My memories of Valentine’s Day:

As a child, I loved it.  When my dad came home from work he gave all three of his daughters small, heart-shaped boxes full of chocolates.  My mom usually made heart-shaped sugar cookies with plenty of red, pink and white frosting and “Red Hots” for decorating!  Valentine’s Day parties in elementary school consisted of making my own heart-themed mailbox and giving and receiving silly, small valentine cards.

Everything about my teenage years was awkward so the fact that I was consistently boyfriendless on Valentine’s Day never came as a shock to me.  February 14th was just a yearly reminder of how I was content being a girl jock/sporty spice rather than stressing about overcoming my singleness.  As long as my basketball stats were high, I didn’t care about roses, jewelry, chocolate or love letters.

The years after high school provide some fond Valentine’s memories.  For example, I remember the year I got two dozen roses because the florist made a mistake and sent the same order twice.  I too wonder why it was necessary for me to know that the florist made a mistake…?  I also remember the year I had a long distance relationship on V-day and the card on the, ahem… CARNATIONS read: “I’m glad we know each other.”  Sadly, not even my young “hope springs eternal” heart could miss the writing on that wall.

Alas, there was also that year, seven years ago, when I got engaged on Valentine’s Day.     Dave gave me two bouquets of flowers (another florist mistake but at least this suitor knew to keep it a secret for a little while), and he took me to a nice restaurant to get my favorite crab leg dinner.  After eating he ever so slyly directly asked, “So, what is your favorite monument in D.C.?”  We then decided to take a nice, cold, misty, wet, stroll through some construction barriers in dress clothes to the Lincoln Memorial where Dave got down on one knee and proposed.  I will spare you anymore details but last night when we returned to the scene of the crime and told our three-year-old the whole story (oh yes, he followed every bit of it with focused interest…) we laughed at how unhollywood that night was.  We laughed about how grateful we are that we didn’t realize how much we didn’t know each other at the time.  We patted ourselves on the back that at almost SEVEN WHOLE YEARS of marriage, we are no longer rookies!  We smiled about what we have learned, enjoyed, overcome and become during this time.  Here’s to many more celebrations of February 14th, so long as Dave and Zach continue to be my Valentines!

Here is a little photo essay of Valentine’s Day 2012:

Family Candle Light Dinner

a Toast -- to our Family!

Loving His Alcohol-Free Vino

what happens when you take his vino away!

Treats!

Where it all began!

Happy Valentine's Day!

We recently returned from a ski vacation at Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, PA.  I anticipated having a good time but it was even more enjoyable than I had expected.  The condo we rented was 100 yards or less from a ski lift, the weather was warm, we enjoyed time with our friends and we all had a great time skiing on the “slopes.”  Sadly though, in all of the fun and adventure, no one thought to take pictures or even bring a camera while we were skiing.  It is really quite a shame since this was one of our all time favorite family vacations.

Dave is an avid skier — he grew up in Provo, Utah after all.  I grew up in Texas and I don’t recall many snow days in my childhood or youth and there certainly weren’t any mountains in Dallas.  So in an attempt to convince me of the thrill and beauty of the sport,  Dave took me skiing the first Christmas we were married but it didn’t exactly turn me into a powder enthusiast.  We went to a resort in Utah with narrow, steep runs that were crawling with kamikaze snowboarders.  I took a lesson at their “school” but that lesson unfortunately didn’t include learning to get on a ski lift and if you never make it to a lift, you don’t experience much elevation.  As such, after my lesson, Dave helped me onto the lift and tried to pick up the pizza/french fry ski lesson where it left off.  I slid/tumbled off the lift and slid some more down the hill.  After regaining my balance I attempted to pizza (snow plough) down the hill but lost control and ran over my ski instructor that was having more success with another group of students.

Dave was patient and persistent with me the rest of the day despite my impatience and anger frustration with the whole thing.  Needless to say, my first attempt at skiing was a disaster.  Perhaps this is why we had such an enjoyable time this past week on my second attempt at skiing over six years later.  I don’t know if it was the wide run, the warm weather or the wide rented skis, but for the most part, it just sorta clicked for me this time.  Don’t get me wrong, I never made it off the beginners hill but I conquered the ski lift, fell only once and I’m not afraid of it anymore.  And if the snow hadn’t melted, I would have gone to steeper, longer runs without hesitation.  It would be an understatement to say that Dave was thrilled with my progress.  And I think it was his dream come true to have me on one side of him and Zach on the other, sitting all together on a ski lift (and everyone I was happy).

Finally, there were many times when I was on the lift alone looking down on the slope watching Dave ski down the hill with Zach skiing in between his legs.  I could hear him giving Zach instructions in between laughs and giggles as they slid down the hill.  Zach wasn’t paying much attention but he sure was loving being outside in his very own skis with his dad.  It was sweet to watch and I am grateful for such a capable and patient husband who loves adventure almost as much as he loves his family.  So while, I don’t have tangible pictures to show you, my heart will hold vivid images of this vacation until the next time when I remember to bring the camera.

Evidence that I skied

Brought the camera tubing

They both loved it!

Time to do it again.

Here are some photos from our Christmas morning.  We hope everyone had a merry Christmas and we wish you a peaceful and happy 2012!

Building the Gingerbread House

Completed house with Frosty

Playing Christmas morning

Remote control Mater!

Singing at the mic!

What did Santa bring?

Pleased with this one!

Christmas PJs

The Washington, D.C. Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a beautiful light display and nativity scene on the temple grounds this time of year.  To continue with our celebration of Christmas we spent an evening with friends viewing the lights and watching this video —  a simple yet powerful reminder of what this season is all about.

Christmas time at the D.C. Temple

Silly time with friends

A rare photo of just the two of us

We rode the Santa Train from Old Town, Alexandria to Manassas, VA.  It was a long but fun-filled day that included Santa and Mrs. Clause, singing, candy canes, hot chocolate, train depots and story time.

Who knew Santa was Scottish?

Family Photo on the Train

Quick Candy Cane Consumption

At the Depot

Heading home!

A few weeks ago we went with our friends to see the National Christmas Tree near the White House.  Here are some pictures of our Christmas outing.

Zach is thrilled to ride the metro with his pal.

He is less thrilled by this iron fence.

The iron fence keeps him from getting closer to what he really wants to see.

Thomas the Train!

Family Photo

We had a fantastic November and Thanksgiving but you would never know given the absence of any  blog postings!  I’ve decided that it’s not too late as long as I post before Christmas Eve.

So first off, below you will find a picture of our Thanksgiving Tree.  Caveat: I am not an artist and I’m not very crafty but I do like to find ways to motivate my preschooler to understand things that are important.  Please keep that in mind as you look at that photo. =)

For every day in November up until Thanksgiving, we each put a leaf on our Thanksgiving tree to represent one thing we were grateful for on any given day.  As I go back over the list I notice how grateful we were for our friends — new friends, friends that go way back, and friends that I haven’t stayed in touch with as much as I wish I could.  Throughout the month, we received several different unexpected gifts of kindness.  We were touched and deeply grateful.  Even Zach expressed frequent thanks for his best buddy Roman (along with Roman’s toys, mom, dad and baby sister).

Next, we continued to enjoy all the beautiful fall leaves and their vibrant colors.  Of course that also meant that Dave and Zach spent a lot of time raking them up after they fell to the ground and covered every inch of our back and front yards.

Then, one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions is to run the Turkey Trot five miler, held just a little ways from our house.  Dave pushed Zach in the stroller and Zach used his bullhorn to warn people that speedy Dad and Zach were coming through.  Despite having to start the race behind the runners, and the DOGS, Dave, Zach and stroller had an impressive finish time.  I wasn’t bothered in the least that they passed me early on and left me in their dust (Dave runs a 7 minute mile).  I was pleased that I beat my time from last year.

Finally, we hosted Thanksgiving at our house and invited our friends over to eat.  Dave cooked the turkey, I cooked sides and desserts, and all of our friends brought food to share.  Everything was delicious!

Thanksgiving could very well be my favorite holiday and I love the month of November.  Next year, it will get the blog post that it deserves and on time!

Thanksgiving Tree

The view from our living room.

Another view (without the reflection of the flash)

Raking Leaves

November Photo by Zach

Art by Zach

Turkey Trot Pre-Race

Bullhorn Ready

Post Race

Best Buds

Friends and Thanksgiving Dinner