Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Matchy Matchy Christmas

(This is us on Christmas Eve with our new jammies and our puppies - if you look carefully you can see Troy on the lefthand side)

We made a haul this Christmas! I think everyone was pretty happy with their stash. The funniest part to me though was, how, for some reason, we all seemed to match our gifts. I love when random things like this happen.

This is my favorite matchy picture. Afton just matched her gifts all the way around. She had a very pink and turquoise Christmas. And Cousin Joe was totally inspired to wrap the gift he gave her in paper matching her new jammie pants.

And you just have to see what was in the package from Cousin Joe!

Platform Slippers! So Afton... so perfect and of course, so the right color!! (just as a side note, with them on, she is almost as tall as Brad)

I matched twice. Weird...
Packaging on a gift from Kelsi.
And on a hat from Brady and a Zebra Blanket from my sister, Janet.

For Kelsi not being a "pink girl" she got pink jammies and a "Barbie" DVD from Brady, in what other color, than pink. (The story on the Barbie videos is a subject for some other post)

Brad had the most matches - not just in color though.
He got this Cramer T-shirt from Afton.
Brad identifies on many levels with Seinfeld and the characters therein. TOTAL MATCH! (sorry about the blurriness)

He also matched with the subject of another t-shirt he received from Brady.
Brad is our resident Grinch. He doesn't hate Christmas, but he's not into the "experience" like the rest of us are... he grumbles about putting up the tree, stresses about the amount of money we're spending, complains about how much fudge and junk food we all consume and the list goes on and on. In the end he's really a good sport and it's just fun to tease him about it.

I was also happy that this t-shirt matched his new jammies. Santa searched high and low and couldn't find a suitable one in the correct size. I think his new jammies are cute, now if we can just convince him that they are "low-rise" pants and they really DO fit him.

Here's his color matching gift. Pretty good since he basically only got one. Have I mentioned how hard he is to buy for?

Poor Brady didn't really match any gifts, this was as close as he came. But really, who wouldn't match Lego Rock Band? We've been having a great time with it. Thanks for sharing with us all Brade.

On another note: We had Christmas Eve dinner with 4 of the missionaries from our area, The Oelrichs (from the ward) and the Fabelas (our neighbors)
It was yummy and fun. These people are great! Our funniest part of the evening was trying to get the above picture of whole group before dinner. I had to set-up the camera, start the timer, run down the stairs, get to my seat and look up and smile before the camera flashed. It only took 3 tries... whew! Brad took this video of the ordeal.

Also, I couldn't help myself... I bought these t-shirts for the Elders. I had to get one for Brady too, cuz I liked them so much. They say,"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am!" They humored me and wore them over to our house yesterday (p-day) to show me. I thought I did pretty good on getting the right sizes. (And thanks Michael H. for being the delivery boy.)
All in all it was a really great season, despite the fact that I never got my tree decorated (hey at least it was up), the lights never got hung outside and I never got gifts made for my friends. Shameful, I know. These are things I'm really bugged about but have decided to just let go.... Instead, I can feel blessed that I was NOT stressed this season even though I had tons of extra stuff going on. I can be happy that we were mostly healthy and that we got to spend so much time together and that everyone was happy. We totally missed our families but really, we could get used to this whole "being alone on Christmas thingy". We got to hang out in our jammies ALL DAY and eat lots of junk and enjoy our gifts. Now I've just got to put together my new puzzle and I can feel that my Christmas 2009 was a success.

I'm including this last picture because I love it and I think Brad is a babe (messy hair and all)!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


(can you believe it? we didn't even get a picture of us - but this was taken a few days ago - we still look pretty much the same)

Yesterday was our 19th anniversary! I have to say it was an awesome day. I love Brad so much and it just keeps getting better.

I am so blessed to have someone so talented, nice, concerned and beautiful. I am glad he is into me (his wife) and us (his family). I'm glad he has a good head and a good heart. I'm glad we had the chance to be together last night to bond, to reconnect and to hold hands. It's hard in this crazy world and at this busy time of year to remember to do that.

At first I was excited about the prospect of going out last night, but as time got closer I was realizing how much stuff I still had to do before Christmas and I was cursing ourselves for the billionth time, for choosing to get married at Christmastime. Just one more added stress. Not to mention I had to think of a another present to get for Brad. I mean, come on now, Christmas is hard enough.

But... it was a perfect evening!

We went to dinner at the Chart House in Monterey. We ate overlooking the ocean which we hardly glanced at because we were having such good, engaging conversation, we connected, we ate Chocolate Lava Cake! It was AWESOME! Brad gave me a brand new orange iPod. 16G with a video camera and FM radio. He also made me this cutest video, set to music called "California Girl" - sung by Chillawack (a Canadian band) - are you seeing some deep meaning here? It was so sweet. I really enjoyed it even though it was mostly just a bunch of pictures of me -lol (later he made that comment that the video was really a present for him)

After dinner we went to see the new movie Avatar. I was skeptical. But WOW it was so, so, so well done! It was 2 1/2 hours and not once did I wonder when it was going to end. It has definitely set the bar for CGI and future movies of this type. We made the comment that it is the Star Wars of 2009.

All together it was a special and bonding night. And thanks to the configuration of Brad's new truck I actually got to slide over and sit next too him as we drove around. Just like the good old days. Really, it felt just like that (only better)

Here's the photo montage Brad made for me! You'll have to pause my playlist (down on the right sidebar) so the music doesn't conflict

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Yesterday was Brady's 12th Birthday. Since I was in charge of the Ward Activity last night Brady pretty much had a dull birthday. It all started out with a bowl of Lucky Charms and a slice of toast in bed (honestly though, that's what he said he wanted). Then we headed down stairs for gifts - the girls thought he was spoiled, but it took all of 7 minutes to find all his gifts (we do the "hot/cold" game as a tradition in getting birthday gifts). Then it was off to finish decorating at the church, thinking of the last minute details of party planning, cooking food and getting dressed for the Christmas Party. Then at the party, poor Brady was waiting all night for the M.C to announce a song for the birthday boy. It never happened. Something about Brady's mom (and by extension, his dad) was running around like a crazy person and totally forgot until we were walking out the door to our car at 10:00 p.m. I felt so bad. I am so blessed to have a son like Brady though, that is easy going and just laughs at stuff like that. I didn't even get a single picture of him on his big day.

However, in the scheme of important birthdays - Brady's real important moment came this afternoon, when he was set apart as a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of emotion that hit me as I looked at my baby sitting there in his brand new suit with his dad's hands on his head. It is a bonding moment, a tie to the past, a bright outlook for the future. Something that is so small and usual in the church, but something that has such import for years to come - dare I say even into the eternities. The rush of tears was unexpected, but I shouldn't have been surprised. It was a special and important moment.

Here is a picture of Brady with his dad (and Bishopric member), our super-supportive Home Teacher, Loren Dickson (left) and the other awesome Bishopric member, Steve Russell (right) (the Bishop was out of town). The other picture is Brady with his friend Bradley Dickson, perspective Deacon, who was also present for the setting apart. Bradley summed it up best with his little note on the chalkboard in the Bishop's Office that read, "Brady's Awesome!" I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not always eye to eye, but...

so glad he's in my life...

I've been meaning to post about my cool and very favorite husband Brad for the longest time and just about the time I would be ready to do it I would get annoyed with him, or he would get annoyed with me or he would do something I didn't "approve" of, or I would feel hypocritical posting all the good stuff if I wasn't fully feeling the love. Last night though, I decided that I do feel the love. I am married to the perfect guy! The perfect guy for me!

Now please don't think we fight all the time or that we don't get along - but at a time of year when we get lots of rosy sounding Christmas cards (and we wonder why everyone else is so perfect) I wanted this to be a "real" message about love. I've determined that even in the best of marriages there is always going to be vexation and grief (movie quote alert) but that is when real love is made, right?; It's in the, "I'm not giving up", in the, "I love you anyway", in the "I'm a better person because of you", in the "you aren't perfect and neither am I, but we'll make it work" type of a way. This is where true love is formed, is it not? It's easy to love when you're on the same page, when life is good, when you see eye to eye, when things are going as you would plan. It's harder, however, to love when life throws you curve balls, when someone does things that seem hurtful or hateful, or when day to day living is a huge struggle. It's hard to love when we feel judged or judgmental or simply when the stars are not aligned. But that's when love becomes deep, when love becomes rooted, when you act Christlike even when life and love stinks.

I am very intrigued (although a little annoyed) by Kelly Clarkson's song, "My Life Would Suck Without You" (pardon that awful slang word, it makes my toenails cringe). The song is about 2 people who are quite dysfunctional but can't live without each other. They are a team, they make it work in spite of each other. They might think it would be better with someone else (anyone else) but in reality they belong together.

Here are some of the words:

I know that I've got issues
but you're pretty messed up too
Either way I found out, I'm nothing without you.

Now you might think I'm advocating accepting your problems as unchangeable and too engrained to fix, which I'm not doing at all. I am, in fact, advocating accepting your problems, owning up to them, trying to fix them and then realizing that you and your loved one aren't ever going to be perfect (at least not any time soon), but that you love each other anyway and you need each other if you want to have any lasting joy.

Now you might also think that I am stating that Brad and I are dysfunctional, that I'm currently annoyed with him (or he with me) and that we are permanently and irrevocably flawed. Actually this couldn't be further from the truth. I am so in love with that guy and feel eternally grateful that I have him as mine. Yes, we are both flawed but I am glad we can count on each other to overcome these shortcomings.

Here's some things I love about Brad:

Brad always has our family's best interest at heart
Brad is wise
Brad works hard everyday to provide for our family
Brad is talented
Brad likes to laugh
Brad knows how to feel and recognize and follow the spirit
Brad is good looking
Brad knows how to get things done
Brad is a good friend
Brad is positive
Brad had a clear mind
Brad has vision
Brad has nice hands
Brad has nice eyes
Brad likes to have fun
Brad has great ambition and determination
Brad likes to win
Brad is a great dad
Brad is supportive
Brad teaches me things I wouldn't have learned otherwise
Brad has high expectations
Brad has a good work ethic
Brad has his head screwed on straight
Brad knows how to laugh at himself
Brad has a lot to offer
Brad is a good kisser
Brad is beautiful
Brad knows how to have a good time
Brad is generous
Brad chooses the right
Brad is happy
Brad is funny
Brad knows how to improvise
Brad is committed
Brad is a good example
Brad always gives it his best effort
Brad has a big heart
Brad is a natural
Brad makes my heart go pitter-patter
Brad knows how to improve things
Brad is not picky
Brad is real
Brad knows how to fight for himself and his family and his rights
Brad is responsible
Brad knows how to cut through the crap
Brad loves me
Brad loves the kids
Brad loves the gospel
Brad isn't jaded
Brad is honest
Brad appreciates people how they are
Brad likes nice things
Brad makes my life better

Now see, if I was sending out a Christmas letter I would have just included the bottom half of this post. And you would say one of 3 things, "Ya right!" or "How come she's got it so good?" or "Take off the rose colored glasses, sistah". None of these things would be a correct statement in and of themselves. Yes, we are a bit dysfunctional, yes we have troubles and stress, yes I've got it good but things could be a whole lot better (they could also be a whole lot worse), but I love that guy. Brad is my other half, my matching puzzle piece. When I think of him and our relationship I always think of it as a perfect 10. Thanks Brad, we belong together now, forever united here somehow. You've got a piece of me, and honestly... My life would suck without you. (eeekkk, sorry, there's that word again)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hollister "Lights On" Parade

So I'm from the big city, I've only seen a small handful of parades, I've attended even less, and I've never even come close to being in one. But this year I dove in headfirst to all of the above! Since I am the new activities chairman in the ward and the Bishop said he would like the church to be better known in the community and the "Lights On" Parade was coming up I did something I never thought I would do; I signed the church up for a float. Yes, add this to my list of "nevers". How on Earth do you build a float? But that's what life is all about right? Just going for it!! Go Big or Go Home! I always say. So that's what I did. I donated all my Saturdays in November to the planning, organizing and constructing of a float representing the church. The theme was Candy Cane Lane. We went with the sub-theme of "Sweet Treats". We constructed larger than life candy canes, gingerbread men, peppermint twists and cupcakes. We made an over-sized, old fashioned stove and had tons of lights. I was pretty happy with the results despite the fact that I doubted my ideas at every turn (an ongoing problem I've gotta work on). I was so happy with all the people who were willing to volunteer time and resources. We have a great ward! So willing, and so cheerful. Bishop Starkweather is my hero! Our float would have been pretty sad and pathetic without him. He is incredibly generous and able. Along with his time, he let us use his 25' flatbed trailer, his truck (which he drove for us) his generator, his scrap wood, his Christmas lights and other Christmas decorations, and his tools and equipment. Truly a remarkable man!

Here is the evolution of our float
From this..
to this...
to this...

The Bishop's Granddaughter got to ride in the cab with Grandpa.
Carter and Christy got to ride on the float. Carter fell asleep in the staging area and woke up at the end... but look how cute he is
Some other cool things:
-Michael Hanson showing up on my doorstep with 4 precut cardboard gingerbread men. (I thought he was just bringing me cardboard)
- Every week, even though I had no clue what I was doing, there was almost always something for everyone to do despite their ages and interests
-Liz McMullen being able to help from home using her Cricut and making the cutest signs ever
-Red Duct Tape - wow was that EVER a time saver
- I have the best husband on the planet who gave up his time (and a few golf games) to help. He had some really great ideas and ingenuity. My own little MacGyver.
-A terrific ward - so, so willing and supportive even if my ideas and methods were a little crazy

And I would like to dedicate this float to 2 very unsuspecting people.

First: Dianne - my mogul friend and former business partner. If it wasn't for all the trade show booths we built over the years I'm sure I would have crumbled under the task.

Second: Aunt Sharon - my aunt whom I've always admired and wanted to be just like. Several years ago we visited them (in small town Henefer, UT) and she was - unless I'm mistaken - in charge of their 4th of July parade. I didn't know then, and I don't know now, how she did it and still kept her cool. But I just kept channeling my inner Sharon and told myself, "If she could do that, I can certainly do this."

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon!

So some people might call me obsessed. You know though, I wouldn't call it that at all. Maybe a term like "highly interested" would be better. But me and 200 of my closest friends went to see New Moon at the midnight showing last night. (Ok, there were really about 20 of my friends there, but something about Twilight makes strangers seem like close friends - hmm, maybe it's just me) Anyway, we bought tickets weeks ago, re-read the book, made shirts for the occasion, got in line yesterday about noon, we squealed at all the right places, we enjoyed Bella's drama, Edward's sparkles and Jacob's muscles, we ate popcorn and got commemorative soda cups, we took pictures, we fantasized about Eclipse coming out in a few months and just generally enjoyed the who experience of a midnight showing of a movie that has been highly anticipated. If you're wondering what I mean about "experience" go here. This is why I'm in it. I love Twilight, I love the Twilight experience.

Here are some pictures from the night. FUN!!! I'll see ya, in line, June 29th for Eclipse!

No excitement here AT ALL!

I made the shirts on my Yudu machine. That thing rocks!
We temporarily went over to Team Jacob (except Tiff - 3rd from right, who is always there) Jacob is the hero of the book/movie. He's the one who takes care of Bella. The shirts reflected our switch. They said Team Edward with claw marks through the word Edward, with Jacob written above. On the back was a running wolf - since Jacob is a werewolf.

here's me making the shirts - totally a great piece of equipment.
If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up (name that movie)
Other highlights -
Brad and Brady showed up around 9pm to bring us hot chocolate. It was so sweet and thoughtful. And, honestly, it was better than the Starbucks Hot Chocolate we had earlier. Grrrr... why didn't I take a picture of him strolling up and down the line with his jug and styrofoam cups.

My friend Erinn - not pictured :( was able to come to the movie. She got her car broken into a few weeks ago and the crooks stole her credit cards and her New Moon tickets (smart thieves). She was more upset about the tickets than the credit cards (priorities, you know) Of course by then the movie was all sold out. She and her daughter were supposed to come. I don't know who was more heartbroken. Somehow the manager got wind of her plight and got her new tickets. It didn't materialize until last night. She was ecstatic. And, amazingly enough, I had an extra t-shirt in her size. A ticket AND a t-shirt all at last minute. She's apparently living right.

My conversation with Afton on the way home. Afton: Bella is retarded for not picking Jacob, and she blinks too much. New Moon makes me hate Edward. Me: So basically you went to New Moon for Jacob? Afton (smiling): Yep, pretty much!

And the last thing...
Who does this remind you of?

I'll give you a hint...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Face!

Last Wednesday I was having a particularly stressful, worrisome, depressing day. I was in Trader Joe's, and stuck to the back of my shopping cart was "this" little guy! He made me smile, laugh in fact. I pulled it off to take it home. To avoid the potential of losing him, I stuck it to my dashboard. There he remains, grinning his goofy smile at me and cheering me up daily. I love him.

(and thank goodness for high resolution photos so you can also see all the dust in my car - just try to focus on the happy face)

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Experience

This year, as mentioned in the previous post, Brad came with us to the pumpkin patch. Brad's technique in choosing a pumpkin differs significantly from mine. He likes to grab and go while I like to wander around and look at all my options and visualize what the possibility of each choice could be. At some point during our trip I told the kids one of my favorite stories about the time when we were first married, when Kelsi was a baby and we went 2 days before Christmas to choose a Christmas tree out of a Christmas Tree lot. And how we finally made it after dark and it was raining, and how while I was unbuckling Kelsi out of her car seat and getting out the stroller and the umbrella, Brad had jumped out of the vehicle, grabbed the first tree he saw, paid for it and had thrown it in the back of the truck. We were on our way back home before I even got started. Of course we all laughed at the story and then Brad made a comment that I've been thinking about ever since. He said, "Kids, mom just likes to enjoy the experience." You know what? That is very profound and absolutely true. The thing is, while I like the experience for me, I also want my friends and family to enjoy the experience with me. And, this year, amazingly enough everyone humored me in that. Everyone went to the pumpkin patch, almost everyone carved their pumpkin and everyone dressed up, got pictures taken and participated in halloween festivities. It was AWESOME! Brad even went with the disguise of my choosing. I hope I didn't pressure him, I just made it available, if he should choose to wear it. But you have to admit we made a cute couple!?

Kelsi, costume queen, decided to be a chimney sweep. She didn't need any help putting it together and true to form, she just took a little bit of this and a little bit of that and voila! She could seriously be on the set of Mary Poppins!

Afton has definite ideas about what she does or does not want to be. But time and time again she has chosen to be some sort of witch. Unfortunately to find a modest and cute costume she has to look in the "tween" section of the halloween store and because of her height most of them are too short and too tight. This year was no exception, she wanted to be a candy corn witch but we had to settle for this instead (a tiny bit short, but over all not too bad) Unfortunately because we ordered online we didn't realize that hat would be too small. She cut the band off and used it in her hair, but still, not quite the same as wearing a pointy hat.

Brady also has definite ideas about costumes. We have been talking about his costume all year. The girls and I were big advocates of him being Ace Ventura, Pet Detective! (How cute would that have been?) He humored us for a while and then went with... "Blind Guy". Whatever! Again, he knew EXACTLY what he wanted right down to the shape of the hat, the tint of his glasses and the specifics of the trench coat. I was dying, I knew there was no way we would find what he was looking for, but amazingly enough we found the perfect trench coat at Goodwill for $12. I didn't think that was possible at Goodwill anymore. He looked good and loved being in character.

As mentioned Brad went with a costume of my choosing. I wanted us to be an angel and a devil. He wanted to be the invisible man, frankenstein, austin powers and a myriad of other characters. I don't know if he was just being nice, ran out of time, or thought my idea MIGHT actually be a good idea, or maybe it was a combination of all. But we did end up going as an angel/devil couple. He fits the character though, right?

Since I was in charge of the Trunk or Treat at church I wanted to be festive and dress up, but I didn't want to be something that would detract. How perfect! And angel! I was amazed though at how hard it was to find a modest angel costume (lame). I was gearing myself up to make a costume (not my desire or my strong point) and then I came across an inexpensive "toga" costume! It worked out just right!!

I don't think we've ever dressed as a "couple". This is something I've always wanted to do (ever since watching the Brady Bunch where Mr. and Mrs. Brady go as Anthony and Cleopatra) Thanks Brad for giving me the "experience." I don't know why I'm like that, but it's good to be humored once in a while.