Yow it feels like we crammed a boatload of stuff into December! As I’m sure you, dear reader, did too. How is it possible that all that is now in our wake? I find it so nutty that time whizzes by so fast!

I have a “December Little Things” post coming, but here are the Christmas-y things we did before the big day.

Elle and Carson were here for a while in December. Carson had a month off of school to study and prep for all his interviews, and Elle can work from anywhere so we were pretty delighted to have them around. They make everything more fun.

Ward “Breakfast with Santa”

Love getting to know this new ward a little better.

Our kitchen honestly looked like this most of the month:

It was a little “Santa Workshop” trying to get neighbor and friend gifts together, trying to feed everyone with meals and snacks in every stage of preparation. Various parts of our Christmas package for Claire strewn all over the place.

Missionary Christmas Package

Gosh, for anyone putting together packages for missionaries, kudos to you! It is not an easy thing to try to pack your whole heart in a box and send it to the other side of the world!

I loved having everyone’s help to shape that thing up, write special notes, make it extra special.

Christmas Card

Boy oh boy, we labored over that dang Christmas card. Every year I wonder why in the world we do that thing. But every year I also thank my lucky stars to be in touch with people we know and love so much, spread all over creation. We love to hang the cards on our kitchen cabinets to be greeted by so many loved ones each day:

Every year I vow to get our card done early the next year. And then I don’t. But thank the heavens for Elle who is so good at putting that stuff together and that she was so willing to work with me to whip that up. Hallelujah when we hit “order” to get it turned in.

And then, hallelujah when Dave’s parents came over for dinner one night for our second annual card-stuffing evening together:

And also, Dave and my brothers helped (Jo was in town for a couple days to pick up a car…how we miss those guys!!)

The Nutcracker

Lu and I made it with one second to spare before the lights went down for our special Nutcracker date. She had asked to go to this and was so excited, but I think realized a few dances in that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in her mind. We had great seats but she couldn’t see. I tried explaining some things to her but she said she was good to just listen to the music. Her famous line, at least in my book: “Why do they feel like they need to do like 15 sugarplum fairy dances?? I mean, the show could be over already!!”

Oh gosh, that girl is a keeper.

Abby, Murph & Grace arrive

We didn’t get Max, Abby and Murphy for Christmas this year. It was their year with Abby’s family. But Abby wanted to come down for a few days before Christmas with Murph and we jumped at that chance! They came down with us (along with Grace) after my Uncle’s funeral up in Utah. So much more about that soon, but for now let’s just say we were so grateful Max was so supportive to let his girls come to town while he worked. (He was saving vacation days for our family togetherness after Christmas.)

Us four girls talk, talk, talked on that ride back to the desert.

Oh gosh I sure love having this kitchen filled up to the brim with almost all my favorites.

Lu wasn’t too sad about it either:)

And can you get a better Christmas-helper than this??

There’s Bo trying to grab a little extra attention from that baby Murphy who gets the most. Ha!

These days were filled up with all things Christmas.

Christmas music always wafting through the air, the drop-offs filling up our porch from neighbors and friends, us doing all kinds of drop offs too, all kinds of treats filling up our kitchen, that darling Murph with her huge smile filling up her whole body every time we looked in her direction (and a whole lotta spit-up).

Family walks through the turning-golden leaves drenching our neighborhood, bike rides to get acai bowls:

Our kitchen filled up with people I adore so much, who are friends with each other, all sitting across the island (and making messes!).

We put together three different big puzzles all of which had pieces missing (boo!):

We stayed up late. We wrapped gifts. The kids joined us pretty much every day (before and after these days too) for F45 workouts.

The girls and I did some last-minute Christmas shopping up in bougie Scottsdale with Murph smiling up at us from her stroller.

…until she conked out:

We had the missionaries over for dinner and thought of Claire who we are all desperately missing.

Dave and I took care of Murphy while the kids all went to watch the Survivor finale with cousins.

We worked on Murph’s crawling:)

Basically, we soaked in every minute together.

Second Annual Gingerbread House Making Evening

Last year my friend Julie hosted a pretty incredible gingerbread-house-making evening and decided to do it again. Much to the delight of all these kids…

…and their parents too.

Dave got extra creative with his:


The others from our family:

And the voting for the most creative and most classic:

Oh how I love these friends.

After that we loved up Abby and Murphy one more night:

And sent these two off.

Boo Hoo. But so glad back to that anxiously-waiting daddy Maxwell.

Hot Yoga and Polar Plunge

This is not really “Christmas-y” per se, but it was when the rest of us were still all together so it counts.

And honestly it was one of my favorite things.

The big kids always want to go to hot yoga with us. So we went. And sweat our tails off there. And then came home for a polar plunge:

Oh my GOODNESS that was cold!

“Camelback Santa” Hike

Of course we had to hike Camelback.

And little known fact: if you hike Camelback on December 23rd, you’ll get to see Santa up there, handing out candy canes.

Yep, it’s true.

You also may find yourself inside a thick cloud and not be able to see any view whatsoever from the top.

But hey, candy canes make up for that. Ha!

A Movie and Temple Lights

We went to see Wonka at the movie theater:

(Not my favorite, but entertaining…)

We found out the best time to go see the temple lights is at 9:30 when it’s just about to close down shop.

No crowds and surrounded by so much peace and goodness.

And with that, it was time to hunker down and be ready for Christmas Eve the next day.

To be continued…

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  1. What special family time! Ever so grateful for remote work to get to spend extra days with our loved ones.
    Whats next for your son in laws schooling? I don’t remember hearing which locations they liked but hopefully they get to live somewhere they’re excited about!
    Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year xx

    1. He’s heading into lots of interviews the next few days as they work to find a “match” for residency. Will take any prayers you want to send along for him!

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