Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Happenings

There is one thing I really enjoy about December, and that is going to all of the kid's Christmas concerts and recitals. Here is Brittney's chorus concert which is so big they hold it in a large concert hall (where the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra performs) in downtown Lexington. The down side to this location--there is no parking, and you never know when you are going to be ticketed!
This is the best picture I could get of Brittney (the only one with glasses). I think her eyes are open, but that's o.k. because it seems that half of the girl's eyes are closed.
Aubrey's Christmas band concert was held at the High School, but the band is so large they have two separate concerts. The conductor, Mr. Bronner,  threatens to retire every year. It is increasingly difficult for him to get around due to bad knees (thus the handrail on his stand). For the first time in fifty years or so, the Concert band was chosen as an elite band to represent Kentucky in Chicago, at the Midwestern band competition and symposium. I have to admit that the band did sound pretty amazing! And just maybe, this will be Mr. Bronner's ticket to retirement. 

Here is Aubrey as first chair flute. Obviously I was sitting on the wrong side of the auditorium!
Finally she turned around, quickly (notice how fuzzy), only after I called out her name several times (she rarely claims me as her mother any more). Breck also had a Christmas concert, but parents are allowed to take pictures only before the  start of the concert. Since he is in 8th grade, and too cool for pictures, I decided to save him the embarrassment this year.
Another highlight of December--Brad's birthday. This pictures is history in the making--not only did I have the right candle number, I actually was able to find two of that number. So 44 is on the cake, and 44 is Brad's true age this year!
I make Brad's favorite birthday cake every year (German Chocolate with coconut pecan icing). Only this time Brad commented on the fact that his cake tasted better, and was more moist than it had ever been (I guess I should have Merinda make it every year!). Merinda also wanted to take our picture with my camera.That is not the only thing Merinda enjoys using. I get a little suspicious when I start receiving text messages from her friends!
We were all a little silly that night, I don't know if it was the really good cake, or the candy cane ice cream!

Novmber Happenings

Brad recently went to Japan, and was able to show his boss the sites on the weekend. He was hoping that it would be a nice day, and that they would have a clear view of Mt. Fuji, but this is the best picture he got--maybe next time!
I frequently say to my kids, "once in a blue moon." Well, it just so happens that last month there was a blue moon. Breck didn't believe me when I said that the moon doesn't really turn blue, so he took this picture out his bedroom window. Unfortunately, there were too many clouds to see if I was right or not.
We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving this year with our traditional nontraditional feast. At first glance you see all the appropriate foods, but look closer at our meat...
It's BBQ Beef Brisket (and boy was it good!!!). We bid, and won a smoked meat of choice from our ward auction. We had our pick of smoked turkey or beef brisket. After much contemplation, we decided not to break tradition, and go with the beef brisket (we were not disappointed!). Claude Christensen, painstakingly smoked this the day before Thanksgiving, and gave us the meat, drippings, and his own secret BBQ sauce with a page worth of instructions (this was his baby that he had smoked to perfection). Needless to say, Brad's next investment--a smoker!
The other highlight of Thanksgiving was the girls' and my homemade apple crisp, pumpkin, coconut cream, and pecan (Brad's favorite) pies! And we cannot forget, luscious pumpkin cheesecake, compliments of the Allens!!!
The Thanksgiving holiday was truly complete with a rare visit from family. My little brother Matt was doing business  in Louisville so we kidnapped him for an evening. It was so good to visit and catch up with him, hopefully next time he can stay a little longer!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010

Every year we enjoy going to our church's "Trunk-Or-Treat", and chili cook-off. Since we did not have an actual costume contest this year, I decided to post some of my favorite pictures, and tell you what Awards I would of handed out:
Kate and Brittney as "Most Imaginative" costumes. Just try to imagine that Harry Potter has turned into a beautiful ladybug.
Merinda and Lauren as "Oddest Pair Standing Next to Each Other" costumes. It almost hurts my brain to look at a pioneer girl standing next to a one-eyed, one-horned, flying-purple-people-eater (which Lauren and her mom made themselves--way to go!).
Most "Normal Family Costumes" costume. What a handsome bunch!
McKenzie and Rebekah modeling "The Most Beautiful" costumes. But wait, I don't think these two really are dressed up. They look this beautiful everyday!

Cindy and Jennie with the best, "I Pulled It Out Of My Halloween Box a Few Minuets Ago" costumes. It's good to have Halloween costume connections!
The best "Twins" costumes. Hmmm, you have the beautiful Little Bo Peep with the big sheep, and the scariest Little Bo Peep I have ever seen with. . .Lamb Chop?
The "Most Creative" costumes. It takes no imagination to see how creative Jessica was for completely creating, and making hers' (and Ariels') costumes from scratch. I am still amazed!
The "Coolest Costume In Town" costume. And who said that Elvis is dead.
The best "I Can't Believe How Much Work Went Into This Costume" costume. Way to go Cheri, you're amazing.
Best "Overall Costumes".  At least, according to Breck Manwaring.
Best "Kid's Costume". But wait, that's not a kid (or is it?).

Best "Beauty and The Beast" costumes. The picture speaks for itself.
"Biggest Wig I Have Ever Seen In My Life" costume. John always did have an eye for style.
The "Best-Looking Couple" costumes. It's Mark and Bridgette, need I say more?
The best "Three Stooges" costumes. This too speaks for itself.

The best "Best Friends" costumes. Who says a Kentucky hillbilly and gypsy lady can't be BFF's.

Monster Truck Jam

I have always wanted to go to a Monster Truck Rally and a couple of weeks ago Brad took me on a "surprise" date. I thought the surprise was a haunted house or something similar, since it was close to Halloween. But not until we arrived at Freedom Hall in downtown Louisville (and everyone was wearing earplugs), did I clue in to the fact that I was checking off another event on my "bucket list".
The main trucks that competed in the various events (wheelie, speed, donuts, and freestyle) were named: Backdraft (first picture), Mutant Ninja Turtle (which really looked like one), Stone-Crusher, Blue-Thunder, Grave-Digger, and Superman (above).  Superman was my favorite because that big truck really could fly! While doing the wheelie competition, its wheelie was so big that it almost fell backwards and crushed the top in. The only thing that saved it from utter destruction was its huge cape (made of fiberglass) that lodged between the small cars, causing the truck to roll back onto its wheels. Unfortunately, everything after that amazing stunt was a little anti-climatic.
Gave-Digger was my second favorite truck. We don't have a picture of Grave-Digger because I didn't have my camera with me. All of these pictures came from Brad's cell-phone. He did however, record an awesome video of Grave-Digger, but was unable to download it to my computer. So imagine a really loud tuck (the loudest one there), that really looked like it came from the grave. It was not pretty. The cab looked like it was practically falling off of the chasse (sp?) so it wobbled and bounced as it moved. But it was fast, and did incredible stunts. It just goes to show, you can't judge a book by its cover. The truck in the picture above was Stone-Crusher, which I think had the best detailed paint job.
This final truck is Blue-Thunder. It was a little more compact, and as you can see, defied a little bit of gravity itself. I liked Blue-Thunder because it was painted such a pretty light and teal-blue color. Is it o.k. to call a Monster Truck pretty? Anyway, the point is, you can enjoy the smell of diesel and burning rubber, the consuming noise of a powerful engine in full throttle, and the site of crushing glass and metal, and still be in touch with your feminine side. I loved it! And just want to thank my dear husband for the great experience!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kirtland, Ohio

We were thrilled to have mom come and visit the first week in October for the kid's Fall Break. 
Because Brad loves to drive so much, we decided to take mom to Kirtland, Ohio, 
to see the church history sites.
Even though it was drizzling, and the weather was a little chilly, the air was so fresh and crisp, with a picturesque backdrop of green foliage, and radiant fall colors just beginning to show. 
Since my kids were tired of posing for me, mom was a good sport and let me photograph her in front of the beautiful landscape. Because of a mini-drought Kentucky has been experiencing the last several months, I almost forgot that green, instead of brown, is the real color of grass, as well as most trees and shrubbery.
In Seminary this year, we are learning about church history and it was fun for the kids to visit the Newel K. Whitney store in person, and see how it looked in the early 1800's.
I always find the Sawmill and Ashery to be two of my most favorite parts of historic Kirtland.
Last but not least was the Kirtland Temple. As you can see it was under restoration at the front of the building, but luckily we were still able to take a tour inside.
Even though we have visited Kirtland quite frequently in the last few years, this visit was our favorite for three reasons: 1) Because my mom was able to come with us. 2) Because the Community of Christ has done such a great job updating the Temple's visitor center. And 3) Because our tour guide was extremely gracious in spending so much time with us, and in explaining every detail of the Temple (we even got sit and talk in the top level, something we have never done), as well as interesting facts about church history we had not heard before. On the way home we ate at a great local restaurant without realizing is was "free slice of pie night." The succulent pie was just the cherry on top of a fabulous trip! We want to thank mom for taking time out of her busy schedule to come and visit--Thanks Mom!

Horsey 5K

Since Brad sprained his ankle a few weeks ago, at the last minute I had to recruit a new partner to run our town's 5K with me.
Even though Breck didn't  really  have an opportunity to train, he still got third place out of his age-division. Way to go Breck, we are proud of you!
We had fun running the race with other families from church like the Barbers who metaled in every race,
and Kevin Johnson who took first place overall, way to go Kevin!
That same weekend we enjoyed visiting with friends after watching General Conference.

Merinda's Field Trip

Merinda's first field trip of the year was to Fort Boonesborough, located in North-Eastern KY. Fort Boonesborough has been reconstructed as a working fort complete with cabins, blockhouses, and all the furnishings. Resident artisans perform craft demonstrations and give modern-day visitors a true sense of what life was like for pioneers in Kentucky.
The Fort is a fun place to visit because it is truly like stepping back into time. Here, Merinda is looking at dolls, and playing with wooden toys that were popular in the late 1700's.
Merinda also learned about dipping candles, old-time medicine and herbs, things that are made at a blacksmith's shop, how thread was spun from cotton or wool using a spinning wheel, and how looms were used in weaving rugs and clothing.
But the highlight was a reenactment of the battle at Fort Boonesborough. Fort Boonesborough is now a State Park but many years ago Daniel Boone and his men reached the Kentucky River April 1, 1775, hoping to establish Kentucky's second settlement.

In the autumn of 1778 a large force of Indians attacked and laid siege to Boonesborough. For nine days and nights the Indians surrounded the fort.
The defenders held out and the Indians abandoned the siege. Soon Boonesborough became a center of pioneer life on the Kentucky frontier.