Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Free Christmas Photo Cards

Yay Shutterfly! I am going to do a little blog shout out to Shutterfly and they are going to make my Christmas a little more merry. Because of these fantastic folk, some of you just might actually get a Christmas card from us this year. If that isn't a reason to like Shutterfly, well then I don't know what is.

Shutterfly is pretty awesome. My favorite part about them is they frequently offer sweet deals on their products. I get their email updates and they are very good about offering specials on their printed products. They have a good uploading system and I have been happy with all of my printed quality. They are also quick. I almost always receive my ordered items faster than I am expecting them.

Jon has very fancy ideas for this year's card and Shutterfly has many ways to help us get that done. They have the folded cards, the one sided cards, all of the cute designs... and they have adorable children models on their card. The ones that make you think, 'my family could look this good too if only we had this card!

We'll see how our Christmas photo shoot goes... I might be tempted to just use one of their stock photos of really good looking families. If we look significantly different from last year's photos, well that will be your clue as to how well the picture taking went.

But Kacey, you say, its the second week of December. My cards have been printed and in the mail since October! What can Shutterfly do for me?

Never fear! The true question is, what CAN'T Shutterfly do for me? And the answer is pay your taxes... or make your kids take a decent smiling picture on command. But other than that, they can do pretty much everything.

Need adorable birthday cards without pulling out your fantastic stamp collection?

Had a baby? A good looking one at that? Want to show off how well your genes look on a two week old?

Even for those of you without adorable offspring, who doesn't love pictures of the family pet? Can we say fun themed calendar of all of pooch's adorable exploits?

You guessed it, Bam! Here's the link for you. http://www.shutterfly.com/calendars/desk-calendars

So, when you receive my spectacular Christmas announcements this year, here are some things to remember:

1 - If my family looks cuter than normal, just go with it.

2 - If it doesn't arrive until March, appreciate how long I am letting Christmas live in your hearts

3 - If it is exceptionally adorable, well printed, and just screams awesomeness, well that is because of Shutterfly.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things I have been doing instead of blogging

1 - Decorating for Christmas

1 a - Keeping my children away from the Christmas decorations at their every waking moment

*** Related Side Story/Facebook Post***
I walked in on Scarlet saying a prayer and asking Heavenly Father to get down her Cinderella ornament from the top of the tree. She promised to catch it if He decided to help.

So torn between proud (that she turned to prayer in her time of need) or annoyed (as I had just recently denied her access to the ornament). I mean its a little like asking dad after mom says no.... right?

2. Sewing a holiday dance outfit for Scarlet's first dance recital

One of way too many sewing projects this season...
2 a - Keeping Rhode away from the very fun, very puffy tutu
3 - Shelling, sorting and baking 10 gallon size bags of Gridley's finest walnuts. So glad to be done. Dang that was a lot of nuts.
3 a - Eating my weight in tangerines, mandarins, persimmons and pomegranates also from the fair orchards of Gridley... a much more enjoyable task.

4 - Taking a trip all the way to Gridley, CA not only for the fresh produce and family, but to pick up our new ride.

Its a on-the-mission loaner from the Nielsens and we are seriously grateful. Hooray for being a two car family again!

But, as you can see, I did find some time to blog. Of course, to fit in blog time I had to not....

1 - clean my kitchen floor (post pomegranate explosions everywhere)
2 - bathe my kids (they don't smell that bad, right?)
3 - work on the ridiculous amounts of Christmas projects I have somehow decided to fit into the next few weeks.

Oh well! Here's to finding time, making time, and ignoring time altogether.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


So much to say, so much to say. I could blog about Scarlet's latest 'do, following her brief alone time with scissors yesterday... but I am still a little too mad about that. I need a few more calm down days. It is definitely not funny yet.

So instead, an update on the projects going on at our house.

Jon and I have been in a crafty mood lately. We'll start with mine.

To get into the Halloween spirit, the kids and I created this bat and ghost hanging thingy.

When I say the kids helped, I mostly mean they got to color a few ghosts as well... and theirs magically disappeared before the project reached completion. Sorry guys, ghosts with missing arms and green faces didn't make the cut this year. Try again in 2011.

My next project was one I have been promising to finish for about six months now. While walking home one day, I noticed one of my neighbors had thrown away a wooden rocking horse... separated into about 4 pieces.

I swear those wooden eye holes were just staring into my soul, asking to come home with me and be made whole again. I couldn't resist.

Sadly, the horse then sat in pieces on the side of my house until Jon could bear its misery no longer. He pieced the thing back together and gave it a coat of paint.

Now I had grand plans for this horse, a horse he would no longer be. He was getting an upgrade to a zebra.

Four months later, I am almost done. We are now down to some touch up paint and a mane to be added very soon.

So like I said, crafty times.

So... um... well... here's Jon's project.

Yes, while I was cutting out paper bats and spray painting stripes, Jon created a fortress single-handedly in less than a month.

Here is the very old realtor's picture of our house.

As you can see, the front yard grass... well it is in dire need of a good combover. Plus, last year's big snowfall mangled the branches on most of our very extensive amounts of greenery.

So before the fence could even be considered... the shrubbery had to meet its end.

It was exhilarating to walk into our front door without getting whacked by a stray branch.

Then, with our handy dandy little red car, we made a trip to Lowes.

And before I even realized what was going on, the front of our house was transformed.

We now have a little courtyard in front of our house which include his other project, our homemade porch swing.

It has been fantastic. Now we can have our front window open without opening ourselves to the world to view, we can roll out the ginormous gate and really keep those door to door salesmen at bay, and we have had more conversations with our neighbors than ever before as they ask about and praise our housing improvement.

So remember my cool zebra?!?! Yeah, me neither.

P.S. Ignore the dead grass... we have decided to eliminate the hundreds of dollars of water bills and are desert landscaping the front. Rocky... but cheap.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

We have been enjoying a fantastic October. Between the rain storms and cooler weather, we are almost forgetting our desert existence. And, it has been Halloween/Fall festivities all month long.

Of course, the yearly trek to the pumpkin patch is a must. But, whenever I see other cities' pumpkin patch pictures I always wonder if maybe we are insulting them by calling ours a pumpkin patch. Most people go to a place where, you know, pumpkins grow. Well... we go to an abandoned parking lot where hay bales and pumpkins appear from very large trucks.

I will admit it loses a bit of the magic when your pumpkin pictures include a 7-11 in the background.

But, you take what you can get!

Bennett, Blaze, and Charlie and Ashley Stout picked us up in their fantastically large car (aka. Fancy Beast) and we headed to the "country".

P.S. Totally coincidental that all of our kids match. We can be crazy at times... but not that crazy.

After the photo shoot, I asked the kids to go pick out their favorite pumpkin. Scarlet found a winner.

Rhode found two.
It was right around this time that I informed my children that dad had driven off that morning with mom's purse in the backseat. I had not a dime to my name. No pumpkins, no rides, nothin.

They took it well.
Plus, come on, who needs money to have fun where they are free picture boards

and petting zoos where they animals come to you!


And now, for the big costume reveal. I must say, I am very proud of my efforts this year. They were all homemade or pieced together from things I had around the house. Very little money and, thankfully, not that much time, and I think they turned out pretty darn fantastic.

So without further ado....

The Matador
The Senorita

The Abuela

The Caballero
Lets see that one again.
After the picture was taken we added boots to the "legs". As the sky got darker, it became more difficult to see his real legs and well the costume just got funnier and funnier.
My two little Spaniards won "most original costume" at the Heritage Museum carnival. Not to over exaggerate the honor but it was the proudest moment of my life thus far.

The entire theme was built from Rhode's vest, which my sister in law picked up from the DI in Utah. After finding a free mu mu at a clothing swap and deciding to get rid of our enormous stuffed horse, well the rest just threw itself together.

When I told Scarlet I was going to be a grandma for Halloween, she always had a very confused face as she considered her grandmas. Was mom going to dress more trendy than usual and buy her a lot of stuff? Strange costume... but after the makeup and baby powder was applied, she unintentionally referred to me as grandma for the rest of the evening. I kept having to remind her to call me mom.

We rocked the Trunk or Treat, loaded ourselves down with massive amounts of candy, and called our evening a success.

*** Random funny story - We had a little potluck before the trunk or treat at the church and after things were winding down, I headed over to go pick up my potato salad. The Elders were sitting on the grass nearby enjoying a meal and asked me what I was doing.

I said - "Oh just going to pick up my dish from the potluck:

The elder responded with real concern - "Can we help you with that?"

Help me grab my bowl? I was very confused until I remembered what I was wearing. I just laughed and said, "Don't worry, I'm younger than I look!"


We also held our second annual Sewing Club Halloween Party. And, if I may say so, we kicked 2009's trash.

The fantastic festivities included a costume parade

adorably dressed toddlers
(they're spiders, come on they kind of look like spiders right?)

seed spitting contests & doughnut on a string contests
If you have never made your child try to eat a doughnut from a string hands-free, well then you have missed out on one of the best laughs of your life. I freely admit the entire purpose of this event was so all of us moms could sit around and open laugh at our children. It was fantastic.

Like the true Earl he is, Rhode cheated.
Scarlet was the only child not into getting laughed at. She gave one paltry attempt at biting the doughnut and then told me, "mom, it just keeps moving. It doesn't work."

And after watching them wrestle with their doughnut, you are left with adorably white powdered faces
Of course its all fun and games until you get white powder in the eye.
Sorry dude!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Race the Scouts

Remember all of those odd Facebook comments I was leaving all weekend? Well, here is the insanely long explanation you have all been waiting for!

Explanation: Jon and a group of Young Men/Boy Scouts ran the Ragnar Relay Race this weekend. I have included for posterity sake the press release Jon wrote about the event, the twitters he used to keep everyone informed on how the race was going, and, of course, pictures. Enjoy!

Tweet 1 We will attempt to run day and night and day to finish in 30 hours.

Tweet 2 This is carson we have about thirty hours till we start running

Tweet 3 Here is a good look at a generous donation from Planet Hollywood and the millions of wishful Americans who filled the fountain. Pics aren't working right now, but the bucket is so full that the handle bent out of shape

Tweet 4 I spilled the five gallon bucket of change right in front of the entrance to the bank when the handle broke. The coins blocked the door. Two russian acrobats helped me clean it up. Only in vegas.

Tweet 5 We challenged the other teams at the prerace dinner to try to beat us. The van has to do five pushups for every time our runners are passed

Tweet 6 It was fun to look at all of the adult teams trying to determine if the boys were volunteers or a team.

Tweet 7 Carter and carson first ones at john waynes house super nervous but pumped

Tweet 8 Van 1 is all here! We are headed out to Valley of Fire.

Tweet 9 Carter just started, great weather, runnin like a champ, and we already have rivals. Started a hour late

Tweet 10 This is carter I finishe in 1 hour and 13 mins everyone cheered and I was crying with joy

Tweet 11 Stout man is running 7 miles now

Tweet 12 Adam running his seventh mile out of 8.5 to the 3rd leg.....he killed so many other teams. Adam finished in 1 hour 20 minutes. The lady in green behind him almost passed out at the exchange.

Tweet 13 Fernando finished strong. His head looked bad in the middle, but he started to look better near the end.

Tweet 14 Carson done and Andy running now. The other boys are ready at Callvile.

Tweet 15 Some crazy tarantulas on the roads. When Carter ran, there were a bunch of tarantulas on the road Brother Stout picked one up and it almost fell on his face

Tweet 16 Making friends with the Divas from Utah. Fernando just started snoring really loudly.

Tweet 17 Struggling to send. We are in the middle of Andrew Burden. Hope this starts to work better

Tweet 18 Lots of adults are loving the scouts.

Tweet 19 Andrew is running now and keeping a good pace

Tweet 20 We have been making friends like crazy. I knew we would have fun but the sense of accomplishment they are feeling is unbelievable

Tweet 21 There have been some really fast runners already but the boys are holding their own

Tweet 22 Andrew is on his last mile

Tweet 23 Ben is about 3.5 miles from callville bay. Just turning onto Callville road. He looks good when his hair is out of his face.

Tweet 24 Jon Wayne has moved to van two... and van one has moved on to lake Las Vegas

Tweet 25 Were keeping pace with the fast column... we should be at LLV at four thirty three... Michael will be starting us off at LLV

Tweet 26 Dillan D. Ran almost five miles in thirty five minutes... he ran six minutes faster than what Jon Wayne thought he could do

Tweet 27 Ashley has passed five people

Tweet 28 Porter is about to stgart and he is NERVOUS.

Tweet 29 Brother hall finished at 4 35

Tweet 30 Porter is running real steady This is Porter... Just finished running and I feel GREAT

Tweet 31 Porter passed three people while running his first leg... and Dylan is off to a great start

Tweet 32 Dylan just finished his first leg of the race... Michael Wells just started his... Next stop, LAKE LAS VEGAS

Tweet 33 Every one is having a great time... we all want to do this again.

Tweet 34 All the other teams are way impressed with us... they all want to take pictures of or with us

Tweet 35 Its getting dark so we all are putting on our reflector vests

Tweet 36 Michael came in really fast, & carter just went out

Tweet 37 Adam is out in the middle of his. Carter was complaining about a stiff neck, but is calming down.

Tweet 38 Waiting for stout to come in. Fernando ia next . ANd the boys are really wishing they had slept earlier.

Tweet 39 Dude. We jsut finished van two, and Jon Wsyne is falling apart. Julien is running well, but he just called because he got lost.

Tweet 40 I finished with dylan daSilva on his second run over to M resort. He ran to strong and my knee started to give at the outer rear

Tweet 41 I'm in Van 2 while Ashley runs, he was running his shorts off chasing a real fast runner who tried to pass him The quick guy won out this time though. Ashley ran hard he almost left his bowels behind.

Tweet 42 Porter just began his 5 miler.

Tweet 43 We are all freezing and our guts are are all a little upset.

Tweet 44 This is Porter... I just finished my five mile run, and am freezing my butt off

Tweet 45 Ok so carter finished his leg. I took him to our car to take his picture and his car drove off. Then we drove w/o him. Um we drove 38 miles before anybody figured it out. We hope he jumped in with somebody else because it is cold. The vehicle running

Tweet 46 Found him. He switched teams because we left him. I thing he joiined the mullet team

Tweet 47 Ok catch up van one has finished and is lounging in the pool as we speak

Tweet 48 The dasilva clan showed up to cheer on Dylan who followed a severly chapped Julien If you come to see us at the pool bring some Neosporin for Julien's inner legs.

Tweet 49 Ashley just had a three mile race with another blond guy with a pony tail and no shirt (also known as “Wanna be Ashley”). Ashley hass pulled ahead by 40 seconds Wanna be Ashley is really spent from the race and slowed down drastically.

Tweet 50 It is done

Race the Scouts “creates no small stir” at 195 mile Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas, Nevada

“Can scouts run a 195 miles race?” “Scouts,” the boys reply, “are exactly the group who can.”

October 22-23, 2010

Las Vegas, NV – While typical teenagers wandered through their daily routines, Troop 460 of the Las Vegas Area Council were out becoming heroes. After months of training, the Scouts age 12-18 completed the two day, 195 mile adventure that is the Ragnar Relay Las Vegas. Running in uniform shirt they started at 7:30 am on Friday, October 22 and finished just 56 seconds under their 34 hour goal at 3:59:04 pm Saturday.

“Scouts ran 195 miles?!, How old are they?” “12 to 18?” “You are kidding me. That is wonderful!” The astonishment was clear on the faces of the other racers. The enthusiasm and encouragement for the scouts was instantaneous. One scout commented, “Many of the racers wear costumes, so just looked like adults trying to be funny. But then, when we got closer, people realized how young we were, and couldn’t help talking to us.” The other participants did more than talk to the scouts, they cheered and uplifted them. Many even asked to take pictures with the young group. Troop leaders were approached by many people with sons or family that are a part of scouting and wanted to know how we talked the boys into doing such an impossible task. “They were rapidly becoming race celebrities, and all we did was believe in them,” said troop leader Adam Stout.

Sharing the course with 406 other teams, the 12 man teams loaded into one of two team vans and started on the big adventure. Each runner has to complete three legs running in order similar to a batting lineup in baseball. When you were up, you ran. When you were down, you cheered, supported, or tried to get some sleep. Despite plans, Troop 460 struggled to get the sleep. At the first area for sleeping, the scouts were tempted by a giant inflated trampoline with jousting poles. Then, at their next opportunity, the sprinklers came on in the field they were sleeping in and drenched their sleeping bags. The sleep deprivation showed as they struggled through some of their night runs, and the pace really dragged as sore muscles, blisters, and overall lack of hygiene wore into their final runs. Nearing the end, their excitement resumed, and scouts were sprinting to finish their last legs. Several scouts literally ran their guts out…all over the side of the road. But not even that would stop them. They would empty their stomachs and trot off again.

Ragnar, which has quickly become legendary among America’s running events, is known for being half race, half road trip. The race lived up to its name as the boys grew closer together and learned to support and trust each other. Ragnar provides a positive and safe atmosphere for a Scout to live up to the Boy Scouts of America legacy. The race is meticulously planned and operated by a welcoming group of sleep deprived adventurers who have worked to bring adventure racing to everyone. The relay format makes the distance possible for entry level athletes to run with friends and family in the van as a constant support. Most importantly, the safety of the runner is well considered by Ragnar’s dedicated staff. During the night, Ragnar even managed to get miles of unlit roads closed to non-participant traffic to protect the Scouts who ran wearing reflective vests, blinking lights, and a head lamp to light their way. All through the night they chased other flashing red lights across the glowing cities of Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada. Looking out at a long train of blinking lights climbing through the darkness up the trail to Good Springs, the Scouts were indistinguishable among their adult competitors.

To train, the scouts were taught about endurance sports, health, stretching, gear, advertising, fundraising, and, of course, running. As many of them began their training, running a mile seemed tortuous. But during the race they were surprised to find themselves bored by the shortness of their next three mile leg. Carson commented that, “Three miles isn’t anything anymore, but the mile run at scouts or P.E. used to seem impossible.” These scouts can proudly say in a months and a half of training they went from not being able to run a mile without walking to completing a ten mile qualifying run two weeks before the event.

Despite the grueling physical and mental challenges this race presented to the boys, the scout leaders were hopeful they would come away with a very positive experience and lifelong memories. These scouts are not used to seeing how capable they are. The scout leaders of troop 460 were concerned with some of the social trends in these boys lives and wanted to help the boys realize they could be better than average. Instead of being treated like youth, they were challenged and put on the same playing field as adults. They loved it. They were not used to getting a reaction from adults, and, more importantly, they were empowered by their achievements.

One of our Scouts in particular had an amazing transformation. Weighing just below 300 pounds, Carter does not look like an athlete, but, more so than his lighter troop mates, Carter did the training. He developed the ability to keep going while training for two months and was selected to run the first leg. Dressed in his scout uniform shirt with his Life rank, he ran from the large orange Ragnar arch at the Valley of Fire starting line surrounded by slim runners in sleek running shorts and tech shirts. The hills rolled up and down at steep inclines, but he pumped his arms and kept his feet moving along the beautiful state park vistas. At mile 4.5, tired but only a little short of breath, he approached a sign that read, “One Mile to Go!” “It made me want to cry,” he said. “I was like I’m going cry because I had done so much. But then I knew I had to finish, so I didn’t have time for that. I kept running.” Smiling ear to ear, the large young man crossed the first exchange line and slapped the baton onto the wrist of the next runner. Suddenly, a teenager one would expect to find in front of a video game was in the midst a sporting event with a hundred people cheering loudly for him. Those cheering runners helped teach this young man the confidence and emotions usually only enjoyed by the few genetically gifted high school football and basketball players. Later in the race, Carter crawled three miles up the steepest incline in the event to finish his last leg at 3:00 am, nearly 24 hours after he had left his bed the previous day. The team was so excited by Carter’s achievement that they accidentally drove off without him. Luckily Carter had made enough friends along the way that he wasn’t afraid to ask another team to drive him forward. The troop sends their thanks to the “Motley Shues” for taking care of him, and also to the Ragnar staff for being vigilant and ready to help.

The “Race the Scouts” team did not expect the welcome they received from the other racers. Instead of being annoyed by the young team, the other teams wanted to share the experience. Ragnar is full of teams who come to support and run together, and the spirit of supporting each other is infectious at their events. The young scouts showed up thinking trash talk and dirty looks are appropriate behavior in a competition, but they were shown how pleasant and civil sports should be. The scouts learned quickly to do the same for other team’s runners when they crossed their exchanges.

The idea to run the race came from service. Interested in developing a fundraising race for the cash stricken troop, Troop 460 volunteered at the 2009 event. Jon Wayne Nielsen remembered, “The boys had a great time helping out and loved that they didn’t have to go to bed that night. The troop went nuts when the Ragnar people gave them a SWAG (Stuff We All Get) bag and free T-shirt.” The scouts were also affected by the positive reaction of all the runners who seemed entertained by the bossy kids managing two stations all night. Several scouts said they would like to try to run the event, and the idea was planted in Jon Wayne’s mind. “We have always struggled to have the funds for a major scout camp, so I wanted to give these boys an experience that would engender a similar reaction. I reached out to Chris Thresher, Race Director for Ragnar. Ragnar’s excitement about the idea matched ours,” says Nielsen.

Behind the scenes of this success story are many people who offered support to the excited scouts. Many parents encouraged their boys to keep up on their training and even strapped on their own running shoes. Leaders took off from their busy careers to be involved. Shoes were donated to boys who needed them. Vans were offered and decorated. Reflective vests came from some generous Southwest Airlines crew members, and two donors, the Miracle Mile shops in Las Vegas and an anonymous individual, provided the perfect amount to cover all costs. This marvelous support helped the boys realize that their community does care that they are scouts and that they want them to be out doing good.

The wonderful people at Ragnar were very generous to allow the young team to run the event, but they also taught the boys some great lessons by giving them the opportunity to volunteer to help set up the race the week before. The boys were impressed by the fun and hardworking staff and more so that there were paid jobs that seemed so cool and fun. They had previously believed that working in a video game factory was the “coolest job on the earth,” but now they understand there are other productive and fun jobs.

Even after months of work, the effect the team had could not have been planned. As the scouts approached the finish line behind final runner 75 pound, 13 year old Michael, a group of approximately 80 people sprinted to form a human tunnel for the scouts to race through. Ragnar Race Director, Chris Thresher, told us, “I have never seen a more exciting finish at one of our races.” Other teams, exhausted from their own efforts stood and cheered as the boys completed their amazing feat. Many of the teams that the scouts had run alongside came to them to describe the tears of pride and joy they had shed because of the troop. Only a day earlier these boys were students too young to demand much attention, but amongst the wonderful atmosphere and positive people that have the courage to attempt the two day runfest these boys had become something special. They had trained, they had suffered, and there they stood, Boy Scouts, welcomed into the fold of active adventurous adults as the rightful colleagues that Scouts have always been on the trail and in the wilds.