Friday, December 23, 2011

{Christmas Countdown}

Can't believe there is only one full day left before Christmas Eve.  No matter how prepared and organized I try to be, it always seems rushed at the end trying to get everything in.  After major house cleaning today, I still have a pile of presents to wrap, food to buy, and a couple errands to run.  But hopefully after today, it will be time to relax and enjoy the magic that Christmas brings. We can't wait!

Also on my to-do list today was to get all our pre-Christmas festivities posted.  Here is what we have been up to:

Lunch date with Addy to get pretty nails for the holidays.
 She cashed in her birthday coupon and we had so much fun.

Carson's Choir Concert.

Rylan playing endlessly with this musical ornament that my mom sent.

Winter dance piece for parents.

The Nutcracker
Addy was the only one who wanted to go this year with me.

And we joined up with our same group including BFF cousin, Paige.

I love this local performance where you can sit close to the stage and take pictures with the dancers afterwards.  This girl, the 'Dew Drop', was my favorite!  The entire company was very talented!

Making and packaging up 'Hot Chocolate' gifts for neighbors.

Painting Ornaments

Gingerbread houses.  Can I tell you how much I love the ones from Costco where you pull the house, completely built, right out of the box?  And the icing is already made and in its own bag with a tip?    So much easier, especially when I have 3 builders now.

And last, but not least, seeing the one and only Santa Claus!  The kids were terrific and I consider it our own little Christmas miracle that I got 4 kids up early and dressed, hair curled and combed, out the door, and into the mall on Dec 21st. Because we were early, we only waited in line for 30 minutes, and ended up with this shot of them all happy.  Even with Miles not smiling, we are just happy he isn't crying!  Yay for a non-stressful trip to see Santa. 

I love the build up and excitement before Christmas more than the actual day. I am always sad to see it draw near and then vanish so quickly. We are savoring these last few days of Christmas fun before we are buried in wrapping paper, cardboard, and toys that need batteries and assembly. 
 But I also can't wait for those smiling faces on Christmas morning too. 

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

{merry christmas 2011}

I was so happy with our Christmas cards this year.  I found an awesome deal with papercoterie, and I ordered these right around Thanksgiving.  I love the red sleeve with the black and white photos. It was a major stress relief to have the design decision out of the way so early.

And a letter too. It is my best attempt to be brief, but it is so hard with 6 people!

But I quickly realized I didn't order enough, so I created another card too...which gave me a chance to use our a family picture taken right around Thanksgiving. 

Christmas cards are one of my favorite traditions of the whole season.  Even though we have blogs, email, facebook...there is just something so fun about sending and receiving cards regular old USPS.  So many have gone away with it in favor of the convenience technology provides, but I'm old school here.  I love an actual Christmas card. Something to file away in my binder of family cards (that my mom gave us and starts with family Christmas letters in 1981!) And I love the growing display on the pantry door with cards, pictures, notes and letters from friends and family we love!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

{Polar Express 2011}

We went on our 2nd annual Polar Express ride a little over a week ago.  The kids could not wait! I love my little believers. 

For a boy who loves trains, this steam train in Centralia did not disappoint.  And it is pure magic with Santa and the North Pole involved too! 

 Hot cocoa and cookies!

Santa climbs aboard after we reached the North Pole and spends a few minutes with each family and passes out a bell.

Our best attempt at a group shot.

And seeing Santa one more time after returning to the station.

The only thing this boy has asked for Christmas is a bell.  I think from the movie and book, and the bell being the "first gift of Christmas", he just assumes that is what everyone gets for Christmas. So sweet.  And he was sure excited when he finally got his own! (Man, he'll be surprised on Christmas when he actually gets toys!)  The bell was so much cooler this year too...weighted and jingly...just like it should be! 

And I love these sweet messages from Addy.  It's so fun to watch the light really come on and words become more than just sounds.  It has just clicked, and she loves it.  We write notes back and forth to each other on this message board in her room. 

"Thanks for letting me [go] to the Polar Express"

"Please can I go to the Christmas Party"

It was a fun night, and the kids were all smiles.  But much harder than last year with 4 kids instead of 3.  Not like 25% harder, like 50% harder...not sure how that actually works.  But throw in a baby and an overly excited 3 year old, and it feels like you have 10 kids.  Despite the hassle of getting our crew ready and to the destination, it was worth it, as it always is.  (It's just while I am chasing Rylan or shhh-ing Miles, and gathering 100 gloves, and 45 blankets,  that I say we aren't doing this again until everyone is 20!) 

Monday, December 12, 2011

{Deck the Halls!}

The stockings are hung!

I love pulling out the boxes of garland, trees, wreathes, dishes and Christmas decor.  Nothing makes a house feel more cozy then a bunch of Christmas-ness all around.  My mom always has done a great job of really making it feel and look like Christmas at her home.  I hope my kids feel the same in our home too.   Especially since the effort required is a little exhausting.  Not to mention trying to find out where to place everything in a new home. 

I had to make a few stops at the craft stores.  Mostly I went garland-crazy this year.  I love how festive it looks. And I have so many more options for it in this house.  It's been really fun decorating in a new space.

I love having a son who helps me out.  Trying to train a little gentleman.  Here he is carting my stuff in from the car.

My first year trying paper-whites.  Man, you can practically watch these guys grow.  Can't wait until they bloom.

The hubster tackled the outside lights on Thanksgiving weekend. I tried not to watch.  Especially when he set up the ladder on top of his jeep to reach the highest peak.  Yes, really. 

My contribution was the little trees and some of the windows, lit from the inside. 

And  a few lights in each of the kids room is a major hit.

Decor is up and Christmas activities and outings have begun.  Up first was the Santa Parade.  Last year Carson's cub scout troop had an entry and this year Addy's first grade class had one.  It was freezing but not raining! I was glad Addy was the 7th entry in the parade, because we bailed after about an hour to warm up. 

I was more prepared this year for this parade in the dark.  The kids loved the battery operated strands of Christmas lights that I wrapped around their coats.

And this week we made a batch of Christmas sugar cookies.  I really should do this more.  They love it.

Don't know why this was so exciting.   Ry could have rolled and cut out shapes all day.

The kids are trying to be on their best behavior for Charlie (our Shelf Elf) that is watching them every day.  We're getting through our Christmas book collection, listening to Christmas music, and watching our favorite Christmas movies.   We can't do as much 'stuff' as we have done in the past.  It's just too hard with all 4 kids, so we are enjoying just being snuggled up at home. And really that's the best part.  I love everything about being home for Christmas. My favorite Christmas memories as a kid all happened in our own home. And I want that for my kiddos too. 

As for shopping, I am mostly done.  Just a few things here and there.  I am not a big fan of Christmas lists. I don't want anything in written format handed to me by my kids of what they want me and Santa to buy them.  Nope. Not happening.  Instead I take mental notes of the one item that keeps coming up when we talk about Santa (and they can write Santa asking for that one thing).  And then we try our best to make it a nice Christmas without our kids feeling entitled to certain presents because they asked for it.  Anyone with me here? Online shopping has been my friend this year more than ever before.  I'm a believer.

Hope the season is merry so far for each of you!

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My little blog is a family journal. I include things on here I want to remember years and years from now. So when I post a zillion is because I want to have it for my posterity. So please forgive the often posted-picture overload.

Currently I am trying to focus on my photography skills...reading, reading, reading, and taking pictures when I can. Then edit, read, read, read some more. I finally feel like I have a basic understanding of exposure...hooray! I updated my blog template so I can display larger photos because...aren't pictures better than anything I have to say anyway?

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