Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Semi-official Christmas Letter - 2009

Greetings to you, our dear friends and family!

If you have a few minutes, settle into your favorite chair and catch up on our latest news.

As always, God has been good and our year has been full!  Most of you know that we have been empty-nesters now for a few years.  The photo of the whole family was taken at Disneyland for our one weekend all together so far this year.  We’re excited that we’ll be together again for the weekend after Christmas.  Now let’s see what the family has been doing…

Kevin recently spent about 6 months in Afghanistan conducting some top secret missions with the Air Force.  He’s not allowed to tell us what he was doing for at least 50 years.  (Safe bet that we won’t even be around by then, right?)  He was honorably discharged from the Air Force in August and is now working for a strategy and technology consulting firm.   His job is located in Meridian, Mississippi, a somewhat smallish town a few hours from the gulf. Quite different from anywhere he’s lived before.  All we know is that he’s doing curriculum development and training for the military, relating to the equipment that he worked on in Afghanistan.  He’s been there since early October and is still getting acclimated to the job and the terrain.

Amy and her husband, Andrew are living back in Southern California, just a half hour or so from where they grew up (in Santa Clarita).  She was able to transfer with her job from a similar position in Scottsdale.  She’s an editor for press releases, so gets in on the breaking news before any of us hear it, but isn’t allowed to say anything.  She’s also pursuing her dream of being a wedding and portrait photographer and had the privilege of shooting a wedding in Italy, as well as several others this year.  Her hope is to eventually do photography full time, so if you know of anyone who’s looking, please pass her name along.  She’s willing to travel.  Visit www.TeeganPhotography.com to see her work.  

Andrew has pretty much landed his dream job!  A few years ago he attended The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences here in Arizona, and then was offered an internship at a recording studio in So Cal.  Since then he has moved to a new studio and has the privilege of working with and learning from a well-known mixing engineer.  He’s worked on albums by Green Day, Dave Matthews band, Hanna Montana and many others.  He also has a chance to do his own free-lance engineering work in his spare time.  He LOVES what he’s doing and is learning so much!

Terry is thankful to have survived a round of layoffs at American Funds and has been enjoying some special assignments in his job that keep him from getting bored.  He also loves the 10 minute commute!  During his free time he has been playing music a lot!  Just this month, in addition to the time he plays at church on Sundays, he played in a band for a Christmas concert for 2 nights, then with a different band at a CD release party at a coffeehouse the next weekend, and this weekend he played with a friend at the local Borders Bookstore.  He already has a few gigs scheduled in January as well. I'm so glad that he has the time and opportunities to express his gifts and talents in this way.  It's what he loves to do more than most anything.

As for me, I’m working 4 days a week for Uhlmann Family Offices http://www.familyoffices.org/ .  I enjoy a lot of variety in my position.  Parts of my days are spent assisting the non-profit organizations that share office space with us.  I have the chance to do a little bit of everything…event coordination, basic graphic design, photography, help with mailings, blog posts, website updates, and even a bit of bookkeeping.   I really love my job and my schedule!  My Fridays are precious to me because I have a chance to spend time with my mom and take her shopping, to doctor appts, lunch, the movies or whatever we decide to do together.  My sisters come along sometimes as well.  It gives me the chance to make up for some of the time that we lived in So Cal.  I love having that extra day to get things done either with family, friends or at home.   Speaking of extra time, I now have the time and energy to pursue hobbies like photography, blogging, crafting and hopefully sewing soon (when I get my machine).

Terry and I also were blessed with some fun travel this year.  We went to Steamboat Springs, CO for a week in the summer.  Kevin and two of our dear friends were able to join us too.  We had gorgeous weather and spent a lot of time outdoors.  In September we spent a long weekend enjoying Antelope Canyon and the north rim of the Grand Canyon with a couple of other great friends. The next weekend we drove to L.A. to go to Disneyland with Amy, Andrew and Kevin.  We had a blast!

In early November we spent a week with Terry’s dad and wife, Ginny in North Carolina.  We were treated to some amazing Fall colors and other gorgeous scenery there.  It was wonderful to have the chance to spend some extended time with them.

So what’s on the horizon for 2010?  You’ll have to ask the kids about their plans, but I’m hoping to travel to Fort Myers, Florida with my mom and sisters in February.  At 86, my mom still loves to travel, as long as one of us comes along with her.  We’re looking forward to visiting her half sister, Alice there.

In May, Terry and I are hoping to travel to Bosnia with a few people from our church.  Open Door Fellowship has had ongoing relationships assisting several churches there since their war and unrest in the 90’s.  Terry and two other guys are planning to go and play music at several churches and coffeehouses.  The men who lead worship at these churches are often the pastors who end up doing everything on Sundays.  The guys will be able to give these pastors some rest from that portion of the morning and will give the congregation a treat by having some different music and musicians.  They’ll also play at local coffeehouses to begin to make connections between the churches and the community they serve.  I will be going along to help with whatever I can and document as much as possible with photos.  They haven’t had anyone go with them to Bosnia for the purpose of capturing the images of the people and places and I hope to be able to bring home visuals that will help them spread the word about the work they do there and the needs that are evident.  We will be raising money for the trip in the coming months, which will be a first for us.

We'd love to keep in touch thru-out the year and hear updates from you anytime. We’re all on Facebook  (except Terry), so look us up there. 

We trust that you have a blessed new year, filled with the love of family and friends.  We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the coming year!

I'll leave you with a photo that we took of the family just this week.  Amy made the beards and mustaches as stocking stuffers for all of us.  Fun stuff, huh?

Love from all,

Nancy (and Terry)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Ham

Sorry to have been MIA this past week or so.  I'm sure you know that it's the time of year...see below for a holiday tip.

Of course, I have several events to post about, but no time at the present.  I thought I'd offer a quick suggestion for a great recipe if you're making ham this year for your holiday celebrations.

I found this recipe last year and it was delicious and so easy!  I substituted orange juice for the ginger ale and added a few extra cloves and brown sugar for a larger ham, but otherwise stayed pretty much with the recipe.

The awesome thing is that you can do it in a crockpot and have it cooking while you're at church or opening presents or busy with other things, then its' ready when you are!  It has amazing flavor and doesn't dry out!

Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Citrus Crocked Ham Recipe  (compliments of BetterRecipes.com)
Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Day 8 - Journal Your Christmas

Are you wondering where the posts for days 1 - 7 are?  Well, for now they're in my head.  I've been too busy to do any posts, but I'm gathering lots of thoughts and ideas.  Once we get to Sunday I should have a LOT more time, I think... and maybe I'll try to go back and catch up on some of the journaling days that I've missed. 

This week we have practice on Weds night (which is also our 32nd wedding anniversary), our Home Group Christmas party (here) on Thursday night, Terry has a concert in Scottsdale on Friday night, we're celebrating our anniversary on Saturday and we will be helping with worship at church on Sunday morning.   Then I think the schedule is pretty open until Christmas.  Yea!  Oh, I still have some Christmas shopping and wrapping to finish up, but that's easy peasy compared to these last few weeks.


I thought I could post about today's topic since it's about the Sights of the Season.  I've already been snapping pics this month, so I can easily find what I need.

I love this photo above of our cat, Shredder.  She's trying to look so innocent, but you can see the evidence of her tail wagging if you look at the trees on the windowsill.
This past Friday and Saturday 12/4 & 5 - my hubby played in a Christmas Concert each night with some of our best friends.  (He's the third one from the right in the rust colored shirt.)  Randy Thompson is the featured musician in this band, since many of the songs were written by him.  Terry loves playing these concerts with Randy and I love going to them!  It's such an awesome way to start the holiday season.




Another one of my favorite sights in December is the bare branch that hangs in the living room.  It's so much fun to change the decor with the seasons.  This winter it's sparkly!  Silver, gold, crystal and white snowflakes, icicles and other various ornaments.  With these decorations it can stay up past Christmas and through the other winter months as well.

And here's a little peek at our Christmas bathroom.  This year, I made the two framed pieces on the walls.  The black framed picture is filled with holiday designs and expressions from scrapbook paper and the red one, framed in white is "Merry Christmas" greetings on wrapping paper.  What a fun and easy way to change out your framed artwork for the holidays!

Be sure to click to enlarge the photos.

Decorating our home is one of my favorite parts of the holidays.  Thanks for visiting!


Friday, December 04, 2009

Journal Your Christmas 2009

Yes, it's true!  I have signed up to participate in "Journal Your Christmas".  It started on December 1st and goes thru early January.  I just signed up last night, and as you can see, I'm already behind.  But it's all good!  See...the cool thing is that if you pay once, then you can participate every year until...forever.

So, here's what I'm thinking...this year will be my preview and warm up year.  I'll get all the materials and information and if I have time to post or scrap book, then I will.  If not, then I'll just start digesting the resources and thinking about what I'll do for next year.  Then I'll have a whole year to prepare and ponder and get ready to do it for real.  And next year they'll add even more cool stuff!

I just started downloading the materials and supplies and I'm very excited about how much is included so far!  She is very thorough in giving you all the tools you need to complete an awesome project.

Don't worry, I'm sure I'll post something about Christmas in the next month or so.  It just may not be every day.  But even if it's not about Christmas, it will be interesting and insightful (at least I like to think so).  So please come back often or set yourself up as a follower on Google or add me to your RSS Feed so you can see my posts every time I add a new one.  That would be awesome!

See you soon!
 

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Antelope Canyon - Arizona 

So I've been falling behind on posting about travels.  I posted some photos on Facebook in September when we were there, but I know everyone isn't on FB, so here are a few of my favorites from Antelope Canyon.  I don't know about you, but I've seen pictures of Antelope Canyon for years, but never knew until recently that it was in Arizona!

We had the chance to go there with our friends, Marshall and Cathy on our way to a weekend at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and we were glad we did!

It's an amazing place for photography.  The only catch is that in the middle of the day when the lighting is best, there tends to be large numbers of folks in there for their tours.  There doesn't really seem to be any limit to the number that they take in at one time.  If there is, then the limit's probably a little too high because there were times when it was really quite crowded in those narrow passageways. I wish I would have taken a picture of the people inside the canyon to give an idea of how crowded it was.

The Canyon (and others like it) are all on the Navajo Indian Reservation near Page, Arizona (see map here) in a somewhat desolate-looking area near the northern border between Arizona and Utah.  It's amazing that these canyons are hidden in the desert there.  If someone didn't have photos and directions to the place, there's no way we would have found them.  There's no indication from the highway that these gorgeous formations are anywhere around.  And if you've been to the reservation, you know that the Navajo are not much for permanent structures, so we weren't quite sure where to go to pay and start our tour.  After a couple of stops we finally hooked up with a tour run by a woman (Carol Bigthumb) whose grandmother had discovered the canyons back in the 1930s. 

This sandy riverbed was the road to the canyon for much of the way.  It was very soft deep sand, so kind of strange to ride on.  The drivers tried to stay closer to the edge to keep from fish-tailing too much in the soft sand.

The tour guides were generally relatives and we spent most of our time with Gabriel , Carol's son-in-law (in the hat in photo below).  Turns out he is a believer and he was a great guide!  Very patient in pointing out the various rock formations with names, helping us find the best places to stand for photo ops and even looking at my camera to try to change some settings to get the best shots.  Now I'm sure some photographers would be offended by that, but I thought it was very nice of him to offer to be so helpful. 

The guides were also very good at directing traffic throughout the canyon so that photographers could have the "illusion" of being there alone.  They would hold up a group of people behind a curve in the canyon so that another group could take pictures of the space with no one in front of them.  Some of the photographers got a little pushy, but all in all it went quite smoothly considering the numbers.  I must admit though that as long as you have a tripod, and a camera that can be set to manual, it's really hard to take a bad photo in there.  The play of light on the beautiful red/orange rocks is simply amazing!


The first picture is near the beginning of the canyon and gives you an idea of the size of the space and the sandy floor.  If you go, please remember to wear closed toed shoes unless you want your feet to be totally dirty when you come out.

The rest of these are pretty much self-explanatory.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Enjoy!