Sunday, December 23
During the service at the base chapel our 4 older kids participated in the Christmas pageant, which was a short but sweet description of "Christmas in a Word," with Christmas being an acronym. Tobin and Arden were soldiers; Kenna was an angel; and Charis had a couple of narrations along with being one of the Marys. What's Christmas without an adorable, kid-filled pageant?!
Let's see...finished wrapping presents, prepped a bit of food, played games with the family, took a nap, went to the Christmas Eve service at the base chapel. During the service our family got to participate in a meaningful time of remembrance for those who were killed in the terrible tragedy in Connecticut. A man read the names of each victim, which were written on paper angel ornaments, and we hung them on the tree. There were several families who helped with this, and it was a sad and sober time as we prayed for the families and friends who have experienced loss and begged God for His tender mercies as He reveals His glory in the midst of all of this. (To read Charis's thoughts on the tragic events, please visit this blog entry.)
Ted and I took turns holding Zaden, as there was no nursery or child care for the evening. The kids did pretty well, but by the time we got to the end--the traditional "Silent Night" sung as we light candles--let's just say we were having a not-so-silent night in our pew! Zaden was done for the day, and Lucan was yowling after holding the candle a bit too close to his nose when he was huffing and puffing trying to blow the flame to make it dance. Sigh. Well, just keeping it real, folks! I'm sure it wasn't all that quiet the night Jesus was born! (I speak as a mother who has delivered naturally a couple of times, albeit minus the animal attendants.)
Ted herded children to bed once we arrived home while I sneaked over to a neighbor's house to pick up the beanbag chairs we had purchased for the kids. There is literally NO place in our house to hide something so massive (5 beanbag chairs take up a LOT of space, let me tell you!), so we kept them in the Suburban until the appropriate time Christmas morning.
Our day began a BIT earlier than planned...the 3rd floor balcony door (the one with a broken latch) blew open at around 6:30 a.m., setting off our house alarm. Ted and I were sure it was the boys, waking early and throwing open the shutters! But they were bleary-eyed and indignant at having their sleep interrupted (not that that prevented them for being prepared to jump like maniacs through the house once they realized it was actually CHRISTMAS MORNING!).
We made the kids stay in bed (or at least in their rooms) until 7:00, so we were MOSTLY ready for them! We do stockings at our house first, then breakfast.
Breakfast consisted of sausage and eggs along with the most amazing cinnamon rolls I have ever eaten. When reading the instructions on the Pioneer Woman's blog, I was laughing out loud, so I figured this particular concoction was worth a try! We all agree it is a keeper of a recipe (although I did use about half the butter and half the sugar in the rolls themselves!). Lucan mowed through most of his stocking contents as part of breakfast, too. Even Zaden got in on some candy action, failing to remove the wrapper of a candy cane kiss before attacking it! Good thing it's hard to swallow foil...
Following breakfast clean-up, we read through the Advent Book and did our Advent Calendar. (New this year: an additional Advent Book so we don't have to fight over turning the pages and opening the doors!)
|Zaden thinks he's participating, too! Love it!|
For the Advent Calendar, we shut the kids up in the kitchen so Ted could read the story with them while I frantically grabbed the beanbag chairs from the Suburban and brought them in. The big reveal happened next and was our segue into family gift-opening time!
I totally forgot to get a picture of our little Italian tree with the gifts under it! So here's a shot with it all naked underneath. We opted, as usual, for a real tree...yes, it was overpriced...yes, we should probably just purchase a fake, pre-lighted tree...but it smelled amazing and was our contribution to the Italian economy! What cracks me up is that you purchase them here with the big bucket containing the ball of roots! That worked just fine for us, as we didn't have any of Ted's tools for slicing the bottom of the trunk neatly to fit into a more traditional tree stand. So we just left it in the bucket! You'll notice it's a little sparse; we left all our ornaments in storage, figuring we could make and/or buy more here. Well, our plans to make ornaments kind of fell by the wayside, but we scraped up a few here and there, and the kids enjoyed the red lights and the star at any rate.
A few pics of kids with presents...
|Lucan loves the sticker book from Grandma J|
|New Lego set for the boys|
|Kenna is pretty in pink in her new Hello Kitty robe and scarf from Afghanistan!|
|Charis made hats for EVERYONE! Zaden doesn't have his hat on, but he does have his adorable little sneaker booties on that Charis crocheted!|
|No pattern at all for the tam Charis made me...she just did it! That girl is amazing!|
And a video of Zaden with one of his presents because he's just too darn cute:
We had a leisurely afternoon, enjoying presents and naps (watching the new Veggie Tales episode The League of Incredible Vegetables was a hit!), and then we went to the R family's house for heavy appetizers and visiting. It was so nice to not worry about doing a big meal! Our family contributed hummus and flatbread, veggies and dip, and tortilla chips with Hot Mexican Dip. There were also meatballs, crockpot beans, deviled eggs, chicken bites, fruit salad, jalapeno dip, shrimp cocktail, and tons and tons of desserts.
Truly, a very joyous, memorable Christmas! The day after was just as wonderful, with Ted having the day off to stay home and play games, watch movies, and eat our huge, yummy meal with us! Our roasted turkey with homemade gravy and mashed potatoes turned out better than I think I've ever done--and I didn't even have a mom or mom-in-law here to help! Maybe I've finally learned how to do the holiday cooking thing, LOL! Sweet potato and green bean casseroles completed the sides, along with our "pink fluff" salad that Charis made. We've been munching on leftovers all week, which is a Christmas gift to myself, ha!
We hope your celebration of our Savior's birth was also wonderful and meaningful!