Thursday, January 10, 2008

the highlights...

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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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

    Isn't this just precious of the two cousins and their hands?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.


Dad said...

It was a WONDERFUL visit and I enjoyed every minute of it! Thank you for capturing it so perfectly.

The Bentleys said...

oh my gosh! I couldnt agree with you more about all the comments about utah... like, Christmas isnt Christmas unless its white, you miss home, you get scared leaving utah, Your vacation was so good you didnt want to leave... I COULDNT AGREE MORE!!! IM SO GLAD YOU FEEL THE SAME!! Wasnt Utah so great this year?!?

Your pics and comments made me laugh so hard! You guys are so great! Can we be "hang out" friends when we move to Phoenix?


buddens said...

So funny about those snowflake pj's of Ruby's -- Gretta's Christmas pj's this year were pretty much identical! Hers don't have writing on them, so I know they're not the exact same ones, but so funny! I also got a puffy coat from Michel (which I picked out, of course!) and I kid you not, I almost picked one that was the exact same color and stitching as the blue one you have on at Temple Square! (The deeply practical side of me picked a brown one in the end for more versatility. Boring, I know).

The licorice caramel sounds killer, your dad's creepy eye picture is hilarious/disturbing, and I'm so excited about your lens! Yea Santa!

Lindsey said...

Sounds like you guys had such a wonderful holiday!

ahe said...

It was so fun to spend Christmas Eve with you guys. I am sad that we got sick and couldn't spend as much time as we would have liked with you guys...but I guess there is really never enough time.

Brooke said...

Wow, what a fun time! Great picture of the temple! You were gone a LONG time and we do need to get back into the swing of things! Let's go to the zoo! Yes, we have a pass and would love to go anytime!

Julie Knowlton said...

I wish their would have been one more bullet that read "Hanging out with John's amazing cousins"....but there is always next time. :) I am glad you guys had fun!

The Schramm Family said...

Nicole you do such a wonderful job at writing on your blog and explaining in such detail. I love to read it. That is so fun to be able to go home for Christmas. Glad you had a good time. Ruby is just so darling. I am so happy for the both of you! We miss you,

Lauri said...

Your little Ruby is SO cute. I can't believe how fast she is growing up.

Kat & Steve said...

How fun! So glad you got to go home and that Ruby could connect with your family. Such fun pictures! By the way, good tip about Temple Square on Christmas Eve. We'll have to try that some time!

Amber and Dallas said...

Sounds like you guys had a great trip - what wonderful memories were made. So fun!!! We missed you guys and are glad you are home!!!

Travis and Teresa Wilson said...

Sounds like you had a great time. I loved your PJ's that is one of my favorite traditions.

P.S. I have to say again that I love your hair dark.

The Lee Family said...

I love being able to be with family and feel like the pressures of the world are not allowed into my parties and family time! I can't wait for next year to do it again! (I love the picture of Ruby and her cousin! She and evelynne were doing the same thing as I was holding both of them in nursery!)

diana rose said...

i loved the recap... nicely wrapped up! it really sounds like you had a fabulous vacation, no wonder you stayed so long.

i loved, loved, loved the picture of ruby and her cousin's hands. i just want to grab and kiss both of those hands... is that weird? so, so cute!

Jill Hunt said...

What a very fun Christmas! I always love being with family too for the holidays and it is hard to get back into the swing of things once it is over! You guys are just the cutest family ever!