wordless wednesday | a few more from family pictures

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taking stock | december’s end


|making| plans.
|cooking| roasted veggies and chili.
|drinking| orange carrot juice + superfood smoothies.
|reading| to elinor. and planning my 2015 reads.
|wanting| christmas to be here again.
|looking| forward to lots of fun gatherings in the coming weeks.
|playing| our new records. miles davis and coldplay.
|wasting| paper. making list after list after list.
|sewing| a new year brings new inspiration!
|wishing| that time would slow down for just a bit.
|enjoying| my new slippers.
|waiting| for my tea to steep.
|liking| our family evenings together.
|wondering| what 2015 will have in store…
|loving| ben. full stop.
|hoping| that God strengthens me and stretches me.
|marveling| at elinor’s growing vocabulary and increasing imagination.
|needing| to finish putting away the christmas gifts… but, they are just too fun!
|smelling| my new perfume.
|wearing| flannel. all the time.
|noticing| what a homebody i am this time of year.
|knowing| that january will be a full and fabulous month.
|thinking| about new hairstyles.
|feeling| cuddly and cozy.
|bookmarking| design magazines.
|opening| chocolate bars from my man.
|giggling| at the silly and amazing things that elinor says…

past post here

our christmas.

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oh my goodness. christmas day. what a grand one. glorious hustle and bustle and sweet, quiet moments of reflection and revelry mixed in. it doesn’t get much better than that.

i hope you enjoyed some scenes from our day. let me tell ya, pictures just don’t do it justice. it is impossible to capture the grandeur and joy and warmth and tastes and happiness and fuzzies that were experienced. it was a good one.

we stayed with our regular schedule for the day and it made for a full day of family and fun. ben and i woke up early so that we could spend some time together, just us. those precious moments really make us feel like newlyweds again…and i hope that we can maintain our traditions, in some form or another. i cherish this time. we place our gifts for each other underneath the tree on christmas eve (we don’t want to give away the surprise) and do them separately, trying to avert our eyes from the other gifts in the process. in the morning, the tree lights go on and the gifts are revealed. it is such fun. i just love giving gifts to my man. and my man is especially thoughtful at christmas. he picks out each gift and wraps them in some creative fashion. last year, he did this and this year, he bought maps from some of our favorite spots and future travel destinations (which also happened to coordinate with the contents of the box he was wrapping) and finished them off with lovely bows. he’s the sweetest. and he absolutely gets the spirit of the season. such joy in giving to another. i love him.

anyway…we light candles and grab blankets so we can curl up on the floor together and let the messiah play in the background. and then, christmas morning mimosas! we clink and sip and relax for a bit before diving into presents. and those presents. what fun! new clothes and shoes and socks and candy and jewelry and perfume and skincare and nail polish and such. may i just say that mast brothers chocolate is incredible. and quin candy. woah. ben finds such gems. i am a spoiled lady.

after gifts were opened and we cleaned things up, it was time to get ready and bring out the gifts for elinor. we continued the tradition of giving her something to wear – something to read – something you want – something you need. it is a great way to ease her into things and let her enjoy each present without overwhelming her. after all, there are two more stops to go! and two sets of grandparents… PLUS santa. this kid wasn’t going to have a gift shortage issue…

elinor received her christmas pajamas on christmas eve so she rocked those all day. it was great. she also received some other clothing items (need) and some freshly picked moccs (wear) and a pride and prejudice baby lit book (read) and a fabulous play kitchen (want). she was so happy about each gift and that smile was too much. while we got things ready for the day, elinor played with her kitchen and whipped up some tasty convocations of carrots and mushrooms and salt and eggs. she was telling us all about it and having a blast. it is a great addition to our home. i hope she has so much fun with it for years. i know we have fun watching her. AND now she has something to do while mama and papa are busy in the kitchen. perfect.

around 9am, we loaded the car to head to ben’s folks’ house. elinor sported her pajamas and we wore some new items plus our slippers. mine were new from ben so they were extra special.

we spent the morning at the whitehouse house. we opened stockings and ate cookies and kringle (as appetizers) before we settled in and got down to the business of gift opening. presents are the best. we love shopping for our family and giving them something fun on christmas. and we were so spoiled, especially elinor. baby dolls and toys and books and all kinds of trinkets. and then, breakfast. ben made english muffins and brought them to use for eggs benedict. it was incredible. and there is a chance that even after all the sweets, i managed to eat three whole english muffins. well, it’s not like i was getting to eat them again later! and after days of watching them begging made and smelling them as they cooked, i needed a solid fix.

after breakfast and a bit of chatting and relaxing, it was back in the sleigh and away to my parents’ house. christmas morning number three!

we were greeted by a snowball fight and an inflated snowman which elinor was so excited about. snowmen are kind of her favorite, right now. and then, we settled in. we arranged the final presents, we put food away to enjoy later, we got elinor’s supplies situated. then we surveyed the scene. presents piled. overflowing stockings. and our annual letter from santa. what a guy. such kind words and such generosity.

stockings were opened and we shared our goods. and let me tell you, santa is even over-the-top with the contents of the stockings. i’m sure elinor (and the rest of us) could have been happy campers with just those stockings. but, why stop there? wink.

this year, instead of doing a them for each person, we decided to simplify the shopping a bit (life is crazy and baby sawyer was going to arrive in the middle of prime shopping time so, we wanted to plan accordingly to keep it festive and easy for all) and mix it up: themes for couples! each couple was given a theme by the other two couples and then they would go shopping accordingly. on the big day, the couple would open the gifts and a big part of the fun is trying to guess their collective theme based on the gifts. it was super fun.

2014 themes:

bree and paul “glamping”

mom and dad “the 12 days of christmas”

ben and rachel “swanky and dapper”

so great. i won’t go into all the gifts but let me just say that everyone did a great job. so much creativity and thoughtfulness! and, it makes the budget stretch further too. you have to be mindful of each gift and make sure they are a perfect theme fit. plus, plus! you get to get in extra shopping dates with family during the season. i highly recommend it.

the little ones were an entirely separate thing. and boy, were they showered in gifts. after all that fun, and a long and quite stimulating day, elinor was looking pretty glazed over. she was powering though but was delirious. so, we took a break before the final kiddo gifts were given and put the littles down for a quick catnap. elinor snuggled into her little bed right away and power napped for a solid hour while the adults opened a few final gifts from santa and my parents…and, while ben prepared dinner. i was already so full. from the generosity of loved ones and of course, from the morning carb-a-palooza. but, when the aroma of lasagna hits the nostrils, it is amazing how hungry you get… plus, ben had been torturing me with that sauce for the last two days. he cooked it up for a solid three hours a few nights before christmas and it is killer. meat and garlic and cheese and wine. i couldn’t wait to dig in. and when you add that to noodles and mozzarella and béchamel, magic.

we opened a bottle of fancy-schmany wine and served up the rich, melty goodness of that lasagna. and my mom’s perfect pom salad. such a feast. everyone at the table went back for extra helpings because, you gotta. about two minutes into serving, elinor squawked from the other room. we were going to let her snooze for a bit longer so we could enjoy a part of the meal as just the adults and so she could power up for the final stretch but, that intoxicating lagansa aroma. she was onto us and ready to go! she joined us at the table and went for it.

dinner was finished. we were full. and we all gathered for one final gift. a playhouse for elinor. a beautiful playhouse for elinor. i was so excited about it! what fun we would have playing house together. but of course, in true child fashion…all she wanted was the box. she climbed in and played “jack-in-the-box” and entertained us all. silly girl. and not to worry, mom and dad. she is obsessed with the dollhouse now. she gets it. now that that AMAZING box is out of the picture 🙂

to wrap things up, we enjoyed some sticky toffee pudding (which i currently want more of) and before gathering up all the goods and heading home. wow.

ben and i chatted and recounted the events of the day on the drive home. we laughed and counted our blessings. once home, elinor crashed and her parents crashed on the couch for some final moments together. just reveling in the joy of the day and maybe eating a few final sweets to top it all off. because, christmas.

and for the grandparents and nonnie adele – and anyone else who is interested in cuteness – i have posted a couple of videos here and here of elinor on christmas morning. enjoy!

#12DatesofChristmas2014 | number eleven

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{on the eleventh date of christmas}

seeing the hobbit and enjoying dinner at hopdoddy

on the weekend we (dramatic pause) saw a movie. yup. it is a total unicorn for us. we get in our fair share of date nights but they usually involve dinner and such. when we get a few hours of “just us” time, it is hard to spend it in silence. we thrive on adult conversation over tasty food. and so, movies in the theater have mostly fallen by the wayside. but not this time. not when The Hobbit is happening.

whatever will we do without a Tolkien movie at Christmastime? seeing LOTR/The Hobbit has become a bit of a “thing” for us. it wasn’t intentional, but somehow, this time of year, we find ourselves in the theater spending a few hours in Middle Earth. and i love it.

my mom so kindly offered to spend the afternoon with elinor and my dad joined us for some movie fun. it was such a treat. A MOVIE! so funny, how life changes. seeing movies was a staple date night for us, back in the day. and now, so rare. and so special. and it makes us way more choosy about what we spend our time and money on, which is absolutely a good thing. being mindful is always a good thing.

anywho. after the movie, it was off to hopdoddy for some burgers and fries. oh, fries. truffle and parm fries plus fries with green chile queso for dipping. amazingness. and those burgers. oh man. i didn’t even get in there for a pic, that’s how good. what a perfect way to spend a few hours on a saturday. i will do more of that any old time.

on the Eve of Christmas

a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

the other day, i went for my saturday morning run and on my way home, i ran by a christmas tree lot. my nose was red and cold from the early morning air, my lungs were feeling heavy, my legs were weary. i was feeling this run more than usual. and then, the scent of pine hit my nostrils. and for the rest of the way, i contemplated those trees.

my mind wondered about how many trees are purchased and displayed and then destroyed every year. and i had a bit of a tree-hugger moment. mourning the loss of all those trees. essentially, planted and grown to die. to be cut down in their prime. what a waste. all for a day that has been essentially taken over with commercialism and racket that has nothing to do with the true meaning of the season. do people even know why they put up a tree, anymore? or is it a silly seasonal habit? something to show off how creative or cute or extravagant they are? is there anyone who knows what christmas is all about? my inner charlie brown was in full-force.

and then, it struck me. those trees. cut down in their prime. living to die. for us.

this is christmas. that is precisely what christmas is all about.

my inner dialogue calmed – the annoyance subsided – and my heart was peaceful. and grateful.

the evergreen is meant to symbolize everlasting life. it is a reminder to us that even in the harshest winter, that tree is green. it lives. the tree reminds us of the tree by which our sin was overcome, namely the tree upon which Christ Jesus was crucified. Paul writes in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (quoting Deut. 21:23). and Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”  the tree exalts the value of life, of power over death.

the tree is a reminder that the Natal Savior was born to die. He came and lived with the purpose of giving up His life for us. that babe born in a manger was the Savior of the world. Isaiah 9:6, “for to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” the King of Kings, crucified on a tree so that He could conquer death and redeem us. to give us life, evergreen.

as we decorate the tree and place gifts under it, may we think of those things as symbols. may we celebrate the greatest gift that has ever been given. the gift of greatest price. the gift of God’s only son, unto us. God with us. our Emmanuel. what love the Father has for us! to give His son as a ransom for the world. that He might live perfectly and die horribly and rise victorious and then return to His heavenly place of glory.

“hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!”

advent season makes us ache for the ultimate advent of our Lord and Savior. may all the sweetness of this season and the scent of pine make our hearts pine for home. may we comprehend the richness of the gospel anew. may we enjoy the delights of this life as reminders of the utter delight of Heaven. may our hearts be stirred with a deep longing for what is true and glorious. may we revel in the pleasures of the King’s table. may we experience the warmth and adoration that is ours when we sit at the feet of our Savior.

let us celebrate the One who was born in a stable lowly. let us cherish the One who humbled himself unto death, even death on a tree. and let us exalt the One who rose from the grave and conquered sin and death.

“and He shall reign forever and ever!”