Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holy Night, Silent Day

I forgot to mention in my last post one of the most important details of Friday night.  We went to church!  Usually we go to Craig's parents' church on Christmas Eve afternoon, but this year his mom was singing at the midnight mass instead, and we knew we couldn't pull that off.  So, we had a few options: go to their church earlier anyway (though it always interfered with his family's gathering somewhat), or go to either the Friday night or Saturday morning service at our church.  I decided the night one was actually our better bet, since the morning one would make us rush through presents and breakfast and we'd probably all end up cranky.  Night just seemed easier with me getting out of work early--eat an early (for us) dinner, get changed, and go.  And you know, it was really nice.  Carter fell asleep, which made bedtime a little more challenging, but it was a beautiful service with carols and beautiful lighting and everyone holding candles at the end, and it felt like a good place to start Christmas.

On Christmas Eve morning, Jacob was up pretty early and snooping around, but we made him go back to his room until Carter woke up, which wasn't until after 8am! But once he was up, it was time to open presents...but not before the traditional picture at the top of the stairs!

They started with stockings, which mostly had a lot of candy.  Carter got some fun bath foam and Jacob got a thing where you dig for a fancy rock.  It's basically compressed, hardened sand that you dig into until you find the rock.  One in 24 of the one like he had includes a real piece of silver!  His didn't--just a piece of obsidian.  After that, the boys each opened a present from the other,  Jacob gave Carter a Team Umizoomi game for his Leap Pad, and Carter gave Jacob a Scooby-Doo Meets Kiss DVD (Yes, that Kiss.  Jacob loves that one and I found it cheap enough that it was more economical than him renting it periodically.). 

As for the real presents, Jacob's main mission for Christmas was Game Stop gift cards.  He really wanted an Xbox One, but we were not going to spend that much on him alone at Christmas.  We told him that if he wanted to wait until Carter was older, it could be a joint gift some day, but otherwise, he could ask for gift cards.  If the cards fell short, he could take out a limited amount from his savings, and if it still wasn't enough, he could do chores.  He chose the immediate gratification option, of course, and we spent the weeks leading up to Christmas hearing him obsess over the math of how much he was going to get from everyone and how close that would get him.  He was particularly concerned with us and Santa.  And in the end, he got $50 from Santa and $25 from us.
Happy boy with one of the gift cards!
Jacob also got a mini Battleship game, a book he'd picked out from his book fair, some clothes he'd picked out, and a Scooby-Doo Mad Libs book (which he wasn't excited about but I think he will find it hilarious when we do it).  Other than a tiny disappointment when he was done opening and his much slower brother still had a small stack, he was a very good sport about the whole thing.

As for Carter, he received a Hot Wheels loop set, a small Hot Wheels stunt tower, one of those magic marker activity books, a couple little Batman figures and a Captain America figure (much like the Spider-Man one he envied), another Leap Pad game (love when I find them cheap at Five Below!), and a Duplo base that I hope will get him playing with those again.  His big gift, however, was a Hot Wheels Sto 'n' Go playset, which is a modern version of one my brother had 30+ years ago. 
Big box!

Happy boy!

In retrospect, I probably could have held off on one or two of Carter's things, especially with his birthday around the corner, but we do our best to keep the money even, particularly as they get older.  I got some great deals, too, and other things were a bit more strategic in wanting him to get them now so we knew better where his preferences stood by his birthday.  I really just need to get better with rotating toys, I think.

The boys jointly got a Laff-A-Lympics DVD, and we're all going to play Glow Golf soon (thank you Groupon for a steal!).  Oh, and we also got our annual tin of popcorn!

All things considered, the boys did well and we had a pleasant morning.  We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then Craig took the boys for haircuts while I finished packing up and making a snack to share at a couple of our stops.  We got on the road pretty much when I figured we would.  We had a couple last minute stops to make, and by the time we got to Craig's parents', we really had just enough time to freshen up and head off to his aunt's house for our usual Christmas Eve stop there.  We had a nice time as usual, eating and chatting with Craig's extended family, and giving and receiving a few gifts.  We received the game Twister, which should be interesting to attempt.  But hey, Jacob said he wants us to play more games as a family, so there you go!

Around that time I realized that my voice might be a goner.  It had been getting more hoarse all day, and by the time we were in a loud house talking for a few hours, I could tell it was definitely going.  A co-worker of mine had nasty laryngitis last week, and now apparently it was my turn!  Thankfully, the cold medicine was taking care of the rest of my symptoms.  I wasn't 100%, but the cold symptoms were under control and my energy level was fine.

After that it was back to Craig's brother's house for the big exchange with his parents and his brother's family.  It's usually the highlight for the kids since they get to do it with their cousins, and the youngest four in particular were very eager to get started!  Carter got some superhero toys that barely left his hands for the rest of the night, along with some superhero clothes and a couple cool bath towels (that I think will finally allow me to retire the hooded baby towels).  Jacob got another coveted gift card, a Lego-like NBA set to complement one he already has, and a Blue Jays t-shirt.

Eventually it was time to turn in and get some sleep before another busy day.  The boys slept in pretty well, and then we headed out to see my family.  My brother's family was already there when we arrived, and it was nice to spend our first Christmas with them since Jacob and Kate were both two!  One of the first orders of business was getting a family picture, as it's rare to have all of us there at the same time!

After a yummy ham dinner, it was time to open more presents!  Carter received more Hot Wheels cars and track from Uncle John's family, and a couple Paw Patrol presents--including a jungle playset--from Grandma and Grandpa. 

Jacob received some Raptors gear from Uncle John and Aunt Kristin, which was appropriate since Aunt Kristin works for the NBA now!  He also got some clothes and Minecraft books from Grandma and Grandpa, along with a little money to add to his Xbox savings.

It was fun to be there to see Kate and Max open presents.  Usually we just have the rush to get things shipped in time, but this time I got to pick them out, wrap them, and see they happily open them.  Kate got a nail art set and some American Girl clothes from us.

We gave Max a Sto 'n' Go set, too!  I was the one that originally saw it and passed it along so my brother could see the new generation.  Max added it to his Christmas list, but only Target had it and it was out of stock and unavailable online.  I forgot about it for a bit, but then my mom emailed me a couple weeks ago and said that my Target had limited quantities.  She asked me to get Max one, though she said that I could give it to him instead if she found some other things for him, which she did.  I didn't even know if they'd have any by the time I got there, but I went first thing in the morning, and sure enough, they had two!  I decided to get both and give the other one to Carter, which is how both boys ended up with the same gift!  And both loved it, of course!

My parents liked their presents--a pickle ball paddle for my mom, and a new L.L. Bean toiletry bag for my dad, which will replace the one he's had as long as I can remember!

After presents, my dad went out to build one of his signature snowmen on the deck with the little bit of snow that remained.  Max was his assistant. 

After a little playtime, it was time to go to my uncle's for our celebration with my dad's side of the family.  He lives in the house he grew up in, and we've been going to that house on Christmas my entire life.  Carter tried to kill time before presents by playing with his Spider-Man motorcycle on the tile floor in the hallway...

Santa came with gifts for the kids, and he got another Spider-Man set, complete with a bad guy.  It was funny watching him attack the bad guy!

Max loved his Santa present, too!

Jacob got another coveted gift card, and Kate got a travel Spirograph.  I couldn't help but smile at how the kids were squished together on the couch much of the night.  They may be totally different and into different stuff, but they still got along pretty well. 

Soon it was time for our traditional generation photos.  We've been doing this one for a number of years now, with all of the newest generation.
First appearances for Anna, my cousin Chris' daughter in the front, and Kate and Max
Last year we started the new tradition of taking pictures of the two older generations, as well, mostly because my cousin Kevin was in town.  With two different ones in town this year--John and my cousin Chris--we had to do it again.  We were missing Kevin and my oldest cousin Nicki this time, but still a big crew.  We barely fit!

And the older generation, same group as last year but forever down one, sitting on the same stairs they sat on years ago while waiting to open their Christmas presents.

Originally I was going to try to find a way for Carter and me to stick around an extra day.  Jacob and Craig had to be back for lacrosse camp the next morning, but it would have been nice to give the kids a little extra playtime.  In the end it made more sense to just come home that night.  With my cold, I knew it was better to prevent spreading it and to get home and take my time getting settled.  And it turned out to be a good idea because I was pretty beat the next day, but it still felt good to get things put away and start cleaning up all of the things I neglected through the Christmas rush. 

As a whole it was a pretty good Christmas.  We had lots of good presents, wonderful family time, and minimal hiccups.  My cold made things a little harder, but it could have been so much worse considering how terrible I felt a couple days earlier.  After a day off Monday, I worked Tuesday despite my absent voice.  Yesterday and today I've been home, which has been hugely helpful to get things cleaned up.  It's been fun playing with Carter's new toys, too!  Oh, and Jacob got his Xbox, which has been keeping him occupied.  My cold is still hanging in there but my voice is slowly coming back and I think I'm on the downside of it now.  Maybe.  Just one more day of work tomorrow, then onward to 2017 we go...

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