I realized this year that I've got to figure out some other process for making Christmas happen with less stress. I take the whole thing way too seriously...from coming up with ideas, to making my kids happy...but not overindulged, to not spending a gazillion dollars, to making things fair, etc. And having 1.5 kids with me at all times and throwing in a home improvement project does not help my cause either. So maybe we should do what my husband always suggests....travel in lieu of Christmas! I don't think the kids would vote for that, though. They just LOVE Christmas.
Our pre-Christmas activities involved a show, cookie-decorating and our annual neighborhood caroling event. Luke's Christmas show this year was titled A Teddy Bear Christmas. Luke got to play the part of Theodore Bear, who goes to college. His teachers were hoping he would wear a college shirt or hat for his part, but he insisted on the leather coat that Auntie Lisa gave us. The show was adorable and the kids all did a great job.
I had signed up to help in Ben's class for their Christmas "party". Some families contributed goodies to decorate cookies and the kids decorated and then ate their cookies....with a side of hot chocolate and whipped cream. Luke and Amy tagged along. Ben was so excited to have Amy and made room at his desk for her to decorate a cookie too.
Luke was a little overwhelmed at entering Ben's class. I literally had to drag him in and he sat by himself in the corner decorating his cookies. This kid is a piece of work.
The annual neighborhood caroling event took place on the 23rd. We met at the Chiefs and then caroled for some neighbors all around the neighborhood. Here is the whole group.
It was freezing out that afternoon. I had my car this year and that was the only way my little ones would have made it through. We got to warm up a little in between. Amy was a super-duper trooper and sang at every house. She loves being part of the gang and hanging with the big kids. Here she in the midst of the bigger carolers....
Onto Christmas Eve....we went to the 4 o'clock mass and then enjoyed a nice evening with my aunts, uncles and cousins. There was lot of Red Sox/Yankee banter because there are a couple Yankees fans in the family who were overjoyed with the team's recent additions. Makes for an interesting family. The kids were so excited for Santa to come...they kept asking us to leave. Bedtime was quick...the kids were excited as can be. We put a clock in their room and told them not to come in before 6. Jack did wake up first at about 6:05 and came in and asked if they could go watch TV downstairs. The kids came up at about 6:45 because they couldn't stand it anymore. They woke up Amy and she was so excited and ready to go see what Santa brought.
I have never taken any good pictures Christmas morning. The kids always look terrible and the pictures never come out good. So after a couple of pictures like these, I gave up and put the camera down.
Everyone was happy. Amy got the baby doll she wanted. Luke got the army costume. Ben got some Bakugan. Jack got NHL 2K9. Among other things, of course! We got the kids Guitar Hero World Tour but ended up taking it back when the drums didn't work properly. The kids decided to get Rockband 2 instead. It was pretty neat when Luke figured out how to do the drums.
We hosted Christmas dinner but no pictures were taken. The Saturday after Christmas we had yet another Christmas get together with Chris' family. This is always fun for the kids to see their big cousins. We squeezed in a group shot of all the kids - plus one cute neighbor's daughter.
We hosted a little New Year's Eve gathering with 3 other special families. Everyone brought yummy appetizers and we filled up on those, cocktails and birthday cake for Henry! The kids all played great together and there were many laughs. I can't remember the last time I stayed up until midnight in the last eight years or so. But this year I made it! This picture was taken by Jack as documented evidence.
Here is a random shot of Chris and Craig calling our friend John in CA to say happy 2009. (Talking into cell phone which was on speaker) I didn't think either of them would remember...
And here is just a quick peak at my new kitchen back splash and counter top. After the rest of the lighting and painting is done, I will show the before and after. I am so excited at how nice it looks. This was indeed a nice Christmas present.
All of the stress was worth it. Everyone had a great Christmas. Everyone was healthy. Everyone was happy.
The best of wishes to everyone for a great 2009!