Monday, January 28, 2013

New Year's Eve

 For New Year's Eve, we spent the night up at temple square admiring the beautiful Christmas lights! We hadn't seen them yet for the season so we decided that we better go see them on the last night before they took them down. It is so beautiful and peaceful there. I love the temple at night with the lights shining on it. I also ran into some dear friends from my mission that night! Jared and Heather Conley, from Lebanon, NH were there with their family. It was so good to run into them. Last time I saw them they had two kids. Now they have doubled their number and have four! How time flies!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wedding Time!

Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Hembree..... 
Over the Christmas break, Nate and I attended Tim and Sandy's wedding. They got married on December 29th, in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. Sandy's mom was able to fly up from Mexico and be there on their special day. Since Sandy speaks Spanish and is learning English, the temple sealer did the ceremony in both Spanish and English. He would say some parts in Spanish and then he would say the same thing over again in English. This took place throughout the whole ceremony. It was very sweet. There were English and Spanish speakers in the audience, so doing it that way made everyone feel apart of the ceremony. They even got married twice.....once in English and once in Spanish. The sealer said after the English wedding was over, "Ok, now you can kiss in English!" It was a really special and so different than any wedding that I have been too.

It was freezing outside that day so we took pictures quickly and then hurried to get back inside. I felt bad for Sandy being out in the cold without a coat to keep her warm, especially being from Mexico and being used to the hot temperatures! She looked absolutely beautiful that day, stunning. They looked so happy together and Nate and I were glad that we got to be there to support them.

The reception was at a reception center in Bountiful. It looked gorgeous. We had a dinner and then a dance afterwards. We had lots of fun! Here are some pictures of the fun night.......

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mini Mission Reunion

A couple of days after we got back from Coeur d'Alene for Christmas, I went to a mini mission reunion. Sister Roberts, (Jenaya, my mission mom) let me know that the Strouts were going to be in Utah. President and Sister Strout were in our ward in Newport, Maine, and President Strout was our branch president. Newport was my first area on my mission so it is still very dear to me. I served there for 6 months and loved every second of it. The Strouts still live in Maine but were in Utah visiting their son and daughter in law, and celebrating their grandson's 1st birthday. It was so fun to see them. We met up at Rumbi Grill in Sandy and had a great time. It was also so fun to see Sister Roberts, Sister Sackett, Sister Sackett's new baby, Sister Peterson, and her husband to be. Sister Sackett, Sister Roberts and I all served together in Newport as a trio for 4 weeks. Another sister in the mission had to go home early because of extreme headache problems so then Sister Sackett moved to Yarmouth Maine, and left Sister Roberts and I as a duo, finishing up the last 2 weeks of the transfer together.

After the luncheon was over it got me thinking back to my mission, reliving all of the memories....sad memories, homesick memories, happy memories, scary memories, uplifting life changing memories, tired cold and lonely memories, hard working memories, sacred memories. My mission was such a life changing experience for me and I am so glad that I got the chance in my life to serve. I know that women aren't required to serve a mission, but I feel so blessed that my life led me to that path and I was given that opportunity to serve because it changed me for the better.

It also got me thinking to how much people have changed......Sister Roberts, Sister Sackett and I are all married, and Sister Sackett has a baby! We all have real jobs and real college degrees....we are so grown up now. :) Crazy how life changes so fast and passes us by so quickly. Even though I love my life now and am glad to be married to Nate and teaching my darling 1st graders, I would love to go back to my mission days......the days when all you thought about was serving others. All you cared about was other people and if they listened to your message and made changes in their life for the better. Now life seems so selfish. Almost every decision we makes focuses on us and what makes us happy. For that reason, I miss my mission. I miss constantly feeling the spirit and helping others all day long. I miss that warm comforting feeling constantly in my life.

I hope all girls that have the opportunity to serve a mission will take advantage of it! It is the best thing that you could do for others and for yourself. Yes, it is scary and very hard but so worth it. I loved my mission and all the people that I met in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. They will forever be in my heart and apart of me. :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sister Photo Shoot

 It isn't very often that all four of the young girls are together at one time. It happens about once or twice a year. Christmas Eve was one of those rare occasions. So we decided we wanted to take some sister pictures to celebrate the occasion. :)

It is funny how we all look so different with completely different colors of hair, but we all come from the same two least that is what we have been told our whole lives.....but some people wonder. :) All our names start with the same letter too- M. Marissa, Mindy, Marianna and Mikelle.

 Snowball fight!

 Kenzie and Kiley were watching us the whole time and wanted to join in on the fun...
I love my sisters!

A Christmas Surprise!

So it was Wednesday the 19th of December at 1:15. The bell rang at school and I was doing my usual clean up and prep. It was the last day of school before Christmas break. I felt a huge sense of relief knowing that I had a long break ahead of me of sleeping in, and relaxing. Since we went to Coeur d'Alene for Thanksgiving this year it was our turn to stay in Utah and go to Nate's family's house for Christmas. Even though it made me sad thinking about all of my family together for Christmas without me, I was at peace with staying in Utah and excited to spend it with Nate's family. 

Since we are sharing a car right now, Nate picked me up from school that day. We were going straight up to Layton where my in laws live to work on some Christmas stuff. On our way up, we decided to stop at In-In-Out for some lunch. As we were waiting in line at the drive through, Nate pulled out a card that had my name on it and told me that he had an early Christmas present for me. I had no clue what to think. It was a card that sang, "I've Got you Babe," when you opened it.  It had a hot dog and a bun on the front and talked about togetherness. On the card it said this:

"I got to thinking and felt like the best Christmas present I can give you is togetherness. This year I hope you enjoy being together with my family and your family! We start with an all expense paid 4 day ,5 night visit to beautiful Coeur d'Alene! Returning December 24th to spend 2 days, 1 night with my family in Layton, UT! Nothing says Christmas like family. I'm glad I got you babe to be in my family."

I was so touched by this that I started crying as I was reading it. I was just so happy! I felt like Nate was being so selfless by taking time away from his family so that I could go and see mine. I was shocked and so so excited. Even though we weren't staying for Christmas I was excited to at least get some time with them. I was beaming from ear to ear and couldn't imagine a better Christmas present!

After finishing up my parents and brother's Christmas presents that Nate made in Layton, we left for Coeur d'Alene. Nate had everything all packed and covered up with blankets in the back seat. We had a long drive ahead of us on the snowy roads but we made it through eventually. We got to CDA at 10AM. 
"Welcome to Idaho" sign on the Idaho/ Montana border
 My mom and dad knew that we were coming but my sisters had no clue. We walked into my mom's house and Missy, Crew, Kenzie, and Anna were there. They were shocked. Anna said, "What are you doing here??!!" It felt so great to be home. 

The first day home, my mom and I dipped chocolates together. She has done this for 30 years every Christmas and it is my favorite tradition. I love it. The flavors we made this year were: eggnog, fudge, mint fudge, salted carmels, butterfinger, cherry almond, orange, toasted coconut, macadamia nut, lemon, and peanut butter fudge. We dipped them all day. After they were done, we boxed them up and delivered them to friends in the ward and neighborhood. This is the final product:
One day for breakfast we had everyone over and Nate and I made our famous French crepes that we learned to make from eating so many crepes in France. We made mascarpone cheese filling to fill our crepes and also used Nutella, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Yum!
 I love the look on Swayzie's face in this picture. 

 Chandler told us that this was the best breakfast that he had ever had! I agreed. 
They were pretty dang good. I love French food. 
 A cute little messy face. 
 Nate is amazing at making things made out of wood. Before his mission he worked at the LDS church office building in Salt Lake City. He worked in the church history department and handled all the old architectural drawings of the Salt Lake and Nauvoo temple. He made a print of one from the Salt Lake temple and made a frame for it from scratch. He made an inner frame for it too and even had a plaque made with the name of the architect on it. He spent many hours on this present and lots of thought. He also made one for my brother Jeff and his family because we had their name this year for the sibling exchange. My parents loved it and my mom was so touched that she started crying. It really was so beautiful and made with love. I have a very talented husband. 
A tradition that we have in my family is to hold a Joseph Smith birthday party on December 23rd. It all started when my mom's parents served a mission in Nauvoo and they grew a deep love for the prophet. Since then they started this tradition and even though both of them have passed, we continue to hold this birthday party ever December 23rd. I love it. 

This year we had it at Missy's house. Missy and Bryan just built a beautiful new house right by Hayden Lake. It is a dream home with a playroom with monkey bars and swings and a slide that comes from the top level to the bottom level. It is the perfect party house! Missy prepared the program. I sang a solo and Kiley and Cam sang a duet. Missy spoke. We sang some group hymns. Then we gave each kid a small piece of cake with a candle in it and turned off the lights. Then we sang, "Happy Birthday dear Joseph." This is always kinda funny but I still love it. Missy made a yummy warm apple cake with whipped cream and gingersnaps. It was a fun night. 

Christmas Eve was the next big celebration. Nate and I had planned on driving back to Utah on Christmas Eve morning to get to Layton for Christmas Eve night. We even opened up our presents from mom and dad on Christmas Eve since we were leaving the next day. The roads were super bad and there were extreme weather alerts. So, we decided to stay for Christmas. :) We left back to Utah on the 27th when the roads were a little better. 

Christmas Eve:
My sister Mindy, Camron, Kiley and Cade....and her amazing rolls that she makes!

 The kids table- Crew, Cade, Collin, Chandler, Kiley, Kenzie and Chloe. 
Our yummy Christmas Eve dinner!
This was probably the best dinner that I have had in a long time. 
My mom made chicken cordon bleu, potatoes romanoff, cranberry pineapple jello salad, 
a yummy green salad and rolls. 
My beautiful sister Missy and her husband Bryan. 
 Swayzie, Kenzie and Crew in their matching Christmas pajamas. 
Kenzie and Swayzie's shirts say, "I love Santa." 

 After dinner we went to Valerie and Dan's house with all of my aunts, uncles and cousins. We had appetizers and desserts and then we settled down for our Nativity program. This year, Kenzie was our Mary and Collin was Joseph. Jesus was played by a doll. 
 Crew was a lamb and Kiley and Cade were shepherds. 
 Kiley sang a solo that night, I sang, "Mary Did You Know," Jen sang, "What Child is This?," and Dylan and Cassidy sang, "Silent Night," and also played a carol on their band instruments. 
 After the program we had a white elephant gift exchange. Nate and I decided to be little pranksters this year and bought a Beta fish at Petco! Nate put it in a box and wrapped it up with duck tape...lots of duct tape. It was really hard to open! Spencer was so excited when he pulled it out! I'm glad he was the one to get that gift!
 Our other gift was something that Nate found online. It is called, "Unicorn Meat." It looks for real on the outside of the can but when you open it up, it has a stuffed unicorn inside that is all chopped up into pieces. It is pretty funny. Aunt Val was the lucky winner of this gift!
 On Christmas morning, my mom, dad, Anna, Nate and I woke up early and headed over to Missy's to watch the kids open up presents. Santa brought them a karaoke machine! Kenzie loved singing along with her Taylor Swift songs. She got tons of Taylor Swift gifts and to top it all off, she got a ticket to her concert in Salt Lake in June!
 My mom and sister Anna. 

 Swayzie is just so cute, I can't help but do a photo shoot of her every time I see her!

 This is a picture of my precious dog Chloe. I got her in 7th grade. She is 14 years old but is still kicking. She doesn't have many years left. She has lost all of her hearing. I love this little puppy and will miss her when she is gone. A dog really is a person's best friend. 
So this was our Christmas. It really was the best Christmas ever. Nate did a pretty good job packing for me too. The only things he skimped out on a lot were the hair products and tools, but I just mostly did my hair up in a bun everyday. Good excuse not to do my hair. :) Mom said that that would be her worst nightmare to have dad pack for her for a trip! The only downfall was Nate got the stomach flu on the 26th and was home all day so he couldn't go shopping with us. I got sick the next day but only threw up once so it was quickly done and over with. 
Nate also brought up my Christmas present.....

When we were in London, we fell in love with the french cookies, french macaroons. We ate them like crazy in London and in France. In London, Nate bought me the Pierre Herme macaroon cookbook. I had never gotten around to making them. So for Christmas, Nate picked out a Christmas looking macaroon, raspberry white chocolate mint, and bought all of the ingredients for it. Now this isn't an easy task. He had to order some special white chocolate imported from France. He had to search for other ingredients like, ground almonds, special food colorings, fresh mint leaves, liquified egg whites, heavy cream that is 35% milk fat, creme de menthe, etc. He even bought me a macaroon baking sheet, 2 new high tech cookie sheets, a measuring scale because the whole recipe is in grams and ounces, a pastry brush, and a piping bag and piping nozzle.......and he also brought me my kitchen aide mixer from home and hid it in the back of the car so I could use it when I made them. He also bought little Christmas boxes to put the macaroons in to give out to people for gifts. He wrapped up each present for me and told me that they all go together. He had everything all thought out and ready for me to make them with my mom and then hand out to family on Christmas Eve. It was such a thoughtful gift. And they turned out great....
I of course wasn't prepared to give Nate his gifts because I didn't even know we were coming to CDA. So Nate had to wait to open his presents when we got back to Utah. 

It was probably one of the most memorable Christmases ever just because it was such a surprise. It was hard coming back home and getting into regular life again but all good things must come in an end. I can't wait till I get to see all of my family and beautiful Coeur d'Alene again!