Family Christmas Countdown

Friday, November 30, 2007

family picture

A quick photo from tonights christmas photo shoot. I think we got a lot of good photos for this year. We'll share a lot more on our blog when I can get these to upload.



Now I don't know what says, "Merry Christmas" better than a trip to visit Santa Claus at the North Pole! We took the boys to "Santa-land" today. Here in Cedar City we don't even need things like holidays for festivals - but this one is fun. Lots of fun trees, a fun North Pole to walk through to get to Santa and musical performances (that the boys were not interested in). I was pretty excited that we got a picture of both of the boys being pretty happy, and a great smile from Hunter. YAY!

Another year, no pictures

OK, so the main reason I wanted to buy a digital camera was so that I could post pixs of my tree and decorations on this yrs holiday blog. When I got it out to use last weekend, it didn't work. I took it in to the camara store today (still under warranty) and he poked around and said they would need to send it back for repairs, which usually take a couple months. So no pictures again this year--I feel sad and frustrated.

Just whining, Sandra

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Famiy Christmas Blog

I am really practicing. If this works I will then try some more Christmas Anyway I wanted to show off our cantaloupe. to get some idea of the size, that is setting on a standard folding chair.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Justin and I just got home last night, after a less than ideal day of flying and dealing with Delta airlines, so I haven't gotten to do much Christmas stuff yet, but I did put up some outside Christmas lights today. I put some blue lights up on our apple tree, and wound them around the branches. I'll take a picture in a couple hours when it get dark enough to do that. I think it'll look cool. I saw some trees in Utah done like that, so I thought it would be fun to try. I'm excited to see it. I love outdoor Christmas lights.

We took gobs of pictures on our trip, I'll put most of them on one of the other blogs, either, or on Justin's blog, I'm not sure yet where I'll put them, it'll probably take me a few days to get them up anyway. But I wanted to add a couple things to the Christmas blog.

We went to Temple Square in Salt Lake, to see all the decorations and stuff, on Sunday, and it was beautiful. There were choirs singing, and beautiful lights, and it was just amazing! We had a lot of fun, so thought I'd share it with you all.

This video is a choir singing in the assembly hall on Temple Square. Just a little music to get you all in the spirit of Christmas. :) Love Alicia

Monday, November 26, 2007


When I was about 4 or 5 years old we got a book at the library at Christmas time about a little Mexican boy and the way his family in Mexico celebrated Christmas. Because of that book we decided to have our own Mexican celebration. We had Mexican food, lit luminarias, and best of all we enjoyed a pinata! This tradition stuck and we still do it now - years later.

Since it was only going to be Mom, Dad and Julia for Christmas they decided to have a pinata while we were all there for Thanksgiving. It was lots of fun!

Friday, November 23, 2007

How quickly we become Texans.

Well, we've had a wonderful week with our family here in New Mexico! I really have enjoyed relaxing some, and spending time away from work. On Tuesday, it was my birthday, so Laura took me up to a hotel in Durango Colorado, and we relaxed in the mountains for a romantic getaway. Alli stayed with Nana and Papa. We also got to drive up to Silverton, and it was a really nice drive in the mountains! I miss the mountains since there are none in Dallas.

Thanksgiving day was nice to be with all the family! We had planned on leaving Saturday morning early to drive back to Dallas, but the weather is supposed to be snowy, windy and yucky the whole 14 hour drive home- we are less than enthused about getting stuck in a snowstorm as we did last year at Christmas (it took a full 8 hours longer than it should have to get home...) We may just stay here an extra day, and try to miss the snowy roads.

We wish we could see you all. We are grateful for each of you, and we are happy that we have this blog to hear from each of you as you experience the holidays all over the country. We feel much closer to each of you than we would if we did not have this blog. We love you -


Post Thanksgiving report

Thanksgiving was a great sucess. We laughed more than we have in years--Dick and Greg were a great addition. This year's cooking adventure was the dressing. First, when I got ready to add the ground pork, it was nasty smelling and spoiled. So I decided to use chicken broth instead of water to partly make up for the loss of flavor from the pork. I wasn't paying attention and used beef broth instead. Sigh. But it was still tasty. On the other hand, I think I made the best gravy I have ever made (since I only make gravy once a year, the learning curve is pretty slow). We went to bed feeling grateful and loved.

Today after our slow morning, we got up and went for a walk in the marsh--the first time I've dared to go to the waterfront since the oil spill. There was some oil, and parts were still blocked off, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared. And we could see a crew of volunteers off in the distance walking along the beach in their hazmat suits. There weren't that many birds, but there aren't usually at high noon/high tide. So I came back feeling less despair and more hope than I have in a while. Felt good to be outside on such a beautiful day too.

We're observing Buy Nothing day as usual (though Susan might have ordered some things online when I wasn't looking :-) ). It's always such a relief to have a quiet slow day after the focused hustle of the feast. . .

I wish I could see each of you, love, Sandra

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Just wanted to add to the Happy Thanksgiving day posts! We're having fun here with Justin's family, having thanksgiving, and watching movies. Its been nice and relaxing being up here away from everything. Anyway, just wanted to say howdy! and happy Thanksgiving. We love you all. Alicia & Justin

Happy Thanksgiving to all our family! We love you all. I just got 3 more pies out of the oven. I had to replace 2 pumpkin pies that I overcooked yesterday. oops So now we have apple, pumpkin,and pecan pies. I just put the turkey in the oven, I brined it overnight, in salt water, and herbs and lemon and orange chunk. It makes it so moist and good. Also cooking a nice butternut squash to go with our deviled eggs. It is storming here, raining sheets for days, and windy. Rained 6 inches in the last few days, rivers flooding, but we are warms and safe. Brian

I love Thanksgiving

When someone at work was offering me sympathy cuz I had to cook Thanksgiving dinner today, I said "I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It's a sacrament to me." And it's true. Of course, it helps that Susan cooks too, and that people bring things, but still, I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I love the smells, and the flavors, and the ritual of cooking healthy beautiful food for people I love.

To top it off, it's a beautiful, sunny, slightly crispy day outside. As I am typing this, the ginko tree is mostly gold against a crisp blue sky. It's still 2 hrs til guests and everything seems under control.

I am grateful for so much this Thanksgiving, including all of you and the closeness that the Internet makes possible. And Allie and Gabe even wished me happy Thanksgiving.

Love to you all, Sandra and Susan

Happy Thanksgiving All

Just getting in motion here at the Seattle home office. Stuffing, mashed potatoes and some last minute bird prep are just getting under way. But before I got elbow deep in cooking, just wanted to pop out here and wish everyone a happy T-day.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Alaskan Thanksgiving plans

Just to respond to some comments on the Christmas blog : First of all, Sandy, the only one up here who really likes snow is Justin - he gets a snow machine for Christmas because they will be building cabins out in the mountains for work this winter, so he is all excited about snow. Plus, he grew up in the hot part of New Mexico, so it is still new to him.

Even Brian has had a lifetime of snow and Trust me, I complain and whine about the snow ALL THE TIME!!!!

I would LOVE to live somewhere that had snow on a distant mountain. Snow in a rural area is just as inconvenient as in a city. Although, last night a warm wind blew in with rain and now it is in the 40's so the snow is pretty melted down and just an ice field. Sorry Justin.

Justin does a little snow dance every time a flake falls - now when lots of flakes fall, Brian calls home and tells Justin to go do his snow dance with a snow shovel in his hands. hehehe

We decided to have our own Thanksgiving this year. We have never had a Thanksgiving that was just the two of us - the years Alicia was away at school, we celebrated with the neighbors and the last few years, we have gotten together with church families. But this year, we have been sick and don't feel like going anywhere and with Brian working nights, we just don't get to see each other that much so we are having our own dinner. We are even having turkey.

Brian did the shopping yesterday and got everything but turkey - they were all $3.00 a pound and we were NOT going to pay that for a turkey, so we tried to figure out what to have instead. Then today he checked back and they had them on sale, so he got a big one so I can freeze the extra meat. I like to have it around for pot pie or alfredo noodles or soup.

Mother was right about the nap part - but we watch college baskeball on Thanksgiving week instead of football. There are 5 or 6 tournaments - including the Great Alaska Shootout. Probably next year, we will try to go to the shootout if the kids are here to watch the dog and cat. We have always wanted to go in person.

Besides now that the Ducks have broken my heart again, I have lost all interest in college football. Stupid Ducks - now they won't even get to be in the Rose Bowl.
LOVE YOU ALL - Charlotte


It wwas fun having Juston and Alicia here. I am glad they saw Taylor,Nicole and Paul too.
I had a good thaksgiving dinner today over at the senior center. Me and several friends hang out there now and Then. I have been especially glad to be able to get away from some construstion(more like destruction) going on here . Today's word is it will gone on into the middle of Jan. Oh!Well!

On Thanksgiving Day we get a free meal delivered here . I invited all our family home evening members to come and eat together. I got a committee together and we will share our meals and have made extra in case someone forgot. I left it "and friends" so no one needs to eat alone. I think it will be so much fun and a great missionary opportunity.

As I was gathering up people to come I heard my mother's voice Saying "You know that Marilyn. She and Larry brought home every stray dog and kid in the country."
Still at it! Love being a missionary. Grateful that at age 75 the lord still has a calling for me. I am so blessed for my efforrts. I can't be close to help my parents but everytime I help any of the seniors I say a pray the lord will send someone to bless mom and Daddy Art.
My heart is with all of you and my heart is so full of gratitude for all each one . Love one another! Grandma Marilyn

Monday, November 19, 2007


Laura, Alli, and I made it safe to New Mexico on Saturday night, and we've been relaxing and having a good time here. We got to go to Aunt Becky's farm this afternoon and Alli and Laura rode Streak, the younger of the two horses.

Alli loves spending time with her Nana and Papa (mom and dad). We're glad to have this time off work to spend with some of our extended family. We are happy to see Alicia and Justin when they get here tonight. We're having chicken curry stir-fry (or tofu curry stir-fry for the vegan people in our family). It's fun trying to think of dishes that are gluten-free for laura, and weight watcher friendly, and vegetarian/vegan for those who don't eat meat anymore.

We love hanging out, listening to Julia sing to her guitar music, relaxing.

Ahhhh, the only thing better than vacation with the family is paid vacation with the family...


Holiday weather

I finally realized why my posts never include pictures - we just got a digital camera of our own last month and I don't know how to use it very well, and I don't have any idea of how to put the pictures on the computer.

If I knew how to take and post pictures, I would have posted a picture of our beautiful snow. It is about 4-6 inches deep and all fell in one night so it is just white everywhere. Now the wind is blowing really hard and the leaves that were left on the trees are coming onto the snow so it is getting a littered. But no one has plowed yet, so it is just pretty and white.

Our dog loves the snow so I guess she is really a Carper dog now. I was hoping for a dog that wanted to lay on the beach in Maui all the time, but she gets overheated when it is 50 degrees out. sigh. even the dog conspires against me.

I have a funny story about the dog and spaghetti that I will put on the Carper blog. I'm hoping, because all the kids are traveling this week, that you all don't get snow yet, but just in case you are wishing you had some, I have enough for all of us. Love, Charlotte


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Idaho joins the Family Christmas blogging fun

Well, everyone has mentioned Justin & Alicia's visit. We thought to put some pictures up from today. They were coming up to Blackfoot, ID, to visit some of Justin's friends, and were kind to come the rest of the way to Rexburg (since we won't see them in New Mexico). It was fun for Alicia to meet Taylor and Nicole. Justin & Alicia seem a perfect match for each other too :) We are very happy for them.

Taylor wore her fun Christmas dress today. Nicole visited a friend this week that lent her some cute seasonal clothes (that her little girl has grown out of). This was one of them :) These pictures don't show the matching boots. She was being so happy today. We had some fun making her laugh and smile.

We got most of our Christmas shopping done yesterday. I thought that doing it before Thanksgiving would avoid the rush, but I have the feeling that others had the same idea that we did. It still wasn't as bad as it will be later. Now we just have to put our tree up and put some of those presents under it :)

We leave tomorrow (Monday) for Farmington after I work in the morning, so we still have a lot to do to get ready (i.e., pack, etc.). We'll stay in Provo with a good friend & his wife (Jed & Aleta Thacker).

We took the plunge. . .

OK, you Rhiens convinced us--we went and bought an artificial tree this weekend. How confusing--how many lights do I need? How many tips? What makes it that ucky green color?

And it is amazing how expensive it can be!

So, anyway, we will see how it seems when we decorate it--for now it's in the box in the garage.

Ho ho ho and all that,

Also, we figured out about the tables and table clothes for Thanksgiving today, and made the the cranberry sauce (I like it to solidify for a few days), and made a 0 point weightwatchers soup so we can make it through the week before Thanksgiving (we even have a cup for lunch on Thanskgiving day so we aren't too starved when we go into dinner). Have a great week everyone! Love Sandra and Susan

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas Village

Surprise, Surprise. Thanks to Alicia, we finally got into the blogging. Thank you Alicia. Anyway, the piano is a new purchase this summer (Ted says it is my Xmas present for the next 10 years) and the other picture is part of my christmas village. Anyway, hope to be posting some more.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good News in the Rhien Family (Dallas Branch)

Check out our blog for news on our baby sonogram that we had today!

We are so happy!

-Jed, Laura, Alli, and baby

You can do it, Earlene

Earlene -- I remember how stressful it was to go back to school after being away for years. I know you can do it! Love Susan
Everyone -- I somehow never managed to contribute last year but will try to be more active this year. At this point, I'm focused on Thanksgiving. At Weight Watchers we got the idea to prepare ourselves for the big meal by eating some healthy variations on our favorite items in the weeks before Thanksgiving. The idea is that we won't feel as much need to pig out them on the actual day. Sandra made barley with stuffing herbs and spices. One day I roasted a turkey breast and another day I ate baked sweet potatoes (well OK they were microwaved).
Still too early to tell if it will make me eat less of those favs on Thanksgiving but it does feel like I'm stretching out the holiday a little, which is kind of nice! S.

November observances

We often don't get the Christmas decorating done until fairly late in December--it's a really crazy time for both of us at work. But I try to reflect the changing seasons in the decor at home. We didn't even manage a carved pumpkin for Halloween this year. But last week I changed out the tired orchid plants on either side of the mantle and replaced them with big arrays of twisty willow branches and branches of pieracantha, with the red berries. And I got rid of the tired (some would say rotting) gourds on the mantle and buffet and replaced them with big turban squashes and more gourds. I wish I had waxed leaves to mix among them, but that requires going to other neighborhoods where those kind of trees grow, and I don't see that happening this year.

We are still debating about whether to buy an artifical tree so we could put it up earlier.

I still have a couple crazy weeks at work, but I am delighted to be joining the holiday blog--I really loved it last year. Maybe I will even figure out how to hook my digital camera up to the computer and post some pictures (now, now, before you start to snicker, I want to remind you that I had an email account in 1988, which way before anyone else on this blog!)

Love you all, Sandra

Don't anyone faint1

Well I got my act together. I am so excited to blog with all of you.A special welcome and hello to Blake and Johanna. I tressure the beutiful blue ornament you sent me one christmas. Let us seem of you trees.

I am particpating in a sing along of Handel's Messiah on the 25 of Nov with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Fri 12th going to a Hindu lights festival and have a Hindu food treat.
Gr Grandma Marilyn


Christmas Ornaments

One of the Christmas traditions around the Seattle branch of the family is to buy a couple new ornaments for the tree each year. As the years pass, our tree has become a scrap book of the many Christmas trees we've shared. Lately we've been going with eclectic faux antique ornaments.

Normally we wait until mid December before we even think about ornaments, or a tree, or Christmas Cards. But, this year it seems we're a bit eager to get the season under way. When we saw the local mom and pop home deco shop do their yearly change over to a Christmas store in October; well we just surrendered.

I thought you guys might enjoy seeing some of the class of 07.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Go Mom (Earlene) Go!

As some of you might know, Mom is on the verge of finishing her World History course that she's been taking with BYU Independent Study. She got all of her assignments in a couple of weeks ago and faces the final exam some time this week. Talking to her yesterday, I could tell she could use a little boost from everybody. So please make a comment on this post with a little encouragement for her.

I debated which blog to put this on, but decided to put it on the Christmas blog because Mom will be able to enjoy the holidays a lot more once her final is out of the way.

Mom holding baby Hunter a few months ago. This class has taken so long because she has been busy being a GREAT Gramma, seminary teacher, mom & wife.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Alicia's Christmas Cards

okay - I hate to tell tales, but Alicia isn't just bragging a little that her cards are all done - she has been bragging a lot - to everyone who will listen.... people at the post office, the girls at our crop, the people at the scrap book store, the nurse who comes to visit....

She claims she is just looking for a little pat on the back, but then when she asks how your cards are coming (and she knows you chose a REALLY complicated design and they aren't going that well) she kind of has this evil little laugh that she does when she tells you that not only are her cards made, but the notes are written, the envelopes sealed and stamped and ready to go to the post office.

So, I'm not saying she has ulterior motives in telling everyone that her cards are done, BUT ???? I think the evil little laugh tells all. hehehehe

Charlotte's Gratitudes for the day

1. studded snow tires
2. 4-wheel drive
3. i'm thankful that even though snow is icky - it is beautiful when it is coming down and then when the sun comes out, everything looks so clean and fresh
4. a sweet husband who takes care of me even when he doesn't feel well
5. a warm, dry house (thank you, again, Justin and Alicia)
6. a good eye doctor that studied at the Mayo clinic
7. cell phones
8. vanilla ice cream with butterscotch topping
9. blogs
10. TIVO

Christmas cards

Hi - I just wanted to brag a little bit - my Christmas Cards are completely done! I made them all, wrote in them, and they're all in their envelopes waiting to be sent next monday. I'm very excited, this is the most efficient I've ever been. :) Anyway, just wanted to share. Love you all! Alicia

If anyone has any questions about how to log on to write a post, or to comment on other people's posts, please let me know and I'll be glad to help you figure it out. Paul has also offered to help anyone who needs any technical assistance in posting on the blog.

Love you all-


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Warm November in Dallas

We're excited to start up the new holiday blog this year. I hope you all will join in this season to add your thoughts, pictures, recipes, celebrations, and love on this blog throughout the holiday season. Post as much as you can, as we will all be checking the family Christmas blog to share this season with each other. I will be more than willing to help any of you out if you are not accustomed to using a blog, or if you do not know how to make comments on other's posts. Call me any time, and I can walk through the steps with you.

If you are one of those who like to only celebrate Christmas after Thanksgiving... please don't let that keep you from posting on this blog until after Thanksgiving. This can be a holiday blog that we share our thoughts from Halloween to New Years.

Love you all-