christmas 2014

This is a super photo-heavy post, but there were just so many great moments from our Christmas day that I couldn’t leave out! I loved everything about our holiday at home together as a little family of FOUR, so every one of these photos is a favorite for me.

Michael and I stayed up late on Christmas Eve. I was so excited for morning because I knew Kaya’s reaction to her cozy coupe car would be priceless. We basically stayed awake until we couldn’t anymore (around 2 am). I kept wishing it was time to wake up!
_MG_5887 We haven’t really told Kaya too much about Santa… but as soon as she saw the tree, she kept saying “a Santa!”_MG_5892

Kaya grabbed her gifts and was ready to start unwrapping right away. (Also, her expressions just crack me up sometimes!)_MG_5893 _MG_5896She started reading this book to Baba (that’s Kaelyn’s main nickname if you don’t know… given to her by Kaya, of course)!_MG_5898Just keep watching Kaelyn in these next few photos… I was cracking up over her falling-backward/trying-to-eat-wrapping-paper antics._MG_5900“My clock!”_MG_5901Kaya loves this little puppy that walks and does flips! He actually lands most of his jumps, so I’m pretty impressed._MG_5903_MG_5904 We hid the cozy coupe under a blanket, and she was pretty unsure of uncovering it. She kept saying, “a Santa!”, so we almost think that she expected a living, breathing Santa Claus to be hiding under there. She doesn’t love seeing Santa, so that would explain her uncertainty! _MG_5906_MG_5907She got in and started turning the steering wheel right away!_MG_5909 And this is why I love Christmas morning._MG_5916She decided she had to wear her coat to drive, obviously, since she always wears it in the real car!_MG_5931Two of the gifts I had for Michael weren’t here by Christmas morning, but he was excited for a new Hokie sweatshirt and some homemade chocolate peanut butter fudge under the tree! _MG_5924My favorite gift this year was delivered 6 months ago 🙂 But Michael did surprise me with a TomTom Runner (GPS watch) that I am absolutely loving so far, and a new computer monitor… I’m one spoiled girl!_MG_5890I stacked some mini donuts into snowman and reindeer shapes for a fun, festive breakfast!
_MG_5927 I think she was counting them all here… (and this was the plate for all of us, not just her, haha!)_MG_5929 I cooked some pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli, and homemade rolls for our Christmas dinner. My gingerbread obsession continued on, so I whipped up another half batch of cookies for us to enjoy (especially since we gave away almost all of the batch I made before)! I got crazy and dipped these in chocolate candy coating. Mmm._MG_5940Our friends, Katherine, Matt, Mia, and brand-new Baby Luke came over to enjoy dinner with us! We had a great time (Kaya and Mia especially)!
_MG_5942Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day! I’m always sad to see it end… let the countdown begin to next year!

our gingerbread house 2014

For the first time ever, we made a gingerbread house! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but it wasn’t a family tradition growing up and making one from scratch just seemed kind of intimidating. So… I bought a kit on sale (last year, actually), and we spent one evening a few days before Christmas building it together.

It might not look it, but Kaya was actually pretty excited!
_MG_5847 Michael saw us struggling a little with the basic structure, so he helped out with the foundation and let Kaya and I go crazy decorating the rest of it._MG_5849 Blurry… but cute anyway. I had so much fun spending some one-on-one time with my big girl._MG_5851 Our house is far from a masterpiece, but hey, I’d say it isn’t too bad for our first try!_MG_5871 _MG_5866 Kaya kept “knocking” on the front door and pretending to eat it (except one time I’m 95% sure she actually had those pink and purple gumdrops in her mouth…)!_MG_5867 Our kind neighbors also surprised us with a handmade gingerbread house! They obviously have a lot more experience with this- she said her grandmother has been making them for years, and they always give them to people they think would enjoy it most! We definitely liked having it on display this month._MG_5877 Next year, I think we might try to do one from scratch!_MG_5879

pre-christmas celebration

We celebrated Christmas for what seemed like an entire week! One of my favorite things about “growing up” (as if I ever really will) and starting a family on your own is just how much more family you gain. I’ve got the family I was born into, my awesome in-laws, and now, my own little family to celebrate the holidays with- and once you’re done seeing everyone, Christmas really does last more like a week rather than just one day. I love it!

This year, Michael’s parents came up the weekend before Christmas to celebrate Jeff’s graduation. Since everyone was already here, we decided to exchange gifts then!_MG_5830 Jeff played Santa and handed out the gifts! (He actually stayed Santa all day long since he forgot to take off his hat!)_MG_5829 I had Lelia for our sibling gift exchange this year. She loooves penguins, so it was fun to come up with penguin-themed gift ideas for her! In the end, I went with this crocheted penguin hat from Etsy! She was super excited!_MG_5833Kaya and Kaelyn were the most spoiled, of course! They received some pretty fun things, like a Leap Frog puppy who reads you stories…_MG_5836… and a “choochoo”!_MG_5838 _MG_5839 Of course, the best part of the weekend was all the family time! Grandma’s favorite gift has to be grandbaby cuddles. 🙂_MG_5842

merry christmas! #heisthegift

Each year, Christmas is less and less about whatever gift I want for myself. Instead, I look forward to the gifts I’m giving, and the time spent with my family.

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Even more importantly, Christmas has become, for me, more of what it should be: centered on Christ.

Eight years ago this month, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is no exaggeration to say that it was the very best decision I have ever made! The gospel has blessed my life in so many ways- it is a source of knowledge, peace, and love from a very real Father in Heaven.

As we celebrate this Christmas season, I feel extra gratitude for our Savior- His birth, life, and sacrifice.

Because of Him, I can be forgiven for all my mistakes. Because of Him, I can live with my family forever.

So when I hold my baby, kiss my big girl, and hug my husband, I think of Christ. He gave me the very best gifts of all.

Merry Christmas!

christmas cookie delivery 2014

I love cookies. If eating cookie dough counted as a sport (a girl can dream, can’t she?), I’m pretty sure I’d be an Olympic champion.

Imagine, then, how excited I am each Christmas to make gingerbread cookies with my family! Here are a few of my 2014 favorites: snowmen, colorful candy canes, an American star, a hippie girl (any excuse to put Twizzlers on a cookie, am I right?), and Lelia’s most adorable Mrs. Claus (in green). I think they just get cuter every year!

I’m already sad to think that Jeff and Lelia won’t be here next year to decorate with us. Jeff is off to med school!_MG_5675

I thought Kaya might actually decorate some… but she was really into eating her lollipop instead._MG_5677

As always, we made up plates of goodies to deliver to friends and neighbors. I just love that we can combine my childhood tradition of decorating cookies with Michael’s childhood tradition of delivering them._MG_5702I felt like we really had a great assortment of sweets this year! We made:

gingerbread cookies
Michigan fudge
the best chocolate-chip cookies ever
and some buttery spritz cookies!

Kaya saw me scooping out the chocolate-chip cookie dough and was SO very excited to help!


Making cookies takes serious concentration. Obviously._MG_5688


We made up 15 plates this year, which sure felt like the most we’ve ever done, but I didn’t keep count the last couple years, so I don’t actually know. We gave away all but one (our neighbors left town sooner than we realized so they missed out on these)!_MG_5710

Kaelyn was quite patient through this whole process. I love having a little buddy who can just sit and watch, but I know she’ll be into making a big mess with the rest of us next year!_MG_5713Just 2 more days!

friday favorites: christmas edition

These are a few of my favorite [Christmas-y] things…

… sitting by the Christmas tree at night (and of course, taking a bokeh picture. #photographynerdalert)!
Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset … festive sprinkles on cupcakes for the church Christmas party!Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 preset … how this little girl watched and waited all day long while I made the cupcakes. She was so happy when she finally got her treat at the party!Processed with VSCOcam with a9 preset… my two peas in a pod, enjoying some “Feliz Navidad”-themed dinner.
Processed with VSCOcam with a9 preset … the giant Christmas tree at the mall!Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset … decorating gingerbread cookies! I am so completely obsessed with gingerbread this year and my sweet tooth has been making that extremely obvious.Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetgingerbread playdough! Seriously. It smells heavenly and was so much fun to play with!_MG_5767 … two cute baby friends in matching polkadot reindeer pajamas!_MG_57566 more days!

meeting santa claus

We took the girls to meet Santa last week! As expected, it took longer to get them into their dresses, get to the location, and wait in line than the amount of time we actually got to spend visiting with Santa. But hey, it’s tradition, so we do it anyway!

I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction to expect from Kaelyn. She isn’t quite at the “stranger danger” phase, but she definitely recognizes when she’s being held by someone new. Luckily, she didn’t cry!
_MG_5634 She just sat there, happy as a clam. It was a lot like the first time Kaya went to see Santa!_MG_5635This year, Kaya didn’t want to get anywhere near him. Santa even gave her a cookie, and she still didn’t warm up to him at all!_MG_5636 _MG_5637_MG_5638Oh well. I’m totally expecting both girls to cry next year!

christmas parade 2014

Last weekend was our town Christmas parade! The weather was a little more appropriate than last year’s 60-something degrees, so all four of us bundled up and headed downtown.

I forgot my camera flash… and there were crazy streetlights and flashing police car lights on top of that, so these pictures are really not the greatest.

Baby Kaelyn slept through a lot of her very first parade! She woke up when the firetrucks and ambulances drove by, but surprisingly, she didn’t even cry (poor Kaya did though)!
_MG_5593 This was Kaya’s 3rd parade! I can’t believe how fast the years are going by._MG_5588She was so much more interested in what was going on this year (especially when some of the floats threw lollipops to her! Notice her “pop” collection in the cup holder)!_MG_5597 _MG_5598I always have the same favorite floats: All the lit-up jeeps…
_MG_5600… the horses!
_MG_5609 … and SANTA!_MG_56069 more days until he comes to visit!

santa baby

What’s cuter than a baby in a Santa hat?_MG_5519Well, you’re going to have to answer that one for yourself, because I don’t know. This is pretty adorable!
12112014collage1 - CopyLess than two weeks are left until Christmas, and we’re getting excited over here!_MG_5513

putting up the tree

Last year, our tree was only half decorated. I did the lights, but there were no ornaments (which is so disappointing, I know). I wasn’t sure if Kaya would try to knock all of them off the tree, but the real reason we didn’t even finish decorating was because I was just too exhausted and dealing with morning sickness. Now you know! I still feel like it wasn’t a very good reason (and come on, I had done the lights already… that’s the hardest part)!_MG_5523

So this year, I was even more excited to carry on our true tree-decorating tradition. We had the Michael Buble Holiday radio station on, and Kaya was actually old enough to help! She helped hang a lot of the snowflakes and bells (all Dollar Tree ornaments from our first married Christmas)!_MG_5524 Sadly, Kaelyn was already in bed when we got started, so it was a party for just the three of us. I’m looking forward to her helping next year (and yes, it’s totally crazy to think about her being that big)!_MG_5526 I love colorful lights so much._MG_5549(and Kaya loves this singing Snoopy so much!)_MG_5533The next day (when Kaelyn was awake), we took the most crooked family photo ever. Oh well. Jax also walked right in front of the camera when it was going off, so at least there isn’t a dog bum in your face. See, the photo seems pretty good after all!_MG_5558