Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Christmas time is here...

Alright, lets get this going! Christmas is next!

Aaron and I returned home from Mexico on a Saturday, late at night, so Sunday was a full day free to get into the Christmas spirit! It is difficult to go from the tropical temperatures and sandy beaches of Mexico to a rainy wintery December day in Phoenix... but I was ready. It was breaking my heart to not fully deck our little home with Christmas decor and holiday spells!

So we woke up Sunday morning and first stop was breakfast and Christmas Tree hunting!

We had breakfast near our house at the always delicious Vovomeena! If you have not eaten here in Phoenix, check it out! Their biscuits and bacon are my favorite!

After breakfast we headed straight over to Home Depot & Lowes to check out their selection. I have not had a real Christmas Tree at Christmas since I was very young. My family got a fake tree when I was about 5 years old, and ever since then we have had the fake tree. Aaron's family grew up with real trees... and while there are pros and cons to both, I was excited most have my house smell like a Christmas Tree!

We finally settled on this little beauty!

We got it home and started decorating! We had decorated my parents' Christmas tree before we left for Mexico and Aaron had marveled at how my dad could string Christmas lights on a tree like no one else. Believing it was a genetic gift and that I had the same talent my nature, he entrusted me to light our tree!

Aaron and I had quite a fun time getting out all our holiday stuff and combining it! I had two strands of lights that blinked and twinkled and he had 2 strands that shone without blinking... so we put all four on the tree!

In the back of the above picture, you can see the fireplace decor... brand new stockings from Target (Aaron's was red and mine is white). My mom had given me flannel stuffed letters for my birthday (A & M) and so we tied them to the stockings. On the mantel you can also see my beginning collection of Christmas Trees. My sister in law Nicole has an AMAZING collection and I hope to one day have some like hers with all different colors.

The tree took an afternoon of ornament decorating and then the following night we made a popcorn and cranberry garland to wrap around it and it was done :) I have never made a popcorn & cranberry garland and it was super fun! Maybe a new tradition?
And what holiday movie did we watch as we decorated our tree? The Avengers... ok not Christmasy, but still AWESOME!

The finished product!

Christmas time is officially here!

My family also gets together before Christmas to decorate Christmas cookies!! We had a facebook contest this year about who's cookie was best:

From top left: 1.)Shawn's "The Cruncher" (basically frosting and every sprinkle that can fit on the frosting and topped with more frosting; 2.) Tyler's "The Patriot Mitten"; 3.) My "Sparkly Candy Cane"; 4.) Aaron's "contrast Candy Cane". - Seriously the Mertz family did not bring our "A" game... aside from the awesome photo bomb by Aaron.

In reality the decorating was more for Emolyn and she was SO in the zone! She would decorate and eat all her creations with delight. Elsie on the other hand didn't understand why we needed to waste time putting the frosting on the cookie with style and so she would just throw some frosting on and chow down.
Fine family fun indeed :)

The weekend before Christmas Elisabeth and I went on our traditional Christmas lights tour! It is a self guided tour,  where we get neighborhood information off the web for our city and then drive around with warm drinks and Christmas music and look at lights.

This house was intense! so many lights!
While we were looking at the house above and taking pictures like the one below, a cop showed up at the house...  he rolled down his window and asked us if it was our house... feeling a bit nervous, Elisabeth and I said no. The cop then just looks at the house and says "its awesome! My partner and I are just driving around looking at lights." He then proceeds to talk about all the neighborhoods that have the best lights... nice to know our policemen are using their time wisely!

There were some pretty stellar neighborhoods this year. Some had movies showing in their drive way with seating, a popcorn machine, and hot drinks. Some houses had photo opportunities set up in their yard for visitors... like the one below.

Elisabeth and I made a promise a couple years ago that regardless of whether we were married or had kids, we would still carry on this tradition with each other with just the two of us... I love my time with Elisabeth!

Another Holiday tradition that was started this year was the "Kids Of Rice Night" or KORN as we affectionally started calling it. My parents for years have taken us to "Rice Night" which was started by friends of theirs - Steve and Grace. The premise of the night is for each couple or person to bring a holiday dish that they grew up eating at Christmas. The rice that gave the party its name, is slow cooked sweet rice with butter and cinnamon/sugar on top. My mom would always make Swedish Meatballs and other people would bring wonderful delicious food for the night and it was great! But this year Shawn and Nicole decided to start a party for all of us kids to use to go to Rice Night... so we gathered at Shawn and Nicole's house and brought food, ate Baja Fresh tacos and hung out! We joked about doing it again next year but trying to incorporate KORN stuff into it... no idea how this might play out, but I am excited for the tradition to keep going!
picture taken my Amy Lynch

The last thing we did to celebrate Christmas before the big day was take Emolyn ice skating!!!! This was actually Aaron's idea because he would see the Downtown Phoenix skating rink every day and thought it would be fun to take Emolyn. When we told Em what we were doing she very sweetly tells me, "Aunt Miranda, I think I know how to skate already." - haha... we'll see.

We took her to lunch at Chelsea's Kitchen across the rink and let Emolyn order herself what she wanted. She was so delighted that she got to order herself. After lunch we walked over and got our skates and got on the ice. You could tell from the moment Emolyn stood up in her skates that this was not what she had expected, but she was FANTASTIC! She was so brave and while we took a lot of breaks, she was willing to continue to get out on the ice and try it again. We mainly just stuck by the gates to the sitting area going back and forth while she held mine and Aaron's hand. Aaron and I also got to take turns getting out on the ice the 2 of us and speed around the rink. It was a blast!
The day finished with Emolyn and us at home with hot chocolate and a movie and then back to Emolyn's house. Definitely a fun memory for the 3 of us!

Next post... CHRISTMAS!

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