December 25, 2012

Good Morning!

Christmas morning came.  Brevin and Spencer patiently waited in the basement until Garrett and Ella woke up and everyone could be called into the front room to see what gifts Santa brought.  It was close to 8:00 a.m. before the parade of excited children entered the room and were greeted with gifts (and parents "armed" with cameras).

 Santa honored every request, no matter how strange.

 Garrett is a "chocoholic."  I'm sure it's no secret 
why this stocking stuffer made him happy.

 It must have been such a novelty for Santa to bring 
these kind of feminine things to our house.

After an hour of admiring our new acquisitions, it was a good time to take a break for breakfast.  I found a lovely recipe, courtesy of Our Best Bites, for an overnight sausage and egg casserole that was prepared the night before and ready to go in the oven when we awoke.  It was so simple and delicious, and it made our home smell delightful.  Fruit smoothies and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls were used to round off our scrumptious meal.

When the breakfast table was cleared, we gathered in the front  room again to open gifts from under the tree.  We also had a chance to see what gifts each family member had given to the person whose name they had drawn.

 Ella was given a set of  plush puppies in a carrying tote from Dad.  
While there were only four, she managed to count ten "goggies."

 Brevin gave Spencer a night vision Nerf basketball.

 Ella gave Brevin a night vision Nerf football.

 Garrett gave me the Wii video game Just Dance 4
We like to have jam sessions together.

 Spencer gave Garrett a pair of Stompeez slippers.  It was truly a generous
 offering, since Spencer really wanted to get a pair for himself (but did not).

 I gave Jason some new cologne and handed the camera off to Spencer 
so he could snap some photos of us.  We laughed when we saw our 
heads cut off as he was clearly focusing on the gift alone, but then he 
got a great picture of the two of us together.  I love it!

The holiday season of 2012 was one of great abundance.  There was an abundance of gifts, and abundance of food, an abundance of time with family, and an abundance of love.  We feel so blessed to have enjoyed it all together.
This post authored by Amber

December 24, 2012

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

For our family, Christmas Eve have become as distinctly traditional as the actual Christmas day.  We have a special meal (usually turkey), served on china with fancy linens, and topped off with a celebratory drink of Martinelli's sparkling cider:

We allow the children to open one gift on Christmas Eve. They know it's new pajamas.  What they didn't expect was a new fleece blanket, too:

Just before bed, we light the candles on a cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.  We then relight the candles multiple times so each child can have their own turn at blowing them out:

I do try to take a picture of everyone in their new pajamas before putting them in bed to dream of sugar plums, but Ella wanted no part of it.  As you can see, Garrett really didn't either:

"Alrighty, then.  It's off to bed with you!"

This post authored by Amber

December 23, 2012

Extended Celebrations

Christmas is a time for gathering with extended family and sharing traditions that define our family's holidays and remind us of our heritage.  And, of course, it's a time for eating obscene amounts of delicious food.  We are blessed to be a part of two wonderful families who make efforts to come together at this special time of year.

On  the Saturday before Christmas, we traveled to Farr West, Utah to be with my family.  Jenny was gracious to host us in her home and even made arrangements for us to have a family photo shoot.  It was especially important that our "family orchard" get an updated photograph since this will be the last time we will all be assembled for quite a while.  Three children of my siblings will be serving full-time missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the months to come, thus beginning a trend that will be followed with overlapping of departures and returns of many cousin missionaries for years to come.  It made this gathering of singular importance.

We kicked off the festivities with dip party foods. Once everyone had something to eat, we gathered up and headed to our photo shoot location.  Jenny had a neighbor who was willing to allow us to use their red barn and sheds as a backdrop for pictures.

Once we took enough pictures to muster a smile out of Garrett, we headed back to the house for some planned activities.  We watched The Nativity, followed by a sharing of testimonies from Jessica, Riley, and Braxton, the soon-to-be missionaries.  The "Grab Bag" was held and we had family gift exchanges. 

It was a perfectly enjoyable time.

 Garrett was pretty stoked to get a can of Pringles in the "Grab Bag."

On the very following Sunday, we had a chance to meet together with Jason's family.  We started the evening off much like the night before--with delicious food.  After our meal, we played a game where we guessed the phrases from assorted Christmas carols.  We were then challenged to find all of Grandpa Park's hidden chocolate mice.

Once all the mice were found (and some consumed), we participated in a family talent show where our children sang Spongebob's song, Don't Be a Jerk.  It's Christmas, and I sang Kenneth Cope's Miracle From Heaven.  

Once again, we had a perfectly enjoyable time.

 Can you spot the chocolate mouse in the yellow boxcar?

 Garrett was pretty stoked to get a glimpse of the little vermin.

He was also pretty excited to eat it. 
 (Now, if only we could get him as excited to take a family photo.)

This post authored by Amber

December 18, 2012

No Dreaming Necessary...

...Christmas Will Be White.

As of late, there have been some really good snowstorms dropping significant amounts of snow around these parts, and the forecasts show an actual snowfall to commence on Christmas Eve and carry on through Christmas day.  We won't wait until then to enjoy it, though!

This post authored by Amber

December 15, 2012

Feliz Navidad

As is tradition, on a Saturday in December we found ourselves in the garden room of the Lindon Los Hermanos  being treated to lunch by Grandma and Grandpa Park.  All of Jason's siblings and their families were there, too, so our group filled up a good portion the room.   I didn't realize how color-coordinated our family had dressed for the occasion this year until I saw these photos.  The picture of all of us together was almost good enough for a Christmas card, were it not for Garrett's painful expression.  Oh well.  At least the chips and salsa didn't disappoint.  Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for the great time! 

 This post authored by Amber

December 14, 2012

Here We Come A-Caroling

Every grade at Art City Elementary school has an assigned month in which they plan, prepare, and perform a musical presentation that goes along with the current season.  For Brevin and his fellow fourth graders, the month was December and, of course, the season was Christmas.  To make the experience a bit more exciting, buses were chartered to transport the students to the University Mall in Provo, where they were met by parents who were able to watch well-dressed children singing songs like Chocolate in My Stocking, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, No Room in the Inn, I'm Wishing on a Star, Feliz Navidad, etc. 

What better way to get into the spirit of the holiday season  than to listen to children singing beautiful music!

Brevin looked so sharp in his suit and tie.

After the concert, Brevin posed for pictures with his friend, Alejandro.

This post authored by Amber

December 4, 2012

Salt Light City

An absolute holiday must is to brave the crowds and the weather to get a glimpse of the lights on Temple Square.  Additionally, if you can go on an uncrowded, fair-weather night--BONUS!  The first Tuesday in December proved to be one of those nights. It turned out to be a perfectly wonderful evening, wrapped up with a delicious meal at the Lion House and a visit to City Creek Center where the children were able to see Santa Claus and "window shop" at the Disney store.  Another lovely evening!

 This post authored by Amber