Monday, April 13, 2015

Our First Christmas On Our Own

Steve and I decided this year, that since Ellie was now four, she would be old enough to start remembering Christmas morning years down the road.  As much as we love having Christmas with family around, we wanted her to have memories of Christmas morning in her own home.  So, it was our first year to spend part of break with my side, part with his, and Christmas Eve and Christmas at home.  Honestly, this was kind of a depressing prospect.  The last several years we have opened presents Christmas morning with at least one other family around us, and having just the five of us seemed small and lonely at first.  However, we were excited to start our own traditions and have fun with Christmas on our own.

We started Christmas Eve out in Spokane, and drove home that afternoon.  We raced to get our last few things for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners before stores closed, and then came home for dinner.

Grandma Sun had sent some sugar cookies home with us to decorate, which was great, because driving home Christmas Eve and wanting to make cookies for Santa that night were not really going to work the best together.  The girls really showed just how different they are while they decorated their cookies.

Ellie was big enough she enjoyed frosting her own cookies.  She carefully made sure she frosted the whole cookie.  Then she took turns with the sprinkles - first this type, then that - painstakingly covering each area in different sprinkles till the whole cookie was covered.  She would not consider a cookie done till the whole thing had sprinkles.
Ellie and her finished cookies.
In contrast, Mckayla was content to let me frost her cookies after trying one knife of frosting.  She then would grab sprinkles and shake with both hands with reckless abandon, spraying sprinkles.  Now, to be fair, the girl is fairly ambidextrous, but that had little to do with her technique of just getting the job done quickly.
 MG and her finished cookies.  Man this girl's mischievous looks terrify us!
 Comparing the two finished products.  Funny girls.
 And Kassidy enjoyed sitting back and taking it all in.  Next year, Kassidy....

 After we had decorated cookies while listening to Christmas Carols, it was time to continue a fun tradition from the Bennett side.  We had picked out an Olaf pinata for the girls, hoping they would be less afraid of this pinata than they had been of others in years past.  We also let the girls wear their shooting muffs which we use for anything loud, like viewing fireworks or going to hockey games, because Ellie is extremely sound sensitive and Mckayla wants to be just like her big sister.  It was fairly hilarious to watch, and took some help from Daddy to finally put the poor thing out of its misery, but the girls did have fun.

I have to say, the first time you shove a My Little Pony figuring into a pinata through a small hole in its back, you feel really bad for poor Olaf, and you laugh till you cry even though you should be more mature than that...
 Daddy is always the pinata holder.
 This kid is too funny, and decided to get some cheap shots in when Steve went to get something quick.  I just laughed and took a picture...
 Ellie and Mckayla also cracked us up by taking turns using Ellie's camera from last Christmas to "take pictures" of each other as they hit Olaf.
 The big girls enjoying the spoils of their hard work, with Kassidy watching from her walker (at a safe distance).

Then, it was time to leave cookies out for Santa and get ready for bed.  Steve and I had been trying to get presents wrapped and things ready over the weeks leading up to Christmas, and thought we did well, but it still ended up being a late night for us.

Here was our tree this year.
 After Santa came!  One day I will finally get around to finishing and personalizing the girls' stockings.  For now, I am just content that they each have one and they are homemade.
 Santa loved their cookies.  Especially the gingerbread ones Grandma Sun made.  Delicious!
And then it was Christmas morning!  The girls were good and came and got us up right away.  They still aren't old enough, nor do we talk it up enough, for them to have been super excited, but Ellie is getting there.
 We were mean and made them get dressed and ready before they could open anything.  Then we let them get into stockings.  Santa usually brings them a new toothbrush, and every year it cracks me up how excited they are about that, even if I only usually get blurry pictures of it.  They were also obviously excited about other stocking-stuffers.
 We then started with the real presents.  Call us mean, but we had them take turns one at a time, helping the morning excitement last a little longer.  Mckayla got a car tower here.
 One present the girls got to share was a trunk with some Frozen dress-up clothing.  Needless to say they wanted to put it on first thing, and wore their Frozen clothes the rest of the morning.
 Ellie opening her new magnet set from Santa.
 I love that I have pictures of the girls patiently waiting to see what the other got, but with intense interest.
 We let Kassidy sleep in where she was still sick, but eventually it was her turn to open presents too.  Wrapping paper was so fascinating.  Everywhere we opened presents she mostly just wanted to eat wrapping paper...
 Our happy girl and her new giraffe toy.
 I like to think of this picture as a great illustration of "Christmas Carnage," and it makes me happy.
 Kassidy dressed and playing with some of her new toys.

After presents we had pancakes and sausage for breakfast - a favorite of our girls - and later watched A Muppet Christmas Carol.  The movie is an unofficial tradition from growing up with my Muppet-loving Dad, and so all of us girls have a soft spot for the Muppets as well.  I LOVE this movie still, and the girls thankfully do too, so it's now one of our family traditions to watch it with them each year at some point in time for Christmas.

Steve and I tried really hard to stay to a reasonable budget for our first Christmas with 3 kids, and were worried about how that might go.  All I have to say, is that we had a fantastic first Christmas on our own.  The girls loved their gifts, we had fun really putting time and effort into buying gifts we thought they would enjoy and were within our budget.  We fudged a little in the end, but not by much, and the girls were so spoiled anyway!  It felt great to not over indulge honestly.  And they played all day with their new things while we enjoyed a guilt-free Christmas.

It was great to start our own family traditions, even if we did miss having more family around.  It was wonderful that we got to do presents with family on both sides and have time aside for our little clan this year as well.

That night Steve made a tasty turkey.  I made real mashed potatoes (just like Grandma Sun's which are my favorite kind!).  We ate far too much good food, and even had pie after.  We also took time to watch some wonderful youtube videos The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and others produced about the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was so wonderful to spend time on Christmas Day to focus on the real reason we give gifts and have such joy.  The girls still occasionally ask to watch those videos, and it still brings us all joy each time we do.

Yeah, it was a quick layover at our home for Christmas between coming from one set of Grandparents and leaving for the next, but it was a great first Christmas in our home, and we look forward to many more to come.

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