Christmas Traditions

One of my favorite things about being home for Christmas is the annual alumni hockey game. It's so fun to see all the "old" guys back in their uniforms and having fun on the rink. Here's a few shots after the game tonight.

Darby & Jordan

Block Cousins: Brent, Darby, Derek, Jordan, Jason, Keith

just hanging out

the whole group


I kid, I kid!

You caught me. The house pictured in the previous post isn't really ours! That's the sight we see through our back window. We call her "Betty Lou Who". (And no, Jill, it's not the "girlie" neighbors) The decorations are crazy on that house - the picture doesn't do it justice at all (I snuck out there in the dark last night and had to hurry so no one saw me). Every year it seems there's a little something more than the year before. A couple years ago I was taking a walk through the neighborhood at night and literally from about a block away could hear the hum of electricity.

Anyways.......I did do some decorating myself so I will share those pictures with you, although it's not nearly as impressive as our neighbors!


Christmas Lights!

I know it's been quite a while since I've posted anything new, but I've actually been quite busy getting ready for the Christmas season. I've finally finished all my decorating for the year and thought I'd show off the final product.

Now I'm off to bake cookies for our Christmas program at church tomorrow night all while listening to my new Elvis Christmas CD (and of course the hockey game will be on in the background - Go Gophers)! I LOVE this time of year :)


Oops...I did it again....

...I messed with your heart. Okay, that's enough Britney Spears for one day. But just wanted you to know, in case you're blind, that I changed my background AGAIN! Don't get too used to it though because Christmas is coming up fast, and I know I'll be changing it soon. So enjoy it while it's up. And Happy Thanksgiving!!


Drumroll, please!

I know you've all been desperately waiting to hear about the Reba/Kelly concert, don't lie!! Well, I must say it was absolutely amazing! Definitely the best concert ever!!

And I wasn't the only one who thought so. I kept hearing these quotes all night: "way good" and "freaking awesome"! You know those weren't my quotes because of the grammatical errors, but don't worry, girls, I'm not naming any names! :)



Everyone seems to be talking about change these days.....so I decided to change the look of my blog. Don't know if I like it yet. I might change it again tomorrow - just because I can!!


Happy Birthday...

To my dear, sweet cousin Jill!! Amazing mother of four beautiful children and an incredible dedicated wife to the hardest working husband around!! Love you, Jill! Hope you have a fabulous day!!


Girls Weekend!

This past weekend was our 8th annual Ballard Girls Weekend! We've been to St. Cloud twice, Grand Forks twice, Fargo and Bemidji, but for the second year in a row we rented a townhome on Gull Lake up near Brainerd, MN! It's so much fun. There were 13 of us this year and it's nice to all be able to stay in the same house!

The rule is that you can't come to Girls Weekend until you're a senior. So this was Katelyn's rookie year. She's petitioned to come the last couple years after hearing how much fun we had, but the "board" reviewed her application and sent her a rejection letter. Another first this year is that we had t-shirts made. Eight years and we finally thought of t-shirts!!

We played board games, ate a TON of food, watched a movie, went shopping, relaxed, had a bonfire, and of course ate some more. It was a great weekend and fun to catch up with all my aunts and cousins! Can't wait till Ballard Girls Weekend 2009!


In Concert

Guess who I'm going to see in concert????


It's not until the end of October, but I'm sooo excited! And we have really good seats!



I found President Bush's speech from the evening of September 11, 2001, and just wanted to share it with you all again. Gave me chills to read it as I remember hearing it for the first time on that day.

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.

America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America -- with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C. to help with local rescue efforts.

Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.

The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business, as well.

The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance.

America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me."

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night, and God bless America.


Jill, look!

My African violet is blooming!


Wedding Bells

Here's some pictures from Kyle and Lacey's wedding last weekend. I meant to get these up earlier, but I've been consumed by the olympics! It's been a struggle just to get to work this week!! GO USA!!

Katie and I

Cousins/Roomates = Cuzmates

The bouquet toss. I tried my best to get it - I was even willing to take some of the girls out, but those younger ones were ruthless. There was even hair pulling and a dive to catch it.

Me and Anna - such a beautiful bridesmaid!


Bull Riding!

Yes, real bull riding - professional and everything. Okay, so I'll start from the beginning. Last week Anna and I decided to venture out to the Anoka County Fair to take in some bull riding. Something I've always thought would be fun - that or a rodeo - but never thought I would be able to talk someone into going with me. Turns out, Anna has been thinking the same thing. Man, you'd think we're related?!?! (for those reading this blog who don't know us, we actually are related. twice.)

Anyways, it was a blast! So much fun to watch those cowboys try and stay on for eight whole seconds, which turns out is quite a lot longer when you're on a bull. One thing we thought was kind of cool too was they have an organization called "Cowboys for Christ" which the announcer talked a little bit about before everything got under way. And before the event started we saw a sea of cowboy hats across the arena all head back to one of the trailers, gather in a circle and take their hats off to pray. I just thought it was neat to see that at a public event.

Well, here are the pictures I got. Not too many since I was too busy watching and oohing and awwwing after the cowboys would get thrown off and then jump right back up to get out of the bull's way! They've got to be some of the toughest people alive!


Happy Anniversary!

A belated Happy Anniversary that is. To Derek and Jill! They celebrated their sixth year of marriage while we were camping last weekend. Micah and I surprised them with a cake and a little gift for Jill. Well, for Derek too :) Happy Anniversary, guys! Love you both!!


I've been trying...

....to blog. Really. Our internet and cable has been out since Monday! Can you believe we've gone three whole days without a tv or internet?!? It can be done, folks, it can be done. Comcast came out this afternoon to save the day though. Poor Steph hasn't been able to do her assignments for her online class! And Anna and I have just been deprived of our browsing of the information superhighway during the evenings.

Anyways, I digress. Last weekend I met my brother, a couple cousins and their wives up in Ely for a little weekend camping trip. It was so much fun! I really like to camp. Not set up the tent or any of that stuff.....but I like to camp. Oh, and only if there's showers! So basically I like the bonding part of it. And the bonfires. And s'mores.

The first night we were there the resort ran out of firewood. So every once in awhile, as we were sitting around our dying fire, Derek would disappear and come back with a bunch of sticks and branches from dead trees in the woods. Well, one time he came back with practically a tree. It was hilarious to see! So Darby and Jerem got out the saw and started hacking away. And we were set for the rest of the night!

On Saturday, Jill had arranged for us to tour the Soudan Mine, which is known as the "Cadillac of mines" and was about a half hour away. It was the one of the coolest things I've done! We got to ride down about 2300 feet underground in an old elevator shaft that the miners used back in the day and then ride a little rail car (which is what they used to use to send the iron out of the mines) a mile and a half into the mine and then take a little tour and a history lesson of the mine! If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it!

The guys thought it was especially cool that they were selling Pasties outside the mine. Pasties are an "Iron Range" classic that's basically a pot pie when you're anywhere else! But for $4 - who could resist?

Thanks, Jill, for planning such a fun excursion and a great weekend!!