Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Minty Snowmen, Women, and a Hula Dancer

It's that time of year! Time to make our traditional Minty Snowmen. Last years were cute, but we stepped up this year.

So that I wouldn't lose my mind, I doubled the recipe this year. I measured out three tablespoons for the colors, and just started making bodies. We ended up with two for each of the girls, and one each for Shawn, Me, and Mom and Dad.

I started working on mine but of course needed pictures. I asked Shawn to take a picture of me so I could remember that I did it.

This is what I got.Thanks honey.

You can see my new wedding ring though!

Not well though.

And here's the picture I got of Shawn. He finished quickly. You'll see why later.

Everyone else was deep in concentration.Reagan did something we've never done before. Mixed colors. Why have we not done this before? Leave it to the youngest to one up us. So here are our finished products.

Reagan liked what I did and made a scarf. I always have toothpicks out for help placing sprinkles. Reagan had watched Gogo incorporate the toothpick and she did the same thing. Why haven't we thought of this before?? Soooo cute!Reagan's second a bit over worked. The hat misshaped the head and in trying to save it, we couldn't. It ended up looking like a bird. So, Reagan made a bird.Gogo was a first timer. She got right to it and really impressed us! When Dad joined the merriment he added feet to it and it promptly fell over flat. Kennedy decided to make a lined jacket this year. How cute is that?! And a two layer scarf! I'm telling you, in a few years our pieces of art will probably be good enough to be auctioned off. What?? It could happen. And now Shawn's. He just wasn't feeling it this year. As evidenced by this. It was two sided though to convey his mood. McKinley decided her second one needed a friend and reworked the dough to do these. Cute! And her first one is the hula dancer. She's our first hula snow person and I must say, really darling. And I saved the best one for last. Simple, classic, and very cute. If I do say so myself. What?? Don't you agree??

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve

I wish I knew how long our church has been having Christmas Eve Candlelight Services...let's just say for a long time. It's always been our families tradition to go to that and then eat Mexican Stack-Ups and Layered Dessert. My grandma would make the Stack-Ups and my mom would make the dessert. When I got married and my mom passed away we started doing everything at our house. I am a huge tradition follower. No good tradition will ever end with me. So Stack-Ups and Layered Dessert have continued.

But first, the candlelight service. Our church seats 2500 people and on Christmas Eve every seat is used. So much so that for the last several years they've offered two services. The name has been changed to Carols and Candlelight Service. I am traditional, I don't like the change.

But some things never change. Like Silent Night and the candles.We'd gone to the first service so as soon as we got home I started the chili and started getting all the ingredients out. Stack-Ups are a Mexican dish where you put out tons of items and people can stack up whatever their heart desires. Some people just use everything. Some people are my wonderful husband who loves everything that I cook:c)My buffet in the kitchen is getting smaller. Or is it that we just keep adding things?Stack-Ups

Tortilla Chips
Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Black Olives
Picante Sauce
And this years addition, Jalapeno Slices (Shawn was the only partaker.)

After we ate we forced the girls to sing their Rocking Around the Christmas Tree trio. McKinley was not excited about that at all. She hates when people look at her while she sings.

Can you tell? After Minty Snowman making (next blog post) the girls set out treats and a letter that Reagan wrote. She's our only believer left:( And just when we thought it was safe to start putting stuff out, McKinley came running downstairs to tell us something. Reagan had left her camera out, on the video setting, to try and catch Santa.Shawn and I decided to make a little video. So Reagan woke up to a dark video with the sound of jingle bells jingling.

I love Christmas Eve! What are your traditions?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Numero 1

Since my amazing mother-in-law gave birth to four sons, she has always had our family Christmas the Saturday before Christmas. The other three sons spend Christmas with their wives families on Christmas Day. I have Christmas at our house every year for us, my aunt, and my grandmother. Shawn's parents join us every other year. We'd take them every year but we do share them with our nephew Andrew and his parents:)

This year for our family Christmas we met at Shawn's oldest brothers house. He lives in the same town as Mom and Dad but has a bigger house. We've become a pretty big group! Unfortunately one brother and his family chose not to come because of a misunderstanding that they are blowing out of proportion. They certainly missed out. The gifts we'd all gotten their sons are still waiting to be given:( But we had a fun time anyway. When there's food and presents, how can it not be a good time??

Of course, these three girls always make it fun:c)

Oh, and Fred. Fred knows how to show the ladies a good time. Fred is the ride...Scott is the driver and owner. Scott also knows how to show his nieces a good time. Rides around the pond were very exciting.I had to check it out for myself. After a big meal it was present time. My sister-in-law Elizabeth makes Mom a calendar every year with pictures of all of us. It's a highlight. But my favorite part of the picture?? Mom's sweatshirt. It says 'Grandma's Angels' and I gave it to her Christmas of '97. It was before we called her Gogo and when there were only four grandchildren. There are nine now and she's had all their names embroidered as they came along. I ordered the sweatshirt from Lillian Vernon. Anyone ever ordered from them? I've had issues. The sweatshirt came and said


It was supposed to be Emily, Patrick, McKinley, and Phillip. I called that 1-800 number right away. I was told they didn't have enough room to finish Phillip's name. Um, hello, the picture in the catalog had 8 names on it! And then they told me that their computers couldn't capitalize a letter that was in a name. But since I'd ordered monogrammed things before with McKinley's name on it, I knew that was wrong. After much discussion it was found that everything I'd gotten before had been in all caps. Sigh. The sweatshirt could not be printed in caps. My stars. I asked for a refund. They asked for the sweatshirt back. Why did they need it back?? Anyway, I went to a local embroidery shop and had the correct shirt in 20 minutes. Take that Lillian Vernon. I love my three girls. Love, love, love. But every once in a while there's a little twing in me when I see a cute boy. I wanted a boy first, or not at all. I'm so glad we have a cute little nephew. He's never been social before but this visit, he was completely different. He got a toy that his Uncle Shawn couldn't wait to play with. He got permission from his parents, and they got right to it. Shawn was so cute helping him unscrew the battery compartment and match up the 9 volt connectors. Soon they were racing around the pond.But Shawn and his girls can't stay apart long. Soon he was driving Fred around the pond. And the video he took while letting my nine year old drive?? Hilarious. And on his phone. I'll work on getting that from him. Got it!
Our first Christmas was wonderful...but our second one? Even better.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

2010…is ending! Is anyone else surprised by this? We hope your year has been as blessed as ours.

Shawn is as busy as ever. He’s in his 11th year at the Veterans Hospital. (And just realized he didn’t get his 10 year pin.) He’s only on three indoor soccer teams (it’s been as high as six) but fills in for one or two others when needed. Most people want him when they see him play! In three games yesterday he scored in double digits. He coached Reagan’s church soccer team again this year and was loved by the whole team. He continues to computer tutor and fix computers for people and we almost always have a spare computer visiting us. As I type this he has three laptops he’s working on. He celebrated the big 4-0 this year while at camp with our schools 5th graders for his 7th year to volunteer as the nurse. We celebrated two days later with a family party for lunch and then a friend party for dinner. Almost 60 people helped make the day special for him. He continues to be my biggest supporter and a wonderful Daddy to his girls.

McKinley is offended if you call her a 9th grader. She always says, “I prefer freshman.” She’s loving every minute of high school so far. She is in her 11th year of piano and finally enjoying it again. Our fabulous teacher let her decide what she wanted to play during high school and she chose praise and worship songs. Basically chords and intervals. From this she can look online and find chord listing for popular songs and sit down and play them. For the first time we now find her at the piano without being told to. This makes us very very happy. She worked for months memorizing three songs and survived three live auditions to make her 3rd year of COCDA Honor Choir and 2nd of Junior High All State. Luckily this year she convinced some friends to join her and now she isn’t the only one from Bethany. She’s been taking voice for 6 years and although she’d never sing in public alone without being forced to, she blesses us with two songs a year at recitals.

Kennedy is enjoying her first year in middle school in 6th grade. She had her first boyfriend this year and went to a soccer practice of Reagan’s because that boy’s team was also practicing. She came home as the newest player on his team. Although the relationship didn’t work out, soccer did and she had a great season. She’s in her third year of orchestra at school and still playing the viola. She’s able to play along with McKinley’s piano songs and we get quite a few concerts. She’s in her 8th year of piano and never complains about practicing! She is often given a new book for one song and goes back the next week knowing them all. She’s on her 5th year of voice lessons and often is asked to sing for Wednesday night Prayer Meeting at our church. She loves getting that letter in the mail from Pastor Wayne. She auditioned for and was chosen for her 3rd year in Children’s All State Choir. This is her first year without McKinley and she’s both nervous and excited about it.

Reagan is in 3rd grade…my last baby in elementary. She was the high scorer on her soccer team this season. Must have been the good coaching. She is in her 5th year of piano and also her 5th year of voice. She is also a frequent singer in Prayer Meeting and was asked to sing for ARMM (Academy of Retired Ministers and Missionaries) recently. After attending an orchestra concert she is trying to decide if she’ll play the viola or cello next year in orchestra. Kennedy is pushing for cello so they can play duets. McKinley is worried Reagan’s little body won’t be able to carry a cello around! She is always ready to be Daddy’s little helper in any project he’s working on and she’s everyone’s biggest fan.

Stephanie-Oh, that’s me! I fundraised and ran another half marathon with Team in Training and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. (Thanks to so many of you who donated!) I was honored to join with old and new friends running in memory of Mitchell Whitaker. I was asked to mentor our new group of Angels and loved being in that role. 3 ½ months into our 5 months training I got a stress fracture in my left foot and couldn’t run at all. I missed our Saturday long runs and hated getting to sleep in. But I headed to San Francisco in October wearing a walking boot and determined to cross the finish line. I laced up my tennis shoes race morning and set out. I was in constant pain for three hours and thirty-one minutes, but I finished. The Tiffany necklace handed to me by a San Francisco firefighter in a tux at the finish line certainly helped. I am still a stay-at-home mom but I did accept a part time job this year with a friend who started a home staging business. We go into houses that are being listed to sell and make them show to their highest potential. We recently were asked by a local builder to stage their model homes from the ground up. We’ve discovered that shopping with other people’s money is a lot of fun! I’ve also started photographing and making virtual tours for homes for sale for the realtor who also started the staging business.

In February we were all excited to join in a 100 year of music celebration for our schools anniversary. It was a huge event directed by my aunt Janis. A lady on the planning committee had heard the Conrad Girls were talented and suggested they sing a song. A three part harmony arrangement of Catch a Falling Star was written and they did an amazing job that night! (You can watch it by searching for soccerjock3) I was in the alumni choir and sang in two ensembles and Shawn kept everything running smoothly as the stage manager. The girls were asked to be part of the entertainment of our church choirs Christmas party so they are now working on Rocking Around the Christmas Tree in beautiful three part harmony.

In July we headed back to Colorado for a few days. The five of us had two days to spend together before 10 of Shawn’s family joined us for three days at Golden Bell. We were able to show them why I’ve always loved that area so much. Tours, games, zip lining, camp fires, and plenty of eating made it a wonderful summer vacation. With road trips to Branson and Lubbock to see the Funk’s, we’ve put quite a few miles on the Expedition this year!

Although this year has had its ups and downs, we continue to praise God for His blessings and protection. We hope this holiday finds your family safe, healthy, happy, and surrounded by the people you love.

Shawn, Stephanie, McKinley, Kennedy, & Reagan

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It Was Time

When the Funk's came for the 4th of July I of course stocked up on food. They are so gracious to treat us to meals out as well as home cooked meals when we visit there, but we don't have the same cash flow they do:c)

I should have cleaned out the pantry before the massive shopping trip, but I was too busy not dusting or something.

I lost control of my pantry, if I'm being honest, about a month before that.

My pantry is one of my favorite things about the house. It has no storage whatsoever any where else, but I have a pantry. I can make places for towels and tablecloths, but food? I have to have a home for. Our last house had a coat closet in the kitchen instead of a pantry. It took about 2 weeks after we moved in for me to talk Shawn into taking out the hanging bar and putting in shelves. I fell more in love with him at that time.

Our current pantry is under the stairs so it's not the most convenient place to get to, but I've adapted. I have to scrunch down, insert myself, and lean to the left. When you add food for 6 more people for almost a week, it gets ugly.

The week before Thanksgiving I decided I needed to clean it out. After all, I was planning dinner for 14, there was going to be another massive shopping trip.

Here are the befores.

Try not to judge me.Yes that's a camping lantern. We've tried many different lighting options over the last 12 years. This is our current choice.

When inserting myself to the left I have to watch out for it.

I'm not a quick learner.Something has always spilled so the vacuum is always necessary. This was before I started loading everything back in that sat on the floor.

Horrifying I know. After I put it all back in it was beautiful. Spacious. Organized. Perfect.

Sadly I didn't take an after picture.

Even more sadly, it doesn't look good anymore.

Who is at all surprised?

Monday, December 20, 2010 the corners...sorry

It's gone.Sniff sniff.

We're growing up around here.

We bought it when I was pregnant with Kennedy. I went to get all the lumber and hardware and accessories in my Grandpa's little pick-up truck. When they saw how pregnant I was they loaded it all for me.

Shawn spent a few days assembling every single piece with absolutely no help from me.

When he attached the slide and told me the weight limit was 500 pounds, I got excited and climbed up into the playhouse.

Sadly they didn't mention that your tushie had to be mere inches across or you wouldn't fit no matter how much you weighed.

All the girls learned to swing on it.

All the girls learned to jump out of the swing and stick their landing.

Sand castles were built and destroyed in the sand box.

Secrets were shared in the playhouse.

Access to the garage roof was achieved from that playhouse.

Meals were eaten and dishes were left in the playhouse. Along with pool towels and stray light weight furniture.

But we're growing up.

Another family now owns it and 5 children will wake up Christmas morning to start their own memories.

Yes, I'm sad.

But the 200 bucks is helping me through it:c)

Thanks for the memories.