I was hoping I would get off early like I did on Christmas Eve, but alas, today was a full day. Tyler, however, had the day off, and boy did he run himself ragged getting the house all set up for the festivities tonight. He cleaned, did dishes, loaded laundry, went shopping, and set up the Wii U. In the early evening we headed to a co-ed baby shower/New Year’s party for Charlie and Jordan in Lehi, but we didn't stay. We felt cool because they were really disappointed that we weren't sticking around, as they were confident that we would be the life of the party as long as we were there. What a compliment! We left after a little bit, though, because we had made plans with Nikki and Spencer for that night. We drove back up to our apartment, where Nikki and Spencer met us. We had just begun to play our new Wii U when they arrived. We had a fun night, playing Nintendo Land and our new Food Fight card game, eating lots of snacks and finger foods. We had the traditional bubbly (although we were having too much fun and missed the actual strike of midnight) and stayed up WAY too late. Nikki and Spencer brought their air mattress and set it up in our living room, so we watched Best In Show, even though everyone but me fell asleep. So long 2013; I look forward to all that 2014 has to offer and I hope I can progress a lot this next year, physically, creatively, spiritually, and mentally.



Tyler ran a billion errands today, one of them being our Christmas gift to ourselves. A couple of weeks ago I asked Tyler as we were falling asleep if he had even started Christmas shopping. He said no and I replied that I hadn't either. In an effort to simplify, we decided that we would just scratch getting gifts for each other from our busy agendas and revisit it when we weren't spread so thin. The closer we got to Christmas, and especially after receiving a Wii U game on Christmas day, we decided we would get a Wii U for our Christmas. Tyler scoured the valley for the best deal and the best package. I got home tonight and really wanted to set it up, but we decided to do it another day because it was quite late and would probably take a while.



Today we got up slightly earlier than usual in order to make it out to Kearns for Tyler's cousin Daphne’s missionary farewell. Oh my gosh, we were laughing so hard the whole time at everything. I think we had the sillies. Their program was so crazy, riddled with typos and crooked and weird all over the place. On the front was this hand-drawn sister missionary that literally looked like a thirteen-year-old had sketched it out. It was funny enough as it was, but it got downright hilarious when Jason drew a beard and tie on his copy, even going so far as to convert the Book of Mormon in her hand into a mustachioed head. Coupled with the crazy chorister, who I thought looked like she was casting a spell and Tyler thought looked like she was mending torn trousers, it was a funny funny sacrament meeting! There was a party afterwards at Russ and Colleen’s, of course, but we had to get back to nursery in our own ward. It was a bit of a shame, since all of the Lynch side was in town for once and Nana had even come up from Hurricane, but that's okay. We were so glad we headed back though; one of the other nursery leaders had texted us that morning and said she wasn't coming, so they really needed us, but it turned out being an easy day. I don’t know why all the kids were so calm or in such nice moods, but everyone smiled and shared and it was a real cinch.



This was a great day. In the morning we met up with Ali, Tyler's best friend from high school, because she was in town from California for the holidays with her boyfriend. Breakfast was had at the Blue Plate Diner in Sugarhouse; it was delicious, and it was crammed to the rafters in that place! We chatted and ate before they had to start the drive home. We ran a couple of errands on the way home to find a matching photo album to go with the wedding album I made for my mom; Aubrey's album had engagements and bridals and my mom wanted photos of mine too. While we were out, we hit about every mailbox in the valley to drop off our Christmas cards ten at a time. Tyler dropped me off at home before we could find a photo album at the two Targets by our house. He went to work and I searched the internet for an album nearby, finally finding one online at the Target in South Jordan, I sent the address to Tyler to swing by on his way home. Apparently this Target was way west and was some sort of crazy town. Since it took him so long, we decided over the phone he would pick up a lasagna so we could cook it quick once he was home. Apparently lasagna isn't so quick, even when you buy it pre-made—80 minutes?! Good thing Tyler got off at 6:00 tonight because we didn't actually end up eating until 9:00.



It was back to work for me today and I absolutely dreaded it. There was basically no one there today because everyone is using up their vacation days before the year is up. It was pretty slow going and even though I had just had a holiday, I was happy to come home to the weekend. Tyler spent all day putting together our Christmas cards: stuffing them, sticking them, and stamping them. Do you want to know something great? On Jazz home game days, McDonald's offers $1 McNuggets if you buy a drink (which is only a dollar)… can't beat that. Tyler had to work until 10:00, but I had him swing by McDonald's on the way home for a late night dinner for two under $5.



I felt like the absolute worst last night; I cannot shake this cough, and with all the family things, holidays, and events, I haven't had a chance to bounce back. Late last night I decided to not go to work today and just take an unpaid vacation day since my benefits and paid time off haven't kicked in yet. I slept way in today and we took it easy. In the late afternoon we went to the mall for some jewelry shopping (I know, completely uncharacteristic of me) because Shubach Jeweler's sends us gift card mailers after we bought my wedding ring there. I ended up picking this necklace made with citrine semi-precious stones and the price was nice and cheap. We headed over to the Duncanville after because it's my mom's birthday today! My dad had an amazing idea to have Aubrey and I put together photo albums of our wedding days to give to my mom, which I think she really enjoyed. After gifts we played Tripoli with Aubrey and Jordan because that is my mom's absolute favorite game. Happy birthday Mom, we love you.



What an amazing day spent with family and fun. First we went to Duncanville and got quite the haul, from some of our favorite cereals and treats to some new clothes, Catch Phrase, and a mini donut maker. We also got TONS of movies, including All Dogs Go To Heaven, The Aristocats, Meet the Robinsons, The Great Mouse Detective, and Madagascar. Some of our favorites, though, were the $100 in gift cards to Chili’s, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, and Chipotle; we have done so well at avoiding eating out so that we could get back on track with our restaurant budget, but those gift cards mean that we can eat out more often! Tyler was also very excited that we got Lego Marvel Superheroes for Wii U, even though we don’t have a Wii U… yet… We stayed for a little bit and played with some presents, but then we had to pack up and head over to Lynchland for a Skype call with K-dogger! He looked healthy and happy and it did our heart good to see him! Everyone was excited to finally open presents (they’d been waiting for us all day), but I really wanted to have Sara trim and thin my hair while she was in town. I really didn't want to hold everyone up, but of course everybody agreed, with Matt flat out refusing to open any presents until my hair had been trimmed. Nicole did request that we at least open up our stockings before we left again, which seemed like a good plan! I got my hair trimmed and thinned while Tyler played some Smash Brothers with the nephews and brothers-in-law. As soon as Sara was done we headed back over to open Lynch presents. We walked in the door right as they were saying prayer for Christmas dinner, a delicious ham and funeral potatoes. YUM. After dinner, it was FINALLY time to open presents! We came away with another pretty good haul: the Christopher Guest movies (Best In Show, For Your Consideration, and A Mighty Wind), New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS, a big paper cutter, a new shirt and tie, and seriously like 30 or more new pairs of socks for me. We also got more Texas Roadhouse money, some cool cookie cutters, and Frogger on PC, a classic from Tyler's childhood. We barely got all the presents opened before the sun set! We stuck around and watched A Christmas Story while we played with all our new toys, and had homemade cheesecake later, which was SO delicious. It was such a great Christmas from start to finish.



Tyler unusually worked an AM shift this morning so that he could have Christmas Eve to spend with our families. I went into work a little late and then they ended up sending the marketing team home early—I was home before lunch, hooray! Once Tyler was home we wrapped presents and went over to Duncanville for Chinese food and presents. Aubrey got me a laptop cover, Tyler got Food Fight from Jordan, and Tyler gave Bob a book that was on his Amazon wish list, which was hilarious because Bob and Sara got the same book for my mom for Christmas. After presents, my dad took us through the boxes and boxes of things he brought for us from my grandma and grandpa's house. We even Skyped with Tiffany later to show her the things and make sure that everyone gets what they wanted. Later in the evening we went over to Lynchland for another gift exchange: Tyler got $25 to H&M from Peter and I got this book (that I have been wanting forever) and a four leaf clover growing kit from Jason. The evening ended reading the Christmas story from the Bible, sitting around the living room with the Lynches. Christmas is here!



Well, we did it. We pulled it together—talk about at the last minute. Our Christmas card is done and printed today and we are so very happy with it. Pretty impressive, considering we are literally standing next to our dumpster in this photo. Three days later and that snow is now all melted—talk about perfect timing. Tyler ran a million errands while I was at work today for the Christmas festivities this week. Now we just have to stuff envelopes and do addresses… probably after Christmas though; we need a break and Christmas will be just perfect. And just because this is our first official Christmas card I'm going to give you a peek at what the backside looks like:



Tonight was the Bush family Christmas party up in Clearfield. Unfortunately, Tyler had to work, and boy did we miss him. We ate some dinner and then played Christmas song pictionary. This was the funniest song of the night… do you see what it is? It's Jingle Bells; poor Bob, we just couldn't guess it. I was laughing so hard because we couldn't get it and all the while I kept thinking the drawing looked like this guy. The night ended—of course—with multiple rounds of Nertz. It was a lovely evening and I am so glad this weekend was spent catching up with old friends and relatives from the Duncan side and the Bush side.



This morning we woke up and got ready to go to my grandma's funeral down in Pleasant Grove. The viewing was packed to the brim with all those warm faces that are my extended family. After we had been there for awhile, the Riches arrived and we were so excited to see Sara, Bob, Duncan, and Charlie. The funeral was amazing; I loved hearing about my amazing grandma and what an amazing disciple of Christ she was, just like her husband. At the dedication of the grave, all 300+ members of her family had a blue balloon (her favorite color). After my Uncle Ron had finished his speech, we released a sea of them into the cold white sky. We all walked back to the church for a massive luncheon and visiting with aunts, uncles, and cousins (and sisters who live far away). In the evening we met up with the members of Lynchland for a concert at the Energy Solutions Arena with the Piano Guys. They were so great; I loved all of it.



Today I took work off and Tyler got his shift covered so that we could spend the day with this doting happy couple. I coughed all morning while we were getting ready and the whole way there, but luckily I didn't have any cough attacks in the sealing room. Outside of the temple was terribly cold, but Stephanie and Matt still looked amazing (reminding me of my own butt cold wedding day). We went to the luncheon at the Brick Oven where we sat with Becca and Mandy and had a grand ol' time. Tyler had to leave the luncheon early to go and take a final, so Becca gave me a ride home. Soon Tyler was home and we rallied the family members to try and find someone to come and take our Christmas card photo (yeah yeah, better late than never) because we are NEVER home at the same time during the day while the sun is still up. Luckily, Tyler's little brother, Peter, and his girlfriend were available to come and take our photo. We threw on some sweaters and a couple of scarves, stood next to our dumpster, and snapped a few here and there. We made it just in time; within minutes the sun was gone and it was time to drive to the reception. I got to see a lot of faces there that I haven't seen in a while. We also got to meet Mandy's boyfriend—I think they're going to get engaged soon. So exciting with all these weddings afoot!



I felt quite honored to do the funeral program for my grandpa earlier this year and I feel even more privileged that the family asked me to do the program again for my lovely grandma—isn't she beautiful? My dad sent over the information, I plugged it all into the template from my grandpa's program, and Photoshopped my grandpa out of this picture (I think it's kind of funny that I had to Photoshop my grandma out of my grandpa's and vice versa). After a couple of changes from my dad and the family, I turned in early to get some much needed rest. My sickness is only getting worse and this weekend is a big one with a wedding and a funeral.



Today at work was the company party and everyone was joking with me that now I'm going to think that every day is just a party here. It was good food, good entertainment, and a raffle that I didn't end up taking anything away from (but they did give us each a bag of Jelly Bellies on the way out; I guess now I'm three for three on presents at work). I finally got to work on a small project today, now that I brought in my own computer and had the programs I needed. The sun was already down when I left the Energy Solutions Arena, but I reached the top of the stairs and came upon this sea of lights—if I have to miss the sun, I could get used to this.



Second day at work down and I got another gift. The marketing team had Secret Santa's picked out at the beginning of the month and today they were giving their gifts and revealing who had who. They apologized that I wasn't going to be getting anything, but invited me along anyways. Turns out they got me a gift at the last second after all, and now I'm two for two on gifts at my new job. I was finally able to get into my computer today, but alas, they had none of the programs I needed loaded onto it—shocker. Towards the end of the day I started feeling my throat getting sore and I started coughing tonight. I really cannot get sick right now! Ugh.



Today was my first day on the job with the Utah Jazz. I was very nervous, but my nerves were calmed once I met the team and one of my fellow designers presented me with this. He got one for all the designers and was thoughtful enough to include me, although he apologized that he didn't know what superhero I liked. I told him it was perfect and realized that I was among nerdy designer friends. Unfortunately, I.T. was not my friend because they failed to tell anyone what the password was to my computer. Most of the morning I just sat at my desk, with the exception of a tiny tour: I now know where the bathrooms are and the location of the refrigerator. In the afternoon we went on a small field trip to Staples to buy me a chair and any other supplies I would need. I picked one out and they helped me bring it back. The rest of the day I built the chair (twice because I thought I was better than the instructions and clearly did it wrong) and waited for I.T. to arrive. Sadly, all that arrived by the end of the day was my telephone. Slowly but surely I'm beginning to have a cubicle.



Today nursery was absolutely crazy! We had eleven kids and two nursery workers that basically wanted nothing to do with being there today. We made it through because Tyler is a rock star when it comes to carrying two crying children AND helping with singing time. After church we made our way over to Lynchland once again for Matt's real birthday and a card to match his crazy hair. Before a delicious meal and even yummier cake, we were a bit sidetracked by one of the last things that Tyler is still storing at his parents' house: his Beanie Baby collection. He has nearly 200, overflowing out of a giant storage tub; I never even knew there were that many beanies. It was fun to see all of them and picture that one day they'd be at our house for everyone to play with.



Today I wore my grandfather's sweater. My aunt KayLynne gave it to me the night I visited my grandmother for the last time. It's green with a criss-cross weave, and everything about it reminds me of him. I did some last-minute Christmas shopping while Tyler went to work in the afternoon, and in the evening we went together to a little pre-birthday shindig for Matt. It was perfectly themed with pizza and LOST—everything Matt loves.



This morning my Dad called me around 8 am to tell me that my grandma had passed. It was a bit bittersweet; I obviously knew it was coming and I am so happy to know that my grandparents are back together after so long, but it's lonely to think that when general conference weekend comes around, neither one of them will be there to spend the afternoon with. No more discussions about what we learned over the last two days, no card games to be had after dinner and dessert. But I am alright; I know I will see them again and they will always be watching over me. This is the last gift my grandma gave to me—she wanted all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren to choose a book from the small library of church books that she and my grandpa built together. Temples On The Most High compiled by N. B. Lundwall; the inside cover reads: "1968, Nola W. Duncan, Route #2 Box 100-H, Idaho Falls, Idaho" in my grandma's handwriting.



Today we expected to hear that my grandma had passed away, but we never did (I think her pacemaker was almost artificially keeping her alive). Tyler had to work again tonight, but only until 6:00, which is a good thing because today is Aubrey's twenty-second birthday. Once Tyler was off we headed over to Duncanville for pizza and goodies. After cards and gifts (I bought Aubrey one last Miche hip bag), we played Sequence, which Tyler had never played, but each couple won at least once. During the game, my mom asked my dad if he was planning on heading back down to Pleasant Grove to see my grandma. He said that her spirit had been on the way out for a long time and that he had said his goodbyes the night before.



Tonight my Dad called me on my way home from work to tell me that my aunt Suzanne had sent him a message saying that my grandma was not doing well and that it was time to gather. He asked if I had time tonight to go down with him and I of course drove straight to my parents' house to ride down with him. Tyler was at work for the evening, but soon Aubrey and Jordan arrived and we made the drive down to Pleasant Grove. My grandma had been having trouble breathing all day and had been given morphine a short time before we arrived. Aubrey and I got to have a small chat with her—she told everyone in the room and those that she was put on the phone with to take care of their loved ones and not worry about the tangible things; "We cannot take them with us," she said. Slowly more and more people trickled in and slowly my grandma slipped further and further away. By the time all of her children had arrived (minus my aunt Karen, who had Skyped with her earlier because she is serving with her husband as a missionary in Madrid), my uncle Dale made the request that we all sing some Christmas carols to her—there was silent sobbing and constant tissue passing as my grandma steadily gasped for air. Soon it was past midnight and we decided to leave, but my dad stayed behind for a while longer. I am so grateful to have had such an amazing grandma who has shown us all how strong of a woman she is in the short time my grandpa has been gone. It broke my heart to see her this way, but we were all agreed, my grandma included, that she would be home for Christmas and would be spending it with her sweetheart.



Tonight was Stephanie's bridal shower hosted over at Becca's. I had a crock pot soup cooking all day over at my parents' house so that I could just pick it up there after work and head around the corner to Becca's parents' house. It was a lovely get-together filled with soups, treats, and people I haven't seen in ages. I also found out that my other friend Mandy will be getting engaged soon. Weddings are in the air! When I came home there was a big ol' package just inside the door: my Black Friday purchases have finally arrived! I tore open the box and gave a fashion show to Tyler: two sweaters, a cardigan, a vest, some boots, and this necklace, all for under $50. Thank you Forever 21 for having a sale on your already super marked off items. Case in point: this necklace cost me a mere $0.50.



Tonight I had a great visit with my parents at Duncanville where Aubrey and Jordan came for a visit as well. We had some dinner, my dad helped me put a new windshield wiper on my car, and I picked up my mail. My mom also gave me this music that she wants to perform in their ward later this month with me (singing), Aubrey (violin), and Tyler (flute). This is the song that we performed for my grandparents when they came to dinner last month; my mom liked it so much that she thought it called for an encore.



After church we finally put up the Christmas tree. It was a bit late to get going on all that, but we didn’t know when we’d be able to do it otherwise. We got the tree started and then took a delicious dinner break before really going to town on getting it set up. Tyler always sets up the tree and takes care of the lights and the gold garland. I'm not tall enough for any of those things, especially putting up the star. Then I come in and perfectly place all the ornaments in green, red, and gold on both the big tree and our mini tree. It kept us up pretty late tonight, but it was so much fun to put on Christmas music and get the tree set up. Our house feels so much more Christmas-y and it feels more like the holiday season at last! Now our house is a mess, with boxes and buckets and extra ornaments everywhere, but who cares—'tis the season!



Tyler and I have been very out of food and in dire need of some grocery shopping. We always seem to wait to the very last minute to restock our more-often-than-not bare-shelved fridge. It doesn't help that the weather has been insane this week. I finally broke and braved the storm tonight to get the massive amounts of groceries. The snow was so thick in the parking lot that my shopping cart was sliding all over the place. I somehow made it to my car, loaded it up, and made the 10 mph drive home. It took me three trips from the carport to this spot just inside my door, but I survived!



Tonight was a Friday night spent alone; when Tyler isn't home, making dinner is not as fun AND I have a harder time figuring out what to eat that isn't just pasta or mac and cheese (our go-to meals). Tonight I tried to concoct a makeshift dinner with what we had in the fridge. We already had some quinoa cooked and stored in Tupperware, a chicken breast in the freezer, a tomato in the crisper, and a cupboard chock full of spices. It made a nice little dish that I ate over a bowl of lettuce and I felt really good about pulling a dinner from what felt like thin air.



Guess what came in the mail today, in the most beautiful envelope with our names and address in calligraphy? This little lady's wedding announcement. I think it turned out really well; it was a little darker than I had anticipated. There were also a couple of things that only I as a graphic designer would notice, but the bride was happy and that's all that matters. I can't wait to be there for their wedding day.



My amazingly well-traveled co-worker (the one that went to Italy) went to Turkey over Thanksgiving and brought me back this wonderful olive oil soap in the most beautiful tin. I can't wait to use it because it smells amazing. Tonight I tried an at home work out video from twins that have a blog all about health and fitness and they also have PCOS. I'm trying to find more who are going through what I am and see how they are handling it (granted, these twins suffer from different symptoms than I do). I also enjoy that they have at-home routines to help those that don't want to go to the gym, and since it's butt cold outside, at-home workouts are the way to go. Let's just say it kicked my butt and I was happy to take a hot relaxing shower with this imported soap.



We woke up to a blanket of snow this morning and it didn't really let up throughout the day. This was the state of my car when I finally left work late tonight. I got home knowing that Tyler had a group project get-together at the U. As I drove up to our apartment I saw his car piled with more snow than mine was in the above picture and decided to scrape it off before heading inside. I hoped this would help him not run any later than he would if he had to scrape it AND drive super slow in this weather. I got most of it, but I was too short to reach some of the roof snow. I was surprised that he hadn't left the house yet to find me outside, but thought that maybe the meeting had been cancelled and we could spend the evening together. I walked in to find Tyler not wanting to leave until I got home; we had a brief run-down of our day and then he was out with the wind to brave the cold and spend his evening doing other people's homework.



Tyler's mom bought everyone these dainty advent calendars to count down the days until Santa comes. It was so thoughtful of her and I love them! Tyler and I both love the Christmas season, but with our busy lives we felt like it sort of flew by too quickly last year. We're hoping these will help us revel in it while it lasts. Plus, who doesn't like an excuse to eat a little chocolate every day?



Today is Sundae Sunday… did you know? The Sunday after Thanksgiving is obviously another stuff-your-face day. Today was also the annual neighborhood Christmas sing-along that both Tyler and Nicole performed in. I went with Tyler's parents and Peter and we sat in the back and had a good time singing and snickering. Afterwards we had some Christmas cookies offered in the gym by the loving ladies in the neighborhood. We then made our way back to Lynchland for sundaes topped with cherries of red AND green (what?). While we ate ice cream we of course watched more LOST and tried not to think of the grown-up lives we have to go back to in the morning.