Thursday, December 25, 2008

We Hope You're on Track...

For the Best Christmas EVER!

I waited until today to post our Christmas card this year. Hopefully, it has already arrived in your mailbox!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A 'Grown Up' Christmas Wish [List]

I know he's already listed in my Great Blogs off to the side, but my buddy Kev comes up with some incredible Christmas wish lists every year. Too good to pass up. Click on the links and get ready to smile. Probably even more funny than the list itself are his comments as to why they make such great gift ideas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Awana Christmas Musical

Jake's first Christmas production, and he goes and volunteers to do a solo singing part. After a couple weeks of nerves, and deciding no, he didn't want to do it, I told the lady in charge that he was opting out. The evening at practice he went and sang his part. So a little cajoling and inviting the neighbors and he agrees to go ahead with it. With three lines and a lot of nerves, he did manage to get the last line out nicely! It was wonderful and he was pretty proud he had done it. Jake is the one in the back row a little right of center. Behind the dark-haired girl in the front row.

Here's Santa & the Mrs!

Jake wanted to see Santa, even though "I know he's not real, I just want to see him and make his spirit happy." I believe he understands the basis of Santa is from St. Nicholas who happened to be a real person who lived long ago.
Mrs. Claus was on hand to welcome each child and hand out candy canes and a free movie pass. Did I mention this was at the Pollack Building? The movie theater just happens to be Pollack Tempe Cinemas! Well, that's OK by me. No mall lines, Santa has a real beard and take your time (no hurry, click, next)! I'm not sure if this is the business owner or not, but the couple are super nice. Thank you Pollack Investments!!

Chihuly'ed Out Yet?

Not me! Sorry if this isn't your cup o' tea, but it is pretty cool to me, so please bear with it...I only take a few moments to sneak peaks at these works, so one was night and now I came back before sunset. If you do like them, go ahead and click on the picture for a closeup view (no links).

This one I missed before:

This one too:

I haven't even seen all the pieces, yet, so beware - more to come!

Friday, December 19, 2008


A few cities have zoos that do Zoolights. The Phoenix Zoo is one of them (a private zoo - not run by the city of Phoenix). Up until now, the weekday evenings have been quiet with the kiddos in school. It will likely pick up in attendance until the New Year. I hate having to deal with the crowds and the idiots who believe they can park anywhere they want (one year we issued over 60 parking tickets in one day!). Seems they could do better by issuing tickets for specific nights and selling only so many to avoid the sometimes 45 minute lines getting in. That said, it is still kind of fun. The music system seems to have improved over the years, though I believe the lighting itself (the main draw, really) has lessened. Well, some improvements in lighting but fewer trees all lit up.

The entry bridge is an improvement, though I liked the floating displays no longer used.

This is fairly new - fake palms all lit up
Hey Mom! Look at me! Gotcha!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Looking Mighty Good!

Erik's first tie. Erik had a Christmas band concert Tuesday night and needed a tie. It had to be black, so we had to find one (Dad doesn't own a black tie). We also had to get a button up shirt and it came with a tie, so now he has two ties!
Almost forgot to note that Erik performed Away in a Manger with two other clarinet players and did very well. My camera batteries died just after taking the photo above, so no action shots or video this year. We'll see if I can convince him to play again on his own...

Christmas Lights

Many houses have some spectacular displays. These are a few nearby houses.

A nearby business always does it up for Christmas. I guess this guy owns a good number of business corners in Mesa & Chandler.
They'll have Santa there starting this Friday thru Tuesday. I'm not sure if Jake is excited to see Santa or just to get a candy cane, but he really wants to see him there this year.

Early Christmas

Grandma came over on Sunday so we could have Christmas dinner and open some presents. She'll be in Michigan with the girls (& the in-laws) and grandkids over Christmas time. The boys got some cool games - Sorry Sliders and electronic Battleship. Grandma got a digital photo frame - we didn't get to load everything from this summer onto a card (the pictures need to be reduced in size/reformatted), but we will.
Jake was very excited to see a cool game!

Erik was also excited, but he doesn't show it much.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We 'Elfed' Ourselves

Ever wonder what your life would be like as an elf? No?! We never did either - until now...

This link shows us at (it is OfficeMax, so it's not some virus) if you do your family, be sure to let us know!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birthday Boy!!

Erik is 12 years old TODAY!!!
He says he's not in any hurry to become a teenager. I would guess that once he's a teen he will be in a hurry to get a driver's license. Maybe once he's more like 15, perhaps. Anyhow, Happy Birthday Erik!! We love you!!!

More Chihuly

OK, that's a good showing of the glass sculptures for now...If I get back there and get some really good shots, then I will post some more. There are a few I didn't feel came out so great. There were also a few I missed. Anyhow, you have to admit this is quite the show, even if glass isn't your idea of art.

The entry sculpture (for the third time!)

Almost other-worldly effect on this...

and this

and this

The agave sculpture (also previously shown) all lit up.

Ships & Glass

I finally went to the Gardens in the evening and got some pictures of the Chihuly glass sculptures lit up. I think this is quite clever. Boats full of glass - in the desert. I don't know if these were done just for this exhibit or a part of the travelling exhibit.

Looks like a boat full of marbles. Some of these glass spheres are huge and must have been incredibly heavy to lift and blow.

Close up look at the 'marbles.' One looks like a bowl but is just clear glass on top.

I thought this one to be pretty cool. Partly from the color of the glass, partly from the shapes with the agave beside it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Chihuly Bowls

OK, I thought I knew a thing or two about color, but I was pretty amazed when I saw this. The same bowl is shown without flash first, then with. If there weren't the other bowls and the exact same shape you might think they were two totally different bowls! Two more:

There was a video showing how they make these bowls and some of the odd shapes and textures. I am almost positive I had seen a cable special on this once a few years ago, as some techniques I am certain I had seen before. Never worked in glass before, but as cool as all this is, I think I would like it.

Chihuly Glass Art

Well, the Desert Botanical Gardens has opened its exhibit on the glass art of Dale Chihuly, and I managed to look at a few pieces today. I still have to go back and see the other works, and also check them out all lit up at night. These first two pieces were ones I took the other week, but they didn't turn out that well (I posted them anyhow).
A close up of this one called 'The Sun'

And this one (I don't know the names of others):

Cool shapes and textures make for a lot of variety. This one has a gourd look to it. Really cool all bunched up and hanging all the way to the ground...

Some very interesting shapes and colors!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Santa Claus Visit

Jake's school had Santa come visit with the kids...It was a nice set up; they pretty much did a quick sit on the lap - smile for the camera - here's your candy cane - NEXT! But I didn't hear anybody complaining. Lines moved quickly and everybody who wanted got to get their picture with Santa.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Christmas is near when the cul de sac down the way lights up their houses and yards. It is a favorite to visit. The cul de sac

The boys hamming it up with a candycane lightpole

A couple of houses on the round-about

Almost makes me feel like I'm back in WI (without the cold).

These pictures are without the benefit of a next posts will be better.

Dessert Bread

Many thanks to Matt for the recipe for this almond twist bread. Looks fantastic, tastes great. We will definitely be making this one again (and again). Oh, and if you're not in the know, it's pronounced am'-uhnd, not all' muhnd, seeing how Matt & Gail & Anna are from CA almond country, Ripon (and relocated to Grand Rapids, MI).