Thursday, December 31, 2009

My favs for 2009


movie: Angels and Demons
book: Chains by Laurie Halse Andersen and on a lighter note: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica George Day
song: 21 Guns by Greenday (because of Gwen)
tv show: Man vs. Food (only show I have watched more than 2 times)
entertaining amazing find: David Blaine (magician) and Jim Gaffigan (comedian)
new activity: facebook, I have loved reconnecting with friends from all over including Argentina!
vacation activity:going down the the alpine coaster up at Park City, sooo fun
restaurant find: Blue Lemon & Hibachi House
date:going to the BYU vs Utah State football game
least favorites of this year:
congress passing so many bills that have put us into greater debt and taking away our liberties in the process
and my own lack of self control, I lost some weight at the beginning of 2009 and went right back...

It's the end of the year. A time for reflection and gratitude for this past year. I have heard many say that can't wait for 2009 to be over and hope this new year brings better things for them. I sincerely hope that each year is better than the last--for every one. I know that it really doesn't depend so much on what is going on in the world or my world but how much I have met my challenges with faith. This year seemed to hold new surprises and challenges I never imagined but that was true of 2008. I am forever grateful for faith in God and his Son Jesus Christ or I may not have survived as well as I did with some of the things I faced. These were those private things we handle and later share when we can. I am also grateful for the temple, my gratitude for the opportunity to go has increased my faith and given me peace. So on a lighter note...what were your favorites of 2009?
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are all blessed with love, health and peace.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Snowshoeing with my scouts...




So today I took my scouts snowshoeing with the WEBELOS too. We are so blessed we had some parents who were willing to come too. We had a really good experience. I don't post much about my scouts but they are my second set of sons. I love them and enjoy having new experiences with them! It snowed the whole time but it made it warmer for us. It was beautiful and peaceful...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...

 

So Christmas Eve I mostly spent finishing up a book I made for my dad, which some of you knew I was doing. I had received some 'memories' from people the days before and I think maybe even one that morning! Anyway, it was a really great experience for me to read the stories of others and the impact my dad has had on them. Tim got to get the gorceries we needed to get through the next 2 days for sure. We decided ot have our simple 'Back to Bethlehem' feast on a blanket on our floor again since everyone liked it last year and wanted to make it our new tradition. My parents joined us last minute since all my other siblings had plans and they didn't want to be home alone all night. So after our meal of cheeses, summer sausage, crackers, dried fruits and fruit juice which was a nice change from the heavier foods of other dinners, we watched Joy to the World. It has the Nativity Story read from the scriptures and it has scenes acted out and music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as well. We hadn't seen it in a few years and it was a great part of our celebration. My parents left after the kids opened their pjs, our tradition on Christmas Eve. Then we did part of our service that we had been working on but I can not devulge more details. I will say that I was brought to tears by my kids and their generousity. It gave me great hope in what we teach them might be sinking in, a little! Then the 5 youngest wanted to go to bed right then when we got home! Gwen didn't want to join the other four in a 'sleepover' in the little boys' room so I put her to bed. Emily did join them. Taran and Timo hung out and watched Trapped in Paradise. I was cleaning the Emily's room--let's say organization is not one of her talents. It thought it would be a gift to her and me! She was appreciative but doesn't think she can keep it! Once the little kids were asleep Santa filled the stockings and put out the gifts. Santa had been very organized but it still took until 1 PM to go to bed!

The kids got us up at 7:20 AM, not too bad! They all seemed very happy with their gifts. It's a little harder for the teenagers to get excited these days about their own presents since they usually know what they are getting. But I think for the most part they still enjoyed themselves. We did not give the kids any presents except their pjs and saved that money for helping other projects in our community. We explained that to them and they seemed fine with it. They still got a gift from a sibling and one from each set of grandparents so they still got plenty in my eyes! Plus we got a family gift from Keith and Amber and Teresa--it wasn't her year but she can't help herself! My parents brought their presents over which saved us carting them around all day. We had brunch over there at 11 AM then opened gifts and visited. Then we went to Tim's parents in the afternoon. His sisters Shellie and Amy and their families (minus Juan who was on his way to Chile to see family there) were there too. It was great fun and if you look closely at the collage you will see Emily, Taran and Timo with quilts Tim's mom made them from scraps from their clothing she had made them when they were younger. Pretty awesome! I know that it doesn't mean as much to them right now (except Emily who loves hers) as it will later but I still think that they liked them in their own way. We ate lunch/dinner there. And had fun visiting and we watched the new Star Trek on BLU-RAY. Tim, Taran and I saw it last summer. Tim's dad got it as a gift and the other kids enjoyed watching it. Tim's parents gave all the families a trip to a place with cabins for a family reunion this summer! We are very excited about that gift, love memories more than stuff! So we had a great day and feel extremely blessed and loved.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holly's birthday, BYU vs. Oregon...

 

This collage shows somewhat our status the days leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas. Last Sunday night we invited the Grandparents and my sister Teresa over for dinner and a talent share. All the kids participated but Gwen who was feeling shy and tired. Izak and Micah had both learned several Christmas Carols on the piano and we told their teacher she didn't need to plan a recital that we would just do this. Zane played Jingle Bells on the kazoo and that was the most entertaining. I will post the video sometime if I can get Tim to load it onto the computer for me!

Monday night we celebrated my niece Holly's 2nd birthday and did our Nativity with them too. It was very entertaining. My nephew Anders decided to be a leopard instead of a shepard with his costume. Gwen enjoyed being Mary. The adult males were putting together an electric fireplace for Charl while we did this.

Tuesday we got our promised snow storm. I helped in Zane's class party. Then I got mixed up with the time and missed Izak's. Owell, unfotunately Izak was worried about me and cried. I was at home oblivious. I took Timo Christmas shopping that afternoon luckily the storm wasn't too bad. Most of the kids went sledding that afternoon. That night we went to Tim's parents' to watch the BYU vs. Oregon St in the Las Vegas bowl. Tim made sugar cookie dough and so Shellie (his sister) helped the kids cut the cookies out. And the kids painted them--you mix food coloring with egg yolk. It was a fun diversion even though the game was fun to watch it kept the younger kids involved in something.

Wednesday I ran errands--I had to return some things before Christmas. The kids finished taking treats to their friends--well most of them. That night we went to my parents' for our annual Joseph Smith Birthday Party. My dad had wrote a short script about Him seeing Jesus Christ in the Kirtland Temple and receiving the keys from Moses, Elias and Elijah. It was a nice evening and the little kids were quite attentive. People sometimes think "mormons" worship Joseph Smith but we are just really grateful he restored the gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith is a modern day prophet who lets us know that Christ is real, he lives and he still talks to God's children through prophets today. And what a comfort that is to me during these challenging times!

I will post Christmas Eve and Christmas together.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Graham Cracker Houses, Lights...

 

We have had another fun week of Christmas activities. Monday, we went to my Aunt Leslie's for dinner, to make graham cracker houses and the annual white elephant exchange. It was a ton of fun as you can see from the collage and we got home late. Tuesday I took the kids (minus Taran who had a study group and Timo who had Jr Jazz practice) to the lights at Thanksgiving Point. Teresa and my dad joined us. We had a lot of fun again and on the way home Teresa took us by a house whose lights were synchronized to music you could tune in on your radio. It was amazing and free--we paid $8 to see the lights at Thanksgiving Point! Thursday night was Taran's choir concert and it was very good but late. As you can see in the collage both grandparents were able to make it. Friday night Timo and his friends had their annual white elephant which was entertaining, they played games and watched Trapped in Paradise (edited w/out swearing)! Saturday was Gwen's dove performance in The Little Match Girl. She was cute and actually did some dancing. Very fun! And both grandparents came but I forgot to get a photo of that. We are so lucky to live near family it has been a great Christmas season! Rejoicing in the birth of Jesus Christ! I can't believe Christmas is this week! Although I plan to wrap more than one present this week! Hope your week isn't too stressful but full of the true meaning of Christmas... the love of our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ!
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Freedom Friday

Another interesting article on the health care issue...

Less Health Care for More Money
by Ann Coulter
The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof recently wrote a column about John Brodniak of Oregon, who developed a cavernous hemangioma, causing him great pain as blood leaks into his brain.

According to Kristof, Brodniak can't get medical help because we don't have universal health care. Senators who vote against ObamaCare, Kristof said, are morally equivalent to someone who would walk past a man "writhing in pain on the sidewalk."

In another article in the Times, William Yardley wrote about Melvin Tsosies -- also of Oregon -- who ended up with $200,000 in medical bills after having a heart attack.

As of March 2008, Yardley reported, Tsosies was waiting to find out if he would win the Oregon lottery for health insurance. But with 600,000 uninsured state residents and a "universal" health care program with only enough money to pay for about 24,000 of them, Tsosies is more likely to win a Powerball lottery.


How can this be happening? Oregon already has "universal health care"! (Probably just a coincidence, but isn't Oregon also the only state with physician-assisted suicide?)

Once again forgetting about the existence of the Internet, the Times neglects to mention its own erstwhile enthusiasm for Oregon's universal health care plan, introduced back in 1990.

Back then, the Times published an editorial titled "Oregon's Brave Medical Experiment," hailing this technocratic monstrosity as an example of "hardheaded compassion" designed to make "health coverage available to many more families."

Ron Wyden -- then a congressman from Oregon, now a U.S. senator at the forefront of pushing "universal health care" onto the nation -- said: "This is a strong dramatic step toward universal access of health care." He predicted, "[T]his is going to be copied everywhere."

No wonder Wyden is such an ardent proponent of national health care -- it will force states that didn't adopt these idiotic universal health care schemes to bail out the ones that did.

Liberals cite medical horror stories from the very states they once cheered for enacting universal health care in order to argue for a national health care plan that will wreck the entire nation's medical care the same way liberal states already wrecked their own medical care.

Only Democrats could propose fixing one Bernie Madoff-style scam with an even bigger Bernie Madoff-style scam.

Maybe when national universal health care fails, we'll be able to go international. Then interplanetary -- then interstellar! Why should I pay for my gall bladder surgery when some Venusian could?

Eighty-five percent of Americans are happy with their health care, but Democrats have a plan to make it worse for more money. As a bonus, national health care will add trillions of dollars to the national debt, and your insurance rates will skyrocket.

Democrats are being utterly disingenuous to say that you won't have to leave your current plan under national health care. Maybe, but it won't be your choice: Your employer will be making that decision for you.

Recall that one of the big selling points of national health care is that it is supposed to reduce costs for American businesses. The only way national health care will make American companies "more competitive" is if they dump their employees into the public health care system.

It's so weird! We expected X number of people to show up for health care and instead 75X showed up! Yeah, just like every other government program in the history of the world.

Ten years from now, we'll be talking about cost overruns of $6 trillion -- but by then, national health care will be an untouchable "third rail" of politics, just as Medicare is now. (Ironically, injuries sustained from actually touching the third rail won't be covered under ObamaCare.)

As with Medicare, voters will be terrified to go back to even the wisp of a free market system we have now, afraid that they'll never be able to get health insurance without the government providing it. Having been dragged unwillingly into the government plan, how will a 58-year-old be able to leave the public system and get insurance on the free market?

Speaking of which, how many of you are planning to retire on your Social Security benefits? Just you there, with the shopping cart full of cans?

The only solution will be for the government to keep running up gigantic deficits and raising taxes on "the rich," which, in turn, will stifle job creation and economic growth in a phenomenon known to economists as "the Carter years."

In addition to forcing Americans into dealing with surly government workers in order to obtain medical care, sooner or later, there's no free lunch. (And if government X-rays are anything like the photos the DMV takes for your license, count me out. I don't want my lungs looking like they had a bad hair day.)

Even if national health care puts the screws to doctors and pharmaceutical companies by reimbursing them below cost -- so all future doctors will soon resemble DMV employees and no new drugs will ever be invented -- the government is still going to have to cut services and pay for the system with massive tax hikes.

Which is exactly what happened with Oregon's "Brave Medical Experiment."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Check out who owes taxes...

Feds owe Uncle Sam $3B in unpaid taxes
December 14, 2009 - 10:43am
Mark Segraves, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - At a time when the White House is projecting the largest deficit in the nation's history, Uncle Sam is trying to recover billions of dollars in unpaid taxes from its own employees.

Federal workers owe more than $3 billion in income taxes they failed to pay in 2008. According to Internal Revenue Service documents, 276,300 federal employees and retirees owe $3,042,200,000.

The IRS tracks the voluntary compliance rate of federal employees and retirees each year, and each year feds come up short. The one bright spot in this year's report is that after several years of a steady increase, the amount owed by feds is down from the previous year.

Federal employees and retirees owed $3,586,784,725 in unpaid income taxes in 2007.

The documents show delinquent employees from nearly every federal agency with more than 25 employees. Based on percentages, the Department of The Treasury, which includes the IRS, has the best compliance rate. Fewer than 1 percent of Treasury employees didn't pay their taxes in 2008.

The IRS is the only federal agency where employees can be fired for not paying their taxes. The non-compliance rate for IRS employees in 2008 was 0.76 percent -- down from 0.89 percent in 2007.

The agency with the most tax scofflaws is the U.S. Postal Service, with 28,913 employees who owe $297,933,756. But that is still a dramatic improvement from 2007 when more than 54,000 employees owed more than $407 million.

"We urge our employees to comply with all tax laws and are encouraged that many who have been delinquent have agreed to payment plan with the IRS," USPS spokesperson Mark Saunders tells WTOP in a statement.

"It's important to look at the percentage of postal employees who may be delinquent on their federal taxes, not just the number itself. According to IRS figures, the delinquency rate for Postal Service employees is relatively small."

The Postal Service, the largest employer in the federal government aside from the military, has a non-compliance rate of 3.95 percent compared to the federal average of 2.8 percent.

Retired military personnel make up about 33 percent of the money owed with $1,343,538,055 in unpaid taxes for 2008.

The agency with the highest percentage of delinquent employees is the National Capital Planning Commission, where 10.42 percent of its 48 employees owe $26,947.

"NCPC is committed to working closely with the Department of The Treasury to resolve issues of federal income tax delinquency involving its staff," NCPC spokeswoman Lisa MacSpadden said in a statement.

"The agency takes this matter very seriously and recognizes that federal employees must adhere to the highest ethical standards regarding financial matters.

"We remind our employees of this responsibility as part of our mandatory annual ethics training. Upon receipt of an official notice from the IRS about a specific employee's noncompliance, NCPC will take appropriate administrative action."

Other notable agencies on the list:

* Executive Office of the President (includes the White House): 50 employees owe $812,917;
* U.S. Senate: 231 employees owe $2,469,026;
* U.S. House of Representatives: 447 employees owe $5,809,631;
* U.S. Tax Court: 3 employees owe $39,752;
* Active Duty Military: 27,111 employees $102,474,672.

While some taxpayers may scratch their heads and ask why the federal government doesn't garnish the wages of these employees, the reality is they can't. According to federal tax laws, employees are treated the same as any other taxpayer who doesn't pay their taxes.

The IRS must go through the same procedures and court process with feds as it does with John Q. Public. Once a court awards the IRS a judgment or if the employees enter a voluntary payment plan, the IRS can garnish wages. However, federal employees do jeopardize any security clearance they may have if they don't pay their income taxes.

As for the general public's voluntary compliance rate, the IRS no longer tracks those numbers, so it is impossible to compare. But an IRS report from 2001 (PDF) showed the total tax gap to be about $345 billion. The tax gap is the difference between what is owed each year and what is paid, and includes income, corporate, employment, estate and excise taxes.

(Copyright 2009 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
Mark Segraves, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - At a time when the White House is projecting the largest deficit in the nation's history, Uncle Sam is trying to recover billions of dollars in unpaid taxes from its own employees.

Federal workers owe more than $3 billion in income taxes they failed to pay in 2008. According to Internal Revenue Service documents, 276,300 federal employees and retirees owe $3,042,200,000.

The IRS tracks the voluntary compliance rate of federal employees and retirees each year, and each year feds come up short. The one bright spot in this year's report is that after several years of a steady increase, the amount owed by feds is down from the previous year.

Federal employees and retirees owed $3,586,784,725 in unpaid income taxes in 2007.

The documents show delinquent employees from nearly every federal agency with more than 25 employees. Based on percentages, the Department of The Treasury, which includes the IRS, has the best compliance rate. Fewer than 1 percent of Treasury employees didn't pay their taxes in 2008.

The IRS is the only federal agency where employees can be fired for not paying their taxes. The non-compliance rate for IRS employees in 2008 was 0.76 percent -- down from 0.89 percent in 2007.

The agency with the most tax scofflaws is the U.S. Postal Service, with 28,913 employees who owe $297,933,756. But that is still a dramatic improvement from 2007 when more than 54,000 employees owed more than $407 million.

"We urge our employees to comply with all tax laws and are encouraged that many who have been delinquent have agreed to payment plan with the IRS," USPS spokesperson Mark Saunders tells WTOP in a statement.

"It's important to look at the percentage of postal employees who may be delinquent on their federal taxes, not just the number itself. According to IRS figures, the delinquency rate for Postal Service employees is relatively small."

The Postal Service, the largest employer in the federal government aside from the military, has a non-compliance rate of 3.95 percent compared to the federal average of 2.8 percent.

Retired military personnel make up about 33 percent of the money owed with $1,343,538,055 in unpaid taxes for 2008.

The agency with the highest percentage of delinquent employees is the National Capital Planning Commission, where 10.42 percent of its 48 employees owe $26,947.

"NCPC is committed to working closely with the Department of The Treasury to resolve issues of federal income tax delinquency involving its staff," NCPC spokeswoman Lisa MacSpadden said in a statement.

"The agency takes this matter very seriously and recognizes that federal employees must adhere to the highest ethical standards regarding financial matters.

"We remind our employees of this responsibility as part of our mandatory annual ethics training. Upon receipt of an official notice from the IRS about a specific employee's noncompliance, NCPC will take appropriate administrative action."

Other notable agencies on the list:

* Executive Office of the President (includes the White House): 50 employees owe $812,917;
* U.S. Senate: 231 employees owe $2,469,026;
* U.S. House of Representatives: 447 employees owe $5,809,631;
* U.S. Tax Court: 3 employees owe $39,752;
* Active Duty Military: 27,111 employees $102,474,672.

While some taxpayers may scratch their heads and ask why the federal government doesn't garnish the wages of these employees, the reality is they can't. According to federal tax laws, employees are treated the same as any other taxpayer who doesn't pay their taxes.

The IRS must go through the same procedures and court process with feds as it does with John Q. Public. Once a court awards the IRS a judgment or if the employees enter a voluntary payment plan, the IRS can garnish wages. However, federal employees do jeopardize any security clearance they may have if they don't pay their income taxes.

As for the general public's voluntary compliance rate, the IRS no longer tracks those numbers, so it is impossible to compare. But an IRS report from 2001 (PDF) showed the total tax gap to be about $345 billion. The tax gap is the difference between what is owed each year and what is paid, and includes income, corporate, employment, estate and excise taxes.

(Copyright 2009 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sledding, MOTAB ...

 

So we finally started getting some snow around here to replace the brown lawn. Now don't get me wrong, I don't LOVE the snow but I live in Utah so it's life. If I truly hated it enough I'd leave but for now the job is here and the grandparents so we weather the nasty weather with purpose! Sorry, I just get tired of hearing certain children say, "I hate the snow!" I told him, "you aren't allowed to say it until May!" It's Utah, get over it already! He may end up at BYU-Hawaii in the end. Anyway, the other kids were so excited to go sledding. Gwen was trooper walking back up the hill. If you notice in the pictures that there is grass showing only because SO many kids had been sldding already that day. We got dumped on Saturday night and today (Sunday) so they'll want to head out tomorrow after school! We were hoping to take the kids up to Temple Square in Salt Lake City after dinner tonight but the roads might have been scary so we stayed home and sang Christmas Carols and watched Mr. Krueger's Christmas.

Earlier in the week Tim took Timo and Taran and some friends to a Jazz basketball game they were playing the Orlando Magic. It was a late game but the Jazz pulled out a win but they got home really late so I guess it was worth it. Emily got to go help with Special Needs Mutual and saw Tim's cousin's son Stewart there! Small world. She talked to him and couldn't remember how she was related to him. Timo's js Jazz team won again.

I took Zane, Gwen and Zane's friend Mark to see some ice sculptures--only 2 were left! I was sick when they made them so I couldn't get there earlier. I bought them big gingerbread men cookies so that made up for it, I guess. The sculputres were very cool. Too bad I forgot to put them in the collage! We should have fed the ducks! Maybe this week.

Our lives have also been busy with Emily auditioning for Suessical jr and Gwen's dance practices for The Match Girl, Gwen's performance is Saturday night. I just hope she dances after all the time and money!

The highlight of our week was Tim and I went to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert with Natalie Cole and the guy who wrote 1776 and John Adams. It was incredible. The church lets everyone apply for tickets through a lottery and we happily got them! We took my parents since they took Emily and Tim last year and it could be my dad's last year he may feel like going. We left early and parked then found a burger place just blocks from the Conference Center so we ate there and walked down to the concert. The place was crowded since it was also a Jazz game vs. the Lakers and a Kurt Bestor Christmas concert too. Unfortunately part way there my dad fell--he slipped on some ice. He managed the rest of the night but was sore. Hopefully he's okay. It was a great concert and we had fun with my parents even though it took 45 minutes to get out of the parking garage. We listened to my mom's new CD of Susan Byle--wow! We got home late and the older kids were still up and had to fill us in on their night. They took the younger kids to our ward Christmas party at the church. They had fun but I guess Gwen was tired part way through and ready to go home.

Taran was on a school dodge ball team and had a lot of fun playing yesterday--it's a fundraiser tournament. They didn't do to well but they had fun anyway!

This week is full of more Christmas activities so it should be great fun!!! Hope your holidays are going well!
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pennies for Peace


Emily and some of her friends got together and caroled our neighborhood collecting Pennies for Peace in the process. This is an organization setup by Greg Mortensen (Three Cups of Tea) for kids to raise money for building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We made some food that might be a western version of their laddoo and caramel custard. And learned some about those countries. It was fun and they had fun. I am just proud of Emily that she likes to do stuff like that hopefully it will help her stay grounded as she hits the selfish years. I am also glad she has friends that were excited about it too. And our neighbors were great sports and many donated more than pennies! It was a very cold night but I think they didn't notice too much.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Freedom Friday

So I have about a million things swirling around in my head. First of all I can not believe the crazy spending Congress is planning. "I'm sorry but just because you still have checks does not mean you still have money!" Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who thinks they are crazy. People are out of work, companies are cutting back...where in the !@#$ do they think they are going to get all the taxes from they are planning on raising? What revenue? When companies have to pay higher taxes they lay off people/out source to India and they raise prices... All this taxing and spending is so unwise. Then thinking they can take over private industry and improve it? What kind of geniuses do they think they are? Arrogant. I wonder how many people realize we are on the verge of total economic collapse. Soon China and Saudi Arabia may stop lending to us because we are too high a risk. So then what? We really need to let our President and congress know how we feel. They need to stop spending and start cutting the budget. It will be painful but better now than when we are in total collapse. We also need to remind them that they swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Many of these laws threaten it. And my last rambling thought is about the Clown Ballet and Singing Gardens our tax money went to support in the last stimulus package that passed...stupid, stupid, stupid! And they want to take over our health care...crazy! That's my last thought, the world is crazy! (sorry, I think my cold meds took over).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Christmas Angel...

 

Here is another collage, this time it's just of Gwen. I have to be honest. Seven children is not exactly what I had thought I would have but women know and have feelings about when it's time to have a child and when we are done. Well, at least for me I feel done after Gwen. I wouldn't trade her or Zane for any extra 'me time', sleep or money. They are worth it! Especially this time of year we so enjoy their enthusiasm for the Christmas traditions. Gwen is a dove in the dance concert The Little Match Girl. They had their class pictures yesterday and I only had my camera on my phone but I still managed a couple of cute shots with it! She now has her own purple tinsel Christmas tree. Tim took the photo of her in front of our tree because that was my first attempt at curling her hair--I used rollers overnight since her hair is so fine and straight! It turned out very cute! Gwen was so excited Monday with our first December snow. She and Zane played for awhile before lunch. The older kids went sledding while I took her to the doctor to get her Moscullom removed--nasty warts on her legs. She can't wait until we have another good snow and can go sledding. She made a snow angel with Zane but they walked through it before I could get a good picture of it. But she is our little sweet Christmas angel who warms our heart with her smile.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Cute Wooden Nativity...


This is from Sugardoodle here's the link brown nativity for the patterns and instructions.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Decorating and other adventures

 

I don't know how many trips it took to the store but many to finally get enough lights for our trees. Thanksgiving Breeak we realized that all our lights needed to be replaced. Our 9 foot tree was prelit and needed all the lights replaced or we had to get a new tree. Well, I love this tree it's the right height and width--narrow so we started taking the lights off. Let's just say that is the LAST prelit tree we buy! It took over 4 hours for Tim and I to get them all off and we lost our finger tips in the process. Then we had to get new lights. Well, you can't string regular lights in more than 5 normal strands so we had to find the longer strands. So after a week of living in Christmas chaos I think we can finally put away our boxes. Although I still haven't found the missing sheep... You may notice in the collage we have many trees. In fact each kids' room has it's own tree except Gwen who may get one tiny one soon. Why? Well, we used to have one tree in our living room and all the ornaments fit fine on it for awhile. But my mother in law gives each grandchild an ornament every year, my mom does if she sees one that fits that person that year and we usually make one or two each year. It adds up! So we decided to get the kids their own trees. They love having their own trees and I love listening to them talk about their ornaments. This year they can't put an ornament on their tree unless they earn it by being nice and they can get taken away too for being mean. It's been a rough week but they are getting better! We have one tree up stairs that's kind of fancy but I really just wanted white lights and a star at the top. Tim and the kids didn't go for that so between family and friends who have donated and a few purchases of our own it is decorated. It's too fancy for me but they all like it. I like it because it's tall and bright. When we finished our basement and bought the tall tree for upstairs we moved our other tree down. It's more my style. It's a potpourri of kid made ones and whimsical ornaments I have made or bought. I love the Scandanavian straw ornaments, some are from Ikea and some are from Finland. It's not too fussy which I like! Taran and Timo have a small little tree in honor of the Utah Jazz and BYU which I should have taken a picture of but I am too lazy. Emily hasn't gotten her tree up, too busy having fun with friends. I am torn about these trees. On my mission to Argentina most people didn't have trees and if they did they were very small, more like what my little boys have in their room. It's a different culture here, and I hate for mykids not to get out their ornaments and reminisce about them. That is a small joy of Christmas for them...once they turn 12 they won't care anymore and we can donate them I guess!

This last week we had a Christmas thing almost every night. I went to a live Nativity outside that was amazing! The baby was so beautiful and peaceful. It was a very great start to the Christmas season. Wednesday night Timo had his Concert Singer Christmas Concert and Taran was assigned the Madrigal Feast that night--it's first night. Since this was our only chance to see Timo we took everyone to that Emily went with her young women's group. We got to sit with both Grandparents, it was an amazing concert! We found out that their choir was invited to a special competition, not surprising! Thursday Timo had his first Jr Jazz basketball game which he won. Friday Was Taran's other assigned time at the Madrigal Feast. I ended up with strep throat that day so my sister went with Emily. Tim had bought tickets to BYU's Christmas Choir concert so he took Izak with him and they had a great time and met up with my parents, Keith and Amber and her parents so they went to TGIFridays for a treat! Meanwhile Teresa was having a less desirable experience at the feast (kind of funny but too much to go into here) but Emily enjoyed it immensely! So Saturday night Tim took Timo and Taran to the feast with 2 of Timo's friends (they can count this as a concert report) and they met my parents there. Even though Taran wasn't performing that night my parents wanted to have the experience. My dad called me earlier today and told me how much he enjoyed it (and Tim had said that the timing of singing was a little off). So I think they all had a good time, Taran said that he thought the show we saw last year was better but this still entertained. Emily got invited to see A Christmas Carol at the Hale Center Theater in Orem with Amber and Keith and Amber's family since she is friends with Amber's nieces who were there. They had a great time, of course! I did some online Christmas shopping and watched While You Where Sleeping. And I am feeling much better!

Oh, how I love all this Christmas stuff. We watched the Christmas Devotional tonight and loved the music and messages. This week isn't as fun but Tim and I do get to go to the MOTAB Christmas Concert with Natalie Cole on Saturday!!! Hope you are enjoying the holidays too!!!!
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Freedom Friday a little early...

My mom sent this to me. Do we really understand what we are doing???

Inviting Terrorists to Our Shores by Peter Heck

The storyline is hauntingly familiar: terrorist detainees were moved to a major city to await trial. While there, fellow Islamic terrorists decided to make a daring and dastardly attempt to gain their release, not by attacking the well-protected courtroom or the heavily guarded detention facility (they are bloodthirsty but they are not stupid), but by going for a more tantalizing target.



Thirty-five bomb-laden Muslim terrorists stormed a crowded middle school full of parents, teachers, and children. By doing so, they immediately gained what they desired most: the eyes of a watching world paralyzed with fear at what they might do. And the world had reason to fear. Over the course of this three-day massacre, the terrorists barricaded doors and tied up authorities in "negotiations" that were used only to buy them the time they needed to coldly execute the stronger men hostages, rape young girls in front of their watching mothers, and rig explosives throughout the complex to ensure that when the authorities stormed the building there would be massive casualties.


This horrific drama played out in the quiet Russian town of Beslan just five short years ago. In the end, 394 lay dead (over half of them children) with another 704 injured.

And stunningly, Barack Obama has just invited the same carnage to our shores.

When the President's Attorney General Eric Holder announced the administration's breathtakingly ignorant decision to bring 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) and five compatriots to New York City to stand trial in civilian court for their act of war, there was undoubtedly a collective gasp in the small towns outside New York. The citizens there surely must recognize that the high-profile status of KSM alone is enough to tempt every terror cell this side of Basra to consider making their rural middle schools the stage for Beslan: Act Two.

Why any president sworn to protect the lives of his fellow citizens would take such an outrageously absurd and completely unnecessary risk is unfathomable. And make no mistake...it is unnecessary. KSM and his fellow terrorists were already being tried by military commissions far away from American children and out of the international spotlight that they so desperately crave. Many, including KSM, had already pled guilty and requested execution.

But Barack Obama halted these commissions when he came into office, apparently more concerned with bolstering his image as a "citizen of the world" than protecting his own people. He then passed the buck to Eric Holder who announced that the terrorists would be brought to one of America's largest cities for the trial of the century.

The negative consequences of this decision are plentiful. From endangering innocent Americans to gift-wrapping a perfect propaganda opportunity for the terrorist world, this decision is inexcusable. And considering that the choice to try these monsters in civilian courts was to supposedly ensure that justice would be done, this decision becomes incomprehensible. (How, for instance, will these show trials result in any better or more just outcome than a guilty plea and execution sentence - something that the military commission had all but secured?)

In short, this is about to be a circus. [Editor's Note: Results from a related OneNewsNow poll question appear at the end of this column.]

Obama and Holder have now given constitutional "rights of the accused" to these terrorists (something that has never been done throughout all of American history). And if you don't think that their lawyers are going to bring up the manner of their detainment, the circumstances surrounding their capture, any perceived threats or mistreatment, any notion of coerced confessions, their lack of immediate access to attorneys, demand for relocation, complaints about a biased jury, calls for mistrials, and the need for an extensive appeals process, you aren't thinking...sort of like the Obama administration.

With a decision this bad - one that is receiving scorn across the country from angry Americans of all political backgrounds - one might hope that Team Obama would come to its senses and reverse course. Not likely.

When announcing this preposterous decision Holder stated, "To the extent that there are political consequences, I'll just have to take my lumps."

Frankly, sir, the grisly images of Beslan are a little too fresh in our minds to be overly concerned with your personal political consequences. We're a bit more concerned about the potentially deadly consequences this ragingly incompetent administration may have just brought on innocent American citizens.

Vice President Joe Biden once criticized Barack Obama's lack of preparedness for the serious responsibilities associated with the job of president by saying that the presidency was "not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." God forbid that we're about to see just how right he was.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Traditions


I really enjoy this Nativity painting as it seems so personal of Mary and Joseph enjoying baby Jesus. I love Christmas. It has such a unique spirit of love that it brings. We are hoping that through our family traditions our kids will feel that same spirit. Today we started reading from one of 4 Christmas books/binders we have--3 were given to us. Each has a daily something in December to enjoy the Christmas spirit. This year we are using one that has a scripture from the New Testament and a Christmas Carol or Song to sing that day AND a story pertaining to Christmas. The stories are long so we won't be reading them everyday but on occasion which is fine so the older kids don't get too bored of hearing the same stories every year we use it! We are going to start a new tradition this year that I heard about from another blogger Pikes Pickles. She shared that last year they had to earn the decorations for their tree by being nice to each other--you notice the good others do and then you get to put up the decorations. Luckily I remembered this year before we got the tree up so we are also starting that tradition. AND part of that is that if we aren't nice to each other we take some off! So if you come by our house and wonder why our tree is only part way decorated or not at all you'll know things haven't been going so well! Other traditions we plan to do are on Christmas Eve we act out the Nativity as we read it and we eat on the floor simple foods like summer sausage, cheeses, crackers, crusty bread, nuts, fruit and juice. We started that tradition last year and the kids already asked if we were going to do that again because they really liked it! We are doing our extended family white elephant gift exchange and gingerbread houses. Christmas choir concerts and dance concerts. We may throw in a play or two and we always watch lots of Christmas shows in between it all! We are trying to do some service for others also but we haven't decided yet what we'll do this year. May you and your family enjoy the love and simple joys of the season!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

 

So here is another collage! I love how easy it is to put a group of photos together, I just wish it would let me specify what photos I want in certain positions. One of the fun things for us, but maybe not for everyone is that most holidays include celebrating with both sides of the family since we have both parents around here and siblings as well. So this year was the year to be with Tim's side but we actually didn't celebrate until Friday since Tim's sister was involved in helping give dinner to those in need in her neighborhood. My parents and sister went on a little excursion to Daniel's Summit and didn't know if they would be back on Thanksgiving in time for dinner so they tentatively planned to go to one of my brother's (which they were able to do in the end). So we had a family meeting and got input on what to do. Some wanted to go to Golden Corral, another JCWs or In and Out (both are delicous hamburger places)and others suggested pizza. I suggested having steak, since we had done it one year in Chico where it's nice enough to BBQ in November! Pizza won out so that's what we did in the end. We decided to go totally low maintenance since we were eating pizza and I bought paper plates etc. It was a very relaxing day. All the kids and Tim (except for Gwen) went to the elementary school to play football, the annual neighborhood Turkey Bowl. Zane asked where the turkeys were when they got there. The little kids played a game and the men and teenagers played a game. I guess Emily was the only girl. Then they came home and watched football. Gwen mostly rode her bike and we did read some books, Thanksgiving ones besides her favorite Princess stories. Tim also had rented a bunch of movies so she watched Barbie and the 3 Musketeers. The kids also watched Sponge Bob Christmas, which they laughed a lot about! Tim took a break from football to put up the Christmas lights on the house. Besides pizza I did make pumpkin pie and Emily made a chocolate cream pie. After our pizza feast we watched Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs which had it's moments. I personally liked it more than number 2, I fell asleep in the theater watching it. After we got the little kids to bed Tim and I played In a Pickle with Taran and Emily. I am not sure if it was the game that was fun or just our funny personalities but we had a lot of laughs playing it. Timo was not willing to try it since he had heard it was a dumb game. Owell, his loss! Friday we got together with Tim's family for the official feast. It was delicious and we enjoyed playing some new games: Idiot and 6. Of course football was on the TV as well and the little kids watched Aladdin in the family room in the basement. The Emily and Maddie organized some other game for the kids around their age to play which they did for awhile. We also enjoyed listening to Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan too, my cheeks hurt so bad after that! We also celebrated all the November birthdays which was fun and I'll include photos in the birthday collage I will do for Timo and Zane! We got home late as you can tell by the photo of Gwen asleep on the couch when it was time to leave! Not only were Tim's sisters and their families there but our niece from Idaho who is doing an intership with the Humanitarian Department at the church and our nephew from Texas who is at BYU. It was a great time and I am grateful we have such great gatherings without drama or weird stuff that sometimes happends! So thankful for these great people in my life!
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful...


for family, friends, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I saved the best for last. What would my life be without my family, without friends, without the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and a loving Heavenly Father who put them all in my life? I have many material blessings to be thankful for but these I know I can live without. I am so grateful for a patient and loving husband who thinks my quarks are charming. I am grateful for good kids who try their best and are examples to me in many ways. I am grateful for parents who love me despite my shortcomings and support me in my crazy life--as in busy! I am grateful for siblings who inspire and humor me in many ways. For in-laws who are easy to love and accept me for who I am and love me anyway. For extended family on both sides who are so amazingly talented and creative and accepting. For friends who pray for me, help me and are examples to me in so many ways. For Jesus Christ for loving me and you and everyone enough to sacrifice it all for our choice to return to our Heavenly Father or not, we choose. For the peace He can give if we seek it, for love we can feel if we desire it and mercy freely given when we don't deserve it. For a loving Heavenly Father who sent His son and provided a great plan of happiness not just for later but for now. He lets us choose, He lets us make mistakes and He patiently understands our concerns and weakness. I love having Thanksgiving before Christmas as it brings Christ to the center before the holiday starts and set the tone for the whole month, if we let it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Being Thankful...





for inspirational books...I was going to try to make these photos into a collage but it was just taking too long. These are only some of the books I have found over the years that have changed my heart in one way or another. They have inspired me to do better at being me and have inspired me to change how I treat others, in a more kind and loving way. They give me hope in myself and others. I know that if I put into practice those things that I have read I will be a happier and more fulfilled person. (They are: The Book of Mormon, Three Cups of Tea, Left to Tell and The Peacegiver). I love to read and these are just a few of the books at the top of my inspired list but I have many favorites that are fantasy and children's literature that I enjoy and that inspire me through their characters who over come evil and/or different challenges to become better and keep their virtue intact.

Hopefully we take time each day to be uplifted by good literature but especially scriptural literature. The Book of Mormon has been a boon of strength for me in many a trial for over 20 years. It testifies of Jesus Christ and his ministry and works with the Bible to testify of His divinity as the Son of God. If you haven't read it, try it, pray about it and you will come to know as I have and many others that it is a true book. We are so blessed in this country to have so much literature at our finger tips so many in other countries can not afford books. I can't imagine my life without them and so I am very grateful for what they have done for me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday Zane!


As I mentioned last week on Timo's birthday that I wrote about their births last year so I will by pass that today and just talk about how our grumpy, old man is growing up! We call him that because he wasn't this jolly little guy. He is reserved in his affections and he can be downright grumpy! But he also is very sweet. He gives me hugs every day when he comes home or when I have been gone or Tim. He is a great big brother to Gwen. He is animated about what she is doing and is genuinely interested in her. He doesn't try to make her hug and she is very protective of him because his treatment of her! He is diligent in waiting to eat until we have prayed which he puts the rest of us to shame on that point! He also likes praying too. He loves super heroes and is starting to enjoy playing sports with his older brothers and going to sporting events. Soon he won't be a little kid. We are so glad he joined our family 6 years ago and hope he has many more years ahead with us!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Being Thankful...



for the beauty of nature. This collage is a compilation of places in Utah (mostly near our home) including my mom's yard! As you see I've included our ducks and geese we feed at a pond close by that we go to almost every week. If you look closely at the collage there is one I got when they were flying in when they knew where there to feed them, very cool! I just took that one on Friday. I took all the photos with my simple point and shoot and some day I hope to have a nice camera and learn to take the photos I imagine! (I wish I could place the photos in the collage--maybe you can but I haven't figured it out!).

We are so blessed because the world is a beautiful place. Yes, there are ugly and terrible places. But I know God's intent is for us to enjoy this world and to be good stewards of it. He loves us and intends for us to enjoy the diversity of not just the human race but this planet we live on. My photos are just of this desert state, Utah yet it has great beauty! You can see some of it's desert qualities in some of the photos but southern Utah has the beautiful redrock canyons.


We can all think of beautiful places we love where we live. I feel we should take advantage, take care of and appreciate the very best of where we live. That is being grateful.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Freedom Friday

Okay people tomorrow they are voting on another health care reform bill. It's time to call your senators and let them know how you feel. No time to waste. Why do I think we shouldn't have these two reform bills (senate and congress)?

1. the cost

I am not just talking about the GUZILLIONS amount of money it is going to cost to fund these reforms. But the human cost. We can see it start already, for example this week: they are suggesting women under 50 NOT do self breast examinations and that women 40-50 not have routine mammograms. What in the !@#$ ???? I have 2 friends who were in their 30's who found their own breast cancer due to self examinations! This is just a small sample of things to come. And how are they are going to come up with the GUZILLIONS of money? Taxes, you say. WHO is going to have the money to tax? 250, 000 people lost their jobs last month. What taxes are they going to pay? I'm sorry but you can't count on money that just isn't there. They are going to HAVE to ration health care. This isn't a political party issue this is a people issue, we must all unite and let them know, no WAY!!!! If you don't want this we don't want it either!!!! We need reform that reforms and helps all the people.

2. constitutionality

I am NOT an expert by any means about the Constitution but I do know that health care is not a right nor is it a responsibility of the government according to our current Constitution. If you have read the bills being presented you will be required BY LAW to have health insurance. You will be illegal if you don't. That is unconstitutional. If we don't like our constitution let's change it but don't present a bill that is a waste of time and money. I have heard people (lawyers) are preparing to take the bills to court over it's Constitutionality.

3. practicality

In your heart you know there is no way the government could do a better job at handling our health care system than we have today. If you know anyone who uses Medicaid and Medicare they can tell you the run around and problems with it. These reforms don't take over the system at the get go but it is common knowledge they will bankrupt private health insurance companies making the government sponsored health insurance the only option and you can't opt out of that. We need health care reform but not this, it needs to be a patient centered reform.

I read about another reform bill by a congressman or senator from Florida who was a doctor for 25 years. He seems to be on the right track. I thought i'd book marked it so I'll have to find the link for you!

If you want more info on the health care debate check out these:
Washington Post and
Wall Street Journal Article and
Save our Country, Reverse the Vote

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy 15th Birthday Timo!


Today our second child and son was born 15 years ago! Wow! Where does the time go? Last year I posted the birth story so if you are interested look in my 2008 posts. Timo has weathered being the second child pretty good. He is not perfect, I know but I see him developing some maturity here and there, in things I did not as soon when I was a teenager. He is hardworking and competitive which helps him do well in most things but I am afraid he might be slacking a little this year since things have always come easy to him in school. We'll see. But I have many things that I am proud of him. He comes to me when he has a problem and confides in me, this is huge. Even if he thinks I am weird he trusts me! He takes pride in doing his best work, he is more of a perfectionist than me. He is responsible and dependable. He helps me when I am stressed. I appreciate his many talents but I enjoy him the most when he spends time with his younger siblings who look up to him so much. Happy Birthday Timo! I hope you know how much you are loved and appreciated!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Being Thankful...


for music today...I just love Josh Groban's song Thankful--sorry no photos on this video just the lyrics which are great. I have been listening to it everyday. I think I was too drugged out to appreciate it last year! (Back surgery=pain killers). Anyway, check it out if you haven't. I love hearing Gwen and Emily sing around the house--Zane is also a cute little singer. I love hearing our church choir practice in our basement family room on Sundays. Tim is the choir director. I love hearing Taran and his friends make music in the basement or garage. I love hearing Timo play Fur Elise on the piano or Phantom of the Opera. I enjoy Izak and Micah's recent interest in the piano and practicing Christmas songs. Last year my favorite Christmas album was the MOTAB (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) with the King's Singers (the cover is one of the photos I posted)Rejoice and Be Merry. The music is just amazing--check this outhere and it's not even my favorite. And Ring Christmas Bells with Brian Stokes Mitchell is a great one too that just came out--see this! My mom got us that one. I am so excited we got tickets to see the MOTAB with Natalie Cole! They are free so it's a lottery. Music can be such an inspiration to us and lift us to great heights. If you want a good Thanksgiving Album try A Thanksgiving of American Hymns by BYU Choirs. The final song is Come Thou Fount on You Tube, one of my most favorite songs ever and they do an amazing, seriously amazing rendition.
**itunes has them and Amazon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

October & November highlights



I decided to make a collage of pictures I forgot to include in the last 'update'. We have 2 birthdays coming so best stay on top of it all! So you can see our jack o' lanterns--boy, have they come a long way since I was a kid! Between creativity and the patterns you can use, almost makes cleaning out the pumpkin worth it! Except for Taran who decided not to carve this year. We enjoyed our annual Spooky Tales tradition with the Durtschis and some other families. It's the only time my kids get any attention, or so it seems, as they all want to tell a scary story or tell a joke. Except Taran and Timo who humor us with the other teenagers! We had a great time sharing yummy soup and fun! I took a walk with Gwen down the path by the creek near our house just before a huge storm hit and blew all the leaves off that was lucky. We had a nice quiet time. One photo is crazy hair day for the kids at school they do it during red ribbon week, not sure what exactly that has to do with saying no to drugs but they enjoy dressing up! We have been feeding the ducks and geese every Friday but last and they seem more hungry every week. We got snow this weekend so maybe we should try to feed them, I'm not sure the city park people feed them. Usually some migrate but we've had unusually warm weather overall until this weekend. It's VERY cold right now. We live in a windy area which adds to the chill. We enjoyed celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday last Sunday at my mom's. We had a Chinese feast! We hadn't seen my brother and his wife in awhile, they've been busy moving into a new house and getting settled, fun times! My sister also moved into a new place not too far from us, she is in a planned community with a pool, tennis courts etc and that should make visits even more fun! Tim and the boys have been over to help out a couple of times. Taran took the ACT. He didn't study so we will see how this first go went. He felt like he did well except for maybe some science stuff he wasn't sure about. He and his band friends are busy trying a homemade approach to recording an album. We'll see! Timo tried out for the Jr High basketball team. There were 70 boys who tried out and only 12 made it. Only one of his friends made it but he was realistic about it all. I am proud of him for trying! One of the nice things about living here is they have a recreation program for just about every sport so he can still play basketball through the Jr Jazz program, partly sponsored by the NBA team Utah Jazz. Emily and Tim enjoyed a concert with the King's Singers who came to BYU. I was going to go but it was the week Micah & Gwen had had the stomach flu and we were a little nervous leaving Taran and Timo to watch the kids when one might start throwing up. Luckily no one else got it. Gwen has become a maniac on her bike she got for her birthday and rides all around the upstairs. She has been outside a few times with it but it has gotten too cold now. Maybe by spring we can take the training wheels off! Micah and Izak are going crazy with their piano playing. They have 2 Christmas songs memorized already. Their new teacher has been just what they needed, she lets them have quite a bit of freedom in choosing a song to learn along with technique and theory stuff. We only have 2 pianos and I remember reading about the 5 Browns' (5 siblings who all play concert piano professionally and all went to Julliard) parents having to buy 5 pianos so they all could practice. One of our pianos is an antique and needs to be gutted on the inside since you can't tune it anymore. But we have fights over the piano since we do have 5 players not counting Tim! It's a good problem to have! Our niece's marching band that was in the accident last month was able to go to Grand Nationals this weekend due to another miracle but they didn't make it to the finals this year which surprises me. I am so glad they got to go and they still did really well 14th out of 91 bands! (This is what I read in today's paper anyway, Amy can correct me). Still a great part of the whole story! We made turkey and leaf sugar cookies Friday, I found a sugar cookie recipe that won a baking contest here locally so I thought we'd try it out! Very good recipe! I forgot to add that I posted some of our family photos in the collage my friend Merrily took of us last month--she took 63 so I only put a few in the collage. I ordered our Christmas cards Saturday! Friday Tim took the 3 little boys to a BYU basketball game thanks to my sister-in-law who got them for us! They had a blast. Emily went to Space Camp over night Friday and had a wonderful time with her friends--all kids from her school we involved in all the ships. One last thing if you want to try something different check the Delmonico Steak at your local butcher. I got a great deal on it last month. Googled Delmonico Steak and got a simple recipe that was delicious and it had a recipe for Delmonico Potatoes. Everyone loved the food! Sorry for the rambling update, too lazy to organize it all! That's enough, I'm off to bed!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Our Littlest Princess and her friends

 

Gwen got these adorable princess dress ups from her aunts for her birthday. She has worn them almost everyday and she is able to share them with her friends--even Max wanted to try it out but I found our Spiderman dress up. (Not sure how his dad would feel about the cross dressing!) Anyway, I just love how easy these are for Gwen and her friends to get on and off. They are such adorable little girls and we love Max too. It's just to great for her to have such cute friends in every way...
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Freedom Friday

Just a very interesting article about the upcoming Copenhagen Treaty. It's a bit long but I feel we need to be informed about this topic to maintain our freedom.

Copenhagen Climate Change Conference Could Threaten National Security
by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.


Copenhagen Consequences

As a prelude to the upcoming Copenhagen conference of the nations participating in the Convention on Climate Change, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced and passed out of committee sweeping energy reform legislation. This measure faces much tougher hurdles before the full Senate.

To promote her legislation (a companion to the Waxman-Markey "cap and trade" bill passed by the House) Boxer held a hearing at which she argued that passage of the bill was a matter of national security. She is wrong. Her legislation could actually undermine the nation's capacity to keep Americans safe, free, and prosperous. Furthermore, the dangers posed by the Senate bill are reflective of many of the national security challenges that could be raised by efforts at Copenhagen to draft a global climate treaty.

Fighting the Air up There

The premise behind Boxer's bill is that the U.S. must create a government-run program to reduce the emission of "greenhouse gases," including carbon dioxide (CO2). The bill would establish a complex energy tax scheme to penalize businesses and industries that emit these gases. Proponents of the legislation have argued that its passage is essential to U.S. national security. Without the law, proponents claim, adverse climate changes will cause nations to fail, natural disasters will yield unprecedented humanitarian crises, and states will wage war over the remaining resources.

Rather than allow the U.S. to better address the challenges of climate change, Boxer's tax scheme is likely to undermine both U.S. security and America's capacity to act as a good steward of the environment. A study by The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis found that the companion Waxman-Markey bill would make the U.S. about $9.4 trillion poorer by 2035. Much of this decline would be from reduced economic productivity and job losses. In particular, under the House legislation there would be 1.15 million fewer jobs on average than without a cap-and-trade bill. Other economic concerns include rising deficits and continued devaluing of the dollar.

A sharp decline in economic productivity would likely have a deleterious impact on U.S. security. A decrease in U.S. economic growth would result in even more draconian cuts to the defense budget. Likewise, a steep drop in American economic growth would lengthen and deepen the global recession, thereby increasing the number of failed states.

On to Copenhagen

The wrongheaded approach taken by Boxer is likely to be mirrored in the deliberations at Copenhagen, where efforts to restrict greenhouse gas emissions could undermine both the global economy and worldwide security--outcomes that would lead to a more fragile environment and greater human misery.

Without question, the greatest security threat of an international climate treaty is that it would make the economies of the U.S. and its allies less competitive, depriving them of the capacity to defend themselves and aid other nations.

Additionally, advocates of the treaty insist that it not include a clause that allows emissions reductions to be subject to "conformity with domestic law." In other words, even if U.S. laws included an exemption for emissions by the military, such an opt-out could potentially be trumped by an international treaty.

The U.S. military is the nation's largest consumer of fossil fuels. As Major General (ret.) Robert Scales testified in Boxer's hearing, despite any innovations in new energy technologies made in the foreseeable future, most military forces will continue to be powered by fossil fuels. Thus, mandated fossil fuel reductions could severely limit the capacity of the U.S. to defend itself and its allies and conduct humanitarian and security-assistance missions worldwide.

In addition, since the military has no choice other than to rely on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, any tax scheme that makes carbon-based fuels more expensive will mean the Pentagon will have to spend more on fuel and less on everything else that America's men and women in uniform need. Regardless of how the climate changes or the status of energy supplies, the U.S. will need a military that has sufficient resources to conduct current operations, maintain a trained and ready force, and prepare for future challenges. Long-term levels of defense spending are already too low to prevent the military from becoming a hollow force. A steep rise in carbon-fuel costs will exacerbate this decline.

Finally, an international climate treaty is likely to disadvantage the U.S. and other democracies that sign the convention in competing with authoritarian regimes that could care less about the environment. As General Scales noted in his testimony, U.S. refining capacity would likely evaporate and move offshore--making America more, not less, dependent on foreign countries. Furthermore, since oil is a global commodity, as the price rises, foreign oil producers that wish America ill would still find ready buyers for their product. Thus, they would fill their coffers even as the U.S. becomes less competitive.

Countering the Consequences of Copenhagen

Advocates of an international climate treaty have little hope that a convention with stringent, binding, and enforceable emissions reduction targets will be signed in Copenhagen, but they have every intention in continuing to shape the provisions of a draft instrument that could constrain the ability of the U.S. to direct its own energy future--and ultimately look after the security of its citizens.

The U.S. should deal responsibly with the challenges of global climate change, but the road to Copenhagen is a dead end. Rather, Washington should seek an alternate path to ensure a future where America is a worldwide leader in the stewardship of the global environment, a champion for the advancement of freedom and justice, and an engine of sustainable growth. Specifically, the U.S. Government should:

* Ensure that any effort to reduce reliance on foreign oil is grounded in policies that are best for the economy. Reducing oil imports from unstable or unfriendly regimes should be done in a way that minimizes the economic cost to Americans. Policies such as raising taxes on gasoline while mandating or subsidizing expensive or unproven alternative fuels and vehicles lead to large costs with marginal--or even negative--results. The first steps in reducing reliance on foreign oil are to make full use of domestic petroleum reserves and to remove disincentives to investment in oil production from friendly nations. These should be coupled with efforts to encourage diversification away from petroleum, which will be best achieved not by government fiat but by the private sector-led development of alternatives that can compete in their own right. Domestically, the federal role should be limited to conducting basic research and removing regulatory and tax barriers that impede private-sector innovation. In addition, restrictions on international growth in alternatives, such as the tariffs that limit ethanol imports into the U.S., should be eliminated.
* Provide leadership for the international expansion of commercial nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is the only emissions-free energy source available today that can provide large amounts of energy. Unfortunately, regulatory barriers and protectionism stand in the way of the safe expansion of this technology. The U.S. could provide needed leadership by establishing a path forward that addresses these problems. While reforming its onerous regulatory regime and developing a workable system for nuclear waste management are domestic priorities, internationally, the U.S. must work to advance free and open markets. Moving the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage forward is critical to this effort. Parties to the convention operate under common liability rules for nuclear activities. This is important to U.S. companies who do not enjoy the national liability protection that most foreign firms enjoy, thus putting them at a competitive disadvantage. While the U.S. has ratified the convention, additional nations must ratify before it comes into force. Once in force, U.S. companies would be better able to compete in overseas nuclear markets, which would advance both economic and environmental agendas.
* Use free markets to advance a green energy and environment agenda. Trade measures in carbon-control legislation may appear necessary for protecting U.S. competitiveness and promoting broader international participation in such schemes. However, in reality, such measures will likely create a more hostile trade environment that costs U.S. firms access to global markets. Rather than using trade policy as a weapon, America should keep markets open. Policymakers should maintain the integrity and freedom of global markets as a means to transfer clean technologies, keep international investment flowing, and promote economic growth and prosperity in the U.S. and around the world.

These measures would provide real security to the American people by not hamstringing the military's ability to protect its citizens and ensuring sustainable growth based on clean and abundant green energy.

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Deputy Director of Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Davis Institute, at The Heritage Foundation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

This is a photo from Meuse-Argonne, France the cemetery contains the largest number of American military dead in Europe (14,246). We have over 100,000 buried in Europe, not counting the others whose bodies were not found. Thank you to our veterans and their families. Thank you to our military and their families. Happy Veteran's Day! Freedom isn't free!

Some inspirational videos: apologize?

Do I Make You Proud?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Being Thankful...


It may seem to some that lately I've been thinking a lot about what is wrong around me, as in our government. But as we changed months, I like to think of November as the Thankful Month. Not just Thanksgiving Day but take the month to think more about what I am grateful for each day. Last year I posted several different things I was thankful for over the month. So I am behind in that regard but it is because I am so grateful for this country for those for those who founded it and those who have and continue to fight for our freedom that I am concerned for our country. For that reason I try to get the word out about what is going on. I want my children to have a future for their children, not strapped by high taxes and legislation so they can't own a home, earn a living or worship as they please.

I am grateful for the opportunities the United States of America allows. No other system has created so much for so many and not just in our country. All other systems have failed to provide so many with so much. Is it perfect? no but it's not the system it's the people. But if people live moral lives then it works. Our society is modern but we have lost so much in the technological advancements in civility and humanity. Therein lies the flaw of our system that people would self regulate so now we need government to do it and I don't think they are very good either!

So back to being thankful. I am ever so grateful to be an American. We enjoy so much that so many dream about, we are the hope of everyone. I lived in Argentina for a while and as much as they dog our country they also feel a desire to come here. I am grateful for the freedom this country allows not just in action but in thought. My father, who is from South Africa, said that coming here he began to believe for the first time in his life he could be whatever he set out to be. He felt hope that his station in life did not define what he could be come and his possibilities endless.

Those who have grown up in this atmosphere may take for granted the blessing this is in our own happiness and prosperity. That's what God wants, he wants us all to feel hope, joy and love. One of my friends posted a photo of her in Germany and she was there when the wall came down. Amazing. I am sure this would not have happened without the influence of the United States. 20 years has passed since then and we find ourselves grappling to hold on to our own freedoms!

I am thankful for this country with all it's troubles it is the hope of the world and the hope of each of us.

I end with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Health Care Bill Passes...

but I am not done yet. This was a slim win. So it's time to focus on the senate and maybe, just maybe, we will have a miracle and they won't pass it. This is not what we need to help people. Why would we want what THEY (our elected reps) won't use themselves. If this is going to be so great then they should use it, right? But they voted down a bill that required them to have the same health care program they pass...telling isn't? Please don't give up, keep in touch with your senators...find out how your congressman/person voted thank those who voted against it especially Democrats who faced great opposition from their party and the President. We can do this, we must. God Bless America!

Climate Change Expert

This is an excerpt from a speech given that has IMPORTANT information about the Copenhagen Treaty that our president wants to sign. Please take time to watch it and pass on the information. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmgsmRIKKno&feature=rec-LGOUT-exp_fresh+div-HM

Friday, November 6, 2009

Freedom Friday

My dad passed this important information on to me from a lawyer who has read the original Health Care bill and if you go to his link at the very end of this post he has read the newest version. His conclusions confirm many of my own. Please contact your representatives TODAY if you have not since they are planning on a vote tomorrow. I promise you that you will kick yourself if you don't do something and this bill passes.


Michael Connelly of Carrollton, Texas is a Constitutional lawyer and has read the entire health care bill and has some comments, not about the bill, but about the effects on our Constitution.



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE BILLS

Well, I have done it! I have read the entire text of proposed House Bill 3200:
The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009. I studied it with
particular emphasis from my area of expertise, constitutional law. I was
frankly concerned that parts of the proposed law that were being discussed
might be unconstitutional What I found was far worse than what I had
heard or expected.

To begin
with, much of what has been said about the law and its implications is in fact
true, despite what the Democrats and the media are saying. The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants,free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the
medical profession.

The Bill
will also eventually force private insurance companies out of business and put everyone into a government run system. All decisions about personal health
care will ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats and most of them will not
be health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled.

However, as scary as all of that is, it just scratches the surface. In fact, I have
concluded that this legislation really has no intention of providing
affordable health care choices. Instead, it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or even been contemplated. If this law or a similar one is adopted, major
portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been
destroyed.

The first thing to go will be the masterfully crafted balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the U.S. Government. The Congress will be transferring to the Obama Administration authority in a number of different
areas over the lives of the American people and the businesses they own. The irony is that the Congress doesn't have any authority to legislate in most of those areas to begin with. I defy anyone to read the text of the U.S. Constitution and find any authority granted to the members of Congress to regulate health care.

This legislation also provides for access by the appointees of the Obama administration of all of your personal healthcare information, your personal financial information, and the information of your employer, physician, and hospital. All of this is a direct violation of the specific provisions of the 4th
Amendment to the Constitution protecting against unreasonable searches and
seizures. You can also forget about the right to privacy. That will have been legislated into oblivion regardless of what the 3rd and 4th Amendments may provide.

If you decide not to have healthcare insurance or if you have private insurance that is not deemed "acceptable" to the "Health Choices Administrator" appointed by Obama there will be a tax imposed on you. It is called a "tax" instead of a fine because of the intent to avoid application of the due process clause of the 5th Amendment. However,that doesn't work because since there is nothing in the law that allows you to contest or appeal the imposition of the tax, it is definitely depriving
someone of property without the "due process of law.

So, there are three of those pesky amendments that the far left hate so much out of the original ten in the Bill of Rights that are effectively nullified by this law.
It doesn't stop there though. The 9th Amendment that provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The 10th Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are preserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Under the provisions of this piece of Congressional handiwork neither the people nor the states are going to have any rights or powers at all in many areas that once were theirs to control.

I could write many more pages about this legislation, but I think you get the idea. This is not about health care; it is about seizing power and limiting rights.
Article 6 of the Constitution requires the members of both houses of Congress to "be bound by oath or affirmation" to support the Constitution.

If I was a member of Congress, I would not be able to vote for
this legislation or anything like it without feeling I was violating that
sacred oath or affirmation. If I voted for it anyway, I would hope the
American people would hold me accountable.

For those who might doubt the nature of this threat I suggest they consult the source.
Here is a link to the Constitution:
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

And another to the Bill of Rights: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html


There you can see exactly what we are about to have taken from us.

Michael Connelly Retired Attorney, Constitutional Law Instructor Carrollton, Texas
http://michaelconnelly.viviti.com/http://michaelconnelly.viviti.com/