Twinkly Christmas Lights

Merry Christmas! I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday. I actually celebrated Christmas last night with my family, so today has felt like a pretty typical day, except that I didn’t have to work. Hooray! Being single with no kids makes Christmas kind of anti-climactic. There’s nothing exciting to wake up to, but it is rather exciting to just be able to sleep in.

It’s a good thing that Christmas isn’t really just about one day or it would be totally disappointing. I really love the build up to Christmas — all of the gift hunting and little activities. One of which is visiting the lights at Temple Square. Even though I go every year, it is always magical. I even went twice this year. Once on accident. I just happened to be downtown on the day after Thanksgiving when the lights came on. Since I already had my camera with me, I decided to walk through on my own. Even though I had to squeeze through lots of crowds, it was really nice to be alone and just enjoy the atmosphere. I walked past the Nativity and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was piped through the speakers singing The First Noel. I’ve never even liked that song (too repetitive), but my heart was just swelling with Christmas spirit.

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The following week, Matt and Izzy invited me to see the lights with them. We also stopped by Macy’s at City Creek to see the candy window displays. They used to create these candy window displays when I was little, but they stopped for several years. It was so fun to take Claire and Liam to see them again. The displays this year were huge ornaments all made from candy. They were incredible! I wish I had gotten better photos of them.

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When Claire saw this fountain, she immediately jumped on the ledge and gave me her “sexy pose.” First of all, when did Claire get old enough to call anything her sexy pose? It was so hilarious and kind of sad at the same time. I both love and hate how quickly she is growing up.

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We were going to get some hot chocolate at the Nauvoo Cafe, but the line was super long. We decided to stop somewhere after instead, but going inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building gave us a chance to see the beautiful Christmas tree they have.

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Liam loved it!

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I wish peace and joy for all of you. Happy holidays!

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A Quick Trip to Golden

I love that my sister now lives just a short hour-and-a half-flight away. It makes it so easy to pop over the mountains whenever I can find a good deal on airfare. Even if it’s just for a short weekend. We didn’t do anything too special. Just played with some legos and spent the afternoon at the park. Did I mention it was the first of December and we were in short sleeves? It was the best.

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We also had a picnic on campus and enjoyed some pizza from Golden landmark, Woody’s, courtesy of Mike winning the best beard at the School of Mines. This gave the kids the perfect opportunity to draw on a huge chalkboard.

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Later that night, we bundled up to take a stroll through the lights in downtown Golden.

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I had to leave Sunday evening, so after church on Sunday we just relaxed and watched Dumbo. I was curious to know how a child viewed the crazy pink elephant scene. In Peter’s words, “This is weird!” The kids took advantage of my phone and spent time playing Star Wars Angry Birds and Bad Piggies. I love how they look all huddled together.

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Aww… I just love those kiddos. It’s always hard to leave.

Christmas 2011

When I was younger, I always bemoaned the fact that my family didn’t have a lot of traditions. Our Christmas celebration was different almost every year as we tried new things. One year we read the account in Luke before opening presents. One year we picked names (but we all agreed that only getting one present made for a disappointing Christmas). One year we sang songs. The only one that really stuck were having a nice dinner on Christmas Eve with the good china, the sterling silver, and the crystal, but the menu was generally open. Many of my friends had all sorts of traditions, like Christmas pajamas, lining up steps, caroling, a certain breakfast menu, etc. etc. Somehow, I felt like the lack of tradition meant that our family wasn’t bound together strong enough.

Of course, then my parents divorced and the family did change. I wouldn’t say we weren’t bound together, though. In fact, we grew even closer. I realized this year that it isn’t the traditions that bind us. It’s (as cheesy as this sounds) the love we have for each other. So we still have a fancy-ish dinner on Christmas Eve, but now we also open presents too. It’s what works best with the in-laws. Plus, we have the added bonus of opening presents with the cheery Christmas lights twinkling. Here are a few photos from the day and night.

Mom gave Claire a little mp3 player. I filled it with great music, but all Claire cares about right now is that it has Phantom of the Opera on it. She loves that play.

Claire made some special presents for each of us. I wish I had pictures of all of them, but I just got a few reactions.

Matt gave us all copies of his book with special inscriptions. Mikey even got special wrapping paper.

I had spent a good week searching different Wal-marts, Targets, Shopkos, and Kmarts all across the valley to find all of the Cars 2 race cars for Peter. (Mikey helped finance the gift.) The reaction was more than I could hope for.

I got too caught up in most of the unwrapping to take too many other photos, but I have to say, it was a great Christmas. I hope yours was too!

The Lights at Temple Square

Last week, Matt, Izzy, the kids, Mikey, and I all went to see the lights at Temple Square. We decided to ride Trax to avoid finding parking, so we bundled up and waited at the Trax station for the next train.

We took a break from the cold by checking out the model of the temple inside the visitor center.

After more wandering, we needed another break from the cold, so we stepped inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for some hot chocolate.

And then we were ready for more lights and nativity scenes from around the world. My favorite is the one from Japan.

We paused to take some photos at the pedestal.

And then it was time to head back on Trax, exhausted, cold, but happy. Even if the lights are the same each year (and I end up taking the same photos year after year), I still love seeing the lights.

The Gang’s All Here

Saying good-bye to Amanda’s family at Thanksgiving would have been a lot harder if they weren’t coming to Salt Lake a mere two weeks later. And those two weeks just flew by! Now, the gang is all here, and we filled the little condo with lots of kids, playing, dancing, and fun on Sunday night.

And best of all, Liam started walking!

After he took those first few steps, he just didn’t want to stop.

I realized the other day that this is only the second Christmas in 10 years that I haven’t had to travel to be with my family. It’s been so nice to get all my Christmas shopping done, decorate, bake, and relax a little and have all my loved ones come to me instead of trying to pack all my presents in a single carry on. The only problem with being ready for Christmas in advance is that now I feel like it’s so far away. Hurry up Christmas! I want to give everyone presents.

Super Saturday Craft Extravaganza

You know how you come across dozens and dozens of cute crafts while perusing Pinterest? And you know how you think, “Hey, I should make some of those”? And you know how most of the time, you never get around to it? At least, that’s how I usually am. But last week, I turned the tables. I got together with some friends and relatives to actually create some of the handmade ornaments I had seen on Pinterest. Here’s what we had in mind:

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Plus, we wanted to make some glitter balls that my mom had seen on Studio 5. Here are all of the supplies before everyone showed up.

I meant to take pictures throughout the crafting, but I guess I got caught up in my own creative experiments because I forgot. I had to take pictures of some of the finished products. I think they turned out pretty well!

The matryoshka doll wasn’t in our original plans, but we couldn’t resist it. (source)

I think we may have come up with a new Christmas tradition.

Catching Up 3: Getting Ready for Christmas

The best thing about Christmas is that it’s the kind of holiday you lead up to with lots of little celebrations. This year, we made some gingerbread houses.

And we spent an evening at the Celebration in the Oaks. It’s like a Christmas carnival, complete with rides. Peter couldn’t contain his excitement when he got to drive a real car. He looked so much older, handing the operator his ticket.

And he liked the alligator made from lights.

But he definitely DID NOT like Alligator Santa.

Amanda bravely took Peter and Penny Lane on the ferris wheel.

The Celebration in the Oaks isn’t all about rides and cotton candy. There’s also lots of lights.