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DIY Rudoplh Hot Chocolate gift

5 Dec

IMG_6502 copy

By Stephanie McGee

Buying presents for the holidays can get very expensive. This DIY gift is very quick, easy, and won’t max out your credit cards. Plus this Rudolph Hot Chocolate gift is so adorable and can be for, essentially, anyone.

I found this idea on the Internet a couple years ago and it has been a great gift since. This holiday drink is perfect to give to any friend or family member. Even your kids can take them to school for gifts for their friends at their classroom holiday parties or to their teachers or bus drivers as well.

IMG_6482What you will need:

  • 2 piping bags
  • 1 Hot chocolate envelope
  • Chocolate chips
  • Mini marshmallows
  • 1 Red pom-pom ball
  • 2 google eyes
  • 2 small rubber bands
  • 1 brown pipe cleaner
  • Glue
  • Ribbon

I found my supplies at my local grocery store and Hobby Lobby.


  1. Pour your hot chocolate mix into one piping bag and get it all the way into the tip.
  2. Twist the bag closed, tie off with a rubber band and trim off the top of bag.
  3. Put that bag into another piping bag.
  4. Layer in the chocolate chips.
  5. Top it off with mini marshmallows.
  6. Twist and tie the bag with your second rubber band.
  7. Glue a pom-pom to act as a nose near tip of bag.
  8. Glue two google eyes near the top of the hot chocolate mix.
  9. Wrap Brown pipe cleaner around top for antlers and shape.
  10. Add your ribbon with a tag that reads “Poor contents of bag into mug. Add one cup of hot water or milk. Enjoy!”

This DIY Rudolph Hot Chocolate gift is a great way to save money and still spread the holiday cheer everyone deserves this season.

How-to video


Other blogs by Stephanie:
Thanks for giving me this baby
The ultimate sacrifice—A tiny miracle
The ultimate sacrifice—Redefining family
The ultimate sacrifice—Forever a teen mom 
Car enthusiasts start out small to make it big

Thanks for giving me this baby

28 Nov
By Stephanie McGee

My ideal way of spending Thanksgiving would not be in a hospital, but I will gladly take that over not having a beautiful baby boy to spend it with.

Today is day 21.

21 days since the birth of my nephew, Davis Night McKay.

Three weeks since a brand new baby had to be life-flighted to the Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Three weeks since day zero.


Davis Knight McKay one hour after his birth.


Davis was born Saturday Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:40 p.m. His mom, my sister, was in labor for 28 hours. The doctors had to do CPR on Davis. He wasn’t responding or breathing on his own.

He didn’t even cry.

Davis was sent to Colorado because he needed to be cooled and we weren’t sure what that meant yet.

How does one handle something like this? I wasn’t even sure what was happening. My sister just got out of surgery and wasn’t able to meet her son yet. Finally they rolled her bed into the nursery and she was able to touch one tiny finger to her baby’s arm as the helicopter arrived.

A new baby is in Colorado, his mom in Wyoming, not released from the hospital yet. Can you imagine? Being a new mother and your baby in the NICU?



Look everybody, I’m breathing on my own.

But not so fast, this baby amazes me.

The day after, Nov. 9, Davis opened his eyes for the first time. Amazing.

Each day he improves a little more. Monday he started to move his fingers and toes. Thursday his MRI came back normal and was taken off the ventilator. Friday Davis was off almost every machine. He was breathing all on his own and only had two medications versus the seven he had when he arrived. Saturday he started to act like a normal baby, being swaddled tight, sucking on a pacifier and being held by his mommy.

The Children’s Hospital Colorado does amazing things.

And brand new babies can do amazing things too.


During this time I’ve come to realize a couple of things.


Life is so precious. And it’s sad you only believe this is true when something goes astray. Life can happen in one minute and be gone the next.


My family is not alone and there are many people going through the same struggles.

I see all these sick babies in the NICU, so innocent yet so full of life and blessings already.

Every day babies are being omitted into the hospital. And parents don’t have a choice but to watch their day old sons or daughters fight for their life. A life they haven’t even been able to live yet.

I believe that life throws hardships at us to test our strength and I believe that life can be extremely unfair.

I believe that children should not be sick but no amount of hurt is too large to overcome.


I finally get to wear clothes.


I am thankful for so much this year and I am grateful to my family and friends for spending their time to pray for innocent Davis.

My ideal way of spending Thanksgiving would not be in a hospital, but I will gladly take that over not having Davis with us today.


Other blogs by Stephanie:
Car enthusiasts start out small to make it big
The ultimate sacrifice—Forever a teen mom
The ultimate sacrifice—Redefining family 
The ultimate sacrifice—A tiny miracle

The ultimate sacrifice—A tiny miracle

11 Nov
By Stephanie McGee
And then there were three:
Wraemi Schmidt and Austin Joppru announce the upcoming arrival of their new baby.

Ever since Wraemi Schmidt was a little girl she planned on following her fathers foot steps in joining the Wyoming Army National Guard.

“I wanted to do something to make my father proud and I knew that would be it.”

“When I reached my senior year of high school I started to initiate the process of my enlistment,” said Wraemi. “I got in contact with one of the recruiters in Cheyenne and after a few meetings with Sergeant Herrera I had my job picked out and had an idea of when and where I wanted to go to basic training.”

Wraemi went to MEPS in Denver Colo. on Sept. 5, 2013. She finished the process and was sworn into the Army National Guard. Her date to ship out to basic in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina was Feb. 3, 2014.

“Over the next five months I went to multiple drills to prepare for what basic training was going to throw at me,” said Wraemi. “In January I went back to Casper, Wyo. to visit my mom, other family and my boyfriend.” Wraemi spent about one week there so she could say her goodbyes before she left for four months.

A new beginning

“Finally Feb. 3 came and I was absolutely terrified. I’d never flown before let alone been out of Wyoming very much,” said Wraemi. “When I arrived I had to go through several stations to get all of my uniforms, shots, military IDs and paperwork.”

“By the end of the day I was so exhausted and it was incredibly hard to keep my eyes open,” said Wraemi.

The next day she had to go to medical center to get blood drawn, get dental x-rays, hearing tests and eye exams. The drill sergeant called her up the day after and told her she needed to go to the hospital on base to get her blood drawn again. “I didn’t think anything of it other than they didn’t get enough blood the first time,” said Wraemi. “After they were all done taking blood, I headed back to my platoon.”

“As soon as I arrived my drill sergeant gave me a paper saying I needed to report to sick hall,” said Wraemi. “The woman at the desk pulled out my paperwork and I noticed it said ‘do not ship’. It wasn’t until right at that moment that I was worried something was wrong.”

“I started freaking out thinking that I had some rare blood disease that they had just discovered,” said Wraemi. “I wasn’t even considering what I was about to find out.”

I’m pregnant: Now what?

She went into the examination room and sat quietly, the doctor came in and introduced himself and then said to her “congratulations.”

“I got a rush of excitement thinking that the ‘do not ship’ stamp was a mistake and I’d still be going through basic,” she said. “Then he finished his statement with ‘you’re pregnant.’”

“All that came over me was shock. I thought I had heard him wrong. ‘What’ was all I could manage to say.”

Still in shock, Wraemi went to her drill sergeant to explain what happened. “As soon as I saw her I broke down in tears, I was absolutely terrified,” she said. “I thought she would be mean to me, considering she is a drill sergeant and that’s their job, but she showed me so much kindness and care. She spoke to me softly and said that I had to go home and do my absolute best to raise the miracle growing inside me.”

“My biggest fear was that I was only 18-years-old and about to have a baby,” said Wraemi. “I wasn’t going to be living my life for myself anymore, but for the child I was going to have in nine months.”

She said she was terrified about growing up so fast and that she wasn’t ready for it because she still wanted to be a teenager. “I wanted to go to parties and make mistakes and do stupid stuff,” she said. “The strength of that fear dulled very quickly though the more I thought about being a mother.”

She explained about a new fear she developed throughout her pregnancy. “I was scared that I wouldn’t be a good mom,” said Wraemi.

“I’m so young and I know I can’t provide as many things for my child as many older parents are able to. That fear hasn’t subsided at all.”

All about the experience

Pregnancy is a great experience. It’s amazing to feel the little kicks, punches, hiccups and rolls. It’s incredible to know that you’re giving life to someone so small and beautiful.

But it’s also uncomfortable. You get cramps and sickness. Your hormones get extremely out of whack. You grow and grow until you can hardly recognize your body. Everything changes but none of that is too hard to handle.

The hardest part of pregnancy is the unknown. Not knowing what your child is going to look like. Will they be healthy? Or will they have some sort of disease? Will you go full term or go into premature labor? Will you miscarry or will the baby become stillborn? Not knowing what exactly is going to happen or how everything is going to go is hard to deal with. It brings on unnecessary worry and stress that a mother can’t help but have.

“My family and friends were a big part of getting me through my pregnancy but I’d say that my boyfriend was the biggest help,” said Wraemi. “Unlike a lot of guys that get put in this situation he stayed by my side throughout the entire thing. He put up with all of my mood swings, stayed calm and positive and tried to make me feel beautiful even though I didn’t feel that way.”

A mother’s love


Wraemi and Austin meeting their baby boy Greyden.

It truly is incredible how instant the love for your child comes. You think you love your child when they are still in the womb. You think you love your child when you feel their first kick. But you don’t truly know how much you love your child until you hold them in your arms for the first time.

“As soon as he was in my arms my love for him grew immensely, I never thought it was possible to love someone so much so instantly,” said Wraemi. “Each time I look at my son, my love grows even more. That’s just the joy of being a mother.”

She said out of all the pain and discomfort of pregnancy you get an amazing little snuggle bug. “I’ve only been a mother for four weeks and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she said. “All of my priorities have become focused on my son and every thought I have is whether it will benefit my baby. I make choices based on his well being rather than my own and nothing can change this feeling.
Being deprived of sleep can’t change that and not being able to act like a 19-year-old can’t change that.

“Being a mom is what I was meant to do and I’m going to do it as best as I can.” -Wraemi Schmidt

Slideshow of Wraemi and Greyden.

Other blogs by Stephanie:
Car enthusiasts start out small to make it big
The ultimate sacrifice—Forever a teen mom
The ultimate sacrifice—Redefining family 

The ultimate sacrifice—Redefining family

24 Oct

Mino, Nicci and Avery Johnson celebrating
Avery’s first birthday party. -Courtesy

By Stephanie McGee

This is another story from my teen mother series. I find it so amazing how each and every person has such a different story to tell.

Nicci Johnson never imagined the life she was about to encounter at the young age of 17.

Attending Cheyenne East High School, Nicci became emancipated after both her parents died in previous years. This is when she met her husband, Mino Johnson. “We got married in April 2012, I was 17 and he was 21,” said Nicci.

Four days after their wedding, Nicci’s husband Mino, being in the Marine Corps, was stationed in Japan. “We were waiting to be approved so I could move in with my him and because of the long process, I moved in with my in-laws,” said Nicci. “I decided to finish high school online to focus without any outside influences.”

Nicci finished high school October 2012, a year earlier than her regular graduating class. Still in the long process of trying to get approval to move to Japan, Nicci and Mino maintained a Skype relationship for about eight months. “I hardly went anywhere except maybe to the gym or lunch with friends,” said Nicci. “We were ready for a visit but tickets were expensive.”

Lifestyle change

Nicci said they talked about all the things they wanted to experience and one of them was to try having a baby. “I visited him in Japan for 23 days in December 2012 and after I returned to Wyoming I was late for my period, nauseous and tired and I had a few cramps,” said Nicci. “I decided to take my first secret pregnancy test in January, when it showed up positive I was dancing on the toilet in happiness and fear all at the same time.”

“On Skype later I showed Mino the test, he smiled so big, then said he’d call me back,” said Nicci. “He wanted to go tell his friend down the hall in the barracks and leave me hanging!”

Nicci said she was scared because she was 18 years old, living with her in-laws and her husband was thousands of miles away. “All I could think was am I going to be able to live with him, is he going to be their for ultrasounds or the birth, even the first few months of life at least?” said Nicci. “Most teen moms worry about whether the dad will have anything to do with the baby, I was just wondering if I’d have the option to have him there due to the military.”

“Most teen moms worry about whether the dad will have anything to do with the baby, I was just wondering if I’d have the option to have him there due to the military.” -Nicci Johnson



The big one-year-old. -Courtesy

A unique sacrifice

When Nicci found out she was expecting, her and her husband decided to request approval for her to be moved to Japan again, and they finally approved it.

“I was then 22.5 weeks pregnant, packing and getting ready to take a 24 hour flight(s) to Okinawa Japan alone and leave all my family and friends behind,” said Nicci.

“In March I had started college through Allied American University, a university that offers online learning degree and certificate programs for enabled working professionals, stay-at-home parents, military service members and disabled individuals,” said Nicci. “I tried to focus on my schooling. I was on the Dean’s list three times and the presidents list once.”

“The hardest part about starting my family, between marriage and having a baby, is that neither of my parents will get to meet my husband or my children,” said Nicci. “Dealing with that is hard but it definitely makes me stronger and I talk about my parents to Avery when I can.”

Make every day count 

“I had Avery September 2013, he is about 13 months now, and even though money is tight and things don’t always go as planned, being a young mother is amazing,” said Nicci. “I’m currently a stay-at-home mother and wife and I am hoping to continue my education and start my own baby clothing, diaper and accessory line.”

“…being a young mother is amazing.”

Nicci said she feels so great  knowing as a young mom, she was able to accomplish so much, especially living in a foreign country, which she never thought she would even get to visit. “However, it is very scary knowing any second I could be raising Avery on my own if my husband were to go on an exercise or deployment any time,” said Nicci.

Her advice for new mothers:

  • Use cloth diapers
  • Breastfeed
  • Find support groups through whatever resource possible
  • Do what you can to keep the dads involved. Whether you are together, separated or want nothing to do with each other, it’s good for the kiddos.
  • Put down the electronics. Time goes by too fast and there are so many things that you could be experiencing if it weren’t for your phone or computer.
  • Involve your kids in as much as you can but find time for yourself too. We all need a break.
  • You’re going to make mistakes. You are human. But kids will forgive you and eventually understand why you do the things you do. Kids don’t always understand things, so sometimes you have to put yourself in their shoes to realize.
  • Make sure that you’re open-minded as a parent, but stand by your opinions whole-heartedly.

“Time with your kids and lots of love is all they truly need.”


Other blogs by Stephanie:
Car enthusiasts start out small to make it big
The ultimate sacrifice—Forever a teen mom

The ultimate sacrifice— Forever a teen mom

10 Oct
By Stephanie McGee

A lot of young women are put under a lot of pressure throughout their teenage years. This is because society seems to believe that being a teenage mother is a bad thing. Throughout my next blogs I would like to create a series and tell you some stories about  amazing mothers.

Although I am still a teenager myself, one of the greatest discoveries I have made is that there is not a perfect age to have a child and there is not a right or a wrong way. If you’re ready to have a baby I say go for it. If you give your children the love and attention they need and they have a full tummy, a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and you’re doing the best you can for them, then you are being a good parent.

These stories are too amazing and to inspiring to let them remain a secret. I want to tell everyone their secrets and I want you to know their story.

Haynes family

Happy to be a Haynes. Gunner, Brittany, Cayden and Riley Haynes. -Courtesy

How it all started

Brittany Haynes found out she was pregnant a week after she turned 16-years-old when her parents finally let them go on their very first real date. “My boyfriend Gunner and I did not care to use to protection,” said Brittany. “I didn’t really worry too much because I thought he would never leave my side.”

Brittany didn’t want to tell her parents because that can be a scary thing. Finally she couldn’t hide the belly anymore and decided to take her mom for a walk and tell the news. “She broke down and started to cry,” said Brittany.

Two days after her junior year in high school started she found out she was having a boy, Cayden Joe Haynes.

“I went to school with a big baby belly under my shirt instead of a volleyball uniform, I had to give up everything. I gave up my friends, my dreams, my future, all of it was gone,” said Brittany. “Until I had that little boy in my arms, suddenly I felt so complete.”

I had to give up everything. I gave up my friends, my dreams, my future, all of it was gone.”

Struggles direct to a new outlook

Brittany was happy with her new baby boy but she explained that was the beginning of her struggles.

Soon after, her boyfriend started cheating and wanting nothing do with their baby. “People judged me, called me names and they watched my every move waiting to see me to screw up,” she said. “I couldn’t take it so I pushed Cayden away so I could focus on my friends, my social life.”

Her and her boyfriend Gunner eventually worked things out and decided to give their little family one more try. They moved out on their own and soon after, both graduated from high school.

Gunner joined the military and they decided to get married. After he graduated basic training, three years after they had Cayden, they decided to try for a second baby. Riley Jason Haynes was born June 14, 2014.

Live to be a mom

“This time around my parenting had changed so much. I am four years older than I was with Cayden,” said Brittany. “Instead of dreading being a mom, I live for being a mom.”

Brittany said having her family and friends support throughout helped her to push through to finish school and become a better a mom. She says to always put your child first. Before any friend, any family member or any problem. “Your child should always come first because they are the innocent ones,” said Brittany. “They need the most from their mothers.”

Brittany’s last piece of advice for teen mothers was to finish high school. “Don’t give up,” she said. “Having a diploma will be the key to success in life.”

“Having a baby at 16 was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. If I could, I would have waited to have Cayden till I was out of high school. I will always and forever be a teen mom, even though I’m in my 20s now.”

Other blogs by Stephanie:
Car enthusiasts start out small to make it big

Car enthusiasts start out small to make it big

26 Sep
By Stephanie McGee


Love of cars sparked inspiration

Once upon a time, actually Nov. 23, 2013 to be exact, two young men decided to open a video production business.

The two 20-year-olds, Jake Ward and Hunter Schoene, started Groundzero Productions, a video and photography business dedicated to automotive interests, to bring filmmaking back into their lives.

They started off the business because making videos was always a hobby of Ward’s and he wanted to start making videos again. Schoene wanted to learn more about film making as well. “We had the talent just nothing to practice with,” said Schoene.

“The car scene has always been a passion of mine and I know it is also a passion of others, so that is why we chose cars.”   -Jake Ward

They also found out that YouTube has a demand for it. Once they had the product and found the demand, it carried itself away. “It got to the point where it was fun and was a paying gig,” said Ward. “People are enjoying our work and it just inspired us to keep pushing ourselves.”

Practice makes perfect

Ward and Schoene started with filming videos with a GoPro camera. Around December 2013 they bought their first DSLR, a Cannon T3. After they bought this camera is when they added the photography aspect. “When we first started out we used one of our arms as a slider to create that effect but we just recently bought a DSLR slider,” said Ward. To edit videos Ward and Schoene use Adobe Primer Pro and Adobe Photoshop to edit photos.

“Working with these programs and just keeping at it has helped me and my partner develop our skills,” said Ward. “But watching these other guys who create automotive videos as well has helped us push our boundaries.” Force_Fed_Productions is another video production business in Cheyenne and you could call them Groundzero Production’s friendly rival. Ward said, “we enjoy each others company and they are great people. I have learned a lot from their production.”



Waiting to be nationally known

Ward and Schoene’s future plans for Groundzero is to be nationally recognized. “We want to get our name out so people all over will watch our videos and see our photos,” said Schoene. “We are in this to put a smile on every car enthusiast face when they see our products.”

The Facebook page “Toyota Supra MK4 Club” as well as “Import Tuner Magazine” has recognized Groundzero Productions.

“We feature all makes and models. If you have a nice car we are willing to feature it.” -Jake Ward

You can contact Jake Ward or Hunter Schoene on their Facebook page to set up a photo shoot or feature video.

Groundzero Productions Facebook

Groundzero Productions YouTube

5 minutes of fame

12 Sep
Stephanie McGee

Stephanie McGee

Who is Miss Stephanie McGee? 

I am a full time student at Laramie County Community College, working toward my associates in multimedia. This is my third semester at LCCC and I am hoping to graduate fall 2015, (fingers crossed.) My original thought coming to college was I wanted to be a graphic artist. When I found out I had to take multiple media classes that were not just graphic based…let’s just say, I was disappointed. But ever since I have started taking these “extra” media classes, I have no idea what I want to do anymore! J. and Roz, these wonderful media instructors, have taught me so much in the past year that I now know I am capable of so much more than just graphic design. So here I am struggling with the same question our parents and teachers have asked us our whole lives. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer…who knows!

What is she all about?

In the past couple years I have gone through some life changes that I never thought I would go through. Because of this, my mom and I have become very close and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. These changes have also allowed me to mature a bit faster than others my age and I now have a different outlook on life. I think I’m very conscientious of how precious life is and how quickly it can throw a boulder in your path, especially at times when it can be least expected.

Other than that, I work at Crazy 8 in the Frontier Mall. I spend half of my free time lounging around with my eight month pregnant best-friend, and my seven month pregnant sister anxiously waiting the arrival of my two nephews. I occupy the other half with date-nights, going to movies, homework (of course), hanging with friends and just enjoying what life has to offer. Oh yeah, I love hockey! You can’t really get me to sit down and watch a full football game (and be interested). But hockey on the other hand I can watch. I love attending the Cheyenne Stampede games, but Colorado Avalanche is my NHL team. 27 days left!

Stephanie McGee, Wraemi Schmidt

My eight month pregnant best-friend.

What will she contribute? 

I am going to try my best to keep up on my extravagant life. I enjoy being a digital artist so I will contribute some of my work that I want to share with you.