We decorated the house for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving. Although I could really use some help in the decorating department, I love having the Christmas decor out. The favorite decoration by far is our singing Christmas tree. The boys just adore this thing!
The first weekend in December North Phoenix Baptist Church hosts the judging of the floats for the APS light parade. They turn it into a party and we always try to go. It's great because we get to see all of the parade floats, but don't have to try to keep the kids still since the floats are stationary and we just walk around to see them all.
Another family favorite of the holiday season is my dad's train set that he sets up every year. Both of the boys are train fanatics, so they just can't get enough of Granddad's train. He seems to have new bells and whistles (pun intended) for it every year. This year it included a helicopter launcher and a complete set of Thomas trains, which Benny just loved!
The weekend before Christmas we got together with my best friend, Gabrielle and her kids to decorate Christmas cookies. With 6 kids between us, 5 of which are under 5 years old, it was complete mayhem! Activities such as these always seem to go better in our heads than their actual execution, but despite the chaos, we had a great time making a big mess. The boys have so much fun together, no matter what they're doing.
That same night was Andrew's office Christmas party at the Arizona Science Center. As usual, the food was good and the people at his office are really nice. The venue was an interesting choice, but it was kind of cool to have something else to do at the party since we are definitely NOT dancers, even after a glass of wine or two. So we spent a little while checking out the exhibits at the Science Center. I even got to lay on a bed of nails, which was odd to say the least!
When the big day finally came, we definitely filled the time with many Christmas festivities! Andrew had to work on Christmas Eve morning, but I had the whole day off, so I took the boys to visit with my grandma, who they haven't seen since last Christmas (for no good reason other than we haven't gotten out there). They enjoyed playing with the toy motorcycles great-grandma gave them, and also playing with great-grandma's dog Pepper. Later that day we got all gussied up and went to church.
We had a beautiful service with lots of Christmas music and a wonderful sermon. Although I can't really say they thoroughly enjoyed it, the boys tolerated attending "big church" very well, which was a great Christmas present for us!
After church we went out to Avondale to celebrate Christmas with Andrew's mom's family. We all had a great time. It was great to watch the boys playing with their cousins. These are the years that we all talked about looking forward too when the kids were younger. Now they are all great friends and run around in a big gang. It's awesome and exactly what we always wanted for our boys. Cousins to grow up with and be friends with. That's something Andrew and I both kind of missed out on since his cousins lived half way across the country and mine were all so much older than me.
The boys got to bed late, which meant they actually slept until 7:00 a.m. on Christmas morning! Since Joshua was really understanding Christmas and Santa Claus this year, we thought we might get the 4 am wake up call, but thankfully the night at Grandma's sufficiently wore them out! We woke up that morning to find out that Santa had left a train table for the boys, which was exactly what they wanted!
After opening the rest of our presents, Grandpa Maple, Mabel and Andrea came over for breakfast. I tried out a new recipe this year... baked french toast. It was SO good!
Because they had had such a late night the night before, the boys seemed to be a little cranky for part of Christmas morning. But after getting our Christmas Meltdown out of the way, we had nothing but good attitudes and sweet little boys the rest of the day. After Grandpa Maple's clan's visit, we got to just hang out and relax the rest of the day, and of course try out our new toys and games. Joshua gave me a good old fashioned whoopin' in Sorry...
and Ben officially partied himself out.
That night we grilled up some steaks, roasted some red potatoes and after dinner went out to see some Christmas lights as we do every year. I love our traditions that we have built as a family!
On Saturday we got together with my family at my parent's house.
We even got to spend some time with my aunt, uncle and cousin and his family. We don't get to see them often, so that was an extra special treat! Joshua just adores his cousin, Jacob, so he had the best time playing with him. Ben and Gracie are only 3 months apart and are now to the age where they will start to play together, so it was a lot of fun.
My mom made a delicious dinner of prime rib, homemade au gratin potatoes, baked beans, veggies and garlic bread, and some awesome homemade pies for dessert. She really outdid herself! After leaving my parents house, we stopped off at a house not too far from their house that has always decorated to the nines, including the inside of the house which you can walk through. I remember going there every year as a kid, so it was fun to be able to share that with my boys.
So now we look forward to what 2010 will bring. We hope it is filled with much joy and blessing for you! Happy New Year!