Gees Louise, how is it that the holidays are already over? They seriously flew by, and I tried to soak everything in, but somehow, no matter how many pictures I take and how many moments I write down I still feel like things are flying by without my permission. This year gifts were the last thing on my radar, but time spent with family was my number one priority. We are so blessed to have both of our families near by, so family time was easy to come by.
December is a fun month because not only do we have Christmas and New Years, but it's also Alex's birthday! I decided that this year there weren't many material items that he needed, so I planned a little getaway instead. I've always been a firm believer that memories are a better present than most anything else. I surprised him with a trip up to Williams AZ. We had a day at the Grand Canyon, and a day in flagstaff, plus tickets to Bearizona and a scenic drive through gorgeous Sedona. It was so much fun to escape for a few days as a little family! I loved having Izzy there with us. She truly just adds to all the fun! The day at the Grand Canyon was pretty gloomy, but the views we did have were gorgeous as ever. It was much chillier than we expected, and I only wore a thin cardigan! But besides shivering my way from look out to look out, we had a great day. It was so funny to see all the Asian tourists and their reactions when they would see Izzy. They would start talking to fast to one another and then come up and touch her hair and would always comment on how big her eyes were! We even had a few groups of girls ask if they could take a picture with her! It was so hilarious.
|it wouldn't be alex's perfect birthday weekend without a few games of Agricola|
Our day at Bearizona was super fun. You get to drive though the different areas in your car and take pictures and they had a little radio guide telling you all about the animals. We enjoyed it way more than we were expecting. After the drive though, they have a little zoo full of otters and birds and more bears and foxes and a petting zoo full of goats and ponies. It was a really wonderful morning and I would love to go back when it was a little warmer outside!
We decided on the way home to take the scenic drive, even though it would be a little bit longer of a drive. Driving through Oak Creek Canyon was absolutely breath taking. We stopped to take pictures by a beautiful little creek, and then had a picnic lunch at the base of Bell Rock. The weather was wonderful and it was a wonderful way to end our little vacation.
We had tons of Christmas Choir concerts this season and little Izzy was a trooper the whole time. It gets kid of complicated because Alex, both of my parents, both of Alex's parents, my sister and Alex's sister and brother and sister in law, plus my best friend Hope are all in the choir... So babysitters are slim, since everyone we would typically use are all singing up on stage with us! Haha. So typically I would ask me sweet younger brother to come to the concert and sit in the back with her. She was always so well behaved and made quite the impression with all the residents at the Old Folks home where we would perform. It was super nice to have to there after the concert, so i didn't have to be away from her for too long. I'm kinda obsessed with her, and any chance that I have to be with her, I want it.
Christmas with a little one is absolutely amazing. Everything seems ten times more fun. We did so many fun things with her and made so many memories. Every year the McHardys make Christmas cookies and make up some yummy plates full of goodies and take them around to people in their ward and neighborhood and we carol for them! It's so wonderful and it's probably my favorite part of the Christmas season. I always feel the spirit so strongly when we go out and sing songs about Christ. And everyone is always so responsive and happy that we have come and I know that it touches them as well. And to top it all off, Izzy was a hit with everyone. Alex wore her in the Bjorn and she would scream and coo and talk while we were singing. She loves music!
|Enjoying her Barros pizza crust after a long night of caroling|
Christmas eve was spent at the McHardys. We played games, and did puzzles and cooked and baked and just enjoyed each others company. They have so many Christmas Traditions, and it's fun to start doing those with Izzy (not that she can really appreciate them just yet). Most of traditions are food related, yum, like a layered jello salad, fondue for dinner, with lefsa (A swedish tortilla) and buckeyes and cutouts and kroppkaka (A swedish potato dumpling) for Chirstmas breakfast. It's all so wonderful, and something that i look forward to every year! We read the christmas story and a few other touching stories and then just relaxed and spent time together. We stayed up way too late playing games and being silly. We spent the night since we were spending Christmas morning with them as well. The whole morning was so fun, eating a tasty breakfast, and opening gifts. And then sitting back and enjoying the gifts that we all got. We played a few more of the new board games that Alex and Kelby got, and then had a nice lunch with everyone once Grandma and Grandpa McHardy came over. We spent some time with them and then it was time to do it all over again, but at my parents house! We went over and opened the last of our presents and then played even more games and watched some movies while doing a puzzle. It's amazing how as you get older, Christmas presents become less important, but family time and memories are what really matter. I am so grateful that I have such wonderful family and in laws who I enjoy spending time with so much.
Izzy was thoroughly spoiled and loved on all day and she loved the attention and the fact that her aunts and uncles kept sneaking her cookies ;)
|Decoration Cut Outs|
|The sweetest picture from Christmas morning|
|Christmas Morning Tradition- Lining up youngest to oldest before going to see our presents|
|Cutest little present you ever did see|
The next day we went out the desert to go quading and ride around in the Rhino. It was a gorgeous day, and we enjoyed spending time outside. Izzy even got to go for a little drive around in the Rhino! Mark and Hope came out with us, and brought the dogs, and we had all of our Christmas presents so while some people were out riding around we go out some board games and played those. You'll notice a theme here with board games... we have become slightly obsessed with them. Alex is always researching new ones and they aren't your typical monopoly and sorry type games. They are kinda involved and intense, but really really fun. Even better, is that we have gotten our families and friends to enjoy these types of games as well, and so it's rare that we will get together without playing a game or two (or threee).
On December 30th I got this text from Alex:
We had been waiting such a long time for a job to come along, and this was definitely the answer to our prayers. We heard about the job from a man in my dad's ward who works for the same company in the finance division. They had been talking about Excel and my dad happened to mention how his son in law is really great at Excel and then the man in my dads ward told my dad to have Alex email him his resume because they were about to start hiring for an entry level finance position. He had later told my dad that when he moved into the ward he had had the impression to mention his job to people in his ward, but the prompting never came up again until he met my dad in ward choir. It makes me so grateful for people who are in tune with the spirit and are able to be lead to the right situations to help affect others lives. This job is in the exact field that Alex want to be in (Financial Analyitics) and with a company that he can see himself being with for a long time. Huge added bonus is that the office is only about 4 miles farther north than where he is currently and so we don't even have to consider moving! It's so wonderful
We went to one of our favorite pizza places and while we were there we sent this text to Alex's mom and to my dad! They were so cute, I love how their responses were practically the same! They know how much this means to us and they both immediately called us to get all the details and congratulate Alex! We couldn't be more excited for this next chapter in our lives
New Years Eve we hosted a little party and had both sides of the family came, including Mark and Hope... They are considered part of the family anyway... We played games (^^what did i tell you?) all night. And at midnight we set off fireworks, and surprisingly Izzy didn't hate them. She was even outside when we set off a SUPER loud one that scared me really bad but she just kinda jumped and looked up at the sky all amazed. And afterwards we went back inside and started making waffles! I decided to start my own tradition, which is to have breakfast at midnight on new years! It was really fun and super delicious!
|Kisses at Midnight|
|New Years Eve Waffles!|
This was definitely an amazing month. Izzy learned so much and reached so many milestones!
- She sits up unassisted. It's so fun to sit her down around some toys and watch her play sitting up! She got lots of toys for Christmas and is absolutely obsessed with them. I love watching her play and learn and explore every day.
- She is so close to crawling, she scootches her legs up all the way underneath her, almost in pike position, and then just kinda slides her face across the carpet . Like a little inch worm. It's hilarious, but she definitely can get around. But if you try and put her up on her knees and hands and try to help her crawl normally she cries. She hates it so much. Haha.
- She has started eating basically everything in sight. She loves yogurt and cheese. A close second is pasta! We try to feed her whatever we are eating, and so far she hasn't tried anything she didn't like.
- She popped her first two teeth this month! I honestly didn't even have any clue she was teething! She didn't get fussy or feverish or irritable, so it was a huge surprise when I was feeding her and felt something sharp in her mouth. She just looks too cute with her two little bottom teeth. I just love it!
- She does the cutest thing when she gets excited. She will kick her legs and wave her arms all around when she is so so happy. She mostly does this when I go to get her out of her crib, or when she sees that you have food!
- For a while she went through a phase where she would clasp her hands together and repeatedly bonk herself in the head. It was so funny, and really weird, but it really only lasted this month.
- She has officially weaned herself off the binkie. She has learned to self sooth, and once she figured it out, she no longer wanted anything to do with her binkie, which I am totally fine with.
- She is OBSESSED with 'walking'. if you hold her hands she will immediately try and pull herself up and want to start walking. She will run really fast at first cuz she is so excited. She always gasps and laughs when you start walking with her. It's hilarious and adorable. I wouldn't be surprised if she is walking by the time she is 9-10 months. She is so strong!
Izzy, this month has been so fun and I love watching you learn and grow every day. You are so kind and seriously have the best sense of humor. You make me feel so loved and I'm so so lucky to be your mom!
I love you so much!