Rather than document each and every activity, of each and every day - which would also run the risk of boring my readers - I will only expand upon some of the highlights of our holiday in Utah...
- Our Christmas eve eve party with my family, which consisted of the reinstatement of some family traditions started by my mom. Our evening included, but was not limited to, a wonderful spread of finger foods, appetizers and hors d' oeuvres, an account of the Savior's birth read and complied by my dad (taken from New Testament verses as well as several from the Book of Mormon), new Pajamas, exchanging our homemade gifts, exchanging store bought gifts, eating some more, laughing, taking pictures, and loving being together.
- Our Christmas eve party with John's family. My mother-in-law makes the best ham loaf, and she only makes it on Christmas eve because it's so time consuming. We had a wonderful dinner of ham loaf, scalloped potatoes, John's favorite seven layer salad, and Lion House rolls. Everything was so delish. Later that evening (despite the snow fall, and the fact that it was past the children's bedtime), we ventured out to see the lights on Temple Square. They were beautiful, as always; and as we discovered a few years ago, Christmas eve is a great time to go to have the place practically to yourself. After that we went back home for hot chocolate, warm chocolate chip cookies, and A Christmas Story.
- Talking to Rachel on Christmas day. She was only given 45 minutes (as per her mission president). That was really hard considering there were about ten of us dying to talk to her. John and I enjoyed our 5 minutes of glory.
- Seeing Ruby play with her baby doll. Since we were at John's mom's on Christmas eve, we stayed the night and therefore, on Christmas morn', were privileged to share in Ruby's excitement upon finding her gift from grandma Judy underneath the tree...a new baby doll!
- Going to movies. In the course of two weeks, we managed to see 10 movies (that's an average of 1 movie every 1.5 days)! Some of my favorites include, The Great Debaters, Enchanted, August Rush, The Kite Runner, Lars and the Real Girl (if you can get past the strange premise, you'll find that in reality, it's a very heartwarming film), and Juno (despite some indecency, also very heartwarming, and full of great music).
- Staying up late
- Sleeping in
- Eating out
- Reconnecting with friends. Although I would have loved to have seen more friends, I'm happy that we at least got to meet up with Carol and her new baby Mark for lunch at Burger Supreme, Rania and Clint for dinner at Iggys (and to see their new home), and finally with some of John's mission friends and their wives for lunch at a fellow mission companion's Thai restaurant.
- Amy's, Karen's, and Kim's birthday celebrations
- Going to see I am Legend with John's family, and seeing how badly it freaked out Amy and Judy. As soon as it was over, Judy asserted her disgust "that was TERRIBLE!" she exclaimed; and Amy couldn't have agreed more..."I hated that movie!" was pretty much all she could say. The rest of us just laughed.
- Games with my family
- Holiday treats. For years I have wondered what ever happened to my mom's licorice caramel recipe that she made every Christmas. Well, after searching through just about every basket, box, and recipe book in the pantry, my sisters and I found it, and made a batch of the licorice and a batch of caramels (must be the reason I'm returning to AZ 10 pounds heavier!)
- Snow storms. I didn't think I'd ever find myself saying this, but I loved having so much snow. It probably snowed (dumped) 5 or 6 times while we were there. In my opinion, Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas unless it's white.
- My Christmas ornament from John. Every Christmas, since we began dating, John has surprised me with a special ornament that either pertained to something significant from the past year, or something important that we were anticipating. This year the ornament was of Mary holding the Christ Child, reminding me of the commitment we had made to each other as the season began, to focus on the Savior. In years to come, this special token will always help me remember the gift we gave each other this year...a gift to the Christ Child...a gift of service, sacrifice, and love.
- My mini cokes tucked safe and warm inside my stocking. That Santa sure knows the way to my heart!
Here we are in our brand new pj's!
My dad kept tossing this stuffed Santa into Ruby's lap. Her facial expressions were hilarious and she'd let out a shrill cry every time!
Ruby got a hold of Angie's phone. Later we found out that she had sent 17 blank texts!
- Another treasure nestled at the very bottom of the stocking...a new lens for my camera! Santa, you've really done it this time!
- Seeing Ruby with her cousins
Here we are at the lights on Christmas Eve. It was bone-chilling cold. The kid hiding under the blanket is Ruby; George is beside her in the double stroller; and that's Charlie, hanging upside down!
Madison, Simon, Ruby, and Lincoln
- Two trips to Barnes & Noble
- Bringing in the new year by throwing hot dogs. Don't ask. It's a crazy tradition that John started our first new years together.
- The heaps and mounds of presents around the tree on Christmas morning.
- Ruby showing off her personality and latest tricks. Usually when we travel to Utah, we're there for a week at most. It's not typically enough time for Ruby to warm up to everyone and feel comfortable just being herself. Being there for two weeks was the perfect amount of time for her to absolutely shine. She totally fell in love with everyone, and will be noted for following people around the house and chanting their names.
Isn't this just precious of the two cousins and their hands?
I don't know why this photo turned out so cloudy, but I had to post it because my dad decided to jump in for the picture. We had no idea until afterwards when we saw this creepy eye in between the two of us! Can you see it? hahahaha