Last week was my goody baking/making week. I started a list of things I wanted to make in early November and picked things up for them as I saw them on sale. I started with the double peppermint bark that I'd intended to put with my parents Christmas gifts but I sent the box before I'd made it. I continued with chocolate scotcharoos, kissy cookies ( I made a three batches of these because Derek loves them so much )and muddy buddies. Hyrum helped me dump in the ingredients for all of these delectable treats. He loves to help and I love having a helper in the kitchen. It's much better than doing them all by myself. Plus the holidays are all about making happy memories. So that children can live on nostalgic happiness for their entire lives and what is more nostalgic and happy than making Christmas treats with mom?

Which brings me to my Saturday goody making/baking. When I was young I remember digging our the leather worn brown paper bag that contained all of the cookie cutters. We didn't make sugar cookies too often but regardless I loved looking at them. When my parents remodeled the kitchen this last fall they brought the cookie cutters out to me. There were some new cookie cutters added to the mix and the leather worn brown paper bag had been replaced with a plastic one but I felt the same thrill as I saw them again.

Hyrum shares my love for cookie cutters and absolutely adores making sugar cookies so I knew now that I had my retro cookie cutters that we'd have to make sugar cookies this year. When we picked out the cookie cutters that we would use for our cookies Hyrum insisted on this one.

What an astronaut has to do with Christmas we'll never know but unfortunately this particular cookie cutter likes to hold onto cookies to the point of destruction so we were unable to get an astronaut Christmas cookie.

Derek and Hyrum are the cookie cutters. I make the dough and bake the cookies and the boys cut them out. Derek says that I see sugar cookies as a spectator sport. If that's the case then Hyrum definitely sees it as a full contact sport.

And if you don't watch him he will cut cookies with reckless abandon

We also gave him a chance to roll out the dough. And this is something that we found ourselves doing a lot of.

Hyrum...Look at momma!

My fearless cookie cutters after their hard work was done.

Derek is going to hate me for posting this picture. He thought his hair was crazy. But I like this picture of my boys.

Also when I was young my mom always made old fashioned hard candy for Christmas. We'd have wintergreen, spearmint, grape, pina colada, licorice ( which they always called anise on the bottle ) and others different years but always cinnamon...ALWAYS cinnamon. I don't know if it was because I was in my own house this year or if it was because Hyrum was getting older but I just really wanted to try making hard candy this year. But I was also very nervous to try them on my own. So after several nervous calls to my mom I started.

When the candy is done it's 300 degrees fahrenheit so naturally we didn't have much of a role in actually making the candy. Our job was making the candy trails in powdered sugar.

But as soon as that oil was poured into the syrup and the kitchen filled with the strong smell of warm cinnamon a flood of memories poured into my mind. Derek ( who actually poured out the candy into the trails ) says that he still has the smell of cinnamon in his nose.

It turned out EXACTLY how I remember it and I want to make hard candy every Christmas from now on. Hopefully Hyrum has the same fond memories of making trails in powdered sugar and breaking up cooled candy.

Doesn't it look good? Yumm! Does anyone else have nostalgic treats that you find yourself wanting to make now?

I will get to reporting on our amazing Disney World trip but it's just too daunting right now. I'll do that in January.

We got home from The World on Friday night and Saturday was our wards Christmas party. Santa came and sat with all of the kids. I wondered how Hyrum would do as he wouldn't even touch Santa last year as he sat uncomfortably on his lap and kept his arms aloft. But as soon as Santa walked through the doors Hyrum was all smiles saying "SANTA!!" We waited in line and he realized that if he sat with Santa he got a sucker. That certainly sweetened the deal. He didn't get ANYTHING for posing with the Characters in Disney World.

He looks a lot more comfortable than he did last year but always with that thumb which is a clear indicator that he's not feeling completely at ease.

We did manage to get a grin out of him but it was fleeting and we were pretty lucky to get a picture of it.

After Santa left they had a dinner and a program that Derek was a narrator for and our next door neighbors and their darling baby girl played the parts of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.

On Sunday Derek was feeling pretty rough and Hyrum had a nasty cough (although he was acting fine) so he and Hyrum stayed home from church. Later we decided to decorate a bit in the house. We opened one of our boxes and found our gigantic stockings and decided to see if Hyrum would fit in it.

He wasn't as excited about it as we were. But he was much more excited to put up the Nativity scene. Every time he put up a piece and had it settled and facing in the right direction he was diving for another one.

A few days later when Derek was feeling better (and on one of the coldest nights of the year) we decided to venture out to the local Christmas tree lot to pick out a tree.

Hyrum loved running around the trees hiding from us and then peeking out at us. Being here though made me think of last year being in Michigan and picking out a tree from one of the many tree farms around so I did my best to try to recreate that.

Not too successful but at least Hyrum was happy. Although on the way home he said that his feet hurt. We asked if they were cold and he said no. But as soon as we took his boots off we found that his toes were little ice blocks. Poor little guy. We didn't have a truck to throw it into the back of or even a longer car to strap it to the top so we put it in the trunk as best as we could. It still stuck out quite a bit. It's a good thing we live in the country.

We got home and started to decorate the tree. Hyrum wasn't too interested in being involved but as soon as we helped him to put a ball on the tree he was really excited.

Then Dad took it to a new level and helped him put decorations up towards the top of the tree. He was all about that.

Since this is the first year in the house and we have high ceilings we decided to get an 8 foot tree. And since Hyrum has been so excited about trains we decided to put a train around the bottom of the tree.

The tree is a little skinnier in the middle than we realized at the tree lot. It must have been the cold that blinded us to this small abnormality. Or maybe it was just that I wanted SOMEBODY to have a waist in the house. :) We've been figuring out the new ways we can decorate this house. It's been fun.

We quickly realized that we don't have as many flat surfaces to put things in the front room as we had in the apartment ( because EVERYTHING was in the front room in the apartment). So some things have gone into Hyrum's room.

( I'm not sure if you can tell but those are Star Wars ships on his tree and a sled full of little people. Those are the ornaments he couldn't live without. And he fell in love with that little gingerbread house I painted in my teens )

Before we left and when it was warmer Derek got up on the roof and put up lights. Neither of us were too excited to put up colored lights. We're both more solid color light fans but we had a bunch of colored lights so we put them up with every intention to put up solid color lights in the coming years. Hyrum was excited about them though. Every time he sees them he says "Oooo Wow! They're glowing! Glowing! Glowing!" He likes everything glowing so he's always plugging in the lights despite my constant efforts to save on electricity.

I think Derek did a fabulous job. It is certainly better than the system the previous owners had for the lights. They had pounded nails into the roof and strung twine from one to another and then wrapped the lights around the twine. Interesting. We spent the summer pulling out the nails and filling the nail holes so we don't end up with water damage somewhere down the road.

This year we spent a very different Thanksgiving then we ever have. We were heading to Florida and Walt Disney World and my family the day after Thanksgiving (yes that would be Black Friday) so we couldn't go up to Idaho like we usually do. We had first thought that we would just cook our own dinner but then we'd have all kinds of leftovers that would just go bad after a week of us being in Florida so we thought we'd invite someone over and send them home with the leftovers. But we couldn't think of anyone. Then we got an invitation from Derek's wonderful cousins to eat with them. I don't know why but I always forget that we really DO have family close. Then later we got an invitation from his aunt and uncle to join them for dinner too. Again...HELLO Why do I always forget? Silly Sunny.

But as different as I thought it was going to be it had all the elements of a Thanksgiving I was used to in my family.

An amazing table set for a house full of family

Kids happily playing with cousins and Derek organizing games for them to play

Browsing through the Black Friday ads

Napping after an amazing meal

( I love how dramatically Ayrel sleeps)

Hyrum loved playing with his cousins. He caught a frisbee in the face (right across the eye when his eye was open-Poor little man) but it didn't stop him from playing video games and running around with them till the last seconds.

There were also new elements to this Thanksgiving. Most notably the deep fryer which fried the turkey and anything anyone could think of.

There was also a puzzle set up to be put together which is a Jensen tradition and most tried their hands at putting a few pieces together.

It was a great Thanksgiving and we are so grateful to have family so close - even if for some reason we always forget that you are close. :)

We woke up to a dusting of snow this morning which lasted well into the day. But by the time Hyrum was asking to build a snowman the snow had all but melted. We told him that if it snowed again this afternoon that we would build a snowman. Around 2 o'clock it started to snow, and snow, and snow. By the time it ended we had a good two inches on the ground. So we bundled up and headed outside.
This wasn't the first snowman he's been involved in he and my dad made one while we were in Michigan but then he was much more interested in shoveling the snow than making the snow into a man.
He started to get the hang of it but quickly lost interest and decided he had better things to do with the snow.
Look at that mischievous grin. I just love this picture. Of course Dad was not taking that laying down.

He also discovered the joys of eating snow. It's a rite of childhood. At least we knew it was new fallen snow. And apart from it being full of fallen leaves that we didn't have a rake to clean up, it was "clean".
Once he started to see the snowman come to life he was sooo excited to help with him. He was beside himself with excitement to put in his carrot nose and wrap a scarf around his neck.
And here's the final product with Mom, Dad and Hyrum.
I couldn't help it. We had to watch a Christmas movie after we came in and had our hot chocolate. I couldn't bring myself to watch a real obvious Christmas movie but we did introduce Hyrum to Frosty the Snowman. It's not REALLY that it?

There is a lot going on at home in Michigan for my parents. Everything from remodeling the house to getting another house ready to rent to taking care of my grandmother that had her third surgery in a year. I was determined to make this a nice relaxing vacation for them. I tried to get BYU football homecoming tickets to quickly get their minds off things going on at home. Unfortunately BYU was doing great at the beginning of the season and tickets were sold out before I could get any for a reasonable price. But we did go down to campus to get a taste of the excitement.

We got them shirts thinking we'd be at the game and they wore them anyway despite the lack of tickets. We planned to go somewhere to watch the game but they didn't have it on and when we finally found a place to watch it we didn't WANT to watch it anymore. They lost PATHETICALLY. So much for a great start to the vacation.

The rest of the week was a blur of activity. Family dinner on Sunday. I resisted making a list of things that we could use help with in the house but little by little they began to find projects around the house to complete. These are just a few

Harvesting ( and ultimately cleaning out )the garden before the snow flew

Included in the harvest were the nectarines from the blasted nectarine tree that NEVER RIPENED! ( and still haven't for that matter ) I have to say that the axe may be coming for it next year unless things change.

Fixing leaks in the kitchen that we didn't even know that we had

Working miracles with our cloudy glasses

Cleaning out and organizing the pantry.

Installing and reinstalling towel bars rings and other bathroom hardware

Amazing chalk drawings on the driveway

I'm telling you who ever drew these has a serious future as an artist or at least an illustrator! ;)

Sugar cookies made and frosted...and eaten. Sorry no picture available. :)

Hyrum's room reorganized to put in his new bed and figure out how we're going to get a twin sized bed and crib into one room.

Thermostat MOVED!!
The rectangle on the wall on the right is where it used to be. Right in the middle ( although not centered ) of the wall completely making the wall unusable for artwork. He moved it over to where he's standing. It was no small project. My dad is a genius and very determined.

The tools. What's even more amazing to me is that you'd have no idea where it had previously been after he'd textured and painted the wall. Unfortunately we've been slow to put up the art work since we have a table invisioned for that wall too and we don't have that yet.

A new living room fan installed
Here's a refresher of what the OLD one looked like
We like the new one much better.

The night before they left they were even trying to start new projects like putting a light in our pantry
This may not find it's completion until my parents are back in Feb for another "relaxing" visit.

Thank you Mom and Dad! We love you!!