Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Whole Bunch of Christmas

This was a our first Christmas completely on our own.  It was so special. I will definitely cherish this Christmas forever.
The pictures are in a choppy order, but I hope through looking at them, a general picture of our Christmas season can be seen.
The Church put on a Creche.  So many beautiful nativities and it was a great opportunity to step away from the hustle and bustle and remember the reason for the season, to celebrate our Savior's birth. They had a children's room with crafts and nativities kids could play with. They really enjoyed it.

Our family at the Creche.

The night before Christmas Sunday, we went to the Sakota's house for homemade pizza and games. It was such a fun time! Caity thinks curly hair is the most amazing thing in the world, so we got some pink curlers and gave it a go. To say she felt special is a complete understatement. There is a girl at church with naturally curly hair and Caity exclaimed, "You mean her hair is just like that, like when she wakes up? She is SO lucky!"
^Taking presents to friends on Christmas Eve.

^I love Tomato Soup, and I always drink it out of a mug.  John had the kids paint a mug for me for Christmas! It was so thoughtful and a fun surprise.

 On Christmas Eve, John's family has a "Bethlehem Dinner" where they eat unleavened bread, fish, hummus, grapes and other food similar to what they ate in Christ's time (with a modern twist though- I mean fish sticks were a stretch...and Cesar salad wasn't necessarily eaten in that time- but there was a King Cesar- we improvised, people.)  
So, anyway, we decided to carry on that tradition in our family. 
A couple weeks before Christmas we got out a "manger" and as the kids did good deeds they could put hay in the manger to prepare it for baby Jesus.  He was the center piece of dinner (see the star above his bed?) and we pretended that we were shepherds going to see the Baby Jesus.  I know, this sounds totally corny, and neither John nor I thought we would every do something this cheesy...but alas we did. And I'm not going to lie.  We really felt peace and the kids really got into it.  It was one of my favorite parts of Christmas season. We talked about Christ coming to earth and the peace and joy it brought.  We listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Caity said it was like the real Angels singing. It was a nice dinner, and I am glad we did it.

 Growing up, we always got new pajamas on Christmas Eve. It was always one of my favorite traditions. So after dinner, the kids opened their pj's. They were so excited.
 And they looked so cute!
I just wanna squish William's cheeks!
 Next, we had "special time."  My mom used to do this when I was little and this is the first year I really followed through with it.  Every night from December 1st through Christmas Eve, we would spend a few minutes doing advent calendars, reading Christmas stories and learning about Christ's birth. I had a nativity picture that you added a piece on every day, cotton balls on santa's beard, the little chocolate cardboard calendars, and then little pouches with a puzzle piece for every day leading up to Christmas.  On the back of the puzzle pieces were a scripture about Christ's birth and a Christmas Hymn to sing.  It was really nice and helped us "pause" every day and reflect on the Savior. 
I also wrapped all their Christmas books, so every night we read a "new" Christmas story.
Finally, on Christmas Eve, the kids had all the pieces to their puzzle, so we could put them together!

 Then, we did a sibling gift exchange. We took the kids to the dollar store and let them choose gifts for each other. They were so excited to exchange their gifts! Johnny got Caity these silly glasses (which we totally got our use out of!:

After all that fun and excitement. We read the Christmas story.  This part of the night was nice having just our family because we could really take it slow for the kids to understand, with pictures and everything.  This was another of my favorite parts.

I warned you I was going to skip around....blogger hates me so these pictures are not in order.
 above: Caity playing with the Playdough set she got from Santa, in the princess dress she got for Christmas.
below:  Johnny wearing the spiderman costume he got from Santa and the guitar he got from Santa.

I wanted to get a picture of the kids in their Christmas outfits before church one Sunday.
(Thank you to Grandma Brassell for finding these and giving them to us as an early Christmas present, they were perfect!)

My mom made me this shirt when I was a little girl, it was so fun seeing Caity wearing it!
 Below: Our tree all decorated!

^We had a "Snowman Day" Where we watched Frosty the Snowman, made a snowman outside, did a snowman craft and made these snacks! 
 below: kids playing in the snow

 ^On our "Christmas Tree Day" we made ornaments, read a couple Christmas tree books, did a Christmas tree sticker craft and I made these for breakfast.^
Below:  On our "Gingerbread day" we decorated big gingerbread men! And read a couple of Christmas stories involving worries, these guys didn't come to life!

^Here they are with their finished creations! It was a total blast!
Meanwhile, in the baby swing.... 

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a visit to Santa Clause!
John was studying late for finals, so it was just me and the kids. We went caroling with some friends from church then headed over to meet the jolly man himself.
Johnny asked for a spiderman costume and Caity asked for Princess Candace (from My Little Pony) and a basket and bell for her bike.

The day school let out we had a crazy snow storm, it was so gorgeous outside. John and Caity made a snowman together. I thought it was so cute.  Those two are just so sweet together.

Below: After church on Christmas Sunday.
So, the night before Christmas Sunday, I woke up at 3 am and couldn't sleep.  I started re-working on my lesson for primary- I was going to be teaching using the nativity countdown sent from John's Grandparents- I wish I had a picture of it, it was SO cool. I was re-checking the scriptures I had with each piece of the set....and well, three batches of cookies and a loaf of homemade bread later...haha, I still couldn't sleep.  In the quiet of the still morning and under lights of the Christmas tree, I read the Christmas story and felt God's love. It had snowed about 8 inches the night before. I put on my red boots and walked outside.  It was silent and everything was covered in white.  The sky was clear and the stars were breathtaking. The only sound was the snow crunching under my feet. I started to sing Silent Night to myself.  Things can get crazy and loud with three kids. For that moment I felt the peace of the Savior's birth in a most internal way.  I thought about the life ahead of the Savior and the pain He would have to bear...even as a babe, his life was threatened and He had to flee....but on this Holy Night- the night of his birth, "all was calm, all was bright," and angels celebrated and there was "Peace on Earth."  I felt such love for that little babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and knew that He was my Savior. How I love Him and am so grateful we have a special day to celebrate His birth.  It was amazing to bear testimony of that to the children that Sunday Morning. 

Later, we all cuddled.
The boys:
 And the girls:

 And back to Christmas Eve...
The table all ready for Christmas Eve Morning!

above and below: Santa Clause Waffles!

Below: More pictures in Christmas Jammies:
 William is just so loved by his brother and sister!

Santa Came!!
Looks like Santa found more than a bell and basket for Caity's bike! And Johnny got that Spiderman Costume.  I am so grateful for grandparents and everyone who made this Christmas possible.  Our budget was so tight, but you wouldn't guess it looking at this set up!  I feel so grateful that so little went so far. From shopping clearance after Halloween, to fixing up a bike from the thrift store, to black friday shopping, to very generous packages from grandparents- things just fell into place and Christmas was nothing short of magical this year. We felt spoiled  The kids were at such fun stages and I felt that child all over again.

It took Cate forever to see her bike! She was so excited for Johnny's costume and guitar, Johnny had to show her the bike!

He loved this guitar and it is still a beloved toy of his!

^That's not creepy or anything! John spoiled me- I felt so loved! It was so fun exchanging out gifts.

It was a Merry Christmas, and I am sure 2014 will be a grand year inwhich we have no idea what is in store!
Joy to the World, the Lord is Come. 

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