We used the term "Christmas season" this past December probably more than we ever have before. All because of Katie Wynn. It's hard to wear Christmas clothes and set out Christmas decorations and go to Christmas parties and understand that it's not really Christmas yet, you know? So our answer to every "Is it Christmas today?" question was, "No, but it's Christmas season."
I'm going to wrap all of our Christmas related photos up in this one post. I did not do a good job of taking many pictures, and I definitely didn't take many good ones. But even with that, you know I still have a few to get through. :)
First things first - to kick off the Christmas season on Thanksgiving day (hey, we weren't gathering with family until that night), we put lights up on our house for the first time ever. Who was more excited, me or Katie Wynn?? Tough call. I was super pumped about it but so was she. She referred to our colorful lights as a "rainbow" and absolutely loved getting to see it as we drove up to the house everyday. This is a really poor quality photo of the rainbow and you can't even really tell the different colors, but it's the only one I took.
This year was also the inaugural year for our full family matching Christmas pajamas! Y'all, I wish you could have seen Anna's excitement when I passed them out - she nearly flipped! I was unaware that anyone would be more pumped than me about us all matching. :)
I bought those last January during the after-season sale and had to guess what everyone's size would be a year later. I'm so glad they all fit! Yes, even Lolli got a pair of Christmas jammies.
Another new this year happening was that we added a train track around the bottom of our tree. This is a remote controlled train that Granddaddy bought for Anna and Wyatt years ago when they were little (thank you, Granddaddy!). I am so glad we kept it and got it out this year because Katie Wynn and Thomas loved watching it go round and round! And don't tell anyone, but Wyatt spent quite a bit of time laying under the tree playing with it too. :)
It's amazing how still Thomas would be when it was running; he always wanted to sit in my lap to watch it. One morning we even got to sit and watch it before 6 am!! Thank goodness for it and powdered donuts to help us survive the early morning wake up call.
I'm sure you've seen this idea on Pinterest but it was new for us this year. I cut a (wonky shaped) tree out of green felt and my mom used our embroidery machine to make colorful felt ornaments for it. The kids were able to decorate it over and over!
Maybe sometimes I played with it too...
We continued our tradition from last year of wrapping up 25 Christmas books to read each night after bath. The kids got to take turns each night picking the package and opening up.
Probably my favorite picture from this past Christmas season was taken very early on. While Matt was putting Thomas in bed, Katie Wynn and I sat in the living room by our big tree. I snapped this one of her in front of tree and love that you can see her holding her bunny behind her back.
And just for fun comparisons, here's a very similar one of her from two years ago, Christmas 2013.
Santa came to lunch after church one Sunday and poor Katie Wynn was scared out of her mind. She was sitting across the table from me and when I said "Katie Wynn, look who's coming!" she could not get out of her seat and into my lap fast enough. Her fear of the big man in red seemed to have rubbed off on Thomas this year.
I guess the crying-with-Santa pics are just another fun Christmas tradition we're keeping alive. :)
Speaking of traditions, we decorated our reusable gingerbread house again. Things got a little crazy with four kids doing it together but I think they all had fun - the big kids especially!
And for the second (or third?) year running, we had Friends Christmas with some of our close couple friends. I didn't get my phone/camera out at all, but Allison sent me this picture she took and it's too cute not to post!
Ok, two last pictures before we get into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. These are from the same lunch at church that Santa Claus attended but, thankfully for Katie Wynn, he was gone at this point. These are two of her best buddies, Addi Clare and Levi. They all three go to school and church together and we all live in the same neighborhood so they play together a lot. I hope they remain friends for a long time!
We always attend the evening Christmas Eve service at our church before dinner and it always ends with lighting candles while we sing Silent Night. Thomas usually stays in the nursery during church but since it wasn't open for this special service, our pew was pretty active. Matt carried him out of the sanctuary for being too vocal before we made it to Silent Night. I held both his and my lit candles and sang. As we all stood, I noticed that Katie Wynn was still sitting next to my grandmother and I thought it was too sweet not to take a picture of. I carefully maneuvered my phone out of my purse while holding both lit candles in one hand. They were in the pew in front of mine (we had lots of family members there so we were spread out) so I leaned forward to take this sweet picture of her.
Right as the camera clicked, I heard this wooshing noise and realized my hair was on fire! When I had leaned forward to take the picture, I dangled my hair right over the two candles I was holding in my left hand and, thanks to the hairspray accelerator in it, it caught the flame super fast! Thank goodness I was able to bat it with my hand (without dropping the lit candles!) and get it out as quickly as it lit up. Our sweet friends sitting next to me made sure I was ok before erupting into laughter. And of course my Dad and brother semi-witnessed it (they turned around as I batted it out) and will probably never let me live it down. And to top it off, the burnt hair stench was so awful and so strong that everyone in a three pew radius could smell it.
Needless to say, before eating dinner my mom and I spent a few minutes in the bathroom trimming out my singed ends and trying to blend in my new face-framing layers.
Dinner was awesome. Matt cooked a beef tenderloin in a salt dough crust again and it was so delicious. I think Christmas Eve dinner may be my favorite thing ever because not only is the food so good, but Mom sets the tables and we actually all try to sit down and eat at the same time. That doesn't happen very often anymore with our growing family!
After dinner, I usually attempt to get some Christmas pictures of the kids while the kitchen is getting cleaned up. I figure it's my contribution by keeping the kids out of Mom's way and preoccupied until time to open presents.
Our attempts at 7 kids in one picture were a bit of a bust!
But props helped a little bit.
We read the Bible and sang some Christmas songs and goofed around until the kids just couldn't take it anymore. Then we let them open presents! My camera's battery was dying so I put it away to save what little juice was left for morning pictures after Santa came. It was nice to just enjoy the chaos of gift opening without trying to capture all the moments with the camera. Thomas was funny - he watched the big kids pass out gifts and then, wanting to get in the action himself, every gift that was given to him to open, he delivered it to someone else instead. Silly boy!
This was our first year to get ready for Santa Claus! We went outside in the 70 degree weather (notice their bare feet) to sprinkle out reindeer food and then we raided Mimi's pantry for some cookies for Santa. Katie Wynn had it in her head that he wanted carrots too; thank goodness Mimi had some shredded ones in her fridge that we could use.
The scared look on Katie Wynn's face in the above picture on the right is because I was trying to get her to stand next to Santa's plate of food but I'd made the mistake of telling her that was the fireplace (right behind her) that he would come down. I think she was terrified that he was going to jump out and get her! The next morning, I had to promise her that he was already gone before she would go downstairs.
Also for the first time ever (I'm noticing from this post that we had lots of firsts this year!), we let Katie Wynn and Thomas sleep together on my Mom's futon. It just made the best sense with our sleeping arrangements that we thought we'd give it a try. They did a lot better than we expected! They are both cuddle bugs so they snuggled up together and snoozed away! (Matt did end up in there with them midway through the night, but I think he kinda liked it...)
Santa came! I did not take a picture of everything laid out before the kids came down. We try not to go overboard in general with gifts, but especially with Santa stuff. Thomas woke up to find a cool car track and some other small toys. Both kids received capes like he's wearing in the pic below.
Katie Wynn found herself a stacked washer and dryer and a doctor's kit!
The biggest hit for her, though, was the Winnie the Pooh bear that she asked for last minute! Thomas was just glad to find yogurt melts in his stocking. :)
As soon is everyone is awake on Christmas Day and has had a chance to see what Santa brought, we head over to my oldest brother's house for breakfast. There is a strict rule of no getting fixed up and wearing your pj's is required. Beth always has a delicious spread of food for us to enjoy!
Seven grandkids on one couch, this time in age order. I like the two pacified babies just checking each other out.
Me and my monogrammed family!
After breakfast we went home to unpack all of our new toys and goodies. Our next family gathering wasn't until 2 in the afternoon so we had some time to really check out what all the kids received. I love this picture of Thomas playing with his new construction trucks and workers.
I only have one picture to show for our gathering with my Dad's side of the family later in the day. I was too busy playing Dirty Santa to take any more.
That concludes my pictures from Christmas Day, but remember, this post is about the Christmas Season so there's more to cover. :)
A week later, on New Year's Eve, we arrived in Indiana at Matt's parents' house. Unfortunately I showed up with the worst cold ever and can't remember much of the first 24 hours we were there. I know Matt's sister and her family came over for the day and we celebrated Christmas with them. But, I have no pictures to show for it! I only have these from later that night of the kids in their new jammies.
On January 2nd, Matt and I loaded up the kids and we went to visit Granddaddy at his retirement community. We went that morning and ended up joining him for lunch; we all had such a great time seeing him!
The kids thought his walker was pretty cool.
It was so fun eating lunch with Granddaddy. Katie Wynn and Thomas were quite the hit with all the ladies there.
I think the highlight of Katie Wynn's day was when Granddaddy treated her to orange ice cream - and we all know that's her favorite color! Both kids also enjoyed running up and down the halls of his building.
We had to drag Katie Wynn to the car when it was time to go. I think she would be ok moving in there for a little while!
Our trip to Indiana was short and sweet and I hate that I brought a cold with me. I hate even more that I left it behind with Matt's parents. We made it home and returned to our regular schedules and said goodbye to the Christmas season. We did leave our rainbow lights outside for a little longer than our neighbors probably liked, but as of last weekend, they're down and put away and all signs of Christmas decorations are gone.
Katie Wynn has already told me that TWO elves are coming to her house next year. We have not done Elf on the Shelf yet but she had one in her classroom at school this year so she learned all about them. Looks like we have that fun to look forward to!