Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Recap

So...another Christmas has come and gone.  From the crazy, non-stop preparations to the 48-hour whirlwind of our Christmas festivities, somehow December flew by again and we're now two days post-Christmas.  We had some very good moments, and some not-so-good moments, so let's see how much I can recall in my post-Christmas haze...

The extreme busyness began Wednesday afternoon, which I took off.  I'd been up late the previous couple nights wrapping and preparing, but I still had a lot to do in the afternoon.  I had to run around for a couple last minute gifts, and snag some additional wrapping paper to disguise the Santa gifts that would be arriving at my extended family's gathering on Christmas night.  That afternoon didn't go quite as planned, however, as Craig had decided to pick Jacob up from school early, which meant that I wouldn't have free reign of the house while wrapping the kids' gifts that afternoon.  Over the course of the week we'd had a few "different wavelength" moments like that, and I wasn't thrilled.  I had so much to do that night--wrap, make a snack to take to a couple family gatherings, make cinnamon rolls for the next morning, and get as packed as humanly possible.  The goal for the next morning was to wake up, open gifts, eat cinnamon rolls, get ready, and get on the road, ideally before lunch.  I was afraid the extra set of eyes at home might make that challenging, but luckily I was able to work around it a bit. 

That night I also had to go to Carter's evening with Santa at daycare.  He's been petrified of Santa all along and even pinpointed that as the reason he wasn't excited about Christmas.  I decided we should give it a shot anyway.  We got some cookies, listened to a barely-literate Santa read "The Night Before Christmas" (no joke--it was painful), and Carter refused to move when his name got called to get his gift.  He buried his face in his chair and started to cry.  I carried him up and he took his present, but he refused to say thank you.  He liked his puzzle, but was more interested in his cookies.

Happy eating cookies!
I had to drag him out of the room since he was excited about playing with the big kid toys.  We headed back home, had some dinner, and got the kids in bed.  Of course, we put out cookies and milk for Santa first, and carrots and Hershey Kisses for the reindeer.  The Kisses were Jacob's idea.  Here's the note he wrote.  Note that the spot for the Kisses is "Not for Santa" and there's a box on the right for Santa to sign.  This is the morning version--complete with Santa's signature!

They went down very well, and finally, around midnight, this was the finished product...
No, not all of them are for the kids...all of our family gifts were there too!
The next morning Jacob woke up around 7, and we made him wait until Carter woke up around 8.  Much to his dismay, I ran down to get the cinnamon rolls started, and then we did the traditional picture at the top of the stairs...
And yes, there's the boot!
Gift opening began, and we started with stocking stuffers...

Jacob was thrilled with his gifts, lots of eBay Lego finds that he and Craig had talked about, along with some Adidas clothes, a Minecraft book he begged me for at his book fair (even though he doesn't play), a new iPod cord, two Playmobil hockey referees, and a Canada lacrosse stick.
Checking out the new Legos!
Carter worked through his gifts--a book, a puzzle, new undies, two games for his LeapPad, Jacob's old doctor kit (from Jacob), and his big gift--a remote controlled car! 

 We settled in for cinnamon rolls...

Before we left, we did have one hiccup.  It was quite windy outside, and at one point we heard a noise.  It turned out that one of our shutters that had been a little loose was flopping around in the wind, hanging on by one screw.  Craig tried to stabilize it, but the wind was too much and it ripped off, breaking a piece off the shutter.  So, we'll have to get that fixed.  Boo.

We also opened gifts from Uncle John, Aunt Kristin, Kate, and Max before we left.  Jacob got Toronto Blue Jays stuff--a hat and shirt that both immediately went on his body, and a decal for his wall.

Carter got some Hot Wheels cars and a fun little car play set that's part parking ramp, part Lego...

We headed off to Buffalo, stopped for some lunch, went to Craig's parents, hung out, changed clothes and headed off to Craig's parents for church.  We made it through the service pretty well, I guess, and went to his Aunt Marie's house for his extended family gathering.  I caught this shot of the sunset along the way...

We had a nice time there, exchanging gifts, eating, and catching up with family.  I had actually surprised Craig's aunt with a gift (usually it's a family gift for them, but I thought she deserved her own this year!), which was probably one of my favorite parts of the holiday.  Eventually it was time to go and meet back up at Craig's brother's house so we could open gifts with his immediate family.

It's always a time of fun chaos--six kids and six adults opening gifts at the same time!  Here's Carter during the calm before the storm...

And who the heck is this big kid?!

And this is Honey, our nephew's early Christmas gift.  There's another family bunny, Sophie, who's a new addition, as well.  It was fun having a couple soft, adorable additions to the party!

Jacob got his favorite gift that night, his Playmobil hockey rink.  You can see the excitement in his hands here!

Here's Carter opening up a little Mickey Mouse train depot play set.  He really liked it but was a little confused that there was no train!  We'll be setting it up with his Lego train, I'm sure! 

He also got some cool jammies and a bunch of Star Wars tableware and a giant stuffed Olaf!

Jacob wanted to open his rink right away.  We made him not take it too far so he didn't lose pieces in the wrapping paper and other gifts, but he had to get it partly set up...

It was a late night, but after a bunch of crankiness trying to get them into bed, they both appeared to fall asleep during the five minutes I was in the bathroom!  They both slept well and other than a couple short wake-ups here and there (Jacob to pee and Carter to be covered), we managed to sleep in pretty well.  We were still tired and not feeling too great after food and (a little) drink the night before, but we were ready for Christmas day!  We got ready, packed up, and headed north to my parents' house.  Oh, and might I add here that it was freakishly warm on Christmas Eve (in the 60s), and Christmas Day was cooler but not bad.  We hadn't had any snow in December at all, which made getting into the Christmas spirit pretty tough, but I have to admit--not having to deal with snow or ice or heavy coats or boots or whipping icy winds was pretty nice.  I could probably get used to Christmases like that...though maybe I'd like to get a nice base and have it randomly be 60 on Christmas :)

We got to my parents' and had a nice dinner with them and my uncle.  My other uncle and aunt were supposed to be there, but he's dealing with some pretty significant dementia and wasn't up to it.  We're not sure how he would have done with the kids, so maybe that was better, but it's so sad that he's declined so badly.  We opened some gifts before dinner and the rest after.  The boys opened their stockings...

...and Jacob was very excited about a really cool Adidas outfit my mom got him, one that coincidentally matched one of the shirts we gave him!

Jacob also got a few books and a bunch of Wii games.  Carter got an Adidas shirt of his own, and a couple books, including a really cool one that's an interactive journey through a carpentry project.  It has all of these sliding pieces that let you pretend to hammer a nail, saw wood, or cut wire.  It's so cute!  He also got this little drill set, which was perfect since he loves the drill at daycare!

Learning to drill screws with Grandma!
After a nap for Carter, we headed off to my Uncle Jeff's house for our annual extended family party.  We exchanged our Secret Santa gifts--Carter got more cars, a little plane, and a Paw Patrol towel, and the rest of us got gift cards--and then Santa brought the boys a couple more gifts--Jacob got a Lego-style NBA court (yes, he was extremely spoiled this year--sort of by accident) and Carter got a Hot Wheels hauler to hold his many cars!  Both boys were pretty excited and Carter spent most of the night pushing his truck around and playing with the cars and plane.  Too cute.

Later in the night we took our traditional picture of the youngest generation--my two oldest cousins' kids, along with the boys.  Obviously John's kids are missing, as well as my cousin Chris' daughter.  We've done it every year since 2009.

After watching Carter learn how to slide down the stairs on his butt like we did as kids, I guess someone was feeling sentimental, because we did another picture with all of the grandkids--just missing John and Chris, since my cousin Kevin was in town for the first time in quite a few years...

And another with the oldest generation...just missing my late Uncle Bink :(
My Uncle Jeff remarked earlier that he realized that morning while sitting on the stairs with his girls before opening gifts that he probably sat on those same stairs 57 years ago, probably on his oldest brother's lap, as he waited to open gifts.  Traditions are great, aren't they?

I couldn't help but laugh shortly thereafter, as I noticed Carter taking part in another long-time tradition of hanging out under the dining room table...

It was another late night, but we had a great time (for the most part).  We spent half of the next day with my parents before packing up and heading home.  I've been pretty darn exhausted since we got home, most likely the post-Christmas letdown, but I did manage to unpack and put away most of the gifts (which is probably why I'm forgetting certain gifts the kids got!).  After a lazy day today, it's back to the grind for tomorrow.  I'm alternating days this week, so at least it's only a couple days.  I could probably use the break from the kids, but it'll be a little hard to go back knowing I still have some organizing to do at home.  I'm used to having this whole week off, so this is a switch.  Oh, and did I mention we're supposed to get some craptastic weather tomorrow night into Tuesday?  I'll probably have more thoughts on Christmas as I didn't get into some of the tougher moments of the holiday, but we'll save that for another day.

I hope you had a nice Christmas (and way less whining than we did!)!

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