29 December 2013

What a Christmas

Once the chaos of preparing for Christmas was complete, celebrating Christmas was delightful.

I loved staying in our own home for the first time since we've been married. It was so nice to celebrate around our own Christmas tree and not have to worry about packing up everyone and everything.

We kicked off Christmas Eve with a fancy dinner.
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We opened our traditional Christmas Eve matching pajamas. The boys' pants were a tad big on them.
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We read the story of the first Christmas, snuggled warm in our pajamas.
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Cookies and milk were set out for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Then it was off to bed while visions of sugarplums danced in our heads.
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The boys were more than a little excited to discover what Santa had left on Christmas morning.
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Nash had his heart set on one present.
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I took him to the toy aisles at Target a few weeks before Christmas because he wasn't giving me any gift ideas.

He immediately spotted a gun that was the same size as him, pulled it off the shelf, and plopped right down with it in the middle of the aisle. He pumped and loaded the gun and made shooting noises while it was still fastened to the box.

From that day forward, he told everyone, including Santa, that he wanted a "shooting blaster" for Christmas.

When anyone asked him what a shooting blaster did, without hesitation and with his head titled to the side in a cocky manner, he replied, "It blasts stuff."

Oh man. How did I get such a boy? I was the one who vowed never to allow toy guns in the house. But when Nash turns everything imaginable into a shooting device anyway, I couldn't resist the look I knew would spread across his face when he opened the gun on Christmas morning.
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Blake was pretty ecstatic about what Santa brought him as well.
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And Crew? Well, he was mostly happy just to play with the wrapping paper and boxes. He rather enjoyed being caged in my new little table as well.
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Now that the chaos that made the whole month so stressful is over, I've been trying to step back and see the beauty of what actually happened. The nights where we were absorbed in Christmas stories with the tree lights all aglow in the background. Receiving treasured photos and letters from friends and family in the mailbox each day. Discovering the magic of Christmas all over again through my children's eyes. Holding to our traditions even when it didn't seem like we could possibly fit them in.

Somewhere in the total mess of candy and frosting and presents and meals and the general hoopla of lots of family together, the Christmas air thickened around us.

In 20 years from now, when all I hear in my empty house is the soft Christmas music that I so long to hear above the noise these days, I'm sure I'll miss our little ones pulling at my legs with stars in their eyes.

And as much as I have grown to despise all the work that must go on behind the scenes to pull off Christmas, I am also grateful for a season that brings families together and that ignites endless excitement. Life would be pretty dull without cause for celebration.

Most of all, I'm grateful to celebrate the babe of Bethlehem, the Savior of the World. His power is the realest real magic.


28 December 2013

Pre-Christmas Festivities

We made it through Christmas! Hallelujah. There were a few moments this month when I really didn't know how I was going to pull it off. Especially when two days before Christmas I still didn't have a single present wrapped and I was running around dropping off neighbor gifts with a fever of 103°. I had no choice but to crash on and off in bed on Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas Eve with a shaking and aching body; a direct result of a month of stress, limited sleep and rushing around. Thankfully, we had family in town that stepped right in to help with the boys and meals and last minute wrapping.

Between the strep virus and stomach bugs that have been circulating through our family, birthday season, holiday programs, hosting each of our families for a week, and everything else that seems to jam pack the month of December, I did a huge sigh of relief when it was all over.

I was also relieved when eager grandparents took action to carry out the fun traditions that I just could not make time for.

Our first round of company was the boys' grandparents who live in Hawaii. They had the best time together. Blake and Nash cracked up at their grandpa's book reading voices.
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Six months is a long time to not see your family and they soaked up every minute.
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We spent an evening decorating the gingerbread house. (Pre-built I might add. Anything to simplify.)
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Blake was pretty proud of the finished product, especially the "T" they marked on the back.
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We paid a visit to the jolly old man.
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The Hawaii grandparents came early enough to watch both of the boys' school performances as well. Nash's class performed as the cutest reindeer ever.
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Blake's combined Kindergarten classes gave a riveting performance of "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas."
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Blake's two best buddies from school were born the same week as him, which added two more birthday parties to this crazy month.
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Two hours after the first set of grandparents left, the next set came in from Arizona with renewed energy to make Christmas cookies with the boys. Once again, I was so glad it wasn't me spending hours baking and cleaning in the kitchen. I just got to sneak in and enjoy the atmosphere.
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We all bundled up and took a trip downtown to see the Turboprop Peppermint Shop window display at Deseret Book. Blake watched the mechanics video of the machine being built over and over and couldn't wait to see it in person.
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The live version did not disappoint. The boys took turns catching the parachutes that were launched from the machine.
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We took a brief walk to see the temple lights while we were there as well.
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Blake was soaked up in the spirit of it all, asking how long it took to build the temple (40 years) and admiring the statues scattered around Temple Square.
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Crew slept through the bitter cold and a certain three year old complained tirelessly about being cold and hungry. You can't please them all.

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And with that, we sufficiently covered all of our pre-Christmas traditions and it was time to celebrate the real deal, ready or not.


26 December 2013

Christmas Tablescape

We hosted three separate Christmas dinners in four days, which naturally led to the need for a festive tablescape.

It's much better for everyone when I'm put on decorating detail and not cooking detail.

This is the first year that we've ever stayed home for Christmas instead of traveling to our families. Since I've never hosted before, I don't have any holiday-specific dishes. But I really like the simplicity of my white beaded china. So, I just fancied it up a bit by adding some silver chargers. With a few touches of burlap, candles, fresh greenery and pomegranates, we had ourselves a festive little tablescape.
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I swapped the names out for each round of company and washed and repurposed everything else.
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There are a lot of aspects of Christmas preparation that I don't particularly enjoy (namely, shopping). But I was giddy as I set and re-set this table. I may even let it carry over to our New Year's Eve dinner.


25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Sharing the love - dapper dude style. Merry Christmas to all.
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