Best Christmas Playlist Ever (You’re Welcome)

Okay, people. The thing is…hmm…how do I put this gently? Most Christmas music is terrible. At least that’s what we’re led to believe after hearing Mariah Carey 60 times in 30 days.

Well, Rob and I refuse to go through our joyous Christmas season without being able to properly celebrate with some good and groovy tunes. That’s why we’ve been collecting little musical gems for a few years now. I thought I’d post a bunch of our favorites so that those of you who are also fed up with the same Sleigh Ride arrangement that’s been overloading your peripheral hearing your entire life…can finally catch a break.

Check these out and you’ll find yourself enjoying Christmas music once again.

Jazzy: Christmas music played by some of the greats is perfect for celebratory background sound or for parties where you want your guests to think you’re actually kinda cool.

Punk Style: This music may be termed irreverent by some, but if you want your kids to think you’re actually kinda cool, these will win them over (and you might be surprised how much you enjoy rocking out, too).

Modernized Versions of the Classics: It’s not that the classics aren’t wonderful in their own right, they’re just SO overplayed. Try these to make the originals feel original again.

End of Year Wrap Up

2016: OVER

Thanksgiving was splendid. Here are a few funny family candids by the Rob. He thinks it’s great being in everyone’s faces all night long. He got some lovely shots as well but these are more fun to post 🙂

We had a wonderful surprise party for Rob’s grandpa. Family came in from out of town and we all went to lunch and had a good visit with all.

December was really nice. One night we went to the live nativity in Alpine.

We always put up our Christmas decorations on the 1st Sunday of December but this is torture for our kids because all their friends decorate up to a month earlier than us. Nate, Madeleine, and Caroline think Rob and I are the biggest grumps because we make them wait until December hits. We make up for it by being one of the last to take them down…

I had a work casino-themed Christmas party. I’ve been writing for the company for 2 years now but I’ve never met anyone in person so it was nice to put faces to names.

One night we went downtown for a bunch of festivities. We ate dinner and then took in the view of Temple Square from the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. We looked at the Macy’s Christmas windows made out of candy. We took the train to the Grand America Hotel to do their window display scavenger hunt and eat gelato while listening to a great band in the lounge. We rode the Jingle Bus around town back to our car.

The 23rd brought the Raines Family Christmas Dinner and Party. There was a kid and an adult scavenger hunt, Christmas Pictionary, and lots of delicious food. After, we drove through Christmas Street in Taylorsville just like I did as a kid. More silly shots!


Madeleine had her Scera Theatre Christmas Performance. She is a natural.

Nate had his birthday at Top Golf with a few friends. I can’t believe I have an 11 year old! At his checkup the doc said he needs to start eating 1 1/2 portions for his meals because he’s under weight. He is 4th % for height.

We (Rob) tiled our bathroom floor. We (Rob) still have some decorating to do but it’s looking beautiful!

I had the kids earn some money so we could take them to Dollar Tree so they could each buy gifts for their siblings. They love doing this!

On Christmas Eve Rob baked rolls, pizzas, and sugar cookies. We watched a Christmas movie, played board games, and did all the other traditional Christmas Eve things.

Christmas Day brought church and a lot of relaxing and playing with our new stuff. Rob’s family was sick so festivities with them were pushed back a week.

I ended up getting sick Christmas afternoon, had a day off of sick on Tuesday, then woke up Wednesday morning really sick all the way through the end of the week.

New Year’s Eve I was still recovering so I sent Rob ice skating with the kids. Cara bit a chunk out of her tongue while jumping on the couch. Then we all made it to midnight playing games and watching movies.

New Year’s Day we had a delightful Christmas dinner with Rob’s family.

I’m pretty sure there were a bunch of other things we did, like the usual shopping/returning/re-shopping dance, wrapping, losing gifts, buying too much, eating way too much, and listening to GOOD Christmas music (Anyone else sick of Mariah Carey’s Christmas??? We like to find hidden gems that are awesome but never get played on the radio. Next year we’ll have to share our playlist because it’s da bomb and I promise you’ll love it).

Bring on 2017 and all the LOVE and LIFE that it will bring!

Christmas, Christmas Time is Here

At least it was 2 months ago…You know how it is. Maybe you don’t. I recall seeing many Christmas posts in the week following the holiday. Ok, I guess it’s just me then.

It was fun seeing Nate in his Christmas Concert at school. He knew the songs really well and had a good performance.

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My mom invited us and other family members to This is the Place Heritage Park’s Candlelight Christmas.

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The kids really enjoyed going from building to building doing little crafts, hearing stories, learning a dance, seeing a live nativity, and getting a treat.

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This video of us girls learning the dance is so cute! <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>Video link

Bonus: After everyone’s admission, only $5 was due to get a year-long family pass. Score! We will be using this as soon as the weather gets nicer.

Christmas Eve finally came. Due to a snowstorm, we barely made it out of our neighborhood to dinner at my mom and dad’s. We also barely made it back in! That night, our girls received their princess pjs and they’ve barely taken them off since!

We did a white elephant exchange and the gifts I brought were expensive Twinkies I scored in the corner of the Walmart parking lot. I ate a couple, let the kid’s try their one and only Twinkie they will ever have, and then gave the rest away.

Christmas Day brought fun surprises for everyone. The big ticket items were a new bike for Nate and a vanity with makeup for the girls.

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Here are the girls all dressed up. We’re in big trouble.

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One of the best surprises was when Madeleine opened a tin to find “cow”. Madeleine had lost cow in Denver over a year earlier and was still missing her. A few times since then I had looked online for a new one but never had any luck. Then, while in Denver again, I searched and finally found her! I posted this on FaceBook: “Dilemma: a year ago Madeleine lost her beloved stuffed “cow”. She has mentioned missing it over and over again ever since. She still looks at pictures of it and wishes she still had her. After searching and searching I finally found cow’s twin sister. She is on ebay…for $45! Do I splurge? Or just let madeleine learn the facts of life the hard way :)”  Pretty much everyone thought I should get it but a specific comment touched me. It said, “Teach her that sometimes life is good and full of miracles.” That answer touched me. Thanks, Trina! Even though it was exactly the same, including the flower, she knew it wasn’t the original. But Madeleine has loved having her cow again. <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>Video Link

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This ribbon wand in her stocking has continued to be a huge hit. Video link

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Then we spent Christmas night at the Snow household and opened even more gifts.

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Once again, we had a busy but truly wonderful Christmas season. We are more blessed (or at least realize it more) every year. We love our family and friends, and of course our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t wait until next year when we can do it all over again!

Zoo Lights

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Back in the middle of December my company (URS) had a holiday party up at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. We had a fantastic time visiting with coworkers during dinner (Julie won a movie prize pack), and taking a short walk around the zoo. We captured a few images during our wanderings (hope you enjoy those). Not many animals were around so it was mostly just fun to be with my sweetheart and see the lights.

We captured a few fun images of the lights. We’ve done this before but it is still a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy these.

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Always nice to stand next to one of these for a little while. It was so cold that night!!!

The blue cast from these lights accentuates the cold!

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Loved the blue lights.


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Some kind of strange creature in this shot.

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More blue!

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What was Julie’s idea? Time to get out of there!

The Snowiest Christmas

Man, Christmas was FUN this year! I remember being quite depressed last December because I totally wasn’t feeling the spirit of Christmas whatsoever. I’m sure it had nothing to do with a) a colicky newborn, b) total lack of sleep, c) failing to sell our house and figuring out the whole renting-it-out process, and d) getting ready to move into my parents’ basement.

But THIS year was great. I tell ya, Christmas with little kids is the best. It’s so exciting and happy and sweet. I can’t wait to do it again in 11 months.

This year we hosted the annual Cool Avenues People Christmas Party at our home. We had our four good friends’ families that we met while we lived on 1st Ave all come for dinner and a white elephant. It was so much fun to get everyone together! We really had a great time. We’ve all come a long way in just the last 7 years since living there. None of us had kids and now we have between 1 and almost 4 each. Crazy! But great.

This is the first year our little family has spent Christmas Eve with just us. My mom decided that it was time her kids created their own traditions with their own kids and stop mooching off of grandma Smile Just kidding…kind of. We spent an evening with the Raines side of the family a few days before Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we made a big dinner of ribs, homemade baked beans, corn, bread, soda (a rarity here) and apple crisp. It was a ton of effort that took most of the day, but it was delicious. I made sure to carry on the tradition of a spooky dinner (that’s what I called our candlelight dinner when I was little) but we called it our fancy dinner. We had a tablecloth and cloth napkins, fancy glasses (stemware) and, of course, candles. Caroline didn’t like eating in the dark, but the rest of us had a good time.

After dinner we talked about the nativity story using the figures my dad made us, read a couple of Christmas books, opened pjs, and went to bed. Rob and I had actually gotten everything done in the days before so we had time to relax and watch a movie together.

One of Rob’s presents to me was a shaven face. I’ve missed his cute smile! He didn’t want to do it all at once so here he is with half of it shaven. He did the rest the next morning and it lasted all of a week. He’s back to his beard now, but that’s ok. He’s awfully sexy when he’s all stubbly and manly.

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Since Christmas was on a Sunday and we had church at 8:30am, we had just enough time to open stockings before leaving. I really enjoyed going to church first and listening to the beautiful Christmas program. Another plus, I’m actually dressed on and have my hair and makeup done for the present-opening pictures!! Woo! Christmas morning pictures are seriously scary most years.

About 2 years ago when I was pregnant with baby Caroline I found this amazing wooden rocking horse at Deseret Industries for three dollars. THREE dollars!! I bought it with the intent of giving to my baby on his or her 2nd Christmas. I had Rob re-stain and re-paint it to look like new and isn’t it gorgeous?! I wanted it to be gender-neutral and to blend in seamlessly with her woodsy bedroom and it is perfect. Besides, she loves it!

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We also got her a cozy coupe. This thing has been probably the most played with toy. All the kids love it.

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Madeleine got a stick unicorn and a real cowgirl hat. Cute!

Here’s Nate with one of his 4 Star Wars action figures. Another thing he got was a pocket microscope. He had been asking for one for months and I thought it was a great idea because I had one when I was a kid, too!

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Rob upgraded some of his speakers for the surround sound. The big surprise, though, was his gift to me (helped with gift money from both sets of parents). Can you tell I’m in love with it? I don’t just have a crush. I’m not just infatuated. I’m truly, deeply, in love.

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The rest of Christmas day was spent at the Snow family home for visiting, dinner, and gifts.

I can’t list every present we all received, but it doesn’t matter because that’s not what made Christmas special. Christmas was special because we are so blessed with family and friends. Thanks, so very much, for helping us make this Christmas a great one to remember. We love you!!

Here’s the link to more pictures and the above video if you were unable to play it.

Missed Pictures

Rob was going through our collection the other night and found these precious pictures of him wrestling with Nate over 2 years ago. Cute, huh? A couple more here.


This is from the day Rob and I spent at Lagoon for my birthday last year.


And then here are a few pictures of last Christmas at the Raines Home. More pictures here.

Many family members watching the shadow puppet play of the Nativity.

Liz and Zach with the puppets.

Vance playing his chime.

Jordin eating her chime mallet.