For the long weekend we packed up the car and headed for some serious snow.  My grandparents, parents, and some cousins were up at the cabin and we decided to join them.  I have good memories of resting my aching body in front of the blazing fireplace after a full day of snowboarding, but obviously this time we skipped the slopes.

Just try to imagine me attempting to balance my pregnant belly over the center of a board!  Laughing?  Me too.  But next year we are going - lessons for Camden!

This year we focused on a different "first."  Sledding!

Camden insisted on going down by himself a few times, which surprised me.  My cautious boy is becoming a bit of a daredevil!  He loved going down with Dad the best, though.  Although his face was mixed with joy and terror the whole way down, he was always laughing and smiling at the end. 

Except for one time, when Roy let his feet drag a little too much and Camden was basically a living snowman by the bottom of the hill.  Even though I felt for him, I was also sad I wasn't down there to get a picture as Roy scraped inches of snow off his little pink face.

Camden had a fantastic time with his second cousin, Kal.  These two ran around playing hide-and-seek or tag all weekend long.  Camden was so into those games that if Kal was momentarily unavailable he would immediately try to enlist an adult in a game.  He got his Great Grandpa in on a game of hide-and-seek, and then about twenty minutes later Cam meandered downstairs asking for a snack.  He couldn't find Grandpa, and apparently gave up.  I found Grandpa asleep upstairs under a blanket about a half hour later.

More snow fun included building a snowman, snowball fights, digging tunnels with shovels, eating giant icicles off the cabin, and being pulled/pulling the sled for hours on end.  Go Papa, go!

Oh... good try, buddy.  Mama is a little heavy.

Safe to say we have begun to foster a love of the snow.  Good prep for his snowboarding career ahead.  ;-)


Normally near or around New Year's Eve I can be found scouring the Internet for goal sheets and buying fresh desk-sized calendars (yes, plural).  New pens and pencils, new spaces for new scribbles.  You know, all about a new me and blah blah blah.

Problem is, come December I'm like, "Wait, what were my resolutions?"
Anyone else feel me on this?  Bueller? ... Bueller?  

This year I've decided to …

Change my text alignment back to the left side of the page.  CHECK!  Ah yeah, feels good to accomplish my goals right out of the gate.  Can I please be off the hook for the rest of the year?

All joking aside, I can't even tell you how happy I am with life right now.  Is it perfect?  Not even close.  But this little family of mine brings me insane amounts of joy, even on the difficult days.  We are healthy, we are loved, and 2015 brought us some truly amazing experiences.

* Roy is still playing a lot of basketball but has adopted a slower and steadier strategy, since his injury last February.  It took almost a whole year, but his ankles are officially the same size now!  He's enjoying his new job and the trees.

* Camden has developed about 100 new hobbies this year, and there's simply no stopping him.  His talents and smarts leave me speechless at least once a day.  Some notable hobbies are iPhone photography, gaming (N64, baby!), hiking, and pretending.

He learns best when there's mess-making involved.

So we started up an "art group" with a few of his buddies.  "Mess-making group" would really be a better title.  We have loved this fun time with friends.

* Roy ran his first triathlon in October and did awesome!  

* Camden has been becoming more and more independent, which is bittersweet for me.  He can get in his carseat by himself, get himself dressed and undressed, and sometimes he even likes to do his own hair.  Also- his number one goal throughout the day is to make everyone around him laugh.  He's quite the comedian these days.

He's also taken an interest in cleaning.  If I ever start cleaning something he insists on having a turn.  And, um, I do not turn him away.  Please let this last forever!

* Me?  Oh, it's been a great year, although I can't really pinpoint any one thing that made it so.  I just love my family and loooove being a mom.  This year I also took on three other kiddos around Camden's age to watch during the week.  It's great to have playmates for Cam, and I love each of them.

I've taken a break from running, but still try to get outside for walking and fresh air.  That fresh air is dang cold these days, so we really bundle up.  Despite my exaggerated complaints, I secretly love living somewhere with seasons.  And mild seasons, at that!

But the best part of 2015 was simply this...

I'm feeling sappy and grateful for everything.  Grateful our family is growing and grateful for such supportive friends and family all around us.  Grateful for the challenges that make us better and for a Savior that gets me through the toughest moments.

Now to spread all that over to 2016!

On New Year's Eve Roy offered to stay home with Camden so Kirsten and I could see a movie we'd been wanting to see.  It was sold out, so we saw a mindless comedy instead.  Upon exiting the theater parking lot we spotted fireworks in the distance.  We decided we couldn't have a proper New Year's Eve without them, so behold... the firework!  (Top left corner of my windshield?)

We got home to Roy to celebrate with sparkling cider and ice cream.  There wasn't much talk of resolutions, and I was strangely okay with that.  In fact, it occurred to me that making weekly goals would make a lot more sense in my life.  And so my New Year resolution is a single word: ACT

If I'm accomplishing smaller weekly goals, I'm acting.
If I help the elderly woman reach the top shelf at the grocery store (rather than watch her and worry about helping her until it's too late to do anything), I'm acting.

The distance between dreams and reality is action.  So I'm hoping for a year I can keep that three letter word, act, at the forefront of my mind throughout all situations.  Just to inch a little closer to several dreams: publish, become more service-oriented, master parenting like a boss, etc.

I hope you all find the distance between your dreams and reality closing a bit each day in this new year!  Go for it!

The Best Christmas Surprise Ever!

I posted that ^ picture on Christmas Eve, explaining that inside the bag was
either a pink ornament or a blue ornament.  The guesses from friends and family came pouring in, with girl votes almost tripling boy votes.  In the meantime, Roy and I really had no clue.

 See, we'd been thinking girl since day one.  Sure, this pregnancy had been different than the first, but our assumption had a lot more to do with a gut feeling.  We'd been calling the baby "she" almost by instinct, and then correcting ourselves half-heartedly.

Just a few days before Christmas I went alone to the big ultrasound appointment.  I explained to the technician how I wanted her to write the gender on a card and seal it in an envelope so we could have a Christmas surprise.  This woman was a seasoned pro, and knew when to tell me to close my eyes.  (And I really closed them, Roy!)

Baby was so wiggly that the technician was having a hard time getting pictures of anything.  At one point she said, exasperated, "I don't know if we'll be able to find out the gender, this baby is such a mover!"  Nooo!!!  I tried sending the little bean a mental scolding.

Then suddenly the technician inhaled sharply.  "Oh.  I know what it is for sure, now."

Something about the way she said it gave me flashbacks to Camden's ultrasound when we discovered he was a boy.  I swear the technician then had that exact same reaction.  And suddenly I wasn't so confident the baby was a girl.

On the drive home with the precious envelope I stopped at a quaint little Christmas shop.  The walls were glittering with ornaments; I was sure I would be able to find something.  In no time I came across the baby bottles, one pink and one blue.  Perfect.

I brought them to the elderly clerk behind the counter and explained my idea.  "Please look inside the envelope and then pack up the appropriate ornament for me.  We want to open the ornament on Christmas day to find out the gender of our baby."

She smiled, happy to be part of the plan.  I walked into the other room and observed a wall of snow globes while she finished the job, and then she called me back.  She'd opened the envelope from the top and then re-taped it like five times, and bagged up the mystery ornament while hiding the other from sight.

So there we were, Christmas Eve, barely able to sleep.  It was like being seven years old again, waiting for Santa Clause.  When Camden got up before the sun we jumped right out of bed without to much as a groan.  I thought about getting my real camera and taking real pictures, but I was too excited about the ornament.  So this year there aren't a lot of pictures, and they aren't very high quality.  Ha!

Camden spied the choo choo train Santa left him and immediately sat down to play, ignoring everything else around him for a good thirty minutes.  In the meantime, Roy and I ran for the present.  Just before we opened it I remembered to wish Roy happy birthday.  *Face palm*.  
He waved me away, impatient to open the ornament.  Now we both thought maybe the baby was a boy.  But maybe not?


That was the best (and most suspenseful)  Christmas surprise ever!
With huge smiles on our faces we moved on to stockings and pulling gifts out from under the tree.

After wrapping paper was strewn around the living room in the most appropriate fashion, we ate a quick breakfast before heading out the door.  Kirsten had a flight from Phoenix to surprise Leah in Utah.  Then the three of us were heading to GG's house for her famous Christmas chicken enchiladas.

There's always a hilarious gift exchange with the cousins (white elephant in recent years) and the most delicious Mexican food.  Oh, and we also pulled out the ornament as our little announcement.

Also, Papa tried out this overboard thing.  (Is that what we call these things?  I don't even know.)  Camden could tell that the guy needed some help.

Papa and Grammy gave Camden his first pedal bike for Christmas (no training wheels).  He rode down the street and did surprisingly well.  Buuut pretty soon Daddy was carrying it.  It's a work in progress.

And then there was Christmas night, AKA Roy's annual birthday celebration!
Thirty years old!

Thirty is weird because you feel like you've been in your 20's your whole life.  And then suddenly...

Couldn't resist shooting a few pictures of this adorable nephew of mine.  Ahhhh he's so cute!

Back to Roy.
He's pretty cute too.

Love you, old man!

The December Spark

It's a flash of warmth, a brief flare at the end of the year, and even though it lasts a whole month the spark seems gone in a blink.  I should know that by now, but I still wasn't adequately prepared.  There weren't enough Christmas cards sent, not enough pictures taken, not enough cups of hot chocolate by the glow of the lighted tree.

And there certainly weren't enough blog posts.  So here's me trying to squish most of the Buckmaster holiday season into one tiny corner of the Internet.

The night after Camden's birthday party we went with Grammy and Papa to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole.  Quite the event to kick off the holidays!  We knew that pajamas were encouraged for the kids, but we weren't sure about the adults.  But umm, who is going to pass up pajamas?  (My hair and face were also aiming for the bedtime look, obvi!)

The station was just over an hour away by car.  There we met up with some of our great friends, which made it all the more exciting for all of us.  But especially for Camden, because Cal is one of his best little pals.  

Upon the discovery of my missing license, we almost didn't get our tickets.  You guys, I almost ruined Christmas!  Luckily the teller was in the Christmas spirit and accepted my Costco card as a valid form of photo ID.  Otherwise this post would be a bit less magical.

Do you spy the beginnings of a baby bump/lump?  Also, Camden is getting better and better at being fantastically photogenic.  Gets it from his mama.

Everything about the train was just phenomenal for Cam.  Typical boy, the Christmas theme could have been completely absent and he still would have been in Heaven.  For example, the conductor punching his ticket, I mean, look at his face.  Awestruck.  Then there was the clacking over the tracks, the way the seats could flip around to face each other, and watching dark silhouettes pass our window.

But it was an enchanted Christmas train, so it got even better.  We rumbled through a colorful "magic tunnel" that took us from Arizona straight up to the North Pole in a matter of seconds.  That left us a short thirty minute ride away from Santa's workshop.

Chefs in white hats came out serving hot chocolate and cookies while they played the "Hot hot hot, hot chocolate" song from the Polar Express movie over the speakers.  (Camden still sings it daily.)  And then there was the reading of The Polar Express book.  We followed along with our own copy, and the boys were mesmerized.  

Finally, there was the singing of Christmas carols as we neared the North Pole.  A group of tween girls sitting just ahead of us were the perfect little chorus of holiday cheer.  After a while kids were up and waltzing in the aisle; the cookies and hot chocolate induced some really interesting dance moves.

Then the music stopped.  The chefs exclaimed that we were nearing Santa's workshop, and the lights inside our car blinked out.  Every child in the train seemed to be holding their breath with their faces pressed up against the glass, searching.

The train windows were suddenly filled with lights, and we could see part of the elves' village.  And there was Santa in his gift-laden sleigh, waving at the slowly passing train.  Camden pointed and whispered in wonderment, "There's Santa Clause!"

The train rolled past the jolly elf, as we listened to the squeals of delight, but then suddenly stopped.  The conductor apologized and explained that there were caribou on the tracks, so we would need to go back the way we came.  But as we passed the sleigh again, Santa was GONE!

And in another moment, it was announced that Santa was on the train!  The excitement was palpable.  Camden was almost nervous, he wasn't sure what all of the commotion was about.  But once I explained what was happening he craned his neck all around looking for Mr. Clause.  As we picked up speed and raced away from Santa's workshop the lights came back on, the door opened, and Santa strolled in with special bells for everyone aboard.

It was a very noisy but jubilant thirty minutes back to the magic tunnel.

Our North Pole Express experience was all we talked about for about a week afterward.  When we got home Roy put up the lights outside while I decked the halls with holiday music blasting.  

Something I was most excited for was getting our first real tree!  We got rid of the old crummy (but free) artificial tree during our move, and I thought we might as well try the real tree thing.  Going to some random parking lot to pick out the perfect pine has been lovingly filed under "Favorite Christmas Memories" from my childhood archives.  We always wanted the fattest, tallest one!  Camden wanted the scrimpiest, shortest one.

We settled for medium-height and skinny, so it could fit in the corner of our living room.  When we brought it home Roy and Papa went to work sawing off the end of the trunk, and Camden immediately grabbed his toy saw to help.

I love and admire the Christmas trees that are stunning.  You know the type, all the ornaments coordinate, the lights are a gentle white, there's sparkly ribbon entwined in the branches, all to make this magnificent work of art.  

However, that's not the kind of tree I imagined for the kid-raising years.  Ours was messy with a hodgepodge of ornaments (mostly ones that are cheap and unbreakable) and candy canes and whatever else a toddler would want to shove on a branch.  And I absolutely loved it!

Here was Camden's new ornament for the year, so we can always remember his love with vehicles--specifically green ones.

The finishing touch was the train around the tree- a birthday gift for Roy last year.  I couldn't be sure which of my boys was more excited over it.  Most mornings I awoke to the sound of the soft "choo choo!" as they raced the train around and around with the remote.

Soon after the tree was up an elf appeared at our house.  I was very hesitant to let one of these scout elves into our home but we allowed him to come on a trial basis.  Camden named him Skeeter and enjoyed searching for him every morning, as the elf liked to hide in funny places.

Another first for us this year: snow!

Not a lot, but the perfect amount.  We got a thin blanket like this three times before Christmas.  Perfect for snowball fights, and for not scraping it off my windshield with a credit card.

Snow is also the perfect primer for hot chocolate.
(Oh but it was discovered that Cam does not like hot chocolate.  He would drink it in a house, he would not drink it with a mouse, he would not drink it here or there, he would not drink it anywhere!  So Sam I Am, I mean Mama, just had double servings all December long, which the baby liked.)

Last year Camden was all about Frosty the Snowman.  This year he was all about Santa and nutcrackers/toy soldiers.

A little too all about them.  Luckily this was the only decor casualty of the year.  Nothing a little wood glue couldn't fix.

And then we journeyed down south for the birth of Jaxon!
Camden was very excited to have a "biiiig GIANT baby" for a cousin.
Oh, chubby babies are the cutest.  Zac and Jess seem pretty smitten, as are we all.

Aunt Alexa came down for a surprise visit to see the new bundle of joy, and somehow this is the only picture I got of her.  Thanks for having my back, Camden.  (I'm sure he'll be starting up a portrait business soon, stay tuned.)

And then there was Grammy Camp with these crazy grammies.

The elf theme turned out adorable, as expected.  All refreshments were elf-sized and the kids had a blast playing elf games.  Camden especially enjoyed "making toys" like the elves do.

And hunting for candy canes.

And the Arizona-style "snowball fight".

It wouldn't be Christmastime without Grammy Camp!

Back up north we got to see the Christmas parade with our friends, and later the Valley of Lights - a huge lights display in a public park.

You better not shout, you better not cry, you better not pout I'm telling you why...
Aunt Kirsten is coming to town!
(She was basically coming from the North Pole too, so it was a big deal.)

Aunt Kirsten and I took Camden to the mall to discover the Santa there was a fraud!  ($30, really?)  So we hunted down the real Clause in the town square.  And guys, I really think he was the real deal. He talked to Camden for a good seven or eight minutes, asking all about what books he likes to read and about his family.  Camden was so star-struck he could barely speak at first.  Soon they were pals.

Camden told Santa he would really like a choo choo train ("needs" one, actually), and Santa told him that he would come to his house on Christmas eve with one especially for him.

It was a magical season.  Brilliant, but gone like a spark.
And suddenly it was Christmas Eve!
(Stay tuned.)