Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gingerbread house making fun

We decided to make another gingerbread house this year. We went with the kit of course, since it comes with everything you need. Braden was a little confused as to why we weren't eating the candy, but was quickly persuaded to help decorate the cute house. Granted he ate anything that dripped or fell off the house.

This is the tricky part. Getting it to all stick without falling down.

The finished product ... do you see the big green blob on the right side of the roof, that was Braden's side!

Up close!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas 2008 Newsletter

So I meant to get a Christmas letter in the mail this year and it just didn't happen. I had a few friends send me e-mailed cards and I thought ... what a great idea! Here's our Christmas letter just for you ... when you click on it, it will open a new window. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to read the words! Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas!

Click to play 2008 Newsletter
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

No Room at the Inn - UPDATE

For those of you who read my post about our Young Women's night of caroling, I want to clarify ...

We set up the whole thing.

We (the leaders) arranged with each of the families to be turned away so that the girls could experience what Mary and Joseph experienced when they were turned away from each of the Inns. It was actually REALLY hard for them to say no to us or close the door on us. Sis. Korth even came to class on Sunday and apologized for turning us away! Even though it all made sense at the end, she hated doing it! ;)

I post this update because when talking with my Mom today, I realized that she thought that the families actually turned us away. Taylor thought the same thing. So, just in case anyone else thought our neighborhood was a bunch of bah humbugs ... they're not. They were great sports in helping us have a powerful evening!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lunch with some old friends

A week and a half ago, the kids and I got to meet some old friends for lunch (thanks for setting things up, Marlies!) Lizzy, is now living in Las Vegas and used to be one of my youth when I was a youth leader at my old church. Barbara is Lizzy's mom and an absolute sweetheart. Courtney lived in Apple Honey apartments and were the managers for a while. It was so fun to hang out for a bit and catch up. Here are some pictures:

Courtney and Barbara (Courtney just had a baby 3 weeks ago and looks AMAZING!!!)

Lizzy, Braxton (Marlies' son), Marlies, Braden

Me and Lizzy

I think I am officially caught up now ... whew!!!

Thanksgiving Pictures

Okay, these are soooooo way overdue! I've been meaning to get these up for a while!!! My sister's and our families got to enjoy Thanksgiving at my Mom's new house. We had a blast together and had some amazing food. I swear, each dish was a culinary masterpiece. No kidding. Samantha (Taylor's sister) got to join us as well before she headed off to work. All in all it was so much fun!

Stacey hard at work in the kitchen!

Tam did the most work, however the only picture I had of her in the kitchen was pouring the olives!

My chef in training!

TJ sampling some of the chex mis that Taylor made

Taylor and Braden ... aren't they cuties?!?

Tyler and Stacey ... as I looked through the pictures I realized I took lots of pictures of Tyler. What is it about babies that makes you want to take pictures of them?

Our beautiful table. Stacey's boys did the Mayflower centerpiece and Aubrey did the name cards.

Cute Tyler

Aubrey full of smiles

Jeff and Taylor frying the turkey

Mom with her girls

Tannon with his GQ grin

Samantha and Aubrey

They boys (Taylor, Tracen and Steve) watching football

When it was time to eat, Tammy was just exhausted!

Tyler sat on my lap and ate from my plate. Guess my dinner tasted better than his!

The Keele family

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Darth Vader and Storm Troopers

If you have been around Braden lately, then you know that is he obsessed with Star Wars right now! If he had his way he would sit and watch Star Wars all day while playing with his Star Wars figurines, ship and light sabers. You get the idea. So, when I heard that the storm troopers were going to be at Albertsons yesterday for a Toys For Tots promo, I knew we had to go.

I packed Braden in the car and told him we needed to go to the grocery store. As we parked and I went to get him out of the car seat, he spotted Darth Vader standing just in front of the main doors. His eyes squealed with delight as he quickly explained to me what he saw. He couldn't move fast enough to get out of the car. As we walked to meet Darth Vader, Boba Fett came outside as well. Braden gripped my hand tightly as we got closer. Darth Vader was very nice and talked to him for a few minutes. Braden answered his questions, visibly in awe. We decided to go into the store, so we could take a picture with all of the characters (there were at least 6-7). I think it got overwhelming when he saw them all together, because as I tried to get a picture, he started crying and dug his head into my shoulder. Darth Vader tried talking to him again, since they had a connection, but it was too much for him!

We walked to another part of the store, so we could talk away from all of the excitement. I could tell he really wanted to go back, but was overwhelmed. We decided to go around and get a picture with just Darth Vader out front ... he was excited for that. I think he felt out numbered when they were all together. (Afterall, on the movies, aren't they always fighting each other? I bet he must of thought they were going to break off into a war if he stuck around!) I got this picture with Darth Vader and one of the storm troopers ...

Notice how he is biting his lip and watching them veeeery closely! I had no make up on or anything as I was not planning on having my picture taken, but oh well. It was worth it so that he could have this picture now. He loves this and starts talking a mile a minute when he sees it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Family Pictures

We went up the canyon to take pictures with the new camera on Sunday. We were not quite prepared for how cold it was, and hard time getting and pictures where Braden was not upset! I played around in PaintShop for some cool effects. Can't wait until I really learn how to use this new camera!

This one is the best family picture overall. It's one of the few where Braden was smiling. We had so many others that were better for the rest of us, but awe well. You take what you can get!

This was a fun pose.

Aubrey just found the pose on her own and said, "Take a picture, Mom!" She's so photogenic!

On this one, Braden was pulling up this bright, multi-colored Christmas blanket. After playing around in PaintShopPro, I was able to make it look all one color. It kind of looks like a knitted blanket now. This picture is what prompted the sepia, because I really like it but wanted the focus on him, not the blanket.

Here's our family in color.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No room at the Inn ...

Okay, it has been WAY too long since I last posted. I have several things to catch up on, but I wanted to start with the story of our Young Women's activity tonight.

For those of you who don't know, starting last month I am now working with the Young Women in my church which I love, love, love!!! We have activities every Wednesday night. Some fun, some spiritual, some learning, some a little bit of everything. Tonight we decided to take the girls caroling, since it is getting close to Christmas. I absolutely love caroling and wish people did it more often. (It's kind of a lost form.)

We thought we would start out caroling to the bishop and his counselor's (since they were there having a meeting at the church). We knocked on the door and started to sing when the bishop hushed us and told us they were in the middle of an important meeting. Oops, didn't think that one through!

We headed off to the first neighborhood. We went to the Porter's house (bishop's wife and daughters were home). We got there just as they were getting in the car to leave. We asked if we could sing them one song before they left. Kim apologized but said they were already late and had to run. Strike two!

We headed down a couple houses to the Trapp's. Aubrey's nickname for Brother Trapp is "nice guy" so surely we won't be rejected yet again. Bro. Trapp answered the door with a smile and just as we began to sing, he explained they were right in the middle of a discussion with the missionaries. Surely our carol could add to the discussion, but I guess not because next thing we knew, the door was shut in our faces. We're trying not to make it mean anything at this point. We decide to try a new part of the neighbor, so we hop in the cars and are on our way.

We stop at the Korth's house, knowing that if home, Sister Korth will surely appreciate us. (She is in the Stake Young Women's Presidency, so it's kind of her job, right?!?) We ring the doorbell and start singing (if we start singing, then maybe we can get the whole song out this time!) Sis. Korth is surprised to see us but quickly starts apologizing profusely explaining that she is in the middle of a presidency meeting and they are pressed for time. Wait aren't WE part of the reason she's having the meeting ... can't she make time for us???

We the head down to the Scott's house. We heard that Sis. Scott is sick and think that perhaps we can cheer her up. We see her daughter through the window. We begin singing. We see Sister Scott come up from the basement (the front door is all glass), walk past us and then turn out the lights. Apparently she doesn't want to spread germs.

We leaders decide to huddle and make a plan. Things are not working according to "the plan" and we don't want the girls to get discouraged. Obviously our ward is full of scrooges or something!!! I think of a friend of mine who lives close by, she's due any day now. I know that she is home and would never turn us away. So we head over to Angie Gray's house. Not only did Angie listen, but all the kids were there too. We actually got through the whole song! When we finished I thanked Angie for letting us sing to them and explained we had been turned away 5 times and we freezing! She told us if we were cold, we were welcome to go to the barn to get warm (did you know Angie has horses?)

As we head to the barn, we hear a very mellow version of "Silent Night playing" and see some bales of hay set up in a u-shape. We sat down and listed to a story from Shannon. I don't have the story she read, but here is some of the points:

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1).

This was really a registration of the citizenry of the empire of Rome. Herod made a decision that people should be counted in the land of their ancestors. Mary and Joseph, then living in Nazareth, had to travel southward to the city of David, a distance of approximately 70 miles (113 km). Perhaps they traveled even farther if they went around the hostile intermediate province of Samaria.

Almost certainly they traveled with relatives who likewise were summoned to the land of their ancestry. This difficult trek was no doubt made with their animals, such as dogs and donkeys. They likely camped out several nights, as three to four days would have been required for that journey.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn”

(Luke 2:7).

Elder Russell M. Nelson

Iimagine being full term and having to travel over 70 miles on a donkey.

I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not “there was no room in the inn” but specifically that “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7; emphasis added). We cannot be certain, but it is my guess that money could buy influence in those days as well as in our own. I think if Joseph and Mary had been people of importance or wealth, they would have found lodging even at that busy time of year.

I have wondered if the Joseph Smith Translation also was suggesting they did not know any influential people when it says there was no one to give them room in the inns (see JST, Luke 2:7).

Russell M. Nelson

If you didn't already guess, we set things up. We arranged to be turned away 5 times for seemingly different reasons. Our ward is NOT full of scrooges, it was actually very hard for them to turn us away and they didn't want to do it at first! We often just read over "no room at the inn" and got on to the rest of the story. Tonight we had a little taste of what it is like to be rejected over and over. I can't imagine the worry that Joseph had for his wife, knowing she needed a warm, safe place to stay. Most men I know, want to provide for the women in their lives and I sure that Joseph was no exception. Mary already knew her role as a mother was going to be an especially important one. She surely wanted a place to deliver her son in peace. Not only were they turned away because some of the inns were full, but also because they were poor and would not be able to pay the price. Finally they found someone who would listen and allowed them to stay in a stable with the animals.

I wonder what emotions Joseph might have had as he cleared away the dung and debris. I wonder if he felt the sting of tears as he hurriedly tried to find the cleanest straw and hold the animals back. I wonder if he wondered: “Could there be a more unhealthy, a more disease-ridden, a more despicable circumstance in which a child could be born? Is this a place fit for a king? Should the mother of the Son of God be asked to enter the “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4) in such a foul and unfamiliar place as this? Is it wrong to wish her some comfort? Is it right He should be born here?”

But I am certain Joseph did not mutter and Mary did not wail. They knew a great deal and did the best they could.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

That's another thing that it is easy to overlook. The filth and smell that was surely present in the stable. Tonight we were lucky to be in a clean barn that was set up for us to rest comfortably. But Mary and Joseph were thankfull for the space they had as they brought the Savior into the world.

I am grateful for this activity, because even though I knew what was going on, it was so touching and quite a learning experience for me. It is always so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holidays. Experiences like this that help me to feel the true spirit of the season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


First, I am still waiting for two more people to post to the Pay It Forward blog. Come on people, don't be shy!

Second, I've got pictures for the NKOTB concert! (Thanks, Kacie.) For those of you who don't know (lame ... jk) NKOTB stands for New Kids on the Block. Back in the day, I'm thinking 6-7 grade, I was in love with this band. My first celebrity crush was on Joey McIntyre. They went their separate ways about 15 years ago. This year they reunited and are on tour. Thanks to Stacey, I was able to get free tickets and a bunch of us girls on Taylor's side went to the concert. We were on the floor, 30th row. I have to say it was so much more fun than I thought. It was a childhood dream come true! Mostly it was fun to just let loose and enjoy a great show. Here are some pictures:

These pictures are so not in order (I hate how blogger puts them in the opposite order!) But here we are after the concert. Front row is Jamie, Kendra, Aubrey, Saige and me. Back row is Kacie, Susan and Sam. Can you tell we've had a night of fun? The girls did great considering it was almost midnight!

All in white.

This was the last song ... Hangin' Tough. They did mix of old and new songs. Even had some of the old dance moves. But it was not as cheesy as you might think. Just fun!

Just a little bit of Jordan with the fan blowing his shirt open. That one got the girls screaming!

About 1/3 of the way through the concert, they came to this round platform in the middle of the floor. It was only about 20 feet away. They sang about three songs here and it was amazing. You could see the beads of sweat. This picture is great ... Joey is singing right to me! ;) Can't you tell?

Saige and Aubrey

Okay, maybe I was a little TOO excited. Really, I was just cheesing it for the camera.

Jamie and Kendra

Kacie. Now why couldn't I have been cool like her? Hehehe

Someone in the audience threw this shirt to Donnie and he put it on. Notice what it says ... "I love Mormon Girls." Cute!

They really hammed it up and made it fun.

Natasha Bedingfield was one of the opening acts. That was a fun surprise!

Awe ... me and Aubrey!