***I'm determined to catch up on cataloging our family's events this year. Be ready for outdated posts galore!


Christmas 2010

***only the bare minimum because three months have come and gone since Christmas***

ideally we would have eaten a huge mexican dinner on christmas eve with enchiladas and tamales but since we were leaving the next day to be out of town for two weeks, we kept things simple with a christmas colored dinner.  spaghetti, bread, and broccoli - red, white, and green. plain and boring but easy.

lots of snow made for a magical christmas eve and morning.  it felt so festive and thankfully the roads were okay for traveling still.  christmas night the girls each opened a present from my mom and got some cute new cupcake pjs.  the girls loved them.

christmas morning was so, so, so much fun!  i think it's gotten better every year as the girls have gotten older, plus their excitement rubs off on us.  grace cracked us up and couldn't focus on anything else once she realized there was candy in her stocking.  the other items that won her over quickly were the hot wheel cars and dora bandaids. 

i love madison's face in this picture.  she was quite happy to get a "tangled" book.  her biggest christmas wish was dress up clothes.   the girls were thrilled to see santa left a trunk of dress up clothes and wore dresses, crowns, heels, and carried wands the rest of the morning.

the other present the girls really fell in love with was from the hulets - a cute little tupperware mini pitcher and four tiny cups.  they play with a similar set in cedar at my mom's neighbor's house.  they still play with them almost every day.  thank you hulets!  (funny story: the package with this present came in the mail and it was the first one we put under the tree.  the girls were told not to open it but grace, being our ever sneaky toddler, tore open some of the paper when i wasn't in the room.  madison came to me in tears, saying grace ripped it open.  i went to check on the situation and found only a little bit of bubble wrap sticking out. all was well.  when i explained to madison what it was and that we could tape it back up, madison said, "how wonderful! they knew just what i wanted! its bubblewrap!"  so funny!  she was pleasantly surprised on christmas morning to find it full of more than just that. :)

christmas morning was wonderful.  the only thing i would have changed about the day was traveling.  pretty soon after our festivities ended in the morning, we loaded up, drove to kansas city, and flew out to AZ.  while it was nice to end up with family that evening, it made for a long and tiring day.  (note to self - don't travel on christmas day next year!)  

i'm grateful that for the most part we kept things simple, made some homemade gifts, and didn't spend a lot of money.  the girls loved everything about christmas and i'm already excited about next year! 


Merry Christmas 2010!!

To all our family and friends - Merry Christmas!! 
We love you and are so grateful for the influence you have had in our lives!
Love, Dan, Marie, Madison, and Grace

**sorry about the card's text being blurry, that's as good as it gets when you pirate it from costco's online photo center.  but if you read this blog you know way more about us than we could fit in one little paragraph anyway.  and for those on the second half of our address list for Christmas cards - when we find that stack of envelopes we will send you one. be looking for it jan 2011.  gives you a little something to look forward too :)

now we're off to sunny AZ for some navel oranges and family time!!



something has to happen differently next year so i can enjoy the month of december more.  its seems like its been one busy day after another, making one busy week after another.  its going too fast and i want to slow down and enjoy it more. i think i might be going crazy. between pregnancy hormones, stress and reminiscing it's been a rough few weeks for this mom. for some reason this has been the hardest holiday season since the crash and it's taken quite a toll on me. its sad to say, but i am looking forward to the holidays being over, being back at home, just enjoying our little family, and having life calm down a little bit. but then life never really calms down, does it? :)

on today's"Christmas To Do List - With The Girls":
make the best butter cream frosting ever (link here) and decorate sugar cookies
redecorate our tree because it tipped over again
dance to the little people Christmas cd while the girls wear their tutu's
watch santa paws one more time before returning it
and wrap presents for dad

here's to enjoying the next 4 days and making the most of them, despite the craziness!

**despite the stress and sadness and everything, i really am grateful for this time of year and have had many experiences the last few weeks where i have acutely felt the Savior's love for me and had prayers answered. i'm grateful for the chances i've had to serve people around me and be part of activities that have promoted and shared the Christmas spirit that is so special about this time of year.  and last, i am grateful for all the extra reminders and opportunities to reflect on the Savior - His birth and life and all He has done for us.  there is a lot to be happy about and celebrate.  even if i'm feeling kind of grumpy. :)    


Christmas Prep

 december was full to the brim with parties and activities getting ready for Christmas.  
this included redecorating the tree after it tipped over each of the four times. 
we need a new stand. but the girls especially loved it.

 i caught the girls in the middle of something and can't remember what.  
i love grace's face 
and the cluster of ornaments at the bottom of the tree.

 we decorated a gingerbread house from last year that i packed away in our Christmas storage.  
madison had free creative reign and did a great job.

 g&g lebaron let us choose something we wanted this year for Christmas and we settled for snow boots - something we maybe wouldn't have bought ourselves but needed very much (we were very grateful!).  
dan puts his to good use shoveling the snow... mine are more for leisure. :)

 we couldn't let december pass by without making and frosting sugar cookies. i attended a relief society dinner and left dan in charge of dying the frosting colors and supervising the girls.  they loved it and had fun showing off their cookies when i got home.

dan helped decorate gingerbread cookies with the residents one night so they could be given to all the office staff and doctors they work with.  the girls warmed up to the other kids pretty quickly and they ran around the house like crazies for the night.  the highlight for me was the cream cheese dip with red pepper and jalapeno jelly. so good!

not pictured is the ward party - grace was in tears and shaking when santa entered the room and madison was a little bit more brave. when it came time to sit on santa's lap, grace was the brave one because she knew she'd get a candy cane.  that wasn't a good enough bribe for madison and she wouldn't have any part in it.  so funny. 

dan's work party was held at a local bar/restaurant and was an extended cocktail hour type of event - standing and visiting around tall tables with hor d'oeuvres and drinks on the house.  i'm slowly getting more comfortable at these types of events with the other dermatologists and office staff dan works with.  for some reason i find it very intimidating as a "stay at home mom".  but you couldn't pay me a million dollars to change what i do for a living.  i'd miss precious moments like the one below. no way, jose.

i also attended a baby shower for one of the resident's and it was fun. it made me quite excited for my own pregnancy to draw to a close - wishful thinking.  i still have months and months to go.

for yw's we had several activities that helped me get in the mood for the season - a progressive Christmas party, a Christmas choir concert and delivering letters and goodies to families in the ward that needed some extra tlc.  i was in charge of the yw progressive Christmas party.  i attempted to make luminaries for the houses we visited and i think everything went well.  i was very nervous!

dan was busy, busy every sunday - leaving super early for meetings and getting home late from tithing settlement.  we were glad when that ended! 

we really tried to be frugal for the holidays this year and part of the plan was to make some homemade gifts.  i made this blanket for hannah with byu's old school logo and i love how it turned out.  despite being simple and fairly easy, it took me forever.  haha. i am so not creatively talented!

 i also made photo blocks for my mom and mark, hannah, and chris.  i took a wooden cube and mod podged pictures on each of the six sides.   hannah and chris got pictures of their nieces and nephew and my dad and brother.  mom and mark got two cubes with pictures of all their combined grandchildren.  a friend gave me the blocks and the idea - i can't claim either one. 

dan got a towel/rice bag to microwave and put at the foot of our beds to keep his feet warm at night.  lucky for me, he shares.  i thought it would be a surprise but dan said he figured it out when he saw the big bag of rice i bought.  next year i'll have to be more sneaky.

i made a couple things for the girls room as well.  these temple blocks (kits from the same friend as above) will go on their shelves and i decorated big letters (M and G) to hang above their beds with ribbon.  it was fun to put in time and make some of this Christmas be less money and homemade. 

 december was busy and stressful and filled to the brim but looking back we were able to enjoy so much as a family and create so many memories.  next year i'll just have to do more ahead of time and simplify, simplify, simplify.


Halloween 2010

**i know halloween seems like it was forever ago but really it's been like 6 weeks. and i've been more behind in the past. anyway, here we go...

halloween was more fun this year since the girls are getting older and were excited about pumpkins, getting dressed up, and filling their baskets with candy.  we started celebrating in early oct when we carved pumpkins with dan's fellow residents and their families.  our girls tend to be shy and mute in a group setting like this but they warmed up a little bit and it was great to see them get more comfortable.  

the weather was beautiful and if anything, a little warm.  we had an incredible fall with great temps for the most part.  dan's program is on the smaller side, which is normal for dermatology.  there are just 9 residents total, 3 in each year.  only two aren't married and half of them have kids - it's a fun group.

kara is a second year and brought halloween books for the kids.  they loved it.  (and i know, madison pants are a little bit low.  oh well.)

the masterpieces.  ours are the two on the left.  and by no means am i clever for tying a ribbon on the tops - they were given to us.  cute and crafty? me? nope.

our bumble bee fairy and lady bug.  i took many pictures. this was the best one. :)  
we had our fill of halloween this year - our ward trunk or treat sat night, chili and corn bread dinner with friends on halloween (you can see "Mario's" leg in the background and "Daphne" from scooby doo was around there somewhere), and then followed it with a little trick or treating around the neighborhood to be friendly.  madison stopped going to the doors after 3 or 4 houses and opted to sit in the stroller but grace realized if she kept going she'd get more candy.  she filled her bucket to the brim.

halloween is probably my least favorite holiday but this year turned out pretty well and it was fun to see the girls get excited.  now they each have just a couple pieces left and we'll put the buckets away till next year.

**we also squeezed in the hartsburg pumpkin festival - a huge crowded event in a tiny little town. it's 20 miles south of us and usually just takes 20 minutes to get there. it took us 1 1/2 hours to drive the last 1.25 miles!!! traffic was backed up due to lack of parking and we almost turned around 50 times.  in the end the girls pleas of wanting to go to the "pumpkin party" were met.  we might consider it for next year but first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.

Tis the Season to be Jolly...

Christmas came early today, in the form of a UPS package from BOSE
i can't believe december is half way over - where did it go?
i love homemade pumpkin bread and am grateful it turned out delicious on my first try.
the temp outside is 28 degrees and it feels significantly better than the single digits we've had.
i finally broke into my maternity bin and it's refreshing to have clothes i can fit into again.
after it's tipped over twice, i'm embracing the lopsided and half decorated look of my Christmas tree - i don't want to decorate it a third time.
zofran is my best friend and keeps me functioning.
we're delivering baked goods and caroling for mutual tonight and i'm SO excited.
i'm conflicted about santa hats - i think they're corny but deep down i secretly wish i was confidant enough to wear one. and pull it off.
i'm appreciative of the snow and how much more it feels like Christmas when it's white winter wonderland.
i blow dried my hair today which rarely happens other than for church on sundays.
being domestic and crafty and making some homemade gifts has actually been fun this year, which surprised me.
i enjoyed a non-diet dr. pepper and am trying not to think about all the calories i swallowed - i usually only drink diet.
i'm loving the lingering scent of burberry cologne dan sprayed this morning before he left for work.
i love our new stereo and Christmas music is blaring through our house.
best part? we didn't pay a penny for it - thank you american express rewards points for making this meager little Christmas a lot more exciting.

*i no longer feel like the Grinch and am finally excited/ready for Christmas to come.

..... fa la la la la, la la, la la.

G and G Skinner's First Visit to MO (Oct)

dan's parents, dan and laura, came for a visit in october.  we did the usual things and lucky for them they enjoyed the best weather we've had for any guests up to this point.  it was gorgeous with the leaves changing color and we were able to fit a lot in.

of course we went to cosmo, the girls favorite park and grandma and grandpa were good sports to go down the awesome slides.

we stopped at shelter gardens and had fun looking at all the flowers and trees.

we ate at flat branch and took a walk downtown with the girls as we waited for our table. madison called these statues "mom and dad" and got very up close and personal.

we drove to st louis for a day and went to the st louis zoo for the first time.  it was really fun and you can't beat free. on the way out, the girls each picked out a stuffed animal from the giftshop - g & g skinner's treat!

next, we drove to the st louis arch right next to the mississippi river and took some quick pictures.

dan (my husband, not his dad) and laura and the girls at the top of the steps looking up.  after seeing the sights we stopped at panera for lunch and bought some asiago bagels from einsteins bros to take home. that night we had an intramural kickball game (the derm office has a team - the dermatofighters! :) and dan's parents helped the girls cheer us on.

the girls were lucky and had grandma tell them bedtimes stories every night.  it's become a fun tradition whenever the girls see their grandma.

laura's birthday fell on their last day here and we celebrated with belgian waffles and homemade buttermilk syrup - just like when lindsay came to visit on her birthday.  laura became the lucky owner of a brand new mizzou sweatshirt.

then the girls went on a walk with grandma, collecting leaves to take back to her 1st grade class.  (proof that fall really does exist outside of AZ? maybe. jk!! :) 

it was a beautiful morning and the girls loved being buried in the leaves.

later that morning we also took a short walk on the KT trail.  don't mind my un-showered morning glory.

as g & g skinner were on their way back to the airport, we stopped and picked out an awesome swing set.  once again, their treat!  thank you again - the girls have loved it!  we loved having them visit and see our house, city, and the girls in their own environment.  we look forward to hosting them again in the future!


It's Just A Photo

but here's what i love about it:

*madison's pjs sticking out from underneath her pillow - we're trying to teach the girls to keep their room picked up and it looks like they're learning
*madison's glasses case next to her bed - she's diligent at taking care of them
*the white dresser - i loved it for 3 years, finally went to buy it at ikea, and ended up getting it from their "as is" section for $100 off
*the happy green walls - no more brick red, yay!
*the $20 headboard and bed frame found on craiglist - this room has undergone a complete transformation and i can't wait to show you the end result
*the piggy bank - the girls love finding money and filling their banks. my dad would be proud!
*the sun streaming in the window (not picured) - a little warmth on a cold winter day
*and my favorite thing about this picture is the lumpy bedspread

two little girls underneath.
a full 15 minutes.
all the little people nativity pieces. 
lots and lots of giggling. 

it might be just a photo but it represents so much more.


Baby, Its Cold Outside

yeserday was COLD.  though our church was cancelled (a combination of road conditions, cold temperatures, and gusts of wind), dan stayed for 9 hours of meetings and such with the bishopric and other auxiliaries getting odds and ends done for the ward.  we were happy to see him when he finally got home and the girls patiently waited most of the day to play in the snow with their dad.  we bundled up in layers and layers of clothes and braved the snow and frigid temps. 

madison couldn't wait to have a snow ball fight and make a snowman. she started running around in the snow the minute we got outside.

grace on the other hand, was grumpy because she hates doesn't like her coats/jackets/sweatshirts zipped so you can imagine her dismay when she had to wear three layers of zipped clothing.  she was unsure about the snow and was plenty happy just being carried by dad.

the girl's first encounter with a snow ball.  
the snow was super dry and barely held together long enough for madison to throw.  next time hopefully we can make a snowman.

we lasted maybe ten minutes before everyone was freezing cold and we headed back inside. (it took twice that long to get all bundled up to go out.)  our fingers were frozen and madison cried as hers thawed.  i would have cried too, had i been throwing snow balls bare handed in 12 degree weather! the girls cheeks are still chapped and pink today from their quick trip outside yesterday.  it was an adventure.  

today we declared another pajama day, stayed home from preschool and are enjoying just looking at the snow from inside the warmth of our house.  i could get used to this.


First Snow Day

we went to bed with snow flurries
and woke up to this
16 degrees
-3 with the wind chill
church cancelled
no driving in the snow today for this mom
hot apple cider for breakfast
madison waiting to play in the snow
and to try something she keeps hearing all about - snow balls
the girls don't have snow pants
or gloves
we'll have to make do
and we're waiting for dad to get home 
(bishopric meetings weren't canceled)
hopefully it won't still feel like -3 outside
so far we're loving our first snow day of the season
and are very thankful we don't have anywhere to be

note to self: before our next winter storm, buy a snow shovel, a bucket of ice, two wind shield scrapers, gloves, scarfs, beanies and snow pants for the whole family, and socks (since i only own ankle socks). you'll feel more prepared. thanks. 

Our Arizona After Party

after a quick weekend trip to utah for kamber and shane's wedding, we drove back for an extended stay in az.  i figured if i'm paying an arm and a leg to fly out there, i might as well make the most of it and stay for a while.  for all the things we packed in, i have surprisingly few pictures.

 the girls were able to visit grandma at her school while she was teaching.  though they seemed quite timid, they loved it.  madison left with a drawing of belle, colored by one of laura's students.


we rode the double decked carousel at superstition springs mall.

and followed it up with the artificial wind tunnel.

we gathered at g&g lebaron's house and saw aunts, uncles, cousins and the whole works.

{madison was having a serious conversation on the phone with dan.}
 and we spent a lot of time hanging out at g&g skinner's house.  

my favorite picture of the trip - gma ellsworth.  she said she'd been wondering why i didn't come over very often anymore - and was surprised to hear we were living in missouri (despite the fact i talk to her regularly on the phone and remind her we've moved).  we laughed and cried and it was wonderful to see her and gpa.

we had a busy week filled with family and friends, playing games, and eating good food but by the end we were ready to go home to our own beds and be reunited with dad/dan.  thank you skinners for hosting us!!


Slowly But Surely

it's beginning to look a *little* like christmas at our house. finally. i feel quite behind but we're getting there.
the tree is up and the bottom two branches are thoroughly decorated thanks to these little girls.
can't wait to finish!

Thanksgiving 2010

we hosted thanksgiving at our house this year and all of my immediate family flew out to missouri to be with us (mom, mark, hannah, chris, kamber, shane, and porter).  we also had some good friends and their kids join us.  it was a full house. the food turned out delicious.  and i hope everyone had a good time.  this was our thankful tree, thanks to my good friend lisa who brought it with her and let us join in the fun.  we wrote down things we were thankful for and put them on the tree.  it was fun to read them and a great way to get in the right mindset.

mom and mark, chris, and the girls.
grace really wanted to wear that dress over her clothes. so she did.

a benefit of dan having keys to our church building?  being able to get in and borrow chairs for the day - we had 15 people total.  next year i'll have to think more about center pieces and such.

food prep.  i could not have hosted thanksgiving without my mom's help.  i called and emailed her a bajillion times during those last few weeks about grocery lists and recipes.  hannah came to my rescue and was the one to rinse the brine off the turkey.  i tried to do it wearing gloves and couldn't help but shudder every time i touched it. she'll make a great nurse. :)

in the end, everything came together and tasted great.
on the menu:
turkey (brined the night before and roasted full of aromatics and slathered with herb butter, carved by mark)
slow cooker stuffing - thank you lisa it was great!
sweet potatoes with brown sugar and orange zest - courtesy of my mom 
garlic and bacon green beans
mashed potatoes - dan insisted on real, not instant and made them himself. delish!
gravy of course
corn for the kids
jello jigglers - didn't quite turn out like i thought but the kids liked them
holiday jello salad (strawberries, pineapple and bananas in strawberry and lemon jello - best jello ever)
homemade lion house rolls. as in some of the best rolls ever, sold in a box at costco now. they were the hit of the meal mom - way to go!
homemade cranberry pomegranate sauce - in honor of you dad!
 the only thing i'd have to add next year would be strawberry freezer jam

for dessert we had pumpkin pie, razzleberry pie (marie calendar knows what she's doing with that one!) oreo pudding pie and pumpkin cheesecake (thank you lisa!).  we were so full. which means thanksgiving was a success.

i was so stressed leading up to thanksgiving, never having had to contribute more than a pie or batch of potatoes at a thanksgiving dinner before.  i was worried about having all the ingredients, enough serving dishes, room for everyone to sit and eat, let alone sleep (my mom and mark did stay in a hotel).  but it turned out great and everyone helped so much - it was awesome.  it was great to be surrounded by family and have the shortridges with us as well.

as for the rest of the trip - i took very few pictures.  we played games and hannah, chris and i watched you tube clips until it was way to late.

i turned 28 and my mom brought party favors for the occasion.

i enjoyed celebrating with family which tends to happen each year since my birthday is always right around thanksgiving. dan surprised me with some boots and even bought 6 different pair for me to choose from.  i just laughed when we had to return all the ones we didn't keep at the store.  good thing dan doesn't get embarrassed easily.  props to him though - it was something i wanted and needed and he totally surprised me. i got some things from other family members and was very, very grateful. 

we went bowling as a family and then out for dinner with the adults to Sophia's, a southern european restaurant that was incredible. i can't wait to go back!

my mom summed up the trip in the farnsworth fold, our extended family newsletter that gets emailed out once a month:  "For Thanksgiving we all traveled to Missouri to be with Marie and Dan. Chris and Hannah flew out of Salt Lake despite a blizzard in the area the night before. Kamber, Shane, and Porter flew out of Phoenix, and Mark and I flew from Vegas. We all arrived in Kansas City within 15 minutes of each other! Hannah and Chris were in a different terminal and for a few minutes were afraid they had landed at the wrong airport. We all fit into one rental car and drove 2 ½ hours to Columbia. We had a ball! The cousins loved seeing each other and having plenty of adults to read to them or play with them. While we were there, Marie supervised a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, we played games, went sightseeing, saw the movie Tangled, raked leaves, replaced their water heater, went to a mall’s carousel, created memory boxes for Lansing and Dallin, went bowling, adults went out to dinner for Marie’s 28th birthday, and we all went to church together.
Thank you Skinners!!!!!"

thank YOU mom, for making the effort to come visit us and making it happen for the whole family.  it was so much fun and we created so many good memories.  we were also very happy that kamber and shane made the trip as well and it was great to have the three little cousins together!