Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Treats

Christmas never feels like Christmas without an overdose of sugary goodness.  Since I'm working out and trying to get in shape, this year I promised myself that I wouldn't over do it.  So I just made cinnamon sugar cookies.  And then I thought I needed to balance that out with chocolate and made mint brownies.  And then fudge is easy, right?  So I made some.  But then I realized that I almost forgot to decorate gingerbread houses!  That wouldn't do.  Luckily I found a kit that made an entire gingerbread village, with five little houses (one for each family member).  The kids were really into this project.

And Steve completed our beautiful cookie village with his awesome marshmallow snowmen.  Notice the cute little hat he has on!

So I'm finally done with the baking... right?  No!  Then I received these awesome cookie molds from my neighbor that you can make cookies on a stick!  I just HAD to try them out, right?

And the kids got to decorate and eat their own "cookie on a stick".

Good thing I was finally done all my baking.  Right?  Right?  NO!  Because we still need to make a birthday cake for Jesus' birthday... something that we do every Christmas Eve!  I couldn't let Jesus down, right?  So we made a cake and I decorated it when the kids napped.  Now, some of you may remember that this year Garrett asked Santa for a "Shark Cake" for Christmas.  Steve and I were like "a shark cake"?  Seriously?  So we explained that Santa doesn't bring food... and instead I decided that Jesus would appreciate a shark cake for His birthday.  I mean, He MADE sharks didn't He?

Okay... that was the last of it.  Thankfully a lot of that baking was given away as gifts and at various functions.  Otherwise we'd really be in trouble...

Molly's School Christmas Party

The best part about volunteering in Molly's class on Fridays, is that I always get to be part of their holiday parties.  And her Christmas party was no exception!  I volunteered to make a treat for everyone in the class and made 30 snowmen out of powdered donuts.  This was no small feat... let me tell you.  They were complete with fondant carrot noses and fruit leather scarves.

The kids enjoyed a variety of games, craft projects and of course... snacks.

And they also sang some Christmas songs which was adorable!

She came home with a huge bag full of treats and gifts.  But the best gift of all was that she was now officially on vacation.  No early morning rushes off for school every day for two whole weeks!  Hmmm... maybe that's MY gift!

COAC Christmas Party

This year, Steve's employer (COAC) decided to have a family Christmas party at their office on a Friday evening after work.  The kids and I met Steve at the office, and were greeted with stockings for all the kids!  The owners did an amazing job decorating the office for the event, and transformed part of the warehouse into a party room complete with bounce house for the kids!  I think my children spent 75% of the time in there.

They had a caterer provide dinner from a fabulous BBQ place and I enjoyed the time to catch up with some of the fabulous people that Steve works with.  It was a wonderful reminder how blessed we are by his job!

One of the highlights of the event, was the custom ornaments designed by my fabulous and talented husband, and cut out by one of their head technicians on the plasma cutter!  The kids had about 25 different designs to choose from!  Wouldn't these be cool cut out in large size, painted with glitter, and hung from a tree in your front yard?

The kids got to watch the plasma cutter at work... with proper eye protection of course!

Molly even got to pretend to drive the fork lift!

Dovewood Court Lights

Every Christmas we try and make a trek to Dovewood Court, a cul-de-sac near us that has unreal lights up every year.  This year we decided to go as early as we could to beat the crowds, and actually went before dinner.  So glad we went at that time because by the time we left it was crazy!

The folks who live on this street do an amazing job of their lights... from coordinating it to music to decorating the entire interior of their garage.  Some house were more traditional...

.... and some were a little less traditional, like this home with the surfer Santa and Tiki hut!

But the highlight is always seeing the awe in the faces of the kids. They were amazed!  We finished off the evening with dinner out and hot chocolate in the car.  A perfect night!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Parade

Last weekend we had the pleasure of seeing our friends Rachel and Aaron, who are living in China and are back in the United States for Christmas.  We hadn't seen them since their daughter was first born (I had the honor of doing her newborn photos) and she is now 18 months old!  So it was really special to be able to spend time with them.

They brought their daughter and two little nieces (who were 5 and 3 years old) and joined us at the Woodland Christmas Parade.  Here's all the kids lined up in a row waiting for the parade to start!

Molly got to share her seat for a while with little Hannah, which she was pretty excited about. 

 The kids LOVED watching the parade and sucking on all the candy canes that got thrown out to the crowd.

The parade was SO long, so we snuck out before it finished and went out for lunch together.  Unfortunately, with SIX kids that were 5-years old and younger, we weren't able to have the best visit (as you can imagine).  But it was still nice to spend some time with their wonderful family and they will continue to be in our prayers as they head back to China!

A Living Nativity

Every year, Sunrise Community Church  puts on this awesome "living" nativity that they call Bethlehem Village.  They set up their entire church compound to look like Bethlehem and you can walk through and see the shop keepers, meet the shepherds and wise men, and walk by the innkeeper who let's you know that he has no room because of the census.  They really do an amazing job.  Here's the angels making an announcement to the frightened shepherds.

We got there early and were one of the first people in line... which is a good thing because there's thousands of people that go see this every year.  The kids loved watching the story tellers and the dancers.  But most of all they loved the "barn" area where they got to pet goats and chickens.  Molly and Garrett even held some bunnies!

 Then of course after you wander through the village, you come upon a rickety barn and meet Mary and Joseph who are there with their baby.  They let the kids hold baby Jesus, which was definitely another highlight.

Then we wandered into their sanctuary, where the church provided hot chocolate and cookies for everybody to enjoy while they watched their worship band sing Christmas carols.  I can't even imagine the expense of the event for that church and we were so impressed by the whole thing.  It's such a fabulous outreach for the community!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deck the Halls

We returned home from Thanksgiving on the proceeding Saturday, and although we were all quite beat on Sunday, we decided to keep up with our annual tradition of Christmas decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving.  So Steve and I spent the whole morning weeding through the kids toys and making room for Christmas.  When the kids went down for naps in the afternoon, we got the tree up and ready to be decorated.

After naps I got the kids dressed in their Christmas jammies, and we started decorating.  It was pretty special because it was the first year that our entire family helped decorate the tree, including Garrett and Paige.  And although we did have to move some of the ornaments up from the bottom third of the tree, it turned out wonderful!

 And here's all three kids in their Santa jammies.  There's just something special about matching Christmas jammies.  It's definitely a traditional I will always have for our kids!  :)

Thanksgiving in SoCal

Okay... this blog has gotten away from me.  I have SO many posts to catch up on that it's a little ridiculous.  I got soooo busy with my business and the photo editting and blogging associated with it, that our personal blog got left behind.  Sigh...

Anyways, let's start with Thanksgiving.  We are so thankful that we decided to spend the holiday with Grandpa Jim in Southern California.  We knew it was going to be tough being our first Thanksgiving without Steve's mom, but being with Jim made it much more bearable.  And of course, we also got to see our good friends Kirk and Marianne while we were there.

Marianne met us at the dog park one afternoon and the kids had a blast paying with all the little dogs.  And Steve and I enjoyed the time together as a family!

On Thanksgiving Day I cooked my very FIRST turkey which was a little nerve wracking.  While I was cooking, Grandpa taught the kids a few things about football.

I'm happy to report that the meal turned out FABULOUS!  The turkey was moist and tender and all the fixings were awesome.  I am officially no longer afraid to cook a turkey and was amazed how easy it was.  Here's Paige doing the obligatory "Olives on the Fingers" photo during dinner.

The kids really enjoyed hanging out with Grandpa.  Molly spent some time learning about money and rolling coins for him.  Lucky for her, Grandpa gifted her with the final coin rolls!

She also spent some time hanging with Grandpa in the backyard collecting leaves, which she ended up turning into a leaf collection by taping them into a book.  She definitely has her Mommy's love for the biological world.

The day after Thanksgiving was Steve's birthday.  Grandpa joined the kids at the pond where they enjoyed feeding the local fauna before eating a nice dinner out!

Then we headed back home to Grandpa's to open presents and eat birthday pie.  Yes... Steve's not a big cake fan, so we got him a banana cream pie instead.

The next day it was time to pack up and head back to Sacramento.  But, on our way home we got to spend the afternoon with Steve's dad and Jackie.

Grandpa and Grandma spoiled the kids with treats and presents, but the highlight for the kids was meeting their new dog, Mellow.  And let me tell you... that dog lived up to his name.  I don't think I've ever met such a sweet and laid back dog ever.  He definitely had Paige wrapped around his little toe.

It was definitely a whirlwind trip... but we wouldn't have had it any other way.  We got to spend lots of time with people we love and it was a perfect reminder of what we are truly thankful for this Thanksgiving.