Last Sunrise of 2017

We decided to get up very early on the last day of the year to watch the sunrise together.  I did this as a child with my dad and it always remained a special memory.
It has now become a favorite time for my family.  The kids were all so excited to drive off road in the dark to our spot.  We climbed up on top of the Jeep where we bundled up in coats, hats, and sleeping bags.
Cuddled together we sipped hot chocolate with marshmallows and waited for the first orange glimpse on the horizon.  We marveled at the array of colors and God's masterpiece.  It was a particularly good sunrise with the clouds catching many hues.
I truly can not think of a better way to say good bye to 2017 than being together from the time the sunrises until the clock turns to 2018!


For Christmas this year our best friends and we decided instead of getting each other gifts we would go on a fun double date.  We went to dinner and then to paintball!
It was interesting.  It was fun but also hurt like heck when you got hit.  Both Max and I ended up with a handful of big, round bruises on our bodies.  Bill surprised us and dressed up as Rudolf.  I think we could have fun no matter what with these two.  I can officially check paintball off my list!  Once is more than enough.  We are looking forward to more wild and crazy adventures with Bill and Aimee in 2018.

Christmas Merry Making

Holly returned for another Christmas season of hiding all over the house and occasionally leaving messes and surprises!
She TPed the tree and family room, wrapped the toilet, and dyed the milk green.
Sometimes I think she is related to Chucky.  She scared me one morning when I found her in the cereal box!
It is no secret that I hate the kids are growing up.  Everyone has so much going on with school and sports it is hard to find down time for everyone at the same time.  This year just Max, Hank and I cuddled up to watch Polar Express. :(
Hailey and Mrs. Rose delivered candy canes to the neighbors with the horses and donkeys.  It brings such joy to the neighborhood!
 We usually go up to the Mogollon Rim to cut down our Christmas tree to make our wreath over the Thanksgiving break.  However, Max had injured his back so badly in our flag football game that he couldn't handle the drive up the mountain. 
  It was impossible to figure out a day that everyone could make it.  This is the first year Hailey missed the annual tree cutting.  She had church obligations.  It just wasn't the same without her. :(
But we did have a nice time drinking hot chocolate and being cold even though there was no snow.
After stomping around the forest we found our tree.  Each of the kids took a turn sawing it down.
Kaitlin and Hank carried it back for us.
When we got home we assembled our wreath.
One of our traditions since moving to AZ is to celebrate Christmas at the Princess!
This year we decided to go on a Monday night.  It was awesome!  There were no crowds and we could walk up and ride the rides as many times as we wanted.
Polar ice slide, carousel, and a merry go round made for a fun start to the night.  I even got a kiss at the top!
While the rides are fun and all, the thing we all love to do is ice-skate.
This year we had our friends meet us there.  Karlie seemed preoccupied...  Can't imagine why.  Hank kept hanging out with the big boys like a great little brother will do.
Autumn and Kaitlin were so cute together.
Hailey didn't have a buddy which meant we got her all to ourselves!
Christmas at the Princess is always a special night for our family.
I am indeed a naughty elf.  Our weekends are so busy that we were not going to have time to make our gingerbread houses or watch Rudolf.  I was not going to have that.  So I picked all the kids up at lunchtime on a Friday afternoon and we played hooky to have a little more Christmas togetherness.
Unfortunately I couldn't spring Max from work but we have never laughed so much putting our gingerbread houses together.  It was a great afternoon and I am thinking I may have to make this a new tradition.
There is something so wonderful about playing with the train under the tree.  Even Siri wanted to partake.
It is strange having only one class party to run.  I got to go have lunch with Hank after his party.  I love it that he still wants me to be with him.  Whenever I come on campus he runs and gives me a huge hug.  I hope he stays a mama's boy forever.

Another tradition Hailey and I have is to go on a finals stress eating date.  Hailey has really been focusing on her diet and exercise and had already had a doughnut that day so she wanted a sandwich instead of our usually Cinnabon treat.  I cherish these dates.  Only 3 more until she is off to college!
We managed to squeeze in sugar cookies for Santa late one night.  I am a huge fan of the premade icing from Wilton.  It makes it so easy to create beautiful cookies.
Another Christmas time tradition thanks to Disney, is seeing the new Star Wars!  We didn't manage to see it until the day after Christmas this year but it was still fun.  In and Out is always a treat.  While trying to coordinate every all the schedules to fit into the activities we do at Christmas time is a challenge, it is worth it for all the special memories we create together.

Merry Christmas!

Santa was very good to the kids this year!  Blessings of all sorts overflowed the tree and our hearts.
One of the things Hailey most looks forward to is her stocking that is full of daily treats like mascara, deodorant, socks and undies. :)
Hmmm.  Santa got everyone organizers.  Maybe we can keep on track a little better this year!
While Hailey loved the daily essentials, Hank found them boring.  "Oh man, underwear!"  I guess he was expecting coal after opening his stocking.
We make the unwrapping last all morning.  There are no present piles.  They go in turn and select a gift from the tree and we all watch and enjoy it.
After a while everyone starts to get really hungry so we have to take a hot cocoa break.
No matter how big the Christmas, their favorite thing is to see each other open the gifts they have gotten for each other.  Karlie and Kaitlin went in to get Hailey a blow up couch for her car and they couldn't wait for her to try it out!
Hailey's favorite gift was a opal ring from us.
Karlie has become a full fledged teen and in love with all things from PINK, including bras.  It was the PINK Christmas for Karlie.
Kaitlin was so happy to get a bunch of squishes and slime supplies.
Hank thought he might have gotten a Nimbus 2000 from Harry Potter but it was actually a lacrosse stick.  He got all the gear for his new sport.
He has always loved to dress up and now he gets to dress up like a warrior and is thrilled, sure hope he likes playing lacrosse!
Along with lacrosse gear he was so excited to get Nerf Rival gear.  Hank is all boy!
This is my Super Bowl!  I love everything about Christmas.  The lights, the songs, the merry faces, the wonder, the anticipation, the gift giving, and the rejoicing of our savior coming into the flesh.  Plenty to cheers on Christmas morning, including my Santa baby.
Sparkle got our Christmas day party started with lights and all.  We had creamed eggs and stayed in our PJs most of the day.
Nana knit MKHKKH hats!  We are hoping to go play in the snow in the mountains, but it still has not snowed in the AZ mountains.  It seems it hasn't rained in Phoenix in 6 months.  Hopefully the New Year will bring some moisture.
We feasted on Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding.  What a wonderful day from start to finish!
Hank and Kaitlin snuggled up for one more last sleep by the Christmas tree.  Good night Christmas, I can't wait for you to wake up in 11 months.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve!
 Max made the cutest Christmas pancakes and Christmas circle cakes for breakfast.
Then we went and finished our 12 Days of Giving and cleaned up the desert.
 Every December I give the kids a new puzzle for their advent calendar and we work on it all season. We put the last piece in on Christmas Eve.  Everyone is so busy these days I was worried we wouldn't finish it in time, but everyone jumped in to finish the National Parks puzzle.
We hosted a Christmas Eve happy hour.  We had two of our closest family friends come over for some appetizers, Christmas Moscow Mules, and champagne before church.  Our one friend who does not regularly attend church, asked, "So you wear jeans to church and drink before going!?"  We might convert her yet! :)  All in all we had 16 head to church.  The Christmas Eve service is always so special.  I love lighting the candles in the dark as we sing Silent Night.  It was extra special to be surrounded by friends who are like family.
 Our pastor has a tradition of eating pizza by the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  I proposed a change in our tradition of having crab legs on Christmas Eve and switching to the easier, less mess and production pizza by the tree.  There was practically a revolt with the charge led by Karlie!
She was not having any of it!  She was upset for days about the possible change.  After seeing how important the fancy meal was to her, I gave in and we went all out as usual!
 Karlie set the table all by herself and offered to do the lion's share of the dishes so long as we could maintain our fancy Christmas Eve dinner tradition.
 It was so much better than pizza!  Apparently that tradition is not up for modification.
 Another MKHKKH tradition is opening matching family PJ's on Christmas Eve.  These were my favorite ones yet.  They were saguaro cactus decorated with lights and Santa hats!  I don't think there is a more perfect pair for this desert loving family.
With full bellies and comfy jammies, it was time to head to bed so Santa could get to work!