Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Arkansas Christmas

This is only the second Christmas morning that we have ever celebrated with just our family. Although it was quieter and lonelier than Christmases past, I was thrilled to be able to enjoy every moment and not miss a single gift or reaction. Jeff and the kids humored me and took turns opening gifts one at a time, often stopping to play with them as we went. It took all morning, which is just what I'd hoped. Logan had written a very specific letter to Santa, so he was anxious and excited to read his response right away.

For some reason this Christmas brought out some silly faces. Savannah's reaction to her orange is something I've never seen before.

Isabelle is always pulling some face or another. She can make her eyes so big when she's in a silly mood.

Sawyer slept in late and had some catch up work to do, but got side tracked when he found animal crackers in his stocking and spent the next 10 minutes eating every last one.

Savannah got an eye mask in her stocking. It makes me chuckle every time she wears it.

Isabelle's favorite gift was her cupcake party game from Santa. There's kind of a funny story behind this. Early in December, I was doing some shopping while the big kids were at school. I grabbed this game and put it in the cart, thinking Savannah would like it. Well, Isabelle took one look at it and that's all she could talk about. I thought she would forget about it, but she didn't. Not for one second. She even made it the one thing she asked Santa for. So... the game didn't end up under the tree with Savannah's name on it after all. But Santa made another little girl very happy when he brought her a princess cupcake game.

And lastly, my favorite picture of the day. I can't help but laugh out loud when I see it. :)

Once every gift had finally been unwrapped, we quickly cleaned up, got dressed and loaded the car. Over the next two days we drove to Wyoming where we met up with some of Jeff's family to spend the week between Christmas and New Years. Even with eating Christmas dinner on the road and spending Christmas night in a hotel, it was truly one of the most perfect Christmases ever!

Christmas Jammies

It's possible that opening a gift containing new pajamas on Christmas Eve may be the most common Christmas tradition in America. My family has done it as long as I can remember, Jeff's family has done it for as long as he can remember, most everybody I know has done it for as long as they can remember...

So when our kids woke up one morning to a new set of presents under the tree labeled "Open on Christmas Eve," I assumed they would shake them, look knowingly at each other, and say, "Oh yeah, I know what THIS is."

Not so. They went into hysterics, guessing wildly what could possibly be in the presents they could open a WHOLE DAY EARLY. For the next few weeks Jeff and I were entertained by their complete oblivion. Right up until the evening of Christmas Eve, they were still confused why they couldn't open them until after dinner but before they put pajamas on. Oh goodness. May their childhood innocence never die.

Whos in PJs

Savannah's teacher pulled me aside one day in December, and asked if I please would make Savannah into Cindy Lou Who for Grinch day that week. Apparently she had recently watched the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch and couldn't get past the resemblance between Cindy and Savannah. She even went so far as to ask if she could do it when Savannah got to school, you know, if I wasn't up for it. Well, challenge accepted! I had to break out some serious gel, hairspray and bobby pins to get it to stay, but amazingly, it looked almost perfect at the end of the school day! The pictures by the Christmas tree were taken before school, the others were after she got home. It was also pajama day, hence the nightgown. As for Logan-- well, that really is what he sleeps in.


Ice Skating in the Square

Up until this winter, we had never taken our kids ice skating. Neglectful, I know. One warm Saturday, we decided to correct that wrong and take our kids to the outdoor splash-pad-turned-ice-rink in downtown Bentonville. It was the smallest rink I have ever skated on, but perfect for our newbie skaters. Other than Jeff's aching feet due to some ill-fitted skates, I didn't hear a single complaint or cry the whole time, even with a couple of hard falls. After ice skating we headed to the mall to experience some true holiday spirit. (What else says Christmas like the over-commercialization of Christmas shopping?) I joke, but it was one of the most perfect December Saturdays I have experienced. I love the holidays with my family.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Christmas Dance Recital

The girls had their first dance recital in December. They worked hard learning their dances and enjoyed every moment of the recital. It was a cold evening but they put up with their trigger happy mom long enough to take a couple pictures.

The recital was one of those show-must-go-on moments. Up until minutes before it started, the sound wasn't working and the girls hadn't been able to run through their numbers with music. Costumes were being thrown together at the last minute, and girls were missing at the curtain call. But in the end it all worked out and was a complete success. I sure love these cute dancers.

Christmas Parade

Last year the annual Christmas parade was cancelled due to snow. This year, to make up for it, the morning of the parade dawned clear and unseasonably warm. We camped out on a strategic and mostly vacant street corner thanks to our local parade experts (thanks, Bryson and Alyssa!) and experienced the sensory and sugary overload that is what parades are made of.

These faces pretty much say it all.

Sawyer didn't let a little thing like a candy wrapper come between him and that sour apple goodness.

A San Diego Thanksgiving

Traveling home for the holidays is no small feat with 6 people to move and 1500 miles to cover. Every year we say we will stay home that year, experience a Thanksgiving or Christmas with just our little family, but as the months draw closer and the lure of extended family grows stronger, we almost always figure out a way to make it home. This year it involved tracking down frequent flyers to buy their airline miles from them, and twisting a very generous friend's arm to borrow their van for the week. At the end of the day, I'm so glad we made it work.

On Thanksgiving day, Sawyer came down with a fever that made him the crankiest baby on the planet for the rest of the trip. He wouldn't go see anyone but Jeff or I (mostly Jeff), which made for a lot of sad grandparents and aunts and uncles. He also struggled to adjust to the time zone, so we were all pretty sleep deprived by the time we went home!

Curtis and Katie organized some kid olympics to keep the younger group entertained while we got dinner ready. Playing dress up in Grandpa's clothes was a hit even after the relay was over.

My mom made these awesome teepees, which are totally nostalgic since we had a similar one when we were kids. Some toys are classics, and this is one of them.

No family trip would be complete without some attempt at a group photo shoot. Here was our grandkid shot. This is real life, folks. This is what you get with 11 kids under 9. I kind of love it.

The sun was setting fast, but I had to try for a few beach shots with my kiddos. This is the beach of my childhood, and it's fun to see a part of their childhood captured on it, too.

One of the reasons we tried extra hard to make it for Thanksgiving was to be at the blessing of my newest nephew, Calvin. What a special, sweet day for our family.

Paige and my mom made Calvin's blessing outfit from one of Paige's old dresses. This isn't the best shot of his outfit, but his cute face and Paige's radiance make up for it.

To top off an already great trip, we finished strong with a day at Disneyland with Dustin and his cute family. I don't often get one-on-one time with my sweet twin nieces, but this day was truly magical. I love all my nieces and nephews and it kills me that I can only spend a few days a year with each of them, but I treasure those days when they come.