Karstin's Piano Festival
Karstin was invited to play at a piano festival held at Saddleback College.
She did a great job as we expected. She played her piece just like she
practiced it. Being in that room meant we had to listen to the other kids.
In all sincerity, I love music, and I love my kids, but those other kids
weren't mine and their music wasn't always worthy of my presence. Grandpa
Albert joined us and he enjoyed the other kids' playing as much as
I did. Karen really struggles to keep me in line; it is hopeless when
her very own father says the same obnoxious things I do.
Fun with the Swann's
Our friends Steve and
Janice Swann sold their big orchard-ranch in Fallbrook and plan to
be real estate tycoons. Whilst they plan their next move, they got a big
motor coach parked at the Back-Bay in Newport Beach. They invited us over;
a great time was had and good food was eaten.
The Cruise: Sting
We went on another cruise thanks to Martin Door. We started in Miami and
went to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Belize. Grand Cayman has
a place called Stingray City. It is a sandbar a few miles offshore where
stingrays congregate for the sure feeding they'll receive from the anxious
tourists. Diana and Dave Haslam, and Bob Mehr and his boys went with us.
I thought it was going to be very lame, but it turned out to be one of
the coolest things we did. You hold a piece of squid in your hand and
they'll suck it right out. There were lots of people who didn't do things
just right so they ended up with Sting Ray hickeys or abrasions. I enjoyed
swimming through the people and while under water, grabbing their thighs.
You could hear the screams under water. You could hold the rays and were
invited to kiss them.
I tried to kiss only the females.
The Cruise: Dune
Costa Maya is a resort created along the Yucatan coast with white sand
beaches and aqua blue waters. We took a dune-buggy tour where we were
able to do the driving (only in Mexico). We ended up in a cool little
private beach and had a blast.
The Cruise: Scuba Diving
Cozumel had some of the best
diving I have ever seen. I took dozens of pictures and Karen, who
did the editing, struggled to narrow the selection… they were all so good.
We all had so much fun diving; and it was not a ship-sponsored excursion,
which means in true Mexico fashion, it was on the edge of the safety envelope…
correction, most safety rules were thrown out. Our dive "Master" would
look at our gauges when we tried to let him know we were out of air and
he would give us the okay sign. When you dive you start with about 3000
lbs of air. You need to start quitting and ascending at 500 lbs of air.
If you live your life on the edge, you go till 300 lbs. I finally surfaced
against the dive master's wishes with 30 lbs of air. The water on the
surface was very choppy and most of us got sick either on the boat ride
out or on the way in. To say the least, the water was well-chummed.
The Cruise: The
The highlight of any cruise is the dining room. You get a chance to spend
the evenings with friends and family like Dana
and LouAnn Lake and Bryan and Heather Lake AND be served five-star
cuisine. For example, the waiter asks, "Would you like Filet Mignon or
Lobster tonight?" My response is, "Two steaks and three lobsters please."
On a cruise you find yourself trying to accumulate some hunger so that
you could quench it with all the food in front of you.
Homework Garden Closes
For a series of events too long to describe, Karen was forced to close
her Homework Garden business due to some zoning disputes with the city.
After all the ugly events are concluded, she is now a full-time at-home
mom and could not be happier.
Spring break was rolling around and Karen was naturally planning an extravagant,
highly involved-with-dad trip to…the Bay Area?, Florida?, Ohio?, Utah?,
well I wasn't interested. So I campaigned for something local and simple.
Disneyland was mentioned and I figured, "That's local, no airport, no long
drive… let's do that." It turned into a three-day trip to the Magic Kingdom
with a family purchase of annual passes and two nights in a local Holiday
Inn (that way the kids feel like we went away to somewhere). The name "Magic
Kingdom" might stir thoughts of a al Jehovah's Witness destination.
I would probably have preferred such. But
I did it… we did it. We joined in for photo opportunities with the rest
of Asia and these are available for your viewing pleasure.
Mother's Day Fashion
Penelope's kindergarten class (Mrs. Foster) did a fashion show for the moms.
It was a memorable event for mom but especially for Penelope.
Jeff Burdg Baptism
Kristi Burdg is Karen's visiting teacher. She has a great husband who is
not a member of the church. Jeff decided to take the missionary lessons
this year and was baptized in May. He went from being a great guy to a super-great
guy. It is so fun to see them both grow in the gospel.
Penelope's 6th Birthday
For Penelope's sixth birthday we crashed the Laguna Beach Festival of the
Arts. We literally planted our party in the midst of this festival. Because
it is run by hippie art-folk, they said that it was "cool" with
them. So we had a party and had the kids go around to the different booths
and do the art stuff.
How many six year olds do you know have made crafts from hemp?
(female editor comment: "Remember I'm not the writer this year")
party (Christmas in June?)
Karstin turned 13 in July. Naturally we had a Christmas-Styled birthday
party for her in June. Why? One word… drugs… maybe not. She wanted a party
and realized many of her friends would be doing other Summer-things and
would not be available. So we had it in June. The theme was Christmas
naturally. It was a half-Christmas celebration… sixth month; December
is the twelfth month… get it? Ya…well. It was lots of fun. Everyone decorated
Santa hats, ate the
Santa cake, wrapped people
in toilet paper (to make them look like presents, I of course made
doodie jokes), went caroling,
and it was all topped off with a visit from Santa Claus (Our friend Larry
Savannah's 6th Grade
Savannah's sixth grade class had their graduation party. It is a time
when these kids let their hair down and go crazy… then again, if anyone
could find a time when Savannah's hair isn't down and she isn't crazy,
they will get a free chocolate bar. Mom felt the need to chaperone
and ended up really enjoying herself.
Albert's Hawaii trip with Karen
Karen's father retired from the UCR some time ago as a Plant Pathologist.
But that has had no effect on his workload. I'm not sure I fully understand
why… maybe we'll get another chocolate bar to the one who can explain
it to me. As part of his workload, he had to go to a series of seminars
in Hawaii. Naturally, this would take place a five-star resort. I think
it is called the Orchid
Mahu Palace or something like that. The Tri-Cal Foundation, who sponsored
the gig, knowing Albert is widowed, told him he could bring his girlfriend.
In true Arkansas-fashion he brought his daughter, Karen. While on the
big island of Hawaii, they visited Tom
and Dorothy Heers' place (my side of the family) and had the chance
to see my parents, Boyd
and Dale Lake. As missionaries in Hawaii this is something of an upgrade
from say, Russia, the Philippines, Christmas Island, or Nigeria. I guess
after four missions, the fifth gets to be a stint in Hawaii.
The obvious highlight of June was the opportunity to attend the June Man-Cation
in Yosemite. We went to Jeff
Frazier's luxury cabin at Bass Lake and rode motorcycles all over
Attendees were me (Brace), my brother Dana, and my buddies Jeff Frazier,
Mark Wells, Jack McDonald, and Craig Something-or-other (obviously a close
friend). As you can tell from the name man-cation, the women aren't invited.
We eat out, and without the need of help in cooking; we can't see a reason
to invite them. (I am hedging on the fact not all of this script be read.)
Valerie Perkins' Graduation
Our beautiful niece, Valerie Perkins graduated High School. She sang the
National Anthem at the ceremony, and she was the clear highlight. Then
again, seeing the airplane overhead with a banner that read, "Congrats
Tenisha- Love Granny" was a close second. The photo of Valerie in her
red robe may look grainy, but it was quite a distance - our little digital
Karstin went to Girls'Camp. It was truly an exciting event. So exciting,
I'll spare details of it so your blood pressure might remain tranquil.
Our friends, Jerry and
Sue Ellen Hall invited us and the Carroll family on a trip to their
houseboat on Lake Mead. The
Carroll's have four girls, we have three, Jerry brought his daughter,
and another girl came for good measure. So let's see… four plus three,
plus one, plus one more… there were about 80 kids on this boat. We found
a quaint cove where we staked down the large houseboat with many ropes
and steel stakes. Jerry also brought his cool ski boat. It was quite the
week; I decided after a week with all of those kids that I'd go back to
the doctor and get another vasectomy just for good measure.
A couple of days before the end of the trip, a
storm came up in the late afternoon the likes of which hadn't been
seen in the area in many years. We spent four hours wrestling with ropes
and waves and boats. In the end, no one was seriously hurt (I had one
broken rib), but the ski boat was sunk. It was a truly memorable experience
that made us grateful that we were protected from anything more than property
damage. The month previous the houseboat had a gas-leak that caused an
explosion that gave our friend Annelle Wells some 2nd and 3rd degree burns
on her arm (not to mention a groovy hairdo). I suggested to the houseboat
owners Mark Wells and Jerry Hall that it be renamed "Blasted & Sunk."
Another good name would be to call it, "The Howard Dean Campaign."
Blaine and Family visit from Florida
Blaine Lake, my brother, his wife Jeannette and all of their kids (except
for the missionary Jeff) came to town. This is significant because "all
their kids" numbers somewhere around seven or eight. The fact that he
is an OB/Gyn means he can deliver his own kids for free, so why not have
lots, eh?! Among other things, we went with Lindsey and Allison to Disneyland.
Our friends the Rubalcava's
and Bob Schiller invited us to Catalina to be photo
subjects in the visitors' guide. Bob's marketing company has the contract
for advertising for Catalina Island. They use photogenic families to juice
up the visitors' guide. I understand we were second choice after Janet Reno
and Herman Munster. The biggest picture of us they used is the one of us
all on horseback. I protested having to wear the white helmet. I was convinced
that any grown man who rides a horse with a helmet is a pansy. The only
thing less manly than that is to go kayaking
in calm water with a life-vest. Of course both pictures of me in the
visitors' guide show me in these compromised situations. They might as well
show me in a spring dress. The next s of me will be when I'm
grand marshal of that parade in San Fran.
A Beach Trip
Karen took the girls and Kartin's friend Tiffany Sunnell to the beach. The
reason this is noteworthy is Karen's dislike for sitting in the sand. She
has discovered the advanced technology of a thing called a "beach chair",
which keeps her precious fanny above the hated dirt.
Penelope is growing like a weed. She is the sweetest six year-old we've
ever seen. She likes to eat steak (medium rare), tacos, and anything with
sour cream. Her sister Karstin continues to turn into a little lady. Penelope's
piano lessons are coming along. Her teacher is Aleli
Tibay and schools her in the "Suzuki Method."
Board Game Party
To make sure we have no idle time around the house, Karen schedules social
parties for the girls. The turnout is usually 10-15 and is fun for all.
September's gathering was to play board games.
Book of Mormon Symposium
There is an organization whose website is www.bmaf.org
that will gather professors and intellectuals for a symposium of essays
and lectures. I wanted to go and Karen thought it would be a great idea
to bring along the kids. We stopped in St. George and saw our friends the
Swann's and their latest
real estate project. While there, Steve and Janice volunteered to have the
kids stay with them while Karen and I went to Salt Lake. Upon receiving
this offer, we jumped right in the car and sped off, in case they were to
change their minds. It was a terrific two days of lectures and discussions.
The kids had a great time and we really enjoyed seeing Steve and Janice
again. Steve's interests are so similar to mine that upon hearing about
the symposium, I would guess we'll be there next year.
grade Bug Show
Penelope had a show at school that was bug-centered. I missed it myself,
and by the looks of the pictures, what a treat I missed indeed.
When it comes to carving
pumpkins, I have a real talent. No, I don't use those cheater-stencil
things. I use finesse, skill, and creativity.
Costumes for Mom,
Savannah, and Penelope
were interesting this year. Our ward trunk-or-treat party was as big as
ever. The band was plugged
in and we jammed! I dress up so that the costume would distract from
what was being heard. I don't know how it sounded, but it sure was fun.
Karen was busy taking pictures of many people there. Take a look at my
black friend Dave Payne,
the Hodson family and Truman with his dad.
We went to Yosemite again. Jeff sold his cabin and bought a fixer-upper.
Did that discourage us? Heck no! The food was great, the weather perfect,
and the bikes were a thunderin'. This trip was attended by Jeff Frazier,
Jack McDonald, me, Dana Lake, and Dana's buddy Lynn Johnson. And I'll
tell you…. King Kong ain't got nuthin' on Lynn! That guy snores like a
chain saw. When we rode our way to the valley floor, we passed through
a mile-long tunnel. Towards the end of the tunnel, Lynn and I revved our
engines really loud (we've got the loud pipes). Jack, at the end of our
bike line, said the noise was deafening (though still not as loud as Lynn's
snoring). The tunnel lets out at a rest-stop/ viewpoint. Because of our
loud revving, every face (about 200) was looking our way as we came out
of the tunnel. Such things make people like me and Lynn giggle like teenagers.
Dana, the mature one of the group decided he needs to get some louder
pipes for his bike too.
My mother's side of the family has a reunion every year at this time.
My Aunt Doreen usually
hosts it, but is currently living with her daughter and son-in-law, so
she couldn't host it this year. There was talk by my brother Don
and his children that we would use a local church institute and maybe
our showroom at our office for the reunion. I suggested that we use my
house. It was agreed. My wife said it would be great, but said I would
need to do a few home improvements first. I got a honey-do list that took
me about 40 hours to complete (with help from my buddy Corey Harris).
It was nice to see family from far and near. They enjoyed watching
our snake kill and eat a live rat.
Karstin's Young Women's Personal Progress
Karstin set out to get the "Young Women in Excellence" award before her
13th birthday. Most girls receive this award when they are 16 or 17 so
she thought she might be the only 12 year old to ever receive it! She
got it… the main reason is that she set her mind to it. Once she does
that; get out of the way. Karstin continues to work hard on her piano
studies, attends the Orange
County High School of the Performing Arts in Visual Arts and works
hard to keep a 4.0, and is a wonderful big sister to Savannah and Penelope,
not to mention a great babysitter for us.
Express Birthday Party
Karen and Savannah came up with a clever birthday celebration. Her girlfriends
would come over to our house bright and early in their pajamas, get
a waffle breakfast, and go to the train
station; take the train back toward our town, and go watch the newly
released movie, "The Polar Express."
Wizard of Oz
Savannah was in a play and played the part of a munchkin. She
was far and away the prettiest one there. In fact, she is so pretty
she made the rest of the munchkins look like winged monkeys. A wonderful
surprise was Grandma Mains and Aunt Debbie flew in from Colorado to see
her. They enjoyed seeing her play her role. Although it was tough to watch
the thing when she wasn't in it (it wasn't tough, it was torture).
December means Sing Noel in our Stake. There is a choir for the adults,
the young women, and the children. I sang in the adult choir, Penelope
sang in the children's choir, Savannah
& Karstin sang in the young women's choir, and Karen led the 75-voice
Young Women's Choir. It was lots of work but it turned out very nice.
Karen had help from friends. Alese
Harris, assistant director, Kelly Burdg helped with staging, Kara Lyn
Williams played piano and Daria Sarraf played the Harp. If you would
like to hear some of the songs, let us know and we'll email them to you.
You can see from the selection of photos of the young women that they
didn't allow any ugly
girls to sing with them. (You do remember who is writing this?
It isn't me - Karen)
Karen planned another social
event for the girls and had about 15 kids over. They all brought white-elephant
gifts, brought goodies and made noise and messes and crafts for hours.
The Christmas Tree
The house is ready and decorated for Christmas. I thought I'd save some
time and trouble this year when it comes to the tree. The mess and hassle
of live-trees had worn out their place in me. I decided to get a pre-lit
artificial tree. The fact that it is pre-lit should save time and make
it easy to set up, right?! I went ape and got a 12' high tree. It only
took about 5 hours to set up. Every bloody branch had to be shaped and
bent just right. It stayed up for a month because I didn't want to go
through the work to take it down. After all that time up, I think we got
only one picture of it.
visited us on Christmas morning. We had invited the two in our ward and
they called to ask if four others could come. We happily invited them
as well, and I made waffles for all. They ate like missionaries (which
means almost as much as Penelope). Our friends Wade and Leslie Sticht
gave us a present of homemade chimes. They used ½" electrical conduit
cut to specific lengths and hung on rope. They then marked out on large
paper the words and corresponding chimes. Every one had one or two chimes
and we played Christmas hymns for an hour or two. It was more enjoyable
than we thought possible. Notice the beautiful missionary picture to the
left our our front yard. Our friend, Joyce Warner, came and helped the
girls finish painting our nativity. You can see it on our front yard in
the picture to the left.
and Concert Party
We had our annual family Musical Christmas party. We were treated with
the presence of the Perkins,
Cheri, and Lori
and family. Food was great and the music incredible.
at Ben and Leslie's Home
Leslie Ashby, daughter
of Don Lake, my brother, was kind enough to host a Christmas dinner and
gift exchange at her house. We had a great time and the kids loving playing
We truly are blessed to be a family and are blessed to count you among
our friends. May the Lord bless you and yours in 2005.
All our love,
Brace Lake, going on 24 years at Mr. Martin Garage Doors
Karen Lake, at-home mom, Savannah's teacher, no commute
Karstin Lake 13 years old - 8th grade, Orange County High for the Performing
Arts - 30 minutes away in Santa Ana
Savannah Lake 12 years old, 7th grade - BYU online High School - no commute
Penelope Lake 6 years old, 1st grade Portola Hills Elementary - 2 blocks
from our home
Our home address is
28532 Chimney Rock Circle
Portola Hills, CA 92679