There is no way for me to catch up on everything that's happened over the past month-- but I do want to at least post a bit about Christmas. It was perfect!!! On Christmas Eve we did our usual traditions-- acting out the nativity, listening to "A Christmas Carol," and opening "grand bags." The grand bag tradition started with Jer's dad, who every year would fill up a paper bag for each child with goodies and small gifts. When the kids were little and we shared Christmas day with the Jer's family, his dad would do a grab bag for us and each of our kids. Though in his family they are called "grab bags," our kids heard them as "grand bags" (because they were put together by grandpa) and the name has stuck. Now Jeremy puts together the grand bags and the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE them!
We also started what I hope becomes another Christmas Eve tradition-- we packed up the kids and drove to Thanksgiving Point to see their light display. I had been so busy all day that I didn't have time to put my Christmas Eve dinner together, so we stopped for Arby's. I think the kids were way more excited for Arby's than for my ham dinner, so I'm thinking that maybe we'll make that an annual thing-- so much less work for me! (: The lights were beautiful! You pay to go through, and you drive slowly through all kinds of fun displays with Christmas music playing. At one point, Graci asked, "Where's baby Jesus?" We had seen Christmas villages, Santa's workshop, animals, skiiers-- all kinds of stuff, but no nativity. Jeremy assured Graci that there would be a baby Jesus somewhere, but then we seemed to come to an end. There was a giant Santa waving goodbye and I can't even tell you how disappointed I felt! I was so sad that they had done such an elaborate Christmas display, yet missed the most important thing. BUT... I was wrong! We thought we were done, but then started driving through the most beautiful display ever. There were huge paintings-- ones I had never seen-- of each part of the nativity. Each picture was lit up and had a portion of the song "Were you there?" printed nearby. It was beautiful. I was choked up the whole way--- so grateful that Christ was remembered and that they had done such a beautiful job depicting his birth.
Christmas was a winter wonderland here-- we had a huge snowstorm here that made everything gloriously white and beautiful. It was so nice to be in our cozy home with our kids and lots of fun presents! The kids always sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve, and then they have to come in our room on Christmas morning so we can walk out to see the presents together. Before we look at presents, we all hold hands and sing "Silent Night" so we can try to focus our thoughts on what the presents are all about. Santa was good to us this year-- he brought a trampoline!!!! The kids were VERY excited-- and I'm very excited too! I think it will be so good for Elli, who LOVES to jump! It has a net, so it should be safe for her. I can't wait until Spring comes and we can get it set up!
There was one thing thing that made the presents particularly special this year. The kids have always bought gifts for each other-- usually at the dollar store so they can spend their own money. Well, last year we found that they really had particular presents in mind to buy each other-- and none of them were found at the dollar store! This year, we sat them down in October and made them a deal. We basically doubled the allowance they could earn up until Christmas, for the purpose of buying gifts for each other. They worked SO HARD in order to earn their extra money. Every day they cleaned their room, read their scriptures, did their homework, did a chore, practiced music, exercised and read for 20 minutes with hardly any reminding and NO complaining! I was amazed. During the month of December, I took each one out on a Mommy Date. We Christmas shopped for everyone in their family and they had SO MUCH FUN spending their hard earned money. I think each one spent about $80.00 buying for their siblings and parents-- and they put so much thought into each gift. I've never seen a Christmas so full of hugs as this one!!! I really think that they were more excited to give their presents than to receive. It was really neat. I know they didn't need to spend so much money to have it be so special-- but to them, the money represented time and love-- and it really seemed to bring them closer to each other.
The week following Christmas was spent at my parent's-- and it was wonderful! That will be part 2-- hopefully I'll get that done soon!
A few things from the slideshow:
There's a picture of a white nativity. I had set it out just so, until one day Jesi came running in to me and said, "Mommy! I fixed it! I fixed it so EVERYONE can see baby Jesus!" It was so sweet.
Elli's favorite two gifts were her "radio" from Grandma Rose and Grandpa Green and the yellow scarf given to her by her teachers-- she loved pulling it back and forth around her neck.
It was SO GOOD that Santa left a Stitch doll for Graci! Just two days before Christmas she decided that the most important thing Santa could bring for her was "Stitch stuff." She calls Stitch her boyfriend. Good thing Santa knew Graci well enough to know just what she would want. (: