Our first event of the season was the local tree lighting ceremony. Santa arrived on a fire truck, and the kids got to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. I am so glad my kids have never gone through the stage of being afraid of Santa. They love him! Rylee talked his ear off, and Ayden petted his beard, lol.
The kids' preschool does a dress up Friday every month. In December, the theme was Red/Green.
|Red and Green Day at school!|
I know there's kind of a love/hate relationship out there for Elf on the Shelf, but we love it! This year we tied in our advent calendar with our elf. My Aunt D made this advent calendar for me and my sister years ago, and I've hung it every Christmas. This was our first year actually using it as an advent calendar for the kids. Ayden named our elf Macaroni Cheese this year. Not Macaroni AND Cheese; just Macaroni Cheese. And we couldn't shorten it to Mac either. We were required to use his full name. No nicknames allowed! haha.
|Our Advent Calendar: Day 1|
Each day, something was left in that day's pocket on the advent calendar. Some days, Macaroni Cheese brought gifts for Ayden and Rylee (such as a few coins for their piggy banks or a piece of candy), and other days all he did was leave a note. Ayden was beyond excited to hurry downstairs every single day to see what Mac (don't tell him I used a nickname!) brought for them. They were just as excited to find a note as they were to find a gift. Well, not really, but they did enjoy the notes, too. Sometimes Mac was easy to find, as shown in the pictures below, and other days he played he played Hide and Seek and the kids had to go in search of him.
|New coloring books and crayons! Rylee didn't appreciate that Macaroni Cheese borrowed one of her old coloring books, despite the fact that he brought her a new one. Oh well. She got over it. lol|
The kids did a fantastic job of purging their toys and filling the bags. Ayden surprisingly did it with gusto. Rylee needed a little encouragement, but did manage to fill the bag with a little prompting from me to find the right toys to get rid of.
On December 9th, we celebrated Christmas with my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, brother, sister, nieces, and nephews) with a Candy Cane Express train ride. The train ride was fun, but a bit overcrowded and claustrophobic for me. It was difficult to walk around from car to car because of all the people, and also difficult to sit down all in one place and enjoy visiting with family. We got to see Santa and Mrs. Claus on the train though, so that was a hit with the kids. They also enjoyed their candy canes, popcorn, and hot chocolate.
After the train ride, we all went out for pizza and had a little Christmas party. All the youngest kids (second cousins) did a gift exchange. We also have a lot of December birthdays in the family, so we did birthday cake and sang happy birthday as well.
|It was a gorgeous day, but it was cold!|
The next day, Tony, Ayden, Rylee and I all went on a hunt for our perfect Christmas tree! I love the family tradition of going out and getting a real tree, and I love having the smell of a real tree in our house. However, we've been considering getting a fake tree. It's a real fear for both of us to have such a fire hazard in the house, especially now that we have kids. I've seen a few houses that have gone up in flames because of Christmas trees. It's scary. Also, the mess. The MESS! All those damn pine needles that NEVER stop falling off the tree! Anyway, I digress... We do have a lot of fun searching for just the right tree. I will miss that if/when we ever convert to a fake one.
|It was a very cold morning, but we had a perfect blue sky.|
Look closely. Can you spy Rylee?
|This is Rylee's "cheese" smile. Haha!|
Our tree got redecorated several times while it was up. They wanted to play with the ornaments All. The. Time. We didn't even come close to putting all our ornaments on the tree, for this very reason. I keep two tubs of ornaments: one tub has ornaments that are safe for the kids to put on the tree and/or I don't mind if they get broken, and another tub of breakables/keepsakes. We still managed to end up with several broken ornaments this year! Macaroni Cheese brought the kids each a new ornament one day. One was Spider-Man and the other was Minnie Mouse. Yeah, they lasted only a few days because the kids wouldn't leave them alone and they got dropped a few too many times. Spider-Man got chucked because he lost all his limbs. Minnie was able to be salvaged, but she's missing her nose and her ears.
One of the best things from this year was the kids' first Christmas program with their preschool. Oh my gosh, were they adorable! I don't think theres a whole lot cuter than a bunch of 3-5 year olds putting on a performance. They did not want to cooperate for me to get a good picture of them in their "fancy" clothes, despite the fact that they were so proud of being all dressed up! Rylee would wear a "fancy" dress every day if I'd let her, and Ayden was SO proud of his tie!!
We had a Christmas party with our Community Playgroup.
The kids also had a Christmas party at Preschool.
On Christmas Eve, we hosted my mom, sister, brother, and their families at our house. I love when we all get to spend time together. It's one of my favorite things to watch all our kids playing together. I fondly remember Christmases with my cousins growing up, and I'm so glad that my kids get to make those memories as well. Maybe someday our Baby Sis and her family will be able to join us for Christmas too.
|All the cousins, minus the youngest because she refused to be in the picture.|
That night, we set out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
We spent Christmas morning at home. Rylee had asked Santa multiple times for a unicorn pillow. She talked about that a lot, so we made sure Santa got the message. Ayden mentioned offhandedly once that he wanted a monster pillow. Ironically, when Rylee opened up her unicorn pillow, she really didn't give it much more than a passing thought and moved onto other things. However, Ayden was completely stoked about his monster pillow! That's all he talked about all day! Once the excitement of Christmas died down, Rylee did end up being very happy with her Santa gift and she sleeps with her unicorn pillow every night.
|The best picture I could get from them on Christmas morning. Who has time for pictures, when there's stockings left to open?!|
After we had our own little Christmas morning fun at home, we went to Tony's parents for the afternoon. It was just a small gathering this year, as a few family members were stuck home sick. Tony and I were able to later go see a movie in the theater (Star Wars) while the kids stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's playing. When we went back after the movie to pick them up, both kids wanted to stay the night, so we ended up going home by ourselves. Tony had to work the next day, and I enjoyed the opportunity to do some day after Christmas shopping sans kids.
The following weekend, we traveled to Washington to spend the weekend with Tony's family up there, his parents and his brother and his family. Again, watching Ayden and Rylee play with their cousins was my favorite part. BIL and his family weren't with us on Christmas Day, so we didn't exchange gifts until this weekend trip.
|The cousins with their grandparents.|
It was a busy, busy, busy December. There are even a few more things that filled up the month that I didn't even mention in this post yet...
- a cookie decorating party with another group of friends
- the kids' 4th birthday party
- the kids's birthday trip to the coast (I'll write about their birthday in a separate post)
- having my nephews spend the night
- taking the kids Christmas shopping for each other, and then out for a movie date
- attending two birthday parties for other kids in their preschool class
Every weekend was go, go, go, and so were a few weekdays in between. We were busy making memories!