Lets actually start back at Thanksgiving!
The "Master in the Kitchen" Scott did his thing again this year. All the planning. All the cooking. All the cleaning. ALL OF IT! Which pretty much makes Thanksgiving the greatest day of the year. He brined the turkey again this year, made his famous stuffing from scratch, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry salad (new recipe this year and we loved it!), corn dish, and even homemade rolls. You should have seen him in his apron rolling out the dough :) We had the missionaries over for Thanksgiving dinner and it was just wonderful. We had a blast.
After Thanksgiving, all the holiday festivities began. The day after we brought out all the storage bins (yes, all two) and the Christmas tree and decorated the house. One perk of living in a small place is that it doesn't take much to make the whole house feel like you live at the north pole! It was like living in heaven for the whole month. The smell of cider simmering on the stove and seeing all the twinkling lights is enough make me cry.
We started the month off with the Christmas parade in Los Altos with lots of friends. A few days later we had our annual Gingerbread House Evening with the Walkers and this year I even did some research and found out the best ways to cut graham crackers so that the houses actually stay standing. And oh, ours did. And with all the candy on it, that was a definite miracle! We ate pizza and candy and felt so amazingly happy by the end of the night!
The next week we were able to go to the Walk Through Bethlehem down in San Jose. This has to be my all-time favorite Christmas tradition and it did not disappoint. We talked with the roman soldiers, we helped make bricks, we used a real saw to shave bark off a tree, and cleared the path as Mary and Joseph made their way to the stable. We watched the wisemen come in (on real camels!) and saw the shephards worship baby Jesus. It really is incredible.
We made so many cookies and candies. We decorated sugar cookies for classrooms and preschool friends. We delivered treats to our neighbors. And can't forget to make an extra batch so that we have lots around the house.
I was able to have a few fun birthday outings with my friends. These women here mean so much to me and made me feel so special. Love my girls!
We attended a Ugly Sweater Christmas party and white elephant gift exchange. I love these kinds of parties. So fun to get out (without the kids) and have fun and laugh with all our friends. The Nelsons really know how to throw a party. And the white elephant gift exchange was a blast. I didn't tell Scott, but one of our white elephant gifts was a snow globe with a shirtless picture of him in it. He was definitely shocked when someone opened up that gift :)
Every year we go to the apartment management company's Christmas party and the boys were extra excited this year because they got to order salmon (their new favorite food) and could barely wait through dinner until Santa arrived and delivered a present to each of the children. It was really fun!
We did dinner and game nights with such fun friends and even tried to put our kids down at other houses so we could stay up late and play (we really think we much younger) and what ended up happening was that our kids stayed up til 11 in their sleeping bags. We still had so much fun!
We walked down Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto with some great friends and enjoyed the wonderful weather and all the lights and decorations and an entire bag of homemade caramel popcorn!! (Thanks Steph!)
We saw the movie Frozen on Christmas Eve and it was a hit. I think I might have loved it more than anyone in our family, but the boys had a great time and keep asking if we can see it again. Scott fell asleep for part of the movie. We came home and had some delicious soup for dinner and then the boys headed to bed right on time just giddy with excitement. They tried so hard to stay awake to hear Santa and Ty swears he heard a "ho, ho, ho" in the middle of the night (probably just a homeless guy outside) and Cam swears he heard reindeer paws on the roof (probably just rats running through the walls).
Christmas morning was magical. Just magical. The boys loved their presents from Santa, we ate Christmas morning casserole, per McPhie tradition, and munched on candy all afternoon. Then Scott got busy in the kitchen again and whipped up several delicious Christmas dishes. But nothing says Christmas like our favorite christmas tradition of "shlub" (thanks Laytons!") and we toasted with our cups filled to the brim. (Shlub is a frozen banana/pineapple yummy mixture that you cut little pieces of and put in your cups and then add sprite) It was such a great day. We had so much fun the rest of the break just being home with Scott, playing with new toys and Drew riding his new bike. On New Years Eve day, Scott took Ty and Cam up to Bear Valley and went skiing. They left early early in the morning and didn't get home until bedtime. We had a quick dinner of pizza bagel bites, mozzerella sticks, and yummy appetizers and did our countdown at 8pm. The boys were asleep probably by 8:15. They say it was one of their favorite days of the break. (Me too. I got up and cleaned the house first thing in the morning and guess what?? It stayed clean! All day! I did still have Andrew with me, but I didn't let him make any messes :))
Honestly, I look back and can't believe how fast December went by. It makes me sad that it is already over, but the truth is, there was so much fun and happiness and family memories packed in there and I couldn't have planned it out better. Don't get me wrong...we still had our share of timeouts, our "oh, darn, I think you need to go to bed early", and our "I don't hear children that scream and shout and roll on the floor" moments. But December just has a way of erasing all the bad memories and helping you focus on those wonderful precious moments. I think that is how I want every month to be :)
Perfect way to start off the new year...with a goal to make every month a happy month!