For the last few weeks, I haven’t taken enough time to sit down and write like I’ve wanted to, so I thought I’d try to update with a list of all of our Christmas festivities this year. We’ve been busy but not like some years. I’ve tried to be more relaxed and not worry if everything is just perfect, and I’ve tried not to overwhelm us with too much to do. I’m thinking the more simplistic the better. So here are some of the memories we’ve made this Christmas season.
(By the way, it bugs me that these are not in chronological order, but I have the HARDEST time loading pictures & moving them in the order that they need to be in. I sure would appreciate a tutorial on how to do this easier...any suggestions?)
1. Baking sweet treats!
This year I tried several new cookie recipes for a few reasons. I was invited to a cookie exchange...how fun was that! And I just like trying new recipes. These are two that I really liked...Praline Sugar Cookies & Pistachio Chocolate Chips. For the praline sugar cookies, I had to melt sugar in a skillet. This was a totally new experience for me & it was so cool! (Yes, I'm a nerd and proud of it!)
I also made Cranberry Bread, a recipe from one of my teacher friends from Redwater, Debra Walsh. I found these cute little loaf pans at Michael's...so festive!
2. Taking the family Christmas picture for our Christmas card.
December 3. I decided it would be better for me to take our pictures instead of trying to find time to get all dressed up, go to Sears, wait forever and try to keep the boys happy while waiting. Then, I got so sick the week after Thanksgiving with strep throat...I don't think I've ever had that! It knocked me down quickly! I missed school for 3 days that week! So...we took these pictures in our front yard one night when I was feeling better. We set up a ladder and used the timer on the camera. After several tries, we found one that would do.
I cut off Evan's head...but their smiles are precious & so is the fact that they are holding hands! I think we can do better.
Oops...Ethan is listening to Daddy instead of looking at the camera. And Evan is smiling a little too much! Not this one.
Eli is climbing all over Eric and it looks like Evan is choking Ethan...another no.
OK, after numerous tries, this one is just going to have to work.
3. Watching all three of the Tim Allen "Santa Clause" movies with the boys. These are our favorite Christmas movies. They are funny and sweet! Between ABC Family & Disney, we've been able to watch them all.
4. Reading the "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" with Evan.
December 8. We started out having to read a couple of chapters as an assignment for his English class. But we both enjoyed it so much, that we found the Malakoff Public Library and checked out the book to finish reading it. Then, my friend Flo told us that the Henderson Country Children's Theater was performing the same play, so on December 12, Evan and I went to Athens to watch the performance put on by about 50 children, ages 4-14. It was SO CUTE! They did such a wonderful job! I enjoyed the special time with Evan, too.
5. Eric's Community Band Concert in Canton.
December 18. A few months ago, Eric found out that Canton has a Van Zandt Community Band. They started practicing in November. He had a blast! Being in this band fulfills his need to perform with a group. He loves playing his tuba! And the concert was wonderful! They sounded so professional! We all loved listening to the Christmas carols! Kim & Cassidy Parker came with us too. Throughout the concert, I was so nervous that Ethan would start yelling or crying or making other inappropriate noises, especially between songs when it was pretty quiet. Well, he did fairly well until the director started announcing the last song. For some reason, Ethan got so tickled. He started laughing, so I pushed his head against me to try to muffle the sound. Of course, we were on the second row for all to see and hear us! Well, the more I tried to quiet him down, the more tickled he got! I couldn't help but laugh because his laugh is the cutest, most contagious toddler laugh I've ever heard! Eric told me after the concert that he could even hear him and he was in the back row of the band! I just kept thinking, PLEASE start the last song! Eventually they did and eventually Ethan stopped laughing, but I was still pretty embarrassed. I guess it's a good memory though.
8. Making Christmas crafts with the boys.
6. Malakoff FBC Staff Progressive Dinner.
December 7. Donna had the best idea for us to have a progressive dinner in Star Harbor...we have never gotten together with all of the staff families, so this was a special treat. We started out at the Lorick's for appetizers. Jenna & Allison made the best appetizers! My favorites were green bean bundles & crabby bread. Yum! Then, we went to John & Donna's for the main course. They went all out with pork loin, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. They are expert entertainers! We ended up at our house for desserts. I was proud of myself for taking pictures at everyone's house. But once we got to my house, I totally forgot to take pictures! I guess I was too busy entertaining. :) I was so mad at myself for forgetting!
Nathan & Jenna bought each family a marshmallow gun! They instantly put them to work! It was chaos yet entertaining!
Kristi was protecting Asher from the marshmallows!
Enjoying our main course at the Spies' home. (Donna took a great picture of our entire staff at her house too. I don't know how to copy & paste her link or the picture, but I'll try. http://spiesspirit.blogspot.com/2009/12/marshmallows-great-food-elfis-great.html)
7. Ethan's Christmas party at Kids First.
December 18. Ethan had his little Christmas party with his class. He had the biggest plate of snacks and he was a little pig! He NEVER eats like he did that day! He really enjoyed the chocolate cup cake, the 2 mini cupcakes, the cheetos, the juice, and especially the jam filled cookie! They made the cutest little reindeer shirts with their hand & foot prints. I'll have to get a picture of that on here, too.
Here's a picture of his class eating their treats.
8. Making Christmas crafts with the boys.
December 12. We made little reinder ornaments with pipe cleaners. They turned out really cute...it was a little kit that we found at Hobby Lobby. Evan did most of the work...Ethan mostly enjoyed playing with the wobbly eyes and creating a "balloon" out of the pipe cleaners. But it was still a fun way to spend time together. It brought back memories of when I was little and we would make ornaments with my mom, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Dixie, my cousins in Illinois.
After we finished the crafts, Evan and Ethan made snow! This is one of the COOLEST things that we've ever bought! We found it at the Mistletoe & Magic Bazaar in Tyler.
9. Driving through the Land of Lights in Athens.
December 13. After church on Sunday night, the Parker family piled in our minivan with us, and we drove through the wonderful Land of Lights in Athens! From the highway, this does not look very impressive, but once we started driving through the place, it was spectacular! The place just kept going & going! It was really cool! It took about an hour to drive through everything. Here's their website if you'd like to see more pictures: http://www.christmasparkathens.com/
Eric P. took this picture of us. We tried to take it of the two Eric's but it didn't come out...maybe next time. We had a great time visiting with Kim, Eric, Grant, & Cassidy!
By the way, if you are in the Tyler area this Christmas season, you really need to stop by this house: http://www.christmasatthegoods.com/Christmas_Site/Home.html. They have a tremendous light show that is set to music and you can listen to the music on your radio while you watch it. So cool! We found this house last year thanks to my friend, Ashley Spurlock. We've already visited it again this year and they have more improvements this year.
10. Christmas Caroling.
December 16. Eric, Allison, and Nathan W. came up with a great idea to combine our children, youth, and adult Wednesday night activities to go Christmas caroling at the local nursing home and to another family in Star Harbor. We had over 80 people sing together! We had a blast! It was so neat to watch the sea of cars leaving our church to carpool around our little town. Everyone also enjoyed getting to know some of the children and youth as we drove them around...what a great way to have different age groups mingle together.
11. Evan’s Christmas Musical at Malakoff Elementary…"Elfis & the Sleigh Riders"
December 17. Malakoff Elementary hosts a chili supper with their Christmas performance each year, and this year Evan got to be a "reindeer." He REALLY got into all of the songs. He loves to sing and is a bit dramatic, so this was perfect for him. It was so neat to watch him proudly sing & do all of the motions. Maybe he'll take after his dad some day and do something with music...
12. Listening to my favorite Christmas music
I absolutely LOVE Christmas music! I could listen to it all year long but Eric won't let me. So I start listening around Thanksgiving and don't stop until the New Year! This year, on one of the days that I was sick, I sat at the computer and learned how to download all of my cd's to my I-tunes and then to my Ipod. I was so proud of myself for learning how to create a Christmas playlist. I even created a separate Christmas Instrumental playlist. Now I can listen to my music in order or in shuffle mode! (I know this comes second nature to many, but some of this new technology is difficult for me, ok? I am pushing 40, you know!)
13. Our first annual Christmas store at church.
December 19. Our church worked together to make Christmas a little more special for 20 families in our area. It was such a blessing to see our church come together to make this day so special. God is really teaching our church how to serve & reach out to those in need. (Jenna (http://thelorickfamily.blogspot.com/2009/12/christmas-store.html) wrote a good blog about this tremendous event.) We forgot to take pictures until the end so it doesn't show just how many toys & stockings we had, but it gives you an idea.
14. Wrapping Gifts...
Several days in December. Although I gripe to Eric that he's not helping me, I really enjoy wrapping all of the gifts for our family. This is my tradition...I lock myself in my room and sort/organize all of the gifts on our bed to make sure I have enough/equal amounts for each boy. I also organize all of the extended family gifts. I then turn on the tv to Hallmark Channel and watch sappy Christmas movies. Then, I start wrapping and don't come out until I finish. Well, this year I didn't get to finish in one setting, but I did get to watch my share of feel-good Christmas movies...I can't get enough of them!
Yesterday morning, I finished wrapping the last of the gifts, took a quick picture of them under our tree, and then quickly packed them in rubbermaid tubs to bring them to Texarkana.
We arrived around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, and I promptly unpacked the gifts and placed them under the tree that Mom & Dad set up for us in their study. Traveling like this brings back all of the memories of us growing up when we traveled to Illinois and spent Christmas with all of my relatives there. We would pack all of our gifts, drive to Paris, Illinois, and unpack them at my Grandma's house. It was the best!
Eli was a little tired after all of the traveling and then meeting up with his 4 dog-cousins. He loves to pester them when he comes here to visit! He's still a puppy and they are all old and grumpy. To know what they are all thinking...
Whew! That took a while (especially with all of the technical difficulties & interruptions)! This has been a wonderful Christmas season, and I'm so thankful for the friends and family that are helping us make special memories of Christmas 2009!