Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas 2018

For the first few years after having LL, we did Christmas a little differently every year trying to find something that works.  For the last few years, we've really gotten into a good groove.  We have found a pretty good system that creates a good balance of being home and also seeing all of our family.  This was also our first Christmas in our new house!  I remember last Christmas in our old house - we had already started to process of prepping it to put it on the market, and I remember thinking that I hoped that we would be in a new house by the next Christmas.  I honestly didn't think it would happen, but God has been so good to us this year and it was amazing to celebrate in our new house!  Here's a look at how we celebrated this year:

Christmas Eve
I say this every year, but Christmas Eve is my favorite part of the whole holiday season!  We do just a little bit of early celebrating, but the anticipation is just so high!  I love it!  I always try to get a picture of our "final" tree - fully decorated and with every single present wrapped underneath!

Our 2018 Christmas card!

Gigi and Popppy always come over late afternoon to do our Christmas celebration with them, and the kids (and adults) get to open a few presents.

We always have a big Christmas Eve dinner (that I didn't get a picture of), and then we do baths and make cookies for Santa!

Some years Santa gets home-made cookies...and some years he doesn't.  He was perfectly fine with his break-and-bake sugar cookies this year!

Cooper helped with one batch and LL helped with the other.

They're ready!

When the cookies are ready, we sit down with our snack to watch The Grinch!

Our favorite Christmas movie and snuggles all around!

We're ready for Santa!

I literally say it all the time, but we so love living in a neighborhood!  Within the span of about 30 minutes, two of our very elderly neighbors dropped off some goodies for us!  It was so sweet, and it made us so incredibly happy!  We dropped off some home-made goodies the week before, so I hope it made them feel the same way.

We went outside to sprinkle our reindeer food that the kids made at the breakfast with Santa.

I loved this - LL drew a picture of Jesus in the manger for Santa!

Dreaming Christmas dreams!

Christmas Day
Last year, we had one kid up at 3, one kid up at 4, and we held them off until 5.  This year, they both slept until 6 - so Matt and I are counting that as a win!

Santa came!  Cooper asked for a two-wheeler bike, and LL asked for a gymnastics bar!

After we do Santa presents, we have to look for the pickle!  The person who finds it gets to open the first present.  This year, Cooper found it!

The first present he picked!

Matt took the kids shopping for me and they came home with some little boxes from a local jewelry store - that's not too shabby!

We opened presents until about 7 and then took a break for breakfast.  It's our tradition to make reindeer pancakes!

After our breakfast break, it was time to open more presents.

So this turned out to be a big joke (and an amazing present).  My mom is one of those people who is super hard to buy for.  She and my step-dad have a dog that they are super in love with and treat like their baby.  I got both of them a pair of socks with her picture on it (not a generic dog of the same breed, but her actual picture).  I was so so so pumped about it and knew that they would love it (and they did).  I kept joking with Matt that I was "winning Christmas" because I had the best gift.  Well.  Matt knew how excited I was, so he got me a pair of the same socks with Lola's picture on it.  It seriously was the most hilarious thing, and Matt ended up winning Christmas instead!

After we finished opening presents, we had time to get showers, get ready, and play for a little while before Oma and Opa came over.  They came around 10:30 to celebrate with us and eat a big Christmas lunch.

We all had some rest time that afternoon before our last round of Christmas.  Aspyn got this raccoon toy for Christmas, and she loves it so much.  We're a week out, and she carries her "baby" around everywhere and still sleeps with it a good bit of the time.

Later that afternoon, we went to Grammy and Pop's house for our last round of Christmas!

When your 80 year old grandmother gets a weighted blanket and cover for Christmas, you help her get it all put together so that she doesn't have to try to do it on her own!

Here's a little video of our Christmas (it shows my mom opening her socks and Cooper finding the pickle!)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas Activities

I always love how the month of December is full of lots of Christmas activities.  It makes the anticipation of Christmas Day all that much better!  Here are all of our Christmas activities this year:

Meeting Santa
I feel like I talk about the benefits of our new neighborhood all the time, but life really is significantly different for us now that we're living in a neighborhood vs. the country.  Another benefit is that our neighborhood hosted a breakfast with Santa at our Clubhouse one Saturday morning in December.  It was so nice to be able to fit in a visit with Santa but also not have to go far from home - we literally just had to drive to the other side of the neighborhood!

When we got there, the line for Santa was very short, so we went ahead and hopped in it.

Cooper was up first, and he had to do some thinking when Santa asked him what he wanted.

He was so cute talking to Santa.  I loved it!

Next up was LL.  She was a little more reserved, but she was still excited.

Her sweet smile is just precious.

After they were both done talking, we got a quick picture with both of them.

After meeting Santa, we sat down to eat some breakfast.  The kids also had a station where they could make reindeer food to put out on Christmas Eve to help the reindeer find our house.  It had oats, cheerios, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and glitter.

They also had a little train ride set up, so we went outside for the kids to take a few rides.

While the kids were on the train, Mrs. Clause arrived for story time.  We went to the backporch for a few stories, some candy canes, and even a kiss from Mrs. Clause!

Cooper found a school friend to sit with.

This part wasn't LL's favorite and I can tell she felt a little too old for it.  She stuck it out for a little while, and then she went back inside with Matt.

School Dress-Up Days
For the last 8 days of school before Christmas Break, my school had dress-up days.  It was a really fun way to get into the Christmas spirit and have fun in the days leading up to break.  Also, it was nice because we got to wear jeans if we participated (count me in!).  

Day 1 was Santa Hat day.  I didn't take a picture in my hat, but I was happy to be in comfy clothes!

Day 2: Flannel Day

Dress-up days are even more fun if you can twin with someone else!

Day 3: Each grade level had a different color, and 6th grade was white.

Even though all we had to do was wear white, all the girls on 6th grade decided to be reindeer also!

Day 4: Ugly Sweater Day!

Who knew llamas on Christmas sweaters were so popular??

Day 5: Jingle Bell Day.  I put a jingle bell on once I got to school, but I also wore my Santa shirt!

Day 6: Candy Cane Day

Day 7: Light Up the World Day

Day 8: Winter White Out

The last day was a 1/2 day and it was full of fun activities all morning long!

Mailing Letters to Santa
Last year, we realized that our post office has a mailbox specifically for letters to Santa.  We also realized that if you put your address on your letter, Santa would mail you a personalized letter back!  Both kids wrote letters, but Cooper and I dropped them off when LL had gymnastics one night.  About 4 days later, they both got letters back!

Meeting the Grinch
Once Christmas break started, our local Chick-Fil-A had a "Grinch afternoon" with some grinch activities and a chance to meet the Grinch.  It was from 2:30 - 4:30 and I figured it wouldn't be that crowded since it wasn't a meal time.  I was wrong!  That place was packed, but the kids had fun anyway!

Jammy Cocoa Christmas
This was our 4th year participating in Jammy Cocoa Christmas.  If you don't know what it is, here is how you play:
1- Wear pj's (more points if you match)
2- Go to Starbucks (or anywhere you like) to get drinks and treats.  You must go in, though!  The drive-through is cheating!
3-Drive around your town and listen to Christmas music and look at Christmas lights.

Our kids love this and it has become one of their favorite traditions!

I've got to brag on Matt for a minute.  Typically, he just wears joggers and a tshirt and I wear pj's.  This year, we saw matching pj's at Target, and he did not hesitate to wear these with me.  Like seriously not even for a second - he was just immediately on board with buying them.  This man of mine is amazing.  He is lighthearted, laid back, and is more than willing to do anything that makes me happy.

And yes, the hoods had bear ears.  Ladies, find a man that loves you like this.  A man that is willing to wear fuzzy pj's with bear ears out in public because of a fun, silly tradition that makes his wife (and kids) happy.

Two cuties waiting on their hot chocolate!

Is there anything cuter than matching pj's and mini-Starbucks cups?!

Baking Cookies
We also have a tradition of going to Grammy and Pop's house to make Christmas cookies.

This is so much easier and enjoyable as the kids get older!

These ones are my favorite!

Christmas Sunday
At our church, the Sunday before Christmas is always full of music.  This year, we decided to take both kids into the big service with us instead of sending them to their classes.  They did great and enjoyed it!

Gingerbread Houses
Our elves (Sparkle and Michael Jackson) brought us a gingerbread village to create.  This village came with 4 houses so we each got to decorate one however we wanted.

23rd Movie Night
This last activity is a new one for us that we will start doing from this year forward: movie night on the 23rd.  We watched Home Alone, had a fire in the fireplace, and popped popcorn and drank hot chocolate.  We had leftovers for dinner, but decided for the years moving forward that this will also be a "take-out" night.  It was a really fun way to get geared up for Christmas Even and we all enjoyed it!

Snuggles make everything better!

After all of these activities, we were more than ready to celebrate Christmas!