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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Pretty much everyone who knows me is aware that I love Christmas to an almost unhealthy level. I usually debut my collection of Christmas music (which constitutes almost half of my iTunes library) around Labor Day. This is my absolute favorite time of year. I learned this great love for the holiday season from my amazing mother, who always made Christmas wonderful for us. That is why Kelson and I were so excited when we found out we had ten days off for Christmas, and that we would be able to spend the holiday at home with my family. My whole family was home this year, and we had a very happy vacation at home with them.

My dad gave my grandpa a box of clay pigeons and some shotgun shells for his birthday, so we all went out shooting one morning. Kelson said he had only used a shotgun once about ten years ago, so he didn't think he would be great at it.
Then he hit pretty much every clay pigeon dead on. He is just awesome like that.

Dad also took out every single one of his without even trying.

Then it was my turn. I tried with two different guns and didn't manage to hit a single one. Oh well, I can say I have shot a real gun now.  Before that day I had only shot a BB gun.  It was a fun morning.

On the 23rd, we had Danish Christmas with the Baxter side of the family. Every year we celebrate our Danish ancestry with a traditional Danish Christmas dinner, which includes pork roast, caramelized potatoes, dilled cucumbers, and sweet-and-sour cabbage (pictured above). For dessert, we have rice pudding, and the person who finds the one whole almond hidden in the pudding gets a prize. Its a fun tradition.

My adorable niece, Anne, helping out in the kitchen at Danish Christmas.

Neither of us found the almond this year, but it was a good evening.

The next night was Christmas Eve, and we had dinner at our house. Anne was a big helper setting the table.

All of us at Christmas Eve dinner, including my grandparents and Roger and Diane LeMaster, longtime friends of the family.  We always have lasagna, stuffed mushrooms, and yummy layered jello on Christmas Eve.

It was the first time in years that we have had a little kid in the house for Christmas, and it was fun. I made all of our nieces plus Lirael, my cousin's daughter, princess crowns and wands this year. They were a hit.

Facing down the Naval officer in a game of battleship, which Jeremy gave him for Christmas. Kelson won both times we played. He claims it's because of his naval strategy skills, but I think he's just lucky.

For her birthday, I made Annie a new apron to go with the toy kitchen she loves playing with at my mom's house. How cute is that? I love that little girl.

Pretty much adorable.

Kelson and I had to head toward San Diego the day after Christmas. We left most of our presents for each other at home, so we had more Christmas waiting for us. The first thing that I saw when I walked in was a gift-wrapped rug in our entryway. I searched forever for a bright red rug for our kitchen and finally found one that I loved at Ikea. Kelson bought me a matching runner, and I love it!

Probably my favorite gift I stumbled across for Kelson-a singing fish to hang on the wall of his stateroom on the ship.

I also found him a spyglass.  He is a real sailor now!

This is our cute, little Christmas tree, affectionately known at our house as Tiny Tim. He is growing in a pot so that we can keep him on the patio year round. The felt star I made for the top is my favorite part.
Our first Christmas together was wonderful. We were overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of our family, and we are grateful that we were able to spend the holiday with them. We didn't get to visit Kelson's family this Christmas, but we love them and are grateful for them too. As wonderful as the presents, the food, and the other traditions are, the best thing about the holidays is being with those that we love and remembering the birth of Christ.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Happy Holiday Season in San Diego

It has been a fun and busy holiday season. It has been interesting to find our way into the Christmas spirit when it is sunny and we look out our window at rows of palm trees. Still, we have had a great time starting new traditions for our family as well as joining our extended families for their traditions. We spent Thanksgiving with Kelson's family in Escondido. We had an amazing feast and enjoyed a day of movies and time with family.  We have lot to be grateful for this year.

For our Christmas card picture, we decided to capture a little of San Diego. It may look like summer, but this picture was taken on Thanksgiving in Kelson's grandparents' garden.  Where I come from, oranges are only found at the grocery store. Picking them off a tree is so cool!

I am used to spending the day after Thanksgiving huddling around the fireplace to stay warm after wading through the snow to cut down a Christmas tree. It was a very different experience this year. We did hunt for a Christmas tree, but it was at a store, and rather than wading through snow, we were strolling down the beach at Coronado.  Sometimes, new and different things can be exciting.

The Hotel Del Coronado is amazing. I would love to go spend a night there.

We had a date night at the temple. Before we went in, we ate a picnic in the car. After we got done in the temple, we enjoyed some hot cider that I brought along in a thermos while we walked around and looked at the temple lights. They were great!

Celebrating the Christmas season at the temple was a good reminder of what we need to be focusing on at this time of year.  We are grateful for the Christmas season, which gives us a special opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

We decided to start a new tradition of making our Christmas ornaments every year. This year, we went to a paint-your-own pottery place and painted our ornaments. Kelson was proud of his snowman.

I went with a snowflake. So much fun!

Being on the water, San Diego can't just have a normal parade. Our Christmas parade was composed of boat-floats sailing around the bay. The traffic downtown was crazy, but it was worth it. Some of the boats were awesome!

After the parade, we went to a neighborhood near our house called Christmas Circle. There were several blocks of houses decked out for the holidays. We found some wonderful pockets of Christmas spirit that day.

Now, we are at home in Oregon for Christmas. I accidentally deleted all of the pictures we have taken since we got here, so the Oregon post may have to wait a couple of days. In the mean time, merry Christmas to everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Visit From Oregon

We are so grateful to my parents, who drove all the way down from Oregon to bring us our other car. Not only did we get to spend some time with them and introduce them to our new home, but now we have two cars, so I don't have to get up before the sun and drive Kelson to work. It is lovely. We had a great time during the four days Mom and Dad spent with us.

Since we won't be going home for Thanksgiving this year, we decided to make a little early Thanksgiving dinner for Mom and Dad. Kelson and I had grand adventures with turkey, brown rice stuffing, and various other holiday foods. To top it off, I made a pumpkin trifle.  Yum! I think we did pretty well for our first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

On our first day exploring the city, we went to Old Town San Diego. Our first stop was the Mormon Battalion historic site. It was an amazing museum, and we learned lots of things that I didn't know before. Dad got to dress all up in soldier garb.

While Dad carried the gun, Mom and I relaxed in the wagon.

The next day, we went on a trolley tour that took us all over the city. It was a wonderful way to learn about the history of my new home and see all of the places I can go back to later.

Arrr  Matey!
We love you, Mom and Dad!  Thanks again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Veterans Day at Knott's Berry Farm

First of all, my Veterans Day post would be incomplete without a huge thank you to all of those who have sacrificed and are sacrificing now to keep our country safe and to protect those who can't protect themselves. As I have had a little taste now of what it is to be a military wife, this Veterans Day is much more meaningful to me than it ever has been in the past. I also want to say thank you again to all of the retailers who made it possible for us to have an awesome Veterans Day, including Knott's Berry Farm, TGI Fridays, and Chili's. We had the awesome opportunity to spend a day at Knott's Berry Farm for free. It was pretty busy, so we stood in a lot of lines, but it was still very fun.

We started our day out with a bang on the Pony Express. It was a weird roller coaster-type ride. You leaned forward, so you were going head first.

After that, we slowed things down with the Calico Mine Railroad. It is kind of like the "Its a Small World" of Knott's Berry farm. The ride is slow, safe, non-thrilling, and full of corny, old animatronic figures. That's what makes it great. Classic. I think Kelson was lulling me into a false sense of security for the next ride he wanted to go on.

He wanted me to go on this. Are you kidding me? You can only see a little bit of it, but it was a serious, loop-the-loop, flip head over heels 15 times in 30 seconds, faster than lightning, feet dangling in the air roller coaster.  I had never been on such a thing in my life. Apparently I love that boy, though, because I consented.
This is how we both looked at the end.  It was so much fun! Of course our eyes were watering and we both walked like we were intoxicated for a few minutes, but it was worth it. We went again right at the end of the day.

Speaking of classic rides, the log ride was our absolute favorite. We both loved it when we had been there as little kids, and it was still great. It was all decorated like the North Pole for Christmas. We went on this one twice too.

TGI Friday's gave Kelson free lunch.  Thanks!

Slowing things down again on the railroad tour. It looks like Kelson is advertising something.

On first glance, it looks like Cinderella's carriage, but it is actually a little hearse. Creepy.

Getting ready to get spun around really high in the air.  Fun! This time Kelson was the nervous one.

We flew around in circles 300 feet in the air. The view of Anaheim was fabulous.
Our day at Knott's Berry Farm was so much fun! Thanks again!

Sea World!!!

Kelson finally had some leave last week, and we made great use of it. There are lots of amazing deals going on right now for military folks in honor of Veterans Day, and we made good use of them. Our first adventure was to Sea World, where we received free admission (thank you Sea World!). I can't believe it is only 15 minutes from our house. So cool!

Hello stingray! It looks like it is smiling at us.

We started out our day on the Journey to Atlantis. Good thing it was warm outside, because I got rather wet.

The last time I went to Sea World in San Diego was when I was eight. Aren't I cute?

The starfish are still pretty much the same 15 years later.

We went to the 4-D pirate movie. Everything comes right out of the movie at you!

Look out Kelson! Shark!

Being a Wednesday, the park was pretty empty, so we had no problem walking on to all of the rides and in to all of the shows. We didn't stand in lines at all. We loved the dolphin show, but the sea lion show was probably our favorite.

Lame self-photography I know. Notice that we are super wet. We went on the Atlantis ride two more times right at the end of the day and got thoroughly drenched. It was a great day. Thanks again, Sea World!