Thursday, January 16, 2014

Christmas 2013

Better late than never!

Christmastime is my favorite time of the year. The magic of it all warms my heart. I get giddy thinking about presents, shopping for the kids and for family. I literally cheer up when I see little Christmas decorations, lights, nativities. Despite all of the hustle and bustle this season brings, it will forever be my favorite.

Our first Christmas celebration was the weekend after Thanksgiving. We had a little (rather impromptu) North Pole Breakfast with Christopher Elf. I don't know about you, but things just went by way too quickly and I was just so busy that I barely remembered our annual North Pole Breakfast. It turned out alright though. The kids were happy and that is all that matters.

I don't think there is much cuter than kids in Christmas jammies. (Every time I hear the phrase "Christmas jammies" I think of the cute little video card that went viral on youtube. You saw it, right?!).

Our second Christmas celebration is by far my favorite of the year. Our annual Christmas Pajama Party, some call it a North Pole Party. Either way, it's the best. All of the kids wear Christmas pajamas. We make "gingerbread" houses from graham crackers and loads of candy and icing. We make ornaments and other crafts. We eat and drink hot chocolate. This year we also had Grinch Floats courtesy of my sister. YUMMY! Several kids also found time to watch some of the Grinch movie. There is so much joy and laughter. I wish every day could be like our Christmas Pajama Party day. It is THE BEST!

Silly faces are way easier to get than smiles on 20 kids. ;)
Now, before I get ahead of myself, I should mention that we put CHRIST first in Christmas. Our children know the true meaning of Christmas. We talk about why God sent his only son to us. We talk a lot about salvation. We talk about giving. In fact, our children believe that Santa brings us gifts on Christmas because God first gave his son as a present to us and then the wise men brought presents to baby Jesus. We talked, a lot, about Jesus. Cohen is finally to the age where he listens intently and asks no less than thirty questions at a time. Just about every night in December and thus far in January, while I tuck Cohen into bed, he asks "mama, tell me more about Jesus!". I tell you, this boy has a heart of gold, even if it appears a little rough around the edges at times.
As far as giving goes, we usually sponsor a family or two during Christmas. We also let the kids give money to all of the Salvation Army offerings. This year, I got a call at the last minute that 4 kids didn't have any Christmas. A mentally handicapped 17 year old, a 12 year old, an 11 year old and a 5 year old. Bless them. I let the kids help me think of ideas for them and I went shopping on my lunch break, spending money that I had accounted for in other places, but I wouldn't change it for the world. When I met with their social worker to give her the gifts, she embraced me with the sweetest hug with tears in her eyes. That is what it is all about. I couldn't imagine my own child waking up to nothing on Christmas, much less anyone else's. I wish I could have seen their smiles, but just knowing that they had something, when we already have so much is the best gift of all.
Chyenne had her very first Christmas performance at school. She was chosen to be the mother in the play. She's a lucky girl (or a great girl, whichever you choose to believe) because only a handful of kids from all six kindergarten classes got to have a part. She rocked it! Even though she was a bit shy to be in her pajamas in front of everyone. ;) She also sang really well and did the best hand motions ever! She was quite the performer.


Of course no Christmas post is complete without pictures with Santa. We lucked up and saw Santa twice--once at Church and once when we went to a local park to ride the train through a Christmas light display.

We had a couple of family celebrations including one with my side of the family on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas Day with Colt's side of the family. Before we celebrated with my family on Christmas Eve, we let the kids "open" their big present that had been hiding in our closet for a couple of weeks... GECKOS! They were pretty surprised and totally thrilled. We got them a huge aquarium for them and everything.
My favorite part about celebrating holidays with family, besides the yummy food, is seeing all of the kids together. Even if they all refuse a good picture. HAH.
On Christmas Eve, after all of the chaos, we got the kiddos ready for bed in their Christmas jammies and baked chocolate chip cookies--from scratch this time! It was so fun!

Then, after making sure Santa had plenty of milk and cookies and the reindeer had plenty of carrots and peanut M&Ms (we hear those are their favorites), we snuggled in bed. First, we read T'was the Night Before Christmas and then we read the story of Jesus' Birth and even watched a cute little Bible Heroes clip on my phone. They loved it. We said our prayers, Cohen asked at least 20 questions about Jesus and Santa before the both of them fell fast asleep.
Nothing beats being a mommy on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day.

I was able to capture much better pictures on my camera, but this site is slow enough using iphone photos. :)
Chyenne actually came into our room around 3am saying Santa had not came yet... he had, she just didn't notice in the dark. She slept with us until Colt and I decided to wake the kids since we had a long day ahead of us. I went upstairs and woke Cohen up while Colt woke Chy up. They were both so excited! Chyenne exclaimed, "wow! This is way more than I thought I would get!" and Cohen kept shouting "this is the best Christmas EVER!". It was so precious. Chyenne was happy to find a lot of American Girl Doll accessories...only she was a bit sad that she didn't get the doll she had been eyeing for months and months... she actually almost cried.
After all of the chaos of the Santa gifts, we unwrapped gifts from each other. TONS of them. Chy's first gift was her American Girl Doll, Caroline, the one that looks JUST LIKE HER! I have never seen her so excited about a toy! She didn't even finish opening it before running to hug mommy and daddy! It was adorable. Cohen was in love with all of his presents and couldn't get enough of his dinosaurs and his castle (wrapped present).

Overall, Christmas was a huge success... so great that I have yet to put away all of my Christmas decorations. Oops! We made countless memories and spent time with the ones we love the most.
We finished off the last of 2013 with a small but thrilling kid-friendly New Year's Eve party with my wonderful sister, my gorgeous nieces, Colt's little step brother, one of my best friends, her husband and their girls. We had a blast! We had a different activity lined up for every 30 minutes that we counted down. We played games, danced, ate, laughed (a lot), and managed to have an awesome nerf war. My favorite was our "snowball" fight using giant marshmallows. I love having kid-friendly parties for every occasion.

I'm incredibly excited to see what 2014 has in store for us.

End of 2013: Busy

Life gets incredibly busy when you have two little ones in school, a job to attend almost daily, a college degree to earn, a soccer team to coach, and a very busy husband. But alas, we made it through another year. 2013 was a pretty tough year, but I believe that the bad in life is what makes the good, so good!

The end of 2013 was filled with tons of tedious, everyday tasks, but loads of amazing memories.

My hubby managed to surprise me for my birthday. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't like surprises. I am the type of girl that shows my emotions very easily and I can't fake a smile. So, I don't like surprises, for fear of hurting someone's feelings. Well, this turned out to be fantastic! We had planned to go to the mountains for our anniversary in September, but we couldn't work it out with our work schedules, so we decided to go for my birthday! The kids couldn't miss school or their cousin's birthday, so we decided, for the first time EVER, to go without them. AHHH! I was a nervous wreck. So, we got up to Pigeon Forge/Galinburg, TN, found our adorable cabin and spent some time exploring, the day before my birthday. Colt and I had a blast! We rode go karts, went to a dinner show, and hung out in the hot tub. I didn't sleep well that night because I missed the kids so much. I woke up crying, having to spend my birthday without them. Colt planned for us to go white water rafting, despite his loathe for cold water. It was THE BEST TIME EVER, even though I ended up with poison sumac on 90% of my body! EEK! Afterwards, we were hanging out at the cabin, I was finishing schoolwork but getting really upset that I didn't get to see my kids. I was so ill. Colt wasn't spending much time with me, as he was on the phone and I was an emotion wreck, being totally ungrateful for all that we had gotten to do and experience. Well, it was getting late and Colt decided we should drive to look for bears!!! I agreed, although I really didn't feel like doing anything. On our search, we noticed MY PARENTS, MY KIDS, MY SISTER and MY NIECES AND NEPHEW in two cars searching for our cabin!!! All the time Colt wasn't spending with me, he was planning for them to meet us there to celebrate my birthday! I cried! Happy tears! It was the best surprise ever! My favorite sister carried a balloon and a cake for me! It was the best! We all made pallets on the floor and everywhere in the small cabin so they could all stay the night! I got to spend my birthday night with my BABIES! Hubby definitely got best husband/daddy award that night!
We woke up the next morning and all went horseback riding! It was the best! My sister and her kiddos left and then my parents left later that evening. The kids stayed an additional night and day with us at the cabin before we all traveled home. We enjoyed go karts, walking around the shops, Ripley's Aquarium, a gorgeous picnic in the national forest at a waterfall, and all of the sights of the Smokey Mountains. It was the best birthday ever! :)

Hubby even wore a festive shirt for our drive up there. HAHA

Every time we race, it is always girls against boys. Chyenne and I are ALWAYS number one, but the boys beat us on the last race and decided to shove it in our faces. ;)

Cohen slept the whole way out of the mountains, but Chyenne and I got out at several stops to see the view and to experience new ground. ;)
As if that celebration wasn't enough for turning 25, we also celebrated my birthday with other October birthdays in our family and friends with a huge bonfire party. We took turns taking the kids for rides on the RZRs, four wheelers, and golf carts. We roasted marshmallows. We danced. We laughed, a lot. It was a blast.

Another big birthday celebration was for my twin nieces, better known as the STINKY TWINKIES! I CANNOT believe they are FIVE now! They celebrated on a gorgeous day in the park. PERFECT!


Fall gave us plenty of good memories. Chyenne and Cohen both finished up their soccer seasons (same team) with a winning jamboree. I have coached soccer for years and years, but this past season was definitely my favorite. Chyenne ended the season with a shiny trophy and an award for "best field player". She has become quite the go-getter and I couldn't be more proud. Cohen ended the season with a big shiny trophy too and an award for most improved. That boy has spunk! When I was calling out the awards, I was describing them to see if the kids could guess who each award belonged to. For Cohen's, I said something along the lines of "this little soccer player started off the season being the slowest on the team and the least likely to go to the ball" (in all fairness, he was technically too young to play in the u6 league, but I moved him up anyways), he smiled really big, pointed to himself and exclaimed, "it's me! it's me!" haha. He's the best.

Cohen also got really sick this past year... having strep FOUR different times! EEK! He missed a big soccer game and was pretty sad having to spend his time at the hospital with daddy trying to get his 104+ fever down while sister and mommy were at soccer, so we surprised him with throwing his favorite stuffed animal, GIRAFFEY, a birthday. He had told me earlier in the day that it was Giraffey's birthday and he loved airplanes, so I went with that. ;)

He was so happy, despite being so sick.

These guys may not look too tough, but they are awesome! I am so proud of my Bullets!
Chyenne had a field trip with school to a local pumpkin patch. I was excited to be able to go with her. We had a great time with her friends. Later in the month, Cohen also had his first field trip with school (pre-k) and I couldn't take off work. I missed Chyenne's pre-k field trip due to work last year too! Boo! Luckily, his uncle joined him and sent me tons of pictures of him having a blast! We didn't do too much for Halloween, as it isn't our favorite holiday, but the kids sure looked cute. Chyenne was a funky, girly clown and Cohen was Snake Eyes, the black ninja from GI Joe. We went to a church event and they went trick or treating from door to door for the first time ever. :)

Chyenne with her two best friends! They are in different classes this year, but they are still the cutest friends.

We were also incredibly busy with cheerleading for Chyenne. I wasn't too impressed with the overall experience. Chy looked adorable, Cohen developed a deeper love of football, and we all learned a lot. The football team she cheered for went to the championship and WON by 31-0! It was pretty fun. But, her name was spelled incorrectly on the banner. Then, the "banquet" was such a mess with no room to sit, so we left after getting her trophy and award, which BOTH had her name spelled incorrectly on it. UGH! She ended up with "most spirited" which is just about the best award a cheerleader can get. ;) I am already dreaded next cheerleading season, but I have promised Cohen he can play football when he is FIVE. How cute will it be for him to have his sister as his cheerleader?!

Sometime in November, Cohen received a Role Model award from the school. I am so proud of him! His teachers say that he is the absolute sweetest kid in the class, with the best manners. He follows directions perfectly and sets a great example for the other students! I love that he is a leader, especially when he is the youngest in his class. My boy is going places, for sure!

He makes that face a lot. I love him more than words can possibly express.

One of my favorite parts of fall is getting to explore in the gorgeous weather. We rode four wheelers and RZRs a LOT! We also scouted out a lot of new hunting areas for Colt. He started hunting this year for the first time ever. He also managed to bag 3 great deer! 2 of which were good enough to be mounted! I have also learned to cook deer meet without it tasting too gamey. It's Cohen's favorite.

Also in November, we experienced great tragedy. Chyenne's kindergarten teacher delivered her son early just shy of 32 weeks gestation, but he passed away the next day due to several complications including Down Syndrome and heart defects. Thankfully, I was able to pass on great support to her from an incredible lady, Patti Rice,, I emailed her and she wrote back immediately with the sweetest message and best information. Thank you so much Patti. I gave the information to Chy's teacher along with a gorgeous Willow Tree figurine, Angel's Embrace. Now, the hardest part of it all was explaining the situation to Chyenne, who had learned so much about the baby's development and had become to love the little boy so much. My girl has a very big heart with a great understanding, even though she is only five. She is probably one of the most empathetic people I have ever met. She cried, a lot. We prayed together. She drew pictures and wrote letters for her teacher. She is healing now. Fortunately, her teacher decided to return to school after Christmas. She calls Chyenne "her angel" for all that she has said to her. So special. :(

We celebrated Thanksgiving with too much food and lots of family.

We went to countless birthday parties for all sorts of friends and family, but Cohen loved the farm one the best. He really, really wants a pet hedgehog, pictured below. It's funny because we called him "Hedgehog" as a baby/toddler because of his spikey hair. Too bad they are illegal to own as pets in GA. He also really wants lizards. Maybe we'll go that route. ;)

As I mentioned in the last post, Colt and I have been doing a lot to help care for our niece and nephew. They're lucky they are so cute because the two of them are handfuls!

We also had our first, and only snowfall of winter in November! It wasn't much, but we still managed to play. ;)

December was our busiest month, even though soccer and cheer were over. Work was hectic for both me and hubby. School was full of Christmas cheer. Chyenne was in her first school performance, and even got to be the mother in the play! There were only a handful of students in all of kindergarten (6 classes) that their very own part! She did great! Unfortunately, I had to miss both of the kids school parties due to work! BLAH!

We had our annual Christmas Pajama Party for the kids with an amazing turnout! I will blog about that and Christmas next!

2013 thank you for a great time.