Claire helping me make caramel popcorn.... love that she is naked, but she's still got shoes!!
Oh, this Christmas season was wonderful, and wonderfully busy. I feel like I really don't even know what happened to the whole month of December. I didn't exercise all month, the menu on our menu board didn't change all month....and we probably only ate like 1 meal that I had written on it the whole month, I didn't teach any music lessons to Madelyn all month, get the picture? It was a crazy month, but it was wonderful.
We hosted several parties, and big ones, at our house. We had a couple mutual activities here. One was a fireside for all the youth and leaders, there were about 55+ people here. Madelyn got baptized and we ate leftovers from that shindig for a solid week in the beginning of December. Jed and I went to Mountain River Ranch with all the adults in his family, that was a fun night out. We hit a deer on the way home with Jed's new truck, luckily nothing got hurt......well, except for the deer that is. It died on contact. It was too bad for the deer, but there is really nothing you can do to avoid that kind of catastrophe, they just spring out of nowhere.
The kids had school parties, parties with scouts and activity days, we had a lot of family parties, a bridal shower for a new sister-in-law, we were in charge of putting the ward Christmas letter together and mailing them so that turned into a folding and stamping party, and some neighbor parties. We had weeks of solid partying. But we like parties, so we are all for that! Jed and I spoke in sacrament meeting on the 15th, and the following week I did a musical number with the choir and a special soloist: Hannah! She did awesome and has the sweetest clearest little voice. Plus she was so little and cute, she can barely even see over the pulpit. We had to put the booster box on its side for her to stand on so her whole face could be seen over the pulpit. She is one brave little girl!!
We also made time for quiet and peace and reflection on the seasons true meaning.
One of my favorite traditions we do is have the kids draw names of each other at the beginning of December. They do extra chores, that helps out a lot, and they earn some cash to buy their secret someone a gift.
I love taking them to the store with Jed and I and we help them secretly purchase their gifts. We just go to a small store that isn't too expensive and since it is not packed with people, they got to push their own carts. It was so cute. They all were taking their gift shopping very seriously, I loved it. They were so thoughtful and sincere with their selections. I took each of them one at a time through the check out and then stashed the bags in the car, and helped the next person. So much fun.
I love how excited they are to give.
We use Christmas Eve as a time for giving. They each go get their gifts that they have secretly wrapped, some with notes of their love written on them too, and put them under the tree. They're getting to be pretty darn good little wrappers too.
We read The Gift of the Magi and talk about the ultimate gift that the Savior gave, and then one at a time they give their gifts away.
It is my favorite:
It really just doesn't get much better than that.
There is just a lot of love in the room!
Then it was pajama time. We set brownies under the tree, Madelyn made them, it's her specialty. And they wrote notes to Santa.
Then we went up and enjoyed Jed's early Christmas present: 3D glasses! Whooee, were these guys excited to watch a brand new movie in 3D. It was so cute, after watching a part where flecks of fire came floating out Hannah said: "They're coming to me!!" It was pretty fun and memorable.
Then it was off to bed even though the air was filled with excitement! Love that Christmas magic!
They had a sleepover downstairs and were told they could come and wake us up at 6:00 AM.--that worked pretty good last year. Only this year they weren't supposed to peak in any of their stockings before they came and got us. :) I just have to be there and see it!!
Drew had a rough night. :) He was so excited. He read an entire book in the middle of the night! :)
But finally we woke up to this:
And for a big surprise that morning after they scoured their stockings and santa gifts, they got to open this:
But before we get into that big box, lets finish the santa stuff.
Claire's new pretend smartphone. That girl has a technology issue I'm telling you! The biggest fits ever if you try to take your phone, ipad, or the like away from her. We've got our work cut out for us in that department. :)
Luckily she does love her pretend phone...
Ok, back to the big red box, this is the message they deciphered from several envelopes contaning mixed up letters:
Like Drew I had a few sleepless nights because of excitement over keeping this whole thing a secret!
They were instructed to pack their bags with some packing lists that were included in the giant box, as well as colored pencils, snacks, and other things for the road.
They were off and packing their bags in a jiffy!
It was a pretty fun Christmas surprise and I was so glad that it was a surprise! I was a little nervous that they might have heard something....but they didn't!!
We put away the new toys and cleaned up the house and enjoyed pumpkin roll pancakes and hashbrowns and we were outta there!!