Saturday, December 29, 2012


I was really worried that this Christmas was going to be sad and lonely. It was our second year away from our family and it really doesn't get any easier to be so far away, especially around the holidays. Thankfully, it was neither sad nor lonely. It was really special and festive. The girls were so excited about presents and Christmas movies that there was no time (or reason) to be sad about missing our family. Christmas was really wonderful. Really, really wonderful.

Last year, it took the girls 2 days to open presents. This year we let them open some on Christmas Eve. It was a great decision because they weren't so overwhelmed with bazillions of gifts on Christmas morning. We opened our gifts slowly, playing with them as we unwrapped, then opening more as the morning went on.

I let the girls pick out JD's gift from them. We wandered Target for 20 minutes before Beatrice settled on pink tennis balls. "Daddy loves these!" my precious 3 year old declared! And he did.

We spent the entire day in our pajamas watching A Christmas Story and playing with toys.

I really wanted to make beef wellington for Christmas dinner, but a loin of filet mignon is about $1000 a pound and I just couldn't justify spending so much on a dinner for 3 and a half people, so I made a Christmas brisket. We had another candlelight dinner on our holiday china. It was nice.

While I was preparing the side dishes to our dinner, the most beautiful sunset appeared out my window. My dad always said that sunsets were God's paintings in the sky. I thought it was so glorious, I grabbed my camera. It disappeared as fast as He painted it. By the time I called JD and the girls to come see, it was gone.

We ended the night with baths and new jammies.

It was such a lovely day. I was worried it wouldn't feel extraordinary to our girls, that they wouldn't think it was special since we didn't have anywhere to go, but they loved it. It was one of my favorite Christmases too, such a great day with our little family.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

A few days ago I had an emotional moment and I called my out of town husband and said, "what if we flew home for Christmas and surprised everyone?" I just knew he'd say yes and I'd be booking tickets and surprising everyone on Christmas Eve. He said no. Too expensive, not enough time to pack,  yada yada. I was really bummed, but decided to get over it. We are spending our second Christmas in California and I'm making the most of it.

A few weeks ago we went to Candy Cane Lane. It's a street in the back of a neighborhood near LAX where every house was decked out with Christmas lights and decor. It was really awesome.

The girls loved it. California Christmases aren't too bad, I guess.

The worst part about being away from family at Christmas is some of the special occasion stuff seems less special. Like Christmas Eve dinner. I miss going to my mama's house after candlelight service for a big, fancy dinner and sibling gift exchange.

So tonight, we came home from church and had our dinner by candlelight. It was just the four of us, but it really was special eating ham by candlelight.

The girls thought it was really special. Beatrice loved eating on the Christmas china and drinking from the special crystal.

After dinner the girls opened one gift and were off to bed. Tomorrow's a big day and even without family, we are going to have a special Christmas.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Beatrice's most favorite thing to do this holiday season is make crafts. Coloring, cutting, tracing, painting, taping - it doesn't matter. If it's crafty, she wants to do it. So we've been doing a lot of Christmas crafts around here.

It's actually been pretty great since we've been sick and leaving the house has been reserved only for emergencies. Both girls are pretty content cutting and pasting their little hearts out.

We had a little crafting get together with friends a few weeks ago. Beatrice loved it.

Only a few more days of Christmas crafting left! What will we do with our time after Christmas?

Friday, December 21, 2012


At the beginning of December, I set a goal for myself to blog new posts every other day. It's Christmastime and I had lots of fun ideas to write about! I was doing alright with meeting my goal, but then Jamie came for a visit and we were too busy painting the town to stop and blog. Then the girls got sick. Then I got sick (and am still recovering). JD's out of town so the Christmas shopping and prepping has been solely on me...

Then the terrible tragedy in Connecticut happened and I didn't know how to pretend so many families weren't hurting while I was posting photos of Christmas adventures. It just didn't seem right to keep posting frivolous nonsense while there is so much raw pain happening. It still doesn't feel right.

Everyday I cry and pray for those families that have been met with the worst kind of loss and pain. Half of me wants to stick my fingers in my ears and scream "LA LA LA" and pretend that none of it happened so I can stop imagining my pain in that horrific scenario, but then I remember: This is not about me. I have my precious babies for another day. For another week now. Those mamas and daddies don't. And they need my prayers and thoughts and wishing and begging God to bring them peace and comfort and a whole slew of other things only He can provide because their pain is so real.

So I continue praying and crying and wishing and begging God to heal their hearts. I have a lot of opinions on why this happened and the declining spiritual condition of our nation, but right now I just want to urge everyone to continue praying. Christmas is a few days away and soon many of us will forget about the tragedy. People will forget how they were rocked to the core upon hearing the news reports that little kids died at school. The families affected still need our prayers. Please keep praying for them.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Greatest Picture In All the Internet

Love seeps from our pores. Can you feel it?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chill: An Aly Wonderland

I love a good holiday themed attraction. Throw in a winter wonderland (my favorite season of all) and my excitement level is off the charts.

Thursday night we met up with some friends in Long Beach at the Queen Mary to check out Chill, the ice village.

It was really neat. The ice village dome was located in a little mock European village complete with carolers, gorgeous lights, and Christmas cheer.

Once we walked through the Christmas village, we entered the ice village. To sum it up in 2 words: amazing and COLD. It was 9 degrees in that dome. We layered up in fleece and jackets before we left, but it was not enough. The nice folks gave us parkas to wear, but even those were not enough. We were blue. Actually, we were red. Our hands and faces were chapped from the 20 minutes we sped our way through that frosty place. It was fun and pretty amazing seeing the magnificent ice sculptures, but it was miserably cold.

We wanted to keep looking at the incredible ice sculptures, but we couldn't feel our faces so we were really glad to get outside. We were frozen to the bone, so naturally we went straight for some ice cream and big fat sausages.

The girls were going bonkers from the sugar rush and thawing limbs, so we got a family photo in front of a big Christmas tree before we left.

The whole time we were there, Beatrice kept saying we were in Aly Wonderland. All I can gather is she was thinking about Alice in Wonderland, but got confused. It's actually quite fitting since winter and snow are my favorites. We had a great time in Aly Wonderland and are glad we decided to get off our rears and do something spectacular on a Thursday night.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Card Fail

I love Christmas cards. I love designing them, selecting the perfect picture, and sending them to all of our friends and family. I usually have everything ready to mail by December 1st, but this year is different. I don't have a single card imagined, let alone addressed to be mailed. I can't seem to get JD to commit to walking down to the beach to take a family picture, so I thought this year's card will showcase just the girls. I tried to snap some photos of them by the Christmas tree the other night and it didn't go so well.

No one would look at me. No one would smile at the camera. There are a few decent ones, but I'm just not feeling these photos for our Christmas card. I'm actually toying with the idea of not sending cards this year. Is that horrible of me? I think I'm boycotting, you guys. For serious.