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.

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