Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas "and Beyond"

Christmas came and went in a lazy fashion this year. Little M didn't wake up until 8:30 am and we all stayed in our pajamas all day long. It was so fun watching her get so excited about Santa and the presents. Ever since she told Santa at the mall that she wanted a purple teddy bear, she's been telling everyone she meets that "Santa said he would look for a purple teddy bear" to bring her. (Thankfully he didn't promise one, just that he would look for one to bring. Purple teddy bears are very hard to find!) But Santa came through and found one, and it was the first thing she looked for as she approached the tree that morning.

There were many other presents for all 4 members of the family from us, extended family, and Santa. Here's Princesses M & A with their piles of loot.

After presents were opened we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and spent the entire day watching the movies that we received. Alex got "Kung Fu Panda" from Little M (she gave me her entire allowance for a couple weeks in order to purchase it for her Daddy.) Little M got "Tinkerbell" and Baby A got "Toy Story II" from Santa. Ok so that last one was one I wanted in the Disney collection, but Santa had to give it to someone! Little M also got a free "My Little Poney" dvd with her doll from Santa. It's a pretty annoying one that she insisted on watching 4 times yesterday. I think the dvd might just have to dissappear for my sanity's sake.

I spent most of the day cooking for our Christmas meal. I was trying out some recipes and just having fun preparing a fancy meal for us and 5 of our good friends who weren't spending the day with family. We had our family Christmas meal on Sunday with two of my brothers and their families. It was really fun being able to do it twice this Christmas and enjoy the company of both friends and family. And I actually got to use all my fancy china and tableware (much to Alex's chagrin, since he had to do the dishes.)

I posted several of our Christmas dishes that turned out well on our family recipe blog if anyone is interested. The cherry stuffing and spiced turkey turned out really well.

Today has been one of those "Ok, I guess Christmas is over, now what do I do?" kind of days. A lot of cleaning, bill paying, more movie watching, a little "Killer Bunnies" (Thank you Aunt Sharlott for the recommendation! That is a really fun little game,) some blogging, and just hanging out around the house.

It's been a very nice, relaxing, and fun Christmas!

I can't believe it's almost 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Traditions

This Christmas season has taken on a whole new excitement as our first daughter is now 3 and is learning about and embracing the holiday. She's been so excited about Christmas and Santa, that the magic of Christmas has returned for Alex and I as well. Seeing as this will be her first "aware" Christmas, we have been thinking a lot about what kind of traditions we want to have as a family. We've drawn from our family traditions, and from experiences in our lives to start new and old traditions for our children.

Thanks to my mother for this first of traditions. She built and gifted us with this nativity advent calendar. Little M has looked forward to moving the star down one notch every day, knowing that when the star got to the stable that Christmas would be here.

Another form of advent I adopted from my mission in the Czech Republic. They have 4 candles that they begin lighting the 4th Sunday before Christmas; adding one new candle each week until the Sunday before Christmas all 4 candles are lit. These little snowmen decorate my advent candles. (The floating candles in the center are just for fun.)

Another inspiration I took from my mission: The entire month of December, the Czech people fill their homes with many different kinds of little Christmas cookies (cukrovi), so that they always have a spread to offer guests who come to their home. I found myself wanting to bake when December rolled around this year. I made 3 different recipes from my mission and many other candy and cookie recipes I've collected over the years. Three Christmas "must makes" came from memories of my Christmases of old. Homemade almond roca and fudge were always to be found in our home at Christmas time. As was wassail brewing on the stove Although not a cookie or candy, this spiced cider just smells like Christmas to me. However before long, I found my home this year STUFFED with sweets, and I'm afraid we Americans don't just go visiting as much as they do in the Czech Republic; so I assembled several plates of treats to give away to families we know. Little M had fun delivering them and wishing everyone Merry Christmas!

We found ourselves the subject of another family's tradition this year. We have a secret Santa that anonymously delivered a piece of this adorable nativity set each night for the 12 nights preceding Christmas, accompanied by a story or song about each piece. Tonight we received the last, and most important piece: the baby Jesus.

Tonight, after it got dark we drove around the neighborhoods, looking at Christmas lights then came home to our Christmas eve dinner of fish and rice. (In typing this I realized that it was a serendipitous choice of meal, as fish (carp to be specific) is the traditional Christmas eve dinner in the Czech Republic. It's representative of Christ and his apostles being "fishers of men" or something like that I think. They have live carp sellers in the street there like Christmas tree lots here. I think we'll make that a tradition too. Fish for Christmas Eve, Turkey for Christmas Day.

After dinner we opened one gift from under the tree; the Christmas pajamas to be specific. I've heard of families that have this tradition, and I've always liked it. This year the jammies of choice were Tinkerbell themed. Except for Alex. I tried to find him green pj's to just match the color of Tinkerbell. All I could find were X-Box pajama pants. Oh well, it's probably appropriate for such an avid gamer as he is anyway. Here's me and my girls in our Tinkerbell jammies:

After changing into our jammies, we made some hot cocoa and in keeping with the old family tradition on both sides of our families, we read Luke 2 together and talked about the real meaning of Christmas.

Then we helped little M set out some milk and banana bread for Santa before putting her to bed. (We had a lot of old bananas around the house this week, so that's what Santa gets this year.)

Christmas day traditions I'll be keeping from my parents: an orange in the toe of the stocking and a mini box of cereal for a tide over breakfast in the stocking. And we'll be opening presents one at a time as a family. And after the craziness is over I'll make cinnamon rolls (my sister-in-law's tradition; only she makes hers fresh, and I'll be doing them from a can).

Yes, I know it seems like a lot, but I figure, as the years go by some will stick and some won't and we'll probably add a few new ones along the way. In any case, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baby Shopping?

Yesterday Alex was glancing at a coupon booklet from Target we recieved in the mail and was joking to me about how much money we would "save" by buying all this stuff from the booklet. Suddenly Princess M started hyperventilating and crying and practically screamed at us, "But I LOVE (baby A)! I want to keep her! I love her so much...! I don't want a new one!" We finally calmed her down, confused at what she was talking about. The we noticed the cover of the coupon booklet:

She thought we were talking about buying a new baby!

I'm so glad she loves her sister so much to get so emotional.

The Eagle Has Landed

I got to go undercover this week on a secret mission. I accomplished my mission successfully, but apparently it didn't stay secret for too long. Guess I need to work on my poker face. My target blogged about the whole thing already so if you want to read about it follow this link.

Motherbird...come in Motherbird...
The pickle is in the barrel...
the package is dropped...
the hall is decked...
the yule is tided...
the candy is striped...
the gift is wrapped...
the ornament is hung...

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Family Blog

I was browsing the blogs of some friends and family today and ran across a recipe blog created by my cousins, the Edwards family. It was such a great way to store, share, and search for recipes (using the label and search functions already in blogger), that I was inspired to start one of my own. Feel free to check it out at I've been in a baking frenzy this Christmas, so my first posts are of some of the Christmas recipes I still have around the kitchen available for photographing.

If you're a member of my immediate family, be expecting an invite in your email to be an author on this site. I'll be thrilled to have you accept and post some of your favorite recipes. Check out the Edwards' blog to see the potential of the site.

For those of you who are in my ward, I thought this would be a great way to handle the ward recipe exchange group. Then members can post at will and all the recipes are in one location, rather than a slew of emails in our inboxes. What do you think? It would be very easy to create one for the ward and very simple to maintain.

My Sassy Girl

I was playing with M on our LoveSac and when I got up to leave and start dinner, my wedding ring scratched her leg. "oh, M, I'm so sorry! Did my ring scratch your leg? I'm very sorry!" She looked a little hurt, but she didn't cry, so I assumed all was well.

So I'm making dinner in the kitchen, when I feel something rub on my leg. I look down to see my daughter digging her fist into my leg. "Oh, I'm sorry, did my ring hurt your leg?" Sure enough, she had found her little princess ring and was TRYING to scratch my leg. Trying not to laugh, I told her that no, it didn't hurt, so don't worry about it. So she tries again to dig her ring into my leg. "Oh, I'm sorry, did my ring hurt your leg?" What a little punk!

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's official

I've never been one to stress over getting older, hide during my birthday, or be embarrassed over telling someone my age. I've always thought it was kind of silly. You are what you are; everyone gets older every year; and you're only as old as you feel right? Well, I still feel like a young punk, so I've never thought anything of it.

So, I was pretty surprised when I was at a stoplight, looking at my tooth in the visor mirror, and WHAM, KABAM, there it was! A big, long, grey hair slapping me in the face and mocking my obliviousness that had allowed it to get so long and obvious, unseen before today. Talk about a reality check. I guess my body has begun the unstoppable slip down that aging slope. I am officially past my physically prime time of life.

At least I have taken up exercising 3 times per week. I've been doing aerobic classes for 2 months now and have just started a strength training regimen. I'm really enjoying it. And M loves the child watch. She calls it her "ekercise class" too. I guess it's about time I started taking my health a little more seriously. After all, this big, fat, grey yelling at me that my body isn't going to last me forever.

It's hard to take a picture of one hair. If you can't tell, it's the one hair running horizontal across all the others.

By the way, Alex informs me that this isn't exactly my first grey. Apparently he has plucked one from my head before. I don't remember it. In any case, it's the first one to slap me in the face, and grab my attention.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daddy's Little Girls

M found a football and wanted to play with her daddy. I thought it was so cute!

She adores him! It just melts my heart. She even wanted to kneel exactly the way he was for the picture.

Two comments on this picture:
First, I took it because it cracks me up how he balances Baby A there on his shoulder while he's on the computer; and she loves it; it puts her right to sleep.

Second, you may notice he's wearing this red hat alot (which I knitted for him; I'm so glad he likes it). It's because he totally buzzed his head after thanksgiving and now his head is cold all the time. He went from Mountain Man to Prison Inmate in one swoop of the clippers. We'll have to post a picture of it soon.

Love/Hate Relationship

M and our cats have one of those relationships. M LOVES the cats, and they usually Hate her. Probably because she loves to chase them around the house, screaming, and is always trying to hug and kiss them (just a little to tightly). But every now and then (when M is unusually calm) they let her get close enough to pet or cuddle with. And Artemis has recently taken to sleeping in M's room instead of mine. I think there's definitely a bond growing between M and Artemis.

Check this out: Proof that they really do love her deep down.

They're so sweet!

Tragedies and Miracles

I caught M playing in my purse at church in UT; she had dumped my jewelry out of the bag I had brought it in. I loaded it all back in, scolded my daughter and didn't think of it again until I caught her in my purse again after we got home. I took inventory of the jewelry and to my dismay found that that one of my tanzanite/diamond earings was missing.

Now I normally don't put a lot of stock in jewelry, but not only was this one of the very few pieces I have that is a real stone (most of my stuff is pretty cheap), but Alex had bought these for me on our honeymoon and given them to me on the birth of our first child. So, you can imagine how sad it made me to think of losing it. But considering the most likely place it could have gotten lost was at a pew in the church in UT, we both agreed that the chance of anyone finding it was slim, much less that the person who found it would know to return it to us. Nonetheless, I was talking to my sister on the phone and mentioned it to her, with little hope in her actually finding it.

But miracles do happen; she called me back soon thereafter to report that my mother had been vacuuming her home and just happened to notice that little earing before it got sucked up. They'll be mailing it out to me soon. We're so thrilled that it was actually recovered! What a blessing!

That's two for two, now. Alex gave me this gorgeous aquamarine on the day we got married that had been in his family for some time. What do you know I left my toiletry bag with the aquamarine in it in a drawer at the hotel in Florida on our honeymoon. I was just sick when I realized it. Thank heaven, the cleaning crew found it and were honest enough to turn it in. We got that one back too. I'd rather we didn't try for three times.

Thanksgiving Holiday

We drove out to Provo, UT for the holidays this year. Two of my brothers, my sister, and their families all met up at my grandmother's/parents' home for a week of festivities. Unfortunately we couldn't find our camera for the first half of the week so I need to get copies of pics that everyone else took (please guys!)

We blessed Baby A in my parents' ward, played in the leaves, knitted/crocheted a lot, made a bunch of pies, and just had a wonderful time with family.

Here's some shots of reading "The Polar Express" in the cardboard train the kids made, complete with hot chocolate and jingle bells.

My incredibly talented sister-in-law generously took some Christmas photos for us:

We topped off our trip with an eventful drive home. We had a beautiful drive home until we reached ski country in the rockies. Our drive was perfectly timed to get stuck in a traffic backup caused by an accident that had occured just minutes before, which kept us at a standstill on the interstate for over an hour waiting for cleanup, which was just enough time to keep us from crossing the eisenhower pass before the snow storm that closed I-70 and most of the other mountain passes. We took the one highway out of Breckenridge that was still open down south to highway 24 straight to Colorado Springs; bypassing Denver completely and adding 3 hours to our trip. But we got home safe (Alex had to work in the morning so staying in a hotel was not a good option for us.)

Crazy to think that if we had left lunch 5 minutes earlier we would have made it through to Denver before all the problems hit. We found out later that actually that would have been worse, since there was a huge storm south of Denver that delayed traffic on I-25 up to 4-5 hours. So that 5 minute delay that seemed such bad luck actually was probably the best thing that could have happened to us given the circumstances.

This Thanksgiving, I'm especially thankful for our family, our beautiful daughters, our health, and a loving Heavenly Father who watches over us and protects us.