December 28, 2012

Christmas Ornaments 2012

It's time for the unveiling of the 2012 Christmas ornaments.

As a reminder, the rule is that I must purchase each member of the family an ornament (usually Hallmark) at an after Christmas sale. I try to pick ones that are somehow meaningful to the individual. If I see an ornament that is perfect for someone and it sells out before Christmas, too bad. That's exactly what happened this year. I wanted to buy Tomas the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man ornament since that was his Halloween costume this year.

See? It would have been perfect. Oh well.

I still think I did pretty well though. Beginning with the top left and going clockwise, we first have my ornament, a German beer stein (not because I drink beer but because I speak German, served a mission there, and have been back several times). Then, we have Katie's stained glass ornament. It's the third and final one of the series. Katie now has all three. I know Katie often dreams of being a nun where she could hang out in a quiet cathedral all day surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows. In my opinion, LDS chapels could use more stained glass. Next comes Chloe's ornament. It was probably the biggest stretch, but I don't think she'll ever forget the year she received it. It is an ornament of Willie Mays. I didn't give it to her because Chloe is an avid baseball fan but because Willie Mays came from Alabama. This will always be remembered as the Christmas that Chloe had her mission call to Birmingham, Spanish speaking. Only a little over a month to go before she leaves, and we're all very excited. For Liam, I chose an electric guitar ornament. His big present from the family was a Jackson Kelly electric guitar. Once he gets the amp to go with it, we may need ear plugs. And finally, I gave Tomas a Nightmare before Christmas ornament. This was Tomas' first year taking part in the annual Christmas Eve puppet show. Tomas and Liam put on the Tim Burton classic. You can check it out here.

Chloe asked if the kids will get to take the ornaments with them when they move out. Even though that was original intent, I might just renege. It will be hard part with them and their memories.

But...I'm sure I'll give in.

December 27, 2012

The PJ Parade 2012

Here's the rundown on this year's Christmas PJs.

The only thing missing from this photo is our friend Tracy, who used to be part of this tradition. Now she lives on the other side of the country. We're always hopeful she'll join us for another Christmas Eve.

Tomas got flannel PJs with sock monkeys in Santa hats on them. This past year, Tomas has turned into a sock monkey fan.

Perfect for Liam, his pajama pants were made out of Beatles fabric.

Chloe got lighter weight fabric PJs since she's headed to the warm south. Even though they're pink and the pants have colorful citrus wedges on them, they are actually BYU pajamas. If you look closely, you can see that the shirt says Brigham Young University and the pants have the word Cougars printed all over them.

This year when I was looking for Katie's pajamas, I totally lucked out and found them on the first rack  in the first store I looked in. We rarely go into Macy's let alone buy anything there. However, once a year they usually come through for me with something perfect for Katie and on sale. This year, Katie's jammies are navy blue with a silver satin collar. I also gave her a matching robe.

For me, Katie and the kids found me Cookie Monster PJs. I love the pants because they're made out of that super soft flannel material. Chloe said they got them for me because I'm a monster and I like to make cookies.

Merry Christmas and 
Happy New Year!

Christmas Eve Dinner 2012...Y'all

Our Christmas Eve dinner tradition is to have cuisine from a different place in the world. A couple months ago, we decided we would have a meal from wherever Chloe got her mission call to. When it turned out she would be going to Alabama, we had no idea what they ate down there. Katie did some research online and came up with the menu.  And even though Chloe will be a Spanish speaking missionary and will most likely eat a lot of food from south of the border, we decided to stick with Alabamian fare. I, of course, looked up desserts from Alabama and found cobbler is big down there.

Here are Katie and the kids just before sitting down to our southern feast.

We had pulled barbecued pork with a very interesting white sauce, collared greens with carrots and bacon, black-eyed peas, and corn bread with honey butter. We unanimously loved the pork with the sauce. The sauce was little bit like ranch dressing. Everyone also loved the corn bread. Katie found several recipes that have whole kernels of corn in the bread but knew the kids would go for that. Although, I really want to try it someday. Everyone but Tomas liked the black-eyed peas. But, he didn't really give them a fair shot. They were similar to re-fried beans. The collard greens were the only thing that didn't get the best reviews. Katie liked them, but she pretty much loves all vegetables. I thought they were a bit bitter. I think I would prefer the same recipe but made with spinach. None of the kids liked the greens. However, we're glad we tried them, and the kids and I were very appreciative of all the hard work Katie put into the meal.

For dessert, I made a recipe called Crunchy Peach Cobbler from a Alabamian cook book we received for Christmas from the Mc family. It was really good—maybe my favorite peach cobbler recipe yet. What made it different was the addition of fresh lemon juice and almond extract.

December 26, 2012

The PPP's Annual Presentation—The Nightmare before Christmas

I bring you this year's Paper Puppet Productions' Christmas Eve puppet show.

Since Chloe, a founding member of the PPP, has moved on to college, she thought she was a bit too old to participate and opted to spectate this year. However, eager Tomas was waiting in the wings praying for his chance to join the fun and fill in the gap. Liam took the lead in the production, and did an excellent job mentoring Tomas.

The reviews are in, and the show was a huge success. Here's what the critics are saying:

"What an original and creative take on Tim Burton's classic tale. I loved every minute of it. I think we're going to hear Liam and Tomas' names a lot come awards season."  —Katie
"I'm so proud! They have taken the annual production to the next level."  —Chloe
"I laughed. I cried. It was better than CATS."  —Curtis
"Liam's directing was spot on, and I loved Tomas' lavish costume and set designs. The attention to detail was awe-inspiring"  —Oma
"It had everything a wonderful puppet play should have—action, adventure, romance, suspense, paper bags. It's definitely going to be a hit this holiday season."  —Opa
 Please enjoy this wonderful Christmas Eve tradition.

Santa 2012

Here it is—our Santa 2012 photo. With Chloe being gone on her mission next year, Liam pretty much always hating every second of the ordeal, and Tomas quite possibly figuring things out (if he hasn't already), it just may be the end of this yearly tradition. This year, we even broke with convention and didn't purchase the photo they took. It's always been, in my opinion, a bit of a rip. But this year, what the heck?! Twenty bucks for a 5x7. Uh, no thanks. So, below is what I took over the shoulder of the "elf." I didn't have a decent flash with me, so the photo's not very sharp. But for free, I'm happy.

Included with the yearly tradition is dinner out afterward. It seems like over the past few years, Red Robin has been the popular restaurant of choice. Once again, we had a fun family meal together, and I finally learned you can request their bottomless fries without the nasty seasoning salt. Everyone else in the family seems to like the salt, but now we can all season our fries to suit our own tastes. It's amazing how this improved my dining experience. Ahh...the simple things in life.

Maybe if we keep the eating out at a restaurant as part of the deal, the boys will still play along. But, I'm not gonna hold my breath. I'm afraid it might be, "So long, Santa."

December 25, 2012

Gingerbread House Extravaganza 2012

Gingerbread House Extravaganza 2012 was a huge success. And once again, many thanks to the Mc family for offering up their home for the event. Their kitchen has a lot more counter space than ours, but I always leave feeling guilty for leaving them with such a mess at the end of the evening.

This year, the Mc family made a village of little houses. Each person was assigned a color and decorated his or her house with candy in that color. I was very impressed with this coordination and  the preparation Mary Ann put into organizing it. It turned out wonderfully well. I loved each house, but I got a kick out of watching Joss' decorate his. That little four year-old knew exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it done. And, he told me all about it in great detail as he did it. His excitement was contagious. You can read more about the Mc creations and see great photos here.

My gingerbread pallies
Last year for Christmas, the Mcs gave us two books on gingerbread houses. I chose a saltbox house from one book and Katie and the boys chose a Spanish mission-style church from the other. 

I was in the mood to do a historical building, and I have always liked saltbox style homes. There are several around Provo dating back to the early days of the city. A saltbox is a building with a long, pitched roof that slopes down to the back. A saltbox has just one story in the back and two in the front. If you look at the house from the side, it's asymmetry and roof line resemble a wooden lidded box in which salt was once kept.

I was most pleased with how it turned out, especially with my stone work on the chimney and around the base of the house. This pattern was either very easy, or I'm getting better at gingerbread house construction. My roof didn't collapse like last year. It may have boosted my confidence enough to try something really challenging for next year. I've got some ideas in mind, but I won't share them yet. I don't anyone to get their expectations too high.

Unlike last year, I remembered to leave a hole in the back to insert tea lights to light up the windows of melted hard candy.
Katie and Tomas built a Spanish mission church out of graham crackers and frosting. This reminds me of how all fourth graders where I'm from have to build a replica of one of the California missions out of sugar cubes as they study California history. Tomas worked very hard on the garden in front. Liam's contribution was the taco shop next door—perfect for those hungry monks. The colorful ribbon hard candy added a very authentic touch. I also liked his gum drop cactus. Katie's detail work with the well and the cart was also impressive. 

Another sign of a successful gingerbread experience is the amount of candy bits stuck to my socks at the end of the evening. I admit it's not as much this year as in past because the kids are getting older and not as prone to drop or throw everything on the floor. However, it is a true sign that a good time was had by all.

OK, that does look a little gross. Sorry.

Goodbye Scooter

Scooter had breath that could kill.
Scooter barked uncontrollably when the doorbell rang.
And it drove me nuts how Scooter could never be more than six inches from my side whenever I was at home, especially when I was in the bathroom.

However, we've all got our faults, right?

Scooter was always so excited to see me when I got home from work.
Scooter didn't shed.
Scooter was a very good-natured dog.
He always tried so hard to please and be a good dog.

December 14 was a sad day. It happened quickly, and Scooter's health declined rapidly. The vet thought he had cancer. We had him put to sleep. I was surprised at how hard it was on me.

Scooter was a good little friend, and we will miss him a lot.

December 11, 2012

SLC's Christkindlmarkt

One of my favorite German Christmas traditions is the Christkindlmarkt/Weihnachtsmarkt. It's a street market during the four weeks of Advent. When we heard this was the first year for a Christkindlmarkt at This Is the Place Heritage Park, we knew we had to go.

It was on the chilly side, so we began at the Heidelberg "Hot" Schokolade booth. I was amused at the mixture of German and English, and I wondered what made it "Heidelberg" cocoa. It was kind of like getting "Swiss" Tacos and "Swiss" hamburgers at Midway's Swiss day. However, the coco was really good. It also turned out that two students I worked this semester with were running the booth.

The market had about thirty booths. Everything was done extremely well, and in my opinion, it was as authentic as you can get here in Utah. We hope the market becomes and annual tradition. We will definitely go back. My only recommendation is that they get a few more vendors to offer German or Austrian Christmas toys and decorations. I only saw one Christmas pyramid. I also didn't see any of those large decorated gingerbread hearts with sayings on them for sale. If I had a bakery, that's what I'd sell in my booth.

They also had entertainment. This guy sang and played the accordion and cow bells—a little on the corny side, but a lot of fun to watch.

I need more cowbell! I got a fever, and the only cure is more cowbell!
We tried some of the pretzels, which were very reminiscent of those we bought in Salzburg.

We found a booth run by Vosen's Bakery (They should do the gingerbread hearts!). Once I spotted it, I knew I had to buy it. They had authentic looking Mohnkuchen (poppy seed cake). This is one of my favorite German pastries.

Though not native to any German-speaking country, the reindeer were a nice touch.

This was the place for a great Christkindlmarkt.

Throughout the day, Chloe kept giving Tomas hugs. I think the idea of her being away 18 months for her mission is hitting her.

Here we are keeping warm.

Since we were in Salt Lake, we decided to stop by another craft fair and a British import shop. We ended the outing with dinner at Crown Burger. We arrived at the perfect time. Just after we placed our order, 300 Church youth and their leaders came into the restaurant after seeing the Christmas lights at Temple Square just down the street.

December 03, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I brought my camera to Idaho with plans to take tons of photographs to document a wonderful holiday with family.

Well, all I can say is...

...epic fail.

We had a great time, ate way more than we should have, and Chloe opened her mission call. But, all I've got to show for it are these few photos.

Of course, we went to the Idaho Festival of Lights Parade. It's always fun being there with the cousins, but the festival is in poor shape. If we were to live in Preston, Katie and I would volunteer and help give it a boost. (And no Oma, don't get your hopes up that we'll be moving anytime soon.)

Liam, Tomas and I went to Pop 'N Pins for our annual bowl-a-thon. You might remember this place which was made famous in "Napoleon Dynamite." Here Tomas and Liam are summoning their eagle powers.

Their eagle powers must have worked. Both boys did really well. Liam almost did too well. One game, I only beat him by three points. That's too close. I'm going to have to do some major practicing before next year
Well, there you have it. Not much, I know. But when I think about it, I didn't really do much more than lie around, eat and sleep. No one wants to see pictures of that anyway.

Sweet Home Alabama!

Here's the timeline:

  • Oct. 28—Chloe decides for sure she wants to leave on her mission as soon as she can. She calls to get an appointment with the bishop for the following Tuesday. The bishop is very busy, but it helps to be friends with the executive secretary.
  • Oct. 30—Chloe meets with the bishop, has a great interview, and gets the process going.
  • Oct. 31—During the day, Chloe is able to set up appointments with the dentist and doctor for check ups. Later that evening, Chloe fills out the online application while trick-or-treaters come to the door.
  • Nov. 2—Chloe sees the dentist and the doctor. She still needs to have her wisdom teeth out, and the oral surgeon is able to squeeze her in the next Friday.
  • Nov. 9—Chloe gets her wisdom teeth out. I have the honor and privilege of being with her when she comes our of the anesthesia.*
  • Nov. 11—Chloe is able to get an appointment with both the bishop and the stake president. Chloe's papers are officially submitted. 
  • Nov. 21—Chloe's call arrives . We drive up to Idaho so Chloe can open it at Opa and Oma's.
Here is a video Chloe created to remember the event. As of today, it already has nearly 3,000 views!

Birmingham, Alabama—Spanish speaking! Wow, who woulda thunk?** Certainly not me. I was kind of hoping for Germany, Austria or England. That way, Katie and I could pick her up from her mission when she's done and do a little sightseeing. However, missions aren't about sightseeing, and almost immediately after Chloe read her letter, I had a strong confirmation Alabama was where Heavenly Father wants and needs her to be. We are all very excited for her. Chloe's going to make the most outstanding missionary, and Alabama will never be the same. Another blessing is that her mission president is Richard Holzapfel. He's an amazing religion professor at BYU, and I've had the opportunity to interact with him a couple of times. I've always been extremely impressed.

Chloe will enter the MTC on Feb. 6.  That seems really soon to me. I know quite of few young men and women who received their calls before Chloe and will leave later. I just think Heavenly Father has something for her to do and needs her soon. Now, Chloe needs to hunker down and focus on finishing out the school semester well. She might also need to fend off the boys.

It's interesting how now that Chloe is going to Alabama, I notice Alabama all over the news. Did you know Alabama will be playing Notre Dame in football for the national championship? I didn't until now. I just may end up watching the game this year and root for the Crimson Tide.

Liam once told me if you ever hear "Sweet Home Alabama" on the radio, you don't need to change the station because at that moment in time, there isn't a better song on the radio. I think for the next year and half, he right. We will sure miss our Chloe but are so very proud of her.
*Click here to read about Chloe coming out of anesthesia. Tee-hee-hee.
**Maddie Mc actually "thunk" Alabama. As a reward, I'm going to make the Mc family an amazing cobbler. I've heard that is the big dessert down there.

November 10, 2012

Snow Fort Building

While I stayed inside where it was warm and finished up a few blog posts, Tomas and Liam along with friends Tanner and Jace spent the morning at the park building this.

Very impressive. If it's still there on Monday and the snow is still good for building, they want to add a room. Because as you can see...'s a tight squeeze.

I wonder if Liam can get some sort of merit badge for this, or if Tomas can check something off in his Wolf book.

Tis the Season...For Shoveling

I don't really like snow.

Growing up in the California dessert and having snow once every five to ten years was just fine with me.

Although I know this area of the country is currently in a drought, I didn't mind not having to shovel the walks once last year. 

Tomas, on the other hand, is different. Since he was old enough to hold one of those kiddy-sized snow shovels, shoveling snow has been one of his favorite things to do. This year, he reached an important milestone and moved up to a full-size adult snow shovel.

Yesterday, we got our first real snow. We got about a foot of the heavy wet stuff. I asked Tomas if he wanted to come out and help shovel, it was like Christmas had come early.

We first did our house and then moved next door to a neighbor who can't do it for himself. I thought we were done, but then Tomas ran over to start the neighbors on the other side of us. I went over to help, but Tomas said he wanted to do that house completely by himself because that's where one of his best friend's grandparents live. So, I knocked snow out of the trees in our yard and the neighbors' yards since many branches looked like they might break.

After Tomas finished, he decided we needed to do the entire neighborhood. Since I didn't want to be out there all night, I talked him into just doing our street. When we finished, we had done a total of eight homes. Tomas, always made sure we did a good job. We even did a second driveway for a neighbor who only uses it during the summer to put his camper.

It was a great evening of service with my little buddy. But, I'm thinking this may be a way for him to make some serious money when he's a little older. And, Tomas also rakes leaves with the same kind of enthusiasm. 

Bring It On, Tooth Fairy!

Yesterday, I took Chloe in to have her wisdom teeth taken out. I know it's the trend to video the patient waking up from the anesthesia and post it on Youtube, but Chloe, knowing I had a cell phone, warned me sternly not to. Although, I may have teased her a bit that I might, I knew it would be cruel. I did get her permission to take a photo though.

Considering the circumstances, I think she looks lovely.

I also madly typed a note on my cell phone of all the things she said while she was coming to. It was pretty funny, and I had a hard time not laughing too loudly. Because of the new change in the age to leave on a mission, the place was crazy busy with young men and women having their wisdom teeth taken out. It was very entertaining listening to all the funny wailing, singing, laughing, crying and random things coming from all the rooms.

So, here is a list of what Chloe said while I sat with her as she woke up. Imagine her saying these things in a loopy sing-song voice with a numb mouth stuffed with gauze.
  1. "How long have I been here?" 
  2. "I hear singing. Are they going to make me sing?"
  3. "How long have I been here?"
  4. "I'm going on a mission, but last night I went on a date with a guy in a band. He doesn't know I'm going on a mission." She told this to the nurse.
  5. "How long have I been here?"
  6. "Is it snowing? I didn't know it was already Christmas."
  7. "How long have I been here?"
  8. "Where are my feet? Can you see them?"
  9. "How long have I been here?"
  10. "Dad! I just opened my eyes! I can seeeee youuuu!" (followed by lots of giggling)
  11. "How long have I been here?"
  12. "I'm hungry. I just loooove ice cream!"
  13. "How long have I been here?"
  14. "I'm so cold my buns are jiggling off."
  15. "How long have I been here?"
  16. "Dad, you're a bum, but I'm glad you're not that guy." (me: What guy?) "You know, Dad. That guy!" (more giggling)
  17. "How long have I been here?"
Once she woke up, I took Chloe home and put her to bed. Katie then got home from teaching to pamper and take care of Chloe. Initially, there was some soreness, nausea, and a little swelling. But today, she seems almost completely back to her old chipper self.

Oh, and by the way, we were only at the oral surgeons for just over an hour.

Halloween 2012 Wrap Up

Halloween 2012 was great. We had the perfect weather, and for the first time ever, we got our pumpkins carved before the trick-or-treaters began arriving. We carved our pumpkins for Family Home Evening two days prior, and Chloe was able to join us.

Beginning top left and going clockwise: 1. Tomas created a scary-face pumpkin that he actually carved mostly by himself. 2. Chloe carved a pumpkin with a sweet stache and monocle. 3. Liam is slightly obsessed with the Avengers at the moment. 4. This was basically my one and only attempt during this way too long and drawn out presidential political campaign. Considering where we live, I was pleasantly surprised it didn't end up smashed. There were even some people who actually seemed to like it. 5. And finally, Katie picked out a pumpkin that was perfect for a skull.

Although we got an early start on the pumpkins, we followed the time honored family tradition of pulling a practical all-nighter finishing up costumes. From Chloe's very first Halloween costume where we dressed her in a darn cute cow costume, we have made all of our kid's costumes. And, I should clarify that it's been mostly Katie doing all the work.

Recently, we showed the boys "Ghostbusters." We haven't seen it in many years, and it's a good thing that when it comes to movies, Katie has a photographic memory. She remembered where every swear word and questionable scene was, so she was our personal Clearplay editing system. The boys loved the movie and decided independently they wanted to be characters from the movie. Liam wanted go as the Ghostbusters, Peter Venkman, because he was the funniest. Tomas wanted to be the Stay Puft Marshamallow Man.

This is what we were aiming for...

This is what we came up with...

Who ya gonna call?

I thought the boys looked great. Katie did a fantastic job on Tomas' costume. But, the poor kid wore the costume to school on one of the warmest Halloweens in recent memory. Most of the kids at school had never heard of the Ghostbusters and thought Tomas was Popeye. My job was to help Liam create his Proton Pack out of cardboard, junk from the second hand store, and a lot of hot glue. The boys had a lot of fun trick-or-treating together. And, more people recognized who Tomas was.

Chloe decided to stop by the house for a little bit before heading off to her parties and dances. She created her own costume. She went as the hipster Snow White. Snow White seemed to be one of the favorite costumes this year. I saw a lot, but Chloe was the only hipster version.

Katie taught her classes dressed as a farmer. I was a party pooper. Since the days of my last job, where we were sort of expected to dress up every year, I haven't really felt like it. Plus, I had several meetings I had to attend. I thought I might not be taken seriously if I were dressed as a wizard or something.

After the boys were back from trick-or-treating, we finished of the evening with our final tradition. We made an appearance at the Mc's home to see what the pallies were dressed as and show them our costume creations. The boys also like to go to a few homes in the Mc's neighborhood who really go all out for Halloween.

It was a fun Halloween. My only one complaint, and it's pretty minor, was that we did not have enough Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and banana flavored Laffy Taffy and too many Whoppers leftover for my liking. I may just have to do the candy shopping next year.

September 12, 2012

Collegiate Chloe

About 17 years ago, Katie and I nervously brought our oldest child, Chloe, to Nursery at church for the first time. 

Would she be OK? Would she like it? What if she's scared?

As we approached the open door, Chloe saw the teachers and other toddlers. She looked up at us, said "Bye!" and was off—never looking back. 

And that is how it as been ever since.

In my last post, I shared the first-day-of-school photos of Liam and Tomas. This year, I didn't see Chloe on her first day of school because she is now in college. Chloe going to BYU has consumed a lot of our thoughts, energy, time and money this past summer.

But true to Chloe fashion, she really has done most of everything completely on her own without much help from us. 

After thirty-some-odd interviews, Chloe got a fantastic job on campus that works perfectly with her schedule and it only a few minutes from her dorm. According to Chloe, the job is totally worth all the rejections. She's a secretary for the Department of Technology. I'm glad she enjoys the job, but as her father, I was a bit concerned when she mentioned one of the perks of the job being that most of the students in the Department of Technology are boys. 

Here's a photo of Chloe heading to her first day of work. I used my cell phone, so the quality isn't great. And, for some strange and very unusual reason, Chloe didn't want her photo taken.

When the time came for Chloe to move into the dorms, she completely cleared out her bedroom. All that remained were some nails in the walls and a few little scraps. It reminded me of what the Whoville resident's homes looked like after the Grinch had visited. Chloe would have been totally content to move completely by herself, but she did let Katie help out by driving a couple van loads to the dorms. I didn't witness it personally, but I heard that one load was stuffed with clothes. 

Chloe is living in the same dorm complex where Katie and I lived. They will be torn down in the next year or so to make way for new dorms, but Chloe seems to like their quirkiness and that they are old (or "retro" as she refers to them). She laughs at the fact things break often and that it takes incredible skill to get the shower temperature right.

Here are some photos I stole off Chloe's blog. She's blogging about her freshman experience. Check it out here. It's pretty entertaining, but I suggest you do it quick. She tends to go through blogs like she does clothes.

The pile of clothes you see there would have been the total amount I brought to college. Believe me, that's just the beginning for Chloe.

Here she is in the kitchen. I remember when I lived there many, many years ago the cabinetry was brand new. 
For her first semester, Chloe is taking Biology, Book of Mormon, Art History, and German (I may be missing one). She's doing well and likes all her classes. One of her favorite classes is German, which makes me happy. But soon she'll be able to understand a lot of what Katie and I say to each other when we speak German so none of the kids will know what we're talking about. Katie and I are going to have to throw a lot more slang in or try speaking Pig Latin German.

I knew Chloe was prepared academically for college and that she would have no problem making friends, but I was a bit concerned with how she would be with her money and budgeting. However, we have been pleasantly surprised. She's got her budget all planned out in an Excel file and is being very responsible and careful with her money.

Even though we miss her at home (things are amazingly quiet), we are so happy she is doing well and enjoying college so far. We love and are extremely proud of her.

September 08, 2012

Whats on the Camera?—First Day of School

It has been three months since I last posted something. Pretty pathetic, I know.

Maybe it's because I didn't think I had anything to write about that could possibly come close to being as exciting as last year's adventures in Austria.

Well, I did take a lot of photos, and this past week, I finally inserted my three memory cards into the computer to see what I had. Turns out, we did do quite a bit that I should share here—so much in fact that I feel a bit overwhelmed in trying to catch up. My first inclination was to just forget about the last three months and make a fresh start. But, I know I'd end up regretting it later.

So, I decided to go through the photos and just start writing.  I'm going to try my best to be caught up by the end of the month. To help with the process and to relieve some of the pressure I've put on myself, I'm going to take the photos as they come, and if an event or topic comes up that I don't want to write about or deal with at the moment, I'll just move on to something else. I'm also not going to worry about keeping things in chronological order.

Therefore, I shall begin.

Perusing through the photos, here are a couple that first caught my eye from the first day of school for Liam and Tomas.

Tomas is now in the third grade. The biggest thing about beginning school for Tomas is that he is doing it in a cast. He fell off his bike and broke both bones in his right forearm. Luckily, he's a lefty. This also means he will miss most of the fall soccer season. He has a very nice teacher and for the most part likes his class. Of his three best friends, two go to other schools and one moved away, so this will be a year of making new friends. Tomas is still at that age where recess is his favorite part of the day. Last week, he told me he loves to play a game during recess he invented called "evil snails." I asked for an explanation, but didn't really understand it.

They've really come a long way with casts since I had my white plaster one in sixth grade. Tomas had all kinds of choices. He ended up going with a camouflage cast with a glow-in-the-dark white stripe. Pretty cool. 
Liam transferred school districts this year. Instead of being a freshman at Provo High, he is a 9th grader at Lakeridge Jr. High. I think he was a bit nervous at first because he's not the social butterfly his sister is. However, things are working out. It's good his best friend, Tanner, is there, too. What I find most amazing is that he seems to like ALL his teachers. I don't think that ever happened with me from jr. high through high school and even into college. I always had at least one oddball or cranky teacher. Liam is taking honors English, biology, algebra, history, drama, computers, symphonic band, and seminary. He's already begun the infamous bug project. Over the years, I've watched many 9th graders in the neighborhood over at the park with their nets in early fall trying to catch bugs. Liam has to collect and mount 30 different insects. I think he currently has three.

Liam is still in braces, so no open mouth smiling for him.

Liam and Tomas are fantastic kids, and I'm pretty sure it will be a great year for both of them. I'm excited to see what they learn and what they accomplish.

July 06, 2012

One Smart Cookie

Still trying to catch up on blogging.

From the photos on the camera, it looks like the next big event to happen was Chloe's high school graduation the last day of May. Leading up to the big day, Chloe sure packed a lot into her final days of school from concerts for choir and ballroom to dances and other school activities to finishing up a couple online courses so she could actually graduate.

We were able to fit in a "senior portrait" session. It sounds kind of funny to call it that because I've been taking photos of her all year. I'm going to miss my ever-willing model when she goes off to college.

Chloe graduated up near the top of her class and has been accepted to BYU. We're very proud of her and know great things are in store.

Here's some video from graduation.

Oma, Opa, Grandma Jo, Grandpa Gene, and Aunt Bita came to celebrate the big day.