Christmas Day 2016…

We told the kids they could come out of their rooms at 7:30 Christmas morning. Hallie was the first one up but no confirmation on the time she woke up! She proceeded to wake up Bennett and Hunter – who finally woke us up at 7:31 – Briggs woke up shortly after.

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This was the first year the kids did sibling gifts where they each drew a name of someone else. At this age it’s just more work on mom and dad but they were so excited to give to each other. Hallie and Hunter used their own money and purchased gifts for everyone. Bennett paid for his through service and Cannon paid for his with a flash of his smile! They loved picking out gifts for one another.

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Hallie has wanted a locker for a while – it was the first thing on her Christmas list. She easily could’ve purchased it herself but she is a saver, not a spender. So she patiently waited for Christmas so she could get it. She’s excited to lock up all her candy, chapstick and markers so her brothers can’t take them.

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Topping Hunter’s list was walkie talkies. He told me he wanted these more than Legos – which for him is saying a lot! They have been the most used Christmas gift this week.

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Bennett was the most fun to watch this year. Everything was amazing and awesome and he was so excited about everything. He was giving fist pumps left and right. Five years old is a fun age on Christmas morning – especially when you’re animated like Bennett.

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Cannon is still a little young to fully understand Christmas – but he enjoyed ripping the paper off. He was more than happy with his presents. Three year olds are easy to please!

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Briggs’ first Christmas was a typical first Christmas…uneventful. He had two presents to open and one that was unwrapped under the tree (one from both grandparents and one from us). And yet one present is still wrapped under the tree for him! And his favorite gift was the Rody horse that Cannon received! He likes chewing on the ears!

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After two hours – our living room looked like this. (See the cart down there that Steve gave me for my air compressor. He loves me!)

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We were fortunate enough to have Steve’s parents join us for the morning. I’m sure they had flashbacks of Christmas mornings from years ago with all their children.

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We quickly got our monkey bread made and devoured before we went to church. I usually make this with cans of biscuits – this year I tried it with cans of cinnamon rolls – it was amazing. We’ll use cinnamon rolls from now on!

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We opened a few more presents from my parents after we got back from church so we could skype with them.

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Late afternoon we went to Steve’s parents house where we met up with excited cousins telling us about fun Christmas gifts and they played and played and we ate and ate.

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That night we loaded back in the car with tired happy kids. Christmas was over. We had a beautiful season. So much goodness. We’ll be living on this high for a while.

Christmas Eve 2016

Christmas Eve was the peak of all excitement and for a few of the kids it was just about too much to handle. The morning consisted of board games and football. Steve has been teaching the kids strategy games and they’re good which means no one is letting anyone win!

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The afternoon was chilly and rainy – abnormal for us – which meant the kids weren’t outside playing which made them even more anxious. Decorating cookies for Santa helped pass the time.

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Some did more decorating, some did more eating. All of Cannon’s Santa cookies were missing limbs or heads – or he licked them! Only the best for Santa!

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After dinner with our neighbors, we read Luke 2 and the kids acted out the nativity (always my favorite part of the night – you never know what kind of production you’ll get!). We sang songs, there were piano musical numbers – all great things. The kids opened their Christmas pajamas and got cozy for the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas. And then they tried their hardest to settle down and not think about how awesome the next morning was going to be!

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Christmas Eve

Steve and I were loving the fact that we had all our wrapping done and we could enjoy a quiet evening amidst the glow of the tree. We sat and talked for over an hour – conversations are always better in this magical environment. And then the house was quiet and peaceful and Santa made his visit.

 

Pre-Christmas activities…

Before I move on to writing about Christmas eve and Christmas, I want to address all the pre-christmas stuff that came and went without much fanfare but added to the spirit of our Christmas and the delight of the kids.

We started out the month with decorating the tree. This was a pre-lit tree that we inherited from Steve’s brother. They were getting rid of it because some lights stopped working. I thought I would spend an hour and a half taking the lights off and it would be as good as new. 5 hours later, I finally had the old lights off! It took way longer than I ever imagined – but we finally got the new lights on and the kids did the decorating as I directed from the couch.

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pre-christmas 2016

I work with the girls in our church that are Hallie’s age and we read the book Three Trees and made some trees from the holiday forest.

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pre-christmas 2016

I helped put on a dinner for the women of our church with the theme “Festival of Nativities”. We had four tables full of nativities from around the world from different members of our church. It was a beautiful collection. It made me want to collect a variety of nativities and display them in our home.

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pre-christmas 2016

Bennett had his kindergarten program where he was front and center with his friend. Bennett is a ham most of the time and I was surprised how shy he was on the stage. Don’t get me wrong – he still had plenty of animated faces, but not to his usual standard. He also had a speaking part that he had repeated over and over again in preparation. Everyone in the family had it memorized.

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pre-christmas 2016

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I went to Bennett’s class to help with Gingerbread houses. It was comical. Bennett isn’t traditional and it showed as he carefully created a house that represented him. There was no pattern or reason – he told me where he wanted frosting and he shoved candy there. He was pretty proud of his work and I enjoyed the morning listening to him jabber with his friends. I was also in Hallie’s class party the day before but I have no proof!

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Steve’s parents hosted the annual grade-school cousin sleepover. I have a love/hate relationship with this tradition. We’re not a sleepover family but we make this annual exception. I love that the kids are so excited and look forward to this, but I hate how grumpy they are the next day. There were reports of going to bed at 12:30 and waking up at 5:30. We had tears and more tears the next day and crying as they screamed they weren’t tired. Real fun! They had a blast. We also had a family talent night where many performed and there was a gift exchange.

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I always like to refresh some decorations during the month and I came up with several of these wreaths to hang on my windows made from a single strand of garland from Hobby lobby. I wrapped it in a circle twice and secured it with floral tape and hung it with red ribbon tied in a bow on a command strip. I love them.

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A friend gave us this melting snowman kit and my kids took turns creating snowmen and then watched it melt at least a hundred times. It just sat on the counter on a paper plate and every kid seemed to walk by, see that it was melted and built it back up. It kept them all entertained. I saw amazon also has a melting witch for Halloween that I want to get my hands on.

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These activities, in combination with multiple santa sightings, temple lights, friend gatherings, service projects, afternoons at the movies and more created a magical December. It didn’t feel crazy busy but it was enough to keep the kids excited about the season. Good memories to hold on to.

 

Merry Christmas to all…

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And just like that it’s over. We plan for weeks (or in my case months), we serve others, we talk about the birth of Christ, we decorate homes and presents. And then in a couple hours time, it all comes crashing down. All that we’ve done to cultivate a spirit of Christmas reaches a climax and in a blink of an eye, it’s over. Done.

It’s been a great month. A month of pondering and service and fun and activities. It’s been a time of excitement and anticipation. And when I watched my kids run down the stairs this morning I was at a Christmas season high. It was gratifying. In fact, I watched the video of it two times already tonight. I realized, my kids excitement can be exhausting at times and then there are times when it is completely contagious. This morning it was definitely contagious. It was a great day all around. Merry Christmas to all.

Santa Sightings…

We had more than a couple santa sightings this season.

The first two encounters, Cannon freaked out. Crying and screaming – he did not want to be in the same room as Santa. Bennett was far more comfortable and would’ve preferred a couple more visits – he’s talked non-stop about Santa this month. He wants to know all the details. Hallie was skeptical, although she joined in the fun, she was much more eager when her friends weren’t around. Hunter was Hunter and he could’ve been fine either way, he was in it for the candy.

Santa 2016

Santa 2016

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Santa 2016

Santa 2016

After the first two Santa fiascos, I showed Cannon all his old pictures sitting on Santa’s lap – not a tear in sight. We talked about how nice Santa was and that he gives candy. By the time we made our visit to the Bass Pro Shop he was mentally prepared to enjoy the jolly man in the red suit! Briggs on the other hand only had one encounter with Santa and it was the typical “first picture with Santa”. Tears for days!

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