Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Christmas at Gigi and Papa's

This year we celebrate Christmas at Gigi and Papa's. The kids were so excited to be on our way after the busy times in the week leading up to our winter break.

On Christmas Eve, after some last minute shopping during the day per my family's tradition, we got all dressed up for church. Try as I might I couldn't get a good photo of Riley and Camden together, but I got this one of her and TG that I love.   Cam's never been too excited about Christmas tree sibling photos.  Here's proof.  Well, that's not quite accurate because there was this year.

Our family Christmas Eve photo.

We got so many cute photos of the kids with their Gigi and Papa before it was time to head out the door.

We went to a service right in their neighborhood. It was very contemporary and quick and the kids absolutely loved it. At the end of the service they dimmed the lights and everyone got to open their present of a glow stick which we then used to play Guitar Hero Christmas carols via the jumbo screen. 

As soon as we got home babies were bathed and Christmas pjs were put on. We were trying to get a photo of the two of them together in their jammies, but Camden was not cooperating. It turned into a TG tickle fest instead.  I love this photo of both of them laughing exactly the same way.

Earlier in the day they baked and decorated tons of Christmas cookies with Gigi. They loved all the shapes, icing and decorations that she had for them to use.

That night they both picked their favorite cookie and left them out with a glass of milk. Thankfully Santa likes heavily decorated sugar cookies.

The last thing to do was put out the magic reindeer food. Will I ever get the camera settings right for that?  We almost forgot to say goodbye to Elfie.  I know I'm a sap, but I'm always a little sad when it's time to pack him up for another year.  He had spent his last day on the tree at Gigi and Papa's overseeing all the fun.

Then we headed up to bed for Christmas stories, kisses and reminders that Santa couldn't come until they were asleep. They were passed out within minutes after no naps during the day.  We wasted no time filling up the tree. If there is such a thing as over loved I think this tree is a good representation of that. Still, there is just something magical about a tree of surprises awaiting little faces in the morning.

They are both so good and even though we could hear them wiggling they stayed quietly in their beds until we went to get them at 7:30.  They let me wash their faces and throw a bow in her hair before they ran to the balcony that overlooks the living room to see if Santa came.  The giggles, shrieks, oohs and ahhs as they discover that Santa visited are one of my favorite things in the world.

We got to work unwrapping and there were new Disney planes Lego's.

And trains in front of the fireplace.

Sweet moments with this happy guy.

Blurry photos of intense joy as she realized she received the gift of her dreams.   It was the Barbie horse that walks on Barbie's command.

And lots of Monster High gifts.

There were Patriots gifts for him.

And the annual angel gift from my mom to me.

After all the gifts were finally open the real fun began.   New blocks became a town for Thomas and friends.

And later we enjoyed the beautiful day trying out Cam's new scooter.

We even took some Christmas day selfies down by the water.

That night we enjoyed Gigi's delicious Christmas dinner with family.  Somehow I didn't get any pictures of the food which is probably TG's favorite part of the day.  From start to finish we had a lovely, lovely Christmas together.

The Happ - Happiest Season Of All

After twelve long years with me, TG knows just how to get me out of the funk of missing my family. He took us all out to pick our Christmas tree the day after we got home. Last year we opted for a pre cut tree from a local farm market and the tree was completely dried out and dead within a week. So this year we decided to return to our favorite Christmas tree farm and cut down a fresh tree.

It was COLD, so we got all bundled up before we went up the hill.

We weren't going to last long out there so we quickly found a tree that everyone agreed on and TG got to work with the saw.

Half way through he needed a break. It's hard work being a lumberjack.

Towards the end he recruited the littles to help him out.

Good work crew.

Time to haul the tree down the hill.

Riley warmed up with hot cider while we waited for our tree to be tagged and bagged.

All tied up and ready to go! I should mention that this was the first year where I helped tie and the first year where we almost lost the tree on the drive home.

That night we strung the lights and hung the ornaments. It was a sight to behold.  TG and I both agreed it was one of our best picks.  I love nothing more than sitting with a warm blanket on the couch on a cold winter night in the light of the tree.

Elfie even visited the tree a time or two.

Later that month I had my annual craft cabin weekend.  After a weekend of painting, painting, painting and more painting I came home and discovered that Elfie brought these two a gingerbread house kit.  It was pre-built, bless that elf's heart, so all we had to do was decorate willy nilly style.

This holiday season was full of snow (14 snow days to be exact)!   It makes me so happy that we finally had a snowy winter - it is so hit or miss where we live.  Some years we get epic snow, like this past winter, and other years we've had nary a flake.  We had so many chances to play in the snow and go sledding.

Perhaps my favorite candid photo of 2013.

Lots of hot cocoa with plenty of marshmallows was enjoyed.

And several loaves of chocolate chip banana bread were baked.

Elfie got in on the fun and brought us chocolate chip cookie supplies!

Friends and family Christmas cards adorned our wall and made me smile every time I walked by.

We visited the Cox Farms market on a nicer day for plenty of fun and photo ops.

I love my favorite year round blessings.

This past holiday season I was a busy, busy woman with long days and even longer nights of painting. It makes me happy to look back now at all these photos and think of the happy moments we had amidst all the chaos.

Most of this holiday season the kids were just counting down to Christmas day.  This is just one of the notes that were left for Santa in the days leading up to his arrival. "Dear Santa, I got a blue today. Cam been good today too Santa." It melted my Momma heart to discover that she left a note for her brother so he wouldn't be forgotten.

A KC Thanksgiving

We went home for Thanksgiving this year!

Gammy was in town for a few days before our trip and flew back home on the same flight with us.  It's always nice to have an extra set of hands when traveling with kids.

Riding the train to our terminal.  He was only slightly nervous.

Old flying pros, hanging out before our flight. I love how they are all preoccupied with their favorite past time.

Oh hey Gammy! Even though we booked our flights separately we ended up in the same row.

Whenever I go home I go off grid. I barely check my phone and just enjoy the time with my family. So there's hardly any pictures of our trip and I have exactly ZERO pictures of our actual Thanksgiving dinner.  Whoops.  I did get pictures of some of our adventures with Tata!

We decided to visit Santa in KC so we could get a cousin photo.

We ate at Fritz's so Camden could see the trains in action. For those of you not familiar with KC, Fritz's is a restaurant where trains chug around on tracks above the tables and bring you your food.  It is cool, especially if you are a mega train lover like Camden.  He wouldn't even look at the camera because he was too busy watching the trains go around.

You also get to wear these adorable engineer hats.

Riley was the only child that wanted to ride the double decker carousel at the mall. Here's a peek back at her first ride on this carousel.  Oh how the years go by.

They had a few opportunities to "swim" in Gammy and Gampy's tub after their nightly circuit training with my Dad. I wish I had gotten a photo of it, but he would take all three kids and pull out three random pieces of exercise equipment like the push up bar, twisting circle, and free weights.  Then he would cycle them through the activities until they were worn out, seriously, this went on for thirty minutes at a time.  The man is a genius.

We did a standing rib roast dinner night at Aunt Tata's per tradition and the kiddos opened their Christmas gifts from the family early.  I know there are photos of that somewhere, but I think Tata must have them.  One of them was a priceless photo of my child opening a gift that she really wanted.

As always, the trip was over in a flash and it was time for us to leave.  I always look forward to seeing my family and I dread the goodbyes.  Gammy and Gampy took us to the airport and I did remember to get at least one photo of the four of them together before we left.

My poor, patient husband was consoling my heartbroken self for a while on the plane.  Once I mopped up the tears we both looked over and realized that for the first time ever our kids were in their own row, happily occupied, and QUIET.   They were not squeezed into our laps and TG dubbed us in "poor man's first class".