Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas with Family

This Christmas we spent time with my parents in Lynndyl. We left home around 8pm on the 23rd pretty sure we remembered everything until we were a couple of hours out and realized that we forgot to turn the heat down. Soon after we realized we left the friendship bread starter that Tom was given that day on the fireplace. So, as we speak, the rapidly growing yeast is slowly stewing in the mistaken warmth of it's Christmas time home.

We got to my parents around 3am and were up and playing with Morgan as usual around 8 on Christmas Eve day. We went to Delta and did some last minute shopping then went home to make pecan pies (apparently I'm pretty good at that--hey, its just what I've heard) and Tom made stuffing for the Nielson family Christmas Eve dinner that is always at the Lynndyl town hall, AKA "The Princess" (courtesy of the mayoral reign of Connie Best during the 90's).

This is Morgan with my grandma, Camille (G.G., to Morgan).
The dinner was fantastic. We got to see almost the whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.). I'm not really close with some of my cousins so we probably didn't talk at all but the ones that I did talk to were great. Every year my grandma does the "Christmas pie," which is where a bunch of presents are in a basket with a cover on top. There are blue or pink strings tied to the presents and sticking out of the cover. Each young grandchild gets to pull one of the strings and keeps the present to which it is tied.

Here is Morgan unwrapping her present. It's a puppet pig.Morgan got her new pajamas that night with Shy and Jacks. Grandma and Grandpa gave them to her. Thanks! I've always had this thing with Christmas morning. When I believed in Santa I would wake everyone up around 5 or 6am to open presents and see what Santa brought. Once I learned the truth, nothing changed (unless I got worse). So, this Christmas I was going to try to sleep until 8 or so since I had minimal sleep the night before, but no, I think I woke up three times (with some help from Morgan) and was up for good at 6am. I figured I would be nice to everyone else and not wake them up that early so I took a shower and got ready for the day. That's why I am all made up and everyone else is in their PJ's in the pics.

Poor little Morgan was sick so I had to restrain her and suck her snot every morning.

We have one "believer" in the family so we were trying hard to not thank our spouses for what Santa left. Carly and Tom had more of a hard time with it. I think if Shy was doubting Santa's existence at all, she probably knows the truth if she was listening to us try to keep it alive. I think she already had her doubts because she told my mom that she knows that Santa is real because they wouldn't give her all the cool things that Santa did. Hmm, must be a common theme with that age group (see the post about a letter to Santa).

I have the best, most thoughtful husband in the world. For my gift he wrapped a bunch of books, dvds, and a blow dryer for me to hide the real present. He had the book I wrote printed and bound. He also had the cover designed and wrote about the book and the author (ME!) on it. It was seriously the best gift. Thanks babe! However, when he asked me to email the book to him I didn't check which file I sent and it ended up being an older one with only 2/3 of the book. So, for our anniversary in February I hope to get my whole entire book.

Grandma and Grandpa Cook always come around 7-ish to watch us open presents and have breakfast. We did a "homemade" Christmas this year. I made a watch for Shy and Tom had a picture of my dad and Morgan on his Harley Davidson aged and framed in a barbed-wire embellished frame. I think it looked wonderful and Tom put a lot of thought into it.

Nick drew for Tom and made a really cool serving platter with the design that says "Rich" any way you look at it -- all "Da Vinci Code" like.

By the time we were done with presents I was tired and took a nap with Morgan. Then we went over to G & G Nielson's house to exchange grandparent gifts. After that it was time to eat again and we went to Delta to G & G Cook's for turkey and casserole. I got sick that day and slept while everyone played phase 10.

It was a fun day and another successful Christmas. The rest of Lynndyl week was spent just hanging out, playing games and napping. Then we went to Salt Lake to stay with Tom's mom for the New Year...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fun Seasonal Events

We've had a great time getting ready for Christmas this year. I need to get pictures still but we went to a live nativity with a real camel. It was way cool. We also had a Christmas party with some people from the ward at our house. I made a marshmallow Christmas tree to go with the chocolate fountain that we had.
Our Christmas decorations outside were pretty lame. We meant to have our whole house decked out but there was no way either of us was getting on the house to put them up and when we had someone come to give us a quote it was around $500 and I thought that I'd rather give that to charity than spend it for 3 weeks of Christmas lights.
For a young women's activity we went ice skating. Morgan and I watched and played while the girls (and young men) ice skated.

We went to Tom's work party last Saturday. We took Morgan because I felt bad leaving her with a babysitter for the second time that week and she did not want to sit there and be quiet (she has this new, super fun thing where she just yells relentlessly) and listen to Russell and Garrett talk about work (or let me eat, for that matter). I took a bunch of pictures of her to kill time.

By the Christmas tree:
By the punch bowl:

At the dinner table with daddy:

In front of the people speaking (but you can't see them well):

Watching the gift exchange:
With our gift (it's Bella but it got stolen with the White Elephant game so we ended up with Edward and Jenga -- not a bad night):
At the end of the night I was tired from standing all night and dying of thirst. Since we were the last ones there with no clean glasses, I just drank from what I could.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Last week we had dinner with one of my old friends (and roommate/coworker/running partner), Jobecka. We were talking about running when we lived in South Carolina and how we've both run marathons and both qualified for Boston. Anyway, we're both also turning 30 next year -- which I was very content with until that night. She suggested that we both do the Boise Ironman 70.3 in June. That is a half Ironman, which means a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run and I totally agreed to it. The best part is that I'm excited about it. What a way to turn 30! So, unless I'm injured or pregnant, cheer me on in June.

I did a small triathlon last year. It was just a mini. That means that the swim was 500 meters, the bike was 20 kilometers, and the run was a 5k. I was one of the few that took a mountain bike instead of a road bike. It was my first one and I had no idea that mountain bikes were soooo much more heavy than road bikes. It really slowed me down but was a good workout.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Limo Tour

Last Tuesday we went out with a bunch of our friends. I'd been planning this date for a month. It was going to be a surprise for the guys. I had everyone meet at Tom's work where a limo picked us up and took us on a two hour Christmas lights tour then dropped us off at Gino's for dinner.

Unfortunately the plans were running through my head at top speed and I verbalized a thought about the limo ride to Tom three weeks ago so it wasn't quite the surprise I'd hoped.

Everything would have gone smoothly except one of the girls was late meeting the rest of the girls at Gino's before the date so we could car pool to Tom's work. That made us about ten minutes late and the boys were waiting in the limo before we could get there. It was raining and I ran three red lights and illegally passed someone -- that's why we were only ten minutes late! Anyway, ten minutes was no big deal. Besides that, everything was executed perfectly.

Robbie, Jeneen, Stacy, Tom, Me, Becca, RyanSarah, Justin, Sandy, Robbie, Jeneen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eddie IS Real, Mom!

Well, I talked to my friend with the 11-year-old daughter that we gave the letter from Santa to and apparently it was pretty magical for Mackenzie.

Tom delivered it around 9:30 by ringing the doorbell and running. Mackenzie was in bed and Angela was vacuuming in her underwear. When the doorbell rang, Angela ran to get a robe, answered the door, picked up the letter and yelled for Mackenzie.

Mackenzie read the letter and was about to cry with excitement. She called her dad and told him that he is on the naughty list. She thought that was pretty funny.

Some of the lines that Angela told me were:

"Eddie IS real, mom!" Eddie is their version of Elf on the Shelf. They would see her talking to him when she thought she was alone. From what Angela told me, Eddie was the hardest thing for Mackenzie to find out was not real.

"How did Santa know what I talked to dad about?"

"He even signed it in Old English!" Tom did the "S" in Santa and the "M" in Mackenzie in calligraphy.

Angela couldn't show anyone the letter when I was at her house because Mackenzie took it to school to show her friends! She did that two days in a row.

Tom mentioned that we probably screwed the kid up but Angela thinks that we just gave her permission to believe for one more year (she really could be mad at us for the letter but wouldn't tell me). By the way, we were trying to do it anonymously but when Angela mentioned the letter then asked if it was us, my mouth curled up and I looked away. I'm a horrible liar.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Letter From Santa

I was talking to my friend today and she told me that her 11-year-old daughter "found out" about Santa this year. She asked her dad to tell her the truth. He said, "are you sure you want to know?" "Yes," she replied. So he told her that Santa isn't real.

Soon after, they found a letter to Santa from her that went something like this:

"Dear Santa,

"My parents told me that you are not real and that they are the ones that leave the presents but they are too cheap to leave all the things that you have left..."

I told that story to Tom today so we decided to do a little trickery of our own. The following is the letter that Tom concocted and just left it on their doorstep.

Dear Mackenzie,

One of my elves told me that you’ve been having doubts about me. Apparently you even had "the talk" with your dad… You asked if I am real. From what I heard, he was more than happy to take the credit for all my effort over the years (he’s now on the naughty list for that one). Of course I am real! You’ve seen me in the mall and on TV. Do you think I am faking all that? Do you have any idea how hard it is to be in all of those places? What more do you want to prove that I am real… a letter from me? Well you have it. So, don’t forget me.

From what my elf told me, you think your parents are too cheap to give all the presents I have given you… You see, that’s not exactly fair. I only have to take care of making sure you get what you want one day a year and then I get to run back to the North Pole and plan for the next time. Your parents have to cover all the other expenses –I know it’s their job as parents and all, but I’d take my job anytime. Besides, I get most of my present-buying money from various governments I have sold oil drilling rights to over the years. The polar ice caps were getting too thick and I needed to make things a little warmer up here. You try living in winter all year long… I am tired of it. I tried to buy some property in Florida, but the reindeer were flying too close to the airport… Blitzen actually got hit by a plane. It got pretty ugly –you try finding a replacement for a flying reindeer in Florida. So that pretty much put an end to that and we ended up moving back up here.

Really, it’s pretty sad. I am a grown man forced to spend my days talking with elves and hanging out with flying deer. My only break is reading letters from kids like you. All year long I look forward to the letters, the cookies, and glasses of milk… but NOOOOO! Parents get jealous.

Look, the simple fact is, your parents want more and more credit for things going on in your life, and that’s fine. I am sure eventually they’ll tell you there’s no such thing as leprechauns, or fairies, or the Easter Bunny (he says "hi" by the way).

It’s ok. I (along with the other magical creatures in the world) have gotten used to parents taking the credit. I had hoped that your parents would be different, but it seems that I’ll have to live with that. I just have a two small favors to ask (I think it’s only fair after all the cool stuff I have given you):

1. Make sure to teach your kids about me. It’s a great feeling to have people believe in you. You have been fun to watch grow up. Just know, I will always believe in you.

2. Please send me a letter every now and again. I really like hearing from you, and, while I understand your parents want to play a bigger role in your life (and take credit for all my hard work –it’s fine… I am used to it… I’m over it). Really, I am afraid I will get lonely up here without hearing from you.

I hope you have the merriest of Christmases. It has been one of
the greatest joys to make you smile every Christmas morning.

Forever Your North Pole Friend,


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Welcome Back, Body!

I finally did it. Seven and a half months after Morgan was born (and 5 1/2 months after my original goal) I lost all of the baby weight... That is 40 pounds, by the way.

I worked my butt off (literally) and ate very cleanly for the past 11 weeks and dropped the last 21 pounds. Actually, I dropped 18 pounds in 8 weeks then Thanksgiving hit and I didn't worry about it that week so it took me a couple of weeks to shed the last 3.

My new goal is to maintain through the new year, then I'll decide where to go from there.

This experience has taught me something (and yes, I will share this new found wisdom with you). If I am lucky enough to get pregnant again, I will think twice about sitting down with a bag (Halloween sized) of Kit Kats or a giant bowl of cookie dough and finishing the whole thing in one sitting. That said, I'm NOT pregnant right now so I AM thinking clearly and I reserve the right to go back on this goal. However, its easier to just eat well and not have to lose 40 pounds after the baby is born.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Today's Photo Shoot

We had a fun time with the camera today. I obviously have the cutest model but I found out that I love Picasa (Google's free photo software) to make the photos a little better. It was also the first day that I found a penny in Morgan's mouth. Time to baby proof!