Thursday, December 30, 2010


Was wonderful! There were overwhelming stressful moments for me, trying to get everything prepared, but overall I was so pleased with our holiday season this year. Christmas Eve was spent at Chris' brother's house with his family, and we had a fantastic night. Ellie had been sick the two days prior with a horribly high fever and awful cough, but by Christmas Eve she was well enough to enjoy a few hours out of the house. Dinner was so fun, Chris' brother's family has the tradition that on Christmas Eve you get to choose anything you want to eat for dinner, each person chooses a dish, it can be anything, so as you can imagine, the menu is very eclectic. This year we had fried shrimp, marinated salmon, pigs in a blanket, 7 layer dip, garlic green beans, hot wings, chocolate caramel brownies, a yummy fruit salad with dip, fresh cut veggies and other sweets. We were STUFFED. All the cousins had a chance to perform some musical number, Sophia sang 'Jingle Bells', Ellie sang 'Said Samuel' and played a song on the piano from her piano book. Cousin Kalina sang 'Silent Night', and Kolya played 'Joy to the World' and also played a song for us on his cello. After this, my favorite part of the night, singing tons of Christmas carols and songs, which warms my heart so much. Shortly after this Ellie was exhausted, so I took her home and put her and Gradon in bed. Daddy and Sophia followed shortly.

On Christmas Day Ellie was the first to awaken about 715 am. She was so excited! We wanted to wait for Sophia to wake up, so we gave her until 8am to come tumbling out of bed. We all went downstairs to find a our stockings filled and the tree decked out in gifts. The girls got everything on their lists, and as well as a few extras, and all day and the next kept saying it was the best Christmas ever. I am glad it was so fun for them. Santa was good to all of us this year, we got a new TV, (with the help of Grandma and Grandpa), which was a fun moment. The girls got their much wanted American Girl Dolls, as well as luggage sets from their favorite princesses for our Disneyland trip next summer. I got my flip video camera I have been wanting, which was a fun surprise from Santa. My sister in law got me an amazing set of reflectors for photography, which is very exciting!
This is one of my favorite moments from the morning, Ellie and Sophia reading with Daddy one of Gradon's new books. It was so cute. Gradon loved the attention.
And of course...the damage. What a wonderful mess!
For Christmas dinner I made a traditional English dinner complete with standing rib roast and yorkshire pudding. It was yummy. I also made a traditional style New York style cheesecake...which was so good. It's been a great holiday.Chris has been home, we've been able to spend lots of time together which has been nice. He is enjoying time off before the last big push of the year. I am so grateful for our blessings. My heart is full of joy this Christmas time. I am so thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ, for his miraculous birth, a humble beginning which lead to the greatest life ever lived. What a joyful time of year, which reminds us of miracles, love, light and hope. It IS the most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thoughts on a year past

December is my birthday month, and I usually find myself reflecting on the past year, wondering if I have lived life in the best way, to the fullest. Here I am again, thinking about what I have accomplished, where I want to be, who I am and if I am satisfied with my life. I would say, yes I am so blessed, so fortunate where I am. I also know that there is more for me to be, I need to stretch myself further, and make the changes that I know I have needed to make it my life to feel fully centered and happy. Recently there have been a few events in the lives of a few of my friends and family that have re focused my view on quality of life and what it means to truly take advantage of the future. I don't want to take my life for granted, I don't want to wake up some day and realized I wasted time or didn't live the best life I could. I think many of us encounter these feelings, and have a desire to change their life in some way, and I admit, I often think, 'it's going to be different for me this time', or 'this year I will do this', or 'when I accomplish this I know I will be happy again.' I think that in some ways a few of my worst habits have become so comfortable, so part of me, that I am afraid of failure, afraid that if I try to change these parts of me I don't like, I won't succeed and be disappointed in myself again. I guess I am at the point in my life where changes either have to start or I am always going to think this way, be this way, and be frustrated. I guess I need to believe in myself more, believe in who I know I can be, and not be afraid of the setbacks along the way. I need to dig inside myself and realize why it is I am making changes, and have the perspective to have faith in the journey, be it difficult or perhaps painful, but in the long run: satisfying, exciting and vital.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow in December, Christmas is coming

Last week we had some snow, which made Ellie very happy. As soon as December was on the calendar, Ellie would ask, mama, it is December, when is it going to snow? She LOVES the snow, both the girls do. Monday after the snow fell our driveway was still covered in snow and ice, and some helpful neighbor boys were walking around shoveling people's driveways and walks, so nice! In the afternoon Sophia decided it would be fun to jump on our trampoline covered in snow, she had a blast.
We had a very fun visit from some of the girls' most favorite people in the world, their Aunt Alene and cousin Penn. Alene lives in San Diego now, her husband Grant is doing his internship and residency in orthopedic surgery there. We miss them very much, but she gets to come back for work visits occasionally. It was fantastic seeing her and Penn.
The girls also had a chance to make and decorate gingerbread houses with our wonderful neighbors Lexi and Aubrey. We are so grateful they are our friends, and have so much fun with them.
Christmas is on it's way and Chris and I are feeling 98% prepared for Santa's visit. We are looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with Andy and his family, and enjoying a 'Feastival' of yummy food. Christmas Day our plan is to have them to our house. Chris is so happy to be finished with finals, we have his lottery numbers, and hopefully we can work out a good rotation schedule for next year. It is going to be busy! What a wonderful holiday season it has been so far. We are very grateful for our friends, family and great blessings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa and more

Saturday I took the kids to see Santa at our community center. It was a fun event that included cookie decorating, coloring, snacks and of course photos with Santa. It was a great opportunity for me to get out of the house. I have had a cold this past week and haven't had the will or energy to do much. The girls were thrilled with the activity, and enjoyed meeting Santa. While the girls were sitting on Santa's lap Sophia told Santa that Ellie had been naughty this year. Too funny. You should have seen the look on Ellie's face! Santa assured Sophia that he thought both girls had been good this year. Gradon met Santa and was a pleasant baby while I snapped a few photos. It's been a fun month so far, I am trying to really stay focused on what is important with this special holiday.
Sunday night we read about Samuel the Lamanite and his prophecy of Christ. Ellie loves to sing Samuel Tells of Baby Jesus, we sang that after we read the account of his prophecy and discussed the meaning of the signs of his birth. The girls have really been interested in learning about what Christmas really means, and it is special to be able to help them understand why we celebrate Christmas. Last night we decorated our tree! It was crazy fun, the girls were so wound up and excited to finally get our tree out. We decided to use our little fake tree this year and save some money, but the girls didn't mind, it's pretty cute covered in tons of ornaments. Ellie has wrapped some home made gifts for our family, her 'first gifts' of Christmas for us to open Christmas eve. Our home is looking festive, and it is adding to the Christmas spirit in our home.
Chris is busy with school, only one huge final left on Friday, and then he finally gets a break before the last push of this academic year. Honestly, I am surprised at how quickly it has been going by, although Chris would probably disagree with me. I am so proud of him and how hard he works, it is exciting to see his progress to becoming a doctor. I am glad he will have some time to enjoy the holidays with us, I have a few fun things planned for our family this holiday to do all together. We are looking forward to getting his rotation schedule, which will determine where he will be working next school year. We should know in the next 2 weeks or so what that will be. It's been a busy and good month so far, lots more 'holly jollys' (as Ellie likes to say) to come.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Night at the Ballet

Our little month of Christmas fun would not be complete without a night at the Nutcracker Ballet. I have watched the Nutcracker many times as a child growing up, and a few times as an adult, but really nothing quite compares to taking your two little girls to see it for the first time. We went with our friends Jeri, Natalia and Simone and had an amazing night! We headed out to dinner first, and we all dressed up in our Sunday best.
When we got in the car, my Sophia said 'It's a girl's night' so cute. When we got to the theater, Ellie and Natalia's teacher Miss Elaine told the girls the story of the Nutcracker which got them really excited for the ballet to begin. Once it started, all the girls were transfixed! Both my girls recognized music from the ballet, and ooed and awed over the lovely dancing. Ellie turned to me at one point and said 'mama, wouldn't it be great to be on stage?'
After the ballet Miss Elaine took us back stage to meet some of the dancers, which was the cherry on the top of our night. The dancers who danced the roles of Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Ice Queen, The Cavalier, The Nutcracker Prince as well as others each graciously met with our little girls. They each signed a copy of the Nutcracker book, a little keepsake I purchased for the girls during intermission. It was wonderful! I am so pleased we went, and so thrilled it was magical for our girls.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 Days of Christmas

Christmas should be about magic, light and joy. I have been missing these things in my life a little bit, so it's time to create some Christmas magic and fun for our Christmas this year. After brain storming with friends, I have come up with 25 wonderful ideas for really enjoying the holidays together. My ideas encorporate crafts, scriptures, adventures, songs, service and goodies. I am so excited! Tonight we are going to write letters to Santa and read some Christmas Scriptures, Isaiah 7. I am using Amy Locurto's Santa Letter tonight for my kids. I have all my activities ready and in order of when I want them to do each activity. A few will cost money, but for the most part, each activity will be no cost, simple, and really focus on the real meaning of Christmas. I am as giddy as a child. I am really looking forward to Christmas being a season of joy for everyone this year.