New years day our extremely tired family (see below) loaded up the van and drove to visit my parents for the day. My sister Heather was in town with her very cute family and we hadn't seen them for a while. We even got a fun surpirse visit from my aunt, uncle and cousin, who just got back from his mission! My mom made fajitas and we all pigged out! There were 3 of my siblings there, and that doesnt happen very often anymore! After lunch we drove across town to see my brother nates new (5 bedroom, jealous!) house.
New years Eve: we went to our friends house for the annual all night party. Even cara rocked it til the clock struck 12! We all had a great time, and I think I will have to continue this tradition when we move, sans alcohol... We sure will miss the friends we have here.
Cara at midnight with her noise maker
van the man.. we've been coming since he was caras age
Christmas day: my dad, brother kelly, and brother nate and his wife tara came for lunch. My mom was sick so she stayed home but the rest of us had a great visit and the kids always love seeing them.
Christmas morning: we had an awesome quiet morning opening presents and eating 2 breakfasts! (the things you dont realize you will have to do until you have 4 boys!) Van got his pillow pet that he had been asking for and we weren't goping to get for him until he started asking santa for an electric guitar. Suddenly a mute toy seemed like a much better choice.
each of the kids had fun this year picking a name of a sibling and buying a gift for them. They love the tradition of this and have a great time giving the toy. I love the reactions and their excitement when the gift is given!
Santa gave Cara a new hex bug in her stocking! She calls it pink and she lost her old one at old navy a few weeks before Christmas and asked often to play with it.
Santa filled the stockings! We had a really good time this year with Christmas. As the kids get older and most of them are in on the surprise of mom and dad being santa, they have had such a good time encouraging the magic in the younger kids... in some really interesting ways. In school, vans class watched polar express and he was given a ticket. On Christmas eve, he was so excited to go to bed because he had a ticket "and it wont even cost you any money!" I was wondering when he had gotten it in his head that he was going to be able to ride it until I overheard Jo telling him that HE rode it every year and that he would get van on it to.... dont really know whether to be irritated that he is flat out lying, or amused... eiother way, he woke upo Christmas morning telling me all about his trip...funny kids.
the boys woke up super early, and we let them go downstairs and open stockings. I had to eventually go get cara out of bed and when she woke up, she looked around and said presents. She knew who had come!
Christmas eve: kids in bed, gifts under tree. We had to put the cookies and milk out, the kids forgot! We spent Christmas eve day cleaning the house and baking cookies (peanut butter in a muffin tin then sticking reeses cups in the middle, yum!) we went to an afternoon mass as a family and it was beautiful! There were candles burning, lots of live greenery and beautiful music. At the end of the mass, they dimmed the lights and we all sang silent night. I am so glad we took the kids! After that, we came home and made chicken cordon blue, put reindeer food on the front porch, opened our traditional Christmas eve gift of pajamas, and then the read the true Christmas story. the kids rushed to bed after that, they were so anxious for Christmas to come!
listening to the night before Christmas
reindeer food on porch (we sweep it off after they go to bed)
my daughter in one of her favorite outfits... she LOVES the green vest!
Kelly and John: the sat before Christmas we always go to richmond and play dirty santa with my moms family. We give away horrible gifts to each other and have a great meal and a lot of fun! One of the best gifts this year was the mirror cover from my aunts bathroom that was just remodeled. I made everyone pose with it and we got tons of laughs!
my parents are awesome!
our gift that we gave away this year was a red prom dress from who knows when that we hid in a gingerbread box. My brother kelly got it this year!
my aunt karen gave all the little girls (her granddaughter, cara, my cousins baby girl twin, and my sisters baby) these awesome green vests. I think the look like the grinch with the hoods up!
papa and my cousins laura baby boy (she has twins)
Before Richmond, we had been in fredericksburg visiting Johns parents and grandmother. the kids didnt have school that fri due to snow so we headed up and spent the afternoon and night.
Johns mom just lost a ton of weight.. doesn't she look great!
cara was totally obsessed with her grandfather. she would not leave him alone, and he didnt seem to mind at all (except when she smudged the pictures!)
early dec: we decorated gingerbread house, made gingerbread men from scratch and had a ton of orchestra concerts. i had 2 different concerts, and tay, jo and M all played in one. this was M's first concert (he started cello this fall, tay and jo have played violin for abt a year and a half now)
cara ate the whole house before she finished decorating it. pateince is not her strong suit!
our friend jack broughtover the gingerbread houses. I watch him 4 afternoons a week while his mom works with bacteria...
Our ward put on the Christmas story at the annual party this year. It was hilarious. M was a wiseman, jo a sheppard, van sang in the silent night sign language choir, and tay was the camel. (and he was so obnoxious abt it, he pretended to chew cud the whole time)
m in red, tay in camel suit.
this is my shy kid, and this is not his things at all! We used to have to drag him out eveytime the primary would sing a song bc he would start crying and screaming bc he didnt want to go stand in front of everyone. he's come a long way....
the kid with the staff kept hooking people around the neck. I finally took it away from him (he's in my primary class) but i laughed first...
cara had a great time running around the gym the whole night. it had been so cold here and there was snow on the ground all dec. and she doesn't really like snow.. It was nice to be out!
early dec: on a night that had temps. dropping into low single digits, our town had their annual Christmas parade and lighting of the tree. It was so miserable, but we went since the oldest 3 boys were in the parade with their scout troop. Van, cara and i went and got calzones (john was on surgery this month so we barley saw him) and tried to stay warm. Cara was terrified by the parade at first (the marching band and trucks were to loud) but by the time santa closed the parade on the fire truck she felt better about it.
the first sat in dec. I took the kids to finish Christmas shopping. John had gone in early to work so I called to see if they wanted anything from panera. He said no, but that he would meet us there for breakfast. Since he was done for the day, we decided we would drive to our favorite tree farm. The horses pull you out and you get to cut your tree. We have gone to this place several of the last few years and the trees are so beautiful. We love the challenge of finding our perfect tree!
tay is such a big kid! With john having been gone 6 months of this past year he has really stepped into a bigger role within the house of being helpful. His newest big kid job? he wanted to be the one to cut the tree. he got it part of the way down then passed the saw to john.
As we were cutting the tree, snow began to fall. (this snow is still on the ground, btw..) by the time we were done waiting for our tree to be picked up, bagged and loaded on our car (while we ate hotdogs and drank hot chocolate) it was really heavy.
so when we got home, the kids headed out to play in it and do some sledding. the keep saying "this will be the last time we get to play in the snow."everytime it snows they get nervous and rush right out
van with a snowball...
sun. afternoon we decorated the tree!
not sure I reccomend this method...
all the orchestra concerts....
santa came to the town concert and passed out candy canes (this is where van decided he needed a black electirc guitar, to which santa replied oh, ok, i think we can do that until he saw my face then quickly backtracked and I said that doesnt the north pole have a lot of pillow pets. He agreed very quickly.
Our Christmas card photo shoot. We were running late to church so we took them to the famers market while their clothes were still clean to get some pics.
cara has her arm up because in the pic i took right before, van had his arm up. she is such a little copycat
We took our annual tgiving trip to the outer banks again this year. What a relaxing break it always is, and we already decided that even though John won't be able to go next year, I will take the kids by myself. We had a 13 bedroom house this year and went with a total of about 50 people. the kids all have such a wonderful time boogie boarding, playing in the sand, seeing their friends, and staying up late! On thanksgiving all the kids put on a talent show, which in the 4 years we've been going is getting better every year! after tgiving dinner, our family went out alone to the beach to have a few minutes of quiet time. It was so nice to be out in the wamr air, listening to the ocean, and reflect on everything we are greatful for. We've had a long year, with john being gone for a lot of it, and some setbacks and frustrations that we werent expecting so it was nice to focus on the positive out there and enjoy being together
the kids table at thanksgiving dinner. i think there were 35 kids this year
the boys had a great time builing and digging, and van even hit the waves for the first time ever. cara wouldn't stay out of the water and kept running straight into the water and I would have to chase her down and put her back in the sand, no fear!