Sunday, December 17, 2017

San Francisco Weekend

Stephen's best friend Clayton was getting married in Oakland in December and there was no way we were going to miss it. He and his fiancee (then girlfriend) Alicia had visited us a few months before getting engaged when they were in town for her friend's wedding and we were SO excited when we found out they were engaged. They just make one truly incredible couple. 
So we hatched a plan to get there. We drove to Vegas the night of the 14th. We got there pretty late and all crashed in Jon and Kacey's guest room. Since Rory had slept the whole drive she was all sorts of confused when we woke her up to take her out of the car and then tried to put her back to sleep again. She cried and screamed and cried and I did everything possible to keep her quiet as we were in the middle of the entire sleeping Nielsen family. Eventually, she fell asleep lying next to me in the bed, but I was worried about her sleeping like that and ultimately Stephen and I got very little sleep that night. In the morning, Kacey dropped us off at the airport after dropping off her kids at school. She really is the coolest. 
I know I've said it before, but nothing makes me feel fancier than flying without Rory. After a few shows for me and a nap for Stephen we were landing in Oakland before we knew it. Wesley, one of Stephen's roommates from BYU, picked us up from the airport to take us to Clayt's surprise bachelor party, an IMAX 3D showing of the new Star Wars movie, Stephen and I were still tired from the night before and STARVING by this point so we ordered a giant popcorn and a soda for the movie. The popcorn was pretty gross (which I feel blasphemous saying as I am someone who LOVES movie theater popcorn, but it really was. Old and not enough slat and butter.) but we were so hungry we ate it all anyways and made ourselves sick for the rest of the day. 
That night Clayton and Alicia had their reception at a cute little annex behind one of the church buildings. There was dancing, delicious food, A DONUT WALL, and lots of great company so all around a perfect night. The party was still going strong and Stephen and I were both exhausted, so we decided to get an uber to take us to the hotel and peace out a little early. Right as we had confirmed our drive, who was five minutes away, we hear the DJ announce that this was the last song because they would be doing the bride and groom send off in five minutes. Stephen and I panicked at our poor timing, and hurriedly pulled our bags up to the curb of the main street so we could cut him off before he could pull into the pick up point and disrupt Clayt and Alicia's send off. We watched for him nervously as sparklers were lit and the getaway car for the couple was prepared. We finally see his car, and despite our frantic waving, he blows right past us and heads right toward the annex where Clayt and Alicia have just begun their departure. We begin chasing after him with all our luggage, trying to catch him before he completely disrupts the party (and ruins their pictures and videos forever) and we are screaming his name, "Mubashir! Mubashir!" He finally turns perpendicular to the getaway car (now blocking their exit) and we quickly throw our bags in his trunk, jump in the car, and yell, "Drive!" He managed to pull away just in time, and the happy couple was able to make their exit, none the wiser. Stephen and I laughed about it for the rest of the evening. 

The next day we slept in late (hallelujah) and then decided to walk to a bakery nearby for breakfast before we had to leave for the temple. It turns out our hotel was a block away from Chinatown so as we approached the bakery and we were the only non-Asians in sight, we had a feeling it may not be a typical bakery experience. They were very nice and the food we got was completely edible, but it was another experience that made us laugh. Wesley came and picked us up for the temple and even played our chauffeur for the rest of the day. It was a beautiful ceremony and because it was so well attended I ended up having to sit on Stephen's lap. That's what I call a win-win. That night they had a gorgeous dinner for family and close friends at the Marriot tower. There were a lot of lovely tributes shared and it was so wonderful to hear again and again how much Alicia and Clayton truly deserve each other. I have to say, my favorite part of the evening was when Clayt's mother shared that she remembered being at our wedding and seeing how happy Stephen was and she said to herself that she just wanted Clayt to find someone who made him feel that same happiness- totally made me cry. Also the cheesecake was my other favorite part. 

On Sunday we took a late flight out so that we would have at least a little time to explore the city. Stephen and I are both a little anxious travelers, and we are used to being followers in family vacations, not leaders, so this was a very big step for us to go out on our own and explore with little to no planning. We bought a metro card for the day and made our way to pier 39. We explored the shops, ate some yummy food, and most importantly did not get lost! We loved watching the seals, despite the smell, and of all the things we had done during the weekend that one was what made us miss Rory the most. Stephen kept saying, "We have to bring Rory back here! She will love those seals!" We managed to see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge in the background, so we took some  pictures and called it good. We made it back into Oakland with plenty of time before our flight, but like I said we are anxious travelers so it was probably for the best.

Yes, I made Stephen take TWO pictures of me with my edible cookie dough dessert, it was that important to me.
It was the perfect little getaway and the best part of all was that it was just a kick off to our Holiday break and we didn't even have to go back to reality when we got home! Yay escapism! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December 2017

We kicked off December with our ward Christmas party. We had a delicious french toast breakfast, heard a story about the true meaning of Christmas, and then forced our child to sit on a stranger's lap. It was an all around lovely morning! I must be a terrible mother, because this picture of Rory makes me laugh every time. She's not even reaching for us, just pleading for Stephen to save her with her eyes. 
Stephen has been working out his best grilling methods and I rarely buy him anything but hot dogs to grill because I am so cheap, but he finally had some real meat to cook and he killed it. 
I turned 26 on the 6th and had one of my best birthdays ever. Rory and I had cookies for breakfast, and then proceeded to shop and collect free food all day long. My sweet in-laws sent me a gorgeous bouquet and chocolates and Stephen came home with more chocolate after a long day of work. It was awesome. 
We got to have a fun night out with a group of friends to go see the temple lights. After checking them out, we put the kids to bed and decorated gingerbread houses at our house. I was particularly proud of my gingerbread rendition of our house. 

 Stephen also had his holiday work party at the new aquarium. There was tons of delicious food, a photo booth, a little bit of dancing, and a live, tiny penguin just walking around like he owned the place. I sat around and laughed at his coworkers who abused the open bar, while I did the equivalent with the never-ending dinner entree options. And then they brought out a whole cart of donuts and flavored milk and it was game over. It is a wonder that Stephen ever brings me anywhere at all.

Stephen took an extra long break from work, so we would have from December 14- January 2 to just hang out and celebrate the holidays. I was so excited, but since we were traveling the whole time it meant that I had to have everything ready for Christmas by the 13th. You should have seen our neighbors faces when we delivered Christmas treats on December 4th (so yay, they think we are friendly but they probably also think we are a little insane...) These are the gifts I made for the Marsh grandkids this year. For all the babies (Rory, Siena, Samara, and Tanner) I made these matching headbands/ bowties. I was SO proud of how they turned out. I found the idea for these unicorn sleeping masks on pinterest and went back and forth about whether Sydney, Madi, and Kenz would love them or think they were lame... so I paired them with tons of Skittles and these cupcake bath bombs I found at Wal Mart for $1. They were a total success and turned out SO cute. Probably my best gift was the fluffy Santa slime I made for Jackson and Cooper, but I had to make that the night before Christmas and totally forgot to take a picture. The boys LOVED it and it was actually really cool to make.
Besides that we just spent a lot of time hanging out with Rory to get ready to leave her with the Nielsens for two whole days!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

For Thanksgiving this year Stephen got to take the whole week off. It was an Earl Thanksgiving, but my parents would be getting back from two weeks in Italy a few days before the holiday so they told us they wouldn't be traveling anywhere. At some point, Kacey offered her house for the meal and since it was much closer for most of us we all ran with the idea. My parents couldn't get over the idea of ALL of their children hanging out together without them and so at the last minute they bought a flight to Las Vegas that would get them there Thursday morning. 

With the whole week off, Stephen, Rory, and I headed up first to St George to spend time with his parents and Nate's family. There was a lot of golfing for Stephen and Rory and I got to hang out and relax. We took Rory to the new puppy store and I'm not sure who loved it more- Rory or Poppap. For some reason I took zero pictures, but needless to say, we had a great couple of days. 

On Wednesday morning we drove back to Las Vegas to join my family. Kacey had found an Air BNB just a few streets down from her house and between the two houses there were plenty of places for people to sleep. Stephen and I got the bunk bed room, and I think Stephen would have actually been genuinely excited about the arrangement if the beds had just been a tad bigger. 

In preparation for everyone being together, I had spent hours making matching headbands for the girl cousins because, once again, I have zero chill. They were adorable and it was time well spent. I was in charge of dinner on Wednesday night with Courtney and we made Lasagna and homemade french bread. And yes, I felt like a big freaking deal when that bread actually turned out. We spent Wednesday night baking, totaling 19 pies, just enough for one per person. 

Thursday was all a hazy blur of a crowded kitchen, needing pans and utensils faster than we can wash them, and trying to organize baby nap schedules. Kacey killed it with TWO turkeys, two different kinds of sweet potatoes (both incredible), delicious Charla rolls, and... I'm sure there were vegetables there too but I can't say that I paid them much attention. I was put in charge of the mashed potatoes and in all honesty I did just ok. But they were passable and, when paired with Kacey's gravy, even delicious. It was an awesome meal and Rory enjoyed everything she ate. Oh stuffing! How could I forget? The stuffing was spot on. And pomegranate salad of course. What Thanksgiving is complete without pomegranate salad?

That night we got the Anderson girls from Kacey's ward - who had also eaten with us earlier in the day- to come over and watch all the babies while we all went out for some good ole puzzle-rooming. Yes, my family has an addiction. Can't stop, won't stop. Stephen and I were at the other house putting Rory down when team captains were chosen (the singles- Kendall, Bryan, and Scarlet) and the teams were picked from there. Stephen and I ended up on the dream team with Kristy and Kendall. And then Trevor insisted on coming along and things got instantly lamer. In all actuality Trevor is a genius and I secretly think they should make a show where they put Trevor in a puzzle room by himself, make him talk through his thinking process, and record the whole thing. Kendall, Kristy, and I were way too casual with our handling of the clues for Stephen and Trevor's liking, but we made it out alive in the end anyways. It was a murder mystery on a train and it was super fun. The other teams each did a different room and a joyous time was had by all. 

I don't remember all of our activities over the next couple of days, but I do know there was a lot of Codename playing. On Friday we went out to the red rocks to film an adoption video for Kristy and Trevor. The outfits were varying degrees of appropriate and the children were varying degrees of cooperative. 

It was fun to watch Rory with the other babies, but I was surprised by how much she wanted to be off doing her own thing. I had pictured her wanting to be in the vicinity of the older kids the entire time so she could watch them play, like she does in public places. But instead, all the kids would be jumping on the trampoline and Rory would be wandering the empty side of the backyard, roaming and discovering on her own. She is definitely part Stephen. But the other half of the time she was hug/tackle/kiss/biting her cousins till they cried, so she is definitely part me as well. 

On Sunday, this champion of a baby made the drive back to Gilbert with a stylish 'do and all! We were all happy to have had such a wonderful break together!