler finally getting the form in archery

Zachary is sure he knocked over some pop cans

Zachary and Tyler loved maneuvering this huge boat

Getting instruction on how to fight (as if they need it!)

Fighting obviously makes boys happy -- look at T's smile!
These last two are when they got to fight another group. Tyler immediately took down the group's youth leader (pictured). He went down for the mandatory five seconds, and then Zachary got him right down again. He went down another five seconds, and when he popped back up Tyler took him right back down. He looked at me and said, "Man, these kids are getting me fast today!" I replied, "You've already been downed twice by the same kid already." He looked a little embarrassed, although I thought it hilarious. I guess all those years of my boys sword-fighting Uncle Gus paid off at scout camp!