Neil came to stay with us at the end of January. He stayed just over a week and it was so, so good to have him. It's just too hard to split time between our loved ones once or twice a year when we go to Utah so this trip was really wonderful and important to us. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but Camille has major anxiety with anyone who isn't Mom. So here she is looking a little nervous...
but warming up....
Have I mentioned that 12:00 is the worst church time for us? I even preferred 2:00 because at least my babies could nap before we left. Usually the babies spend church a little grumpy, fall asleep on the way home, we wake them up at 5:00 (grumpy), have a grumpy dinner while they try to wake up, and then they are bouncing off the walls at bedtime. Just a day in the life of little ones....
Another tradition is to take our babies out for their first pancakes when they turn 9 months old. This tradition started on Brynn's 9 month bday when she woke us up ready to play at 5:00 am on a Saturday. We were both so tired and depressed to be up at that time (still saying good-bye to our parentless life, I guess!). But we had a change of heart and decided to make the most of it. At about 5:30 we showed up with her at Denny's, ordered her the smiley alien pancake, and she was absolutely as adorable, grateful, and gluttonous as could be. It was totally worth it, and we've honored the 9 month tradition ever since.
Camille couldn't get her hands on those pancakes fast enough.
One day Gabe came down the stairs looking like this:
On President's day, we took a picnic to the Lost Dutchman State Park (in the Superstition Mountains that are near us) and the kids did the junior ranger program, of course.
Here they are taking the oath they have come to know and love. I love Marty's and my agreement to always keep a national parks pass. We're just cheap enough to make sure we use it whenever possible.
See the flushed cheeks? It was way too warm for February and it had me a little nervous. But it's turned out to be a beautiful spring.
After that we headed out to Goldfield ghost town and met the Mathers out there. These places are 40ish minutes from our house and have always been on the "to-do" list. I wonder what took us so long? We rode the train around the town, which has to have been the slowest train in existence, but the kids had fun.
And she was NOT happy about having to wake up.
We had another fun Johnson Family Olympics. I swear, it seemed like yesterday that we had our summer Olympics while the London Olympics were going. Marty and I have so much fun getting into the Olympics on TV. Partly because we feel like it's an excuse to actually watch TV that isn't filth, and the kids can even hang out with us, too. Although we did have to keep the remote handy for the more "adult" commercials, which just made me mad. Actually, we hadn't had TV in a pretty long time. We ran out in a rush, bought a digital antenna, and (skipping the details of our technical disasters) wound up putting it on a ladder in our back yard. Stay classy, Queen Creek.
Marty won the gold medal for baseball. I just can't say enough about this guy. He is a truly unique and amazing man. He keeps everything light, makes me laugh every day, teases us all when we got too serious. And yet he has a depth, wisdom, responsibility, and sense of duty to go right along with it. He is such a steady person and we are so very lucky to have him. I mean, seriously, I laugh every time I see these pictures.
More lost teeth, and therefore more requests for Daddy to put it on his Facebook page. How worried should I be about how badly she wants to be famous?
On February 27th I surprised Marty with some frozen custard. It happened to be the 10th anniversary of our first date, which was seeing the "The Best Two Years" at the dollar theater and frozen custard afterward.
Marty is SOOO adorable. Just to be safe, he went to the theater and bought our tickets that morning. For a show not many wanted to see in the first place and was now at the dollar theater. Love it. He took me to that one because I had told him how hard I was working to get out on a mission (he wasn't too worried knowing I couldn't leave for another two years!). He picked me up in the very same car he still drives to work every day. It was a little cleaner then. :) We got to the theater really early and had lots of time to talk. He told me about his mom passing away and his fourteen siblings and step-siblings. When we came out of the theater it was snowing that really quiet, sparkly, beautiful snow. We got frozen custard and talked about our education and future plans. He wanted to graduate in history, and Plan A was a career as a seminary teacher. I told him how much I loved my degree, but that if I was being honest, I'd really like to put my psychology degree to use in my family and make money teaching piano. He liked that. We are lucky that a decade later and those plans have long since been realized. It was such a good first date. We were comfortable together. We laughed together. But I don't know that on the first date either of us expected the other to be "the one." We definitely wanted to take our time to get to know each other and be sure, but each subsequent date just got better and better and we didn't want to be apart. I'll end there, but spoiler alert: we have four kids. :)
Because most of the parents of the youth weren't able to see the cultural celebration in person, the youth gave a little concert for the ward. Not to mention it was better circumstances for pictures! It seemed most of the trauma from the storm had passed and they did a great job.
Over Spring Break we had a little family outing to Olive Garden. Brynn's teacher, Ms. Madrid, has a "special friend" who is the manager there. He has been so cute with the class and has brought in food for them. And when they do something really special they get a free kids meal certificate. Brynn was dying to redeem hers, and my parents were so sweet and gave Marty an Olive Garden gift card in a Get Well card in December. So we went! It was so much fun, but I've got to say that the only way we can take our family to restaurants these days is in a situation just like this! It's just not a reasonable season for us. That's ok though, it makes for special dates with Marty. :)
Brynn's special auntie Helen made this little dress for her and it gave me all kinds of warm-fuzzies to now see it on Millie.