This is what started the walking.

Uncle Zac got Camden this little wooden train you pull behind you for Christmas.  Camden saw me doing it and decided he had to try it.  Those were some early unassisted first steps.

But after tripping over the train once or twice, he reverted back to holding pointer fingers.

Until one night when the missionaries came over for dinner.  The moment they walked through the door, Camden started toddling around.  Not kidding!

We encouraged his walking over the next few days with Fruit Loops.  Bribery is the best policy, right?

And now he won't stop walking!  When we were at the California Science Center, the crowds of people didn't phase him.  He'd toddle right between people, not hesitating to grab a stranger's leg if he felt off balance.  He wasn't easy to keep up with.

I love how he walks with his arms up like he's on a tightrope.  And how he sticks out his diapered bum to offset the weight of his enormous belly.  I love how he practically needs a runway to put on the brakes, because he has so much forward momentum.  And how stiff but deliberate his little steps are.

Every day he gets better and more comfortable, but I'm going to miss these early steps.

The Best Botched Trip

The Tietjen's used their persuasive superpowers to get us to come visit them in Anaheim, months before our previous vague plan.  We figured these kinds of trips will be few and far between after May, when both of these guys are graduated and working in the real world.  So what the heck!

Shellena wanted to see a live television show called Hot in Cleveland, with Betty White.  She told me the dates, but I led her to believe that we probably wouldn't be able to come out.  Roy and I are apparently still in a lets-surprise-people mood, so we only let Carson know our true intentions.  Roy texted him in a kind of hilarious code.  

We drove at night again, so Camden could sleep for the seven hours.  Around midnight we pulled up, quietly set up Camden in his pack-n-play in the dining room, and then crashed on the living room couches for the night.  Except it wasn't quite that easy.  For some reason Camden {who normally transfers pretty well in the middle of the night} was ready to party once we got him out of the car.  He's like "Bah?!"  Translation: What's goin' on dudes?!  Where's the party?!  He saw the dark silhouette of Carson drinking from a water bottle and Camden made his little sound he always makes for people when they are drinking.  "Ah!"  Like it's so refreshing.  Anyway, it took forever to get him settled down, but he did eventually.

In the morning, after Carson and Story came downstairs, I ran up and climbed into bed with a still-snoozing Shellena.  When the bed moved with my weight she jumped awake, alarmed, and then registered that I was in her bed.  Totally worth it to surprise her, she was pretty psyched.

This trip was different from the last because Roy had to work all day.  He would wake up, leave for the Chapman library, and study for the bar until 5 or 6 at night.  Carson went with him on most days, since he had his own projects to work on.  So we girls and the kids did our thang, going to parks and the pool and such.

But there was one particular day that Roy was supposed to finish up early, so we could go see the aforementioned television show.

The Botched Trip:
So obviously I'd had Carson secretly get the tickets earlier that week, and none of us thought to read through the information ahead of time.  Turns out you have to be at least 90 minutes early to the shows.  We tried to relay this information to the guys, who weren't planning on being back form the library until 3pm.  Unfortunately, they weren't able to get back much earlier, and the traffic to LA was crawling at the speed of a snail with vertigo.

To distract ourselves we looked at people in adjacent lanes until they felt our stares and looked over at us {very mature game}.  I saw the Disney Animation Studio from the freeway, which got me pretty excited.

When we finally got to Studio City, found the address, and pulled up, we had only 20 minutes to spare.  Still, the security guard with the French accent told us we were too late.  Boo.  Good thing we didn't spend any money on that.

So we drove down the street to have the best pizza I've ever had in my life.  I wish I remembered the name of that place.  While we were there we used my phone to try and find fun free/cheap things to do, since we weren't about to make that whole crazy drive to LA just for pizza.  Every museum we wanted to go to closed early.  Of course.  So we drove down to get a picture of the Hollywood sign.

Don't be too impressed by this picture.  This is us standing in front of a canvas photograph of the Hollywood sign.  The sun had already set when we were searching for it.  A brash old man on the street told me, "You don't read your brochures, do you?  It's not lit up at night.  There's nothing to see."

Oh.  Well thank you, kind gentleman.  And thank you, Hollywood movies, for falsely advertising that the sign is lit up at night.

So that was a nice drive through some random neighborhoods for nothing.  Shellena, whose foot was cramping from so much driving through so much traffic, told me to just find the nearest movie theater.  We would salvage this night!

I found a theater, but my phone was on the brink of death.  We prayed it would last because otherwise we weren't sure how we would find our way back to Anaheim.  So we follow the directions for five minutes and end up in Universal Studios.  The most expensive place in the USA to see a movie.  Don't go to that movie theater.

Unless you think it's worth almost $20 to sit in your own La-Z-boy while you watch a movie.  I mean, that was the most comfortable seating I've ever had.  {Trust me, we got our money's worth out of our experience that night.  Just trust me ;-).}

It was late when we got out of Universal Studios, so we blasted cold hair and danced like we were in a night club to keep ourselves awake on the drive home.  We made it home around 11:30pm and stayed up even later with the boys.  Really, it ended up being fun, but a totally botched girl's trip to LA.

There was one other day we got Roy to quit studying early, and that was for the California Science Center.  Another trip to LA, where we all crammed into the same car.  I think Carson regretted having to fold himself in half in order to sit back there.

We got to see the Endeavor Space Shuttle!  I saw that thing fly over Tucson on its way to LA, so it was cool to see it up close.

Camden and Story weren't as impressed.

That is, until the daddies picked them up to touch the thing the Endeavor was propped up on.  They got yelled at by some ancient looking woman in a visor, but it was worth it.

Camden also enjoyed playing with rope, seeing the tide pools, and any other animals we got to see.  And before you get to wondering... yes Camden is wearing girl shorts.  California was having a heat wave, and we had to resort to borrowing some of Story's old shorts.  Oops.

But his favorite was eating.  It's always eating.

Nights were fun because the kids slept upstairs and we adults all slept downstairs.  Roy and I on our air mattress and Carson and Shellena on the couch.  We played a very diplomatic game of Bonanza, watched the newest episode of Sherlock, made cookies in the middle of the night, talked way too late... the same stuff we always do when we're together.  The stuff that will never get old.
{PS-I made my first ever successful batch of cookies!  Thanks to my sensei, Shellena.}

Another highlight of the trip was going to the beach to watch the sunset.

Camden decided he didn't like the sand.  Not one bit.  Every time we tried to put him down he would panic, like it would swallow him up or something.

But we don't mind holding him.

We love these guys.  Of course, less than a day with them and we were already planning the next trip.  Now the pressure is on them to come see us!  Wahaha!  So come over, guys!

Into the New Year

We're twenty-nine days into 2014 and I still haven't declared a single resolution.  But who says you can't dedicate the entire month of January to serious molding and refining of your innermost goals and desires?  Instead of rushing to throw out some half-formed list of goals that I'd bury in a drawer and forget about between taking down the Christmas tree and lighting New Year fireworks, I decided to celebrate the whole month.

I remember making New Year resolutions with my family when we were kids.  We would each write a small list of personal goals for the year on a slip of paper, and then seal them in cute, individual boxes to look at the following year.

The next New Year's Eve would come and we'd all be eager to open our boxes to see what the heck we had written one year ago.  Every year was a comical, resolution face-plant for me.  Thus, I'm resolving to change the way I make New Year resolutions.

1 - No more lists for the new year.  From now on, it's one word.  Focusing and committing to one word a year will hopefully not only shape my year, but me.
2 - Display.  I'm going to put this word everywhere: framed on my nightstand, tacked onto the refrigerator, sketched onto our chalkboard… that way I won't forget about it.

And the word is… {drumroll please}

I aim for spiritual growth, to grow closer to my Savior, to grow in love and understanding for my husband, to grow closer to my extended family, to grow in scriptural knowledge, to grow and progress as a writer, to grow as a mother, and in turn help Camden to grow and learn.  No standing still for me this year.  I want to focus on growth in as many aspects of my life as possible.  One year has been long enough to get over the shell shock of motherhood-let's get our grow on!

Our actual New Year celebrations happened during our Utah trip, so let me throw you on back to Heber.  On the last day of 2013 Camden wished us all a Happy New Year and went to sleep at 7pm.

The rest of us stayed up for Costco pizza,

Poker playing,

And a miserably failed attempt to figure out how to play Settler's of Catan.

After giving up on that game, we lit some fireworks in the empty street and watched a hilarious comedy show called Studio C on the BYU channel.  


Glad there was a giant wine cooler for our sparkling cider.  Clear necessity.

It wasn't the most eventful New Year of our lives, but we enjoyed being with family.  The rest of the trip was awesome.  When we weren't on the slopes we were exploring Park City.  Naturally, I gravitated toward the historical sites and the informational centers.  Really an interesting place.

One chilly night we went to Midway to see the ice castle.  Camden was very interested in the color-changing ice and the waterfalls.  Other than feeling slightly claustrophobic in the crowded, frozen corridors, I thought it was fun.

Ice daggers overhead

Another night we got to see a little bit of Aunt Leah and Danny Jay.  That sweet baby showed off his brand new skill: rolling over.  Can't wait until these two boys are running around together.

That same night we played tennis with Leah, Kenny, Andrea, Mason, and Zac.  I've finally learned how to serve properly.  Roy and I decided we want to get really good at tennis and play into old age.

One more event of note here.  On an afternoon where Camden was particularly antsy to get outside, I took him on a short stroll around the neighborhood.  We headed down the street to say hi to the horses at the equestrian center, and on our way back I noticed someone walking ahead of us.  Gray hair, red scarf… WAIT!  IS THAT???

It was.  It was President Uchtdorf, the second councilor in the general presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  He was in a snowy front yard, messing with a lit up snowman decoration.

He probably saw me coming, with my big, hysterical smile on my face.  I was so excited.  He greeted me and I said, stupidly, "I recognize you."

At first I couldn't understand his response in his thick German accent.  I was also distracted by how tall he was in person.  Then he said, "I'm just trying to figure out how to tie down this snowman so he doesn't blow away in the wind."

I wished I'm luck with that endeavor, and told him how nice it was to see him.  As Camden and I strolled away he called, "Best wishes to you, I hope you have a happy new year!"  I had that hysterical grin on my face all the way back to the cabin.

When I wrote my sister of the encounter, she said, "I can't believe you didn't talk to him!  I would have at least asked him when Jesus is coming!"

HAHA!!!  Such a goober.

But Roy was also surprised I didn't stop and really talk to him.  So let me justify myself.  First of all, I was so giddy, and it was so cold, there was no way by brain was fit for intelligent conversation.  Secondly, it was an honor to see him, but I didn't want to corner him when he was at his own home in a gated community.  And he's a church leader and servant of God, not a celebrity to get an autograph from.  I mean, what was I going to do?  Ask him to hold Camden so I could take a picture?  Uh, no.  I wanted to leave him in peace.  But it was pretty exciting that I saw him.  And doing such a simple, everyday-type chore.

Once we got our fill of snow, we headed back to Tucson.  Camden was seriously a champ for those long 12-hour car rides.  Give the kid food and Baby Einstein and he's content.

Back to our 75 degree winter, thank you!

Once There Was a Snowman

Today Camden and I played barefoot in the grass, watching a ladybug crawl over the back of my hand, chubby fingers trying unsuccessfully to pin the bug down.  It's hard to imagine that less than a week ago we were bundled in coats and hats, exploring crunchy white snow and slippery ice on driveways.

Our trip to Utah was like visiting another planet, for Cam.  A white one, where your breath is visible in the air, and trees are tall and thick.  {Even Juniper trees are tall and thick to us desert dwellers.}  We saw tons of deer, elk, geese, and there was even a resident fox.

Camden noticed these creatures, I mean really sat and stared at them.  Once we walked onto the back porch to see a herd of twenty deer only thirty yards away, staring at us.  Camden lifted two fingers and greeted them with an inquiring, "Bah?"  Which probably means, "Mom, do you see those crazy looking things right there?"  It gave me hope that the zoo might be interesting soon.

Also, this kid never experienced so many layers in his life.  Mittens were very interesting.  He flexed his fingers, watching the way the mittens moved, and then accepted them as accomplices in his expeditions up and down slippery outdoor walkways.

Vernal was coldest.  Or maybe it just seemed colder without Roy.  {Aww, private pity party for me!}  He had to stay in Arizona and catch up with us later due to his bar prep courses.

So my brothers, my parents, my son and I arrived in Vernal just in time for the big Collett family post-Christmas dinner.  My dad is the sole sibling who lives outside of the state of Utah, so I always feel like I have a marathon-worth of catching up to do with cousins, aunts, and uncles.  But I loved it all; the food, the conversation, watching kids beat the candy out of a pi├▒ata.

Camden wasn't very happy after so much car time, altitude changing, teething, any and all other excuses I can possibly throw out there for him... he had a bit of an epic meltdown while I was in line getting food for him.  So we put him down for a nap and he missed most of the party.  But he got a little bit of playing time in with his adorable second cousin, Taelor.  Of course it involved a push-along toy.  Typical Camden.

We spent a few more days in Vernal.  The boys went rabbit hunting, we ladies went out to a fancy lunch, and Camden made friends with a little dog named Bella.  I also came to the realization that large numbers of children make him nervous, which is kind of hilarious.

On Monday we headed out to Heber to stay in a cozy cabin I quickly fell in love with.  I just wanted to cuddle up with a book by the fire.  Camden just wanted to be outside in the freezing cold every minute of every day.

I thought we'd make the best of it by building snowmen and snow caves and having baby-sized snowball fights, but... shows how much I know about snow.  It was the "wrong type" for packing, I guess.  It was pretty much useless.

Camden's first snowman.  Yes, he looks about as disappointed as I felt. 

Roy!  He arrived just in time for some snowboarding.  I hadn't been in two years and was worried I wouldn't remember how to not fall on my face.  Luckily it came back instinctively, and I felt like I was on top of the world.  There's no other sport I enjoy more than snowboarding.

We spent two days at Park City, thanks to Costco and my parents.  Costco because it's the absolute best place to get the cheapest tickets to Park City.  I need to shout that from the rooftops.  Go!  And then, of course, none of this would have been possible without my amazing parents being willing to take Camden for two whole days.  Saints.  

The first day snowboarding we spent with the ever-enthusiastic Zachary.  He's improved a ton in the two years I've been out of the game.


And the second day we spent with Mason and the McAffees!  We secretly worked with Kenny so that meeting us for snowboarding was a surprise for Andrea.  Roy and I are the perfect wedding anniversary gift, right?

I couldn't help but smile and think of Camden when I saw tiny three-year-olds on skis.  I skied when I was small, and didn't start boarding until I was ten years old.  When I wondered aloud whether we should start Camden on skis, my brothers were adamant that they would be teaching him boarding.  So there we have it.

On the last run of the last day, Andrea had a brilliant idea.  The skiers and the boarders should switch equipment and try the opposite sport.

"Brilliant idea" quickly turned into "worst decision ever made."  But sometimes bad choices make for good stories.  Like how I somehow laced my skis around a sapling and couldn't untangle myself.  Or how Andrea, after falling on her butt for the fiftieth time, sprawled out in the snow and screamed, "I HATE THIS!  SO!  MUCH!"  Shout out to the kind older gentleman who helped me get my butt out of the snow and taught me how to slide sideways down the steep hills.

Andrea and I switched back to our own fortes about halfway down the mountain, otherwise it would have taken us another hour to get to the parking lot, I'm sure. 

Poor Mason had to wait for us all that time, but he's a patient guy.  Zac had taken the truck home, so we piled into the McAffee's car along with the boards and ski poles.  We were one seatbelt short, so I laid across the laps of Roy and a very exhausted Andrea, who took a power nap on the way home.  {Since the ski adventure was a surprise, she didn't realize early that morning that it wouldn't be a good day to work out her legs at the gym.  Ha!}

Once we all got back to the cabin we four took a soak in the hot tub on the back porch.  Then Jameson and Jessica came to hang out, and we all stayed up ridiculously late playing Settlers of Catan.  I don't remember why we were laughing so hard, but it was a good night.  Team Bangerter won {I didn't really understand what was going on for half of the game} and we finally called it a night. 

Andrea and I chose to share a bed for the evening.  Even though we were both struggling to keep our eyes open long enough to brush our teeth, we couldn't help but chat in bed about babies, love, and life decisions.

Finally Andrea said, "I think I'm fading."  And that's the last thing I remember from that night.

Speaking of fading, this post is getting really long.  {Surprise, surprise.}  I think I'll pick this up with a second post later.  I'm going to go crawl into bed with my new series of novels {seriously, Costco!} and fall asleep, dreaming of snow.