Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Annual Jensen Family Christmas Party

Since some members of our extended family travel for Christmas, our Jensen family party is often a day or two after Christmas. This year, it was on Saturday, December 26.

We had a yummy dinner, exchanged wonderful gifts, and took the traditional pictures with George the Giraffe...
Misty and her kids (more than half of the great-grandkids) didn't come up from St. George for Christmas this year, which left Ryan, Alice, and Claire from that generation. Since Alice & Claire aren't quite old enough for the pinata and "Must Be Santa," we skipped those traditions this year. (See this post for the specifics of these traditions.) Instead, the grandkids (my generation...plus Ryan) spent hours playing Rock Band. It seemed to be a bigger hit than the pinata and "Must Be Santa." Sorry, Rara!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Day

Ryan has a tradition of leaving cookies, egg nog, and a note for Santa. I realize that most kids do. However, Ryan’s note to Santa is interactive. He asks questions. That require full-sentence answers. Of course, we all know that Santa is busy, but he has done a pretty good job of answering the questions to Ryan’s satisfaction.
According to tradition, Rara & Papa, Marc & Frances & Alice & Claire come to our house on Christmas morning. Ryan is always so patient to wait for everyone to arrive. He even ate breakfast while waiting! Rara & Papa made it first, and we decided to let Ryan open a couple of his presents to keep him occupied until Marc, Frances, Alice & Claire could arrive.
When they arrived, we had a lot of fun watching Alice & Claire open presents. Their excitement was hilarious! They got a rocking giraffe that they LOVED! They kept making the horse-clicking sound to let us know that they wanted to ride. They shared and took turns quite well.Copper even received some gifts! Santa left a cute paw print stocking with a bunch of treats and toys. Ryan gave Copper a very large rawhide bone (that he bought with his own money).
After presents, Marc & Frances made our breakfast (another tradition) of Kronski’s Polish sausages and egg not French toast. MMMmmmmm!!!!!

In the late afternoon, we went to Rara & Papa’s for a yummy dinner, and then came back to our house for another tradition – gingerbread cookies on Christmas night.

It was a wonderful Christmas day. We enjoyed every single minute together!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve day, Marc, Frances, Alice, Claire, Ryan, and I went to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. With so many kids out of school, we expected a bigger crowd, but I guess everyone was finishing shopping or getting ready for Christmas. There were only a handful of other families there, so we pretty much had immediate access to whichever activity we wanted.We spent a lot of time with the colored balls and tubes. The girls took turns feeding the balls into the tubes from the top platform, and catching them as they came out of the tubes below.
Everyone's favorite...the horse...
Followed closely by splashing in the water...
Alice loved shopping (apparently she loves fruit) and being pushed on the farm tractor...Claire loved playing house with Ryan in the pint-sized playhouse...(Christmas spoiler: Marc & Frances gave me an annual pass to the Discovery Gateway museum! WOO HOO!!! I see more visits with Ryan & the girls in our future!)

Later that night, we continued a couple of other family traditions, getting new jammies and reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Zoo Lights

We had a fun evening on Monday with almost everyone in the family. Copper had three procedures during the day (neutering, tooth pulled, and microchip implanted), so Papa stayed home with the recouperating Copper. Ryan and I picked up Rara, and we met Marc, Frances, Alice, and Claire at the zoo for "Zoo Lights."We had a great time walking around and looking at all of the wonderful light displays. Alice & Claire's sound effects (animal noises for each animal) definitely made it even more entertaining.One very cool thing - as we approached the "Asian Highlands" (tiger habitat), the mother and two baby tigers were right by the window. We watched them for a minute, and then the mother walked away. Most people stayed by the window waiting for her to come back. We walked a little further up the walk to see the rest of the lights. When we turned around, she was right above us!

It was extremely cold (a little bit below freezing), but there were plenty of the propane fires/heaters around. It was a wonderful evening! Thanks, family! (And thanks to Papa for "puppy-sitting.")

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Polish Tradition with an Aussie Twist

On Saturday, we participated in a family tradition that is at least four generations old. Our Polish side of the family makes potica (a sweet nut bread) at Christmastime every year. Some of my earliest memories of my grandma are “helping” her make potica. My favorite thing was always “spanking” the dough as it raised.

For all of my growing up years, the potica was made at my grandma’s house. The year of Ryan’s first Christmas, we made the potica at my house. In fact, it was on potica day that Ryan first crawled! My mom and aunt often take turns making it at each other’s homes. This year we also spent a day making potica at Marc & Frances’ house. Frances’ mom and sisters came to help.
Frances’ sister, Lauren, had just returned home after several months in Australia. We had a great time hearing about all of her adventures. As all of the women talked in the kitchen, I could picture a bunch of Polish women working and chatting about things happening in their lives.
It was fun to introduce potica to a new generation of Polocks. :)Since Rara, Frances, Janae, Lauren, and Janell were doing most of the work in the kitchen (and Marc ran several errands he needed to take care of), Ryan and I tended Alice & Claire all day. We had so much fun with them. They are getting so smart, and can say so many words (and animal sounds!).Rara gives the grandkids ornaments every year. Claire enjoyed opening hers while Alice was taking her nap. Once Alice woke up, we helped her open hers.After lunch, we had a special treat from Lauren. I had heard about Tim Tams, and asked her to bring some home. She did even better than that! She brought two packages of Tim Tams (one milk chocolate, one white chocolate), and also a drink that is very popular in Australia, which is kind of like hot chocolate (I can’t remember the name). She taught us the fine art of “Tim Tam Slams.” MMMMmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!It was such a fun day, filled with both old and new family traditions. Frances also posted a wonderful account of the day on her blog. Check it out here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Third (?) Day of Christmas

My friend, Kim, has breast cancer. She had her mastectomy on Monday, and has been in the hospital all week. Her son, Isaac, and Ryan are good friends. It was Isaac’s birthday on Wednesday. We had the wonderful opportunity to help Isaac celebrate his birthday.

First let me say that this is one of the best things that could have happened to RYAN! In years past, I have done the “12 Days of Christmas” for him with smaller gifts, such as DVDs and figures that go along with the movies (Star Wars, Chronicles of Narnia, etc.). He is apparently now beyond those. Everything he has asked for this year is considerably more expensive. Last Saturday I gave him his monogrammed Tsunami warm up suit before his meet. Apparently he thought that was the first day of Christmas. He has been asking me EVERY DAY if I have something for him. On Wednesday, I told him that his “day of Christmas” was that we were going to take ISAAC to do fun things for his birthday, and that Ryan was not to ask me for a single thing. I knew it would be hard for him.

I picked the boys up from cub scouts (have I mentioned that I am now the cubmaster and no longer the Wolf den leader?), and we went home to play for a while. I asked Isaac where he wanted to go for his birthday dinner, and he chose McDonald’s. When we got there, the boys were the only kids there. They are both officially too tall to play in the “Play Place,” but since they were the only kids there, I told them they could play until other kids came. They loved it! As much as they try to pretend that they are getting older and more mature, they are still very much kids.
After about 30 minutes, three more families came. (Interestingly, only dads with kids. It was Wednesday night, you know.) We left, and went to Smith’s Marketplace. I told Isaac that he could choose something for his birthday for about $10-$12. He pondered and pondered. I suggested fun games, such as Apples to Apples, Boggle, or Clue, that he could play with his family once his mom felt better. Nope. He had his eye set on a whoopee cushion. I finally gave in (I’m sorry, Kim! Hopefully it won’t last long!) He picked out a couple of other things, which both boys were already having fun playing with there in the toy aisle.

Later that night, as Ryan was going to bed, I asked him how his “day of Christmas” was. He reported that it was a lot of fun, and that he was really glad that we could help Isaac have a fun birthday since his mom was in the hospital. I agree. Thanks, Kim, for the opportunity to do this for you and Isaac!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Classes Are Done…We’re Having FUN!!!

Now that my classes are completed for this term, Ryan and I are hitting all of the events of the season. (Actually, we started playing BEFORE my classes were done!) We have a few traditional events every year.

The Gateway shopping center in downtown SLC always has a fun celebration when they turn the tree lights on. The fun and awesome pianist, Jon Schmidt, performs a free concert (GREAT, since his regular concerts at this time of year are fiscally impossible for us to attend). We always stand in the same spot every year to watch. We have a wonderful view of his performance, and a prime spot for the tree lighting.
Every year we attend Bountiful’s Light Parade. People (families, organizations, etc.) decorate their vehicles with a lot of lights, and they parade down Main Street, down 4th North, and then along 200 West to the Rec Center. The parade started at 6:00 this year – about the time Ryan finished swim team practice. He took a quick shower and we bundled up & headed out to watch.After the parade, we went back in to the Rec Center for all kinds of treats. And, of course, Santa.Our local shopping center also has a celebration every year. This past year, they have been doing some extensive remodeling, so the Christmas party was also kind of an unveiling of the new things in the shopping center, too. This year, they called it Christmas on the Square. Of course, this event was also right after Ryan’s swim team practice, so he was wet again. We spent some time by the fire pit…And then went on a carriage ride…Our friends, Kristin & Abby, joined us to finish going around the square for the yummy treats. Kristin took this cute picture of Ryan & Abby enjoying their hot chocolate by one of the fires.I love this time of year. I love all of the events that Ryan and I can enjoy together, either just the two of us or with other family and friends. I especially love all of the lights and what they symbolize.