Thursday, December 20, 2007

Savvy shopping!

I just got involved in coupon-shopping about a month and a half ago and have already saved hundreds of dollars! It's so great! Here is a receipt that shows one of the BEST shopping trips EVER! It's hard to see, I know. It shows that I purchased 6 bags of Sunsweet Raisins and 2 Gillette Razors. Check out the total! $2.90!!!! And look at the coupons tendered amount! $31.94!! Awesome!

 
If anyone is interested in finding out HOW I've been lucky enough to find these great deals, just ask! I'm happy to pass these savings along to YOU!
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Hot Pockets!

This is one of our favorites! No offense to those of you who enjoy a Hot Pocket meal now and then!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Funny face!


Amelia is so hilarious! She does this silly face almost ALL the time lately! She wrinkles up her nose and breathes in and out of it really fast when she wants to be silly! When she first did it, I made a big deal about how cute it was, so I'm sure it's my fault that she does it so much now. We sure love this little one!

Bad day? Watch this!

You can't NOT laugh at this!

Friday, November 16, 2007

GNO, baby!

Each month, some of my friends from high school get together for a GNO (Girls Night Out). Although I don't make it every time, I have a blast when I am able to go. Last night was such a night! We met at Brick Oven for dinner, which was VERY eventful with Allison getting the Heimlich Maneuver from Jill. Thanks for stepping in, Jill! A little scary at the time, but SUPER funny afterwards! (We're not laughing at you, Allie, just WITH you!) These cute ladies are so much fun!

I'm Elmo!



Which Sesame Street Character Are You?

You are Elmo. You are lovable and ticklish, and always inquisitive. Sometimes, though, your excitement about the world can make you seem childish, naive, and occasionally irritating to others.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mia, Mia, Bo Bia...

My baby girl is growing up so fast! She is now crawling like crazy, pulling herself to standing, and making her way up the stairs! She has her two bottom teeth and is working on the tops. This is when I wish I could make time just STOP for a little while! She is so precious and very entertaining. She makes us all laugh with her cuteness, her smiles, and her wet kisses. We are so grateful that she's a part of our family. She brings us so much joy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Mom

Today is my mom's birthday.She is spending today in airports and airplanes and away from home. She is traveling with my dad to see my sister, Mindy, and her family in Thailand. I wish I could be with her. But we were able to celebrate with her on Sunday. Those of you that know her know that she is a very active, happy, caring, giving person. She has spent her life making people happy.She has recently experienced health problems that have required her to either be in the hospital or home in bed. But, as you can see, being in a hospital bed hasn't stopped her smile. She finds much joy in the arms of her 10 grandkids and they feel the same about her. Each of my kids has a special relationship with their Mimi. She makes every effort to make sure they know how much she loves them. Just a couple months ago as we were unloading the van at a restaurant to celebrate my dad's birthday, Abbie and Christian were both arguing over who would get to sit by Papa. BJ didn't join in this argument. His face lit up when he told me "I get to sit by Mimi!"I feel very blessed to be able to say that my mom is also my best friend. I call her very frequently just to chat. She and I are very much alike, and we have a great time together doing nothing but talking, laughing, and maybe enjoying an occasional trip to Target or Ikea. Mom, I love you. Thank you for being the person you are.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

So sweet!

I am completely behind in keeping this blog updated, and I'm really going to try to do better, I promise! But for right now, I couldn't pass up the chance to post this adorable picture of my sweet baby, Amelia, and my dad, her sweet Papa! She sure loves him and I think he kinda likes her, too, don't ya think?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Family + Sun = FUN!

We just returned from a fun-filled trip to Arizona to visit Laren's sister, Susan, and her family. It was a LONG drive, but well worth it to be able to spend time with some of our favorite people in the world! Here are some pictures from the trip...

The weather was beautiful while we were there, so we decided to make the most of it!BJ and his cousin Jake had a fun time together playing with their rockets!
Here's one of Abbie and Christian trying to encourage Laren into the COLD water (a chilly 60 degrees). He was the only one brave enough to attempt the Slide Rock Experience (in Sedona), but the rest of us had a lot of fun watching him! Even though these two don't get to see each other much, Abbie and Holland were fast friends! They held hands everywhere they went and didn't want to be separated for anything! Aren't cousins great?While we were there, we got to visit Schnepf Farms, which is a working farm that also has a hay ride, go-carts, a huge slide, a carousel, and lots of other rides. It was fun to spend the cooler parts of the day there as a family! Here is a picture of BJ giving the goats in the petting zoo a hug.Amelia had a good time just relaxing in the stroller.The three girls (Holland, Brooke, and Abbie) put together a show for all of us on our last night. They spent time rehearsing it and then did a great job showing off their singing, dancing, poetry-reciting, and cheerleading skills for the video camera. They were quite the entertainers!Another highlight was being able to go to Dylan's football game. It was great to watch him play and fun also to see Vic on the sidelines with his camera catching every moment. I can't even express how great the trip was. We loved seeing the kids interact with each other so lovingly. And we loved our late-night talks with just the adults.
We feel so blessed to have such amazing and wonderful people in our family!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Carrot Cake recipe

If you know Laren at all, you know that he is NOT a cake fan. In fact, it was like pulling teeth (as my mom would say) to get him to even eat a bite of our wedding cake 10 years ago. Well, a miraculous thing has happened in the last year...Laren has actually started to LIKE cake! He has enjoyed several kinds of cake, but his new favorite is carrot cake. (You'll notice that it's one of our "favorite things" here on our blog.) I found a fabulous recipe for it online and thought I'd post it here for all to enjoy.

Carrot Cake

1/2 c applesauce mixed with 3/4 c canola oil
4 eggs
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
3 t vanilla
2 c flour
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple (drained)
3 c grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9"x13" pan.
In a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid) beat together oil/applesauce mixture, white and brown sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir in pineapple and carrots. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Frosting

1/2 c butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients and beat until mixture is smooth and creamy. (You may add up to 1/2 c powdered sugar for desired consistency.) Frost cooled cake and enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Celebrity Look-alikes

http://www.myheritage.com


This is a fun site that will tell you which celebrities you look most like! Not too accurate, obviously, but still fun!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Classic BJ!

This little video of BJ when he was 6 months old is so classic that I had to share it with you! As always, though, it's sideways, sorry! (There's got to be a way to fix that, right?)

video

Cousins Are the Best!

I thought I'd just post a few of my favorite pictures of my kids with some of their cousins!


We enjoyed having our cousin Derek (Sharla's oldest) with us this last weekend. The kids adore him! And he was such a great sport with all of them! Jumping on the trampoline and playing Nintendo are just a couple of the fun things they did together!





I love this picture that was taken this summer of Abbie and her cute cousin Faith (Vanessa's 2nd). They are wearing matching dresses give to them by Aunt Mindy, brought over from Thailand. Aren't they beautiful?...both the dresses and the girls!





This picture was taken this summer up in Park City during our Rich Family Reunion. 10 grandkids and Mimi & Papa still look GREAT! We sure do love all these sweet people!






Faith just went crazy over baby Amelia. She was a sweet little "mother" to her and enjoyed every second of it, as you can see by her sweet expression!






Wow! Cute Faith was in a lot of our favorite pictures! Here she is with Christian at Temple Square. We had a fun day being "tourists" and seeing all the things we don't normally take the time to see.



We had so much fun with ALL our cousins this summer! Thanks for the memories! We hope to make more of them soon! We love you all!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

All Clean!


What a fantastic weekend we enjoyed as our oldest daughter, Maren Abigail Hawkins, got baptized! We are so proud of her choice and her great example to her younger siblings.
We are blessed to have her in our family!I'm so grateful that Laren is worthy to hold the priesthood and was able to baptize our little girl!

We appreciate all friends and family who were able to come and support Abbie in this special day: Great Grandma and Grandpa Ottley, Mimi and Papa Rich, Grandma Hawkins, cousins Derek Wood and Ashton Chatham, Uncle Jesse Rich, and, of course, brothers Christian and BJ, sister Amelia, and Mom and Dad! (Also Jesse's friend, Danielle, who was taking the picture, and our dear friends Todd and Heather Harris and their daughter, Haven.)

We are definitely proud parents of this 8-year-old!

After the baptism we all came back to our home and enjoyed a brunch of crepes and watermelon. YUM! Then we were able to hear a concert featuring Abbie and me on violins and Papa Rich on the guitar. This picture is Papa performing "San Francisco Bay Blues", a Rich family favorite. We love the music, but also really like the way he looks with the kazoo in his mouth!

This last one is a video of Abbie and me playing together, which hardly ever happens. We hadn't practiced this at all, so I was impressed by how well she was able to do with me playing harmony. Way to go, Abbie!

video

Thanks to everyone who helped make this important day even more special! We wish all of you could have been with us. We love you!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Happy Birthday! and more stuff...

Since our last post, we've had a lot of fun, which means a lot of smiling faces! First things first: Abbie turned 8 years old! (Before I forget, I need to announce that she will be getting baptized on September 8th at 9:00 a.m. We'd love to have all family and friends join us for this exciting event!) Anyway, for Abbie's birthday, she enjoyed a fun "crafty" birthday party with a few of her friends at Michael's where they made their own jewelry. She loved it! She especially liked hearing us all sing "Happy Birthday" to her over the store's intercom! Her favorite part of the day, though, was opening her present from Laren and me because she'd been asking for it FOREVER...a new iPod shuffle! Here she is (with cute brother BJ) listening to it while holding birthday flowers from her daddy. She had waken up on the morning of her birthday with her face, ear, arms, and legs swollen from mosquito bites...and I mean SWOLLEN! But nothing was going to stop her from making the most of this fun day! After her party in the morning, she spent the day riding her new bike, putting some tunes on her iPod, and listening to her iPod. We had Mimi and Papa over for dinner that night and then our friends Todd & Heather Harris came over for birthday root beer floats. What a fun day for all involved! We are so blessed to have this sweet girl in our family. She's such a wonderful person with a very tender heart. I am constantly amazed at the way she is able to stay happy through all the craziness that goes on in our house! She is definitely a great friend to me and a fantastic example and loving sister to her brothers and sister!


On the day after Abbie's birthday, we were able to go and celebrate the Grandview 6th ward's birthday at the Scera Pool. I snapped this picture of BJ wearing his floatie. I told him to show me his muscles and this is what he did. I just love the look on his cute face!

Abbie's first day of school was on the following Tuesday. It's so hard for me to believe that she's in 3rd grade! Yikes! I'm definitely getting old! I love this picture of her SO much! She's lucky to have not one but TWO great teachers this year. They team-teach (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and Abbie says she loves both of them! I was a little concerned about this break from the traditional way to do a class, but I've heard great things about these two teachers, so I'm sure all will be well.
Christian was a little bummed that he didn't get to start kindergarten on the same day as his sister, but was happy to start the following week. Here he is standing outside of the school before school officially started. (Doesn't he look tiny?) And here he is inside the classroom showing off his first assignment, making his name in Play-Doh. He never said anything about being nervous and only showed total enthusiasm, but I could tell he was just a tiny bit unsure of what to think in that first 2 minutes of his first day. Since then, he has loved every second of school and his wonderful teacher, Miss Sechrist. He is actually sad that he won't be going to school on Labor Day! What a big boy!

I had to post this picture of our cute Amelia wearing an adorable dress given to her by her Aunt Mindy who lives in Thailand. I can't tell you how many people stopped us at church to ask about this dress! It was fun to be able to tell them that it is an authentic Thai dress! We think she's cute stuff!

I couldn't pass up posting this picture, too, because it completely shows Amelia's fun and sweet personality! She's always ready to smile and laugh!
And this last one is a video I took today of her saying her first word. I'm glad I was able to catch it on camera! Sorry it's sideways...if anybody knows how to rotate a video PLEASE let me know! Thanks! Enjoy!
video

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Falling behind!

This blogging thing is great, but I'm still figuring it out, so bear with me! Since I didn't add any pictures to my last post, I thought I should do a whole bunch this time. I'll starting with the most recent happenings and looking back through our week, so here it goes:

This first picture is one I took just this morning of Amelia. Today is the first day I was able to put her hair up in a little "thing" on top of her head. It's tiny, I know, but so fun that she has enough hair to do anything with at this point. She's such a happy girl! Her favorite thing to do lately has been to just lie on the floor with a couple of toys around her. She much prefers this to sitting in her swing or bouncy seat. We think she might eventually be an early crawler because she can really move! I laid her on the floor yesterday, left the room for a second, and when I came back in, I found her sucking on the bottom of our bed skirt. So funny!

My big kids had so much fun last night while their daddy was at a meeting. Christian was being super silly and I've never heard BJ laugh so much for so long! This picture is of BJ pressing his face up against the screen door. He did this for so long, I thought that his nose would be permanently squashed! They were so happy, it was a little sad to try to settle them down for bedtime! They've spent much more time outside since we got our new puppy, Meg. They love to chase her and have her chase them. It's so great for them and they are always exhausted by the time the day is over, so I'm happy!

Speaking of the new puppy, here's a picture of her. We got her about 2 weeks ago and we've enjoyed her so much! Her name is Megabyte, but the kids decided to just call her Meg. This picture shows how tiny she is (she's sleeping on Christian's shoe). She's officially Christian's dog, but all of the kids love to play with her and take care of her. Even Amelia likes her! We're currently trying to house-train her, so if anyone has any great ideas, please pass them along to us. We can use all the help we can get!

Here's another picture of BJ. He has found that squirt bottles are the greatest toys EVER! He played outside the other day all by himself for at least an hour, just jumping on the trampoline and squirting. He even got a blister on his trigger finger! But that didn't slow him down at all! He is able to find joy in almost anything. And he's been so agreeable lately. His only "requests" of me in the last few days have been "WATCH, Mom, watch!" and then he performs some kind of cool trick. What a joy!

We are busy this week making the most of Abbie's birthday week. She will turn 8 on Friday and is excited to have a birthday party with a few of her friends. She's also super excited to be able to be baptized next month. (September 8th, to be exact.) It's hard for Laren and me to believe that eight full years have passed since she was our new little baby! Wow! We are getting old!

Well, that's it for this week. I hope to keep blogging weekly, but my record so far isn't very good. As the title of this post suggests, I feel like I'm falling behind in everything in my life, including my blog. So, if I can do a posting twice a month, I'll be happy with myself.

If any of you out there have your own blogs, forward the addresses on to me and we can link them all together (but only if someone can tell me how! I'm clueless!).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Introductions

After reading many fun blogs from friends and family, we figured we'd do well to finally get involved in the blogging world, so here it goes.

I thought for our first post I'd introduce our family starting with the youngest.

Amelia, 3 1/2 months old, is the star of our family as she learns to interact by smiling, laughing, and making cute baby sounds. She is by far our biggest baby and has outgrown almost all of her 3-6 month clothes already!

BJ, our 2-year-old, comes next. He has become one of the big kids since the birth of his little sister, but still loves to snuggle with Mommy. Some of his favorites: kissing Amelia, hitting anything with anything (preferably a ball with a bat), and swordfighting. Everything he does has a sound effect, which, I have to admit, are better than any sound effects I've done in my entire life! What a kid!

Next comes Christian, our big 5 1/2 year old. He has loved having his sister home from school this summer, and looks forward to starting kindergarten in the fall and being able to ride his bike to school with Abbie. He told me once that he wants to be "one of those guys that stands up in front of people and makes them laugh" and that about describes his favorite pasttime. He's great at making people happy and taking care of his sisters and brother!

Abbie is our happy and helpful 7 11/12 year old. She will be turning 8 in just a few short weeks! She is excited to have a birthday and even more excited to be baptized in September! Boy, time sure does fly by! Her favorites recently are reading, writing stories, writing notes, and taking care of her little sister. I don't know if I say it out loud every day, but I sure feel grateful to have her as my firstborn! She has become such a fun friend and fantastic helper to me!

I don't have anything super exciting to post. The days just seem to be filled with taking care of kids, nursing baby, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and teaching violin. Since the birth of little Mia (short for Amelia), I've realized that being a mom of four kids means many things, most of which is giving up almost complete control. This is still a learning process for me and some days all I can do is just pray to get through the day and still be "fun mom."

Laren is busy as ever working at the Spanish Fork High Seminary 8 hours and continuing his work toward his Masters degree in Family and Human Development. He still serves in his calling as Elders Quorum president and on top of all of this, he manages to be a loving and devoted father and husband. How does he do it all? Not sure. But we're grateful to have him whenever we can get him!

Well, that's a brief intro of each of our family members. Our email addresses are jolaren@yahoo.com and jolaren@gmail.com. Phone number is (801) 423-7916. Keep in touch with us! We'd love to hear from any and all of our family and friends!