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!

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.