Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 book roundup

I realized yesterday that I could only remember what 5 of my 13 2012 goals were.  Ha!  Not bad for a year later.  I still haven't decided how I'm going to do my goals this year but it will definitely be different.

I'm still a newbie at making goals but there was one goal I knocked the socks off!

#12 Find 5 new good reads.

Mission Accomplished!

Reading is something I have always enjoyed but is something of a challenge with small children.  Just for fun, here are the books I read (and completed!) in 2012, in the order I read them.
*Links available for books I wrote reviews for.

1. Matched / 2. Crossed / 3. Hunger Games / 4. Catching First  / 5. Mocking Jay / 6. Daniel and Nephi / 7. The Witch of Blackbird Pond / 8. HypnoBirthing / 9. Delirium / 10. Divergent /11. Insurgent / 12. Graceling / 13.Fire / 14. Bitterblue / 15. Emily of New Moon / 16. Emily Climbs / 17. Emily's Quest / 18. Anne of Green Gables / 19. Anne of Avonlea / 20. Anne of the Island / 21. Anne of Windy Poplars / 22. Seeking Persephone / 23. Anne's House of Dreams / 24. Anne of Engleside / 25. Rainbow Valley / 26. Rilla of Engleside / 27. Daddy Long-Legs / 28. Kansas Brides / 29. Friday's Child / 30. Wonderland Creek / 31. A Proper Pursuit / 32. Born to Run / 33. The Darcy Connection / 34. While We're Far Apart / 35. Entwined / 36. Reached

If I had to pick which books were my top five here they are:
#1 Born to Run.  Very motivational as a runner.
#2 Entwined.  I still can't believe I was halfway through this book before realizing it was the 12 dancing princesses story!
#3 HypnoBirthing.  This seriously got me through my first natural delivery!!
#4 Emily of New Moon.  L.M. Montgomery has such an extensive vocabulary and beautiful wording.
#5 A Proper Pursuit.  I was 1/2 way through this book before realizing I've read it before.  It's a good one!

Also, noteworthy author would be L.M. Montgomery.  Once again, amazing vocabulary!  I read 11 of her books this year and her style of writing does not get old.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas day

Our Christmas was fabulous!  We woke up way too early, Andrew read the birth of Christ in the scriptures, we opened presents, and then I headed over to my parents' for breakfast while Andrew and the kids stayed home and played with their toys.  Each of us got one Santa gift.  Elliot and Avery's were their razor scooters.  Peter and Emily had us in the family rotation and they spoiled us!  Andrew gave me my first smart phone . . this is big!!, and some great books I look forward to reading.  I gave Andrew some water color materials and sharpie pens he wanted and some other things.  My parents and aunt gave us some family history which is priceless.  Altogether the day was a success, even though everyone was sick.
Yep, there were a lot of naps taken on Christmas and Boxing Day and we are all still sick, except Andrew, but at least we were together and for most part very happy.  Last year I made more handmade gifts and that is something I want to do more of next year.  I guess I better get started now!
There's one more thing I haven't mentioned yet.
It's some very exciting news that pretty much made my week.
Andrew's sister, Claire, got engaged on Christmas Eve!
Ahh!  I'm so happy for her and Rich!
They have been dating since before we moved to Arizona from England, about 5 years?, and getting married is something they had talked about before but nothing final.  When we were in Florida I asked Rich what he was waiting for and he said he really wanted to save up for a ring.  Claire said the ring and proposal was all a surprise for her.  No date set yet, but they'll choose a time when we can come, of course.  Another cool fact: Rich proposed to Claire in a car just like Andrew did to me, although he had more romantic plans that weather didn't allow.  I just find that interesting because incidentally, Andrew proposed to me the same day my dad proposed to my mom, and we got married on his parents anniversary.  Totally unplanned!

Can you tell I'm just a leeetle excited about all this wedding stuff?  Claire and Rich!!!!  Oh, and when we told Elliot and Avery that Rich was going to be their uncle they were like "yea, I know!" as if he was all along.  I guess they never knew a Claire without a Rich.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve Night!

I have to say, the Stapley Christmas Eve family talent show has got to be one of my favorite family traditions.  We all get together the night before Christmas and throw together musical numbers last minute.  My Dad tries to make a program that changes at least thrice.  We laugh and eat lots of goodies.  What is Christmas without a little music?!!  This year we added a British themed dinner to the evening.  We ate bangers- similar to bratwursts, and mash- mashed potatoes, gravy, yorkshire pudding - which is not a dessert!, scones, trifle - pictured below, and lemon tarts.  Andrew's was in heaven!
My yummy contribution, among many.
Nora and Ammon, Ruth's boyfriend, were the children entertainers.
Nora taught them to dance and Ammon read.  They are the best!
As the family gets bigger family activities get more and more relaxed and fun!
I wish I got pictures of everyone but Zara really needed some snuggles.  I did, however, manage to video record Andrew playing his ukulele and singing.  Seriously the highlight of the night!  Elliot sang a snowman song from school, Avery sang a primary Christmas song, which name has escaped me, and I played my viola in a hymn trio with Nora and Chris.  Yes.  A trio for cello/viola/flute.  You see, pretty much everything goes in this family.  Oh, and I can't wrap up without honorable mention of my brothers and dad singing "We three Kings".  It's tradition!!  Classic.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve with the Webers'

Every year some time before Christmas it's been a tradition to exchange gifts with our good friends, Riley and Michelle Weber, and their kids.  The Webers' and us go way back!  Back when I was pregnant with Elliot living in England they were in my parents ward and went on exchange to Hull University, where we lived in England.  My parents gave them our contact info and as soon as they moved out there we started hanging out a lot.  They came at a time when I was really missing my home and my country and filled a void.  During those few months we went on a bunch of day trips all over Yorkshire and really made a lot of good memories.  We were also able to help them by driving them to church every week. Since then, we have established our families here in Mesa and enjoy watching our families grow. Michelle is pregnant with her first girl and I am so excited for her!
We love the Weber family and hope they will also live close to us!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Flagstaff snow: part 2

We started off our second day in Flagstaff looking at a loooong train passing right in front of our hotel window.  We were toasty inside but outside was snowy cold; coziness in perfection.
After breakfast the only logical thing to do was go sledding and the snow was perfect!
We picked the sled up at Target last minute and it was perfect for one or two people.
Even Zara got a turn, although she was indifferent to the experience.
The snow suit didn't help.  All the restraint!  Josie wore it to England last year and she wasn't keen either.
This was the first time sledding as a family and we all had a blast!!!!
While playing in the snow Elliot kept telling us he wanted to live there so he could play in the snow and then he'd change his mind when he got cold and tell us he wanted to go back home in Mesa.  Andrew and I have the same mixed feelings.  Although we have good memories in Flagstaff from our dating years, neither of us really want to live there.  It was great to spend a day-a night-and a day in Flagstaff but next year we'll do the whole trip in one day instead.  None of us slept much that night!

Flagstaff day one here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

In case you didn't get our Christmas card, here it is!
May your day be filled with
family, love, giving, joy, and laughter.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa at work party

Last week was Andrew's work party with Santa.  Was that really a week ago?  Needless to say, it's been a big week.  Zara reminded us how much babies love Santa.
I don't blame her - stuffy suit, outlandish clothes, scratchy beard.  Even Santa's baby cried in his lap.
Andrew's co-worker was Santa this year, last year it was his boss, and it made for a lot of fun!  Most of the kids weren't fooled though.  Elliot and Avery are convinced that the only real Santa is at Bass Pro Shop.
January will be two years since Andrew started at B2B CFO and it's gone by fast!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Flagstaff snow: part 1

Two winters ago we took the Elliot and Avery up to Flagstaff to play in the snow and they still talk about it!  They remember the snowball fight, the giant snowman, and snow chair - everything!  We were hoping for a white Christmas in England last year but it never happened so our Flagstaff snow trip was long overdue!
We had so much fun that we're already making plans for another trip next year.  
Every time we go to Flagstaff there are certain things we are certain to do.  One of them is to visit north campus at NAU where Andrew and I lived when we were dating.  Oh, the memories we made!
Andrew in front of his old dorm.
Why didn't I bring good snow shoes?!  That hurt!
I had recitals in that building.  Doesn't NAU have a beautiful campus?
Elliot named the snowman Kooky, as in nutty, singular, uncommon.
Sometimes I wonder where he comes up with these things.
My dorm on the left, Sir Kooky on the right.
We tried to make our trip full of things we can't or don't do at home.  Even though we visit Barns and Noble frequently in Mesa, we couldn't resist the cozy appeal of hot chocolate, books, a fireplace, and Christmas books after the bleak, snowy afternoon.
I know . . I forgot a "p" in peppermint!

Have you tried Starbucks' Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate yet?  Well, it's divine!
Don't ask Andrew though, because he didn't think much of it.
Barns and Noble was a success so it is officially added to our must-do Flagstaff list.
This is Zara begging for hot chocolate. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas cards

Everywhere I go the question always is "Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?"  Fortunately Andrew's and my shopping is nearly complete.  However, we haven't sent any packages or cards to England yet so I hope we're not late!
Check out some Christmas cards I designed. 

As much as I love this time of year it's sooo busy!
So I started to make a list of daily accomplishments alongside my mile long to-do list.

So far today would look something like this:
* washed the dishes
* wrapped some presents
* blog post
* Avery playdate
This is my new therapy!  It feels good to see I am getting things done!
Making these Christmas cards are an accidental hobby of mine.  I was editing Julie's family pictures and thought it'd be fun to make collages and then they look really cute all Christmas-y and next thing I know it, I'm designing cards.  Have you ever discovered a hobby or talent without seeking it?