Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stuart Family Christmas Letter 2010

I get to write the Christmas letter for the fam.  I thought I would share it with the rest of you... enjoy!

Another year has come and gone and the Stuarts are happy to say that it has been a good one!  We have been blessed with so many wonderful opportunities, experiences, and people in our lives that we couldn’t help but show our appreciation for all that you do for us – so Thank You very much for looking out for us. 
We would like to wish you a happy Holiday season!             Love, the Stuarts
Here is the latest from the Stuarts - starting from the bottom and working up…
Surprisingly TayBabe has made it to her senior year at Bonneville High. She has been going a million miles an hour. We all thought she would have dropped dead from exhaustion but she has managed to stay alive and pull some outstanding grades and a couple of amazing ACT scores this past year (we question where her intelligent genes came from and why the rest of us didn’t get ‘em), not to mention her senior-class officer position and Academic All-State Award in Volleyball (one of 15 girls in Utah).  Tay is being faced with some pretty rough decisions - whether or not she will follow the footsteps of her family and attend USU in the fall or blaze her own trail into Salt Lake and attend University of Utah.  No matter what color she decides to wear, blue or red, we are pretty proud of what the youngest Stuart Girl has turned out to be.
Keni is taking Utah State University by storm. She has stuck with her major of Landscape Design for over a year (who would’a thought woody plants could be so interesting) and she still gets excited when she spots a flower on the side of the road and educates everyone in the car with “rudbeckia fulgida” which translates to Black-Eyed Susan (but I still have never heard of such a flower). Besides her enthusiasm for plants and irrigation, Ken was extremely excited to rush Alpha Chi Omega Sorority early this year, also working as a Service Center programming chair, and has mastered her part-time work as a hostess at a popular Mexican restaurant in Logan. She is keeping busy but lovin’ college life (really, I didn’t know anyone could love college this much).
(Amy) My final year of college couldn’t have been better.  I worked hard and played hard. And finally it all paid off when I got my degree from USU in Family Finance.  Once that piece of paper was secure, I moved away to Boston for a “big-girl” job.  I have been working for a Health Insurance company for the past four months. I am slowly evolving into a New Englander by not using my turn signal when switching traffic lanes, estimating arrival times five to ten minutes later than my GPS (named Lesley) calculates, replacing ‘er’ in a word with ‘a’ (example: chowda instead of chowder), and seeing as many sights as I possibly can before the snow begins to fall (Boston Commons, Plymouth, Lexington, Lake Winnipesaukee, Portland Maine).  Even though I am still getting to know the area, I would be thrilled to play ‘tour guide’ if anyone would like to come visit!
Kemper and Joseph are still in New Hampshire where they now hold the title of “homeowner.” They have been staying busy trying to improve their new investment (Kemper has painted the wall in the kitchen four different times because she hasn’t ever been satisfied with the color). I know that Joseph gets pretty excited when Dad takes a trip out to New England to see his family because more projects get done in one weekend then they do in a regular two months. But Kemp and Joseph have done an outstanding job of turning a house into a home.  Joseph is working on his MBA degree while working full time. He hopes to graduate in 2012. Both are enjoying their church callings, working with the youth (however I get the better end of the deal as the designated babysitter when K&J are away on mutual nights).
Avy, don’t forget about her (because we sure don’t), is walking, talking, rearranging, running, squeaking, laughing, climbing, smiling, and just about every other word ending in ‘ing’.  She turned one-year-old in June.  The “Favorite Aunt” title has been solidified when Avy said “Amy” as one of her first words behind ‘mommy,’ ‘all done’, ‘dog’, and ‘chocolate’.  It is taking a bit longer for her to figure out ‘favorite’ but I’m sure she will have it down next month.
Mom and Dad received a new assignment – the Ogden Utah Temple Riders President.  You got it, they have been asked to lead a motorcycle gang!  My parents. Like the old bishop and relief society president.  Motorcycle gang.  Do those things even add up?  Well, according to my folks they sure do!  They have begun planning rides all around the West and want to make a large trip to New England.  And they are pleased to announce (not the marriage of a daughter, don’t get your hopes up) they have opened up a new savings account for the Gold Wing that will be joining the motorcycle collection in the near future.  Mom and Dad are still finishing projects around the house and still spending as much time as possible with us kids.  We sure love them!

Kendel's Attempt

Kendell Clements, hails from Provo, made a bet with all the females who attended FHE.  The bet was, "If I can eat all of these cookies, then you all need to go on a date with me."  Ha, alright.  Who wouldn't want to go out with Kendell?

And he did!  He finished them all.

A portion of the cookies he had to eat.

The lucky ladies! Fourteen to be exact.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Christmas

I am extremely fortunate to work in a great lil office where we can celebrate the Christmas together.  As a member of the Events Committee (nothing compared to programming board at USU) I took a significant role in getting the holiday celebration rolling.  And it turned out wonderful if you ask me.

The "Angel Tree" gifts that get donated to the Salvation Army.  I organized this event for the office.  I'm thinking next year we should do something a bit different, mix it up a little.  Any ideas?

After I decorated the Christmas tree the bottom strand of lights burned out - oh well.  Too much work to undecorate the bulbs, ribbon, streamers and curly cues to change the lights.
And I didn't know you were supposed to water poinsettias.  This one lived a very tragic life and died of starvation unfortunately.

This is my boss's boss, Beth.  Administration were asked to serve the meal to the employees.  Kinda fun!
The meal was catered by a local deli - flank steak, eggplant, garlic chicken, roasted potatoes, and more.  It was delicious.

Some of the team getting their food.
Do you notice where the serving tables are?  They are between filing cabinets and next to the copy machine.  Haha!  Our office is a little tight.

Flat Tire - my first!

I treat my car just like it was my child - clean up after it, talk to it, make sure it is not hungry for petrol, etc.  And just like milestones in a child's life, for example, the excitement of losing the first tooth and wanting to take pictures; I do the same for the Dappled, taking pictures of its first flat tire.  But it was my first flat tire too.

After I discovered it was flat, I pulled out the back mat, the jack, and the tools to begin working.  It was kinda exciting fixing my own tire.

Mat on ground, jack in place, four of the five blots out....


This is where I got stuck for 20 minutes.  I couldn't get the blasted tire off the axle!  The owners manual said nothing (notice it on the ground). My mother said just kick the tire a bit and it should come right off, but my dainty shoes wouldn't allow me to give it a good kick.

Still stuck.

I had to call in reinforcement.  However, he did say among all the tires he had fixed that morning not one person attempted to fix it, and they were all guys!  Just goes to show - I am so tough.

It's a Ronaele Christmas

I love giving gifts to my family!  Avy is the smallet in the family, how come she gets the biggest present?

House decorated for the Holidays - notice the stockings above the fire and the Christmas tree? We make the best with what we've got; and when it is a fake tree, you bet that will _ as a Christmas tree.

The Fab Four - Adrianne, Katrina, Me and Autumn

"Roasting marshmallows on an open fire"(Doesn't quite fit into the song)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We Wish You a "Tuber" Christmas

I received this text message: "Hey-If you are in town come meet up for Tuba Christmas! 2pm at Faneuil Hall! Great way to kick off the Holiday season."  Sounds different, so naturally I wasn't going to pass up a cool experience so off I went with a couple of friends. 
Now, let me introduce you to Boston's very own Tuba Christmas!


video

Sarah Leckie and I at the performance

In front of Faneuil Hall

I found a friend, Kristin Peterson, that struggles with keeping eyes open when taking pictures too!  So any picture with eyes open is a good picture.


Give Thanks

I am grateful for....
remembering to cut the onions for my homemade stuffing the night before (a was crying like a baby),

a warm house with a big table to gather around with family for a Thanksgiving feast (that is my Christmas wreaths converted to Thanksgiving - you couldn't even tell, could ya?),

my first turkey and homemade gluten-free stuffing (I actually burned most of the stuffing while I was trying to broil it, this was as much as I could salvage),

MY FAMILY,

a delicious meal with great company giving thanks to our Heavenly Father,

Avy's face in this picture,

Joseph's first look at the Plymouth Rock (he wasn't really that impressed- "It is a rock"),

the Plymouth Rock that wasn't discovered until 120 yrs later by a priest that didn't even live in Plymouth (um, is there something a bit wrong with that? Haha!),




the Mayflower and those pilgrims that were brave enough to leave everything they had ever known for religious freedom and establishing a nation where religion can be practiced freely,

the good laugh after getting our picture taken with Plymouth's first governor (I think the kind lady that took it missed a important feature of the statue).
 It was a wonderful Thanksgiving because I spent the whole day with the people I love most - my family.  I am SO blessed with a family that loves each other.

'arry Potter

I realize I have been living with these girls for the past several months but Nov 19 was the first time we had ever been out all together.

Adrienne Gren, Katrina Somerville, Autumn Topping, and I


While standing in line for HP we played pictionary on Adrienne's iPhone for about 30 minutes.  Little things can keep me entertained.

Still standing....

Beautiful, brisk, fall day in the Boston Commons (America's FIRST park) on Saturday, Nov 20.

Ada and I in the Commons after shopping downtown.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Success!

video

Bucket O' Balls

We are experiencing some fantastic weather in Boston these past couple of weekends!
Ty Turley and I at the driving range in Lexington.  It is a good thing I had my golf clubs shipped all the way across the country so I would have something to do on this fantastic day!

The windup.  Any suggestions mother?  Maybe I'm crouched down a bit too far? Or leaning forward too much?

The follow-through.  Dang, look at that booty!  :)

ALRIGHT!!  Someone feels the Christmas spirit even more than I do!  Can that be possible?!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deck the Halls on Halloween

You may be thinking it is a bit early.....

Not only do I have a reaf hanging up on my door:
- I have been listening to Christmas music for the last three weeks
- I have already began shopping for my sisters
- I have already started the 2011 Christmas Newsletter

No way, it is NEVER too early for Christmas!!

Frosted window panes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candycanes on the tree
Santa's on his way
He's filled his sleigh
With things, for you and for me

[DANCE WITH ME MUM]
It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear
Seems to say
Merry Christmas
And may all your dreams come true
And this song of mine
In three quarters time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too

Hallo-WEEN!

Racking leave with Adrienne in front of our lil house.

What better place to be on Halloween then the most famous halloween place in America (besides Sleepy Hallow) - SALEM among the witches.  That is right.  Me, who has only watched  five scary movies in her 23 years of life - two of which were so old they were in black and white.  And not only did I just go to Salem, I also went on a Haunted Tour around the city!  I know!!  I am getting so brave!  Honestly it wasn't too bad.  The only really creepy part was when we went to the sight of where the actual victims of the Salem Witch Trials were hung.  Eerie.
The only picture I got of us in Salem, MA.  I was too scared to take anymore pictures with the chance of having an oddly misty person in the background.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Boston's Science Museum 10.29.10

We had such a BLAST in the Science Museum this weekend!  We drew pictures of ourselves in the reflection of a large silver globe, we learned about astronauts, timed ourselves running, experimented with the science behind playgrounds, watched a birth (It was Justin's idea and he freaked out a little. Ha!), compared brain sizes among different animals, guessed what odd tools were used for (the apple picking tool honestly looked like a medieval butterfly catcher), and so much more.  If you haven't been to the Science Museum in Boston, grab a great friend and go!  You won't regret your decision.


Science Museum with Ashley, a friend visiting from DC.  Did I mention she is an AGGIE?!

Me, Justin, Kendell, and Ashley.  I got new boots, can you see them?

After the museum and a game of Rumikub (yes Taylor, I did win) we went on another little adventure.  Kendell showed us a never ending-slightly sloping-slick concrete floored hallway at MIT along with a rolling chair.  If you add up all those variable you get a GREAT TIME.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Portland, Maine - 10.23.10

A small group of friends, being spontaneous, decided the best way to use our time was to drive up to Maine and check out a couple of lighthouses.  It took two hours to drive there, walked around the little cobble streets, window shopped (a little too upscale for my liking), ate my first ever New England Clam Chowda (as they say it), visited a couple lighthouses, and headed back home.  It was a really fun trip.

This is what they call a Water Taxi in Maine.  It is van attached to a boat - a little redneck if you ask me.

Harvard Pilgrim, the company I work for, has an office right off the wharf in downtown Portland.  Looking out the windows of the office you have a great view of the ocean and sailboats.

Head Light House.

Sarah Leckie and I #1

Sarah Leckie and I #2

Hooray!  Lighthouse!

Another one.  I don't remember the name of this lighthouse in York, ME.  York is another quaint town, I need to visit it in the daylight again.