Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas was GREAT!

I love Christmas. I love having my kids home and spending a lot of time with them baking, playing games, and hanging out. We had a great Christmas Eve together and enjoyed a great meal that everyone helped with. Christmas morning contained a funny surprise for the kids, and Christmas afternoon was enjoyed with our good friends, the Hickmans. Christmas with teenagers is just as fun as it was with little kids -- only different. One of the best parts is that the living room isn't left a disaster area for two days and is cleaned up within just a couple of hours! I LOVE that part! Another good part is that they all help make the dinner -- I mean really help. I can hand them the recipe and it's as good as done! I LOVE that part, too!
This is our Christmas Eve dinner. We strayed from our traditional fondue dinner a little, having only cheese fondue and dessert fondue, but we took a vote, and a complete fondue dinner won over the prime rib roast for next year. Funny story about Rick's pumpkin pies: He labored hard to make two beautiful pumpkin pies for Christmas day dessert. After the pies were done baking, he put them outside to cool. Unfortunately, he put them on top of a pile of snow on top of the barbeque, so the hot pies slid off and upside down onto another pile of snow on the ground. They weren't salvageable. Now we call them his "cow pies".This was the barrier we created in the hall to keep the kids in their bedrooms until we were ready to get up. The barrier is about 6 feet thick, full of about 200 balloons. Rick and I were up until 2:30 a.m. blowing up balloons and creating this barrier. The sign on the alien says, "STOP. Santa asked me to help him keep you in bed until your parents get up. You can beep them at 7:30 a.m. or later. (Someone take a picture of me.) Go back -- Danger!" Aaron woke up in the middle of the night and tried to slide under the barrier, but we heard him and stopped him. We told him we were sleeping on the other side -- but we really didn't. It was fun watching the kids burst through the barrier in the morning. Ira and Rick on Christmas Day singing karaoke to "Material Girl". They were a riot!
Leslie and Theresa singing karaoke to "What I Like About You". It was a total hoot. Thanks for making our Christmas afternoon memorable!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let it snow...

These guys are all playing in the snow while...
...these guys are working in the snow. I have to say I'm very proud of Rick, Aaron, and Kendall. Three times they shoveled our neighbors' driveways and the driveways of two single ladies in our ward. These pictures are from our own driveway, though.

Some gifts...

Some gifts are so special that you just can't wait until Christmas morning to open...This is what happens when your kids have too much time on their hands.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hawks Basketball

The Desert Hills 8th grade "Gold" basketball team had a very short (and sadly, losing) season. They only had four games (the fifth game was canceled) so had little opportunity to show improvement or to redeem themselves. The bright side was that Chase had a great season, and as usual, was very aggressive, playing his heart out. He always managed making steals, even when the situation looked bleak. (What else matters, right?) Taking pictures from the bleachers in a dark gym 30-40 feet away never produces great pictures, but these were the best I could produce. I'm proud of Chase for doing his best!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Leslie!

There are so many reasons I am thankful for you, Leslie! Thanks for being such a great friend! You are one FEISTY woman! [wink, wink] I always have a great time with you and am thankful for you and for the memories! Remember: Well behaved women don't make history! Come back safely from Ohio so we can have some real birthday fun!

Preparing for an old-time photo in Leavenworth (aka trying to get our photos for free)

Hamming it up in BVI (aka trying to flag down a ship full of men -- not really)

1/2 way on the Trail of the Hiawatha -- what muscles! (aka trying to charm the guys into towing us back up the 15 mile hill)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Christmas Philosophy...

"Save Santa a trip and just be NAUGHTY!"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

It's our tradition for Thanksgiving to go to Utah to be with Rick's family. This was the first time in 3-4 years that we were all together. We had a great time with them reminiscing and laughing. The weather was great (clear and not too cold) so we were able to spend some time outside. On Friday, we drove down to SLC to spend a couple of hours with Theresa's family and then we kicked around temple square, watching the new Joseph Smith movie in Legacy theater, looking at the lights around temple square, and going to the Church History museum. Then we went and got some hot chocolate (which was not very good). As always, Rick, the kids, and I all had a great time together!

Family pic at Temple Square

L to R: Rick, Theresa, Theresa's dad, Beth (Theresa's sister), Scott (Theresa's brother)

Grandkids on Theresa's side

Family pic on top of the Conference Center

Rick's family in Logan, Utah. Rick's brother, David, has a new girlfriend (in the hat). We all really like her -- we hope she sticks around.

I'm thankful for my extra large waist-line because it means that I have enough to eat. I'm thankful for my home because it means I have a roof over my head. I'm thankful for all the clutter that collects in my house because it means that I have all my children at home. And I'm thankful for all the hours I work because it means that I have a job. I'm so thankful for Rick and my children! I'm glad that we're all together again and that Aaron had a safe and successful mission. I'm so thankful for the restored gospel, for my Savior, and for my dear friends.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Secondhand Serenade Concert

About three weeks ago, I got this urgent email from Tara from school with the subject line reading: "MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM URGENT!" I opened the email and she was frantically informing me of a Secondhand Serenade concert in Salt Lake during the time we would be in Utah for Thanksgiving. The tickets were only $17 each and the drive to Salt Lake from Logan was only about one-and-a-half hours, so I decided I would take the girls to the concert the Wednesday before Thankgiving. The day before the concert, Aaron said he would like to go to the concert, too; luckily I was able to obtain an extra ticket for him. So we drove down to Salt Lake to the old Saltair for the concert. Unfortunately, there were three other bands before Secondhand Serenade -- and I hated all of them -- but it was well worth the three-and-a-half hour wait to get to Secondhand Serenade. Kendall, Whitney, and Tara were happy to be in the moshpit at the front and ended up second row from the stage, while Aaron and I were happy to be out of the crowds further back. Secondhand Serenade was AMAZING!! His encore song was "Fall For You" with him at the keyboard. That was a great way to end the concert. We had an awesome time together!

John Vesley doing his amazing thing on the guitar!

In the moshpit before Aaron and I retreated to the back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I guess it's because Aaron hasn't driven in over 2 years...

Funny thing happened today. Since Aaron has been in the Philippines for the past two years, he hasn't driven for two years -- at all. He's walked A LOT and ridden on public transportation A LOT. So yesterday he got his driver's license renewed (since it expired in June) and this morning he needed to run a couple of errands. I gave him my keys to the Kia and after going out to start the car, he came back in and said that the battery was dead. Really? It was fine yesterday. Then I thought -- Aaron hasn't driven in a while and that's a stick shift...hmmmm... Putting two and two together, I asked him if he pushed the clutch all the way down when he started the car. What? You mean that's a stick shift? Oh boy, I laughed and laughed at him. He went out and right away started the car. He gave me a huge grin and a thumb's up, then put the car in gear, gunned it a little too much, and drove away. Maybe you had to be there???

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aaron's Mission Homecoming

I finally got pictures of Aaron at the airport upon returning home from his mission in the Philippines. The pictures were taken by someone else's camera, so they aren't the best quality, but they are all I have! I looked like a crazed mother, but I was sooooo happy to see him, I could hardly contain myself.

Yes, I AM a crazed woman!

Aaron, I'm sooooo happy to see you!

How did Rick stay so calm?

One big happy family -- together again! Yippee!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Countdown to Aaron

Aaron has been following my blog for the past 2-3 months, so I've been very careful not to mention anything about him coming home. The last thing he needs to know is how anxious his mom is for him to come home. But since he comes home this week -- (did you hear that? THIS WEEK!!!!) I've decided I can put something up here about him coming home. I can't imagine being more proud of a child than I am about Aaron for giving up two years of his life to serve the Lord. I can tell from his letters that he's grown and matured -- mentally, physically, spiritually -- so much more than he could have doing anything else. I can also tell that he's still the same old Aaron -- just a better version now! I'm so excited to see him and to sit down and talk to him and learn everything about his mission that he didn't tell us in his letters. The only thing holding me together right now is my skin. I can't wait to see Aaron. The kids and I have had a countdown on the refrigerator for the past few weeks -- ever since we got his return date. We almost fight over who gets to change the number in the morning. I can't wait to post his homecoming on Thursday...stay tuned!

I KNEW she could do it!!!

I have always taken pride in my children -- mostly because they're good kids and a lot of fun. I have not been one to brag about their academics, and I guess that's because there hasn't been much to brag about. My children are highly intelligent, but also extremely lazy and unmotivated when it comes to school. Each one of them has coasted through school, doing the minimum required to graduate. I blame myself a great deal for their attitudes and lack of commitment to doing their best in school. However, this year, Tara decided on her own that she was going to try her hardest and get the best grades she could, just to see if she could do it. Imagine this: she could do it, and actually did do it, receiving the best report card any one of my children has ever achieved. Each one of them could have totally aced school if they put their minds to it, but each one in turn has just chosen not to. So I am now bragging about Tara's academics -- she got all A's and 1 B for the first quarter this year. I'm so proud of her because she did it on her own. Now she knows she can do it whenever she chooses. (BTW -- ignore all those tardies and absenses -- I'm not fighting that battle yet.) Way to go, Tara!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Halloween Night
Kendall dressed up like a flapper for an institute party. She actually made this dress herself a few months ago for a murder mystery dinner that she was a part of.

Tara as Snow White. I didn't finish making Tara's dress until 5 minutes before she was supposed to leave -- thus, my title of Queen of Procrastination remains!

Halloween for YW

The girls were having a Halloween party for YW tonight, so they all dressed up with whatever they found in the Halloween box.

Tara and Sarah -- a pirate and his (her) wench. Aaarrgh. Saaaavy.

Whitney and Tiana -- We had to tie down Tiana to put freckles on her face. (Not really -- but we almost did!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkins, Jack-O-Lanterns, Bob Marley, and Domo

Last night for FHE, we carved our pumpkins. Where's Kendall? you may ask. Well, she's too cool for the family's FHE and goes to her singles branch FHE, so instead of carving very cool jack-o-lanterns, she went to a Halloween party and haunted corn maze -- okay, that sounds really fun, too!

Tara, Whitney, and Chase's finished products. (Tara's is Bob Marley -- see the dreadlocks? Chase's is Domo -- some Japanese cartoon?? I'm so out of it.) Whitney hates this picture of her, but I think it's hilarious.

Chase cleaned his pumpkin out very thoroughly, even rinsing it in the sink a couple of times to make sure it was as clean as possible!

Don't you think Tara looks like Violet from The Incredibles? If she could only get the invisible thing down...

Whitney is pretending she doesn't see me as she works meticulously on her pumpkin.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm Sorry...Sort of

So, a while back, I really layed into the federal government for not catching my married name change 22 years ago, and waiting until there was some money on the line to make a big deal about it. I since have attempted to go into the Social Security Administration to change my name, but the lines are always so long that I don't stay to take care of it. After all, I've waiting this long, right? What's another week or so (or month) when they've already told me that I'm not going to get my stimulus check until next year. Period. Funny thing happened last week, though. I received a letter from the IRS stating that my stimulus check would be in my hot little hand on Friday, November 24th. I was shocked, but hopeful that the letter wasn't a mistake like everything else was. Naturally, Friday came and left with no check. So did Saturday. (I mean, we are talking about the federal government.) But guess what happened today? I received my stimulus check!!! Hurray!!! I was completely shocked! Rick even kissed the check. So, to the federal government, I'm sorry I layed into you and complained about your incompetence -- sort of. After all, you are four months late!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good Friends, Good Fun, and BOO!

Friday night, Tami and Leslie H. had a Halloween party at Tami's house. We ate a lot of good food, played a couple of fun games (girls ruled!!!), and had a lot of great laughs (the tears were rolling). Even Adam's perfect 16 score and Ken's hilarious "gallop" in Guesstures couldn't stop the girls. (That was a gallop, wasn't it, Chipenken?) Rick and I dressed like dorky tourists -- yeah, we totally nailed that one!

Would you believe me if I told you we always dress like this when we travel?

We had a great time! Thanks Tami and Leslie!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Phantom of the Opera

I took the girls to Spokane over the weekend to go watch Phantom of the Opera at the INB Performing Arts Center. It was an INCREDIBLE performance and we all loved, loved, loved it! Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the theater, so we have very few photos to record our fun weekend. The next morning, we went to the mall and went shopping, shopping, shopping -- of course.

In our hotel room, ready to go.

First order of business -- dinner. We just went to Taco Time because we were already running late. (BTW, we were trying to be pigs for this picture.)

Tara, Whitney, and Kendall outside the theater doors - tickets in hand. They look excited...

This is the markee outside the theater. It was the best we could do.