*This post is sponsored; all opinions are my own.*
This holiday season sped by faster than any I can remember. It was jam-packed with busy…but we didn’t really do all that much, thanks to illness and injury. We missed our church’s candlelight service, their young families Christmas party, at least one family get together that I can remember…? Poor Nick has been sick with one cold or flu bug after another since September, and it finally turned to bronchitis (he just finished an antibiotic; we’ll see if it helped, since he’s still feeling awful).
Even so, we’ve had fun.
Do you see those cute name ornaments, pictured above? My father-in-law collected old Scrabble games all year, just to gather enough tiles to make every single family member their own name ornament to hang on our trees. ?
My card rack was lonely through most of December, then filled up almost overnight the three working days before Christmas. Do you see the “Peace On Earth” card on the far right, above? That’s from The Exodus Road, and the paper behind it is an update on what God through man has accomplished in the fight against modern slavery in 2014. Our hearts delighted with the victories shared, while crumbling to dust at the tragedies out of which those victories were born. Everything in us burns to go; the waiting is hard.
Serenity helped me decorate this year. The pretty blue ribbon? Her idea. I love it! She even hung the bell on the front doorknob for me, though I’ve occasionally regretted having it at toddler height. #lol
Determined to find something for us to do that wouldn’t hurt my sore neck and back (Christmas cookies were out this year, sadly), Serenity and I made a fun snowman craft. We gave one to her grandparents (they loved it, and it’s hanging up in their dining room, now), and hung the other one by the front door were we can admire it all day long. Serenity will go on to make more crafts over the years, but I’m pretty sure this one will always be my favorite. ?
Nick’s family traditionally opens gifts on Christmas Eve, so we spent the evening at my sister-in-law’s house. The first part of the day was a bit of a train wreck, with poor Nick and Serenity sick, and my back screaming at me, but everyone cheered up considerably for the festivities.
Serenity and her cousins all wore their pretty Christmas clothes that they couldn’t wear on Sunday, and looked absolutely adorable (even though nobody wanted to have their pictures taken). Serenity and Talia declared themselves “best fwiends” and spent a lot of time dancing and singing around the living room; it was very cute, and absolutely hilarious, given that both of them had mostly lost their voices after fighting off influenza.
After the total chaos we “enjoyed” last year, Kristine and I
begged requested that we open gifts for adults after the kids went to bed. I’m so incredibly glad we did! We were able to enjoy the kids’ reactions to their gifts, and later enjoy our own and watching others open their gifts without interruption or melt downs from the peanut gallery. Definitely a better way to do presents!
I’ve told you before about my mother-in-law’s awesome skills as a sewist, and this year she surprised the guys with her talent. She made custom bowling shirts for each of them, and all with their own favorite super heroes! Nick says his shirt is his favorite gift he’s ever received at Christmas, and I can sure see why. ?
Brett had to wear a mask all evening, both to prevent him from infecting anyone with whatever horrible bug he had, and to prevent the kids from giving him influenza on top of it. “Thankfully”, all of the kids are used to seeing the masks from going to the doctor so much lately, so none of them panicked over seeing their Papa in a mask. He was feeling just well enough to be able to enjoy his grandkids, and help them play with their toys.
And toys — oh, there were toys a’plenty! Serenity received a number of wonderful gifts, including a singing, talking, and walking baby Pinkie Pie (from My Little Pony) from her Papa, and an adorable baby doll (made by HABA) from Mommy and Daddy. Serenity is obsessed with babies, and fell completely in love with both of her new “babies” instantly. ?
I put Serenity down for the night in her aunt and uncle’s bedroom, and got to enjoy the rest of the evening child-free with family and friends. It was a great Christmas Eve!
I fully expected Serenity to wake us up at her customary 7am, but Christmas morning I woke up on my own at 7:30 to find her still sacked out on her bed, tiny butt stuck up in the air, sound asleep. She finally called for me at 10am, and we all snuggled in bed for half an hour while she dragged herself fully awake and out of the sick baby doldrums.
In an effort to enjoy extended family traditions, as well as make our own memories as a little family of three, we took one of the three presents each of us receive from each other with us to the Christmas Eve celebration, but we kept the other two to open at home together on Christmas morning.
Serenity was delighted with her new jammies – a feminized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle long sleeved pajama set, with a pink mask, on pink, purple, and green – but her favorite present Christmas morning was a Fisher-Price doctor playset. She plays with “doc’or stuff” at her cousins’ and friends’ houses every chance she gets, so she was in complete awe to receive her very own set. She also loved the Frozen kickball we found for her, to replace the huge Hello Kitty ball we (rather shortsightedly) gave her for her birthday in the spring (I say “replace”, but both balls are currently on the floor under the piano).
For a child that doesn’t remember her last Christmas, and upon seeing her stocking exclaimed, “Mommy, dook! Uh BEEEG sock! For me! I wear eet wight now!!” she figured it all out really quickly. Digging into her stocking? She was beyond thrilled, especially with her new Rainbow Dash socks, and a watermelon candy stick from her Papa. The Elsa chunky necklace from Sassy Steals was also a big hit!
I was pretty happy with my own stocking. Any other Matrix fans out there?? The best part, though, was the pretty “Serenity” Willow Tree keepsake box I found wrapped for me under the tree Christmas morning. ? My husband knows me, mkay.
We let Serenity play for a little longer after all the presents were opened and the stockings emptied. It seemed a bit cruel to give her a bunch of fun stuff then immediately take it all away! Next year, we’re going to get her up earlier if at all possible, so we’re not rushing through our family stuff before heading out to see relatives. It was a lot of fun to just sit back for a while and watch her play. ?
After inquiring the previous night about how early it was okay to arrive at my mother-in-law’s for Christmas dinner, we managed to show up late, but thankfully it all worked out. Cindy laid a pretty table that filled her dining room to the brim, to fit all of us, and she made enough food to feed a small army (which turned out to be a good thing, since we’ve kind of become a small army when nobody was looking). I discovered something called “sweet gravy” and decidedly hated it, so my yearly brown gravy / stuffing fix didn’t happen, much to my dismay (I don’t care for stuffing plain, it’s too dry).
Serenity and her cousins had a blast playing with Grama Cindy’s miriad nativity scenes, and comparing Christmas toys. Talia got an animatronic puppy, which I didn’t realize was “alive” until Serenity handed it to me and it wiggled and barked on my lap, scaring the daylights of me! All the kids wore their Christmas jammies, as did a couple of the adults.
My poor girl managed to have a good day, but she was still recovering from having influenza, so I decided to take her home for bed, rather than attempt to get her down at her grandma’s house. She was asleep before we pulled out of the driveway. I was disappointed to miss the rest of the festivities, but it was the “nice mommy” thing to do. As it was, she had a rough night, waking frequently and even having a night terror, so it was better that she was in her own bed.
As someone who did not grow up with a loving father, it is a constant amazement and healing balm to me to watch Nick care for Serenity. He is an excellent father, and my heart just bursts every time I see them together, especially in the tender moments like these.
She dragged me out of bed to play “go asleep.” #sillybaby #mommystired A photo posted by Alena Belleque (@alenabelleque) on
The next morning, Serenity was up bright and way too early, despite her late and restless night. The first thing she did? Play “go to sleep” with me on her Hello Kitty pillow she got for Christmas. I was more than tired enough to oblige!
And then my sister surprised us with a Christmas check, and my brother surprised us with more gifts; an adorable hand felted fox ornament for Serenity, and deliciously decadent dark chocolate candy, bursting with roasted almonds and chewy caramel. ? My brother also knows me. #lol
We had a lovely Christmas, this year. Neither Nick or I could get into the spirit of things until the holiday actually arrived, so we were pleasantly surprised by how much we actually enjoyed Christmas this year, once it actually got here. Next year, we plan to do some things differently, to hopefully make the run-up to Christmas more relaxing and enjoyable.
How was your Christmas?
*This post is sponsored by HABA, who sent the adorable baby doll Fritzi for Serenity’s Christmas gift, and inclusion in our Christmas Gift Guide 2014. All opinions are my own, and I only endorse brands and products I personally believe in and am comfortable using with my family.*