Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Light of Christ

We have been truly blessed this Christmas season. I was having a hard time really feeling the spirit of our visiting teaching message this month. I think it's because I've been so focused on the destination, that I've forgotten to enjoy the journey (don't remember who said that...maybe Elder Wood when he came to Stake Conference). I had been home only minutes from visiting teaching when our doorbell rang. Dallin answered the door with the kids excitedly behind them (who's coming to visit?!). Gavin ran back to me with a package of batteries in his hand and said that someone left them for us. I went over to see who was there and what I found was everything you need to make a Christmas dinner (frozen turkey, canned veggies, stuffing, roasting pan and bags, etc.) as well as gifts for the children. I couldn't help the tears from falling as I realized the impact of Christ's light in my life. Through other people, he has taught me goodness and charity, and that the light of Christ doesn't really come from a star or the glory of the holidays. It comes through those around us and we have been lovingly embraced by Him. The anonymity of the giver speaks volumes to me. God does love me. And however unworthy I feel of such a gift, He continues to bless me. Our family is so grateful to whoever it was that reached out to us. Christ is the true spirit of Christmas. May we always remember the reason we have to celebrate.

Friday, November 28, 2008

CVS Black Friday Deals

I went out on Wednesday night with some girlfriends to get an early start on CVS's Black Friday deals. We had such a great time and walked away with so much, but paying very little. I don't have a picture yet, but I'm going to break it down and list the price so you can see the enormity of my savings!

2- 8 packs Viva paper towels 7.49 each
3- 12 oz. bottles Complete contact solution 8.99 each
2- Boxes 18 count Playtex tampons 3.99 each
1- Reese's big cup $.50
2- L'Oreal color juice lip gloss 6.99 each
2- Sally Hansen nail polish 3.79 & 2.79
1- Garnier Nutrioniste towelettes 5.99
1- Covergirl smoothers pressed powder 5.99
2- Schick Quattro titanium razors 7.99 each
1- Cookies & Cream Kings size candy bar 1.00
2- Aussie hair spray 2.99 each
1- Johnson & Johnson soft lotion 5.69
1- Symphony chocolate bar (the really big one) 1.00
2- Colgate total 4 oz. toothpaste 2.99 each
2- Phillips headphones 6.99 each
6- 20-24 count Rapid Release Tylenol 5.39 each
3- 12 oz. bottles Gatorade G2 1.49 each
1- Baby Magic baby wash 3.99
2- Bic Soleil razors 5.99 each
1- Maybelline Mineral Power liquid foundation 8.99
1- Cover Girl smoothers liquid foundation 7.99

With my coupons and ECB's (store money), I was able to save $232.30 on all of the above items. The cash that I actually spent (gasp!) was $2.99!!! It was AWESOME! And, even though I rolled some of the store money (used it to pay for the next transaction), I still walked away with $67.71 in ECB's (store money). It was like Christmas in November for me! I would love to teach anyone who is interested in how to do this when I go to Utah after Christmas! It's such an adrenaline rush to walk out with so much and paying so little!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Toilet surprise?!?

Ummm, no! But it does look very suspicious! I gave Shelbi a little Snickers bar and instead of eating it, she decided to hold it in her hand! It melted as she held it, and all I could do was laugh at the grossness of the appearance!

Birthday time!

This year, Dallin and I decided to give the kids one big birthday present. We sent them on a treasure hunt to find it and they both loved the game and the prize at the end! It was so fun! As most of you know, Gav and Shelbi share a birthday and I always thought it would be as they got older that they would want separate birthdays. I was so wrong. On our way to pick up the birthday cakes, Shelbi said to me in the saddest voice possible, "Momma, I don't want to share my birthday with Gav. I just want him to share his with Daddy." Gavin didn't say anything about sharing birthdays until the next day and he asked, "Will I always have to share my birthday with my sister?" To that I replied, "Next year we'll do something different. You two can have two different days to celebrate." This seemed to placate them both. But, all in all, it was a very fun day for us!

Shelbi's Dora cake

Gavin's dinosaur cake
Dallin & I gave Shelbi a bike for her birthday! She loves it!

Color Wonder & Travelin' Aqua Doodle! Shelbi can't wait to get started!

Dallin & I gave Gavin a Nintendo Gameboy for his birthday. He loves it!

Gavin got some Magnext from Grandma & Grandpa Bracken

Gavin and Shelbi opening their birthday presents!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

By the way...

We are having a boy! We found out on Halloween and are so excited. Shelbi, at first, was a little upset to say the least. She stomped her foot at me and told me that she did not want a baby brother. She wanted a baby sister! Now, she's thrilled with the idea of having a baby of our very own!

Here's a side profile of "Baby Hamilton". We have yet to find a name!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gav's new words!

I was struggling this morning trying to get a lid off a Nalgene bottle. I was putting a lot of muscle into it and Gavin asked what I was doing. I told him that I was trying to open the bottle, but his dad had twisted the lid too tight and I was having a hard time. He said, "Mom, you just have to be tenacious." I was shocked that he knew this word and I asked him what it meant (not really believing he would know) and he answered, "It means you shouldn't give up!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

I forgot to mention in the bargain post that the double Sunday papers were $1.99 each and the Halloween decorations were $1.50 each. That will give you a little better idea on the savings with those items alone!

More Bargains!!

I went out this morning with a girlfriend to my favorite store (CVS) and scored big time! I know from the picture it might be hard to see everything, so let me break it down for you. At CVS, I purchased 1 Listerine Whitening Rinse, 2 Agent Cool Blue mouth rinse, 1 powerade, 4 Sure deodorants, 5 double packs of toothbrushes, 2 bags of candy corn, 2 plastic pumpkins, 3 boxes of Excedrin (20 count), 2 double Sunday papers, and 3 Halloween decorations. I had coupons for nearly everything I purchased and my total out of pocket was $3.50. However, I did receive $27 in store money in return, so my profit was awesome (and yes, I did use Extra Care Bucks to help pay for these items). My actual cash was $3.50. Then, we went to Walgreens and I bought 1 bottle of Pert Plus and 1 Gillette Fusion Power razor. My cash expense there was 31 cents! I had coupons for the Wags items and the Pert Plus actually gave me overage and that helped with the razor. All in all, it was a fabulous morning. I got a lot for not very much! And I'm going out again tonight and possibly on Wednesday to the grocery stores! I'll let you know of the bargains!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Fun Shopping!!!

This was my super buy for last night! I was so excited. I went to Albertson's and Kroger and with the three transactions that I did, I only paid .58 cents!!! I bought 3 bottles of Worcestershire sauce at Albertson's and got them all free! I had a coupon for each one that gave them to me for free. Then, at Kroger, I bought 8 bottles of softsoap, 2 h20 sports drinks and 6 bars of Johnson's bath buddies. I did two transactions, had coupons for every item I bought, and paid only 29 cents for each transaction!!! I was way excited. My girlfriend bought 20 Hershey special dark chocolate bars and 3 packs of trident gum and paid $1.03! I didn't have the gum coupons with me, so I didn't do that deal. But what a great night it was!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


As the kids and I were driving home today, Gavin did something to his sister that annoyed her terribly! She was very upset and indignantly told him he needed to say sorry. After this demand, there was a loud sighing in the backseat from Gavin before he said, "Fine. I'll show mercy on you. You're banished!" I could not stop laughing! Shelbi was not happy at all with this response and I was laughing too hard to say anything! We watch a little too much Avatar at my house!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

From the mouths of babes...

Friday night, Dallin and I put the kids to bed around 7:30. By 9 p.m. they were still awake (we had gone to their room several times to chase them back to their beds). They had been busy playing games such as freeze tag, simon says, and hide and go seek. I wasn't super stern with them going right to sleep because it was a Friday night and I was enjoying some serious hair therapy (Dallin was playing with my hair). So, as I'm laying on the couch enjoying the therapy, I start to hear dresser drawers opening and closing. I think to myself that I should quickly put the kabosh on that because I don't want the dresser falling over or fingers getting slammed in the drawers. After having this thought at least three times and ignoring it every time, we suddenly hear a very loud crash followed promptly by screaming. I flew upstairs, much faster than the speed of light, and found Gavin at the top of the stairs screaming and pointing at his bedroom. Fearing that Shelbi was pinned beneath the dresser, I dashed into their room and found her standing at the foot of Gavin's bed, also screaming and crying. We quickly ascertained their wounds and the condition of the dresser. Gavin had only a bruise on his cheek and Shelbi had a tiny cut on her forehead and another small bruise on the opposite side of her forehead as the cut. The dresser, however, did not fare as well. After a brief discussion on the dangers of opening every drawer in the dresser, we put the kids back to bed and took the two dresser drawers downstairs for repair. We are so grateful that the kids were not seriously injured and it was nothing short of an act of God that spared them. However, the story does not end there. Last night as I was tucking Gavin into bed, I stroked his cheek where he has his bruise and told him how glad I was that he and Shelbi were not seriously hurt by the falling dresser. This was his reply, "Well, Mom, when the dresser was falling, Heavenly Father told me to move. So, I pushed Shelbi out of the way." It was such a touching moment to me that even though I chose to ignore the promptings of the spirit, my son was in tune enough to hear His voice and act on it. We are so blessed to have the gospel in our lives and children in our home. They truly are closer to the Lord and we should aspire to be more like them in that respect.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I was in the living room playing with Shelbi and Gavin was upstairs. He called down to me to come and get him and I asked him to come downstairs. Well, seconds later, I heard a thumpty thump and some crashing. Something hit the wall at the bottom of the stairs and Gavin starts crying. Immediately I knew he had just fallen down the stairs (at least some of them). When I jumped up and ran to the stairs, I better understood what had happened before I even spoke to Gavin. The object that had hit my wall was an empty legos bucket (about 15" x 10"). I picked up the bucket and turned the corner. There was Gavin laying sideways and partially head first on the stairs. After calming him down, I asked if he tried to go down the stairs in the lego bucket. Of course, his answer was yes. And then he said, "But nobody told me it was a bad choice!" A few minutes later, he said, "I thought it was a good idea, but it wasn't." So, after talking to him about the danger he had placed himself in (and yes, trying my hardest not to laugh and suggest my clothes basket the next time), I left the room and busted up laughing. I'm glad he wasn't hurt, but seriously, it was so funny.

Also, we were in the car today and Shelbi pipes up from the back seat, "knock knock, Daddy." He answers, "who's there?" Shelbi says, "your seatbelt." Dallin says, "my seatbelt who?" Shelbi replied, "Your seatbelt is not done up!" Too cute, and she was so right! They're always the first to notice if you're not buckled up!

Shelbi has discovered the glory of make up! She found my lipstick, put some on and was ready for a night on the town!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It's a .......ask Gavin and he'll tell you a baby brother named Hamilton (no idea where he got that name from!!). And Gav was also the one to spill the beans to Grandma and Grandpa! He announced, "My mom is pregnant!" And said nothing more. I heard it went silent (because I wasn't there) and Dallin confirmed the truth. So, Baby Hamilton (no, not really, but that's what we'll call it for now) will make an estimated arrival around March 15, 2009. We are very excited about this adventure! Gavin wants a baby brother so badly and Shelbi wants a baby sister (no, we're not having twins so they can both get what they want). I've already had a sonogram and there is only 1 baby!!! So, surprise!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yesterday I'm driving home with Gavin and Shelbi and they were playing so cute in the back seat. They were holding hands and talking so nice....and then came the injury! (Really, not so funny). Shelbi starts crying and holding her arm and I hear Gavin whispering to her, "Sorry, Shelbi. Sorry, Shelbi." I calmly ask what happened and Gavin replies, "Uh, I think Shelbi got hurt." As if I didn't already know, so I asked him who hurt her, knowing full well it was him. He answers, "A monster did it." It took everything I had not to burst out laughing at his response! As frustrating as the situation was, he was being pretty cute!

Monday, June 30, 2008

As some of you know, several months ago we journeyed to Waco, Texas and visited the Branch Davidian Compound. We must have sat outside the gates for ten minutes before daring to go inside! We took a few pics, got chased by a dog, and left!

So, on the way home the other day, Gavin asks me, "Mommy, what do you call a bear who doesn't wear socks?" I answered that I didn't know and he replied, "Bare foot! Get it? Bare...foot!" And he started laughing. The expression on his face and the tone of his voice was so funny! He is so into telling jokes right now! And then there's Shelbi who, when I get really mad or frustrated at her, will say to me, "Momma, I love you." It's so sweet, how can I stay mad?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So, the house geckos are coming out in full force! The kids, of course, are delighted. They're not so bad and they do eat the spiders in the house. I still haven't figured out how they get in.

Gavin and Dallin went on a father's and sons outing over the weekend and my little Gav came back with battle wounds and fireflies! Gavin chased the fireflies everywhere at the camp. Gavin has been asking his dad to take the training wheels off his bike. He's so tough and wants to ride his bike like a big boy! He loves playing with his webkinz and his favorite part is inviting Dallin and I over.

Shelbi's new thing is to out of the blue tell you she loves you. She says it more to Gavin than anyone else and it is the cutes thing. She walks up to him, hugs him, and says, "Gavin, I love you." When she speaks of Gavin, she refers to him as "my Gavin". She's also trying to pick up a habit that vexes me greatly....finger sucking! I tend my friends kids three days a week and they all suck their fingers. So, she thinks she needs to do it too. The first time I told her to get her fingers out of her mouth, she said, "But Jenner sucks his fingers." Summer will be a blessed relief because I don't think I'm watching them and I'm hoping to get my kids away from some of the things they've picked up.

Dallin has just started his summer semester and he says it will be time consuming, but shouldn't be as hard as last semester. We are both doing well and aside from the gross humidity, we are liking Fort Worth (that doesn't mean I want to settle here, but we are conveniently located close to EVERYTHING!!!). Oh, and I've only gotten lost twice (and it was in the same day so really it should count as one time, right?)! Thanks to all for your love and support and especially for the fasting and prayers!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

code adam!

So, with the title, I'm sure many of you are thinking of Gavin, my little runaway, but this actually happened to Shelbi today while she was out with her dad! He went to Walmart for me and she stepped around the corner while they were at the check out line. He went around the other side and she wasn't there. So, after quickly searching the immediate area, he decided to expand the search and check a few aisles. While he was doing this, the store called a Code Adam for a lost little girl in a pink shirt, blue jeans, and pink shoes. He found a sales associate and told them the little girl was his and where was she? In the fitting rooms! Dallin said she wasn't crying, but she looked really scared! We're just glad she was found and is okay!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So, some of the fun things we've done lately are visiting the Dallas temple. It reminds me a lot of the Portland temple only a lot smaller. We also visited the Branch Davidian compound in Waco (yes it was little frightening). We saw only 3 people. Took some pictures and had our car chased by 3 dogs! We also went to the zoo where my sunglasses were stolen (I KNOW!!!). My favorite pair that has taken me nearly all my life to find....gone! Still haven't found any to replace them! Gone to the park a lot and have lived through 2 tornado warnings and am currently enduring a flash flood warning! Anyone want to come and visit? Just kidding (you really can, we have plently of room and friendly faces!).

Alright, Shem, this is for you! And you didn't think I could do it!!! We are all well (aside from the lone grape falling out of the grocery bag onto my kitchen floor and causing me to scream!). Shelbi is nearly potty trained and has perfected the tantrum! She really does lay on the floor, cries, AND kicks her legs, all without encouragement from me! (It really isn't very funny). And Gavin is reading now. So Proud! He's just starting, so sometimes when he's sounding a word out, he sounds like he's a little slow with his speech!