Saturday, January 11, 2014

Christmas 2013

This post is quite heavy on the pictures. At this point, I know none of you are surprised. All of these photos make me smile and this is how I want to remember our Christmas.

Each Christmas Eve the kids get to open one present. We usually don't put gifts out until Christmas Eve because we don't want the kids lusting after them and trying to peek. But this year they were all old enough that they wanted to wrap their gifts from each other, so there were a few gifts out. I started wrapping presents in the early evening so when it came time for our Family Home Evening program, there were several gifts under the tree. (The no gifts under the tree policy has one drawback- I wait until Christmas Eve to do all the wrapping. Every year I tell myself that I'll wrap earlier, but then I'm never sure where to put them. As you can see, I do almost all of my shopping online and there is always a copious amount of Amazon boxes littering the bedroom. BTW, Amazon Prime with free 2 day shipping? Best $79.00 I've ever spent.)

We don't want the kids to open their biggest or "best" gift on Christmas Eve so we've started to just give them the gift we think they should open rather than letting them pick. This year I wanted something snuggly for all of them to take to bed, but the most snuggly items were "big" gifts and I wanted to save them for Christmas Day (you'll see them below).

For Mack it was a stuffed dinosaur. I'd bought it at Kohl's several months before, one of their $5 specials that go with the books they sell to raise money for charity. I thought I would use it as an incentive for him doing a good job on his chores. But I stashed it away and forgot about it. Dan was sure Mack would be disappointed with it because it wasn't some action toy. But he surprised us and thought it was the greatest thing ever! He promptly named him Greenie.

Amelia opened this snuggly bear from Lily. It's made of super soft minky fabric and is perfect for a snuggle friend. His name is Santa Bear.

I told Lily that this year she wasn't getting a lot, but that she had two really good presents. She opted to save them both for Christmas Day, so she opened these fuzzy pi's.

It took awhile to wrap all the presents, tend to all the little details that make Christmas morning special, and clean the living room so we would have plenty of room for the present frenzy. Santa's work was done close to 3am. I know because I had to wait until I heard him come and go so I could get a picture of all the goodies before the kids got into them ;). It's a good thing because Amelia told me she got up at 3:47am and snuck in to make sure Santa had come.

This is the extent of our living room. It is small and we only have a loveseat, so the stockings had to spill over onto the end tables. I really don't like the curtains (they came with the house) and I've been tempted to get new ones, but not knowing how temporary our time will be in this house, I decided to live with them and save a couple hundred dollars.

Amelia offered up her mini gingerbread house for Santa.

Last year was the first year we had our scout elf, Jack. One night he snuggled up next to Barbie and Amelia thought that was the funniest thing ever. "Jack has a girlfriend! Jack has a girlfriend!"

{December 2012}

So on this Christmas Eve Amelia put Barbie up on the mantle so Jack could see his girlfriend on Christmas Day.

Jack stays with us on Christmas Day so he can watch everyone open their presents. This year he got special permission from Santa to play with the kids (they were allowed to touch him).

Amelia was so glad to be able to hold him!

When Dan was growing up, stockings were free game, a diversion tactic to allow the parents to sleep awhile longer. At my house, my Dad made us all pose on the couch with our stockings before we could dig into them. When Lily was old enough to go looking for Santa's loot on Christmas morning, I wanted to see every exciting moment, so I made her wait while I got my camera poised. That has gotten harder and harder to maintain over the years because she is the quintessential morning person. She does, however, try to keep her siblings out of their stockings until I get up. I remember one year, when we lived in the Perkins house (white house with a red roof), Dan and I stayed in bed while we listened to all the squeals of delight. There was a special feeling about that, too, so maybe next year I should just stay in bed!

Silver knew just what to do with her stocking.

We all got eye masks in our stockings. Mine has shallow cups over the eyes so that you can blink inside without your eyes rubbing on the fabric. We lovingly dubbed it the Eye Bra.

It was just Amelia's right size.

Some goodies in my stocking. I'm sad the Reece's bells are gone.

Mack's lastest obsession is Beyblades. They are tricked out spinning tops that battle to see who gets knocked over first. They have different properties that make them better for striking or defending such as differing heights between the components, some rubber pieces versus some metal pieces. There are also different techniques for releasing the Bey (angle, how hard you pull the ripcord) that make your Bey stronger than your opponent's. Mack's buddy Jack introduced him to Beys about a year ago and he has been slowly building his collection. The girls like to battle with him or sometimes he just plays by himself.

Over the years we have developed the habit of opening gifts a little at a time. We don't want the fun to be over in 15 minutes so we open, play awhile, then open some more. Usually we do stockings and play with our Santa gifts, then pause for breakfast. That was awfully hard for Mack! So while Daddy put some cinnamon rolls in the oven, I looked at Grammie's annual Shutterfly photo book with the kids. They loved seeing pictures of themselves!

Annie, our inside cat, got a little something fun in her stocking, a mouse-on-a-rope that squeaks.

Funny girl, she preferred to attack the stick rather than the mouse.

Annie and the 4 outside cats each got a can of juicy cat food for Christmas. The outside kitties were totally grubbin', but Annie left hers untouched and Silver ate it. :)

After breakfast we started opening presents under the tree. Amelia's gift to Mack had to be camouflaged inside a pizza box in case he tried to open it early. He really thought it was a pizza and he was like, "What a ripoff!"

But upon further investigation he discovered that it was the movie Turbo. And it had a pull back snail to go with it.

Amelia was in love with her microscope. Unfortunately, it had a defective battery compartment and we had to order a replacement. Amelia was so sad that she wouldn't be able to use it on Christmas Day, but Daddy came to the rescue and used his cell phone flashlight to shine up through the bottom.

The replacement arrived while we were at Grammie's house for New Years. The cousins had lots of fun looking at all the slides. Amelia liked all the plant samples but was totally grossed out by all the animal tissue samples, like the dog intestines. ;)

Amelia especially enjoyed making or choosing out gifts for everyone this year. She made this little clay face for me.

This video is a perfect sample of the emotions of Christmas: The joy of giving, the joy of receiving, and just a pinch of envy thrown in to keep it real.

Silver hung out under the Christmas tree surveying all the action.

Dan made me a fantastically beautiful gift for Christmas. It's a made-completely-by-hand blanket chest constructed of reclaimed oak. It has hand-hewn dovetails, custom feet, and hand-forged iron hinges. I will post more about Dan's woodworking journey in another post.

Mack insisted that Greenie pose with me.

It's so fun watching kids open their Christmas presents.

Lily got a kick out of fighting the metallic wrapping paper. It wouldn't tear diagonally.

One of the kids' big gifts were custom made blankets from Minky Couture (don't panic, they aren't nearly that expensive when you buy them in the store or order over the phone).

When our cousins visited us during Homecoming in October, they all brought their minky blankets and Lily & Amelia instantly started begging for one. We casually looked at different fabric combinations online (so I could get an idea of what the girls liked) but it was "just for fun". I figured Christmas was far enough away that they would forget about it. I ordered all the blankets, plus one for me, and stashed them away for two months.

It was worth the wait! They love those minkies!

Silver was super impressed.

This was the big surprise of Christmas (along with my blanket chest):

It didn't take long for a selfie.

The aftermath. I love my kids- their Christmas morning lasted from 8:30 to 11:45. They really know how to make it last!

Then it was time for some serious playtime! Last Christmas Mack got Magnatiles, but all 3 kids love to play with them, along with every kid who ever comes over to our house. Hands down, it's the most played with toy we've ever bought.

{Christmas 2012}

So this year we thought we've try something similar, Magformers. They are a little different, hollow instead of solid, but the reviews said they stayed together better once you build them (the Magnatiles are easier to knock over if you're not careful).

Mack still loves his Magnatiles best because he likes to make houses and other enclosed structures with them, but Amelia likes the larger variety of shapes in the Magformer set. The only bad thing is that the Magnatiles and Magformers aren't the same size so you can't use them together very well.

Daddy was totally diggin' his remote control helicopter. It's too tricky for the little kids to maneuver, but Dan let the kids hold it on their hand and he would liftoff from there.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long to have a casualty. Amelia had her hand tipped a little towards her face, and upon liftoff the helicopter crashed into her forehead. Note the two slash marks.

Amelia was pretty disappointed when I grabbed my eye bra and headed into my room for an afternoon nap.  I hate to sleep part of Christmas day away, especially when it gets dark so early, but I just couldn't  stay upright anymore.

Later in the evening Dan had a little more fun with his helicopter. 

Anything that involves torturing the cat is top notch in Dan's book.

Amelia got a Rainbow Loom for Christmas. I was really hesitant about getting it because I wasn't sure if she would be able to do it on her own and I knew she would get super frustrated. But I'm glad I took the chance because she figured it out and spent the entire day and most of Christmas break making bracelets.

She made two bracelets for Jack to take to Santa and Mrs. Claus when he returned to the North Pole.

And then the kids snuggled down in their beds, wrapped in minky blankets, and drifted off to sleep shortly before midnight.

Farewell, Christmas, see you next year!

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