Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All! Jingle them bells!

Holiday Greetings to All.
Merry Christmas!

This is from the blog of a friend. He created/animated/did it all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Bells...

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old familiar carols play,And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,The world revolved from night to day, a voice, a chime; a chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;"There is no peace on earth," I said;"For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: "God is not dead; nor doth he sleep! The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

This is one of my favorite Christmas hymns.

For me Christmas is a time to reflect on the past year, what has transpired and what I have been blessed with. I have been blessed with so much…I have a loving wife, three great kids and a home. What more can I ask for? But I also have a job that allows me to have a house and doesn’t take me away from my family too much.

I have a great extended family my in-laws are wonderful and my dad could be the biggest Boise State fan since…Me! My family is so important to me…and knowing that we can always be together makes me feel so fortunate.

I am also thankful for the reason we celebrate this time of year; the birth of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and He is the author of our salvation. He gave the ultimate gift to all of us. Hig gospel is true and He blesses us daily with His love. This season where we celebrate the birth of the Savior helps to bring out the best in everyone. "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Listening Party!!!

Today I am going to write about one of my favorite Christmas CDs, Crescent City Christmas Card from Wynton Marsalis. It is New Orleans Jazz from one of the most famous New Orleans jazz musicians.

A little background. While I was in high school (early nineties) I worked for my uncle Danny in his band instrument repair shop; "Peterson Band Instrument Repair". His shop was located on Jefferson near State Street in Boise (So I was a commuter before commuting was cool). I worked on Saturdays during the school year and a few days a week in the summer. When I worked with him we would listen to CDs or tapes that he had. Usually the music would be jazz Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Synthesis (the BYU Jazz ensemble), even Sting. Some of my music taste and eclecticness is owed to Uncle Danny. He introduced me to many different types of music and groups. He also taught me that it was OK to be eclectic.

For Christmas on year he gave me Crescent City Christmas Card by Wynton Marsalis. I already owned a couple of other cassettes of Wynton Marsalis. This was a great addition. It is a Jazz CD, but Christmas. Sometimes people are leery of listening to new music because they don't know the songs. Well, these are all songs that most everyone should be familiar with. To me it still sounds as fresh and new today as it did in 1990. So go out on a limb, take a chance and give it a listen. You can get the MP3 tracks from and you can listen to a preview there as well.

---You can sample a song Here: Let it Snow

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heading home..

Day Eight (12/06/08)
Night in Provo Marriott

We booked rooms on Priceline for a night in Provo so we wouldn’t have to drive all the way through in one day. We had a nice dinner at a gas station in Vegas. We arrived about 10:30 PM –ish. We got three rooms for the same great rate.

Day Nine (12/07/08)
Finally Home

Got up. Took the kids swimming in the heated indoor pool. Checked out of the hotel. Had breakfast at Denny’s in Provo. Headed home. After a slight delay at IKEA we were on the road and headed north. Landed back in Nampa about 6:30 PM. What a great trip we had. Memories to last a lifetime.

Thoughts on the Trip

It was a great time had by all. The driving is never fun, but worth it in the end. Seeing Dylan and Karen was great. They have a lovely home. The stop there brought back many memories of Tammy and me hanging out with them in Nampa and when we lived in Boise State housing. Playing games together and staying up until all hours of the night. That didn’t happen this time, but just as fun. I even noticed that they were listening to the Christmas music CD that Tammy and I gave to our friends and Family when we were a smaller family of three in 2001.

Once when we were in Disneyland I almost shed tears. Gabe and I were waiting in line for a ride and he said “Dad, this is the best day of my life”. I know that he had many experiences there and will have many more in his life, but it meant a lot to me that this family vacation will be one that he (and all of us) remembers forever.

From California & Disneyland Dec 2008

“When you wish upon a star…your dreams come true.” -Jiminy Cricket

Welcome to the Magic kingdom

We spent four days in the Magic Kingdom and California Adventure. It was lot of fun. Here is a slide show with some highlights.

Stompin' Grounds

Day Three (12/01/08)
Free Day

Monday was our “free day”. Our tickets for Disneyland were not valid until Tuesday so it was a free for all, at least for us to go our own directions. There three families in our group, but only two cars. So Cort, Emily, O’Dell and the boys went to Carpentaria, CA to visit Cort’s friend Burdean and Tammy, Chris, Clark, Carley, Gabe, Selah, and Reece went down to Oceanside, CA to see the ocean and where I served my mission. Then we were to meet in Simi Valley, CA at the home of Dad’s cousin Rita at 6:00 PM.

We first went to the Disney Character Warehouse in Fullerton, CA. Where you can get Disney resort items for a large discount over what they charge in the park. They had all kinds of stuff; Mickey ears, cups, mugs, toys lots of shirts and other clothes. Some of the pricing was crazy for example; “buy 1 get 9 free”. It was an interesting store to see all the over-ordered Disneyland merchandise. There were plenty of toys for the kids to play with while we browsed in the store.

Then we headed south to Oceanside. To get there we took the scenic route down PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). This was the way we traveled from Mission Viejo to Carlsbad on my last day in the mission. It was a fun drive. It had been more than thirteen years since I had taken that drive. We saw some cool houses and shops, but the best part was the ocean. I had forgotten how much I loved the smell of the Pacific. Now it being December, there was fog.

So it was not as clear as it would have been in the warmer times of the year.

The drive takes a little longer on PCH than the freeway, but it was worth it.
Then we arrived in Oceanside. We had lunch at Church’s Chicken, since the Alberto’s we were looking for had closed. It was interesting being there after all those years; especially with my wife and kids. I hope to return with them and have more time to spend in the areas I served in while a missionary in southern California. Back to the trip, we went to the beach. By the time we arrived and had lunch we had about an hour at the beach, and then we had to load up to go to Simi Valley. This was Reece’s first time at the ocean. Gabe and Selah had visited the coast when we went and saw Tammy’s brother in Portland. We all had fun walking along the shore looking for seashells and feeling the water under our feet as the tide came in. So much fun that Gabe, Selah, and Reece got more wet that we had planned for and rode in the car for a while with wet clothes.

With no time to spare we loaded up the van and headed north to Simi Valley. We left at about 2:45 PM thinking that we might be able to stop at the hotel in Anaheim and get the kids some dry clothes. Needless to say we did not have time to stop. Afternoon traffic though Los Angeles is a bear. From Oceanside to Anaheim it took a little over an hour (as it should have) but driving through LA north to Simi Valley was the longest part of the drive. We arrived in Simi Valley, CA with about ten minutes to spare.
Now I need to take a minute to sing the praises of Google Maps mobile; this handy little tool on my Palm Centro made it very easy to find our way through the maze of freeways in LA. It actually helped many times to get us from one place to another in Southern CA. It also helped us to see where we were along out route and figure out the time to reaching our destination. Back to our trip, once at Rita’s we had a tour of her home and then went to dinner at Yolanda’s in Simi Valley. After dinner we headed back to our hotel in Anaheim to rest up for our big first day in Disneyland.

This was our route.

The Journey Continues...

Day Two (11/30/08)
Driving to Anaheim

The morning started with a great breakfast prepared by Karen and Dylan; pancakes, eggs and ham. Yummy! Then we took some time to read the Sunday paper and talked some more. The kids were getting antsy (and getting on our nerves) and so after everyone showered we packed the van and headed out about 10:30 AM.

We had spoken to our travel companions Cort, Emily, O’Dell, Carley, Gavin, and Noah and they had left Nampa about 6:00 AM and decided to take the same route that we had taken the day before. So as we departed we knew that we could keep in contact with them through the magic of cell phones. According to Google it was going to take us a little over six hours to get from Sacramento to Anaheim. We thought that we should arrive at our hotel by 5:00 PM. Well the folly in our logic and something that we never talked about while planning our trek was that this weekend that we planned on driving to California was Thanksgiving weekend. That meant that we were traveling on the most traveled weekend of the year. So we had not planned for all of the traffic that we encountered on our drive from Sacramento to Anaheim. It took us until almost 10:00 PM to arrive in Anaheim. Driving through the Central Valley with all the agriculture was great, but the two lanes on our side of the interstate did not accommodate all the traffic and travelers for the weekend. It was bumper to bumper once we got north of Los Angeles until we got into Orange County. Our weary travel companions did not arrive until 11:45 that night, a long day of driving indeed. But at least we were accident free on our drive; unlike others.

Monday, December 15, 2008

California Vacation...The Journey Begins...

California Vacation 2008
Day One (11/29/08)
The Drive to Sacramento

We intended to leave home at 6:00 AM, but really we pulled out of Nampa at about 6:30 AM. Not too bad for three adults and three kids under 7 and under. Tammy, Chris, Clark, Gabe, Selah, and Reece headed out bound for California. Our first destination was Sacramento, CA home of Dylan and Karen McDonald. The drive was pretty uneventful. There was the stop at a gas station in McDermitt that had fresh burritos in the deli case at 7:30 AM and very helpful cashiers. We stopped in Reno, NV (Sparks) for lunch at In & Out Burger. This was the first visit to In-N-Out Burger for everyone but me. They were crazy busy, but we were able to find a table outside and enjoy our fresh cut fries and burgers. This picture does not do it justice, the parking lot was packed. The kids were ready for a stop and so were the adults.

We continued on through Nevada over Donner Pass with perfect weather. I guess those chains that we got at Les Schwab were not needed after all. Better safe than sorry. According to Google Maps would take us about nine hours to get to Dylan and Karen’s home, so we thought that with stops and all we would arrive by 5:00 PM. Nope. We arrived about 3:15 PM Saturday afternoon, which was a little earlier than Dylan and Karen expected. I could tell from the tone of her voice when she called to check our ETA and I told her that we were thirty miles out of Sacramento (according to Highway signs).

We found their house with no problem thanks to Google Maps. They have a really nice house right in Sacramento. Close enough that Dylan even rides his bike to work when he can.

We walked across the street to a school and played a little catch with a couple footballs that Dylan had. It was a great chance to see the neighborhood. Then we moved the car closer to their home. We had a great pizza dinner and then played a rousing game of “Bones”, a spoons- like game created in Nampa. Then of course were the hours of conversation, while trying to keep the kids occupied (thanks to Karen’s “I Spy” books). Then as the night went on we all got drowsy and turned in. It had been a long day for us.

More to come...

Don't think I have forgot about the blog...
Just recovering from a trip to the Magic Kingdom...
Details to come...