Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Temple Lights

Our year would not be complete without a visit to the temple to see the millions of beautiful Christmas lights. I have been doing it since I was a kid, and even when we lived in Utah, we'd brave the freezing weather to walk among the lights at Temple Square (spent more time in the visitor center thawing out than out looking at lights, but at least we were there). Trying to avoid a huge crowd, we went on a Thursday night... it worked beautifully.

Paige wanted to give the big camera a try.

As a bonus, we ran into my cousin who was visiting from Virginia, and we were able to invite her family to the Christmas sing-along we were hosting at our house that coming Sunday. I didn't take any pictures at the sing-along, so next post is Christmas Eve/Christmas!! Finally!

Monday, December 30, 2013

All Aboard! Next Stop, North Pole!

Kallie came home from school one day and told me that all her friends went on the Polar Express and that she wanted to go, too! The excitement in her voice made me want to make her wish come true, so I went online and found that it was mostly booked already. There was one date left in December that I thought could work for us, and so I secretly bought tickets. Kallie kept asking about it, but I tried to dodge her questions and keep it a surprise. It was a brilliant plan... we would wake the girls up for what they thought would be school, but then I'd tell them we were actually going on the Polar Express! Unfortunately, both of the girls' class parties were on that day, but I hoped they wouldn't be too disappointed.

First stop, breakfast at Denny's. The kids planned to wear their pajamas all day, so I decided to reveal one of Paige's Christmas presents early... footie pajamas! Oh wait, she's not wearing them in this picture because the ones I got were a little too small, and so we had to make a short stop at Target for an exchange.

Then we were off to Williams. Believe me, the girls did not care one bit that they were missing their class parties. Apparently I was the only one stressing. We found a great spot to stop and play in the snow. Best day ever!

Brando was not too sure about walking in the snow at first.

What kid could resist making a snow angel? Though it was sunny and quite warm out, that is when we realized that letting the kids play in the snow in their pajamas was not going to work, and we put them in snow pants.

Next was snowman time, and this time the snow was perfect!

Paige was quite creative.

And what trip to play in the snow would be complete without some snowballs?

Brandon said his snowball disappeared.

And I just put this one in because it's cute. Yes, I realize I am posting way too many snow pictures. You should see how many I have!

And if cute is the criteria, I better add this one, too.

Kallie sampled the not-so-freshly-fallen snow.

You can see that Brandon got used to the snow after a while and had a great time.

Soon, it was time to head to the train. I was worried about taking the 5:30pm departure because the sun wasn't quite down, but it turned out perfect because I had light for pictures at the train station, but it was dark by the time we reached the North Pole.

I managed to get in a picture!

Ready to board!

This was before we knew the seats could turn around.

Only one of our cups of hot cocoa ended up spilled on the train floor. Pretty good, right?

This looks like childhood to me! Norman Rockwell painting in the making...

Kallie is the perfect age for visiting with Santa... she loved it. I have to say that is one of the nicest, non-scary Santas I have seen.

On the way back, we sang carols.

I think I might have been even more excited than the kids for this train ride... we had so much fun!

Afterward, we stopped at probably the worst restaurant in Williams. I mean, I haven't eaten at very many places in Williams, but this one was worse than most restaurants I've eaten at EVER. Overpriced school lunch is what it tasted like. Don't go to Cruisers Cafe 66! It has a great Route 66 theme, but wow... grossest burger this side of the Pecos. Did I make myself clear? I paid $16 for that burger, too, and $7 for glorified Kraft Mac n Cheese. At least Brandon made his more interesting by adding ketchup and mustard.

The awful food didn't ruin our fun day, though... we loved every minute of it!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

At the Hop!

As soon as we finished our gingerbread houses, we were off to the school sock hop. I told you I didn't need to be entertained! That was one crazy day. Kallie had soooo much fun with her friends.

They were so cute, running around and following each other. Once in a while, the leader would crouch in a ball on the floor, the rest of the girls would pile on top, and then they'd all start running again.

Their body language says it all!

Near the end of the night, we made the fatal mistake of buying a ticket for the photo booth. The line was SO SLOW, and we ended up waiting half an hour after the party ended. I'd have to scan the picture to post it, and since I look like a granny with devil horns in it, I think I'll pass.

Interestingly, I have this suspicion that the lady sitting on the table behind the kids was my mentor teacher when I was a student teacher. Toward the end of my assignment, we didn't get along very well, so I didn't have the nerve to go up and ask her if she was who I thought she was. Wimp!

Despite the long wait at the end, the kids were good and we had fun. Good thing we all had 50's costumes from Halloween!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gingerbread Lane

Why do I get myself into these things? So, Russ was out of town on his business trip, and I decided that I needed to make gingerbread houses to keep myself entertained. Four of them, since I invited some of my friends whose kids are friends with my kids and offered to make all the houses ahead of time. For one, I already had plenty to do, so there was no need to entertain myself. For two, the gingerbread making didn't go smoothly at all, and it was a stressful race to the finish. Had a few burned ones in there and lots of do-overs. On the bright side, I figured out what I need to do differently next year! But for my kids, it was already too late, and we didn't get a house for ourselves. Luckily the kids were happy enough to help their friends decorate their houses.

Exhibit A is what not to do. Lisa cut a hole the size of Texas in her Ziploc "piping" bag and ended up smearing the icing on with her finger. Didn't work at all! And what's up with the way she is putting on that roof? The eaves are supposed to hang over the bottom, not the top! As the roof was sliding off and the whole thing was falling apart, we decided just to rebuild it the right way.

Which brings me to Exhibit B... the right way. Cindy was a champ, and even got her chimney on!

Once the houses were built, the kids joined in the fun.

The finished products!

I promised the kids I would make them a house, too. Just because I had extra time after some of the craziness died down, I made our house a little fancier with a special chimney.

I let them help decorate, but I did insist on approving everything. This was the year I finally got to design our house the way I wanted it.

Our masterpiece!