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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pre-Christmas Activities 2015

I don't mind that my blog is usually several weeks behind real life except when it comes to the holidays. Who wants to read about Christmas at the end of Jan, right? So I try to combine stuff into longer posts to get it all done quicker :)

Spoiler alert: this was probably the best Christmas holiday season for my family ever :) I think it takes time to figure out how to best handle the holidays as a family and with changes to my side of the family dynamic it took time to readjust things. This year was amazing! I think a lot of that had to do with starting to celebrate early. We have a LOT of holiday traditions and we spread them out and were better able to enjoy each one rather than feeling overwhelmed about them all at once.

When I say we spread 'em out...I mean it! I actually took the kids to Hobby Lobby to pick out their ornaments to add to their trees in their room in October. Hobby Lobby's ornaments get picked over super mega fast! We were already there and I figured, why not? 

At first Britt wanted a donut one for her tree :)


But then she saw an alligator one and, of course, it won



Mommy Tess picked a unicorn!




Hobby Lobby with three kids is always an adventure
(Britt's face accurately shows how I felt at this moment haha)


We got all the Christmas decorations down from our attic and started decorating this year the weekend prior to Thanksgiving! We didn't even have our tree yet but wanted to get a head start on everything. Again, I think this helped us enjoy it all so much more and I LOVED that we had even longer to fully enjoy our decorations!


Each of our kids have a small tree in their rooms and they get one new ornament each year to add to it!





We cut down our tree a couple days prior to Thanksgiving and went ahead and cut down our tree at Hambricks and went ahead and decorated it. Yes. All before Thanksgiving! 

This year Kye helped with the lights :)


Our system is to go through all our ornaments and lay them out and reminisce about them (since most of ours are from vacations we've taken) and then hang them up. Tess loved it!



Kye got out a stool and started hanging and when he got down to get another Tess grabbed an ornament, climbed up the stool and went to hang it too! ALL on her own! She amazes me with how quickly she picks things up just by watching!












Finished product!



We also have a tradition of watching a Christmas movie and drinking hot chocolate on the day we decorate our tree :) We started the movie then put Tess to bed and did the hot chocolate :)


I asked the kids what their favorite Christmas traditions are and Kye said eating our Christmas cookies on Christmas morning and meeting Santa. Meeting Santa is the biggest pain at the holidays. It's always tricky to find the dang guy! This year we lucked out and he visited our neighborhood playground. It was THE nicest neighborhood event we'd had yet! I was super impressed!

It fell on the night prior to Britt's party but thankfully I was basically done with everything! We originally planned to go as a family but Britt was having respect issues and attitude problems. Unfortunately she had to stay home (and Zach didn't mind having to stay with her as neighborhood events aren't really his thing haha). I was SO sad to have her miss out but I have learned that her personality type responds best by missing out on fun opportunities when she isn't able to make good choices. 

They had s'mores and fires going and even played a Christmas movie later on in the night!


Kye handed Santa a letter and told him he didn't need to tell him what he wanted b/c he wrote it all down. He also told him about Britt missing out and Santa said to tell her he's watching ;)


This went exactly how I had expected it to go :)


I LOVE how protective Kye is!



It's very important to us that our children learn the gift of giving. Zach and I both love to give gifts to each other as well as to others during the holiday season. Since Kye was born we've always gone to Target as a family and split up to buy each other gifts. We do one gift from ALL the kids for each parent as well as each other (so we all end up opening one present each). It's especially fun with Kye at this age as he GETS it and puts so, so much thought into the gifts he chooses. Tess was a bit of a struggle. Now that she's walking she doesn't like to have to ride in the shopping cart since her siblings get to walk. I don't remember Britt ever doing this but I really think Tess tries to "keep up" more than Britt did! 








We also go to the dollar store each year and pick out stocking gifts for each other. In years past we've combined the Target shopping and dollar store shopping into one night. This year my motto was "ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS" so we divided it up into two separate outings :) I took the kids to CFA for kids night and Zach met us there to then go do our dollar store shopping. This year the dollar store adventure was extra special...but I'm not allowed to say why (at least not yet!)



Bonus fun for us is that there were Christmas themed cows!


Tess was very content just to wave at the cows haha




HUGE success! I totally feel like our Cape May character meetings helped!



For our stocking shopping we also divide up. It's a little tricky but basically each kid ends up picking out 4 gifts for each parent as well as 8 gifts for each other. Kye picked 8 for Britt, Britt picked 8 for Kye and then Kye and Britt each picked 4 for Tess :) 


Zach's "hurry up and take the dang picture" face haha


I love this! Caught them shopping the ads while we were checking out :)


This year Zach's Aunt Debby (she's married to Mr Rusty's brother) had the idea of hosting a family Christmas party at their home on Dec 18th. They go ALL OUT with Christmas decorations. I'm talking like FANCY. Like "omg do not touch that" kinda style. Everyone brought a dish to share (not gonna lie...mine was totes store bought and I ain't ashamed to say it haha!) and we had a great time visiting with each other. I LOVED that we got to get a little dressed up. We so rarely get to get fancy around here and I loved it! Their home is SO beautiful and I was SO proud of the kids that not a single thing got broken haha. It was a great time and an added bonus is that we live literally 2 min from them so we were able to stay later :) 



The day after the holiday party our side of the fam got together again but this time at Mema's to celebrate with her and Mrs. Charlotte's side of the family! It was nice going over there at lunch time as we weren't in such a rush or worried about bedtime for the kids! 

When we went Black Friday shopping we had the idea to all get tacky sweaters to wear to Mema's :) 






Jordan is thrilled
Don't worry, bud, I found Zach a tacky one for $2 after Christmas to wear next year with you :)




Tess finally let Uncle Brad hold her!


My Carter and I know what's up with our "Happy Holla Days" shirts :) 



Mema with all her great-grandbabies!
(Kara's first Christmas!)



We took this same photo last year on Mema's couch and hope to recreate it each year so Mr. Rusty and Mrs. Charlotte will be able to see their grandchildren grow and change throughout the years :)




Comparison!


Britt wanted to sing "Frosty" for everyone!


Carter was SO precious helping Mema open her presents!


The same day as Mema's Christmas we went down to Katie's parents house for Christmas Caroling. We haven't been caroling with them in YEARS and were SO EXCITED that it worked out where we were able to attend! They have an awesome ministry where they put together little baskets and go sing to local residents who need some holiday cheer :) I was very excited to spend time with Katie's family but especially to have my children partake in such a wonderful event!

I was pretty crunk to meet Sonny Shroyer, a local celebrity! He was on Dukes of Hazard as well as in other films (including Forrest Gump!)

Nope, not even slightly embarrassed to ask for a pic ;)





Tess was running WILD all over the place and having a BLAST! 




Kye and Britt were on a pecan mission...we STILL have pecans in our kitchen from that night!



Kye and Zane had so much fun! They played great together at the beach and Kye was excited to see him again :) 


All three kids did really well with the caroling. Kye is a reader so he enjoyed reading the words to the songs. I think he probably enjoyed it the most out of all three kids and took it the most seriously. We weren't able to stay for the entire night (they eat dinner after) because we had to get back for bedtime, but we had a great time and are hoping we can go again next year! The entire town ended up losing power soon after we left so we got lucky to miss out on that wild time ;)



The kids asked to get to deliver one of the baskets :)


A big reason why I wanted to spread out all of our Christmas activities was so we could kick off our first hardcore year of our newest tradition! The kids helped me the days prior to the 23rd to prepare our Christmas cookies for decorating and I had SO much anticipation for our special family day together! Lots more Christmas to come :)


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