We had a very nice trip to Utah to visit family for Christmas this year. We left San Jose around 11:00 a.m. on Friday since Paul was able to get off work early. That was sooooo nice because it made it so we could get ahead of the traffic leaving later in the afternoon or evening. We contemplated stopping somewhere in Nevada once it got dark but because of our early start and the predicted bad weather for Saturday we decided to just push through and got to Farmington around 11:00 p.m. We were glad we did because although the last couple of hours were dark and there were some less than ideal roads, it was nice to be safe and sound at home that night and know we didn't have to do any more driving the next day.
Instead, the next morning, Clara's cousins showed up and they spent the day rolling out cookies with Grandma Cece and playing.
The girls were sitting up on the counter to help and they kept sticking their feet in the cookie dough as it was getting rolled out. Ick. Fortunately, I had made a serendipitous mistake by leaving out a cup of flour so the cookies turned out awful and super crispy and I was able to remake them and roll out new ones that night after the girls went to bed and they never knew any difference. We just threw the bad ones away (which my dad grumbled about for days because he likes crispy sugar cookies better than the soft ones and he said he would have eaten the "burnt" ones, haha).
We also went to my aunts' house in Bountiful so the girls could watch Great-Grandpa Johnson's train go around the Christmas tree. They were fascinated.
We were all commenting on how Clara (2 1/2) is as tall as Emma (4). Emma is on the small side for her age though (in the 10th percentile). But it is really weird seeing them look so similar in size when really Clara and Lily are so much closer in age at only 3 months apart.
Sunday we had church and did a lot of cooking/baking in preparation for my mom's annual Christmas dinner for family in the area. I don't even know how many adults there were, but it was a LOT. There were somewhere around 30 people or so. She made amazing chicken cordon bleu with three layer Christmas jello, fresh rolls and everybody else brought salads and dessert. The little girls looked so cute in their Christmas dresses and I was really hoping to get a picture of everybody in their Sunday attire but that idea got vetoed so everybody changed.
We enjoyed just spending time together as a family on the 23rd and the 24th. On the 23rd I went to the gym with my aunt and dad and sister in the morning. Renita and I walked on the treadmill and she let me "coach" her through a hill and walking/jogging workout. Then in the afternoon, Paul, Jennie, Ry (Jennie's husband) and I went and got pedicures. I was really bold and went with a bright red color packed with gold glitter by OPI called "The Spy Who Loved Me" and it is pretty much my favorite nail color I have ever chosen for my toes.
I got a picture of our double date on my phone and afterwards Ry said he should have confiscated mine and Jennie's phones before we sat down because he knew something like that might happen. I actually had a guy do my manicure this time and was cracking up because there was a football game on a television mounted to the ceiling and he kept turning around to watch plays and would seriously just forget about me for a few minutes at a time so everybody ended up waiting for me at the end because they all had women doing their pedicures so they were finished quite a bit before me since the guy fell way behind.
On Christmas Eve, Jennie, Jessica and I went to the gym for a 9 a.m. step class. It was packed but so much fun. I sweat like crazy doing step classes. Jessica had to leave for work after that but Jennie and I stayed and did a 10 a.m. Zumba class afterwards (we are crazy, I know, but it actually felt really good and I have never done Zumba before). Jennie has become really dedicated to exercising and does Zumba on a regular basis so I thought it would be fun to try it with her. I did okay although I have to admit that I was super self-conscious a lot of the time (I just cannot shake what my momma gave me the way Jennie and lots of other girls in the class can, haha) but I would definitely do it again. I was pretty stiff for a few days afterwards from the back-to-back workouts but it was one of my favorite things about the week.
For Christmas Eve dinner my mom made a brisket (the same one I served for the ward Christmas party last year and at our Halloween party this year). Emma (4), Clara (2 and 7 months) and Lily (2 and 4 months) did a good job sitting at the little table that was set up for them. They are seriously so cute together and Clara just adores her cousins. She hero worships Emma and wants to do whatever Emma is doing. We always refer to them as being neopolitan cousins because of their different hair colors.
Afterwards we did the traditional opening up of Christmas pajamas. The girls were all very interested in helping Adelaide and Adelaide was fascinated by the wrapping paper.
Then Emma and Lily and Adelaide opened up sister gifts and they each had a doll that Jennie had made for them that they opened. Jennie has started a tradition of making something for the girls each year (last year it was blankets), which I think is such a good idea.
So we let Clara open one more gift - the quilt that I made for her. She had seen it tons before so it wasn't like a huge surprise or anything, but it was wrapped up and so she was excited about it. I had planned all along for it to be her big Christmas present but I didn't want it to be from Santa because obviously I wanted the credit for that one. :) I plan on posting better pictures of the quilt later.
The girls all got gingerbread themed jammies this year (and my mom picked out some really cute ones for all the grown kids too) and we tried to take a cousin picture on the couch. The two are the best we got.
Then Clara and Emma and Lily put together a plate of cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer. Clara and Emma carefully carried the plate all the way from the kitchen to the living room together and were super serious about this task.
Then it was time for bedtime kisses all around and lights out for the little girls. Jessica said that she cuddled with Emma for a little while then told her she was going to go upstairs to take care of some things and Emma was like, "no Jess-Jess! You have to go to sleep NOW so Santa can come!" Such a smart girl.
We all stayed up, of course, and had fun setting things up. Santa brought Clara that purple balance bike and helmet that she had been dreaming of. Paul bought it used on Craigslist for half price, then sanded it down and painted it purple with Clara's name in gold letters on the body because she has been adamant about getting a purple bike and Stryders don't come in that color. He is such a good dad. Clara's other big present was her red umbrella with rainboots and a rain jacket. This was a good decision because I ordered it online and a few days later it rained and Clara started going on and on about wanting an umbrella. She told me blue but I'm pretty sure that didn't end up mattering to her and I had already picked out the red one to match her boots and jacket. She also got a set of ABC plates from Pottery Barn Kids that I picked up on clearance for an amazing deal, bristle blocks, some Toy Story and Cars figurines to feed her obsession with both movies, Candy Land, and quite a few books (some were from my mom).
Here was the whole scene for all the girls after Santa's visit. The cousins got a train set and food for their kitchen along with lots of books, slippers, and other toys.
True to form, I woke up quite a bit that night (I never sleep well on Christmas Eve). The girls, however, did awesome (other than Clara falling out of the cot set up in our room one time - she didn't even cry, she just said "how'd that happen?" in surprise and I helped her back in) and slept in until probably around 7:45. They were so cute looking at all the toys Santa had brought to them though and I think everybody was very pleased. I know this post is getting awfully long so I will let the pictures and this video speak for themselves.
After spending an hour or so playing with the Santa gifts, we made breakfast (caramel nut rolls, buttermilk biscuits, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, ... the works - Casebolt breakfasts are amazing). My aunts, grandparents, and uncle came over for breakfast, then we all opened presents together afterwards. With 12 adults and 4 kids, it took quite some time because we tend to pretty much do it one at a time so everybody can see what everybody else got. Clara was cracking me up everytime she opened a box that had clothes in it because she would get so excited and beg to try it on right then and then and I kept telling her no. It wasn't that she didn't care about the toys and games that she got (she loved those too and got some really fun things) but she was in heaven over each new dress, pair of shoes, or piece of jewelry.
I don't have a picture of it but I made a quilt for Paul too. It took me months to finish because it was pretty intricate and I thought for sure that he knew I was working on it, but it was a total surprise and I think he was really pleased. He even got a little choked up about it (which he pretends to deny out of masculine pride). I'll take a picture and post it along with one of Clara's quilt soon.
At one point I was holding Adelaide and Clara came up and just snuggled into me and talked to Adelaide. Clara loved being around Adelaide and was so cute with her. And I just adore Adelaide and am pretty sure the feeling is mutual. Whenever I walked into the room, Adelaide's face would light up for me and anytime I talked to her she was all smiles. It just made my heart melt.
Clara and Adelaide's identical expressions in this picture crack me up.
I got to see my brother Seth for the first time in years on Christmas afternoon and it was nice, although way too short of a time since Paul and Clara and I were only there for a little while after Seth got there before we had to leave to drive down to Alpine for Christmas evening with Paul's family. Opening presents with Paul's family was pretty chaotic but that is fun in its own way. I'm not sure what everybody else got, but Clara was pretty happy with some fancy plastic Minnie Mouse heels that light up when she walks. Paul got new fishing boots and I got a microphone and wind blocker that attach to our camera, which I have been wanting so that I could get better audio on my videos. We have been testing it out and it makes such a humungous difference - I wish I had had it a few days before Christmas for all of the videos I took. I will have to do some more videos soon and post them to show how much better the sound quality is now.
Clara's stripey dress was a gift from my mom from J. Crew and the necklace she is wearing is the picture below is an Eiffel Tower charm, also from J. Crew, that I bought for her. Last year or the year before we gave a matching one to Kayli for Christmas. Clara adores it and wants to wear it all the time.
We spent the rest of our vacation sledding, going down to BYU campus (SO much fun - seriously, we had a blast), visiting friends, watching movies, and hanging out around the house. It was another wonderful Christmas season and it is hard to believe it has already come and gone by so fast.