Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Elder Howell

It was a February Farewell Fiesta, to wish our "nephew" goodbye as he left to serve the Lord for two years.  Every night since, and at most meals too, our girls bless Tommy on his mission in Mexico.  I'm sorry, but when did that adorable little guy with overflowing compliments and sweet patience grow up?!

My iPhone wallpaper features the above photograph, with two of my favorite men.  I'm planning on it staying there for 24 months, reminding me constantly of one of the happiest days of my life.  Michael had just received a new calling that required him to stay for extra meetings, so he showed up to the farewell late -- in costume!  Such a great moment!

We were blessed to be with Tommy on the tender night before he entered the Missionary Training Center.  It was quiet and inspired and beautiful, when a busy home normally bustling with oodles of friends and family became a sacred place.  We shared our favorite Tommy moments, which was a teary-eyed mistake.  It is hard to explain how special this kid is, and how much he's done and sacrificed and experienced to get to this point.  He means the world to us.

You know how they say one person really can make a difference?  Tommy has made a difference in our lives, and I know he's changing lives in Mexico through his upbeat attitude and strong work ethic and funny personality.  So far we've sent him a bunch of emails, plus a Christmas package that never arrived.  Apparently I should've indicated our contents on the customs slip as "religious material," instead of "toys and gifts."

Michael and I feel like this is the closest we'll ever get to sending a son or brother on a mission.  I'll be honest -- it hurts a little.  Sometimes a lot.  That's been a big surprise.  I knew I'd miss Tommy terribly at parties and our little family dinners, but he's really gone.  Far away.  We are so, so proud of this kid.  Can you tell?!

Friday, February 17, 2012

When in Rome... Ski!

* Remember, these are from last year.  I have nearly identical shots with children a year older that I'll post soon.  Still thinking I'll catch up...

When in Rome...

I figure the best way to thrive in a wintry state, as we do, is to find a pastime to keep us happy and active that helps pass the time during the cold months.  It is quite a bit of work to get the girls skiing, but I'm finding ways to be positive about it.  Being outside in the mountains really is quite therapeutic, and I'm finding I really do love it!

Millie accompanied us as we took Big to her lessons at Alta, and begged to join in.  She's too young for regular lessons, so we just brought up a pair of hand-me-downs and drug her around.  After just a few paces, she insisted on doing it herself!  It is comical to see such a little body on the slopes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Concert Date Night

I love Date Night!  Sophie got involved this time, helping me pick my outfit and joining me for makeup.  (note -- she did not actually go out of the house looking like this, but I didn't mind allowing her a little supervised creative expression).  Doesn't it feel good to get dressed up, accessorized and perfumed for a night out sometimes?!

My Christmas present to Mister was two tickets to Brad Paisley at the Maverik Center a few weekends ago, and I'm glad he chose to use his Plus One on me (wink)!  Our seats weren't bad, but they were seats, so we got a little jealous of the revelry closer to the stage on the floor.  We know all his songs, after all, so we were in the mood to party!  Lo and behold, I saw an employee handing out spare floor tickets, and I ran after him to get some!  Score!

Turns out, we were placed near the sound booth, where Kimberly Williams-Paisley (of Father of the Bride) watched the show with her special guest, "Cam" from Modern Family.  Even better, partway through the show, Mr. Brad walked through the crowd to a mini-stage right next to us!  See how many people are between me and the stage?  One -- a security dude.  So fun!

Also loved opening acts, The Band Perry and this cute little dude...

What a blast!  Made me feel young again, certainly reminded me how much I love to spend time with my husband.  Oh my goodness!  Speaking of reminders -- guess who showed up in sparkles for the duet "Remind Me"?  Yup, Carrie Underwood!  Wow, she's beautiful and such a good singer!

The only other time I've seen Brad Paisley live was a totally different experience.  I was homesick living in New York City, and there wasn't even a country music station on the radio to comfort me.  A small ad in a local paper mentioned Paisley would be performing for only a cover charge at a little dive, so I rounded up a few fellow interns (and our faculty advisor!) and we went.  There were maybe only fifty people at the show, and I remember he introduced a song he wrote for his new girlfriend who was there with her parents -- Kimberly Williams.

I've also seen Scotty McCreery live, an event I've never journaled but really ought to, from the balcony of the American Idol stage last May with these gals --