Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Heelllloooo world! The Brown's exist! Our blog has fallen off the face of the planet, but luckily we haven't. Hope you're having a...

Merry Christmas!!!

Jason is in the Santa suit, in case you're wondering why we let our children get so friendly with strangers. :)

Hahaha. Ellis is done. Apparently 5 minutes of picture taking is just more than he can handle.

(p.s. a big thanks to my super awesome and adorable friends Rebecca and Jen for taking these! LOVE those girls.

Watch this sweet little Christmas video. It will make you happy.

Between Jason being gone until about 8 every night, trying to find someone to take our lease, looking for a place in East Bay (see below for explanation), on top of all the normal Christmas craziness, things got a bit off balanced in our house for awhile. More stress than gratitude, more busyness than togetherness, more frazzled than fun.

We forgot for a second what Christmas was. Not presents. Not traditions. Not full calendars. There's of course nothing wrong with those things. We love them. They make this time of year special and magical. But as with everything, there is a balance. Those things are icing on the cake--but the foundation of Christmas is the Savior himself. We are grateful to focus on Him, on what He's done for us. On His humble birth, and magnificent life. There have been countless times in my life that I've wondered, how do people do this without the support, the purpose, and the understanding that He brings.

I love what Elder Holland says:

The wise men did come later bearing gifts, adding some splendor and wealth to this occasion, but it is important to note that they came from a distance, probably Persia, a trip of several hundred miles at the very least. Unless they started long before the star appeared, it is highly unlikely that they arrived on the night of the babe’s birth. Indeed, Matthew records that when they came Jesus was “a young child,” and the family was living in “a house.” (Matt. 2:11.)

Perhaps this provides an important distinction we should remember in our own holiday season. Maybe the purchasing and the making and the wrapping and the decorating—those delightfully generous and important expressions of our love at Christmas—should be separated, if only slightly, from the more quiet, personal moments when we consider the meaning of the Baby (and his birth) who prompts the giving of such gifts.

As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized. In some of our lives the manger has already been torn down to allow for a discount store running three-for-a-dollar specials on gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

At this focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched—none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen.

Shepherds would soon arrive and later, wise men from the East. Later yet the memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph—and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby—that’s how Christmas began.

We hope you have a WONDERFUL Christmas!!

The Browns

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Us at a Glance

2011 is almost over!!!

Is that a news flash for anyone else?! Because it definitely is for us. The year has flown by. I know how cliche that sounds, but it's just true. Flown by. Like an eagle.

A friend of mine that moved away about a year ago was just in town to visit (that's you Andrea!). While we were catching up she said, "So, how is having 3 going? I'm guessing pretty crazy since you haven't blogged in a year." Ha! Well, I wouldn't say it's been crazy. It's been great. Busy. Full of fun stuff. And laundry. Always laundry. We love it. Not the laundry, but the rest of it. But obviously blogging hasn't made it on the priority list. So here's the new goal: 1 post a month. Are you laughing? Yeah, so am I. Well, we'll try. And hey, even if we do 2 next year we'll be doubling our production. Progress is all we can ask for, right?

The 2011 highlights:

-Jason graduated with his MBA from UC Davis in June--woohoo! All the hard work paid off!
-Norah started Kindergarten. She loooovvvves it.
-Myles started walking in June, turned 1 in August, now runs everywhere, and got his first set of stitches 2 weeks ago. I say first because it certainly won't be his last.
-Ellis continues to be the comedian and has started eating some vegetables. And hamburgers. And rice. This is big news.
-After a longer than hoped for and a very diligent search, Jason got a great job(!!) Pleasanton. Which means......we'll be moving! We were thinking of waiting out our lease until August, but it only took 1 week of 3-4 hours of commuting a DAY to know it wasn't worth it. The kids missed Daddy too much, and so did I of course. We're looking for someone to take over our lease right now, and as soon as that happens we'll make the jump to East Bay. It's a beautiful area, and Jason is loving his job, so it's good stuff. But it's so hard to even think about leaving Davis. We've made amazing, life long friends which will be heartbreaking to leave. We love our house, love our ward, love school, love Davis. Bittersweet, definitely. But, a JOB!! Yahoo!

The cute graduate and his fan club.

He was a happy guy!

We're so lucky to have this guy. After graduating he spent every weekday working normal job hours looking for a job. He'd leave the house at 8ish, come home at 6ish--networking, applying, interviewing. It's not an easy thing to do, but he did it and managed to still be a nice Daddy and husband in the meantime. We're so happy that the searching paid off and that he's loving his job (IT Business Consulting).

And 2nd in line for Biggest News of the Year:

We have a Kindergartner in our house. A school aged kid. She absolutely LOVES it. Loves her teacher, her friends, learning, everything about it. I definitely cried the first day dropping her off and all the way home. It was exciting and hard all at the same time. It's the closing of a chapter--from now on she's a big girl in school. The days of her being a little girl and hanging out with us all day are gone. It's fun watching how excited she is about it, how the first thing she wants to do is show us everything she did at school, and how thrilled the boys are when we get to go pick her up.

3rd in line for Biggest News of the Year:

Ellis got a new do! It was time. I think he misses swinging it around as part of his goofy guy routine, but he loves it. He sure does look like a big boy now. Do I really have to admit that he's 3 and 1/2? (Thanks, Shiloh, for doing it!)


Get to see more of that cute face now!

Norah Girl:

5 and 1/2. Kindergartner. Still spunky, sweet, and full of energy. Still our artist of the family. Draws, cuts, glues, all day long. She's announced that she "doesn't like really girly things anymore, like princesses and stuff. Just cool things." So funny. She's growing up!

Still a collector. This was a stick collection gathered on the walk home from school. So many "collections" all over the place in our house. Ellis has caught on now. Countless times I've picked up some what-looks-like-trash from off the ground to hear a shriek of "NO! That's for my collection." Hmm, future hoarders?

She's our little hiker. She loves being on an "adventure" and still wishes she could be the leader every time. We went to Point Lobos (right out side of Monterey), it was BEAUTIFUL and the kids loved climbing around, especially Norah. Down by the tide pools she would climb up on top of a big rock and yell at the top of her lungs, "I CAN DO ANYTHING!" Haahaha! It's funny how some things we think of as cliche just come naturally to them. It was totally heartfelt and sincere. And hilarious. She walked her little legs off that day, probably 6 hours straight.

Ellis Man:
3 and 1/2. He's goofy, learning to not be such a picky eater, and so sweet. He'll often come up to me during the day and say, "Hey, Mommy, you know what?" "Yes, Ellis?" "I love you." He knows how to score points. He's very social and LOVES being with friends and playing with Norah & Myles. Telling him it's "quiet time" is like giving him a death sentence.

Oh, Ellis, our comedian. Almost impossible to get a normal picture of him these days. Loves being silly and making people laugh. Hmmm, wonder where he got that from? :) Norah had her first crush this year (a whole different story....) and was saying over and over "Hyuntae is so funny!" Ellis goes, "Yeah, he is really funny.... But not as funny as me."

Ellis loves it when Daddy goes to the store. Sugar still brings him great joy. We'll often hear, "Ummm, this is good. Tastes like sugar."

Mr. Myles:
15 months old. Running. Climbing. Making messes all over the place. Takes breaks from his exploring to come find Mommy and do a 10 second "check-in" on my lap, and then he's off to something else. Full of sass, throws a mighty temper tantrum, and not infrequently. Knows he's cute and uses it. Best belly laugh ever. He's so cute it's hard not to squeeze the daylights out of him. Sometimes we do anyway, and he giggles. He'll have gibberish conversations with you all day, it's the cutest.

We have another comedian on our hands. He and Ellis are going to make quite the team. He's already a performer and "gets it" when there is a joke going on. He's always keeping up with the big kids and doing whatever they're doing. It's so fun to see them all playing together now. One of the favorite games at home is what they call "The Poopy Diaper Game." Myles runs to them, Norah and Ellis scream "POOOPPPYYY DIIAAPPEERR!!" and run away, Myles chases after them, and it starts all over.

Still LOVES his Mommy. He enjoys everyone else too, but there's just nothin' like Mommy sometimes. Also loves: dogs, trucks (makes the sound effects, so cute), playing outside, dancing, wrestling, and nursing. Yep, still nursing. Norah and Ellis were done by now. He's holding strong. I'm just praying it winds down on it's own, but not looking that way. This kid KNOWS WHAT HE WANTS.

Other stuff:

Still having lots of fun on field trips and playing with friends. The is the West Davis pose. It's always hilarious when these guys get together. Can't start thinking about what life without the Armstrong's and Sienna's awesome hair is going to be will be so hard to leave Davis and all our amazing friends....

Making messes. They're really good at that.

But then they look like this so you can't be too mad.

Had a fun summer with lots of trips to the pool again. Ellis learned to swim! And the big deal was jumping off the diving board. Norah would do it over and over again all by herself. She's quite the swimmer now. Ellis couldn't swim all the way to the side so he'd have a life guard in the water to help him over. Little guy even went off the HIGH dive. It was awesome. Maybe more on that another time.

Best event of the summer was something we thought would never happen: the Edmonds moved here!!! Known in our house as "the boy cousins"--Jason sister Michelle, and Doug, and their 6 kids (5 boys and then Ella). My kids LOVE them. Ellis talked about them daily, so it was a dream come true to have them close. Doug is the new UC Davis institute director and Jason and I got to take a couple classes from him which was awesome. On her Thanksgiving turkey she made at school Norah's "grateful" feathers included one that read, "My boy cousins." So cute.

Hope you had a great year! We feel so blessed to have such great friends and family in our lives!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Browns

It's no surprise to anyone that I'm basically the worst blogger in the world, but Christmas cards and the end of the year are good motivators to do a little catching up with updates on how we're all doing. This will be super long I'm guessing, so if you want the short version here it is: we're all great, healthy, and happy!

So, we'll start backwards.....with our sweet little chunk Myles.

He's adorable, and he's huge. He's almost 18 pounds, and not even 4 months yet. We're all completely addicted to kissing those chubby cheeks (my favorite is the neck). This was him in his blessing outfit, with the blanket my grandma made behind him (she's made one for each of the kids so far). Ellis wore the same outfit, and Myles BARELY fit into it. The buttons on the bottom kept unsnapping and I even had to rig a neck extension (aka a rubber band looped around the button through the button hole, because it literally would not button without cutting off air and disappearing into the chub).

Thanksgiving he was barely 3 months, this is a 9 month outfit. Oh, we love our big boy.

This is the work of Norah. Not much use for her baby dolls since she has her own live one, so she passed this one onto Myles.

He's Mommy's #1 fan. He's getting to the point where he will be happy with other people for awhile, but mostly he just wants to hang with me. But do I mind? Not really--he's my little love.

See that sad little face? Hard to believe from all of these smiling pictures, but our little guy was not a happy guy for the first 2 months. Colic? I don't know, what does that mean, really? I guess so. Did he cry a lot? Yes, a ton. Did he need to be held all the time? Yes. Would he scream from gas pains? Yes. Was it so sad? Yes. Luckily Norah and Ellis were champs and played together SO nicely so I could try to help poor Myles. There were a ton of foods that irritated him, and avoiding those helped a little, but mostly he just wasn't feeling good for the first couple months. Definitely our hardest baby yet, and none of them have been "easy." What happened to the, "oh, the third kid is always the easiest" that people kept telling us? Oh well. On a good day there would be 1 hour that I wasn't holding him. Otherwise, the second he was set down there were instantaneous panicky-terrified-hurting screaming, even if he had been sound asleep. So sad, poor little guy. So how did we survive? The wrap.

Oh, the wrap. Not sure my $40 has even been spent so well. I definitely owe my sanity, the happiness of the other kids, the sleep that Myles got during the day, and my functioning back to this lovely, wonderful piece of fabric. With a baby who will never be put down, this thing is an absolute necessity and a lifesaver. If you live near us or have seen us since Myles was born, you know that he pretty much lived in this thing exclusively up until about a month ago. A girl at church told me that a few weeks ago when I was holding him her husband looked over and said, "Oh, so that's what he looks like, I've never seen him out of that thing." You're not joking buddy. I love it for so so many reasons. When Myles was 4 weeks old (and I had been using a bunch of other carriers that I had and that friends would bring over) I couldn't move my neck from holding him all the time, so my wonderful friend Rebecca brought me her wrap (actually the one in this picture) and life was changed. No back pain! Free hands! Snuggly sleeping baby! Not the most fashionable thing in the world, and people often give me funny looks and then end up saying, "Oh, there's a baby in there, I thought you were just carrying really high." Really? Yeah, it looks like I'm strangely pregnant with a 17 pound baby (well, that's pretty true, except that I could take him out to feed and change), but oh well, he's happy, my back is happy, so we're happy. Do you see his little hand? So cute. That's the best thing about the wrap, you're basically just snuggling with your baby all day. (By the way, this is a Sleepy Wrap, much better than the Moby in my opinion.)

Even wrapped in the corn bath. What's a corn bath? Think a big pool sized sand box filled with corn. Come see us next fall and we'll show you. We're huge fans. Having him in the wrap all the time you learn all kind of tricks--like have the "older" kids stand on a chair while you're getting them dressed so you don't have to lean over and wake up the baby. And when he's out for 10 minutes you do the things that are hardest to do while holding him first--like changing the laundry.

If you're holding Myles get ready for lots of love and company, and invasion into your personal bubble (if you still have one in tact that is). Norah is frequently reminded to give him a little space (you know, to breath...) and be soft when she hugs him, to which she replies, "But I just Love. Him. So. Much!" in the squeaky baby talk voice. We have a strict no touching the baby while he's eating policy, otherwise this would happen all day long.

Norah's devotion to her little guy has not wavered. When we hear him waking up--because he will now let me lay him down once I get him to sleep for awhile (usually about a half hour), miracle!--she wants to be the first to "go get him." She's actually a huge help and can keep him entertained and happy for awhile.

Myles loves his big brother and big sister, and his Bumbo. He'll often chill out in the Bumbo and watch them run around or play together. Norah and Ellis always get huge smiles from him. Overall, I'd say the transition to 3 really hasn't been that bad. Having a high need baby made things a bit crazy for awhile, and if I didn't respond to your email or call you back or post any pictures on the blog :) it's because I was constantly bouncing a baby for awhile. But all in all I feel like going from 3 to 2 was easier in some ways than 1 to 2, because now they have a buddy and can entertain each other while Mommy does baby stuff. Except for sacrament meeting at church. Whew. That's just plain crazy. Especially without Daddy sitting by us to help. Our kids were already the wildest of the ward--they just have tons of energy, and then add on that we don't have Daddy by us and 1 more kid that needs to be bounced in the aisle. Let's just say that it's always a blur, and that Jason vacuums our row every Sunday.


Jason's a busy guy these days, but doing a good job balancing it all: kids, school, work, and church. School is going great, he'll graduate with his MBA in June (the picture above is from an Easter egg hunt they did for the kids, his building is behind them). He's busy networking and interviewing for what he'll do after graduation. He got a great internship over the summer that's actually with a company here in Davis, and he's working there part time during school. A good option for after graduation too. Only downside is that he's in a cubicle all day with little to no interaction, and if you know Jason, that's close to torture. But, these days we're grateful for such a good option.

A busy guy, but still manages to be a great Daddy. We were going to a pumpkin patch with the kids--he got dressed, and I got Ellis dressed, and they totally matched. Ellis said, "Look Dad, us little buddies!" So cute, he kept calling them "little buddies" all night.

Norah girl:

I love this picture, it is so Norah. This is our girl: happy, enthusiastic, knows what she wants, and a great combo of girly-girl and tomboy.

Norah's 4 and she's been loving preschool again this year, and it's amazing to think that next year will be kindergarten! The year started out not so hot with some girl drama (really!? At 4?!) but we switched things up a bit and now she's back to loving school. This day she came home as a "puppy," and unlike all the other days she comes home as a puppy, this time she looked like one too.

She's our artist. She colors for hours most days. Grandma Brown got her this coloring book when we were in Tahoe this year and for the rest of the time we were there she sat up at the counter doing just this. And when we got home, it was all she did for about a week.

See, even straight out of the shower.

It's been quite the year of bugs thanks to Norah. When it's not too cold or rainy, this is what she's doing--going outside to find bugs and then requesting homes for them. I really don't care to know how many rolly-pollies and lady bugs and worms have died in her box sitting on the counter. Or in zip-lock baggies in my purse. She's gotten better about letting them go before they premanently "go" but we still have a few casualties every once in awhile. Last week she wanted to bring her bug box that was filled with mud and 2 worms she had found to the store with her and Daddy. Jason said when she was getting out she said, "Dad, I think I'm gonna leave these in the car, because if I bring them in they'll say, 'Eww, gross,' ...but not really."

Ellis boy:

Ellis is two and a half, full of energy and ALL Boy. When he isn't throwing things or running through the house he is eating. Constantly eating. When we asked him what he wanted for Christmas, his request perfectly sums up his personality, "Me want some-fing me can hold and me can touch ceiling wiff."

This is his wake-up look. Hilarious--every time. He's quite the sleeping champ, and still takes great naps. This gives me hope for my little Myles, because Ellis as a baby was a horrible napper.

When our neighbors replaced their driveway Ellis spent every day for a week sitting in the driveway and watching them work. He was so in awe. When one of the workers to waved at him it was like a celebrity had just said "Hi". He spent the next week telling us how the worker man had waved to him: "Hey Mommy, member, member dat man waved at me?!" He's very into the "I'm a boy" phase. Awhile ago we had some friends over--guys were watching football in the family room and the girls were in the kitchen. Ellis marched into the family room, jumped up on the couch, and then announced, "I'm a BOY."

Do you see the twinkle in his eye as he bites into this marshmallow? His life in many ways revolves around food, and he is especially obsessed with sweets. Just like his dad. He's super picky--urg. Such a great, fun, easy-going kid....until you get him to the table. Nothing in life makes him happier, or more distraught, then giving or taking food from him.

Case in point: while working on our gingerbread Easter house we told him he couldn't eat anymore jellybeans. He took it pretty hard. You can see I'm pretty immune to his reaction. Just this morning we ran out to give the garbage man some Christmas cookies to thank him for all the waves and honks. Ellis was thrilled, until it came time to hand over the cookies, which resulted in a total breakdown of, "But I want some cookies!"


For my update, see above. Spent the year taking care of all these hilarious, wild, cute, crazy, snuggly, darling people. Here are some of the things we've been up to....

Park days: Davis has great parks throughout town--this one we walk to and it has an old merry-go round type thing that the kids love. It reminds me of the really fun old parks that are apparently way too dangerous for this generation of kids since they stopped making them. But they love it.

Cooking: Always have lots of little helpers in the kitchen. Norah's pretty good and LOVES to help. learning. Yesterday he was "cooking" which was really crushing the chocolate chips into little bits with two spoons.

Getting Messy: Boots/flip-flops are basically the only shoes they want to wear.

Field trips: Every Friday (sometimes we switch days) we go on a field trip with friends. My amazing friend Bethany organizes most of them, which means all we need to do is show up--so fun. This time it was picking strawberries. And yes, Norah is pushing herself ahead, because, yes, she always has to be in front. Here are some other field trip days:

Davis airport--don't you love the look? :)

Iris farm in Loomis. Beautiful, plenty of room for kids to run, free, and old tractors to climb on. Prefect ingredients for a field trip.

We are a BIG dress-up house. They're favorite activity. And although it's super messy and I do more wardrobe changes in a day than Brittany Spears's backstage helpers, it never stops being hilarious to see the outfits they come up with.

This day was the inspiration behind getting Ellis some more boy-ish options. Hilarious.

Trips: Went on a few fun trips this year. This was in Lake Tahoe with Jason's parents. We went to visit my grandparents in St. Louis, took a quick trip to Monterey and Big Sur (AMAZING!) and then down to Southern California to see some family. It's always fun to get away for a little bit. We especially love doing quick little day trips.

Pool: Went to the pool almost everyday of the summer. It's right around the corner from our house and the kids are fish so it was a great thing to hop over to. Norah leaned how to really swim this year. Is there anything funnier than kids wearing goggles? Really.

Oh, and taking the kids to the pool when you're super pregnant in the summer is amazing. Best thing ever. Don't have to chase them, or pick up toys off the ground, or be hot. It was great.

They had fun swimming in the backyard too. We got out this pool for them and asked Norah if she liked it as much as the big pool we always swim at. In a very "duh" tone she said, "No." Pause. "This one is WAY better!" Oh, that's why kids are so funny. Seriously?

Gardening: Kids had tons of fun "helping" in the garden. Helping really just means getting completely muddy and wet and dirty everyday while Daddy tilled and Mommy planted. Let's just say their nails were not clean all summer.

Norah was great at picking and would often just deliver the ripe stuff to me. Such a cutie.

Bikes: Our house has this great concrete path that wraps around the house, so everyday they played on their bikes. I would say they're favorite toy of the year, hands down. It never got old. This is us walking/biking to the market (it was Myles 1st outing!).

Uncle Eric: Eric lived with us up until June and provided tons of fun entertainment. He never got grouchy about them barging into his room, or at least not obviously so. :) One of their favorite activities: coming in and having him show them animal or monster truck you-tube videos. He showed Ellis a monster truck video when he was just barely 2, and Ellis reacted like a true boy: "Wow. Dats awesome!"

Pumpkin patches: We have TONS of great pumpkin patches around us so we went too many times to count this fall. This one is 2 minutes away from our house and has a barn full of animals plus all kinds of different baby animals you can hold and pet. It's amazing. So fun.

Sweet bunny, sweet boy.

Norah developed quite the relationship with Candy the horse.

Well, that's about it folks, if you're still with us. :) Hope you have a very VERY Merry Christmas!!

Ellis's face in this hilarious. And Norah's stroking the baby's head, the little Mommy.