Friday, December 29, 2017

Lights of the World

It was that weird week after Christmas. You know the one, right? Christmas is over... sort of. People are still vacationing. All the excitement of the holiday has worn off, but it's not quite over because New Year's Eve is still coming. Life just isn't quite back to normal, so what do you do? You go on a double date!

My friend, Liz, is hilarious, unconventional, caring, fun-loving, and a little wacky. She made that double date waaaaay more fun than it would have been otherwise. You do things you wouldn't normally do when you're with Liz, and that's why I love her!

Behold St. Basil's cathedral.

Wait... zoom in. What's that in the display? It's all Liz's fault!

Again, Liz's fault.

They had one of these for each sign in the zodiac. Being born in 1972, Russ thought he was a rat all his life until I pointed out that the Chinese new year doesn't usually start until February. Turns out he's a pig, and a pig's perfect love match is a rabbit (me!!). Now it all makes sense!

The pig and the rabbit are a match made in heaven. Awwwwww!

Here's one of the things we were allowed to touch.

Russ and I rode on the ferris wheel so we could see the lights from above.

Not quite worth the admission fee, but we had a fun time.

Monday, December 25, 2017


We were richly blessed in 2017. I had been wanting a 12 foot Christmas tree for several years now, and this year it finally happened. What I didn't realize about the size of this tree was how difficult it would be to decorate it all the way to the top. I strategically placed it next to the stairs so that I could decorate it from up there, but even then I needed a ladder for the top! I foolishly leaned my son's bunk bed ladder against the stair rail, and as I precariously balanced on the second rung from the top, it slid out from under me, sending my legs out behind me and my arms up above me. OUCH! Broke a nail, hurt my back, and got a bruise on my shin, but the tree was decorated!

I was supposed to throw away our old tree, which we have had for 14 years, but I couldn't resist keeping it and decorating it with all our colorful ornaments and the ones the kids have made at school over the years. I loved having two trees!

My little buddy loved the box the tree came in.

Throughout December, we enjoyed many of our favorite traditions. For family home evening one night, we joined some friends for a Christmas caroling hayride.

One of my kids was too cool to ride on the hay and followed behind.

We invited some other friends to join us for the annual boat parade at my parents' house. I was busy being the boat captain, so this is the only picture you are going to get. I don't know if they'll come again since one of my family members gave their daughter a candy bar with peanuts in it, and they had to rush off after their daughter had a serious allergic reaction. Sorry guys!

This year, I made sure to save time for my little guy's Christmas party. He is growing up too fast, and I promised myself I'd spend more time volunteering in his classroom while he still loves it.

One week before Christmas, we joined some of our friends from the ward to pack food for Feed My Starving Children. After clearing a bunch of toys out of our house and dreading the new ones that would soon arrive, it was just what I needed to warm my grinchy heart.

I even bought some ornaments that would benefit an artisan in Swaziland. I love these ornaments, especially because they match my new tree!

Somehow, some way, I was able to find time to help my kids build a gingerbread North Pole. We made elf houses for a couple of our friends, and they came over to decorate with us.

For the icing on the cake (or the house, I guess), Russ lit up the North Pole with lights!

Christmas Eve, we followed our new tradition of visiting the temple lights.

Getting all these kids to smile was no small task.

We waited a long time to get our picture in our traditional picture spot. Then it came out too dark, so we used flash, and that's when I found out just how ridiculous our pose and faces looked, so... dark it is. Kids. I mean, I guess they were tired of sitting there smiling.

You're really curious how it looked, huh? Okay, this one wasn't too bad after I fixed my red devil eyes.

The first two takes, he jumped right when I said 3. Kids!!

After walking through the gardens, we went into the visitor center to view nativities from around the world. They were super cool!

The perfect prelude to Christmas morning.

Soon enough, the big day was here!

I got a robot!

I got a bicycle!

I got a Kindle Fire!

I got a rock. (Okay, you'll only get this joke if you watch Charlie Brown's Halloween.)

Everybody loved the hoverboard. This is before his painful accident. (Should adults really be riding these?)

And it was fun to watch the hatchimal hatch.

Of course we had Christmas part 2 at my parents' house that night, and I snuggled my new little niece, Delilah. But there are no pictures, and let's face it... do we really need more memories of how we got way more stuff than we needed? I've got to figure this Christmas thing out. When I am stressed about the shopping, I know I've lost sight of the reason for the season, so I know I need some new ideas for how to capture the spirit of Christmas in my life. Do you have any?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Legoland Farewell

Well, we had our season passes for Legoland about to expire, and Russ was already in San Diego for work, so we decided to make a quick trip over for one last hurrah. I told the kids they shouldn't expect to go to Legoland again until they have kids of their own, so they needed to make sure they had no regrets. I was a little worried because we were going on a Saturday, but we walked right on the Dragon and got the front row! As soon as we were done, we went again.

It was pretty much the same story with the Technic Coaster. We were literally the second group to ride it that day. Cool, we checked the two major coasters off our list right away. It was going to be a great day!

Next stop, Granny Apple Fries! This may or may not have been my fault...

With the Star Wars episode 8 movie recently released, my kids were all excited to see the Star Wars models in Miniland. Everyone loves Yoda.

The dreaded Death Star.

We had never visited at Christmas time before, so that made our last visit kind of special.

The cars have always been a favorite for my kids, although one of them was finally too old to ride.

And we can never skip the carousel with the uncomfortably large horses.

One ride I never remember going on, and my kids begged me not to make them ride, was Skipper School. Oh, we are going! No regrets!

I had the best skipper.

The Lego Ninjago movie was also recently released, so we definitely had to get in on that action.

I asked him what he would ride if he had one last choice, and he picked the Kid Power Tower while the girls waited in line for Coastersaurus.

And then, because we had time left and the lines were so short, I made them go on one last ride on the Fairy Tale Brook. I guess I like water rides. Small World was always my favorite at Disney when I was a little kid.

Brandon's face cracks me up.

We passed the lion on our way to the exit, so we had to get one last picture in his mouth. I have no idea how many pictures I have of my kids with their faces in this lion. It's a lot... it might even date back to 2004.

*Looks through old pictures* Sure enough!

But there will be no more. Farewell Legoland! We're moving on!