Thursday, January 14, 2016

December Fun!

December and the Christmas season is a time of year that I always enjoy. Really, I try to enjoy every time of year, but there are certainly special things about the Christmas season :-). There are probably many families {like ours} that can find themselves completely over scheduled and running crazy during the Christmas season if not careful. As our family has grown - and as our children are just starting to get a little older - we find this problem of over scheduling something that we have to stay on top of all the time. It's just so easy to fill every night of the week with stuff - much of which doesn't matter. 

This past December, we made an effort to keep things pretty simple. We're still establishing some traditions - and I certainly don't feel like we missed out on anything important - but our primary goals were quality time with each other and no stress caused from running place to place. We did have to say no to a few things, but our goals were accomplished!

We started off the month by attending a Christmas party hosted by my sister on the first Friday in December. My sister has a little shop where she makes custom and personalized items, so I had her make my kiddos each a Christmas shirt. I adore how they turned out, and the night of her Christmas party was our debut of the Christmas shirts, as well! You can't really tell in the photo, but everyone's shirt had a reindeer with an aztec pattern on it and the child's name. 

There were several other families at this party, and we all have children around the same age. Our families have spent time some together and even had a few play dates, so all of the children know each other and get along really well. They were quite the crew (there is one missing from the photo)!
It was so nice to be able kick off our holiday season by spending time with good friends! 

The next day, we attended a birthday party for the older set of twins in the photo above (the boy in navy and the girl in coral). They turned 8 years old and had a Minecraft party. 

Brianna waiting in line for food

Daddy holding the babies while the Bigs played some games

Brenson was younger than all of the other kids, but that didn't seem to intimidate him or slow him down. He was emphatic that he didn't need me to stand in line with him. So big :-(. PS - I love how he seems to always have one pant leg over his boot and one pant leg tucked in his boot :-). 

Chris enjoyed visiting with some of the same guys who were at the party the night before.

Aunt Lisa and Brooke Ellie

The little girl in this photo with my twins is Sophia. She and her family were at the party the night before, and she really had fun playing with Brooke and Brecklyn. She's about 8 months older than they are, and I hope that someday they'll all be good friends!

Brecklyn, Brooke, Sophia

Brenson, Chloe Jo, and Brianna

Brianna had school for the first two weeks of the month and was off for the last two weeks. During the first full week of December, her class hosted Rise and Shine (her school's daily morning program where the entire school meets in the gym for songs, announcements, pledge, etc). On Tuesday and Thursday during that week, Brianna had the privilege of welcoming everyone to Rise and Shine. She was super pumped to get to use the microphone and speak in front of everyone. On Friday, the entire Kindergarten performed a couple Christmas songs for the whole school, and Brianna was chosen by the music teacher to introduce Kindergarten and announce the name of one of the songs. Again, she was SO excited about her speaking part!

Our whole family attended Rise and Shine on Tuesday and Friday to support Brianna. Bren was very serious about the whole thing (no surprise there), and I think even a little nervous for his sister. Sweet boy :-).

All visitors stand around the perimeter of the gym during Rise and Shine, and we had decided not to drag the stroller in with us. The babies got heavy in a hurry, so we let them down to stand with us. They loved it! It was amazing to watch them watching all the kids!

Brianna did well with her speaking parts and just this week was talking about how she wishes she could speak in front of everyone again! It's a shame the child is so reserved :-).

We watch very little television around here, and the TV is pretty much never on in the evenings. Because of this, our kids think that watching TV or movies is a big deal, so we've made it a tradition to have a movie night a couple times during the Christmas season. This includes not only watching a movie in the evening, but eating in the living room, as well. We do a fruit tray, veggie tray with dip, and a meat, cheese, and cracker tray, so it's easy to fix and not too messy. 

Movie night was tough this year for a few reasons. One is that the babies are high-maintenance in the evenings with needing fed, bathed, nursed, and put to bed. Also, Brenson hates pretty much every movie we've ever let him watch. He is cautious and jumpy and there's always something that scares him. This year, we watched the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and he did okay. We tried to watch the Jim Carrey version and it was a NO GO. Bren hated it :-).

In addition to movie nights, we also reserve a few evenings to drive around and look at Christmas lights as a family. This is something we generally all enjoy, but the babies made it tough this year. Brooke hates riding in the car at night, so she cried pretty much the entire evening the first time we did it (and we cut it short). The second time was better, although she did cry some. We fixed hot chocolate to take in the car and a packed a few snacks to make it extra special :-). 

(My big kids don't normally drink out of sippy cups, but something with a lid was a MUST for hot chocolate in the car!)

Ready to go!

Brooke thinks she's excited :-).

Yay for Christmas lights!

Back when Brianna was a baby, I started a tradition that every year I debate about continuing. I took her to the mall to meet Santa and have her picture taken with him. It's not something I love, and I'm not sure how much the kids enjoy it either. For this year, however, we decided to go ahead and do it. We waited much later than normal to go because I wanted Brianna with us but didn't want to take her out of school. So, we went Monday, December 21st which was the first day of her Christmas break. 

Bren has really taken a liking to Nutcrackers this year, and we have a nutcracker ornament that he wanted to look at almost every day. When he saw these giant ones at the mall, he was pumped! 

Meeting Santa went better than I expected, for sure! The big kids were excited and so cute. Brenson told Santa that he loved the chainsaw he got already (we celebrated Christmas the weekend before this with Chris's parents and they gave him a toy chainsaw), and Brianna told him about the Littlest Pet Shop toys that she had gotten. I expected the babies (especially Brecklyn) to not want to sit on his lap, but there was no hesitation. Brooke looked like she was thinking about crying for just a few seconds, but that passed quickly. Every year I hope for a screaming Santa picture, and every year I get smiles and happy faces. What's with these happy kids, anyway? :-) :-) :-)

One funny thing about meeting Santa: He saw our kids and said to me, "Two sets of twins?" to which I replied, "No, just one." Then he said, "Oh, the babies aren't twins?" Hahaha. We get the "Two sets of twins?" question A LOT. I'm surprised at how many people think that!

Moving on . . . I love the idea of making and decorating sugar cookies for Christmas. I don't personally love to bake, but I can handle it once in a while. However, two years ago, the recipe I used for the sugar cookies went flop. It was so bad that I had to throw the dough out altogether. Later that season, I tried a different recipe, but it also didn't turn out very well. All of our cookies ended up being round blobs (although they tasted fine), and there may have been a few tears from the baker. Last year, I was too pregnant (and sick!) to even attempt it. 

So, this year, I was determined to prove to myself that I am capable of making sugar cookies. I'm certainly not a great cook or baker, but they are SUGAR COOKIES and shouldn't be that hard! Annnnnnd, I'm happy to report that I found SUCCESS with this recipe! Yaaaay!

Brianna, Brenson, and Momma getting ready to make a mean batch of sugar cookies! Whooop!

Both of my Bigs LOVE helping in the kitchen. I hope they enjoy baking and cooking more than I do.

Do you see that smile on my face? It's because the cookies were cutting out beautifully, and I was SO happy and relieved!

Daddy actually really enjoys baking, so he was right in there with us.

All cut out and ready to go into the oven. 

They baked perfectly, and we frosted them after nap. I even decided to make frosting from scratch . . . one sugar cookie success and I was unstoppable, haha!

There was LOTS of finger licking going on, so Brianna and Brenson each got their own tupperware dish just for their special cookies. Daddy and I frosted the rest :-)

One other tradition that I want to mention is that we make almond bark covered pretzels every year, as well. I loooooove almond bark pretzels, so we make a ton but give most of them away. We give them to our Bible class teachers, library story time teacher, friends, family, etc. Next year, I'll have to remember to take some photos of this!

What fun did you all have in December?

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Our December was pretty similar, in that having a toddler and newborn made it really tough for movie nights and Christmas lights and everything in between!!

Would you mind sharing the Sugar Cookie Recipe you used? I love to bake, and have never Ever had any luck whatsoever with sugar cookies. They always came out in big blobs too, and the dough was always too sticky to roll out properly. Would LOVE to try your recipe and see if it helps me as well.