Tag Archives: memories

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. =)

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year

Friday night, after an intense {and incredibly fun} time at Toys R Us, where my mother and I sauntered through the aisles, dragging my father along with the cart, we checked out {WAY} over budget {but Zoe just had to have that beautiful Christmas dress} and as we were leaving the store I said to the bouncer… {that’s legit. There was actually a bouncer outside the door to Toys R Us…but when you think about the mass quantities of crazy moms outside, you would understand}. Anyways, I said to the bouncer, “Merry Christmas!” and he laughed and said it right back to me.

And my spirit raced with excitement.

It was officially Christmastime!!!!

For that split second, I could look past the fact that it was still in the 80’s here, and that on Thanksgiving and for the whole Thanksgiving weekend, I was wearing short sleeves, capris, and flip flops. I can look past the fact that some trees here still haven’t turned to fall colors because it’s just not cold enough. I can forget about the fact that, once again, I will not see snow at Christmas. That’s all OK….

Because it’s Christmastime.

Christmas 2

It’s a month of twinkling Christmas lights, curling up on the couch with a good book and Christmas music in the background, grabbing some hot apple cider and driving around the Riverside area with Brad looking at AMAZING decorations, Salvation Army people jingling their bells outside of Publix, Christmas decorations at the shopping malls with Christmas music, coming home to a house filled with decorations, parties, cookies, white elephant gift exchanges, baking….

Christmas.

I love every second of it. I always have.

When I was in the 8th grade my older sister gave me a book called Winter Dreams Christmas Love, it’s a classic “coming of age” story that follows a girl from the first day of her freshman year to her junior year of high school…and, of course, the guy that she falls in love with that first day of school. Their big events happen at Christmastime every year… and it’s what the book revolves around. For over a decade I read that book every single year the day after Thanksgiving. Cover to cover. Truth? I started a snow globe collection because the main character in that book has a snow globe collection. That book instilled a love of Christmas in me that I hope I never shake.

Christmas 3

When I was 19 years old and living in my very first apartment away from home, I went all out buying my own decorations. Ten years and numerous moves later, I still have almost everything I bought that year. Except my snowman, Michigan… Hemmingway ate him last year. I cried. I remember sitting on the couch in that living room, the whole house decked out in Christmas lights, Delilah was on the radio playing Christmas music and I was curled up under a blanket reading a book… there was a stillness in the room, and a magic that can’t be explained. I fell even more in love with Christmas.

Christmas 4

Then I moved to Michigan, and instead of adding to my snow globe collection, I got to live in one. The day after Thanksgiving I was shopping with my friend and it started snowing. I called my mom back home in Florida and when she said “hello” I started singing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” at the top of my lungs, bursting with excitement over the snow. She let me sing a full verse before she told me that I was on speakerphone… and she was in the middle of the mall. That year when she came up to Michigan for Christmas, she brought with her a singing teddy bear dressed up in a red velvet coat with a top hat. He sings…you guessed it…”It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. I woke up to my first White Christmas that year, and I was ruined forever. Florida’s palm trees will never hold a candle to a true winter wonderland.

Christmas 6

Today, Zoe and I got bundled up because for the next couple days it’s going to be in the 60’s {hallelujah}, and we went off to the Town Center to buy some Christmas stockings. On the way there we turned up the Christmas music real loud and jammed out to “Sleigh Ride”. When we got there we enjoyed strolling around outside, stopping every 10 feet so we could dance. Once inside Target, Zoe got to pick out her very own Christmas stocking. Her choice? Hot pink with sequins. She chose that over the zebra strips with pink fur and the dancing snowman…. go figure. But, my point? I’m getting to experience this through the eyes of a 1 1/2 year old. Sure, she doesn’t understand the anticipation of Christmas, the reason behind it or anything other thing that we’re doing over the next month. But, her eyes light up when we plug the tree in. And today, she went from decoration to decoration inspecting all the new things in the house. Her favorite is the contraption that I rigged up to our chandelier, just a bunch of red ornaments on ribbon…but they shimmer, and they sway, and they’re wonderful to look at while she’s sitting in her high chair. Then, to top off all the “new” things in her world, her Gammy {Brad’s mom} came by with a few Christmas books and a singing teddy bear! Does it get any better than this?!?!?!?!

Christmas 5

I can’t even contain my excitement for this Christmas. I can’t wait to take Zoe to the local man-made because we’re still mostly hanging out in the 80’s Winter Wonderlands. I can’t wait to let her taste some hot chocolate, and then laugh as she begs {and gets} more. I loved watching her examine the tree this morning, and sit in her armchair right by it, content to just stare at the lights. I’m excited to “help” Zoe “make” presents for her family. I’m just excited…. period.

Merry Christmas Ya’ll!

What are some of your very favorite Christmas traditions? What’s your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?