Thursday, January 07, 2010

the most wonderful time of the year

This probably ranks as one of my favorite Christmases of the last several years. It was totally relaxed, nobody got sick (Anna and I waited for this week for that), there was snow and yummy food, and family.

After the requisite delayed flight on the way to Salt Lake, we went to my Great-Aunt Shirley's house for dinner and then to the Hogle Zoo to see the zoo lights. On Tuesday, we had a lazy morning and then left Anna with my parents (thank you thank you THANK YOU!) and Sam and I went on a date. We ate a delicious dinner at Bombay House, ate ice cream by the fire at a new place called Farr's fresh (you serve your own ice cream and put whatever toppings you want on it and then pay by the ounce), saw Invictus and stayed at the Marriott in Provo.

Bombay House

Kneaders (food clearly makes us very happy)

In the morning, we ate French toast at Kneaders for breakfast (soooooo good) and wandered around BYU campus reliving the glory days for a while. Then we went shopping at the mall where I got a couple of Shade shirts and Sam found some new slippers for Anna. We came back to my parents' house refreshed and happy to an ecstatic Anna who clapped and flapped and jumped and squealed with delight at seeing her mama and daddy. It was the perfect end to a perfect 24 hours and the perfect Christmas present from Sam.

We spent the next two days finishing home-made Christmas presents, baking treats, enjoying Mom's cooking, watching movies, shopping, playing in the snow, and playing Wii.

Mom whipped up these fleece snow pants for Anna in about 10 seconds so she could be warm and dry while she played.



Anna was much happier once I gave her my sunglasses to temper the sun-on-snow glare

Steve, Rachel, and Elliott came on Wednesday night so we had half the Stay siblings together. On Christmas Eve evening, we did a kids' version of the Christmas story. Both girls got to be Mary and ride on the donkey's back. They also gave some presents under the tree to a baby doll who was our Baby Jesus. It was so cute.


Elizabeth thought Anna might make a good donkey

Mom made us a delicious turkey dinner with her grandmother's stuffing (my favorite) and all the usual sides. Anna could not get enough of the cranberry sauce and corn. Then it was bath time (the girls loved their baths together) and off to bed in Christmas jammies.


Christmas morning we made some cinnamon cream cheese rolls and hot chocolate for breakfast and then got to present opening. Sam gave me a generous J. Crew gift card and I gave him a toaster (our old one died) and head phones. Anna got some new clothes and her Grandma Stay knitted her a beautiful rose colored sweater and gave her what she now loves most in the world, a new pink doll stroller. (Well, the stroller is a toss-up with the Leap Frog dog from her other Grandma, but she can't be happier than when she's pushing the dog in the stroller.) Anna wore her new doggy slippers and pushed around a baby doll with her new blanket all day long. The stroller even has buckles which Anna puts together all by herself and she often stops to check and make sure the baby is safely inside the straps.

Anna was pretty excited about her stocking filled with all her favorites: two kinds of crackers, three kinds of sweet cereal, raisins, a whole cheese stick, and even some cookies!

Grandpa Roly's new fishing gear

Anna was quite pleased with her new doggy slippers

I think Anna took this picture of Grandma and Grandpa with her daddy's help

I made this crayon roll for Elizabeth

And these felt matching blocks for Elliott

He is the smiliest little baby ever. I loved it!

Buckling in the baby

SO happy

The day after Christmas, Steve, Sam, Peter, and Karen went to see Avatar while the rest of us played with the kids. Baby Elliott charmed us all with his smiles and good nature and the girls played till they dropped each day. Mom and Dad's new house has a custom-built play house in the basement with two raised platforms, a bridge, ladders, monkey bars, and little house with a window and mini door, a slide, and a swing. Needless to say, Anna was in heaven and loved to take turns on the swing with Elizabeth and ride a rocking doggy and slide and climb and play peekaboo in the house. She also loved putting on all the dress-up jewelry and looking in the mirror and filling up the Connect 4 rack with checkers. I showed her how once it's full you can slide the bottom open and they all fall out and she said, "Dat's a-MAY-zing!" I can't help but burst with love and pride when she says cute things like that.

After the movie, Steve, Rachel, Sam, and I went snowshoeing and sledding near my parents house. We all got freezing cold and Steve had a good crash while sledding, so I think we all had a fun time.

Sunday was church and resting and my Uncle Steve and his family came by for dinner and games. That evening I collected a whole suitcase full of 2T clothes for Anna that my mom had found at various garage sales and Goodwill. She finds the most amazing and cute things that look brand new, so Anna will be well-outfitted for the coming year. Sam and Peter also beat the new Super Mario Bros Wii game in a late late night.

Monday we went snowshoeing and sledding again up Mt. Timpanogos near Aspen Grove. It was so beautiful there. I loved the contrast of the tall and fat, snow-covered, deep green pines and and the tall and skinny, bare, silver birches. It really made me miss all the time I spent hiking and camping while I was in Utah. I'm so glad my parents live near all that now. (Though, I prefer Ohio's nature to Texas's so going to Amherst was always nice too.)

That evening and the next morning were spent finishing sewing projects and playing last minute games with Grandma and Grandpa. We flew home Tuesday morning and were so sad to say goodbye to our family. Anna had the time of her life and is still talking about Grandma and 'Liz-a-biff and taking turns and asks to "ride doggy" or have a story with Grandma every day. Thank goodness for webcams.

One last story with Grandpa Randy

On the evening we came home, we met up with Sam's family at the Houston Temple so his sister, who is getting married at the end of the month, could go for the first time. Anna and I waited in the waiting room and looked at pictures of Jesus (The Ensign) and played hide and seek (in the lockers). Afterwards, Anna was delighted to see her other Grandma and Papa Van and giggled her way through a late night dinner at Macaroni Grill.

All in all, it was a wonderful vacation and we loved seeing our families, our greatest blessing.

4 comments:

Laurie said...

Looks like you had a blast!

lizzie said...

Referencing the picture of you pulling the girls in the sled: aren't you pregnant? I suppose you still have plenty of time to grow a belly . . . postpone it as long as you can. ;)

Ben, Amy & Belle said...

I'm glad your visit to Utah was so much fun! It sounded dreamy!!!

I hope you and Anna start feeling better right away! XOXO

Emily said...

Anna is getting so big and adorable! I didn't know your parents moved to Utah. That's great. Sounds like a really good Christmas. And your 24-hour-date sounds so good! I think that might be a future anniversary or birthday for us...