Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The other fun we had

Making Gingerbread men with the Danise Family.  SO good to see them.
Being pulled on a sled behind the tractor
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Fun trip to Discover Gateway Children’s Museum
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Zoo lights!
Josh’s words—We had an “Epic” sledding day
My very favorite thing we did this trip was go to separate dinners with both my parents and Alan and Sharon.  For Christmas we gave them a night out with us.  We always feel like there isn’t time to talk and connect while we are in Utah, and so it was so fun to just have some time to talk, ask questions, and enjoy being together.  On the night we took my parents out we made a totally impromptu visit to the BYU Exhibit, “Sacred Gifts.”  It was absolutely stunning! What a fantastic way to celebrate Christmas—viewing and contemplating images from the life of Christ.  Loved it.  Wish I had some pics! 
We also went to the annual Miller Family party.  Rusty and I cleaned up at Left, Center, Right :)
My next favorite thing was spending time with these lovely ladies.  The time flew by way too quickly.  These are some amazing people, and I am honored to call them my friends.  (Of over 15 years!!)

Holly Jolly Christmas

We had such a great time in Utah this Christmas.  People often ask us when we are going to give it up and just have Christmas at home with our own little family.  My answer, “NEVER!”  It’s too much fun being able to spend time with our G&G’s, aunts, uncles, and cousins. (This statement might be depressing to Sharon and Susan who have to work so darn hard while we are there).
The festivities started at the Banks house with the Annual family Christmas Party.  Good food, great company.  This year instead of the traditional Nativity, we did The Friendly Beasts.  All the kids dressed up like animals and adored the Baby Jesus.  It was so cute, and I’m really sad I don’t have a better pic.  Those kids are so wiggly!  The kids loved their presents from Grandma and Grandpa.  They also enjoyed giving and getting gifts from their cousins. 
Banks family christmas party
Next up—skiing on Christmas Eve.  This was Blake and Cohen’s first year.  They were adorable.  Blake was not at all interested in learning, but he was very interested in speeding down the hill.  Josh had a rough start—it was hard to carry his skis up to the tow rope.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to pull out of his onrey mood, but once both of us had a reset we had a great day.  Halle, Bridger, Cory and Rusty went on the “real” lift this year.  Halle did so great!  She picked it up so quickly and had a blast with Bridger.  Rusty’s ski boot (15 yrs old) exploded on his first run down the mountain. I have never seen anything like it.  He had to ski down using only one foot.  What a pro! 
skiing at Sundance
We spent the evening at the Cornell’s enjoying more good food, and more good fun.  The kids got their traditional Christmas Eve pajamas, and this year also got a Beanie Boo stuffy.  They were all instantly in love, and declared members of our extensive stuffy family on the spot. 
Cornell Family Christmas eve The boys were especially enamored with Uncle Landon this year, and could be often found snuggled up by his side.  It was really sweet. 
Christmas morning brought the usual mêlée of excitement and gifts galore.  Silly Santa brought the kids iHomes (speakers and alarm clocks for their ipad/pod) but he brought the wrong one!  Good thing there was plenty of other fun surprises to keep them busy until Mom could order new ones!
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The elves once again did a great job hiding their stockings. 
This is what happens when your mystery mini figure is a GIRL robot.  You lay down on the floor and cry your eyes out. 
securedownload Then it was off to Cory and Lindsey’s to see what the other cousins got from Santa
IMG_2855That evening we held the first annual Cornell Reindeer Games.  So fun.  We played a whole bunch of “Minute to Win It” Type games.  My favorite was the balloon stuffed panty hose made to look like antlers. 
Pretty perfect Christmas if you ask me!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Magical Trip to Christmas NYC

Rusty gave me the BEST PRESENT EVER this year.  A trip to NYC at Christmas time.  It was a magical whirlwind.  I apologize in advance for all the selfie’s.  There aren’t many perks of a traveling husband, but tagging along on business trips is certainly a big perk.  He had lots of meetings and work to get done, but I was perfectly content entertaining myself.  I shopped, ate, and visited all the fun Christmas displays around the city. 
First stop?  Dominique Ansel bakery.  I had to get my hands on a cronut—the hottest dessert in NYC this year.  Lucky for me (maybe), it was a FREEZING cold Monday morning and so the line wasn’t as long as I had heard.  I waited for about an hour to purchase my allotment of 2 cronuts  ($5 each).  The flavor changes every month and Dec was chocolate champagne with a dusting of orange sugar.  I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype, but it did.  SOOO Yummy.  In fact, so yummy that I considered standing in line again the next morning!  (But then reason set in)
Cronut IMG_2513Then it was off to visit all the window displays in the department stores.  My two favorites were Saks and Barney’s.  Saks windows told the story of the infamous Yeti who lives on top of the store and creates beautiful snowflakes.  It was a darling story, the windows were fabulous, and at the last window there was an iphone app where I created my very own snowflake that drifted across the window along with my name.  So fun! 
Yeti Collage At Barneys I got to go on an interactive Sleigh Ride through NYC.  Some of Santa’s Elves are in the sleigh with you making hilarious commentary the entire time. 
PrintI also shopped at the Union Square Holiday Market, got that cute hat you’ll see in all the pics, and tried about 4 different things for lunch :)
PicMonkey Collage 
After a stop at the Plaza Food Hall and a little more sight seeing, it was time to go meet Rusty at the Empire State building.  He had arranged with a colleague for us to go up to her office on the 76th floor of the Empire State Building and watch the sunset.  Her office boasts a 360 degree view of the city.  It was absolutely amazing.  People pay good money for that view.  (I, myself, have paid at least 3 different times) It was so fun to take our time and not be hassled by crowds or security barriers.  We loved looking through their telescope.  And the very best part?  The windows in the office open completely.  We stuck our heads out of the 76th floor of the Empire State building.  What a trip!
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After we had our fill of the view, we went to dinner at Toqueville.  Delicious.  Then it was off to the main event—The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Extravaganza. It exceeded my expectations, and my expectations were high!  We had so much fun watching the Rockettes, and using our 3D glasses to navigate one of Santa’s video games.  I’ll admit, I got a little teary eyed a couple of times.  I was just so darn happy to be there.  My favorite part of the show was when the Bible story from Luke 2 was presented. What a nice surprise to find Christ right in the center of all the NYC Christmas hoopla.  Wonderful. 
Radio City Collage
We ended the evening with a romantic stroll around Rockefeller Center.  And that was only Day 1!
IMG_1478 IMG_1495IMG_1494  Day 2 started with Hot Chocolate and pretzel croissants at City Bakery.  I cannot say enough good things about that hot chocolate.  It is heaven in a cup.  So rich, decadent, and the homemade marshmallow puts it totally over the top.  (at $7 per cup, it better be good!)
IMG_1376Rusty had to get to work, so I took some time shopping down in SoHo.  I forgot that NYC is a notoriously late rising city, so not much was open.  After awhile I headed back to my old haunts on the Upper West Side.  A trip to Levain’s is always in order, and I wanted to see the oragami Christmas tree at the AMNS. 
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By this time it was snowing pretty heavily.  I decided to take a stroll through Central Park down to Columbus Circle.  Nothing is more beautiful than Central Park in the freshly fallen snow. 
Central Park Collage  
From Columbus Circle I took the Subway to Bryant Park where I enjoyed my favorite Holiday Market in the city.  I also enjoyed some delicious vegan sweet potato chili, and some churros :)
IMG_2649All too soon it was time to go to the airport. I was half hoping the snow would delay our flight and we’d have one more night.  But no such luck.  It was fun to get home to my kiddos, and I feel so lucky to have amazing friends to take care of them while all my Christmas Dreams came true.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

An Epic Thanksgiving

Despite the stomach flu that swept through our ranks, Thanksgiving this year will go down in history.  All the Cornells and All the Banks (Minus Brett and Kami’s fam) sojourned to Colorado to spend the holiday with us.  As we are all aware, having family visitors ranks #1 on the list of Banks Kids favorite thing.  They were in heaven surrounded by all their aunts and uncles and cousins, grandmas and grandpas. 

Carlie, Dan, Gwen, Cole and Landon left at 4am and arrived by about 12:30.  It was fun to have a few hours with them without all the chaos (the good kind) that followed. We had a rousing game of soccer in the park.  Basically it was all the adults trying to let Josh win without being blatantly obvious that was our intent. 

Everyone else trickled in as the day went by.  We all ate soup, roasted smores, visited, and participated in the annual Banks tradition of breaking the bread for the stuffing. 

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Thanksgiving day started bright and early with the Redline Turkey Day 5k.  Sickness didn’t wait long to strike, and Carlie woke up with a fever of 103.  Natalie succumbed to the stomach bug later in the day.  It was quite a bit colder than I would have liked, but everyone raced really well, and Halle and Bridger completed their first 5k with Grandpa Banks. Rusty and I ran back and ran with them for about the last 1/2 mile.  It was so fun, and I was a very proud running mama!  Alan won an apple pie in the raffle, and Rusty had a shot at the grand prize of $500.  He had to guess how many cones were along the course, but his guess wasn’t close enough :(  Michael blew away the family competition with a 21:36.  Tara, Natalie, Rusty, Ralph and Cory, weren’t too far behind. 


Turkey day 5k 1

The little kids got to run in the 1/2 mile kids race.  Blake decided to be stubborn and as a result, took dead last.  But that’s ok—we still had fun. The kids were so proud of their finisher ribbon.  IMG_2698

Turkey Day 5k 2Now on to the main event….dinner!  This year I did a completely gluten free/dairy free meal.  There was a lot of trial and error involved, and weeks of menu testing, but I think the end result was good.  Never fear…Natalie’s rolls, Sharon’s stuffing and a couple of regular pies were still on the table for everyone but me. I have to confess…..I’m not a huge fan of Thanksgiving food.  It is not all that delicious to me.  So next year I’m already scheming for the menu to our Non-Traditional feast.  Stay tuned…..
And yes, we use paper plates on Thanksgiving.  Don’t judge. 
TG Dinner 1 TG dinner 2

We had a pretty good time being silly in our Thanksgiving Photo Booth

TG Photo booth

After everyone had time to digest, we ended the day at the movie theater seeing “Frozen.”  It was the best Disney animated movie in a long time. We all loved it so much we immediately downloaded the sound track, and haven’t stopped listening since. 

The next day we were off to explore Boulder. It was a gorgeous day so we headed for the hills.  We “hiked” at the Flatirons.  I’m guessing our 1/2 mile walk took about an hour to complete.  But we enjoyed each other’s company and got some killer pictures.  We also explored Pearl Street and made a visit to TapInfluence headquarters.  Gwen was super sick the night before, and Dad was down for the count this day as well.


Thanksgiving 2013 (5)

Saturday was my turn to be sick.  Luckily this virus was short and sweet.  Most people only felt yucky for about 12-20 hours.  But, they were a pretty miserable 12 hours.  I stayed home to rest while everyone else headed to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. 


Now for the event I had been waiting for….Adults night out!  I roped two cute YW into tending all these adorable kids and the adults headed to Downtown Denver for dinner and then to see Manheim Steamroller.  We ate in Larimer Square at Tom’s Urban 24.  It was yummy, and it’s always so nice for the adults to get to visit without the distraction of the kids.  We then had fun roaming around downtown looking at all the lights before the show started.  Rusty was the latest sickness casualty.  He started feeling sick at dinner and didn’t think he’d make it though the show. Mom too.  So, my Dad got to be my date instead.  It was fun! I have to admit, I was looking for Manheim to put me in the holiday spirit but the show was a little weird.  As evidenced by the giant pair of rotating lips that sang “Merry Christmas” and then split into many, many pairs of lips.  I’m still glad we went, it just wasn’t quite what I expected. 

It was a great ending to a great holiday weekend.  Everyone packed up and left early the next day.  We can’t say thanks enough to all our family for taking time out of their lives to come visit us.  We truly appreciate it.  It means a lot to Rusty and I and most especially the kids!

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I think this is the first picture I have with all my siblings since Landon’s mission farewell.  902322_10202327903066607_865479738_o adult night out