Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Magic Moments

Everyone with older kids kept telling us Christmas would be so fun this year (based on the ages of our kids), and they were right.  There was plenty of sweetness and fun and anticipation without too high of expectations or lofty wish lists based on what their friends at school asked Santa for.  Orelia and Bennett firmly believe in the magic of Christmas and all that comes with it.  And with that belief, the magic follows.

We spent Christmas Eve in decorating mode this year.

Bennett was old enough this year to really get into it, and it was fun to have the whole family involved.  Not surprisingly, he was especially interested in the car cookie cutter, but it was the hardest one to use so we didn't make quite enough of those.  Sorry, buddy!

Orelia was an equal opportunity decorator, and almost hand placed every single sprinkle.  She had a vision.

Eating the cookies was, of course, half the fun.

Orelia understood some of the cookies would be given to Santa, so she worked extra hard on those.

Noni and I decorated the leftover cookies when the kids lost interest, but to be honest it's hard to really tell the difference between the kid-decorated cookies and the adult cookies.

Orelia and John plated our cookies for Santa and radishes (and one carrot) for the reindeer.  She also very diligently worked on a snowflake drawing for Santa and one of the first things she asked Christmas morning was whether he had taken the drawing.  (That's her personality to a T, she always wants to make sure her gifts are well received.)

Simply decorating cookies wasn't enough sugar for us, so we also decorated gingerbread houses.

This was Bennett's first year of not napping through this activity, and he was very particular about how he wanted the candies placed.  Sure thing, boss.

Orelia and Daddy worked hard on this house together, and she was so proud of the results.

Truth be told, I think Daddy was quite proud too.

On the night of Christmas Eve our family donned our matching pajamas (including Harper), and we snuggled in Mommy and Daddy's bed to read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  After many reminders that Santa can't come until the whole house is sleeping, the kids finally fell asleep until the big day.

Just like in John's house growing up, Daddy had the duty of checking to see if Santa had come and starting the fire before anyone could come downstairs. 

Luckily, Santa came!  Bennett was thrilled to find the exact Bruder excavator he had asked Santa for (one he owned two years ago that had broken).

Orelia was downright shocked Santa brought two Pom Pom Wows instead of one (since she asked for one).  She also wondered whether he meant to leave the tiara for another child, and I explained that perhaps when a child requests something small Santa will bring a little extra.

Immediately after assessing her Santa gifts, Orelia very sweetly wanted to give out the presents SHE had placed under the tree for family members.  She just loves giving gifts and was so thrilled that it was finally the day everyone could open what she got them.

After opening two gifts under the tree, Bennett asked if it was time to eat breakfast yet.  John and I assured him that breakfast could wait, because he had quite a few more presents left to open.  I didn't label any gifts, so the kids had no idea how many presents they had and which ones were theirs (the key is to use a secret wrapping paper code). 

Bennett couldn't believe his luck when he got to keep opening presents that morning.  He literally opened one package and said with complete joy, "Oh, a brown box!!"  Of course there was a toy inside the brown box, but we were laughing so hard at how happy a "brown box" made Bennett.

Santa filled Bennett's stocking with die-cast construction vehicles, just like last year (Bennett had very specific memories of this from last year, so it's a good thing Santa didn't disappoint).  These vehicles are some of his favorite gifts.

Orelia's favorite gift was perhaps her Hatchimal twins.  She treats them like her babies and loves them as if they are real.  (Side note: when one of these "babies" lost a wing in a parking lot, never to be retrieved, this caused an entire day of tears that was only remedied by spending the entire contents of her piggy bank to buy a new set of &%!$# Hatchimals.)

Sweet Harper wore her pajamas all day, and quite a few people got a laugh over it when I took her for her walks Christmas day.

My aunt has a great recipe for candy cane ice cream, but it's very complicated.  Pay close attention.

First you let kids smash candy canes with a rolling pin.

Then you mix the broken candy canes into vanilla ice cream.  And then you're done!  Very complicated.

The kids loved helping with this even as much as they liked eating it.

I promise she did not eat this spoonful (but she ate plenty later).

Orelia got two ribbon wands for Christmas (she was very inspired by the ribbon wand dance at the Nutcracker and used a tape measure to reenact that dance the week leading up to Christmas) and danced with them all day.

She was also inspired by all her new dance costumes that she got under to tree to put on a fashion show with all her new outfits.

She would come down the stairs and wait for me to describe her "ensemble" in great detail and then show it off to the whole family.

Bennett didn't want to be left out of the fashion show, and every time Orelia put on a new dress he would put on a new pair of pajamas.

Pajamas are the height of fashion for him since they are generally covered with trucks.  He was very specific as to which pajamas he would want to wear each time and would pick out trucks to go with each pajama choice.

This was Orelia's first Christmas in a few years where she didn't change clothes every time she opened a dress or costume from under the tree.  So, I guess she had to make up for her lack of outfit changes during gift-opening time by changing outfits four times in fifteen minutes.

Complete with other Christmas accessories like a bathrobe, scarf, and Belle scepter. 

I got the biggest kick over Bennett walking around the house to show off his latest pajama set after his sister paraded around.  Christmas with 3 and 5 year olds can be truly hilarious.

John had to spend quite a bit of time assembling Bennett's new LEGOs on Christmas morning.  He complained, but I think he secretly loved it.  And I know that Bennett openly loved his new LEGOs.

After Christmas nap Orelia wanted to put on a dance performance in her new costume on the "stage" that is our front porch.

We all gathered outside in our bare feet to watch her twirl and jump with the ribbon twirling alongside her.

Noni and Grandpa were in the front row cheering her on.

I was in charge of Christmas dinner, which meant Orelia was also in charge, because she loves to diligently help in the kitchen.  She buttered every roll herself and ate quite a few come dinner time.  It was one of our most successful holiday dinners to date with kids - meaning they each sat in their chair for a full TEN minutes eating the dinner food everyone else was eating.  The bar is low, but luckily we met the bar for a change. 

It was a magical Christmas this year filled with lots of sprinkles, dancing, and the latest in pajama fashions.  We hope yours was magical too! 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Two More Sleeps

There are two more sleeps until Christmas, and I'm not sure how we will wait that long!

We have been spending our days at ice skating birthday parties,

 And making ugly sweater Christmas cookies.

I loved how they didn't even know they were meant to be "ugly" (as is the current trend), but they really nailed it anyway.

 My parents are here to celebrate Christmas, and my dad took this great photo on my porch this afternoon.  It helps to have a photographer on hand at all times!

 Orelia and I went up to San Francisco today to have tea in The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus.

 Orelia absolutely loves mint tea, and she went through about half my pot.

 She wasn't keen on the tea sandwiches, however, but luckily she was thrilled with her sliders and said they were the best burgers ever.

 Neiman Marcus is right next to Union Square, so we naturally had to visit the enormous tree.

 Orelia and her friend had so much fun on this outing and they talked a mile a minute to each other the whole time.  There may have been some potty talk, but this is a family blog, so I won't give you the details.

 Orelia finds Christmas decorations absolutely magical, and I tend to agree with her.

 Who could resist this girl's face?  I want to her to see everything in California that is covered in Christmas lights if it will make her this happy.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and we have gingerbread houses to decorate and sugar cookies to make for Santa.

 Right now John is having a sleepover with both kids downstairs on the couch while I am upstairs watching all of the Christmas episodes of Gilmore Girls.  It's all about traditions at this time of year, right?

I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas.  Just two more sleeps!