Welp, just as we were getting used to the “three musketeers” being the lone survivors at home…

…our house filled right back up again.

These darling college girls arrived home:

(And we went to like 74 wedding receptions, ha! That is Elle’s friend who is a wedding photographer up there with us.)

My parents came also for a few days for a tennis tournament:

We went to Josh’s holiday school Christmas concert with my nephew (who is in his class) as the star.

And these guys helped stuff all our Christmas cards as we talked…THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!

We had our third annual neighborhood/ward “Walk to Bethlehem” walking nativity:

Lucy had her piano recital and played so beautifully along with all these other kids.

I had my cello recital too (actually in November, but it was for Christmas so we’re putting it here):

Yep, me and all those kids played away on our cellos (that’s my beautiful teacher standing by me, not a fellow student).

My best supporters:

We baked these cookies from Modern Honey on repeat:

We switched the recipe to use crushed candycanes on top and didn’t regret it:)

You guys, they are SO GOOD!

While my parents were here we had a little gingerbread-making-party with these guys: (and Josh and my parents)

We sent our friend who is serving a mission a funny Christmas card:

Trying to make it funny, had to experiment with some Christmas filters…

One friend threw a “Favorite Things” party and it was SO GOOD to be with all these women!

Lucy was the sous chef for her culinary class when they made Christmas sugar cookies, so she of course had to practice at home the night before…

We went to an “Ugly Sweater” party…we couldn’t find anything for Dave so he wore my student council sweater from high school:

There were some pretty funny gifts at the gift exchange I tell you!

We had two opportunities to feed the homeless at this amazing place, and it was pretty special:

Those visits get their own posts soon…

These two happened to run into my nephew (Elle’s cousin…Jonah’s son) in the airport in Chicago waiting for the same flight to Utah. These guys have had the WORST luck with Southwest Airlines lately, and they actually got stranded in Denver overnight, but hey: free cousin time right?

When SW cancelled their flight and told them they could get another one until two days later, they took matters in their own hands and rerouted through the desert so they could get there that night.

We got to turn off everything else and did our traditional hot yoga and got to hug them up for a morning (Camden got to be with his family here too,) and they were actually here before the college girls (these pictures are out of order I guess). Which meant they got to overlap with them for an hour before they headed to Utah to be with Carson’s family for Christmas.

And I didn’t get a picture of that, but I did get a pic of the end of Lu and Bo’s reaction…they were the happiest ladies in all the land for that fun surprise:

Christmas surprises are the best.

Our kitchen was covered in neighbor/ friend gifts for almost all of December.

Wait, more cookies??

Yes please.

Bike rides through all the desert glory:

I sweet-talked these girls to sing in the Choir on Christmas Sunday with me (this was the practice the week before), and was so happy they did, promising you can feel it all so much more through singing:

We had our extended family gathering at Nana and Papa’s, complete with a special message and a couple talents:

Grace and friends threw a party, because she’s pretty fun like that.

We had a pretty phenomenal gingerbread-house making extravaganza again (finished products back there in the link):

Then Max and Abby arrived!

And we went out into the glorious desert for a beautiful hike:

At first a short little path that was a little too technical and tricky for Lucy to see:

Until we found a perfect straight-road one that we all were pretty happy about.

Have I mentioned I LOVE the desert?

Max and his high school friends (and their wives, but they aren’t in the picture), had a great little get-together, and we took kids pretty in different configurations each day to our workout (family tradition):

Max also had a volleyball tournament as a little reunion with his high school teammates.

I wish I had time for a whole post on this because it deserves it. But I’ll just say it was SO FUN to watch those grown men smack that ball just like in the old days. And so strange that yes, they have morphed into grown men now.

Max was just glowing out there on that court!

And guess what? I got to feel Peanut kicking for the first time watching on those sidelines:

It was pretty special. She must have been excited about her dad playing out there.

This one should be another post on it’s own, because it was so special…we all got to go do baptisms at the temple with Papa who set it up.

My heart was just so full with all those people I adore so much (cousins included) and there was such a special spirit there:

Apparently, we HAD to try out the brand-new Torchy’s Tacos because hey, these three are Texas LOVERS through and through:

We all rode bikes to downtown along the canal:

Had lunch at our favorite spot:

And got to give at the Giving Machine:

I tried to pull a little traditional “Advent” into dinner one night (with the wrong color candles), but it turned out not to work super well, but we still felt that closeness of Jesus and preparation for the celebration of His birth:

We went to see the temple lights at the temple:

They did them for the first time I think in four years since the temple was remodeled.


Delivered neighbor gifts under a canopy of golden Fall:

And then it was on to Christmas Eve to finish up last-minute gift stuff and also get in a couple bowling games:

(THAT was fun), before we headed home to prep for the traditional Christmas Eve Jerusalem Supper.

Which is coming up in a post very soon!

PHEW!!! We sure packed in a lot of hoopla leading up to Christmas. I’m still recovering! But oh boy, so very grateful!

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  1. Glad you had a fun Christmas. Amazes me you’re all out there hiking and wearing shorts while our xmas included minus 30 wind chills and a doodle who didn’t want to go outside to do his business. Abby pregnancy looks to be coming along; I loved that period of feeling the baby move. Nice to know that Max is excited to be a daddy. Is he soon to graduate? I forget— didn’t he change his major and his college?

    1. Thank you Lissa! It was a good time. Max did change college but not his major. He still has a few classes left but is working full time so having a tough time squeezing them in!

  2. Have you ever hiked at Silly Mountain? It is a short hike (~2.5 miles). It also has a short nature trail which was actually quite interesting. I thought it might be a good alternative for Lucy. The only bad thing about it is that it is right alongside US60 so it can be busy.

    1. I have heard of it but I’m not sure if we’ve hiked it before. We’ll have to check it out, thank you!

  3. Just FYI – some addresses on the Christmas cards are visible. I was able to read them pretty clearly on my laptop!

    Such a fun holiday with family! I’m drooling over those peppermint chocolate cookies. Might just make a batch or two for myself (:

  4. So much holiday fun! Love it!
    Where did you get your ugly sweater (which is actually pretty cute)?
    Could you share how things worked at the favorite things party with a group that size?

    1. The sweater is from Walmart:)
      The favorite things party was like a white elephant party but with good stuff. Everyone brought one thing they love, wrapped and put it in the middle, everyone drew numbers. Number one got to pick a gift first, then two, then three, etc. If it’s your turn and you like something someone else had unwrapped you can “steal” it from them and they pick something else from the middle or something else someone else unwrapped. Once a gift has been “stolen” three times it’s locked. Not sure if that makes sense, but just white elephant rules. Kind of a fun way to do it.

      1. Thank you! Makes total sense. I’ve seen favorite things parties played several ways but never like the white elephant exchange. Fun!

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