Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Party at Tidwell's

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Here are my favorite images from our Tidwell family Christmas party. My camera had a hard time dealing with how dark the room was, so the lighting on many of these is pretty strange. But I adore them anyway.

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Amelia and her cousin Taebria are only about three months apart, though Taebria is much taller (and is much more advanced linguistically--I attribute that to her being a fifth child where Amelia is a first). They've only recently started playing and interacting, which I must say, is pretty darn cute.

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And I love this one:

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It's not as sharp as I would like (see above note about the light situation) but I love the colors and I think it captures a beautiful moment.

Thanks Mom and Dad Tidwell for a Christmas bash and photo op!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturdays Before Christmas

We are getting ready. If the Grinch can't keep Christmas from coming neither can college professors, despite their determination to pour on excessive amounts of homework and their dedication to designing horrifying exams with the intent of keeping holiday cheer at bay until the last possible moment. We remain joyful and triumphant.

Saturdays have been our big days for Christmas-ing. And watching Cougar Basketball, which does as much for my holiday mood as anything. The last two Saturdays have been spent in Salt Lake City watching the Cougars play at the Energy Solutions Arena and heartily beating such teams as Hawaii and Arizona. Lovely.

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Amelia is being properly raised in the way she should go so that when she is old she will be a Cougar fan. She loves the fight song and cheers "Rah, rah, rah" in the car all the time now.

After the basketball games the last two weeks, we've made our way over to the South Towne Expo Center for the Festival of Trees and the Elves Gift Show, respectively. I love the Festival of Trees; there's always so much color and creativity, and there's always at least one Harry Potter themed tree. Oh, and it's all for a good cause; Primary Children's Hospital kept my brother alive growing up, so depending on how much you like my brother that's either really heroic, or a dangerous liability. At any rate, the trees did not disappoint (but might I take this moment to comment that there were far too many Ute themed trees this year).

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I had never attended the Elves Gift Show before, but I found a two for one deal, so we decided to give it a whirl. It wasn't as spectacular as I expected, but it provided for some cutie tootie photo ops, as follows:

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The main reason we decided to go to the Elves Gift Show was to take the Babydoll to see Santa. She is quite taken with "Sanna" ever since she saw him from afar at the Festival of Trees. We thought she'd be overcome with joy at the opportunity to meet him. Well, she was overcome, but not so much with joy. This is as close as she'd get before melting down and screaming:

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And yet, she was content to watch him from afar for a good portion of the evening.

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Luckily, the Babes was less hysterical at our ward Christmas breakfast when Santa made an appearance, and she was gracious enough to sit on his lap for a photo, though her generosity did not extend so far as to smile.

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So Christmas really is coming to our house. We welcome and embrace it, at least on Saturdays when Daddy isn't too busy with finals to come home from the library.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Stuff n' Such

Okay, first things first; for those of you wondering if I ACTUALLY went for a run on Thanksgiving morning, the answer is a resounding YES! I did. And I coerced my husband and child into coming with me. It was freezing, I think the temperature had dropped to about 13 degrees Fahrenheit (which is -10.5 degrees Celsius for you metric people) so we were chilly. In fact the poor babes cried for about 15 minutes when we got home because her hands were thawing out and it was painful.

But we went.

And guess what else we did that morning? We sold Pete's car. Hooray! He's been trying to sell his Volkswagen GTI for months and we finally found a buyer, and on Thanksgiving Day. How appropriate.

Later that afternoon we went over to Pete's parents house for a laid back Thanksgiving Dinner. Not many people were able to make it because of illnesses and schedule conflicts, so we were a small group. I really enjoyed having a more intimate party, we all sat at the same table and I was able to see and speak to every person there. Amelia got to play with her cousin Paisley and all the adults played games after dinner.

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The girls caught some quality Sesame Street on Uncle Tad's iPhone.

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We headed to my parents house later for dessert and chitchat. Of all my siblings only my brother was able to come home for dinner, so it was a pretty low key Thanksgiving, but that only makes me more excited for Christmas when more people will be around. We did, however, catch my sisters Danielle and Allysann on Skype, so it was almost like they were there.

Here's Amelia talking to her Aunt Deedee.

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A week or so ago we got a Kohl's ad in the mail featuring a blonde model that Amelia was convinced was her Aunt Deedee. She got very upset when I threw the ad away a couple days later, and kept peering into the garbage can calling "Aunt Deedee? Aunt Deedee?" She has finally stopped looking for Aunt Deedee in the garbage and calls to her in the computer now instead.

And on Saturday we put up our Christmas tree.

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I almost canceled Christmas decorating on Saturday because of the DEVASTATING outcome of the BYU Utah football game, but eventually I decided that Christmas was more important. While we decorated the tree we listened to the Cougar basketball team beating St. Mary's and winning the South Padre Island invitational on the radio, so that helped me to feel some Christmas cheer.

Amelia hasn't left the Christmas tree for anything other than eating and sleeping since we put it up. I have a feeling this is going to be a magical Christmas season with my girl this year.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Cheer

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I want to celebrate the holidays with my own little family. For several years, either school or work have been so crazy and hectic around this time of year that the holidays have kind of flown by and I've barely gotten any celebrating in at all. Now that I'm a dedicated stay-at-home-for-real-mamma, I plan to rectify the situation. In style.

I've started compiling a list of holiday traditions that I feel can really help capture the spirit and meaning of the holidays for us. Some of these I've "borrowed" from friends and family--so if you see something that looks familiar on here, thanks for the idea. I probably got it from you.

And please feel free to add any meaningful traditions or activities you can think of; this certainly isn't an exhaustive list.


1. Go for a family run on Thanksgiving morning. This may not sound like a great idea on a crazy, hectic morning when there is so much "stuff" to do, but if you are largely going to be spending the day feasting--and who doesn't love a good feast--and lounging watching football, you may be glad you did. Went for a run, I mean.

2. Post a Grateful List on the refrigerator at the beginning of Thanksgiving week and add to it throughout the next few days. Some people like to write things they are thankful for on slips of paper and keep them in a jar. That's great too, but I prefer to have them posted where I can see them.

3. Read the Thanksgiving Story. Most Christian families read, and even act out, the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve to help their kids keep in touch with the true meaning/reason for Christmas. Reading the Thanksgiving Story can have the effect of reminding us that Thanksgiving is really about showing our gratitude to God and celebrating blessings, not merely gorging on fabulous rolls and pies. Those are considerable perks however . . .

4. Write Thank You letters as a family. It is, after all, a holiday of thankfulness. Thanking the people who make a difference in our lives is entirely appropriate.

5. Allow each child to be in charge of preparing a dish (age appropriate). This year I'm going to have Amelia help make our cranberry punch.


1. Have a count down to Christmas with bedtime stories. Whether it's 12 days, 25 days, or whatever, read one Christmas story every night until Christmas Eve to help kids get in the spirit. (By the way, I'm accepting Christmas book recommendations to help me implement this one.)

2. Participate in Sub for Santa or Angel Tree programs. We've done this the past two years and I can honestly say it has been the most memorable part of Christmas for Peter and myself each year.

3. Decorate with homemade decorations; paper snowflakes, gingerbread men and/or houses, string pop corn, make tree ornaments from favorite photos and toys, string up Christmas cards. There are countless resources for homemade decoration ideas online, but my favorite is of course the Queen Maven, Martha Stewart.

4. Visit Temple Square if you live in Utah, or some other light festival if you don't. My family has done this every year that I can remember (except that Christmas I spent in Northern Ireland) and I'm not sure Christmas could really come if we didn't.

5. In keeping with remembering that Christmas is really about Christ, I like the idea of allowing each child to pick out a small, inexpensive picture of Jesus to keep in their room as the first gift of the season. (With Amelia's tract record, we'll be lucky if the picture makes it to Christmas Day.)

6. Christmas pedicures! We'll do these at home, I'm not about to pay to take my toddler to the salon. But I love the idea!

7. My very favorite thing that my in-laws did with their children was that the kids made homemade nativity scenes. Then they put them away and gave them to each child on their first Christmas with their spouse. The nativity set we have is one my husband made when he was four years old--I bet it's the only nativity set in the world that includes, elephants, a rhinoceros, snakes, and a beaver.

This is what I have come up with, of course adding in holiday baking, music, and all the indispensable Christmas movies. And I'm planning on recreating a cute Christmas advent calendar that I saw at Pottery Barn last year and couldn't afford to buy. Oh, and you can bet I'll take many many millions of photos of my child and probably post too many of them here, but then, that's what mommy blogging is all about.

Happy Holidaying!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Letter to my MC

Dear Ginger,

I wish I knew you better. I feel confident that you are a great girl but every time I feel like I’m getting a handle on your character, you come out with something totally different. I know what you want. I know what obstacles you face. I’m just not entirely sure how you go about dealing with them. Would you mind cluing me in? This could be a really mutually beneficial relationship you know.

I do enjoy your sense of humor; I wish you would allow it to shine through more often. That is one of my goals for you. I also appreciate your vivid imagination and daydreams. You are a smart kid and have a lot of potential. Please get in touch with me soon so I can get a clear vision of exactly who you are, it would save us both a lot of time and frustration.

Warmest regards,


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yet Another Reason why BYU is the Best

How much do I love this? A very great deal.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Destiny is calling, and I'm scared to answer.

I am afraid of research. I finally wrote through a block in my story yesterday, but if I accept the direction it seems to want to take I'll have to do a TON of research and to me that means risking sounding like I don't know what I'm talking about because how do I know when I've done enough research? Sigh.

It also means that my story may turn out a bit heavier than I originally intended, which is good and bad. Good because I'm not a big fan of reading fluff, so why should I write it? Bad because I think fluff is easier to write and I just want to get through this novel so I can have one finished and learn from the experience. Then I can write heavier stuff because I'll be wise and experienced and know how to deal with myself as a writer, listen to my characters, craft brilliant plotlines and handle editors.

Do I take the path of research and risk sounding like an ignorant poser writer, or do I stick to the fluff and get 'er done? I think I know the answer to that. But I'm starting to not recognize the project I initially set out to complete and I can't decide whether or not I'm okay with that. As a writer, shouldn't I have some measure of control? Or do I just teach correct principles and trust that my characters will govern themselves to the best possible end?

Writing is harder than people think it is. I should get paid for this.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cake for an 18th Birthday

Pete has been going through cake art withdrawals since he's been too busy with work and school to play in the kitchen as much as he'd like, so he was ecstatic when this cake was commissioned. It is for an 18th birthday for the daughter of a friend of his.

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He's getting quite profesh, don't you think?

Looking Good in the Hood

Halloween in Utah County was a bust. It rained all evening, and even when it wasn't raining it was cold and windy. So I didn't get any good pics of my girl living it up trick-or-treat style. Luckily, I did make the effort to take some photos of the babe in costume at the lovely American Fork Amphitheater, I mean I had to document my first ever homemade Halloween costume (the cape and hood, not the dress--the dress actually came back from someone's trip to Austria and has been in my family at least since Kait and Ally were little enough to wear it. Lucky us.)

Here are some of my favorite shots of Little Red at her best:

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