Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's Cookie Time!*

One month of every year, I look past my bias against baking (which exists merely because I'm not very good at it) and I enter a world of sugary chewiness where I just happen to be Mistress of All. Ok, that is an overstatement. What I mean is I bake a lot of Christmas cookies. And I mean a lot. As soon as I finish this post, I will be heading into the kitchen to make my favorite Christmas cookies, which includes, and is most likely limited to, Chocolate Crinkles (pictured above), Russian Tea Cakes, Shortbread, and Snickerdoodles. This is the first time that Snickerdoodles have appeared on my Christmas cookie list, but I could not resist because they are basically my favorite cookie. Tomorrow morning I will have dozens and dozens of cookies all over my kitchen. So my question is:

Who wants some?

I'm serious. If you live in the Provo/Orem area, let me know if you are interested. I didn't give any away last year and I ate nothing but Chocolate Crinkles for two days, no joke.

*PS This movie inspired the title of this post.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

To Mac and Back

Our little family went to McMinnville over the weekend to see my family. I couldn't leave until Saturday morning, but Sean and Matilda went out Thursday night so my parents could have more time with the girl. I was there for a whopping 48 hours, but I had some good times visiting with my family and seeing people from my home ward. Here are a few highlights:

1. My Dad. When Sean and Tilly walked hand-in-hand through security at PDX for my dad to pick them up, Tilly saw her grandpa and immediately dropped Sean's hand and ran to my dad. This warms my heart so much. Matilda hasn't spent a lot of time with him since we live 800 miles away, so I asked Sean if he pointed my dad out to her and he answered no. I love that Matilda was able to recognize him and got SOOOOO excited about seeing him. Also, we were there for the Mac 2nd ward Christmas party. My dad was asked to sing "We Three Kings" with a group of men and was so nervous about it. He loves to sing, but has never had ANY musical training and has a difficult time singing the right pitches. They sang the song acapella and it sounded great! I even listened hard for my dad's voice and I could hear that he was singing the correct notes! I was so proud of him.

2. Family Dinner. My siblings and their families in Oregon all came over for stew and pumpkin pie on Sunday. There were 10 adults and 10 kids, altogether. After dinner, we watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, but with 10 kids running around and making noise, I didn't get a whole lot out of it. I held my 7 week-old nephew for a long time and played Christmas Charades with my nieces. I feel so lucky that even during such a short trip, I was able to spend some quality time with my family.  After everyone left, Sean and I watched the devotional again and were really able to feel the spirit of Christmas. My favorite talk was President Uchtdorf's about humility and "seeing" Christ in Christmas.

3. Going Through Stuff. My closet (can it be considered my closet if I've never actually lived in that house?) is full of my stuff. Old Halloween and dance costumes, American Girl Doll paraphernalia, possessions I have had for at least 15 years that I don't really care about but I haven't gotten around to throwing them away. One of these trips I am really going to go through the boxes, but last weekend I started looking through a box from my senior year of high school. I found my graduation mortarboard and the various tassels and cords I wore. I found some pictures that brought back a lot of memories about the wonderful group of friends I had in high school. And I found my cheerleading uniform. I have lost about 15 lbs of baby weight since August (finally!) so I decided to try on my uniform, although I wasn't very hopeful. It was a little bit tighter than it used to be, especially in the, um, chest area, but it definitely fit! It makes me happy that I finally have the body I'm used to back and I'm able to wear my old clothes again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3rd = Baby Day

L-R: Janneke, Kathy, Gretchen, Sarah, Megan

This picture was taken in August of 2006 when our folk dance team was on our way to Nauvoo, Illinois to perform for two weeks. Janneke and Gretchen were already married, but the rest of us were all married within two years. These girls are some of my best friends, so we always have fun recreating this picture when we get together. It is amazing how many memories one little picture like this can bring rushing back to your mind. We took a picture together in 2008 when we were all married and reminisced about this time in our lives and marveled at how much can change in two years. Now, just over a year later, four of us have children and Kathy is due in January. I was the first to have a baby and then Gretchen had little Hannah about 4 months later. In fact, a year ago today I was visiting her in the hospital, and just now I returned home from visiting Sarah and her baby girl in the hospital. Amazingly enough, Janneke and Sarah both had babies today! That's right. Three out of the five of us have had babies on the same date. Apparently, Kathy and I missed the memo about the third of December. I guess we can try for that next time.

Congratulations to Sarah and Justin and Janneke and Danny and their new babies!

The Goose is Getting Fat

On Sunday night, I stayed up until 1:00 AM writing a new post about some things that I have been thankful for lately. What started out as a few thoughts about some events from the past few years of my life, and how I have overcome them, turned into a lengthy, journal-like personal essay. I was reluctant to post it because it delved into some very intimate emotional territory, so I have decided to put it on hold indefinitely. Just know that I am grateful for many things this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is over, so here comes Christmas! I got out all of our Christmas decorations the morning after Thanksgiving and our house (really just the living room) looks beautiful in all of its red and gold glory. I have a few more things that I want to do and I haven't gotten our Christmas dishes out yet, but I was so late decorating last year that I wanted to be sure to get our tree, stockings, nutcrackers, and nativity up early this year. I think Matilda has inherited my love of Christmas. She loves watching the classic cartoons, such as Rudolph and the Grinch, and we watched Elf last night and she loved it, especially the beginning at the North Pole. She also loves the Christmas tree. I put our 6 foot artificial tree on our coffee table in the corner of our living room (with a nonslip pad underneath, of course), so Matilda can get a nice and close look but her short little arms can't reach it. She loves the lights and her favorite ornament is an Ariel ornament that my parents got for me in 1992, when I was obsessed with the Little Mermaid. Like mother, like daughter.

Even though she loves the tree, I think her favorite decoration is a giant Nutcracker snowglobe that my parents gave me in high school. It plays the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and has different scenes from the story circling around a Christmas tree with glitter floating around. The base has characters such as Drosselmeyer, Clara (or Marie, whichever you prefer), the Mouse King, the Nutcracker, and the Sugar Plum Fairy situated beautifully among Victorian architecture. Matilda loves to watch the globe and dance to the music. In fact, Matilda came to me while I was typing to get me to wind it up. It makes me so happy watching Matilda dance, especially to Nutcracker music.

I admit that I totally love the non-religious parts of Christmas, but I also love the true meaning of Christmas centered around Christ's birth. My mom collects nativities and my favorite part of Christmas while growing up was setting them up around the house. We only have one nativity so far, which is Willow Tree so Tilly is not allowed to play with it, but I would love to have one that she can touch and play with, and that we can teach her the story of Christmas with. Any suggestions?

By the way, since I grew up in places where it didn't snow very much (except for one winter in Park City), I haven't had very many white Christmases. But ever since coming to BYU, snow has started to be a crucial part of Christmas for me, at least in Utah. I still don't need snow in Oregon to feel like Christmas is right around the corner. Anyway, there hasn't been a substantial snow in Provo yet. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope it snows soon.