Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!! (This is our "official" Christmas letter)

Merry Christmas everyone!! This past year has been full of so many wonderful things - I'll just give a brief year-in-review for those of you who we haven't kept informed (sorry!).

In November of last year we moved to Saint George, UT (about 4 hours south of our home) for a job Jeff was assigned to run. We planned on being there for six months, but permits were delayed and we ended up being there for a full year. We made so many wonderful friends down in Saint George, and we loved being in the same city as Jeff's best friend Christian and his wife April. We fell in love with the weather, the surroundings (Zion Nat'l Park, tons of hikes, lots of fishing spots), and the people. By the end of our time there we were so excited to get back to our home in Riverton, but the move home really was bitter-sweet. It was hard leaving our friends that we'd grown to love, separating Mason from all the little friends he made, and coming back to a home that wasn't nearly as close to a park as it was in St. George (a 10-minute walk). We are so grateful, however, to be back in our real home in Riverton. Our neighbors are wonderful, as is our ward. We're so excited to be near family and our long-time friends again, and also make new friends. Here's what each of us have been up to this past year:

Jeff - Jeff was promoted this past year to Superintendent at work; he is employed by CRC Construction, which was started by his Grandpa Baumann and is now run by his dad and uncle. Along with that promotion came the opportunity for Jeff to be in charge of building a Mountain America Credit Union in Saint George, UT. It was such an amazing learning experience for him, and he did such an incredible job (as you can see). Jeff turned 30 this year, but it didn't seem to phase him one bit; he has continued to be very involved in playing volleyball and working out at the gym every chance he gets. Although Jeff's favorite college football team, BYU, didn't make it to a BCS bowl game like he hoped, he's still a HUGE fan; he's also really into the Utah Jazz (NBA) and loves to watch them play any chance he gets. Jeff takes great pride in his family, and has especially enjoyed watching Mason grow and learn this past year. It seems like Jeff looks forward to Mason's enthusiastic greetings after work just as much as Mason does!

Sheri - Sheri has had a wonderful year as the transition was made to St. George and back to Riverton. She made some really close friends in St. George and really misses those associations, but has easily kept in touch thanks to her slight obsession with BLOGGING! That's one of her favorite hobbies, along with working out, scrapbooking and reading the "Twilight" series. Sheri was also able to go to some amazing concerts with her girlfriends this past year - Reba McIntyre/Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK (her childhood friend Amber flew in from South Carolina to relive the past with her). Sheri also recently began working 5 days a week as a nanny for a friend - she tends their 3 children (ages 6, 2 1/2 and 3 months) and is able to bring Mason, so it's a huge blessing. Most of all, Sheri has loved the joys that have accompanied being a mother and a wife. She feels so blessed to have such a wonderful husband and son and anxiously awaits the day baby number 2 will finally decide that it's time to be conceived!! :)

Mason - Mason is now three months away from his 2nd Birthday and is such an amazing addition to the family! He continues to surprise and amaze his mom and dad as he changes from baby to little boy. He's definitely a little monkey; he can never just walk somewhere - he has to run, jump, or hold his parents' hands so he can swing his way to his destination. His parents have finally learned how to keep up with his endless energy and have so much fun being entertained by his goofy antics. Mason is entirely absorbed in the world of Thomas the Tank Engine, and can quickly be pulled out of a bad mood by the mere mention of his special blue train friend. Mason has learned how to count to 10 (he usually forgets the 1 though), can recognize letters A, B and C and knows their sounds, and he's great at copying anything his parents say (time to be careful!). If only he was as intent on eating as he is on having fun! He doesn't enjoy mealtime much - probably because that means that he can't be moving and playing! Even with the few challenges that inevitably come along with having a child, Mason sure is such a joy to have around.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, we are so grateful for this special time when place extra focus and emphasis on our Savior Jesus Christ. His birth, life, death and resurrection constantly bring us hope and renew our faith. We take great comfort in knowing that He knows and loves all mankind - each of us on a very personal level. May we remember to follow Christ's example of unconditional love, compassion and service during this special time of year and always.


We love you all!
Jeff, Sheri and Mason Baumann

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Christmas Choirside

I just got home from one of the most uplifting, spiritual events I've ever attended or participated in. Our Stake (for my non-Mormon friends, a "stake" is a term we use for a group of all the different congregations in our area - there are 8 congregations a.k.a. "wards" in our stake here in Riverton)...anyhow, our stake had what's called a "Choirside" tonight - each ward's choir prepared a Christmas song to sing, then we prepared a song as a Stake Choir (prob. close to 200 people are in the stake choir). The entire chapel was full, and the overflow area was opened up and was also full almost to the opposite end of the gym area. It was awesome to see so many people there!

Each song was so beautiful, and I am so grateful for this special night where the Christmas-time focus was taken off presents, family meals, decorations, and stress, and was redirected to where all the focus really should be during this time of year - CHRIST. As I listened to the words as each choir sang - stories of the wisemen, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and of course Christ, I was filled with the Spirit. The last song was "O Holy Night" (an amazing arrangement by Sally DeFord that is free to download on her website), and it was sung by our huge stake choir. There was a viola accompanying the piano and the organ, and it was just breathtaking. Even from my position up in the choir seats, I could feel the power of the choir as we sang praises to our Lord. It was hard to sing through my tears!!

I am so grateful for a wonderful Heavenly Father who loved us enough to send his Son, Jesus Christ. Tonight's events gave me the extra nudge I needed to fall back into stride and center my life around His. I'm going to try extra hard to make this a super-spiritual Christmas in our home. We'll see what kind of resistance I get from the troops (i.e. Jeff who hates Christmas music and protests each time I turn it on), but I'm determined to get our focus back where it should be. May our hearts be filled with love toward God and our fellow man as we remember the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Mason's been cooped up inside all week cuz he's been so sick, and I didn't wanna get any other kids sick with his croup (the doctor said that any child within a 200-ft. radius can catch it if Mason coughs) this morning I took him to South Towne Mall right at 10:00 when the Santa booth opened. There wasn't a single person in line, so Mason didn't have contact with any kids (good for my peace of mind!). Even though I prepared him well by showing him pictures of Santa, reading him stories about Santa, and even practicing "ho, ho, ho!" with him, the second he saw Santa today he was TERRIFIED! Poor Saint Nick tried everything he could to soothe him, but he was so scared, and all he could do was cry "mamma!!!". So, they took the picture real fast and got him down. It's one for the books, that's for sure!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Brother, Elder Donnelson

Yesterday was such a special day; I got to accompany my youngest sibling, Taylor, to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) where he'll live for the next 12 weeks as he prepares to spend two years serving the Lord and the people of Cambodia as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

You know, so many people don't understand everything that's involved in a Mormon mission - I'm so proud of Taylor for the sacrifices he's made so that he can lose himself in service for two whole years. He won't see his family, friends, or girlfriend the whole time he's gone. He won't come home for visits. He will only be able to call his family, and even those phone calls will only happen on Mother's Day and Christmas. He'll receive no financial compensation for his time in Cambodia, in fact he (and my parents) will fund his entire mission. He won't go out and do touristy things, won't go to the beach, won't go out on the weekends and party, and will never be without a companion (fellow missionary) unless he's on the can.

It's such a huge sacrifice, yet I know Taylor doesn't see it that way. He was so excited yesterday when we dropped him off at the MTC. We were all emotional and he was just ready to get going on this the next chapter in his life. My mission changed me - the way I talk, the way I think, the way I dress, the way I see and treat other people. Taylor is much more Christlike upon his entering the MTC than I was when I entered - I don't think the adjustment will be as difficult for him as it was for me. Learning Khmer (the language in Cambodia) may be another story though! Please keep Taylor in your thoughts and prayers!!

Taylor with Gma & Gpa

Mom putting his name tag on him

Taylor's crazy name tag!

Going in the "missionary door"

Pointing to Cambodia on the huge map in the MTC

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm Back In School!

I guess I forgot to blog about this pretty big development in my life! Jeff and I would really like for me to be able to stay home and work in the future, so I signed up for an online Medical Transcription school ( It's a little expensive, but not when you consider that it only lasts a year and I can begin making around $40K when I'm done with school. It's a job that's in very high demand now since doctor's offices are trying to streamline everything now - and it's cheaper anyway for them to employ someone working from home (a contractor) than it is to have an actual in-office employee.

So I'm doing that schooling right now and Jeff's studying for the GMAT so he can go get his Masters in Business. We're gonna have a busy next year and a half while we both finish up our schooling...then once we both finish what we're currently enrolled in, I'm gonna go back to REAL school and finish the one year I have remaining to get my Bachelor's Degree. Can't wait!!!

Sick Child

So just like last year around this time, Mason is way sick. Fun times! He's had a cold for a while, which is inevitable because Jeff and I have had bad colds, AND he's in the daycare with a bunch of kids every single day, and I nanny 3 children. Anyhow, his cold turned into...(brace yourselves)...a double ear infection, pink-eye, an upper respiratory infection, leading to CROUP. Poor little man!!

Sunday night his eyes got all oozy, then his cough got super bad. After we put him to bed, he started having a hard time breathing, then he started the barking cough. I took him to the doctor yesterday morning where they gave him a steroid shot, put him on antibiotics, and got us some eye drops. At least the pink-eye isn't contagious since he's been on the antibiotics for more than 24 hours. The croup, however, has a 5-7 day period where it's highly contagious, which means NO WORK for me this entire week. The break is nice - I can get a TON of studying done for the course I'm taking right now - but we really need the money that I can't be making. I don't want to transmit any of his sicknesses to those children.

Keep your fingers crossed that he gets better quickly!! I think he's bored here at home all day long, now that he's used to being around other kids.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Family Pictures

Lee and Kathy (Jeff's parents) haven't had a picture done of their entire family in at least 10 years, and all the kids were getting tired of looking at their old selves up on the fireplace mantle, so our portrait session last month was a huge Baumann family affair and quite the adventure with all the kiddos running around!

We went to Utah Lake and it was absolutely beautiful with the fallen leaves everywhere - the perfect setting for pictures! The kids loved it too, cuz they had tons of room to run around and be hyper.

Mason NEVER stays still for longer than a minute or two, so it was very interesting trying to get a good picture, but Tiffany (our photographer) was awesome and her assistants had great distraction skills, so we were able to pull off a few where everyone was looking at the camera (or in the general direction).