30 November 2016

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens and Mount Vernon

Kent and I had a quiet Thanksgiving with just the two of us. I think it may be the first Thanksgiving we've spent alone in the thirty-five years we've been married! We both spent the day working on projects--Kent putting up the Christmas lights in the yard and me working on the decorations for the ward Christmas party, which was the next week.
On the Friday night after Thanksgiving we worked at the temple, but on the Saturday after Thanksgiving we went to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens near Williamsburg.
 We went a couple of years ago, but this time it was definitely much more crowded. Here's how the decorations looked in the daytime when we arrived.
 The magic happened after it got dark; here's the same view at night.

One thing we missed when we went two years ago was the nativity story play that had been highly recommended to us. We went to it first thing so we wouldn't miss it on this visit.
 The play had its moments, but the music was way too jazzed up for my taste. Kind of a Hollywood version of the nativity play, I'd say. It wasn't my favorite.
 One thing they had that I didn't notice before was a cage with live eagles in it. That's probably the closest I've ever been to a bald eagle.
 This was one of our favorite trees. It looked like the tree of life.
 The park boasts over 8 million lights and claims to be the largest Christmas lights display in America.
 There were lots of pretty views, but we didn't get many good pictures.
 Just two days after we went to Christmas Town, my Bible Study group went to Mount Vernon.
 We watched the introductory movie and toured the house; photos aren't allowed inside the house.

 During the Christmas season Mount Vernon has a camel on display, since when George Washington was alive he would bring a camel to Mount Vernon..
 Afterwards we ate lunch at the Mount Vernon restaurant. The food isn't very good and it's expensive, but the ambiance is nice!
These were two nice activities to kick off the Christmas season this year!

18 November 2016

Visiting the Colorado Carsons after Tyler's Return from Afghanistan

Tyler returned from his nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on September 12th. Of course we were anxious to see him and his sweet family, so Kent and I both flew out on the Thursday before Veteran's day, which was on a Friday this year. I'd been to visit Rachel and the kids in February, but Kent hadn't seen them all year.
It's always fun for the kids to rough house with Daddy and Granddad.
Cuddled up to watch a movie. I thought Sylvia and Kent looking at each other was super cute in this picture.
Reading to the grandchildren.
On Friday we drove up to the new Fort Collins LDS Temple, which was about a two-hour drive.
It was a lovely autumn day.
We took some pictures before Tyler and Rachel went in to do some sealings.

Kent and I watched Andrew and Sylvia while their Mom and Dad went into the temple.
We took the kids to McDonald's so they could play at the indoor playground. I took this photo of them in the tunnel together.
That evening we picked up some supplies at Lowe's to start a kitchen remodel.
Kent, Tyler and Rachel worked on painting the kitchen cupboards while I watched the kids.
Tyler, Rachel and Kent worked all day on Saturday.
We don't have a good "Before" photo, but the cabinets were the commonly used oak color from the 1990's.
The cabinet painting job went pretty quickly with three people working on it, so they decided to put up a stick-on backsplash under the cabinets.
Here's the completed remodel. The wood around the light on the ceiling was also painted white. It had been the same oak wooden color as the cabinets. We all thought the finished product was fantastic!
It's obvious that Tyler is thrilled to be home with his family again.
We took a picture before church on Sunday.
Posing with Sylvia in the fancy new kitchen.
A picture outside the building at church with Sylvia and Andrew.
On Sunday evening we had Chris and Shyrlene Brooks over to dinner. Rachel made a wonderful meal.
A cute picture of Andrew reading a book in his closet with his BYU blanket and BYU pillow.
One other thing we did was to get an updated picture of Sylvia and Andrew for our Carson grandchildren picture.
 This picture was so sweet of Andrew being a good big brother to Sylvia.
I went home on Monday morning but Kent stayed until Wednesday to help Tyler with home improvement projects and spend more time with Tyler and Rachel's family. 

09 November 2016

Autumn Activities

At the end of October I had my annual piano party for my students. The past few years I've had enough students that I divide the group into younger and older students. This is my group of younger students.
At the end of the younger students' party and at the beginning of the older students' party we have pizza and soda.
This is the older group waiting their turn to perform.
This was the matching game the older students played.
Here's a picture of the older group of students.All my students are great kids and I enjoy working with them.
This year I had the brilliant idea to make a piano keys' pumpkin out of a white fake pumpkin. I think it turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
Kent and me in our Halloween finery!
This is one of my famous multi-layer cake creations. This one is chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, covered in milk chocolate ganache with Reese's crumbled over the top. I gave it away to my friend Cindi for her birthday, and didn't even have a piece. I REALLY wanted to taste it!!
On the last Saturday in October Kent and I drove to Shenandoah National Park to see the turning autumn leaves.
We were very disappointed. It was way too early - or should I say the leaves were much laterr than normal this year.  We had to look hard to see any autumn colors at all. It was a lovely day and there were some pretty vistas, but we didn't stay too long.
On the third of November there was a Relief Society activity. I brought the fall decorations.

I don't have any photos of it, but I also demonstrated how to make microwave peanut brittle, which thankfully turned out okay even though I used the microwave at the church instead of mine from home.
The sisters who came were supposed to bring their favorite homemade holiday food to share. It was a nice activity, though only about 20 women came.
On the first Saturday in  November we went on a volksmarch in Prince William Forest Park, a national park just about ten miles to the north of us.
We saw lots of fall colors....
and enjoyed hiking on a lovely autumn day.

On the way home we drove through the Quantico National Cemetery,
Where we saw even more pretty changing leaves.

On the 8th of November my Bible Study group celebrated Becky's birthday at Karen's house.
I made a multi-layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and cinnamon chips for Becky's birthday cake. At least I got to taste this one!!
These last two pictures are of the little bluebird who loves our house and is always trying to fly into the window. He was doing it in the spring, but then we hadn't seen him for a few months.
In October/November he was back again, sitting outside our window and then flying into the window as if he wants to get into the house. We have no idea why he does it!! I guess he's just a bird brain.