Christmas time is just about my favorite time of the year.... granted I do allow myself to get completely overwhelmed with preparations. I typically swear to myself in the process that I will never commit to hosting Christmas at my house again as I rush to finish everything in time and then after a great day I decide that I overreacted and will do it all again next year. This year... add in a ton of computer issues at work, organizing gift donations for my multiples club in my basement/playroom and 3 friends having new babies in 2 weeks, plus two 4 year olds who I actually need to hide "Santa" things from now and it was a little bit crazier than usual! But you know what? I really wouldn't have it any other way.
Summer & Cole enjoyed 3 sleepovers with family members this month which is definitely an all time high (other than when we've been away). They had a sleepover at Aunt Juli's in Philadelphia.... highlights included getting to watch tv while they were sleeping, breakfast at a vegan restaurant so that Summer could enjoy a variety of dairy free choices, and a ride on the choo choo (speedline) to get home. The next weekend they had a sleepover at Aunt Judy's while Jim & I went to my company Christmas party at the Borgata. They enjoyed playing with the dogs and doing crafts. Then they were invited to a sleepover with Uncle Chris & Crystal where they got to go Cosmic Bowling and had an absolute blast! We are so lucky to have so many people that want to spend special time with our kids.
Fun baking.... The kids really loved baking this year. Baking Christmas cookies is one of my favorite memories of my mom. This year we only baked chocolate chip cookies together, but Summer was oh so excited that I adapted the recipe to be dairy free (since I knew she'd be partaking in probably too many dairy ingredients as we made our rounds through the holidays I figured why not try for some dairy free ones at home). I found that Shop Rite chocolate chips are soy based, so no milk! And we tried butter flavored crisco instead of regular butter (margarine also contains milk). They came out great.... I know this because even Jim would eat them and not cringe. They loved measuring the ingredients helping to bake them! Cole even ate a few while they were still soft and liked them (the kid doesn't like cookies... I really don't know where he came from). By the next day he was back to not liking them again. The kids also got to make and decorate cutout cookies one day at Mom-mom's which was tons of fun too!
The Christmas List... last year I had made the kids Christmas lists by cutting out pictures of the items that they liked and gluing them to a piece of paper since they couldn't read. Well this year they learned how to use scissors in school, so when the Big Toy Book came in the mail... Cole grabbed it and told me he needed his scissors, a glue stick and paper. He worked on his list daily and pretty soon had the front and back of his paper filled with wishes. I decided it was time for the you can ask for whatever you want, but Santa can't bring everything talk. It didn't go over so well at first, but he soon began revising the list (which isn't so neat when glue is involved). When he found something new that he wanted i would see him evaluate whether he wanted it more than something else on his list. He would then rip something off the list and cut the new item out and glue it in the now open space. I think next year I will be setting a time limit on this list as I learned from some other friends and we will mail or take the list to Santa so that no last minute week of Christmas revisions can be made.
A week long of Christmas celebrations... we have tons of family in the area which means tons of visiting for the holidays. We started out on Sunday with pretend Christmas morning at Mom-mom & Pop-pop's house. Mom-mom sets out the gifts and stockings under the tree and we have a nice morning exchanging gifts with each other and having breakfast together. Cole has caught onto the fact that we try to get him to leave some things at Mom-mom's to play with when he visits. In order to make sure that he doesn't have to leave any of his gifts behind he immediately asks for a bag and packs up all of his gifts so that they are all ready for him to take them all home. We finished out the day with my annual cousin gathering at Carol's. The kids had a great time playing with each other and we got some cute pictures.... although Cole has decided that he doesn't like to pose for pictures (kinda like Aunt Liz used to do).
Monday, the kids went to school, Jim went to work and I went to Shoprite and started cooking for Christmas the next day at our house! I picked up the kids up early from school and we headed to Mom-mom's for her annual Christmas Eve celebration and then headed to my Aunt Patti's for the rest of the evening. When we got home we had to put out a glass of milk, with 2 chocolate chip cookies and 8 baby carrots. We discussed at length what needed to be left out and this is what the final decision was. We didn't want to leave too many snacks for Santa and each reindeer since they would be stopping at so many houses they would get a belly ache if they had too many treats.
Christmas morning was magical... The kids ran to the tree and found the Disney World monorail and Cinderella castle setup for them. Cole was very happy about this, but had TONS of questions about how it happened. Did Santa set this up? That was so nice of him. Do you think the elves helped him? How long did it take? (Love this kid). Summer was just happy that there were presents. We had lots of visitors and hosted Jim's side of the family for dinner and more presents. LOVE this holiday and next year vow to take off the day after to recover and hang home so the kids can enjoy their goodies.