Monday, December 28, 2009

Kendall's 15h Birthday "Party"

Poor Kendall. Her birthday is December 3rd and it's so hard to coordinate a date for her celebrations with friends. Everyone is busy with Christmas parties, decorating, baking, school plays, church programs, helping mom prepare for family coming in, shopping, breaking out the sweaters that grandma bought last year that hasn't been worn but must be adorned when she comes to visit.

The days of arranged parties complete with themed cakes and matching decorations are long gone. Now all Kendall wants is for her friends to come over and "hang out" - preferably in the basement - with loud music - with lots of food - with parents far from site. The lots of food part can be arranged. The loud music we can tolerate. The parents being far from site is not going to happen. We happily stay out of the way and let her "hang" with her friends, but we are present and we check up on everyone periodically.

Unfortunately, Kendall's invite list of 8 ended up with an attendee list of 2. Everyone already had obligations with family and we thought a party of 3 might leave much to be desired. So, we offered to take the kids out for pizza and to a movie of their choice (so long as it was rated PG or PG13 - no R allowed). Kendall thought that was a great idea, so her two friends came over to the house and we took them to Pizza Hut and sat across the restaurant from them so that they could speak freely and not feel like we were cramping their style. Then, we took them to see, "Old Dogs" (hilarious, by the way) and sat across the theater from them. They all had a great time and I think Kendall just appreciated the fact that she has made so many wonderful friends here in Colorado, even if they weren't all able to make it to her party. She's used to it, having a birthday in December.....maybe next year her birthday will be in September.

Opening gifts before we left the house

Kendall is so easily pleased. Bless her heart!

Our Non-Traditional Thanksgiving '09

For Christmas for Jay and Kendall and I this year, we purchased season passes to Keystone and A-Basin, as well as season ski rentals from the AF Academy. One of the perks of being in the military is that we get some great discounts, especially living in a military-friendly town. We got an unbelievable deal on season passes and we decided what better gift to give one another than time together. We didn't purchase season passes for Nicole, because she won't be with us enough this season to justify a season pass, but we did buy two one-day tickets for her and took advantage of the time we had with her to hit the slopes for the first time this season.

We were able to have both of the girls with us over Thanksgiving week this year and picked up Nicole from DIA on the Saturday before the big day. Jay and I both took off that Tuesday and took the girls up to Keystone for their first day of skiing. Nicole picked it right up, but poor little Kendall had a heck of a time. She was so frustrated and we felt so badly for her! Jay and I tried to coach her along, and kept encouraging her to believe in herself and to not give up, but she spent most of the day frustrated.

We decided to get her some basic lessones for the day on Thanksgiving and what a difference a day makes! We kept skiing by and checking on her and by the time her lessons were over, she was flying down the bunny slopes with new confidence and taking joy not only in skiing, but in her accomplishments. I am sure it didn't hurt that she had a huge crush on her ski instructor (that is very confidential, so don't tell anyone)! Whatever the reason, we were so thrilled that she was enjoying herself and now we can go up to the mountains as a family and enjoy creating new memories in the mountains. We may not have any fantastic amusement parks nearby, but we can have plenty of amusement watching each other fall (er, ski) down the mountains :).

The day after Thanksgiving, we headed into Rexford and spent the evening with Jay's mom. We had such a delightful time! She made some homemade chicken noodle soup and some chili and some turkey breast and we brought 3 pies (they were buy one, get one, we're not completely insane) and Sharon made an oatmeal cake. We had a big feast, and then had a hilarious time playing Win, Lose, or Draw. Let's just say that none of us would be able to make a living drawing, but we still had a wonderful time. I can't remember the last time we all laughed that hard.

This may not have been a traditional Thanksgiving, but we absolutely made some lasting memories.

The ramp at the bunny slopes

Look at the view we had from the top of the mountain

I miss the ocean, but cannot complain one bit with views like these!

Getting ready to head down the mountain

Waiting in line to have our photos taken for our season passes

What on earth is she trying to draw?


Would you put that camera down and come over here and help us?

Redkin Smooth Down Butter Treat

Since moving to Colorado Springs, I have found that everything is dry - including my hair! My hands are dry, my legs are dry, my feet are dry, I get bloody noses on a regular basis, my hands are cracking....between the altitude and the cold, it's just DRY! I drink plenty of water, drown myself in lotion, cover my fingertips in Neosporin and Band-Aids before bedtime, and have completely given up wearing contact lenses until Spring.

Wha I have found is that I do not have to suffer from dry hair. I switched from my drugstore shampoo and conditioner (Pantene or Garnier - usually purchased in bulk at Costco) to Redkin All Soft shampoo and conditioner and a twice-weekly dose of one of my new favorite things.

I love this Redkin Smoothdown Butter Treat. It was recommended by my hair dresser and I have noticed significant improvement in the texture of my hair. You don't need to apply much, and I always let it set for a few minutes while I'm shaving my legs, or just enjoying the hot water and by the time I rinse, I have happy hair! I purchase it at Beauty Brands, which offers a much better price than the salon. Still, it is an investment, but it is very worth it. I went fry dry, frizzy, brittle hair to soft, smooth....well, happy hair!

Hyundai Santa Fe

I loved my Honda CR-V. I used to drive Chrissi around in it and every time she was with mommy and would see a vehicle with a tire on the back she would say, "Shannon's car." She new my little Honda. She associated it with me. I drove that car to my first date with Jay. That car took me back and forth from Santa Maria to Camarillo. I would drive Grandma to the mall in the car and drive it to concerts and to visit friends and family. So many wonderful memories were made with that vehicle.

But alas, all good things must come to an end. I bought a Honda because of their reputed reliability. Around a year and a half ago, we started having problems with the head. Jay did some research online (he is so good at that) and discovered that there is a known problem with the Honda CR-V from 1999-2001. I happened to have a 2000 model. Honda of Santa Maria worked with us on the problems and eventually, ended up removing the head due to warpage and having it machined down and then reinstalled it. We found it peculiar that they did not charge us any labor (somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200), but were grateful that we caught such a break and didn't have to pay for such an expensive repair.

Fast forward to our move to CO. We towed the car on a trailer behind Jay's Nissan Titan and the car was running just fine for a couple of months. On the day I went for my job interview, the car would not start. I had Kendall in the car and we were headed to go to the bank to make a deposit and the car would not start! I was sure it was the alternator or battery and after 4 attempts, the engine turned over. I am 100% convinced that God started my car that morning because it should not have started. I took Kendall to the bank and left the car running in the parking lot. I know this is a big no-no, but I could not risk being stranded without a car with a job interview in 2 hours. We prayed and the car was still outside the bank and still running. We drove home and left the car running in the garage. Don't worry, I left the garage door open...but still, not a good idea. I came out and the car was still running, so I drove to my interview. I turned off the car, had my interview, and the car would not start. I was about to call AAA when my soon-to-be new boss offered to jump start my car for me. There I am, all dressed up in a suit, with the company owner outside jump starting my car for me. Talk about making a lasting impression! I promptly drove to the Honda dealership in Colorado Springs and they tested the battery and sure enough, it was dead. They installed a new battery and within 30 minutes, I was on my way home.

Job interview #1 lead to interview #2, which lead to interview #3 and an offer. One week before I was to start my new job, my check engine light came on. Not only did it come on, but it was flashing. I don't know much about cars, but I knew this was not good. I called the Honda dealership and they said to have the car towed in - do NOT drive it! So, I called AAA and they towed the car in. After several conversations with Front Range Honda, we discovered that the head needed to be replaced. Jay talked to them at length and after retrieving our records from Honda in Santa Maria, they informed us that the heads on that model can never be machined. Once they are warped, they are no good and cannot be repaired. Nice to know now! They negotiated for a couple of weeks with Honda of Santa Maria, and were completely unsuccessful. Out of the kindness of their hearts (and with the knowledge of the power of word of mouth), they agreed to replace the head ($4200 repair) for $1000.

While we were waiting for a resolution on the Honda, we decided it was time to get some reliable transportation for me. The Honda had 134,000 miles on it and with a new job and a harsh winter ahead of us, we decided to get a new vehicle. We read some extensive reviews online and found that the Hyundai Santa Fe was the best value for us. Both consumer and expert reviews were stellar and the price and standard warranty made this vehicle a really good value.

We went ahead and purchased the Hyundai and decided to have the Honda repaired and put it up for sale on Craig's List. We sold it within a week with full disclosure. The young woman that purchased the vehicle took it to a mechanic to have it looked at and we told her all about the head and the known issues with that model. The new head is under warranty, as is the new battery and the new tires that were purchased before we left CA. We felt that we were able to sell the vehicle in good conscience and hope that she is very happy with it and that it is a good car for her.

We are THRILLED with the Santa Fe! I can't say enough good about it. It came with all kinds of bells and whistles (like a compass in the rear view mirror, outside temperature, lighted drink holders, lumbar support, stereo controls on the steering wheel) and handles fantastic in the snow. Driving in the snow is an entirely new experience for me and I feel extremely safe in my new ride. It has all wheel drive and I can also switch to manual shifting to slow down on icy patches without applying the breaks.

We were not ready to purchase a new vehicle, but I am glad things worked out the way they did.
Below are pictures of my new baby. They were taken on a snowy day...these days the sunny days are few and far between and the car is so dirty when the sun does show itself that these are the best photos I have to offer until Spring ;)

Jen's Sketch Challenge 12-26-09

I happen to work with an extremely generous group of people. It's a very small office and we all work together as a team. I absolutely love it! This was my first year there and I didn't realize that everyone was going to give gifts out. Some of them were very small, like a bag of candy or goodies, but it was still everyone was so thoughtful. I was caught off guard and hadn't purchased gifts for everyone myself, but at least wanted to make a thank you card for each of them.

I decided to use Jen's sketch challenge and just make 6 cards the same, rather than pressuring myself to come up with 6 designs in a relatively short amount of time. I think they turned out really cute! There are some variances (different buttons and snowflakes), but basically they are all the same.

Next year I will be much more prepared. Look out folks!

Cardstock - Bazzil Basics (Light Blue, Pink), Stampin' Up! (Purple, Red)
Patterned Paper - Basic Grey (Mistletoe Collection)
Stamps - Inkadinkadoo (Snowflakes stamped onto Blue CS in Versamark), Hero Arts (Background Stamp, Sentiment)
Embellishments - Stampin' Up (Ribbon, Felt Snowflakes), Basic Grey (Buttons), Scrapper's Floss
Ink - Versamark, Stampin' Up (Elegant Eggplant Classic Ink)

Christmas Joy

Hi Everyone! My poor little blog has been terribly neglected and I am planning on rectifying that! I don't know if I will get caught up anytime soon, but I needed to take the pressure off of myself to catch up so that I could at least start posting again. As a result, some postings may be out of order, but I realize so many loved ones and dear friends look to this blog for updates, especially since we are now so far away.

I'll start with a card that I made for Jay for Christmas. To give you an idea of how not only neglected my little blog has been, but my cardmaking as well, I made this card on Christmas morning. Talk about waiting until the last minute!

For some reason, this year I was totally off on all of my Christmas projects. I designed my photo cards in one day, when normally I spend a couple of weeks on them. I sent gifts out at the very last minute. I didn't even make custom cards for family in addition to the photo cards, and I totally forgot about a card for my husband until he mentioned his card on Christmas Eve. Yikes!

So, I got up on Christmas morning and closed the door to my craft room and went to work. Considering it was totally last-minute, I was happy with the results :). I did some embossing in gold on the snowflakes and used some wonderful products that I won at a women's event at church.


Cardstock - Bazzil Basics
PatternedChip Paper - Basic Grey
Stamps - Stampin' Up (snowflakes)
Embelishments - Creative Imaginations (Trees), Little Yellow Bicycle (Chipboard Words), Hero Arts (Felt Flower), Making Memories (Brad)


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