Sunday, December 28, 2014

More Christmas 2014

More Christmas photos from the month of December.

Random photos of family, friends, and Christmas festivities.
Get comfortable because there are A LOT of photos!

We've had such a good month celebrating Christmas with our family and friends.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Three things I didn't get photos of but wanted to remember.

Will and Ben received special Christmas stockings from my sweet aunt and uncle.  They were thoughtfully filled with all sorts of candy and fun things that the boys loved.  In the stockings, the boys even got their first red egg of silly putty.  It's a classic toy that they've played with over and over.  I even showed them the old newspaper trick where you can copy the words onto the silly putty.

One other thing I didn't have photos of was Christmas day lunch with Mark's brother and family.  My sister-in-law has family out of state just like I do and it's really nice of them to invite us over.  We get to see what everyone got for Christmas and hang out for a little while and since they are close by then  we head home.

The boys had well-child checkups on December 23rd.  Both were healthy and right on target for growth.  That was probably the best Christmas present we could ever hope for.  I never take for granted our health, and I'm thankful for quality healthcare workers and doctors who take good care of us.  We are blessed!

Pre-Christmas Fun

I forgot to show you Will and Ben's photo with Santa this year.

We received the sweetest package in the mail all the way from Seattle.  Our dear friend Kayreen mailed us some very cool gifts.  The boys got these clever race cars made out of erasers and they were called "eracers", get it?  Witty!

Our "adopted big sister" Ashley came over and exchanged Christmas gifts with our family.  She even offered us a free night of babysitting as one of our gifts.  I can't wait to take her up on that offer.

Poor Will and Ben have a mom who loves to take photos of them. 
 If there's a Christmas tree, then they are posing by it for a photo, like it or not, ha!

Will's enthusiasm or lack thereof is obvious in this photo. 
He wasn't feeling the Christmas spirit as much as Ben and I were.

I mentioned that we had a magical elf , Bill, visit our house this year here.  These are a few of the places we found our elf.  He also managed to get in every Christmas tree in our house, he was in my Christmas stocking one morning, he spent some time hanging out in the winter village we had set up, and he played with Ben's Imaginext Batman toys.
In these photos Bill was asleep in the tissue box in the boys' bathroom, he's eating our gingerman cookies in the kitchen, he's reading our Christmas cards by the winter village, and drinking out of our new Starbucks cups.
Silly Bill!

Y'all this is my favorite!  I love all of the Christmas cards we received!
I keep all of the photo cards we get each year.  I just looked through all of the ones we've been given since we got married in 2002.  The first year we were married I also kept all of the traditional cards we received.  It's special to see the names and read the messages from our loved ones.  Several have passed away in the previous years, and it was sentimental and sweet to see their handwriting.

I wrote about our Christmas tradition of the boys exchanging books here.  We decided to let the boys trade books a little earlier than we normally do.  It ended up working out better.  I usually wait until Christmas Eve and everyone is tired.  I like spacing things out better and it's more enjoyable.
One other thing I did this year that was different with our Christmas traditions was not wrapping our Christmas books. We have enough books to read a different one each night of December before Christmas.  Instead of having them wrapped up and selecting one each night we just looked at the ones we wanted to read together and skipped over any that we  didn't.  I won't ever wrap the books again.  Too much work.

Christmas is time for baking!  I tried a new recipe this year for Christmas Eve breakfast/brunch with Mark's family.  I took Cranberry Bliss Bars (recipe here from SkinnyTaste).  If you like the Starbucks version (and we sure do!) you'll enjoy this healthier recipe.  My mother-in-law, nephew, and Will were all big fans. Will's already requested that I make some more.

Christmas Eve
 Christmas Eve with Mark's side of the family.
We are lucky to have everyone live close enough to get together for most major holidays.  The boys love having cousins to play with.  Some of my best childhood memories are from holidays with my family and playing with my cousins.  I hope the same for Will and Ben.  My sweet nieces and nephews are such fun and the kids always seem to have a blast together.  My mother-in-law is a terrific hostess and I really enjoy our time together with Mark's family.

 Back at our house doing all of the things necessary to get ready for Santa to come.
Will put out special reindeer food on the front sidewalk.
The boys left cookies and eggnog for Santa,
and they checked Santa's movements on the NORAD Santa tracker.

We have several copies of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and Will followed along as Mark read. 

Christmas Day
You can read all about Christmas morning here.

Post Christmas Fun
Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean the fun has to stop.  It continued when our friends visited for the day. One of Mark's oldest friends has a son the age of Will.  The boys have exchanged books for Christmas since they were little.  We've managed to keep the tradition alive.  This year we gave Dade a Bible and Will got more books from the I Survived series and Ben got a superheroes book.

Love these boys!

One glimpse of our Christmas decorations.
This could possibly be the last Christmas we spend at this house.  I was all sorts of sentimental and nostalgic as I packed away the decorations we've collected over the years.  If things happen the way we think they will (Lord willing), then we will begin building our farmhouse this spring, which means that next year at Christmas we would be in a new home.  We will have the same decorations but it was still bittersweet to put them away for the last time here.

I wanted to share this quote I came across about Christmas from Caroline Kennedy,
"It's true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers, But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you'll find you've created family traditions and lasting memories.  Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul."

Interview here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Christmas morning at our house was magical, special, and fun.  The boys woke up (around 7:30a.m.) excited and ready to tear into their gifts that Santa left them.  They had both wanted a Nintendo 3ds and games.  Other than that, they didn't have a lot on their Christmas lists.  The first thing I heard was "Santa left us a basketball!" and then they ran in our room to wake us up.  Each boy had two boxes, a basketball, a stocking, and one gift that was to both Ben and Will.  

They could barely stand it, but I made them pose for a photo before the madness began.

I only included these photos in the collage because I thought it was really funny and one day I think they will look back on them and laugh.  I made a collage of the gifts they opened before they got to the big gift, the Nintendo 3ds.  Their faces are priceless.  They are trying to look happy and be polite, but you can tell they really want to get to the box with the ds.  Just look at their faces!  I don't know how both boys ended up opening the boxes with the movies first, but I'm glad they did.  It made the photos even better!

The first photo is a pair of walkie talkies.  They didn't ask for them, but Santa knew they would be useful when we are out at the land working.  The design was almost so basic that they couldn't figure out how to use them.  Give them an iPhone and they can figure it out in a 2 seconds.  Give them simple walkie talkies and it took 10 minutes of me trying to explain how to use them.  Funny!  The walkie talkies ended up being a big hit later in the day once the new of the 3ds wore off.

The second and third photos are of Ben and Will opening boxes that had movies.  They had asked for all of the movies at some point, but they weren't on their Christmas lists.  Santa just remembered.  The only surprise that they didn't ask for was a set of Shrek movies.  The boys hadn't ever seen the movies, but we saw our cousin in Shrek the Musical last month.  Santa knew they would enjoy watching them.  You can tell they are trying to look happy, but it's a struggle. Their faces are pretty animated so no emotions are hidden.

Here's where the magic happens!  Ben opened the box with the new ds!  
That look of excitement is purely genuine.  
Ben said, "Santa brought the right color!"  Ben's is black and Will's is blue.

He's excited that he got the games he'd been wanting.  There's even a Lego Chima game in the box!

 Will knew once Ben opened his, that his 3ds would be in the next box.  
Will said he could tell because the box was heavier.  
Look at my big boy's face.  Sincere joy!

Checking out the games that Santa included. 

Our family looks at what's in our stockings after opening the gifts under the tree.  I wonder what other families do?  I can't remember what I did as a child.  I think maybe after.
The stockings were full of minion Peeps, baseball cards and football cards, cars, some small toys, and candy.  

This year Santa put the cars from the movie Cars in the boys' stockings.  Santa knew how much they loved the cars last year so he gave them a few new ones this year.

It didn't take long to open all the gifts, but it felt like less was more this year.

One last photo of Christmas 2014!

Each year Will says this, "Christmas is the best day of my life."

I don't know about that, but I agree that it's one of my favorite days as well.  We're thankful for so much.  I'm grateful to have Mark and my two healthy boys to celebrate it.  
Celebrating with them makes the joy that much greater.  

Everyday with them is the best day of my life!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Traditions

One of my favorite Christmas traditions we started when Ben was a baby was a book exchange between Will and Ben. We've always selected the books for the boys to give each other in the past because they were too young to choose, but for the first time this year Will picked out the book he wanted to give Ben. He saw it at school on an A. R. reading list. It's a neat book called Ben's Dream. I don't know how long this tradition will last, but I hope they will continue exchanging books even when they are all grow up. Mark gave me a reality check and said that probably won't happen, which is okay.  At least it's a really sweet tradition for now.

Christmas Book Exchange 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ben's Soccer Season

Doesn't it make sense to share photos from Ben's soccer season this fall right in the middle of the holiday season?  Holidays and soccer go together, right?  They don't, but, as usual, I didn't get around to blogging about Ben's first season of playing soccer when he was actually playing.  The final game was at the beginning of November. 

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the two games where I had my DSLR and zoom lens in September and November.  Ben looks like he's really aggressive, but don't let that fool you.  He was more timid that we thought he'd be.  The only time he played aggressively was when he played goalkeeper.  He was more than happy to let the other kids kick the ball and get in the action.  Ben had fun and he liked the kids on his team and the coach so all in all we are considering the season a success.

Go #4!

Sometimes we did a lot of this.

We had several games where it was very cold.  This was Ben and one of his teammates rubbing their hands together trying to stay warm.

Even if Ben didn't score the goals he was excited when his teammates did.  Here he is giving the coach a high five.  The coach was very encouraging to all the players and made it a positive experience.  There were no Kicking & Screaming moments, ha!

How about a double high five to celebrate?  Go Avengers!

Go Ben Go!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ben's Kindergarten Christmas Musical

Ben's Kindergarten Christmas Musical

There aren't many things cuter than kindergartners singing their hearts out.  Ben is usually our bashful child who doesn't like to talk to people he doesn't know very well.  His performance in the musical was a big surprise to all of us because he was quite the entertainer.  He was front and center and he sang his little heart out.  We could hear him clearly the entire time and we loved it!

Ben was Comet the reindeer.

Look at this cutie singing loud and clear.

This was during "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" where they were playing reindeer games. 

Here comes Santa

Up on the house top

Ben and his sweet teacher.
I'm thankful for all of the sweet teachers who worked so hard to make the musical a success.  I know a lot of work goes in to making a 30 minute production go smoothly.  It's can't be an easy task with 5 and 6 year olds, but they had the patience and love to make it happen.  What a joy for our family and all of the other families to see!

 It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

One more of Ben's fans.  We were so proud of Ben.

Monday, December 15, 2014

10 Days Until Christmas

It's 10 days until Christmas! 

How is it already December 15th?!?
This month just flies by.  The first 15 days have been full of festive fun.  I like to use the word festive any chance I get. 

The boys are merry/jolly/cheerful or let's just say happy that Christmas is so close.  Ben has let us know several times today that it's only 10 days away.  I think he's just a little excited, ha!  Will is loving Christmas, too.  Will loves Christmas music as much as I do.  He likes to play a game where we hum Christmas songs to each other and then we guess what the other one is humming. 

Here's a recap of the beginning of December.

For the first time ever we have had a magical elf visit our home.  His name is Bill.  Will selected the name because it's a combination of Ben + Will.  Ben agreed on the name (with a little persuasion) so now Bill has been with us for almost two weeks.  He was a little late showing up to the house, but he left the boys note explaining that Siri gave him the wrong directions to our house (family joke).  

Our small town's Christmas parade was earlier this month.

Ben wrote his first letter to Santa.  He really wants a Nintendo 3ds and games.

Christmas cards are arriving in the mail.

Christmas cards are being sent in the mail.
I couldn't decide which card I liked better so I ordered a card from Minted (on the left) and one from Shutterfly (on the right).

We celebrated Papaw Jerry's 75th birthday!

Silly photos in the photo booth at the junior high Christmas dance that I help chaperone.  The boys were funny with all the different props.  On Instagram, I wrote "Ben is both naughty and nice and Will is neither according to their signs."

Look out for the elf in the mistletoe zone!

Reindeer crossing...better watch out!

Love, Love, Love these two fun boys!

Christmas shopping on 
Get it!  12-13-14 is a really cool date.
This is what happens when you are married to a math teacher.  You learn to get excited about dates and numbers and patterns.  Too bad I didn't know Mark when I was in college.  I could have used some help in the math department back then.  Oh well, at least our boys are good at math like him. 

This little corner in my kitchen brings me much joy during this time of year.  It's full of sentimental Christmas decorations.

One last random thing.  These Trader Joe's Peppermint Pretzel Slims are so good!
This bag didn't last 24 hours.  Mark and I aren't allowed near them anymore.  They are addictive!


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