Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

This holiday season was filled with family, feasting, giving, receiving, and Caden requesting Jingle Bells to be sung on repeat (he says “ji-ma-go, ji-ma-go”). We enjoyed hosting “Nama” and “gampa” (Elise’s parents). Caden did fairly well with the Christmas tree. He loved seeing the lights turn on, and there were only a few ornament fatalities. Per tradition, we baked our Pulla Bread (a Finnish coffee bread) on Christmas Eve and went to a candle light service at our church. One thing that I don’t want to forget is on Christmas morning when Caden exclaimed, “mail came!” as he saw all the gifts under the tree. A huge gift for Kyle and I was a few days away (baby free) and a handful of date nights (thanks grandma and grandpa)! Our tree has been taken down and our decorations boxed away, but I want to savor and recall the sweet moments of the season for as long as possible. Now it’s onto 2019!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

The Zabels

Wisconsin Holiday + New Year Expectations

Over Christmas we spent a week visiting Kyle's family in Wisconsin. The temps were freezing (literally sub-zero) but the wood-burning furnace and Caden's smiles kept us warm! We mostly stayed indoors drinking coffee, spending time with family, and staying up late playing games. As a gift, Kyle and I were able to enjoy a baby-free night away in Milwaukee! Then we returned to Seattle and had a low-key, early New Year's Eve (celebrating on east coast time, of course).

As we enter each new year, I always enjoy the exercise of reflecting on the past and setting new intentions for the future. But this year it has been challenging to find time and energy between our travels, Caden's naps, and my own sleepy brain.

One thing is for sure: we are eager to enter a new year with a clean slate. The year of 2017 was complicated. It felt like a long and arduous road filled with trials, but there were some intense joys along the way. We endured a difficult pregnancy, but in May we were blessed with Caden, who is an absolute delight! Then in November I required a second surgery to remove some large fibroids (cantaloupe and orange-sized) that had accompanied my pregnancy. We've entered the fray of parenthood, which continues to bring new and unique challenges, but also some of the sweetest rewards.

In 2018, we are excited for a fresh start as a family of three, reestablishing some rhythms and finding time to adventure. One of our deepest desires is to be more intentional in various aspects of our lives. We are ready for you, 2018!

Cheers and Happy New Year!

The Zabels 

Christmas Came Early | 2017.

Since Kyle and I were married, our Christmas rhythms tend to look a bit different each year.  Some elements are consistent, but there is always some variation given the year and circumstances. With families that each live a plane ride away, it's challenging to form Christmas traditions that look exactly the same each year, but we still want to establish our own traditions that are unique and specific to us. This year, we are flying to Wisconsin to spend Christmas with Kyle's family, so we decided to have an early Zabel Christmas at home. For me, it's important to wake up slow, have coffee and Pulla bread, and enjoy time with Kyle and Caden. I want to read the Christmas story and remember Jesus' birth. I want to open thoughtful gifts wrapped under a hand cut tree with ornaments collected from various adventures throughout our years as a family.  I want to enjoy a meal, drink wine, sing happy birthday and eat cake to celebrate! I want to watch White Christmas by the glow of Christmas lights and candles cuddled up under warm blankets. I want to slow down in this busy season and savor time as a family of three, making memories together!  

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

After traveling to visit both of our families last Christmas, we stayed home in Seattle this year.  In these early years of marriage we are still figuring out what we want our holiday traditions to be.  On Christmas Eve we (Elise) baked Pulla Bread, a Finish coffee bread, (which turned into a bit of a kitchen baking debacle!), went to a Christmas eve service,  and watched White Christmas snuggled up by the fire.  On Christmas morning we sipped coffee, read the story of Jesus' birth, and unwrapped more gifts than we ever needed!  Later that afternoon we went for a walk around Green Lake and shared a meal with some sweet friends.  The next day we headed to the mountains and strapped on our new snowshoes to get a bit of fresh air and enjoy the recent snow fall.  It was a perfect way to end the Christmas weekend!  Tomorrow is New Years Eve and we can't wait for what 2016 will hold.     

Cheers and Happy New Year!  

The Zabels 

CHRISTMAS: DALLAS | WISCONSIN.

This is our second Christmas as husband and wife.  For the first, we celebrated at our home in Seattle, just the two of us.  But this year Kyle and I spent the past week visiting both of our families.  We started our vacation in Dallas with the Benadoms.  Some highlights were seeing friends, baking Pulla bread, and watching White Christmas on Christmas Eve.  Then we flew to Wisconsin, where I was hoping to see some snow on the ground, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the Wisconsin weather was warmer than usual for this time of year.  We baked and frosted Christmas cookies, played Sequence, and watched the Packers play.  Now, as I'm cozied up and warmed by the heat of our fireplace back in Seattle, I reflect on not only the blessing of family and the ability to visit them, but also on how many blessings have been scattered throughout this past year.  With tomorrow being New Years Eve, we will will say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015 with the excitement of what the next year may hold.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

- The Zabels

THE ZABEL'S FIRST CHRISTMAS.

We stayed local on our first Christmas together as the Zabels, enjoying time spent with each other and making new family traditions.  On Christmas Eve I made Pulla bread, a Finish coffee bread that my mom and I would bake together while growing up.  Later that evening, Kyle and I attended a Christmas Eve service to celebrate the birth of our Savior.  Christmas Day began with some extra sleep and a relaxing morning filled with good coffee and thoughtful gifts from under our tree.  We finished the day with a brisk bike ride, cooking our first ham, and watching one of my favorite movies, White Christmas.  We are continually being reminded that there is much to celebrate and rejoice in this holiday season.   

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS.

This will be the first Christmas that Kyle and I will spend together married.  It will also be my first Christmas away from my parents.  I am filled with a sense of gratefulness to be celebrating with a man that I love so dearly.  However, I am also realizing that this will mean establishing traditions as a new Zabel family.

I have tried to do some reflecting on the traditions I had growing up that were the most meaningful. One thing that I loved was the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree that would fill our house.  My dad and I would journey to the Christmas tree lot to select our tree and I always wanted the biggest tree. 

Kyle and I (along with some friends) recently went out in search of our first family Christmas tree. We wanted to cut it down ourselves and found a quaint Norwegian farm out in Carnation, WA to cut it down.  We both recognized with our small (730 sqft) rental space that choosing the largest tree may not be in our best interest, so we found an adorable little Noble Fir to cut down and take home!

We have put up lights on our balcony, hung stockings on the mantle, added some bright red poinsettias for color, and purchased It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas.  Our house is feeling a bit more like Christmas.

In all this decoration and preparation, I am continuing to remember that the birth of our Savior is the reason we celebrate and oh what a wonderful reason He is.  

Immanuel: God with us. 

Merry Christmas - The Zabels

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