Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Day

 7:25 am-we finally allowed Nicholas to go wake up Ellie to get our morning started. He'd been laying in our bed, watching the digital clock, and chanting the numbers as they changed. "Seven two zero. Seven two zero. Seven two zero. Seven two ONE! Seven two one. Seven two one....." 
So much for our attempt at sleeping in for a few more minutes.
This year we started a new tradition of only allowing the kids to ask Santa for one present each. 
We also had lots and lots of discussions in advance about the appropriate response to the gifts they open.  
Two years ago, Nicholas turned into a Christmas monster--opening his presents and then immediately demanding, "But where's my guitar?? Where's my such-and such??"
Not cool.

This year went much better. He was perfect. Joyful, grateful, and happy about each and every thing.

The one thing he did ask Santa for was toy dinosaurs.
And even with all the other stuff set up for him to see, he went straight to the dinosaurs and was just SO happy that Santa brought him dinosaurs!
Ellie asked Santa for pink candy. And a pink dinosaur toy. I guess we fudged a little and let her ask for two things.  
Santa had a very very hard time finding a pink dinosaur. Santa may have had to use some spray paint...
Just because they only got to ask for one thing, doesn't mean they only received one thing.
This year, Santa brought them a castle.
 It's pretty incredible. 
With the castle, they got a treasure chest,
and their Grammer sent them the most fantastic dragon.

 At this point, I got to open my first gift. 
A new camera lens, my first new camera lens since we got the Nikon five years ago. I got this one.
The kit lens was serving me well, but the past six months I've finally been shooting in full manual (yes, four years later...), and I was ready to graduate to something a little more.
I put it on right then and there.
I am absolutely loving it. The colors are so soft and creamy, the lines are crisp, and the ability to use a larger aperture is fantastic.
And look! For the first time ever, my walls are photographing as their actual true-to-life color!  They're way less beige than my old lens portrayed them. 
I'm kind of a geek about this....

 Seriously, either our talks about being grateful worked, or it's just because he's older, but either way, this kid had the best reactions to all his gifts. So much fun!
Calico Critters Mommy's Ellie's latest obsession. (I may or may not play with them more than she does...)
 In the weeks before Christmas, Nicholas was on a gift-giving frenzy. Many of our presents that morning were things that he'd found throughout the house and wrapped up for us. 
Here he's giving Kent the remote control truck that we gave Nicholas for his birthday:
 And he's pretty happy about "giving" it.
 My grandparents sent this Polar Express book--at preschool last week Nicholas had a Polar Express party, and we didn't have the book yet, so it was a perfect gift for the kids.
 My mom made the kids an "Art Treasure Box" with all sorts of awesome odds and ends for making and creating. It was a huge hit, 
and right away they pulled out the glitter glue and started being creative.
 And seriously, I'm drooling over my new lens. 
The rest of the day was spent playing in the castle, lounging in our pajamas until 3 pm, eating loads of sugar, and just being together, just us.

It was perfect, really just perfect.

 And that 100% chance of snow? They were right. We had the most beautiful white Christmas.
 The kids "helped" Kent shovel the driveway. 
Kent is a very patient man.
 And I sat on the couch, watching the snow, listening to the kids playing in their castle, eating kit kats from our stockings, and looking at all the stuff I wished I could be cleaning up, then finally deciding to be okay with my laziness.

I've been fairly uncomfortable (aka it feels like my leg is being torn off at the socket...) this past week, but there was something incredibly special about being this way on Christmas. 

I feel a new appreciation for Mary--her sacrifice, her faith, and her example. And I thought about how things might have happened, giving birth in a stable to the Savior of the World. 
So as I hobble around for the next ten weeks or so, 
hopefully I can keep her in my mind, be reminded about how wonderful and beautiful this motherhood thing is,
and be glad I'm not riding a donkey across rocky hillsides.
Because that would be much much harder.
I hope you all had the merriest of Christmases!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas eve

 In the morning: Haircuts, cookie-baking, crepes with nutella for lunch, 
egg nog, sparkling cider,
kids making up songs about baby Jesus and Rudolph.
100% chance of snow in the weather forecast. Yep, 100.

Also? We sent the kids outside to clean up dead leaves before the snows came, and I'm thinking yardwork was a genius idea. It worked them, mellowed them out just enough so the rest of the day they were pleasantly, calmly excited. We totally avoided the "we're too excited to even be fun to be around" phenomenon. 
Going to have to remember that next year and have a big project to work them before the partying starts.

 Ellie renamed her bunny "Baby Jesus" and had me wrap him in "swaddling clothes."

Afternoon: Last minute gift-wrapping, listening to the Osmonds Christmas and Frank Sinatra, and making cookies for Santa, of course!

 With a little tasting here and there.

Evening: a candlelight dinner of chicken and broccoli alfredo, with plenty of martinellis. Then, picture taking (with two over-excited and over-wiggly kids,) pajamas, one present to open each, nativity reading, and setting out Santa's treats with some carrots for Rudolph.

 I made each of them a new blanket. 
Ellie gave me about twelve hugs and told me she just "loved it SO much." Nicholas declared that he's never going to use another blanket ever again.
 This is actually the best shot I got of them with the Santa cookies. WAY excited.

Amazingly, they were in bed and asleep by 7:45. Kent, recovering from a nasty cold, and I, almost 30 weeks pregnant, 
were more than happy to tuck ourselves in early after Santa visited.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Seven years ago, our Christmas was spent on our honeymoon, in Paris. That man to Kent's left fell asleep on Kent's shoulder shortly after this photo was taken. 
The French do eating out much more slowly than we do here.

And the days before Christmas we explored a new country, just the two of us, for the first time ever. We didn't speak the language, we couldn't read the maps, 
and we didn't have any luggage--our suitcases got lost on the way and weren't returned to us until the day before we were coming home.

It was the most fantastic adventure; I would do it all over again if I could.
We were married, and we were figuring it all out, together.
It was bliss.

 (We were using a disposable camera for most of our pictures....the camera charger was in that lost suitcase.)

This year, for our anniversary, we went to Salt Lake. (Our adventures now have a budget and a babysitter attached...)
I got lucky and was picked to receive some tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. 
On our way we stopped for dinner in this fantastic place downtown-Stoneground Kitchen. 
We'd never been there, and I purchased a voucher from yelp.
We forgot to use the coupon, 
and I'm actually really glad, because now we have a reason to go back!
We started with dessert.
It was our anniversary, after all.
They gave us the table wedged in the corner, with a glass wall in front of us. They said they called it the "affair table."
Super awesome.

The concert was incredible. So wonderful. But it was the Tabernacle Choir, so how could it be anything less?

The next week, the day after our actual anniversary, I surprised Kent with tickets to see the Hobbit movie after we went to our ward Christmas dinner party. 
Just little celebrations, but fun anyway.

There's something special about what we've got.
Our marriage has comfort, peace, friendship, trust, sacrifice, faith,
and we wake up each morning making the choice to love each other and to work together.

Here's to the next seven years and many adventures to come.