Merry Christmas, friends! Have your days been full of friends, family, yummy food, fun gifts, good tidings, and holiday cheer? My wish for you as we celebrate our savior's birthday is that you be surrounded by joy, peace, and love today, tomorrow, and throughout the year. Let us all be mindful of the reason for the season and be thankful for all our blessings. I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful our Christmas has been this year. And it's not just because it's our first Christmas with our baby. We had the big kids at our house for an extended weekend and everything about it was good. They headed back to their mom's house about mid-day on Christmas Eve, while we attended church and celebrated with my side of the family. Every part of the last few days has been great, and I want to go ahead and post my pictures while it's all still fresh. I know I'm skipping a lot of things that have happened lately, but we'll get back to them! For now, I want to recap on my little girl's first Christmas.
The weekend started Friday morning by dressing my wiggly baby in her First Christmas outfit - complete with her first tutu - courtesy of my friend Allyson. (Thanks, Allyson!)
The big kids were due to arrive at our house around mid-afternoon and I still hadn't completely finished up their new rooms. I worked hard that morning to finish up Anna's bookshelf and get everything in place. I probably hadn't been done more than ten minutes when Doc and the kids arrived home. Close call!
The room reveals were perfect! I have tons of pictures - those will have to be posts of their own - of the kids getting to see their rooms for the first time. I really think they both like them, which makes me happy to no end. I'm also very glad they're done and we can have some down time! Anna and Wyatt were excited to show off their new digs and gave Doc's parents the most detailed tours via Skype. In fact, they were mid-tours when Santa arrived, so Santa's visit was all on Skype too.
One of the things I get asked constantly since having the baby is what the bigger kids think of Katie and how they're adjusting. I've said from day one that they've been really good about it. They had good attitudes when we first told them about getting a new sibling, and have been very interested and accepting of her since she arrived. We have always known that Anna would be easy - she loves the idea of babysitting a baby and is always good around the other little kids. We had no idea how Wyatt react with her, but it has been the biggest blessing to see how much he likes her. He still is too nervous to hold her - "I don't want to drop her," he says - but he loves high-fiving her and dancing with her arms.
Anyway, I don't really know what got me going down that path. I guess because we all hung out in the kitchen together for a while after Santa left. Anna sat at the bar and gave Katie a bottle. She's helped feed her before, but I think this is the first time we just handed over the baby with a "Here, feed your sister" and let her have at it.
Wyatt was on a kick trying to make his hair look like Katie's beard and also photobombing all my photo attempts.
Later that night, both kids were hanging out in their bedrooms and Doc and I finally got a chance to hang out in the living room and just be. We were so glad we had pulled the room reveals off and that the big kids were happy. The little kid was pretty happy too, snuggling with her daddy.
Every year, we participate in our church's Hope for the Holidays program by adopting a family to buy gifts for. This year our adopted family had four children - two boys and two girls - and until Saturday, I still hadn't done the shopping for them. I usually try to get it done early but Doc and I both thought it would be good to let the kids help this time. We got up early Saturday to do our shopping and had a good time doing it as a family. Anna and Wyatt were in charge of picking out age appropriate toys while I tackled clothes.
Shopping all morning can work up an appetite! Miss Katie joined us at the kitchen table for lunch. You know, just sittin' up. Like you do.
Saturday afternoon and evening were spent hanging out at the house, wrapping all of the gifts we'd purchased and finishing up on some Christmas projects. Wyatt got to pick the menu for dinner that night so we enjoyed porkchops from the grill with rice, salad, and rolls.
Sunday morning got off to an early start with Doc and I having to be at church early to practice handbells. We were lined up to playing with the full handbell choir during the service that morning. While waiting for the others to arrive, I took a few photos with the Christmas decor. I really wished I could plop Katie down in the middle of these poinsettias...maybe next year when she can sit on her own.
Katie's dress had little Santa Claus's smocked on it (thanks, Emily and Alice, for letting us borrow it!) but that's not the only place Santa made an appearance. He was also on her little booty!
(I'm learning to Instagram. I know, I'm way behind the times.)
The Chrismon Tree made for a pretty background too.
I'm happy to say that our handbell performance went pretty well. We played Joy to the World and O Come All Ye Faithful, and hopefully the congregation was able to recognize the songs.
I got the itch to decorate Christmas cookies so we invited Jett and Bren over Sunday night to join us. What fun! And what a mess! We also decorated a gingerbread house. I took way too many pictures of all the fun...the boys were too cool to participate at first, but eventually got into it!
Katie-bug hung out with her Aunt Beth while I helped with all the decorating. I love this picture of them!
These two pictures of Bren kill me. Such seriousness when decorating!
Speaking of serious decorating, did you see Bren's cookies? Holy sprinkles! They went straight to the trash after she left...I'm not sure that anyone would've been brave enough to eat them!
When it was all said and done and the mess had been cleaned up, here's how our finished gingerbread house looked. I think they did a great job!
We sent the kids to bed with bellies full of sugar. Monday morning - Christmas Eve - would arrive soon and that's when we planned to open presents with them. But before we could get to the gifts, we had to start with a Christmas breakfast. Who doesn't love festive pancakes? (Those are reindeer and snowmen, if you can't tell. There were elves too!)
We were rockin' lots of bed-head during breakfast.
Luckily, we were able to cover up all that crazy hair as soon as we started opening gifts because the first one that everyone opened was a new homemade hat from Doc's mom.
The bulk of the kids' Christmas presents were obviously everything in their new rooms, but we couldn't resist having at least a couple presents for them to open up too. I mean, opening up church clothes isn't really all that fun, but at least it was something to open up, right? That got a couple of other goodies, too.
Doc's sister sent everyone a new book, and Wyatt decided he would read Katie her new Llama Llama book. (Lala, please note that everyone wore their hat all morning!)
Anna plans on teaching Katie all about the fun things you can do with duct tape.
My little cabbage patch doll!
After the presents had been opened and the living room was thoroughly trashed, the big kids had to go back to their mom's house for the rest of Christmas. Katie and I piddled around the house and got cleaned up for the rest of the day. You know those really cute pictures of kids under Christmas trees that you see? It hit me that all the presents were about to be gone from under our tree so I better try to get that picture of Katie while I could. Yea, it didn't go so well.
My little bunny was just too tired for pictures and needed a Christmas Eve nap.
That evening, the Santa Claus dress went back on so we could go back to church for the Christmas Eve service. As soon as we walked into the church, Katie started screaming and crying. I have no idea what happened - it was like she got pinched or something - but she did not want to calm down. I spent the first ten minutes of the service pacing outside the sanctuary trying to comfort her. Doc finally came out to check on us and was able to get her to quit crying. Sometimes a girl just needs her daddy, you know?
Our Christmas Eve service always ends with candles while we sing Silent Night, Holy Night. I was sandwiched between these two cuties during the passing of the light.
Per tradition, we all gathered at my parents' house after church for a delicious dinner and lots of presents. For the last few years, Doc has been in charge of cooking the beef tenderloin, and this year he really outdid himself. He cooked the meat in a salt crust (recipe here) that was absolutely delicious! He also whipped up a homemade creole mustard to go with it. Man, it was good!
We tried for a Christmas picture or two while we waited for everyone to arrive.
Sweet Ramer has taken a little bit of interest in baby Katie. I think he's glad to have someone smaller than him...or maybe he just sees a paci to steal!
A couple snapshots from dinner.
Erin and I tried to take a picture with our babies. It was a good idea in theory.
Each year we try to take family pictures before opening presents. It's getting harder and harder to do with some many excited kids!
We put all five wiggle worms in one chair for a sweet Christmas picture. Ha, yeah right!
After I'm sure what felt like hours to those five kids, it was finally time to open presents. In our family, the gifts get passed out and it's a complete free-for-all. There is no quiet turn-taking and showing off of gifts. Instead, it's loud and chaotic and there's shrieking and excitement and paper flies all over and by the time it all settles you can't see a single speck of floor. I love it and wouldn't have it any other way.
Sometimes, in all the chaos, funny things happen. Here are two of my favorite stories from this year:
- Because we've done so much to the house lately, Doc and I agreed we would not really do gifts. He bought himself a pair of shoes that I wrapped up and put under the tree for him, and I also bought myself a purse, wrapped it myself, wrote the tag myself, and told him he could give it to me to Christmas. Somehow, in all the craziness, he dug into my pile of gifts and ended up opening my purse...the one gift from him to me. So, I picked it out, bought it, wrapped it, put it under the tree...and he opened it for me. :)
- Bren got over-eager in all her unwrapping and grabbed one my brother's gifts. Admittedly, "Bren" and "Ben" look a LOT alike on a gift tag. But, ever the polite little 4-year old that she is, when she opened the men's size XL pullover sweater, rather than asking someone about the weird gift, she just pushed it to the side and didn't mention it to anyone. Bless her little heart, she didn't want to be ungrateful! We finally realized what happened when we were sorting through boxes...my poor brother had no idea he'd been shorted a gift.
Bren loves to hold her little cousin.
That little girl didn't last much longer, though. Christmas was exhausting!
Today was full of more gifts and family time, but unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures. I guess the kids in the family were all good this year because Santa came and visited all of them. In fact, we were all spoiled rotten! (Also? I'm about to have the best-dressed baby ever thanks to two grandmothers who like to shop!)
Our Christmas Day ended with a quiet evening at home with just the three of us. We tried for a photo in front of the tree, but couldn't quite get the camera settings right. Could've been cute, though!
I think Katie Wynn had a really good first Christmas. But, in her mind, who needs all those toys from Santa when you have a thumb!?!
When I started this post (2+ hours ago!), she was happily playing on her mat...and admiring herself in her mirror.
Now she's snuggled in bed and sound asleep. I'm headed that way myself!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!