December 31, 2016

My 2016.

HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE! What a crazy, exciting time of year and I can't even believe the beginning of January is about to hit us!

For someone in my shoes, the months of October to December are nuts. I say "in my shoes" because I'm a Canadian who married an American and is living in America. Therefore, in October Jarryd and I celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, in November we celebrate American Thanksgiving, in December we celebrate Christmas, and now we celebrate New Years Eve/Day! There are four major holidays all within the span of three months for us! (Thank goodness Christmas is the only holiday where gift-giving is expected, or else we'd be sooo broke!)

Last night in the car, Jarryd and I were just talking about how great of a year 2016 was for us. Thankfully, and I say this with a truly grateful heart, nothing drastic or tragic occurred in our lives. (Thank you, God!) We both conquered some things we wanted to conquer, and accomplished things we never even dreamed we'd accomplish. But, there's also things we wish we would have done more of, or wish we would have done less of. Obviously our lives aren't perfect and therefore our year wasn't perfect. But overall, despite how exhausting and busy the year may have been for us, 2016 really was a good year.

December 29, 2016

Our Third Christmas.

So, Christmas has come and gone. There's no more cars driving around dressed with an antler on each side and a big red nose in the grill, and Christmas music on the radio is nowhere to be found! 😒 I very much believe that Christmas music should be played until New Years Eve; half of us still have Christmas family gatherings and get-togethers after the 25th of December, so what gives? (Perhaps it would confuse the little ones if they heard on the radio that Santa Claus still has plans to come down the chimney at 12 that night...AGAIN?)

Christmas of 2016 was definitely one of a kind! I feel like Christmas for me isn't centered around the actual day of Christmas--I think it's the days and weeks leading up to it. I believe I really started getting into the whole "Christmas spirit" thing at the very beginning of December when I was flipping through radio stations on my commute home from work and came across a station playing ONLY Christmas music, and I was instantly hooked. For some reason hearing those first Christmas songs instantly cheered me up and enveloped me in a warm hug of nostalgia. πŸ˜‡

The following blog post is dedicated to our favourite memories of our third Christmas together: Christmas of 2016. πŸ’—

Firstly, one of my biggest dreams came true when I got to see New York City at Christmastime! This was my first trip to New York City where we actually stayed the night, which was also a dream of mine (because I've had one too many "day trips" there).

 You know those decked-out "shop windows" they all sing about in Christmas songs?! I got to see them and it was amazing! One of them even featured Canadian geese so that was a lovely surprise.
And see that giant green thing surrounded by scaffolding? Yep, that's the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree being set up! I looked up the details of this tree, and it's a Norway Spruce from New York, and this year it was 94 feet tall! WOW. (Tallest on record was 100 ft!)

There was this one weekend near the beginning of December when I was feeling exceptionally cranky--probably because I spent my Saturday morning cleaning the entire bathroom and doing laundry all on an empty stomach and before coffee! (Bad move...) And I don't know if this is a human thing, a woman thing, or simply just a Jenny thing, but when I'm upset about one thing, it somehow connects to something else and something else again and again, therefore making me upset about EVERYTHING and henceforth coming to the conclusion that my whole life is falling apart. (Am I crazy?!)

So, me being upset about one thing lead me to believe that we probably won't even celebrate Christmas this year in the form of finding a Christmas tree and decorating our apartment and what not. No Christmas for me this year. I thought as I poured my tears detergent into the laundry machine. Now here's the amazing part! A few days before we'd looked everywhere for our Christmas tree stand! We couldn't find it and therefore thought we left it at our old apartment to be garbage-ridden. I don't know about Jarryd, but I certainly didn't feel like spending the money on a new tree stand, something we'd only use one month out of the year, so I thought for sure we wouldn't be getting a tree. But in the midst of my tears, Jarryd comes up and gives me a long hug--all the sudden he says "HEY! There's our tree stand"! It was hidden behind the laundry machine between the broom and vacuum. "Let's go pick out our tree now, ok?"
Me: "OK!!" πŸ˜… πŸ’•
Off to pick our Christmas tree! (See! You can't even tell I was crying! πŸ˜† ) Also, let's talk about how glad we are braids are back in style.
This is the breed of tree we picked out, "White Pine". (Is "breed" the correct term here?) I LOVE it so much, and I think it may be the only breed of tree I'll ever want for the rest of my life! Our tree only cost us $35--apparently because White Pines don't hold heavy ornaments very well, they're not in demand, which explains the uber low cost. And since I'm not the kind of person to put alot of ornaments on a Christmas tree, it totally works out for me. (But who knows, I'm sure my tree style will change over the years, you know?)
Bringing our tree home was a bit of an adventure--we borrowed my father-in-laws red truck and loaded it up in the box of the truck. That part was easy, it was the getting-it-set-up-in-our-apartment part that was rough--you see, we thought for sure we had 9 foot ceilings! So our 8+ foot tree absolutely did not fit vertically. Jarryd ended up cutting a few inches off the top of the tree with my serrated KITCHEN knife. (I was cringing the entire time because that knife came in my knife-kit from culinary school and it's made of high carbon German steel! πŸ™ˆ ) It was quite the adventure getting this big fat tree set up, and despite how stressful it got at times we couldn't help but laugh at ourselves.
Moving the hutch out of the way to make room for the Christmas tree called for serious hutch-trinket rearrangement. 

I had some serious goals for this tree and pink Christmas balls were on the list! (Shoutout to Jarryd for being the best husband ever and letting me put pink decor up in our apartment!!)

I bought the pink Christmas balls at Target, the gold balls at Big Lots, and the poinsettia flowers from Dollar Tree! I'm absolutely in love with the color scheme of pink, gold, and white.

Our Christmas card photo this year! We were literally in our PJs right before this, hopped into some nice clothes, set up the camera on self-timer, took like 10 photos, and then hopped back into our PJ's again. I promise one day we'll get professional photos taken!

Yes! We rearranged our living room in honour of our Christmas tree, which was a funny story actually. Jarryd wanted more seating in our living room, and that grey L-shaped couch was always kept in our office/second bedroom as more of a futon. So I told Jarryd, "trust me babe, I've rearranged this living room in every way possible trying to get those grey couches to fit in beside the beige couches and it's utterly impossible". Well, he's a persistent guy and really wasn't having any of that, LOL. I then told him "fine, go for it; I just don't want anything to do with're on your own." (What a nice wife I am...). And low and behold he created this super cozy u-shaped living room situation which I absolutely LOVE! The beige couch acts as a room divider which is fantastic. So I ended up apologizing to Jarryd for not having faith in his interior decorating skills, because boy was I ever wrong!

I think we'll keep it like this forever (arrangement wise, not cleanliness wise--you should see the coffee table right now...).

Christmas chocolates are always a big deal. These Guylian seashells are amaaaaaziiing, and Ferrero Rochers of course, and Ghirardelli sea salt chocolates are a MUST.

Christmas card photos were sent out to our immediate family along with gift packages for our nieces and nephew! I'm seriously praying that one day we'll live close enough to our nieces and nephew that we can buy them gifts and give it to them in person without having to worry about how much the shipping will cost! Maybe one day. πŸ’–

This was our one and only snowfall, On December 17th. It was rain, then snow, then ice, and then melted away with the rain a few hours later. So far, there isn't any call for snow in the upcoming forecasts which is just fine with me! I live for the warm weather!

Yes, I wore my Home Alone sweater on Christmas Day. Speaking of Home Alone, that movie is a HUGE Christmas tradition for me--my family and I would watch it every year! This year, Jarryd and I watched a ton of movies leading up to Christmas. We randomly watched The Santa Clause (LOL), Four Christmases (which is hilarious!), and every year we have to watch The Family Stone. If you haven't yet seen that, I highly recommend it--you'll laugh, you'll cry, and all the actors are amazing and very well-known.

Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent at the in-laws, where succotash is always a staple dish (cooked corn and lima beans). In the photo above, this was one of my favourite moments; when we looked through old photo albums of Jarryd's growing up years. What a cutie. There's something about watching old home videos and old childhood photos that give me the warm and fuzzies.

BAKING. On Christmas Eve I did so much baking! Firstly, I made these sweet dinner rolls.

Secondly, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies. (Which I'd say were the biggest hit at the family gatherings!)

And thirdly, I made this Peanut Butter Crisp Triple Chocolate Pretzel Bark. Very rich, but very good. And bark isn't really my ideal dessert, but it was fun to try something new and expand my skill set!
Earlier in December I made these Unbaked Chocolate Cookies--these are definitely my ideal dessert, as I could probably eat a thousand of them in one sitting!

OH and the "Layered Cookbook: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes" by Tessa Huff was my early Christmas present from Jarryd. The only way I had even heard of Tessa was when I stumbled upon her Instagram page and totally fell in love with her baking style. To give you an idea of her amazingness, in the Good Reads Choice Awards, her book was #5, and she was the only one not associated/made famous through a TV show. She's just pure baking talent!

One of our Christmas traditions is to pick a movie saga to rewatch. Last year's was Star Wars (in honour of the Force Awakens) and this year's is Harry Potter!! Next year will probably be LOTR/The Hobbit, but we'll just have to wait and see! (And hopefully next year's Christmas will be in Canada!)

In full disclosure, Christmas this year turned out better than I expected it to because being so far away from friends and family over the holidays is tough. And despite Jarryd being horribly sick the entire weekend, and us being so busy having hardly any time to breathe, it was a great Christmas! God has been so good to us and we have much to be thankful for!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time for ever." Isaiah 9:6-7

December 18, 2016

Past Memories of Christmas.

Hi friends!! The following post is one that is very close to my heart. The lyrics of the classic and most beloved Christmas song, "it's the most wonderful time of the year" really does ring true. Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year! It's not always perfect, in fact, it's never perfect.
The Christmas holidays are actually FAR from perfect. They're busy, stressful, chaotic, and exhausting. They're filled with long road trips, flights, cancelled flights, snowstorms, icy roads, burnt casseroles, overindulged stomaches, socks in your stocking (unless you just LOVE getting socks?), chocolate boxes with questionable surprise fruit filling, excessive amounts of small-talk, and your least favourite overplayed Christmas songs on the radio (eg. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus").

But despite all of that, the Christmas season always ends too soon, because the time spent with friends and family--the ones you love the most--is never long enough! I mean, sure I get my fair share of introvert hangovers over any holiday throughout the year, but whenever Christmas is over I'm always wishing I could relive it just one more time. Because once Christmas and New Years Eve are over, all the bright lights and red and green decor are taken down, house exteriors are bare once again, and the creatively decorated shop windows are no more. And if there's no snow on the ground (like it usually is here in Maryland), the winter landscape looks awfully dreadful, in my opinion; everything just looks dead and gloomy. Blech. At least there's the optimistic hope that spring is on its' way!

Today is December 17th, and it's the last weekend before the BIG and EXCITING Christmas weekend hits us! As previously mentioned, this years' Christmas will be spent in Maryland with Jarryd and my in-laws. And with that knowledge I'm still doing OK! That 40 foot tall tidal wave of homesickness still hasn't crept up from behind me, which is good news.
And I just realized that this is my very first Christmas EVER that I've had a full-time job and have had to work through the holiday season. Either I've been in school and have weeks of Christmas break, or I'm just working part-time and can afford the time away from work, or my workplace completely shuts down at Christmas time. But this year, I'm working the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Boxing Day. The upside to all of this work definitely keeps my mind occupied from thinking about what I'm missing out on back in Canada.

(I'm in no way saying that Christmas spent with Jarryd's family is bad. What I mean to say is that a whole two decades of wonderful Christmas memories under my belt is enough to make a girl miss her Canadian family.)

With that said, I thought I would share some of my favourite Christmas memories with you guys! Unfortunately I only have two Christmas photos from under the age of 15 to show you because the rest of them are all back at my parents place. (You know, in physical photograph form--olden day style. 😜)

One of my earliest Christmas memories, that doesn't have a photo to go along with it, was I remember waking up the middle of the night to see a brand new dollhouse in the middle of my room. Out of shock and complete excitement I got up and inspected it for a little bit. I remember crawling back into bed and praying that it wasn't just a dream and that the dollhouse would disappear when I'd open my eyes again. But it was real and amazing and every little girl's dream! And now, many many years later my nieces play with it! πŸ˜™

OH and one Christmas morning my Mom set the table with brand new boxes of our favourite SUGARED cereals at each of our spots. Mine was Lucky Charms, of course. Also, my addiction to potato chips started as a young child because I remember asking my mom for Lay's BBQ chips and got two whole bags as a Christmas gift--and was extremely happy. Haha!
One of the Christmas's with my brother Dale (in the red sweater) before he passed away at the age of 6.
Christmas's morning on the farm always consisted of waking up super early, gathering all of our comfiest biggest blankets, and sprawling them all over the floor around the Christmas tree--making the whole scene opening-present ready.
My brother-in-law's birthday is on Christmas Eve so one year we baked him a barnyard cupcake surprise!! I may be a skilled baker now, but back then the LAST thing I wanted to do was bake or cook--this was really all my sister's doing. And aren't we the nicest in-laws? With him having a Christmas holiday birthday, he could easily be overlooked, but we never forget to celebrate him! πŸ˜‹

This photo is missing a sister...without her our female ensemble is just almost perfect. This would make an excellent Christmas card!

Christmas at our old farm house! I LOVE this! Whoever's idea it was for us to all wear Santa hats is a genius. And suddenly, Christmas isn't just the six of us anymore! In this photo I have my very first niece and two brother-in-laws!
Christmas gatherings at my Oma and Opa's in the city were always special. The memories that stand out to me the most are my teasing, and tickling uncles, the two large brown speakers that my Opa would play classical music from (quite loudly), the giant red and green sacks that all of us kids would get from Oma And Opa full of the best gifts ever (!!), along with the smaller white sacks that were filled with German Christmas candy and chocolates! I remember the smell of tobacco in the air. I remember the Christmas tree in the middle of the window, and one time my Oma and Opa gave me an angel ornament to take home with me. I remember us grandkids running up the one-of-a-kind fuzzy green carpeted staircase to watch 101 Dalmations on the ole' tv. I remember that the bathtub, sink, and toilet were pink. And I remember always falling asleep soundly in the back of the van on our long drive home to the country.
On December 24th, 2005, while we were at our Christmas Eve church program, my parents got the phone call that Opa had suddenly passed away. It's a Christmas I don't remember much of--I remember driving straight to Oma and Opa's house and I remember seeing all of my aunts and uncles, and I remember the viewing, the funeral, and the burial. But everything else is a blur. I wish I could go back in time and give my Mom and my Oma the biggest, tightest hugs because they had just lost their Dad/Husband and I was too young to truly understand the pain they must've been experiencing. Even at 25 years old, I can't even imagine. Yes, Christmas is a joyous time but it can also be a hard time for those of us celebrating without our loved ones.

Here we all went for supper at Oma's new apartment before heading off to the Nutcracker Ballet, another Christmas tradition of ours! 
This was an odd Christmas for us, as it was our first without Kristina! She was living in Germany at the time and couldn't make it home (I don't blame her because Christmas in Germany is AMAZING)! But she shipped us all gifts from Germany--check out the jersey I'm wearing! 😍

We had Kristina on the phone the entire time we were opening gifts. That was so fun--it was as if she was there with us! Even this random farm cat chatted with Kristina.

Cooking and baking up a Christmas storm (a storm all of which I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with haha)! Also, let's revel in the fact that this was the last time I ever had short hair.

It is just a fact that my brother-in-law makes thee best turkey dinner!! We've enjoyed many Thanksgivings and Christmas's with Ron's culinary handiwork.
My family is a bit of a artistic/musical one, so more than one Christmas Eve's at church my cousins and I would play a song during the church program. There I am looking so intense with my flute! Also, an amazing part of the Christmas Eve programs at church were the goodie bags given to everyone at the very end. These goodie bags, also known as "TΓΌtje" are the German Mennonite tradition of brown paper bags filled with shelled peanuts, candy canes, miscellaneous candies and chocolate, and of COURSE a delicious Christmas orange! 
Family gathering fun!! Me with 1/1000th of my cousins, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

It's crazy to look back and see a Christmas with only one niece! Now in 2016 I have three nieces and one nephew and can't imagine my family without them!

I just adore this photo of my parents holding their cute little granddaughter! Also, look to the wall on the left. That wall was always COVERED in family Christmas photos! How blessed was I to grow up in a family with so many friends and family to receive cards from?
The view from our window of the backyard on the farm. A typical white Christmas in Canada! I think there was maybe one year we didn't have a white Christmas?

Now, while I was at Bible school in Germany, I didn't spend my Christmas holidays in Germany--in fact I went home for the holidays! But the days leading up to Christmas were spent at many German Christmas Markets.

This was at a German Christmas market--and I'm tellin' you. There's nothing like Christmas in Germany! Side note: I gained a bit of weight at this time. My legs look thicker than ever haha!

I snuck this photo of Jarryd on our last evening together before we parted ways for the Christmas holidays, He was going to a friends' place in Berlin and I was going home to Canada. I knew that he liked me at this point, a friend of mine spilled it to me and I could just tell from the way he acted. I mean, he was the only guy to wake up at 4 am that night to carry my suitcase to the car for me and stand outside in the cold to wave goodbye so.... πŸ˜‡  But as for me, I was still wrestling with my feelings. I told myself that by the time I get back to Canada I probably wouldn't even remember him anymore so obviously the feelings weren't real--but low and behold, the second I got in the car to head to the train station, I was missing him already. Yikes! So there's that!

During my year at Bible school in Germany, my parents sold the farm and moved into a beautiful house in town. It was strange saying goodbye at the farm and then coming home to a whole new house at Christmas! As much as I miss the farm, I love this house and the location! And my Dad does a fantastic job at putting up the Christmas lights, right?!
Christmas at my parents new house! My Mom always does a beautiful job of decorating the tree; too bad us kids had no interest in helping her haha! Although I do have fond memories of playing with the ornaments as a child. Oh and this was that one Christmas where I wrapped everyone's gift in kitty cat wrapping paper--some were not too pleased. πŸ˜‚

Jarryd and I started dating eventually and this was the first Christmas I spent with him and his family in Maryland! We were long distance at this point so seeing each other again was always amazing!

Jarryd and I's very first Christmas card photo taken in front of our very first Christmas tree inside of our very first apartment as a MARRIED couple! I still love this photo and our matching plaid shirts. Hee hee!

Christmas at Oma's! We just love her!! And her smile here is so beautiful!!

The Family gatherings are a HUGE part of my favourite Christmas memories. This is what my Froese gatherings looked like every single year. There were so many of us (over 100 people) that renting out the church basement and having a gift exchange game that would last hours was a normal thing for us! This is a more recent photo of all of us, so we're all grown up here and missing alot of people--this definitely isn't the whole family. But these gatherings were always a ton of fun and a great reason as to why I know I am blessed.
Jarryd and I's second Christmas card photo!! We're always too late in the game to think of hiring a professional photographer, so we just set up self-timer and "go to town". But we're always pretty happy with the result, plus we save alot of money doing so!

A normal highway condition for winters in Canada. Terrifying, but normal.

This was Christmas of 2015 spent in Canada again!!

When Jarryd married into this family, he was instantly blessed with a perfect wife (me), a mother and father-in-law, two sister in-laws, three brother in-laws, two nieces (with one on the way!), and one nephew. He's one lucky guy!

Isn't this photo of Jarryd and his niece amazing?! I just love it! Oh and Jarryd was just SO proud of his beloved beard here. I allowed him to grow it since it would help keep him warm up in Canada.

If everyone would have been here this would have been a fantastic Christmas card. Haha! We drove out to a field to do some burning. You know, just burn a pile of garbage for fun! It's what we do. πŸ˜‚

The ORIGINAL SIX. (Technically there's seven here, because Rosie is inside of Kristina's tummy, but she doesn't count.)

The original six have become THIRTEEN. Wow, thirteen! And what a one-of-a-kind family we are--we're all so very different, but so very alike in many ways too. The one thing that binds us all together is our love for the Lord. He has been so good to us and has blessed my parents immensely. Seeing my parents so happy with all of their children and grandchildren makes me excited to having children and grandchildren of my own one day (if that's what God has planned for me, that is).

You guys, there are SO many more Christmas memories and photos that I could have shared but I think now's a good time to stop. 😘
As I've said many times before, my family is a huge blessing to me. So instead of being sad that I won't see them this holiday season, I should be thankful that I even have a family to miss, right? Plus, I have some pretty great in-laws and a husband that I get to share this season with! 

Oh and Jarryd and I just finished taking our annual self-timer Christmas photo! I can't wait to show you guys.
Thanks for joining me on my walk down Christmas memory lane! I hope you enjoyed it! Merry Christmas, friends! πŸ˜€