How to Tell If It’s Officially Christmas Time

Well, around our house you know it’s officially Christmas time when a few key things happen. Those things happened today.

First, Christmas cannot start until we have cut down the perfect Christmas tree. This year (as in the past couple of years) we went to a place called “Big Tree Plantation”. It’s a tree farm that specializes in Christmas trees. There were scads of people rushing to find the perfect Christmas tree only to then spend 10 to 20 minutes in line waiting to pay for the tree.

It was snowing and they provided a sled…and a hill. How perfect is that? We had Katie and Grant in the sled while Daddy pulled. They had a blast! Grant was laughing (or smiling really big) most of the time. It makes a parent’s heart smile to see their children having so much fun and making fond memories. Unfortunately, Daddy was a dork and forgot his camera. Yeah, the guy who loves taking pictures with his new “fancy” camera forgot to bring it to one of our family traditions. So, we got a few pictures with Daddy’s camera phone. Thank goodness for camera phones!

As is tradition, after finding the perfect tree, free hot chocolate and a ($5 (ouch)) funnel cake were consumed. Grant thought he wanted seconds of the hot chocolate until he saw the trains. So, Daddy had unexpected 3rds. Tara had fun looking at all the Fontina Nativity village figurines while the kids were checking out the trains (with Daddy making sure that Grant stopped touching them).

Once the tree was paid for, we loaded it onto our car (actually, someone from the Big Tree Plantation loaded it for us for a moderate fee/tip of $5 (again…ouch)) and we headed off to find some lunch. After lunch we took our perfect tree home to set it up.

That brings me to the second thing that signals Christmas time: Johnny Mathis on the 8 Track. Yes, I said it, EIGHT TRACK. I’m rockin’ the big-cartridge, slow-to-start-and-stop, only-one-speaker-working, eight track. Once I put the tree in the stand and set it in our living room, on came Johnny Mathis. That’s when it officially started to feel like Christmas.

Tara, who is the light lady in our house, put the lights on the tree (with a little help from John and Grant). We have not decorated the tree and usually save that for Sunday afternoon. It’s a great family activity. Although Grant and Katie usually lose interest after just a few ornaments.

The last thing that happened today that signals Christmas time is the “Merry Christmas” sign (that Andrea made for us) being put up over the entrance to the kitchen.

So, it’s officially Christmas time in the Arnesen house.

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Thanksgiving 2010

We spent Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa Arnesen’s house on Gardengate in Huber Heights. The food was spectacular, the company was amazing and the fun was plentiful.

Dad and Susan had the Fords, the Gordhamers, Adam and Megan, the Hauns, David Chamberlin, and our family over for Thanksgiving.

Katie had loads of fun playing with her cousins. Grant had loads of fun playing with a portable Thomas the train set (he didn’t play with anything else once it was opened).

Bonnie put together an amazing set of games that really made the night fun. We all made a Thanksgiving flower for Grandma and Grandpa’s wall. We played several relay races which were chaotic but loads of fun. Here’s a video of the “Naughty and Nice” relay race. You cannot tell but they are using spoons to transport candy from a bucket to either a “Naughty” stocking or a “Nice” stocking. Grant eventually got his own spoon and kept going back and forth (he was also allowed to hold the candy on the spoon so he never dropped anything). I think his team ended up winning.

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The grandkids put together a Christmas play, “The Elves Who Ruined Christmas”. Here’s the video.

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We also took some pictures. Leah had fun playing with the macro filter for my camera. We took a few pictures Here are some of the pictures:

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Corn Maze 2010 Image Gallery

We had a great time at the corn maze with Tracey, Ryan, their kids, and Grandma and Grandpa Arnesen. The younger kids tired of the mazes pretty quickly, but all the cousins had a blast playing in the corn box and feeding the goats. Here are some of the photos from our adventures.

Click here to see the entire gallery.

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Dad and Susan’s Homecoming…Day 1

DSC_9023Dad and Susan came home from a mission to Norway on September 3, 2010. They performed a great work and were happy to be home with the rest of the family. Besides our little family, other members of the family who were at the airport included the Gordhamers and the Hauns. Tracey had an idea to have everyone who came to the airport wear funny glasses. The picture in the left corner demonstrates what those glasses looked like.

From the airport we went to Dad and Susan’s house on Gardengate to have dinner and spend a good evening together talking about mission and life. It was lots of fun. There were some family photos taken in front of the big welcome home sign. My favorite pictures from that photo shoot were these two:


In between the picture above and the picture below, I cracked a joke like, “Dad, how about you smile. You look like you have gas”.


Boom! Instant laughter. Once dad recovered from the initial hilarity of the comment. The subsequent pictures were much better.

Here the last one of dad and Susan (my favorite one).


Here are a few other pictures from that first day.

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Katie Being a Great Big Sister

Recently we’ve gotten some good pictures of Katie being the best big sister. Here are two of my recent favorites.

Katie wanted to get some after-bath snuggles from Grant. And Grant really wanted to give snuggles to ‘my Katie’. They each look like they are in heaven.

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Funny ways to learn things

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Yesterday I discovered, yet again, just how much like my mom I am. Here’s some background (ok, so quite a lot of background). I promise I will get to the mom-link eventually.


About 3 months ago I converted my computer into a home-built DVR solution. Tara and I liked being able to skip commercials and watch shows whenever we wanted, not just when the show was on. However, it was awkward watching recorded shows because of the lack of comfy seating arrangements in the loft.  We both would sit with headphones on so as not to wake the kids up. She would sit in her desk chair (the no-wheeled-not-very-comfy kind) usually hunched over because the headphone cable wasn’t long enough. I would sit in my more comfy office chair and control the fast-forwarding via the keyboard.


So, after the Olympics started and Tara and I found that we were watching quite a bit of recorded TV shows in this not-so-comfy arrangement, Tara relented and said I could move the computer downstairs by the TV so we could watch from the couch. So, I moved the computer, hooked it up the remote and Tara was in heaven. The one weird thing was that we couldn’t connect the computer to our old TV because it did not have a high enough resolution (weird for an HDTV). So, we ended up leaving my 22” monitor downstairs right next to the TV and watching recorded shows on it instead of on the TV.


We ran like this for a little bit, with the intention of getting me a new computer when the money was available. It turned out that the money was available sooner than I thought. We had talked about replacing my desktop with a new one when we received our tax return. However, a week after moving the computer downstairs, I found out that I was going to be receiving a bonus at work which, it turned out, would be coming on the same day as our tax return. I was ecstatic. I started obsessing, in earnest, over the details of my new desktop. I laid out my options:


  1. Buy an entirely new system, including a new, larger monitor, and connect my old monitor to the new computer and the new monitor to the DVR.
  2. Buy a desktop-only system with no monitor and use our current TV to watch the DVR


As a test, I hooked up the DVR to the TV and gave it a shot. Boy was it not good. I felt like I was watching analog TV again. So, I decided to go with option number 1. However, while pricing monitors I found that the monitors were not much cheaper than a larger LCD TV. After much vacillating back and forth I finally decided to go with option number 2a: replace our low-res (albeit ‘HD’ TV) with a new, better resolution, LCD TV hook the DVR up to it, buy a very cheap desktop and connect my old monitor to the desktop. So, I switched my obsession from PCs to TVs. One week later (which is a short time for me) I finally decided which 2 brands of TV I was going to look to purchase.  And yesterday, after some drama at the store, I purchased an LED/LCD TV (model: LG-42LH90) from hhgregg.


It was in the drama at the store where I figured out how much like my mom I am. I spent all morning and some of the afternoon looking for the absolute greatest price on a TV. By 2pm I had decided where I would be purchasing a TV.  I knew I could get the best deal from HHGregg due to the commissioned sales staff being highly motivated to make sales. I walked in the store and asked for my previous salesman. However, 45 minutes later I walked out after watching my salesman shoot the breeze with a co-worker for 15 minutes. I went home feeling angry and depressed, not knowing why.  About 7pm that evening I was so frustrated I decided to take a drive. I had known that the previous salesman I had worked with was off at 7pm so, I found my drive taking me back to the HHGregg store. While I was driving I determined that I was going to make a decision, no more vacillating or indecision. I was not worried about making an uneducated decision as I had spent lots of time researching every single model of TV offered by the two manufacturers (LG and Samsung). What I was worried about (and this is where the like-mom thing comes into play) was not getting the absolute best deal ever. I get joy out of getting a good deal. Sometimes more than I do out of the thing I get. My second trip to HHGregg was great. I took joy in working over the salesman to get the absolute best price for the TV I ultimately decided to buy. I loved that I got a 3 year warranty for free. As Tara put it, I love to haggle. Earlier in the day, Tara had suggested that she go buy the TV (thinking I was just too frustrated and overwhelmed by the number of options). The thought of this made me scared. Not that she’d make a bad decision, but that I’d lose the opportunity to ‘score the best deal’. 


I remember seeing mom come home from a garage sale trip and sit and rave about the great deals she got. At the time, I did not understand why mom loved to garage sale. Now I understand, she loved to walk up to a garage sale, see something she (or maybe someone else) may “need” someday, offer the person half the price, and get it. Half of my house is furnished with things obtained this way.



Just some random thoughts. Funny, I still haven’t purchased a new computer. Maybe in another month.

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Where does she get it?

Maybe it’s just motherly pride, but Katie is one of the most photogenic little girls I’ve ever encountered. John has gotten some amazing pictures of her in the last month or so as he’s experimented incessantly with his new toy. Here are a few of my faves.

Those big blue eyes are stunning, even in sepia.


Again, those eyes. And those rosy cheeks. She reminds me of my sister, Amy.

This one’s a bit overexposed, but I love the toothless grin!

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

So here’s a 5,000 word treatise on the joys of licking the beaters for the very first time. (It doesn’t hurt that there was also chocolate involved.)

 I held the first beater while he licked, but he did the second one all on his own.


Gotta get every last drop!


Now to get that chocolate off my fingers and into my tummy, where it belongs.


He’s single-minded when it comes to his chocolate. Can you blame him?


I think he liked it.  What do you think?

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Answer To What Yesterday’s Picture Was

For those interested in finding out the answer to yesterday’s question about what the picture was, see my recent flickr set entitled "True love….the hard way."

Needless to say, my wife loves me quite a lot and I know it.


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Can you guess what this is?

Tara helped me out yesterday. This picture is the before. Can you guess what it is? Maybe later I’ll upload the after.

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