Before Christmas Day we enjoyed a few of our yearly traditions.
We went to Brian's parents house and together went on our annual trip to the house with lights. There is one house out where they live, in a rural area outside of Woodburn, that is just COVERED with lights. Literally covered. He has more traditional Christmas lights, like a lifesize nativity scene and angels up in the trees. He also has some more nostalgic lights, like a train that blows smoke and a lifesize carousel and ferris wheels. He also has the strictly unique, like the lighted tow trucks and ice skaters. We have visited his house every Christmas season and love stopping and walking amongst the displays. I have never been able to get good photos of his lights, but we love them just the same.
That same evening we went to the nearby factory stores for a visit with Santa Claus. The kids lined up inside Santa's house, with the fake-snow slowly falling outside. They patiently waited and were finally given a chance to visit with the big guy.
It was a nice little visit with Santa. After the visit we went to see my Mom's new house and take a tour around her complex. All in all a busy and festive day. :)
The kids did get another chance to meet with Santa, this time at the Cub Scout Christmas party. Santa also brought Mrs. Santa with him to help hand out gifts to those good little Cub Scouts. Chase did sport a goose egg here that he got at basketball practice earlier in the evening. OUCH! But he enjoyed the camo fanny pack filled with a first aid kit and other basic supplies. He must have been good this year. ;)
Beyond that, we we had a wonderful Christmas season.
I spent the day before Christmas Eve making the must-have holiday sweets. My favorite is the nanimo bars. Chock full of coconute, nuts, graham crackers, chocolate and this wonderful, sweet vanilla middle layer ... my absolute favorite. They were scrumptious!
I also made spritzers for the first time this year. I remember making these every year when I was a child ... coloring the dough pink (well, it was supposed to be red! LOL), green and yellow, loading the machine and hearing the press push the dough out on the cookie sheet in a neat shape, gently sprinkling on a rainbow of colored sugars. I hadn't made them since then, but last year my mom got me a spritzer cookie press for Christmas and this year I finally made them. They were fun and the kids enjoyed their turn with the spritzer machine. Oh yes, they were quite liberal with the sprinkles too! LOL
Christmas Eve started with my Dad and Linda coming over to visit. We had fun hanging out with the kids, having them open their gifts, playing with the gifts and just enjoying some time together. I am horrible at taking photos of the kids with their gifts (I took a total of 2 this year. LOL) so I'm hoping Dad and Linda will save me with some. But Carissa got Breyer horses and a barn, both of which are one of her absolute favorite gifts of the season. Tristan got a game he really wanted for his Nintendo DS and Chase got Harry Potter Scene It! Now, for those who don't know Harry Potter Scene It, it's a trivia board game that includes a DVD, which asks questions based on sound or video clips from the movie. It is an awesome game for any die hard Harry Potter fan, which both Chase and I are. We played a heated game with Chase ahead all game, but I snuck it out in the end and was the victor. It was sooooo much fun!
After Dad and Linda left we got in the car for our annual drive to see the Christmas Eve lights. We turned on the Christmas music and drove around town to see all the displays. We even spied Rudolph's nose way up in the sky.
After coming home we had some cookies and opened the traditional Christmas Eve gift - new pajamas. For the first time this year, the kids each took turns reading us "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Then the kids nestled all snug in their beds and were (not so) fast asleep.
Christmas morning arrived early for us - 5:40am to be exact. We told the kids they could wake us no sooner than 5:30am (last year Chase was up at 3am ... *snore*). Tristan was first up and quickly the rest of the house was awake. The kids rushed out to see what they had received from Santa.The kids must have been very good this year. They got some great stuff from Santa.
These were great gifts for the kids. Carissa is already speeding around the neighborhood on her bike. Tristan returns to Tae Kwon Do tomorrow and can't wait to have his own gear. He has been wanting it since he started 3 months ago and Santa pulled through for him. Chase is beyond thrilled with his telescope. He didn't even ask for it this year, but has been wanting one for several years. He constantly amazes me with all he knows about space and stars, so this is perfect for him. And he's already very protective over it, not wanting his brother or sister to so much as touch it. His scout leader is very knowledgeable about telescopes, as his father is an astonomer, so he will be coming over this week to show Chase how to properly use and care for it.
After the Santa gifts the kids opened their gifts from us. Lots of fun things to play with. Both Brian's parents and my Mom and Jim came over on Christmas day, so the kids made a hauling in gifts. It snowed outside all day long, this huge wonderful flakes. It didn't stick, which was a bit disappointing, but I loved looking out the window and seeing the snow falling. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with both turkey and ham and just had a good time.
After the family left we decided that we should try to make this our first White Christmas. It couldn't be called that if the snow didn't stick and snowballs weren't thrown, so we drove just 2 miles from the house and up the hill on west side of town, where we found the snow had been sticking. We let the kids get out and play in it for a bit. Snowballs were thrown and thus we had our first every White Christmas.
New Years Eve was another wonderful night for us. For the first time in 6 years Brian was home to celebrate with us. We watched movies: the very funny "Underdog", which the kids just laughed and laughed at, and "The Simpsons Movie" which I didn't watch since I pretty much detest the Simpsons. Brian and the kids liked it but said Underdog was a MUCH better movie. After the movies we played Wii together, a rousing game of Mario Party 8. I got my butt kicked, which is no less than I would expect, since I really don't care for video games. But I had fun playing with the kids. We actually had to put the game on hold so that we could turn on the Times Square ball drop. We rang in the new year together with hugs and kisses and just general family happiness. We got this quick photo:
and then finished the game before heading to bed on the first day of the new year.
Now that the holidays are over things have largely returned to normal. The kids aren't back in school yet and I'm soaking in all these wonderful days with no schedule and no plans. I LOVE IT! I'm in full Disney-planning mode now and have lists and schedules and such strewn everywhere here. As great as 2007 was, 2008 is looking to be a fun and exciting year for us all. I can't wait to enjoy it with my family!