Merry Christmas Eve

Last year we drove up to Utah for Christmas and had a horrible experience with the weather and vowed we'd never do it again, ever-ever.  We've since moved, thus this year we are three hours closer and decided to give it another shot!  10 hours is do-able wherein 13 hours just isn't.  10 vs 13 is like 1 vs 8.

My little brother, Dallin, was here visiting the week before Christmas, so he drove up with us on the 21st!  He will be serving a mission in AZ soon, so we got him an AZ driver's license (. . .I still don't have one) and we're working on getting him set up to be an AZ resident so he can go to ASU and pay in-state tuition immediately following his mission.  Hopefully he will come live with us.

Anyways, tangent, we stayed the night in beautiful Page, and woke up to Lake Powell in all her winter glory (try temperatures in the 20s!!).
We pumped our veins full of Monster, put on Christmas tunes (radio regulated by yours truly) and had a nice, uneventful drive north.

First things first upon arrival, bathe the dogs.  My sister's Iggy's are kind of chubby, and for some reason that equals more of a need to bathe.
My dog is afraid of the bath.
Ben and I spend a lot of the holidays in the car while trying to travel around to all of our family.  My dad's house is usually our home base, and it was our first get together which worked out so perfectly.
Each year with my dad's family we do a "guess how many candies are in the [varying object]."  Last year it was a four way tie between Dallin, aunt Lez, Ben and me (we were all two off).  This year Ben won again (cheater I swear!!!).  The right answer was 92.

We played the Double or 7s Game.  If you roll doubles or a 7, you unwrap a present until the next person that rolls doubles or a 7 takes the present from you.  It's wrapped/taped like a dozen times and is intense.  Mister Dallin and Ben won the games which happened to be money!!  (See Ben has to be a cheater!!)
Then we do the same thing with candy.  If you roll a 7 or doubles you pick a candy, or steal somebody's candy, until the 5:00 timer runs out.  It gets personal.
And then for the longest of traditions we've done, we played the Right-Left game.  You each have a present and pass it right or left depending on what the story says.  Then you start with the youngest in opening the gifts, and they can open their gift or trade and open a different gift.  Once you open it though, there's no trading.
Since I am deprived of puppies on a daily basis, I overdo it to a [small] degree with the puppy pictures when we get together.  They are such lovable little creatures.  Mini Greyhounds are both super fast and SUPER lazy.
Christmas Eve we spend with my mom each year, which this year she's moved so we drove an hour (through a blizzard) to her new place.  In Happy Valley it snowed alllll day Christmas Eve.
More traditions. . .playing some intense games for prizes or money.  My luck was great this year (that never happens!).  I think I angered everyone.  Jolie had horrible luck and couldn't win a thing.  She played the last round of Bingo with eight cards, but she still lost.  haha!!
We played one game that was an absolute blast that I'm going to explain it.  Everyone starts with a few $1 bills, (donated by somebody, or you could all bring your own if you want to gamble).  You roll three dice and #s 1-3 are "safe," #4 means $1 goes to the LEFT, #5 means $1 goes in the "pot," and #6 means $1 goes to the right.  Essentially you could lose all your money fast, but you are never out of the game because the person next to you could pass you $1 at any time!!

Eventually all the money makes it to the pot in the middle, and the last person to have a dollar then rolls.  If they roll a 1-3 they take the whole pot.  If they roll a #5 then their dollar goes in the middle and you start completely over.  lol (Jolie).  [You only roll one die if you have one dollar, two dice if you have two dollars, and three dice if you have 3+ dollars.]

It was intensely awesome.  But moving along. . .
(I have no idea who lives in this house below.) Definitely a white Christmas, though it cleared up and was a nice Christmas day after all. 

After midnight my mom informed us that she saw Santa nearby so we needed to go to bed.  haha!  None of my siblings nor do we have any children, so we are still "the children."  We realized this is probably our last Christmas Eve as an entire sibling family and no babies.  [Not an announcement of any sort other than Dallin won't be with us until three Christmases from now.]  We are grateful for these memories!
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773 Days

Remember this pretty wedding cake?
We froze the top portion to eat on our first anniversary (so it would look like only we ate tar, not our guests).  Since we had moved, that year later turned into 773 days later. . . Christmas, 2012.  It held up nicely.  lol  [Sorry I didn't offer you any.]
Our 400 page blogbook arrived during our Christmas vacation and it is just so exciting.  It journals our first year of marriage and even though it wasn't that long ago, I've forgotten half of what we did.  Sometimes I wonder what I have done with my brain to make it so not smart anymore.  [Do you ever walk into a room to get something, and forget once you're in there what you were even doing?  No?  Just me?. . .well crap.]
We hope everybody had a great Christmas.  We had a wonderful time making memories with our family, and I have the Post Christmas Blues.  But these. . .
 are a temporary cure.

[And so is the face Ben gives me when I tell him to smile.]

Have a safe and Happy New Year.
 (lol)
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[Quick] Christmas Post

My mom's Christmas card:
It's mere days from our favorite holiday!!  I'm so excited, but also a bit sad because it has come too quickly and I haven't gotten to enjoy holiday things as much as I would have liked.

This is what Christmas looks like in the desert. . .
And this is what Christmas breakfast looks like this week. . .
Hope you are enjoying these last few crazy days and have a safe and Merry Christmas!
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Hark How the Bells

Winter has officially arrived around here!  We had a huge winter storm hit and it just poured all day today, and snowed in higher places (Flagstaff, etc.).  The streets don't get a lot of moisture, so the oil build up makes them slippery-er when it rains, and there were a lot of accidents as well.  Reminds me of of the anxiety I used to have driving in the snow.
It's really no surprise, but we didn't get a new tree this year.  I'm very cheap, but I love our little pink shoe tree (definitely our).  It doesn't have presents under it because today we started our Christmas shopping! I promised myself we wouldn't procrastinate, and look at us, we still have 10 days!  lol
I have been stressed about Christmas which is probably in combo with working my life away on how Christmas snuck up on us.  I was afraid to ask for time off (dreadful).  I started my new job 2+ months ago, they gave me a whole week off in November, and usually you don't get time off for the first 90 days!  I finally got the guts to ask my boss, and he was super cool about it.  I'm ridiculous sometimes.

This is my cube.  I'm by a giant window so I consider it pure luxury. . .
House hunting is still going, but a little more hopeful.  The home below was our offer #3, the only traditional sale we've offered on.  We decided not to counter back because we didn't think market value was anywhere near their #s.  Oh it was so cute and a 2-story.  So we decide to wait. . .
Offer #4 we put in on this past Monday, another Short Sale.  The home had multiple offers on it, but "the man behind the curtain" chose ours!!!  Finally.  But there is a lot to be done before we really can celebrate, . . .like the bank has to accept the offer.  And so we wait.  And wait.  Annnnd wait.  Goodness it is so cute.  Our Realtor told me to continue to keep my emotions out of this, but it's hard when you actually have your offer accepted.  4th time's a charm!
I've been meaning to post about our visit to my dad and incredibly adorable puppy a couple of weeks ago when we were up for the wedding.
Ben had this new and wonderful tradition idea of a gingerbread (graham cracker) house competition, so we all spent Sunday afternoon concocting our masterpieces.
My dad is a patient and genius guy, but his gingerbread house didn't reflect that.  Haha!  It was falling apart the whole time.  Like completely caving in.  And it was a giant mess. . .
If you look closely at the strips of paper, my dad won:
  • "Worst of Show = Loses"  
  • "Most Likely to Kill the People Living Inside of It"
  • "Most Architecturally Inept"
He was pretty proud.  He called me last week to tell me he discarded our masterpieces and no matter how many times he threw his in the garbage, it just wouldn't break.  It was that solidly built.  haha!
I won first place somehow.  Ya!!
It was a grand time.  We're excited to see more of our family next week.  Family is the best invention ever, and can't be taken for granted.  Have a happy holiday season.  :]
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