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New Years Eve Celebration

Our tradition for New Years Eve is our chocolate fondue!  This year we were lucky to have some of Connor’s family visit and we could share it with them!  


And the cousins LOVED playing together.  They spent so much time at this table with Legos and Angry Birds.


After the kids were in bed, the adults played games and it was a great night.  Since I was feeling under the weather, I went to bed before midnight and didn’t get to kiss my love.  But 2013 was an interesting and exciting year.  Here’s to a great 2014!

Academy of Science

We got to go to the Academy of Sciene up in the city and the kids had a great time.  Unfortunately, I was starting to feel sick at this time so it’s kind of a blur so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.


Six Flags

The day after the BYU game we decided to all go to Six Flags.  There was lots to do!



It was exciting that BYU played their bowl game in the Bay Area this year and at AT&T park no less!! Connor got great seats for the game and that was the main reason so many of his family came out.  It was really weird that we were wearing blue to the park but it was a fun game even though they lost.


12 Days of Christmas

Several years ago, Connor and I started the tradition of doing the 12 Days of Christmas for each other.  We switch off years and it has become a wonderful way to show each other love.  I do them on the even years and Connor does them for me on the odd years so I got it this year.  It’s always fun to get to see what he comes up with!  This year did not disappoint.  He actually counted down from 12 so my big present could be given on Christmas day.

I love that sweet man of mine!


Christmas Day

Our Christmas day was wonderful.  I absoultely LOVE Christmas with young kids.  I think it has to be one of my most favorite things ever.  It is all just so magical!  The hit of Christmas day was Kinsley getting her car and the boys getting Legos.  


After opening presents we had my family over for Christmas brunch.  The meal turned out pretty well if you ask me!


For lunch we just had some deli meats and cheeses and got to eat outside because it was beautiful!


For dinner, I made a ham and it was a nice evening.  We even spontaneously invited our neighbors over and we got to here stories from them.  It was a lovely day.

This year the boys saved their money and bought gifts for people and they really enjoyed the giving aspect of the day and I thought that made the day even better!  

What a wonderful way to spend celebrating the birth of our Savior than giving to and loving others.  

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was an exciting and very busy day.  Connor’s parents were flying in and we were also having Christmas Eve dinner at my house that evening.  So we spent the morning trying to get everything to stay clean and then got to go to the airport.

The kids were so excited they could barely stand it.  Christmas time AND their nana and papa!


That evening we had my family over and we had a great dinner that my mom made!


After dinner we let Corbin do his scriptures he had been working on.  He actually had it memorized but he felt more comfortable reading it from the book.  Silly kid.  

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Then the kids got to open presents from their grandparents.  They always get spoiled.


This was their set up for Santa and the reindeer.  I went to get one of our normal cups to pour the milk for Santa and the boys insisted that Santa get one of the special glasses.  I thought that was very sweet!  


It was a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Christmas Sunday Best

Here are our Sunday Christmas pictures!!  I love my family!


Ice Skating

I have always wanted us to go to Christmas in the Park but we have never had the time.  This year we decided we wanted to take the kids ice skating and it was at Christmas in the Park so it worked out great.  

We first walked around the park. 


Then we headed over for ice skating.  Unfortunately, Kinsley wasn’t allowed on the ice, so I couldn’t skate but it was fun watching the boys and getting pictures.


Then we had to get cotton candy because nothing says Christmas like cotton candy.


Fantasy of Lights

This has been a tradition of ours for several years now and as always it’s a highlight of our traditions.  

We always have to get candy!


Then we show the kids where we had our wedding reception and get into the line for the lights.  It is a drive-through one so we turned on a movie while we waited.  This was the first time Kinsley had a movie on since she has been front facing.  She was amazed.


Then onto the fun lights.  

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A fun family tradition!

School Parties

One of the things I most remember as an elementary student was the parties for different holidays.  So seeing my kids get to have those class parties brings back memories.  

Cason had a pajama pizza party and he was so excited.  I’m not sure I have ever seen him more excited than he was for this party.  Even his teachers wore their pajamas and he thought that was pretty fun!


Then at the end of the day his school had a “flash mob”.  They are preschoolers so you can’t expect more than bell ringing and so half-hearted singing.

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While Cason had his pajama party, Corbin was getting to make Gingerbread houses.  Here is what he came home with.


Then for Corbin’s last day of school, he had a pajama party and got to read and watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate.  He told me “Mom, I didn’t even have writers workshop or phonics.  I didn’t have any work!”  


Fun Christmas time!

SmugMug Holiday Party

My mom invited us to her work’s holiday party since it was a family event!  The kids had fun making gingerbread houses and cookies and then subsequently eating all the candies instead of their dinner.


Fun times!

Kinsley at 18 Months


What?  Our little baby is a year and a half?  How is that even possible?  But now she is ready for a big milestone at church!  NURSERY!!!  Connor has been taking her for the first hour for a month to get her used to it and it has seem to go fine.  It will nice to finally be hands free during the last 2 hours of church.  

Here’s what’s new with our Kins:

-switched to front facing car seat.  She is on the line of being the right weight but Connor said enough was enough.  
-for a few days she just kept saying “bobby” over and over again.  We couldn’t figure out what she was trying to say. Then all the sudden, before bath one night, Connor all the sudden figured out she was trying to say “potty”.  Every night before bath we sit her on the potty and she has even gone a time or two.  I don’t think she is by any means ready to be potty trained at 18 months but hopefully it won’t be too much longer! 
-she says a lot of words that are correct but also sentences long babbling.  All of whirch are cute.  Her most common words these days are mama, dada, doggy, more, yeah, no.  Connor and I absolutely LOVE her “yeah”.  It’s perfectly clear and correct and she says it almost whenever she is asked a question.  Sometime she shakes her head “yes” or “no” instead.  We keep saying we need to get it on video!  It’s so dang cute!
-She is still in 18 month clothing and I imagine she will be for awhile unless she has some outrageous growth spurt. Some of these clothes are still a little big on her because she is so tiny, but the 12 month stuff is just too short.  Well not too short, since she is still short, but short enough not to be super comfortable.
-she is in size 4 diapers.
-she loves loves loves dogs.  But not real ones.  She always points out real dogs so I thought she liked them until I’ve tried to take her to one.  She loves the idea of real dogs and she ADORES stuffed dogs. 
-after Connor was home for Thanksgiving week she became a total daddy’s girl.  It was hard when he had to go back to work and now she’s warmed up to me a bit again.
-she loves Christmas lights.  When we drove around the neighborhood looking at lights she was being so cute with all the “oohs” and “ahhs” she was making.
-she is a climber.  She will go find the stools throughout the house and take them to a place where she needs to reach.  She also climbs on the play table several times every day.
-this girl has surprised me that she is still taking 2 naps a day.  The boys dropped to one early, maybe around a year or so but Kinsley has not seemed even close to stopping.  Maybe once a month she won’t take that second nap and at church she obviously misses her morning nap but so far she still needs the sleep.
-she is happy and fun and full of smiles.  People always comment on how social and happy she is.  Of course, there are moments of not happy but we love our sweet little girl.
-hugs and kisses are common occurances from her.  And not just hugs but squeezes!!!!  It’s pretty much amazing!
-she still lets me occasionally hold her like my little baby while she is drinking her milk.  I love that! 
-she has opinions on her shoes, socks, coats, hair and hats.  She is suprisingly okay with letting me choose her actual clothes for the day.  It’s the accessories that she wants to choose. 
-she loves the BYU Cougars.  She sings “ra ra ra ra ra, Go Cougars” and her favotire book is a BYU board book.  I think this makes for one proud daddy.  
-at her doctor appointment she was 19 lbs 15.9 oz (2.7 percentile).  She was 19th percentile for height and 25th percentile for head circumference.  The doctor mentioned how she doesn’t look like she is that low on the percentile chart.  She looks perfectly healthy and normal.  She said we don’t need to be overly concerned but we will just keep watch on it.  Tiny, precious baby!
-Connor and I always think that she acts too old for her age sometimes.  But we sure love our sweet little girl!

Apple Holiday Party

Connor had his work holiday party and luckily I felt well enough to go.  It’s always fun to get to see how Apple does a party.  And this was actually for only part of Apple.  I doubt there is a venue big enough to hold all of Apple + 1.  We got there close to being on time and it was a good thing because we never had to wait in line for any food.


There was, however, a huge line for pictures that was moving incredibly slowly.  We debated several times whether or not to wait in it.  We started to wait and then a worker came over and said there were some photobooths with no line, so we went there.


Then we decided to try waiting again and then overheard someone say that there was going to be a suprise entertainment almost close to where we were standing.  Mary J. Blige had been the musical guest the previous night at the Apple only Beer Bash, so I thought maybe there would be something cool like that.  

Well, it ended up being these Cirque de Soleil type performers.


Then after they had finished a curtain dropped and there was a big dance floor with this DJ/drummer guy.  


They also opened up a second place to take photos.  So we went over to that line instead but still had to wait about half an hour.  Was it worth it?  


It was fun to socialize and see how the convention center was transformed.  After doing the ward party decorations I had a much higher appreciation for what must have gone into that.  

Christmas Treats

We try to make neighbor and friend treats every year.  This year we did chocolate dipped Oreo’s.  


Messy, choclatey, and sprinkly!

Cason’s School Program

Just as Corbin has in past years, it was Cason’s turn to have a Christmas Program at school.  At home he would sing loudly and confident.  On stage, it was a little different.  Still cute though.  We love our little Case man!


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Bethlehem Walkthrough

This year we went to the Bethlehem Walkthrough on a Saturday night.  And this was during what our weather people were calling the “cold snap”.  So we were all dressed incredibly warm but we were still cold. 

This year Holly and Jona came with us since they live pretty close to where it was.  But I only took one picture for some reason.


As usual it was a touching performance and I am glad to keep this as one of Christmas traditions.

On the way home, I got a video of how Kinsley has been in the car lately.  

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Our ward decided not to have Santa at our Ward Christmas party this year.  I’m fine with that decision being made.  But since this is my blog I want to share my opinions on the matter since I have heard and seen several places thinking Santa is not a good part of Christmas.

Connor and I grew up believing in Santa.  It was fun and magical.  I never remember ever thinking that Santa was more important than Christ.  Maybe it was because we learned about Christ all year long and only talked about Santa in December.  I also think families can believe in Santa and also make celebrating Christ the focus.  I read a letter that someone wrote to their child who no longer believed in Santa and one of the points that they made was that Santa helps children learn about faith.  So in our home, we talk about the Savior and Santa.  We have decoarations of both and we do activities that relate to both.  I feel like the Savior is all about giving and that is what Santa is about as well.  

Now on to the Santa visit.  After the Ward Christmas breakfast, we realixed we had time to go see Santa.  The kids were dressed nicely already so it was a perfect time.  When we got there, the line was empty was it was just working out perfectly for us.

The boys got to talk to Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas and then we hurried and put Kinsley on his lap to get the picture.  But she didn’t even cry any way.  

Santa 2013

Ward Christmas Party

A month or so before the Ward Breakfast I was asked to be on the committee.  Then I was asked to help plan the decorations and thus started my stressful November.  I am not a creative type person and to try and figure out cheap, nice looking decorations was giving me anxiety.  I guess the good thing about this was that because I was so stressed over the party, I wasn’t feeling stressed by ANYTHING else.  Even having Thanksgiving at our house seemed like a piece of cake compared to the decorations.  

The week before the party is when all the actual making of the decorations took place.  We made snowflakes and Christmas trees for the centerpieces.  Another girl on the committee took charge of the snowflakes and spent a ton of time on those.  But there was a lot of cutting by a lot of us.  Connor even helped me with the centerpieces.


Once the decorating was done, I could sort of relax during the party.  I was slightly worried that the lights would fall down during it.  Luckily that didn’t happen!


Christmas Tree Decorating

Over the years we have perfected what has worked for us for putting up the Christmas decorations.  We like to put the bulk of the decorations up the Friday after Thanksgivng and then for the first FHE after Thanksgiving we decorate the Christmas tree.  This plan has made it much easier for us and it is more fun this way.

Every year it is fun to get out the tree and remember Christmases past through the different oranments.  Each one is special for one reason or another and I love that our kids will have a set of ornaments to take with them as they have their own families.  


Temple Christmas Lights

With the end of Thanksgiving comes the start of our Christmas traditions.  We plan out December a few weeks in advance so we can be sure to do all our favorite things.  This year our annual temple trip to see the light needed to happen earlier than usual.  We also got to have Uncle Cole come with us!

The kids really enjoyed it this year and were asking lots of questions.  I was also glad to hear how much Corbin already knew.  There was one place in the temple that had videos talking about Heavenly Father’s plan and Corbin was asking me about it.  

I think the spirit really sunk in that night for him because he asked to sing “He Sent His Son” at bedtime that night.  

It was a beutiful night and I’m glad we could enjoy it as a family!


© The Duke Fam 2014