Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day.....and Some Sugar Cookies

A couple of days before Christmas, we decided we needed to keep up Kelly's family tradition of decorating sugar cookies. We don't really know anyone to give them to this year, so I only made one batch and rolled them thick, like Kelly likes.
The picture below shows the cookies that Hunter decorated. Notice how close he poured the sprinkles onto the cookies. He was so funny, and knew what a great cookie artist he was.
I knew I sure didn't need one more sweet treat in the house to tempt me, so I did send all of the cookies that I decorated with Kelly to work. We enjoyed Hunter's extra sweet cookies at home!
The boys after eating a few too many cookies

Christmas Crab on Christmas Eve
Once Kelly and I started doing Christmas on our own, we decided we would do crab legs for our big Christmas Eve dinner. We figure we just had turkey for Thanksgiving, and Kelly always tells me that he doesn't enjoy "swine", so no ham. Crab is perfect!! I love making this dinner too. All we do is a salad, sourdough bread, melted butter for dipping, steam the crab, and non-alcoholic strawberry daquiri's. How easy can it get?

Chancey enjoying some "king crab"

Sourdough bread...yummy! Hunter normally eats around 3 lbs of crab legs by himself, but he went a little light on Christmas eve.


Christmas Eve Family Picture
We always look forward to a new pair ofhomemade jammies from Grandpa and Grandma Briner to open on Christmas Eve

What is it???

Jammies!!!

I have a hard time getting Hunter to smile "normal" for a picture these days :)

Christmas Morning
I love having children on Christmas morning. It is so fun to watch their faces and all the excitement. I love that they are so full of joy.

This is Chance playing with Hunter's new "Toy Danger" Hunter was so sweet to let him try it out.

Santa left Hunter several "Justice League" action figures.

Chance and Daddy enjoying an Animal Kingdom Book

Chancey got a Puppy from Gee Gee and Grandpa McGee
name of puppy still undetermined. (Possibly Chena)

Momma McGee and her boys.
(Minus make-up and hair-do)
Chance is sporting red candy cane slobber, and Hunter is sporting blue M&M's dye on his chapped lips :)

Christmas was a blast! Low stress- and very enjoyable. The boys have been so fun, and so grateful for all of their gifts. Hunter opened one of his presents and said, "Mom, this is sooo wonderful!" We also opened a box that we got from the post office that had presents in it from Aunt Valerie, and Hunter said, "Mom, Aunt Valerie is such a nice girl!" I love that my boys are able to show gratitude, because we are so blessed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Beginning to LOOK a Lot Like Christmas!


Our first year of marriage is the only time that we have had a real tree, and that was 6 years ago. It was also a teeny tiny tree that we may have "pirated" from somewhere in Idaho. We also cut that little tree down with a hammer, because we didn't have a saw. That little tree had a tin can for a tree holder/water feeder from our food storage.

This year we have our first semi-big real tree. We were going to cut one down legally this year, but we got like a zillion feet of snow the day before. So, we settled and purchased a tree from Home Depot. It is a decent tree, and Hunter named it Haunch. (Not sure where the name came from??

When we were speaking to the lady at Home Depot, she asked if we had a tree holder, we of course didn't, and then she told us that all of Fairbanks is completely sold out of tree holders. So, we were going to have to be creative. And we were!!

Good thing Kelly is an Eagle Scout, because he had to tie some good knots and use a hammer for this one.


We upgraded from the tin food storage can to an orange Home Depot Bucket and some cut 2x4 pieces nailed together. Next year we will buy a tree holder early :)


After Dad was done hanging the lights and tying the tree down, we all enjoyed some traditional McGee Family Amy Grant Christmas music, and decorating the Christmas tree.
Hunter was a pretty good little decorator, and enjoyed seeing what the fun ornaments were.



Chancey had fun too- he has a runny nose in this picture, but also has eggnog on his face.
Chance mostly enjoyed taking ornaments off the tree, but he did like to see the Santa, Angel, and Gingerbread ornaments. (Anything with a face).

This is our final product of a tree. I did put a red "tree skirt" around the Home Depot bucket, so it looks a little nicer. We won't put presents out until Christmas Eve, due to some early openings last year by Hunter. (I will share that story later)


The boys are showing their "2008" ornaments that they chose. A Train and a Moose.
Chance got hot dancing and decorating, and he's not a fan of being held...especially by Hunter!
Gosh...they make me laugh!
We ended our night with eggnog, ginger cookies, and a reading of "Noel".
It was a fun night!


Here is our make-shift wall of cards. I just taped the cards onto this picture at the hotel. It works well!



A few days before, I let Hunter decorate a little fake tree. He chose red lights from the store and then I just used some other ornaments that I had. He enjoys having a tree that he did by himself.


I love this stocking holder! I made it at a girls house who does vinyl lettering as a business.
There are 6 nails, so that we all have a spot for our stockings.
(No announcements...just for future reference.)


I love this sign given to us last year by Kelly's sister. It sums up Christmas.
May we remember Christ our Savior who has given us the greatest gift of all.
Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Beginning to TASTE a Lot Like Chistmas!

Growing up, it was always a tradition to make Christmas candy. My Mom and my Grandma have both passed away now, so I figured it was up to me to carry on the tradition, even though I am "a million" miles away from my family. I have made the traditional candies before, with Mom and Grandma, and by myself too. I consider it a talent, it runs in the blood- okay so not really, but I do have to say that we NEVER used a candy thermometer, and I continue that tradition too.

So, here are the goods...and the pictures don't do the taste ANY justice!

Peanut Brittle is Grandpa West's favorite
(this one could have used a minute more cooking time- but still delicious)
Caramels....mmmmmm....mmmmmm...mmmmm!
Hunter thought he had died and gone to heaven.

Caramels, before being cut.
Half without nuts and half with.
Good either way!

My personal favorite
English Butter Toffee

I hope your kitchen smells as good as mine this holiday season!
Off to make some gingerbread cookies!

A Trip to North Pole, Alaska to see Santa and Mrs. Clause

On Saturday, we decided it was time to go see Santa at his house in North Pole. As you can imagine, the boys were VERY excited about our little adventure.


So, we loaded up the car and before we knew it, Hunter said he was feeling a little sleepy. I told him he could take a quick nap and that I promised I would wake him up when we got there.
(The drive to North Pole from Fairbanks is only 15 minutes.)



When we got to "The Santa Clause House" at 2:30 wouldn't you know it, but Santa was at lunch. I thought maybe 12-1 or 1-2, but 2-3....honestly??? So we took our number and decided to go for a little drive down the road to a place called the "Knotty Shop" where they have lots of cool things made out of the wood with knots in it. They also have several other things, so we had fun walking around there. We drove back to Santa's house and our number was up, we were just in time. Hunter went up to Santa no problem!!! Santa said, "How are you doing little boy?" and Hunter replied, as he pointed his finger at Santa, "Well.....I want to get a toy from you!" (In a very matter of fact way) Santa asked him what kind of toy he wanted and Hunter said, "I want a "danger" not a real danger like dad's, but a toy one." He asked for a "Toy Danger" (a toy gun), and a Justice League video. He had several other things on his list, but must have been a little nervous. He was really cute with Santa and smiled for the picture :)

Then it was Chancey's turn......need I say more???

Chance did like Santa for about 10 seconds or so, but then it turned into an, "Oh my goodness, this guy is hairier than my Daddy!!!"

After we saw Santa we let the boys each choose a Christmas Ornament in memory of 2008. (The Santa House is a Christmas Mega store with ornaments galore, and all sorts of Christmas decor. I believe it is open year round.) Hunter chose a train, and Chance chose a moose, with the help of Dad.

We decided that we would top off our trip to the Santa house with some Hot Chocolate. Here are the boys waiting for some delicious cocoa.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Beginning to SMELL A Lot Like Christmas...

The day after Thanksgiving we were invited by a lady in one of the ward's that we've been going to, to come over and make gingerbread houses with her family. Kelly was gone, and I wanted to see her 8000 sq ft house, and it sounded like fun....so we went. Her house smelled so good with freshly baked ginger houses. Hunter sat on my lap and helped construct a ginger house. Chance helped a little bit, but mostly wanted to taste all the pretty and yummy looking candies. Let's just say he crashed hard at nap time from the sugar buzz he experienced that day!

Hunter was so proud of his house and wanted to sit by it at home while he was eating every meal. He was also convinced that there was a little ginger guy in there. He wanted to know why he didn't come out and say hi, but I told him that the little guy was sleeping. Eventually he stopped asking about it. Hunter also wanted to taste his creation....it was tempting, but it looks so pretty.

Hunter's First Gingerbread house

After the fun time making our first gingerbread houses, I thought it would be fun to make the actual gingerbread ourselves (since I've never done it) and decorate them. Our good friends Doug and Janna were coming up to visit from Anchorage and I thought Janna would have fun decorating with us. So....we did it! The gingerbread wasn't hard to make or work with, it was great and it went smoothly. Everyone had a fun time decorating their house- and they turned out beautifully and now my house smells "Christmassy" too!

My House is #1
Hunter's House #2

Mom's House

Janna decorating so beautifully!


Janna's final product

This is the other thing that makes my house smell good. I bought this cute little basket at Michael's and filled it with cinnamon scented pine cones. It makes a cute centerpiece and smells soooo good!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Growing Up

Let me start by saying how I love my little Chance. He is so sweet when he wants to be, but tends to be what I would call "disgruntled". Kelly and I have a really hard time figuring this little guy out. But, we have figured one thing out....
The guy wants to feed himself, or at least think he is!

We had a late lunch one day, but I needed to feed the boys something before they went to bed, so we voted on oatmeal. I thought it would be warm, yummy, and stick to their ribs. So, we sat down to eat and I knew Chance was hungry, but I would get a bite in his mouth and then he would get a little disgruntled. Finally I said to Kelly, "What am I going to do with this guy?" Kelly said, "Let him feed himself."

So, we gave it a shot....He LOVED IT! I guess I forget he is growing up and I don't need to do everything for him. The kid needs his independence.

So...here are the results:


Oatmeal anyone????

NOTE: I finally found the child size spoons/forks for him in the boxes the day after we tried this


He ate quite a bit, but I think his socks and the floor had a little more. Let's just say that I had to let the oatmeal dry before I could vacuum :)

Lovely!

So, we ended the night with a bath..which he loves.


He can't get enough of the bubbles.
Who couldn't love this cute boy!

Since these pictures were taken, he has done much better about getting the food in his mouth, which I am thankful for. He does seem a little more content at mealtimes, maybe someday we will really figure him out.