And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Friday, December 29, 2017

Celebration of Lights

Each year I'm in Portland for Christmas I always want to go to Peacock Lane. Technically I have only been once in my lifetime, but I just remember it being so Christmasy and amazing that I yearn to go back. Apparently other people in my family don't remember it the same way so I am always outvoted and we find something else to do. This year I was resolved to find a place that the whole family would love and no one would walk away from saying "that was lame." Jana and Andy had heard through their family grapevine that there was a church in Colton, OR called Aspen Meadows and they put on quite a Christmas Spectacular. They didn't decorate houses, but on their property they created a winter wonderland complete with free hot cocoa, apple cider, and cookies. We decided to check it out and see if it hit the Christmas Light spot! The drive was super windy and very long...and the weather was nippy...but I was determined to have a great time. We were joined by grandmas and grandpas from both sides, Jana, Andy, Tyson and kids, as well as Chase, Curtis, Courtney, Quinn, and can you not have a great time with this company!!
Driving by the property I was a bit underwhelmed. The lights were beautiful...but we just made a long drive and I was expecting more than just some beautiful lights. We parked, bundled up, and then headed into the lodge to meet up with our party. The walk in was starting to be a bit more impressive. There was a huge display that looked almost like a giant snow globe. There was a Christmas village with a train going through the middle of it and tons of miniature people figurines frolicking about. The kids were fascinated...which was a good distraction from their freezing little limbs. As we moved farther and farther into the property I was becoming much more impressed. We made it into the lodge where we were greeted by happy employees as well as the rest of our family. The kids warmed up with some delicious hot cocoa and we all partook of the free cookies.
After our tummies were warm and full we ventured out to see the rest of the lights. The kids were in good spirits and we were all pleasantly surprised at how many lights and displays there were. They just kept going and going and going. There was a kids land with tons of games for the kids and photo ops for families. There were signs with words of love and declarations of Christs birth. The displays were a good combination of whimsical Christmas and religious Christmas, and apparently they have lots of Christmas concerts throughout the season.
Overall the kids had an absolute blast; I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful it was. I still think I like Peacock Lane better, but next year I think we will do both and then make a final vote to see which one everyone likes better. I love how traditions like these bring the whole family together. We all enjoy the lights and it's an activity we all have fun doing. The best kind of tradition in my book!!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017 Christmas Card

This year has been one for the record books for our family! We made the big decision to separate from the military and relocate to the Pacific Northwest so TJ could go into practice with Denny Marshall in Hood River, OR. We are currently living with grandparents while we try and find property in Hood River near TJ's work. We look forward with hope and optimism as we navigate civilian lifestyle near family. We are mindful of our bounteous blessings and pray that as we go on about the next year we will strive to live more like our beloved Savior Jesus Christ.


I love traditions! I love traditions that prove the test of time and get better and better each year. For our family, the Grinch Dinner is one of them! I love the way that it has evolved with friends and family to become one of my favorite nights of the year. This year we made Who-ville with gingerbread houses and then cooked up a delicious Who-rare-roast-beast and other who-goodies to make a wonderful night! The kids really got into the who-ville gingerbread village. There were many sticky fingers and lots of bellies full of candy...but they ended up doing great. I love when I can step back and let the kids do their thing; most of the time they really create something awesome! They love doing anything creative and with their hands so this project was right up their ally. A few of the houses fell over because the royal icing wasn't quite dry, but it really came together and turned into the perfect center piece!
For our Grinch dinner this year we had Who-rare-roast-beast (prime rib), who-pudding, who-hash (Courtney made it and it was Dominik's FAVORITE), Grinchy-greens, Cindy-Lou-Who Bread, green sprite with cherries (Grinch's heart that was 3 times too small), and Grinch cookies. We had all our family surrounding us and the dinner turned out amazing. No one dressed up this year and I'm pretty sure that would be the only thing that could make it better.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Festival of Lights

Last night was Dominik's schools Festival of Lights. The celebration was a way for the school to get together prior to Christmas break without actually having to call it a "Holiday" party of any kind. The kids have spent the month leading up to the festival making all sorts of lanterns to display. They did a clay lantern, a paper mache lantern, a stained glass (painted 2 liter bottle of soda), a decorated paper bag lantern, and a metal can with nail punches lantern (not sure of the technical name). The evening started with a power point display that Dominik had made with a 5th grade buddy and was actually quite impressive. He chose to do the power point on Hannakuah and each slide had a little snippet of info on the holiday. He was very pleased with his work and sharing his knowledge of Hannakuah with us. After the slide presentations we watched a video slide show that Dominiks teacher put together. It had a short video clip of each student stating what their favorite Christmas tradition is. A few of them said Chinese New Years, and the other 30 of them said their favorite family tradition is Christmas. They all gave a reason why it was their favorite tradition and most of them said because of the presents. Dominik said "my favorite family tradition is Christmas because we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus." It was definitely one of those "pat yourself of the back" parent moment. While I'm 100% certain that Dominik's favorite part of Christmas is in fact the's also nice to know that he recognizes the real reason for the holiday and traditions!
After the presentations we were guided into the gym by the paper lanterns made by all the students. In the gym there were display tables set up with all the the students lanterns lit up. The gym almost felt like a secret society meeting. Once the parents were settled around the perimeter the kids walked in holding their paper mache lanterns while singing "This little light of mine." They must have sang it 15 times while all the students made their way to the stage. They sang a few more songs while they held up their lanterns and then it was time for pictures. The whole event lasted about 45 minutes and was the perfect way to Politically Correctly celebrate Christmas! I love Dominik's school and am so bummed that we won't be going here next year!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trim the Tree

I think decorating the Christmas Tree is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I love doing it as a family...being super creative...and looking at the beautiful tree after it's all done. Whether we decorate a real tree from the pacific NW, a palm tree, a pallet tree, or even the year of the fake tree from Target...I just love decorating the tree. This year we have a beautiful noble fir from the deep forest of Home Depot. While yes, it was super convenient to get it from Home Depot...we still did it as a family and that's what counts in my book! This was actually one of the first years that our tree hasn't fallen over (knock on wood). We turned on some Christmas music and then put on the ornaments. Dominik was really good at it this year with having a bit of a decorative eye...Parker knocked off more ornaments than he put on, and Maylee was just content to suck on the ornaments.
The tree aftermath was just spectacular. Maybe not catalog worthy, but we did it and we all agree that it's one of our best trees yet!