Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas at Home (Santa Claus!)

 This year we started a new tradition of letting the kids get each other gifts. So the girls picked out something for Sam, Sam and Mary Ella picked out something for Emma Kate, etc. I wrapped these early in the month and they looked forward to opening them for weeks. Even Emma Kate knew exactly which gift was for who, and she would pick each one up and say, "Dis Sambo's. Dis Yewah's. Dis Pate's." (She calls herself 'Pate.') After getting home from Christmas candlelight we let them open their gifts.

Mary Ella was happy to get something from her Christmas list: Molly's Miss Liberty tap costume. She's wanted this one for a long time. (And to be fair, I actually just let Sam and EK pick from a few Santa gifts I already had for Mary Ella, instead of taking them shopping for her. Easy peasy. Won't be able to get away with that for long.)

Sam's reaction was priceless. We've had the last 40 minutes of Disney's "Wall-E" recorded on our DVR for a while. So when Mary Ella spotted the DVD at Walmart she knew he'd probably love to see the entire movie. He was so excited. 

Happy Happy Happy.
(And P.S. Wall-E is the strangest movie ever. Ever.)

 By this time Emma Kate had become quite the pro at unwrapping gifts. She patiently waited her turn and then took to tearing paper.

A new Minnie Mouse and pink car!

She told big brother and sister thank you with some good squishy Christmas Eve hugs. Then we brushed teeth and headed to bed, because we didn't want Santa to have to skip over our house.

After the kids had drifted off to sleep, my favorite part of Christmas began...
Santa stopped by and left lots of goodies.

I love getting everything set out just so. I love sitting and looking at it by the light of the tree after I'm all done unwrapping and un-boxing and un-tying all of the toys and trinkets. I understand now why my Dad took time to video and photograph our toys all set up before Christmas morning. I love having those pictures and videos to look back on, and hopefully my kids will appreciate it one day too.
(And on a real-life note, I love how peaceful all the pictures look after everything is set up. Because we all know that before this picture is taken, there are countless hours of ripping, pulling, tugging, and cussing at toys that are packaged more securely than most expensive electronics. I really think our U.S. border-control people could use some lessons from the toy-packaging people.)

A few close-ups so that I don't forget the details...

The kids all slept in the girls' room and were in good spirits the next morning.

And within a matter of minutes, our neat little setup of toys was quickly turned into this:

Emma Kate immediately went for her baby princess dolls and played with these alone for the next hour.

Mary Ella tried on her new dress-up clothes, including a "Frozen" dress.

She also enjoyed her princesses.

Sam played with all of his toys one at a time. Here he is checking out his doctor kit.

And last, but not least, I won Wife of the Year award for surprising Chad with a ticket to the Sugar Bowl. (And Keri Lynn bought Jason one too, so the brothers were able to have a fun weekend away in New Orleans.) Too bad Bama lost big time. Oh well! Memories are the important part, right?

This is how we "wrapped" their tickets. Walgreens had these collapsible water bottles and we slid the tickets right behind them. I'm sure most of you have seen the video of them unwrapping these, but they were pretty confused at first because you couldn't see the tickets right away. It was a good surprise.

Read about (and see!) more of our Christmas memories in this post!

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Memories

Just a few memories of our wonderful, fun-filled, fast paced (as usual) Christmas season...

Our card for this year:

The back contained some excerpts from the Jesus Storybook Bible (our favorite!)

 Mary Ella with Santa. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of all 3 with him this year. :(
It just wasn't worth the misery. The other 2 kiddos were not fans. At all. AT ALL.

One of the many concerts I had the pleasure of watching. They are pros at "We 3 Kings" and "Jingle Bells." Sam is a pro at not wearing pants.

Little sister loved finding and snatching the Disney ornaments.

School memories included a field trip to the local public library where we enjoyed a horse-drawn carriage ride, cookie decorating and visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus. This is Mary Ella's amazing, selfless teacher, Ms. Michelle. So blessed by her and so thankful she is a part of our lives.

The kindergarten class gets to be the live nativity scene in the Christmas program each year, and Mary Ella played the part of "Mary." Her line was "He is Christ the Lord! He is the good news of great joy!"
She did a great job.

Mary Ella's friend Kam was "Joseph."

And Emma Kate played the part of baby Jesus snatcher.

We made gingerbread cookies one night.

One of these is a male. Can you guess which one? (Chad pointed this out later and we both had a good laugh.)

Oh well. We tried.

My favorite school ornament this year:

The girls at our neighborhood clubhouse.

So funny - before this picture Mary Ella kept telling EK to pose and tried to show her how. Finally I said, "Mary Ella, she just doesn't know how to do it yet." And as soon as I counted to 3, Emma Kate leaned over like she was posing. It was the cutest.

Santa gave them candy canes for coming to visit. (Don't be fooled - Emma clung to her mama for dear life.)

I love, love, love wrapping gifts. These were our teacher gifts this year. (Wooden picture frames are under the wrapping paper - ha! Of course I forgot to snap a picture of them.)

A December trip to the McWane Center is a must.

As is making lots of sweets.

Class Christmas parties are our favorites!

And Steak n Shake has nothing to do with Christmas, but we sure do love it and we may have eaten there 4 times in December.

A few from Christmas at the Compound...

And a few from Christmas with our family in Birmingham...

 And I will leave you with a quote from Traci at Beneath My Heart...

I still have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. 
I don’t have everything checked off my Christmas list, and I haven’t been able to do all the traditions that I love right before Christmas, but I will still celebrate.
Cause Christmas is WAY more than presents, more than traditions, more than spending time with family and friends, more than a spirit of cheer, more than holiday tunes, more than any of that.

Christmas is about God’s great love for us.  So great, that He came to earth as a baby to live and die and to demonstrate His love for us.
He is our Joy during times of pain.
He is our Strength when we are weak.
He is our Hope when we think we have none.
He is our Peace in times of turmoil.
Those are the gifts I am celebrating this Christmas.

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