Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Revelry Continues

On Saturday, December 27, Rara & Aunt Dott had their annual “Gingerbread Trains with the Grandmas” event. Ryan, Abi, Josh, Aidan, and Gage had a great time creating (and eating) their trains.That night, we were able to go out to dinner with the Randalls and the Cunninghams, who were in town from northern California. We don’t get to see them very often, and we always love spending time with them and getting caught up on things.Sunday, December 28 was the annual Jensen family party. This particular event has been held every year for at least 41 years. How do I know that odd number? We have pictures of me as a baby attending. Throughout my growing-up years, it was held at Grandpa & Grandma Jensen’s house. Most of the years since they passed away, we have held it at the Strands’. It’s always fun to get caught up with aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as the new additions to the family. For those of you who have been regular readers of this blog, yes, the piñata and “Must Be Santa” remained part of the festivities this year.

(Slideshow is coming. I keep getting error messages. In the meantime, view it here.)
Monday, December 29 was Frances’ birthday. We got Chili’s take out and (at Frances’ request) white cupcakes, and spent the evening with them. Even though Chili’s forgot Frances’ meal, we had a great time together, and hope her birthday was a great one.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had such a fun Christmas this year! It was our best Christmas since...well...since we spent Christmas at Disneyland two years ago.

Ryan actually slept in until about 7:45, and then called Rara and Papa to come over. We let him open his presents from Santa (MP3 player, Hulk Operation game, WALL*E DVD, etc.), and then asked him to wait for Marc and Frances and the girls to open the rest. Ryan and Papa had fun playing Hulk Operation while he waited. When Marc & Frances and Alice & Claire got here, we all ate brunch (the selection included such traditional Polish items as potica, Kronski sausages, and sauerkraut, as well as eggnog french toast made with Polynesian sweet bread and served with coconut syrup). When we had all eaten (and pretty much worn through Ryan's patience), we all opened the rest of our presents. I gave Ryan Guitar Hero, which entertained all of us for most of the rest of the day. I gave the girls VERY cute onesies with colorful ribbons and their names embroidered on them. I can hardly wait until they're big enough to fit into them!Frances brought gingerbread dough that she had made, so we all enjoyed making and decorating gingerbread cookies, too. It was so much fun to have everyone at our house! And having the girls join our family this year brought so much joy and happiness to our family! We had a wonderful Christmas, and hope those of you reading this did, too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Day - Body Worlds, CPK, and an Early Visit From Santa!

We had a fun Christmas Eve Day! Ryan spent Christmas Eve-Eve with his dad, so Rara and Papa and I picked Ry up at the hotel, and then headed for Body Worlds at the Leonardo. It was amazing! I worried a little bit about taking Ryan - I wasn't sure if it would be appropriate for kids that age. But he was fascinated. It was amazing to see how art and science were combined in order to offer such an incredible educational experience. The exhibit is still here in Salt Lake for another couple of weeks. I would definitely recommend it. Photography wasn't allowed in the exhibit itself, but at the end, they have a gift shop and a hands-on area. Ryan played with a probe camera, looking at everything from my cuticles to his nostrils. (I was told by the woman overseeing that portion that I had very clean fingernails and cuticles.) In this picture, Ryan is holding a REAL human heart! A cardiovascular surgeon in the making!After Body Worlds, we went to Ryan's favorite restaurant (and one of mine), California Pizza Kitchen. Most of you know that Ryan is a "selective" - not picky ;) - eater. Well, at CPK, he snarfed down his whole pizza before the rest of us even got our salads! I'll gladly take him ANYWHERE where he eats his meal that quickly!

We had a fun evening, reading the Christmas story and letting Ryan open a couple of presents (new jammies, of course). As we were sitting in the living room, Ryan all of a sudden said, "Oh my gosh! Santa's here!" and started madly running around the house. I thought he was crazy. Sure enough, we looked outside, and Santa was walking down the sidewalk (but went PAST our house)! Ryan was really worried that he wasn't in bed yet (it was only about 8:00), and continued to run around trying to decide what to do, when the doorbell rang! It was Santa. He said he was just making last minute checks, and wanted to make sure Ryan was still being good. Then he told Ryan to make sure he went to bed on time. Amazingly, Santa agreed to pose for a picture with Ryan IN OUR HOUSE!!!
Ryan put on his new jammies as fast as he could, then poured Santa's eggnog, put Santa's HoHos and candy cane brownies on a plate, wrote a quick last-minute note, and went to bed. As I type this, he is already asleep! I've never seen a child go to bed so quickly on a Christmas Eve before in my life!

As for me, I've cleaned the kitchen and the bathrooms in preparation for our guests tomorrow. I think I'm going to sit down for some eggnog and a HoHo.

Music to a Mother's Ears!

Ryan and I had fun making goodies for our friends and neighbors this year. Rara pointed out a fun (and easy) reindeer cookie in the Family Fun magazine, and we made A LOT of those.We also made our traditional corn flake wreaths and candy cane brownies, and also tried a new recipe for banana cookies. We took a plate with that combination of goodies to most of Ryan's friends (many of whom are also my cub scouts), as well as our neighbors with young kids. For the more health-conscious, we made the slightly-more-nutritious home made Chex Mix (always my favorite Chrismas snack).

As Ryan and I were driving around delivering goodies to those further than walking distance, he said, "Mom, it sure is fun doing nice things for other people, isn't it?"

There aren't many things more beautiful to a mother than hearing those words spontaneously flowing from her child's mouth.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Man of the House

Starting this winter, Ryan has REALLY wanted to help shovel snow. In years past, he has been perfectly content watching me do it from the front window. I guess as he is getting older, he has the desire to do more and more of the “manual labor” that I usually do. Yea!

We’ve had snow pretty constantly the past few days. We only have one snow shovel, so I’ve still just been doing the shoveling. Ryan has wanted to help, but he is still learning the efficient ways of shoveling. :) His completed driveway has looked something like his cousins’ cousin, Ethan, in Nebraska. (Picture used with Ethan's mommy's permission.)

On Friday, I did the main part of the driveway, and then let him do the much-less-used other side. He was so cute doing it! I decided it was worth it to buy him his own shovel. Yesterday after work, we went and picked one out. He was so proud to use it this morning!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

Ryan and I had a conversation this week which reminded me of the courtroom scene in “A Few Good Men.” Although our exchange wasn’t as angry, it was just as emotional, if not more so. The discussion went something like this…

Ryan: “Mom, I have a question for you. And I want you to tell me the truth, no matter what.”

(Normally when this sentence is uttered in our house, it is me saying it to him. I worry what may be coming when he says it.)

Me: “Okay.”

Ryan: “Are you the tooth fairy?”(I paused, trying to think of how to answer it.)

Ryan: “Well…are you?”

After talking all around the question as much as I possibly could, I told him that I was. There was another very long pause.

Ryan: “Where do you get all of those two dollar bills?”

Me: “At the bank.”

Ryan (in a VERY disappointed tone): “Oh.”

About an hour later, when it was closer to bedtime and he was much more tired and cranky, he started sobbing. I asked him what was wrong.

Ryan (very dramatically): “I wish I had never asked you if you were the tooth fairy!!!”

As much as I love to see Ryan growing up, it makes me sad to know that he's not a baby anymore when we have discussions like this.
I’m dreading the Santa question.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Whose Kids Are Those???

We had such a fun weekend! On Friday night, we went to dinner at CPK and then to the Discovery Gateway with our friends Kristin and Abby. Kristin and I have been good friends for a looong time, and we love it that our kids enjoy spending time together, too.

Ryan and Abby both tend to be on the adventurous side, particularly when they are together. They are both great at testing the boundaries. As they moved from one display to the next, Kristin and I had to keep an eye on them to make sure they weren’t doing anything crazy. A couple of times, they were.

As you can see by this picture, Ryan and Abby decided that sitting in the saddle of the horse was much too passé. They kept yelling at us to hurry and take their picture standing on the horse. We quickly obliged before any nearby parents reprimanded us for being such irresponsible mothers.Upstairs, the two of them parted for a while to go to their individual favorite things. Ryan likes the “KSL studio” and weather station, as well as the “make your own movie” area (following in the footsteps of Uncle Marc, I guess). But they both loved the helicopter! After Discovery Gateway closed, we walked around the Gateway mall for a while. The fountains were going, and all of you parents know what that usually means. It was about 45 degrees (downright balmy for December in Utah!), so we let the kids run through the fountains. Once again, people walking by would look at them, and then look around for the mothers of those crazy children. Were we the ones screaming in horror? No, we were the ones holding the coats and laughing with/at our kids. After warming up at the fire pit, we went our separate ways. Thanks for an awesome evening! We look forward to doing it again soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Holiday Fun

Every year, generally the first Friday in December, Bountiful has a light parade along Main Street. Both last year and this year, we took Ryan’s friend, Logan, with us to the parade and the activities after. The parade was much shorter this year, but it definitely wasn’t as cold. The boys enjoyed it, but were disappointed that their favorite float from last year didn’t participate this year. After the parade, we went to the rec center for the festivities there. The boys spotted Dance Dance Revolution (commonly referred to as DDR), and hopped on. They only left it for root beer floats, and a handful of times when other kids wanted to do it.

The photographer from the Clipper (local newspaper) was pretty entertained by them for a while, took a few pictures, and asked me their names. We though for sure their pictures would be in the paper yesterday. Nope. They’ll have to have their few minutes of DDR fame here.Saturday was our annual ward (church congregation) progressive dinner. It is one of my favorite events of the year. We meet at the church for hors d'oeuvres and visit there for a while. We are given our “salad” assignment, and go to various homes around the neighborhood (8 to 10 people per home) for that course. We visit for a while there, and then move to our “dinner” assignment home, where there is a different group of 8 to 10 people. We then meet back at the church for dessert. It is a fun way to meet new people, and have more time visiting with people we already know.

Everyone is asked to bring an appetizer dish to share. I found a cute snowman cheeseball online and decided to make it. Here is how it turned out. (Note the close-up view of my lovely new countertops.) It turned out so cute, that it is one of the things I’m serving on Christmas when the fam comes here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Light Up the Night!

The day after Thanksgiving, we had our annual tradition of watching the lights come on downtown. For many years, we went to Temple Square, sometimes even watching from the roof of Crossroads! (Those were some pretty cool pictures.) Since the ZCMI Center and Crossroads were torn down and parking around Temple Square is impossible to find, we’ve been going to the Gateway. We get a little bit of shopping done (Franklin planner refill pages, Ryan’s Build-a-Bear’s birthday/Christmas present, etc.), have a yummy dinner, enjoy the John Schmidt concert, and watch the lighting of the tree. This year was even better since it was about 40 degrees warmer!
This year we went to Jason’s Deli for dinner (VERY good, by the way, if you haven’t tried it yet). A free soft-serve ice cream cone is included with dinner. We finished dinner at about 7:00, about the time the program was starting on the complete opposite end of Gateway. So we ate our ice cream cones while we walked through Gateway. We went to our normal spot to watch the program – the west balcony directly across from the steps where they have the program. Well, that’s when we had a minor trauma. Ryan was leaning on the railing, and accidentally dropped his ice cream cone. He looked at me with this horrified look on his face and told me. Then I was the one with the horrified look on MY face! We looked over the edge to see who it landed on, and it was perfectly precariously perched in the little groove between the bricks on the cream side out.....dripping. (Remember…that 40 degrees warmer that WAS a good thing until now). So…if you were at the Gateway Friday night and can’t figure out how you got ice cream drops all over your shoulders and head, I have now solved the mystery! We had a lot of fun Saturday, too. We tended Alice and Claire for a few hours while Marc and Frances went on a date. Here I am with the girls… And here’s another picture of the cousins…