We took some quick photos after church yesterday with our new Christmas feature. Our kids love the tree so much. It is so sweet to see them studying all the ornaments and rearranging things. Still confusing though since they hope that every night will be the night Santa comes. Just a couple more days and we can get out an advent calendar. We even went to a fun advent party last night (since it was the first Sunday of advent). We have been getting tons of snow and it was a beautiful night to sing Christmas songs and see some friends.
Last Christmas we got a remote for the camera that we used for these photos. (You can see Brian holding it in the first photo.) Our kids loved having the camera take pictures by itself. Jane, looking into the lens thought a bubble was taking our photo.
The kids were bribed with candy canes.

A surprisingly natural smile for Colin.

I love Jane's look at Colin. There was some good craziness.

We headed out to get our Christmas tree yesterday. Lucky for us there is a tree farm not too far away. This very much puts Brian in his element. I cannot believe how big Colin looks walking with Brian. He is only 4!!
The farm is in Alpine and there are some great mountain views.
Jane did great exploring through the trees, even though it was nap time.

Below: contemplating if this was going to be our tree. (Yes, this is the one we took home. It is a very pretty one but very prickly. )

It was not too cold but the kids were still entertained by hot chocolate. We even got ice cream on the way home since it is the season of too many treats.

And we all got very muddy. I just remembered I left the kids boots in the car and have not cleaned them yet, crap. We have a few more inches of snow this morning, we will have to let the snow do most of the cleaning.

The kids are having a lot of fun with Christmas decorating but again, they thought Santa would have come today since we now have a tree. It does become a very long month for little kids. I just cannot believe how fast this year has gone, and how old we are getting!

We had a fun Thanksgiving at my brother's house. Brian was asked to bring pie so here is what he came up with. We used the last of our concord grapes to make this lovely thing. (Grape pie is quite amazing if you ever get to try some. Here is the recipe c/o pie of the month.
Brian pretty much makes the best pie pastry in the world. I am not even kidding.
And the pecan reached new levels of caramel goodness, thanks to the secret ingredient we brought from Canada (golden syrup). We wish we had brought home a lot more of it as it is not as easy to come by around here.

I did not get any photos of our actual Thanksgiving dinner even though I brought all my photo equipment. It is too hard chasing kids, cutting the last bits of bacon for the brussel sprouts, etc to think about photos sometimes.
The day after Thanksgiving we try to either have a fondue or gnocchi. The last couple years it has been gnocchi. Colin was a very cute little helper. We tried to make a big deal to him about teaching him the secrets of our gnocchi. He promised to only share the gnocchi secrets with our friends.

Colin admiring his fork roll. They were super yummy gnocchi that Colin then would not eat at dinner. He is driving us a little crazy with some very picky eating (his foods cannot touch right now and so many things we know he likes go un-eaten. However, given the chance he will have dinner of just broccoli or brussel sprouts. Go figure.)

We got to spend some fun time this week with friend in from out of town, such fun!
And more friends who lived out of town but have since moved quite close.
And even more friends who used to live close but now have moved a bit further away (but we found it it not too far). We got to meet their beautiful little girl. She is a very sweet little one, it makes me a little baby hungry. Jane was so funny because when I was holding the baby she would tell me over and over, "that's not your baby!"
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Dirty Feet

We had a chimney sweep come recently (who even came in a top hat, the company is called Chim Chimmery, awesome!). The chimney sweep was very tidy but Colin found how to get his feet dirty.

I was looking back at photos and had this photo of one year old Colin's dirty feet in Tel Aviv.

And nearly two year old Colin's dirty feet in France.

And not dirty, but Colin on his first birthday in Brooklyn, NY. I have no idea why I am posting about feet.
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Although not technically a successful photo, I love the above of Colin doing a happy dance. He has some serious moves. We woke up today to about 10-12 inches of snow. It has been confusing, I think both kids thought tomorrow would be Christmas since we had so much snow.
We are still short with a couple of the details we need to play well in the snow (Colin needs new boots and Jane needs better gloves). I got the hat Jane is wearing in Peru in 1998. Still, we had a fun morning in the snow.
Lucky for us, we have a great sledding hill (I guess technically it is my sister's hill. It is ok if we use it?)

Even by this afternoon a lot of the snow was gone so we are glad we got some photos. It was a lovely morning.
In other recent happenings, Brian picked about 100 pounds of apples this week (and I am not even over-exaggerating, I could barely lift the containers he was filling and he filled a lot of them). This week our house has smelled like applesauce a lot, it has been most festive. Brian is also very clever in his use of our Vitamix and cheesecloth to make great cider.

We made a bunch of apple pumpkin butter thinking it would be a nice gift to give to friends and neighbors. However, it is so delicious we may not be able to give any away. It is like pumpkin pie on your toast, yum!

Things have been busy recently. Brian gave a recital at BYU that took a lot to prepare, he has a few private students now that keep him busy, and I run to and from preschool a lot. We are looking forward to a fun Thanksgiving week!

Photo booth

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We went to a friend's wedding tonight who had a photo booth. I find these photos very funny. You can see Jane's head barely in the frame with Colin, and I love the chaos of our first photo, followed by the nose picking. Fairly good description of life with young children.

(Since we have only been up to normal life things in the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking about past traveling with kids things for possible future entries for phil&teds. I put this one together recently. AND kind of funny, when we had been home from Canada for about 2 weeks, Colin has asked MANY times when we are going to go on a trip again. We may have created a restless soul.)
In 2008 we spent the month of January in Paris since my husband Brian had a job singing in a production of Don Giovanni. Our son Colin was just shy of 2 years old and I was about 24 weeks pregnant with our daughter. On one of Brian's days off we headed to Versailles.

In Paris we managed to see a lot of non-child friendly attractions (Museums, Galleries, Churches, etc) by adopting a strategy that would have Colin asleep in his stroller just in time to enter. That was our plan for Versailles: work hard to wear Colin out in the morning, have some lunch, then get the afternoon nap going in the stroller so we can enjoy some culture quietly. To wear him out at Versailles, Colin had a great time running around the vast grounds.

I know some parents are anti-harness, but both of our kids are runners and by runners I mean they bolt. Sometimes we would do experiments with toddler Colin to see how far he would run from us and he would rarely look back. Especially while in France we got some glares from older people when they saw our child on a leash, but young mothers would approach us dying to know where they could buy a harness for their little ones. For me it is part safety to keep my kids close and nice to let them get some get energy out.
We had a nice lunch on the grounds and then walked around until Colin was asleep in the stroller. Our plan was working so far!

On our way to the ticket kiosk, we received the lovely news that strollers are NOT allowed inside the Chateau. Vraiment. The message seems to be toddlers aren't welcome here, and most French families probably know this. Brian wanted to slap the lady (all French like) who then suggested we might like to tour the grounds instead. We had just done that for several hours, and the weather had turned beyond nasty. I was ready to just leave, but Brian wanted to see if he could get Colin to sleep in his sling during at least part of the tour. So we paid the exorbitant entry fee, checked our stroller, and started inside with a HUGE child sleeping in the sling hammock style. He was getting a great response from the other tourists.

In the Chapel, Brian sat down on the floor because dead weight Colin was taking his toll. The attendant came and tapped him on the shoulder and he assumed he was going to be told that sitting on the floor is not allowed. Instead he offered Brian his seat. We decided not to have mean thoughts about Versailles' anti-toddler policies. It is always great to meet nice people.

Colin was awake by the time we reached the Hall of Mirrors. The state rooms on the way there were housing a huge exhibit of antique silverwork. It was very impressive. Colin however does not seem to like the Baroque Aesthetic. What can I say, he's a Classicist. Almost immediately upon waking he wanted home and was only propelled through the rest of the tour by, "Let's go find the bye-bye!" (Incidentally, I do think it's great that Colin applies the term 'home' to places we've been for like 2 days).
Colin was trying to blow out the electric candles in the Hall of Mirrors. Then he became fascinated with my scarf.

Then Colin showed his disapproval of Baroque excess by staging a lay-in on the floor of the Hall of Mirrors. We were totally unfazed by the disapproving glances. If you don't want toddlers laying on the floor, allow strollers. (I understand the no stroller policy in high tourist season but January is not high tourist season.)

Almost to the bye-bye.

Colin shares his final thoughts on the Chateau de Versailles. We're glad we went all in all. We don't have to do it again now for a long time.