Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Eve

We have had a wonderful Christmas season. Our Christmas present was part of our airfare out here, and we feel so blessed to be able to be here with family. Last year we both felt a little sad that we were alone, even though it was still a nice little Christmas. This year was so much more about the boys and helping them to feel excited about Christmas. Asher definitely understands a little better what's going on with all the presents and Santa, but not so much about why we celebrate Christmas. That's our own fault though... all the times we spent talking about that as a family, the kids were in bed already. Next year, we need to make more of an effort to do a nativity and help him understand about the baby Jesus, and what a blessing he is in our lives.

Christmas Eve was filled with...

~Last minute train buying... Asher has been saying over and over that he wants a big train for Christmas, and it didn't dawn on me until Christmas Eve morning that maybe we should get him one, since we didn't really get him anything because they were getting a lot from grandmas. But I got super excited about it once I decided to do it, and found an awesome deal on a great train at Toys r us, that just happened to be in stock in our local store. We were basically meant to buy this train! ;)

~Lots of food preparation and cleaning,

~delicious food (ham, scalloped potatoes, salad and homemade rolls),

~extended family,

~and of course, our annual trip over to Aunt Jeanie's where we continue to eat and talk with cousins we don't get to see very much.

~We ended the night with the opening of new pajamas, the reading of the Christmas story in Luke, wrapping stocking stuffers and setting out all the presents in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

~The Christmas tree surrounded by gifts with the house lights all off, always one of my favorite sights.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Goodies

This year I made my toffee and peppermint bark, and it turned out divine, if I do say so myself. I had to get them done really early as we left on the 4th, but I really wanted to give some to our neighbors and security guard, etc, so I pushed myself to be on top of things.

This year I experimented quite a bit with the peppermint bark to see if there were any shortcuts I could take with the recipe I use, or if there was a different recipe that was just as good. The conclusion I came to is that if you are going to use the epicurious recipe, then you need to follow that recipe and not deviate. It works and tastes and looks best with 3 layers, and with the soft truffle center. I have also come to the conclusion that that recipe is far superior to others that I have tried, that just have you melt chocolate and be done with it. Also, I made some at my mom's house and she had milk chocolate that she thought was dark... it wasn't, and it did not taste very good. Don't use it. I updated my Chocolate Kitchen blog with some other tips, mostly so that I can remember them for next time I make it, so check it out if you want to make it anytime soon.

The cute finished product...


Before we left NY, I really wanted to take the boys to see the Santa at Macy's. We went last year so I knew how it was set up, and that I could handle it by myself, as Nate was really busy with end of the semester stuff. It was actually a wonderful little trip for me and the boys. We got there early so there was no line, although we still took our time wandering through "Santa Land" to make sure that we saw everything there was to see. I absolutely love this holiday outing. I just think it is so fun and magical, both for the kids and the adults. The Santas and elves have always been so nice and taken their time with us and made sure we got all the pictures we wanted.

The boys loved the huge train display in the center, of course, and Asher was so excited to see Santa. All of the North Pole stuff was fun for him too, as he is getting more acquainted with Santa and the north pole and Santa's sleigh, so I think it's been fun to see those things come to life a little more. Asher loved Santa and told him he wanted a big train for Christmas, and Sayer would have nothing to do with him.

After we saw Santa, I attempted to look through Holiday Lane to pick out some new family ornaments. That was a mistake. But I did manage to get Sayer's ornament and a Christmas gift, so it was successful. But a store filled with virtually ALL breakable things is NOT a good place for a 3 year old to be without a stroller! Now I know for next time.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thank goodness for growing up!

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but I thought it was cute. This is actually one of the pictures that Asher took with my camera. It's his new hobby, unfortunately.

So I am in Sacramento for the holidays. You know what that means... Galena Christmas Videos. Today was Holiday Tapestry 1996. Wow. All I have to say is that I was such a terrible dancer back in those days. I mean bad. I was also really ugly and scrawny. Watching that video made me really sad because I was so bad and awkward, what with my sickled feet and badly placed arms. Ugh. It was hard to watch. But then I remembered that I grew up, learned how to dance and actually control my body, and actually went on to be a BYU Folk Dancer. So I had to have gotten better, right?! No, I know I did. It was just such a sad video to watch. I am so grateful that I got better at dancing, got my braces off, did something with my hair, and gained a little meat on my bones. Thank goodness for growing up, eh?!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Playing catch up

Well, as you can see, I have a huge backlog of posts that need catching up on. I have been doing them in steps... first I went through my pictures and decided what posts to do, and gave each one a title and then saved it. Then today I finally uploaded my pictures and put the correct pictures in the correct posts. Now, one by one, I am going through and adding commentary. Awesome. I need to get caught up though, because we are leaving this Friday (me and the boys that is) for UT, then on to CA, and will be there until Jan 8th, so I need to get it all done so all the new stuff can start piling up! ;) We are leaving so early because folk dancers are having a big 50th anniversary reunion show and breakfast, and I really wanted to go. Plus Nate has tons of writing to do, and our being gone will help him to be much more productive! So all you Californians, we have plenty of time to get together and catch up. I really am so excited!! Not so much for the flight with 2 boys, by myself, but that is a mere 5 hours... I can handle it. Anyway... I still have several more posts to do, I just don't feel like it anymore. Soon though, soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Nutcracker

Nate and I went to see the New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker last Saturday. I was so excited to see this, as I have never been to a performance of the Nutcracker, except to a shortened version when I was in elementary school. We have the SF Ballet version on tape which I have watched many times, so I was thinking to compare it to that. Nate and I were both a little disappointed. The dancers were excellent and everything, but it wasn't very exciting, and there wasn't enough company dancing. Little kids did a lot of the choreography, which makes it a fun show for kids, but not so much for people looking to see awesome dancing. Nate's opinion was that it was "perfectly boring". As in, excellent execution, but so what? Nothin' special. It almost put me to sleep. Sad.

I am definitely still glad that we went, as I was really sad that we missed it last year, and I think it is something that everyone should experience in NY at Christmas time at least once, but I don't think that I ever need to go again.


The first night Ben and Whit were here, we went to see Ragtime. We were running so late that we literally sprinted from the subway to the theater. The show was phenominal (sp?)! I love the music in that show so much, and always have. It makes me cry. But there are also really fun and upbeat songs too. I used to clean to it back in my BYU days. The costumes were great, and the set was super cool. The main characters' voices were so rich and powerful. This is definitely a must see! I don't think Ben would have the same review as Whit and I, but he doesn't really know what he is talking about, so it's ok. Sorry, no pictures.


The second night Ben and Whit were here, we saw Cirque Du Soleil's Wintuk. I had never seen any Cirque du Soleil shows, so I didn't really know what to expect. I ended up really liking it. The first half was just a lot of fun stuff, juggling, biking, trampoline jumping, and some other fun stunts. The second half got a little more serious, and they did some seriously cool acts. I thought it would have been such a fun show to take the kids to. Someday.


A few weeks ago, Nate and I finally went to see Wicked. I saw it a few years ago with my mom and sister here in NY, but Nate had never seen it. He was VERY impressed. I don't think he could really imagine what all the fuss was about, but he really loved it. Which is saying a lot, because Nate doesn't really do broadway. It's such a fantastic production though... funny, uplifting, amazing music... it's just got it all! Definitely a must see! My camera battery was dead, so no pictures. I am so glad Nate liked it.

The Shafers {finally} visit

The Shafer family finally made it out to the big apple to visit us! Unfortunately, it was an extremely short visit, so we had to cram a whole bunch of fun into no time at all, but it was still a blast! Asher was seriously mad that his cousins had to leave. He had so much fun with them, and they all actually did SO great in the confined space of our apartment.

The first night they were here we went out to Famiglia pizza, then came home to put the kids to bed and ran out the door to catch a show

Day two we hit up the Museum of Natural History, which the boys loved, and would have been happy to stay all day. After wards, we took a nice walk in the drizzle through central park, to FAO Schwartz. The kids played around on the big piano, looked at lots of toys, took a break for story time, played around some more, then we headed back home, put the kids down, and headed out again to make another show.

It was a great time and I can't wait to see them again in 2 days!

Here are some pics...

Ben and Whit in times square

Museum's main entrance with the big dinosaur

Lunch break

God of Carnage

A couple of weeks ago, Nate and I went with our neighbor Clare to God of Carnage. The cast was changing on November 14th, and we really wanted to see the original cast, so we went the last week of their run. We heard rave reviews about this play, so I had high expectations. I think it was funny, but towards the end, it was just a lot of yelling and swearing, and it didn't really have a resolution in my opinion. The premise of the play is funny (two couples getting together to discuss a mishap between their sons at the park. One mother is very critical and expects that the others will punish their son appropriately...) but after a while, I just didn't see the point. Maybe I am missing something. Oh well. The cast was amazing though... Jeff Daniels, Marsha Gay Harden and James Gandolfini (and some chick I didn't recognize). They were all really talented and very entertaining. Even though you are not supposed to take pictures during the show, I did...
Nice barfing moment... one of the funniest parts of the show

The set at the end of the play... gives you a nice idea of what was going on... tulips strewn all over the stage, more barfing going on... pretty awesome!


I wouldn't say that I recommend this. I did think the first half was very funny and the cast was really amazing and it was so fun to see them live, and I definitely don't regret seeing it, but the end of the play was a little disappointing.

Handsome boy

Doesn't he look so handsome in his Sunday best? I think his long hair is adorable, especially with the little curls. Unfortunately, it is almost time to cut it. It will be a whole new Asher!

Date with Sayer

A few weeks ago, after we dropped Asher off at preschool, Sayer and I headed out to breakfast at Tom's Restaurant. It's totally cheap diner food, but I was craving pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Sayer loved all the attention he got from the senior folk, who I assume are regulars there for breakfast, as well as having alone time with mommy.

Beautiful fall

Just a couple pics of our neighborhood park that I wanted to post looking lovely in fall colors. So sad that now it is all brown and ugly and bare. Oh well, at least it comes with the holiday season to take our attention away from the ugly trees!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We just finished watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade... and for all of you who are just now starting to watch it, it was just as magical as ever. Enjoy it! I have always enjoyed watching this parade, but somehow being in NYC makes it even more special to me.

Maybe it's because we went last night to the Inflation Celebration to see all the balloons getting blown up. Us and all the rest of the city, that is. The crowds were crazy, but there was something about just having the opportunity to be a part of the madness that was so special to me. We live here in this amazing city, where amazing events happen on a daily basis, and we get to be a part of it. Last night, it was like we had backstage passes to one of the most famous productions of the year. This morning as we were watching the parade begin, I could just imagine all the floats and marching bands lined up along central park west, with the balloons on either side of the Museum of Natural History, awaiting their turn to join with the rest of the parade.

Maybe it's that I love seeing the places that I've been so many times, all dressed up and on tv, looking so special and inviting. Just seeing the entrance to Macy's on 34th, adorned with trees and "Believe" that we saw them putting up just a week or two ago... it made me happy. I love that we will be going there next week to visit Santa before we head out for our holiday travels.

Whatever the reason is, I love it. Especially when Santa makes his entrance, which for me signifies the beginning of the Christmas season. I have kept myself from putting up our Christmas decorations until today, and now that Santa has come, I feel like I am totally justified in putting them up. Can't wait!

As for the whole purpose of this post... Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for. First of all, I am thankful for all of my friends who have blogged on a daily basis about the things they are gratful for. It has helped me to reflect on all the little (and big) things that I am grateful for.

Such as the fact that I don't even notice anymore how old our little apartment is. I have actually learned to love our home and our neighborhood and have become quite proud of it.

For all of the wonderful friends that I have made in the city. That many of those friends are not members of the church, two of which are my closest friends here in the city. Before we came out here, I prayed for wonderful friends. I guess I always just assumed that my best friends that I would talk to and do things with on a daily basis would be in my ward, so it kind of surprised me that it didn't turn out exactly that way, but I would never change it. It's one of those things that I don't think I would have known to choose, but it just shows that Heavenly Father has a plan for us and knows what, and who we need in our lives. I have learned so much about other religions and faiths and have learned to be so much more open minded, and not just tolerant, but accepting and loving. Just to be clear, I also have wonderful friends in my ward too!!

My darling boys. They both keep me laughing all day and help me to learn things that I know I couldn't learn any other way.

My wonderful husband who is so patient with me and the kids, and makes sure that he comes home to play with them. He is such a hard worker with school and really does go above and beyond. I know that he will provide for us and make sure that we are always taken care of. Even when things have been so uncertain, I have never felt an ounce of fear about our future, or questioned Nate's ability to get a good job and provide for us... however that might happen. I am so grateful that he is a strong, worthy priesthood holder and that he loves the gospel. I am also thankful that he makes me laugh. I may roll my eyes at him a lot, but I can't deny that I think he is very fun.

Most of all I am so thankful for the gospel and for my savior Jesus Christ. I don't know where I would be without it in my life. I know that the gospel brings true happiness, and I just hope and pray that Nate and I will be able to help our kids feel the same way about it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope it was a fabulous day full of delicious food and wonderful friends and family.

My kids probably ate 2 bites each of this delicious meal... so sad.

Our awesome hosts, Slade and Andrea Combs. Slade did an amazing job on the turkey!

Nate's post-turkey nap

After dinner entertainment. Nate and Mark played for us and we sang... Christmas carols, hymns, bluegrass. It was so fun!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York photo shoot

We got our family pictures done a few weeks ago by our friend Sara. She did an AMAZING job!! I was so excited to have pictures taken in New York... our home. We chose riverside park over central park because I feel like it is more "our" park... we are there almost every day. It feels so new york-y to me, and it's so beautiful. I am SO happy with the pictures. We started the shoot at about 7:30am, so she caught the sun coming up so beautifully! Here are a few of my faves:

...and those are just a few. Thanks again Sara! Click here to see the rest. Password "riverside".