Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

We are blessed to have friends that let us traipse across their land and pick our Christmas tree every year. In years past we have bought them at lots, cut them at a farm, and at another friends house. When we bought them or cut them from a farm they were Noble Firs that looked 'Christmasey'. You know, the typical look. When we started cutting trees on actual God grown land in the great state of Oklahoma our trees changed. Anybody know what grows in Oklahoma? Yep, Oklahoma Red Cedars. They're not what you'd think of when you'd decide to go pick out a tree. We though have grown to love them.

Our friends have given us free reign to their property so we park the car, grab our tools and camera, and head off into the wild. Each year we've lucked out and found the perfect size tree and just taken turns cutting it down. This year however we walked and walked and just didn't find it. We finally decided to just cut the top part of one that looked good.

Shawn does the main chopping but everyone that wants a turn gets one. Since we were cutting a tree somewhere in the middle it was much easier than cutting one at the ground. Reagan however didn't but quickly found that she could just sit on two branches and get the job done.Luckily the big strong guy will finish up when everyone else is done.This is my favorite picture of the whole year. I force them to do it. After the snap happens everyone but Shawn lets go because he's the only one doing the actual work.Thank goodness, because no one else could do this.
Not many other people have this view out their sun roof! And while we're here, where exactly do you think he was looking during this picture? It certainly wasn't on the road!This is my favorite view.So here we have the whole story. Oklahoma Red Cedars don't grow branches straight out. Instead they grow out a little and then up. When we decided to cut our tree from somewhere in the middle we didn't get equal branches. We got two huge empty sides. We were excited about one because of which side to put next to the window, but the other one threw us for a loop. But in the true sense of Christmas, we made it beautiful.Not the most beautiful one we've had....but definitely the one we'll remember.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Perfect Tree

I am in my...ahem...30's and I have never in my life had a fake tree. When I was growing up my parents were in a food co-op and one of the other families had several hundred acres outside of the city. We'd all bring food for a potluck, load up trucks and cars, and head out into the wild to find the perfect tree. While the dads were doing the sawing the kids would run around picking Queen Anne's Lace.That's me in the dark blue coat with white trim. I know, so cute:c)

I usually had a small tree in my room with my very own ornaments. I got to personally choose it.That's baby Stephanie lying in front of the tree. And yes, I know I look a little boyish. I'm okay with that.This is my beautiful Mother decorating our tree. I have that piece of furniture and the globe in my living room right now. I also have about half of those ornaments.I was the flower girl in a friends wedding in this kicking plaid dress. I hadn't had any contact with them since their wedding until two years ago when I got a Christmas card from them. They had tracked down everyone from their wedding and sent them a card to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Thanks to Facebook we're now friends and have caught up on each others lives.Can we just take a moment and all say 'ahhhh' for how cute I look? Thank you.Oh hello there red, orange, and black shag carpeting. How I don't miss you. Know what was hiding under that hideous crime against carpet? Beautiful hardwood floors. I visit them regularly since they are across the street. And the couch? In my living room right now.Oh my orange banana seat bicycle. It's the one I learned to ride on. We gave it to my grandmother after I was done with it because she was in her 60's and had never ridden one. It came back to us just in time for Reagan to use it.It might be missing the rainbow basket, but it still is a great bike!

So all this to say, we never have a 'perfect' Christmas tree. Our always has a few Charlie Brown qualities to it. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Stay tuned tomorrow for this years. It's the Charlie Brownest of all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why I Love My Church

Hello friends. I have been so busy over the Christmas week that I haven't blogged. My apologies. I have missed you all and have honestly been going a little stir crazy without the release that blogging brings me. Well, that and the 14" of snow and ice. But that's another post for another day.

I have been wanting to blog about my church's 100th birthday for a while and haven't taken the time. The two day event was something so special to be a part of. Many people in my generation of church goers didn't really get into it. I am such a history buff that I was all about it. I have attended the church for 36 of 36 years and was dedicated there, baptized there, became a member there, was married there, have dedicated all three girls there, and watched one become a member. As you can see, it holds a special place in my heart.

To commemorate the anniversary several artists starting planning a mosaic to be placed on a wall. After three years of planning and almost a year of construction it was ready to be unveiled. A reception was held in the room where Shawn and I were married. I actually came through a doorway where the mosaic now is to walk down the aisle to marry him. Here's the view from up there. I walked down two sets of stairs and past a string quartet to get to him. He was worth it:c)My favorite teacher was at my wedding and at the 100 year celebration. I love her. I had her for 5th and 6th grade and I wish I could have taken her with me for every year from then on. We sit down the row from each other at church. If I don't look down and see her smiling face it just doesn't feel like church.And finally the unveiling. It was beautiful. Over 45,000 pieces of glass and tile. Each item has a story behind it and it ties into our town and church history.But my favorite part of the whole event had to be the pictures. Almost every wall in the church had huge pictures from the last 100 years. Our church, town, and school system are all turning 100 so there was a lot to cover! I couldn't get enough of the pictures. Here are just a few of my favorites.

The lady that is circled is the daugher-in-law of my favorite teacher. She's also the mom of my best friend. Small world, isn't it??This circled lady is my beautiful Aunt Janis. She's also the girls voice teacher.Shawn and I sang in The Messiah one year with a giant chicken apparently.This one cracks me up. Was that creepy guy supposed to be in the picture? The fact that the screen or curtain was pulled down is just confusing. This is just another reason why I love digital photography. Take the picture, see the creepy guy, call the cops, put all the kids back in place, and take another one.Here's our little McKinley singing in a Sunday night service with her choir.One of the two ladies circled (I don't remember which one) lived in our house. She was an elderly widow when I moved in across the street when I was 4. Her niece is one of my good friends.This one has to be my favorite for three different reasons.

1. Jeff is a friend of mine. I watched him win a Guinness world record for the most free throws in a certain amount of time. I remember his hair looking like that.

2. I don't believe that June is wearing any shorts in this picture of a church group.

3. Honda. Bet Rhonda re-thought those braids after seeing this picture.This is one of the buildings that our church used to be in. It is where I went to Sunday school when I was young and chapel when I was in college. It's also where my mom's office was when she worked for the college we both attended.I just love old pictures. The expressions, the clothes, the hair. I want this hanging in my home even though I don't know anyone in it.This is my Uncle David when he was cute. And nice. Enough said.Our church has had group vacations in Colorado for years. There's still a family camp that's held there.I didn't know that our neighborhood had seen a tornado in 1930. Our house location is just a few blocks from where this picture was taken. Luckily our house hadn't been built yet.That clump of trees where the arrow is pointing is where our house would be built six years later.After a wonderful centennial service on Sunday all the children 5th grade and younger were asked to go to the pulpit. Poppers were handed out and on the count of three they were released. What a fun event it had been. And I was really wishing that I'd had a popper. Oh well, I have the wonderful memories.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Hello friends and family! We hope you all are enjoying the fun of this holiday season. We are caught up in the craziness of it but wouldn’t change a thing.

McKinley is still one of the busiest people in our house. She is in her 10th year of piano and since we’ve changed teachers this year she is renewed and excited to practice. The new teacher doesn’t compete in any contests so the stress has been removed and she just has to worry about two recitals. She was chosen as the Business Manager for the middle school yearbook and she has developed a love for photography because of her time spent working on it. She is in her 5th year of voice lessons and this year made two elementary and two junior high honor choirs. She started working on the three audition songs for the junior high choir this summer and had to survive three live auditions to make it. She was assigned a Christmas song two weeks ago and decided two days before the school Christmas Choir Concert that she wanted to sing it as a solo. She’s never been brave enough to do that before! She worked hard to memorize it and had many of us in tears as she sang it. She’s also planning to sing a solo and compete in the talent show to wrap up her last year in middle school. She auditioned for our all school musical and will be a nun. Perfect I think since she won't be able to date until she's 40.

Kennedy is in her final year of elementary. How is that possible? She is still playing viola and is planning to audition for an honor orchestra the teacher is forming. She is in her 7th year of piano and also loves the new teacher. She strives each week to surprise the teacher by learning an entire song instead of just the few measure she’s told to work on. She is in her 5th year of voice and is going strong! She was accepted to her second year of Children’s All-State choir and was recently asked to sing in Prayer Meeting at church and to entertain at a Christmas party in a duet with our Aunt and voice teacher. She finally made it to 5th grade and was able to audition for the all school musical which this year is The Sound of Music. The fact that only one 5th grade girl would be chosen didn’t seem to bother her. She was chosen and will be Marta in April! She played on an indoor soccer team last year but this year has decided to play church basketball.

Reagan is following in her sisters footsteps! She’s is in her 4th year of piano. Because of the new piano teacher she can often be found at the piano without being told. She is in her 4th year of voice and just survived a recital last night that had her worried she’d mess up. She was amazing as we knew she’d be! She took a season off of soccer after playing three for an all boys team but started again this summer on a co-ed church league with her Daddy as coach! She is now on an indoor girl’s team and is continuing as goalie (which is what her Daddy has been grooming her for). For every minute that she is in the goalie box I breathe once or twice. I much prefer her being in any other position! She also auditioned for the part of Gretl the five year old in Sound of Music but lost to a very short 6th grader.

Shawn is as busy as ever with soccer, work, computer tutoring, slide scanning, and being an amazing husband and father. He now plays on not one, not two, but five indoor soccer teams! He was a wonderful coach to Reagan’s soccer team this summer and was wise enough to draft her betrothed, Evan:c) He ran in a 5k recently that started near our house. He overslept but decided he could make it with enough time. As he was running to where he thought the starting line was he heard the gun firing and realized he was headed the wrong way. After a quick stop for directions he found the starting line and finished in a good time!

Stephanie, that’s me! I am still blessed to be a domestic goddess and strive every day to keep up with all the things the girls do. Not an easy task! Shawn recently blessed me with a new phone to help keep up. At the moment I am not smart enough to own it. I ran the half marathon in January and was honored to do my part to raise money for Lymphoma and Leukemia research. As I crossed the finish line I was upset with myself for the time that it took me, I knew I could have done better. But as my sweet friend Tracy ran up and threw her arms around me I realized it wasn’t about me or my time, it was about honoring the memory of her son Mitchell and making sure no one else had to lose someone they loved. She has already asked us to run with her next October in San Francisco so I am slowly getting back into running after a few months off to heal a broken tailbone. I actually missed it, who would have guessed!

This summer found us headed to Colorado to visit my Dad and visit some of our favorite places. Dad lives on a mountain above Ft. Collins and the area has so many fun things to offer! We biked the trails around town, hiked a few mountain trails, bought inner tubes and floated the Poudre River, rafted the river, played in many streams and the river, walked all over Dad’s mountain, climbed a thousand rocks, and jumped off the biggest one into the river. All that time making the sweetest memories. An overnight stop in Boulder to see a friend and we were headed to Golden Bell Ranch in the Colorado Springs area. I worked at the camp for seven years and my grandpa built many things on the property. We roamed all around there and visited our favorite tourist attractions.

Shawn, Stephanie, McKinley, Kennedy, & Reagan

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moving right along ♫ ♫ ♫

Anyone know that song from The Muppets Movie? I'm singing out loud as I type.

Which makes me actually type the words I'm singing and not the words I'm thinking. Anyone else do that?

We spent our Saturday at Gogo and Grampa's house for our family Christmas. Mom has a calendar hanging in her kitchen that is changeable for each month. Each holiday has a wooden tile and family birthdays have a tile also. But there didn't seem to be a 'McKinley gets her braces day tile'.

No problem.

Problem solved. Today was spacer day. I really had no idea what to expect. Large metal pieces spreading her teeth apart?

Nope. Rubber bands.Apparently it only takes 1 ounce of pressure to move a tooth. She will have them in until Tuesday when the braces and the Herbst device are put on. Never heard of a Herbst device? I hadn't either. Here is a little info on it.

So at this moment the novelty is wearing off. I think she might be re-thinking that happy little calendar tile:c)