Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas 2013 in CA

This year we spent Christmas in beautiful southern CA with my family. My parents have moved off of Balboa Island and bought a condo in Newport Beach. Since the condo is not big enough for all of us to have our own rooms, my parents rented us "kids" a beach house on the Island (same one we stayed in when Luke came home in March). 

On December 23rd Josh and I headed up to Chicago to spend the night at a hotel so that we could catch our early flight. We got Chicago-style pizza for dinner and I got a phone call from my little brother telling me he was ENGAGED! Woot! They are getting married a month after us in Utah and we are all so excited!

When Josh and I left Chicago on Christmas Eve it was -1 and when we arrived in CA it was a gorgeous 75! Can't beat that! My little brother Luke and his fiancee, Andie, picked us up at the airport and we headed back to my parents to start the Christmas celebration. Ryan and Missy and my adorable nephews were there too! We made cookies for Santa, had a roast dinner, watched Christmas Vacation, and played Monopoly - which I won! 

On Christmas morning we all gathered at my parents place to have pigs-in-a-blanket (family tradition) and to open presents. Brady didn't care who the presents were for or even what they were. He just wanted to rip them open!

[Brady helping Papa make breakfast]

[Brady wanted to be like Papa and put cold peas on his ouchie... silly kid]

[Dane is the perfect size to fit in the stocking]

[Google hangout with my moms family] 

After the gifts we all got ready and headed over to Uncle Jim's house for the big Neilson Christmas Party. It was fun to see my family, catch up with everyone, play some games, and watch the Lakers game (even though they lost). 

[Me with Dane and his cute Christmas outfit] 

[Gangs all here!]

The day after Christmas my mom, Andie, Missy, baby Dane, and I went wedding dress shopping. To be honest I had mixed feelings about dress shopping. I was excited to find a dress but I really don't like to shop.

We headed first to Alfred Angelo. The consultant asked me a bunch of questions about what I wanted and I had no idea how to answer her. I started to get nervous but then she said she would just pull some dresses and we would go from there. The first one I tried on was BEAUTIFUL! A white, empire waist,   satin dress that was almost perfect. Next I tried on a "mermaid-style" dress that was a fail the moment I stepped out the door. But while I was showing off my curves I saw a mannequin with a beautiful dress on! I told her I wanted to try on that one. She stripped the mannequin and brought me the dress. I got it on and knew that I loved it! I walked out to show the ladies and they were loving it too. We tried on different veils but I didn't say "Yes" to the dress right then because I knew we had another appointment at Davids Bridal.

After leaving Alfred we headed to Maggiano's for lunch and then over to Davids Bridal. They were overbooked and didn't have our appointment written down correctly so we didn't get started with our consultant right away. When she finally did come she was rushed and running between me and another bride. It didn't matter though. Every dress she put me in didn't compare to the one I found earlier. We left the appointment knowing I would go back to Alfred Angelo's to purchase that other dress.

After all the shopping we went back to my parents where the guys were getting measured for their suits by the tailor. It was funny to see the tailor try to measure my tall brothers :-)

We spent the rest of our time in CA talking about and planning the upcoming weddings, shopping, visiting, and playing with my adorable nephews.

On Saturday, my parents and Josh and I went to Tivoli Too! to see the venue and talk to the wedding coordinator. We picked entrees, appetizers, and colors and were given a walkthrough of how our big day would go. I'm glad I like the venue so much since I didn't get to see it before my parents put down the deposit. 

After Tivoli Too! we met up with our photographer so that he could do our engagement photos (a special thanks to Andie and Missy for doing my makeup). I was nervous about have a stranger photograph us but our guy is GREAT! He's so nice and made everything kinda silly and fun. He also sent us some "teasers" right after the shoot.

The last "wedding thing" we had to do before we left for Indiana was to meet with the DJ. I didn't think that this was a big deal at all but we have decided to get a little creative with our DJ and it should be a lot of fun!

We spent New Years Eve with Kobe and my Lakers. Last year we froze to death at Lambeau with the Packers so this year we decided to see my guys play. We started the night by going out to get some sushi. YUM! It was some of the best I have had in a LONG time. Gotta love that fresh, raw, fish! After our bellies were full we headed over to the Staples Center for the game. The Lakers are crippled... in many ways. Kobe didn't play (he was there though!), Steve Nash is injured, Gasol has a hard time stepping up, etc. The game started out 0-14 in favor of the Bucks and we never quite recovered from it. We ended up loosing to the Bucks but at least I got to see Kobe and Gasol :-)


[Josh bought me a foam finger]

[I was very excited about it!]


[Waiting for the game to start] 

[Nosebleed - where the real fans sit!]

Well, that pretty much sums up our break! It was so much fun to relax and spend time with my family. We aren't all together that often and with Luke and Andie in Utah, Ryan and Missy moving soon, Josh and I in Indiana, and my parents in CA, it makes it really hard to get together. Thanks everyone for such a fun time and we will see you all at the wedding!

Oh and here's a cute picture of Brodee with Santa:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Work Update

Work has been rolling along just fine. It's hard and busy but that's the way the pipeliner world is.

Right before Thanksgiving we decided to pick a charity and raise money for them during the holiday season. We picked Toys for Tots and chose a goal of $5000 (or about 250 toys). I made a giant thermometer and hung it on the board for everyone to see. The toys and donations started pouring in and we were half way to our goal within a week!

As December rolled on our donations grew and grew!

[We needed another table]

[The Toys for Tots representatives that came and got the toys] 

[We raised $7000 (487 toys)] 

I am amazed at how much we raised. These pipeliners are great, hardworking, family men who opened their hearts and wallets in order to give some kids a Christmas. I love giving! What an amazing experience!

Suzi was coughing A LOT at work and we finally figured out it was from all the smoke that comes in with the paperwork (a lot of the Inspectors smoke). So she got a mask! Problem solved!

Here are some pictures from the ROW:

On January 6, 2014 Northwestern IN was put in a "State of Emergency". The days leading up to the Arctic Blast dropped over a foot of snow and then dropped into subzero temperatures. Roads were closed and people were encouraged to stay at home. We broke the record today with the lowest daytime temperature recorded: -16 (with -45 wind chill). I feel like North Dakota followed me here!