Season's Greetings! It's the most wonderful time of the year! Or so they say. This Christmas, my family is all back in Denv...

Julbord & Christkindl

Season's Greetings!

Julbord & Christkindl

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Or so they say. This Christmas, my family is all back in Denver again. All 11 of us. So we decided to cross off a couple bucket list Christmas events. European style.

Julbord & Christkindl

So last Friday we headed over to IKEA for their annual julbord. A julbord is a Christmas buffet they do in Sweden. We are very Swedish in my family {Justin is more Norwegian, but we don't like to talk about it.} Our last name is Swedish. We're pink-skinned blondes with blue eyes. Papa Erickson always called us "my Svenska flickas" growing up {"his Swedish girls"}. Also, we all drive Volvos. Yep, all of us. You'd think they'd have given us discounted tickets, but they didn't. 

Julbord & Christkindl

There were lots of salmon dishes to choose from, or their classic Swedish meatballs. 

Julbord & Christkindl

All kinds of Swedish treats at the buffet. The potato dish is called Jansson's temptation. It was really good. Also cucumber salad, cured salmon, eggs with shrimpy things, all of it was really good and/or interesting to try. 

Julbord & Christkindl

Christmas ham. And all those IKEA treats and desserts to choose from.

Julbord & ChristkindlJulbord & ChristkindlJulbord & ChristkindlJulbord & Christkindl

The princess cakes went fast. Luckily, I've had them before. They're really yummy and you can buy them in their food area. 

Julbord & Christkindl

IKEA does a really nice job. They had a table reserved for our party of 11. 
They hire Swedish singers and young ladies to be Santa Lucia.
There were toddlers in Swedish folk attire, little caps and aproned dresses, all the way up to the elderly Swedes in traditional Swedish dress. 

Julbord & Christkindl

Would we go again? I'm not sure I'd spend money on it again since we've been to it once. {Even though my parents paid for it.}
But I am definitely glad we tried an IKEA Christmas julbord. 
They have a very similar event for Easter, so buy tickets early if you want to go. 

Julbord & Christkindl

The Santa Lucia procession was adorable.
St. Lucy was a 3rd century martyr who--as folklore goes--brought food to the Christians in hiding via the catacombs. She wore a crown of candles--they say--so that she could carry more food with her arms and still see the way through the dark. 
{I'm not sure I believe it, as candles on the head don't seem like a great idea to me, but whatever.}

Julbord & Christkindl

They entertained us with song and Swedish folk dance.

Julbord & Christkindl


The next evening we decided to honor our German roots by heading downtown to the Denver Christkindl Market. Not only do we love European stuff, but both my family and Sander's family are pretty much mostly Scandinavian and German. 
Sander and I took Deutsche together in high school. Our old German teacher loved him {old ladies always do} and so he never got in trouble for harassing me {he couldn't keep his hands to himself, whereas I hated being the PDA couple in the hallway} but she sent home notes to my  mom about "Heather won't leave the Sander boy alone in class." 
What?! Other way around, lady.
{I think she had a thing for my future husband.}
{Most old ladies do.}

Sometimes we do German accents with each other.
Gotta keep the spark alive somehow.

We decided to take the Light Rail downtown. 

Julbord & Christkindl
{Thanks for the great photo, Eisley.}

Julbord & Christkindl

We'd never been to the Christkindl Market, but we've all wanted to go for years.

Julbord & Christkindl

There was a big tent with tons of people, all jolly and beer-filled. 

Julbord & Christkindl

And lots of little booths open with so many European-style Christmas goods. 

Julbord & Christkindl

I could not get enough of these beautiful glass ornaments. 
I wanted to take them all home.

Julbord & Christkindl

Now this, the Christkindl Market, I will definitely go back to year-after-year. 

Julbord & Christkindl

It was so very European. All the food was Bavarian--they had Hungarian-style goulash, German dumplings, gluhwein {mulled wine}, beer, pretzels, latkes...
All the things our Swedish and German Lutheran ancestors would have enjoyed at Christmastime. 

Julbord & Christkindl

As well as really neat Christmas gifts to shop for. 

Julbord & Christkindl

I think it's open most of the day, for multiple weekends in December. 

Julbord & Christkindl


Julbord & Christkindl

I bought the kids some handmade mittens. Just $15/pair or 2 for $25. 
Which I didn't think was so bad for handmade, and they're lined in soft warm fleece.

Julbord & Christkindl

If you want to try goulash, I've made this recipe at home and it was almost identical to the one they served at Christkindl {and everyone who tried my goulash thought it was the best} so try it out. My whole family loved it. {But you have to make her amazing dumplings too, it goes with it.} 

Julbord & Christkindl

The Christkindl Market makes for such a lovely winter night out in Denver. 
I hope you can make it next year, if you haven't already been yourself.

Julbord & Christkindl

Julbord & Christkindl

{Imagine the hum of a crowd against a live Bavarian band--all accordion and polka style--when you look at this photo.}

Julbord & Christkindl

My mom bought my sister and me each a Matryoshka doll. 
I chose a Santa one. Because I thrifted two Santa Matryoshka's before, as seen in this post, so now I guess I have a collection. 

Julbord & Christkindl

Julbord & Christkindl
Did I mention the smell of the market? 
It smells like winter, baked goods with yeast, and those candied roasted almonds. 

Julbord & Christkindl

{This was my favorite booth, for obvious reasons.}

Julbord & Christkindl

So I know I haven't posted much this year--it's been a doozy--but here we are ending it on a high note with a very Scandinavian Bavarian Christmas with all our family together. 
So. Pretty good. 

Julbord & Christkindl

Goodnight, Denver. 

Julbord & Christkindl

Merry
Christmas!

Sander was recently hired at the company he's been working at for two years. Confused? Me too. But not about that. Two years ago my h...

The Best {Kids} Corporate Christmas Party Ever

Kid's Christmas Party

Sander was recently hired at the company he's been working at for two years. Confused? Me too. But not about that. Two years ago my husband took a new position at his company's biggest-ever commercial job, as a contracted employee. Meaning, he's been employed by the company he's been at for 8 years, but the last two of them he was actually working at a client of his company's. Confused? Me too. About everything.

Anyhoo, I guess they liked Sander so much, they decided to bring him on board into their IT department. He's doing slightly different work, but with all the same people he's been working with for two years now. Except now he's not a contracted employee there, he's a legit employee there, with all the amazing benefits that come with a large, happy, healthy-even-through-the-recession company. While his previous employer was so good to us over the years, this was a very happy step forward for our family and Sander.

Especially since now--as he's no longer a contractor with the company--we get to enjoy all the benefits that come with being an employee there, such as the kids Christmas party!! {And this spring, also Take Your Kids To Work Day!} My children had previously not been able to enjoy these things at daddy's work since it wasn't technically daddy's work. Still confused? I give up.

He got hired by the bank, and now we get to have a kid's Christmas corporate party! Get it?

Me neither.

Kid's Christmas Party

The new employer, Sander's previous employer's client turned employer {am I making things worse?} is like a credit union for the farming industry.
For the last two years, they've been as good to us as they could be, given that Sander was not a legit employee.

I've been to plenty of "regular" company Christmas parties, this is the first time we've ever been invited to an employee Christmas party for the kids!

They invited Santa too.
Even though he's not a kid of an employee.
{How is that fair?}

Kid's Christmas Party

And Santa was a really good Santa, if you know what I mean. Cracked down on tooth brushing and the room cleaning while still giving warm hugs, a toy elf, and a candy cane. 

Kid's Christmas Party

Oh dear, look at my 9-year-old. She's looking like this might be her last year sitting on Santa's lap.

Kid's Christmas Party

There was a professional photographer, but I have yet to see those photos. 

Kid's Christmas Party

Then we got to see daddy's cubicle. This building is very lovely--if you can call an office building that--as it was built two years ago. {Sander's previous employer was picked to install all their TVs, conference room stuff, fancy Crestron equipment...and that was his previous job, maintaining that $ystem for the bank.}

Kid's Christmas Party

Now I can actually visualize the space he's working in when I call him at work because there's a spider, or the internet is down, or if I need to rant about the kids' behavior that morning. 

Kid's Christmas Party

AND we're totally jealous of his views. 

Kid's Christmas Party

You have to keep in mind, this was the first time in two years we were allowed into his building, so it was kind of exciting. 

Next, we headed to the cafeteria, where the bank's chef had prepared a breakfast for hundreds. 

Kid's Christmas Party

There was a hot cocoa bar, a coffee bar with baristas, French toast, pancakes, and even the chef's own pop tarts with whatever toppings the kids desired. 

Kid's Christmas Party

From now on, we can also come have lunch with daddy when we feel like it at the bank's restaurant. I hear they have good breakfast burritos.
I'll be the judge of that. 

Kid's Christmas Party

Without going into much detail, this new position and job at the bank for Sander is the answer to many prayers. Things had been feeling up in the air, and uncomfortable for the last several months. We weren't sure what was in store for the future, but we did know he wanted a permanent position at the bank and that our family would really benefit from the benefits. 

Kid's Christmas Party

If I can be perfectly frank, 2017 has been a bit of a hellish year for my whole family. Okay, so none of us were diagnosed with terminal illness or anything, yes, we're keeping it in perspective. But everything from my dad's car accident and subsequent surgery and long recovery and the time that took out of my parent's lives, to my sister's family being uprooted from New Mexico suddenly and plopped back here in Denver--which we're thankful for, but it wasn't the way anyone had planned. 
Sander and I had it easier than all of them this 2017, but it's been rough for all of us trying to carry each other's burdens. 

Now, can I offer a praise report? 
Out of my very small family here in Colorado {6 adults, 5 kids}, FOUR adults are starting great new or better jobs they wanted this Nov/Dec. Sander included.
My dad also got hired by a company that made the top 25 WORLD employers in 2017.
In a very similar fashion to how Sander was hired, he'd been a contracted employee of sorts and they liked him so much they brought him on as well.
How 'bout dat? 

Kid's Christmas Party

All that to say, while 2017 has been a somewhat rough year in surprising ways, we're tying up 2017 with a pretty tidy bow, after all. 

Kid's Christmas Party

Back to the kids Christmas party, after breakfast we headed to the Elf Academy in the conference room. 

Kid's Christmas Party

They sang a carol, they made paper airplanes, an ornament, and each got an Elf Academy certificate with assignment to any given country around the world. 

We'll be sending Paxton off to Thailand pretty soon here.
Eisley, Belgium. Violet, I forget...
{It's a middle child thing. You forget a lot.}

Kid's Christmas Party

Lastly, they rode the train. 

Kid's Christmas Party

Sit down, Paxton!

Kid's Christmas Party

Wait, I mean, lastly we waited in line for balloon artists who'd just spent the last 3 hours making balloon animals for hundreds of kids. They totally looked like they needed a spiked eggnog by the time we got to the front of the line. Bless them. 

Kid's Christmas Party

So, consider this part of our Christmas letter 2017. 
Sander has a new job at the place he's worked at for two years. 
It's a definite good thing. 
We have the balloons and elf dolls and new health insurance to prove it.

{Fun Fact: At his previous employer, insurance for our whole family cost more than our mortgage. Which meant our kids were on CHP+, which the government might be axing soon anyway. So this came at a good time for us. But many aren't so fortunate, so consider reaching out to your local congressmen?}

Kid's Christmas Party

And I won't be resentful about Take Your Kid To Work Day in 2018, because apparently that's a pretty impressive event at the bank too. 

Kid's Christmas Party

Now, the "adult" corporate Christmas party is in early January, in the ballroom at the Denver Center of Performing Arts.
I really hope those balloon elves are there.
We hope your employer treats you well this Christmas too. 

Cheers,
Heather