Tuesday, December 23, 2008



We had a blast in NC this past weekend with all of our friends at our Christmas party!!! I haven't laughed so hard, ate such good food, or stayed up so late in a long time. I can't wait til next year.....and watch out everyone cuz I already have my gag gift planned!!! Merry Christmas all!!!

Sneak peek to Chip's outfit

Sweater and turtleneck courtesy of Belk Women's section

Trying on their outfits for the first time, saying they would NEVER wear them at the party

A bunch of the girls - Chip loaned his pants above to Jen for the night!!!

A few guys enjoying the food

Yum Yum for the grub - SO GOOD!!!

Caiti, Jen, and me

The dessert bar!

I made the famous Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

Sandy and Randy (aka Edward)

The doubles present game.....Brannon wrapped the present SOOOO tight!!!

Go Jen!

The youngest guests....Cash and Michael

Chip and I with our gag gifts - we really scored big!

Chip and me in our matching sweaters

At the end of the night Jason went to get his shoes, and someone else had taken his home and left these - a little small for him (3 guys all wore the exact same shoes, but different sizes this night)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


On the Wendy's sign it reads: "Jesus. The reason for the season." At first I thought it was weird but now every time I drive by I look for it and love reading it!!! I have been thinking a LOT over the past month about the holiday traditions I wanted to start with my family. It didn't seem like a big deal to me when I was growing up as to whether or not we followed the traditions I loved as a child - but now that we have a son I have been thinking a lot about what I want him to get out of Christmas and what would be fun for us to do as a family for the holidays and so have compiled a list of things we are going to implement this year and for the years to come!!! I wanted to have fun traditions, but also spiritual traditions that really allow our family to feel the true Christmas spirit and focus on what the season is all about!!!

Decorate the tree while watching Elf & having hot chocolate
Picking out your pair of socks to use as your stocking (this year i LOVE all of ours!!!)
Going to see the Temple lights...
Acting out the nativity
Serving at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
Hosting an ugly sweater party - with lots of fun games!!!
Opening up PJ's on Christmas eve
Giving the kids an ornament each year, and then when old enough getting them their own little fake tree for their room with all their ornaments!!!
Going to a movie on Christmas day!
Attending the Forgotten Carols play (if possible) or at least reading it
Listening to Christmas songs every day starting Nov. 26th
Giving our kids a gift dealing with something spiritual each year
Not eating sweets from Dec 1-Dec 25 (this is just for me and I have done it this year and think I will do it next year too - helps me avoid overeating at all the holiday parties)
Making Gingerbread houses
Getting kids picture taken with Santa
Having our family night where we make our Christmas wish lists for Santa, and then our list of 3 things we are going to give to Christ! (this is one of my favorites!!!)

If you read this please share your favorite holiday tradition.....the must have one you can't go year without doing! We would love to add more!!!

Our stockings - Cash, mine, Chip's (sorry they are a little small in this pic)

Some of my delicious healthy food I have been eating (since I am not eating sweets)

Soup to go with the delicious bran muffins and baked apples above

Chip and I all dressed up for his company party - our first time leaving Cash with a babysitter!

Our Staircase (1 of them) and small tree since we didn't get a big tree this year!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gel For Your Nail?

If you have ever been to a nail salon, the kind where the primary language is NOT English, then you will understand and love this video!!! My experience yesterday was exactly like this video. I walked out paying more than I thought, knowing not at all what I got that made it more expensive, and yet laughing the whole way to the car as I thought about this video and how true it is!

Hey - at least my nails do look beautiful....pics to come soon of my formal date tonight with my honey!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsWrY77o77o (copy and paste this to view...it will have you laughing)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If You Think You have it Bad.....


Yesterday I attended my Relief Society Christmas Enrichment Night. I had slaved away in the morning to make a delicious Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake (recipe by Culinary Crafts) and it looked and smelled delicious. However, I didn't get out the door on time and with traffic slowing me down even more I arrived over 1/2 hour late. I walked in with the baby seat on my left arm, the diaper bag on my right shoulder, and the large pumpkin cheesecake on a glass platter in my right hand. I was a little weighed down and so when a sister asked if she could take the dish and set it on the table for me I was more than grateful for the help. We walked into the gym and I realized quickly the program had already started. It was dead silent and a lady by the name of Emily was speaking.

I stood there, trying to remain inconspicuous as I put Cash down on the ground and tried to regain some composure when I saw it. As I looked down I realized I had left my house wearing......not shoes, but my slippers. As I tried to hide them underneath my pants my cell phone (which is on vibrate 99% of the time) went off ringing loudly and disrupting the program. As I tried to hurry and pull it out and silence it I thought to myself "this is not going to be a good night....maybe I should just leave now". I still don't even have any friends, and now I am just making a big scene. However, after silencing my phone, picking up Cash, and finding a seat I started to listen to the girl speaking....and that is when it really hit me!!!

Emily was speaking of her life situation right now! She is married to a man who is serving in the military and has been deployed to Afghanistan. He has been there for a number of months and will be there until next February, meaning she has been a single mom to her 4 year old little Marin for quite awhile. She talked about how it is hard to do the work of 2 people all the time by herself, how it is lonely, how she arranges her day around getting to talk to her husband on the phone - whether it be early in the morning or late at night since the days and nights are reversed over there. She mentioned how the holidays are hard to be away from family and not even have her husband around.

I instantly felt humbled, and could not contain myself from letting the tears fall.

I sat there thinking about how much I complain all the time that my husband works so many hours. How sorry I feel for myself that he doesn't get every weekend off to spend with Cash and me, and how alone I feel in this new town we live in. And yet, at least he does come home at night and I get to see him a few minutes each day, at least I can call and talk to him on the phone whenever I want, and at least I don't have to worry each day that this might be the day a bomb goes off and I get the phone call that he won't ever be coming home because his life has been taken!!! It finally hit me while I listened to her and then to her husband's recorded message that I really don't have it too bad!

I felt an outpouring of love for this mother/daughter and as the sign up sheet went around to help bring her meals for the next couple of months I wanted to sign up next to all the days. I wanted to invite her over and have her hang out and do stuff and be her friend. I realized that there are people out there that are lonely too, maybe even feel more alone and overwhelmed than I do, and I instantly wanted to be of service and find ways to help them.

This was THE BEST CHRISTMAS activity for me to have attended because it helped me realize, once again, what Christmas really is all about. GIVING. And as I sat there thinking about what I could give to her and to others I forgot about my own problems, which now seemed so small, and really felt a desire to immerse myself in the work and start serving more....even if it be in small ways such as taking a dinner to someone, or inviting someone over for dessert. I want to do more!

I am grateful for the Relief Society program and how it really is sisters uniting and helping one another, and am glad this sister has allowed the rest of us to get a chance to serve her and be of help. What a great opportunity for all of us to learn and to grow. I am grateful for a church that is organized so wonderfully and know that it is true and that Christ lives. I truly have a testimony of that and am so grateful for this holiday season to remember his birth and what truly is important.

I am very glad I went to Enrichment last night, slippers on, cell phone ringing, and all....and for the chance to be fed spiritually and recommit myself to immersing myself in my new ward! Truly there are always those around us who are worse off than we are....we just have to look outside ourselves!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008: weekend of Feasting

For Thanksgiving this year we enjoyed 2 wonderful feasts. We first had a very different gourmet dinner at Denton's with a bunch of my cousin's family. It was absolutely DELICIOUS!!! Chip has been talking about it ever since, saying how it was one of the best meals he has had EVER! We had a blast doing the turkey trot (actually only I did the turkey trot - it was 3 miles of lots of hills and after not running for the previous week due to illness was extremely CHALLENGING for me...however, thanks to Lindsey for being my partner we finished it....and then all the more reason to allow myself more calories at the dinner right?)

We had a great lunch in the park, followed by games with the kids, followed by hanging out at Suzie's house! Then we went to Denton's for the dinner and enjoyed the yummy grub, and then played games and laughed so hard I think I might have got the beginning of a six-pack! It was a great day! The menu consisted of:

Stuffed Turkey breast (SO GOOD)
Pumpkin Ravioli (Denton even made the noodles from scratch - my personal favorito)
Sweet Potato Gnocchi (absolutely divine)
Spinach Gratin (fantastic)
Homemade bread/rolls (so soft)
Roasted veggies (also my favorite)
Slush (this was my contribution and it tasted great too)
Green beans (so flavorful)
Pear/Cranberry Pie (a new favorite pie)
Pumpkin Cheesecake (so yummy)
Chocolate nut pie (also phenomenal)

A very filling and delicious feast!!! I hope we are invited back next year for round 2!!!

After the turkey trot.....all bundled up in the park!!!

A few of the cousins enjoying lunch at the park

Adult time to eat...First meal a success....esp. the spiced nuts and avocado salad from chels!!!

Fun game w/ kids....Chip was paired with Leo....so I gave them the name Team Cheo

Getting ready to eat that donut...they came up with a good strategy!

Go Team CHEO!! They won!

Right after finishing my 3 mile run...with my little cheerleader!

The table is ready.....and so is Greg, for the delicious meal at Denton's.

The stuffed turkey and roasted vegetables...I will be cooking these a LOT in the future!

After stuffing ourselves we played games and the kids wrestled.

Suzie teaching us all how to play Big Booty....probably one of the funniest things of the whole night!

The next day we got in the car and headed down to my friend Bonnie's house in VA. Her parents just got back from being the mission president in Guatamala and we had a big traditional (very delicious) feast at their house before heading off to their beach house for the weekend!!! They have a great place and it was so fun hanging out, eating great food, playing games, and laughing and catching up this weekend! Thank you friends!

Our great little traveler!

Celebrating the holiday with his daddy in his new bib!

Cash and mommy!

This pose for some reason makes me think of a stuffed turkey...what a cute little guy!

Feasting at the beach house....we enjoyed good food ALL weekend long!

Playing Chip's favorite game....the name game.....President, Hermana, and Bonnie!

Jeff, Cady, and Brent watching the acting in the name game!

We had so much fun laughing at the acting in round 3 of the game!

Hermana with little Cash....she had him laughing up a storm!

The first night we were there it was FREEZING...but Chip still wanted to jump in Ocean....here he is on his way back to jump in the hot tub and warm up!!!

Enjoying the hot tub after freezing their keisters off in the Ocean!

The view of the ocean in the day time!

Kate and Jared had so much fun playing with the barn!

The 2nd day when Nate took Chip and Katie surfing....it was raining and freezing still, but they had a good time! (thank you for wet suits)

President during the afternoon....catching a few zzzz's

Stuffing envelopes for Nate and Katie's wedding invitations...congrats to these 2 cute lovebirds!

One of my MOST FAVORITO meals....crab! Thank you Hermana (Debster) for the great food!

Jarrett being my good little helper and playing with Cash!

The view on Sunday when we were getting ready to leave....rainy and cold, but so beautiful!