Take a look in the window of the Braden Family!

I don't know if I will be able to keep this up but it's worth a try. The true writer in the family is Bill so I will have to get him to add his thoughts every now and again. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Braden Family 2011 Christmas Letter

We start this year’s Braden Christmas Letter with a look at the exciting new reality series, 3 Babies for Barb and Bill!, brought to you exclusively on BBC (Braden Bunch Communications, not that snobby British channel that stole our logo).  3B3 (you didn’t think I was going to keep spelling out the name of the show, did you?) follows the hijinks of the three Braden children and their spouses as they cope with sleep deprivation and smelly diapers (or more sleep deprivation and more smelly diapers for two of them). 

The series premiered on March 4th, 2011 with the pilot episode,      Jonah Price LaRue.     
Set in St Louis, this modern day masterpiece was produced by Lindsay and Devin LaRue, who in 2009 gave us the stunningly successful Rhys William Paul.  Praised for its liberal use of fat rolls and drool, critics gave JPL two thumb-suckers up.  JPL stole the hearts and minds of his many Facebook fans as he and his brother steadfastly waited for their daddy to return from a deployment to Afghanistan with the Air National Guard rock band, Sidewinder, in July and August.  After a video of one of their performances went viral on YouTube, the band’s success was chronicled on Fox and Friends and Entertainment Tonight (that’s not a joke).  They even performed for the ET Thanksgiving Show, playing for the families of deployed military members.  JPL celebrated by learning to crawl while his parents were living it up in Los Angeles on the set of Entertainment Tonight. 

3B3 (that stands for 3 Babies for Barb and Bill for the forgetful ones in the crowd) returned in the fall after an almost 8 month hiatus.   

 Episode 2, Ella Jane Braden aired October 28th to enthusiastic reviews.  Critics raved that Ella is “the best thing to come out of Springfield MO since Homer and Bart”.  Producers (and first time parents) Justin and Liz captured the essence of cuteness with this tour de force performance.  It’s a good thing that daddy got promoted twice this year, because baby will be needing lots of new outfits to keep the grandparent paparazzi satiated.  A girl just can’t be caught on the red carpet wearing the same sequined onesie more than once.  Ella is already perfecting her dazzling smile.  A star is born!   

The ratings for EJB were so staggering, the next episode premiered less than a week later, on November 3rd.  Though production of Olivia Margaret Braden
began in Silver Spring MD, producers Adam and Katie felt that OMB needed a Texas-sized backdrop.  So they loaded up their truck (actually a Ford Escape) and they moved to San Antone.  San Antonio that is.  Live oak trees, scorpions (sing those last lines to the tune of “The Beverly Hillbillies”).  And even though OMB follows closely on the heels of the multi-lingual Jackson Gregory (2008) and the hugely (emphasis on huge) successful Harrison David (2010), she’s definitely no sequel.  One out of one doctors living in the same house as her agrees that OMB is the cutest little buckaroo this side of the Pecos. (Yes, Adam is officially a doctor now.  He graduated in May and now Bill can ask him probing questions about toenail fungus) 

While there are no current plans for future episodes, we’ll continue to follow the antics of the stars of all of these episodes for years to come.  Now let’s take a behind the scenes look at the real life adventures of Executive Producers, Bill and Barb.

Not content with just retiring from the active duty Air Force, Bill had to go the extra mile and retire from the Air Force Reserves, too.   
As of June 1st, he really hung up his BDUs for good this time.  Yes, BDUs, not ABUs.  He would have had to have been FUBAR to be caught Tango Uniform in ABUs.  Besides, he looked Sierra Hotel in those BDUs (especially at O dark thirty when he wore them with his disco belt).  He actually was FIGMO on December 31st, 2010 when the Air Force told him that his position was OBE.   That situation was a whole Charlie Foxtrot so Bill just decided to pull chocks and go to work as a silly servant.

Did you catch all that?  For those of you not hip to the lingo, I’ll translate.  On June 1st, Bill put away his forest green camouflage uniform that the Air Force decided to phase out in favor of the Airman’s Battle Uniform (a digitized light green/blue camouflage).  Bill took a perverse pride in purposefully not buying the ABU because he could legally still wear the BDU until November 1st, 2011.  Since the AF was forcing him out at the 28 year point (even though he was retired for 6 of those years) he exercised the stingy Scotch-Irish in him and refused to buy a uniform that he could only wear for a year or two when he already had a perfectly acceptable one hanging in his closet.  Hence, he would have had to have been crazy to be caught dead in an ABU.  Besides, he looked quite fetching in his Battle Dress Uniform (especially in the wee hours of the morning when he wore them with his highly reflective safety belt).  Bill’s last day of duty was actually December 31st, 2010 when the AF ran out of money for his reserve position.  The situation was really messed up so Bill decided not to fight it and put in his paperwork to retire and got a job with the Air Force as a Federal civilian employee.

An unexpected consequence of the first episode of 3B3 (yes, we’re back to that) was that Executive Producer Barb would no longer have living quarters when she went on location to St. Louis to peddle plastic.  The star of that episode, JPL, demanded his own dressing room, so Barb was out of luck.  Being the shrewd negotiator that she is, though, she talked her tightwad co-Executive Producer, Bill, into buying her an entire townhome in The Lou.  She only had to promise to refrain from smothering him in his sleep when he snored and he acquiesced to her demands.  That set the stage for a very moving pod-cast.  No, they didn’t televise an emotional event over the internet.  They rented two PODS, packed (jam-packed, I should say) two thirds of their stuff into them, and shipped them to St. Louie MO.  Then they paid a local moving company (paid them much more than they deserved, I might add) to move the rest of their stuff to Alexandria VA.  Yes, Virginia, we’re back in Virginia.  Hallelujah and pass the grits!  If we hadn’t moved, Bill would have really been on a reality show…COPS.  He would’ve snapped and gone postal from the commute on the Beltway from Silver Spring MD to Bolling AFB and back again.

Bill and Barb have been researching sites for a new show for the Travel Channel.  They’re thinking of calling it Weather, You Like It or Not!  And the first word in the title is not misspelled.  This show could also be shown on The Weather Channel.  First, they went to the Shenandoah Mountains to a lovely B&B (where else would B and B go but a B&B?).  It rained.  Next they went to Chincoteague Island VA to see the wild ponies and spend some time on the beach.  It rained. 

They then traveled to Seven Springs PA to view the fall foliage.  Guess what?  Nope!  It was gorgeous!  They liked it.  

Finally, they traveled to New York City to catch a show and visit the 9/11 Memorial.  Sunny and no rain but colder than a wicked witch’s toe (hah, you thought I was going to say something else).  Speaking of Wicked, that’s the show we saw.  Awesome with a capital A-W-Some!  Thanks Justin and Liz, for recommenderating it to us (if you’ve seen the show, you’ll get that).

OK folks.  That’s a wrap, as they say in the biz.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Braden (and LaRue) Crew!

Executive Producers and Writers:  Bill and Barb. 

Episode 2 Producers and Lead Actress:  
Justin, Liz, and Ella.  

Episode 3 Producers, Supporting Actors and Lead Actress:  
Adam, Katie, Jackson, Harrison, and Olivia.  

Episode 1 Producers, Supporting Actor and Lead Actor:  
Devin, Lindsay, Rhys, and Jonah. 

PS.  Bill and Barb are little-yellow-hair-and-plastic-bag-chock-full-of-doggy-doodoo-free for the first time since 1987.  We said goodbye to our Yellow Lab, Aspen, in the spring after we discovered she had lung cancer.  We miss having her around but Bill’s not going to be whispering to any dogs anytime soon.  With all these grandkids popping up all over the country we just aren’t home enough to care for a dog.

In Memory of the blond bombshell! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

The 2010 Braden Christmas Letter

It has finally happened – the Braden Christmas Letter has gone digital!  That sound you hear is Bill being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.  He wasn’t too sure about this whole blog thing.  And who came up with the term blog anyway?  It sounds like something that gets picked up with a plastic bag after taking the dog for a walk.  Actually, some blogs do bring that to mind.  Hopefully, you’ll not include this one in that category.  So let’s get this Yule Blog fired up (I’ve got a million of ‘em folks!) so you can find out what the Bradens have been up to in 2010.
We usually start this missive with the shenanigans of one or the other children and their spouses.  This year, though, we’re going to kick it off with the tale of our trip to Hawaii that included the entire Braden tribe, or as we like to call it: “10 Days in Paradise, 20 Hours in Hades”.  If anyone ever tells you that it’s a great idea to take three children under the age of two on a 5,500 mile plane ride, you have my permission to smack them.  The only way that would be a good idea is if you hired three nannies, flew them on separate planes, sedated all the other passengers, and provided the crew with noise cancellation headphones.  Once we got there, though, it was paradise.  We rented a couple of suites at a vacation house that was just 100 yards from Kailua Beach on the island of Oahu.  We had a great time hiking, snorkeling, swimming, eating, tanning, sight-seeing, and changing lots of sandy diapers.  However, we all concluded that future trips to Hawaii will be restricted to those over the age of five.  Or was it fifteen?  Now, on to the shenanigans. 

Lindsay and Devin are still in St Louis, where they nurture their budding harmonica prodigy, Rhys.  I don’t know where he gets his inspiration, but Rhys plays a mean blues riff.  It must be all those trips to time-out.  That can really bring a baby down.  Lindsay finished her Music Therapy internship and just has to pass her state board to become a licensed Music Therapist. She told me to tell you that she is putting her degree to good use as a full-time mommy.  And she’ll be putting in a lot of overtime in that position next year as she’s expecting another boy in March.  Devin’s academic agony ended this year when he graduated from the University of Missouri – Saint Louis with a Bachelor of Arts in Music.  He has been hard at work composing and arranging.  Composing and arranging music, that is.  I didn’t want you to think that he was composing himself and arranging furniture.  That would be ludicrous.  While working toward his big break, Devin supplements the family income by serving as a member of the Air Force Honor Guard that pays tribute to veterans at their funerals.  We’re very proud of his commitment to honoring our nation’s veterans. 

LaRue Baby Boy #2 Due March 10, 2011

Adam and Katie doubled their pleasure and fun this year.  No, they didn’t meet the Doublemint Twins.  They welcomed another baby boy into their lives.  Although, calling Harrison a baby is a bit like calling the Empire State Building an office building.  The boy is BIIIIIIGGGG!  When he rolls over in his crib, it registers on the Richter scale.  It’s taken him awhile to warm up to his Grandpa Braden.  Bill finally broke the code when he started barking at Harrison.  He thinks it is the funniest thing, so now he belly laughs instead of wailing whenever Bill is around.  Jackson has started speaking another language this year – English.  Last year he spoke only Jacksonese.  Now we can understand what he wants and then tell him no, he can’t have more coo coos (cookies).  Adam is in his final year of medical school and just found out that he got his residency of choice – anesthesiology.  So in a few years he will be a professional gas-passer.  He’s been an amateur for so long, it only makes sense that he turns pro.  Katie is excited that they will be moving to San Antonio TX next May.  Now she can spread the Tupperware gospel to the Lone Star State.  We’ll miss having them close by, but SA is a great place to visit so we’ll make the best of it.  

I love this picture!  He looks so darn sweet!

And Harrison is happy that there is a meal in his near future!

Justin and Liz are still putting roots down in Ozark Missouri.  Literally.  Justin loves to garden and can regale you with stories of lettuce, and tomatoes, and berries (oh my!).  The happy couple celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary this year in October.  I can still remember what the priest said at their ceremony.  “Mawwage.  Mawwage is what bwings us togevvah, today.”  (Watch The Princess Bride if you don’t understand that one.)  Justin also reached the big 3 OH this year.  Barb and Bill surprised him by flying out to celebrate with him and his extended in-law family.  Liz is still enjoying her job at the stainless steel machine parts manufacturer (or something like that).  Barb and Bill don’t speak techie, so often times it just sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher whenever Justin and Liz start to tell us about their jobs.  Justin and Liz came to visit us this fall and we had a great time taking them to the hallowed grounds of Penn State.  Justin had been there before, but for some reason he couldn’t remember anything about it.  You’d think that he’d recollect the cage we erected around our trailer park yard to keep him corralled when he was 2 and 3 years old.  We hope to be able to spend more time with J and L in 2011.

Bill and Barb have been in the DC area for almost five years and it looks like that will continue for at least a couple more years.  Bill will be drummed out of the Air Force on June 1st whether he likes it or not.  Lieutenant Colonels are limited to 28 years commissioned service time and that time is fast approaching for Bill.  He became an Air Force officer in 1983 (back when he had hair and a 29 inch waist) and even though he was retired for six of those 28 years, they still count against him.  Soon Bill will be a civil servant working for the Air Force doing pretty much the same thing he’s doing now, just for a different office.  He probably could have made more money if he went to work for the Army, but (sorry Uncle Bob) he just couldn’t stand the thought of it.  Barb continues to manage our Tupperware business which is still mostly in the St Louis area.  The hardest part of her job is keeping Bill updated on where she will be when.  His memory isn’t as good as it used to be.  Both Barb and Bill had hoped that Bill could find a job close to St Louis but it just didn’t pan out.  So for now Bill and Barb will have to be content staying where all the fun is, what with all the Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart rallies going on.  And Bill will be able to keep going to the Penn State games at Happy Valley as JoePa works his way toward victory number 500.

Grammy and her 3 boys

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.  If you’re ever in the DC area, be sure to let us know.


Bill and Barb
Justin and Liz
Adam and Katie and Jackson and Harrison
Lindsay and Devin and Rhys and Baby Boy LaRue

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our immediate family has been doing a “Secret Santa” grab bag for the past couple of years.  With help from Santa’s helpers, Julie and Karen Pietch, we are all assigned someone and then send out emails to let our Santa know what we want.  Here is this year’s correspondence.

November 1 (Original email goes out to the group of 8)
Hi everyone!  It's that time again! I just sent an email to Karen and Julie asking them to choose names for us so we can do Secret Santa again this year...fun, fun, fun!

So, once you get your name assignment, it's up to you to shop for the best gift possible for your person!

If you want to send a "wish list", just reply all to this email with your list and hopefully Santa will be good to you!

The price limit is $50 (is that okay with everyone?)

Love you all!  Mom

November 2  (First “reply all”)
Hi Family!

Here's my wish list:

-Balboa Baby nursing cover in "Suri"...I found it here for the cheapest price, but you can also find it on diapers.com, and if you use the code PARENTSSEP10 you can get 15% off, so it's actually a little cheaper that way.

Actually, that's pretty much it :). Thanks Secret Santa!  

November 3
Here's my list:

Penn State clothing.  I'd like a jacket, but I'm sure that's outside the price limit.  I could use a new sweatshirt.  I have two blue ones, so gray would be good.  The simpler the design the better.  Hooded or unhooded makes no diff.  T-shirts are OK too.  White or gray.  I'm sure if you google Penn State Bookstore, you'll be able to find lots to choose from.    

November 15 (a friendly reminder from LindsayJ)
Sooo, people need to reply with their gift requests! So far I think only Dad and I have responded...Otherwise you're getting Tupperware! :)   

November 17 (almost everyone gets with the program)
Here are a few things I like:

A charm bracelet with a watch and keys on it.  I looked online but didn't really find anything.  But, you never know what you can find.  Robyn Brown has a friend who makes beautiful bracelets so perhaps she can help you.  Her email is robynstuppteam@aol.com.  She is one of my Directors in case you don't know.

I also like books and two of my favorite authors are Lee Child and Harlan Coben.  The most recent hardcover by Lee Child is "Worth Dying For" so that would be great or "Caught" by Harlan Coben.

I could also use a piece of luggage that is a rolling backpack type that will carry my laptop.

Or, anything else you find that you think, Mom would really like that!

Thanks Santa!!
Dear Santa,
Some suggestions for me,  I am not set on these as gifts. 
I would like something Scott Pilgrim related.  I have the first two books, but there are 4 more and the movie should be coming out sometime soon.  I would be happy with any clothing gift (Sweater, button down shirt, shoes).  I like gardening tools (bulb planter attachment for a drill, a scuffle hoe, cool seeds).  
Love Justin.


Dear Santa,

I'm not too picky.  Also, not too specific.  I like jewelry, accessories, super-cute shoes (9.5), books (mysteries, historical fiction, something interesting), music (NOT experimental, ahem, Devin) anything plaid or Scotland related (you know how I am about Scotland), music books for Tenor Sax (or those books with two parts that you can buy for any instrument for T. Sax and Trombone - we have the "Movie Duets for All" and that's super fun)...pretty things for the home... neat stuff...whatever!  

Hope that's helpful...

Merry Thanksgiving!
Dear Santa,
I guess it's my turn now. Well let's see, I like super cute Penn State apparel (preferably hoodies, T-shirts and/or sweatpants, but not the ones with the elastic band at the ends of the legs because that's sooo 2009). OMG, I also enjoy downloading music online on awesome sites like Amazon or iTunes! I can't wait to see what kind of uber-sweet gifts I get from you Santa! TTFN!

November 21
Hi Santas,

I think I want this book:

These things could also be very handy:
(Wireless usb internet adapter thingy)

(PCI to FireWire Adapter thingy)

I also kinda want a fire pit like this one:

But one review says the legs fall off easy, so maybe I should wait until I can get a decent one later.  Does anyone have fire pit knowledge/experience?  Do the charcoal burning ones vary from the wood burning ones significantly?  Well, they don't ship.  Let's not worry about a fire pit, but it'll be something to talk about when we see each other again :D


November 28 (the last to reply)
Ok, being stuck on the PA turnpike for next few hours is forcing me to think about what I really want, so here's my list:

-Mexican train dominoes
-The new Nicholas sparks book, "Safe Haven"
-"A Walk to Remember" by Nicholas sparks (can probably find a cheap used one on amazon)
- a cute scarf that would go well with my cute Kelly green peacoat or one to go with my super cute fuschia peacoat
-chapstick (now i'm just thinking of things i'm almost out of. Haha)
-land-o-lakes raspberry hot chocolate packets

I think that's good. If I think of anything else, i'll add it later. Ah who am I kidding?! I'll forget. I'll leave it as is and take what I get and won't get upset. =)

Happy shopping Santa!

Stay tuned after Christmas to see what everyone got.  I’m excited to see!
This photo is less than a year old but it's already a baby and a half short.

Welcome to our blog

I thought I would start this blog to help keep friends and family updated as to what we are up to.  We live a crazy life and sometimes I can't even keep up....Here are a few facts to get us started:

We are from Western PA but have lived all over the USA with Air Force moves.  We have three adult children who are all in the AF too...they are all happily married (last I checked) and we are blessed with 3 grandsons and another due in March.

Bill and I love the Steelers, Penn State and Hawaii in no particular order.  We also LOVE being with all our kids but that is becoming more and more difficult as they begin to have families of their own and we have to share them with the in-laws...boo!

In fact, it looks like this will be the first year that we won't be all together for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  That totally sucks...oh what to do.