Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Three Birthday Celebrations for my Three Year Old

Cosette turned three today. It is tradition on birthdays we each say something nice about the person. Here are three things about Cosette: 1. She tells the best knock knock jokes. 2.She is exceptional at doing puzzles. 3. She is very good at making friends where ever she is. Oh there are so many nice things I could say about this kid! She really is special. There are not many sweeter kids in all the world. Me, Lyndon, and Henry are so lucky to have her in our lives. That is why we celebrated her birthday three times this year! I did not plan it this way, but that is how it worked out. What can I say, we like to party!
The first celebration was the big family celebration. About half of the family was going to be gone on her actual birthday and instead  celebrating it later we celebrated it early so people would be here. And I think with the homemade cake and ice cream they were happy we celebrated it early too.
Ready to open her presents! Her favorite would have to be a playdough set we got her and her pink sparkly shoes. They have a little heel on them. She has been prancing around the house in them ever since.

Henry was trying to get in on all the present action. Someone had to hold him while Cosette opened her presents because if he was put down he headed right towards them. I think he is going to be excited about his birthday.
Birthday celebration number two was her friend birthday party. If you know Cosette you know that she loves her friends. Every where we go she asks if friends are going to be there. So she was most excited to have a birthday party for her with all of her friends there. Thank you to everyone who came!
Singing "Happy Birthday" to herself with her friends. She was in heaven. 
The last, but most special (in my opinion) was today on her actual birthday. It is one of the best days of the year on my calendar. She had a couple of more presents to open (because I forgot to wrap one). We had birthday pancakes for breakfast and sang "Happy Birthday" to her this morning and a lot more throughout the day. 
We gave her my American Girl Doll, Kirsten, as a present this year. It should be a something that she can appreciate now and in the future. Plus it is a great excuse to go to the American Girl store in NYC.
Yes she was.
And we went to Baskin Robbins to get some ice cream! 
Happy Birthday Cosette!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Mahan Family Reunion

The Fourth of July was a busy weekend for us. We had the Mahan Family reunion to attend on July 5th for my Dad's family out in Cookeville, TN.  The Mahan family is my Ma's (my Dad's mother) family. The reunion happens every other year and it has been a very long time since I have been. My Ma was one of 14 children and I think about nine of them are still living. Sadly my ma is not one of those nine. She passed away about seven years ago. Those family reunions are always fun because you go and you meet a ton of people you never knew you were related to. It was cool to look out across this large room and know that everyone there I was related to. Families are awesome! I was able to talk to some of the older sisters my Ma's sisters and it is sad to see them getting older and passing. But I am so grateful I know them and have memories from throughout my life they are in. Pictured above is my Dad with his Uncle Keith. 
Dad and Henry with Uncle CG. 
Ellen with Aunt Ann.
I love this picture because I am related to everyone in this room. How cool is that?! Families really are the best.
These ladies are my Ma's sisters. On the left you have Aunt Reba , in the middle is Aunt Lorinne, and on the right is Aunt Joe. Aunt Joe lived right across the street from my Ma growing up. I remember going to her house to visit just about every time we visited my Ma. Us kids would be playing outside and we'd come in and there would be lots of aunts and uncles over sitting around the kitchen and living room visiting together. Of course as a child I paid no mind to it, but no thinking about it brings a smile to my face. What a wonderful family my Daddy has.
One of the cousins and his family are heading to Costa Rica next month to serve a mission for their church. We had a cake walk to help raise some money for them. It was 25 cents a walk and we paid five dollars so we got to do a lot of walks. Everyone in the family got a turn. Eston and David were the winners and came home with some yummy goodies.
My Dad's brother Dale and his wife Irma. I love seeing these two. My Dad's other brother and wife were there as well and it was good to talk with them and hear about what is going on with their family. Everyone is so spread out now I think it is about time to organize an Eston and Christine Dunn family reunion. What do you say Dunns?
That face is one demonstrating how good her cookie was, haha. I love my Cosette!
At the beginning Aunt Anne gave a little talk. She went through each of the Mahan children and gave updates on what has been going on with the family in the last two years. When each child's name was called the members who were there from that family would stand up so we could see who was there. It was fantastic to hear about all the babies, marriages, graduations, and all other achievements family members have been making. 
Last but not least a Grandma and Henry picture. Everyone at the reunion was taken with this little guy. How could they not be?

What I learned from this family event is (the obvious) family is important, but keeping up those family relations is very important. This would not have happened if family members did not keep up with one another. And to treat family like they are family. If you are a part of the family in anyway they make you feel so welcome. The Mahan clan does a really good job about that (I hope that makes sense).

Okay, once again families ared great!
And I am going to peace out now.
Bye ya'll.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Boys Four Generation Photo Session

While in Utah we got the boys together and took a four generation photo. I have taken a couple with my Momma, Grandma, and Cosette and they are so nice to have (picture here). I really wanted H to have one with his Dad, Grandpa, and Great Grandpa whose middle name by the way is Henry as well. I hope that my kids will see these pictures as they go throughout their lives and know that they have met their great grandparents and grandparents. My relationship with my grandparents is very special to me and I hope that my kids can have wonderful relationship with theirs. Grandparents are the best!
On the left Great Grandpa Roger, Grandpa Phil, Daddy, and Henry. Henry I hope you know that you are so loved. So, so, so, so, loved.
While at the studio we got some of the kids together. It's their first real photo session as siblings. My heart is melting.
And then this happened in several pictures. Really, what in the world Cosette? I guess Henry's ear is yummy? I don't know. It was pretty funny. Just so you know, she did not actually bite him.
And we got a nice one with Grandma Emily and Grandpa Phil. Babies you are so loved!
We have not gotten any pictures of Henry since he was born. I had a special deal when Cosette was little and was able to get her photo taken once a month so we have tons of her, but none of this little fella. That is going to change really fast. We have to document his babyhood. I love this picture of him because it really illustrates his sweetness. He is the sweetest little boy. Henry you are so loved! You and Cosette own my heart.
We got a few family photos. I love Lyndon's long hair, especially when he styles it. If he does not style it he has big Albert Einstein hair. It is HUGE! Cosette's little smile cracks me up. That illustrates her little personality. She has a big, beautiful, bright one.
And one to hang on our wall. These kiddos grow up and change so quickly that I think it is necessary to take family photos often to document each stage of the their lives. This stage I guess would call our nomadic existence or Daddy has long hair, haha. These photos also help remind me how lucky I am to have my little family. They are so precious to me. My heart is so full with love for them. I don't think this kind of love it can be understood until you have a family of your own. I certainly did not understand it until Cosette was born (best day of my life was becoming a mother). It might be different for other people, but this is how it is for me. Lyndon, Cosette, and Henry there are not enough words in the universe to describe how much I love you. I hope you all know that you are very loved by me. I love you three to the moon and back.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cosette's a World Cup Fan

This was David's reaction to Germany winning the World Cup. He got Cosette to cheer for Germany with him. They were chanting "Germany! Germany! Germany!" over and over again. She had fun. Lyndon and I were cheering for Argentina, so we were a little disappointed. Watching the World Cup this summer has been fun for us. We have not been religious about it, but have kept up with it pretty well. My parents still do not have cable, so we wold go down the street to my Grandma's to watch the games, which she loved. She liked having us come over. She would call us up whenever there was a game and ask if we were coming down. My money was on Brazil or the Netherlands. Lyndon was rooting for Chile since he served his mission there, and then for Argentina when Chile got out (because Argentina is the next best thing to Chile). The World Cup gave us a good excuse to hang out as a family and therefore brought us a little closer together. And I am a huge fan of that!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival

Back in June we headed to Bellbuckle, Tennessee to attend the annual RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival! We found out about it while reading in the Food Network Magazine. When we saw it was in Tennessee and we would be in Tennessee for it there was no question about it. We were going! Who doesn't love a good festival, especially when Moon Pies are involved? 
Every year Bell Buckle which is home to the Moon Pie, hosts this festival. All usual fair eats are involved. There is a 10 mile race in the morning before all the festivities start. If I was more in running shape I would have probably done that. There was a summer market with a variety of great picks. Giant belt buckles with with the John Deere symbol on them. My brother had to make a stop there. We got there right when the parade was starting so we watched it from our cars. What I really wanted to see was the skit that is all about Moon Pie and RC Cola. Other Southern favorites like Goo Goo Cluster also make appearances. We saw the governor Bill Haslam and his wife get crowned King and Queen Moon Pie this year. And we tasted the the newest Moon Pie flavor, salted caramel. It was unveiled at the festival. I did not think it really tasted like salted caramel. For some reason all Moon Pies taste like banana to me. It was a root tootin' good time.
Lyndon put together a little film of our day's adventure. I hope you enjoy it and then go out and get a Moon Pie.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Our July Life

It is summer time in Tennessee! And we are loving it! I mean loving it! I mean I grew up here and know what there is to do here, but experiencing it with the kiddos is making life even more exciting! This picture is from my favorite day this month. We met up with friends at the World's Fair Park splash pad and spent the day frolicing through the water, taking a trolley to Market Square, and going up in the Sun Sphere. I seriously did not know that Knoxville could be so fun. I am dying, I mean dying to repeat this day again. 
I love trees and taking walks at dusk in the neighborhood. Life is beautiful, literally!
We (meaning my parents) got a new dog. Well inherited a new dog. Schnitzel was my cousins dog and she needed a home. And the Dunn house needed a dog. Our beloved Moses passed away at Thanksgiving and my Momma was missing her doggy companion. Schnitzel is a good fit. And the kids cannot get enough of her. We took her on a walk and Cosette held onto the leash the whole time. She loves Schnitty. She pretends to be a dog named, by Leslie, rainbow dash. Now that she has stopped licking H in the face he is quite interested in her as well. He has learned to give her soft touches. So yeah, the kids are loving this little pooch. 
I have been in a serious baking mode (I really need to stop it). I tried out a new pie crust technique to get a long flake crust. Lyndon said the crust was amazing on the peach pie.
And my sister Leslie was in town and we both share a love for Paris and all things French. Naturally, we wanted to have a French party while she was here so we decided to make macaroons. 
We made three flavors. Our baking ambition was out of control. They mostly turned out. We learned a lot about how to make them through our dud-aroon experience (I kept calling them dud-aroons because it seems liked it was going to be a complete and epic fail). Lucky for us we had some success. We made white chocolate mint (green one), blueberry cheesecake (blue one), and raspberry almond (can you guess which color that one is?). Thanks for experimenting with me Lesannie!
Cosette is seriously the luckiest girl in the world! So a new Kroger opened up (Wahoo! Oh the things I get excited about in the suburbs, haha. But really it is a really nice Kroger and the deals are something to really get excited about, no joke.) and we were checking out the seafood specials and of course we had to find the lobster tank to see the live lobsters. One of the fish guys pulled one out for Cosette to get a closer look at. He showed us that by rubbing it between it eyes on its forehead puts the lobster to sleep. Cool trick and lucky Cosette to have a grocery store lobster encounter with a live lobster. That is a rare thing when you are selling them for someone's dinner (is anyone else thinking of the Sebastian vs cook in the Little Mermaid?). 
Another couple photos from my favorite day. Good things seem to happen on Tuesdays. We visited the Sun Sphere which was built back in the 80's for Knoxville hosted the World's Fair. We went up to the top, which I have never ever done before in my life! I was really excited about that. You grow up driving past it on I-40 on your way to the zoo your whole life and you know that people can go up inside it and you really want to but the opportunity never comes up until you're 25.  It was a pretty awesome moment. 
Especially whe you get a view of Neyland Stadium!!!! Go Vols! I need to find out how many days it is until it is football time in Tennessee. Okay now time to sing "Rocky Top". Never need an excuse to sing that song. 
On a rainy day we went to the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE). The exhibit that Cosette is in above is part of the Manhattan Project exhibit there. Oak Ridge was one of the secret cities during World War II that helped build the atomic bomb (which is kind of awesome!). It is fitting that Cosette get a picture with this World War II era ID because Oak Ridge is the first city she ever lived in. Oak Ridge lovers for life! (Side note: During WWII you had to have a ID like this, not as giant of course, in order to get in to Oak Ridge because it was a secret city. No one knew it was here.)
We made it to the museum in time for the atom smasher demonstration! Well we got there for the very end of it, which is the best part because you get to do things like putting your hand on the atom smasher itself and have your hair fly up like you are Albert Einstein! Cosette was not so sure about getting on the platform at first. You can get a slight shock from touching someone's hand who is on the atom smasher. But it is very very slight, nothing alarming.
Cosette is a brave on and got up there with me. Look how awesome our hair is! We laughed at how silly we looked. Good memories were made, especially when we found...

What I call the glow in the dark room! Cosette ran in and out of it to many times to count. I hope it rains again soon so we have a good excuse to go back.

And we call him "pink beard". Cosette has the white board crayons that Henry keeps getting a hold of and sucking on them (they are non-toxic so no worries). Unlike other crayons when they get wet the color comes off them and gets all over everything. So he has been pink beard several times (for some reason it is always the pink crayon. It is probably because Cosette loves pink so it is always the one laying out). 
Our July life is my favorite. It does not hurt that we have some very important birthdays coming up either. Happy July!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The 4th of July and Barron Family Reunion

Happy 4th of July! This year was a pretty subdued festivities compared to others. Every year my Mom's family has a family reunion the week of the fourth. In years past all the aunts, uncles, cousins come into town and we have a week of celebrating that we are family. This year not many people were able to make it (boo!), but we had fun with those who were able to come and participate. We spent a day at Kentucky Splash water park. I got to go down one of the big slides which is all I wanted to do. People had fun floating in the lazy river and soaking in the sun shine (I love the summer sun!). On the fourth we kicked off the day with our annual Barron 5K walk and run. We used to do a race in Knoxville, but the registration fee got to be too much so we started our own. This year we had more walkers than runners (only five people ran). Eston finished first and surprisingly I finished second. With at time of 22:59 I have to add (sometimes you have to give yourself some recognition. When you do good, you do good!). The rest of the day we went to the lake and enjoyed delicious bar-b-q prepared by Uncle Ellis (the man knows how to cook meat!). The water was warm, the atmosphere festive, and it was great to spend time with family that I do not get to see enough. We need to change that. That night we watched the fireworks that the city puts on every year. It was a perfect fourth, except Lyndon and I did not go see the fireworks because our kids told us they were done partying and wanted to go to bed. Next year fireworks, next year.   
David and Barron coming in for the finish. Barron was the fastest baby there.
Husband came in third. Go Lyndon!
The last day of the reunion we gathered at Aunt Carol's and had a family FHE type activity. Grandma Barron answered questions about her life we asked her. Thank you Aunt Cathy for being prepared and having wonderful questions to ask Grandma. Someone recorded it so once I get it I am going to post it. We learned a lot about Grandma's life. Where she grew up in Vanor, TN There were German prisoners of war that were detained in the area. She said that they were these big burly blonde men that they would wave to as they drove by, and that the POW only got to eat unseasoned green beans which everyone in the area thought was horrible. In the South we like our green beans cooked in lard and seasoned. We also learned more about how she and Grandpa met. They met at King College and when he saw her he thought to himself, "that is the prettiest girl I have ever seen". So romantic! She told us about their trip out west to get sealed in the Manti Temple, and about the day the missionaries knocked on their door. She said Aunt Carol was five days old. An interesting story she told us about her daddy was when he was just a couple of days old the missionaries came to his house but his family turned them away. Later in Grandma's life her daddy told her that the church they were going to was missing some things and there was another church out there that would have all the answers and she needed to look for that church and join it when she finds it. Well that is just what she did many years later. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for that. All your posterity's life have been blessed because of it.

That was our fourth.
Happy Birthday America!

Sunday, 6 July 2014


Before we head to far into July, I should post about June. June was a pretty fabulous month. We made it to Tennessee where we will be spending the summer while Lyndon studies for the bar. The first week we actually headed to South Carolina and spent the week at our favorite beach (watch the video here). 
The day after we got back from the beach we jumped back in the car again and drove to Cookeville, TN where my Dad is from for decoration day at the cemetery where my Pa and Ma Dunn are buried and a lot of other Dunn family members. Here are all the cousins that showed up this year with Pa and Ma's grave. 
And another picture with my Dad, his brothers, and spouses. We saw a lot of other Dunn family members there. It was nice to catch up with people. One cousin is taking a trip to Europe and it was so fun talking to her about all the wonderful things she was going to do and see. 
That Tuesday we celebrated my sister Ellen's birthday! We dinned on delicious Japanese food along with an assortment of homemade ice cream flavors, and (drum roll) orange chocolate salted caramel cake! Thank you Ellen for choosing such a delicious cake and Happy Birthday!
We got her that snazzy card.
Cosette and Henry helped Aunt Ellen open her presents and had fun playing in the paper. 
We got to meet baby Kari! Henry did get jealous after I held for a little while. 
My best friend had her first baby! She and I have been friends since we were ten years old. We swam on the same swim team and have been through the good, bad, and ugly together. And now we are mommies together! I am excited for our kids to become good friends. 

There were three graduations in the family this year. Bethany graduated in Environmental studies and Art history from Bucknell University. Leslie graduated from Tennessee Tech in Fashion design. Lyndon graduated from Columbia Law School. Three major achievements, so we had to celebrate with a party complete with cake. 

Baba finally got to meet baby H. They are good friends. 

I have been in a baking mood, specifically bread making. After Paris I really want to perfect my bread making skills. We are lacking in artisan bread here and sad to say it is kind of killing us, so I am trying to make up for that. I have been making brioche (pictured above), Vermont oatmeal honey wheat bread, rye raisin pecan loaf, and a whole lotta other stuff.  I am a baking "chemist" and the kitchen is my lab. It's been delicious fun.

We took a trip to the Knoxville Zoo and got to get up close and personal with a giraffe!

Cosette saw some of her favorites, the penguins.

And the traditional tortoise picture. It was exciting!

We have been spending the majority of our time at the pool. The kiddos are getting brown and worn out. The day these photos were taken they told me they were ready to leave when they decided to take naps.

Lots of  quality time with aunts and uncles.

Henry is getting closer to crawling. He turned nine months old and has started pulling himself up all by himself. He is growing up too quickly.

Splash pads are our favorite. These kids of mine love the water.

Cosette has been having a great time going through all the dress up clothes and toys at Grandma's house.

Henry is getting over his fear of swings. For a little while there he was mostly frowns when he would swing. He is a very tender soul and the fast movement was a little much for him.
Cosette decided to use Henry's face as her canvas. He did not seem to mind to much. We found him with the marker in hand smiling. The life of a little brother is never dull.

We took a trip to middle Tennessee to attend the Moon Pie and RC Cola festival (more on that later).  
It has been a month full of fun and of course hugs, loves, and kisses. Summer time is treating us very well.
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