28 and Lookin' Great!

I'm dedicating a post separate from Christmas to my main squeeze.

Roy, I recently heard someone say that the definition of love is when being with someone makes you feel whole.  Without you I'd be missing the essential spark in my life-the one that gets me excited about small things, like staying in on a Friday night to watch Modern Family re-runs.  The one that makes me want to set goals and reach for my dreams, knowing you'll always cheer me on.  The one that inspires me to do more, to feel more, to search more.

A tiny gift from Camden: guitar picks, to help him play Camden's lullabies.  

I'm real glad you were born, 'cuz without you I'd be half a person.  :-p  I'm also real grateful to your parents for raising you to be the most honest, goofy, hard-working, lovable man on the planet!

Happy 28th birthday, ya hottie!  xoxo

A Real Christmas Tree

My parents get a real Christmas tree every year.  It fills the house with the fresh scent of pine, just like it should at Christmastime.  Traditional carols play softly through speakers in the kitchen, where everyone gathers to taste {or gorge on} the hundreds of different kinds of cookies, fudge, cakes.  The plates literally stack up on the countertops, saran wrap flung everywhere.  I'd say my parents have chosen their friends deliciously well.

Then, of course, there's Mom's ability to decorate the house like you're at the North Pole, complete with my childhood stocking hung from the mantle.  A few of us wrapped presents, perched in front of the blazing fireplace on a chilly Monday night.  And Grammy has fun ideas, like ginger bread house decorating… I mean, eating.

For obvious reasons, we decided to sleep at my parents house on Christmas Eve.  I just love this family.

Grandma and Grandpa Reay have come over for Christmas Eve dinner for as long as I can remember.  Love that tradition.  Even though the food was great, and the entertainment was adorable, I couldn't help but wish my sister was with us.  I knew right away it wasn't going to feel like Christmas without her.

After dinner we let Camden open two gifts: Christmas jammies and two Christmas stories.  Reading to him is getting really fun.

After I put him to bed we took some time to focus on the meaning of Christmas.  We read the story in Luke, and we discussed the life and birth of our Savior.  Then Mom gave us some beautiful wooden carvings made from olive wood in Bethlehem.  Ours is a nativity.  I love it.  And then it was off to watch Elf in our own Christmas jammies.  {I'm pretty sure we will be getting Christmas jammies for the rest of our lives}.

Camden awoke, ever prompt, at seven am.  We let him loose with his vocal talents to wake up the rest of the house.  When we went downstairs, he gently patted each new toy.  Then he sat back like, "Now what?"

Once we showed him that he could remove the gifts from under the tree, he was great.  He loved tearing off the wrapping paper, and then tearing that paper into confetti for us.  His favorite gift was definitely his push wagon.

Most of the day he wanted to be outside, walking and pushing.  The guys played basketball while Mom and I watched from the tailgate of her car.  Camden made sure to say "hi" and "bye" to everyone several times on his walking journey.

The gift-giving and breakfast-eating continued late into the morning.  In the afternoon we went for Mexican at Grandpa and Grandma Reay's ranch.  And then we Skyped with our missionary!!  It was awesome to see Alexa.  I may have teared up a little bit.  It must be so hard to be away from family during this Christmas season, but she is strong and knows she is doing important work, helping many people.  And that is what Christmas should really be about.

I'm so grateful for my family, and for my two boys.  I never knew my heart could love so much.  Merry Christmas to all!

Grammy Camp

The Reay sisters done it again.  This December was the third annual Grammy Camp. My mom and her sisters love doing this, and I'm so excited we got to be there this year.

My mom has been doing this every year, even though she didn't have a grandkid participating.  Now she does, and I think he's pretty lucky.

First, a Christmas-worthy breakfast of buttermilk syrup, pancakes, and just... general sugar...

Next came ginger bread house making/eating… 

Followed by hot coco drinking...

And ample opportunity to burn off all the sugar.

But the main even was Santa.

Some of the kids were pretty awestruck when he walked through the front door.  {I think he should ave shimmied down the chimney, but whatevs...}  He was so sweet with the kids and even brought candy canes {like they needed more sugar} and games to hand out.

 Not everyone was the biggest fan...

 ^^^ I have a suspicion this might be Camden next year.

The Terrific Party-Throwing Trio with Santa.

And GG!

 And while we're talking about GG... this might be one of my favorite pictures of her.  I hope I'm half as pretty as she is when I'm a great-grandma!

The kids each got to take a stocking home with goodies in it.

Grandmas make Christmastime all the more magical.

The Thanksgiving Haul

When Roy saw how many photos I was downloading from our trip, he said, "This is going to be the longest blogpost ever!"  You've been warned.

Since returning from the zoo today, Camden has learned to do his signature growl when asked, "What does the bear say?"
"What does the cow say?"
"What does the fox say?"

Apparently everything growls.  Including his bottomless stomach, which has been absolutely ruined by Thanksgiving.  After realizing how amazing food can be, he's suddenly become a picky eater.  So let's talk about Thanksgiving, shall we?

Backing up.  A week before the holiday Kirsten flew into town, bringing Oregon rain with her to our parched desert.  We're talking a two-day downpour!  Sorry you packed shorts for nothing, Kirsten.  But for the rest of us the drop in temperature, the water running down the streets, the perpetually dark and cloudy days… ah, they were an early Thanksgiving miracle.

Kirsten introducing her nephew to this wet stuff called rain.

Our haystacks got a little soggy, but it was a small price to pay.

Camden didn't warm up to his aunt immediately.  She stood across the room and FaceTimed me, hoping that he'd realize she was the same person who makes him laugh so often on the phone.  In no time at all, these two were best buds.  I don't think there is an aunt out there who is more fun than Kirsten.

With Camden constantly entertained, I was able to do some painting.  Kirsten and I also did a lot of Christmas and Thanksgiving crafting when Jammer was sleeping.  For me, the highlight of her visit was when we went to the UofA vs Oregon game.  Expectations were set for a good stomping.  The Ducks always kill us, so I was wearing my bright yellow Oregon shirt under my rain jacket, ready to jump on the bandwagon.  And then… BOOM!  I kept that rain jacket zipped up tight and cheered for Arizona!  Sitting in the rain, watching her team lose… I'm sure Kirsten was second-guessing her decision to come to Tucson.  But we love that she came!!

Then came Camden's birthday party.  We all spent the night at my parents house after the party so we didn't have to worry about getting the little guy home for the night.  In the morning we left for Las Vegas.  Let me tell you, Camden was amazing.  Two days of traveling, and not one tear.  We could have done it in one day, easy!

But we stopped in Vegas and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe before heading to our room at the Hard Rock Hotel.  That place was awesome, but I felt a little out of place, pushing my baby around in his stroller.  Getting the room ready for Camden proved to be a hilarious ordeal.  Kirsten and I walked all the way down to the car before we realized neither of us had keys.  The elevators only moved if you got your room key in correctly, so we saw lots of confused people going up and down on different floors.  We may or may not have been some of those confused people at one point.

FINALLY - we got the air mattress for Kirsten and set up Camden's pack-n-play in the darkest corner of the room.  Originally we thought maybe Kirsten and I would hit the strip while Roy stayed with sleeping Camden.  Turns out the Hard Rock is not really very close to the strip.  Bummer.

--hard rock cafe pic with kiss--

So once lights were out, we three watched movies or read books on our devices, ducking under our sheets so the lights wouldn't keep Camden awake.  Roy literally fell asleep at 7:30.  It was like a dream come true for him, except for the part where he woke up refreshed at 4am.  Ha!

In the morning we hauled it up to Utah.  A stop in Cedar City gave Cam the chance to see snow for the first time.

That afternoon we arrived in American Fork at the McAffees.  Ah, the heartfelt reunion of two best friends.

These guys not only let us stay with them for the week, but they opened their home to the entire Buckmaster Thanksgiving 2013 event.  Or, as we are now calling it, the McMaster Thanksgiving 2013 event.  Yes, we have now meshed into one family.

When the rest of Roy's family arrived, Camden wasn't entirely sure about all the excitement.  Dennis' beard was a great ice-breaker, though.  Pat pat pat.  Still, I found myself wishing we all lived closer so Camden could know them better.

I'm finally Auntie Ell!  Being an aunt is something I've been looking forward to for a long time.  I got to hold and love on that little Danny Jay, who was just so small and light.  He's got such a sweet, calm demeanor.

And Camden was all like, "Let me hold him!"

But then sometimes he was like, "Excuse me… 

 "Get outta here, dude!"

Which I'm sure their friendship will be like as they grow older.  Cousins are the best!

Andrea and I were feeling the pressure for Thanksgiving dinner.  We were in charge, and we'd never made any of the stuff on the menu before.  We did the grocery shopping the day before, got up early and got to work.  When Roy's parents came to the house that morning, we already had Jell-O in the fridge, mashed potatoes done, and a turkey in the oven.  We were feeling pretty darn good about ourselves.  Until Laura asked, "Did you make sure to take out the gizzard?"

"The what?"

Oops.  So that's how Laura saved Thanksgiving.

Roy and Kenny went to play football with a bunch of friends, and the grandparents and Kelsey took care of the kids so we could get our chef on.  It was actually really fun--and that's coming from someone who is notoriously a disaster in the kitchen.  I've never enjoyed cooking like that.

Probably because I was in good company, but also because we totally nailed it!  Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of two different kinds of mashed potatoes {mine vs. Roy & Kenny's}, green beans slathered in butter, stuffing {which we almost forgot about entirely}, sweet potato and carrot casserole - half with marshmallows, squash casserole, pico de gallo, a cheese ball, and our glorious turkey.  I heard the turkey was really quite delicious.  Dessert was Costco's fabulous cheesecake and pumpkin pie, and Jello-O.  I'd say our end result was a blissful success, considering the amount of food eaten.  And then eaten again and again over the next few days.

I have to share Camden's turkey outfit, courtesy of my mother.  He's the cutest turkey I ever did see.

Camden caught on to the Thanksgiving holiday pretty quick.  Eating.  If it was a sport, he would be a young prodigy.  But while the rest of us made camp on the living room floor, stretched out with belts undone, Camden spent the rest of the day burning off those calories.  He was just short of obsessed with Cade's pushy-car-thing.  Their cul-de-sac was his favorite thing about the trip.

This is my favorite picture of these two friends together.  Camden loved pushing Cade around.

Waving bye-bye to every car that left its driveway, or to every person who turned their back on him.

Seeing Cade walking on his own made Roy feel a bit impatient/competitive.  He hoped Camden was watching his little friend and studying up.  But Camden will get there, I'm in no hurry.


We gorged ourselves.  Can you tell?

We did an early Christmas gift exchange that afternoon.  Dennis got me the coolest antique-looking oil painting box that belonged to his mother.  Not only is she a painter, but so is Dennis!  I love how the Buckmasters pass on family treasures and keepsakes.

Roy and I are hand crafting our gifts this year.  For Jamie, Roy decorated a piggy bank with the words "Individual Retirement Account" and then Jamie's name on the other side.  It was beautifully done… but unfortunately, due to a miscommunication with Kirsten, he spelled Jamie's name wrong.  It says "Jaimie."  Somehow this made the gift all the more lovable, and Jamie said he's going to put it on his desk at work.

Later we played a game called Celebrity that Kenny and Andrea taught us.  So fun!  My favorite thing was when we played the charades portion, every time Andrea was portraying a female the first thing she did was grab her chest.  Haha-I'm laughing out loud right now just thinking about it!  It worked-she got the most points of the night.

After the game Andrea and I caught a bunch of flack for wanting to go out to do some early Black Friday shopping.  Kirsten called it "breaking Thanksgiving."  Comically enough, she ended up coming and buying herself a whole new wardrobe.

I'd never been Black Friday shopping before, and I was expecting elbowing and maybe some trampling and a lot of reverting to animal instincts to capture the best deals.  Happily, I was wrong.  Both stores we went into were tightly packed, but anyone who bumped into me said, "excuse me" like a civilized person.  Victory for humanity!

Yes, we stood in line for over an hour, but that was the most fun part.  And Kirsten won $3 off her purchase because she could display a picture of her pet faster than the other 300 people in the store!  {Surprised anyone?  No.}  Loved it!

So that was our actual Thanksgiving day.  Want to hear some other highlights?

Like they hadn't done enough for us already, Kenny and Andrea watched Camden so we could go with Roy's family to see the newest Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire in IMAX!  It was so good.  The little boys watched Baby Einstein.  They thought it was so good too.

Fall!  We loved crunching in your leaves.

Both boys had meltdowns when we took them out of the swings.  Just too much fun.

Presenting: The Buckmaster Christmas Ugly Sweater Pic 2013!  

"How big is Camden??  SO BIG!!!"  {C kind of dropped his arm in this pic, probably because he was like 'What the…'}

Bath time can be dangerous with two little boys.  I won't explain why...

Of course this little elf was the main event!

We were able to attend his beautiful blessing at Jamie's sister's house.  {Unfortunately we didn't get a pic of him in his blessing outfit, but I thought this was probably the second best thing.}  

More park time...

Cute family.

Cade was such a sweetheart.  We hoped the two boys would be able to play together, but it looks like they are still a tad too young to do more than yank toys out of each other's hands.  They WILL be best friends someday!!!

Andrea and I wasted no time in busting out the Christmas decorations.  With Thanksgiving over, Kenny gave us his blessing and we were allowed to play Christmas music and put up the tree.  Both babies loved it.  

Somehow in the throes of decorating, we ended up rearranging the furniture.  And then all of a sudden we were scouring Ikea for shelves!  The deals were just so remarkable, we were able to help Andrea complete and transform their living room as a surprise early gift to Kenny!  

Andrea tricked Kenny into going to sleep {it's true, she drugged him} and Roy stayed up late with us to help put the shelves up, the curtain rod, the mirror.  It was a fun little midnight transformation.  Love that hubby of mine.  Kenny was very surprised in the morning!

Everyone was so good at entertaining the boys.  Here Kirsten is putting on a puppet show to keep them happy while their leftover Thanksgiving food is being heated up in the microwave.

And here is Camden signing "more."  Always, always wanting more.

Dollar movie night!  Yeah, Camden lasted exactly as long as the sucker we gave him.  As soon as there wasn't anymore sugar to gnaw on, he wanted out of that theater.  So we saw about fifteen minutes of Despicable Me 2.

Okay, it's almost midnight.  At this hour the creativity section of my brain is hopelessly knotted, and I'm realizing this blog post could go on forever.  *Yawn*  Let's just lay it out:

-I'm thankful for family.  All family.  I'm blessed to be part of the awesome one I've been adopted into.

- I'm thankful for second chances.
- For freedom.
- For white chocolate.
- For the beauty in the earth and goodness in humanity.
- For modern medicine.
- For my other half.
- For old books and soft blankets.
- I'm thankful for the Gospel, and the immeasurable way my Savior has blessed my life.
- A special shout out to motherhood.  Not a day goes by where I don't thank my Heavenly Father for the most wonderful thing that's ever happened in my life.