Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas to Me

I have had a wonderful little Nikon Coolpix S3000 camera for a couple of years now, and I loved it.   Unfortunately it did not survive a trip to Paris, France with my daughter over Thanksgiving.

Here are the Christmas Eve pictures that we took with my phone:

Then my husband got me the best Christmas gift ever - a Nikon DSLR camera - and I have been having lots of fun with it today.

Here are some day after Christmas pictures.

Life is good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Visitor

Funny thing happened to me yesterday.  I think if I post the email threads, it will tell the story best.

Here is the subject line:

Quick Question

"I cannot remember if anyone is taking Sunshine over Christmas. Ryder has begged me to let him but I wanted to check with you first. If you would like for him to watch our class pet over the Christmas break please let me know. Thanks so much!"

Mrs. Kimberly Burch
3rd Grade Teacher

And my foolish reply:

"Sure we can.  Is Sunshine a hamster?  I ask because I had a pet hamster 36 years ago, and I named it Sunshine :)

I will be at the party tomorrow. Can we just take him/her/it home then?  Do we need to purchase any supplies ahead of time?

Thanks for letting us have this "privilege" ;)

Just kidding. Thank you. Ryder will be in heaven!"


And her answer back:

THANK YOU! He is actually a parakeet! Very sweet and bright yellow. I have everything you will need.

Mrs. Kimberly Burch
3rd Grade Teacher

And my reply after I had already committed - not knowing really what I was committing to:

LOL - a PARAKEET?!?!?!?!

Totally didn't see that one coming :)

I guess the blessing in disguise is that I am ever so lucky that Sunshine isn't a python or boa constrictor!  And the real blessing is Ryder is so happy to have a friend staying with us for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Carlsbad Caverns

This summer we took a 3+ week long family vactation.  It was a classic road trip.  We rented a mini van to hold all of our stuff, and off we went.  The first of our many stops was a long anticipated by me (35 years:)  visit to Carlsbad Caverns.  I have been fascinated by caves and cave formations since I was a child, and have always wanted to visit Carlsbad.  I was worried that after wanting to see it for so long, it might be impossible for the actual experience to live up to my expectations.

The week before we went there were massive "forest" fires (I put forest in quotes, because does New Mexico really have forests?) that burned the entire Carlsbad area.  The park was actually closed for several days, and they had fire patrols surrounding the visitors center to protect it from the flames.  Fortunately it had reopened by the time we arrived and amazingly enough nothing smelled like smoke.  Here is Harrison standing where you can see the terrain surrounding the Visitors Center.

C'mon now, was that really ever a forest?

You can see how it burned right up to the edges.

We decided to walk down into the caves via the natural entry.

Just before you walk down there are multiple signs reminding you to not touch any of the cave formations. Finger oils contaminate and prevent them from continuing to form.  The Park Rangers are smart and know that everyone will want to touch one to see how they feel, so they placed one outside the entrance and encourage you to touch all you want - and LEAVE THE REST ALONE! So we touched it.

Here are some pictures as we were hiking down.

It was incredible - and a waaaaaaaaaaaaay better experience than just taking the elevator down.  We saw so much and it was neat to feel the change in temperature and atmosphere as we descended.

Once we got to the bottom we were able to wander through the enormous rooms of the caverns.  We had rented wands that provided us with a self guided tour.  Before we left, our Bishop had told Ryder about the "Bottomless Pit" where there was a huge drop off in the caves.  Ryder anticipated seeing the bottomless pit for weeks. Here he is when he finally got to check it out.

Nice face!
Darren had been to visit Carlsbad Caverns as a child, which made me jealous.  However, when he recreated his ONLY memory of the experience, I was no longer jealous.

Somehow as a child, he got his head jammed in the revolving doors by the elevator.  I will now try and refrain from making comments like, "Well that explains alot."  Because that would be cruel ;)

Here are a few more pictures from the caves.

Whale's Mouth formation - can you see it?  One of my favorites.

OK, I'm laughing right now as I realize why Ryder has such a "crazy cave face" in all of his pictures.  The first couple of pictures we took of him he blinked because the flash is so bright in the caves.  So his eyes were closed in the pictures.  I asked him to try and keep his eyes open when I took the pictures.  Aparently, he listened and made a real concerted effort!

Park Ranger Harrison
It was an amazing day, and it FAR EXCEEDED my expectations.  I loved it.  Can't wait to go back.  Words just can't describe the majesty and enormous volume of the caves.  They should be included as one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm Back

Oh my goodness, I haven't blogged in FOR.EV.ER!!!!  Just one of those things where life has been so very, very busy and there just hasn't been time.  I've discovered that once too much time passes, then I don't know where to start.  Do I try and backtrack and write about all of the things that happened this summer (because we had a really great summer!)? Or do I just start with today?  And while I debate with myself, neither one gets done.  So I'm trying something new for a bit.  I'll be sitting down to blog a few days a week and blogging about whatever comes to mind for 15 minutes.  I can find 15 minutes, right?!?!?!  There may not be much rhyme or reason to it, but at least I can get it recorded.

So, what I'm thinking about right now is our annual Christmas letter.  Needless to say, this is a task that I DREAD each year.  I am always happy when it's done. Figuring out how to summarize a year of our life in a few words is tough!  A whole year.  Summarized.  On one interesting to read sheet of paper.  I'm shaking my head just thinking about it.

Here is a picture of my all time favorite Romney Christmas letter.  I found the "Wanted Poster" idea on the internet somewhere.

Last year I used this blog for our Christmas letter (click here).  We sent out an insert in our Christmas cards with the URL so people could look it up.  Here is the insert:

I'm really drawing a blank this year.  I need to sit down and figure it out.  Soon.  (Repeating to self, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. . .").

Sheesh, it's been WAAAAAAAAY more than 15 minutes.

Signing off.


Monday, June 27, 2011


Nicole and Melanie have been working super hard this summer to finish up their Personal Progress.  This is a program that our church provides for young women to help them set goals that allow them to grow and develop in several areas:  Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice & Accountability, Good Works, Integrity and Virtue.

Nicole wrote this marvelous poem on faith that I wanted to share.

Cool.  This is one proud mother!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Darren!

On June 2, Darren had a birthday. . .anyone wanna guess how old he is?

To celebrate his big day I got him one of the most delicious and beautiful cakes ever from Nothing Bundt Cakes (just love that place).  This one was White Chocolate Raspberry, and I decorated it with some silk flowers - stunning isn't it. 

We'd offer you a slice if we could :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Memorial Day Parade

This year our neighborhood hosted a Memorial Day Parade and pool party.  The night before we decorated Ryder's bike for the event during Family Home Evening.  Nicole was our chief designer.  I think they did a great job!

Here's Ryder at the parade start waiting for go time.

And more little kiddos joining in.

And they're off!!! Yes, we had a police escort - sirens and lights going and all!!!

And there they go - it was over waaaaaay to fast.  But it was fun and a great memory for the kids :)

Happy Memorial Day!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another School Year Comes To A Close

Mother's Day Party with Ryder
Don't you love the hat he made me?!?!

It's hard to believe that the 2010-2011 school year is already over.  It flew by so quickly!!!! The kids are excited for some time off to swim and travel.  I'm excited to have them home more, and to be done having 4 kids in 4 different schools!  Next year we will be down to 3 schools, because Melanie will be in HIGH SCHOOL next year which means both she and Nicole will be at PHS!

Here is a hodgepodge of pictures from the end of the school year.

Darren's Freshman seminary class that he taught enjoying
their last early morning together for the year
Nicole's Seminary class on their last day

Ryder getting his picture taken with his 2nd grade teacher,
Mrs. Eggelston, after the awards assembly
Here is a sweet card that Ryder and I made for his teacher.  He really enjoyed being in her class!

He also gave her a "Nothing Bundt Cake"  white chocolate raspberry mmmmm. . .

Every year we go to dinner after the last day of school to celebrate.  This year we went to the Blue Goose to enjoy mesquite grilled tex mex yumminess!!  Here's Harrison enjoying the evening:

I notice the chips are already gone and dinner hadn't arrived yet :)  They make some really good salsa!

And I'll sign off with a picture of Melanie and her friend Thi modeling the masks they made as part of their last English project. 

Looking good girls.  Enjoy your summer!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Just wanted to publish this adorable picture of Harrison and Ryder from the campout they went on with their dad this past weekend.  The last 2 Stake Father & Sons Campout have been rained out.  Last year they all drove home in the middle of the night when a huge thunderstorm hit them.  I'm told that Ryder slept through it all.  This year though the weather was FANTASTIC!!!  Sunny, clear and 80 degrees.  The night didn't get too chilly either.  They had lots of fun playing football and participating in a service project to clear the campground of its overgrown brushy areas.

They cooked on the camp stove (campfires were prohibited due to high fire danger - if you haven't seen in the news lately there are huge fires burning thousands of acres near Fort Worth).  Dinner was Dinty More Beef Stew with S'mores for dessert.

All in all it was a great trip for them - if you don't mind the creepy crawlies that were there in abundance.

A mass of daddy long legs hanging out in the restrooms.
There were also milledpedes everywhere - this one was resting. 
I suppose it is quite tiring making 1000 legs move all day long!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Jaw Dropper

This February we had a little scare when Melanie had a routine CAT scan of her jaw durning an orthodontic appointment.  What the orhtodontist found was a lesion in Melanie's lower jaw down by the roots of 3 of her teeth.  You can see it in the image above by looking at the lower teeth and counting 5 teeth in from the left and looking down by the roots.  That roundish dark area is the abnormalty that was found.

Here's another view where you can see that it is deep from front to back of the jaw as well.

And one more view just for fun.

Melanie was referred to an Oral Surgeon, Dr. Nix, for evaluation and treatment.  I tried to keep cool about the whole thing, but I was distressed by the rough edged appearance of the lesion and the fact that it was eroding the cortical bone (hard outer bone).  These are signs of aggressive tumors that require aggressive surgery to remove.  In addition, Melanie has been sick more than normal this past year, and when Dr. Nix did her evaluation her lymph nodes were enlarged.

I pretty much had myself stressed out about the whole thing.  It's funny I discovered that having a bunch of knowlege and information about oral pathology stored in my brain is a wonderful thing when I am diagnosing a patient's disease.  However, when it was my own daughter, it was almost as if I knew too much and could picture too many possible awful outcomes for it to really be beneficial.

Fortunately, I also know the value of prayer.  I prayed for knowledge and peace and a good outcome.  Immediately upon finishing my prayer my mother called just to talk, and she is always a wonderful source of comfort to me.  In that conversation I discovered that she and my dad were planning a trip to come visit us in April.  Also upon completion of my prayer I was prompted to discuss the information and x-rays with my friend, mentor and all around best dentist ever, Dr. Palmer.  He was the one who put my mind at ease by letting me know that it was most likely a traumatic bone cyst (basically a hollowed out area of the jaw) which would require surgical debridement and biopsy then heal nicely on its own.

The day before her surgery, Melanie received a priesthood blessing from her father and Uncle Kimball.  The next day Melanie had her surgery, and she came through it really well.  Dr. Nix indeed found that the area was hollowed out and consistent with a traumatic bone cyst.  The biopsy results confirmed the diagnosis a week later.

I am so grateful for the way things turned out.  Melanie's face was swollen for a few days, and she had some residual numbness in her jaw, but she has healed well.  I am grateful for the power of prayer, priesthood blessings, and the comfort and support of family and friends.

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