Category Archives: family

Christmas Recap: The Play by Play

This was our very *first* family Christmas morning. I say *first* because obviously we’ve been a family for a couple years now… but Christmas morning is always spent waking up slow, and then heading to one of our parent’s houses, then the other parent’s house, then in the past out to a movie, then home… 13 hours later, and exhausted. Happy, fulfilled, but exhausted. We knew going in to this Christmas that it wasn’t going to be like that, because my side of the family was mostly out of town.

{Christmas Eve at Brad’s side of the family’s party. I call this “The Evolution of a Family Picture}
Family Portrait 2

A few weeks ago I started thinking about traditions. We’re right at that prime moment as a family to start traditions. We have a few years to try some stuff out and see what we like and what we don’t, tweak and fluff traditions that we come up with, and really solidify what we want to do. So, somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to make homemade cinnamon rolls as a Christmas breakfast {or lunch} tradition. I figured that it couldn’t be too hard, and now that I know how to knead dough {and dissolve yeast} I should be able to do it. I bought self rising flour and a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, you know, just in case. The night before I read several recipes, comparing them, figuring out the important steps, how they all described the important steps, learned what “scalded milk” was {Thank you Pioneer Woman!}, and generally psyched myself up.

My eyes popped open at 8, and I made my way downstairs to start the dough, which then had to rise for an hour, then I would add stuff and make the rolls, then it had to rise for another 30 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes. Timing was everything. I got about 35 minutes into making the dough, meaning it was sitting in the bowl waiting to rise, when I realized that I’d forgotten two very important ingredients: the egg and salt. I definitely dropped a few choice words, thought about quitting, decided I didn’t care what time the rolls were done, and went upstairs to crawl back in bed with Brad.

{Zoe’s Christmas outfits}
christmas outfits

Zoe woke up as I reached the top of the stairs, so we just hung out in bed for a while. It was perfect. I sat there looking at my perfect little family, and I felt like the most blessed woman in all the world. When we headed back downstairs, I was ready for Round 2 with the rolls. Let me tell you, that egg made a huge difference in the texture of the dough. Huge. Truth be told, because I knew what I was doing, that round took a fraction of the time that the first round did. The dough was set to rise, and we gathered around our tree.

Now, between my family’s early Christmas and numerous packages she’s received in the mail, Zoe has been opening Christmas presents for an entire week. She knows exactly what to do, and she gets really excited about her presents. Every time. It’s amazing. So, due to the amount of gifts that she was receiving outside of our family, Brad and I only bought a few items: a toy laptop, an over-sized elephant, a fountain for the tub, and a foam finger. {Two days before Christmas, Brad took Zoe to the store for some more fish. That was his special present for her.} Brad and I had a few presents for each other, and then we just played with Zoe on the floor. Again, looking around the room, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’d be lying if I said that my eyes didn’t get watery a time or two.

{The only family “portrait” we took that day. It’s perfect, if you ask me}
Family portrait 1

By the time we finished playing and eating a make-shift breakfast of eggs and toast because the rolls were nowhere near done, Zoe started acting like she needed a nap. So, she got one. That gave me time to slather on the cinnamon and sugar and roll up my rolls, and then we had to wait some more. Zoe slept just as long as the rolls needed to rise and then bake, and let me tell you, those few minutes right before the rolls were done, and the smell was wafting through the house… I knew this tradition was a keeper.

{The evolution of the cinnamon rolls. I’m telling you, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming, messy, and sometimes tricky. But, worth every second.}
cinnamon rolls 3

After 3 1/2 hours of prep and 30 minutes of baking, I pulled out the most delicious looking cinnamon rolls ever! There was definitely fist pumps in the air, and dancing, and hootin’ and hollerin’. Brad laughed at me. I couldn’t contain my excitement. These rolls were perfect. And, then I realized that I didn’t have any powdered sugar for the frosting. Womp Womp. I improvised, threw in some regular sugar, added a little cream cheese to the mixture, and made an OK icing. It wasn’t bad, but it could’ve been a heck of a lot better. And then, the moment I waited for all morning… one delicious bite went into my mouth…. and it was worth every OUNCE of waiting. Zoe tasted a bite, walked to the dishwasher, opened it, grabbed not one, but two, forks out of it, walked back to the cinnamon rolls and held them both in the air. I about died laughing.

{Freaking Perfection. Next time my goal is a Cinnabun type icing….}
cinnamon rolls 2

At that point, it was noon, and we needed to head over to Brad’s parent’s house. So, we moseyed our way over there. Brad’s brother and sister-in-law were with her parents, so it was just me, Brad, Zoe, Janet and Glen. Quieter than usual, but perfect nonetheless. They were feeling the same thing for Christmas that we were… no need to rush, slow, relaxing, no schedule, nowhere to be…. perfect. I don’t remember feeling so relaxed on Christmas. It was amazing. Janet, as usual, had a ton of present for us to open, and again, Zoe stole the show. We laughed and talked and opened present slowly. I enjoyed every second of it.

Christmas Presents

We spent the afternoon lounging around, I was able to read more of the Steve Jobs book, Zoe hung out with her Gammy and Glen and Brad watched basketball. Around 4 we sat down to eat, and about halfway through dinner I looked over at Zoe and realized that she was about 2 minutes away from falling asleep in her highchair. Sure enough, her blinks started getting longer and longer, and then she just passed out. Talk about adorable! We just left her there and enjoyed our supper. It was great!

{Can you see that she has a fork in her right hand?}
Christmas nap

Towards 6pm we headed back over to our house to meet my sister {who was supposed to go to Texas but got sick and stayed home} and Kristin was coming over too. The four of us hung out for a few hours, and then after they headed home Brad and I cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie.

I’ve written over 1,000 words in this post, but I don’t think I could even put into words how perfect Christmas day was. We are so blessed with family and friends. I’m so thankful for my little family. Truly, the best things in life are free.

{The many Christmas faces of Zoe}
Christmas for Zoe

How was your Christmas?

Happy Tuesday Ya’ll!

PS. If you want the recipe that I used for the cinnamon rolls click here. It’s Paula Deen’s recipe, but I warn you. She lies about the amount of time it takes. =)

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Week of Thanksgiving: Day 1

If you read Thursday and Friday’s posts last week, you know that our week sucked big time wasn’t exactly that fun. One of the things that got me through the week, and that has helped tremendously this year, is repeating to myself over and over and over again a list of what I’m thankful for. In fact, Friday night when I couldn’t sleep and it felt like everything in the world was piling on my shoulders, I reached over to hold Brad’s hand and we started brainstorming every single thing we could think of to be thankful for. He was thankful that I didn’t have to work that day, and that I’d come to surprise him for lunch…. he said that thought alone carried him through the day. That I was safe. That I with him when it happened. That we were close to home. I wish you could’ve heard the gratitude and the absolute faith in the tone of his voice as we were laying there in bed. I said I was thankful that there was money in the bank, we have a roof over our heads, we can pay the bills, Zoe is healthy, Jess and Ryan came by to visit…. the list goes on.

And then, over the weekend, I started thinking that I wanted to do a week of giving thanks. I know that it’s pretty popular on Facebook right now to do the “31 days of Thanksgiving”. I think I did it for like 3 days or something. But, when I think back over this year… or the last 15 months…. gratitude is one of the predominate themes.

This past Saturday my parents showed up at our house “to help”. By the time they were done “helping” Brad was completely speechless, and I was just about there myself. But, that’s what this year has been like…. Brad and I get to a place where we don’t think that we can walk another step, and then our village steps in, and they say {in countless ways} “I’ve got your back.” “We believe in you.” “We love you.” “We believe in what you’re doing, keep going.” And that humbles me in ways I can’t even put to words.

Just as I was writing that last paragraph I had a flashback to our wedding. Brad and I wrote our own vows, and in my vows to him I said, “I’ll be your biggest fan and your loudest cheerleader”. And, that’s what our village has been to us through this season. Honestly, I don’t even know if I have words in my vocabulary to say how incredibly thankful I am for that. I’ve leaned on their support more than I even realize. The times where love and encouragement helped smooth a transition with Zoe. Or when we get that night off just to go be a married couple. {Just this past Saturday my parents sent us to the store while they stayed home with Zoe…. we were like kids! That was one of the best shopping trips that I can remember, just enjoying each others company… laughing and flirting all through Publix.} I’m just grateful for it. The times where we’ve been given an unexpected gift card to a restaurant nicer than Five Guys, or when we’ve stood in front of our cupboard and tried to figure out where the money was going to come from for groceries…and then the next day they’re full to overflowing because one of our parents just “stopped by to give us a little something”. It’s humbling. It’s faith building.

I could go on and on with examples from the past 15 months of love, support, encouragement, and unexpected provision {like in the thousands of dollars, unexpected provision} from this past year. But, instead, I just want to say thanks.

To Our Village,

Thank you for every time you’ve come beside us and held our hands on this journey. Thank you for every ounce of support you’ve given. Thank you for listening to me as I freaked out about becoming a mom. Thank you for laughing at me those times I’ve gone a little bit crazy. Thank you for helping me laugh this year. Thank you for filling our cupboards, our gas tanks and our hearts. Thank you for writing checks and for sitting on our couches and sharing your life with us. Thank you for distracting us from whatever problem we need distracting from, and for analyzing situations until we figure out the problem and then helping us come up with solutions. Thank you for sending us out on date nights. Thank you for thinking that my child is the most amazing child on the face of the planet, or at least for acting like you do. Thank you for spoiling my daughter like crazy, she is so lucky to have a village like you. Thank you for encouraging me to write. Thank you… for everything. We are so incredibly blessed to have a village like you.

With all the love in our hearts,

Brad, Rebecca and Zoe