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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Biggest Blessings of 2008... And hopes for 2009

2008 has been a memorable year for myself and my family. Some things have been great and others unfortunate (as it is with every one). Because I'm still not feeling great... I'll narrow it down to our two biggest blessings.

My niece. who was born in March, and who brings every one in my family smiles and joy. She is a smiley baby, who smiles with her whole face and it is great to watch her learn more each day.

Our house... we bought it in March too. And though home ownership has been a little stressful at times, I have no desire to go back to renting. I love the space and I love that we can make it ours. And as you can see above, Tater loves the yard (even when it is snowing!).

And in terms of hopes for 2009... my dad is looking for a job. If anyone knows of any IC design jobs, please let us know! Otherwise, I hope that my work continues to challenge me and that I can meet and exceed their expectations. I hope that we can continue to live frugally and save. I hope that Reid's business gets off the ground. And I hope that all of you have successful, happy and productive new years too!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What a week!

My niece's first Christmas tree experience! This is her on Christmas eve... She just started crawling about a week before she got here... she's now a pro!

This has been a very eventful week. My mother, father, sister, brother-in-law and niece arrived on Christmas Eve... and without a doubt my niece is even cuter now than over the summer.

Christmas day was relaxing, enjoyable and full of fun present giving and receiving.

I love this picture! Raley looks a little annoyed with Christmas already... it was just a flook though. She loved it! I made her stocking and am quite proud of it.

Tater surrounded by presents! Needless to say, the lack of routine on Christmas makes it one of Tater's least favorite days... but he did well!

Raley, of course, was the hit of the day. She liked all of her presents, though the bowl and plate set was probably her favorite (go figure... give a baby loads of toys and she'll pick the plastic flatware to play with)!

Raley with her bowl and plate!

My big Christmas present was big... Reid and his parents went in together to buy me a laptop! How I got through graduate school without one is still a mystery. But I am typing on it right now and it will definitely help me with grading, school work, etc.... So thank you Reid and Chris and Annie! This is a gift that will get a daily work-out.

The weekend was pretty uneventful. My mother has had a cold since she got here. Sunday I woke up with a bit of ill-feeling but pushed it aside to have another first on Monday. I went snow-boarding with Sarah, Dan and Reid. Dan is quite an accomplished snowboarder and he tandemned with me (holding my hands while facing me because luckily he is regular and I am goofy... as if we needed snowboarding to prove that!). He kept me from falling most of the day (except when we went down together in a glorious frenzy that once included a somersault by Dan to avoid me and another that involved both of my gloves flying off my hands in opposite directions). At the end of the day I went down the easiest green run on my own (and fell down a lot but not nearly as much as at the beginning of the day). Next time Reid and I go to Wolf Creek I plan to try skiing again (the last time I skiied I was sixteen)... thought I am sure if I take to it more easily than snowboarding my brother-in-law will think less of me!

Look! I'm standing!

But, of course, not for long. That's Reid behind me.

By our trip home I was starting to feel poorly again. This morning I woke up and said enough is enough... and headed to my doctor's office (with my mom in tow). My mom has some sort of infection in her chest is on antibiotics. I have strep throat! I've never had strep before... but it's good to know I'm not making up the horrible feeling I have. I have already taken my first antibiotic and I hope to be feeling more like my normal self in a few days.

I hope that you have enjoyed your holidays as much as we have enjoyed ours here! Watching a nine month old enjoy her presents (including these blocks) really brings a smile to my face. Doesn't she look happy??

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

As my home begins to smell of apple pie baking (and sugar cream pie before that), and as the light outside begins to fade, making the Christmas tree lights all the more beautiful, I sit here, listening to Christmas carols and waiting (as patiently as I can) for my family to arrive... they should be here in an hour or so. I told many people this year that all I really wanted for Christmas was for my family to be together... and it indeed looks like I am getting my wish! And, if it can get any better than that, my husband is vacuuming for me!

So... where-ever, and whatever you believe... I hope that tomorrow and the coming year brings you and those you hold dear as much joy as having my family here will bring me. Let us all strive to make 2009 a year of peace, love and joy. Merry Christmas!

Tater says Happy Holidays too! This was actually taken a few years ago (just before he pulled the antlers off and chewed them in two... apparently a beagle and a reindeer are not synonymous!).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something New... The Best Gift

You may have noticed there is a new button over on the right of my screen. It is because a few months ago I registered with the Bone Marrow Donor list. I can't remember if I posted about this before (I think I have) but this time of year seems the perfect time to remind people about this selfless act. It only takes a few minutes of your time (literally) to be registered on the list... and with that registration you could be saving someone's life. Not figuratively, but literally. There is a compelling story and video of a 34 year-old woman whose life was changed when she was diagnosed with leukemia and again when a 19 year-old man in Germany matched her type and agreed to donate.

I am so very lucky that no one in my immediate circle of family and friends has faced such a frightening diagnosis. And I hope that they never will. But I'm on the list. So, if someone else's mother, father, sister or brother needs a donation and I match... I can give them the best gift in the world. I can only hope that should I ever need such a gift, there is a person out there who matches me and who has done the same. Won't you join the list today?

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm Done!

I'm done with grading at least. All of my grades have been whisked away to the magical electronic elves who put them where they're supposed to go. I hate grading. It is by far the worst part of teaching... in fact, a friend of mine who is a professor in Tennessee told me that grading is the penance that we have to do for a job that is otherwise awesome. I think he's right. I would love to work at a school that is simply pass/fail. If you come and work, you pass. If you don't, you fail. But alas, we have percentages and letters... and so I struggle each and every semester to put quantifiable letter grades on unquantifiable performances (performance classes being by far the hardest to grade).

Anyway, it's done for another semester. The beginning of next week will be spent planning my spring classes. But today I am cleaning our house and making dessert, for a colleague and his wife are coming over for dinner. I am also planning on wrapping up as many presents as I can in the down time. And if a little knitting sneaks in... well, I can't be held responsible for what my hands do while I'm thinking of other things!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Tour

I'm a little late for the Christmas Tour that is happening over at Boo Mama's blog... but I thought being late to a party is chique, right? I'd never know. I'm the boring one who is always the first to arrive (though frequently I make my husband go in ahead of me so I'm the second to arrive!).

My parents left just a few minutes ago, headed out to sunny southern California (I'm sure they'll be just jumping to come back to the cold of Colorado!)... and most importantly, headed out to see their grand-daughter Raley! Truth is it would not matter where she is... they'd be there if they could!

Anyway, on to the tour of my Christmas house. This is the first year that I have had a house to decorate! And honestly, we didn't go very crazy with the decorations (come to find out when you've lived in 700 sq. feet apartments all your married life, you don't have nearly as many decorations as you thought you did).

We'll start with the shelves of a bookcase in our study... nothing too ornate, but a cute Santa plate and a Santa standing on a Polar Bear (he's Santa Claus... it could happen!).

And this is right next to our front door (ignore the cutesy picture of Reid and I... it's there year-round. The gold table runner, candles and nutcracker are seasonal).

Here is our China hutch... I've added a few of my festive salt and pepper shakers (I have a bit of a collection) and some cute little candle holders.

These are, probably, my favorite decorations this year. My mother has been giving my husband village pieces for the last few years. I finally have enough space in my living room to set them up (and no... the picture isn't crooked, what are you talking about?? :)

These are the three pieces that don't fit on the back of the piano... if he gets another one this year, we'll have to figure out a new place for them to live.

Here is a close-up of two of our mills, the grist mill (for flour of course) and the saw mill, for lumber.

And a close-up of one of the figurines, this one the carver outside the wood mill. There is also a blacksmith shop (of course... it is Reid's town after all), a tailor, and a theatre!

And here is our Christmas tree... I've yet to figure out how to get a picture of a Christmas tree that makes it look as impressive on the screen as it does in person. This is our "fake" tree from Alco... I love how "real" it looks and the 7.5' looks great in our nine foot ceilinged living room.

My goodness... pictures of Tater just creep in everywhere, don't they?? But in all fairness, he belongs on the tour. See his festive bandana? Even my dog gets decorated for the season!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I know I've been quiet for awhile. This is finals week and my parents have been in town since Saturday... so I've been spending my "free" time grading papers, fretting over student's failing and hanging out with my parents. The next couple of weeks might be quiet as I spend time with family and friends... but I'll try to update with pictures and bits of Jenna-isms now and again!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yummy, Fast Dinner!

I am participating in my first Keeping Creative Kitches, a feature that a friend of mine does on her blog virtually every Thursday.

Reid and I have been pseudo-vegetarians for a couple of years now (meaning we eat mainly vegetarian at home and whatever we feel like when we're not). But in the last couple of weeks I've decided to take the plunge and go all out vegetarian. Reid has agreed (at least while at home... all bets are off when he's out). I'm doing it largely because of ethical reasons. Reid is doing it... well, mainly because he likes to humor me!

So this past weekend we sat down with our past Vegetarian Times magazines (we've gotten a subscription thanks to my mom for a couple of years now) and earmarked recipes that sounded good.

Last night I made the first of them: Greek Style Paninis. And let me tell you... they were easy and good! Since Alaina had said over on her blog that she is in a bit of a funk (and I'm sure she's not alone), I though this might be one you'd like to try.

Greek Style Paninis

1 box frozen spinach
1/2 cup (or so) of feta cheese
Roasted Red Peppers (the kind jarred with water)
Hummus (we had plain, but I'm sure you could experiment with other flavors)
Any sort of rolls (we used plain white French bread rolls... but I would think kaiser would work well too)

1. Thaw and squeeze dry the spinach (squeezing it might be something that little hands would like to do!)

2. Mix the spinach and the feta together

3. Spread the mixture on the bottom half of the rolls

4. Place roasted red peppers over the mixture.

5. Spread hummus on the other half of the roll.

6. Heat a skillet. Place the roll halves together and place the sandwiches in the skillet. I then took a big pot that would cover the rolls, put it on top of them and then put cans in the pot to weigh it down. If you have a countertop grill you could use that, but we don't have one.

7. After four minutes flip the sandwiches, put the pan back on them (with the cans inside) and grill for another four minutes (or so).

Isn't that a great, fast recipe?? And there are three really good things about it:

1. There are only five ingredients, which means it's nice on your grocery bill!

2.They are yummy!

3. There was enough left-over for more paninis tonight!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A No-Good, Very Bad Day

Today has not gone well. Reid and I just took both of our cars into the shop to get winterized (including putting engine heaters in both of them because we think that's why the Saturn's engine seized last winter). Then this morning I had to try to start the Mitsubishi three times before it started! If it keeps this up, it will be going back to the shop.

Before getting in the cars, we found that our hot water is not flowing to our kitchen (to the bathrooms yes but not to the kitchen). So... I'm now sitting at home waiting for the plumbers who can (hopefully) come sometime this afternoon and who will hopefully not be too expensive.

And then to top it all off, I talked to my folks and my dad did not get a job opportunity that he had been hoping for...

All in all, the kind of day you just wish you could stick your head back under the covers... and definitely not a day that is tempting me to work on grading speeches (which I know I have to do and which also induces blick!).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas is coming....

Does it excite anyone else that Christmas is only two weeks and three days away?? It somehow seems impossible, since I still have a week and a half left of school. But the holidays will be here before we know it! And I, for one, am excited about that... and here is a list of the reasons why:

1. My family will be here, and they've never seen our house before!

2. My family includes my niece, who is nine months and I haven't seen her since she was four months and I'm sure she's going to be so interesting and fun!

3. Presents! I love giving presents. I love wrapping presents and I love opening presents. We have all (hopefully) agreed to go light this Christmas. But it is still fun to see the excitement in people's eyes when they open something that you know they'll like!

4. Food! I plan to bake while my family is here... any suggestions?

5. No place to be! I feel like I have been rushing around for the last month. It will be nice to wake up a few mornings and have no place that I have to be!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Productive AND Lazy Sunday

I'm back. The conference went well. I think that we snagged at least a few recruits (one student even told us that she had been looking at Adams since she was in 8th grade!). We talked to many students, a couple of teachers and I lead a small but successful workshop.

I stayed at the Comfort Inn in downtown Denver on the 21st floor. Little did I know but the Denver Parade of Lights was this weekend and went directly down the street in front of my hotel. So, after having a very yummy (and rather expensive for me) dinner with Paul, he dropped me off at my hotel Friday evening. I ran upstairs, changed into comfy clothes and then headed back down to street level where I watched about an hour of the parade. I went upstairs before the end 'cause I was cold... but they had Santa Claus miked because I could hear him way up in my room (and I could see his float too... he was just a tiny little spot).

Today has been quiet, which is nice. I wrote our Christmas letter, addressed all of our Christmas cards (most of you will find them in your mailboxes later this week... except for those of you who I will see before Christmas and I'm hand delivering yours!) and paid bills (yuck!). I also sat for several hours on the sofa watching Reid play on his PS3... yes, we're that exciting of a couple! This evening I am thinking about wrapping a couple of presents and then settling in to watch a movie... a good way to spend a relaxing day, in an otherwise pretty hectic weekend. But only one more week of classes, then finals... and then I'm done until January! Hooray for teacher's schedules!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Potential Christmas Present?

I was driving to Del Norte last night and on NPR there was an interview with an air force officer using the pseudonym Matthew Alexandar. He was discussing a book that he had written under the same name entitled How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq. After reading the reviews and hearing the man speak, it is a book I would really like to read. Has anyone read it or seen it in bookstores? I'd be interested in hearing if anyone has opinions about it... and would love to find it under the Christmas tree! :)

And here is one that looks interesting and appeals to my "survivalist" side... When Technology Fails (Revised & Expanded): A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Busy week!

I have a very busy week ahead of me. Today is first dress rehearsal for Miracle which means I will probably also be here tomorrow evening. Wednesday I have a play to go see at a local high school that one of our students is directing. Then Thursday Paul and I head to Denver for Thursday-Saturday recruiting at the State Thespian Conference. So... here I sit, at work, eating my Quiznos dinner. How about you? Are your plans this week crazy or pretty subdued?