Family Christmas Countdown

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving fun!

Paul and his cousin, Robert
4 generations of Rhiens
Julia, Me and my niece, Aleasha
Paul, Nicole and Taylor
Our family, minus Joanna, Cory and the boys
Some of Mama and Papa Rhien's great grandkids
Cute little Lucy
Julia, Jed and Paul
Laura and Lucy
Dad and Alli
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week and had the rare opportunity to see and spend time with all of our kids and their spouses and all of our grandkids in one week. It was sometimes hectic and chaotic...but mostly it was wonderful. We are all exhausted, but hopefully happy. I know I am.

Thanks, Cory, Joanna, Gabe and Hunter; Jed, Laura, Alli and Lucy; Paul, Nicole and Taylor; and Julia for making our week wonderful. And thanks to all the rest of you in our extended family, for your love and support. We wish we could have seen all of you and spent time with each of you collectively and individually. Just know that we thought of each of you, and love and appreciate you. I think that I felt more of a sense of gratitude than I have ever felt before on Thanksgiving. Just such a sense of fulness and richness in things both tangible and intangible.

We had dinner at Scott's parents and enjoyed time with the extended Rhien family. There were somewhere around 30 of us, including quite a group of little ones. We ate and laughed and had a great time. And then we all gathered in the living room and went around the huge circle and expressed our gratitudes. It was so cute to see the little ones that could talk participate. And then we sang Christmas carols while Nicole played the piano...and the children danced and danced in the middle of the room. What fun!

Paul had arranged a fun activity for our family earlier in the day. He had made a little turkey without feathers and put it on a bulletin board. Then he gave us each 8-10 feathers to color, and we wrote down things that we were thankful for on the feathers. Then we placed them around the turkey. What a fun activity. Joanna and Cory and the boys weren't there for that, because they were with the Ellis' for Thanksgiving, but Paul made feathers for them as well, writing down gratitudes they had expressed on their blog earlier in the week. Here's our little turkey...pretty fun, huh?

Some of us got up EARLY the next day and joined the crazy Black Friday shoppers. Oh my! I ended up at Target 4 times Friday, with different people. Not to mention the other stores we went to. I would get back home from a shopping trip with one group and someone else would say, "Hey, you want to come to _________ with us. I need your opinion on __________. So, we shopped and we wrapped and had a good time. But, boy were we beat by the end of the day. We were all trying to get as much of our shopping and wrapping done as possible this weekend, so that we could send our gifts back with each other. What a day!

Julia had to go back on Saturday morning. We were sorry to see her go, but it was great having her home for a whole week...and she'll be back in a couple of weeks for the Christmas holidays. She got to work a few shifts at the radio station, so that was nice. And they are scheduling her to work during her next break as well. She will be done for the semester on Dec. 12...coming right up.

Then Joanna and Cory headed down for a VERY quick trip from Utah. They got here Saturday afternoon and left this morning. They hadn't seen Jed's family or Paul since last Thanksgiving, so they didn't want to miss out on that opportunity. Paul and Nicole had to be back to Los Alamos by today, so they left after visiting with Joanna and her family for just a few hours. And then everyone else left this morning. Good times were hopefully had by all, although I know we all ended the weekend pretty exhausted. Thanks for coming, guys!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We hope that you all have a good day, safe travels, fun with friends/family, and great food! We love you all. Love Alicia and Justin

What are the signs that the holidays are coming?
You know? they kind of snuck up on me this year. In fact, I first realized a few days ago that y'all have been posting on here for a while - I had a lot of posts to catch up on.

This is of course our first year in a few not living in Idaho, and the lack of cold/winter weather I am sure is part of not feeling like the holidays quite yet.

The increase in advertising... the city starting to put up their decorations... the Christmas music (which I've been listening to off and on for a week or so now).

One big sign (kind of a funny one) for me... the end of the college football season, and the BYU-Utah game (the discussion of this year's game ends here - sad day). I can start to feel the bowl games coming on.

What are your favorite things about Thanksgiving?
Having time to relax together. Having time off of work.
Being together and visiting and laughing with family.
Playing games or putting together puzzles.
The Macy's Parade - it's not Thanksgiving without
And you can't forget the delicious food that comes just once a year
(among my favorites: pumpking pie, rolls, stuffing, etc.)

And who is shopping where on Black Friday?
We've been combing through the ads, making our lists/plans.
I am sure that we'll hit up Target and Walmart. The store we
don't usually hit on Black Friday, but we will tomorrow is Big 5.
(they have a deal on good Australian wool slippers.)

Well, we're headed out to dinner in just a bit.
Wishing everyone a Great Thanksgiving!

love, Paul, Nicole and Taylor Rhien

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here in Seattle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What are YOU grateful for?

Since this week is Thanksgiving I thought it would only be appropriate if we all list 10 (or more) things that we are grateful for. You can list it in a new post - or just answer in the comments. Oh - and try (if possible) to list DIFFERENT things than everyone else lists.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas lights

I know the holidays are coming when I get the yearning to put up Christmas lights and decorations, although this year if I had the money to give the electric company I would have put them up weeks ago. I think the tree that I covered in blue lights will still work this year, so I'll plug that in at least. I chose blue lights after seeing the Temple Square trees last year and all their single color trees. I still really want to make a giant (like 12 foot) snowman frame out of metal, and then cover it in lights. I might still do that. It just sounds fun. I also was cooking for a potluck this afternoon, and had an almost overwhelming urge to make fudge, so I know the holidays are here, I'm not even much of a fudge eater. I like it for about the first 2 hours after I make it, then as soon as it cools I'm done. :) Oh well, still fun to make, and better for my hips if I don't eat it.

Happy travels to everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving! Love you all. Alicia

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bowl Game Picking Challenge

(sorry for the cross post)

I've set up a Yahoo group for picking the college football bowl games. If you are interested use the link below to join the group. If it helps encourage those standing on the sidelines, let me assure you that none of us are very good at picking.

the password = go ducks
(include the space)

If you know anyone vaguely family related or just friendly, everyone is welcome.


If you don't have a yahoo account, you'll have to create one first before joining the group. favorite things?

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and my mittens...

Oh wait! You wanted to know what my favorite things were about Thanksgiving. So, here goes:

*the immense feeling of overall GRATITUDE that just sort of setttles over me each November. There is just such a feeling of richness and joy. Not temporal richness as much as emotional and spiritual richness.

*FAMILY--whether they are sitting around the table with us, or across the country from us, we pause to think about each of you on the holidays. I love it when we hook up on the phone with those we don't actually share the holiday with physically. I know that this doesn't always happen, because everyone's schedules are different. But, it is cool when it does happen.

*The FOOD...although the older I get the more it is about the people and the less it is about the food. My favorite parts of the holiday meal include: the cheese spread stuffed celery (which we usually eat at home, before heading over to the relatives), the homemade cranberry sauce, the stuffing and the pumpkin pie.

*The growing feeling of EXCITEMENT that the holidays are upon us.

*The beginning of the HOLIDAY MUSIC, MOVIES, etc. (although I have actually been listening to Christmas music off and on for a few weeks now)

*The signal that it's now OK to put up the CHRISTMAS DECOR. I was actually planning on having the trees up this year before the kids came for Thanksgiving, but then I decided that might not be a great idea with two little ones around that might have a hard time leaving them alone. I'd hate to have Taylor or Lucy pull the tree down on top of themselves.

*Thanksgiving means that it is almost time for the LUMINARIAS at the college, the Christmas parade, and the luminarias down by the riverside. Hooray! My favorites!

*The HOLIDAY BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES--we usually all go to some movie during Thanksgiving break. A couple of years ago we went to see The Lion,The Witch and the Wardrobe and it was nice and toasty warm and I was tired from holiday preparations, and I fell asleep in the previews and missed the WHOLE movie--woke up during the final credits.

What signals that the holidays are upon us? The decorations and music in the stores, the upcoming events I talked about above, and well, just a general feeling of excitement that seems to start building about now.

Will I attend the Black Friday shopping frenzy? Probably. I always do. Why? Who knows? It's just fun to be part of all the excitement. Like Joanna said, I'll miss Cory this year. We almost always go together. Even when no one else wants to, like last year. And we are usually up late the night before, pouring over the ads and planning out our agenda. Scott has even gone a time or two. I have subscribed to the Black Friday ads on-line and am already looking at picking up an item or two.

I love you all and will be thinking of each of you during the holidays ahead. Can't wait to see some of you!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank you, JED

Thank you , Jed, for manning the blog for us all and thank you for adding Alicia and Justin.

She will be on to add to the Family countdown and thank you herself, but right now, She is on a self-imposed blog boycott this week as she was spending too much time on them and is trying to wean off to have more time for the holiday baking and crafts. She already broke and read Blake's Top Chef blog, so we'll see if she can go a whole week.

Anyway, Thanks. We appreciate this great forum to all be together. It's like we are all together in one place, but nobody is trying to shove a pecan up your nose, so it is perfect. And everyone, please remind me to cover my pumpkin pies this year, all of a sudden, my cat has developed a liking of human food.
He doesn't get up on the counters, but I can still see those cat prints right through the middle of those pumpkin pies in Medford.

Our BIG Thanksgiving this year

For several years, we have been avoiding the BIG family thanksgivings -- but this year, we were like, what the heck, let's go. So we are going to the Anchor River Inn for thanksgiving. They close the Inn and just have our "clique" from church come over and potluck. Both families of our "grandkids" will be there and they all love "Gramps" soooooooo much, he will get a kick out of being there with them. We are bringing pies and stuffing.

(ps. I used to call them my "imaginary grandchildren" until one day I was visiting my psychiatrist and used that phrase and he started madly scribbling in my file. I said, "WAIT, they aren't imaginary children - they aren't really our grandchildren, they just call us that." One must be careful with phraseology when in conversation with a pyschiatrist. hahahaha )

Nothing tops Brian's pies. He has some secret ingredients he has developed over the years, I just heard about this week as Alicia was unloading the holiday cooking groceries. He and I used to split the pie making with me making all the crusts and he making all the fillings, but now I have turned the crust making over to Alicia --- who is an outstanding baker and fully capable of making much better crust than I do.

There will be at least 35 people there, last I heard. That is a BIG crowd for me, especially since Thanksgiving isn't my favorite holiday, but I think we will have a good time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What I like best about Thanksgiving

Posting my gratitudes on Joanna's blog
the smell of Thanksgiving dinner
My special sugar free cranberry sauce
my SILs cranberry jello salad
Burning the fireplace (on the rare Thanksgivings that is cold enough to do that--about 1 out of 5)
More gratitude

Love to you all, Sandra

What really starts the season for me

When my MIL Betty asks "who did I draw for Christmas this year?" (Except it's been known to happen at 4th of July!)
Pumpkin pie
My first carton of silk soy eggnog
The golden leaves fall off my ginko (which sometimes doesn't happen til mid December)
I suppose if we actually manage to put our tree up Thanksgiving weekend this year (since we now have a fake one), that will be a trigger too.

Happy to be back on the blog--thanks for your help, Jed.

Love you all, Sandra

In need of a really good book.

We've got a tradition that our family has had these past 5 years. We read a book together at Christmas time. We read it outloud in the evenings and on our trip in the car. This year, we haven't yet chosen a book to read, but would like some suggestions of good reads. They don't have to be Christmas oriented necessarily- but they can be. I think past books we've read were Maniac Mcgee, The Bronze Bow, The Christmas Jar, and the Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

This year, we've thought of expanding our tradition to include one family book, and one that Laura and I read together that's more just for us.

So, let us know your favorite ideas for good literature, and be sure to include some shorter kid-friendly stories too so we can keep Allison entertained as well.


Monday, November 17, 2008


I agree with Joanna that Pumpkin Pie is a big part of the season.

We had it twice this past week for desert. Mmmmm.

Laura is trying out some gluten-free ideas for crusts, and made a crust out of pecans, coconut, crushed corn cereal (kix), and butter. It's quite tasty for the people in our home who can't eat normal crusts. (Alli and Laura).

Joanna's answers

  • What are your favorite things about Thanksgiving?
    • Family. Pie. Pumpkin pie squares (mom - could you post that recipe here if you get a chance?) Thinking about gratitude for the whole month. Truthfully I think the whole thanksgiving feast is a bit of a waste.....I like the food and all, but it is SOOOO much work for one meal (yes - and leftovers - so I guess it's technically more than one meal.) I do love seeing family though, and I used to love going to the movies as a family after stuffing ourselves. (I don't think we've done that since kids though...) To me Thanksgiving reminds me most of Farmington - since we would almost always have Thanksgiving celebrations in Farmington growing up - so when we aren't there I do feel quite homesick. Oh - and one more thing that I love about Thanksgiving, and this probably sounds ridiculous - is cold A&W rootbeer - it reminds me so much of Thanksgiving....the combo with turkey is tasty! (Mom - where did that tradition come from?)
  • What are the signs that the holidays are coming?
    • headaches, anxiety, lots of creative ideas - but not nearly enough time to complete them in.....Christmas lights, great sales at Robert's Crafts and the local grocery store's open house (which I missed on Friday - and was totally bummed about). Also - as soon as I start smelling those HORRIBLE cinnamon pinecones that they sell everywhere - not only do I get a migraine - but I know Christmas is coming soon. The holiday season I worked at Walmart they had a display of those right by my register, and I would seriously go home ready to die with the worst headaches - now the smell makes me cringe and get nauseated. Hearing Christmas music on the radio too.
  • And who is shopping where on Black Friday?
    • Ugh. I like this less and less every year. We never seem to go shopping for other people and gifts when we do this, but end up buying stuff that we totally don't need - but Cory is convinced we need because it's on sale (case in point - the Wii bundle we bought last year and have played approximately 5 times in the past year....) Cory loves it because he enjoys crowds and mass commercialism - but I don't love it as much. I do like going later in the day and getting some stuff like kids games and other small things on sale (they are great to have on hand for birthday presents and stuff) - but I'm not a big planner or anything like that. This year we'll be up in Park City with Cory's family at a cabin - so I don't know if we'll be going or not. We might just need to escape the craziness that will be going on at the cabin - so we might go for it. We'll see.... (Who would Cory go with though - Mom's not around - he likes to go with her). I might jump in on the cyber Monday shopping and do some online stuff (SO much easier!)

We've been SO busy lately and not getting anywhere near ready for the upcoming holidays. I guess that's not my focus yet this year, but at some point this attitude is going to get me in trouble when I realize that there's not that many more days left before Christmas.

I have a lot of projects to do this week, but one of them was to make sure to get a family snapshot taken before Lucy got too old.

This is a photo of us in front of our home. It's finally feeling like fall here in Texas.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Black Friday

I have to admit, we don't go out on Black Friday. Brian was almost trampled in a blue light special in a Kmart at an after Christmas sale once and he is not a fan of crowds in after holiday sales.

We spend the day after Thanksgiving making Christmas candy and watching college basketball games. Someday, we are going to watch the Maui Classic in person. We might someday go up to Anchorage to watch the Great Alaska Shootout, but not very many good schools come here now since they have the exotic tournaments in tropical places at the same time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clark Family

Have a request for whomever it is that manages the Family Christmas blog - could you add Alicia and Justin as contributors? It will make them feel like they are adults now. Thanks..

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Signs that the holidays are coming

This will sound weird, but the panic sign I notice that it is time for Christmas Rush is when they start advertising champagne-like products on TV. We saw the first one tonight and I was like "OH NO - it's time for Christmas shopping." I don't drink champagne-like products, so I don't know why that is my trigger, but Jed or Laura asked so here's my answer.

I think it is because they are advertising mostly for New Year's Partys and obviously, you can't have a New Year's Party until after you have had Thanksgiving and Christmas, Right?

I'm so wanting to be in Hawaii for Christmas this year - good one on you Blake and Johanna. We'll be thinking of you.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Happy holidays

Just thought I would put up a post for the Holidays.

Three questions:
1. What are your favorite things about Thanksgiving?

2. What are the signs that the holidays are  coming?

3. And who is shopping where on Black Friday?