And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tis the Season

This year we are west coast bound for Christmas.  I am SOOOOO excited!  However, we are not leaving until the 18th and still wanted to experience some of the festivities here in Rockville, MD.  We have a little space for a small tree and I have enough time to put up a few decorations (one of the perks of being a stay at home mom)...not too many though...I do have a toddler after all.

Trees were always in such abundance in Portland and definitely something I took for granted.  While they do have some great trees here in Maryland I didn't want to drive far, and I definitely did not want to pay too much money for a tree that we would only be home to enjoy for 1/2 the season.  Luckily, one evening on our weekly Home Depot run (we love that place and their 10% off military discount) and we spotted their $15 mini trees.  It was perfect!!!  We bought it, and decorated it all in the same night.

Dominik loved putting the decorations on, taking them off, and them putting them back on.  It was an all night affair :)  After the Christmas tree was up we put a few more decorations up and called it good.  We are excited for Christmas in Portland, but are glad that we decided to be festive and decorate our house here.  Tis the season after all!!!

Is it that obvious a 2 1/2 year old decorated it?

This is our Christmas countdown advent calendar...each envelope has an activity for us to do as a family.

Festival of Lights

I have never been to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, UT during Christmas time, but I hear it is spectacular.  I have visions of breathtaking twinkling lights all surrounded by an enormous radiant temple; combined with the power of the spirit and you have the makes for an amazing experience.

We have always lived by a Temple, but never one that decorates for Christmas; until now!  The DC Temple is beautiful year-round, but from Thanksgiving to Christmas it is indescribable.  There is every color of twinkling lights, a life size animated nativity (complete with animals and narrations), nativity figurines from around the world, and Christmas concerts every single night. 

Last Sunday night TJ, Dominik, and I headed over so we could not only see the beautiful lights, but also a Christmas concert, and then conclude with the Christmas devotional.  The evening could not have been better.  We were all in awe of the lights, Dominik could not get enough of the animals at the live nativity, and the Christmas devotional was just the cherry on top.  I can not imagine a better place to be, during a better time of the year, with any better people.  It was one of those times where I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace and happiness.  I am so grateful for all the blessings in my life; first and foremost of which is my Savior Jesus Christ.  The opportunity to go the temple and be reminded of his birth, life, and sacrifice was an incredible opportunity. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Field Trip to the Firestation

As part of Dominik's Preschool "curriculum," each month we incorporate a field trip that reinforces the monthly theme.  Since this month was all about various forms of safety, all us mom's decided a field trip to our local fire department was in order.  Ever since Dominik rode in the fire truck with Uncle Bob last month, he has been totally obsessed with anything relating to Firefighters, fire trucks, and fires in general.  The day before our field trip we actually witnessed a fire at a gas station just down the street from our house.  A car apparently started their engine while gas was pumping and the whole front of the car blew up.  The guy was okay, but 4 fire trucks, 2 ambulances, and at least 10 cop cars were all on the scene.  The intersection (with us waiting in the front) was shut down for 20 minutes.  The entire scene was fascinating for Dominik to witness and a perfect way for me to reiterate the importance of fire safety and the role that firefighters play in that. 

The overall trip was a huge success.  While I'm not sure how much of the information Dominik actually absorbed the point of the trip was to show the kids that firefighters are not scary (especially when they have all their gear/masks on), and that fire safety is very important.  During the trip the kids got to see the inside of an ambulance, meet lots of real firemen and firewomen, hear the firetrucks sirens, and get a lot of useful information (that was probably more for the moms).  Dominik left the firehouse feeling very proud and telling me that he is going to be a firefighter someday.

Blazers Game

TJ and I were not avid Blazer fans when we lived in Portland, but we did enjoy catching a game every now and then and we are definitely fans of basketball overall.  Since we live in Washington DC and the Washington Wizards are absolutely awful (0-10) we scored some pretty sweet and cheap tickets ($30 a piece) to the Wizards vs. Blazers game on Wednesday the 29th.  Eric Muroka (TJ's friend from dental school) was in town from Portland taking his boards and joined us as well.

We decided to make a night of it we our first stop was at Comet Ping-pong which is local pizza parlor that was featured on the Food Networks "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives."  They make everything from scratch and have a wood burning pizza oven; supposedly some killer pizzas.  The whole ambiance reminded me a lot of Portland.  Very hipster and trendy, with a whole foods/organic type of a feel.  The other draw to the restaurant is the ping-pong tables set up so you can enjoy a game of ping-pong while you wait.  We all got to partake of some delicious pizza all while competing to become ping-pong champion; definitely money well spent! 

After dinner we headed straight to the game.  We were 5 rows up from the front (complete opposite to our experience during the Wizards vs. Bobcats game) and could see the players larger on the court then we could on the mega tron...the closest we have been during any sporting event!!!  We went into the game thinking we would be the only Blazer fans...but we were completely wrong.  Since DC is a bit of a transient town and brings people in from all over the country to work in a variety of government jobs or for military relocation's, there were a TON of Blazer fans.  In fact, at one point the crowd started cheering "Let's go Blazers" so loud that people a few sections over were getting really annoyed.  The game came down to the wire, and the Blazers just couldn't pull it off, giving the Wizards their first win.  I'm not going to hurt real bad! 

Lost by 2 points after leading the entire game...

The game was a lot of fun!  Watching the Blazers, being around other Trailblazer fans made me feel like I was at the Rose Garden back in Portland.  Fond memories were brought back and made me realize how grateful I am for my hometown.  While I may be an on and off again fan of the Blazers, they are from Portland, and Portland will be my forever home!

Much to Be Grateful For

This year we decided for the holidays we were going to go home for Christmas.  While we were extremely excited to see our families for Christmas, the $1,500 price tag left little to no wiggle room for visiting family for Thanksgiving.  Luckily our favorite cousins Zach and Sara are currently residing in the Big Apple and were willing to make a trip south to spend Thanksgiving with family.

Since Zach and Sara's visit was a weekend affair, much to our pleasure, Thanksgiving day stretched out for an entire weekend.  Plenty of time to reflect on all the things we are thankful for and the many, many blessings that Heavenly Father pours out upon us every single day. 

Zach and Sara arrived later in the evening on Wednesday with just enough time for our car to break down in the Giant parking lot and once again turn our 30 minute ride home into a little over an hour and a half.  Thank goodness Zach and Sara are extremely easy going and always down for an adventure.  It ended up being a great chance to get a redbox movie and stop into a nearby Starbucks for some hot chocolate (hot chocolate with carmel is Zach's favorite ;). 

Thursday morning (Thanksgiving) was an especially busy day.  We teamed up the meal with our dear friends the Georges and decided to split the meal tasks.  I took on several dishes and rolls.  Since I had two potato roll recipes that I wanted to try out I figured Thanksgiving was a great time to make up two batches and do a bit of a taste test to see which recipe would make it into the traditional Thanksgiving meal.  I was fortunate enough to have Sara as a partner in crime, because rolling out over 100 rolls is no small task.  Sara, Zach, TJ, and myself worked tirelessly in the kitchen and created some pretty fabulous Thanksgiving dishes.  Just in time to play a little basketball/football, and be on time for the dinner.

The overall Thanksgiving meal was tremendous.  Every dish was simply amazing, and we all ate until we were full to capacity.  It was so special to be able to enjoy the meal with friends and family and really reflect on all the things we have to be grateful for. 

Once the meal was cleaned up the Georges headed out on their next adventure and we headed over to the local movie theater to see the new Christmas movie "Rise of the Guardians 3-D."  It is a movie about all the holiday/traditional legends (Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Jack Frost, and the Bogeyman) and how they are the protectors of the children.  We all thought the movie was great, and a wonderful way to end a wonderful day (I didn't even mean to rhyme).  Oh wait...the day wasn't over yet...BLACK FRIDAY.  Technically black Friday means you wake up really early and go shopping for the killer deals all while fighting traffic, battling crazy ladies, and standing in line for hours...SO MUCH FUN!!!  However, this year stores are starting as early as 8pm on Thanksgiving day.  In honor of tradition and to have a little fun, Sara and I headed out to Target around 11pm.  We parked really close to the entrance, didn't have trouble finding anything we wanted, got in 0 fights, and literally walked right up to the cash register.  Old Navy was a bit of a contender when their lines were to the back of the store, but overall the night just wasn't much fun...Lines may seem awful to the casual onlooker, but it's Black's tradition!!!  We still got everything we wanted and had a full nights rest which wasn't all that bad!!

Friday was a day spend downtown basking in the sunshine (in November; crazy right!!).  We parked by the Jefferson Monument and walked around the Tidal Basin (that's what it's called right Sara ;) and got to see all the monuments, memorials, and buildings.  Is it pathetic that we have lived here for 5 months and this is the first time I have seen most of these things?!?!?  About half way through our day we stopped at the Lincoln Memorial and had a picnic lunch.  The weather was perfect and we couldn't have had a better view.  All in all we saw everything we wanted to see and burned off hundreds of calories (much needed calories from the lingering Thanksgiving dinner) while we walked a few miles.  The evening was pretty casual since everyone was pretty tired from all the walking.

Dominik ran around all day with his "Cape" one point he triped and wasn't sure if he was going the be embarrassed or not.  He played it off by sticking his arms straight out and acted like he was funny!

Saturday was another boring day (did I mention how thankful I am that Zach and Sara are so easy going).  We did a brief stint at the National Zoo and observed a few animals, roasted dogs and mallows in our fireplace for a quick and easy lunch, and then we headed over to the Wizards vs. Bobcats game.  TJ and I got a package deal where you get 4 tickets, 4 Wizards hats and 1 large Papa Johns pizza.  Since Zach and Sara are sports fans too we thought this would be a great way to spend the evening.  The tickets were awful (3rd row from the very top), but the game was fun, and the company was even better (The Georges got the same package)! 



Sunday was a pretty routine day with the first three hours spent at church and the rest of the day lounging around the house.  We had a delicious roast for dinner and then TJ took Zach and Sara to the bus station.  It was so sad to seem them go, but we are anxious and excited to go visit them in New York.  I know I have said this before, but I feel so blessed to have such awesome family so close.  I was sad at first that we wouldn't be at "home" for Thanksgiving...but by surrounding ourselves with cousins and great friends it was just like being home for the holidays; definitely something I am very grateful for!