Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Traditions

This year Mr. Mitchell and I decided to stay at home for Christmas so that we can start developing our own Christmas traditions for our little family. While I am still very happy with the decision and the lack of travel stress I am feeling a bit nostalgic for my childhood Christmases. I would like to share here a typical Christmas for me growing up in the Holdaway household.

When Christmas time approached there was always a flurry of activity that made everything so exciting. The first thing we'd usually do is get our Christmas tree as soon after Thanksgiving as possible. We never had one of those beautiful Festival of Trees trees, but I always loved ours. Each year every child would get a new ornament, and every year we'd all get to put our collection of ornaments up on the tree. It was a hodge-podge of personality, and very happy. Then there was baking, getting goodies ready for the neighbors (we always delivered popcorn and pop), and lots of present wrapping. With a family of seven kids there was always a mound of presents around our Christmas tree.

On Christmas Eve we'd have a nice dinner and then we'd gather by the Christmas tree for the Christmas story. There was always something so peaceful about sitting in the light of the tree listening to my Dad read about Christ's birth. We were always reminded that God loves us so much he gave us the wonderful gift of the Savior. When it was done everybody would get to choose one gift to open, and then we'd all watch a Christmas movie together. A favorite was A Christmas Story. When the movie was finished we'd set out treats for Santa Claus, and get to bed. All of the kids would sleep in the same bedroom, and being one of the youngest ones it was my job to keep the older ones up in anticipation of what was coming in the morning. My oldest brother, Chris, would tell us funny stories, and after a while we'd all drift off.

Even though I was usually the last one asleep I was still one of the first ones awake. It was my duty to wake up all of the other siblings so we could get Christmas started. We weren't allowed to leave the room until our parents came and got us, and so my brother, Ryan, would blast a Christmas song on his trumpet to let them know we were awake and waiting.  They'd come down to the basement to get us, and we'd all have to be wrapped in a blanket so we couldn't see what Santa had brought until we had our breakfast. (Yes, my parents loved the torture.) We'd have toast and orange juice, and at a rather leisurely pace to make it worse, and then we'd get all lined up to go back downstairs to the Christmas tree - oldest to youngest. Being second to last this was even more torturous.

Finally, the big moment! We'd get downstairs and go in search of our stockings which were no longer on their hooks, but instead spread out throughout the room indicating which present Santa left for whom. When I was really little this was an overwhelming process trying to pick out my stocking from seven, but I always had a sibling ready to help. After enjoying our Santa gifts for awhile we'd then open up the mounds of presents from underneath the tree one present at a time. This process took awhile, and was very messy, but eventually it was over, and we were left to revel in the fun of the morning.

As everybody got older and people started leaving home the pile of presents grew much smaller, there weren't as many bodies in the bedroom, Santa's cookies were eaten before bedtime,  and the anticipation dwindled, but the memories of those childhood Christmases mean so much to me. That is why it is so important to me that we start having our Christmases at home, and begin to develop our own traditions and memories that our children can cherish forever. I am sure I don't remember things exactly the way they were, but I'm pretty sure I remember the magic, and that's what I want my children to have.

Merry Christmas!

(And since a post feels incomplete without a picture, but I don't possess any of Christmases past, I will include the pictures I used in our Christmas cards.)

Token blog post picture:

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Thanksgiving and November 2013

We had quite a voyage this Thanksgiving. During the summer I realized we hadn't seen Mr. Mitchell's Grandma Ann since our wedding and decided we needed to go see her during the holidays. It worked out best for everyone if we came just after Thanksgiving, and that's what we did.

We spent Thanksgiving day and a couple days prior to it at my parent's house. We played games, ate food, watched movies, and I slept ... a lot.

 My parents took us to the The Village at Meridian which was super fun. I can't wait to go back in the summertime when it's nice and warm and the stores are open. Right now they have Santa's village set-up complete with an ice skating rink. Mr. Mitchell tried teaching my nephew how to ice skate, we watched the fountain show, window shopped, and watched Frozen in the fancy pants theater with leather seats.

How many uncles does it take to
get a nephew ready for skating?

That's where Santa hides out.

On Black Friday instead of hitting the stores we hit the road and spent 11 hours driving to Roseburg, OR to visit with family. We spent most of our time with Mr. Mitchell's brother's family, his aunt and uncle, and we were able to see his grandma and dad as well.

Aunt Liz, cousin D., and Sprout.

The grandkids were gifted giant teddy bears.

After a couple of days it was just us with Rick and Patti (Mr. Mitchell's aunt and uncle who graciously hosted everyone in their home). Patti spoiled me with craft time, we went on a beautiful walk and played at a park, and went to Festival of Lights. We don't have any pictures from Festival of Lights, but let me give you a visual:

Driving very slowly past lots and lots and lots of light displays, the window down, Sprout standing on Daddy's lap, head out the window, giant smile. It was very cute, and he loved it.

Luke, Liz, and their boys.

On our walk with Granty (Great Aunty) Patti

We had a wonderful time with all of our family and want to thank my parents and Rick & Patti for spoiling us rotten and helping us make this trip possible.

Now for the November wrap-up:

Pulling out ALL of my shoes is a favorite game.

Lots of outside time before it got too cold.

He likes his books.

Now some videos of Sprout playing with Mom and Dad:

Sunday, 17 November 2013

October 2013

It's past time for October leftovers, and I kind of don't care, but Mr. Mitchell says I should catch up on everything that I meant to do so that I don't give myself the slacker speech later.

We started October with a surprise party for my niece who turned 16. She loves everything vintage, so, my sister put together an awesome vintage, sweet 16 party. Mr. Mitchell dressed as a greaser, I was a 40s casual girl, and Sprout was a beatnik because that was the best we could do. No pictures, unfortunately.

We did family pictures. One of Mr. Mitchell's coworkers took them and I edited them. This is my first time doing something like this, and I'm not entirely pleased with the way they turned out because I know they could look better; I just haven't learned how. If you have suggestions I am happy to hear them, but no criticisms.   

Then there was Halloween, of course. We went to trunk-or-treat as pirates because we always seem to be ready with pirate costumes.

On Halloween we carved our pumpkins just in time for our trick-or-treaters. We had all of 7. 

And then, of course, there's just the random stuff that is life.

He has turned into quite the climber.

He's already done with this phase.
Glad I captured it.

Bonding over electronics.
Sprout loves suction cup kisses from Daddy.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

We Went to Vegas

After our ridiculous summer a little getaway seemed to be in order. We wanted to go somewhere warm, but within driving distance. We settled on Las Vegas and rented a little studio condo in the Montelago Resort. My sister watched Sprout while we disappeared for a trip of relaxation and reconnection. It did not go quite as planned, but we'll get to that later.

On our way down to Vegas we drove through Salt Lake City and stopped to see the Boy Scout exhibit in the Church History Museum. BSA holds a very special place in Mr. Mitchell's heart, and we hope that the scouting program holds itself together long enough for our boys to be Eagle Scouts and have it mean something. The exhibit was well done, and if it's still around we would recommend it.

We then stopped in on our old stomping grounds: Provo. We lived a block from the Provo Tabernacle when it burned. It was a sad, sad day. It was a very joyous day when church leadership announced they are turning it into a temple. We drove by the construction site to see what was happening.

The spires are on the ground and
look like odd Christmas trees.

The gutted tabernacle.

Raised off of the ground so they
can work on the basement things.
Click here to read more about the temple and see their plans.

Eventually we made our way down to Vegas and got ourselves into our room. The resort was beautiful, the room was very nice, and we got to enjoy the hot tub and eat at a little pub. The following pictures are the view from our balcony.

To get to the village we had to cross this beautiful bridge, and we never snagged a picture of it or the village. It's a problem the two of us consistently have when we travel alone. (We have maybe 10 pictures total from our honeymoon, and that seems strange to me.)

The next morning we experienced a little slice of heaven when we got to sleep in for as long as we wanted. I had forgotten what that felt like. We then went and got an hour long couple's massage at the spa. It was another little slice of heaven. We got to sit in the hot tub there, steam, sit in a lovely waterfall, and be thoroughly pampered. It was amazing...until we left and were charged more than double what I had anticipated. AAAHHHHHH!!!! My relaxation was a bit gone at that point, but we carried on.

We then went to eat at a little bistro in the village where Mr. Mitchell ordered a $12 shrimp cocktail. They brought out four shrimp that tasted worse than dead fish. We got through one and a half of them. Again, we just carried on.

We then went to the marina to rent some watercraft to play on the lake. They were closed - without warning. We called them all day, and no one ever answered. They still haven't returned our messages. I was super looking forward to basking on the lake, and that never happened. Losers.

We then discovered that my brother's family was also in Vegas. They live less than two hours from us, and we had to bump into them in Las Vegas. Nuttiness. They were staying on the strip so we sojourned into Vegas to say 'hello' and take Mr. Mitchell on his first Vegas walk.

They were staying in The Excalibur.

C. needed help with his
 gangster chain he won.

Proof that we saw them.
By the way, Mr. Mitchell would like me to mention that I got us lost probably at least 5 times on our way to The Excalibur. (We should invest in GPS.) The last time I had been in Vegas I was 16 and my memory wasn't that fresh. And on that age note, this was my first time in Vegas where I was old enough to cross the line and onto the floor. Wow. It was weird.

I demanded a trip to the Bellagio to see the fountains.

For some reason the show we watched was recorded in three segments. I'll include the two long ones to give you an idea. It was very pretty, and I LOVE the song they used.

From there we called it a night and went back to the resort. We had a big day planned and needed to get all rested up. Part of getting rested up included Mr. Mitchell spilling soy sauce on the sheets. No more sushi in bed.

We started our next day with a trip to the Hoover Dam. It was very cool, but, unfortunately, due to the government shut-down you couldn't do much except walk on it. Nothing was open except for the gift shop (go figure).
We parked up on the hill
because we didn't want to pay.

We parked in one time zone and walked back into the other.

After our Hoover Dam expedition we went back into the city to go to the Mob Museum. It was a bit pricey, but it's well done: informative and interactive.

In the line-up.

That's Clark Gable and his wife.
Apparently she divorced him in Vegas.
 I can't remember why that's related to the mob...

Cop simulation - he's getting
ready to take down a big mob boss.
After the Mob Museum we got in a slight argument about money in a parking garage. It was a little awkward. Something we definitely learned from this trip though is that money is just money. Worse things could happen, and memories are priceless.

We walked the strip checking out the malls in The Venetian and Caesar's Palace. We watched the fountains again, went to the M&M store, ate at a delicious Italian restaurant, and watched the pirate show at Treasure Island. 

After I had completely wore Mr. Mitchell out we decided it was time to head back. Imagine our surprise and panic attack when we couldn't find our car keys. We wandered back to the car fruitlessly following our footsteps in hopes of finding dropped keys and calling every place we stopped in to see if keys were turned in. Eventually we got back to the car and found the keys sitting on the driver's seat, and all of the doors were locked. 

We live in the dark ages (a.k.a. we don't have smart phones) and had to call my little brother, Garrison, for a locksmith. He sent us a number, we called, and we waited. Eventually an unmarked vehicle popped up, guy didn't ask for any ID or proof of ownership, popped the car open, and claimed $60 - cash only. Talk about sketchy. We were too tired to care. We headed on back to our studio only to find that we were locked out of our room. We had to cruise all the way to other side of the resort (after 1am) to have them reactivate our cards. We were so ready for bed by the time we got in.

The next morning we cleaned, packed up, and went to do sealings at the Las Vegas temple. It was beautiful and refreshing.

As I said, the trip wasn't as relaxing as anticipated, but we still had a good time, and it was wonderful to have it be just the two of us for a bit. I have been to Vegas a few times with my family and on a dance competition, but this is the first time I have been where I was responsible for planning. Now that I've done it once I feel we could do it successfully a second time and have a much more enjoyable experience. 

Thank you so much to the Smiths for taking care of our little boy!!
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