I can't believe it's already Christmas week. We look forward to it so much that it's almost a little sad when it's actually upon us! To be honest, this December has felt a little different. I think it's because I spent the entire second week of it out in California for 12 hour a day work meetings. Away from family, and traditions and my Christmas tree. Thankfully our boss has since said we won't be doing those meetings in December again!
Still, in thinking about our month and looking at a few of the pictures I've taken, we've still managed to fit everything in that I'd hoped to -- with much more to come over these next two weeks. I'm hoping that we can spread these days long, soak up every moment and truly take it all in. I refuse to let these days pass me by! I'm so looking forward to that magical candlelight church service on Christmas Eve night, the surprises the boys will be opening on Christmas day, the several family gatherings we have all week long and a special little surprise coming next week. So stay tuned... there will be lots more to come!
//movie nights. Our favorite classics like Elf, The Santa Claus, Home Alone and The Polar Express. We take early baths, get cozy in our pajamas, throw blankets and pillows on the living room floor, turn on all the white lights, and fill our mugs with hot cocoa, whipped cream and sprinkles. And last night, we discovered a new favorite thanks to Netflix. Christmas with the Kranks - Tim Allen circa 2004 - Jaden was laughing so hard, there were tears streaming down his cheeks and at one point, we actually had to pause the movie because his laughter was so loud and ongoing that we couldn't hear the show, and he needed a chance to catch his breath! :)
//afternoons spent baking in our kitchen. We've made peanut butter cookies with chocolate jingle bells, Christmas shortbread candy bites, gingerbread men and sugar cookies. And there's more coming where that came from. Brandon loves to help, Jaden loves to lick the bowl and taste the fruits of our labor, and I'm still sweeping sprinkles out from underneath the kitchen table.
//all the Christmas pictures. Brandon has been busy making cards for his teachers, for his friends and for our neighbor Bryce and his family. I can't tell you how many hours he has spent on his drawings and colorings, and it is definitely how he shows his love to others. He has such a sweet heart, and it shines through in his work.
//my birthday. We celebrated easily with our family gathered at Sakura for some amazing Japanese cuisine. We did Sake Bombs, opened gifts and enjoyed an embarrassing rendition of the Japanese birthday song sung to me by the staff. Even our picky-eater Brandon is a big fan of this place.
//our Christmas lights night drive. Along with Holiday Hoopla night, one of my favorite nights of the year. We did a scavenger hunt again this year, drove all through town with Christmas music blasting from the radio, hit up our favorite neighborhoods to check most of the items off our list, and stuck with a tradition we started last year - stopping for pies and cheesecake and sundaes at Village Inn with my parents afterwards. We always do this on the weekend that kicks off Christmas week, and it's the best way to get into the full holiday spirit.
//Christmas letters to Santa. We gathered around the table on a Saturday morning, deep in thought on what to ask for and then we headed downtown to mail them to the North Pole. Included on their lists: a Santa coat, packs of bubble gum, a PS4 - just to name a few. Brandon isn't pouting in these pictures - he's deep in thought!
//Christmas Bingo. Last year I printed a Christmas Bingo sheet off of Pinterest, but this year I found an actual Bingo game at Hobby Lobby. We turned it into a tournament - best of five - and it came all the way down to the fifth match with Brandon stealing the final game for the championship. ;)
//a trip out to Hick's Place to visit the jolly guy in the red suit. We so missed our breakfast with Santa at the cute little log cabin we've been able to enjoy in year's past, but with the cabin under new ownership, it wasn't an option this year. Hick's Winter Wonderland on the edge of town provided a good replacement, and the owners say they will only grow this new event in the years to come. We met up with friends, drank cocoa and ate sweets, took the most entertaining hay ride I've ever experienced, and watched as Brandon finally overcame his fear of sitting on Santa's lap. It was a nervous few minutes leading up to that moment though!
Hick drove the tractor, and he made a complete show out of the whole ride. We ended up sitting right behind him, and he took an immediate liking to Brandon, joking with him the whole way around the pond. Hick is a little nutty, and we were all laughing hysterically by the end of our journey. This was definitely not your normal tractor ride!
This is the first year I have not had to sit on Santa's lap myself with Brandon, and it was so cute when he turned to Santa and asked him for his own Santa coat! He is convinced those little elves can whip one together for him up at the North Pole. :)
Happy Christmas week! Wishing you all silent nights, days of laughter, cozy moments with loved ones, fun surprises under your tree, and time to pause and remember the reason for it all. All to Him we owe.