Ok, buckle in because a lot happened in November.  I’ve already written a bunch in other posts, but here are some stragglers.
Some are not actually “little things” like the fact that Max came home for a week.  I wrote about how I felt about that back HERE, but didn’t get to all the best details of his stay.  
What’s that you say?  
It sure seems like I did because I already said a ton?  
Well, you just can’t say enough about your boy coming home from college for the first time in my opinion.  It was so fun to see how much he’s grown.  Not so much physically (although he did seem even taller), but emotionally and spiritually and mentally.  It was just so great to have him home.  
Four of my favorite parts of his visit:
1) When he and his cousin drove into the driveway and he unfolded himself from that little car he’d been driving in for so many hours to give us big hugs.  I never got a picture with his “Welcome Home” banner that promptly fell off the garage right after we put it up, but I think he felt welcome anyway:) 
2) After we caught up for a little bit we got to go together to pick up Claire (who had been gone to Science Camp for the last couple days).  Now, keep in mind that this girl had been counting down the days until her brother got home.  We pulled up to the school and Max was so excited to go find her in the sea of kids that he hopped out while I found a spot to park.  My friend pulled up behind me in tears because she had just seen their reunion.  I guess it was quite joyful.
3) The few dates the two of us went on to get him some supplies and to go out to lunch.  I took him on a “date” to serve at BrainFood.  I loved sharing that great organization with him and also sharing him with them.
My heart filled up as he shared his thoughts about his upcoming mission and the temple and things he’s learned at college.
4)  The temple experience which I wrote all about back HERE and which will always hold a pretty solid part of my heart.
Our neighbors knew we’d be missing him again for the next few weeks so they left us a giant surprise substitute in our yard one night:
Oh man we love the Daltons!
In other November news, we took down our Halloween stuff:

…and tried our best on some Thanksgiving stuff but much to Lucy’s chagrin we don’t have a ton of that stuff…

We finally got our pool done right at the tail-end of September so we had all the cousins come enjoy it one night at the beginning of November before it got too cold.

Wish I had more pictures of that night…so fun to finally be able to use our back yard and to fill it with so many people we love.

Sister antics…

Accidental matching hair-dos:

Dinner aftermath:

Love those four girls of mine.

Book worm…

..and Lego maniac:

The girls all started piano lessons with such a great man.

The idea of having their mother teach them didn’t last so long…
Soccer season was in full swing:
(a whole soccer wrap-up post is in the works)

Dave and I got to go see our nephew in concert.

He’s in a band called Vinyl Theater and they are gooooood!

Check them out HERE.

A random family dinner Lucy was apparently really happy at.  Not sure why I have this picture…

I already posted this picture (back HERE in my post about friends), but I just adore these girls and that they used their dolls to do their Greek/Roman clothing project:

Lucy was pretty proud of her cute Roman girl and did great in her oral presentation at school.

I love how hard she works on homework too.

And on reading the Dictionary.  Ha!  See that up there by her?  She likes that thing enough to read it for bedtime stories sometimes.

Lucy is our table setter.  She takes her job very seriously and I’m so grateful for her!

Art Masterpiece is rolling again.  I got to teach Claire and the rest of her sixth grade class about Marcel Duchamp and the Dada art movement.  This is our “nonsense” art:

Then Claire sweet-talked me into a little lunch date in the glorious weather.

I posted this picture before too, but man I love these women.  

The one second from left went to India before we did and stayed there for a month with her husband and six children.  So she gave us a lot of advice for that trip (more about that over HERE).  She was also was the one who introduced me to CICFO (the orphanage we visited in Cambodia).   Ever since she sent me the bios about those kids my heart yearned to visit them.  Luckily we got to do it (back HERE).

But after all that cyberspace interaction I had never actually met her in person so it was so fun that she was in town for a soccer tournament with her daughter and we got to meet up.  I could sit and talk to those women all day long for weeks and still have more wisdom to glean from them (the other ones are my neighbor Brynne on the left and my cousin Kara on the right…love them).

I went on a few photoshoots with Elle last month as she got back in the “groove” of family photography.  I love this location:

When I go with her I am her “model” when she figures out lighting, etc., so I have a few of these nerdy pics. of myself:)

Every once in a while Dave writes little notes in Lucy’s lunches.  She’s over the moon about that little fact.  Here’s one I found in her backpack:

Family Home evening art (we love this activity where everyone draws one section without letting anyone else see it and then we unveil the results):

Aside from photoshoots, Elle and I spent some serious quality time together doing college applications.

More on that next week…

Getting ready for Max to enter this place…

A few mishaps for Elle…

My elementary school girls:

Claire got to go to Science Camp.  Can you tell how she (along with the entire sixth grade) felt about that grand adventure??

Oh boy were they ever excited for those three days up in the mountains:

Claire got put in the same cabin with all these cute blondies (including my friend who was their chaperone…)

…and who is also a great photographer and sent me a few pictures as the days went by.

So grateful for those girls and how safe I felt sending my girl away with them for a few days.

Elle got answered for Winter Formal:

I’ve been pouring over ancestor pictures as I finally got an “ancestor wall” put up in our house.

Love these ones of Dave’s mom’s family, and Dave’s parents.

Another piano lesson…

with inside-out pajamas…

Lucy and friends were invited to perform at a leadership training meeting at church.  We did a few practices at our house leading up to the big day.  They were so cute and SO good.

My very favorite part was when Lucy did a gigantic yawn in the very middle of while they were performing the song but was still just swaying and putting her heart into that song.  I’ve got to get that video from my friend.

Claire adores her cousins and gets extra excited when she gets to hang with them.

Elle and her friend heading out to pick up their dates for their Winter Formal “day date” (they do a date a couple weeks before the real deal here in the desert).

Claire and her mini matching cousin when they stayed with us for Thanksgiving:

Lucy and her awesome cousin-in-law who babysat for us a while ago (he and his wife, my niece were the ones who helped Elle get ready for Homecoming while I was gone).

Love that Scott!

We finally got our barn doors installed…

…been waiting two years for those puppies.

Lunch get-away with Dave’s sister and her husband while they were staying with us:

Greek/Roman toga day in the third grade:

Thanksgiving hosting prep:

And Turkey Trot prep:

We’ve had a whole slew of people ask where they can get these shirts we wore…working on getting more made for those who are interested.

A gorgeous unfiltered sunset to start off the Thanksgiving hoopla:

The Turkey Trot rocked (more on that back HERE).

Lucy’s careful mid-coloring of a special gift for my parents for coming.

We love these family friends who live close-by.

My brother met this guy who is from Ukraine on his mission in London and we have remained friends ever since.  He is married to awesome Courtney and they have three kids and now his mom has come to live with them.  They live close-by now and we love to see them when we can.

…and play tennis together even though my Dad and I got beat.

This is how I plan for hosting Thanksgiving.

I’m super organized like that.

More on Thanksgiving HERE.

Lucy’s Legos are getting out of control…

I adore my Sunday kitchen helpers:

One more photoshoot prep for Elle…

…where we made up our own little tree-farm in the Home Depot parking lot.

And Claire and I were both “models” for her to figure out lighting.

One more great desert sunset.

I cannot get enough of them.

Then it was on to tearing the house apart to figure out how to do Christmas here.

We haven’t been HOME for Christmas for two years so we’re sure soaking all this in.

Bring on December.

Oh wait, we’re already here!  Time is marching quickly these days!

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  1. I would love your advice on something…How do you balance all of the wonderful family time with both families? I WANT to be to every family activity, but we 2 hours away from any family and when we do visit we wear our little kids out trying to get to everything. You have SO much family I figured you were probably a pro.

    1. Oh man this is a tough one and I'm definitely not a pro. Everyone's families are so different. Dave's family is super easy-going and never want to step on anyone's toes demanding we are at something or another. My family is kind of the opposite 🙂 Ha! And we love them all so much that we want to be there for everything and everyone but like you, of course we can't. I think the important thing is to sit down as a family (or just you and your husband if your kids are young) and discuss what will work for you and go from there. Explain to your extended families that you're trying to find a balance and maybe they can help. The most important thing is that they know you adore them. That doesn't necessarily mean being there in person for everything. It could be a phone call or a text or even a hand-written letter showing your love. Not sure if that answers your question but at least it's a try! Good luck!

  2. Oh I love these blog posts !!!!
    I cannot wait for your post on ' what's on my walls'.. I know it's coming soon 😉😉😉… also can you tell me where you got the huge picture/canvas from.. I love it..
    ps.. As I have gotton older I gave realised how important and how much you need to love the things on your wall.. and how I wish I had bought pieces of art from places I have traveled or taken better pictures on my younger days !

    1. Do you mean the canvas of the kids? We had a professional photographer take that to commemorate the point in life when all of our kids were home under one roof and ordered it in that large canvas size. I'll have to get to a "walls" post soon 🙂

  3. Hi! I'm a loyal reader who never comments. I'm trying to pick a grey paint color for my walls and happen to love your color in the main living area. Do you remember the color name? Thanks!

  4. I love the cute posters and clever ideas that the kids always do to "ask" and "answer" dates to dances, but is that the only way they ever do it? Never the old-fashioned face to face?

    1. I think they ask more face to face for regular dates, but for dances this is always how it was for me growing up and I was kind of happy to see that they still do this kind of asking and answering now…brings out some kind of fun creativity 🙂

  5. I love the cute posters and clever ideas that the kids always do to "ask" and "answer" dates to dances, but is that the only way they ever do it? Never the old-fashioned face to face?

  6. Kind of off topic but where do you get shirts for yourself and Elle? I have such a hard time finding shirts that are long enough and your grey shirt is long and has a cute cap sleeve to it.

    1. We are not big shopping fans, especially Elle and me, so we mostly find stuff online. Online is the best because that's where you can buy "tall" stuff. Old Navy and Loft are probably the main places we've had luck. Every now and again Elle and Grace will find things at Forever 21 that they love. The best advice I have for long things is not to put things in the dryer. I take them out of the washing machine and totally stretch them (pull them) to be as long as I can without losing shape and then hang or lay them out to dry.

    2. Thanks, shawni. I really don't like shopping so I will have to give old navy online a try. I thought I was the only one who had to stretch shirts when they come out of the washer! I've never thought myself particularly tall but just tall enough for the usual stuff to always be too short.

  7. Is Art Masterpiece something you came up with? Is it a program the school initiates and you just volunteer to teach it? Do you make up the lessons or are you following a curriculum? Sorry for all the questions, but I've been wondering about it for years. I'm going to be the PTO president at my kids school next year so I'm looking for cool new activities.

    1. Art Masterpiece is just something that runs through the Parent/Teacher organization that some wonderful person came up with. I don't know who that was but I wish I could give them a big, giant hug. I love that program. I wish I had specific info. to send you, but if you google "art masterpiece program" you will find a lot of information about how random school districts on-the-ball enough to have websites do theirs, which might help. It's such a great way to introduce kids to the arts.

  8. Hi Shawni! I posted a question on your laundry room post on your home blog, but I am wondering what you absolutely love about your new home that you are glad you did? And things you wished you had done. We are starting an owner builder build up in Flagstaff and I absolutely love your new home! I love your laundry room floor and wondering if you know the source for the tiles?

    1. Oh there's so much to say about this and I wish I had time to write more! Maybe in the new year? I cannot remember the source for the laundry room tiles (I kick myself that I didn't keep better records). I just found 12×24 tiles that I liked and had them cut in that design. Totally copied my designer friend 🙂 There are SO many things I am so grateful we did (plugs in bathroom drawers and big windows to name a few) and I'd love to share them for those who are needing direction building but I'm just not quite there yet trying to find a balance on how much time I'm on the computer. Hopefully I can get to more of that at some point because I do get a whole lot of these types of questions and I really would love to help.

    2. Thanks for the reply! I totally understand, I have to keep myself from being on the computer all day looking at sources, ideas, etc. You are a busy lady!

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