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A Field Trip to Cerretta’s Candy

January 14, 2014

We took the Girl Scouts to the Cerretta’s Candy factory tour. The kids had a great time seeing how the chocolates were made and looking at the factory.


They made eggs and bacon out of chocolate and pretzels.


Held a huge chocolate bar!


Saw huge creations made out of chocolate.


We tasted samples and had a great time at the factory.

> Girl Scouts | Comments (0)

The Next Generation (With a Bang)

January 13, 2014

For Christmas, the family bought me the big pack—70 pieces—of fireworks from Costco. (I had previously purchased the smaller pack—56 pieces—for our New Year’s Eve party.) Our block was having a huge New Year’s Eve Party and I thought that these would be the perfect accompaniment to the celebration.

My only concern was that that is a lot of fireworks to set off. I’m not getting any younger and I’d have to keep up a pretty steady pace to be able to have them all done by midnight. Plus, there was sure to be a big spread, neighbors like to chat, and no one enjoys a marathon of fireworks lasting hours.

Luckily my fears were soon assuaged! I had three budding pyrotechnicians raring to assist in the production. And once the other children saw that age wasn’t a restriction on lighting them off, that number grew and grew.

Fireworks only recently became legal in Phoenix and they’re limited to ground-based ones. I look forward to shooting them off at every holiday because I’m essentially making up for lost time. Little did I know that it’s more fun to watch the glee enveloping your children than to do it yourself. They were positively giddy and never got sated—exactly as I would have behaved had they been available in my childhood.

It was so much fun to share this delight with them! I hope they have fond memories when they’re older and can continue the cycle with their own children.

(One of the neighbors also bought some mortar fireworks in New Mexico, which provided a sky-based element to the show. That is, except for the one that got stuck in the tube and exploded about five feet off the ground!)

> Annie, Kimberly, Madeline | Comments (0)

Coloring for fun

Finally Paul has decided to color on his own. Nobody was making him do it, I just found him there coloring. For most kids this is no biggie, for Paul this is a first. He is 6 and rarely does things that are slightly sedentary, aside from tv and video games that is.


I can’t say he does it often but at least he does it once in a while. Way to go Paul!

> Paul | Comments (0)

Filling Up the Local Food Bank

Madeline’s Girl Scout Troop was able to collect 200 pounds of food to donate to our local emergency food bank. When we went on the delivery they were able to sort the food and put it all on the shelves. It was such a great experience for them. While they really cannot understand not having food in the home I think they do know there are plenty with far less than they have.

Mimi and her troop stocking the food bank

> Girl Scouts, Madeline | Comments (0)

Melkam Genna 2014

January 7, 2014

This year for Ethiopian Christmas we went to Gojo Ethiopian and had a lovely time with our friends who recently brought home their daughter from Ethiopia.

Paul and Samara

When we arrived they were having a coffee ceremony and offered us a cup full. It was amazing. It was so good. It was as though I was back in Ethiopia enjoying my coffee ceremony after lunch. Something about the clay pot, the smell of the wood burning, the fresh roasted coffee beans-there is nothing like it.

Sandi drinking coffee

They also served the kids popcorn, candy and cake all before dinner arrived. Thankfully since we don’t eat Ethiopian that often the kids still had an appetite for dinner.

Ethiopian Christmas dinner.

It was so delicious and it was so wonderful how the women in the Ethiopian restaurant made us feel like we were welcome in their celebration. Such a wonderful day. Melkam Genna my friends.

> Family News | Comments (0)

Resolution Time

January 1, 2014

I have reviewed my goals from last year and honestly it was pretty disheartening. I didn’t take the time I should have to get those things off my to do list. I have encountered a book called The Now Habit. I only read it once but I plan to read it again and really implement some of the ideas. I am very busy, I am hugely productive, but the bottom line is I could do more.

I’m not sure if it is the fact that this year I will turn 40 but I feel as though I don’t have as much time as I am going to want to accomplish everything in my lifetime. This thought makes me very well aware of how much more I wasn to do. I am not one to have regrets and while I know I won’t have everything done at the end of my life I want to make sure the things that matter to me get done.

I have been reviewing my 50 by 50. I have made a huge dent in it. I have completed 20 out of the 50 dreams/goals and have an additional 7 that I have been working on each year and making sure I live that way. Only 23 left and 10.5 years to squeeze them into. Seems doable to this dreamer.

There are things I have listed in my resolutions for year. Those things need to get done. I need to paint the dining room this year. I need to get caught up on scrapbooks. I need to decide once and for all what I am going to do about my weight. I need to make the kids bumpers into quilts.

I did a good job of learning to say no. I need to continue this. If I am ever going to be as productive as I want to be I need to say no to things that distract me. I think the Now Habit will help me out in this.

I have done an okay job on listening more. I need to do better. No if, ands or buts. Like stop, drop roll, this just has to be done. I must listen.

Bill and I have done a good job of making sure we have a couple trip once a year. We enjoyed our 20th anniversary trip to Alaska so much. However, once we were home it was back to the grind and we didn’t make much time for each other. We need to make a once a month date night a must. Spending 12 days/nights with each other over the year doesn’t seem like much but it is one luxury we rarely afford ourselves. We need to do it.

I need to blog more. The kids are getting older but that doesn’t mean they are less interesting. Maybe the blog will take on a different role, iI’m not sure. What I am sure of is that I need to write about our life. I need to keep this diary going.

I want to write. I have lots of ideas and thoughts I need to write them out. I have always enjoyed writing and I must see what I have to write about.

My final goal and largest one is to be present. It goes along with last years overall goal to focus but this just hones in on the listening and the family time and all the moments that I float through rather than actively am present in. This is my only chance at life on Earth. I must make it count.

> Mom's Soap Box | Comments (1)

Christmas 2013

December 25, 2013

Kids on Christmas

Christmas Eve we went over to my Mother’s house like normal. We enjoyed good food and company. We bought my Mom a iPod touch for Christmas which proved to be a great gift for her. She is still working on learning how to use it but otherwise she is doing an amazing job learning it all. I know it will be of great use to her in the future.

Kids at Grammy's

After Grammy’s house we went to candlelight service. It was quite late but I figured we should do it since it is just once a year you can go. The lights were down in the church and the carols were so nice and quiet that about 15 minutes into the service Paul crawled into my lap and laid his head on my chest and went to sleep. I got kind of mushy at that point. Honestly, Paul rarely stops moving and even when he does he doesn’t want me to hold him anymore. Seeing the candlelight glow on his face, hearing the girls singing Silent Night as sweet Paul slept, was amazing. Certainly one of my favorite all time memories.

The kids were so tired by the time that we got home that even though they were excited for Santa’s arrival they went straight to sleep. The next morning they awoke to find all their treasures. They all still believe and while I know a time is coming that they won’t it was sweet to see them revelling in it all.

Christmas 2013

We hung out all day and played with our new things. Kimberly’s favorite gift was her karaoke machine. Annie’s favorite gift was pokemon cards. Mimi’s favorite gift was a Barbie plane. Paul’s favorite gift was basketball and hoop. Bill’s favorite gift was his Kindle. My favorite gift that was tangible was my bracelet from Tiffanys.

Paul shooting hoops

We ended the day with a nice dinner. Grammy was able to come over after work and join us. We are so blessed and thankful.

> Family News | Comments (0)

A Caroling We Go

December 20, 2013

We had our annual Girl Scout caroling a little later than normal this year, but it was such fun. Since we did it close to Christmas everyone was home and not one person shut the door on us. (Yes, we have had this happen before.) The girls had such fun and I hope we can continue this tradition for a long time to come.


Before we went out that evening many of the girls came over to make cookies to serve with the hot cocoa.

Annie and Kimberly decorating

Mimi helping dip oreo balls

> Girl Scouts | Comments (0)

Ornament Exchange

We had a holiday party at our house and we asked everyone to bring an ornament to exchange. We had a baked potato bar for the dinner and everyone loved it. It was so easy to put together and such a crowd pleaser that I know I will be doing it again in the future.

Friends exchanging ornaments

The kids had fun playing with their friends and everyone enjoyed getting in on the fun.

> Family News | Comments (0)

Annie’s First Spelling Bee

December 13, 2013

This year Annie participated in the spelling bee at school. She was so excited and told her teacher that she had been dreaming of being in the Spelling Bee since she was 5.

Annie in the Spelling Bee

She didn’t make it all the way but made it past lots of kids older than her. She upset that she lost which was odd since she didn’t put much time into studying but rather just expected it to happen.

Waiting for her turn

I think this was a good learning experience for her. Up until recently she has never really had to put much effort into learning. I can’t knock this too much since both Bill and I have college degrees and I can’t say we ever had to really study or bust our butts to get them. She takes after her parents, which can be good and bad.

Annie must learn that there are some things she has to put more effort into. If she really wants to win the spelling bee she has to work to make that dream happen.

Click the link below to see Annie in action in the spelling bee.

Annie spelling gorgon

> Annie, School | Comments (0)

Annie and Kimberly’s 10 year old well check

December 11, 2013

Annie and Kimberly had their well checks today. Oddly enough they are the exact same height. They are both 4 feet 4 inches. Which puts them at just 9 inches smaller than me. They are both excited at the prospect of being taller than me.

They are both growing and maturing so quickly that it seems kind of odd to watch the doctor manipulate their legs like he did as a baby and then make mention of them becoming “women” in the coming years. Let’s just say that I am totally not ready for that. I guess I will have to be though, no way around it.

They are both perfectly healthy. The only issue was that Annie was slightly underweight and it was great to have him encouraging her to eat a little more at each sitting.

> Annie, Kimberly | Comments (0)

2013 Ornaments

December 4, 2013

1st Christmas: Elephant cookie and baby bib with picture
2nd Christmas: Gingerbread house with crayons on it
3rd Christmas: polar bear with the ice cream (We can’t find this one this year. Hoping it turns up!)
4th Christmas: reindeer that says Daughter
5th Christmas: Rose Fairy (which is perfect because she loves her middle name)
6th Christmas: Rudolph and elf
7th Christmas: Cookies on a cookie sheet
8th Christmas: Masterpiece ornament
9th Christmas: Baking sheet with gingerbread house on it
10th Christmas: Measuring cup with baking ingredients
11th Christmas: Daisy Fairy
1st Christmas: Giraffe cookie and baby bib with picture
2nd Christmas: Curious George
3rd Christmas: Red bird
4th Christmas: horse with teddy bear
5th Christmas: White cat
6th Christmas: Animals in the house
7th Christmas: Barbie 3 Musketeer
8th Christmas: Cat on Santa hat
9th Christmas: Rudolph
10th Christmas: Horse with bear
11th Christmas: Clarice the Reindeer
1st Christmas: Snowbaby in envelope and mobile with picture
2nd Christmas: teddy in the box
3rd Christmas: Santa in a car
4th Christmas: Hippopotamus for Christmas
5th Christmas: Christmas Tree Bear
6th Christmas: Santa riding on a Reindeer
7th Christmas: Countdown to Christmas
8th Christmas: Elf on the Shelf ornament
9th Christmas: Santa with the Cement Mixer Full of Candy
1st Christmas: Number one cookie with bear
2nd Christmas: Train
3rd Christmas: Mickey Mouse driving a train
4th Christmas: Number 4 with bear
5th Christmas: Jolly Santa
6th Christmas: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

> Family News | Comments (0)

5 years ago

December 2, 2013

I met this little boy. Words cannot describe the impact he has had on my life.

Our sweet little man

He still looks at me with those big eyes and warms my heart.

> Adoption, Paul | Comments (0)

National Cat Lovers Day

Do you know what day is National Cat Lovers Day?

Do you know which one of the Brown children’s birthday is on that very same day?

Yep, it is the cat loving Annie!


By the way National Cat Lovers Day is October 29th for future reference.

> Annie | Comments (0)

Annie and Kimberly’s first band concert

November 25, 2013

Annie has been playing the clarinet this year. She is doing really well at it and loves to play and practice.

Kimberly is working on playing the flute. It does not come easily to her and she has begged us to let her quit. We won’t let her and continue to tell her that she needs to work harder. Finally it seems like it is coming together. I think her having to struggle to figure this out will help her in life.

They did a great job at the band concert.

> Annie, band, Kimberly | Comments (0)

Why do they have to become sassy?

November 19, 2013

The Girls are all maturing and with that maturation comes some pretty sassy moments. I am going to bring back the quote of the day for some of these things.

The other day they were outside playing and Annie was rollerskating but wanted to get the bike up off the ground for Paul. I cautioned her that she was going to hurt herself. She stood erect, put her hand on her hip and said, “like I didn’t already know that.”

Seriously, she said that! I was floored. My sweet little Annie is becoming a back talking girl. I am not ready for this next stage!


Note she is NOT happy that I am taking her picture. I just have to laugh, otherwise I might cry!

> Annie, Quote of the Day | Comments (0)

Girl Scout Volunteer Experiences

November 17, 2013

The Girls love to help others. They have such kind an gentle hearts when it comes to making a difference in someone elses life.

We were able to go to an old folks home and help them make a craft.


And spend some time cleaning bunny cages.



I believe that these experiences help them to understand how lucky they are. They help them to have compassion for others and to learn the value of hard work. If they don’t help out, who will.

> Annie, Girl Scouts, Kimberly, Madeline | Comments (0)

Time for Tea

November 16, 2013

Annie and Kimberly had a wonderful little Girl Scout adventure to the English Tea Rose Room. They were so excited and got dressed up in their finest dresses.


They were beyond adorable and had such fun. The ladies who owned it said they were so well behaved. Just look how adorable they are.



Each girl was given their own pot of a fruity decaf tea to pour into their fine china glasses. They loved the experience. Personally so did I and I can’t wait to go back.


> Annie, Girl Scouts, Kimberly | Comments (0)

Madeline’s Field Trip

November 15, 2013

Mimi had a field trip to the zoo and I was lucky enough to be choosen to go along with.


It was a fun day of walking around with her group of kids and looking at all the animals. Mimi especially loved seeing this little monkey. Can you see it buried under its mother in the photo?


> Madeline, School | Comments (0)


November 14, 2013

Annie and Kimberly participated in Special Singers at school this fall. They had a final production that was cowboy style. They sang several songs and really enjoyed themselves. Here is a photo of them before the show and during.



> Annie, Kimberly, School | Comments (0)

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