Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Early Christmas

We usually travel each Christmas to see our respective families, but before that we celebrate and have our own quiet Christmas with just the kids. This year was no exception. The kids are a year older and it shows. Their comprehension of the event and ability to express themselves increases our enjoyment as well.

The Night Before Christmas. We made hot chocolate together and then the kids picked a candy cane from the tree to stir it with...
We also made gingerbread cookies together for Santa, but Drew & Matt thought it was important that we leave the reindeer some carrots...

Christmas Morning! I was up an hour before the kids (not by choice), and was ready and waiting with the camera to get a shot of them sprinting toward the tree. Ryan still had a small window of time before he had to leave for work, so this was one morning I didn't want them to sleep in anyway. I left the room for two minutes to use the bathroom, and wouldn't you know, it was the exact time they bounded down the stairs screaming and hollering! As I heard, "Mom, Mom! It's Christmas!", I closed my eyes and tried not to be too disappointed that I was trapped in isolation during a climatic moment. This is Drew opening his stocking. He usually selects and examines each item one at a time and asks questions about everything...

Our baby Brady with his favorite food...

Ah, the first present! Drew opened Iron Man with Matt's help...

Next came Matt with his Daredevil. They were so excited to see what the other got...

Finally the gift coveted most of all... the Spiderman web shooter. Drew told me a few nights before at the ward Christmas party, "Mom, I talked to Santa and he said he was going to bring me the Spiderman Webs! I know he's bringing it to me!" I didn't know Santa was bringing it either, until the night before Christmas at the 11th hour. It was like Ralphie and his gun. They thought there wasn't any more to open until I said, "What's that behind the tree?" After the gift was spotted they didn't even come out from behind the tree to open it. It was like the scene in Jurassic Park where the raptors are fed, because it was a frenzy of paper flying everywhere, and in a nanosecond it was over...After it was over and we said our goodbyes to Daddy, we lounged and talked about how much fun we had and how fortunate we were to have a Christmas. We talked about the shepherds and how their staffs were shaped like a candy cane. We talked about the star on top of the tree and how it helps us remember the Star of Bethlehem that rose in the sky when Christ was born. We talked about how excited we are to see our families and celebrate with them as well. We watched Christmas movies, listened to music, ate lots of chocolates and oranges, cracked nuts with the nutcracker (the kids participated and the shells were flying), and played, played, played. It was a blast.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas On The Pecos

This year we attended a totally fun event called Christmas On The Pecos. Every year during the holiday season in Carlsbad, NM, the city welcomes people from all around to view the gorgeous Christmas lights along the Pecos River by floating down the river in large boats. These boats seat around 80 people and take big groups down the river for a trip that lasts about 50 minutes. As we prepared to board, we walked around and enjoyed the lights and shops, admired the pretty river and warmed up with hot cocoa. Then they announced our departure and as we moved down the walkway, workers handed us thick wool blankets and life vests for the kids. We took our seats (all forward-facing) and started the serene tour. The sky and water were as black as night, and it created a nice contrast with all the lights and animated spectacles lining the waterfront. Our kids were just thrilled to be on a boat, bundled up in hats & warm coats & sipping hot chocolate, but the visual appeal made it that much more fun. As we drove home and the kids were sleeping peacefully in the back, I felt grateful we could spend time together as a family and create another fun memory at Christmas time.

What? Snow!

This year we received snowfall that actually stuck around for more than a few hours. The kids were SCREAMING with excitement. They rushed to get on hats, coats, mittens, and had the best time. They had snowball fights, drew patterns on the drift collected on our stone wall, and shoveled snow into their buckets normally used for shoveling sand.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I should've taken a lesson from last year that Thanksgiving is just easier when I cook as much food in advance as possible. Last year I don't remember feeling desperate for 4 ovens. I don't remember having to stall the turkey in order to cook the side dishes. Things just worked better last year... oh ya, I woke up at 3:00am to start on everything. This year I didn't start until breakfast was over, and I found myself unhappily "chained to the stove" until Ryan's little two-hour break before he left for work again. As a result I felt guilty for neglecting the kids and I felt rushed to have everything completed precisely at Ryan's "go" time--and then it was difficult to relax and enjoy the meal anyway. It had me asking, was it worth it? The best part was talking with the kids about what they're grateful for. Their simple answers center me and bring me back into focus.

After dinner was over and the kids were in bed, I contemplated whether I had the energy to drag the tree out of the garage and put the Christmas decorations up. Ryan was working 26 out of 30 nights in November, and the thought of me asking him to put up the tree between shifts garnered the mental image of tired, flat rejection. I'm learning more and more that if I want something done, I just have to do it myself. Needless to say, I changed my mind a few times and then finally relented, wrestling the gigantic tree box in. The next morning my kids woke up and raced toward the tree in excitement. I purposefully left some ornaments in their boxes so the kids could help decorate the tree and feel the pride of knowing they contributed to its beauty. Now every day we talk about everything we love about the holidays, our plans this year, what we're looking forward to, and of course, how many times we have to wake up before Santa comes! Seeing the world through their eyes... nothing better.

Monster Mash

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