Emma woke us up bright and early Christmas morning (um, at 8:15) with a, "Mom, Dad, Santa came and he brought me . . ." Then she ran in to wake up Ashlyn and told her, "Ashlyn, Santa came and he brought you . . ." It was rather hilarious. Next year we'll have to explain a bit better to wait for Mom and Dad.

Christmas Eve we kept pretty simple. We ran some last minute errands, ordered pizza for dinner (which I enjoyed for simplicity's sake, although I don't think it was Nick's favorite), and drove around looking at Christmas lights. When we got home, we checked Santa's location by radar, talked about Baby Jesus, read The Night Before Christmas, prepared a plate with chocolate chip cookies for Santa (Emma says they're his favorite) and carrots for his reindeer, and called it a night. The girls were asleep in seconds. It'd been a busy week.

The girls got new jammies from Grandma and Grandpa Millar at our family Christmas party, and they get new crayons and coloring books every year. They're always a hit.

Here is the much anticipated camera! Most of our Christmas pictures were on it, complete with video. However, we need a bit of practice, so I'll spare you the sea sickness. The camera has several features to make silly pictures and also has games. It's been a lot of fun.

You know how you never know which gifts will go over the best? Santa brought spinning toothbrushes complete with stickers to decorate them! They were the most fascinating thing Christmas morning. They spent a lot of time personalizing their toothbrushes.

Emma did get her doll. She is much loved and goes everywhere Emma feels is safe to take her. She sleeps with her at night and is careful to dress her appropriately (as deemed by a 5-year-old).

One of the best gifts this year was a bunch of games. Emma had outgrown the previous ones we've had, so we've been playing a lot of games. Her current favorites are Sorry, Guess Who, and Operation.

And yes, Ashlyn barely escaped getting coal in her stocking and got Barbie Bell, complete with a Barbie car!

Christmas this year was a success. It's taken a while for us to learn a few tricks to make it a positive memory. 1) Simple is better. Our little ones get over-stimulated easily. Keeping it simple kept everyone calmer and happier. They didn't receive countless nor large gifts, but they love and play with everything they did get. 2) I made a breakfast dish of monkey bread the night before. All I needed to do was put it in the oven. Easy. 3) Nick's family always went snowmobiling or did something active on Christmas, so he tends to get a bit antsy after all the initial fun is over. This year we drove to Rexburg and sent Nick snowmobiling with my dad. The boys had fun, we had fun with Grandma, and my sisters and their families came over for dinner. It was wonderful.

Most importantly, Emma kept reminding us of what the day was truly all about. We are so blessed to be able to celebrate Christ's birth. That sweet baby is what it is all about. I am also grateful that Emma has the inner ability to know of that importance and remind us. I feel so blessed to have my family.

Letters to Santa

The girls wrote very cute letters to Santa. Emma wrote hers back in November, so I did get a picture of it. Ashy drew a picture of a Barbie Bell and a camera. Our post office has this cute set-up to make sure the letters get where they're supposed to!

December Trip to Salt Lake City

We met Nick's parents in Salt Lake for a weekend in December for a bit of fun. Nick's little sister Lacee and her family joined us, and my little sister Rebecca and her family were there the same weekend. We had so much fun together.

We stayed at Nick's aunt's condo at the Gateway and played and played. Our first stop was Build a Bear. Grandma and Grandpa gave the trip to the girls for Christmas. They LOVED it. Here they are with Cassidy waiting to fill their new friends. Ashlyn chose a kitty, Emma a sparkly, purple bear, and Cassidy a pink bear.

Lacee and Carson joined us, too. Carson chose a monkey.

Emma cheesing it while dressing her bear in a beautiful pink dress. Emma also chose a crown and wand with a makeup bag for her bear.

Ashlyn's kitty got all dolled up in a beautiful blue and black dress complete with black slippers and blue ear bows. :) She also chose a little MP3 player that has been one of the best toys for this girl. She plays it all the time and dances to her heart's content.

We also made a trip to see the lights on Temple Square. We love going each year. It was extra special this year with so many fun family members with us. There's such a special feeling there. Plus I got spoiled by getting to play with my niece Shaylee so much while we walked around. Again, Emma looked away at just the right moment. I promise she didn't sleep through everything.

Cousins in the lights.

My sister's family: Ryken, Heath, Rebecca, and Shaylee.

We finally found Santa at the Children's Museum. We love this picture. I'm guessing Ashlyn is wondering if she's made it onto Santa's nice list and if he'll be nice to her, too.

Success! Everything must have been okay. They loved telling Santa what they wanted. Emma asked for an American Girl Doll and Ashlyn asked for a Barbie Bell.

Ryken and Shaylee loved Santa, too.

It was such a fun trip. We never did get a big group picture. And we didn't have a camera with us when we found Santa's reindeer at the Children's Museum our first trip there, nor did we bring it when we took the train to the Mayan. The kids thought the divers were amazing. One of my personal highlights was seeing Tangled with everyone. I will definitely be buying that one. All in all, the trip was a huge success. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Charles for a great weekend.

Fall Fun!

From these pictures, you might be able to tell why I'm so behind. This seems to be my luck with pictures lately. My girls are beautiful, and often too busy to sit still even long enough for a picture. They'll smile for point two seconds, and if I don't catch it fast enough, they're off to something else. Here is my attempt at catching fun in the leaves. This is actually the best picture I got. They had a ton of fun playing with their cousin Ryken.

We carved our pumpkin at my mom's this year. The girls both dug in and helped.

Halloween gets to be more fun every year. Emma wanted to be a green witch, and Ashlyn wanted to be a kitty again (no surprise there). Oh, and there's our finished pumpkin in the middle!

Spider Trap!

Emma was very proud of herself. She made a spider trap to put under her bed. (There really are not many spiders in our house, but she loves making things, especially if it involves tape and scissors.)


Towards the end of September we finally made it back to Yellowstone. Emma loves seeing the hot pots, and we always enjoy looking at waterfalls and wildlife.

We hiked down to a waterfall. The hike down was great. On the way back up, Nick was very creative at coming up with ways to get the girls to keep going up. My favorite was pretending that they were rockets. They would count down and "blast off" to the next turn in the trail. There were a bunch of switchbacks, so there were plenty of opportunities to blast off.

We saw several bears this trip. There are actually three grizzlies in this picture at the top of the hill a bit to the right, a momma with two cubs.

It looks like I need to snag the camera more often to get pictures of Nick, too.

First Day of School!

Emma's first day of kindergarten! She was thrilled. It was rather bright for the picture though.

Later the same day, Ashlyn went to her first day of preschool! She was very excited, although a bit nervous when it came time for Mom to leave. She loves it though and is doing very well there.

Baby Blankets

When my little sister had a baby girl last summer and my best friend adopted a little boy, I made them a couple of baby blankets. I love the way they turned out. I never did take pictures of my niece's, but it is the same design in pink with a ladybug.