Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas - Take 2

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day at the Farm with my in-laws. It was a very fun time. Miss got dressed up for Christmas Eve.

She had a blast playing with all of her cousins (Lass missed out on this photo as she had gone to bed).

And of course, she loved opening her presents.

She loved her new Yo Gabba Gabba backpack.

She took a break to read one of her new books.

She stayed focused on her task in spite of all the commotion around her with 25 other people also opening gifts.

Then it was time for Santa. We took the stockings down from the mantle and spread them around the living room upstairs while the kids were playing downstairs. Here are Miss's and Lass's.

Then Santa stomped around, yelled, "Ho Ho Ho!" and all the kids ran up the stairs and out onto the snowy deck to catch a glimpse of him running away down the driveway. One of my brothers-in-law also had a flashlight with a red light that he made look like Rudolph taking off. Miss went out with her Daddy to see, but she was cold and I don't think she actually saw anything since she didn't really get what she was looking for. But she did enjoy digging into her pretty stocking (all the members of my husband's family have gorgeous stockings made by his aunt, the kids' are all personalized).

Then my husband found an item that was not put there by me. Could it have been Santa?

He misplaced this ancient and much-loved sweatshirt a year and a half ago and has been pining for it since. He has asked everyone he could think of if he might have left it at their house. And now he has it back. We have no idea who brought it back to him (well, we have a good idea, but no one's 'fessing up) and it doesn't really matter anyway. He's just happy to have it back. He's thrilled. In fact, I think I heard him say something like, "This is one of the best Christmas presents ever."

Miss really loved her new placemat with animals on it.

She loved counting the different animals.

On Christmas day it was time for playing in the snow.

She and her daddy went out with all the kids to sled on the big hill. She requested to make a snowman.

She had really enjoyed being out the previous day, but on this day it was much colder and windier. She didn't stay out long at all and didn't get a chance to make her snowman.

We're going to have a warm-up later this week, so maybe we'll get out to make a snowman then. This morning, Miss finally got the kitchen that Santa left for her and Lass. She loves it. As I type this, she is checking on her "pizza" in the oven. Time to go eat!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas cookies!

Yes, we listened to Johnny Mathis and sang (well, I did) the whole time.


I love holiday traditions. Love them. Every year I decorate my tree on the day after Thanksgiving. While doing it, I listen to Johnny Mathis Christmas music, which is what my mom and I listened to always at Christmas time when I was a kid, particularly when we were making no-bake cookies (her specialty back then). I allow my hubby to put on some Charlie Brown Christmas too, since that's his traditional holiday music, and we rock around the Christmas tree. We eat creamed eggs on my family's Christmas morning and my mom and I watch "Heidi."

Last night we opened our home gifts, since we're leaving for the Farm tonight. My hubby and I opened our gifts for each other and Miss opened the gifts for her and Lass that are too big to take with us to be from Santa tomorrow night, like her easel for her learning tower and the big paper pads and box of art supplies that go with it. We also opened the traditional gifts for the girls.

Last year, I started the tradition of giving Miss an ornament every year. I gave her a silver rocking horse ornament with a plaque signifying her first christmas. I got a matching one for Lass this year. Miss's ornament this year is a little snow-baby-type thing, holding a baby that says "I'm the Big Sister." I will continue to get the girls each an ornament every year, relating to something we did during the year.

I got the idea for a new tradition I started this year from my dearest Auntie (she also does the ornament tradition for my cousins, so maybe I got that idea from her too?). My mom told me about it and I thought it was the coolest idea. My Auntie gets each of my cousins a children's book every year for Christmas that relates to something significant that happened in their life that year. So, not only do my cousins have all these cool books from her that commemorate their lives and contain a note from my aunt, when they have kids they will have a great start on a fabulous library for their little ones! I love this idea so much I had to start it with my girls, and I even gave Miss a book for last year. For last year I got her the beautiful book "On the Night You Were Born."

Her book for this year is "Big Sister."

And she opened Lass's book, "On the Day You Were Born."

I am so excited about the idea of getting an ornament and a book for my girls for each year. My favorite part of it is the note I wrote inside each of the books. I hope they will love these books always. This year I also started two other traditions. I will give the girls new jammies to wear on Christmas Eve (you can see these in my last post) and also will try to get a picture of them with Santa. This year, I was not terribly successful with this second tradition, despite trying twice. On my first attempt, I took the girls to a craft show where they had a Santa. Miss was very interested in Santa, but did not want to get close to him. She was so timid, I didn't try to push her too much to sit on his lap by herself, so I just sat next to Santa with both of the girls on my lap.

Then when we were visiting my parents last week I took Miss and Lass to the story time at the library (my mom is the children's librarian). They had a Santa come to story time and give gifts to the kids.

Miss was still kind of shy, but I thought I'd let her try to sit on his lap. Okay, I didn't really let her try, I picked her up and plunked her on his lap just long enough to get this photo.
That Santa sure does look enthused! Tonight we leave for the farm. Some traditions for my husband's family include having oyster stew and chili on Christmas Eve and having Santa come, as described in my last post. Tradition makes me feel nostalgic and warm and fuzzy. I'm sure my girls and I will continue to add other traditions in years to come. Perhaps making and decorating Christmas cookies will be one. That's my project with Miss for today!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas - Take 1

My husband and I have different traditions for celebrating Christmas, as most married couples do. His family has traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve and mine on Christmas day. When he was young his family used to go to Mass on Christmas Eve and come home to find that Santa had visited, so they would open presents from Santa and enjoy them until late at night. In more recent years, his family has spent Christmas Eve at the Farm, where Santa visits on Christmas Eve. All the grandkids play downstairs, the moms put out the kids stockings with gifts upstairs, one of the uncles or my father-in-law dresses up as Santa, stomps loudly on the floor, yells "Ho-Ho-Ho" and then runs like heck towards the lake, so as the kids run upstairs they just catch a glimpse of him from the deck as he runs off to get into his sleigh. When I was young we would put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer and go to bed on Christmas Eve, barely able to sleep for the anticipation. Then we would wake up and drag my parents out of bed, and race downstairs to see what Santa had left us while we slept. We would play all morning with our new loot and always ate creamed eggs for breakfast. Yum.

Since we have been together, hubby and I have done different versions of these two traditions, depending on when we were able to travel to be with our families. These days we typically go to visit my family for a week in early-mid December, as we just did last week. That's a good time for my husband to get a week off work and we can have a good long visit with my family, who live a bit farther away than my hubby's family. Then we usually go to the Farm to have Christmas Eve and Christmas day with his family, if possible. The Farm is closer so it works better for a shorter trip. At times we have stayed home for Christmas because of my husband's work schedule and traveled to the Farm for a weekend near Christmas. It didn't really matter too much to us when "Santa" came. We just like to spend as much time as possible with family around the holidays. But now that we have Miss and Lass, and Miss is getting to the age where she is understanding some of the holiday celebrating and fun things, I am feeling the need to observe traditions more. I've been trying to figure out a good way to blend my husband's family's and my family's traditions. What I've come up with is that we'll pretty much need to continue doing what we've been doing, with a few special traditions added in that aren't dependent upon where we are or when we exchange gifts (more on these later). We will likely still make the long trip to visit my family and then spend Christmas with his family when Christmas falls on a weekend as it does this year. When Christmas is on a weekday and my hubby can't get two days off, we will have Christmas at home. When at the Farm, we'll do his family tradition of Santa coming while the kids are still awake on Christmas Eve. When we're at home, we'll do my family tradition of Santa coming while our girls are asleep.

This year, since the girls are so young and won't know that it doesn't really work this way, I decided to have Christmas both ways. While at my parents' house we did Christmas in my family's tradition. Miss and I made cookies and put some out for Santa on Christmas Eve before she went to bed. We also put out a glass of milk and some carrots for the reindeer. I put her and Lass into their matching Christmas jammies and told her several times that Santa would be coming while she was sleeping. I don't think she really got it. But the next morning I still showed her the mostly eaten cookies and carrots and told her that Santa and the reindeer had eaten them. She just kept asking to eat what was left herself.

Then we went in to the Christmas tree, where Santa had left gifts for her and Lass. I really expected her to be so excited and dig right in to the toys and books. Instead, she stood and just looked puzzled for a little bit.

Then she slowly sttarted picking up Lass's and her toys, one by one, and handing them to me.

Lass played with a few of her toys a bit once Miss handed them to her (that's a wooden snake in her hands below).

But mostly she just observed.

Finally Miss started really getting into her toys and playing with them.

She wanted to read all her new books.

And do new puzzles with her sister.
Then we had creamed eggs of course. My mom makes them much better than I do, and they were delicious. This was Miss's first time having them and she seemed to like them okay. It was a special way to spend "Christmas" with the girls, reminding me of how it was when I was a kid. I loved it.

This weekend we will go to the Farm and have Christmas - Take 2. I know it will be just as fun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas with the Fam

We just got back from our Christmas trip to visit my family (in the land where the internet still does not go, so no posts from me for over a week. . .) We had a fabulous time. I have so many pictures and things I could blog about. But for tonight, I'll just share some photos of our celebration with my brother and his family.

To start the festivities, all the kids got Santa hats.

Miss's was a little bit too big.

Lass's fit perfectly and she wore it without complaint. My little elf. . .

Miss had a great time opening her gifts this year.

She also had a great time checking out everyone else's loot. From her cousin's Elmo toy,

to my sister-in-law's new silverware,

and her slippers,

to my coffee mug, and everything else she could get into.

The next day she had a blast prancing around in my beautiful new boots (Did I mention before that I have a thing for shoes? My girl has it too).

We had lots of fun during the week. Miss had another encounter with Santa too, but I'm going to try to get a couple more photos before I blog about that. Over all, the trip was really, really wonderful. And we made it home last night with only one stop during a 10-hour drive. My girls are road warriors! More soon.