Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014 arrived waaaaay to soon. We decorated for Christmas the week BEFORE Thanksgiving and before we could blink it was time to take the decorations down. The shopping happened and there was mounds and mounds of it. By December 23rd, I was so over shopping AND I never thought I'd say that. I don't say mounds and mounds of shopping because I bought mounds and mounds of stuff. I am a very picky shopper and consider every detail that goes into giving a gift, so it just takes time. And between the cooking, baking, wrapping, elf on the shelf, Christmas cards, and the fulfillment of all of our Christmas traditions, I was really exhausted. My in laws blessed Darren and I with a kid-free night, so we could wrap gifts, days before December 25th arrived, and that was so helpful. Needless to say, there is so much to think about and do that by the time Christmas morning arrives, I feel slightly defeated. I always make sure to "pull it together" for Christmas morning, but come Christmas night, I am usually shot! 

This post includes some of our Christmas morning and mid-afternoon photos. I took considerably LESS photos this Christmas because I was trying to enjoy the moment instead of constantly having a camera in my hand.  

Our typical routine is...

1. The wake up call.  Our children are our alarms clocks. This year, we put time constraints on them, knowing the grown-ups wouldn't have the luxury of getting to bed early. The earliest we allowed them to wake us up was 7:00 a.m.  

2. Head downstairs. I love the kids' reaction to the Christmas beauty that awaits them! This year their reaction was so sincere and sweet.  Lots of "ooooohs" and "ahhhhhhs".  We warned the kids that as they get older, the gifts get more expensive. We rarely are able to stick to our budget because Darren and I get so excited ourselves, but visually, it doesn't look like much. 
My Gifts, From Darren.
Jax's Gifts
Ty's Gifts
Lilah's Gifts
Darren's Gifts, From ME!
3. Read, "The First Christmas". We always read this book FIRST, focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. This has been our tradition since Darren and I surrendered our lives to Jesus. The kids are usually very attentive because we warn them that if they aren't, we will start all over.  I also presented them with a new movie called "The Promise!"
4. Open Stockings. We let the kids get their "fix" by allowing them to open their stockings.  That usually takes a good 15 minutes. Then, we ask the kids for 15 minutes, so Darren and I can help ourselves to the delicious Christmas breakfast that awaits us. The kids always forfeit breakfast. Crazies. Darren and I don't argue because that just means MORE for us.  We even have to beg them to eat LUNCH.  LOL!
5. Darren and I eat breakfast. Typically, I set the breakfast table really pretty, with our porcelain snowman dishes, but I just simply ran out of time this year. I went to bed at 2:00 a.m. and had I started pulling all of the tableware out, it would have been 3:00 a.m. before my head hit the pillow. I had to tell myself "NO!" 

Our Christmas breakfast is typically the SAME thing. Being we only make it ONCE a year, we always look forward to it.  This year, I mixed our traditions of Christmas Eve breakfast with our Christmas morning breakfast.  Here was the menu...
The above photo is the ONLY photo I took of our breakfast.  This was the oatmeal bake.  YUM!
Creme Brûlée French Toast Casserole
Baked Oatmeal Casserole
Fresh, Hot Applewood Bacon
Scrambled Eggs
Hot Coffee
Normally, I make a Christmas Egg Casserole too, but again, I ran out of time.  I hated NOT being able to duplicate what I normally do each year. Traditions are so critical and important to me.

6. Open Gifts. Darren and I arrange the gifts so that everyone has a designated area. This eliminates the extra step of having to buy and write out gift tags.  Each of us takes turns opening gifts. We spend so much time considering the gifts, shopping for them, and wrapping them, that we want it to last and we want us to rejoice with one another. It's so nice making the gift exchange last. The kids were so excited, they could hardly wait.
I think this was, to date, my favorite Christmas with them.  ALL of the kids were SOOOOOOO thankful and SOOOOO verbally appreciative.
LOOK! I actually made it onto our blog! Thanks Darren for snapping the camera while I opened a few gifts.
Don't look too closely, you'll see those dark circle/bags under my eyes from exhaustion.
ALL DAY, even hours after Lilah opened her gifts, she just kept thanking Darren and I.  That makes a HUGE difference and really makes all our efforts worth it.
Lilah received her FIRST American Girl doll.  We didn't think she was old enough to appreciate it in years past. She could hardly believe it was actually a REAL American Girl Doll.  All day she kept asking, "IS THIS A REAL AMERICAN GIRL DOLL, like Cami, Ava, and Ansley's?" No matter how many times I reassured her that it was, there was still ANOTHER time that the same question was asked.
"Cool!" exclaimed Jax after opening up his new green sneaks!
Handsome hubby, looking mighty fly, in his new blazer from Express.
We also had a Froggy Fresh Christmas this year.  Jax got a ton of John Cena stuff. This is as redneck as we get.
Sadly, I didn't capture ANY photos of Ty opening gifts.  So weird.
7. Check Out If Santa Came. Up until two years ago, we allowed the kids to think everything was from Santa. DUMB! Why should he get all of the credit. We somehow diverted their attention to realizing that all of the gifts are from US. Santa still comes, but he only brings what they asked Santa for.  
Lilah's gifts from Santa.
Jax's Gifts From Santa.
The kids always RUN with speed to the basement, where Santa leaves all of his surprises. You can tell how fast they were running because my spiffy camera could barely capture their speed.
Jax got his remote control helicopter and legos that he ask Santa for. Santa threw in a nice bike from the Cardinal Bike Shop too!
Lilah received the guitar and the door bell she asked for.  Santa also threw in an extra gift... a "Puppy Surprise".
Where were Ty's gifts from Santa? OUTSIDE!!!!!!!!!!
Ty  received a new basketball hoop from Santa.  This is all Santa brought him because it barely fit on the sleigh and because it was definitely MORE expensive than the twins gifts combined.
The morning was so nice! I had no plans of getting out of my pajamas, but my sister Morgan had plans of coming by to visit. She didn't seem to mind that I was unshowered and the house was a mess.  The kids were thrilled to have MORE presents to open.
I really do hate that my family is so spread out. I always dreamed of my family being really close and being able to celebrate these times in a BIG way.  Since that's not the way it turned out, I do cherish the small visits that I do get.

That's our day in a nutshell.  I hope you enjoyed seeing it.  If you feel like you'd like to see ALL of our photos, feel free to click on the Picasa Web album below.  Double click to see them in a larger format.