A Forward About Christmas Time

Karl and I are from the same place: The Imperial Valley of Southern California. Both our families still live there. So the decision of where to go for Christmas is an easy one, home. We make the drive every year gladly and we love to spend time with the families. The problem often is, with which family when. We do all we can to not miss any family activities. It is really hard every year. I get stressed more than anybody…mostly because I am a total baby. So to both of our families and to everyone we saw at Christmas time…we love you, and thank you all for making the holiday such a happy one!

The following blogs are an effort to tell the stories of the two Christmases we had at Christmas. One final note, the pictures from Christmas morning at the Pipkin’s house were generously donated by my little sister Chelsea. (thanks belle you are the best.)

The Adventures of Karl and Allie…and Caitlin

This adventure is dedicated to Caitlin Regina Hite, with out whom, this adventure would never have been possible. Caitie, I can never be mad at you.

SO. It was Tuesday December 22. Crunch time for shopping. In her subtle ways, Caitlin had obtained the Christmas wish of one Jim FOAK (fount of all knowledge) Dad Hite. It was a cat. So like a good daughter, she began a rigid search.

She started with the paper, there are always cats available in the paper, right?

Not on this day. Not one in the penny saver, and one, just one in the Imperial Valley Press. A Siamese cat. When Caitlin had discreetly received Dad’s Christmas wish intel, the only specific information about what kind of cat he wanted was that he really didn’t want a Siamese cat. What to do what to do…we called him:

“Do you totally hate Siamese cats? No, OK”

I was on the phone in a flash!
No one answered at the Siamese cat house!!!

Christmas was only two days away, and we had to continue our search, just in case the one cat in the paper was already gone. With my know how, we drove to the place were animals flow…the Imperial Valley Humane Society.

As we approached we read the sign…
Closed on TUESDAY??!!! Today was Tuesday! Maybe tomorrow? Another sign caught our eyes…

Here’s a closer shot…
The Humane society was a bust! Where to next…

We thought of where we had seen kittens before, and with a resounding shout we knew where to go: Wal Mart!
Not that the great and spacious Wal Mart sold kittens, but there always seemed to be people giving free kittens away outside of the building. We got there and…no luck! There were only like 50 salvation army people with their bells out side.

Our final idea was Petco. It had been built after all of us had moved out of the Valley so we were first-timers at this location.

We walked in an found some cages with cats and kittens in them under a big plastic sign that said, “Think Adoption First.” We were all really excited…these were the first cats we had seen in our rigid search!
We had decided on an adult cat, and when we first saw a little white cat we knew she was the one.

There she is…sleeping.

Mission accomplished, right? WRONG! The catch was that we couldn’t pick her up until 7. It was 4:30. We called the woman who was in charge of adoption and she said we just had to be there to pick her up.

We had found the cat, but when you buy a cat there are many things to buy and consider. First of all, a name. We as adults decided that we were going to name the cat rather than letting her new owner name her. We talked about it for a while and decided to name her after a Christmas gift dad had asked for on his blog, but none of us could afford. We considered some of the things on his list:

“Fork seals…new Speed Triple or ST1300ABS…ceramic chef knife…nine inch by nine inch piece of diamond plate…flat griddle…ultralights, powered parachutes and or gyrocopter….

Then came this line…

“Your mom wants a segway. And if you gave it to both of us, I’d be happy – so that would be a two-fer gift.”

Segway! We all started laughing. We are all big Arrested Development fans so we thought about G.O.B and laughed. That was it, Segway. We had a name, we needed a tag:

This machine was really cool.

We watched it engrave the name and everything!

Just look at it. I added the blurs.

Well we had a tag now we need food, kitty litter, a littler box, (we got a turkey roasting pan) toys and more!

Who knew there was so much one little cat needed.

We were really excited by this point. But when we got there, these two women wanted her too! We were freaking out! Caitlin very slyly told them that we had already “called her.” They left, and a few minutes later…
a little lady with a crazy sweater walked in a handed us our kitty!
WE GOT HER!!!!
Karl was really happy and I think I was about to cry.
Now we had legal proof she was ours.
Awww

We didn’t waste any time giving Segway her name tag.

And we were off! On our way to give dad his cat. On the ride home we discussed what we should do. Should we try and hide the cat for two days so Dad could have a special gift on Christmas day? Or would it be best for the cat to get her used to her new home just to give the gift that night? We sided with the cat. And 15 min later…

He doesn’t look it, but I think he was really happy with the cat. Later there was some problem with the name. He said something like, “I really don’t like it,” and “what about Ducati,” and later he decided that the cats name would be “Du-Kitty” but that is another story entirely.

Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back!!!!

For the first time since last Christmas we headed back to the desert south west. But this time the desert wasn’t so hot. In fact it was really cool.

Snow in the dessert
By the time we were South of Las Vegas we couldn’t believe that there was still snow!

Even as far south as Search Light!

Here’s Karl getting gas, in snow!
I was going to wash the window but the squeegee was frozen into the bucket!

Yikes!

Just a few miles later…we were finally in CALIFORNIA!

The trip was uneventful until about 10 miles outside of Blithe…we heard what sounded like a slapping noise outside…it was a tire…a FLAT TIRE!

Luckily we didn’t have anything in the trunk to worry about…except all of our Chirstmas Presents!
Another lucky thing is that we had passed all the muddy mud, and we were in sad. Also we were out of the snow…in the day…close to home…and Karl is awesome enough to fix the tire.
When we saw the cause of the flat…we were really surprised…

There was a hole in the tire from all the wear.

It is almost as big as the hole in my shoe.

A few hours later…we were home. We saw a few things that lead us to KNOW we were here…

Chistmas Decorations that look like snow, that aren’t really snow.

Someone herding cattle with thier truck…

Into their front yard.

And of course…Mt. Signal!
um…I didn’t take this picture. You get the idea!

Karens First Birthday!

On Monday December 15th…our little Karen turned ONE! I think about the first day we met…just in march this year. She was just a few months old then.

She was a delight back then, and now just look at her!

She was all decked out in a cape with a “K” on it that her wonderful mom made for her.

We brought her a gift too
She really wanted it…hehe,
No not really. She was pretty oblivious to the specialness we felt.
We gave her a couple of rubber duckies.
She liked them I think.

She was surrounded by adults that love her so much. Karl was playing keep away with one of her ducks. She loved it.
She did get it in the end.
We had cake and ice cream. Ren and I ate a cup cake together. We both enjoyed it.
She has gotten so big! I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Christmas Time is here

Five Reasons Why We Know Christmas time is FINALLY here!

1. Our Christmas Tree is Up.
The truth is…it has been up since everyone left our house on Thanksgiving night.
We were really tired that night, but we couldn’t help it, it was finally close enough to Christmas time to put it up!Look at her in all her glory! If you look closely you can see an Elvis ornament, a squirrel ornament and a snowflake…yes, yes, I know…Fancy!

2. The Nativity is Out
My mother collects nativities…well at least she used to. She asked that we stop giving them to her. Yet I know that her home is even now covered in little Mary’s and Joseph’s, and little baby Jesus’. African, Latin, America, Big, Little, New and Old. We have one. It was a gift from Sister Douglas for our wedding. Each piece is individually made with clay. You can see her fingerprints in some of the pieces. It is so cool. It is wonderful.
3. There is Snow on the Ground in Provo
With the coming of snow…it really feels like winter, and Christmas. Now I am nervous for the drive home….

4. Caroling at Nursing Home
Fa La La La La LA LA LA LA! It turns out that nursing home hallways are often too narrow for groups of 40 people! It was really fun anyway:

I mean look at Krysta! She is having a grand old time!

Karl was having a ball too. Turns out he loves caroling and having his picture taken. This is what he looks like when he sings Christmas songs.
Here is our wonderful Bishop, George Engleheart, and his wife Shari. I am pretty sure I spelled both of their names wrong…sorry.

Families…yea!
Babies…Ahhh. Look at Ren, she just loved all the loud singing in a small space! Seriously though, it was really cool to go sing. It was really humbling.

5. Holiday Treats
That’s right, the time has come to eat and put on some weight!!!
I was given some delicious Dark Chocolate Hot Coco for Christmas this year so Karl and I were able to enjoy that. Coco always makes me think of Christmas time.

Giving treats has always been a tradition in my family. For many years now my mother has made toffee for her friends and members of her ward as Christmas gifts. This year was my first try to continue that tradition. I think I did pretty well for a rookie:
Here are all of our plates layed out ready to give to the families we home and visit teach. And one for Krysta and Zac too.
Both Karl and I love this season. We love the music and the presents. We love the anticipation of seeing family, secret gift giving, and being home. We love the opportunity we have at this special time of year to reflect of the birth and atonement of Jesus Chisit. For the opportunites for giving and service we are inspired to do when we contemplate this time of the year. Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone!

Moapa Valley

‘Krysta Lee Cox Whitmore, is one of my bestest friends in the world. As most of you know, we met while serving as missionaries in Albania. As missionaries at night, while getting ready for bed, after planning was over, conversations often followed the same theme: home. I heard all about a magical place called Moapa Valley Nevada. While meeting new investigators and members we had little photo books we kept with us, and I would see pictures of Moapa, of her dad’s 5 acres, and of her family and friends there. Since our missions I have heard more stories, and more memories of the magical land of Moapa.

This weekend, the time finally arrived, I actually visited the Magical Valley, Moapa.

We drove through the afternoon and into the night. It was about 7:15 our time when we rolled into Mesquite Nevada. We ate at Los Lupes for dinner, which randomly we had once eaten at before late one night on our way home from Rexburg. It was a Mexican place…yep, and the chips and salsa were awesome, and it was where I finally met…Burton Cox. I had met Krysta’s mom MaryAnn Cox earlier this summer while they brought her youngest daughter Amelia to college in Rexburg. It was wonderful, he was just as I imagined.

That night we stayed at Krysta’s house in Moapa. It was dark as we drove in, all we could see was the house itself. As we went to bed, MaryAnn warned us about the cow (who I called Topas, Krysta called it Dark, which in Albanian means dinner), she would probably start mooing early in the morning.

At 5:30 am, I heard her. It sounded so close. I waited another hour to get up. By then, I looked out the window and saw the view I had seen so many times in Krysta’s photo book:

I texted Krysta who was sleeping downstairs…”Its just like the picture!”

Soon enough I got my tour. Burton was already hard at work, and in fact you can see him in the above picture too, already hard at work feeding the animals.

They have four horses: Syrocco, Sage, Arrow and Magik.

Here is Burton telling us about the groundhogs that he had been trying to get rid of. While he told this story, Krysta told me about a time when the cat brought one of them in…and it was still alive. Needless to say it freaked her out.

We moved on, and I met the cow…Dark

I tried to pet it and it tried to lick me!

Check out that tongue! Yikes! PS. Krysta got this amazing picture. It was also very early in the morning. Don’t judge my hair.

Here is MaryAnn, Karen and Burton. They were so excited to see her.

She had a great time, and had a lot of fun with the toys that her Grandparents had at the house, and we found out what a great dancer she is.
To get to Moapa we take the same exit as you would to go to Ely Nevada, my moms home town!
Next we went to Zacs house in Logandale, which is also in Moapa Valley.

Zac, ever the bike enthusiast showed us his bike collection of bikes…this is just one of the many piles…it was amazing.
We also met Zac’s Papa D in Overton, also in Moapa Valley.

He had some awesome Goats who like the taste of car.

Karl was in heaven. He loves baby animals.

Both the Cox’s and the Whitmore’s have deep roots in the valley, so they both have streets named after their families. Here we are at the crossing of Whitemore and Cox. So freaking cool.

Here’s a better shot.
For dinner we drove up to St. George and ate at a place called the Gun Barrel…Steak AND Game.

Yikes. Very expensive game. Christmas-y

Here’s Karl having a buffalo burger. He said if no one had told him that it was buffalo, he would have thought it was beef. I had a bite and agree with that sentiment.

Later in the party we had a gift exchange. It was a watch extravaganza!
Karl got another Casio Calculator watch.
I got this amazing Paul Frank watch.
Raaawww-One tooth, Karen the ruiner!
She seriously was going NUTS. Too many new people, sitting in the car and not being at home.

We spent the night in a hotel near Hurricain Ut. The four of us shared a room with one fold out bed, two small down blankets and one little baby. On this trip…we got closer to each other than we ever thought we would. When we woke up the next morning both Karl and Zac commented…”I think I heard everyone in this room fart last night.” We got home Sunday just before noon. We were even able to go to church. Overall…all my hopes and dreams of Moapa, came true.

Thanksgiving 2008, In Three Acts

Act 1: The Turkey

Now the turkey was one of the main reasons why Karl and I wanted to do thanks giving at our house this year. We have never made one before and we thought, “hey, this is our third Thanksgiving as a married family and we have never done this on our own…it’s time.” Yes time to grow up…I guess. So we did it, we went to Costco and got a Turkey.

For how to make a turkey we did not know…but luckily, between Alton Brown and 20 other peoples advice, we, and when I say we I mean Karl…did it!

We started the night before with a brine. We bought our turkey fresh so we didn’t have to worry about thawing it, THANK HEAVENS!
Here is Glenda our turkey. Check out her wing span! She is preparing to dive into a brine of salt, Tony Sasheries, and water. She didn’t fit into the bowl…so:
We found an empty plastic tub in the house we use to store stuff in. It had holes in it so we had to line it in garbage bags. Yes, we are poor and resourceful. Glenda soaked in her brine bath all night and in the morning we racked her up and put her in the oven.

She looked enormous in the oven. See how the racks are sagging under her weight?
But just look at her 8 hours later!
Isn’t she a beauty!
And here is Karl carving our first Thanksgiving turkey….with one hand. The only comment he made while carving was, “now I know why they have those electric knives, this is hard!”

Act 2: The Dinner

We had quite the spread. Having so many people from different homes made having all the right things hard so everyone ended up bringing tons.




Mashed Potatoes, Pecan Pie, Leah’s Dad’s special stuffing, green bean casserole, spinach artichoke dip, cream cheese with shrimp and cocktail sauce, Pumpkin Pie, cranberry jelly in the shape of the can…just like my mama used to do, ham with brown sugar and pineapple sauce, turkey of course, and tons more!
Look at this spread…really, there were only eight people…way too much food! Tons of leftovers though. Here is the group…

Starting from left, going around then ending up at right. Leah, Zac, Krysta and Ren, Karl, Me Cam. Branny was taking the picture, and Randal didn’t come until later.

Here is a better picture of Cam. His hair is getting so long!

This is Randall, Branny’s mission friends first, Leah’s and Branny’s college buddy second, then Cams Recording mate third, then finally he came into our life where he has been ever since. Although I did meet Randall before Leah, Cam and Karl…in the MTC. Yeah!

This is Branny’s plate…which he barley finished.

After dinner, we cleared the table and ate pie. Krysta also brought this amazing Marie Calendars Chocolate pie…yum. (not pictured.)

Act 3: The After Party

After all the food was eaten, we just hung out and talked.

Karl was pooped after all that cooking and eating!
Branny and Randall caught up.
It was really cool to be with my brothers. Since Karl and I moved to Utah, we have been fortunate to see them more and more. I love them so much. PS, I look really tired in all of these pictures because I had been at work since 6:30 that morning.
Karen of course was the star of the day. Both Cameron and Branny wanted to hold her. Turns out she is kind of stand offish. I spend so much time with her, she is used to me.
Branny chased her around all night, he was determined to be her friend. By the end of the night she finally let him hold her.
And he even got a kiss. Karen looks a little worried.
Cam and Randall reminisced about some recordings they had done.
Zac jumped into the conversation too. They talked about music, Critical Mass, and more.
Then, wonder of wonders, my brothers and wonderful sister in law Leah, did all of the millions of dishes. It was awesome. Good times.

The Non-Adventures of Karl and Allie

So several members of my friends and family have given me a hard time about not posting last week. Truth be told, I wasn’t going to post today either. Its not that I didn’t want to, believe me, I spend all week trying to find a funny event to report on. These last couple of weeks have been full, just not very reportable. Things have happened, but nothing out of the ordinary. So to appease my anxious readers, I have decided to tell you about some of our non-adventures.

First: R-2 Sweet Tooth.

Karl and I just finished catching up to a “new show;”new to us anyway. It is called “How I met your Mother.” We love it, especially Barney Stenson. Doogie Howser M.D. (Neil Patrick Harris) is all grown up, and a ladies man.
Oh speaking of Neal Patrick Harris. If you haven’t seen Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog yet, you’ve gotta see it. It is three Web-isodes long, created by Joss Whedon, the guy who did Fire Fly. It is a Musical/Comedy/Melodrama. Great stuff. Dr. Horrible is a wannabe super villain. The link below starts with act one part one. Watch through act three, part two. (You can also look them up on Hulu.com)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apEZpYnN_1g&feature=related

So, any way, R2 Sweet Tooth. We were watching HIMYM (How I Met your Mother) and they had this awesome Robot Cookie Jar.
http://pages.californiacollectiblesplus.com/835/PictPage/1921145059.html#images
This is a better picture of the Robot, not cookie jar, but piggy bank!

Well, I got a better one. I found him on eBay, for 16.99, including shipping. I call him, R2 Sweet Tooth, the second.
Non Adventure 2: New Curtains, a Tree skirt, and a Gravy boat, and Karl’s new jeans.

Mervyn’s is closing nation wide. So we went to see if we could get in on the sweet sales. The place was pretty picked over. We were able to find Karl some jeans, a gravy boat for Thanksgiving, and an awesome tree skirt for Christmas time, and curtains. The curtains were too long and really wrinkled. After only a few hours of ironing and hemming, they were ready to put up. We hung them in our bedroom. It really finished the look. I am really proud of us.

The lump in the bed is Karl. He was sleeping when I took this picture. I had to make the bed over him so I could get it.

Third: Lionel Got Baptized!
Here is the group:
Maryn, Lionel, Sister Missionaries, and Lionel’s friend from work that baptized him. I call this a non adventure, because I wasn’t able to be there. This is the only photo I have seen of the whole event…yeah. BUT, thank you so much Aunt Kathy for e-mailing it to me. It is really cool to have it. The baptism was really exciting. I wanted to be there so badly. Its all about the money. Did you know it costs more to fly from Salt Lake City to San Diego, than it does to fly from LA to Guatemala? Yeah…what is this world coming to?

Non Adventure: Fourth, DI shoes

I got these cute flats. $4.
Karl got new brown dress shoes. $6.
The DI is awesome. Brand names, slightly used, for 95% off.

Non Adventure, the Fifth: Winter is here in Provo.
I have to say first, that I am so grateful that there really hasn’t been very much snow! It has made my anxiety manageable, but when the snow starts…yikes. Yet, when I leave for work at 6:15 in the morning, I have to scrape the windows and warm up the car. (Luckily we got a new battery, starting up is no problem now! he he)
Fall is over; that’s really the news. Most of the golden leaves are gone and we are finally left with bare trees everywhere.
6. Christmas Decorations, I can’t help it.
We put Christmas lights up in our windows. Our friend Zac Whitmore thinks we are dumb. The truth is that I would have all my decorations up, including our tree if we weren’t having people over for Thanksgiving. I put my tree up the first day of November last year.
The only other Christmas decoration that is out is this ornament that my mom gave Karl last year for Christmas. Did you know, Karl loves squirrels!

Karl also loves baby animals, did you know? Here are some of his favorite videos:

Baby Sloth:

Baby Panda Sneezing

Kitten in a Boot

Kittens at play

Kittens-Coca Cola BoxWatch more amazing videos here
Non Adventure, the Last: We Bought Our First Turkey Together.

There she is. Out first turkey bought as Mr. and Mrs. Karl Hite. I call her…Glenda. She is taking up my whole refrigerator! All 20.26 pounds of her. She is no my first purchased turkey. That was in November 2004, in Albania. I pitched in some money for the Elders to go and get a live turkey from the poultry market. They had to kill, and de-feather that one. That is another story for another day. I think that this one from the Costco refrigerator is a better deal anyway.

I suppose there is nothing but stories to tell about our goings on everyday. To our readers, we will keep looking for the “good one’s.”

The PRT

Today was a brisk fall day in Provo. Karl and I spent most of the day doing chores like laundry, and fixing the car. In fact, just to quickly brag about my amazing husband, Karl fixed both the driver side window, AND he was savvy enough to fix the AC blower! He was amazing today, really he out did himself.

Our friends Krysta and Zac are bike enthusiasts to say the least. They love their bikes so much they actually sold their car to have “one less car” in the world. They are awesome. All summer they have been inviting us to go and ride the Provo River Trail, or the PRT. Well, today we finally did it. We took our first ride on the PRT from our house to Utah lake. Yes, Utah lake. We don’t have bikes, but luckily Zac and Krysta have an armada of bikes for us to choose from. (Today they bought #12 and #13. And those are just the bikes in Provo).

We bundled up. Karen too, who really hated getting all of those cloths on. I mean look at her face! She was trying her darndest to rip them all off but her mittens were getting in the way.

We hit the trail a little after 4pm. It was beautiful! I was really impressed with my skills.

We road with the river on our right on our way to the lake.
We passed beautiful houses and farms, fields with cows and people onn their evening walks. We went under bridges, and over streams. It was a ball!
Krysta and Zac guided us.
Karl and I did our best to keep up. I think we did pretty well.
The trail was, as Krysta described it, magical. I took this picture while riding a bike, so it is a little blury, but you get the idea. At that time of day it was beautiful.
We took a brief picture break.
Then we finally made it to the lake.
I want to sell my car and commit to bikes…then I remember that it is going to snow soon. Great.
I forget that we have a lake so close. It made me feel like I was back at the San Diego Bay.

And even though Karen wanted to die rather than bundle up, she had a great time.
We had made it nearly 5 miles and we were still smiling.
Zac didn’t even break a sweat. Neither did Karen now that I think of it.

Our trip home was a little tougher. We took a different route and there were more hills and such. The view of the mountains was wonderful, and it really gave me a sense of how far we had really ridden.
On our way home we stopped at Dell Taco for dinner. The whole day was a blast! All together we road around 10 miles, pretty impressive. We really do want bikes…maybe next summer.

A Week of Halloween

I love the fall. I love the weather and the flavors and the food.

The week started off with a bang, when on Monday after work Karl and I came home to find these: No matter how old you get it is always exciting to get a package in the mail…

and a card.
The card was hilarious, thanks Mom and Dad Hite!

Mom sent me cookie cutters, wink mom.I guess I can’t steal yours anymore.
And another awesome decoration for the piano.

Dad also sent me this new CD, Sandi Thom. He found her watching the BBC. She is great. My favorite song is Devil’s beat. Thanks Dad!

Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin!

I used a recipe by Alton Brown. I subed chocolate chips for pumpkin seeds. It was perfect. As you can see:

Just look at it.
On Friday we carved pumpkins.
I love pumpkins…seeds.
I looked up a recipe on food network.com and found that seeds cook better when you make sure they are totally dry…
Lightly Salted, single stacked….

They were delicious.

Karl was so happy to carve pumpkins this year.
The tools we bought for the job were less than efficient.
Then Branny cracked open his pumpkin and the tools were the least of our worries.
Yes, that is green mold, yes, yes it is.

My pumpkin was sad about it.

Leah was the pro in the group. She drew a picture on her pumpkin and everything.

Still Karl’s was my favorite. 10 points for style.

Yet Brandons …
Made me the happiest

Lets add a person for scale:


Now line up all of our pumpkins to show then off, and see how huge Branny’s pumpkin face was.

Now Karl’s…that is looking into your soul!