Monday, February 23, 2015

Unwrapping Christmas

Christmas Eve is always hard to beat, but Christmas Day just may have tied it this year.  The kids got many presents.  Ari received a lot of Frozen toys like an Olaf, a wand, a microphone, a boom box, and a several other things.  Bella asked for Lego Friends, a fish, a real professional sports bra (for cheer), and a stuffed peacock.  Her wishes came true.  She also received her own big girl bike and scooter so she and Gabe wouldn’t have to share his.  Gabe wanted mostly Lego sets, but he also got a tree ladder, some sports balls, books, binoculars, and a few other things.  Liam got his first remote control car, Duplo sets, sword, among other things, but he loves playing with Ari’s toys the most.

All four of my little ones were so grateful and excited about every gift, no matter how small.  It was a pure joy to give to them and watch them receive.  They also had made us gifts from school, and were equally excited to give them to us.  I will always cherish the moments in which they’ve given us gifts and cards over the years.  Nothing is more special than watching their pride and anticipation at our appreciative reactions.  In my experience, there is no truer happiness felt in life than in giving to others, and especially to my own children.  I love watching them experience this joy.

Both of my sisters were here as well as Grammy and Papa.  I served a green chile egg casserole, because it was easy, but everyone loved it.  We took our time unwrapping, eating, and eventually cleaning up, and I don’t remember hearing a whine or a complaint all day.  The feeling was so playful and peaceful.  I feel happy just remembering the day.  After a nap, just the six of us went to Chinese food at Magic Noodle House and to watch a movie in the theater.  This year, we saw Big Hero 6.  This has become very much a tradition to us on the years that we are in town.  It is so relaxed, and yet so fun.  We get noodles, because I remember that as a child, my family sometimes used to eat noodles around New Years to represent long life or something like that.  When I was young, we also had a tradition of going to a movie and Chinese on Christmas Eve, because I was raised Jewish, and not much else was open on Christmas Eve that still felt festive.  Jake and I have decided to incorporate this tradition, because after cooking many consecutive elaborate meals and prepping/shopping/wrapping/decorating/baking/singing/reading/reflecting all month long, it is nice to have a break but still be celebratory and have something to look forward to. 

I didn’t take hardly any pictures this year, because I’ve been relying on my iPhone camera too much.  I’m kind of sad about it.  I want to start using my real camera again and be better about documenting detail the way that I used to.

All I can say is, I hope we remember this.  When things are hard and kids are whining and I am tired and crabby, I want to remember this.  When they are older and it seems like they care less and less (I hope this never happens, but I know it can), I want to remember this.  This day will never happen again.  At least not quite like this.  And I want to remember that it did and how it did for ever and ever and ever.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Everyday Miracles

Snow day with the people I love most // Bella commissioned me to build a snowman taller than me, and I did not let her down // so much fun!!!

The cold isn't her favorite but her smile pervades no matter where we are.

Do you want to build a snowman? // I love how focused she was.

It makes me so happy to play with my children in the snow // I got to relive a piece of my snowy childhood with them // it was a beautiful winter day in Arizona.

Jam sesh with Ari and her cousin Vance.

Winter wonderland.

Go ahead, give me a reason to send you a card // I'm ready. Thanks to my sweet in-laws for gifting me the coolest stamp ever.

All is pretty. Even through a dirty windshield.

It's been seven years since we have been on skis. I was a little rusty, but we had an amazing time. We even FaceTimed our kids the whole way down the mountain on one run.

We celebrated 10 years of marriage today. I am one lucky girl. Love him so much!

Close of a perfect day.

Meet "Grayson", the Taylor family pet // one of Bella's favorite Christmas gifts.

Scatter sunshine all along your way.

Garden beets baby.

Cilantro grows like a weed // a weed that I love to eat.

Flat leaf parsley // the garden goods keep coming.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Everyday Miracles

"This is how you cut your food with one hand."

And sometimes they really love each other.

Gabe told me that he wanted to plan things just like I do // he rescued this mini weekly planner from the recycle bin... It was a gift from our financial planner // here is is showing me his schedule.

Prepping for the feast // Bella learned how to crush garlic // prime rib underway.

Prime rib with sage jus, Yorkshire pudding, beet arugula and goat cheese salad, leek and potato au gratin, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, pecan fig pie a la mode // Christmas Eve menu.

This Christmas Eve, we welcomed family into our home to celebrate, and it was one of the most memorable and fulfilling holidays I've had // I love Christmas.

Christmas with my people // I love them.

T'was the night before Christmas // waiting up for Santa and doing a gift exchange with my love.

We go big on Christmas Eve when we're home. I love the anticipation and hope of that day. Christmas night is like one big joyous exhale for us, and the last thing we want to do is cook again after cleaning up from a brunch on Christmas Day. So unless we are with extended family, we opt for the simple and casual tradition of going out to Chinese and a movie on Christmas night // last night we saw Big Hero 6, which may be one of my favorite movies ever // I rank movies by how much I cry in them.

We shared the last slice of Grammy's pecan fig pie from Christmas // recipe by Beckett's Table, our favorite restaurant for the past few years

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and we wish you a blessed New Year!

8 kids eating around my table, 5 more playing football in the yard, 4 men around a bonfire, 4 women in the kitchen // a good night with good friends.

A great way to end a great night.

Cuddles with my biggest little guy.

Having a moment watching kids who are not arguing // thank you Monopoly.

We were super excited to become super heroes // thanks to my sis for taking our whole family on this fun adventure!.

Marvel Experience with my babes and my sissy.

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Christmas Eve

Right now, somehow, life seems busier than before.  We are settled into our home, and Ari’s surgery is well in the past, so I don’t know the reason it is that way, but it is.  I have picked up some new hobbies, maybe, like gardening and baking and dabbling in watercolor, but this blog still matters to me.  This project that I’ve had for the past seven years.  I see it as a legacy for my kids, a journal in a way, of major milestone events and celebrations in our lives.  I don’t really care that my grammar is poor and my writing sounds like it rambles… okay, I do, but not enough to quit writing over it.  So, I am aware that it’s February, and I’ve skipped a few posts along the way, and still I’m no farther than Christmas Eve, but I want to remember this past Christmas Eve. 

I want my kids to remember it if it’s possible.  It was my favorite one so far.  It was warm and perfect in every way.  At least I thought so.  I loved that we were here and we had a beautiful mix of both sides of our family.  We ate prime rib and Yorkshire pudding, potato leek au gratin, beet and arugula salad, stuffed mushrooms, and had our favorite pecan fig pies.  Everyone contributed something to the meal, but more importantly, our home was full of love and laughter and every seat at our table was occupied by wonderful company.  We cooked together and ate our “feast”, as Gabe would say, and went on a family walk in the cold night, and it was so lovely.  Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the Christmas season.  There is so much anticipation and it’s so festive, yet it has hardly anything to do with presents.  This song just about sums it up for me:

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sweet Traditions

Baking Christmas cookies is one of my favorite traditions of the season.  It goes without saying that it is possibly the favorite Christmas tradition for my kids.  It is, after all, an entire weekend devoted to cookies and Christmas movies (movies in case, you know, you need a break from eating cookie dough and frosting cookies).  Each year, we assume that the process will get quicker and more efficient, because we have one year more experience, but it just never works out quite that way.  And that’s okay, because our memories of these days are something that I always want to remember.  Truthfully, I would love to think that this is something that we will repeat in our home for years to come, even when our kids come home from college or have chubby cheeked children of their own.

This year, we added our new favorite chocolate chip cookies to the standard sugars and ginger molasses cookies.  I already have a couple new recipes in mind of cookies I want to add in 2015 (thumbprints and snickerdoodles, in case I forget).  The schedule is that we spend Friday night making dough, Saturday baking and usually making more dough, Sunday decorating and bagging, and Monday evening delivering to our friends and neighbors.  Tempting as it is to eat 500 Christmas cookies, our favorite part of the whole ritual is making the deliveries.  In a small but significant way, we are getting to celebrate with each of our friends.  The kids take turns walking up to the door and personally making the deliveries.  This is one errand they never complain about running, no matter how cold or dark it is outside.  The chance to present their friends with a treat that they helped to make all weekend long is an honor that they compete for at each stop along our route.

These are the tiny things that make up our season.  It’s these tiny things, these everyday things, that I appreciate so much.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcoming Christmas

This year marked the second Christmas that we celebrated since moving to our new home.  When Christmas came last year, we had really only been living in this house for a week or two, so everything was rushed and many of our traditions didn’t happen at all.  This was okay with me, since we were just so relieved and feeling so grateful and blessed to be in our house that nothing else seemed to matter at the time.  This year, settled in as we are, we were ready to welcome the Christmas season into our home with wide open arms.  We took our time putting up decorations, watching Christmas movies, bringing home maybe a few more new decorations that I normally allow myself each year, sending out Christmas cards, drinking hot cocoa, enjoying the company of our elf ‘Jingle,’ having company and bonfires, and baking and delivering Christmas cookies to our friends and neighbors.  In our own little ways, I think we made merry pretty well, and this Christmas was for us one of those treasured ones that really feels like it’s Christmas.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

We Wished For Winter

It doesn’t always snow in the desert Southwest, but when it does, it draws a crowd.  This snow storm was hosted by Jake’s sister’s HOA in the neighborhood park and was made with a few tons of shaved blocks of ice.  We all had an amazing time having snow ball fights and “sledding” down the hill.


Liam was a little confused initially, but it didn’t take him too long to decide that he was having fun.

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Ari was not a fan of having cold hands, but she loved sledding and hanging with her cousins.

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Everyday Miracles

He thought he was so sly sneaking a taste of flour.

We have cookies coming out of our ears! In a good way!

I ate crab and giant prawns with my bare hands out of a plastic bag and using a rock as my only utensil // our date nights are never boring.

I walked to church today // the smell of wet earth and autumn leaves, the sound of birds chirping, the warmth of the sun on my shoulder and the fresh air on my face, the peace and quiet left me so refreshed.

Thank you garden // Orecchiette with Swiss chard, fresh mozzarella, and spiced chickpeas tonight.

Cookies.  All weekend long.

Little green sprinkles of Christmas cheer cover my kitchen right now.

Bella's class Christmas party.

Ari's class book exchange.

This made my heart melt // Jake was quick to call my attention to the fact that Bella was already making plans to sneak out of bed to meet boys.

Our little country house all lit up for Christmas.

Celebrating with friends and neighbors in the country // we keep the kids up till 11:30 pm for nights like these.

Lemonade season has officially arrived.

Enjoying their awesome gifts from one of their favorite people, Brooke // she spoiled us all.

Happy little makeshift card tree grows taller and more cheerful by the day // we thank you for all the well wishing cards and for your beautiful photos.

The way he says “I luv yewww!”

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