Every year, we pretty much have three Christmases: Christmas with our "little" family unit, Christmas with my side of the family, and Christmas with Chris's side of the family. Although we've tried to establish some traditions, our holiday season looks different every year depending on what day of the week Christmas falls and where we are that year for Christmas Day.
This year, we spent Thanksgiving with Chris's side of the family (or part of us did . . . not all of us were able to go), so that meant that Christmas Day would be spent with my side of the family. We didn't want to miss out on spending time with Meme and Papa (Chris's parents), so we made a plan to go out to their place on Friday, December 18th, spend the night, and enjoy Saturday, December 19th with them.
It was about 6:30pm when we got to "the Homestead" on Friday evening. We had a simple dinner with finger and snack type foods, and just spent most of the evening playing and visiting.
Papa plays the guitar, and our Bigs love to "play" with him. We had several concerts this night :-).
Brecklyn is generally slow-to-warm, so I wasn't sure how she'd do at their house. However, she warmed up quickly (for her) and just played and played.
The Big kids immediately "tuned" Papa's guitars for him, so he had to work on them a bit to help them sound better.
Brianna and Papa even did a concert for us. Brianna sang Jingle Bells while Papa accompanied her on the guitar. It was cute.
Full hands equals lots of love!
Way back when they were all the rage, Meme collected Beanie Babies. She has a huge curio cabinet full of them, along with lots of other stuffed animals. The kids' favorite thing to do is see how many of those silly things they can drag out. Brooke ended up being buried in animals!
The girls playing on Papa
Our holiday tradition with Meme and Papa is to do some sort of Christmas craft with them. This year, I wanted to do salt dough ornaments and decided it would be a good activity to do while we were visiting Meme and Papa. We cut the ornaments out on Friday night to give them plenty of time to dry and harden before decorating them on Saturday.
Chris and the Bigs cutting out the ornaments
I got in on the action, too.
While we were cutting out the ornaments, Meme and Papa were on baby duty. Once the girls warmed up, they were all over the place! There was so much new territory to explore, and they were opening cabinets, emptying drawers, playing in the dog food, etc! I love this age, but they keep us busy, for sure! Papa finally brought out this little horse and distracted the girls by giving them rides on it.
Papa and Brecklyn
Papa and Brooke
When it comes to Santa, I know many different families do different things. We have always been upfront with our kids that Santa is a fun character, but he doesn't truly ride in a flying sleigh and visit everyone's houses dropping off presents. They have always accepted this, but we still have fun pretending about Santa. This day was the last day of school for Brianna before Winter Break, so they pretty much did crafts, watched movies, and read books all day. One craft they did was making "Reindeer Food" to sprinkle in the yard for Santa's reindeer. Brianna was insistent that we take the reindeer food to Meme and Papa's house because there are real "reindeer" (really, just deer) out there. The Bigs and Meme had fun spreading the oats-and-glitter mix in the yard.
Brenson was so cute when I asked him what he was doing and he whispered, "Spying the reindeer." :-)
After a little more visiting, we went to bed. That night ended up being a looooong night for Chris and me. The babies went down just fine in the pack-n-play, but did not want to stay there. Brooke woke up very upset and it took a long time to calm her down (unusual for her). I ended up sleeping with Brooke in the bed, and Chris slept on the couch with Brecklyn. Then, at some point, we switched babies. The babies generally do fine sleeping away from home, but it had been a while since we'd been gone overnight and they were not having it this time. Booooo.
Anyhow, after a slowish start to the morning and a pancake breakfast, we decided to do our traditional craft with Meme and Papa. The salt-dough ornaments we made the night before we ready to be decorated, and Papa had also cut some round discs from wood off the land to make into ornaments.
Brianna decorating her ornaments
Brenson working hard on his ornaments
Brecklyn helped Meme for a while
We experimented with stamping, Sharpies, glitter glue, spray mist, and paint trying to find our favorite look. The kids liked stamping and glitter best.
Of course, you can't use glitter without making a mess, and was there ever a MESS, haha!
Brooke was napping during most of the ornament decorating, but woke up in time to help Papa finish a few.
We're not going to win any contests for the prettiest ornaments, but the kids had so much fun doing them. I fell in love with the wooden ornaments and think they'd make adorable gifts decorated like snowmen. Plus, it's extra special that the wood is from the family land.
These four were having a great time at their first Christmas of the season!
Papa and Meme with our four . . . you wouldn't believe how hard it was to capture a photo with everyone looking!
Chris's grandparents joined us just before lunch, and after lunch we decided to open gifts. I had been training Brecklyn and Brooke for several weeks to not touch the presents, so they weren't sure what to do when the gifts were suddenly set in their lap and everyone said, "Okay, open them!"
Luckily, big sister was willing to show them the ropes :-).
One of the things that I adore about Brenson is that he is a sensitive little guy. He's naturally compassionate and empathetic, which I think are wonderful qualities. However, being a sensitive person also means that he cries and pouts a lot. It can be frustrating for us, and it requires constant correction, redirection, and training. I had to laugh when I saw this photo on my camera. Who is sad and pouting during gift opening?!? Why Brenson, of course! And, for the record, it must not have been too big of a deal because no one can remember what he was pouting about, ha!
Brianna was thrilled to receive this doll as a gift from Grandma and Grandpa.
Bren got over whatever the issue was quickly and joined in on the gift opening.
Momma helping Brecklyn open a gift
Brecklyn's first Cabbage Patch Kid . . . YAY!
Daddy helping Brooke open a gift
Brooke's first Cabbage Patch Kid . . . Hooray!
Bren was thrilled beyond words when he opened this play chainsaw. He has played with it a ton already, and nothing is safe from being sawed on with it, haha!
Chris's grandparents with our four
Even being away from home for just one night requires a ridiculous amount of stuff for our family of six. Our van was already pretty loaded down, but it was definitely packed when we added all the presents. While we were certainly thankful for the gifts, we were more thankful to just spend quality time enjoying family. We hope to instill in our children that gifts are fun to give and receive, but that the true gift is fostering relationships with those that we love.