Sunday, January 26, 2014

Christmas 2013

So it has taken me a while to upload our holiday pictures, but we DID indeed celebrate Christmas and New Year's with the California Melins and Grandma & Grandpa Melin. It was a very relaxed holiday season. While I missed my family, there is something to be said about staying home and taking it easy (especially in a brand new house). We felt so grateful for the generous gifts and thoughtful activities planned by Jess & Kelli and mom and dad. Uncle Mike Melin came and stayed at our house and we loved having him here. It was fun to have friends and neighbors and missionaries drop by to share treats and good wishes...we felt so happy and loved.
On Christmas Eve we hosted family at our house starting around 2pm. Kelli brought gingerbread house kits from Trader Joe's and everyone teamed up to make the houses while I finished dinner prep. It was so fun to watch everyone work together and see their unique creations (and eat yummy candy!).

Grandma & Heidi

James & Cousin Matthew
Our little village of German Gingerbread Hausen
We ate dinner around 4:30pm. We have a tradition of choosing some kind of international menu and trying something new for Christmas Eve, but this year we chose Kansas City Barbecue in honor of Grandpa & Grandma Melin's mission call to Independence/ Kansas City, Missouri. We had pulled pork and corn on the cob and cole slaw...yum!
After dinner, the kids went down stairs for some wild cousin partying and the adults visited upstairs. Within the hour, the kids came up and invited us to  their "Christmas Program." What we thought was a wild rumpus was actually our kids putting together their own Christmas Pageant, straight out of the New Testament. At first we were giggling at their cuteness, but then I was holding back tears, thinking about how cool it was that THIS was how they chose to spend their cousin time together. I'm pretty sure Jess and Kelli would agree, it was the very best gift we got this year.

Very Sweet kids dressed as Holy Family, angels, shepherds, and sheep gathered around to sing to baby Jesus.
We finally have a place to hang our stockings by the chimney with care!
Just as the kids finished their program, the missionaries knocked on the door and came to share a special
 Christmas video message with us. It was very sweet and helped to calm the kids down. The family headed back out to the ranch after that and we got the kids to bed after watching the MoTab Christmas Special with Tom Brokaw.

stockings first

Niles opening his bike

James with Duck Dynasty pjs

Addie's new suitcase

Heidi with part of our family gift from Jess & Kelli--
a basketball AND a hoop for our awesome new driveway!
We also got a trampoline for summer time, but that pic was blurry.

Heidi was so excited to get an Xbox and Minecraft.
 She has created quite the Minecraft world!

iPod speakers for both girls, and a jolly Uncle Mike!

Rich got Chicken Poop lip balm from his dad.

Niles ready to hit the road

Jess & Kelli brought us this GOLD MINE of a Trader Joe's gift basket!
So many spices and sauces and treats! If it had come with some magical eegee's making machine,
my culinary life would be complete! We enjoyed these treats for several weeks to the point of addiction.
Such a great gift.

Here I am amidst the Christmas debris with my two sweet boys.
A Merry Christmas was had by all!
Unfortunately we have no New Year's pictures, but we all attended our Ward NY party/ Talent Show and most of the kids performed--Addie & Heidi sang and played piano, Summer did a puppet show, Matthew read jokes, and we ate treats and enjoyed some amazing talents from our friends, as well. We headed home around 9pm. James came down with a bit of a tummy bug just as we were leaving for the night, so he and Rich stayed home and had a Men in Black marathon. I fell asleep around 10:30 pm, but Rich stayed up with the big kids to ring in 2014, then we spent New Year's Day out at the ranch sledding and enjoying family time. It was a sweet and mellow way to ring in the new year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December So Far...

We got a Christmas Bonus of beef this year! Daddy and the boys spent the evening of December 12th
wrapping bulk meat into food saver packages.

Store packages waiting to be shrink wrapped for freezer storage.
We haven't had beef for years--we'll be livin' large this year!

On December 13th--Aunt Sara's birthday & St. Lucia Day--
James sang in the 2nd grade Christmas program.

On Saturday December 14th we enjoyed our annual Ward Christmas Breakfast, then headed out for Helena to have a Cousin Party at Aunt Laura's new house. Aunt Lisa was visiting from Phoenix, and Uncle Matt's family came even though he was working (he stopped by in his police cruiser for some dinner-to-go). It was such a fun evening and we are so happy for Laura and Darrin and their great new home!
Aunt Laura & Lisa picked out matching jammies for all the grown-up mamas.
Here's Aunt Lisa in hers giving Heidi a big hug.

Laura and Lisa celebrated their birthday a few days early. Amie brought them an
amazing chocolate cake and Heidi made them cupcakes from scratch!

Niles loved the cupcakes!

cake monster!

We did a fun white elephant gift exchange.
Here's Niles opening gifts with Cody's girlfriend, Kamrie.

James opened a cool mini-air hockey table from Jared.

Heidi & Jake ended up exchanging gifts and gave each other practically the same thing!

Niles and Emily had the most fun with this big box, which was full of toilet paper!

Niles & Emily
(Em is 7 months older than Niles)

All the Mamas in their Christmas jammies:
Amie (Matt's wife, my SIL), Me, Kamrie (my nephew's g-friend), my sisters Lisa, and Laura.

Three Layton Seesters

Niles loved looking at all the photos on Laura's tree.

We brought Uncle Mike Melin along for the fun.

Kamrie,  nephew Cody, Baby Zecklin, and Gramma Lisa

Gramma Lisa talking to Baby Z

We had such a nice time! Thanks again, Lehmans!

Our living room in the morning light (snowy glare) on December 17th.

Heidi sang in the fourth grade Christmas program on December 18th.
That's her in back with her arm up.

Two classes of 4th graders singing their hearts out.

Grandma Melin came to see Heidi's program
and Niles wore his elf hat. They all looked
so Christmas-y!

Later that night, we went to a Christmas party at the Depot.
Here's Niles waiting fro Santa.

Heidi waiting for Santa.

Heidi with Santa

James with Santa

Niles telling Santa how old he is.

Heidi got some cool gifts.
Addie was out on a hayride caroling with the Young Women...
such a festive day for us!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Thanksgiving Week

Our week of fun began Monday when Grandpa and Grandma Melin brought our Gray cousins home from
Boise to visit. We had dinner and family night on Monday and the kids were so happy to be reunited!

We had a great TG dinner at the ranch at which I took no pictures. Trust me, it was great. After dinner, Rich & Mike went to grab some Black Friday stuff and the kid and I came home and set up the Christmas Tree and watched "Elf." Friday morning I did some sewing and mailed some packages. Rich and Mike entertained the kid and put up outdoor lights. The girls made a gingerbread house. I love this picture because you can see Mike reading Christmas books with James and Niles playing the piano. Life is GOOD at Casa Melin!

I love my crafty girls!

Daddy set up the Christmas Train for the boys.

Friday evening Mike, Angie, Jex and the kids came over for dinner. Ang & Jex brought huge pizzas from 49er Diner. Danny was pretty excited! The cousins slept over that night and had  a pretty fun time, then they headed home on Saturday. It was such a nice visit.

Today (Sunday) we had a Thanksgiving do-over and made some things we missed on Thursday: Cranberry-walnut spinach salad, stuffing, and sweet potatoes from scratch with marshmallows. We also cooked a turkey breast and gravy--it was DELICIOUS! Addie also made two pumpkin pies and Heidi made Rolo turtles. Such a yummy meal.

My Two Thanksgiving HAMS!


Dear Loved Ones, It has been a dreamy week of beautiful Montana spring, warm days mixed with rainy days and thunderstorms, which does ...