Cascade Falls, Orcas Island, WA: I'd have never have seen if I hadn't traveled One of the promises  that I made myself at the...

Anxiety & New Orleans


Washington 2016
Cascade Falls, Orcas Island, WA: I'd have never have seen if I hadn't traveled
One of the promises that I made myself at the beginning of the year is that I would blog more consistently in 2018. It's the 27th of January now and here is my first post of the year, so obviously that's going great. 

{My blog just turned TEN years old too!}

But I am keeping my house nice and clean {these last couple days, ha} and yesterday, as my girls were at homeschool school, I spent most of the day working my tail off cleaning the house. I wanted to earn the right to veg on the couch and binge watch all the shows I needed to catch up on {Grey's Anatomy, American Housewife, Superstore, to name a few}. My house was spotless by the time the kids went to bed, except their rooms {obvs}, and so I flipped on Grey's...although still folding a load of Paxton's laundry. It never ends. 

I had fantasized all day about my kids' bed time and how I'd spend those blessed few hours between their nodding off and mine. 

So when Eisley got up to use the bathroom after about 40 minutes, and then came out to me, you'd think I'd have been irritated. Except she had tears in her eyes so I asked her what was wrong.

"I've just been talking to Jesus about how I don't want to grow up." 

Oh bless! First, that she was talking to Jesus. 

Now about the growing up anxiety, while I'd love to blame that on Peter Pan, that's actually my fault. I've said things in the past about my kids needing to stop growing up so fast. I mean, you know what I mean if you're a parent yourself. It's so very bittersweet. But my girl Eisley has her mother's anxiety. And I've apparently given her a complex about growing up. She frets. I very much get that. 

I know all too well how anxiety especially loves to mess with you at bed time. I have planned everyone's funerals in the late night hours, through tears. 

{I keep meaning to blog about my life with anxiety, but it'd be doozy best done in parts. But I want to say this: the last couple of years have been much more comfortable as I've pressed into God and turned to praying myself to sleep rather than worrying myself to sleep. Fewer heart palpitations and zero anxiety attacks for a couple years now too. My best advice if you suffer from an anxiety disorder? Prayer and magnesium.}

But here's the good part about Eisley: she came and talked to me about it. And we cried together and hugged several times and she went to bed feeling better. 

Because when I was a kid, from 7 on, I also struggled with anxiety and crying myself to sleep. Except I was too ashamed, and worried it'd be labeled "crocodile tears" or brushed off to dare and talk to anyone about it. So I'm so glad--and consider it a good sign--that my Eisley girl seeks me out to talk about it. Because talking about it is important and helpful, and I only started learning that from the age of 32 and on. 

Speaking of my anxiety, I have a question for you... 

Say my husband is going on a business trip to New Orleans for a convention later in spring. 

Say the room at the Hyatt, rental car, and his airfare will be paid for. And say he has enough points with the airline to get me a ticket at no cost. 

I should go with him...right? The hotel is in the historic French Quarter. 

 I should go...right? 

Because I get anxiety about leaving my kids. Specifically, what if something happened to both of us and our kids were left orphans. We have family, but no legal will regarding your plans for orphaned children will ever be ideal. 

At the risk of sounding morbid, I sort of find it ideal to travel with my entire clan. Because if we go down in a plane together, hey, at least everyone is taken care of and no one is left behind. Jesus-bound. 

I'm a homebody at heart. My sister and father are both wanderlusts, but I'm a homebody. I'm cool seeing pictures of your vacation, but even the Ritz Paris couldn't hold a candle to my very own IKEA bed and my claw-foot soaking tub. No thanks. 

My bed and bathtub are my most favorite places in the universe. Confession: sometimes I actually consider the benefits about being agoraphobic. 

But remember how in 2016 I let Sander talk me into a Seattle/Orcas Island trip? 

I had the best time. It was amazing

So once again I'm considering pushing myself to travel without the kids. I am not scared of death, I am scared of my kids being left behind without a mother and father. {Something I regularly cried myself to sleep worrying about myself as a kid.}

Also, New Orleans doesn't have a reputation for being a particularly safe city. 

Today I even read a few different articles that have said that if someone approaches you on Bourbon Street and says, "Bet you $10 I know where you got your shoes." {And thanks to the guy at King Sooper's who bags my groceries and likes to tell jokes, I've long known the proper answer is "On my feet."} Apparently you'll get stared-down until you actually hand over a tenner for their "cleverness".

I'm not even kidding, multiple articles on travelling to New Orleans warned about this. You're either supposed to tell them, "I'm a local." Or keep walking and keep your face straight. 

So now you know, I'm not much of a traveler or wanderlust, and New Orleans hasn't been on my bucket list of travel spots {unlike Hawaii, Sweden/Finland, and Israel}. 

But I should go...right? I'll have fun...right? My kids will probably survive without me and I without them.............right? 

He was right about Orcas Island. 

Have you been to New Orleans? And what is worth seeing? I'm already thinking staying in the French Quarter will be the most safe. I definitely want to see that graveyard. {You know me! #taphophile #findagravevolunteer} 

Beignets. 

{Speaking of, great place for legit beignets and Creole brunch in Denver is Lucile's, definitely try it.}

Also, keep in mind, we're not the voodoo or Mardis Gras types. My husband and I are pretty vanilla, I suppose. 

So considering that, is it worth going? And what is important to see in and around the French Quarter? 

I still partly think we should save the airline points and work toward a family trip to either Seattle/Orcas Island again or California/Disneyland, where many of our family members are. 

But...free...so tempting. Tell me what you think! I want to hear about your New Orleans adventures.

Cheers,
Homebody Heather

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...

Kids Corp Christmas!

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