Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

We had a fun family New Year's Eve this year.

There were presents to open (we hadn't gotten presents to Adam and Heather before Christmas).

There were donuts to make. And eat. Glazed, chocolate, maple, raspberry and lemon filled. We ate a lot of donuts.

There was sparkling cider to toast.

And sparklers and noisemakers to ring in the new year.

And game playing, movie watching, talking, and more eating.

Now that's holiday.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gone Fishin'

We spent the few days before New Year's at my parents' place, having some relaxing fun. Adam and Heather joined us for the weekend festivities, and Heather and I sang a duet in church on Sunday. But before they arrived we spent some time over at my grandparents' ranch so the kids could get some fishing in.

We checked in at the house first, and I left Lincoln in good hands.

Then we headed over to the pond.

It took them a while, but eventually both kids got the hang of casting all by themselves. I was just praying that Mason wouldn't get a fish hook stuck in his forehead again. In fact, I was thinking Chad was going to rig Mason's line to make him think he had a hook, so we could avoid the risk altogether.

But then...

Yep. He caught that crappie (pronounced "croppy" for those of us who don't know any better) all by himself, start to finish. There were only two fish caught that day, and the three-year-old and his Cars fishing pole got one of them. I'm pretty sure I was the most excited of everyone. Chad said I was yelling, "He caught a fish! He caught a fish!" over and over. Well, what can I say? It was a proud moment.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Few and Far Between

It's not often that we get to see Chad's brother Mike and his family. Missouri is pretty far. So when Mike called to say they planned to head our way after Christmas, it took us a minute to get over the shock that he had actually called on the phone (we're none of us big into phone conversations), and then we were really excited.

Even though they must have been exhausted from the drive, we so enjoyed their visit. We went to the park to play some basketball, ride bikes, and throw the baseball around.

Mason and Bree enjoyed their turn up to bat, and Mason tried to use karate moves on the incoming baseball instead of catching it with his hands like a normal person.


Jenn and I cheered from the sidelines and kept Lincoln company.

Back at the house we enjoyed a simple homecooked dinner, some games, and good conversation.

Morning came too soon, and they had to get back on the road.

Several times during the rest of the week, I'd catch myself thinking, That was such a nice visit. I really wish they could have stayed longer. Until next time. We love you guys.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmasy Moments

Opening presents from Adam and Heather--Bree and Mason loved their plush puppets.

Enjoying the family of elves my mom made for us (just like we had when we were kids).

Lincoln wearing the Santa hat we had when Bree was his age. 

Snuggling on the couch, drinking cocoa, and watching "Elf."

Bree putting "Baby Jesus" in the "manger."

Opening presents with my parents on Christmas Eve.
They gave Lincoln some bottle buddies.

And of course he preferred playing with the box.

I had taken the kids gift-shopping at the dollar store this year, and I let Bree and Mason pick out presents all by themselves with minimal coaching from me.
Bree got my dad a pair of pliers.

Mason gave him some crazy glasses.

My mom received a loofah from Bree and a Winnie the Pooh puzzle from Mason. Both grandparents were gracious and good sports. It was a great opportunity to teach the kids that presents are about showing others that we care, not about getting every exact thing that we want.

Christmas Sunday

Christmas morning this year was quiet and wonderful. Chad and I woke early so we'd be ready for church, and still have time for the traditional strawberry waffles breakfast and opening the stockings. And a few minutes to marvel at the "big" gifts Santa brought.

We had talked about going to church on Christmas, to make sure the kids were good and excited about it, and let them know we'd open the rest of the presents after we got home. Church was great, mostly because I got a day off from teaching, so it was nice and relaxing. And when we got home, we changed out of our church clothes and started the unwrapping.

Poor Lincoln was exhausted, and didn't last long before we put him down for his overdue nap.

Mason got a Hot Wheels garage and cars, tanks and soldiers, and a rocketship with astronauts and aliens.

Bree received a wooden doll house and furniture, plenty of Barbies and clothes, "big girl" jewelry, and some pots and pans to play house.

When I was little, Santa brought my sisters and me a huge wooden doll house, which we played with for years. I'm hoping Bree will get similar mileage out of hers.

Chad had to work a half day, but we were glad that he at least got the morning off. We just relaxed and kids played until he got back home. And we enjoyed one of my favorite aspects of Christmas: that feeling of nothing-to-do, nowhere-to-go, when the phone doesn't ring, there's nothing to worry about, and you get to enjoy just playing together. Even if it ends the moment you wake the next morning, for one day you get to pretend that life will be this way indefinitely. And it's sweet.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ten Years

Anniversaries around here are usually pretty lackluster. December 15th rolls around, and Chad and I feel so busy with other holidays that we don't usually bother to do much more than a date night, if that. But this year was our tenth. We figured we'd better do something big. So we planned a couple nights at a bed and breakfast in Sedona, at the Casa Sedona Inn. We are not usually big spenders, but it was fun to pretend money wasn't an object for a couple days.

Sedona was quiet, which we expected for the middle of the week during off-season. And the inn was really nice. Our room was cozy, with a gas fireplace and a huge jacuzzi tub in the room.

That first evening we sorted through the stack of menus in the inn's lobby, looking at what Sedona had to offer. We ended up at Judi's, a charming little restaurant with lots of character, fireside tables, and tons of festive Christmas decorations. The hostess sat us at the "lovers' table" which was next to a bay window that held a beautiful Christmas tree. I don't remember our host asking for specific seating for us when she made the reservations, but maybe the restaurant hostess figured that since we were staying in "Arizona's Most Romantic Bed and Breakfast," that we were lovers. At any rate, the service was friendly, and the place was obviously a local favorite, because several guests that came in that night were greeted by name. The food was pretty good (the "best ribs in Sedona" were not as good as Chad had hoped), but the complimentary dessert they gave us in honor of our anniversary was definitely the best part. We took our Butter Brickle Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Pie (yeah, it was that good) with us, and enjoyed it fireside in our room.

It was our first experience in a B&B, and I thought it was pretty fun. Chad didn't like being told what time we had to be at breakfast, but we were the only two people there the first morning. Breakfast by the fireplace was delightful.

Other highlights of the trip included:

Lunch at the Barking Frog, which was probably the most reasonable priced restaurant in town, considering the gorgeous rooms and generous portions of delicious food (those fries were amazing).

A drive up the scenic road towards Flagstaff, which took us into snow territory.

An impromptu tour of Tlaquepaque, a gorgeous little shopping experience that was built to look like an authentic Mexican village. The prices in the shops were laugh-out-loud ridiculous, but I'd go just to walk the beautiful grounds.

The sunset on the iconic Sedona red rocks was breathtaking as we headed back to the car.

Ten. Years.

Sometimes it feels like it has flown by, yet I can barely remember my life before I married this man.


All the big stuff has happened in the past ten years.

First apartment lease.
A Girls' Camp Director.
A weekend softball warrior.
Loss of a sister.
RN graduation.
Start of my career as a nurse.
First new home purchase.
First new truck purchase.
Vacation to Yosemite.
First home sale.
First big move.
Start of Chad's career as a police officer.
First used home purchase.
First baby.
Loss of another sister.
Countless home improvement projects.
A garden that put food on the table.
First cruise.
Second baby.
A Relief Society President.
A World of Warcraft addiction.
A recovering World of Warcraft addict.
The birth of this blog.
Second cruise.
A camping trailer remodel.
Third baby.
Natural childbirth.
Loss of a child.
Third cruise.
A Primary Chorister.
Multiple home business ventures.
An "Officer of the Year" award.
Fourth baby.
Natural childbirth again.
Down Syndrome.
A Farmers' Market summer.
First trip to Sedona.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dancing in Whoville

Bree's danced in this year's Christmas recital on the 9th. She has really improved since starting dance in January, and can shuffle-hop-step with the best of them.

I took these photos during her dress rehearsal.

And here she is on the big night (we forgot our nice video cameras, but I was glad my mom brought her little camera so we at least have a recording!).  My friend Mackenzie helped do her hair, which took longer than I thought but turned out so cute!

The night after the recital was Globe's annual Christmas Light Parade, which Bree's dance studio always participates in. Mackenzie and I sewed matching Cindy Lou capes for our girls, and they looked adorable riding in the back of the lighted truck.

And Mason had fun watching the parade too.

The next recital isn't until May, at which point I'll have to drag Chad to the auditorium again to sit through a LONG show in which our daughter only has a few minutes of stage time. But Chad is determined to be the father that always comes to her daughter's events, and the long-term results as far as Bree is concerned will make it all worth-while. And in the meantime, Bree is having a blast.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let it Snow!

Saturday afternoon around 5:00pm, the view out our front window looked like this:

The kids were freaking out with excitement at the arrival of snow.  But, they have been sick, so I allowed only a brief step outside to catch a few snowflakes on our tongues.  The snow continued to fall that evening, as I ran my errands (I had waited for Chad to come home from work, and I had dutifully made out a menu and shopping list, so a little snow wasn't going to deter me).  And even though Sunday's Arizona sun melted the almost-inch that fell Saturday night, we awoke to three inches of snow on Monday!  That's more than I've ever seen here.  And the kids...well, the photos speak for themselves.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gettin' Christmasy

Usually our Christmas decorations are up the day after Thanksgiving.  But I was really sick for Thanksgiving, then we were busy with doctor's appointments and visiting Adam and Heather, so we didn't haul out the holly until December 2nd. How embarrassing.

The Little People Nativity. Always a favorite. Um...and Mason apparently thinks there was a storm trooper present at Jesus' birth.

And later I overheard "Come on Mary and Jesus; get in the car!" and saw this.

The kids are getting much better at decorating the tree. And nothing was broken this year, which was an added bonus. Chad actually did most of the supervision here, and made sure that everything was evenly-spaced and beautiful.
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