Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Merry New Years Christmas

For the last couple of years now my side of the family has delayed Christmas celebration and gift opening until New Years’ Day. It started back when my sister couldn’t make it to Kansas City over Christmas, but we kept the tradition going because there are so many benefits to a delayed Christmas celebration. First of all, Rollie’s side of the family can have both Christmas Day and a few days on either side (depending on his family’s schedule) without us having to plan my family's Christmas around that. It also gives us the added benefit of spreading out the holiday season (we all keep our decorations up until New Years anyway), and a few extra days of shopping (holiday clearance!) and shipping (no expedited shipping costs required!) and wrapping.

My parents, sister, and Aunt Pat all were there, plus Rollie and Hudson, of course. The best gift of the night had to be the basket of plush vegetables from Ikea that my sister got for Hudson. This little basket of tiny veggies is adorable and just the right size for his little hands. My sister is determined to turn him into a vegetarian! And he also got a gorgeous lamb chair from Pottery Barn Kids from my parents.

New Meaning for "Baby Carrots"

I had fun shopping for my mom and sister this year. They each got personalized stationary (perfect for my sister since she’s moving to Germany in a few weeks and my mom who keeps in touch with her friends from Lincoln), cashmere slippers, Kate Spade bags, and sock monkey wine bottle covers! Our whole family has a thing for sock monkeys. My aunt Pat had to have one of those too (she’s the sock monkey photographer and book author), plus a new computer bag for her brand new Mac laptop. The most fun gifts to give were to my dad though. We had him open the first season of Modern Family and the surprise gift: an iPad and case! We were so jealous giving that up, but I know they are going to get a ton of use out of it. Especially on those cold, snowy babysitting days where they are stuck indoors all day long. We were spoiled by our family too – Rollie got a Nike/iPod sensor to track his running routes and pace and a golf ball monogramming system (I got one too!) and I got a beautiful sweater coat, cardigan/top set, cookbook, plus we both got tons of stocking stuffers. Molly was thrilled with her gift: a Snuggie!

Puggy Snuggie

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas in Iowa, Day 2

We got up the next day and drove up to Ft. Dodge Iowa to Rollie’s Grandma Joan Fors’ house. I love going to Grandma Joan’s. She makes amazing Swedish foods and every Christmas cookie and candy you can dream of. All of the grandkids and great-grandkids were there – and gift-opening was just as crazy as you’d imagine! Hudson eventually got tired from all the excitement and fell asleep on me. William just loves to cuddle though, so every time he would see Hudson sleeping on me, he would crawl into my lap. There are few things better than two snuggling boys on my lap!

Trying out the new pillow pet blankie

William loved snuggling on my lap.

All of the Great-Grandkids at Great-Grandma Joan Fors' house.
Two snuggling boys

Rollie's cousin Shannon's Twin Girls. I love these girls!
After Grandma’s we drove back to Ankeny to do Christmas with Rollie’s dad Roger. We had snacks and opened presents at his house. Rudy’s son William is at a really fun age where he enjoys both unwrapping gifts and playing with everything as he opens it. Hudson got some great toys including a wooden block toy that suctions on to his high chair.

Hangin' with Grandpa

Iowa got a lot of snow and ice so the trees were beautiful
One festive tree in Roger's backyard
Close up.

The trees were beautiful - like they had just been frosted for the holidays

We got up the next day and had breakfast and Roger opened his birthday gift, then we went to see our friends Scott and Nicole Crawford, and drop off gifts for their 2-year old Campbell. After a quick visit with them, we headed back home to Kansas City. It was just a couple of quick days in Iowa, but it was fun to spend Christmas with Rollie’s family.

Christmas in Iowa

We left for Iowa on Christmas Day, after opening gifts from Santa. We went to Rollie’s mom, Rhonda’s house for Christmas Day with his siblings Rudy and his son William; and Rachel, with her fiance Dustin and his daughter Arianna. We had fun opening presents and had prime rib for dinner. Hudson got an adorable puzzle where the pieces spell out his name and stacking rings that quickly became one of his favorite toys. We hung out and watched TV (William snuggled up on my lap to watch Finding Nemo). Hudson got his picture taken with an adorable red chair that has been passed down for generations and is over a hundred years old!

Grandma with her grandkids - Arianna, William, & Hudson
Grandma Housken & Hudson (his shirt says "I've been good all year - just ask Grandma")!

On the 100-year old chair

Happy guy!

Santa's Coming!

We woke up on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. It was fun to start new family traditions this year since we have our own family now. We opened presents in our pajamas by the fireplace, played with the new toys, and made buttermilk pancakes. It was so fun to see Hudson open presents. He loved the tissue paper and handles on gift bags the best. He got a puppy pillow pet blankie, driving console toy, a few outfits, large stuffed sports balls, and Tickle Monster book set. 

First gift - he liked the tissue and bag more than the blankie!
He loved the giant sports balls.
Driving toy makes all the animal sounds, songs, and sound effects you can handle.
After the presents were all opened or loaded up in the car to go to Iowa.

By far the most fun gift was the Tickle Monster gift set that we got for Hudson. It’s not just the Tickle Monster book, but the furry “tickle mitts” that really make the experience. These pictures are from after we got home from Iowa and they are trying out the book and mitts for the first time.

He just loves being tickled by those furry mitts!

I love how you can see Molly snuggled beside them, completely unfazed by the tickling. 

He's got such a sweet little giggle and smile.

The Night Before Christmas

We spent Christmas Eve with my parents at their house, munching on snacks and watching a movie. The real entertainment was watching Hudson open his first present – stocking stuffers from my parents. We waited until Christmas morning and after Santa had been at our house to open our presents, but Hudson got a little sneak preview by opening a couple of fun toys. He got his own cell phone and car keys (that made noise and played music). He ended up playing with these the entire car trip to and from Iowa. He is still so young, but definitely seemed to get the hang of opening presents. We went home to wait for Santa to come and start the tradition of reading Twas the Night Before Christmas just before bed. Rollie found a version of the book with gorgeous illustrations - starring a pug (that looks exactly like Molly) as one of the main characters!

Before heading to Grandma & Grandpa's house on Christmas Eve
The best little gift under the tree!

It's funny how he kind of already knows what to do...

He looked so surprised like "Is this for me?"

He was definitely as interested in the packaging as he was the present.

I'm trying to show him how to use the phone. He loved the car keys (they make a "vroom" sound).

Rollie read Twas the Night Before Christmas to him just before bed.

Jingle Ball

Rollie & I were co-hosts of the Indian Hills Jingle Ball Holiday Formal this year, as part of our commitment to the social committee. We’ve actually really enjoyed being a part of the social committee and giving our input on the large events at the club. The Jingle Ball was black tie, so even though we had just flown in from Denver at 6:00 p.m., we had to rush home to get dressed up. I wore a floor length Roberto Rodriguez black label gown and Rollie wore his black Armani suit (same one he wore for our wedding). The hardest part wasn’t getting ready in a flurry or putting on heels after skiing for two days (although that wasn’t easy) but it was rushing out the door without getting to spend much time with Hudson after we’d been on vacation without him!

But we did have a great time at the Jingle Ball. It was a wonderful party and our friends Brandi and Scott had a fun dinner surprise – it was Scott’s birthday, so Brandi treated the table to cake and champagne when the dinner was over. And the band was wonderful so we danced to several songs before calling it a night. It was an exhausting thing to do after a ski vacation, but it was a blast! 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vail. Like Nothing on Earth

Rollie received, as an award being named “Broker of the Year”, an all-expense paid trip to Vail for two! We decided to leave the day after my birthday. Getting there was tricky because we had to fly Frontier and our plane had mechanical problems. We finally landed in Denver and drove to Vail - a short 2-hour trip into the mountains. We stayed at Arrabelle Resort, which is in the newer area of Vail called Lionshead, and is simply incredible. The hotel was serving hot buttered rum in the lobby (we got in at Apres ski time), so we just walked around Lionshead and explored the area, plus did a little shopping at the cute ski shops. The snow was really falling by then so we knew we’d have a great couple of days of skiing ahead. We had dinner at Montauk and then met up with my friend Emily and her husband Matt, plus her sister Amanda and husband Nick for a drink before calling it a night. 

The Ice Skating Rink outside of the Arrabelle
Dinner at Montauk
We skied all day Thursday and Friday – both crystal clear days with tons of new snow from the storm the day before. Both days we started at Lionshead at the lift right outside of our hotel. The hotel stored our skis and gear for us, so it was quick getting up on the mountain. The first day I ended a little before Rollie and ended in Vail Village – the older part of Vail, with cute shops, restaurants, and bars. And the second day we finished up in Lionshead. At 3:30 when the lifts close for the day, all the servers walk out of the bar at our hotel and pop champagne corks into the snow and pour the first Apres Ski toast. 

Lunch at Two Elks Lodge
Panoramic view of the Back Bowls from Two Elks Lodge
We enjoyed our Apres ski drink; then we hit the hot tubs at our hotel. They were public hot tubs so we thought they’d be packed, but both days we had the entire area to ourselves – and it was a great view of the Eagle Bahn gondolas and Born Free run. After hot tubbing and relaxing, we got ready for the night and went to Sweet Basil. Some friends had told us this was the best restaurant in Vail, and I can attest that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had anywhere! Rollie had arranged for a birthday dessert surprise as well (and port wine dessert flight). The next night after Apres Ski Happy Hour and hot tubbing, we joined up with friends who have a place in Cascade Village. After seeing their amazing condo (San Francisco style upright with an elevator!), we went to Vendetta’s pizza in Vail Village for a low key dinner. We headed home the next morning – making great time back to Denver and getting back to Kansas City in time for the Jingle Ball (barely)!
You can see how close the snow/lift is from where the champagne was popping!
Apres Ski!
Rollie iced down champagne before even changing out of his ski gear!
At Rimini bakery across from our hotel.