Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Reason for the Season

Christmas Day! Well, if you're a Christian, anyway. But, for us, Christmas Day is the reason for all of the extra stress, extra hours, extra lights, extra cooking, extra baking, extra shopping, extra people, extra eating, and extra drinking. And we've been lucky enough in our lives to only encounter people who feel that - come Christmas Day - it was all totally worth it.

We've had a variety of Christmases in our lives and I have to say that ones with lots of people are our favorites; there's tons of yummy food, lots of alcohol that no one judges you for drinking at 10am, tons of presents, and at least one person willing to watch a kid or two for a couple of minutes. And, of course, the sea of wrapping paper, tissue, and boxes.

After our nice Christmas Eve, we woke up and got ready to head to Grandma and Grandpa's.

 Jacob's Christmas, he got to take us all to Grandma and Grandpa's in his newly acquired 1989 Chevy Suburban.

 Just outside our neighborhood Christmas morning.

 All the kids.

 I hear for every kid above 2, you should have a seat separating them.

Cooney Dam, not far from Jacob's parent's house.

 Don't most parents looks this worn out Christmas morning?

 Once we got to Jacob's parents, matching Christmas teddy bear t-shirts awaited us. We took this after we got home at the end of the day.

 Kids tearing into some breakfast before tearing into what Santa brought.

 Miss Libby's first Christmas!

 Santa sure did come!

 Such good kids, how many can sit in front of a load of presents like that for pictures and not just turn around and go buck wild?

 Libby offering her cousin Zoey a helping hand.

 You can't see her face but, believe me, she was just as excited about her Dora the Explorer bath set as I was.

 Auntie Rachael and Cousin Layne

 "Santa" brought her some new shoes, natch!

 Wine glass markers courtesy of my sister in law. Along with the beautiful clutch she crocheted for me, these go with my overall gift theme - wine. Rachael also got me wine glasses, corkers, foil cutter, and a bottle to make it all happen.

 And then the post-un-wrap play begins! Zoey got a toy stroller which she LOVES. "Santa" brought her this Brobee backpack, which primarily resides in the stroller. She has put a few of her other stuffed animals in there since then. I ask where she's going and she either declares, "School!" Or, "The zoo!"

 Libby Lu doing her most favorite thing ever; the Johnny Jump-Up.

 Jacob, Zoey, and I (ok, mainly just me) got Libby a - what else? - purse. Complete with cell phone, crinkle cash, and keys.

 Zoey decided to play with the Sesame Street puzzles she got, while Auntie Rachael went to town during the assembly portion of Christmas day. 

 Alright, I'm done with this Christmas thing.

 Merry Christmas boys!

 Showing off her new pjs from Grandma and Grandpa Donahue and Brobee backpack from "Santa."

Newest must-have accessory for the Spring.

 My new slippers from Jacob.

 Zoey's new slippers, hand-crafted by her Auntie Rachael.

The next week, Jacob rockin' his The Dude t-shirt and Doctor Who Disappearing Tardis mug that I got for him.

 Over a week later and Christmas presents are still entertaining; success!! (To Louis, as well, who was playing with his new toy from Grandma Donahue)

 The post-Christmas look.

Toy and kid central!

The super-cool clutch Rachael made for me. It went perfect with the new shoes, pants, and crocheted sweater my mom gave me.

Christmas was a success and totally worth everything that went into it. Now we're just busy trying to get Zoey to understand that Santa doesn't bring presents every day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

'Tis the Season for Tradition

Whether you're creating your own, trying to breathe life into an old one, trying to avoid the ones you don't like, or completely ensconcing yourself in them, this is the time of year for traditions. Once you create your own family, creating traditions just goes with the territory and often happen out of sheer necessity.

Jacob and I started our Christmas Eve tradition over Zoey's first Christmas. My mom the new Grandparent had sent a large box of presents and it just seemed weird to bring the box full of presents for no one but us up to Jacob's family's house. So since 2010, we've had our tradition of a nice, home-cooked meal followed by present-opening, and a few things we've added or tweaked probably mostly out of - like I said - sheer necessity.

 An office tradition for a few years, they had a violinist come and play for all 3 of us there the Friday before Christmas.

 A tradition I'd like to revive, making Holiday Wreaths like I did with my mom when I was little. Every place I looked, though, was sold out of the red-hot candies so I used red M&Ms instead. I brought some up to Jacob's parent's on Christmas day and got rave reviews.

 Growing up, the only presents we were allowed to open on Christmas Eve was our church outfit and/or a package of fresh underwear. Since Grandma and Grandpa Donahue are so generous to send us more than just that, we like to sort of create the "Christmas morning" experience around Zoey's nap time; the presents aren't there when she goes to bed but are when she wakes up.

 Dad of the Century, or what?

Thank you so much for filling up our tree!!

 I was behind the 8-ball this year in terms of Christmas shopping, but I managed to work it so I didn't have to hit the stores on Christmas Eve. I did, however, manage to pay for a package of wrapping paper and somehow not arrive home with it, so we had to make an extra trip for some. This was Jacob's choice of paper (Sesame Street Christmas was Zoey's choice, and mine just regular 'ole green n' red).

 Zoey woke up from nap and immediately saw the presents. She can get herself out of her room now and said, "Ohhh look all the pretty presents!!"

 Still a little groggy from nap....

 Scopin' the goods.

We told her if she found the present with Princess paper, she could unwrap that one. Of course, she found it immediately.

 And needed no refresher course on the art of the un-wrap. Funny thing: she picked up the present - still completely wrapped - gave it one shake and said, "It's a movie!!"

The newest Tinkerbell movie, Tinkerbell: Secret of the Wings, YAY!! She hugged it and said, "My favorite!" Then she promptly went to the big, brown, recliner, settled in with some milk and Suit and watched a good deal of it before the other presents called to her from the other room. Daddy could take it no longer himself, and Mommy didn't want to be the party-pooper so we tore into some gifts.

 New videos! A potty video and Yo Gabba Gabba, which is "her show," and I'm sure Grandma knew we'd appreciate new episodes since Netflix refuses to add any more than Season 1; it's enough to drive a mother to the funny farm. *twitches*

 When we *don't* receive socks from Grandma, that's when it's time to worry. And don't worry, kid, there will come a time when underwear will be included. ;-)

 The dogs seemed more into everything than we were; often times we couldn't see what it was because their block heads were in the way.

 Best pose-with-the-Christmas-present picture ever. Ever.

 She took a break to help open the dog's presents for them.

 Louis enjoyed the spiky, plastic ball from Grandma. Durbin didn't really get it...

 Louis with his (and Durbin's) haul.

 Jacob and I got the dogs giant, squeaking tennis ball-type toys and Durbin liked that best, to the point where if you got near him like you were going to take it, he'd grunt real loud.

 Socks for everyone!! Except the dogs.

 Jacob and I got some great presents, as well.

 One of two pairs of jammies! And Miss Zo Zo is back there rockin' her new kicks with a bag of baby cheetos.

 We didn't even know such a thing existed! Well, I didn't (gravy strainer).

For our next date night.

 Makin' fast work of her Christmas treats.

Something we haven't had - or didn't pay attention to - in previous years: the yule log! On Netflix there was the cracking "episode" and the cracking with Christmas carols "episode."

 Saved the biggest for last.

 I offer my one-eyebrow lift because as we set everything around the tree, Jacob said to me, "Wouldn't that be funny if you're mom gave her a bowling set?" (I got her one)

 Look for her on ESPN!

 All the kids playing with their toys.

Our nice Christmas Eve meal this year was turkey. The company I work for gave everyone turkeys for Thanksgiving but since we had that covered, we saved it specifically for this occasion.

 All natural, hormone-free, Montana-grown and freakin' delicious. See, one of the wings just fell right off.

And since I feel that turkey only really goes with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and gravy, that's what I made. We ate that while we watched Elf, then Zoey took a bath because that is what all good kids do the night before Santa comes.

It started snowing sometime Christmas Eve day and continued well into the night so there was about 3 inches come Christmas morning. It really was a great day, and another notch on our belt 'o traditions.