Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve Chocolate Waffles & Ginger Bread Houses

We held our second annual ginger bread house decorating gala with the Wyne family. This year we had some delicious chocolate waffles (that were to die for or to die from due to over eating). Below are a few photos of the finished products. We had a ton of fun. Thanks Wyne Family! -Brian

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Morning - 2011

Here is a quick look into Christmas morning at the Merrells.

Bonus shot!

Christmas Dinner with the Queen

We had the pleasure of dining with the Queen for Christmas. Queen Shirls treated us like royalty and we had a dandy of an evening. Here are a few candid camera shots of the fun.

Queen Shirls and Caroline reading Johnny his new book.

Tyler opening presents.

Johnny showing off his new talking bear. The bear makes comments spontaneously as you read him the book from the first photo.

And last but not least the evening would not have been complete without Johnny sneaking a big smooch on the lips with the Queen. Good thing for the poparazzi. -Brian

Thursday, December 15, 2011

santa uses amazon

A package came in the mail today. The mailman rang the door bell and left it on the front step. When we opened the door, it appeared that a brown box from Amazon had magically appeared. I said, "Johnny! What is it?!" "A present!" He said. And after a pause, he added "From Santa!" I told him that if it was from Santa we had better wrap it up and put it under the tree. He didn't like that response and insisted that we needed to open the present. He carried on like that for a few minutes until he realized that I wasn't going to budge. At which point he said, "Mom, it not from Santa. It from the mailman!"

Nice try Johnny!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

conversations with johnny

Johnny: Mom, what happened to my diaper?
Me: I don't know, did you go potty?
Johnny: No, I not go potty. I have a wedgie.

* * * * *

M: What do you want Santa to bring you?
J: A goat!

* * * * *

J: [patting my stomach] Mom, do you have a baby in there?
M: No honey, I don't have a baby in there.
J: [pointing to Tyler] Do you have a baby in the high chair?
M: Yes.

* * * * *

J: [grabbing random letters & numbers] D is for dog. R is for bunny rabbit. No. 4 is for ice cream.
M: 4 is for ice cream? 4 scoops?
J: Yes.

* * * * *

J: Mom, are you my honey bunny?
M: Yes! [kiss. kiss. kiss]

* * * * *

M: Johnny, I made you a snack.
J: [rubbing my cheek] Thank you mommy. You are such a good mommy.

* * * * *

Most asked question -
J: What's going on here?

* * * * *

J: Mom, you are my best friend and I am oars best friend.

* * * * *

And now for a few recent pictures -

Helping me set up our {obviously fake} tree.

Wearing the tree skirt for a collar.

Decorating the tree.

Ready for his part in the Christmas program. Lamb or Goat? We're not quite sure.

Enjoying his time on Santa's lap.

Asleep on the kitchen table after we had 7 toddlers at our house for the morning. You think you're tired, Johnny?!

last minute visits from grandma are the best

My mom called me on a Sunday to say she was coming on Monday! She spent an entire week with us. The boys absolutely love her. I love these pictures and love that my boys will have these memories of my mom. She is as good as they come.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving in St. George

We spent Thanksgiving in St. George with Brian's wonderful family this year. It was a fun trip and we really enjoyed the great company and delicious food. Barbara was so good to us. Not only did she slave over our Thanksgiving feast, but she let us take over her bedroom for 3 nights. I'm not sure I could be that gracious of a host. She's a great lady and wonderful mom and grandma.

Tyler opening a birthday gift from Grandma.

What? Johnny LOVES cats? More evidence that he is ALL daddy.

Cute cousins Valerie and Kate.

These two are just one month apart. Precious.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tyler turns 1!

The poor little birthday boy was sick the week of his birthday and especially on the actual day. It was very sad! We still haven't celebrated yet, but to mark the occasion, I wanted to post a little video of him taking a few little steps. He's starting to gain confidence and will take 4 or 5 steps on his own. I love this stage. I can't get enough of this boy.

sing a song of sixpence

Johnny loves to sing. If he's not sleeping or eating, then he's singing. I've been keeping a running list of songs he knows and it's getting pretty long. He surprises me almost daily with a new song that I didn't know he knew. We have been attending a little Music Makers class at church for the past year. He's very shy and reserved in class and doesn't ever sing along or do the hand movements or participate like many of the other children his age, but I'm realizing that he's like a little sponge soaking it all in. The songs are starting to come out little by little and it's so fun to see how much he is learning. This is one of my favorite songs that he sings:

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The pumpkin patch at Underwood Farms is my favorite fall-time tradition. We drug our city slicker behinds up to the farm twice this year 'cause it's so darned nice to breathe in some fresh air (all be it, smelly due to some livestock).

Riding in the wagon is so much fun.

Johnny and his two best friends, Eleanor & Ella. Cute hu?

Halloween was fun this year because Johnny really got into it. We put up a few decorations like this here skeleton. And believe it or not I actually dressed up (if you can call it that - I just painted my nose and wore a hat) for the first time in 20 + years. It will probably be another 20 before I dress up again, so here's one more picture.

Instead of handing out candy at the trunk or treat, we made a big jug of homemade rootbeer complete with dry ice. It was a real hit with the kids. You can't find this stuff in L.A. so I had my mom send me a bunch from good 'ole Walmart in Idaho. We have enough to do it again next year.

We also had a visit from our awesome Uncle Mikey. The boys had a great time getting to know him.

Well, that's it for the pictures. In other news, Brian became the bishop of our ward on October 16th. The first few weeks I was feeling a mixture of shock and denial. I'm a bit more used to the idea now, though every day brings new surprises. Brian has jumped in with both feet and is giving it all he's got. He's as cheerful and positive as ever. I'm proud of him for being willing to serve.

Anyway - Happy Fall!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Family of Strawmen


We made homemade rootbeer for the trunk or treat.
Thanks Grandma Liz.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


This month went by so fast. I think I'll post a few of my favorite pictures and write about them. Sounds easy enough but it will probably take hours! So, here we go. This is Johnny getting ready for church. Have I told you that he loves to sing hymns at the top of his lungs during sacrament meeting? Don't believe me? Come sit in front of us and you'll find out. He could be under the pews, two rows down, rolling around on the floor with his toy horses (who would let their child do that during church? not me) and as soon as he hears the organ start, he pops up, grabs a hymnal and starts wailing. I love it.

Tyler has a lot of personality and is such a fun little person. He does things that surprise me all the time. Like his latest fetish, sucking on this rooster's foot. He puts it in his mouth so purposefully. As if he really thinks that's what you are supposed to do with a rooster. He'll pick it up, hold it in both hands, flip it around until he finds a foot and then bam, right into the mouth it goes. He'll crawl around all day like this if I let him. He also loves balls and pushes everything from trucks to chairs around the house. I know those things aren't out of the ordinary for a little boy, but Johnny never did them, so it catches me by surprise.

Meal time is a favorite for this guy. I'll stuff him chuck full of baby food then sit down to eat my own meal only to watch his eyes following my every bite (mouth wide open too, mind you). He'll continue to eat as much of my food as I will give him. Should I be worried about feeding him too much? I don't know! I love this look. "Oh c'mon, mom. Just one more bite."

The way the boys interact has evolved so much in the last month. Since Tyler really started to crawl and get around, Johnny has been very possessive of his toys and has subsequently learned all about "time out." You would think Tyler was an axe murderer the way Johnny screams when he sees him coming. It's hilarious and annoying all at the same time. I'm trying to teach Johnny not to panic and to distract Ty with other toys. But that doesn't always work because Tyler wants to do exactly what his big brother is doing.

They have also been doing a lot of wrestling and rough-housing. They can't keep their hands off of each other all day. I always have to pay attention or Tyler will end up on the bottom. Most days, like this day, it's cute and fun to see. I just don't like it when someone (usually Tyler) gets hurt.

I should mention though, that Johnny is super sweet and knows when he's done something wrong. He often puts himself in time-out and he always says "I'm sorry" and gives a hug after he's hurt his brother. The other day after hugging Tyler, he looked up at me and said, "Mom, I yove oars (your) baby."

Johnny loves books. It makes me happy that he enjoys them so much. He has a great memory and will catch us when we try to ad lib or skip lines. I will often overhear him reading himself a story, which is pretty adorable too.

Why are empty baskets and boxes so irresistible to little kids? I remember playing in them when I was little too.

If it were up to me, the back of Tyler's neck would look like this for the rest of forever. It's delicious.

Speaking of deliciousness. Brian made puff pastry. We kept it in the fridge and made apple turnovers for like 3 nights in a row. How could something so wrong feel so right?