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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.

You know you're in Spokane when the line to visit Santa Claus is only a few families deep or there's no line at all! Happy day! I love the magic of Christmas. And even though you're not supposed to take any pictures with personal cameras, I still did. Another thing about Spokane. People are so nice. Santa pointed to my camera and had the girls smile.

Happy Christmas from these two ragamuffins!

I made only a few Christmas gifts this year: a backpack for my nephew, Hudson Pants for two of my sister-in-laws, the dolls for the girls, American Girl doll dress for my nieces, and a quilt for my in-laws.

I love this quilt! It turned out better than I wanted it to. It's so cheerful and bright and happy. I used a Pow-Wow quilt pattern. I used the corners to make the baby quilt for the school auction. My girls look so cute wrapped up in it, in my opinion.

For Holly, I helped Greta stamp polka dots on a skirt and then Greta helped me sew the elastic waist and the hem. It was so cute to see my girls exchange gifts. Holly has worn the skirt Holly made for her a lot - almost every day since Christmas. She really loves it! If I have the energy for handmade gifts between girls next year, I'm totally doing it!

Whenever we stay at our home base for Christmas, I always miss family. However, I love that we don't have anywhere to be. I love that we can take our time and open gifts at whatever pace we choose and just savor the moment. It's easier to do when I'm not thinking about where we need to be next. That being said, this balance of staying home sometimes and going to Canada other times is working for me. I always am so excited to go up and I can't wait for our next Canadian Christmas. I look forward to both ways!

We took our sweet time on Christmas morning. I made Baked Oatmeal for breakfast and I can't wait to make it again - it was delicious! We played with toys as we opened them... facetimed with family, ate lots of treats (that's all Greta ate!) and just hung out. I'm not sure that there was anything that stood out all too much from this Christmas, but it was a relaxing, easy day that we truly spent together. And that was a gift in and of itself.

Extra bonus, the girls liked the dolls I made them! Holly thanked me over and over again and has proudly shown the doll to everyone possible. And if she hasn't had her doll to show, she's told people all about it! Makes my heart swell.

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