Monday, December 29, 2014

December Details

For almost everyone December is a busy month!  If you remember my post about last December you remember the crazy December we had in 2013 and how we added a huge layer of complexity to an already busy time of year.  While this year our December wasn't riddled with moving, it was a month full of decorating, shopping, gatherings, graduation, celebrations, and more...PHEW!

We didn't waste any time after we got back from Colorado to get the house decorated.  We were anxious to actually decorate the house this year since we weren't focused on unpacking boxes!  It took a little bit of time, but eventually everything found its place.  We also went on the hunt for some new decor to add to the mix because our house now has more opportunities to spread the decor around!

Magical Mantle!

A tradition we have had since Lila was little is her helping Mike put the star on the top of the tree.  As you can see, this year it was a bit more of a challenge as she is getting big!  She isn't quite ready to do it herself, but it isn't as easy to effortlessly give her a lift to the top of the tree, but they got it done!

Adding the star to the top of the tree

Our little family taking a quick pic in front of the tree!

My girl!

At our other two homes we hung lights along the roof line to decorate our exterior for Christmas.  The Hemlock house had a big porch that we could decorate, too.  Since moving into the new house we have had to re-engineer what the exterior of the house looks like on Christmas.  While we didn't do lights on the roof line we did decorate the porch and are excited about the ideas we have for years to come for the outside of the house!

Front porch - the dogs are keeping watch!

The first weekend in December always marks Santa's visit to downtown CR.  We are always so fortunate that he makes a special stop at TrueNorth to spend some time with the kids, hear their Christmas wishes, and the kids can pick out a toy right there!  There is also a hot chocolate bar, Christmas treats, and the kids do a Christmas craft to take home with them.  All three of us love this tradition!

Ready to see Santa!

"I have been nice, Santa!"

On top of all of the holiday celebrating we had another big thing to celebrate in our family, Mike's graduation from Kirkwood!  Two years ago Mike made the life decision to go back to school to get a degree in Human Services and a certificate in Drug & Alcohol Counseling.  It is amazing how two years ago this day felt like it was so far away, and here we were, giving him hugs & kisses as he walked out the door as a student for the last time!  How exciting?!?!

Daddy's last day of school!

It was strangely bittersweet for Mike to graduate!  While all of us were excited for him to graduate, it also meant that change was on the horizon.  A new focus, a new job, a new was definitely going to take some getting used to.  He was fortunate enough to have a really great internship, working with kids 13-17 with drug and alcohol dependencies, they valued him so much they kept him on staff as a full-time position, what an awesome compliment!  While change is coming, we are just excited to celebrate with him and enjoy the time we all have off between Christmas and New Years!

Mid December found us attending Shrek the Musical, the Christmas show at TCR!  Lila is quite mystified by performing, so she was super excited to see the musical, but nothing compared to her excitement to see my co-worker Mallory in the performance!

Super excited to see Shrek @ TCR!

The show was positively awesome, I was lucky enough to see it twice!  The talent in CR is really impressive and you could tell that the cast had a wonderful time performing in the show and were excited to share it with the audience.  Lila was in total awe and rekindled her love for the story of Shrek!  After the performance was over the cast members go up to the lobby and greet the audience members.  As I stated above, Lila was pretty excited to see Mallory, not only does she have an admiration for Mal on a normal day, she was blown away that she was going to be on stage singing and dancing!  It was darling to hear Lila gasp when Mallory sang her solo!  Maybe someday Mallory will sit in the audience and hear Lila's solo?!  We shall see!

Posing with Raggedy Ann (aka: Mallory)

A little Fiona love!

Throughout the month we also shopped and wrapped and shopped and wrapped!  We have A LOT of people to buy for, so it seems like the wrapping paper and tape are in abundance at our house during the month!  While I do love to buy gifts for people, taking the time to find the perfect item, I do really love wrapping - the hunt for the perfect paper, the bows to match, and cute tags!

Wrapping and wrapping and wrapping...

On December 15th Lila's school put on a Christmas concert.  Lila has always participated in the smaller one with the preschool which is the Saturday before the "all-school" concert.  While I was a bit nervous about how she would do with the length of the show, I was actually excited to see her perform as a Kindergartner!

"Mary had a baby, Oh Lord!"
 Each of the grades, K-5, sang two songs and then the whole school came together to sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas," with the kids divided up in sections all throughout the gym to sing a particular part.  Lila's portion was "...two turtle doves..." and boy did she SING it!  It was pretty hilarious!

All school song: Twelve Days of Christmas

Proudly performing with the whole school!

The trio!

The Sunday before Christmas always finds us heading to Lamont to celebrate with my Smith side of the family!  Lila loves this Christmas in particular because it means getting to hang with her cousin Audra.  She doesn't get to see her that often, but when they do get together they have so much fun!  Grandma's house is always full of people, love, & laughter.  It is a wonderful way to kick off all of the Christmas celebrations throughout the week!

Our little poser!

To Grandmother's house we go...

What could be in those huge boxes?

Life size Elsa, of course!
The week of Christmas the tree skirt disappeared under all of the presents and we continued to wrap up the last minute grocery shopping and other details.  Lila had school on Monday and Tuesday that week with lots of fun planned for the kids.

More and more presents under the tree!
On Monday the Kindergartners were encouraged to show up to school in pajamas as they were going to board the Polar Express that day!  When we picked Lila up the magic had really set in.  She had her little jingle bell in the palm of her hand, signifying that she had road the magical train, and she was almost giddy with anticipation for her Christmas party the next day!

All ready to board the Polar Express at school!

At Lila's school she only has 15 kids in her class, but there is another Kindergarten class that has 16 in it that they often combine and do things together.  The classroom is set up with a lot of thought.  They have a movable wall in the middle of them to be able to open it up to both classes or close it off so the smaller groups can work.  In the case of the Christmas party it was something the big group enjoyed together!

Kindergarten Christmas party

Three wise men relay!

A few of the moms actually planned and executed the Christmas party!  I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer to help and be a part of all of the festivities!  The kids started off with a fun craft - creating Christmas trees and gingerbread men, moved on to decorating donuts, a relay as wise men, and they finished the morning off with a student to student gift exchange!

Lila & Addy

Gift exchange

Christmas Eve morning marks our traditional morning with my Mom & her husband.  Everyone comes to our house and we have a delicious breakfast/brunch and then open gifts!  It is really hard to believe that within 6 days of moving into our house last year we were hosting this!  It felt much better this year considering I wasn't an emotional basket case and I felt like the house was in better order!

Christmas Eve is traditionally one of my favorite days of the Christmas week.  Spending the morning with my family and then moving into the evening at Jason and Jen's to bring our families together for soup and singing -- it's my favorite!

Christmas Eve morning

Our tradition: singing on Christmas Eve night with our family
This year Lila was keenly aware of Santa and how the whole operation works!  So, while she was having fun on Christmas Eve night, she was also very concerned about not getting home and to bed soon enough.  She was so scared that Santa might skip over her house because we weren't all snug in our beds!  We left Jason and Jen's and got Lila all dressed in her Christmas pajamas, set out the plate of cookies, carrots, and milk for Santa & his reindeer, and tucked her in!

Low and behold!  Santa found us and we had a thrilled little girl Christmas morning as she made her way down the stairs to see all that was waiting for her by the tree!

Santa found us!

An Anna to go with Elsa - Santa, you shouldn't have!

Look at all that loot!

More Frozen stuff...who knew?!

So.  Much.  Stuff.
It was kind of interesting, this year Lila didn't ask for much of anything.  In fact, she wanted two things: a Frozen vanity and a life-size Elsa.  If asked what she wanted for Christmas she would either reply, "nothing," or she would say, "surprises!"  Well, Santa must have known her pretty well because without little guidance he seemed to really hit the mark -- and she certainly didn't go without!

The afternoon of Christmas we loaded up again, but for a short little jaunt to my Dad's house.  We all gathered to have a delicious meal, open gifts, and just hang out and enjoy each other's company!

A quick snapshot of the three of us Christmas Day!

Cinderella's castle

Sleeping Beauty's beautiful dress!

Our favorite gift!

A little game of Fibber brought a lot of laughs!

The Saturday after Christmas found us at Mike's grandparents celebrating with his side of the family!  It seems that more often than not we wrap up our celebrations on the Eddins side, which is such a nice place to end a crazy holiday week!  With our smallest group, we always have such a nice time just relaxing and getting through the day without a rush.  After the whirlwind of the week, the smaller, low key celebration is always so welcomed!

Another crazy  pile of presents!

We have seen another Christmas come and go and are ready to close the book on 2014.  While we had many amazing blessings in 2014, I do believe this little family is ready to bid adieu to the year and are excited to welcome 2015!  Our hope for 2015 is to have a quiet year focused on settling into our new routine and enjoying our many blessings!  

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas and wish you a wonderful 2015!

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