At some point we decorated the tree, and I tried to control my OCD when Kaden put 3/4 of the ornaments on the very bottom.
Kaden boycotted a few naps. On the good days, sleep still caught up with him:
Chad snapped this cool Peter Pan-esque shot of Kade's shadow:
We enjoyed lots of snuggle time:
Jingle Bell, our resident elf, showed up and surprised us each morning with his shenanigans:
I turned 30 on the 18th. For how much I was dreading it, it turned out to be a pretty spectacular day. Chad went out of his way to make me feel extra special and loved all day with text messages and small gifts for me to find. I had already bought my birthday present on black Friday: an HD Nook Tablet, which I have fallen in love with. Some of my sweet friends threw me a surprise brunch when I went to pick Kaden up from Joy School. And I was very surprised. Which is why I was in workout clothes and looked like this:
For my birthday entertainment, the kids acted out the nativity, which was fairly comical, since Everett starred as a baby Jesus who was almost as big as Mary and Joseph:
Bernice and I spent a lot of bonding time kneading up some tasty gifts for friends and neighbors. Batches of cinnamon rolls and bread filled our kitchen with some pretty fabulous smells for a couple solid days. These beauties were gifted to some with jars of strawberry jam I made last May:
These two love to "help" in the kitchen:
Everett packed on a few holiday pounds and had a hard time squeezing into his skinny jeans one morning:
It was nothing that the "lie down on the bed" trick couldn't fix:
We went to Kinston for a weekend to celebrate an early Christmas with Chad's family. While we were there, I cashed in on the rest of my birthday presents from Chad. The two of us went out for a belated birthday dinner for me (got to love free babysitting from Gigi and Poppy) at our favorite gourmet, five star restaurant in the middle of nowhere: Chef and the Farmer. We kind of love that A Chef's Life on PBS is highlighting how awesome it is. Plus, it's super fun to see Chad's hometown getting some good publicity. Oh, my, was it as tasty as ever. I am still dreaming of these pork belly skewers drenched in blueberry barbecue sauce.
Our sage-brined pork chop wasn't too shabby either:
Then I went and had my hair cut and colored by my favorite stylist. I figured turning 30 warranted a change, so I chopped my hair and added some highlights. I love it! Kaden was not a fan and immediately let me know. Ha!
We opened gifts with Chad's family Saturday night and enjoyed listening to Joy give her traditional performance of "Oh, Holy Night" at church on Christmas Sunday.
We then headed home, got a good night's sleep, and Santa decided to stop by and deliver some more early gifts for Kaden and Everett. We woke Kaden up on Monday morning before Chad left for work, so he could see what Santa brought, and we could have our family Christmas celebration around our tree.
This turned out somewhat anti-climactic, since we'd already had massive spoilage a couple of days before. I've kind of learned my lesson. Next year, we really want to stay put for Christmas morning and let that be the big gift experience of the season. This year, we ended up with the equivalent of three Christmas mornings, by the time we got home from visiting my parents. I'm hoping Kaden is young enough that we haven't created a spoiled brat. It was out of complete control.
Chad went to work that Monday and I worked like a crazy person to catch up on laundry and to pack in preparation for our Christmas Eve departure to Utah the next afternoon.
We flew across the country and didn't make it to Salt Lake until almost midnight. Probably not the best idea, since that was closer to 2 a.m. our time. The tickets were a TON cheaper that way, though, so that is what we did. The kids did really well on both flights, but I honestly thought the long layover in Dallas might kill us. Kaden was so overtired and SUPER whiny. He kept saying, "I'm not tired!" and "I'm not going to sleep!" He then promptly passed out during take off and slept for the entire flight to Salt Lake. Chad snapped this gem and I can't resist sharing. This is what flying with two kids looks like:
We are so thankful to my mom and dad who helped us come home for Christmas this year. There's no way we could have afforded holiday ticket prices without their help. We had a great time visiting with the Jensen side of the family. We spent a lot of time relaxing, eating good food, and just being together. We did go on a few outings, though, and had a lot more planned before the sickness of death attacked everyone and we had to buoy up inside.
We were super sad that it didn't snow while we were there. We did get to play in what was left from a previous storm, but Kaden really had his heart set on making a snowman, and the snow on the ground just wouldn't cooperate. He still loved stomping around in it, and begged to go play in it several times:
My mom was always willing to cuddle Evers to sleep, even after his 2 a.m. feedings. It was definitely a nice break for me! That is the perk to having a family of night owls. There was almost always someone up when I got up to feed Ev in the middle of the night. It made being awoken two or three times almost pleasant. I think my brother and I watched two movies while I nursed Everett on the sofa in the middle of the night. It was awesome!
Everett learned a new trick (and I totally packed him more than one sleeper, but he obviously got a lot of use out of this Christmas one while we were there . . . ):
Kaden loves his Uncle Jared, who is nice enough to let him play all his instruments when we come to visit:
We got to spend some time with my sweet niece, Addy, who is a little spitfire of energy. Kaden loved playing with her, and has since told me she was his favorite part of the trip.
We ate at a ton of our favorite places. Cafe Rio got at least four good visits while we were there. Bryan treated us to In-N-Out shakes and burgers. My mom watched the kids for us on several occasions, so we could escape the house kid-free. Chad and I went shopping at the new City Creek Mall one day, went to see The Hobbit one night, and went out with my brother Jared, who treated us to sushi.
I met up with some old pals from freshman year and had a great time catching up with them. They are as lovely and beautiful as ever! I can't believe it's been so long since our freshman year at BYU!
We went to Temple Square and savored the beautiful light display for as long as we could handle the cold, which wasn't terribly long. Everett spent the entire excursion passed out in the stroller, bundled up to the max.
Chad, the boys, and I took a drive to Provo one day and toured our old stomping grounds. We visited BYU and UVU campus and saw some of the changes that have been made since we graduated. We ate at L&L Hawaiian BBQ, where we once split a helping of chicken katsu on a weekly basis, and bought a Jamba Juice to sip while we drove around. My favorite part was taking selfies in front of all the places we lived.
In front of our building at Glenwood Apartments, which we affectionately referred to as Glen-hood (now "The Lodges at Glenwood"), where we met:
In front of our very first married apartment (middle floor) at The Branbury, where we were also
slaves RAs and worked for discounted rent. Our friends, Keith and Janelle, lived right above us. They were slaves RAs, too.
Our last place in Orem, which was actually a super nice condo in the perfect location--close to the freeway when I was spending my first year teaching in Lehi and equally close to UVU, where Chad was finishing up his last year of school. Oh, man, I loved that place. The vaulted ceilings and extra room totally made the crazy Asian landlord worth it.
We had family pictures taken all together on a frigid day in Midway. They turned out great, but we haven't ordered the ones we want from the photographer yet, so I'll have to wait to post them here later.
We also had our traditional New Year's Eve feast, complete with shrimp, bacon wrapped chicken skewers, grilled pineapple, Brazilian lemonade, cheese ball, bacon tomato tarts, loaded nachos, and crab and cream cheese won tons. So delicious. We even let Kaden stay up to toast in the New Year.
Before we knew it, it was time to head home and back to reality. It is always hard for me to leave my family. I hate that they are so far away, but I feel blessed that we had such a long visit with them over the holidays.