Thursday, May 31, 2012

chad's graduation + lots of pictures

For Memorial weekend we took a trip home for my brother Chad's high school graduation. I can't believe he is done with high school and going to be a freshman at BYU! I'm so proud of him and all he has accomplished. It seems like just yesterday he was graduating from junior high. He's grown up to be the most incredible young man and BYU is lucky to be getting him. The world is a better place because of him.
Steele had a basketball scrimmage while we were there, and of course, the first play he sunk a three. He's growing up to be quite the baller!
One of his MANY steals
Chad and a few of his friends had a graduation party on Saturday and it was so much fun. When I heard they were having bounce houses, I thought they'd just be for the kids. I think we had more fun on them though!
I lost Mike for a bit and this is where I found him :)
My adorable cousins Sophie & Ford
Now that Steele is the lone man of the house (although he likes the idea of him being the "boss"), my parents got him a dog to keep him company. Steele named him Capo (Italian for boss) and he is the cutest little thing. Unfortunately, he won't stay this size for long. Steele absolutely LOVES him and it was so cute to see how good he was with him and how well he took care of him. I know it's a long way off, but Steele is going to make a great dad one day.
Capo loved curling up in my lap
We also did a little boxing over the weekend. Shelby had me beat (purely off intimidation) until I decided wrestling was allowed :) 
It was another amazing trip home. There truly is no place like home. I'm glad that we were all about to be there to support Chad in his big achievement and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes next. Girls, watch out. Chad Brooks is coming to Provo! He has always been a babe magnet, and it's easy to see why. I love that guy with all my heart. The end of June cannot come soon enough when he'll be here in Provo with me.

Another great thing about home, you can't get a better freeway drive than this... (Santa Barbara)
Now we're off to Vegas for the weekend. Lots of traveling for us and we love it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

BYU graduation

This year has definitely been a big one! I got married in January and graduated from Brigham Young University in April! I can't believe how fast the last four years have gone by. I finished my classes in December so the graduation "feeling" was a little drug out, but it was still a sweet moment to OFFICIALLY be done. Graduation was even sweeter because my parents were there. I love any opportunity I have to spend time with my mom. It was a special feeling graduating alongside my sister and brother-in-law too.

It was a little sunny!
It was fun to have us four together. Brock and I have been friends since my freshman year and we introduced Shelby and Trygve :)
It seems like just yesterday I was graduating from high school. It's crazy to think I'm going to be in California this weekend watching my brother graduate. When I first got to BYU I didn't know how it would ever top the great time I had in high school, but was I wrong! I'm a very sentimental person and I love looking back on my time at BYU. I'm truly blessed for the experiences I've had, the love I've shared, the incredible friends I've made, the lessons I've learned, and for the moments that will always make me smile. I'll cherish them forever.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

sugar cookies in a pan

These are AMAZING! We've had them a few times from a friend and I finally got the recipe. I made them tonight and had forgotten how good they are! Mike isn't a huge cookie fan but he devoured these! It's a perfect mix between a cookie, cake and bar.

sugar cookies in a pan:

1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cups flour

Combine butter, cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg, almond extract and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. With a floured knife, spread into a greased and floured 12"x17" sheet pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Cool and frost.

cream cheese frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla (I did 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp almond)
splash of milk
food coloring (optional)

Blend butter and cream cheese well. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and a splash of milk to reach spreadable consistency. Stir in food coloring, if desired. Frost and decorate with sprinkles. Cut and serve.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Gwen is the cutest girl in the entire world! Her and Reese sure have set the bar high for our future kids! We hope they are half as adorable as our little nieces! It's so sweet to see how much Mike loves them, he is going to make an amazing dad. Last Sunday we went out to look at the turtles in the pond and Mike decided to go turtle hunting so Gwen could play with them in the grass. Sweet little Reese had her baby blessing that day too. We are blessed to have them as nieces and love them so much! They make us so excited to have kids one day! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

my amazing mother

My mom is the first person I ran to hug after walking out of the temple on my wedding day. I love that you can see Mike in the background too. My mom was the most influential person in Mike and I's relationship - and we will never be able to thank her enough. 

I wish more than anything that I could be with her on Mother's Day. She is truly my best friend. There are many great mothers in the world, but I could not be more blessed to have the one I do. My Heavenly Father truly blessed me with the most incredible woman you will ever meet. Not only is she the nicest, but she is the perfect example of selflessness. She embodies the Savior's example of service. Never once has she put herself before someone else. She has given her life to her four children, raising us to be the best we can be. She has always encouraged me and inspired me, and taught me to believe in myself. My mom has always been there for me, throughout the ups and downs of my life. We've cried together and laughed together, and have many amazing memories together that I will cherish forever. There's not a moment that goes by that I don't smile when I think about her. The biggest compliment I ever receive is when people compare me to my mom. She touches and influences all those who are fortunate enough to know her; she has changed countless lives, including mine. I am grateful for her burning testimony and her example of what matters most in life. I hope and pray to be more like her everyday. The world is a better place because of my mom. 

I'm grateful to have an amazing mother-in-law too! Those who know Stephanie know how lucky I am. Her happiness is contagious and she is always a party to be with! Happy Mother's Day to two incredible women. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

my hero

My Aunt Fawn is my hero.

Last fall things took a turn and Fawn's health progressively got worse. Over Christmas, we cherished our time with her. We sat and held her hand and valued each moment with her. On New Year's Eve, she joined her Heavenly Father on the other side, where all of us know she is actively engaged in a good cause to bring as much joy to those there as she did to us here. The next Thursday, we gathered as family, from near and far, to celebrate the beautiful life of our sweetest Fawn. A week later, Michael and I were sealed in the temple. It was an emotional month for our family, but the sweetest and most tender blessing to KNOW she was in the temple with us that day. 

Those were knew Fawn were blessed beyond measure. It was evident in how many people traveled from all over the country, and even Canada, to be there. My mom describes the type of person she was and the example she will always be. Hers is a legacy that will never be forgotten. My mom, her closest friend and dearest sister, gave her eulogy:

Fawn as a little girl had a mature look about her.  Strangers would stop to comment on her beauty.  Fawn became a babysitter at the age of 2 with a baby sister only 11 months younger than her.  She loved doing all the things little girls do.  As a toddler, Fawn would sprint out with excitement to her dad as he passed on his tractor or horse to ride with him, and each time she would instantly fall asleep.

Starting at the age of 10, Fawn was plagued with health issues that would shape her life. She had a brain tumor, biopsy, and stroke. When she was 11, she had a test done at USCF that left her blind. Several days passed and the doctors said she would not see again.  Days later, when her vision began to return, the room swirling around, she reached out to hold her dads hand and said “don’t worry mom and dad, heavenly father will take care of me”.

Fawn always put her trust in the Lord, having faith that His plan, no matter how many trials it was made up of, was truly a plan of happiness. her testimony was one of great strength, beginning at a young age and growing as she did. She had a positive outlook on life, and lived in a Christ-like way—always thinking of others and putting them first. Her’s was a life of service and compassion.

In High School, Fawn loved sharing clothes with her sister Tamara, shopping, watching movies in the theater and going to stake dances every weekend. Fawn was up on all the latest music and had tons of cassette tapes. She was a great dancer, and would watch the dick clark show for new moves to try at the next stake dance. She loved posing like a model and having her picture taken.

She was voted best eyes and best dressed in her high school yearbook and was homecoming and yearbook queen. She often joked about being a queen throughout her adult life, and would say “oh Dahling!”  Fawn loved her Heavenly Father and always set the example for her younger siblings. she loved being the oldest and often reminded us that she was. She made everyone feel loved and special. She always knew what others needed to hear and told them to be happy and not worry. We all loved her kindness and gentleness, her sweet voice and sense of humor.

She attended BYU in Provo and studied fashion marketing. She would go tanning and would wear the most stylish clothes.
Fawn and Tom met in a BYU ballroom class when she was 18. They reunited 5 years later while shopping at Albertsons. When he saw her, Tom thought that she was quite dolled up and looking good. They were both secretly interested in each other, but Tom thought “How could a girl like this with great 80’s hair, so beautiful, and so sweet, be interested in me?” And fawn thought “how could this tall georgeous guy be interested in a girl like me?” As they left Albertsons, she turned and playfully said “call me” and he did. Their first date was to a car show and they were married one year later.
Tom and Fawn moved to Maryland, then to San Jose, California. They came to Livermore shortly before giving birth to Barron, and two years later were blessed with Walker. Shortly after Walker’s birth, Fawn had a surgery that left her in constant pain on her left side. Her balance was affected, she lost some of her hearing, and she developed double vision. It was easy to forget she was constantly enduring this pain, despite its severity, because she didn’t talk about it and certainly didn’t complain. She loved life and had complete faith in her Father in Heaven, the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. She believed in choosing the right and keeping the commandments and lived her life accordingly. 

Fawn enjoyed volunteering in Walker’s classrooms and driving Barron to hockey and piano lessons. She took piano lessons with Baron, there for him every step of the way on his journey to becoming an accomplished pianist. Fawn was an involved and loving mother. She loved books, and read to her boys every day. She did puzzles with Barron as he grew up, and loved watching movies with Walker and having treats. Walker has many fond memories of being at the mall with his mom. She always took him for a hand-picked bag of candy from the sweet shop and a new toy for him to play with while she shopped.  Fawn loved her boys dearly and taught them the gospel in a loving way. Her testimony of heavenly father and the savior were most important in her life, and she prayed for her boys to also have strong testimonies and to choose the right.

Fawn had a love of life and all things that glittered. She loved jewelry, perfume, clothes, shoes, purses, and chocolate. She had vogue style and loved buying gifts for everyone. When you went to Nordstrom's with Fawn, she knew the people who worked there—not just their names, but about their families too. In the last few years, she lost interest in going, but tom recently took her again and a Nordstrom employee commented, “she looks different, but I remember fawn.” Fawn was strikingly beautiful, but her sincere love for people and the desire to know them and help them was where her true beauty came from. Fawn had a childlike innocence and was very laidback, but she was very much in charge of her life.

Fawn loved baking, especially chocolate chip cookies, and never missed an opportunity to decorate for a holiday. Whether it was Christmas or St. Patrick’s day, she loved to make things beautiful. She was a master scrabble player and always beat Tom. Together, Fawn and Barron were the reigning champions, no matter the opponent.

She was a loving friend and in turn was blessed with friends who loved her back and who took care of her, especially during these last few years.

Five years ago, Fawn had another stroke that left her confined to a wheelchair. Tom got her a bright blue wheelchair—her favorite color—and she rode around in style with a smile. No one remembers Fawn ever saying a negative thing about not being able to walk. Although it was hard and it hurt, she continued to smile and remained brave. Fawn was always brave. A few years ago, while she could still communicate, she told one of her nieces, “I’m not afraid. I will go where the Lord wants me to go. I have faith that whatever happens to me is the Lords’ will and I am not afraid.” Fawn maintained her strong faith through the next two years. She knew that Heavenly Father loved her and she shared that love with those around her, even when she couldn’t communicate. She would hold our hands and gently rub them.  While she was being dressed or cared for she would often say “I’m sorry” and she would continue to smile and say “thank you”.  Fawn said three words most often the last few years, the words, “I love you” were felt with our hearts as she said them with depth, happiness and sincerity.

Before Fawn lost her hearing a little over a year ago, she and tom finished their dinner at an ihop one evening, and tom asked, “what do you think it means that there are three different-sized plates left on our table?”  fawn said, “it must mean there’s good luck ahead.” Fawn always epitomized the word “hope.” Our memories of her are of her smiling and laughing. It makes us all smile just thinking of her. She never complained, but was always optimistic, and we all felt special after being with her. She had a way of making us all feel important and want to be better.
She had a special spirit.
Fawn always was a little closer to heaven than the rest of us.

I love you Fawn. I miss you. But I look forward to the day that I will see you again because of our Savior's infinite Atonement. Thank you for reminding me to always have hope, to tell people I love them, and for always making me smile xoxo


We had the most amazing time in California last week! I love any chance I get to visit my family. We're lucky to have such great friends in James and Andrea, who took us on the trip, along with Mike's parents. We have so much fun with them! We tagged along on another trip with them in February to Sun Valley, Idaho and Vegas. It was my first time in Sun Valley and it was BEAUTIFUL! Mike's family is good friends with the Osmond's so they got us tickets to see the Donny & Marie Show. It was so much fun to see them up there dancing and singing their hearts out. They were amazing!

I'm from Santa Maria, California (about 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara, on the coast) and although Santa Maria might not be much, it's one of the prettiest areas in California. I love it! It was great to drive through Santa Maria again, I hadn't been back since New Year's, but it definitely doesn't feel as much like home anymore. Especially because my family's house is 30 minutes outside of town, in the mountains (more like hills). Now THAT, will ALWAYS feel like home to me. There really is no place like home...

It was a short trip (Friday-Sunday) but just what I needed. I hadn't seen my brothers since my wedding. I honestly think that's the longest I've ever gone without seeing them. They mean the world to me! I can't even describe how excited I am to have my brother Chad in Provo. Trust me, I'd have a countdown if I knew the day he was coming (the end of June sometime). My brother Steele has grown so much since January! They are both such manly/sporty/guy's guys ever, and yet, they both have the biggest hearts of anyone you'll ever meet. I'm one lucky girl to have them in my life.

We were in LA Sunday until Tuesday. I was so happy we went to The Grove on Monday, I love that place! It's like a little shopping village, and is the prettiest and coolest place during Christmas. Monday night we went to The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel. It was one of the neatest things I've ever experienced! You only have one bite of each plate because everyone shares, so you order quite a few different things. The food is composed different than normal. For example, we ordered tortillas and they came in a small cup with different layers of egg, potato, etc. It was a tortilla deconstructed. Some of my favorites were the brussel sprouts, Phily cheesesteak and caprese salad (although it was hard to pick the top three because I loved everything!) The brussel sprouts had a lemon foam on top, the phily cheesesteak was an air bread with melted cheese in the middle and had a slice of meat on top, and the mozzarella in the caprese salad popped in your mouth into a liquid form. We were a little skeptical, but it was amazing. For dessert, you move to another table. The dessert bar was beautiful! I wish I would have brought my phone in to take pictures. We had a great time hanging out with my family and in LA but it's nice to be back!

I'm so excited to go back for Chad's graduation at the end of the month!