Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas.  I love the way the house glows at night, I love how Maddox has written a total of 23 letters to Santa and keeps them in a ziploc bag on the patio, I love thinking about how excited the kids will be on Christmas morning, I love checking the mail and seeing all the faces of our familly and friends plastered to my cabinets, I love how as soon as Maddox wakes up he plugs in every Christmas light and the pink boombox that plays the same Christmas CD on repeat all day long, I love the baking and I love neighbors who knock on the door bringing good tidings of great joy and enough sugar to keep my sweet tooth at bay. I love Christmas.  We started the Christmas weekend with the Natal Circle lights.  It's a neighborhood that has one street all decked out Griswald style, it's a sight to behold.

Then came Christmas eve. Christmas eve is almost as exciting for me as Christmas day. The anticipation, the kids on their best behavior, a big Christmas eve dinner and the nativity.  The Christmas jammies, checking for santa, santa cookies and sleeping under the Christmas tree in the loft. We started Christmas eve off on the right foot with our traditional IHOP brunch and last minute shopping rush. 

Then later that evening our candlelight dinner,

Christmas jammies,

And the nativity. This never goes as reverently as I anticipate.  After we finished the play and I made the kids take like 53 pictures, Jayden looked at me and said, "can we start the nativity yet?"  Apparently my narration was drowned out by the screaming baby Jesus who decided he would rather be cast as Mary and ride the donkey instead of being forced to sit in a wicker newspaper holder. 

Ryder has been folding his arms for prayers for a while now, but tonight he figured out how to kneel down. Cutest.Thing.Ever.

Religiously checking Norad Santa, which in my opinion does more to encourage the unbelievers with it's terrible graphics.  (Don't mind Jason's gashed leg that makes several cameos in these pictures. Snowboarding injury. He'll survive).

Then out to spot Rudolph. They never fail to find a red and green slow moving blinking light every Christmas eve.  That undoes any damage the Norad Santa may have caused.  It also gets them all giddy with excitement as they rush to get into bed before Santa bypasses our house.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed on Christmas morning.  Oh how I love the excited look in their eyes.

Santa did not disappoint.  A Samsung Galaxy player and a bike for Jayden...

an ihome, clothes and dance bag for Kylie...

and the little guys hit the motherload with a ride on car, Little Tike's treehouse, plasma car and toys a plenty....Santa must have overlooked the flooded bathroom and towel bar ripped out of the wall last week.

Oh, and Mr. Teddy which is permanently attached to Ryder's lips. Lucky.

and on Christmas eve Kylie helped me whip up this more manly apron for Maddox.  This boy is my right hand man in the kitchen and the orange lace trimmed gingham one just didn't quite suit him.

Santa must have been too tired to put the car and tree house together the night before and the boys were anxious to dive in and get the show on the road all ready.

Driving Miss Daisy.

We can't forget about what Mrs. Clause whipped up on Christmas eve to have waiting the next morning.  Merry Christmas to me.  I just love the sounds and smells of Christmas and the feeling that's in the air. Oh, and laying around guilt free unshowered in our pj's all day playing with toys. Nothing tops that.

Jayden lucked out to have a whole neighborhood filled with boys that get together almost every day after school to play football.  Jayden was excited to try out his new football with his boys, Jason was equally excited.

Sometimes the boxes are just as much fun as the toys

The new projector is the present that I'm the most excited about.  Friday night movie parties have just reached a whole new level. It was the perfect end to another wonderful Christmas.  So much to be grateful for. My heart is full.

And then they were at it again bright and early the next's like Christmas all over again.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

12 days of {Christmas} service

This year my solution to creating deep meaningful memories, instilling the true meaning of Christmas in the hearts of my children and spreading peace and goodwill to all mankind came in the form of the 12 days of service.  I don't adopt families, serve in a soup kitchens, payoff someone's layaway at Kmart or donate to every angel tree I come across, but a simple 12 days of random acts of that I can do.  Some days didn't go as picturesque as I had envisioned, but I think the kids had moments where the true meaning of Christmas shone in their eyes brighter than Rudolph's nose.  And those are the moments that made it all worth it.  The world has been feeling like such a dismal place lately.  I find myself turning off the news and watching re-runs of the King of Queens so that I can end the night on a happy note.  It's my job to make the kids feel safe, to let them know that everything is ok, but sometimes I wish I had someone that could do the same for me.  So amidst the heart ache and grieving America is experiencing, I was so grateful that each day we could do something to help spread a little cheer, even if it was just in the form of sugar cookies and McDonald's hot chocolate.  (phone pics: love the convenience, not the quality)

Day 1:
We planned a visit to an assisted living center for Activity Days.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but it went better than I could have imagined.  The residents were so sweet and appreciative and the girls loved them, especially the 100 year old diabetic that kept sneaking more cookies.  The home was located on a farm and they all went googoo over the 2 day old baby goat. Jayden was at scouts, so he made a card for us to deliver.

Day 2
A friend let me know about a lady who was collecting blankets and hats for kids that are victims of hurricane Sandy.  I put on a Christmas movie then we settled down to fighting and crying over who gets to cut, who has to tie, who's pulling the blanket too maybe this didn't go down like I had planned and driving 45 minutes in the pouring rain with a crying baby trying to find where to deliver it to was not what I had imagined.  Buuuuut, I'm sure they'll appreciate the blanket and hats we made and maybe one day my kids will look back with
 fond(er) memories.

Day 3:
Homemade treats and cards for the garbage man and mailman.  Man, I wish I could be tan year round.  Man, I wish I could be tan, like ever.

Day 4:
Making and delivering neighbor treats (homemade rolls-as in heating up Sister Schubert's frozen rolls, and actual homemade honey butter)

Day 5:
Bought hot chocolate for the customer behind us in the McDonald's drive-thru line.  The kids got so excited spying on her to see her reaction.  And then we couldn't go to McDonald's without getting ice-cream.

Day 6:
Hot chocolate and donuts for the daycare workers at the gym.  I love these girls, especially Ryder's girlfriend, Gina.  She takes such good care of him and I love that he comes out with lipstick marks on his forehead.

Day 7:
Made cookies and delivered them to the firestation and got a private tour in the process.  Pretty cool perk.

Day 9:
I heard about this "hearts to Newtown" organization where they're collecting hearts from children all over to cover the walls of the school, library, city hall and hospital in Newtown.  It's nice to know that we can help, even if it is something small.

Day 10:
I gave my friend a break and a chance to get some Christmas stuff done while we had her kids over to decorate a gingerbread house and enjoy the first day of Christmas break with friends.

Day 11:
We set up a hot chocolate stand to earn money for those in need.  The kids got so excited when somebody would stop and would get so frustrated when people would drive right on by.  It was an emotional roller coaster. It was hard to miss Maddox who was dancing and screaming "hot chocolate for sale" to every "customer" that drove by.  We only lasted about an hour, but they made $18, thanks to a couple of generous customers who paid $5 for a .50 cup of hot cocoa.  We took our jar of quarters to Wal-mart, only to discover that they had already taken the angel tree down.  I made a couple of phone calls to people who had adopted families to see if they were still collecting donations, and they weren't.  We had this hard earned money and no place to donate it.  We brainstormed a few different ideas and finally they decided to donate it to the Humanitarian Aid fund through the church.  They were excited to think about the good that their contribution could make.

Day 12: Tomorrow they're earning money and buying gifts for their siblings, because love and service starts in the home.  Kylie and Jayden have been so sweet today, it seems like they always get along better during the breaks than when they're in school.  I love seeing them like that and hopefully they've been able to learn something from this experience, I know I have.