Ho Ho Ho! Part 2

Christmas morning was perfect in every way (except for maybe the lack of sleep). Everyone was so excited and loved all of their presents.

 Luke was the KING of thank you's. Everyone received excessive gushing after he opened their present and lots of hugs too. Too bad he had already seen the tee pee in the middle of the night so I missed his reaction to that one.  Grrrrr.
  He was particularly excited about his Snow Big Boots that he had asked Santa for.

 Nate got a lot of shoes, video games, and remote controlled trucks among other things.
 Ellie got clothes, shoes, jewelry, make up and all that grown up kid jazz.
 Sadie was mainly dolls and art supplies.

 And my parents went home with a collection of dishes. Although they loved my cheese plate, I think they loved the dished my kids made for them more.

 Luke was actually really mad at me when we made his plate. He kept insisting that I write my dad's name on the plate on not his. He even told me at one point, "My Grandpa is going to be so mad at you." Luckily I had prepped my dad and he gushed over how glad he was that it said Luke's name on it. Luke looked at me and said, "Yesssss. I told you Grandpa was going to be so happy."

Everyone played happily all afternoon, no one had to get dressed (and most of us didn't) and then my parents made us a delicious Christmas dinner. The end.


Ho Ho Ho! Part 1

Christmas really starts off on Christmas Eve at our house. I probably love it more than the actual day itself. It was so long ago, however, I can't remember how we spent it. I know I tricked my parents into taking the kids to the movies while I "cleaned" up for our party that night. I think I finished cleaning in about 30 minutes, so I wrapped a few last minute presents, called my sister and took a nap. Sweet!
Apparently I don't know how to look at the camera.
We had 4 other families over for our traditional dinner and program. While all the adults ate and chatted I tried to lure the children into my room with a movie. Only 4 feel for it.
The others were enjoying the naughty or nice app I downloaded onto every device in the house. That things saved me the last 24 hours before Christmas.
 We always eat soup out of bread bowls (rolls for the kids) and the kids always eat outside. Christmas is usually pretty mild in Arizona and the kids never complain about being cold. This year we had a boys table, a girls table, a toddler table and the big girls ate at the bar. There were people everywhere. When we move I am definitely getting a house that can handle a lot of tables.
 I came up with nativity costumes for 19 kids. When we first started doing this program adults had to play 75% percent of the parts and now I've got 3 narrators, 2 angels, a star, an odd assortment of animals (can you see them playing the "stable" back there). . . we did have to have a girl Joseph because none of the boys would play the part.
Sadie was a very sad star. She was climbing to the top of her closet to grab some toys I had specifically put away for the night (because I knew I didn't want to be cleaning them up) and fell and landed on her back. I will be using this story as an object lesson for the rest of my life!!

After the Nativity it's time for some cookie decorating. I have learned my lesson over the years and this is ALWAYS an outdoor activity.
Do you like my orange table cloth? I couldn't find all the red and green ones I had bought for the occasion.
 Once all the kids had decorated cookies we came back inside and Jared told all the kids a Christmas story.
 In the middle of which, SANTA came! Or at least his elf did.
 He brought pajamas for all of the kids.
 And some of the adults too.
 We managed to get the kids to bed (they thought they'd try sleeping together again this year) and all the presents out by 10. I even fell asleep pretty early, which was great because starting at about 12 pm the kids were up.
Around 1:30 I heard all of them in the living room as Luke exclaimed, "SANTA CAME!!!" Everyone ended up being put in their own beds and around 3 am I threatened them all (with what I can't remember, probably death). It must have worked because Christmas morning we had to wake them up.



You know what happened the 3rd week of December? My parents came!  Hooray!
That means I spent the whole week getting ready for them. Before they got here I made a few shopping trips to stock up the house. Cleaned it top to bottom. Luckily the lice scare had given us a jump start.

We delivered all of our neighbor gifts.  This year was a variety of stuff, but if you were extra lucky you got donut holes from Bosa.

At Book Club, Kristin and I dressed alike. We own the same wardrobe, it's inevitable. Besides the excellent discussion and company, I won the BEST prize in the White Elephant exchange -- movie tickets and earrings.
We finally saw Catching Fire with those tickets.

The day they arrived was Nate's class party. I planned the whole thing out, but had so much fun in the corner playing the Candy bar game with the kids that I forgot to take a single picture.
But we made gifts like popcorn wrapped like snowmen and ornaments with rolled paper. Not one single one came out like the sample for some reason.

Santa also made a stop in at Luke's preschool for his class party.

Once my parents were here, all work stopped and only fun was allowed.  Their very first day we headed to the zoo which somehow meant polar slides and carousel rides.

That night Dustin and my dad took the older kids to see the Hobbit while my mom watched the little ones and I went to Lauri's fabulous cookie party.
 The next morning Nate thought he would have a little sampling of each kind of cookie.

The weather was gorgeous the entire time, so we spent lots of time outside!
We played Jenga, got pedicures and also celebrated my parents wedding anniversary with dinner at Brio that night.

Saturday we woke up and thought, "Where is the most crowded place on earth that we could go today?" So we went to Target the Saturday before Christmas!  Hooray!  Actually, it wasn't too bad despite the fact that there were zero carts.

We twisted my parents arm to get them to babysit one more time while we went out to dinner with some of our favorite old neighbors.

On Sunday we dressed in our finest and I enjoyed sacrament immensely since the kids were all entertained by my parents.
Dustin actually tried to get me to speak, but I told him no way. He didn't even get away with assigning me a prayer.

Basically we played games and ate lots of food. It was the perfect lead into Christmas.


Week 2

We crossed a few things off of our "must do" list during the second week of December. Unfortunately, we encountered a few things I would like to put on my "never do" list as well.

The MUST DO list:

* Make cookies

Lots and lots of cookies. 16 dozen snickerdooles with cinnamon chips to be exact. I balled them, rolled them in cinnamon and sugar and froze them so I'd be all ready for the cookie exchange the following week. My feet hurt by the time I was done.

* Family Christmas party at the Simpson's
 The week started out strong with a get together with friends.
We ate lots of cookies that Meredith made (and this time they weren't the rejects from cookie client orders) and the kids had a candy exchange.
The highlight of the evening, however, was the LIVE performance of the Sound of Music. I can only say that it was about a million times better than whatever was on TV the other night, but that wasn't hard to achieve. Nate's costume kills me!

Spend a day at home doing nothing
I actually felt guilty, but I was seriously burnt out from running around, so I planned a morning at home. And then I invited my very good friend over to spend the morning with me because I knew she wouldn't care if there were dishes in my sink and laundry to be put away. Luke and I adored Allie and we just sat and chatted. I think we should have had a masseuse come in too.

* Temple lights
We usually go up with friends, but this year I wanted it to be just our family. It was so fun walking around together and having the kids hold my hand. When we were done with the Christus statue, Luke whispered, "I love you." And as we walked off of the ground back to our car, he said, "Thank you for taking me to the temple, Mommy and Daddy."
For dinner we hit up Cafe Rio and ran into my friend Kristin, whose husband was working late, with her kids, so it was like we got the best of both worlds -- temple with family and night with friends.

* Lunch with friends
I feel like everyone gets so busy in December and you never get to catch up and just talk. Friday my girlfriends and I spent the morning at the park and then went out to lunch. I really needed to get out of my house because I had been going crazy with the great lice scare of 2013 (see below).

* Gingerbread House making

Usually I buy the kit at Costco and call it good, but this year I decided to try and make them myself. And guess what? Not that hard. I feel so crunchy now. Should I get a cow and pasteurize my own milk now?
It did take some time since you have to let the houses set up at first (unless you use a glue gun which I really wanted to do, but Dustin insisted everything be edible), but after that it was smooth sailing. We used all of our leftover Halloween candy that we had saved up. It was actually a lot of fun.

The Christensen's came over to decorate with us and Luke refused to wear clothes. I am grateful for friends who think "underwear only" is a perfectly acceptable dress code.

* Ward Party
The theme this year was a Who-Ville Christmas. It was amazing. I am always in awe of people that can take a ghastly cultural hall and transform it into a magical Christmas village. Ellie dressed Luke and Sadie up like characters from the Grinch. Poor Luke, no one "got" that he was Max. But he looked adorable.
None of my kids wanted to sit on Santa's lap either. I pretty much forced Luke and Sadie to do it.
The play was adorable, but Luke was petrified of the Grinch and spent the  entire thing with his antlers covering his eyes.

* Church
I love Church so much this time of year. I love singing the Christmas carols. I love it when the Primary sings (even when Luke continues to sing "Hosanna" while on the toilet). And I absolutely love my new calling.
* Christmas Lights

So, confession time. Dustin has not put up lights on our house and I don't think he's going to either. Luke asked me the other day why we had to wait so close to Christmas to put up our Christmas decorations on our house. Ummmm, that's never happening.
Instead we drive around and look at all the other house's lights. My girlfriend invited us all over for dessert and a trip to a really cool Christmas village. It took her 38 years to collect everything!! My favorite part had to be the picture she took of us. I about died laughing when Maren sent it to me.
OK, maybe it's not as funny now that I've lightened it a little bit. It was literally a big black blob of people. Not that you can tell who anyone is still.

The "I could have lived without" list:


I aim to finish all of my shopping by December 1st. And whatever is left gets done courtesy of Amazon.
I swear everyone gets so crazy this time of year. Every worker just glowers at you. I try and hit everything the second it opens. One day I hit the Post Office, Costco and IKEA one right after the other. I needed a nap that day. But the guest bedroom is ready for the arrival of my parents in just a few more days and the packages are mailed!

* Running kids everywhere

If it were up to me, the kids would stay home every night in December and we'd drink hot chocolate in our PJs and watch Christmas movies. And no homework. I spent all day shopping for a centerpiece and cute table decor for our "red and green" dinner only to realize that Ellie had to be somewhere from 4:45-5:45, Nate from 6-7 and Dustin had to be gone by 7. We had chili instead.

* Having a lice scare

My poor poor girlfriend is going through this right now and had to text all of us after they found some bugs in her son's hair after our boys had all been playing together the day before. I went a little crazy. It may have been 9 pm, but I still crawled into Luke's bed with a flashlight to check and then spent all night researching on the interent. Over the next two days, I washed every single set of bedding in the house. All the towels, pillows, stuffed animals too. Every single item of Luke's clothing. I shaved his head down with a 1 on the razor. I shampooed his head with lice shampoo. I put leave in conditioner meant for  African American hair in his hair. I checked for nits three times a day. I vacuumed every room, couch, and the car. I'm still not 100% relaxed, but so far so good. My house has never been cleaner.

And Luke looks so handsome with no hair.