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Sunday, January 5, 2014

More catching up: Christmas Eve & Christmas

The Monday before Christmas, Donny took the 3 older kids to his parents' house to spend the night. It's about an hour away and having them go like that always gives me a bit of anxiety but they love going and it's nice to have a bit of peace & quiet. I still had a lot to do before Christmas since every single day the week before had been so packed with things to do, and some of it was stuff that I couldn't do with all the kids around. We wrapped the presents that Raya had picked out for all the kids and Raya insisted on writing her own name on them. It would have been fine but she was having a bit of an OCD moment and got really upset when it didn't look right to her.
I had planned on taking Raya to see some Christmas lights that evening but she was having a really off day and was really crabby. She said she wanted to watch a movie and THEN go look at Christmas lights but by then it was too late to do both so we just stayed home and she laid on the couch and watched about 10 minutes of Jake & the Neverland Pirates before falling asleep.
Some days, I just need moments like that in the evening to stare at her while she's sleeping and think about how cute & sweet she is. I love my children dearly but I sure do enjoy a peaceful, quiet evening. Aside from just needing a breather from all of the energy in this house, I was in charge of making the sugar cookies for the kids to decorate for Santa, and I don't like baking when Raya is around because of her food allergies. She wants to help and I don't want her touching any of the things she's allergic to. I also don't like having the kids help cook food that is going to be eaten by other people. I figure the less people that are involved in cooking food that other people will eat, the better. :)

Tuesday morning (Christmas Eve) I had some  more cooking to do. Donny's family always does Mexican food for Christmas Eve dinner so I made machaca beef and fresh salsa. We also made some cookies that Raya was able to eat so that she could decorate cookies for Santa too. She was SO happy while we made the cookies! I was a bit nervous because I had never used that recipe before and it did NOT seem like they were going to work, but we got about 6 cookies out of it. 6 of the most thirst-inducing cookies I've ever had. Coconut flour has the most amazing ability to suck every drop of moisture out of your mouth.
The dough was HORRIBLE to work with but it did the job. When we had everything ready, we packed up and headed out to Grandma & Grandpa's house. It's tradition to saddle up the horses on Christmas Eve and let whoever wants to ride go for a ride. It's always very popular with the kiddos. :)

Trying on Grandpa's hat

So excited to be going for a ride!

Filling her stomach while riding a horse. Talented girl. :)

Raya & Kaida

Cole
I missed getting a picture of Ashtyn because she was done by the time I got outside with my camera. By the time Cole got on, the sun had gone behind the mountains a few miles away and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees all of a sudden so the kids were done shortly after that. We called it quits and everybody came in for dinner.

The food was heavenly. When we first got married, I was NOT used to eating Mexican food and was certainly not used to eating it for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas but I sure do love it now! I brought a potato for Raya to eat for dinner and she was really happy to be at the table with all the big kids with her plate of baked potato and a few grapes.

When everybody was done eating, the kids got busy decorating cookies for Santa. I had brought along Raya's Earth Balance "butter" to make frosting for her and thankfully, mashing it up in a bowl with powdered sugar and vanilla and a few drops of water worked perfectly. She was beside herself with her special cookies & frosting that she got to decorate by herself. It made the effort of making them totally worth it. :)

(once again, choosing to ignore the randomness of her left cheek turning red for no reason...)

And of course then she had to stuff her face with one. We're still working on taking appropriately-sized bites and finishing one bite before taking another. :)
I don't think she's eaten a cookie since last Christmas and I was impressed with how patient she was, having waited for several hours to finally taste her special cookies. She's getting so grown up! She almost ate the second cookie too but I reminded her that Santa would want to taste one of her special cookies so she let me put it on the Santa plate. :)

I'm throwing this next picture in just because I think it's cute. I don't remember what she was talking about but she was schooling Grandpa on something.

After the cookies were decorated and the sprinkles were cleaned up, the kids' Aunt Holly & Uncle Adam got them all dressed up and ready for the annual tradition of acting out the Nativity. Raya got to be an angel this year. Kaida was a shepherd, Ashtyn was an angel, and Cole was a wise man. Things usually get a bit irreverent but the kids always look forward to this part of Christmas Eve.





After the Nativity, the kids all got jammies on while the grown-ups played a white elephant gift exchange game. By then, Raya was getting really tired and felt like snuggling.
snuggles with Aunt Holly
 Since I hadn't been in any pictures yet that day and I had actually taken the time to shower and look somewhat presentable that day, I had Donny take a picture of Raya and me. In the first one, she was staring at the camera but looked pouty. Donny tried to get her to smile for another picture and this is what we got:
I couldn't help but crack up when I saw it. It's my new favorite picture of the two of us. Poor kid was SO worn out! We tried to get a picture of all 4 of our kids in front of the Christmas tree but Raya wouldn't stand up for a picture so she just got in the family pic with Grandma & Grandpa instead.

By the time everybody had gotten pictures in front of the tree, Raya was so tired that she didn't even flinch when Grandpa was getting her. Usually that induces screaming and running, so we knew she was tired. She didn't even look at him or try to push his hands away. 

By the time we got home, everybody was either asleep or too tired to bother with putting the stockings out and setting cookies out for Santa so they all just went straight to bed. I felt really bad for Ashtyn because her allergies got really bad at Grandma & Grandpa's and after being there for 2 days, she couldn't breathe and was starting to cough.

Being a parent on Christmas is awesome. You think that being a kid on Christmas is great but being a parent of kids who are the perfect, magical age at Christmastime knocks that out of the park. I love Christmas. I love everything about it (except for how busy we allow ourselves to get and the commercialism that tries to rob Christmas of its true meaning but that's another topic). Christmas decorations make me happy, especially the lights of a decorated Christmas tree at night when all the other lights are off. This year our tree wasn't barricaded into a corner so I was able to take a nice picture of it. :)

Christmas was a great day. We are so blessed to have kids that are so easy to please and grateful for whatever they receive, and excited about what they give to other people. It really doesn't take much to make any of them happy. We are the mean parents that put a sheet up over the doorway and tell them they'd better not peek or else, and make them wait until almost 8:00 when we're ready to get out of bed to go see what Santa brought them. :) We are also the nerdy parents that make the kids cover their eyes while we take the sheet down and get into position with the camera & video camera. (some kids are more compliant than others...)


Santa brought Raya a new backpack that will be great for putting her feeding pump in once I add a hook for the formula bag and a strap to hold the pump still.

Not the greatest picture of us but it proves we were there :)

When everybody had gotten a chance to see what Santa put in their stockings, everybody ate breakfast. The big kids ate the cereal Santa left them and Raya ate what Santa put in her stocking too...

Jake and the Neverland Pirates fruit snacks!

After breakfast we opened presents. We kept things really simple this year. Each of the kids got a few things that they needed and a couple that they really wanted, and everybody was happy with everything. I got a new car seat for the baby so we've checked that off the list of important things to do before she comes. :)
 


When the presents were opened and the wrapping paper was taken care of, everybody played with their new things. We all got to take turns playing the Jake and the Neverland Pirates game Raya got because that's all she wanted to do all afternoon. She's a HUGE fan of all things Jake & the Neverland Pirates and was very excited about the game. (she was really disappointed a couple weeks ago at the store when she found out that they don't make Jake & the Neverland Pirates underwear for girls...)
(again, not a flattering picture of me but at least we're documenting that I sometimes play games with the kids)




When things had kind of died down in the afternoon, we all snuggled up and watched Home Alone 2 since the kids had never seen it. They thought it was hilarious, of course. :)


Since we always spend Christmas at our own house with just our little family, we have a good time picking what to eat for Christmas dinner. The past few years we've let each of the kids pick an appetizer or two that they like and we've had a mish-mosh of appetizers for Christmas dinner. It's always fun and it's a lot less work than preparing a big fancy dinner. It also guarantees that there's going to be something that everybody likes. This year we changed things up a bit and had Chinese food. It was simple and delicious and everybody loved it!

After Raya had gone to sleep in the evening, we let the big kids stay up late and play games. My brother and his wife gave us the game Qwirkle, and it turned out to be a great one for all of us. Kaida needed a little bit of help but other than that, everybody was able to figure it out and we had a good time playing.

We spent the day on Thursday cleaning up everybody's Christmas presents and cleaning & organizing bedrooms. Raya hasn't gotten the hang of organizing all the stuffed animals & toys she drags into her bed but she really likes it when somebody else gets her bed nice & clean for her.


We played games again Thursday night but Raya got to play too. It was a much more lively experience with her around. :)
There was more snuggling and movie watching and we all just had a nice time relaxing together with nowhere to go.

Friday was spent putting away Christmas decorations while Donny went to work. I've decided that as much as I love Christmas decorations and wouldn't have minded doing a little more decorating than we did, I really liked having it limited to what I could put up and take down in one day. It was great to have everything clean and neat again. Once the kids go back to school, I will be continuing the cleaning & organizing by going through all the toy baskets and their bedrooms while they're not home to protest. I'm usually a lot more sentimental about keeping the Christmas decorations up until New Year's Day but this year I was just ready to pack everything away and move on. We had a great Christmas!

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