In January 2013, we were lucky enough to have my parents here with us from Iowa as well as my sister, Elizabeth, and her family (who were in town visiting family on both sides) to celebrate both Christmas and New Year's. Since all of us used to live in Iowa City together back in the day (even my sister's husband's family), it was fun to have a reunion of sorts for the baptism of Liz and Jason's son, Andrew:
We all had a blast sledding in our own backyard:
We hosted some other family gatherings in January as well. A few of the Petersen clan (Brandon's mother's side):
And more Reynolds. It's been fun having Brandon's youngest brother, Brent, nearby at BYU, and Brandon's brother, Damon, and his family who moved to Utah permanently last November. We don't feel so alone in Utah anymore!
I also conquered a huge fear of mine in January and made it through the first of what turned out to be five interviews this past year for a local daytime TV show called Studio 5. (Because I'm sure you have nothing else to do, you can watch all five of the interviews HERE.)Power of Moms news, I spent a short weekend back in La Canada presenting at a retreat with a bonus of sharing Sunday dinner with family:
February, we still didn't mind the beauty of winter:
and Will had his first cello recital in our home with some special visitors:
His awesome teacher, Kayson Brown:
In March, Brandon and I celebrated 18 years of marital bliss with a trip to Mexico (at least, that's what trips alone make you feel like, and I think that's the point!):
At the very end of March going into April, we celebrated the two William's birthdays (only one day apart). It was a very special weekend with Will turning twelve on Easter Sunday and receiving a level of the priesthood (as is customory in our church), and Grandpa Reynolds being released during General Conference from a five year assignment to which he was very dedicated. No, we didn't have the right candles for his birthday, but we had some laughs with the ones we had:
Our little pyro:
And we love getting together with their parents, too:
And she started playing with the high school golf team. (Had to take this picture without her knowing!)
We also thoroughly enjoyed nearby Thanksgiving Point's Tulip Festival. It's always a welcome relief when spring finally arrives, and our local Tulip Festival is the best way to take it all in:
In May, we celebrated Mother's Day and Elizabeth's 9th Birthday:
Her birthday party was at a bakery called "Simply Sweet" which was all too perfect on so many levels:
I got to attend one day of the annual Power of Moms retreat in Park City:
With April and Saren, my dear friends who co-founded the website:
Lyceum Orchestra Program:
His 6th grade play, Romeo and Juliet:
(That's called Guyliner. Doesn't he look threatening?)
One of many scout advancements of the year (Brandon should definitely get the parent pin, not me):
And finally, his 6th grade graduation:
Rachael's end of school year school dance program and pre-school graduation:
Yes, Rachael is full of personality. Here she is pictured with one of several fiancés she's had during the last few years:
And we loved having Brandon's youngest brother, Brent, move in to our basement to record music for several weeks of the summer starting in May. We really do miss having him around and hearing his awesome live music down there:
Also beginning in May, Brandon's fourth brother, Marc, and his family moved from Texas to Utah for two months so he could direct BYU's spring opera. Four brothers all living in Utah for a little while was a real treat:
It was a great excuse for more extended family get togethers:
Utah is incredibly beautiful in May when there is still snow on the mountains and everything down in the valley is blooming and turning green:
Lastly, here we are at the "Hot Pots" (natural hot springs) in Spanish Fork canyon over Memorial Day weekend. Ready for summer to begin!
And loved hanging out with all the extra cousins in town:
Rachael was as cute as ever:
We watched movies in the park:
EFY for a week. She was a busy girl over the summer with two weeks of Driver's Ed, one week of EFY, one week of girls camp, and several days of Youth Conference on top of the two weeks we spent for our own reunions/vacations. And you can see from her arm that we also repainted/redecorated her room over the summer. She's decided she wants next summer to move a little slower:
We celebrated Father's Day with the best dad on the planet:
Near the end of June going into July, we had a Reynolds reunion at Brian Head in southern Utah:
All the grandkids, minus Damon and Angie's baby born in October:
A highlight of that trip was celebrating Brandon's 40th birthday (the 4th of July) by hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park with our two oldest:
Back at home, we did the usual cake and ice cream thing. And he got a hammock. Because what 40-year-old guy wouldn't want a hammock for his birthday?
I'm pretty sure the kids used it more than he did:
In July, we also enjoyed campfires up the canyon:
Kate spent a ton of time drawing and getting familiar with a variety of digital art programs:
My best friend from college moved to Oxford, England with her family and needed a home for her maltese, so we increased our family by one this year:
Bunny and Yuki (which means "Snow" in Japanese):
Poor Rachael had her tonsils and adenoids out and had a pretty rough recovery. Giving me the "I love you" sign before:
August, we drove to Mesa, AZ for the funeral of Brandon's maternal grandfather, Philip Petersen. While he will be greatly missed, it was a joyful occasion as family and friends reflected on his good life and the positive influence he had on everyone he met. We were so grateful as a family that we decided to drive down to Arizona last Thanksgiving break to spend with Grandma and Grandpa as it turned out to be the last time we saw him. Incidentally, what I DON'T have any pictures of are the many scout campouts Will went on over the year (yes, they even do campouts in the winter months), the biggest being a 50-miler down in southern Utah. Brandon often tries to go with him on these campouts, and he met up with the group for the last few days of the 50-miler. On the drive home, Brandon and Will went on a little hunt together to find Grandpa's childhood home knowing they were in the general area. After looking at maps and talking to several older locals, they finally found the house just a day or two after hearing Grandpa had passed. It was just one more way to connect with and honor this man we have been lucky enough to call Grandpa:
Following the funeral we drove to California for the last "wahoo" of summer. After a little Disney and beach time, I surprised the little girls and stopped by the American Girl doll store before heading to La Canada to see family:
And at the very tail end of August going into September, I went by myself for a long weekend to see some of my Iowa family and go to the Nauvoo temple:
(I really bombed on the back to school pictures this year.)
And Kindergarten for Rachael (who is always willing to pose for a picture):
Kate continued on the harp and Will on the cello:
Elizabeth and Rachael traded in gymnastics for dance (and roller blading in the house while carrying small animals):
And all three of the older kids are doing acclerated programs at school which causes us both pride and great angst as parents due to all the homework and projects. (More in particular, the procrastinating of all the homework and projects). We have mixed feelings about having smart kids. Mostly we just want to go back 100 years in time and work on a farm together all day long. (As long as we can still have wifi and a shower every day.) Here's Elizabeth reading some very important literature:
Deliberate Motherhood. It's been a couple of years now, but I was thrilled to contribute by writing the first chapter and also being part of the conceptualizing and editing:
Our mutual favorite, Japanese food:
But he just did it "for the kids", right? He didn't get into it or anything:
A homeless person and a little witch. Yes, Elizabeth's sign says, "Will work for candy. Every little bit helps" and no, I had nothing to do with her costume:
Eating at Fong's after our family pictures:
They turned out awesome thanks to my friend, Holly who took them:
Speaking of real celebrities, I went with a group of women to hear from Ann Romney (and others) at the Time Out for Women event in Salt Lake City:
Tenley, the newest adorable baby on the Reynolds side:
Per tradition, we got our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving:
We went to work parties . . .
Speaking of work, Brandon worked even harder than usual during December (which is saying something!) trying to meet the demands of his patients who wanted to meet their deductibles before the end of the calendar year and also have their surgeries done so they could recuperate over the break. He is the reason we all have so many opportunities for both fun and learning throughout the year and I couldn't be more grateful for this handsome mug:
I helped put on the church "Cowboy Christmas" party (with those same super fun ladies):
We played in the snow:
We cooked and baked (and ate and ate). . .
We slept under the tree . . .
And thoroughly enjoyed all of our usual Christmas traditions:
And we were especially grateful for several opportunities to give to a variety of organizations during the Christmas season since we feel so grateful for all that we have. It feels good to share the love a little bit!
Sometimes this past year we were naughty:
Other times we were nice . . .
But through it all we looked to our Savior and Friend for help along the way:
Looking back over this past year we feel so incredibly blessed to have all the best things in life in such great abundance: family, friends, love, health, natural beauty, freedom, peace, opportunity, education, and prosperity. We are so very grateful for these blessings, and count each of you among them. Here's to a wonderful New Year! Welcome 2014!!