Monday, January 31, 2011

By the time we arrived in Peoria, most of the snow had melted. I've heard that they are expecting about 16 inches now, which is a crazy amount of snow! As I write this, I'm sitting in my living room. As I look at the green grass in my front yard, (and yes, those two holes that the gofer left behind), and the blue skies that the fog finally let us see, it's hard to picture that much snow!

But as we spent time as a family on Christmas Eve, we saw those beautiful white snowflakes coming down, slowly at first, and when we woke up the next morning, we knew that we were in for a white Christmas! See:

Yes, it was very cold, and I don't think anybody spent much time outside on Christmas day! With a fire going inside, good food, a wonderful family and memories to be made, the indoors seemed like a better place to spend the day.

Tradition continues, and the Advent readings come first. Well, after the coffee, of course. *smile* Five candles, the family gathered 'round and Christmas carols to wrap up our morning devotions.

Ben's lap is a very popular place to sit. William and Em were happy to get this seat.

Melissa is showing off her new adorable earrings, a gift from Grandma Betty. Festive earrings are always fun!

William and his "Bucket-o-Soldiers." If you can't tell from his expression, he was ecstatic. Between this gift, his new Lego's and his new pajamas (which he is wearing in the above picture), he was one happy little man!

*smile* A sweet, memorable moment caught on film...or on a CF card, I guess. Fathers and daughters have a special relationship, and I'm eager to see my own daughter in her father's arms.

Three pretty girls, with pretty hair accessories, and very cute stuffed animals. I want one.

Joshua got a BIG dinosaur and thought it needed to be softened up with a kiss. He amused us for several minutes as he enjoyed his new toy.

A true Dr. Who fan needs a cool mug with a disappearing Tardis, right?

Three other girls...seems like it was just yesterday that we were little! Caleb's new guitar has a nice shiny back...

It was a sweater year for Mom, and she was thrilled! There are so many cute ones to choose from these days.

James, an accomplished guitarist, tuned the new instrument and gave Caleb a few tips.

Brother and sister time is always a good time.

Moving on to a few days later, we were out in the freezing cold to enjoy a sledding excursion with friends from church. With a shortage of snow suits and snow boots, Abby and I sat out to photograph the event. Jess, Jesi and Lily get set for a quick trip down the hill.

William went down by himself and thought that was the coolest thing ever. It's hard to believe how much he has grown up!

The younger girls are all ready to head down.

I think that she really enjoyed the ride!

"Expecting 16 inches of snow?! Enjoy this experience and get your winter gear at..."
Commercial break is over.
William really likes having big brothers.

A happy girl is always warmer inside.

The little man and I get one more picture before we head back for some hot chocolate and cookies.
Speaking of hot chocolate and cookies, I think it's snack time...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taking a break from decorating to bring you this update....

Our bags were packed and we were ready to go...well, almost. There were a few errands to run before we actually left town, but we got those done quickly and made it to the airport with enough time to grab a quick bite to eat, which I was very grateful for! And before we knew it, this was the view from our window:

A clear blue morning overlooking the bay. Goodbye 60+ degree weather...we were heading out to the frozen tundra.

A full day of traveling means that this will be another view from a different window. It was too dark to get a picture of our final destination once we landed, but you'll see plenty of pictures of the cold outdoors soon!

My sisters, as silly as ever love finding interesting things to pose with...even if it's in the grocery store!

The day after we arrived, my mom and I headed out to The Fresh Market, one of my favorite grocery stores. Yes, we were all in silly moods...must have been the coffee and cider samples.

My sometimes serious, sometimes extremely goofy nephew gives me a serious expression.

With some extra raw milk on hand, Abby and I whipped together some traditional egg nog. A big holiday favorite!

A thoughtful pose from the little man. It's funny how you know that you miss people, but don't realize just how much until you see them again. Good times...

Santa's Helper and I like getting mirror images of each other.

So it was a long day and we were thought that we would pretend to take a nap! We were close to the fire, which made this spot in the living room quite cozy.

Ben likes bow-ties. Dad likes bow-ties. AND the Dr. likes bow-ties. Bow-ties are cool.

It always amazes me to see how much darkness can be dispelled by candles. A beautiful candlelight service to remind us of the true Light of the world.

The Providence Choir was amazing this year. Unique musical selections were beautifully was a lovely evening.

The family continues to grow. Next year's picture will have at least one more addition!

Christmas in Illinois is up next...and then some house updates!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh Christmastime, Oh Christmastime...

Christmastime...was here. And it passed by much too quickly for my taste. It seems like the Christmas music just started playing and people were looking for that perfect tree. As this was our first Christmas as a married couple, there were many new things this year.

Setting up our own traditions...blending his with mine and making them ours.

December was filled with lots of good music ("Oh Christmas Tree" is forbidden, however), soft candlelit evenings, trying to keep up with Advent readings and growing closer together and deeper in love.

Three Christmas celebrations added excitement to this season. We celebrated our first Christmas day with our California family...a cozy fire in the wood stove, warm homemade cinnamon rolls, real egg nog and lots of other goodies were just the beginning to a fun, heartwarming, memorable day. And I'll let the pictures tell the rest...

I honestly don't remember how many dozen cookies were made, but there were TONS of different kinds...and somebody had to be a taste tester, right?

Grandma's cookie cutters get pulled out every year, as does Grandma's recipe for some amazing sugar cookies. A tradition that Mumsie grew up with. A tradition that Ben grew up with. A tradition with many memories wrapped up in it is one that will not be lost.

Mmmmm. The soft, chewy cookies are about to be decorated by the mob...

Ben, the leader of the "Peeps in the hood" leads the way with gobs of blue icing.

Thomas is home!!!!!!!! That means he can...strangle Ben?
No, Thomas was just trying to crack Ben's back...really, I'm telling the truth!

Psst!'re supposed to be paying attention...not to the camera, to the reading!

In the NT Hector household, squirrels are everywhere, and they should never be left out of a Christmas celebration. I think that Becky agrees.


Santa's helper found a package with his name on it! Don't you love it when that happens?

Linds: "You didn't?!?!? Really?!?!?"
Canon cameras have that effect on people.
It's almost as good as having the love of your life propose to you...
Okay, so maybe not...

Sarah gets a new friend.

Not only do the men in this family wear strange hats, they also make funny faces. Then again, when one is faced with an embroidered anti-heat-stroke-pad, what other kind of face should one make? It's a reenactor's thing.

A robot!!!!! Yes, they have a special place in this marriage, and that one is kind of cute.

Remember what I said? *smile*
Oh...and DON'T BLINK.
No, I'm serious...if you saw what was in that box, you'd do the same...don't blink.
And good luck.

Ummm, should we be afraid?

Yes, we should. Very afraid.
Should we call him Farmer Tom?

Ummm, yeah. Don't ask.
Ben has a special place in his heart for his stuffed animals. In fact, I think he remembered all of their names! Maybe one day we'll figure out what to do with this zoo.

Our second Christmas coming soon!