Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of 2014

Back in October Jon went above and beyond making most of our Halloween costumes for the Belcher family of Bob's Burgers. Here we are dressed up for the ward Halloween party!

Left to right: Bob, Louise, Linda, and Gene (not pictured: Margo as Tina)

Jon and I both had black hairspray, but it's hard to tell from the pictures.

Jon unfortunately wasn't able to make it to the ward party, but he got to dress up again later in the week for work :)

While at the ward party we saw lots of sweet friends; ARMY gals, Ellen and Paige:

Kate's bestie, medieval princess Lara:

and our ward Bishop (aka ridiculously tall Uncle Sam). Kate kept saying, "Oh, Bishop funny!"

After another couple crazy weeks of classes we headed down to Utah for Thanksgiving. We loved our lunch date with the Hoopers!

We stayed with my Uncle Carl and Aunt Shari in Orem where we made ridiculously delicious Pinterest recipes


and turkey themed fruit platters:

It was all part of a plan to see this gal:

My cousin Meg is so wonderful, and we've been writing letters and emails to each other ever since we were little. For the last few years we've been discussing the possibility of getting  together for epic Thanksgiving adventures, and this year with us living only 4 hours north we were able to make it happen!

Kate had a great time playing with new... second cousins? 3rd cousins? Something removed?

Chloe and Kate



We couldn't quite figure out how we were all officially related now with titles, but we're all family and that's what matters ;) Kate also got to sit at the kid's table and that was a big step!

Big girl cheese!!

Gram came over from Draper, Great-Grandma Carolyn came from Provo, and my sister Michelle took the train from California to be with the family, much to the happiness and entertainment of baby Wynn!

It was so fun to have a lot of the Andersen side together for Thanksgiving.

As we headed back to Idaho it was an intense 3 weeks of projects and finals. Because of this we did almost nothing in preparation for Christmas until school was out.

We have watched a little girl in our ward a couple times a week all semester, so the last day that she was over I was able to get a few pictures of Evelyn and Wynn together!


the magic of Christmas lights

Finals ended December 17th and then I had some custom stockings to finish, leaving me to browse Instagram Saturday night and see that everyone was putting their little girl's hair in curlers and I realized that the 21st was Christmas Sunday! Aw phooey. It had totally snuck up on me, and I had completely forgotten to make or look for a Christmas dress for Kate.Thankfully we don't have Sacrament meeting until 1:30 in the afternoon, so I spent the morning making Kate a skirt :)

I'm so glad that Jon had convinced me some weeks earlier to just get a couple yards of this fantastic mustard holiday print. Kate LOVED looking at the snowflakes and reindeer. She really was a lot happier than she looks in this picture :)

I dressed her in the last minute Christmas skirt a couple more days that week, including Christmas Eve, so that I could get as much use out of it as possible!

Kate's favorite past time; Christmas yoga.

Since we spent our first Saturday of the month decorating for Christmas we did have our nativity and stockings up most of December, so that was nice :) We don't have a mantle in our apartment, so we improvised with our abundance of bookshelves.

stocking hangers hand-crafted by Jon

 We also did lots of yummy baking!
Yes, that's powdered sugar.
No, we did not know that she had opened it herself.

Between decorating sugar cookies,

sorry I could NOT get the picture to rotate!
 making fudge,

and caramels,

we were sugared up and ready for Christmas Eve!

in keeping with California Alston/Joyner family tradition back home, we had a MexItalian feast complete with ravioli, spanish rice, ceasar salad, and refried beans. YUM!

better than his face makes it look.
  During dinner we read about the traditions of Christmas and Santa Claus, including the root of advent, 12 days of Christmas, and Candlemas. We also read "The Night Before Christmas" and The Polar Express together.

After dinner we read scriptures in the New Testament that went with each member of the nativity and did an activity to help us understand their purpose in the story of Christ's birth. We sang hymns for each nativity member (Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Angels, Wise Men, Baby Jesus) enjoyed hot chocolate, sparkling cider, and had Hickory Farms crackers and garden vegetable spread to go with our candlelight scripture reading.

Christmas morning we woke up to this:

Our first White Christmas!

Friends and family had shipped us so many wonderful packages, that even though we weren't able to do much for each other or our own family this year, we felt extremely loved and very blessed :)

We opened stockings and enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast before digging into the stack of boxes!

Kate was really excited about the orange in her stocking and dug right in...

 Kate's nursery leaders had given each child in class their own mini Book of Mormon for Christmas with their name printed on the front. We waited to have her open it on Christmas morning since it was the only present under the tree up until a couple days before Christmas.

She absolutely loves having her own "kippers" and asks us to read them to her all the time!

Kate got a wonderful finger paint set from the O'Keefe's in Washington:

and Jon got a set of Bacon Jam spreads from my mom, haha! We love that it even came with a recipe book, and can't wait to try them out ;)

Edwin was spoiled with some fun board books and a rolling rattle ball toy:

these goodies are right up his alley!

Yes, we had an awesome time with games, coloring books, vegan chocolate chunk cookie mix, mini cast iron skillets, and wonderful camping supplies!

 Kate really loved coloring in the big boxes:

One of my most favorite surprises of the day was when Kate opened this dress that Jon picked out for her all by himself.

He wanted her to have something special from us for Christmas, since Edwin got his own set of handmade wood alphabet blocks. The dress is a 3T size so she will be able to grow into it for the coming year. Cream and gold, I absolutely love it!!

After presents we bundled up and went out to play in the snow:

Kate loved picking up the powdery snow and clapping her hands to make snowflakes fly in the wind.

Post snow-angel action:

We baked a pumpkin caramel crunch pie from scratch:


and Kate enjoyed eating cookies and watching The Snowman:

thanks, Joyners!!

After some skyping with Jon's family we headed over to our good friend's apartment (The Sanford's) for a combined Christmas linner of awesomeness.

Steph and Kaylynne:

It's a good thing that we ate so early because it gave us time to hang out and enjoy watching ridiculous YouTube videos together while still making it home for regular bedtime. Win!

It was definitely the best Christmas we've had in a long time. I hope I didn't leave anyone out. Thank you to everyone who helped make it amazing :)

 After a chill weekend, Jon's parents and sister Beth came up to see us for the week and ring in the New Year. They brought with them a second round of Christmas and delicious treats. They are still here! So I'll probably post more about our adventures with them later. In the meantime, here are a couple favorite pics from our 5 minutes of sledding in -7 degree weather yesterday . . . it might have actually been colder than that. All I know is our faces hurt:

To finish up the year, here's a rundown of ALL our Saturdays, in case you missed any:

4:         Lunch at Claim Jumper with Summer and Riley Hooper
11:       Breakfast at Country Gables in Roseville
18:       Quilt Day
25:       Dating Anniversary: Dinner at McCormick and Schmicks, gelato at Miabella Gelato (the Fountains), then painted a fat cookie jar at Color Me Mine

1:         Clean up/Organize our room, Record Party @ the Kesters
8:         Saturday of Cancellations—Baby shower cancelled due to Kelly Barnet’s water breaking, game night with Andrew Neilson and lady friend cancelled due to them being sick. So, we picked out frames at Michaels for a sweet penguin print we bought on etsy.
15:       Game night with Andrew Nielsen and Sarah, and Beth and her friend Rebecca from Idaho
22:       Hanging out with the Weber's and teaching David how to use his new Canon T3i SLR.

1:         Late night fun times at Fancy Funnel Cakes in Rocklin
8:         Thrift store shopping at D.I. with Nicolette.
15:       Steph’s last day of work before maternity leave, ice cream and a movie.
22:       Elison’s B-day party
29:       Baby watch for Chubbs the 2nd

5:         Hung out with Nicolette and new baby Edwin, went to cheese shop.
12:       Reading at Festival of the Arts for FROM SAC, birthday dinner with my parents
19:       Supposed to decorate Easter eggs and making Easter cookies, but Katherine got sick on Friday with a 103 degree fever (Dr. said she had Hand Foot and Mouth disease), so Steph worked on Katherine’s Easter dress, I worked on my tree sculpture, and spent most of the day taking care of Katherine.
26:       Had lunch at Pizza Factory with Bay and Shawn, then Beth and Jon went to Pyronauts concert in Auburn to kick off their European tour in July

3:         Dinner and a movie with Jared Joyner and Beth at Jared’s place (because Lindsey was out of town). Watched TMNT 3, which is one of the worst movies of all time, we came to find out that night. Had cinnamon roll waffles for dessert.
10:       Hanging out with Bay and Shawn in Yerington, Nevada
17:       Hung out with Andrew Neilsen and Nicolette
24:       Photographed Heather and Brent’s wedding, Jon had a Copilot book release, then we hung out at the Barnett's where Steph helped Kelly cut out a dress pattern and we ate Chinese food
31:       Camping in Plumas with Weber's, Taylor's, and VanWagenen's (Friday to Monday)

7:         Craft Fair at Safe Credit Union in Antelope, Steph and children at Michelle O’Keefe’s baby shower for boy #2, Shakespeare in the Park in Auburn (Twelfth Night)
14:       Books, books, books! Went through all our books and organized them
21:       Repacked kitchen stuff and hung out with Andrew Neilsen
28:       Loomis Community Garage Sale

5:         Nancy Bailey’s 59th birthday bash. Got pizza from Big Daddy’s Pizza in Rocklin (Hawaiian, Chicken and Tomato, and Combo). Jon made a sweet chocolate cake, and Steph got her a super cool Disney keychain from Etsy (Briar Rose dancing with Owl dressed as Prince Philip)
12:       Santa Cruz with the Kester's. Went to Mystery Spot, but it was full so we didn’t get to see the awesome weirdness. Hung out at the boardwalk and beach for the day, WAY too many people all over. We all got a little sunburned.
19:       Took photos around Loomis of all the things that we wanted to remember, then took some awesome sunset photos at the top of Sierra College
26:       Fun photo shoot with Woody and the Wife (Steph and Woody dressed up in fancy/neo-Victorian clothing). Went up to Griffith Quarry for photo shoot, then Steph got sick so we took her home, then headed out off of Rippey to get some pictures with the dilapidated buildings there.

2:         Katherine’s 2nd birthday party/ going away party at Loomis Basin Park South
9:         Mary and Evan’s wedding up in Auburn at a golf course.
16:       Toured BYU-I with Summer and Riley, then headed out to Big Judd’s for lunch.
23:       Drove out to Pocatello to hang out with Lynsi Barfus, had awesome breakfast, then checked out the Museum of Clean. Had lunch at Rumbi Island Grill, then did grocery shopping at WinCo in Idaho Falls (where we proceeded to drive around far too much because we didn’t know where we were going)
30:       Jon started job at Porter’s in Rexburg, went to celebrate after work at Sammy’s, but they were closed, so we ended up getting frozen custard at Neilsen’s (Steph got the flavor of the day [Lemon] with strawberries, Jon got chocolate with marshmallow and graham cracker)

6:         Drove down to Pocatello to pick up an antique Underwood typewriter (any from 1903 to 1924 in age). We were supposed to meet up with Lynsi Barfus, but she ended up getting called into work, so we met her at work (Red Lobster) and had dinner, where she was our server.
13:       Steph has BYU-I orientation stuff and Jon flies to California for Papa Mo’s funeral
20:       Pizza at Pizza Pie CafĂ© with the Rohde’s and then movie night with the Jackson's (we watched Vivacious Lady which was hilarious); then: Steph helped get Jon's dinner prep going for him when he got home (she needed to do homework, so he was going to make my dinner). She turned on the stove to get the oil boiling for Jon to make French fries. She told him the oil was on. He did nothing. He was updating his blog. Then she asked if it smelled like the oil is burning, he told her no. When he finished with the blog, he got up to start dinner, and there were billows of smoke coming out of the pot. And within seconds fire erupted out of the top of the pot. He tried putting it out a few times with a towel, but the oil kept relighting (it was off the heat), so he took it outside, where the flame started up again. The whole time the smoke detectors were going off, while Steph was trying to stop those. When she saw the fire outside in the pot, she thought to throw flour on it to put it out, which just caused it to explode in flame. Once the alarms were off, but the fire was still a problem, Steph got the kids out of the apartment because of all the smoke, and Jon cleaned up my mess. She and kids hung out in the car while she did homework.  Then, we went and got Taco Bell for dinner, and ate our food up at the temple. The night finished with pie and Once Upon A Time.
27:       Jon worked from 11-8pm for Porter’s big Fall Open House, and Steph stayed home with the childrens trying to do homework, which didn’t happen.

4:         Went up to the apple orchard at BYU-I to pick apples, but Steph forgot her wallet (they only take check or I-card), so instead we walked through the gardens and made fun of all the people taking pictures.
11:       We did nothing. Jon worked, and then Steph thought it would be a good idea to go to the adult session of Stake Conference with the children. Turns out, it was terrible and made no sense and we could have just stayed home and decorated for Halloween. But we didn’t.
18:       Jon worked, and Steph brought the kids to meet Jon for lunch at Millhollow (first time going there). After Jon got off work, it was movie night, but Steph had too much homework, so Jon took Katherine to the movie (Suspicion), and Steph stayed home to do homework.
25: Probably prepped for Halloween, but I can't even remember because school is melting my brain.

November - um . . . school school school. We missed a few Saturdays by accident :( I'm sure there were movie nights and possibly a date to the Cocoa Lodge in there somewhere. Didn't we watch The Innocents? I think yes.
1: We did nothing, Jon worked. We totally forgot to plan something
8: Move night with the Jacksons. A lot of other people showed up to this movie night, that was cool. We watch Some Like it Hot!
15: We did nothing, forgot to plan something, again. Jon worked.
22: Decorated for Christmas in the morning before Jon went to work.
29: Jon work in the morning, then the family made caramels and fudge (after dinner, of course).

6:         Jon went to work during the day, after work went to movie night hosted by the Jackson's to watch the movie It Happened on Fifth Avenue.
13:       Jon went to work, then we planned to make caramels and fudge. When Jon got home Steph was having a bit of a breakdown, so he made dinner for Steph and Katherine (he didn’t want to eat because he ate half a large pizza at work . . .) When everything was calm, the family started to make the caramels and realized they didn’t have a candy thermometer, so Jon and Katherine went to Porter’s and picked one up. And then to Broulim’s to get another pint of Half and Half so they could make a second batch of caramels for friends and such. It was wonderful.
20: After Jon got off work at 5:00, the family drove out to Idaho Falls to the Teton Mall to continue a long forgotten Alston tradition. We went to Hickory Farms to get cheese dip and crackers for Christmas Eve.
27: Went on a date to see Interstellar

Note: no Christmas cards were sent out this year due to Steph almost blowing away in the wind from school brain erosion.
See ya, 2014!!
Next stop: Jon announces our 2015 family theme this coming week :)

Thanks for following our Alston family adventures. We love you guys.