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Year: 2016

12 years

12 years

12years

With a sick baby being watched by aunts and uncles, our 12th anniversary celebration was short and sweet (just dinner and walk around the temple we were married in). But I guess that is pretty much the stage of life we are in.

It’s good to be able to look back on years gone by and exciting to look forward to the ones to come.

christmas in utah

christmas in utah

We spent Christmas in Utah for the first time since I was pregnant with Simon. So it’s been a minute. Several of my siblings have gotten married and had kids, we’ve had more kids, my parents have remodeled parts of their house. A lot has changed.

skiers

And we tried to make the most of it. With a few kids that are out of diapers and game to try new things, we thought we’d go skiing. (It was my first time too.) It was a pretty great success (though two of our kids might tell you otherwise). It turns out that Oliver is a natural born ski bum and couldn’t get enough of the bunny hill. All the kids worked hard and didn’t complain a bit. They all said it was a lot of fun (though some changed their story later on).

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We took family pictures in the freezing cold.

thewholefamily

Baked up delicious spread of pies (salted honey, mincemeat, and cherry almond).

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Saw the lights on Temple Square—despite the rain.

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Got caught under the mistletoe.

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And posed in front of the tree on Christmas morning.

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Not pictured: We suffered through couple of illness, including the worst case of conjunctivitis I’ve ever seen; stayed up much too late chatting; watched some football; visited with friends;

everyone gets a part

everyone gets a part

When there are 20+ people who need parts in the nativity performance, you sometimes have to just go with things. Like a lion and a bear/cow who showed up with the shepherds to worship baby Jesus. Or maybe adding a chief priest and scribe to counsel with Herod after the wise men/women came to call. Or including a “multitude” of the heavenly hosts with the heralding angel.

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And with so many babies . . . well, one of the lambs had to step into the role of baby Jesus when the lead got a little cranky.

But rest assured, good times were had by all. It was a performance for the ages for sure.

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flying blind

flying blind

It seems as though Elsa doesn’t remember much from her last time in the air a year and a half ago. Either that or she is newly aware of words and the opportunity to understand what the heck is happening.

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She and I went over the safety pamphlet a couple of times before takeoff, and then she spent quite a while studying it on her own as well. On the return trip she pulled it out right away for a review and to remind me how I would hold Felix while tucking under as much as possible during a crash landing. (Nothing like having kids to make you feel brave/scared to pieces at the same time.)

We took the red eye home and Oliver and Elsa (who were sitting on my side of the aisle, while Simon and Micah were on the other side and Felix was shuttled back and forth from side to side) were thrilled by the “seat dreams” pack sitting on their seats. The earplugs were pretty much unusable in their little ears, but they tried anyway. The big hit was the eye mask, which made for a pretty good photo op.

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Seeing these kids discover the world over and over and be so excited about it is pretty much the best. If only we could all maintain that level of wide-eyed wonder about the world.

handmade Christmas

handmade Christmas

During December I pretty much put all my other projects (writing, podcasting) on hold and just do Christmas. It seems like a couple of nights a week we have activities out on the town (seeing the window displays in the city, delivering cookies, going to various Christmas tree lightings), and if we are not out late (and even if we are) I usually have some ridiculous project I am making for gifts. (Micah too.)

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This year I made 10 rag dolls for some of my nieces and nephews. I sent them off with various materials so they could make them up as one of their ancestors (as a family history project) or as themselves, if they so choose.

I also made the most bespoke slippers for the kids that you have ever seen.

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These babies went through several design iterations before I finally settled/figured out how they would actually work, and then I was up until after 2:00am on Christmas morning putting them together. They weren’t entirely finished then, but the kids seemed not to mind.

Micah made some lovely teething rings for Felix (though Elsa claims credit for the idea), and the kids had their own projects for each other as well. Elsa made keychains out of pony beads (Weedle the Pokemon for Oliver, a snitch for Simon). Oliver wrote a story about birds of paradise and tigers and made puppets with which to act it out. And Simon made these mix-n-match coloring book for Oliver and Elsa. Oliver’s is Pokemon themed, Elsa’s is cats.

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While it does make things a little crazy, I really do like having things to make. It feels like a little bit of a rebellion against the commercialization of Christmas, a little more handmade and heartfelt.

felix navidad

felix navidad

I’m going to be honest: I don’t really know why baby’s first Christmas is supposed to be so special. Unless the baby is brand new and it feels like Christmas just to have him—I get that. Not being pregnant any more, having a new baby, that does feel a little bit like Christmas. But when he is a rug rat crawling around and causing destruction and putting every little thing on the floor into his mouth . . . not so much fun. Constant vigilance is the key to the season.

felixandsanta

But having said that, I do appreciate this “baby’s first Christmas” photo with Santa at our ward party. It is for sure not the magical Santaland that most people go to at Macy’s, but I just love that Felix seems so skeptical of this “Santa” person, rather than exploding into tears like most babies I’ve seen.

“ugly” sweater contests

“ugly” sweater contests

“Ugly” is for sure in the eye of the beholder. I mean, who could look at these kids in these sweaters and wrinkle their noses?

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The thing is, there is a lady in our ward who knits and knits and knits these sweaters and while they are not super stylish, they are for sure amazing. And a little quirky. She gives them to the bishop to distribute among the needy, and apparently there aren’t very many people who will take them. But when they were laid out in the bishop’s office during tithing settlement, our kids got heart eyes and they each came home with one.

The next week I came home with a whole bag of new ones that I now need to find a home for—preferably at a homeless shelter—though I am strongly tempted to pick my favorites. They are just quirky and square enough to be cool in my book.

Oliver has even worn his to school a couple of times and his teacher loved it so much she had to take him around to other classes under the guise of helping her deliver things to other teachers so she could show them the absolute fabulousness of his sweater.

Makes me so happy.

 

And not to be outdone by his kids—or anyone else—Micah went to town making the “ugliest” sweater for his office ugly sweater contest. I’ve been told the contest was close until Micah unbuttoned his sweater and pulled candy canes out from the inside to give to voters. He won handily and it was pretty much the first/only thing anyone wanted to talk to him about at the company party later that night.

Obviously.

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thanksgiving 2016

thanksgiving 2016

I must admit to getting a little tired of everyone being like, “I’m grateful for my family!” at Thanksgiving because . . . obviously. So letting go of the obvious, I will say that this year I am very grateful to have had the energy to get through some stressful/difficult/busy months without feeling overwhelmed or crazy or frazzled or impatient. At least on a regular basis. So that’s something. And it gives me hope for the stressful/difficult busy month ahead.

And then there was Thanksgiving Dinner, which I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to on a cultural level until this year, but it made me happy to think that the idea of Thanksgiving is to gather as many people together as you can to share more food than you can eat. It doesn’t even matter if you know all the people very well! How great is that?!

thanksgivingbaking

Finally, I thought I would share the recipe for the dish that “won” at our Thanksgiving dinner. I made it last year and got rave reviews, so I think it’s got to be a thing I do from now on. It’s a 2-potato gratin and it could hardly be simpler. It’s adapted from this recipe from the NYTimes.  (I also made classic pumpkin pie, pear and cranberry gingerbread crumble, baked artichoke hearts, dinner rolls, and egg nog. And Oliver made origami turkeys for the tables.)

You need:

butter, for the baking dish (or cast iron skillet, which is what I used)

2 large or 3-4 small sweet potatoes

4-5 yukon gold potatoes

1 cup or so of heavy cream

fresh thyme

salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400.

Peel all the potatoes and slice them thin (like 1/8 inch). Butter your gratin dish or skillet and put down a layer of the golden potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme and pour a little cream over it. Then put down a layer of sweet potatoes and top with more salt, pepper, thyme, and cream. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes. (I did 5 layers in my 12 inch skillet: 2 each of sweet and golden potatoes and one mixed layer on top.)

Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes. Check to see if they’re done by poking with a fork. The fork should go in easily. Also, it’s amazing if the top layer gets brown and crispy because then its basically potato chips. Enjoy!

the buckeyes

the buckeyes

Some people are surprised to discover that we are football people. But really we are only college football people, and really we mostly focus on Ohio State and BYU. And even then, we can’t get many BYU games, so all our hopes and dreams are pinned to the Buckeyes. Which works out well because the Buckeyes are generally a pretty good team. (Small understatement.)

This year the ante was upped by the fact that Michigan, OSU’s biggest rival, was also really good. Like, they were ranked 2 and 3 in the nation. So when we sat down to watch the game with our pan of buckeye confections, we were aware that it was likely to be intense. thebuckeyes

What we were unprepared for was the level of intensity. They call it the Big Game. But this was a BIG GAME. When OSU’s kicker missed his 2nd field goal of the day, we just about died. When he finally made one with virtually no time left on the clock to tie things up, we were beside ourselves with relief. But then we had to keep our wits about us through two overtimes, which proved to be somewhat difficult. (Thankfully we had our buckeyes to help us manage.)

When the final touchdown was scored and OSU sealed the victory, we were shaking pretty well with nervousness and excitement. It’s kind of a silly thing, being invested in a football game like that. But then again, it’s our thing. We have a  good time. Making the buckeyes, cheering, moaning, holding our breath and hoping—it’s all about bonding. And silly and surprising as it may be, it’s a good tradition to have.

ohiostate

(And the fact that Elsa is so into that she is writing “Ohio Stat Unavsree” just . . . YES.)

marathon #7: canyon city

marathon #7: canyon city

It’s been just over a week since I ran the marathon and I’m a little bit in mourning and a little bit unsure of what to do with myself now.

Training went so well and I felt so good doing it that I kind of wanted to just keep at it for the rest of my life. But I also promised Elsa that we would take a little break from it because she doesn’t love sitting in the stroller while I run. Not to mention the fact that I’m still feeling a little tight and sore in my hamstrings. I must have really put my legs through a lot . . . .

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Okay, I totally put my legs through a lot. This race was downhill. Really steep downhill. It made it really hard to gauge speed or effort. And since I decided not to have my phone alert me of my pace and there were no clocks on the course, I really didn’t have any idea how fast I was going. Somewhere before the half way point, some guy asked me what my goal was. When I said I had no idea, that I just wanted to get to the end, but that I thought I might be able to break 3:20, he told me I was running with the 3:10 group and doing a good job of it. A few miles later, when the hill stopped going down and went slightly up, I left him and the rest of the 3:10 hopefuls behind.

I don’t remember at what point I started feeling leg cramps, but it was early enough that I thought if they kept getting worse, I was going to be in trouble. But at every aid station I poured water on my legs and that seemed to help. My legs were burning for a good chunk of the race, and the water cooled them enough that they felt almost refreshed for a few minutes between aid stations.

happythoughts

After the 20 mile mark, I really started counting down the miles—and people started telling me that I was the 8th woman, 7th woman, top 10—placements I had no idea of even hoping for. It was really encouraging to hear, though I was so taken aback by it that I didn’t know what to do with it.

I had planned to call Micah either right before or right after I crossed the finish line because I was sad that he and the other kids couldn’t come with me. I wanted to share the moment with them. I told myself that I wouldn’t pull my phone out until I hit mile 26, and then I wouldn’t look at the time because I wanted to see it at the finish line. Those last few miles were really long. I know I was slowing down, but I could have sworn the mile markers were getting farther and farther apart

Still, I did wait, and at mile 26 I did call Micah. But he didn’t answer. So all I got out of that was some funny race pictures of me being absorbed in my phone at the most dramatic part of the race. Haha. Oops. When I realized I wasn’t going to talk to Micah, I put my phone away and turned the last corner to the finish line. And I was blown away. It was 3:08, ticking toward 3:09. I put on the gas for the last several yards and crossed at 3:08:49. Taking into account the 30 seconds I waited to cross the start line, my time was 3:08:19.

babyattherace

The first people I saw when I crossed the line were my sisters and Felix, who had arrived just in time to watch me come in. It was practically perfect. And I did get to talk to Micah a bit after that, though the finish line area was really loud and I couldn’t really hear him. Too bad.

After that I had some time to recover and try to eat something while we waited for Abby to come in. She did, of course, make it worth the wait, dancing around the last corner and into the finish line chute.

And now it is over. So quickly. After so many months of training, it is a little strange to not have a schedule or a plan. A little freeing, of course, but a little unnerving too. It certainly was amazing to do what I didn’t think it was possible for me to do. I hope I get the chance to do it again