Sunday, January 1, 2017

Christmas Break

I'm baaaaaack! Remember that time I took a ton of time off the blog? It was so good for my soul. This was a different Christmas, but a great one. I was going to write a wordy "end of year wrap up" but as I was writing, it dawned on me that this past year can really be boiled down to one sentence: I had a baby, she got sick, passed away, and will forever be our Princess Baby. Life as we know it stopped, but day by day, hour by hour, we've gotten up again and have worked on creating a new normal. I don't know what 2017 will hold but wondering won't change what's in the cards. All I can do, really, is savor my sparkle (my new motto!) every second and handle it all with as much grace and courage (with countless mistakes and swear words thrown in) as I can muster. We've got great people holding us up and our faith to catch us when we fall. That's all I have to say about that.'s our winter break recap! Cheers to 2017!
Christmas Day 

School got out on a Wednesday this year and I kinda loved it. I had many kids absent the last day so we cleaned, had candy canes, sang Christmas songs, and watched some Rudolph. Wednesday evening I went to dinner with a friend while AJ stayed home and finished his holiday wrapping (ladies, is there anything cuter than guy wrapping? So sweet, so messy. Ha!).

Thursday morning I hit up Boot Camp, got a hair trim, and got our guest room ready for AJ's brother, Matt. We picked him up from the airport Thursday evening and came home to tacos, wine, and holiday TV shows. AJ's brother Matt has spent the past 3 years teaching music at an international school in Egypt.....he traveled very far to spend the holiday with us and we were happy to have him! He is just a ball of fun and energy and so fun to be around.
brotherly love 

Friday morning I brought Matt to Boot Camp with me (he rocked it!) and then the 3 of us went to the Ceremony of Carols at the Catherdral of the Madeleine downtown where I used to teach. It was beautiful and so fun to see some of my former students singing their hearts out! We got some coffee at Coffee Garden afterward, then came home for naps. AJ had to work Friday night so Matty and I went on a date to see "Passengers" (we both loved it!), then out to dinner. It was really nice spending some one on one time with my brother in law.
Post Boot Camp Success! 

Saturday morning was Christmas Eve! I put together our traditional French Toast casserole and we relaxed. We picked up my sister Libby for Christmas Eve church. I was glad there was a 3:00 service that day. It was a beautiful service that really touched me. Since Matt hadn't had American food in so long, we let him pick Christmas Eve dinner. His choice: The Pie! Woohoo! We watched Home Alone and ate pizza by the light of the tree. I went to bed early because the earlier you go to bed, the earlier Santa comes of course!

Finally it was Christmas! A White Christmas too! We brewed some coffee (we later switched to mimosas, yum) and unwrapped gifts. We had zero returns and AJ loved all his gifts and I loved all of mine. He did well. The show-stopper was this infinity scarf featuring lyrics to Sean McConnell's song "Beautiful Rose" that has meant a lot to us this year. We were leaving for Oregon the next day and I did not want to come home to holiday decorations and the tree up. With all 3 of us helping, the tree and all decos were down by NOON. Type A Leslie rejoiced! We got all cleaned up then loaded up AJ's truck with gifts for my fam (it was snowy out so we took his 4 wheel drive truck, but it was a bit cramped, haha). We got to my parents house and unwrapped more gifts. We got nice things and are so thankful to my thoughtful parents. We had an early dinner of lasagna, salad, bread, and Christmas layer cake. It was delicious and so nice spending the holiday all together. We got home around 9 and it was seriously a flurry of activity for the next few hours: tossing in laundry, putting gifts away, packing suitcases.

My dad loves Serena Williams and Matt is also a big tennis fan. He was excited to see Serena on my parents' garage door! ha. 

Monday morning around 8 am, my parents came over to take us to the airport to go to Oregon to visist AJ's fam! It was just a short 90 minute flight and we were in central Oregon! (Sidenote: I finished the book I was reading about Jon Benet's murder and I'm now fully on board with the intruder theory, FYI). Now, AJ's dad and grandma did not know Matt was coming home! It was such a fun surprise to have him come walking in the door just a few minutes after us!! We relaxed and unpacked. AJ's mom made one of my fave dinners (hey, when you're one of the only girls in the fam, you get what you want!) Champagne chicken. We had our third round of Christmas, exchanging with the Steele fam. It was such a bountiful and beautiful Christmas. We have the best families.
Read this over most of the break, really enjoyed it 

I devoured this cute light read in 2 days 

On Tuesday, AJ and I had a date day in Bend. We went to Deschutes Brewery and had a sampler tray and some yummy food. We went in lots of shops (he's a saint!) and around town. That afternoon we went to the gym (I missed Boot Camp!) and came home to a delicious homemade dinner. One of the things I love about going "home" to Oregon is that the guys always play music in the evenings: piano, guitars, harmonica, vocals. It's what I like to call the "Steele Family Band."

Wednesday AJ and his dad made the drive to Medford to bring his grandma back home. Matt and I spent the day together in Bend. We shopped, ate, ran errands. It was really fun. We were gone nearly all day! When AJ and his dad returned home, we all went out for our favorite Mexican food. It's rare for the Steeles to go somewhere and not know people (that's what teaching in a small town gets you!) and we chatted with some family friends there.

Finally it was Casino Day (Thursday). We drove the 45-ish minutes to the casino where I have to say, luck was on our side! We all did pretty well, then came home, went to the gym, and AJ's mom and I cooked the Pioneer Woman's Chicken Mozzarella Pasta (YUM! I got my MIL the Pioneer Woman Dinnertime cookbook as one of her Christmas gifts).

On Friday I got a delightful winter facial (the cranberry pomegranate mask was heavenly) and then we had some of AJ's buddies (and groomsmen!) and their wives over for dinner. It was nice to see everyone again.

Saturday we flew back to Utah. My family got us from the airport. We settled in, went to a NYE dinner, and unpacked, did laundry, and because we are such party animals, we were in bed watching DVR'd shows and were asleep by 10. It was perfect. School starts back up again on Wednesday and I have a to-do list a mile long and am so thankful for a few extra days to catch up on stuff/run errands. I am doing a major house/closet/dresser declutter this week and I'm so pumped about it. Whew! God bless you if you're still reading this long post! I'll admit, I was really nervous about this holiday season without Hadley. I did shed some tears and had some sad moments. But all in all, it was one of my favorite holiday seasons. I really appreciated the family, friend, rest time. I am so excited about 2017. Thank you for being part of my journey.

Savor Your Sparkle,

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