Thursday, January 7, 2010

Still Catching up... Here's Christmas Eve and Christmas

OK, so it is actually January 7th and I still am not caught up in my journaling. I have so much to tell but am trying to keep it all in order for my book. So hang in there, it is all coming soon.

Christmas Eve, of course, was the best!

On the morning of Christmas Eve at 11:30 we got a call from Elder Bryan in Chile! It was so awesome! He was trying to call Grandma and Grandpa but their phone wouldn't let him call through so he called us and then they all came here to our house. We had four phones open at a time so that we could listen to him. He had a slight accent. He sounded happy—happy to be on a mission and happy to be talking to his family, hearing their voices. I even got to hear him speak a little Spanish to one of the members in the background. He was telling us a story about a dog that came through a fence and bit him! He said there are dogs everywhere. It was so good to see the kids talk to him and see their faces light up as he spoke. He has such a strong spirit and it was good to hear it come from him. Bless his heart!

Then, we started the tradition last year of sledding with the family on Christmas Eve. We use my Uncle Jeff's four-wheeler and pull around a plastic sled. This year, though, a neighbor of my parents let us borrow a Redneck Sled! Ya, Redneck Sled, it is a truck hood with a bar welded to it to hang onto, and a pad on the bottom to sit on! It was awesome! I must trully be a redneck because that was one of the funnest sledding experiences EVER!!!!! It was awesome because we could get four kids on there at a time, and two adults with a kid or two! We had so much fun!

Marc, 10 and 4 have a rodeo kindof ride!

Grandma Judy taking the waiting kids on a little sled ride.

Joel taking Kirsten and Jeremy for a sled ride the first time as a married couple!

13, 10 and 4

Me and 18 couldn't stop laughing, not only because it was fun, but because our faces were frozen that way!

Grandma Judy even took a few rides—doesn't her hair look pretty, flowing in the wind. (ya, your welcome, Mom)

Jessie, Mom, me and Aaron

Chelsea told 4 to smile and this is what we got...

During sledding we would stop every so often to eat all the great food. Once it started getting dark we came in for the night and started opening presents. We draw names every year and then give $5 gifts. This year we rotated couples and did $10 couple gifts and all the kids rotated. This way we can get someone different each year. It is kinda funny, though, because I have five kids and there are ten grandkids so we just basically had all the other kids—I guess it will be that way until Kirsten & Jeremy and Aaron & Chelsea have kids... or Daniel and Tynelle have more.

My mom and Dad really spoiled us this year. They give of themselves and their hearts much it truly humbles me. There were many tears shed as they carried up five solid marble Christus' for all of us kids (my dad's gift). And then my mom teared up as she was holding five very small red gift bags. She said, "Big things do come in small packages..." and hand us these bags. They were heavy and had gold dollar coins in them! Wow Mom and Dad, you outdid yourselves this year. We will try not to expect that again! What a surprise all that was.
You can tell 4 was worn out. She was like this the whole time we were opening presents.

Yes, those are tears in my eyes and it is over the antique apple cookie jar I am holding. Let me tell you the short story. When I was a kid, little kid—like five or six I remember this cookie jar my mom and dad had. It usually just sat empy on our table. Now I don't know what happened to it, where it went or at what time period it was gone all I know is, it was gone. I remember seeing one later in life and it reminded me of being a kid. I could smell the home-made play dough, see the dim lights in the kitchen and feel the smoothness of our old white and yellow soda-shop-type table. It brought back memories. So whenever I was at a yardsale I would look for one just in case. Anyway back in the summer, my sister, Jessie was telling me one day that mom had found one at a yard sale and had sold it to the antique dealer. I was so sad that I didn't get it. Anyway, I guess Jessie had told my mom about it and there it was all wrapped up for me on Christmas Eve. It has no significance to any of my other siblings except me, just one of those special things I remember.

We had Joel's name this year. Marc came up with the saying, and I woodburned it. We thought it was the perfect gift for a true hunter!


Our annual family picture in front of the Christmas tree at Grandpa and Grandma's

Then after gifts we awaited Santa's visit. This is a tradition that has been in my family since my mom and her siblings were little. It holds a real special place in my heart and I truly treasure the memories. I wish my kids could experience it the same way I did as a kid, but, because our family is getting so big, we all run into Kirsten's room and gather together in giggles and whispers listening to Santa "ho, ho, ho" as he comes down the hall to ask all of us what we want for Christmas and then hands us each a cold orange from his bag. I seriously teared up again this year as I listened to my kids enjoying Christmas Eve in a little way that I did too. Oh, and another cool thing about Santa's Christmas Eve visit is listening through the open front door for Santa's bells. There is nothing like sleigh bells breaking the crisp air outside while you hold your breath to hear how far or how close they are. And then when they get close we all scramble up the stairs as fast as we can to get back to our rooms so we don't get caught trying to catch Santa. It's really funny now, too, because there are fifteen of us, or so, running and clambering up the stairs so it sounds like a herd of elephants. Boy, I love Christmas Eve.
Listening for the bells

He came and went and Jessie snuck a picture

Jessie started this tradition of taking a picture of all of us with our oranges after Santa leaves.

This was also a special Christmas Eve because it is the last one with Daniel and Tynelle's family before they leave to Florida for a few years for school. We tried to treasure every moment.

When we got home from my parents we read a story, called "Christmas for a Dollar." Really cute story. Then we hid the pickle in the tree (a German tradition—and yes, we actually have a pickle ornament—originally Germans hid a real pickle.) Our kids LOVE this! Whoever finds the pickle gets to open a present. It is really fun to watch them look for the pickle. 18 is usually good to point the pickle out to the excited little ones—and she did again this year so 10 "found" the pickle this year. He got to open the pickle present (which is usually a family game) and it was "Snorta." You'll have to play that game sometime, it is really quite fun and is good for ages four to fourty-one! or so...

We got to bed about 10-10:30. We were so tuckered out from the day.

Santa was a about to come when at midnight 10 woke up and asked 13 to check and see if Santa was here. The door creeked open and footsteps came up the stairs. "Creek." "Pause." and back down the stairs... no Santa. This continued until 3:30 in the morning about every half hour. 10 was so excited to get his horse from Santa that he just couldn't sleep. 13 must have been quite excited too, because he was the one brave enough to try to catch Santa. Well, finally, I thought I would come out to see if Santa had come, nothing there, so I went to go get a drink of water. While at the top of the stairs I heard a creek, so I quickly ran downstairs, flung open the boys' door and jumped into 13's bed! "What?", 13 asked startled.

"I think I heard Santa, you guys! And I didn't have anywhere to hide so I ran down here to be with you guys. Shhhh, listen, do you hear him?" 10 and 13 were giggling with excitement and surprise that I was down there with them getting excited for Santa's arrival. We heard a creek and I quickly jumped up to 10's bed and giggling like a giddy school girl I said, "Act like we're asleep.... Wait, what if Santa won't bring us presents because I am not in my bed? What should I do you guys? Should I try to sneak back upstairs?" 10 just kept giggling uncontrollably, I mean he was rolling, 13 was laughing and kept saying, "I can't believe your are laughing so hard Mom." We were having so much fun, and I had a blast being a kid again. We all need to find out inner kid once in a while, if not for ourselves then for our kids.

Anyway, we finally calmed down and I convinced the boys to cover me while I snuck back upstairs so that Santa could come bring our toys. They said they would be good while they waited.

When I came upstairs I saw that Santa had come while I was down laughing with the boys. I didn't go down to tell them because I was so tired from all the laughter and thought it might be fun for them to still be down there listening for Santa and enjoying the magic. So I went to bed.

Then at 5am 13 and 10 came to wake us up.

We were really blessed this year by having my brother, Daniel, help us with Christmas. Since he and Tynelle were moving they had some things they wanted to get rid of and in turn it really made our Christmas. Thank you Daniel and Tynelle!

We have joined the ranks of modern society and we now own a WII! With very strict rules of course... Man, that thing is fun! I love WII Sports and it has been a real fun way to have 10 play sports and not feel overwhelmed. SO fun! One of my favorite parts is creating the MII's. We have all my family and most of Marc's—we are working on them.

13 got an electric guitar and amp. 18 got a pocket PC. 10 got another toy horse (ya, I know, SURPRISE!) 4 got a CD player. Baby got a doll. Marc and I each got a pair of chaps. It was a very giving Christmas. We were so blessed.
This is the only picture from Christmas morning. The rest is video. 4 was excited to open her present.

We then had crepes for Christmas breakfast upon Marc's request. We will now make that our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.

After breakfast and getting ready we headed over to Marc's parents. There were many presents there awaiting the kids. Frank and Amy got some much needed things for 13 and 18 that were much appreciated. We ate some great food and had a good time socializing. The missionaries even came to join us. We played games and watched movies the rest of the day. It was fun and relaxing.

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