Wednesday, December 28, 2011


The annual decorating of the tree took place the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It was fun looking through all of our ornaments the kids have received every year of their lives.  We sure missed having Michael and Nate's there to put theirs on the tree as well.  We also were a little sad as we hung up Chewie's ornament.

Rachel had to go to an Ugly Sweater Party for Young Women's.  We found this lovely sweater and it was a winner, of course.  Could anything be worse?

The stockings were hung by the TV with care.

Santa came!  Simple, but just right!

Sophie's First Christmas - there must be treats in here!

The quilt Gramma Jackie made for Rachel.

Rachel and her bestie, Kirsten, exchanging gifts.

They did not plan this!  Funny huh?

This is where they are hoping to go to college - NAU (Northern Arizona University) - in Flagstaff.

Sophie, the new baby of the family, with her toy from Santa.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Lights - Mesa Temple

We bundled up and headed to Mesa to see the lights at the Mesa Temple.  It was so beautiful and there were several stations where you could listen to the events of the birth of Christ.  There was also a high school choir singing Christmas songs, which was fun to listen to.  We also went into the Visitors Center and looked at the Families are Forever exhibit and the kids also loved looking at the Book of Mormons from all over the world in every language.

We met several missionaries serving in Arizona.  They each are assigned a night to come and serve at the temple.  It was a fun night and we enjoyed being together as a family.

Time to put up the tree

It's always fun when it's time to put up the tree, except when Mom has to fight with the dang tree forever just to find all the connections for the lights - GRRR!  And even better when she finally gives up and just adds an extension cord for the top layer.  Regardless, alls well that ends well, right?

The 3 kids left at home had fun putting their ornaments on.  Every year the kids look at the ornaments they've received from the last year and enjoy the memories.  It's a little sad when I look at the boxes of ornaments that belong to Nate and Michael and realize they will stay in the boxes.  I look forward to the day that they find a family and a home and I send them their own box of ornaments to start their tree.

The kids received their ornament for the year also - I always try to do something different.  This year they received a Christmas Tree ornament made of felt.  I also had to do some repairs on some older ornaments as well before hanging them on the tree.  At the end of the day, our tree is beautifully lit and a fun reminder of the many years my kids have lived and dressed the tree.  What a great way to start the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fun pictures

Rachel went with her friend, Sam, and other friends to her school's Winter Formal.

Kellee fell asleep in this position - made me laugh, so I had to take a picture.

Michelle goes to Convention

My company convention this year was a cruise departing from Ft. Lauderdale.  This was on a Holland America ship, which was new for me, so I was excited to get to see a different cruise line and many new ports I've never visited.  Jacquelyn came along as my roommate and enjoyed attending some of the classes with me.  We didn't necessarily get to spend a lot of time in port, but we got a small taste.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas - Holland America private island - Best port ever!

Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos - We walked along the beach and got a drink at Margaritaville!

The fortune cookie dessert at the specialty Asian Fusion restaurant

Bon Voyage

We parked next to the Disney Magic - that was pretty cool!

As we depart Ft. Lauderdale - Never go with less than a balcony!

Iguanas were everywhere in St. Thomas

My new motto - Half Moon Cay sign

We played on the beach all day and just soaked up the sun - Jacquelyn, Michelle and Diane

Gran Melia Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico - We had a trade show there, entertainment and dinner.  Everyone in the group went home with a souvenir - well many souvenirs - sand flea bites everywhere!

Nathan in Florida

Nate is back in Florida.  He has made some friends there and is spending a lot of time with them.  He also is working at BJ's Warehouse - kind of like a Costco.  He does what they call Recovery and truly loves working there.  He also has been admitted to a community college there in Clermont, where he's living with his dad.  He's starting with just a couple of classes to get his feet wet in the college scene - I think a math class and a music class.

He's enjoying living in Florida.  We sure miss him a lot and he seems so far away sometimes.

Nathan Comes Home AND Halloween

Nate finally came home - only for a week, but we were so excited to get to hang out with him and spend time with him before he headed back to Florida.  He left on his birthday, Halloween, so we celebrated his birthday a few days early.

We went to the Carnival at Pacana Park, where the kids had fun riding rides, playing games, and having shaved ices.

We spent time together as a family carving pumpkins.  This was the first time we did this since living in Arizona.  While the weather is great in the winter, it's not so great for pumpkins.  Within about a week, they were all rotted, black and sunken in.  We had to throw them out before Halloween night.  But, at least we had fun carving them, right?

Lesson Learned - Carve your pumpkin on Halloween Day!

Nate's friend, Jesse, came up for the weekend and they along with Rachel went to a Halloween party.  They dressed up so cute:  Rachel as a caveman; Nate as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man; Jesse as a gay cop.  Pretty funny!  Nate had a few friends come over for cake and ice cream.  They played Dance Central on the Kinect - that's always fun to watch, especially those that can't dance.

For Halloween, Marshel dressed up as a Ninja and Kellee was Spider Girl.  We had fun going around our neighborhood.  A lot of our neighbors were out so we met a lot of people.  One house had a really great scary set up in their garage - Kellee was not impressed at all and couldn't wait to get away from that house.  The rest of us loved it and thought it was so fun.