Monday, December 27, 2010

December Baby

It is nice not to travel around the holidays, but it sure puts the pressure on to make the season memorable for my little family. I'll be honest, I may have not done it justice this year. I did what I could but when I started to feel the stress, I stopped. I didn't want them to remember it as the year 'mom made me cry every night' :)


One Saturday night, I told Justin to start coming up with a tradition or two that's important to him. I was eating my words when a huge snow storm hit the next day and he insisted we all go play in it. I protested; if there isn't a mountain to ski down, I'd rather not be in the snow. Then he said, "OK. New tradition. We must go out and play in the first snow fall of the year. {pause} It's important to me."

Well played.

It was a total blast. After the driveway was shoveled, I was plenty warm to help with the building of the fort and sledding down our hill out back. Over three hours later, we came in soaked and exhausted and happy.



We had a dinner party here on Christmas Eve. How I love to have a house full! The kids did a beautiful nativity. My friend's baby made for the perfect baby Jesus; the wise men and shepherds were so entranced by her, that it made for a very sweet scene. I didn't realize until I was going through the photos, but Abbey and Hyatt (Mary and Joseph) held hands the whole time. So sweet. I thought Abbey made a beautiful Mary and was so kind to let a certain little wise girl latch on to her as long as she needed :)


The girls had no interest in seeing Santa this year. At our church Christmas party, the bishop announced Santa was on his way. Abbey kept asking and asking where he was, I thought she was actually excited! But as soon as he walked in, she dove under the table and would NOT come out. Her whole body was tense, the poor thing. But she had a plan. She wrote "HEX BUG - - ABBEY" on a note and had her dad take it up to Santa. It's been nice not to focus on the Santa thing, but I'm sure glad he came through for her this year. Maybe she'll trust him a little more next time :)


We were able to skype with my parents who are spending their first Christmas away in Korea. It was fun for the girls to open their presents from Grandma and Grandpa while they watched (especially since it was a surprise to them what they got the girls, ha ha!)

Despite my best efforts, the girls were a bit exhausted on Christmas day. So I could have done without the whining, but overall we had a lovely Christmas holiday. Hope you did as well!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Pre-Thanksgiving Meal

The first thing Kyler wanted to do when he got into town was check out a local burger place. He had seen it on the Travel Channel or Food Network or something so we dropped off his bags and went straight there for lunch. It was the funniest eating experience of my life. Think soup-nazi meets burger joint. The place was packed, so I guess people like to be emotionally assaulted while eating lunch.

A few days earlier I was driving past a KFC and wondering if they were still going with Kentucky Fresh Chicken instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Seems like a lot of fast food joints are trying to come off more health conscious in the past few years. I had my own mental debate over the success of this marketing on my way to preschool. (I don't usually listen to music when I drive. So this is what I do.) Anyway! My thought was that some people, and dare I say, a lot of people who frequent fast food joints, may not care. May be attracted to the grease. This burger joint proved my theory. You can get as many patties as you want. There are signs inside that say things like "If you want low-fat, we have water" or Kyler's favorite, "Gain your freshman fifteen by October!" There is no shame. And it smells delicious. And it is packed.

The restaurant couldn't be more than 500 square feet and that space is filled with a few tables and bar stools, the grill and employees, and the snaking line of people willing to wait a long time for food. About 20 minutes in, I decided it would be smart to snag a table and sit with the kids. 15 minutes later, Justin calls to me across the snaking line and says, "Get up here!"

"What?!?" I mouthed.
"Get up here! Now! Grab the kids, get up here!"
"Seriously. We won't get our food. Come now. Hurry."

You have got to be kidding. I guess I sat down with the kids before walking past the enormous sign of 'how to order' and missed out on a few of the rules. When Justin ordered my chicken sandwich, the cook said, "You know that doesn't have beef, right?" Justin laughed and said it was for his wife, to which the cook said, "Where is Mrs. Pace? She has to be here to order her food! Get her up here now!"

He wasn't kidding. I think he was just mad I ordered chicken.

The girls had to say goodbye to their ketchup, salt, and pepper 'friends', the line parted, I grabbed all our coats.gloves.hats.bags and then we squeezed through. By the time I got up there, Kyler had already been in trouble for telling the cook what cheese to put on his burger before it was time. I really thought they wouldn't let us eat after all the ordering infractions.

But the people in line saved our table, the food was artery-cloggin' good, and I was over the embarrassment by the fifth or sixth french fry. The place is so packed that the people in line are snug up to your table, looking over your food, and chatting to you about skiing in Park City while you eat in front of them.

Good times. I totally loved it. Thanks for getting us there, Ky Guy.

We love having Kyler around. In fact, he's been there for a lot of our big family moments; the night we got engaged, our marriage ceremony, Justin's graduation, Hayden's birth (not in the room, mind you.) He and Justin made my day by putting up Christmas lights just hours before he flew back home.

Everyone on three: one, two, three...



Abbey was out there cheering them on the whole time :) I love this picture, good memories all week.

The Hostess

Thanksgiving was at our place this year! I decided I really love hosting Thanksgiving. Or I just really love having company. And eating.

A few essentials for a good time:

The Turkey Lurkey:


That's right.
We had FRIED turkey, y'all!!!

I was leery. I made J watch safety videos. And I sent Randy and Kyler out with strict instructions to keep anything from exploding.

Next, so, SO much food.


Too much food. I learned and there'll be adjustments :)

This was the appetizer and dessert table at the END of the night. We had eleven people eating here, and it was barely touched. Light weights.

Also fun to have cutie pie kids around:


I'll admit the kiddos were rather neglected. Alanna and I cooked and cooked and cooked then I pretty much crashed the next two days. I totally forgot I had the makings for gingerbread houses--lame. But these girls did so well together and mine had a hard time when Keira left.

And the most important: The Company!


We were so happy to have some old college buddies (Randy, Alanna, and Kyler) fly into town to spend the holiday with us. It really means a lot to me when friends make efforts to be together, and these ones are some pretty good ones we've picked up along the way.

Randy and Alanna are always good for bringing the game of Risk. They brought out the board and the quest for global domination was on. Until around 1:00 am. When Alanna and I made an alliance that we would take everyone else out then call a truce and go to bed. It took some time, but it worked.

I'm not sure if the boys minded or not. I was in bed asleep about 30 seconds after we finally took Kyler out of Europe. I have a feeling they didn't mind since they were right back to football.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

OK, a month and a half later, I'm finally finishing up this trip.

Our first stop was to visit our fantastic friends, the Fields. Although, at this point, they are much like family in my book. It's crazy that over the course of our friendship, the majority of the time has been living apart. But Katherine is very much a part of my day-to-day life and it was refreshing to be with them for a few days. I think both J and I feel most like ourselves around Katherine and Bobby. A mark of a good friend, I would think.

I love and miss this small, quiet town. We took the girls to 'the square' one afternoon and I had forgotten how charming it is there.


Then I wanted to show the girls the campus and building where I taught before Abbey was born. They were not impressed.


Much, much more interested in finding and smashing the acorns outside.



We finally got to meet baby Claire! Don't you think she looks like one of our babies? Where did those baby blues come from? So sweet, I wouldn't believe a baby could be so good if I didn't see her first hand.


And...let's see. I think this was banana cream pie around the camp fire, if memory serves. Why banana cream pie? We like to keep it classy!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gateway To The West

Remember that trip we took a while ago and I never mentioned anything more about it and now I just feel obligated to write some stuff down about it before moving on to Thanksgiving? Because it was a really great trip for us; time with the girls, visiting great friends, hitting up our favorite spots in St Louis, and some H&M love.

We got into town and drove straight to the zoo before dropping off any luggage.



Hayden would take off her shoes and walk in the animal tracks every time she saw them. People...there are hundreds of animal tracks in that zoo. It took us some time :)


Then she found this pamphlet and would stop every minute or two to consult her 'field journal'. Thanks, Dora. Or Diego. One of you.

Emily was sweet enough to meet us there last minute for a beautiful afternoon at the zoo and found out she and I are due within a few days of each other (as well as nine other friends...April's gonna be big!)

The few days we were in town, we went nonstop. It was exhausting. But there were a lot of places we wanted to see again with the girls. My favorite, favorite place was The Magic House, a children's museum Abbey and I would go to two or three times a week when we lived there. The girls are still asking to go back.

It was fun to see her try the things she was too small for before. This beanstalk goes up three stories and she was able to help Hayden over the larger gaps.


The girls were having so much fun that we had to take a break to grab lunch then headed straight back.


Dewey's pizza. Right up the road. Perfect.


Justin's favorite place is Grant's Farm--in fact, I think he even has a hat :) We met up with some more friends there. It was good. Can't you tell:


THAT good :)

We hit up the ward Trunk-or-Treat, ran into a friend I played violin with in high school, and tried to figure out why Hayden kept saying, 'Trick or Treat Tower!'. Any clues to that one?