I could write lots and lots about what we've been doing, but I'll try to let the pictures share most of the story. The captions/explanations are on top of each picture for easier reading. You can click on any picture to see it enlarged.
My mom and dad arrived in town on Saturday the 22nd, and we've been having a fun-filled celebration. It's our first Christmas together since they came to visit us in Ohio in 2001, when Charis was 14 months old and I was pregnant with Tobin. We enjoyed the Sunday church service very much, and it's been fun to see my dad get acquainted with Kenna, whom he had not seen in person before! Since Kenna is well on her way to being a complete menace, it's nice to have extra hands and eyes around to keep her (and our stuff) safe!
On Christmas Eve we drove to the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory to see the festively decorated cactus garden. (We can pause here for all you other moms to sing "Because we work real hard at the chocolate factory...we start at 8 and we don't get lunch 'til 3...") And if you've never seen a festively decorated cactus garden, you're really missing out! It was fun to take Mom and Dad to a unique place like that. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get in and get our free sample of chocolate, as they were closing up early, but we did enjoy the lights. (Well, most of us enjoyed the lights...Arden spent most of the time whining about being really hungry for chocolate!)
Ted had to work mids (midnight to 8 a.m.) for 4 nights, ending Christmas night. Thankfully he ended up having to only work 4 hours on the nights of the 24th and 25th. Our schedule ended up being a little crazy, but we were pretty much ready for Christmas Day when it arrived. By the time I was showered and dressed for the day, I came downstairs to find Tobin piling up his stash of presents and looking mighty proud for having found all of his own gifts. I reminded him that the kids were instructed NOT to touch the gifts until we were all ready, and he reluctantly shoved them back under the tree. We managed to get this fairly good shot of all four of them before Kenna started having a meltdown. Arden was awakened long before he was really ready to wake up and didn't get into his normal happy mood until well after breakfast! Thankfully by then Ted was home from work, Kenna was napping, and all was relatively peaceful!
This is as close to a family picture on Christmas morning as we got. Ted still wasn't back from working his night shift, but it was like holding back the tide where the kids were concerned! We had agreed that they could open their stockings before breakfast, and as Kenna had been up for about 2 1/2 hours by this point, she soon disappeared for her morning nap.
Our advent calendar is complete--Baby Jesus is in the manger! It was touching to see the kids so excited to do this Christmas activity, even before opening their own presents. *Sniff* I'm getting so sentimental in my old age...
Grandma J sent us money to help outfit our whole family with bicycles, and Ted and I had fun shopping on her behalf the Friday before Christmas. The kids were so excited to see all the bikes lined up in the garage! We just have to find something for Kenna...the seats sold at the BX would not work with bikes with rear suspension. I'm personally hoping we can find a reasonable deal on a jogging/biking stoller so I can go running with Kenna sometimes, too. Since Charis and Tobin both had bikes already (Charis just needed new innertubes for the tires), we used some money to get Charis some roller skates and Tobin a new scooter. As a P.S. to this tale, Charis learned to ride without training wheels the day after Christmas! Woohoo!
When I saw this bonnet, I knew Charis had to have it! She adores anything "Little House-ish" and was delighted to have a bonnet for playing dress up. By the end of her unwrapping, she was wearing her Christmas nightgown with a handmade apron from Grandma K, her new robe from Mommy and Daddy, her bonnet, and her roller skates from Grandma J. I should have gotten a picture of THAT get-up, but the bonnet pose will have to do.
Arden likes his Batman hat from Grandma and Grandpa. The jersey, which was from Ted and me (and only cost $1 on the Walmart clearance rack!), was also a favorite, and we had to tell him to stop wearing it three days after Christmas!!
One of the boys' favorite gifts was their own pop gun from Ted and me. Due to a remarkable (!) lack of self-control on their part, the pop guns spend the majority time on top of the refrigerator, waiting to come down when no one in the house is trying to nap! Tobin is also sporting a new hat and gloves from Grandma and Grandpa K.
Kenna is wearing a new outfit from Debi, chewing on a spoon from my mom and dad, and looking at her new book from Grandma J. Isn't she charming?! This picture was actually taken the day after Christmas, since we had a mess in the family room by the time she awoke from her nap and I didn't want her on the floor with all the little pieces of STUFF. We opened her gifts the next morning when things were a bit cleaner!
Charis watches while Grandpa carves the turkey. My dad was in charge of cooking the turkey, and my mom did her famous mashed potatoes and gravy (plus the apple pie for dessert--yum!). I got off easy with making stuffing from a boxed mix and green bean casserole. Oh yes, and I also opened the can of cranberry sauce. So much work! (We won't think about all the dishes I did later, nor the mounds of baking leading up to Christmas Day either!)
Singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus with our "birthday pie." We chose not to do a cake this year since we had so many other goodies--this is Chocolate Pecan pie, a to-die-for recipe from our dear friend Rose!
Merry Christmas to all!