Christmas traditions: an oldie, a newie, and one I want to start next year

The oldie: 
Christmas Eve dance party in new Christmas pjs. This is my favorite Christmas tradition ever and this year did not disappoint. I'm pretty sure I didn't pinky promise anyone that I wouldn't post this so without further ado the youtube summary below*:
The newie: 
Gingerbread man decorating but instead of having a contest to see who decorates their gingerbread man the cutest, have a competition to see who destroys their decorated gingerbread the most creatively. (Because what mom wants gross tasting gingerbread men on their counters all month?) There was death by snow, death by dog, death by boiling water, death by 16 year-old driver, death by door slam, and death by dance. It was so awesome. 
Photobucket Photobucket
The one I want to do next year: 
The Christmas book advent calendar idea from this blog. Reserve Christmas books at the library before the first week of December (unless you own your own 25 Christmas books), wrap them, and open and read one every day until Christmas.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

*video will only be up for 48 hours because Spencer threatened to never dance again if I don't take it off. I have no clue why because I'm sure his friends would like him better and I'm absolutely positive that employers would be way more inclined to hire him after watching his awesome dance.


Things I'm Loving

Family, food, and Christmastime
Things we're not loving: first haircuts and freezing weather


Wedding wrap up

Bryce and Aubrie's wedding was beautiful. They got married early Saturday morning in the Logan temple, they had a wedding luncheon at the Copper Mill, and they had a reception in Salt Lake later that night.
**Side note: Winter is the perfect time to visit Logan after moving to Alabama because it is colorless and freezing so I didn't have feelings of homesickness like I thought I would. But then we drove past our cute little brick house...

The food at their reception was probably the best reception food I've ever had, their hot cocoa bar was adorable, and their "naked" wedding cake was hands down the tastiest wedding cake ever. Spencer had leftover wedding cake yesterday for breakfast dessert, lunch dessert, dinner dessert, and dessert after dinner dessert.
It is impossible get three 1-year-old cousins to smile at the same time. This is as good as it got:
It is also impossible to get a high quality family picture with a 6-year-old camera accidentally on "night" setting. This is as good as that got:
Jack stayed awake until the very end of the reception because I forced him to dance with me when Spencer wouldn't. I will forever be grateful for Gangnam style because that was the only song that got Spencer out on the dance floor.

Somebody forgot to tell Bryce and Aubrie that it is common courtesy to schedule their wedding around their sister-in-law's best friend's wedding and not around the fact that the Saturday after finals would be the most convenient for them and for everyone else. Can you even believe that?! I missed Rachel's wedding in Arizona whose wedding was less than 24 hours before theirs and I was so so so sad. Luckily, I got updates from my mom and friends throughout the day, my mom texted me tons of pictures, Rachel texted me with an update, plus I facebook stalked Rachel all day long looking for pictures. I was with my brother, Isaac, in spirit when he danced my favorite dance at the reception.
I am sooooo happy for her!!!!
We're having fun in Utah! I loved the condition of Jack's nose for all of the wedding pictures. Walking can be rough sometimes.


Utah Bound!!!

Spencer finished his finals yesterday, and we're headed to Utah today for my brother-in-law's wedding on Saturday! We are soooo excited! We celebrated our last night in Alabama in 2012 by going to Homewood's Christmas parade with our friends. We figured they wouldn't have one of those in Utah.
Spencer got lucky enough to be able to work from his computer over the holidays so that means that we get to stay in Utah for Christmas and New Years and that also means that the Wirthlins and Sheets will be reunited to do Christmas Eve Wirthlin/Sheets style for the first time since 2004!!! We have a Christmas Eve tradition of getting into our new Christmas jamies and performing not-so-serious dances in front of the family. (Spencer is such a good sport to go along with this). This year will be epic because my Uncle Jim dances better than this guy:

A note to all you blog stalkers who just read my blog to find out when we will be out of town so that you can break into our apartment and steal all of our valuable stuff - we don't have valuable stuff. Pretty much our only valuable possession that we will be leaving in Alabama is our washer and dryer, so to save you some time and energy, just go steal our college student neighbor's washer and dryer that have been out on their patio since August.  Seriously, do it!



Things I'm loving

  • Santa Clause at the zoo (Jack was not a fan)
  • Zoolight Safari with the Carlsons
  • Fox and the Hound and Pocahontus on Netflix!
  • My mother-in-law's chocolate fudge pecan pie recipe. It's super easy and it's my favorite pie in the whole world and we made it today! Here's the recipe that you didn't ask for so that you can make it right this instant.

Chocolate Fudge Pecan Pie

                                       1 cup pecans
                                      1/4 cup butter
                                      1 1/2 cup sugar
                                     2 heaping T cocoa (heaping as in get as much cocoa as possible onto that  
                                     2 eggs
                                    1 to 2 tsp vanilla
                                    5 oz evaporated milk 
                                   1 9 inch pie shell

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add sugar, cocoa, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Mix well and add pecans. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place pie shell in oven for 8-9 minutes. Poke down bubbles. Pour mixture in pie shell and cook for 40-45 minutes. Take out of oven and cool completely so the pie can set.
  • JCP's Christmas Buttons. Here's what you do: Go to every JCP cash register possible and ask for Christmas buttons. It's basically as awesome as trick-or-treating because at each register they give you 2 to a handful of adorable Christmas pins with a code on the back where you go online to enter for a chance win gift cards and other prizes. You can enter 2 per person a day and it's kind of fun and addicting because we've already won $70 dollars in gift cards in just two days! This is going on until the end of December so you better believe that Jack and I will be loitering at JCP this month during Jack's "outing" time! (Thank you Carlsons for the awesome discovery)
  • My awesome friend, Laurie, (the one who made Jack's puppy cake) took our family pictures last month for our Christmas card! I'm so grateful for talented friends who pick up my not-as-talented slack. PhotobucketPhotobucket
  • My amazing five-and-a-half year old ipod that I thought would live forever because Apple pretty much programs those things to die after two years yet this one lived on, gave up the ghost this week when I put it through the washer and dryer :( I truly believe that it would have played music and Dennis Prager forever if I had only been more responsible. That ipod moved to Utah State with me, went to Europe and China with me, ran a marathon with me, and survived a summer in Alabama with me and it will be greatly missed. 


My very first pinterest project (and why it's most likely my last)

Over Thanksgiving break, Spencer and I decided that we needed to add something to our long blank wall in our dining room area. Spencer was set on hanging a map so for the first time ever, I went on pinterest to look for ideas. I wanted to do this, but my poor non crafty brain had no idea where to start. I am a little ashamed to admit that I had to talk to three different friends to teach and coach me on these four simple steps:

1. Get a map
2. Cut it into thirds
3. Spray glue it to a dollar store foam board
4. Hang it

So there you have it, my first ever pinterest project!

Why this pinterest project will most likely be my last:

1. Spencer actually did about 90 percent of this project. I purchased the materials and helped measure the map into thirds, but when I started cutting, I got all OCD and critiqued every cut I made (yep, just from cutting with scissors) so I had Spencer do it but then I got all OCD again and critiqued every cut he made so to prevent us from both going crazy, I just left the room until he finished the entire thing. 

2. If you look really closely at it, it looks like a butchered 5th grade social studies project. 

3. This $20 map turned out to be a lot more expensive than that because when I finally hung the map, I wanted a new black friday clearance dining table to go with it, and once we bought that, I wanted fake flowers to put in the vase that has been in the back of my closet since we moved, and once I arranged the flowers in the vase, I wanted to rearrange the living room furniture, and after we rearranged the furniture, I wanted a new black Friday painting to put on our bare living room wall because I sure as heck was not about to get on pinterest again. So Merry Christmas to me! There really should be a new book to the series, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, entitled If You Give Annie a Pinterest Project.

4. Pinterest really stresses me out and "crafting" stresses me out even more than pinterest. Wait, have I already mentioned that before on this blog?


December in Alabama and a question for all you blogging geniuses

Last week Spencer and I watched Rocky IV and when Rocky was training in the snow in Russia, Spencer expressed how much he missed snow at the exact same moment I shouted how happy I was to not be dealing with snow right now. I grew up in Arizona and have no emotional attachment to snow, so spending the first weekend of December at the park with short sleeved shirts and flip flops is completely fine by me. Spencer will just have to suck it up and endure this way too pleasant 70 degree weather.

Don't you think grass turf at a playground is the best idea ever?

So apparently I have been blogging way too much and posting way too many pictures because google keeps telling me that I am almost maxed out on my 1 GB of free picasa web albums and I have to pay to be able to post more pictures on this blog? Is there a way around this?


Jack's Birthday Post

On Jack's birthday, we went to story time and snacks at the library, we ate lunch on the kitchen countertop (his favorite location in the apartment), we played in Walmart's toy isle for 45 minutes, and we had cake and ice cream with friends. It was pretty epic! My friend, Laurie, made him the cutest puppy cake ever and I think that Jack thought that it was too cute to destroy because he had absolutely no interest in eating it. He preferred the sparkle confetti on the table instead. 

And now, mom, Elizabeth, and Isaac - here is the extremely long, anticlimactic video of Jack with his birthday cake as promised. If you are not my mom, Elizabeth, or Isaac, I am one hundred percent sure this video will bore you to tears.

A quick summary: we sing to Jack, I blow out his candle, he rejects his birthday cake and plays with his nipples and confetti instead, he plays with his friend Ruby, and he screams in terror because we put batteries in his favorite toy car and bus. (It is pretty freaky when your toys come to life after 6 months of not moving at all.)


Holding on to him tight

A year ago today, I was given a perfect little spirit in a perfect little body. When I held Jack for the first time, my heart almost burst with so much joy and love and purpose. The financial and graduate school stresses that seemed to completely overwhelm me just the day before didn't seem to matter anymore, because my son was here and he was mine and what else mattered?

As I welcomed my son into the world, my mom prepared to send her first son out into the world. James left for his mission a month and a half after Jack was born. During this time, my mom often called to check up on me and Jack. At the end of almost every phone call she would jokingly and sometimes seriously say, "Start preparing to say goodbye to Jack now! It goes by so fast! Sending James off is torture!"

In a birthday letter to James earlier this month she wrote:

Twenty years ago, I walked laps around our neighborhood in Pleasant Hill hoping to hasten your already overdue arrival. There was no way I could have predicted that twenty years later you would be walking the streets of Orizaba, Mexico, sharing the gospel in a foreign land. It is something a mother dreams about, but there are too many years ahead to picture all of the particulars. I didn't know then that the years were actually just seconds that would pass before you would be leaving our home to serve as a representative of Christ. When I look at baby Jack, I want to say to Annie, "Hold on to him tight! Savor every minute. You will have to let him go sooner than you think!" 

I remember rocking you to sleep in the middle of the night once in our Melody Lane house when you were probably two. I had rocked you many times before in that exact same uncomfortable rocking chair, praying that you would go to sleep, but this particular time was different. I felt impressed to remember that exact moment in time because I would miss it. In my mind I heard, "Hold on to him tight! Savor every minute. You will have to let him go sooner than you think." Since then I have realized what a strange thing time is. One moment time is fleeting, and another it trudges. How could ten months of your mission fly by so quickly and at times seem like an eternity?

Regardless, thank you for teaching me over twenty years that indeed "every day is my lucky day" because you are my son and I am your mom, whether near or far. I love you to the moon (Orizaba) and back, and I can hear you say, "I love you more than a thousand miles!"

With all my love,


So today on Jack's birthday, I am grateful that he's not twenty or twelve or five or two. I am so grateful he's just one. I'm grateful that I can smother him in kisses, comfort him when he cries, and count his steady breaths when he sleeps. I'm grateful that he clings to me, laughs at me, and depends on me. I'm grateful for our long simple days together. I'm grateful I can hold on to him tight and savor every minute with him, because I'm going to have to let him go sooner than I think.


Four things that I wasn't thankful for last Thanksgiving but sure am grateful for now:

1. Enjoying Thanksgiving day without counting contractions while frantically writing, editing, and submitting graduate school essays.
2. Jack
3. Alabama
4. A bedbug free apartment (and smoke free and flea free and cat hair free)

I am now going to tie politics into this gratitude post of mine so get over it.
(The video is kind of cheesy but DP makes some great points)