Christmas Break 2018

There is nothing like going home. <3

We had such a wonderful break visiting my family back in Oregon.  I gotta rewind and document it all!

The break started for us on Friday the 22nd. I was scheduled to work until 5pm, but my boss kept making little comments about how I should leave early because of the holiday. I hung around for awhile and told her I really could stay, but she mentioned that when I went for lunch I should just not come back. I truly work in such a wonderful office! It allowed us to get on the road a little earlier and to not be in a rush.

I went home, surprised Derek with the news that I was off work, and we finished up last minute packing. Getting off early allowed us to stop and bring a quick treat to one of my old roommates who had just had surgery. Poor Emily! It was fun to chat and catch up with her and some of her family. Emily's brother-in-law was somehow Makai's mission companion in Brazil. Small world.

After leaving Emily, we drove a little farther and met up with Derek's parents to stay in a hotel that night and to have dinner with them. We didn't spend Christmas with them this year, so it was nice to be with them for a little sliver of time. We went to dinner with a delicious salad bar, so I was happy. After dinner we went back to the hotel and went down to swim and hot tub for a little awhile. There were two separate rooms in the hotel room, and we laughed in the morning about how different our room temperatures were. We kept our room around 72-74, and Derek's parents room was at 62. We are literally ALWAYS cold.

Derek and I both worked out at the hotel gym in the morning and then had breakfast all together. After we said goodbye to his parents, we were on the road to Salt Lake! We were scheduled to fly out of Salt Lake on Sunday morning with Ezra and Megan. We stayed at Ezra's brother's place that night.

Saturday evening and meeting up with Megan and Ezra was kind of....crazy. We first went to Megan's place in Provo to meet up with her and to leave our car. Ezra was already in Salt Lake with family. We went to Zuppa's and all got lunch together (me, Derek, and Megan), and then we drove a little ways and dropped Megan off with Ezra and family. We then went to meet up with a family from Derek's mission: the Mendozas. They made us the most delicious food. I was so, so full. Literally, stuffed to the brim. They were also the kindest and most enthusiastic people. I want to be more like them. I was so inspired being in their company!

After dinner with the Mendozas, we headed into Salt Lake to see the Temple Square lights...along with everyone else in Utah. Derek and I drove around for probably 45 minutes looking for parking, and by the time we parked and walked over to the Square, Ezra's family was done and wanting to leave. We rolled with it, looked around for a few minutes, but then decided it was just too crowded to really enjoy anything. We left and went back to Ezra's brother's place where we were staying that night. We had been using Megan and Ezra's car, so we all drove back together along with Ezra's sister.

Back at Ezra's brother's, we all hung out for a little while. We were pretty tired and knew an early wake up call was coming (we wanted to be at the airpot by a little after 5am, I think). Of course, we couldn't go to bed without Derek winning the heart of every toddler in a 5 mile radius. He has the magic touch. Ezra's family was so generous to host us. Thanks, Randon and Jackie!

My fear of cats led to a not so restful night's sleep, but ya know, ya win some ya lose some. 

Megan dishing up some of the soups and chilis they had waiting for us. Derek and I sampled some of the cornbread, but we were both so stuffed still that we didn't have much.

The airport was not as busy as we were anticipating for only two days before Christmas. We got through security pretty quickly. Derek and I had some fun races on these fast walker things (do they actually have a name?) We walked throughout some of the gates trying to look for a place for breakfast and ended up eating at the one at our gate. It was nice to get a walk in!

We didn't think we'd arrive in Oregon in time to make it to church but our flight was early, and we totally made it! We went in our travel clothes, but it was nice to be able to take the Sacrament and to celebrate that Christmas Sunday. It was so fun seeing old friends, too! Derek, again, won the heart of all the babies that he could. One couple even told me that their baby usually doesn't go to many people and they were impressed with how good Derek was with him. 

It was soooo good to be back with family again! Dad came and picked us up from the airport, thanks Dad! And Mom made us a delicious pot roast for dinner. It was so awesome to be all together. 

We wasted no time in busting out the games. Being surrounded around this table and playing games was a very familiar sight over this break.

Natalie decided we should have a cookie baking night and I thought that was a splendid idea. Sister bonding.

There was an impromptu gingerbread house making contest on Christmas Eve after Natalie and I had a cookie baking marathon. We made chocolate chip and sugar cookies and our traditional nutter butter reindeer. I made a frosting while everyone made houses, but it ended up being gross. Fail! It was fun to see all of the different creations in the gingerbread houses.

I was impressed by the licorice gutters on Derek's house. Ezra's windmill idea was also very creative.

More sister bonding. 

We went to my Uncle's on Christmas Eve for dinner and gift exchanges too. We also played the saran wrap ball game...I have to post the video soon! It was hilarious. There were little prizes and gift cards all wrapped up in it, which only raised the stakes. We had a lot of fun, I played some rounds of Twister with the little kids, and my uncle made us the most amazing food. He is an amazing chef! Salmon and steak tacos, zuchhini pasta with pesto, fruits and veggies, chips and dip, yum yum yum. Would eat it again right now if I could. 

When we got back, we opened our Christmas Eve pjs. Purple crewnecks for the win!

More games. More snacks.

Natalie and I opted for our traditional for the traditional sister sleepover on Christmas Eve. We lasted about 20 minutes before she went to sleep somewhere else. Haha. 

Christmas morning was nothing short of magical. I love watching the pure love and excitement and the spirit of giving that is present. Santa brought Kendall and Natalie giant beanbags this year and they were a hit all around. 

My parents are so generous. My sisters are so thoughtful. It was so much fun.  Natalie drew my name for Christmas this year and she got me a ukulele. I am so excited to learn a new instrument this year!

I was in charge of making our traditional Christmas morning german pancakes. I was so happy they turned out! I opted out and had Bob's Red Mill oatmeal for breakfast because of the dairy in the pancakes, but Bob's Red Mill oatmeal is my favorite, so I was content.

We went for Christmas dinner at my Aunt Deana's house. She is always the best host. We had ham, green beans, cheesy potatoes, Megan roasted the most delicious zucchini and squash, and lots of other yummy foods and snacks. I was in charge of bringing a dessert, so I brought some protein balls and a pan of cinnamon rolls (Mary dropped off our rolls at our house that morning, so we thought we'd bring them to add to the festivities!) After dinner we played card games and participated in an epic round of boys against girls Heads Up. I am happy to report that the girls team won. ;) It was hilarious and so much fun. I love being with family! My aunt Cathy also brought rocks for a rock painting extravaganza.

Derek and Ezra made dinner one night....fried rice and teriyaki steak. Yummm. With another appearance of Megan's zucchini and squash. So so good.  

A few blurry-ish pics from Christmas day at Deana's....

A blurry but happy shot of the whole crew. Troy lost his shirt by this point, but when you're busy playing with new transformer cars it is hard to be bothered with remembering to wear clothes.

Some other randoms from the break....

I wish this picture wasn't blurry! Love Natty. At least Derek is in focus and he is a great view. ;)

Supporting the home basketball team. It was fun seeing Natalie and Kendall run around with all their friends.

Derek and Gus had some quality naps on those beanbags. Lots of competitions on the GameCube from those beanbags too between everyone.

When Mom insists that you let her buy you new jeans and you try to decline but you know you aren't going to win this mom is so generous. We feel so fancy in our new pants (that to be honest, I really did need. Thanks Mom and Dad!)

More games...

And more games...

Some trash talking probably....

Celebrating the birthday girl on New Years Eve!
They went straight to the DMV that morning and got her license while Derek and I went to the store to get a birthday cake and some stuff to make Natalie's fave sandwich (BLT) for a big lunch. Grandma and Aubrey came over too. We also got some brownies and ice cream (Nat's favorite dessert).

My mom is so cute!

Dad and I also went down to the track that morning and I got a good run in. Running in Oregon is heavenly because of that elevation!

Derek and I took charge in getting everything ready for sandwiches. It was fun!

That night, we got to go to a hockey game in special SkyBox seating thanks to one of our family members and his work. Thanks, Mike! It was seriously such a blast! I now want to be an ice skater, of course.

We went to The Cheesecake Factory beforehand for dinner, and partway through the game Natalie and her friend left to go to the New Years dance. Kendall went to hang out with some friends as well. When we got home from the hockey game we kind of fell asleep on the couch. I woke up as the countdown on tv was going "3....2.....1!" I kissed Derek, then promptly fell back asleep again. I think this is the first year I haven't really made it to midnight.

The hockey game was sooo much fun!

 Love these faces.

And now we are back in our snowy Idaho home, safely tucked in to our apartment. It was a two day travel journey back home (fly to Salt Lake and then drive back up to Idaho) but we are here and broke up the drive by staying at Megan and Ezra's, eating lunch with Megan and Mom, and stopping at the place where dreams come true (Costco) to get our fridge stocked.

Dinner tonight...pulled pork salads. Yum!

It was an amazing break, and there are so many wonderful moments I didn't even catch here. My family is in a bit of a transition time with a lot of big changes coming their way, so there were some tender moments as the break was dying down as everyone talked and thought about the changes 2019 are going to bring. I love every member of my family so much that it hurts, in the best way possible! It was an energizing, refreshing, enlightening, and flat-out fun break. Here's to 2019---sure to be a crazy and memorable year. Bring it on!