Monday, December 27, 2010

All together (Almost) for Christmas

Our home was filled with laughter and even more love this Christmas! Carynn, Jamie and Ty who live locally; Lynette, boyfriend Chris and Lynette's dogs Sammy and Daisey from the Seattle area; Bret, Laura and Ethan from Utah; Melinda from nearby and finally, thanks to modern technology, Landan from the Middle East joined us for Christmas. Follow the pictorial and narrative below for more.

A shot of our Christmas Eve dining table. Many hands in
the kitchen (and dining room) made cooking, set-up and
clean-up non stressful for Shanna Claus!

Michael and Shanna with newest family member Ethan Thomas
who turned 4 months old during his visit

Lovely Laura and Adorable Ethan

The children take turns putting the angel
on the tree.This year was Lynette's turn.
She used a "human" ladder to help her reach
the top of the 10' tree.

One of our traditions is reading Polar Express after the tree
is decorated. Ty really enjoyed listening to it
and following along this year.

Everyone stayed over Christmas Eve and on Christmas
morning here are the children and grandchildren
(and grand dogs) as they wait
in the stairwell for the all clear to come up and check their
stockings before presents are opened.
Left to right. Chris, Lynette with Sammy; Melinda holding Daisey;
Carynn holding Ty; Bret and Laura; Jamie holding Ethan.
All right everyone come on up....It's Christmas!

Melinda and Landan Skyped this Christmas after
presents were opened. (With the 12 1/2 hour time difference
it was late at night in the Middle East.)

In the background you see Carynn, Jamie and Ty
enjoying our traditional slow baked (all night) ham,
potato rolls and orange juice Christmas morning.

It was wonderful to be all together (almost) for Christmas!

Love, NS

Monday, December 20, 2010

Batteries Not Included

Another fun "Ty" thing....He's made the connection that batteries are sometimes needed to make a toy work. His mom told me that he sometimes runs out of batteries and you have to get him new batteries to make him "work" again.

Michael and I saw that during one of our visits in December. Ty "ran out" of battery power and his mom and Papa pretended to open up his back and put in new batteries.

In real life... he is more like the Energizer bunny-his batteries seem to seldom need recharging or changing.

Sometimes my batteries do!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We did a different format for our Christmas card this year, Because I don't consider it a family picture unless we are ALL in it and we weren't ALL in the same place at the same time this year, I opted to do something that would have us all together. So here we are. I've included the narrative that I put with the card.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


2010 Miller Family Pro’s and Con’s
Listing the positives and negatives about a proposed plan can be a great strategy when making decisions. This year we thought we’d share with you a different sort of pro’s and con’s inventory: a brief catalog of some of the times we have felt protected and have connected as a family.
Beginning clockwise on the right you’ll see our lovely LYNETTE. She and her dad connected this year when he made a trip to Seattle to watch his favorite baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, play the Mariners. They really enjoyed attending the game; and though she would usually be pulling for the home team, this time Lynette cheered on the Sox. :)
BRET, LAURA AND ETHAN standing outside of Laura’s parents home in September. We’re so thankful that Laura and Ethan were protected through a difficult delivery this past August. We were able to connect with them this fall both in Utah and when they visited us in Washington. Ethan is adorable and we’re excited to welcome him to our family.
MELINDA AND LANDAN celebrated their first wedding anniversary in 2010. In a skateboarding accident in August Melinda fractured her pelvis in 2 places and cracked it in another. Her bones have reconnected nicely and she’s almost at 100%. Landan is in the Middle East on assignment for the State Department. We pray for his continued protection.
Our Hudson trio, CARYNN, JAMIE AND TY, would love to be a quartet! If you can help them connect to birthparents that would be wonderful. Their blog has a link to their adoption profile that you can share. We love having them live in our area and connecting with them often.
MICHAEL AND SHANNA-This fall we took the “long way” home from Utah after connecting with our Miller trio and revisited some of our favorite National Parks. We are grateful for the foresight of those that set these beautiful places aside for protection.
Not pictured is our dog, CLAIRE. 2010 brought an end to our earthly connection with her. She’d been part of our family for 15 ½ of her 16 ½ years. She was a good dog and a loyal friend.

May you be protected and stay connected with whatever is most important to you in 2011!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Latter Day Sentinel

Copy, cut and paste this link:

to find out what our ward's been up to this year.

Yours truly,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome to my Playroom!

We stopped by Carynn and Jamie's home yesterday after we'd been to a movie. (Unstoppable--it was good!) We chatted with Carynn and Melinda (She had also stopped by) and were getting a bit "antsy" because we wanted to see Ty and he was still taking his nap.

Michael finally went into Ty's room to encourage him to wake up from his nap (which is Nanaspeak for what Michael actually did which was practically jumping up and down to encourage Ty to wake up.) Ty did wake up (No surprise there-given what Michael had been doing) and enjoyed a snuggle with his Mommy while he was fully waking up.

He played a while with his little train (the one from his birthday cake-see a previous post) and then invited me to go to his playroom. While they're waiting for another child to adopt Carynn has set up a playroom for Ty in the spare room upstairs. Ty loves his playroom. What he said and did next was priceless!

After I walked in after him he stood and spread his arms wide and called out with enthusiasm, "Welcome to my Playroom!"

We had a good time, but then again, we always do!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Squeaky Clean Boys

Both of our grandsons enjoyed visits to Nana and Papa's bath. Ethan in the sink and Ty in the big soaking tub. They were so cute, I had to post these pictures. By the way, these were taken on different days. :)

Don't you just "dig" this mustache? It's from some write on the tub (or on the Ty) kind of soap.

Ty loves his bath!

See the yellow, green and orange bath toy? All of our children
enjoyed playing with that. I'd say it held up well for over 31 years wouldn't you?

Gentle, loving hands for their sweet boy.

Look at Ethan! He's a healthy little guy!

Oh, I had a third bath time picture of Ethan (I do try to treat them equally), but it showed his little boy parts and I didn't want him to look at his Nana's blog some day and be embarrassed.

Precious, precious boys!

I love them!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

I got here as soon as I could

We feel so blessed to live near Carynn, Jamie and Ty. Because we live just 30 minutes away, we're used to seeing them frequently. With their trip to Portland and then the busyness of getting back, etc. it was nearly a week since they'd been by.

We were excited to see them when they got back and to hear first hand about their adventures. Ty was excited too. Let me set the scene for you...

I'm in the kitchen (probably doing dishes) and I hear the garage door open. Ty comes in quickly, takes off his jacket, takes off his hat, takes off shoes and says, "Guys, I got here as soon as I could."

I loved it that he missed seeing us and enjoys coming to our home. I'm glad that he got here as soon as he could.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Ty is Three!

Since Carynn, Jamie and Ty were going to be celebrating Ty's actual third birthday with Jamie's family in Oregon this year, we decided to do a Pre-Three Family Party on October 24. The above picture is taken from that night. Ty's practicing his three fingers and Mommy and Daddy are helping too.

I volunteered to make Ty's cake and I had such a good time planning it out. I found the Thomas the train piece at Target. I used black licorice for the railroad tracks and red licorice for the railroad ties. The rail car is carrying a load of candy corn. It was a fun to make and good to eat! (If I do say so myself.) ;) The expression on Ty's face is him practicing blowing out his candle.

Above and below you see what I call the "Halloween Costume Preview." I found the rear view with the tale pretty cute too.

Here's Ty on his birthday. Note the treat bag that Carynn and I made for him. It should work for awhile...until he gets old enough that he decides a pillowslip would work better.
Happy Halloween, but more importantly Happy 3rd birthday Ty! You are loved so much!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ethan is Two Months Old!

October 26 Ethan turned 2 months old. His vital stats are~
Weight: 12 pounds 8 ounces
Height: 23 1/2 inches

Here is Laura with their little Halloween Bear

Our three in Utah-Laura is a beautiful witch, Bret is Steve Jobs of Apple with his new invention "the i-Hand", Ethan is a cuddly brown bear

Happy Halloween and Happy Two Months Ethan!

Love you three!

What a difference a month makes!

We left Utah the day after Labor Day. A month later Bret, Laura and Ethan came up to see us. Ethan had changed so much. Here he is with his Papa, notice how their heads are connected. Look how happy they both are!

Michael and Ethan are checking each other out in this photo.

This is a Four Generation picture. My mom was visiting my brother (he recently moved to the area), I had picked her up for a beauty day (hair and toes) and suggested to her that she stop by our home to see how Michael was recovering from his tonsillectomy. She was delighted and surprised to find that Bret, Laura and Ethan were visiting.

And finally this is such a cute picture, I just had to share....

My friend had given her guests goodies to us at a pre-Halloween celebration in the little jack-o-lantern. I saved mine for Ethan. Isn't just the right size for him? I sure think so.

I love him!
(Oh, and his mom and dad too.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ty takes a train ride

Ty loves anything that moves...maybe because he's such a mover himself! We have toy trucks, tractors, trains, planes and automobiles among his toys here, and he has just as many of those at his house along with his birthday present-a Brio type train set.

When a friend sent out an e-mail talking about an old-fashioned train ride to enjoy Fall colors, I thought it would be a fun thing to do with Ty. I realized that he was a little on the "young" side for enjoying it; but knowing his fascination for all those things I've listed above, we decided to give it a shot.

Because it was a 2 1/2 hour drive to Ione where the Lions club there coordinates the train rides as a fundraiser, we asked Carynn and Jamie if Ty could spend the night. They agreed and we began our preparations. My friend, Ellen, was a great resource for preparing for the train ride. It's something she and her husband have done with their children off and on over the years. Well, now their children are grown and she and Gary still like to ride the train. So....Ellen recommended quilts, hot chocolate, snacks and warm coats, gloves and hats. Though we hoped for good weather, it's always good to be prepared.

Besides the things that Ellen told me about, I planned for a brief road trip with Ty-so diapers, snacks and drinks for the car ride, DVD's (just in case) were also on my list. The day dawned and we quickly got up, breakfasted and headed out.

The drive there was uneventful...We didn't even need the DVD's for the trip up there. Ty enjoyed looking around, talking to us and snacking occasionally. We stopped every now and then when Michael saw a great photo opportunity, but made good time and were at the train station early enough to pick up our tickets and then wait to board.

Ty was so patient! He REALLY wanted to board the train and the steps were so close, but he waited patiently and when the car was ready for us to get on, he did and we did.
I asked one of the volunteers if someone could say "All aboard" since I had told Ty that someone would say that so everyone would know that they had better get on the train. The volunteer (I bet she's a grandma) was nice enough to ask someone to do that; and in a little while we heard someone call out those magic words.

On advice from our friend, we had opted to ride in one of the open air cars so we were very glad that we had all of our "supplies." Though the day wasn't cold, there was a bit of Fall briskness to the air, so having quilts, gloves, hats, coats (and hot chocolate) were very good ideas indeed.

Other than the time that he bumped his head (before the train started), Ty was as good as gold. He was very fascinated with the train tracks. So, being safety conscious, I let him observe them sitting near me as he could look through the slats and see the tracks and the train moving along them and I could keep my arm around him. Sips of hot chocolate and our other snacks helped an already happy camper to be an ecstatic one.

The noises that the train made were sometimes loud. We explained to Ty that when the train crossed a road it had to sound it's horn so that people driving cars would know not to try to cross the tracks. We even crossed a bridge that was high up off the ground enough that you didn't like to think about how well they maintained it. The trees were just getting their fall colors and the ride was very enjoyable.

The rhythm of the train lulled Ty to sleep and he slept for over half of the ride. When he woke up we were already on our way back to the station (it's an out and back ride). After we disembarked he would have gotten right back on to do the ride again. When he realized that wasn't going to happen, he decided that he wanted a closer look at the engine again.

He also allowed himself to be persuaded to watch the next group of passengers board the train for their ride from the comfort of a nearby picnic bench and a few more snacks. When the train with it's new load of passengers pulled out, we got ready to pull out too.

I'd like to say that the ride back home was perfect, but realistically, it'd already been a long day not just for Ty but for us too, so suffice it to say DVD's saved the day (along with more snacks). We all had a marvelous time and I know this is something we'll want to do with Ty again.

There was definitely joy in this journey (and love too)!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Michael and Shanna's Excellent Adventure 2010 Part 2

Welcome back to Michael and Shanna's Excellent Adventure 2010! Now it's time to explore Waterton and Glacier National Parks. Again, we hadn't been back to either park since the 1970's although we live much closer to them both now.

We decided to "do" the Canadian side first. Armed with our passports we drove and drove until we reached the Waterton checkpoint. After being looked over carefully by the RCMP border agents we were cleared to enter Canada. While we didn't have the roads completely to ourselves; again, due to the time of year, the crowds were much smaller.

We turned off onto one small road and followed it and found a rainbow following us! Michael had some great shots of the rainbow. I picked this one to share with you.

In another section of the park we stopped to visit an outhouse that was part of this little picnic area and had a serendipitous (spelling?) find--see the picture below for the little creek that was splashing along. I loved the coloring of the rocks and the clarity of the water. Michael took this photo to document our stop there.

We also went into town, saw the Prince Edward Hotel, found a hat by the lake, ate an ice cream (and were very thankful that they took VISA since we didn't have any Canadian money) and generally enjoyed ourselves.


While Waterton didn't disappoint, Glacier was different from my memories. After doing some driving in the park, we figured out why...Between the time that we'd visited the park (mid 70's) to 2010 there'd been some forest fires that had done tremendous damage to the forests there. Yes, it was still beautiful, but we were saddened to see the scarred trees on the horizon and up the slopes of the mountains as we drove through the park.

We traveled the Going to the Sun Road, always beautiful. The construction they were doing on the road made it a bit interesting, not hazardous, just "interesting." There were plenty of people in Glacier-we hit it on a weekend. With time on our hands, we didn't complain. (Neither did this park resident we encountered-see below.)

I may write more on Glacier later. We continued going through Montana on the way home and stopped at Kalispell, which reminded us alot of Spokane. It was settled near the same time, is near a river and has areas of town that are very similar. We found a good Mexican food place to eat that was close to the hotel, took a walk downtown and spent an uneventful night.


Sometimes, the memorable stops are the unplanned ones. We noticed a wayside park for Kalispell Falls and decided to stop there. We hiked (mostly walked-it wasn't THAT kind of a hike)to the Falls which were spectacular! Michael took a ton of pictures. The other trail in the area took us over the Swinging Bridge. It reminded me of all those old adventure movies that have a dilapidated bridge between a canyon that the hero and fair maiden must cross to safety. Well, this one wasn't dilapidated and no bad guys were chasing us so that it made it a bit easier to take our time across it. Michael took this picture of me "conquering" the bridge. I highly recommend the stop at Kalispell Falls!


It seems to me when you're on a trail, there can be a bit of camaraderie with people you encounter coming or going. We ran into these two guys that had also been at Glacier Park around the same time we had been. They mentioned the same Big Horn sheep that we had seen. We teased that perhaps it was a robotic sheep that the National Park Service staked out there every day.

Life is good!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is it already November?

Frequent readers of my blog will note that a whole month has gone by without a posting....I have lots to say and lots to document so stay tuned. I'm going to have a Blogathon-to catch up.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Real or Pretend?

Last night Carynn, Ty and Melinda came up to help me with a project. We invited them for dinner (pizza-always a favorite) too. Note: Jamie was at class and Landan's still in the Middle East.

As Ty was sitting at the kitchen table enjoying his dessert he noticed the decorations I had out to celebrate Back-to-School and September. They're over my desk in the kitchen in the shelves. Some of the apples are "pretend" some are "real." The real ones came from our apple trees.

Ty pointed out the ones he knew were pretend, identified the ones that were real and then wasn't quite sure about another one. I told him it was pretend (It was an "old" wax apple-I've had it for a long time.) I took it down and handed it to him. He hefted it and then decided to take a bite out of it even though I had told him it was pretend. Well, you should have seen his face! He definitely found out that when Nana told him something was pretend, it really is!

The picture above is one that Carynn took this summer. Can't you just see the love in his face? I sure can. It's real.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michael and Shanna's Excellent Adventure 2010

We've been back in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for over 8 years and haven't been back to some of our favorite national parks for 35 years! It was more than time to do that.

Michael, also known as "He who plans wonderful itineraries," figured out that after visiting our newest grandson and family that we could meander home instead of doing our usual 10 hour drive straight home.

The first stop on our tour: Jackson-also know as Jackson Hole. Here's yours truly posing under one of Jackson's famous antler arches. Note: No elk are harmed during the annual antler harvest. They shed them yearly and the local Boy Scouts harvest them and then they're auctioned off.

Then it was on to the Grand Tetons. The pictures below were taken in what is known as "Historic Mormon Row." It's very interesting that you're supposed to maintain your distance from the wildlife, but that the wildlife doesn't always maintain their distance from you! I guess the buffalo/bison was ready for his (I think it's a he) photo opportunity! Talk about a beautiful backdrop.

One of our last stops at Grand Teton wasn't actually offically "in" Grand Teton, but is contiguous with it-The Laurance Rockefeller Preserve. It's a gem! On our way into the preserve we saw a moose drinking in a small pond. At the end of a brief hike we came upon Phelps Lake and this delicate butterfly.

On to Yellowstone! 35 years ago when Michael and I did our National Parks Tour we rated Yellowstone the most diverse. It has it all- wildlife, waterfalls, geyers, scenery. It did then and it does now. We took the time to do the park "right" this time, by taking more time. We saw lots and lots and lots of geysers (including Old Faithful), more bison, our first bear, the waterfalls and finished up the park by going to Mammoth Hot Springs and then through this huge arch that marks the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park and is inscribed: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People. These people (Michael and I) sure enjoyed it!

We're not done yet. Stay tuned for more National Park Adventures!

More with Ethan, of course!

Aren't they a good looking family? To me they look very happy, and with a brand new baby, they're also very tired.

This is me less than five minutes after arriving in Salt Lake. Happy Nana, Happy Mom (Laura) and Happy (Sleeping) Ethan.

I arrived Tuesday, Michael came into town on Friday afternoon. Here we are with the newest member of the clan!

Sunday afternoon at Laura's parents. Here are three generations. Aren't they all handsome?

I love them!