Since we were up at the cabin over Thanksgiving weekend our Christmas decorations took a bit longer than normal to get up.
Normally I'm the only one that cares much and actually puts up the decorations. But after a week or so Jacob mentioned "Mom we need to get our decorations up!" Oh so he did notice ;)
I did a quick version and put up whatever I could in a couple of hours and then I was done.
I realized that it always seems so hectic during Christmas because not only are you decorating, shopping, mailing and planning for Christmas, there are all kinds of events to attend.
Some of the events I skipped this year but other ones I was happy to attend. One was Ashley's Christmas choir concert at her school.
I had the chance to attend 5 school choir performances and what I loved the most was children and adults all singing about Christ in settings where people usually keep their religious feelings to themselves. Ashley even had a teacher at her school sing a solo about Christ that was powerful. She was bold and unashamed. It was a nice reminder that Christians all over the world are celebrating the same regardless of what church they are a part of.
This was the finale where all the choir members of both the middle school and the high school sang Peace, Peace and then we all sang Silent Night. My favorite!
The King choir also did a wonderful job singing and we got to see friends from church.
Since it was a mutual night we made the concert be mutual to support Sydney, Ashlyn and Ashley and we went out to ice cream after.
I was speaking in sacrament meeting the week before Christmas and I was feeling the pressure to do a good job. It was hard with all the busyness and feeling a bit stressed out so I decided to take a morning and go to the temple. I have to admit it felt like a sacrifice when it was the last couple days before kids were out of school and I was giving up precious Christmas prep time.
By the end of the session I got what I was looking for. I finally felt the peace that I had been looking for in the midst of craziness.
I walked the grounds of the temple and was reminded again of the true meaning of Christmas. It had been raining and I ended up seeing 3 rainbows on my drive there and back. It was nice because I was able to remember that feeling of peace and draw on it the rest of the Christmas season.
That Sunday I was also teaching part of the lesson. 4 or 5 of us all shared Christmas stories and treats. The girls loved it as treat after treat came their way ;)
One thing I love about Christmas is the opportunity it gives me to create.
One weekend as we were trying to figure out some gifts I pulled out some of my old crafting wood and came up with a welcome sign for one sister in law and a magnet picture board for a nephew that Taylor was buying for.
It originally had vinyl lettering that went with it that was long gone so now I just painted it like a chalk board and put the date of their wedding.
If I could get someone to cut wood for me they would make great wedding presents :)
I came up with ninja turtle hats for my nephews...
and a pikachu hat for another nephew that loves pokemon.
I did superhero, princess capes, jewelry and all kinds of stuff. I love the opportunity (or excuse) to be able to create lots of things at Christmas.
A week before Christmas I ran out of Christmas cards! I didn't want 50 more so a few people might not have gotten one. I'll order more next year. Normally I like to keep one, this year I'll just have a picture of one.
Christmas Eve and we woke up to toilet paper. I also had a secret sister gift on the front porch...hmmm were they related??
I didn't think so. I waited until Jacob was awake and I had him and Ashley help me clean up all the toilet paper. Comments as we were cleaning ...
"Wow they used the nice stuff"
and from Jacob "I can think of a lot of my friends that might have done this"
Yep thats why you are helping me clean it.
Christmas Day finally arrived!
Our tradition is the kids opening stockings first...wearing the Christmas jammies they opened and wore from the night before.
Even Maddie got some loot.
Then we move to the living room...
None of us look our best since we aren't ready for the day yet. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the gift cards.
Everyone was excited with their presents...
This year was the first year that kids who had earned their own money could buy presents for the family at places other than the dollar store. I think they were just as excited to give their presents as everyone was to get them.
Ashley was Taylor's personal shopper and we were both touched with their choices!
Maddie even loved her presents!
Taylor snuck away for a minute and went into the garage and came in with a last present for Jacob. Jacob unwrapped his favorite cereal. Taylor said yeah I'm hungry lets eat breakfast.
By 1:00pm we were up in Palmdale to celebrate Christmas at Kenny's house with the Beaulieu's.
We were grateful that they were willing to host all of us.
After missing some family at Thanksgiving we were happy to see almost everyone.
We even got to visit with Jarek and Kaitlyn and meet their new baby!
Josh was also down from school.
Watching the younger kids open presents it what makes Christmas so fun!
Also hanging out with cousins.
and playing in the game room.
Taylor participated in his first ever cousin gift exchange. Now that he's 18 the cousins all exchange names and give a gift for each other. He loved the shirts his cousin JJ gave him.
After celebrating with the Beaulieus we drove up to Angela and Robert's and celebrated Christmas with my side of the family.
We haven't spend Christmas day together since Virginia was pregnant with Dean
(probably 6 years ago)
By the way he loved his hat.
Ian got drums for Christmas...
I think we all used them more than Ian.
We got to their house in just enough time for some yummy dinner and then we exchanged presents.
The next day we made a stop at Target for the kids to scope out things to use their gift cards on ...
and then our customary trip to Rocket Fizz.
We were buying some snack for the movies. We watched a movie with the kids and then got them pizza and a redbox while us adults when to dinner and got massages. A great way to end the Christmas season.
The Monday after Christmas we got together with friends that were visiting from out of state! Taylor met up with some friends that have all passed him up and are looking like men. Troy, Dayln, Jacob and Ethan.
Girls excited to see Paige.
When it feels like life brings friends far away its so nice to reconnect.
The next day by chance a bunch of us ended up at Knotts Berry Farm. We had passes that were ready to expire so Kristen Cowden and I thought we would take one last trip. Shawna Banagas had already planned to take their family and then Penny Smith came. We all drove down together but we didn't hang out much all together. Children and adults and different groups would pass each other through the day.
For some reason this chicken really liked Ashley. I'm sure it was hoping for a handout but it got a little too close for comfort for her a few times.
Since Ashley isn't tall enough for most of the rides that everyone else wanted to go on we hung out with Cassidy and Kristen the whole day. I think we got the better deal because all the big rides had long lines and the big kids were complaining all day about it.
We got them to last until about 4:30 when it started getting really cold and raining. Ashley and I got use out of our Christmas presents to keep warm that day.
Shawna and Penny closed the place down at 10:00pm with rain and all. As for me I was glad to be at home snuggled up.
That night it snowed in places in Southern California that it never snows. People had pictures of snowmen, snow angels and sledding as close as 15 minutes away from us.
The most we got was watching the rain turn to snow in the light of the street lamps and then turn back to rain again. Any snow that would stick would immediately wash away when it would turn back to rain.
The most snowlike we got was this frost that I saw on my walk a couple of days later. It was 30 degrees while we were walking which is not typical. The frost was all gone by 9am.
The day after the snowstorm that somewhat passed us I saw something in the grass. Curious I walked out and found my brand new sweater frozen and muddy, covered in grass.
I had worn it once.
Seems like Maddie liked it more than I did.
So after rinsing and soap and washing it, it seems like it all came out.