Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Austad Family Christmas

Ryan and I spent the Christmas weekend with the Austad family in Sioux Falls. This year all of us were able to be together for Christmas! Last year, Ryan and I spent Christmas in Sioux Falls and Sara and Mike were supposed to as well....however, with the wonderful Christmas Eve/Day snowstorm that ensued last year they were stuck in Omaha. Since we switch Christmases with our families we thought that both our Christmas visits and Mike and Sara's Christmas visits would be opposite for the years to come.

But I guess that's the planners in us, and we shouldn't think too far in advance. Because we got great news this summer that my brother Tyson and his girlfriend Meggan, and my sister, Brie and her husband, Jason were all able to join us for a Christmas celebration in January instead! So...we were off to Sioux Falls for Christmas 2010 too!

Christmas was a blast! Thursday evening the 23rd we all headed out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse- yum yum! That evening, we were able to chill and watch movies to relax. Christmas Eve we went to the 5:30 church service and then met the rest of the extended Austad family for dinner, games and caroling. It was great to see aunts, uncles and cousins and be able to just enjoy the chatter of everyone. The youngest kids are growing up so fast!

Christmas day was fun too, we checked out our stockings and each opened up one present before we had our Christmas brunch. Egg bake, cinnamon rolls, cheesy potatoes, and fruit were just a few of the items on the menu. After brunch, we opened up the rest of our presents. Ryan received a power drill and a drill set (which will come in handy for both of us!) and I received a garmin gps to find my way around when we move to the cities! That afternoon we headed to tut hill to do some sledding, came back home to eat another wonderful dinner and played games and watched movies.

All in all, it was a really nice and relaxing Christmas weekend. I love this time of year because everything seems so warm and cozy. I haven't taken down the Christmas decorations at our house yet, we're waiting until our company comes to keep the holiday cheer flowing. We hope you all had a great Christmas!

Christmas Eve with the Extended Austads

A Christmas Kiss!

Rough & Tough


Monday, December 27, 2010

Scarf in Progress

Sometime in early November, Ryan's sister, Sara, taught me how to crochet. At first, I wasn't a pro, but I really started to enjoy the repeated motions of crocheting. Its something that I can do while sitting in front of the TV, or waiting in my car. I picked out a black/gray/silver yarn for a scarf that would match nicely with my charcoal colored coat. I figured I'd whip up this project in a week or two. It's been over a month now.....

This crocheting thing takes determination and time. Little by little I've been adding to my work of art, and it continues to grow. At first my lines were sguiggly and I didn't have the exact and repeated steps down pat. After a good week or 2, I really honed in on making the scarf look symmetrical from side to side. I'm not done, quite yet, but I'm getting there. Ryan mentioned that I should get started on a baby blanket- because it might take me 3 years to make it. haha, very funny Ryan.

The awkward beginning stages

What it looks like today

Its getting longer!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mihulka Family Christmas

No...I didn't just clear my throat, Mihulka is my mother's maiden name. :) And this year, we were lucky enough to celebrate Christmas together as an extended Mihulka family. With my grandma's passing in November, we knew that Christmas would be a bit tough this year for my grandpa. So we decided we would make it special just for him, just like my grandma did every year before.

We gathered at my Uncle Don and Aunt Sue's house in Lincoln. With my 11 aunts and uncles, 16 grandchildren and their spouses and 7 great grandchildren, we had a full house! The day was filled with telling stories from Christmases past, a white elephant gift exchange, and the traditional reading of The Night Before Christmas.

When we were younger, all of the grandkids would huddle around the tree, while Grandma and Grandpa sat on the couch and read this story to us. We were all cuddled up with our fleece pajamas, animal slippers and woobies (blankets). Some of the younger cousins would help Grandpa turn the pages and we would fill in the parts of the story we knew by heart.

One of my uncles (to this day, I'm still not sure which one(s) it was) would disappear at this point and time. And by the end of the story, we'd hear jingle bells and a big bang outside the front doorstep. SANTA WAS HERE! It never failed, the older kids would run to the front door, and there would be large trash bags filled with presents. They would lug them into the front living room, and Grandpa would pass them out one by one, as each cousin's anticipation grew more and more.

I'm not sure if I could tell you exactly what I received as gifts those years, but my memories of Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's will always be alive in my heart. I can still smell the little smokies, tortilla roll ups, cheese dips, and cookie trays in Grandma's kitchen. And remember the one Christmas Eve we ordered pizza instead. Again, I'm not sure why- maybe someone's main dish went up in flames. I remember the lineup of coolers outside my grandparent's back door. Many labeled with Mihulka...to find the right beverage, I had the upper hand here, ours was the only one labeled Thomas instead. :) I remember the boy cousins downstairs in Grandpa's Shaklee room playing video games that Cousins Chad, Todd and Justin brought. And the tiny stockings lined up above Grandma and Grandpa's fireplace that held Dr. Pepper lip balm and cherry candy canes.

I think that's why I love Christmas so much! I am already trying my best to start Christmas traditions for my family- me and Ryan. :) For the past 2 years, we haven't exchanged presents, just stocking stuffers for the two of us. And I've already started stashing tradition ideas away for future family members. :) Who knows? Maybe I'll be blogging about them someday. Hope you all had a great Christmas, and were able to surround yourself with the love of family and friends.

Grandpa reading the Night Before Christmas

Brynn and the Jingle Bells

Brooklyn is having a great time!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:9-12

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Let us remember the reason for this beautiful Christmas season and the humble beginnings of our dear Lord and Savior.

Ryan & Amberly

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!!!

(Kim, Kelli and Me!)

It's Christmas Eve!!! Do you have all your presents wrapped? Has Santa Clause come to your house yet? Are you full of Christmas cheer like me?! :)

Ryan and I headed up to Sioux Falls Thursday night with Sara and Mike in a wintry wonderland drive! We made it here safely and are looking forward to the events of this weekend with the Austad family.

To get into the spirit, last weekend I went ice skating with my cousins and their significant others. We had so much fun! Sadly, Ryan was in Minnesota that weekend, but we made sure to keep him up to date with our night, sending silly texts and picture messages of our skating adventure.

First up was dinner at Old Chicago. I have to admit this was one of the most laid-back dinners I think I've ever had. I was expecting the restaurant to be packed with Holiday party-goers, but it wasn't so bad. And after we ate, we were able to sit around and chat while enjoying a little holiday cheer. (something had to keep us warm for ice skating)

There isn't really a place to put your things at the ice-skating rink, so we decided to drop purses in Kelli and Greg's car in the nearby parking garage. This was quite a feat. After walking around aimlessly, up and down stairs and ramps for a good 20 minutes, we finally found the vehicle!!! And we were off to ice skate. I think we went ice skating on a week night last year, but this year we went on a Friday night. When we arrived the place was pretty packed so we took our time getting our skates on and by the time we hit the ice, the crowd had thinned. (no ice puns intended).

What a wonderful time!!!! I remember always loving ice skating, but I think when you're under the Christmas lights with Christmas music playing and laughter in the air, it brings back a great childhood nostalgia.

Our Parking Garage Adventure

Ben and Kim Ice Skating

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home Made? Kind of...

Christmas is almost here! Can you just feel it? As I was hanging out at home last night, I realized I probably haven't shared the story of our Christmas stockings with you. It all started in January of 2009...yes- I probably should've been focused on our wedding, but I was doing some last minute Christmas sale shopping! That's right folks- I knew that Ryan and I would be spending many more Christmases together as husband and wife, so I was looking for things to spruce up our someday home.

Hobby Lobby has got to be one of my favorite places for after-Christmas sales. Everything goes from 40% to 50% or even 75% off! I stumbled up on these adorable silver stockings with glittery swirl designs and snatched them up for $2.00 each. I was excited to personalize them with our initials, and after seeing a Pottery Barn catalog with button initials I was up to the task. Thankfully, I didn't take the whole button project on until later- that December. I mean, we did have this wedding thing going on.

After picking up a red and green button pack from Michael's and some leftover thread from another project, I snuggled up with a hot chocolate and got to work. I only took a picture of Ryan's, since his stocking is the only one full at the moment. ;) But don't worry, Ryan and I are celebrating our own little Christmas tonight, so I'm sure Santa will have come by then!

Hope you're all enjoying this week before Christmas, I know we are!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New/Used Camera...A Great Buy!

A few posts ago, I mentioned the Swap Shop from Ralston High School-where I found a used camera. I picked up the camera last Wednesday and tried it out last week to make sure it would meet our camera needs. I am happy to say it has great picture and video quality! I am so happy that I won't have to deal with the shutter issues of ol' red anymore. It doesn't have the fancy features like our Canon did-but it takes great pictures....take a look.

I took a few pictures of one of my mini-projects. I grabbed some red wire-edged ribbon and some straight pins and pinned up the awesome Christmas cards we've been receiving in the mail from family and friends! And I even found a glass vase that works to hold the cards and letters too!

I'll have to take an updated picture of our Christmas Card Ribbon...we had to add a second one!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ryan=Mr. Minnesota

Ryan is in Minneapolis tonight...actually he's been there since yesterday. Since our news about the big move has occurred, we've been putting into action the next steps. Ryan has been back and forth from MN a few times now in the past 3 weeks. Mostly its for work and to make sure everything is lining up nicely for his transition to the Minneapolis office. But he's also able to take a peek at a few of the house listings we've found in the area. -and of course help with the metrodome collapse. :)

Since our house is still on the market, and I am searching for a job- we're not too serious about finding a place right now-so Ryan's just taking a peek. We've looked at condos, townhouses, duplexes, and single family homes. We've ruled out certain suburbs and areas of town and are now zeroing in on places we like. But there are many things that must fall into place before we narrow things down and find a place to call our own.

Please continue to send thoughts and prayers our way for a smooth transition and the blessing of a buyer for our home. My mom sent us a care package the other day and in it was a little statue of St. Joseph. The box said: "Selling your house? Bury a saint." I'll let you read up on the background of this story. But, St. Joseph is now buried at our house!

Hope everyone is enjoying this time of year- I know we are. Only 1 more week until Christmas Eve!

Ryan- You might need to wear something a little warmer next time
: )

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Hearts

I used to have a record player when I was little. :) yep-a record player. And no-I'm not 60 years old. But I loved that record players soooo much! I remember I had Christmas books on record and Christmas themed records that I would haul out during Christmas time.

I would dance around with my Carebears and Cabbage Patch dolls and sing until my heart's delight. Last week as I was decorating my Christmas cookies (and Ryan was intently watching football), a familiar song popped into my head:

"Christmas cookies and holiday hearts
That's the way the holiday starts
Christmas cookies and holiday hearts
Goody goody yum yum yum"

Corny? Yes! But it happened to be a song from one of my records! Listen here.

Ah- to be a kid again! :)

And not to leave you hanging on the Christmas goodies- here are a few I came up with this year. I had my official taste tester, Ryan, help me out with the final product- and he approved. However, he did mention the other day that a few of the cookies needed more frosting. Next year babe!

I had a bear cookie cutter that I was really excited about making polar bears with. After decorating all of the other cookies- I was spent, so the bears got just a drizzle of frosting instead. Don't mind the green bears.

Gingerbread Men! And...Sugar Daddies? :)
Note: next year, only make the gingerbread men out of the gingerbread dough.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Swap Shop

Since I started coaching my dance team, I have been part of Ralston High School's employee resource system. This system includes our school email, calendar, transportation rentals, etc. All of the good stuff that a school should have. One of the other really neat things is Ralston's "Swap Shop." Its kind of a private Craigslist for Ralston teachers and staff. Teachers post books that they need for their classes or items they might accumulate from others for elementary art projects.

But in between the slew of toilet paper roll requests and the suggestions for electricians in the area, are also items for sale. Most of the time I browse through this list and don't find anything that we really need. But the other day I found a diamond in the rough.

Exhibit A:

Since our camera took a dive...literally (click here for the full story). I have been looking around for a replacement. See, Ryan and I had 2 other cameras in our house before we lost our good one. A blue beater that I've had since high school circa 1999, and a red camera that works fine- but has had some shutter issues. (you've seen that in past posts). Our hope is that we can purchase a brand new camera in the future- preferably one like this...but...we don't really need it right now. So, I flexed my muscle in haggling. The lady was selling the camera, memory card and camera bag for $65.00. I offered $20. She took it! I know its not the newest model on the block- but I believe it'll do for now and will be better than old blue and shutter shock red. I'll get my hands on it tomorrow- so I hope to share some pictures with you soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Decking the Halls

We weren't sure if we should put up our Christmas tree this year. Would potential buyers be able to see the 2 large windows in the living room? Would the area look smaller? Would our holiday cheer be too much for a buyer to look past? Ryan and I both looked at each other and asked these questions after we had hung our stockings and set up the tree. Oh well...what's done is done, right?

I have been looking forward to decorating our house for fall and for Christmas ever since we picked out a lot. Even if somebody walks through our house and decides to buy it tomorrow, it will be worth it to have put up our little piece of holiday cheer.

We poured 2 glasses of red wine and started going through boxes of ornaments. Although we only have accumulated 2 years worth of ornaments, each one still means something special. We can only imagine what ornaments we'll have 5 or 10 years from now.

Ryan pours some holiday cheer

The Christmas Tree, Stockings and Nativity

For some reason, I couldn't get this photo to rotate
just imagine our dining room table all dressed up for Christmas

More Christmas decor and presents under the tree!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thankful for Family

We gathered together on Thanksgiving evening to write out thank you notes as a family. Many stories were shared of my grandmother, tears were cried, and memories were made. I silently sipped my apple cider and watched my grandfather's eyes. They fluttered from granddaughter to granddaughter and his eyes welled up with tears. They met mine and I smiled. "You all have her smile."

Uncles, Cousins and Husbands watching football

Aunt Vikki had Christmas crafts for Brooklyn and McKenzie


The youngest grandchild- Megan with Grandpa

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The 1st Competition

My dancers had their first competition last Sunday, and I'm proud to say they did GREAT! They got 2nd in both categories-lyrical and pom! That morning I had heard that my Grandmother wasn't doing well, and the girls banded together to perform one of their most emotional lyrical performance ever. Sometimes I forget that these teenage girls can have such a profound effect on me. They really did great, and I am so so so very proud of them. Go RHS!

The Girls Before Their Lyrical Competition Piece
Performing Pom

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Walk By The River

With Thanksgiving last Thursday and the great deal of time spent with family, there sure was a lot of good food to go around. Pumpkin and Cherry Pie, Turkey, Cranberry Salad, Stuffing, Rolls, Green Been Casserole, Yams, and Mashed potatoes, were just a sampling of what we had ingested over the past 2 days and our pants were busting at the seam. So Saturday morning, Ryan decided it was time to go out and do something active.

After a quick phone call to Sara, we were off to Fontenelle Forest for a mid morning hike. It felt so nice to get outside and move around after stuffing ourselves silly. The air was crisp and there were signs of winter on its way. We took a few different trails that led us down by the river, and Ryan had fun throwing tree limbs and sticks into the fast-moving current. After a good 3 mile hike we headed back to the car and everyone's legs felt like jelly. What a reward for a little bit of exercise!