Thursday, December 25, 2008

Snowed In

Happy to be home in a warm home with most the kids home, minus Andrew and Rachel (in Hawaii with her family this year). We're snowed in... and yes, we are still in Bellevue... this is very unusual for the Seattle area, but we'll enjoy the white Christmas! It keeps coming down.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Remodel Update!

With the tenuous economy and our thrifty roots, we've decided to take on a huge remodeling project on ourselves!
I know it is daring...we swore we wouldn't leave it unfinished, we set a goal, a reasonable deadline, used a carefully thought out budget and we went to work!

I don't have a picture ready so I'll have to keep you all in suspense until your next visit!
Oh, I guess I forgot to say what the huge undertaking was...

our bedroom in no longer the Family Room, we moved the computer out!

some things are more difficult for us.... baby steps!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cute Grandbaby!

We have the cutest grandbaby and we can't stand it that she lives in Boise! Steve has Kristen send a picture to his phone everyday and then he sends it to the computer so I can see it! If it gets late in the day and he hasn't got his daily dose, he calls me and asks if I've heard from her yet for the day!! We're under her spell!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008


State Diving 2008! Maraea just wrapped up her high school diving career this weekend with a 5th place finish in the 4A Dive championships at KCAC. She has had a great run in high school, qualifying for state each year. This year Newport moved up from 3A to 4A which made the state competition a little tougher but she still did well! Now its off to consider college possibilities!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just call me Juniper Exterminator!

An addition from the Miller Branch:

I just wanted to show off to Momma's crew something new at their casa.

While Kevin and I were there visiting last month we decided we wanted to tame the unruly junipers. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I have had an issue with those junipers for years, and when they are so overgrown it makes me particularly crazy. So, we went out to trim them and ended up convincing mom that they just needed to go. There are many more to remove, but I think we are half way there. (Back in my high school days I got obsessive one night and removed a big clump of them while mom and dad were gone.) Before taking out the whole bush we were a little concerned about leaving the house so "naked" but I think in comparison, naked is all right. And, last time I went on a rampage, mom recovered well and planted a really cute garden spot where the juniper had previously covered. [Side note, please Aunt Toni, don't start screening your calls. You are our master gardener and we all know mom is always looking for an excuse to get you to Washington.]

So, without further adieu, the Before and After Photos:


In addition to that great adventure, we also had a great time in Seattle going to Pike's Place (yes, again...but Kevin hadn't been since high school). And, we pretended to go to a pumpkin patch. For the Fruit Stand, I mean Pumpkin Patch adventure, Brian and his girlfriend Sophia joined us and they brought her son, Skylar for a photo op too. We had a ton of fun taking pictures of the cute little ones.
It's always fun to be with family, even if they are just using you to get to your child. We had a great time, and everyone enjoyed loving on Madi.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Genealogy... Mom is doing it... Our Genealogy!

Mom has been so diligent at working on the family genealogy... Adding multiple names to the family tree by the week! She is so good at this and does it so quietly. If you have a minute, I would encourage you to take a look at her progress... Family Search is a great place to check it out. You'll want to register as a new user on the new Family Search website (click here). You'll need your membership number and confirmation date, which can be found on your temple recommend or with a member of your bishopric or a clerk. Jump on it, because it's pretty amazing!

Also, all males of the family, by blood or marriage... Mom would gladly take you up on helping complete temple work for some of our male family members who she has researched recently! Give her a call.

I love family history but have not done nearly enough to even begin to be able to support Mom in her incredible efforts... Maybe we can inspire each other more in this way. What an incredible heritage we have to hold to as Skeens and Behrens!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I dubb mama and papa, bri and maea official blogging mastas and mastesses for this family blog now that we are not connected at the hip as of late.
In their honor, though, I must say that PATIENCE is a virtue mom and dad teach me a lot about. In my most recent path-changing adventures, I am again learning that there is much need for greater patience and TRUST in Heavenly Father.
Remembering always that He will never support us and lead us to do one thing and then leave us high and dry in the details is so important. "He is the same yesterday, today, and forever." He will not change from that which He says or does. This is why we are invited to, "Cast not away, therefore [our] confidence..." (Heb. 10). We will never realize fully what our Father has in store for us if we do not hold on with patience, heeding the enticings of the Holy Spirit, trusting and sincerely seeking and living that we can be close to the Spirit in decisions, small and large... The moment that we choose to just settle when it "doesn't feel quite right," is the moment that we compromise the greatness of the gift, or "reward," that He so badly wants to give us... Good things often just TAKE TIME... There is no formula, as far as I am aware, to the amount of time one reward takes to receive or another, and I don't think Father in Heaven doesn't see it that way... Time is often of great importance to us, but it is the experience (timeless) that is of great importance to Him and can become more important to us. He loves us so much that He not only wants to reward us with finding the right place to be, the right person(s) to be with, and the right tools to obtain, but he wants to reward us with BECOMING like Him- receiving Christlike attributes... Gaining experience, and obtaining joy that is not temporary but lasting, even eternal as we continue to seek and obtain true rewards.
So, my point is, learning PATIENCE can be very rewarding, both temporally and spiritually. Seeking this virtue can only bring us to a realization of greater joy and peace... And who doesn't need more joy and peace today?
Well... I have gone on much longer than I planned. Still learning! Press on!
I will connect this more completely to specific experiences in a later email or posting of some sort.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle...really!

July 08 An epic adventure! Teri's cousin, Tomato, from Hawaii, came to visit for a week. Sis. Toni came from CA to join in the fun! We've never had time to chill as 'girlfriends' before - no schedule, no funeral, nothing... We did our best to show her the best of Washington! A ferry ride, Pikes Place, Ballard locks, Lincoln Square for dinner and a movie - "Mama Mia" One of her favorite outings was the trip out on the boat, we cruised to Ivar's on Lake Washington for dinner, looked at the homes on the lake then ended the evening with a beautiful sunset in the west and a big full orange moon rising in the east. As icing on the cake, we were entertained by Jenni skiing and Brian wake boarding as the moon shone behind them. A glorious evening! It was a lot of fun, Tomato (she's 60something) ran us ragged - she has more energy than any of us and wakes up cheerful, too! She grew up with our MOM so it was fun to hear Chang family stories and get to know each other better. We did a little genealogy, she is better at 'who's who' among the Aea Chang side, she knew most of them!!
A great week, we must do it again soon!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Interviews in VA

Seeking to start her first teaching job in a new place for adventure, Jenni went to Virginia, near WA D.C. for interviews. It was a great trip, and she had some great interviews and was offered math teaching positions in middle school. Choosing to take an offer south of Arlington, she will be only about 20 minutes from D.C. working with students who have not excelled in their past math classes. She is very excited for the challenges ahead and feels great about the decision. Currently she is waiting to hear back about Licensure details as Utah's teaching licenses are different from Virginia's.
While in Virginia, she stayed with a very nice family whom she got connected with through people she associates with in church in Bellevue. The family was so welcoming and she feels blessed now to have another family to be close to while she is out there away from her family.
One of the highlights of the trip was forging her way through the streets of DC to visit a few of the monuments and then making a trip to Maryland to the DC temple in Kensington. She's a little more comfortable with the different traffic patterns and culture there but still has more to learn... Hahaha.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Madison- Baby Blessing

Celebrating July 4th on the road to Boise and then with Kristen and Kevin made for a unique Independence day! The ride was very nice considering we had Joey along for the ride... Frequent stops were refreshing though it stretched out the travel time a fair amount. Nonetheless, we made it, and we were welcomed into the Brookings home by the new family of three! Madison is so darling, and we always love seeing Kristen and Kevin, thus it was well worth the drive. Sunday, Andrew and Rachel joined us in Boise and we all go to be at church with Craig and Marvel and other family to witness Madison being blessed in sacrament meeting. It was sweet. Really.
So, we proudly and joyously welcome, one more time, Madison Naomi Miller! She has two fabulous parents and a great life of experience ahead of her!
Sad to say good bye, though only temporary, to our siblings/kids and niece/granddaughter; weary to hit to road home... Dad and Mom get major props for the safe return in the wee hours of the morning!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Delights

This morning Dad enjoyed our family's traditional "breakfast in bed," although he had already been out of bed... we were a little late in rising. After church and Sunday naps, Mom made some delicious ribs (with the help of Brian) and baked potatoes. Then came some fun with Joey outside followed by enjoying one of Dad's favorite desserts... Strawberry rhubarb pie and vanilla ice cream (pic and notes about the pie recipe below). Happy Father's Day to a super special Dad! We love you!
The pie recipe came from America's Test Kitchen cookbook. It turned out beautifully, as you can see, and we enjoyed the taste, recognizing it could be better... It could have used a little less rhubarb and more strawberries than the recipe calls for. The rhubarb we used came from our neighbor's garden (they are so nice to share with us)... I may have picked some stalks that were slightly too ripe and therefore bitter. The crust recipe was the best used yet, and it baked really well (following the directions on the recipe).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Joey...missing his mom

Joseph Carlos, "Joey," misses his mom. He's enjoyed some great walks with his sissy as well as sprints while Dad and Sissy play catch in the backyard, not to mention a deodorizing bath with his other sissy. Nevertheless, he just misses his mom. One of the highlights this week was going on an adventure walk with Dad and Sissy and then walking home from the trail, thinking that he saw mom's car over and over and over again... He even attempted to chase a few!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Moses Lake Triathalon

Pictures, Compliment's of Dad's pro-phone Photography! He saved the day!

Adventure #2... The goggles and suit, running shoes and biking spandis were packed, and miraculously (really) Dulce's derailleurs were tuned up and happy to go. After some kinks were worked through in our departure, Dad and I took off in "Bu," the Malibu, and made our way to Moses Lake (Eastern Washington). Sleep was short and sweet at the hotel as we found ourselves pulling in just before 1am. Prayers were answered as we woke to a dry and sunny Saturday morning. Blue Heron park was less than 10 minutes away, which made for a speedy arrival at the stare line, a dock on Moses Lake.
I was one of 3 non-wet-suit swimmers awaiting the race to start. The start was sweet, pulling my way to the front part of the swimming pack, soon opening up to enjoy a full stroke to get me going more fluently. Lack of water (hydration) and water that was at most 65 degrees Fahrenheit soon led to a panicking Jenni... yes, swimming was my primary sport... this was strange enough that I chose not to risk it and made my way to the shore. There I sat for a moment before I ran back to the bike start (feeling very sheepish for dropping out of the swim!), dried off, hydrated and suited up for the biking stretch after reporting that I dropped out to an official. So as to not throw of fellow racers from my heat, I awaited their departure from the water and joined in the rest of the race...
Biking went well... head winds made the downhill feel oddly tough, but it sure felt good to pass up a few, not to mention being passed up by plenty of cyclists. I did not realize how strong the wind was until it was on my side for the return. I reached a max speed of 68 mph, according to my speedometer! (Did I mention that I installed in incorrectly so it was reading about twice my actual speed?) Pulling ahead of two bikers at the tail end of the ride gave me a little extra time to sort through my transition, get my running shoes on an take off down by the river along the paved running path.
6.2 miles of running along Moses Lake made for a great race... While it was not trail running like I get at home, I got to meet an inspiring woman in her forties who is an Iron man Athlete competing in this race for training purposes. She is originally from Adelaide, Australia and currently is a practicing pediatrician in Vancouver B.C. We kept each other company and made the last stretch of the race quite enjoyable. It was women like her and many others in their 40's and 50's who assure me that I have better races ahead!
While I am not pleased with my performance and take full responsibility for not preparing properly for the swimming part, it was a great experience- one that I am grateful for! It was even better to have Dad there cheering me on a taking pics on his Blackberry phone. He was a great support despite that fact that I completely threw him off when I walked up to him unexpectedly dressed in my bike clothes rather than running out of the water in my swim suit and goggles!
More adventures ahead! Thanks again for my supportive Dad and Mom (she would have been there too had she not been tending to her new granddaughter)!!!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Benefit Ride

Over the past couple of years I have gained a love for cycling, which has opened the doors to some great opportunities for adventure! On Memorial Day I had the chance to ride 82 miles with a small group of 5 guys who have organized and are completing a benefit ride to raise money for research to find a cure for EB. While I am not an expert on EB, it is a rare genetic skin disease that has caused children and young adults to suffer in great ways that most will never have to endure. Their website is "" - more info about EB as wells a links to find out more about the trek and read their blog can be found there.
So we road from Bellevue into Seattle (Pier 52) and then rode a ferry across to Bainbridge island and continued cycling into Shelton and then west to Elma, Washington. It was a beautiful day, and we saw some gorgeous country along the highways and back roads.
Dad and Mom Skeen were so nice and came and picked me up in little Elma where the EB trek crew stayed the night. They had already ridden from Provo, UT and are currently making their way down to Los Angeles where they will complete their trek!
I was spoiled and only got a taste of their ride and then was treated to a delicious slab of catfish, shrimp, vegies and baked potato at Red Lobster! What a life! Mama and Papa are too good to their daughter who sends them on these wild goose chases... More adventures ahead!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Grandchild

Madison Naomi Miller...
Kristen and Kevin just welcomed the first grandchild into the family! Madison Naomi Miller was born at about 4am on May 22. She is happy and healthy, as are her parents! We are all soooo anxious to meet Madison. Andrew and Rachel have been able to see her because of their proximity, and we are all very jealous. She is adorable! You can see more pics on Kevin and Kristen's blog...

Her middle name was chosen in remembrance of Nancy Naomi and Eliza Naomi Tracy Skeen, who are Kristen's Great Great Great Grandmother and Great Great Grandmother.

One concern we've had at "grandma and grandpa's" house is that when Madi comes to visit, Joey will not get nearly the attention that he needs and "deserves" as the "baby" in the house. Any suggestions?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Green Goodness

Jenni and Jenna got some great pics along the Columbia river on their drive home. It's such a pretty time of year. Green lush forests are even more amazing when you haven't been surrounded by them for a long period. We love it here!

Spring Time!

Spring has come! Dad keeps working hard with his water heater company as well as helping everyone with everything that MacGyver can do... the list is endless! Mom still keeps her cheery self serving her hubby and kids with dinner while still working on the side... it's also baby blanket making season! Maea is preparing to go to prom and staying busy with school and friends now that track season is over. Brian is working for another company now in sales and seems to be finding success. Jenni is home temporarily and works for the school district as well as working for Dad as a receptionist while getting things lined up for the big move that's coming up soon.

Friday, February 29, 2008

January 2008

Toni came to Washington to visit. We worked on our 'diet', tried new recipes and mastered our sugar free eating! (we already had the eating part mastered - the tough part was getting rid of the goodies!) Teri and Toni did a makeover on the living room, new paint, some furniture, etc. We had a blast running around town playing HGTV... shopping & buying anything we remotely thought would work...needless to say, I had a lot of returns to make after she went home!
Steve, Teri and Toni took a quick trip to McCall for a few days to visit with Paul and Merlyn and the snow! As always, luxury accomodations, amazing cuisine and darn good company, too! We saw the Ice Festival snow sculptures, went snowmobiling and to the hot springs. While we were off having fun, Maraea stayed with our friend Diane while she was nursing kidney stones and Maraea had come down with MONO! Bad parents!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Millers Visit

Kristen and Kevin came to visit home after spending Christmas with Kev's family. We had fun playing games and eating really good food together. We're so excited for their new one on the way!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Winter Wonder Land

We went on an adventurous and relaxing excursion to Eastern Washington as soon as Jenni, Andrew and Rachel arrived from school. The Okanagon Forest did not allow for any of our regular "city" distractions. We stayed in a nice large log "cabin" home with a warm fire place, plenty to beds to rest in, plenty of couches to relax in, and plenty of food to enjoy. Snow shoeing for adventure, hot-tubbing to warm up, cross-country skiing as a family, watching movies, and building a puzzle (2 for Maraea) were some of the events. Dad and Mom showed us a really great time!