Ever since Ryan and I were engaged, we've spent Christmas Eve with his family. We eat lots of German food and visit with each other. Then the kids sing, play piano, violin, guitar, etc. followed by the traditional reading of Luke in the German family bible that is generations old (while another reads in English for the grandkids and us non-Germans). Here the kids are performing Rudolph (ever so quietly I might add) and then Jingle Bells with a few other cousins.
AND of course Christmas morning is always a whirlwind of chaos, but I love it. Especially when it comes with squeals of "Oh My GOODNESS!" and "What the HECK?!" Yep, that must have meant it was good. So I guess staying up until 4 am assembling beds was totally worth it. We presented the kids with their new rooms in the basement as part of their Christmas. Now I get to spend this next week moving their clothes, toys, and other furniture downstairs. Lucky me!
(yes, this means that the basement is 90% finished. Once the bathroom tile gets fixed, the toilet put in, and the sink attached it will be all done! Woo hoo! So be on the look-out for before and after pics.)
I love our ward. I really do. Yesterday as I was vacuuming the carpet, the doorbell rang. I hesitated answering the door as I looked a fright. But I did, and outside the cutest little old man was standing on our porch holding out a plate of goodies. His wife is one of our Primary Teachers and is amazing in so many ways. She made these cute little critters. I am thinking I'll have to make some next year.
oreo cookies - halves separated
maraschino cherries with stems
Here's how I think they are done ... melt some of the chocolate. Dip maraschino cherries in melted chocolate and place on oreo half. Add hershey kiss head & chocolate chip ears while melted chocolate is still hot.
it started feeling like Christmas around here. And as of yesterday (Saturday) it finally does! Due to basement remodel chaos (augh) we'd been putting off getting the tree up and the decorations out. But I'd had enough, so with 90% of the basement done I had Ryan bring in the tree Friday afternoon. I moved the toys down into the new toy room this weekend.
Finley was ecstatic beyond belief - he's been begging for the tree since Thanksgiving. But we weren't able to decorate until Saturday morning as we had the Birth Christmas Party (all Ryan's extended family). Here Berlin is wearing her little German dress. I wish I could say I made it, but no. I bought it on etsy from a fabulous gal in Germany. It's a little big so yay! for getting to wear it next year again!
On Saturday the kids were able to decorate their little hearts out. And I must say that the 4 branches they overloaded with ornaments looked great! I will admit to re-arranging them after they went to bed as the weight of 12 ornaments on one branch was a bit too much for the tree to handle. But they did a great job.
Tonight we wrote our letters to Santa and hung them on the tree in their little felt envelopes so Santa can read them when he comes down the chimney. Finley asked Santa for Star Wars toys (galactic heroes, legos & bobble heads), a big playhouse for him & Berlin to share, a new leapster and new games, and a polka-dotted reindeer for mom. Berlin asked Santa for a Cinderella princess with mice, a big prince-charming, a princess Barbie car, a princess Barbie bike, and lots & lots of princesses. Here's to hoping Santa delivers :)
Tonight we took the kids to see the ZOO Lights up at Hogle Zoo. Finley has been asking to go there for the past couple days and tonight was the night. It was our 2nd year going to the zoo lights display and I have to say that it is my favorite light display in Salt Lake - make that in all of Utah. The lights are animated, some have music, they are silly (Finn's fave is the skunk spraying the curious bear) and just darn cute. The best part was watching the 3 tiger cubs and their mom playing, wrestling, and teasing each other in their habitat. It was so cute; we could have watched them for hours except a certain 4 1/2 year old boy was whining about some soft pretzel he thought he deserved, and a certain mom had had enough. So we moved along so as not to disturb the tigers and the large crowd gathering to watch them.
After riding the carousel we headed over to Shiver's for some yummy dinner. My favorite thing there is the tomato basil soup and the fried pickles. The kids love the corn dogs and the cool choo-choo train they get to eat on.
to the gloriousness of naptime. Berlin has been fighting naps for a while now. But until recently, she had to endure naptime - for her sanity and mine (and her brother's too). She is a beast when she doesn't take an afternoon nap. But she hates them because she knows she is missing out on something, and she can't stand that. I even tried letting her take naps in my bed.
That happened once, and it was the last time she agreed to nap. After that one nap, she realized she could defy my wishes and climb out of my bed. So when I started putting her back in her crib (yes, crib. I know, I know, she's almost 3 and should be in a big girl bed - it's her hearts greatest desire ... But that's a whole other rant about our basement remodel and how it's now over 2 months behind and not looking like it will be done by Christmas). Anyhow, back to the crib. She has decided that if she can climb out of mommy's bed, she can surely escape from her own. Here she is caught in the act. Luckily, she has never fallen out of the crib or gotten hurt, but then again, if she did, maybe she would stop escaping. Hmmm. Doubt it.
We joined some friends down at Temple Square to see the lights. It was cold, VERY COLD. Luckily I had over-bundled the kids (Ryan mocked me for doing so - but HA! They didn't get cold. Victory point for me.) I forgot my camera of course but here's a picture my friend took of the kids (Thanks J!)
(Boo, K, L, Finn, J)
The sad part was Finley losing his hat. I loved his Charlie Brown style cap. Here's to hoping someone turned it in and that the Conference Center lost & found will call me back soon.
The lights were pretty, but a little disappointing as none of the big trees on Temple Square have lights on. Apparently they alter even & odd years, and being and odd year, the lights on big trees are off so as not to kill them. Oh well. Afterwards we all went to Spaghetti Factory - one of our kids favorite places to eat. It was a great night.
Ryan hadn't seen all the new baby animals that were born over the summer, and we knew that weather would be changing for the worse (Darn Winter!). So, last Saturday we took the kids to the zoo. The kids and I go often, but it's always a fun treat to go with Ryan. The tiger cubs were awesome, the baby elephant was adorably cute & funny, the toddler orangutan was hyper as can be, the baby giraffe was shy and just wanted to be left alone to lick his applesauce off his enrichment toy. But then came the Gorilla. She (or he, not really sure) was sitting right up to the glass, within a few inches of our faces - probably the closest that I've ever been to a gorilla. We were a little in awe, until that is, she decided to turn sideways, poo in her hand, and proceed to eat it like an apple. We bolted out of there gagging and dry-heaving amidst the laughter of the 2 teenage zoo volunteers. I dry-heaved all morning every time I thought about it. Luckily it was on the latter part of our zoo day so we had no qualms about leaving. And what was probably one of the best days at the zoo, was now one of the grossest days.
On a brighter subject, here's some cute pics of the kids and animals that didn't gross us out.
I borrowed the tag line from Ryan - it is just so appropriate. If you want to see a great movie, then this is it. Run, don't walk to the nearest theater and see for yourself. We LOVED this movie and will be seeing it again in the near future.
... or am I the only one who thinks Lady Gaga is completely ridiculous and WAY over-rated? I've seen her in a couple interviews and on some shows and have never been taken by her look or music, but after watching the AMA awards last night (yes, this is what I did while Ryan watched the RSL soccer game last night on the laptop) all I can say is she is one of the worst performers / singers I've seen in a while. Definitely not a fan.
But I did love watching JLo fall on her butt. That was awesome. Especially when she got all ticked behind the scene when it was over. Nice to see and know that divas are human.
As for the AMA awards, it was a reminder of how out-of-touch I am with "popular" music today. And I don't even feel bad about it. If the performances from last night were any indication of popular music, I'm not missing much.
We took the kids down to California this past week to visit my parents, 2 sisters, and of course Disneyland. Instead of driving down we used the credit we had on Frontier airlines from when we cancelled our trip to Baltimore last October after Ryan's father passed away. It was nice not driving, but what is usually a 1 1/2 hour flight on Delta (our preferred airline of choice) took us 5 hours of air time plus a long layover in Denver both ways. So it wasn't any faster than driving. Though we won't be flying Frontier airlines again, I will give props to the flight attendant who invited the kids to sit in the cockpit on our Denver to LAX leg. They got to push whatever buttons they wanted, sit in the chairs, pull levers. They LOVED it!
My mom and sister watched the kids while Ryan and I went to Disneyland sans kids. It has been years since I've been able to ride the big kid rides and I'd never ridden any of the big kid rides at California Adventure. So it was fun to be able to hang out with my hubby on a day-long date without Thing 1 & Thing 2. Ryan and I are roller-coaster people. We loved California Screamin' and rode it more than a few times. I re-discovered that Ryan is a roller-coaster giggler. It reminded me of our honeymoon when we hit Magic Mountain for a day, and I learned then that he was a giggler. I like to scream, but you can't help but giggle along with him. It was awesome.
Then we headed down to San Diego to visit my sister and her family for the weekend. We spent the afternoon/evening climbing aboard a Russian Submarine, a pirate ship, the Star of India, and some other little boats. It was fun and the kids had a blast. And of course we ate some good old fish fry at Anthony's for dinner. We love that place.
Sunday we went to Coronado Island. It was the perfect day for relaxing on the beach. We played, relaxed, chased seagulls, ate yummy salads at Village Pizzeria, then went back to the beach and hunted up some sand dollars and large sea shells. The kids were completely exhausted and didn't want to leave.
Monday and Tuesday we took the kids to Disneyland. We ate lunch with the princesses and fought Darth Vader & the dark side, chatted up Alice, and scowled at Mickey. By the end of it all, we were exhausted and ready to come home. The only bad part about coming back ... the winter weather that greeted us as we got off the plane. I really REALLY miss California weather. Mother Nature spoiled us while we were down there with 70-80 degree weather.
is a favorite movie of ours - not just at Halloween, but year round. When Ryan found this white pumpkin from Cornbelly's, he knew exactly what he wanted to carve. It was a pretty fun pumpkin - green on the inside and it smelled like a honey-dew melon.
Here are the before and after carving pics (most are courtesy of Finn, our resident photog, who amazingly takes pretty darn good pics for a 4 1/2 year old).
Here the kids are ready to go trick-or-treating. Berlin was the sassy and cute Alice and Finley was a glow in the dark skeleton.
After 2 hours of trick-or-treating, we came home with plenty of loot and two very tired kids. Needless to say we were all very GLAD to have that extra hour of sleep-time Sunday morning.