31 December 2012

Christmas Eve

'Twas the night before Christmas and the snow piled all around us (by the foot).

We bundled up, grabbed our sleds, and headed out to the winter wonderland.
DSC_0359

DSC_0365

DSC_0382

DSC_0403

Nash ate some serious handfuls of the white fluff.
DSC_0378

DSC_0380

DSC_0373

DSC_0385

DSC_0398

DSC_0391

DSC_0417

Blake wore his swimsuit underneath his snowpants so he could hop right in the hot tub.
DSC_0436

The tube was dual purpose - used for both sledding and the hot tub.
DSC_0450

There was the important business of spreading the reindeer food on the snow so Santa didn't miss us.
DSC_0455

And before the boys were nestled all snug in their beds, we acted out our traditional Nativity play. Blake went back and forth between being a wise man and a sheep but finally settled on a shepherd.
DSC_0468

DSC_0484

Nash, instead, became our "leashed" and uncooperative sheep.
DSC_0489

As per tradition, we ended the night with Christmas carols on the chimes...
DSC_0494

...in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.


29 December 2012

The Polar Express

We kicked off the weekend before Christmas by riding on the Polar Express.

It's a real train that takes passengers through the mountains and during the Christmas season, transforms into a Christmas wonderland, complete with hot chocolate, elves, cookies, and the jolly old man himself.

All of Troy's family came together for the occasion - all the way from Hawaii and California.
IMG_4469

IMG_4456

IMG_4463

DSC_0905

IMG_4452

Blake and Nash have been watching the movie "The Polar Express" on repeat since June, so they were just as excited about riding on the train as they were about Christmas morning. They wore their Christmas pajamas, just like in the movie, for the occasion.
DSC_0252

They especially liked when cookies and hot chocolate were served.
DSC_0235-2

And elves sang and joked throughout the aisle.
DSC_0239

At last, as we rounded the corner of the icy lake, we saw a familiar figure in the distance.
IMG_4473

We spotted Santa Claus waving with his reindeer. We tried to convince Blake that we had reached the North Pole, but he was a little skeptical.
IMG_4464

Santa visited each train car and presented the first gift of Christmas to each child; a golden bell.
DSC_0920

DSC_0915

DSC_0263

DSC_0264-2

These three cousins were pretty excited about those little ringing treasures.
DSC_0269

Blake absolutely doted over his cousin Sterling. It made me excited to have a baby around again.
DSC_0295-2
IMG_4469

DSC_0286

We eventually made it back to the station where the boys insisted on climbing on the old engine, despite how freezing cold it was outside.
DSC_0302-2

And with that, the magic of Christmas began.


25 December 2012

Merry Merry

I am so grateful for these children of mine.
DSC_0086

I'm grateful for how they look out for one another. How they genuinely love each other.
DSC_0080

DSC_0069

And how even though they fight to no end (this isn't even staged), they are quick to say "I'm sorry." They truly are best friends.
DSC_0091-2

DSC_0089

I'm grateful that they forgive me when I make mistakes.
DSC_0088-2

I’m so grateful God trusted me with them. I do not take that lightly.

I'm grateful for my oldest child. For the responsible, intelligent and creative individual he is becoming.
DSC_0061

I'm grateful for my "baby" of the last three years. His spunk and sweetness has brought me so much joy.
DSC_0098

DSC_0105

As I reflect on the birth of the Savior, I'm grateful for the opportunity and miracle it is to create new life. I'm especially grateful that the first six months of this rough pregnancy are behind me, and I can finally enjoy the kicks and flutters from within.
DSC_0030

And I'm grateful for a husband, my rock, that has put up with me through some pretty difficult times this year.
DSC_0037 copy

I'm feeling especially blessed this Christmas.


24 December 2012

Christmas Prep

There is so much I want to cram into December.

And despite my efforts to keep it simple and focused, gifts still have to be bought, cards have to be sent, halls have to be decked, and programs have to be attended (not to mention a birthday that has to be celebrated smack dab in the middle of it all).

It's really hard to avoid the traffic jam of stress.

Coming down with a sinus infection two weeks before Christmas did not help me with staying on top of things.

But, with one day to go, I finally feel like we're going to pull it off. And even though there has been a swirl of activity, I think we enjoyed most of the Christmas prep.

I joined Blake at school for parents' day to help him stuff an oversized candy cane and watch the magician that comes to perform year after year. I realized at the magic show that I'm going to be seeing the same tricks over and over for a long time, considering we have a couple of up-and-coming preschoolers and I adore their school. It's a good thing their laughter and amazement is worth every second.
DSC_0302

Dumping those stuffed, addressed and stamped Christmas cards in the mailbox was truly the best feeling ever. Even if they didn't make it out till the 3rd week in December this time around.
DSC_0141

While the season wouldn't end if I didn't send out our yearly card, I love filling up our basket with faces of friends and family in return. And I love how our cards freeze each year in time for our family.
DSC_0153

It felt equally as wonderful to finish the shopping, mail off some packages, and especially to get everything wrapped. I am almost exclusively an online shopper. Oh how I love having those little brown boxes show up on our doorstep without doing anything more than lifting a couple of fingers to tap some keys on my keyboard. But it still takes hours of searching and comparing and making sure we've covered everyone on our list. Once the presents are wrapped, they go up high on a shelf so little fingers aren't tempted to unwrap them.
DSC_0144

I have spent years trying to think of creative ideas for neighbors and nearby friends to show them how much we care about them. And since I'm not one to spend hours baking in the kitchen, we've settled in on a new, simple tradition the last couple of years. Wrapped in burlap, what else?
DSC_0134-2

It might not blow anyone away with creativity but I think it's nice to have a fancy little drink around the house to celebrate with. And it's nice for me to not have to stress about baking the most unique treat or crafting the most useful household item.
DSC_0137

We jumped on the "Elf on the Shelf" bandwagon this year, along with everyone and their dog. For those of you who don't know, an "Elf on the Shelf" is a little elf that comes to stay at your house during the month of December. He sits high on a shelf and observes children by day, and then magically goes to report to Santa each night how the children are doing. Only when he returns, he moves to a new spot and sometimes gets into mischief.

I've never felt quite right about using Santa or a little elf as a mechanism or threat to get my boys to behave, but they have sure loved the magic of discovering that elf each morning. 

They've found him zip-lining to our Christmas tree,
DSC_0169

...drawing on our family picture,
DSC_0177

...and riding on the Polar Express to name a few. Sometimes the elf's helper wonders why she thought this would be a good idea. Especially when she crashes in bed after a long day and realizes she has not helped the elf discover a new vantage point yet. She is wondering if the elf can fly home on Christmas Eve and not come back next year?
DSC_0335

The elf also leaves the boys a little treat in our advent calendar each morning.
DSC_0159

DSC_0157

Blake and I decorated our traditional gingerbread house. Well, he kind of gave up after the m&m's and gumdrops were in place after insisting for weeks on this tradition.
DSC_0320

Hands down, my favorite part of the pre-Christmas happenings was the preschool performances. When Blake forgot to take off his Mele Kalikimaka sunglasses and lei for the entire next song, even though all of the other kids took theirs off, we were all rolling in laughter. Oh man those preschoolers were so cute.
DSC_0121

And watching Nash light up when he spotted his brother as if he were the star of the show was pretty priceless too.
DSC_0112-2

Blake worked on our Christmas present for months in his class, and I think it may be the first time he successfully kept a secret from me.
DSC_0130

He couldn't wait for us to open his "hands" calendar that he so carefully crafted after his program.
DSC_0145

Each page displayed his handprint in a different way.
DSC_0147-2

DSC_0149

His best buddy from his class last year moved to afternoon preschool, so Blake was thrilled to reunite with him at the Christmas program.
DSC_0132

And then there was Nash's program. It was a little less formal than the big kids' program and was presented during school in his classroom. I could have died from how cute it was. Nash waved at me consistently through the first four or five songs.
DSC_0188-2

DSC_0192

DSC_0197

I may be biased, but he is the cutest reindeer I have ever seen.
DSC_0217

DSC_0207

And with that, we are ready to relax, soak up our out-of-state family for the next week, and put all of the stress behind us.