we're rocking the suburbs this week! since most days my family doesn't leave the house till well after noon, our little family has started sneaking off in the car in the mornings to go to far off, adventuresome places, like the local 7-11, and the target for wipes (and lip gloss) (and the CUTEST salt and pepper shakers ever), and other terribly exciting things.

it feels SO good to drive again. DRIVING! it turns out i do miss having a car. but more than that is i miss those cup holders. CUP HOLDERS. and big gulps! oh suburbs, you saucy lady.

also rad is the mall, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

the mall wants to love you! let the mall love you! 


every year as part of the holiday season we celebrate alexmas. alexmas is quite a lovely holiday. it is also a terribly blasphemous way of saying it's alexandra's birthday. her birthday falls three days after christmas and so, yes. alexmas. don't blame me, she came up with it.

this year for alexmas we went bowling. good gravy but i am a terrible bowler. bowling shoes are fairly exciting though, so, you know, it evens out.





happy birthday, alex!
(p.s. how incredibly high quality are all these iphone pics i'm snapping? haaaaaa.)




and now we're all caught up.


for christmas this year, brandon and i gave each other a dinner table for our dining room. 

i gave him the top and he gave me the legs. isn't that romantic? 

so we planned on not opening anything from each other on christmas morning, but then both of us went and broke the rules, because of the christmas spirit and things. you know how that happens. 

i found brandon some terribly woolly socks and a really hot sweater (not hot like the temperature), and of all the things in the world, brandon marched himself over to the local dance store behind lincoln center and bought me a pair of ballet slippers. because i tell him only a million times a day when the ABT dancers are running around that i always regretted giving up dancing. and because my living room performances are the stuff of legend. and because, he told me as i opened them,  he wants me to know that he will always support my dreams, even the silly ones. seriously. i mean, this guy. what a hunk.

speaking of brandon. he is growing his christmas beard for me, and have i mentioned how that red beard makes my knees go all wobbly? and he is kind to my little brother and he is sweet to my little sisters and he goes grocery shopping with my mother and he makes me laugh and he loves on his fat baby. yes SIR. two thumbs up, holbsauce. and a pinch on the bottom!

speaking of bottoms . . .

you're welcome for that, internet. 
(p.s. our christmas jams this year were vintage muumuus from the various thrift stores of eastern idaho. my mom's got skills.)


MY CHRISTMAS TREE :: amelia markgraff ::

for our christmas day tree, i'm so honored to share reader amelia markgraff's christmas tree. her story is beautiful and sad and hopeful, and it touched me so deeply. oh gosh i'm so honored to share it. it is amazing stories like this that remind me what a blessing in my life this little blog is. i'm so grateful to have you readers, and to know what amazing people you are over there on your side of the computer screen. it humbles me to my core. and i am so grateful the Savior's birth and for His atoning sacrifice that makes it so all of our families are eternal. thank you dear amelia.  merry christmas to your family and to your sweet baby.
"Last year's Christmas was silly--my husband and I had just gotten married, and I was working as a nanny spending very little time at my own home. Our first Christmas season as a lovey-dovey married couple was approximately 4-5 days long. Our decorations consisted of a scrappy little Fleet Farm wreath, and a very bare tree. It all felt a little Charlie Brown-y.

By the middle of June 2011 I'd quit my job, and by the end of June we discovered we were expecting our first baby. I did everything a first-time mother-to-be does, and I did it excitedly. Everything seemed rosy and bright. I began jotting down ideas for our Advent calendar activities in August, and scouring Pinterest for tree garlands and homemade ornament tutorials late into the night. I wanted my tree to be glorious! As my belly grew bigger, so did my passion for this Christmas. I considered our first Christmas a mulligan, and vowed to make our second one as jolly and sparkly and magical as possible.

On October 4th, at 21 weeks, our doctor told us we'd lost our baby. I delivered her in the hospital the next day. We got to hold her, and name her, and look at her (that sweet girl had my nose). And then we had to say goodbye. And everything felt sad. I was devastated, and so lonely, and so angry. I dreaded the holidays, knowing that everyone around me was about to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, while I mourned the loss of my daughter. Christmas seemed stupid and trite, and I hated it.

My husband and I prayed, and our loved ones prayed for us. Slowly and quietly, by the grace of God, our sadness grew smaller. Every day felt a little lighter than the day before. I began to think, How can I be sad, knowing that my sweet little baby is in heaven, about to enjoy the happiest Christmas of all?

Of course I am still mourning. I have my bad days, and my very bad days. My husband still has to hold me. And yes, if I hear "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," I absolutely will cry. But, the spirit of Christmas caught up with me. I made the Advent calendar, the garland, the ornaments--and that tree turned out to be a pretty little thing.

And so. 

This year my tree means a whole bunch of things. It means faith--faith in my God, and in knowing that things will get better. It means hope--that someday, hopefully soon, we will have another little baby to hold. And most of all, it means love for my Savior, my family, my wonderful husband, and my sweet little baby girl.


for the rest of the month i'll be featuring the christmas trees of some of my favorite bloggers (and of some of my readers too!) i'll be posting a new tree each day, on top of regular posts from me. so, LOTS of posts in december! ho-ho-hope you enjoy them! 


MY CHRISTMAS TREE :: aubrey bennion & rebecca baust & jess lomas ::

after i asked for tree submissions, aubrey's was the first to come in--and i love how nontraditional it is! girl you have an eye for branch decor! thanks aubrey! our second submission is from rebecca, and our third is from jess. take it, girls!

"i have a branch! a rescued-from-the-gutter branch turned christmas tree!

it's definitely the result of my childhood growing up in a split home. you know, liberal dad, conservative mother. the liberal was always trying to convince the conservative to go the non-traditional route and haul in a benjamin tree to decorate and stash presents under. but the conservative insisted on the fanciest, most expensive tree in the lot--the noble fir. and it was plastered--encrusted even!--with a smattering of ornaments collected over our lifetime. and multi-colored lights. not even white ones.

and so, as a result, at 29, spending my first christmas away from family, i chose a branch. and not a charlie brown kind of sad christmas tree, an honest to goodness branch. 

p.s. this year i lit it up."


"My husband and I truly had an argument as to whether we were getting a tree this year. I am the Christmas tree scrooge and could have easily let the holidays pass us by without the thought of a tree. Before you judge, we live in NYC in a 4th floor walk-up with a curius pup who likes to drink tree water.

Of course, Ed won the fight and I caved for the tree. I'm not sure how you even win a fight that includes not having a Christmas tree? 

I politely elbowed a few people at Home Depot to get the highly revered over-priced LED lights. I still haven't fount the perfect tree topper so she remains without one. Gasp!

She is a teeny 4-foot fir (or is it a spruce?) and I am enchanted by her twinkle. She smells like the woods and my pup may actually try to eat her."


"Okay, so technically we don't have a Christmas tree but hear me out! The boy and I just moved into a new apartment a two minute walk from the Melbourne CBD. It's super cute but someone forgot to build enough cupboard space--something I'm sure you can sympathise with [ed: boy can i!] Being an artificial tree gal from way back we decided there simply wasn't enough room to house a tree for the 11 months it wouldn't be on show, so we decided to make our home festive by breaking the tree up into its various elements--baubles, lights, garlands, etc. We're quite chuffed with the final result, especially knowing it will be so easy to take down and store until next December!"

was named after the founder of the gryffindor house!
of course.
for the rest of the month i'll be featuring the christmas trees of some of my favorite bloggers (and of some of my readers too!) i'll be posting a new tree each day, on top of regular posts from me. so, LOTS of posts in december! ho-ho-hope you enjoy them!