Monday, December 28, 2009


Well, Christmas has come and gone once again. As we all tend to say, "Can you believe it is almost January?!". I for one cannot. But, this was a Christmas of firsts for us. Most importantly, our first Christmas with a wee one as part of the extended family. Baby Marek (or as I like to call him BH aka "Baby Heather") is the first baby on either sides of our families and we thoroughly enjoyed doting over his every smile and coo- which were quite a few actually. I am certainly hoping that our future children will have the same cheery disposition. But, with 1/2 of my DNA I seriously doubt it. I wouldn't describe myself as "cheery". Here's to hoping that Kyle's DNA will win through on that one!

We got to spend the entire week in Spokane and mostly relaxed and hung out with family and friends. We were really excited to get to spend time with some of Kyle's good friends from U of I. On Wednesday, Kyle went skiing for the day (I stayed behind to help Sally unpack her newly moved house) and then we all got to meet up for dinner afterwards. It's so fun to see our old friends and catch up with them.

The gang at dinner

Since Kyle & I weren't around last Christmas, we got to experience a few Christmas traditions for the first time this year. I'm a huge fan of family traditions (Kyle & I have established quite a few of our own- some quite unique i.e.- an unhealthy favoritism towards foul food and inappropriate movies as a birthday celebration- to each his own I say!)

One of the new family traditions for Kyle's family is a ginger bread house building contest. Kyle & I are both surprisingly anal and methodical- so our house won for "best precision". It was a beaut if you ask me. All of our rows even had color patterns- can it get any better than that? Edible organization....stop my beating heart.
The other houses were quite good too, just not precise. Sally won for "best roof" and Heather and Brandon won for "most candy on a house". So you could say that we were all winners. I however would not. I would say that we were winners, because do pretty roofs and lots of candy beat out precision? You be the judge.

The gingerbread houses (ours if on the left)

H & B creating a masterpiece

Sale family masterpiece

The Christmas reindeer

This year I took it upon myself to become a little more crafty. At Thanksgiving, I had my talented Aunt Liz teach me some new knitting skills and I turned out this scarf for Heather as part of her Christmas gift. She was surprised at my knitting skills and to her credit- so was I! I got some knitting needles as one of my Christmas gifts, so this 28 year old granny is going to be getting her knit on! Watch me go!

My scarf- not bad!

It was a fun week, but Deacon & Mercedes were pretty happy to have us back. They keep following us around the house- possibly out of fear, possibly out of boredom? But either way, I think they're glad to back with the fam. I actually kind of missed Austin during out trip- does that mean that Texas is getting to me? Scary thought.


Friday, December 18, 2009

What really matters...

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my life and what I am doing with it. Moving across the world and moving back in a year will cause a person to do a bit of soul searching. I just want to be sure that when time flies by and turn around and am in my 50s that I don't sit back and say "Man, what did I do with my life?". All that to say, I'm not sure I have figured it out. But I am closer than I was and have a few ideas.

But, maybe that is not the answer.

This morning on the way to work my car ran out of gas. I would like to take this moment to note that the steering wheel in our lovely 1973 VW blocks the speedometer and gas gauge (it doesn't matter for the speed, because I can never get going fast enough to matter). But the gas gauge is a different story. You can't tell when you're out of gas unless you pull yourself up over the steering wheel and really look- this takes effort and the ability to remember to check. Two things that I don't always possess. So, this morning little Abba just gave out in the middle of a busy road. And to say the least, I was a bit freaked. He wouldn't even start enough for me to pull over to the side of the road. I panicked. And then- a homeless man came over and offered to help me push the car across the busy street to a gas station. He didn't have to do that. But I am so grateful for his willingness to- 1-stop what he was doing- 2-notice someone in need and 3-being willing to help.

Maybe that is the answer. Not what I have done by the time I'm 50, but what I have noticed, who I have helped and the time I have taken out of my day to think of someone and something other than myself.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cowboy up!

Common Grounds goodness

As I made sure to mention a few weeks ago, Kyle turned 30 this year. He is now the "old" man of the house and to celebrate I got him tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys game in all of Jerry Jones' taxpayers funded glory. Let's just say-we weren't disappointed. Keep your 8.5% coming Texans! We started our Sunday morning road trip with a pit stop in Waco to visit one of my favorite places in the world- 'Common Grounds'. Once we were fully caffeinated- we were safe to resume our trip to 'Cowboys Stadium'- creative name.

Thanks to a helpful tip from a friend we were able to score "free" parking. Free is spending $40 shopping to park at a nearby mall. Which I consider a good deal because at least for my $40 to park, I get a cute shirt to wear. Can't argue with that logic.

So, after a bit of retail therapy we finally headed off for the game!

Kyle outside Cowboy Stadium

A few Cowboys fans

The stadium was packed! There weren't very many empty seats- if any. So, us and the other 80,000 there were all trying to get in at the same time. Which surprisingly wasn't too difficult. They did have separate male and female entrance lines though- I had not seen that before. Although, I must admit I think it was a good idea. First off, there are more men than women at the game. And second off, most woman have a purse that needs to be searched. They really do think of everything these days!

Once we finally reached our seats, we were met with 11,520 square foot jumbo-tron, aka 'Jerry Vision'.

The jumbo-tron in all its glory

Kyle & I managed to buy tickets in the opposing teams section (San Diego)- not sure how! So, we spent the entire game listening to quite a bit of crowd banter. Our favorite quote being "Ahhh, skeet, skeet, skeet" and "What, I can't hear you?". It was a flashback to the good ole middle school days for sure. Unfortunately, it did progress pass middle school antics a few times and the police even made a visit to our section. But in the end all was fine- just a case of macho stupidity! And one drunk loud-mouth (female) cowboys fan.

Field view

The Cowboys ended up losing but we didn't really care either way. We headed back to our car and thanks to the beauty of 'Madge', our GPS system, called ahead and ordered Dominos and ate an entire large pizza on the ride home (okay, we managed to save a few pieces but only after I repeately told Kyle-"We don't HAVE to eat the whole thing you know"). Thanks Jerry Jones for a great day!


Monday, December 7, 2009

I heart Sally...

This weekend one of my favorite people came to visit us- Sally. I love being married to Kyle because he is sweet and funny and wonderful- but also because I LOVE his family. Especially his mother Sally. She is a bit crazier / sillier version of Kyle-so I ask you "who wouldn't love that?"! But she's not all silliness. Her faith in the Lord and personal strength also makes her someone I can admire and strive to be more like. All in all, she the best mother-in-law I could ever ask for!

Enough said!

Well, this weekend she came for a visit. She LOVES Christmas and Christmas lights. So, we all had the chance to go to the River Walk in San Antonio and see some lights. It was surprisingly winteresque here in Texas this weekend too. Friday we saw brief snow flurries and Saturday it was pretty chilly with highs in the low 40's. And that is saying something for Southern Texas! But chilly or not, we walked the river and enjoyed all the festive lights.

Luminaries on the River Walk

Kyle on the River Walk

Kyle & Sally on the River Walk boat tour

The Riverwalk at night


Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving & a milestone...

Last week Kyle & set off for our annual Thanksgiving week in Virginia. We were especially excited this year since
last year we weren't able to be with our families.

On Thanksgiving morning, we both participated in the annual Alumni Fun Run. It is alumni from all the high schools in Chesterfield County (my old hood!). There is usually a pretty good turnout and it is a good way to get the blood pumping for consuming large amounts of marshmallows with a wee bit of sweet potato underneath! At least that is MY favorite thanksgiving dish!

Since living in Texas, I have discovered a new delicacy- cake balls. I never really put two and two together that this could possibly be a strange name for a tasty treat- but they were the butt of many good humored jokes at the Thanksgiving table. Aside from the funny name, they were quite yummy! Here we are posing with our infamous cake balls- or as Kyle dubbed them "cakesticles".

My brothers & Sister-in-law

Needless to say, we had a great week and were sad to leave. We got back Saturday afternoon and spent the weekend decorating for Christmas and celebrating Kyle's b'day! Not just any birthday either- the big one (for the next 10 years at least) 30! For those of you who know us well, we kept with our annual birthday tradition and celebrated with nachos, junk food and our favorite movie of all time- Wedding Crashers! Always a good time. Today is officially Kyle's birthday- so wish him a happy birthday!

Happy Birthday Kyle!!


Friday, November 20, 2009

First Visitor

This week we had our first visitor! My dad was in town for work, so we got to see him for a few days. It was really fun to have a visitor, especially family. We enjoyed showing him around our new place and the dogs always love having someone else around to pay extra attention to them.

Another added bonus to having company is going out to eat. One of my favorite things to do is eat, which is only enhanced by eating out. What could be better than eating and not having to make it or clean it up? We of course had our favorite- TexMex. But we also got to try a new place on our list- The Salt Lick- home to classic Texas BBQ.

The infamous Salt Lick meat!

The Salt Lick was featured on an episode of 'Man vs. Food' which is where we first learned of it's notoriety. As usual, we were not disappointed. Potato salad, pork ribs, cole slaw and a few bowls of honey BBQ sauce later we were pleased to say that maybe Texas can do BBQ like the true South.

Tomorrow we are headed for Virginia to spend Thanksgiving week with my family! It will be so nice to have a whole week away and to be with family. Last Thanksgiving we were not able to be with either of our families, so we are especially thankful to be with them this year! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, more next week as we get REALLY close to the big 30 for Kyle (insert Jaws music here)...


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Found It!

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I'm accustomed to fall foliage. Not to be excluded, Stacie has fond memories of witnessing seasonal change in the Blue Ridge of Virginia. Heck, even in Edinburgh we found parks adorned with a canopy of red, green, yellow and brown leaves. So how do we scratch the autumnal itch here in Texas? Watching college football helps me get in the fall mood but each week I notice the scenery changing within my TV and not outside my window (in HD none-the-less thanks to Costco & Vizio!).

Stacie gets into the fall mindset with a handful of Candy Corn and a good Charlie Brown Halloween rerun but that can only get you so far. We need cool air on our faces and turning leaves but where to look? Luckily we found Lost Maples Natural Area. Stacie and I stumbled across this Texas gem thanks to extensive research skills, namely Google. We loaded up the dogs and our camping gear and hit the road at 6AM on Saturday for the 3 hour drive. Here's a few pictures from our fall camping extravaganza.

The men leading the charge

The Lost Maples area was interesting because it is surrounded by small mountain ridges that enclose a peaceful valley. We hiked up and into the ridges to camp but the valley was picturesque, we both like the long field grass (the dogs found it tasty as well).

Family picture at the campsite

I'm glad we found Lost Maples. Stacie and I both love the outdoors and hiking/camping in a scenic fall setting is unbeatable. Neither of us thought Texas could provide the landscape we witnessed this weekend. Texas, we underestimated you. However, I challenge the notion that 'everything is bigger in Texas' after hiking to the top of 2200 feet mountains. My house was almost at 2000 feet in Seattle and the Cascades and Olympics boast peaks over 10,000 feet...just saying.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ode to Mercedes the "left behind"

Even though Mercedes was left behind when we went to Scotland last year, that doesn't mean we don't love her. Since we've all been reunited as a family she has been showing herself to be the sweet boxer we had missed for the past year. Sweet and a bit unique. Here are a few of my favorite Mercedes photos:

She's fearless- here's her 140 lb. snugglebuddy

She likes to be held

She's a cuddler

She was actually sleeping like this...

She even lets me paint her nails! Who can resist?

Having dogs can be annoying when you go out of town or when you worked a long day and don't 'feel' like taking them on a walk. But most of the time, it is an awesome experience to be a dog owner. They do funny things to make you laugh when you least expect it and they follow you around everywhere you go making you feel loved and appreciated. I can't imagine our life without our furry friends!


Monday, November 2, 2009

New Edition

This past weekend Stacie and I jumped a flight for Spokane, Washington to meet the newest member of the family, our nephew Marek Isaiah Carlson. Little Marek was born Oct. 6th and we couldn't wait to meet him. Anyone who's followed our old blog knows that Stacie loves Halloween. It's hard to say what was sweeter, all the candy we dished out or Marek in his pumpkin outfit... judge for yourselves.

Heather and Marek

All snuggled in!

I usually get pretty nervous holding babies, something about holding the most precious and valuable possession anyone can own tenses me up a bit. This time however, when it was my own nephew, it just came easy!

Supporting the head!

Stacie had the skills to keep him happy

It goes without saying that the weekend was too short but a ton of fun. We had a great time visiting my family and were sad to have to put Marek down. The countdown is on for Christmas!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Saturday Stacie and I sleepily merged onto I-35 and headed north to Waco, TX. After a quick stop at Chick-fil-a for a breakfast sandwich and obligatory coffee we were on schedule for the 100th edition of Baylor University Homecoming. Stacie was obviously excited since Baylor is her alma-mater but I was eager to partake in college football and all the livery and atmosphere that surrounds it! I missed this experience in Scotland.

Parade Float

This picture is why stereotypes exist. I mean really, Texas beauty queen on a longhorn adorned Rolls Royce?!

Go Bears!

Meredith, Stacie & Becca

The big game

Meredith's daughter Mabry. Little cutie...big spirit!

We had a great time at the parade, seeing old friends and enjoying the festivities. Baylor was ultimately overmatched in the football game but we had a good time regardless. Even though I didn't go to Baylor I was able to enjoy the universal pride and spirit that surrounds collegiate athletics, which I appreciated.