Monday, December 29, 2008

*Christmas 2008*

Our Christmas was very enjoyable! I have spent the last three days catching up from the pure exhaustion of all the pre-Christmas day activities.
I have never been a baker... never liked to bake... but, when you crave that home cooked Christmas Eve meal just like Mom's, there really isn't much you can do except bake it yourself! So that's what I did... I spent all day Tuesday cleaning my house and baking treats for neighbors and the ladies I visit teach. I then spent ALL DAY Wednesday baking OUR Christmas Eve Dinner. I made: homemade rolls, raspberry jello salad, sweet potato souffle, creamed corn, scalloped potatos, AND honey baked ham. It turned out so yummy and was well worth the time and effort... (although, I think next year I will plan on going home and "helping" my mom with dinner:) We had the missionaries over for Christmas Eve dinner and then watched a Christmas movie and were able to sit around and visit. It was great sharing the evening with them, hearing "their" Christmas message, and having their spirit in our home. Zenock was able to open one present (jammies) and then we sent him off to bed, so Santa could come visit! JC and I were so excited for Zenock. We knew his reactions on Christmas morning were going to be priceless... and they definately were.

Santa definately found our house...
Zenock got just a little spoiled:)
We have really got to find us a "real" house. Our tiny apartment just doesn't fit us anymore. I don't know if we can fit another Christmas or Birthday into Zenock's room. Maybe by next Christmas Santa can bring us a house!:)

Zenock and his new "vroom, vroom." He loves it, hasn't quite figured out how to peddle, and asks for rides ALL day long.

He also loves his new Basketball Hoop... (so does his daddy...). Zenock will pick up the ball and run over under the basket and yell, "Throw, Throw." He is still learning how to throw the ball up in the air to make a basket.

Our little Zenock was a PRO at opening and tearing into the gifts. We loved his little, "Wow, wow's" after opening every gift, even the clothes!

We thought it would take us hours to open presents, but with his energy and speed we were done in about an hour!

Zenock was so excited to open his "NEMO" coloring book. He loves fishes. This is him showing me what the fishy does.

ALL the goods... We now have to organize and find somewhere to put all of it. (My favorite part:)
After opening presents, my family has the tradition of having a BIG Christmas breakfast. No Christmas would be complete without it! Blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs, sausage, AND homemade Eggnogg... LOVE it. (The store bought stuff is just gross.)
After breakfast we all took a nap, got ready, and went to our friends the Cooks house where we ate some more good food, played their new Wii, visited, and had a great time!

This picture is "just" a little dark, but Friday night we decided to head to the Washington D.C. Temple for the Festival of Lights. It is no Salt Lake Temple Square, but I was amazed at how packed it was. They have a live nativity and live musical performances every night during December. It was so fun to spend the evening walking around. I felt just a little bit closer to home.
I hate that the Holidays are almost over. We are still trying to recover from all the fun we have had. It was a great, relaxing, enjoyable, unforgettable Christmas! We are so excited for the New Year and all the adventures that await us!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

.... Happy Holidays ....

Love, The Larson Family

Monday, December 22, 2008

The BIG guy...

"Santa" came to visit our ward party the other night. It was the first time that Zenock has met Santa Claus this year. It was pretty entertaining watching his reactions.
We have been teaching Zenock about Santa and pointing him out in pictures, he has even gotten really good at saying, "Santa." I just don't think he was very prepared for the REAL thing. I think in his little mind he thought he was just a story or a picture in a book.

Needless to say... It didn't go too well. (I think he may take after his cousin Haylee:)
He still loves the pictures, books, and saying Santa's name.... just not the real Santa.

Unless of course Santa gives him his first Christmas present of the year....

Then he was happy and ALL smiles... waving and saying, "Bye, Bye, Santa!"
I have no idea how my parents made Christmas seem perfect every year. We opted this year to spend Christmas by ourselves and start OUR traditions. (Crazy, right?! But, you gotta start sometime.) The closer it gets... (2 days, right?! What am I doing blogging? I have SO much to get done...) the more we ask ourselves, what the heck were we thinking!!! It is so cold here and there is absolutely NO sign of snow in my 5 day forcast. I hear it has been snowing all day in Utah. Did I mention I don't like snow... but just the thought of curling up on the couch with my Mom and sister's and watching some cheesy Christmas movie while it is snowing outside is just too hard to resist. :) I now understand the line, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas," means so much more than just snow on Christmas day.
Ok, really it isn't that bad, it's been fun. We have been trying to plan lots of things to keep us busy and in the Christmas spirit. I have been trying to make it seem like we are not thousands of miles away from Family. I cannot believe all the work that goes into Christmas when you have a Family...
Baking treats, getting gifts for neighbors, delivering gifts to neighbors, buying the perfect gifts for family and shipping them across the country, cleaning the house, buying the perfect gift for an amazing husband (who really deserves so much more than I can give him), preparing a menu/meal for Christmas dinner, buying the perfect gift(s) for a toddler... (yeah, my bedroom and closet look like I purchased an entire toy isle from Target... thanks to all the added gifts from family and friends.), preparing my families traditional Christmas morning Breakfast, and then just trying to making it all Perfect and run as smoothly as possible...
I admit, I am a perfectionist. But, my Mom was a miracle worker... (with 6 more kids to buy for!) How the heck does any Mom do it???
I have decided to take on the attitude that I can only do what I can do. Christmas comes once a year and dang it, I am going to enjoy it, sit back, and relax. I am going to enjoy my little Family. Because... That is what is really important. So, instead of making the Idle Isle imitation (nothing can compare to the real thing) Nut Rolls, I am tempted to go sit down and watch the season finale of "The Hills." (or "The made up trash" as JC calls it.) OR, maybe I'll just call it quits, grab a sugar cookie, and head to bed.
Whatever I decide to do, I WILL have a White Christmas and I hope you do to. :)
(I apologize to all my neighbors and friends who don't get treats this year...)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Two's... (not terrible)... just yet.

Once again, I was told by JC that the blog needs an update... What do I update when there isn't much to update??? It seems like we keep busy going in every different direction and getting ready for Christmas, but it is never anything too exciting or fun. SO, here's an update on Zenock who is just as crazy and full of life as ever.
I think Zenock has entered the "TWO'S" just a little early. I wouldn't say terrible... yet, although I know it will be soon to come. He seems to think that he is the biggest boy ever and can pretty much do anything he wants to do. (Even if we say no a million times or give him time-out... it obviously doesn't apply to him.) He is getting way too big. I also think he has grown at least two inches since October!
Here are some common day to day occurences at our house:
* Getting his own treats... He has figured out how to get into the pantry to get his own treat and how to unlock the childproof cabinets (they are now doublelocked). He is getting way too smart!

* I love that he copies everything we do. If I am cooking, cleaning, or watching a show, he needs to be doing the same thing. He is such a great little helper except when he wants to copy me when I'm on the computer and won't leave me alone... (this would explain the lack of blogging). When JC or I go near the computer he is doing pull-ups on the table trying to see what we are doing or pushing/pulling us with all his strength away from the computer.

* He loves to be just like us. When we put shoes on, he needs to have his shoes on. When we put a sweater on, he needs to get his on. When Daddy leaves for work, he needs to leave.... I love it when he wakes up AFTER JC leaves for work.

* Zenock loves to dance. Every day we get to have a "Dance Party" with Zenock. He tells us where to stand and we just follow his moves. He's got some great moves! It's pretty entertaining as well as very exhausting.

* Zenock loves to eat Oreo's after dinner... (especially Holiday Oreo's.)
They are always available at our house.

* Zenock loves laying under the Christmas tree when the lights are on. He loves it even more when we will lay by him. It is so fun when he grabs our hand and pulls us over to the trees and lays down with his arms around us and looks up and says, "Wow, wow!" Christmas really is so much more fun with kids! We are so excited for Santa to come visit! Our count of broken Christmas decorations is 3+.... so far. I have no idea how many times a day I say...

"Just Look, DON'T touch!"

* Zenock has had quite a few ear infections since he turned one. We really don't want to get tubes put in his ears, so we have been taking him once a week to the Chiropractor that JC has been going to for his headaches. (That's a blog story on its own.) Zenock has his OWN little language and only JC and I really understand what he is saying. Doctors have said that Zenock may not be hearing the words correctly, because of the fluid in his ears. Which then results in his own language... (a lot of mushed up words.) The Chiropractor is so good with Zenock and I really feel like he has been helping. Since we have been going, Zenock has all sorts of new words and sounds. In the last week he has learned:

Show, Shoe, Sock, Shirt, Sheep, Eye, (which he says with a southern accent??)Pig, and is even trying to say his own name. He can say/do all of his animal sounds and if there is one he doesn't know, it only takes about a day for him to learn it.

The Chiropractor also has a BIG golden retriever in his office that Zenock absolutely loves. Everytime we go there and he sees this Dog he runs over to the office area (where it is kept) and just about jumps the fence saying, "wwooo, wooo, wooo, wooo." (Which is what the puppies say... of course.)

*Last, but definately not least... Our little Zenock has decided he doesn't need his crib anymore. He can climb out of it faster than it takes to put him in and when he's mad he is out within TWO seconds flat. This is REALLY bad for naps and bedtime, but GREAT for sleeping in. I love when he walks into our room in the morning and comes over to the side of the bed and whispers... "Momma, ahlljstdwt." It makes getting out of my comfy bed, so worth it. :)

Don't you love that he has to lift his foot as high as his head to get out. He is such a monkey!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend 2008

We had an awesome Thanksgiving with great friends and amazing food! It was fun to spend the day with friends that we made in Texarkana, who have moved close enough to be able to get together. Sadly, I completely forgot to pull my camera out... ALL Day. So no pictures of our day , but some of our favorite moments were:
*Starting Black Friday shopping early and stocking up on all the FREE stuff that CVS pharmacy had to offer with Rebecca, Krystal, and Aubrey.
*Zenock is getting so good at folding his arms when we say prayers. Every time we say a prayer we say, "Fold your arms like this" and then we show him. As we were all standing around saying goodbye to the Atkinson's, Zenock thought it was time to say prayers and folded his arms. He then would point to people and say, "like this" and fold his arms and show them how to fold their arms. Everytime someone would unfold their arms, he would point to them and do it again. He doesn't usually keep his arms folded for the entire prayer, but at least we know he is getting the idea. It sure makes you feel like your doing something right. :)
I decided to give up my Black Friday shopping this year... (I know, crazy, right?!) JC had volunteered to work... (even crazier!) and so I thought it would be a great day to sleep in, relax, and enjoy some leftovers. I was so WRONG! JC called me about 8:00 and told me I should see about finding a hotel in Hershey Pennsylvania for that night, work was really slow and he was thinking about taking the day off. (Our friends the Cook's were already planning on going.) I found a hotel for a great price and told JC... He then told me he had just talked to the Cook's and that he would be home in 20 minutes and to have the bags packed so we could walk out the door... Ummm... Yeah right.... (I was still in my pajamas.:) BUT, 25 minutes later, WE were out the door. Impressive, right!? Ok, not really, I looked like heck all day... :) BUT, we sure had fun!
(Home of Hershey Chocolate.)

Hershey's is the HOME of Hershey Chocolate.. (All my favorite treats. Reeses, Kisses, KitKats, etc. etc. Not a good thing for the day after Thanksgiving.:) Hershey's is also a Theme park. During the month of December they decorate for Christmas and hold Christmas Candylane. Right next door to the park is the factory... as soon as we stepped into the park, the Heavenly aroma of Chocolate engulfed us and surrounded us for the rest of the day. Christmas carols were being blasted from the speakers, it was FREEZING, and it was a perfect day for having fun! I highly recommend it to anyone close by.

We got there by noon and spent the next NINE hours enjoying the rides, the smells, the chocolate, and good fun company! (Thanks Cook's for letting us tag along.) We didn't even notice the cold. One of our friends little boys kept saying to his dad, "Isn't this like the BEST day of your life." It was so dang cute!

Getting ready to ride the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Challenge...

We really enjoyed the chocolate! How often to you get marshmallows and freshly made milk chocolate smashed between two giant chocolate chip cookies... at a theme park! Wow. It was amazing and makes me want another one just thinking about it. Mr. Hershey is a genius! (I think he is also about 4 ft. tall.... ok, not really. haha.)

We were able to go see a Christmas play while we were there. We took this picture right before JC so "lovingly" drug me onto THE CLAW... (sounds scary, right. It was intense.)

Santa was visiting that day as were ALL of his reindeer... Zenock's reaction was, "WOW." Love it.

My own little Marshmallow man enjoying Hershey... He didn't take a nap ALL day and finally crashed on our way back to the car when we MADE him sit in his stroller. He was so GOOD!

Inside Hershey's World (the factory), you can go on a tour of how they make the their chocolate and try and navigate your way through all of the shops and bakery's... This is the Christmas display inside Hershey World.

These were the cute cows on our tour that kept singing... "It's the Milk Chocolate..." The song has been stuck in my head for a week. We LOVED Hershey and like I've said in many posts before... WE can't wait to go back. Thanks Cook Family for a very FUN day!
The next day after a great nights sleep we headed to Lancaster County Pennsylvania to take in some of the Amish living. We were so excited as we entered the town and saw this...
No WAY! They really do that?! haha...

Buggies outside of the Farmer's Market we went to.

We even paid (way too much) to go on a Buggy Ride. Zenock loved ALL of the horses.

... JC waiting for our Ride...

... Zenock waiting for our ride...

We were extremely educated about the Amish lifestyle during our Buggy Ride. The lady who took us works for the Amish, but is not Amish. She has lived in Lancaster her entire life. I USED to think the Amish lived such a SIMPLE life... (stop reading now if you want to keep your perspective of the Amish.) BUT, we were completely wrong. They are different from what we thought in every way possible!
Things we learned:
*They live in HUGE homes... most of them are brand new too.
*Amish really isn't a religion, it is a culture. There are many different religions inside the Amish culture. For example: One guy in a congregation decides he wants to be able to use a tractor, a cell phone, etc., so he separates and becomes a preacher of a NEW group with followers who all wanted to use tractors, cell phones, cars, or whatever... Really weird.
*There are many different names and religions: Old order Amish, New Order Amish, The Brethren, Nebraska Amish (they went to Nebraska and didn't like it, so they came back.), etc.
*Many of the Amish people you see really aren't Amish at all... they are Menonites. (There are very few who are Amish.)
*Talking about your "religion" and lifestyle is considered boastful or prideful. They do not talk about themselves.
*In the Amish culture you are baptized when you are an adult. This is because you choose to become Amish. You accept it when you are at age. Not everyone who grows up Amish, stays Amish. They believe God chooses them to be Amish.
*You can tell what religion Amish or Menonite group they are by the women's hairstyle and Apron and by the Men's buggies (round top, square top, gray, black, 2 seat, etc.)
*They may not use electricity in their homes because they are self reliant, but they do use electricity in their shops. So that nice wooden table you paid extra for and thought was carved by hand... yeah, well, it wasn't. Most likely it was made in a shop using a POWER tool.
*They use propane in most Amish houses and outside of the house is another little "outhouse" that holds their phone. (sneaky aren't they.)
*The Amish are businessmen... They know how to run things. Most of them use cell phones, internet, fax machine, copy machine, etc in their businesses.
*When you become "of age" you join a gang... (basically your church group). You marry only inside of that gang. You do not mix with other gang members. (hmmm.)
*Amish people worship and get educated mainly in their own homes.
*They can drive cars, if that is what their Preacher allows. One teenage Amish kid drives a brand new red Hummer. (He is a hit with all the girls in his gang.:)
*The Amish are BILLIONAIRES....well some of them. A rule in some congregations is when you make too much money you have to sell your farm and start over again.
*** One thing to keep in mind is there are still some Amish called "THE OLD ORDER AMISH" that live the way you probably have always pictured, but they only make up about 1 percent of the Amish people that live in Pennsylvania.

An old Amish cemetery we passed on our buggy ride...

I do have to admit they picked an absolutely beautiful place to live.
We were only about 2 miles from where the Amish school shooting took place. No one in the town will talk about it. Since the shooting they have taken the school down and planted a field. There is no memorial. You will only know where it once stood if you are a resident.
I hope I didn't shatter your image of the Amish too much. :) JC and I are still completely jealous of where they live. It is so pretty. We just aren't sure about being in awe of their "SIMPLE" life. It was very interesting to learn about their culture and we really enjoyed our visit.

As we were coming home, we rounded the corner and out of nowhere this is what came into view. It was an awesome site. The Washington D.C. temple stands out in the middle of no where. It was beautiful, especially after our day. How very greatful we are for our religion. For a prophet who guides us and has simple beliefs for us to follow. We Believe...