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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year so we began the day at church where our ward had a joint Sacrament Meeting with the Spanish ward.  The meeting was primarily songs - congregation, choir, and primary performance, with some in English, some in Spanish, and some had a mix of both.  I absolutely loved all of it - the language, the friendships we have in the ward, and mostly, just being there with my family and taking a moment to focus on the Savior.  It has been a really busy month with so many fun activities, but it was nice to just get back to the basics.  I know there are a lot of churches that routinely have services on Christmas Eve, no matter the day of the week, and I can definitely see why people love to attend.  When we got home I really wanted to get a good family picture with all of us in our Christmas finest.  We took a lot....none are my favorite....but at least we have a visual reminder of how we began our Christmas Eve.

We spent the afternoon playing with the kids and getting ready for our evening celebrations.  For the last several years we have celebrated Christmas Eve with steak and shrimp at the Outback.  This year I decided to cook and we had my parents and Cory and Rhonda over to help us celebrate.  We had the nicest night eating and chatting and watching the kids' excitement for the holiday.  After dinner, we watched a few short video clips to remind us of the reason for the season and how grateful we are for Jesus' birth.  It was really the most perfect Christmas Eve.

I absolutely love this family of mine!

By this time of the night, we were all a little wild

Once Luke realized it was getting close to bed time, he started begging to go to bed and hurried to change into pajamas and brush his teeth.  Both he and Ruby quickly got into bed and then started begging us to go to bed to make sure there was no chance of Santa passing by our house.  The kids went to bed completely full of magic and big dreams and expectations.  Tim and I did our best to make sure Christmas morning would be wonderful, then we went to bed and turned the rest over to Santa.  We were all pretty amazed the next morning when we discovered all of the evidence of Santa's visit.  I think the kids may have liked the presents best, but the picture of Santa was priceless.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Eve Eve

Growing up we had an album of random Christmas songs that we played over and over on our little black and white record player.  One of our favorite songs on the album was "Its the Day Before the Night Before Christmas".  It was the best because of course when that day arrived, it meant only two more sleeps until Christmas morning.  Well, Saturday morning, December 23rd arrived this year and the first thing I heard was Luke wandering around the house yelling something repeatedly.  It took me a minute to figure out what he was saying, but finally realized he was yelling "It's Christmas Eve tomorrow everybody".  Clearly he understood the importance of the day. 
We invited Grandma and Grandpa Whitesides down to spend the afternoon together and the kids were thrilled when they arrived with presents.  Ruby got a castle which is perfect for play.  She begged Tim to put it together and then she, Luke and Grandma immediately crawled in for some stories.  It has quickly become the favorite spot for stories, movies, and all sorts of make believe.

Luke's present arrived a few days later but he has absolutely loved his light up Lego car.  Tim is becoming quite the pro at Legos with all of Luke's new toys.  The older the kids get, the more we really miss the days of Duplo blocks.  Those are more at our building level.

We were excited to give Grandma and Grandpa their gifts.

New coats for everyone. 

A few days earlier I had been talking to the kids about when we were going to build their ginger bread houses.  I said we could do them on our own on Friday, or wait and build with Grandma and Grandpa on Saturday.  They didn't even have to think about the options, they definitely wanted to wait for Grandma and Grandpa.  I had bought the kits earlier at Costco and they worked out perfectly - they were pre-assembled so we could just focus on the candy and making our houses look amazing.  We had the best afternoon together and were so grateful to be able to spend the time with Grandma and Grandpa Whitesides for an early Christmas celebration. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Riverwoods Santa 2017

As I have been going through pictures and trying to catch up on the activities of the month, I have realized how many Christmas traditions we have developed over the years.  I love that we have so many fun things to experience together every Christmas.  I don't really remember how the first year of seeing Santa at the Riverwoods came about, but I know it included dinner and cousin time with Calvin.  Hopefully they will always be willing to join us because they make the night so much more fun.  And even better, Cory always brings his camera so I can just enjoy watching while he plays paparazzi and captures all of the fun.

Dinner before Santa this year was a little bit of a circus.  Luke and Ruby were completely wired and couldn't hardly calm down to eat.  From the minute we walked outside, Ruby grabbed Calvin and the three kids ran off to play.  We had to wait about a half hour to see Santa so that gave them plenty of time to have fun together and play with all of the other kids that were there.

Once we made it close to Santa's workshop, the kids finally agreed to join us in line.  As we watched the other kids talk to Santa, Ruby got a little nervous, but when we told her she could go with Luke that made her feel much better.  I love watching their faces and their reaction to all of the magic of this season.  This experience with Santa was one of my favorites.  


Luke and Ruby started creating letters to Santa at the beginning of the month and have written several different versions since then.  Luke's lists have included a wishing box, a real cannon, nerf games and a wallet.  Ruby's was hoping that Santa would bring her piggy paints (nail polish), unicorn slippers, and an interactive Huskie puppy.  The night before visiting Santa, they finished their lists and decorated the envelopes so that they could be put in Santa's mailbox.  

One of the best parts of the adventure is letting the kids run wild and enjoy their moment on the stage.  They had the best time dancing  and putting on a show for all of us 


This winter has been especially dry so far with almost no snow.  We had a brief storm with a little bit of accumulation at the Riverwoods.  The kids were completely fascinated and spent way too much time trying to play - snowballs, snow angels, and they even tried to build a snowman.  Silly kids!

Until Christmas Eve....See you soon Santa