Merry Christmas indeed!

Christmas was merry in every sense of the word! (The Silly One even took a nap!) It was great to see him all excited to see what Santa brought but I loved going to church. We went to my parent's ward because my sister was playing her violin and did a beautiful job! I had been thinking about how several people had told me they weren't going to church or complaining about having to go on Christmas day. My thoughts on the subject that it was a great opportunity to go to church, to celebrate the whole reason we have Christmas. To worship and give thanks to your Father in Heaven for the gift he gave all of us in His Son. Above is my favorite picture from the whole day, me and my boys after church. 


Silent Night, Holy Night - Dec. 24

Just as I have mentioned a lot about food I have also mentioned traditions a fair amount. My very favorite is the Christmas Eve program my extended family has done since I can remember. We have a little talent show where everyone takes turns performing Christmas songs. My grandparents would tell stories about Christmases in their lives and include their testimonies of Jesus Christ. We do act out the nativity as my mom reads the account from Luke 2. After the nativity we sing Silent Night and then kneel in family prayer. As I have gotten older I look forward to singing Silent Night most of all. The spirit and reason we celebrate Christmas is so wonderful during those few musical moments, it is wonderful!
Joesph, Mary, Baby Jesus (the Silly One two years  ago - his first Christmas) and the donkey

Sugar Cookies - Dec. 23

I have written several times about food and really this a great time of year for it. My mom makes several types of cookies and treats each year including sugar cookies. One year we had a gazillion cookies and it took forever to frost them all, that was an experience off a lifetime and I wasn't even the one who added 16 cups of flour.  There are so many good ones but I think my favorite are the chocolate almond balls. My mother-in-law also makes sugar cookies and so we decided to make some to leave Santa. We still need to frost them but it is fun to do another tradition from our childhood with our children. 

Hot Chocolate - Dec. 22

I love chocolate and that includes hot chocolate. We tried to go see the lights at Thanksgiving Point with some of my family, it was a 45 minute wait to just get in to see the lights. We decided to go on a drive ourselves and look at lights. It was nice to drive around and afterward we came home and had hot chocolate and watched some basketball. It was an enjoyable evening even if it didn't work out the way we planned. I credit the hot chocolate, Raspberry Cheesecake and Dark Chocolate flavors. 

It's a Wonderful Life - Dec. 21

I was wrapping presents tonight and watching It's a Wonderful Life. I love that movie! I always feel so uplifted at the end. It is a great lesson in not feeling sorry for yourself and looking at the wonderful blessings we have been given. One of those blessing are people that care about you, look around and you will see them. 
"Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."

Caroling - Dec. 20

We got some carolers at our house tonight, it was great. I think caroling is kind of strange when you think about it but nice as well. I have tried to convince the Smart One we should sing a song when we take people gifts this time of year but he doesn't really go for that and I end up singing a solo. He told me to teach the kids to sing and then he can just stand in the background. We'll work on that and I'll keep singing in the meantime. 

Nutcracker - Dec. 19

I remember my mom listening to the music from The Nutcracker during the holidays and enjoying it. Tonight I took the Silly One to see The Nutcracker, my niece was one of the Chinese cookies in it. At first he loved it and just watched the dancers mesmerized. He did get bored at parts but he did quite well I thought. It is fun to share different things with our kids for the holidays. I always enjoy beautiful music and great dancing. 

Service - Dec. 18

When missionaries leave for their missions they are given an opportunity to speak in church. My cousin had his talk in church today. He did a great job and got me thinking about service. That is exactly what he and all missionaries will be doing for 2 years. And what better example of a life of service than that of our Savior. In Matthew 25:40 he said, "[. . .] Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." We have a great responsibility to help those around us and help and serve the Savior.

Yummy Treats - Dec. 17

'Tis the season to eat! We love good food around here especially this time of year. Here is a recipe that I think will become a holiday favorite, I found it and made it for the first time this year. It originated from allrecipes.com but here is my version with my notes:

Saltine Toffee Cookies
4 oz. saltine crackers (about one sleeve)
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
Optional: chopped nuts, sprinkles, candy pieces, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Then place crackers in a single layer very close together, sides touching, on the cookie sheet.
3. In a saucepan start melting the butter and add in the sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread as needed to cover crackers completely.
4. Baket at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate and top with optional topping. Cool completely and break into pieces.

Stockings - Dec. 16

A lot about holidays that make them special are traditions, at least I think so. One of the traditions my in-laws have are their stockings. They made stockings for each of their children and when I joined the family they made on for me. They have done that with the other in-laws that have come into the family and this year they decided to do the grand-kids. So my little guys got to see their's today as we continue the stocking tradition.


A Christmas Carol - Dec. 15

For several years I have tried to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens during this time of year. I am reading it right now and love it. (Only 10 days left!) There is good in everyone, something to always remember. God bless us, everyone!

I'll Be Home For Christmas - Dec. 14

Today was the last day of class and it reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas memories. I was a freshman coming home from college for the holidays. I had one of my roommates with me as she wasn't flying home until a few days later and she was staying at my home until then. Several things went wrong and it seemed to take FOREVER to get home. It had been a long hard semester as I am sure all freshman experience when starting college. We rode a shuttle for 4 hours to the airport where my dad met us. Just when I felt so close my roommate lost some of her luggage and we had to deal with the lost and found at the airport. :\ After what seemed like a couple of hours delay we finally came close to being home. We turned onto my parent's street and the Christmas lights were on and soon we drove in front of the house and I saw my mom's old fashioned Christmas tree in the living room window. It was the most beautiful tree! And really it could have looked just like it does every year but there was something special about it this time. Tears came to my eyes as I thought, "I'm home, I am finally home for Christmas." 
I realized then more than ever that there is no place like home for Christmas.

Peace and rest at length have come,
All the day's long toil is past;
And each heart is whispering,
'Home, Home at last!'
- Thomas Hood

You Better Watch Out - Dec. 13

Today I started teaching the Silly One "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." It is adorable to hear him sing it. I loved to sing as a child and it looks like he enjoys it as well.
"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!"

Wrapping Presents - Dec. 12

I am not sure why but I have always loved wrapping presents particularly at Christmas time. To me there is always something fulfilling about putting pretty paper and beautiful ribbon on a package to make it beautiful. it is even better while watching a good Christmas flick.

Better Self - Dec. 11

Working on improving myself is a continual process, not just at the beginning of the New Year with resolutions. I taught Young Women's and this was my favorite quote from the lesson. I made it into a simple bookmark for the girls.

“Yes, give me a young woman who loves home and family, who reads and ponders the scriptures daily, who has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me a young woman who faithfully attends her church meetings, who is a seminary graduate, who has earned her Young Womanhood Recognition Award and wears it with pride! Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for less than a temple marriage, and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity.[. . .]
“Live up to your divine potential. Remember who you are and the divine heritage that is yours—you are literally the royal daughters of our Father in Heaven. O ‘youth of the noble birthright,’ with all my heart I say, ‘Carry on, carry on, carry on!’ (Hymns, 1985, no. 255).” [Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, pp. 81–85]


Ward Christmas Party - Dec. 10

Our Ward Christmas party was Saturday morning and it was a breakfast. I loved it! It was simple and great. We ate and they did a little program where we were split into 5 small groups and we listened to a couple of people talk about the symbols of Christmas. Wiseman - gifts, Joseph - tree, Shepherd - candy cane, Mary - wreath, Angel - star. Afterward we even had a visit from Santa. It is always nice to have those sweet reminders of the reason for the season and nice to have kids hear it as well. 

Live Nativity - Dec. 9

It has been a crazy week so I am playing catch up. I won't go into the boring details so here we go with my Christmas Cheer. I had pictures taken of the boys and we got the baby laughing. I just love this little guy, it is amazing how they are so lovable.
Tuesday night we went to a live nativity with the Young Women. It was a great experience! As I saw the baby Jesus and Mary I thought about my own baby and how precious he is. I then thought about how the tiny baby Jesus made such an impact on the world. He started out like all of us and truly we can all make a difference in our own way as we follow Him. 


Date Night - Dec. 8

We haven't been on a date in awhile. We started to go out a little more not long before the Small One was born. But tonight we are going to a cooking class so it will just be a short date but still some time for us! I got a deal for it awhile ago and we were actually going to use it the week the baby was born so it obviously just postponed. It is a Christmas class, making a Holiday Caprese Salad & Orange Cinnamon Peanut Brittle . Here's to yummy holiday food and some time with the Smart One!

Merry and Bright - Dec. 7

Seems like I have been doing a lot of reminiscing about past Christmases for my little Christmas cheer/good that I am doing. But I then I came across this quote a few weeks ago and perhaps that is why I love Christmas, because of the wonderful memories. 

"I find it is obvious that the Christmases I remember best, the Christmases which touched my heart the most, are Christmases filled with love and giving and the Spirit of the Savior. [. . .] Bringing the Christmas spirit into our hearts and homes takes conscious effort and planning but can surely be accomplished." - Thomas S. Monson
So to continue on that vein, last night I was driving home from the business college and the lights were on downtown. I love Christmas lights and especially the lights downtown! I remember being in Salt Lake one time with my mom during the day at Christmastime and asking to drive down Main Street because they would put up beautiful Christmas decorations. They even did that in the neighboring city to where we lived. Most cities don't do that anymore, something dumb about obstructing views of the traffic lights. But seriously, I loved how beautiful it was. I worked downtown for a couple of years and it was great to walk down the streets in the early evening when the lights would come on. Anyway there is my joy for the day, Christmas lights. 


The Pocket - Dec. 6

I have always loved and enjoyed Christmas and I remember when I became an adult people with children telling me that Christmas was better with kids of your own. I didn't believe them, but I think I finally see what they were talking about. The Silly One is grasping the concept of Christmas and is quite excited. One tradition we had when I was growing up was an advent calendar. It looked like this:
A few years ago, one of my sisters came up with idea that we all make one like the original and we did. I made my husband do it with me when we were first married and until we had kids. (He didn't get as excited about it as I do.) This year it has been fun to watch the Silly One open the pocket. We always called it "the pocket" and would have to figure out whose turn it was to "open the pocket".  This morning I mentioned opening the pocket and the response was, "Yay! The pocket!" At that moment I was so happy that my son was so excited about something small, something I used to look forward to. Here's to many more years of opening the pocket!

Christmas Tree - Dec. 5

Last night for Family Home Evening we finished decorating our Christmas tree. (It only took me a week to get everything up, it is much harder with two little people!). The Silly One loves to help and I admit it is hard to let him put the ornaments where he wants them. I like things more asymmetrical, I think it is more pleasing to the eye and he likes things lined up and organized. But I think it is cute and for now this is how they will stay. :)


First Presidency Christmas Devotional - Dec. 4

Ever since I was a little kid I have always loved the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. It was a highlight of the season even then. It was last night and it was wonderful. True, children can disrupt things and that is why I am grateful to be able to listen to their words again here. Another bit of Christmas Cheer? Here is the link to the new Bible videos, these are going to be great for family home evenings!

Gratitude - Dec. 3

This morning in our Young Women presidency meeting the thought was from this month's Ensign on The Choice to be Grateful from Pres. Eyring. At the end there is a gratitude challenge:

Write down 100 things are you grateful for -

  1. 1. 
    Write 10 physical abilities you are grateful for.
  2. 2. 
    Write 10 material possessions you are grateful for.
  3. 3. 
    Write 10 living people you are grateful for.
  4. 4. 
    Write 10 deceased people you are grateful for.
  5. 5. 
    Write 10 things about nature you are grateful for.
  6. 6. 
    Write 10 things about today you are grateful for.
  7. 7. 
    Write 10 places on earth you are grateful for.
  8. 8. 
    Write 10 modern inventions you are grateful for.
  9. 9. 
    Write 10 foods you are grateful for.
  10. 10. 
    Write 10 things about the gospel you are grateful for. 
I am working on this and may share it as a google document. When you think of all the blessings you have it is hard to have a bad attitude about anything. 

Christmas Music - Dec. 2

I love Christmas music and have been listening to it since Halloween. (It is just too beautiful to wait.) I think this is my favorite song, and I think Sissel has the most beautiful version. I was at the concert and it was my favorite. 
The music is beautiful and so are the words:
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him; give my heart. 

What is your favorite Christmas song?


Little Conversation - Dec. 1

Today's Christmas good came from a little conversation I had with my son. I mustered up the courage to go to Walmart with two kids, I have been very weary doing this. It wasn't too bad, thanks to the Silly One being more cooperative than usual. Anyway the wind was blowing like crazy and so I luckily had parked next to the cart return. I put the kids in the car and then loaded the groceries in the trunk. As I was returning the cart another woman started talking to me about the wind and how we couldn't see anything. It was just a friendly conversation and we went our separate ways. I went to buckle up the Silly One and this is what followed:
Silly One: Mom, who you talk to?
Me: Just a nice lady
Silly One: Your friend?
Me: Just a friendly lady, I had never seen her before.
Silly One: Oh. My friend is at work.
Me: Who is your friend?
Silly One: My dad.

I thought that was so sweet. Sometimes we treat our friends better than our family and to the little guy they are one in the same. I need to be more like him.

Christmas Cheer!

'Tis the Season to be jolly right? I love this time of year and sometimes we can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everything. I purposely tried to do a lot of my shopping before the baby was born. I did a good job and don't feel too stressed or anything with the few things I still have to do. Anyway to celebrate this time of year I am going to post some good each day. You know like the 12 days of Christmas but my goal is to do it each day this month. Here goes nothing.