Christmas Letter

From Chris and Kellie
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Hello Friends and Family

Christian and Kellie hope and pray that this letter finds everyone well and happy. This year has been crazy for us, and for both sets of parents.

Let's start at the beginning of the year. Kellie spent the week of New Year's in Colorado (oh how beautiful the mountains are with snow on them) with Christian and his parents. Diamond came out with Kellie and she was like what's that cold wet white stuff falling from the sky? She was okay with the drive up, but hated the flight back to Oklahoma. She couldn't ride in Kellie's (momma's) lap on the flight.

At the end of January, Kellie got a phone call from the place were were getting married at, and there was a scheduling conflict, so we couldn't get married on March 7. It was a mad scramble to get new invitations made and sent out in time for everyone to make arrangements.

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Christian flew in the week before the wedding to help finish up with last-minute prep for the wedding. We got married on March 10, in a beautiful ceremony at the Oklahoma City Temple. We then exchanged rings and had a wonderful reception that evening.
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After the wedding we went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon. It was Kellie's first time. While we were there in Florida, we went to Cape Canaveral for a night-time rocket launch (also Kellie's first time). We were about 4 miles from the launch site and had VIP tickets -- Christian got them from work for free. Christian works for the University of Colorado at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). He's a rocket engineer and while he didn't work directly with this rocket, his lab did.

Back at Disney World, Kellie wasn't much of a Roller Coaster girl but Christian got her on a few. The first one was Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. Kellie did not like that one at all, since part of it was backwards. When we were getting off, Kellie said "That will cost you". We ended up walking out through the gift shop, where Kellie saw a stuffed Yeti that she wanted. She said that it was the cost of going on the ride. This began the tradition of each scary ride costing a stuffed animal. We came back with about a dozen new stuffed animals, including some for Chris. Chris was warned by Kellie's parents and was given the advice not to let her bring back any. As you can see, that warning didn't do Christian any good. It was a good trip even though Kellie found out that she is allergic to Florida.

After the honeymoon we flew back to Oklahoma to get Kellie's stuff, and then on March 24, we started the drive to Colorado. We stayed that night somewhere near the Kansas-Colorado border. On March 25 around 4pm Colorado Time, Kellie got a tornado warning for her old home town of Moore, OK, saying there was a tornado on the ground. Kellie looked over at Christian saying "we left at the right time".

On March 28 we had another wedding reception in Colorado. We did this so that the people Christian works with and goes to church with didn't need to take time off or to worry about traveling to Oklahoma. We knew that his parents and grandma were coming in from Utah, but we had no clue that Kellie's parents would come up, so Kellie was surprised when her parents stepped out of the kitchen. Christian's mom knew that they would make the trip up to Nebraska on Friday and spent the night at one of her aunt's house so they were able to meet up on I-25 in Colorado and her parents followed Christian's parents to the house.

Kellie was put to work immediately at the church, teaching six-year-olds along with Chris. On Kellie's birthday, we had a party at church with our class. In November we had another (slightly late) party for Chris. One of the highlights for us was the treat jar. Our students helped us come up with this when we were new. It is a jar with all their names on it, along with pictures of some of Chris's favorite treats. The really cool thing is that the names on the jar were actually written by the students, then transferred to the jar.

After the craziness settled down in about mid-April, our sister-in-law asked Kellie to be a Mary Kay consultant so we signed the paperwork and ordered inventory. In July Kellie made her first business trip to Dallas, TX for the Mary Kay seminar and was able to see Jordin Sparks sing.

It turns out that Kellie is a good luck charm, especially for the missionaries who taught her. So far seven of them have already gotten married. We received invitations from two of them on the same weekend, in different states. Decisions, decisions. Go to the Salt Lake temple, or go out to California? We ended up going to Utah for Mackenzie (Sister Roberts) and Jameson's wedding. About two months later, we went back for Sister Nielson's wedding reception. We were able to count that one as a business trip, because Kellie was able to meet with her director, and sold to Chris' parents.

In June, Chris participated in a robot building contest. His robot had to drive itself around a track in a parking lot, without any human controlling it. After failing twice to even turn the first corner, Chris finally figured out what was wrong and was able to make the turn in practice, seven consecutive times. Unfortunately, during the final heat, the robot turned too late and hit the fence before scoring any points. Oh well, maybe next year. Kellie was looking forward to attending and cheering on Chris and Yukari (the robot), but came down with bronchitis the night before, and had to miss the event. (Who comes down with bronchitis in June?)

In July, Kellie was able to see her parents again, but on a sad note, as it was at her uncle John's funeral. This was only a week before Mary Kay Seminar. This counted as a business trip, too. Thanks, Mom!

After the crazy summer traveling, things were starting to settle down. Chris' long-time roommate finally found a place of his own, so we finally had the house to ourselves, for about a week. We were able to serve a member of the Church by providing a place for her to stay temporarily.

October 9th was Chris's birthday. He turned the big 4-0!! Kellie set up a surprise party for him. Due to the craziness going on at the time, she almost had to cancel the party. However, it didn't get cancelled and everyone had a good time.

Also in October, Chris had a business trip to the DC area, and Kellie was able to go with him. We left Longmont at about 3:00am and had breakfast at the Denver Airport before the flight to Baltimore Airport. When we landed, we got the rental car, headed towards DC, and went to the Greenbelt MD Metro station, the closest one to the airport and the meeting, and the furthest one from DC. We then went to Arlington Cemetery and saw JFK's grave. We saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, as planned. We were surprised when almost immediately after, we saw a wreath changing ceremony there also. During that ceremony, they started playing Taps, and Kellie started crying. From Arlington, we walked across the bridge over the Potomac river into DC, around the Lincoln Memorial, the reflecting pool by the Washington Monument, and then on to the Vietnam Memorial. Since we got to Arlington on the Metro (our car was in Greenbelt, MD) we looked for a station close to there. As it turns out, there isn't one. We ended up walking a couple of blocks past the White House. Neither of us had enough energy to care about that, since we were tired and hungry -- we had last eaten at 4:00am in Colorado. It was getting close to 5:00pm at this point. After walking for a total of 4.8 miles and a couple of wrong turns, we found the train station and headed off for dinner.

The next day, we got our ID to get on base at Goddard Space Flight Center (they were disappointing plain paper badges). Kellie then went back to the hotel to rest, while Chris sat in a boring meeting. Chris had a total of about 5 minutes of official duties, but he needed to be there in order to answer questions and help the scientists as needed. It turns out the most productive part of these meetings is the breaks in between presentations. That's when we talk to each other about what's really going on, rather than what's officially going on. That night, Chris's boss Nick took the whole team, including Kellie, out for all-you-can-eat shrimp and crabs. We had an unusual table setting -- instead of plates and forks, we had a paper table cover and wooden mallets. Kellie ate plenty, and it turns out that all Chris can eat is half a shrimp and one bite of crab. Kellie loves seafood, but only when it is fresh, and it is hard to get it fresh in Colorado, 1000 miles from the ocean. Chris finished up the meeting the next day, and we all went to the official mission "One Year in Orbit" party at Goddard. In between the meeting and the party, we were able to ride the train again back into DC, and see the WWII memorial. We flew home the day after, in the afternoon, so in the morning we went to the Washington DC Temple.

On Halloween, we stayed home and passed out glow sticks as part of the Teal Pumpkin project that Kellie had heard about. This project is to pass out non-food items, so that those with food allergies can still have some fun. Chris insisted that we get something that the kids would actually want, rather than something lame like stickers or rolls of dental floss. It turns out Chris was right, and the glow-sticks were really popular -- so much so that we ran out. When that happened, we had to put the teal pumpkin away and get candy to give away instead.

Chris' brother Robert came out on business with the Air Force, and we were able to meet him for a while when he was off duty. He got to test-drive one of those new Tesla roadsters (electric sports car). His wife wanted a puppy, so we got for her a chocolate lab (made of real chocolate!). Kellie also got a nice watch, which she was able to write off as a business expense for Mary Kay.

We went to Oklahoma to Kellie's parents for Thanksgiving week. Kellie wanted Diamond to be able to see all her friends ("sisters") back at her parents' place, so we decided to drive. Going out to Oklahoma was easy (although we had a bit of snow when we left at 4:30am), but getting back to Colorado ended up being a bit more of an adventure. While we were out in Oklahoma, we saw lots of Kellie's friends. We had Thanksgiving dinner at her parents' place (Kellie helped clean the turkey), with her family and Chris's sister Elisa. We made about 4 batches of Chex Mix, which vanished as fast as we could make them. We had lots of fun playing cards and board games. One day we went to the Oklahoma Museum of Osteology (skeleton museum) which Kellie really liked. We had lunch that day at Pop's, a gas station and roadside diner on the old Route 66. They had just about every kind of soda that has ever been made (over 700 varieties!). Getting back was made an adventure by an ice storm after Thanksgiving. It's a good thing that Chris brought his work computer, just in case. We left Oklahoma just before noon on Saturday, and made it safely back (with only one or two scares) at about 10:00 that night.

Christmas is shaping up to be an adventure -- we are having it here in Longmont, for the first time since Chris has lived here. Chris' parents and grandma, brother and sister, and brother's family, will all be out. Chris promised snow to try to entice the Florida residents. If it doesn't fall in Longmont, we will go up to the mountains. In all, there will be 10 people here. We will try to not have people sleeping in the underground laboratory or closets...

Kellie started planning writing this letter in about the middle of October, and we were writing it as we experienced it since then. Kellie got all the cards addressed before we finished the letter, while we were out at Kellie's parents' place. Chris was making fun of her, saying around the first of November "Oh no! We only have six weeks left to do this!" Kellie is definitely the planner, and she loves to get things done as soon as possible. Chris thinks that getting things done too early only ends up making more work with the time that you "save".

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016. This year was great, and we hope the next will be even better.