Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Friday, January 11, 2013

The 2012 Holidays: Ready to Take on 2013!

Very few remnants of Christmas remain around the house by this time in January.  But I am still basking in the warmth of the memories created over 2012's holiday season...  

Right as the Christmas rush was in full effect, my big 3-0 knocked me on my booty with pulled back muscles that had me literally flat on the couch for 5 days!  (I won't lie, the first 1-2 days were great to relax a bit...  By day 3, I was going crazy!)  I am beyond thankful for my sister and mom who took shifts helping with the kids while Jeremy travelled that week.  My sister even stayed over at night so I wouldn't have to pull Bentley out of his crib... now that's LOVE.  The very last day my sister was over to help, I probably should have continued to rest... I couldn't help but bolt to Costco (and a few other stops) to get ready for Christmas which was only 5 days away at that point.  That injury sure was a reminder to me it's best to be ready early for the holiday... just in case! (Perhaps some strength training is in order too?!)
Auntie Kara made the yummiest treats with Harper & Bentley.  The kids got their best "We will work for cookies" faces on and had a blast... BTW our kids have been sabotaged by all the Christmas goodies.  Have yours?  They look at me everyday now like "you want me to eat green what?!?" ;)

 We were blessed to spend a fun-filled evening with our dear friends Adam and Elissa.  We enjoyed stopping at different restaurants in the Pearl district of Portland for delicious food, amazing drinks and irreplaceable company.  We laughed so much that night my stomach was hurting... I love those kinds of nights.  We know our friendship with the Kollars runs deep because we arrived an HOUR late to our dinner that night... and they have since dropped off a coconut cake, sour cream orange rolls and truffles (and an offer to enjoy a bottle of scotch with them is still outstanding)... all because I mentioned some of my favorite foods to Elissa that night!  This type of thoughtfulness has epitomized our friendship with them.  We love you two!
Jeremy and I love being in downtown Portland anytime.  We love city life.  We always say we would have lived in Portland's Pearl district as young marrieds if it hadn't have been for our living in San Diego.  It's a magical place for us, especially during the holidays.  One of the best parts about the Pearl, is that it has a sister restaurant to our absolute favorite breakfast spot in San Diego, Isabel's Cantina.  Since living in Portland, we very likely go to breakfast as a family here at least once a month.  We love it, especially since breakfast is our kids favorite meal.  Right before Christmas, Mimi, Baba and Auntie Kara met us for a very spontaneous breakfast meeting.  The kids spent the time playing musical chairs sitting with each family member... Somehow Mimi always ends up with both of them.

While we waited for a table, we did manage to get a few cute pictures of the kids.

One afternoon, Jeremy broke away from work and headed to the mall with the kids and I.  I was happy to have him with me as I will admit, it was quite eerie to walk into the same place where only two weeks prior there had been a shooting that made national headlines.  Doesn't this picture scream "Best Dad in the world!"... He truly is.
On the eve of Christmas Eve, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I enjoyed our 2nd annual Christmas goodie baking day.  We enjoyed chatting and working away in the kitchen while the kids played and the guys caught up on football.  I think we made 8 different things!  I'm sad I didn't get a picture of us ladies hard at work.  Both Yvonne and Bonnie made their hubbies an extra special goodie as a Christmas love gift.  I was inspired to do the same for mine..
Of course I made Jeremy salted whiskey caramels.  They were to die for!  I think they'll be a staple every year.
Harper made her own work of art at school this year.  She was so proud of her gingerbread house that it sat on our nook table as the center piece all month.

Christmas Eve was spent with my side of the family.  It was lovely celebrating with them.  We enjoyed going to my parents' church for their Christmas eve service, then headed back home for a beautiful meal, presents with the kids and then presents with the adults (after kid bedtime).  My mom always does an amazing job making goodies and our traditional family Christmas bread... and there is always laughter to spare when we are all together.  Unfortunately, Christmas Eve was one of those harder days for our little family (for many reasons I won't mention here) where jeremy and I just felt off... exhausted... emotionally drained.  We absolutely enjoyed the holiday and as I think back on it, I'm overwhelmingly thankful for our family who extend grace upon grace to us (like how we arrived and I almost immediately headed upstairs for a nap with the kids).
Present time for the kids!  You can always feel the anticipation oozing from them.
For dinner, my parents actually set out their silver goblets for the kids... they thought it was beyond special... and I think that's all they had for dinner - sparkling cider.
The whole Nelson family.
This year, I was inspired to start a tradition.  This coming April will mark 8 years since my brother died.  And every year I have this almost desperate urge to find some way to honor and remember him during our family Christmas gathering.  The first year, we changed our family Christmas celebration entirely... it was too painful to keep things the same and not have him with us.  Some years it's entailed sharing a few beloved stories, other years we've touched on the heart-breaking stories.  Gifts have been given to one another in which were Jeffrey-inspired.  This year was no different.  I longed to remember my brother.  I decided to purchase a beautiful hurricane and candle to represent his life.  I brought it to my parents house and as we gathered in the living room, we lit the candle and placed a picture of Jeffrey next to it. He is always with us in our hearts and memories, but He had a place with us in a different way this Christmas.  I loved this burning candle representation.  It offered simple hope to me...
We made it home by midnight and told the kids they had to quickly get Santa and the reindeer their treats and then hurry off to bed.  They wrote Santa a note and set out cookies and milk for Santa... and carrots and milk for the reindeer of course.
I got virtually zero pictures of the kids opening their presents this year.  Just loved every moment with them.  Harper did get a Belle dress and scented nail polish in her stocking... so a rainbow mani/pedi was in order right after presents, and of course in her new dress.

Our kids received a joint gift this year - a little kid trampoline.  Have we stated that our kids are physical before?  Their favorite activities involve running, climbing, jumping and hardly ever sitting still.  We have since had hours of fun together in our basement.
After presents and stockings in the morning at home, we headed over to Jeremy's parents house for the rest of the day to celebrate with the Swift side.  We enjoyed cooking, chatting and moving at a much slower pace than years past since no one had to be anywhere on Christmas night.  We enjoyed that immensely!  The four grandkids took naps while we cooked.  We were all shocked to find (our nephew) Jensen woke up from his nap throwing up!  The poor little guy (and Bonnie & Josh) had a rough couple of hours, while the rest of us quarantined ourselves off in the living room.  We eventually got around to opening presents together as Jensen seemed to rebound pretty quickly.  The Swift family will look back on Christmas 2012 as the year Jensen got sick :( Jensen's whole family all got sick later in the week (poor things!), but to our amazement, no extended family members got it!
Love these two!

Only a few short days later, Jeremy and I got to head down to San Francisco to spend New Year's Eve with our sweet friends Kara and Eric Jung.  We had a deeply meaningful time with these two (on so many levels) and are overwhelmingly thankful to our sister-in-law Kaeluree for taking on our kiddos to allow us the opportunity.
Kara is a vertan mama of three and bravely (or sanely) left her tiniest, little Emily, back with her older sisters with Eric's parents.  We enjoyed dinner near Union Square at the Jung's favorite spot, Scala's.  We've never had so much fun ringing in the new year!
We laughed that the four of us acted like 22 year olds, staying up so much later than our 30ish year old bodies wanted to.
We woke up at a decent hour the next morning and the Jung's took us on a run on the coastal trail near the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was sunny, brisk and beautiful.  It was the perfect way to spend our morning.  Before hopping on our flight home, we hit another Jung favorite - Tacolicious.  We had the Jung's order... and yes it was delicious ;)  I even adored the ahi tostada (that was big for me and I'm so glad I tried it ;)  We were absolutely dead-dog tired when we got home, but the trip was a total blessing for Jeremy and I.  Our hearts are intertwined with yours, Kara and Eric.  We love you!
After the holidays settled down, Harper was obsessed with decorating her jewelry box she got from Uncle Brent and Auntie Kae!  It was the first "grown up" project Harper has worked so diligently on.  She would work on it, take a break and let it dry, and then come back and work on it some more.  She worked on it for a couple days like this and has shown her masterpiece to everyone who has entered our home.  4 is definitely right around the corner for this girl!  Thank you Brent and Kae!
I am always so sad to take down the decorations and the tree after Christmas.  I love the sparkle, glow and warmth it all brings into our home.  I was so thankful I had little helpers to vacuum up all the needles... while I dried my eyes ;)

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