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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

KKT: Chocoate Cake Trick

A small cooking tidbit. Lots baking to be done this season!!

When making chocolate-based cakes or breads, grease the pan and dust with cocoa powder, instead of flour, to prevent sticking.

Merry Christmas!


You have found (or rediscovered) our blog. It truly has been a blessed and busy year. Unfortunately, that means the blog gets put on the back burner! To remedy that, I will attempt to condense one years worth of news into one, hopefully not too boring, blog post.

Our postcard to you was our feeble attempt to connect with you. Although, we do want you to know that you are always in our hearts and minds, even if we don't pick up the phone to tell you. Because of the Air Force, church, and other capacities we've been in we've been blessed to come across some truly wonderful people. Many of you we hope to never loose contact with. In reality AF is a small world and being LDS is a small world, but when we combine the two the connections are endless!

We started off last November believing we had more time in Ohio. Plans fell through on the AF end and got orders for Travis to teach at Vandenberg AFB in California. We were excited to move back to the West coast, but sad to leave so many wonderful friends we'd met in Ohio. I wish we could squeeze Ohio right between Oregon and California.

After the new year I flew to California to house hunt with my mom. The search was unsuccessful. The following weekend, I was searching again from my comfy couch in Ohio and came across the house we ended up buying. The buying process was slowed because it was a foreclosure. Perseverance (and TONE of nagging from Travis') won out and we love our new home. I'm getting ahead of myself!!!

In March, Travis graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in a Masters in Space Systems. He studied Hawk Moths. The biology of moths will someday help the AF in creating micro air vehicles. He enjoyed his research and is hoping to continue it in the future. He has recently been asked to be on the thesis committee for the person who took over his research at AFIT.

At the beginning of April, we did a DITY move and headed for California. We visited church history sites on the way and made a pit stop in Colorado. We stayed in Colorado where we were able to visit some lifelong friends. Some we knew from our beginning in Air Force (the first time we were stationed at Vandenberg AFB), so we knew from Minot (ND)AFB, and some we knew from Wright-Patt (OH) AFB. We stayed a few weeks with Travis, while he attended some training. Then my mom (Yaya) flew in and continued with me to California.

We drove straight to the realtor's office the day we got to Santa Maria . They took us to see the house. I was pleased! The house is further from base then we wanted. However, the community is quiet and safe. We have excellent neighbors that we connected with right away. In fact, she home schools her 5 kids. They're older than our kids. They get along fabulously. I'm grateful! Often the kids play together, while I get housework done!

Anyway, once the house was finalized the truck with our belonging came. We packed our own stuff into a trailer in Ohio and hired a driver to drive it to California. Its a company called ABF. Before we arrived in California, Travis contacted the Bishop of our new ward to find some people we could pay to help me unload the truck. Everything went smoothly. While Travis finished up the next 3 weeks in Colorado, I unpacked the whole house (except the office and garage).

Summertime! We were so happy to be near the beach and connect with friends we hadn't seen since North Dakota (and a few from the last time we were here). I did some summer school with the kids to keep them occupied. We decided to enroll Dynomite into the local elementary school for Kindergarten. I wanted her to attend pre-school, but it just didn't work out that way. We worked all summer on her letters, numbers, colors, shapes and writing her name to get her prepared. Trouble had to work on reading. I also was able to teach the kids swim lessons one-on-one.

The benefits of moving yourself is that the AF pays you a lump sum and whatever you don't use to pay moving expenses, you get to pocket. With some of that money we paid for a years membership to a local gym and a years worth of personal training sessions for me. I was feeling out of shape and knew that I needed some motivation. They gym has a large and clean children's area where they watch the kids and an indoor pool. That is how I was able to to one-on-one lessons. I followed the instructional videos from U-Swim.

Summer seemed to fly by. We had a great visit from Travis' Dad, his wife and daughter, and two other cousins. We went down to Disneyland with them. Travis was able to go to SOS training in Alabama. Travis was able to finish his second Masters; this one in Space Studies. While Travis was gone Yaya, Aunt Candy, and I took the kids camping for a week. Dynomite entered Kindergarten and Trouble stated at the classical academy in town. A classical academy is a school that allows you to home teach and still have some classroom time. At the academy he does science and history lessons. At home I teach reading, math, vocabulary, writing, language arts (reading, spelling, etc...), art, PE, and whatever else comes up :-) I have actually found that I'm enjoying myself and I get to see Trouble in a whole new light.

Trouble and Dynomite have taken up gymnastics. They're naturals (as any mother would say)! They both love to go and seem to enjoy it. Dynomite said her favorite thing is to 'play in the chalk'!

Backpack has grown up so much this year. He is a fun-loving, although aggressive, 3 year old. He loves to play with the other kids and has taken a special interest in Aussie. Its heart warming to see them play together and Backpack protecting Aussie. We've had some ups and downs with Backpack in the past, but we just now starting to realise that many of the troubles we've had are food related. We've cut milk out of his diet and he's doing better.

Aussie is charming. If he's not playing, he's snuggling. His personality is starting to shine. He is constantly soaking up every tidbit of information around him. He tries so hard to keep up with the other kids; chasing after them, helping with school lessons (eating linking cubes and crayons), breaking..I mean...carrying dishes to the sink. When the others laugh, he laughs. If they're whinny, he's whinny. If they're climbing, he's climbing. He is just simply a joy to have around.

During the fall, we got into a good routine. Homeschooling has sucked my time and energy from me. So on the days that Trouble is in class (twice a week) that is my time to tackle housework and laundry. Twice we've been able to visit family in Modesto, CA. Once for my cousin's BEAUTIFUL wedding and then back again for Thanksgiving. Its so great to live near family again.

Travis was called to the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric. A calling that never ceases. Between work and this calling we hardly see him and the minute he comes home, he's ready to hop into bed. BUT, that of course isn't the case! As soon as the front door opens you hear shouts of "Daddy!" and the patter of little feet running to the door. And before you know it, he's happily rolling around on the floor with them, on the couch reading a book (some days even falling asleep halfway through!) or up at the table playing a game. Bless his heart!!

However, for Christmastime we are treating ourselves to Disney Christmas Cruise! I feel like after all the events of this past year, we deserve it. We worked hard moving ourselves to earn the money. The kids have been so good tagging along while we uproot them from best friends, move them half way across the country, throw them into a new environment, and while we try to make the best decisions for them by trial and error.

After the cruise we're going to have quite Christmas at home with Papa (my Dad). Travis will then begin construction on our home to add another bedroom upstairs for anyone who'd visit ;-) We have approximately 2.5 years here and intend to spend at the beach or with family :-)

Merry Christmas!! We wish you all the best, and hope you and your families are doing well! We pray for a new year that will prove to be blessed for all!

Thankful List

Our Family Thankful List for each day in November:

1. Our own little family
2. Warm house
3. Games to play
4. Food
5.Compliant and Helpful Trouble
6. Joyful Dynomite
7. Ambitious Backpack
8. Sweet Aussie
9. Daddy's job
10. Education
11. Books to read
12. The Weekend!!
13. The Knowledge of the Gospel
14. Family Home Evening
15. Cookies
16. Technology to help us learn and stay connected
17. Beautiful days to play outside
18. Fun movies to watch
19. Pizza
20. Animals, especially ones we can have pets (if mom and dad would let us have one)
21.Warm baths and showers
22. Trouble's Birthday, so we can have a family birthday party!
23. Holiday's with no school or work
24. Thanksgiving at Aunt Donna and Uncle Richard's with Papa!
25. Christmas music
26. No Snow, this year :-)
27. Holidays to remember Christ.
28.Arts and Crafts
29. Friends
30. Scriptures and Hymns

Family Pictures

This year we went cheap and had my mom snap a few pictures of us. Then Travis had some fun getting pictures of the kids.

Lively Trouble (7 Years old):Monkey Dynomite (5 years old):

Determined Backpack (3 Years old):

Aimless Aussie (1 year old):

Yaya and the Grandkids:

Backpack's ER Visit

Backpack and Trouble were playing 'Train'. Backpack was sitting on a blanket and Trouble pulled the blanket out from him, thinking Backpack was holding on. Backpack went forward and split his chin on the tile floor. Travis was still at church. He rushed home and took Backpack to the ER.
Luckily they used Dermabond and glued his chin back together! So much easier and cleaner than stitches!
At first his chin was bruised and had a huge scab. The bruising has cleared up and the scab has fallen off. It looks like the scarring will be minimal :-)
This was backpacks 2nd trip to the ER. Our first in California! I'm just glad it wasn't anything worse!!
**Sorry, no pictures!!**
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