Yesterday, Greta turned 5 and I swear, she’s looking taller and older today than she did yesterday. I think she’s constantly this chubby little one year old in my mind, so when I really look at her and see that she’s not a chubby one year old, it’s a little bit of a “oh! what happened?” Greta was extremely excited for her birthday, so much so that she experienced some birthday blues in the afternoon of her birthday. Like full on crying for an hour. Conor was a champ with all those five year old feelings.

The day before her birthday, we went to a play at the local children’s theater. Greta invited a friend. It was cute and fun and totally my style of birthday parties. On her birthday she opened up gifts and I made her requested meals. It was an enjoyable weekend!

I love this little girl! I’m happy she’s growing and she’s healthy but I’m sure sad that she’s 5 and kindergarten is just around the corner. I’m going to miss my little buddy.

January has felt kind of blah and stressful. The grey skies are killing me! Must pick up more houseplants! We’ll be painting in the next few weeks to cheer things up inside the house. The girls are as cute and spunky as ever even when they have colds. Holly has begun reading to Greta without even being asked to! Every now and then we tell them to read books to each other but it just about melts my heart to see them snuggled up on the couch reading together all on their own. I’ve said it so many times, these girls have something really special. Greta went to a superhero birthday party and I had to capture a pic of how adorable she was. And then it was worth being a little bit late to Stake Conference to catch these pictures of my darlings. And, the last picture is of Holly. She thinks that it’s crazy hair day at school day. Whether it is or not, the kids got crazy hair! I like her hair short but sometimes I miss seeing her full face.

Looking forward to spring, planting a garden, some travel, hopefully some house guests, making some house projects happen, Greta’s 5th birthday (gasp!)… Lots to look forward to and honestly, lots to enjoy right now. Sometimes I too easily forget how good I have it.

I feel like we were so richly blessed this Christmas. It was such a wonderful treat and blessing to have Cathy and Jim here for Christmas. It was the best time we’ve spent together ever! It was really, really special. We also had Yu Yi here, a friend of Conor’s from Scotland. Conor baptized Yu Yi 10 years ago and it was such a pleasure to have him as a guest in our home. I love having friends and family in our home. It is so sweet.

As we enter 2016, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by some of the things Conor and I are choosing to do next year. We’re starting a slow carb diet in January and in February we’re beginning 6 months of not spending any extra money. The idea with that is to not purchase anything extra, with a very few exceptions such as shoes and clothing for our growing children. No art, no furniture, no clothing for Conor and I, nothing. I think it’s going to be a great experience. I hope to feel more gratitude for what I have, but it’s going to be a little tough. Spending money is very habitual for me. There’s some house things I’d like to tackle this year (like that lawn and a garden), and we would love to grow our family. I feel like I’m starting 2016 with a lot of emotion right on the surface!

So! It’s good for me to choose gratitude! I’m so grateful for this past Christmas and it’s bounty. I’m grateful for the gifts we were able to give to friends and family as well as to those in need. I’m grateful to have had loved ones in my home. I’m grateful I got to spend another Christmas with two beautiful, healthy daughters and a husband that loves me. I’m grateful for our wonderful home. I miss California something fierce, but I am so grateful that we live closer to family. Seeing family has strengthened bonds in a way that I really needed. I look forward to 2016 with as much hope and courage as I can muster. I’m going to try my best to keep my chin up and work on changing my heart.

Photographs always help me to be happy. I love the memories that they capture. Here are some of my favorite photos from Christmas. And many wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, lovely 2016.

This Christmas, we had the special privilege of playing hosts to Conor’s parents and to Conor’s friend from Scotland. It was a really fun week. So many wonderful activities and memories were made last week, but one of my favorites was finally riding the Looff Carousel at Riverfront Park. It was really fun! I have a soft spot for carousels (seriously, baby Greta on a carousel is a memory I love), but everyone enjoyed this activity. I can see the girls and I coming for a couple of rounds on the carousel and then playing at the splash pad in the summer. If you’re coming to visit us anytime soon, we’ll probably take you for a carousel ride.

My family’s favorite thing to do at Christmas… bake Swedish gingerbread cookies! We usually only make them once a year on Christmas Eve, but this year we decided that wasn’t enough and we made them last week. We’ll bake up some more on the Eve. We love to package these cookies up to deliver to friends and neighbors. At dinnertime, I told Greta she would have to stay home if she didn’t eat her dinner. She looked at me squarely and replied evenly, “I’ll play with all my toys and make a big mess.” Conor and I both were unable to contain our laughter. She’s a handful!

And a happy little Christmas scene on our mantle. I wish Christmas could last year round!

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