I wish my Christmas 'break' could actually fit in a nutshell. Then maybe my brain would have time to process it all. As it is, it's now the new year and I'm just getting to posting about it. I guess that's what happens when you travel 7 hours to visit family and get in a few months worth of visiting in a couple of days! WHEW! Now we're back home and we have some time to breathe!
Where did I leave off last time? Does it even matter? LOL! I did finish my 25 days of Christmas album, and I have to tell you that I hope it's a tradition I'll remember to continue each year - it really made the season stretch, which was MOSTLY a good thing ;)
From the 17th to the 20th we took it easy for the most part. We enjoyed things like the kids' Christmas concert "Santa Goes Green" (how many of your kids did the same program???) which I enjoyed - of course, I enjoy anything with MY children in it ;) My BB was a little reindeer, with the cutest little nose wiggle you ever did see!
We watched some good movies, and some bad ones, had some hot chocolate, and enjoyed some merry making (which didn't involve alcohol, but equally gleeful hot chocolate).
My birthday was one of the BEST I've had in a long, long time. For my birthday "date" we went out for Chinese food and to see the flick "Eagle Eye" which I LOVED but it was SO INTENSE from the first moment to the last! My sides hurt from holding my breath and my fingers were numb from grasping onto the arm rests. It was so much fun, though :)
On Sunday (my actual birth DAY) we had some fabulous friends over ( I won't show the photo I took of you, K - we both know it wasn't the most flattering. Next time I'll grab the camera and take the picture! LOL!). We enjoyed some DQ ice cream cake (my fav.) and opened some fabulous gifts from my hubby. i got a couple of books I've been wanting, AND the BEST was the DVD set of Season One of SHE-RA!!! Okay, WHO remembers this show?? Any takers? I was obsessed as a kid. I had all of the figurines, and even played with my brother's He-man guys to make the story complete ;) I've had such a trip down memory lane watching these babies. LOL!
My husband also bought me the BEST gift of all - a green iPod nano! HAPPY JOYFUL DAY! I LOVE it!
Christmas Eve featured our tradition of acting out the nativity with the kiddos. Our family is getting bigger (and older) which helps. Somehow, though, I still managed to stay BEHIND the lens as the narrator ;) Hubby was Joseph, TJ was Mary, B was a wise man, BB was a shepherd, and JJ was a very reluctant angel (is there such a thing?).We opened one gift from each other Christmas eve, set out each stocking in it's appointment place, set out a plate of cookies, a cup of milk, and some carrots for Santa and his reindeer, and then promptly marched the kiddos off to bed. Santa was coming and he had a lot of work to do. Well, not really since we've let Santa know that he doesn't need to wrap his gifts. We like it much better with the gifts all laid out nicely in each child's designated spot, waiting for them to show up! This means less work BEFORE Christmas, and less mess AFTER. Though, we still managed quite the mess :)
I spent an afternoon during the week working on a gift for my husband - a "BOX OF LOVE". Okay, I know - I could have worked more on the name of it, but I've been busy. Give me some slack! LOL! Lately my husband has been feeling very BUSY and very CRAZY with going back to school AND working full-time AND serving in a demanding calling as young men's president in our ward. I have seen how TIRED he is (which doesn't happen with him very often) and how WEARY he is - mentally, physically, and otherwise. I wanted a gift that would be meaningful and would help him see himself the way those who love him see him. I asked several family members and friends to write him short (or long) notes of encouragement and love. WOW~! Did people ever come through for him! The little box (which I mod podged some photos on) was filled to over flowing with lovely notes and letters that he spent Christmas morning reading. If I ever feel low I can read my awesome blog comments and feel MUCH BETTER. Sadly, he is no blogger - so I had to fill that void somehow ;)
The girls were ecstatic with their gifts - especially TJ with her hamster cage (with a letter promising she could pick out her own hamster at the pet store), B with her Fur-Real Parrot, BB with her HUGE unicorn stuffed animal, and JJ with the candy. Hubby bought me a movie to watch on my iPod, and I gave him the BOX OF LOVE. The joys of Christmas morning were short-lived, however, as we no sooner had enjoyed our gifts, shovelled breakfast down our throats, and packed a couple of our gifts, than we were headed off to cow town to visit with family and friends!
We arrived at about 4:00pm their time - the ride was smooth and quick (if you can call 7 hours quick). We visited with the in-laws and settled down for bed.
The next day was HELLO boxing day - so it was off to Children's Place and Old Navy for some shopping with my SIL, J. It wasn't as crazy as I expected (though we were there right at opening!). Bought jeans for the entire family and one or two extras ;) Then, we headed out to the zoo with all of the G cousins, except the newest.
After a wonderful turkey dinner, and another rush trip back to Old Navy, we came back to the house for the annual "let's-go-nuts-with-presents-with-12-kids-under-12" partay! The kids all bought each other gifts, as well as some fabulous gifts from grandma and grandpa. Lots of gifts- lots of gifts with a zillion little parts. Lovely. We couldn't resist trying to get a nice cousins photo. Well, we got 'A' cousins photo. Did I mention 12 kids under 12? Enough said.
My niece, S, stayed the nice with TJ and early the next morning, we all trekked out to the Children's Place to help them spend the awesome gift cards TJ, S, and B received for Christmas. The minute we walked in, B saw a cute sweater/jacket thing that she HAD to have. SO, she bought it. S was right behind her wanting to buy the same sweater. Not long after that, TJ decided that's what she wanted, too. Sooooo...
Lovely, aren't they? :)
Later that day I took off with my oldest sister to one of the LDS church bookstores that was closing it's doors and was having a HUGE sale. I bought a few nice things, but the best part was running into several friends! NICE! We headed out to visit my other SIL, T, and discovered how much my husband enjoys "Rock Band". He's a born drummer, folks. The trip was also VERY worth it because T hands over a HUGE box filled with some gorgeous clothes for my girls AND me. Is it still called a hand-me-down when SHE has lost weight and she gives the clothes to me? Wouldn't me-weight-down make more sense? ;) I was thrilled with the prospect of even fitting in anything she has recently worn! YES!
Sunday was lovely - we went to church, saw more old and dear friends, visited with one my sisters in the afternoon, then again with two of my sisters and my brother in the evening. Want to see what my brother gave me for Christmas? I know you do ;)
I LOVE IT! Do you want to know the best part? HE MADE IT!! I KNOW!! It was the shock of the season, for me. He not only handmade one for me, but he made one for each of his 5 sisters AND his mother. Each Father Christmas is holding a block with the initial of each family name. Each one is wearing different cloaks cut from scratch - and holding different unique items. It's SO special to me. Now I wish I had gotten him something :S
Monday was one of the BEST days of our trip for two reasons. First thing Monday morning I had the privilege of photographing some good friends of mine - a buddy of mine growing up and his sweet family. They were so photogenic and fun. It was clear to see how much they adore each other. Really, it didn't feel like work at all. Their sister in law had given them a photo session as a Christmas gift! How sweet!
Immediately after the photo shoot, we headed down south to High River Airport to.....
GO ON MY VERY FIRST AIRPLANE RIDE!!!! SQEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAALLL!!
My brother in law recently earned his pilot's license, and he offered to take me up in a tiny 4 seater cessna for a ride. UM YEAH!!!! I was ecstatic! Not only was I going to be able to go up, but all of my girls and my hubby would have a turn as well. I went up with TJ and JJ, and hubby went up with B and BB. I LOVED IT! I was expecting to get sick to my stomach because of the small plane, but conditions were perfect and my BIL is an awesome pilot. It was absolutely the most exciting thing I had done in a long, long time. Anyone who knows me well knows how long I've waited to finally fly. And what a way to do it!
We flew close to the mountains, over farms and small towns. It was SO AWESOME! And to do it in a small plane with a pilot who explained everything to me, answered my questions, and even let me fly for a couple of minutes (that's only how long I lasted before BEGGING him to take the controls back). It was SO awesome. THANKS, D!!!
We also had a great visit with my BIL, B, who I just love getting to know better. He is so smart, and thinks things through really well. He certainly helped me to think about things in a different light through talking with him.
Oh! And I got to visit with a good friend, M, as well. She is going through a pretty big trial in her life right now, and I was amazed at her positive attitude and perspective on things. I know she doesn't feel that she is very positive right now, but I can see it. It was nice to be able to just sit and listen. There is nothing like listening to another's trials to put your own into proper perspective. She is handling things very well, and I can see that she is becoming an even stronger person because of these hard times. I LOVE YOU, M!
Well, we headed back home on the 30th on some terribly treacherous roads. Hubby lost control of the van once, started fishtailing it at 100km/h and freaked me out. Thankfully he regained control and we were okay, but I rode with my heart in my throat the entire way back home. I was grateful to set foot back in my own home and settled down a bit.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break. I love this season, with all it's craziness. I'm sure next year will be super quiet as we will probably just stay put here. I'm going to miss it all.
So, now that the new year has begun, I want to know what kinds of tutorials you are interested in seeing? What technique have you seen somewhere and you're dying to learn how to do it? What question has been nagging at the back of your mind and you want some help solving it? Speak up, folks, and I'll do my best to help you out in the new year!