This was, by far, one of the best Christmases I've had. As much as I love this time of year, it usually stresses me out. I always tell myself that I just need to plan better. And earlier. Stay on top of everything. And yet, when it rolls around, it catches me off guard. I'm unprepared and overwhelmed. For some reason, this year wasn't like that.
For starters, I did most of my shopping online. Josh & I bought nearly all of the kids' gifts online. I hate going into stores at Christmas time, and this made shopping so much easier. I have a tendency to stress myself out over gift ideas. I didn't let any of that get to me. I loved all the gifts I chose for everyone. Including my mom and Josh - the two I stress about the most.
Another thing that simplified it all - we stayed home on Christmas day, ALL DAY. Usually we go to Josh's parents for dinner. But then we have to rush back home to meet my mom and family at my house to exchange gifts that night. I always feel like we are rushed and we don't get to enjoy our time with anyone. And the guilt that someone is going to get their feelings hurt. Ever since Jack was a baby, I imagined staying home all day in our jammies on Christmas, putting together new toys, eating food, and drinking wine by the fire. We had an open door policy so family could stop by at their leisure.
We did dinner Christmas Eve at the Tellefsens. My mom & Amanda's mom also came. Kelly had the idea that we would all show up in ugly sweaters to "surprise" her parents. I don't think they were too impressed. Josh's sweater was easily the ugliest. Mine didn't stay on for too long. Eric and Amanda had matching vests.
We opened some presents. Jackson got his beyblades from Aunt Kelly. He was pretty excited. Cameron was very proud of his Miami Heat basketball shorts (his favorite basketball team) from Aunt Kelly. But he also told Ms. Patty he didn't like the books she got him, much to my embarrassment.
I had fun taking pictures of all the cousins together. And I even decided to not worry about the quality of the pictures and I put my camera on AUTO. And even used the pop up flash! GASP! I was tired of missing good pictures because I was fiddling with the damn settings on manual. I'm going to take more pictures in 2014 like this because life is not picture perfect. There is a time and place for art and creativity and manual settings. Sometimes you have to just put the thing on auto and snap away.
For the past 2 years, Mark has been putting together little "skits" for the grandkids to perform at Christmas. The first year, they did one to the Beatles song "Rocky Raccoon". It was hilarious! Last year, they performed to "Pontoon" (by Little Big Town, one of our favorite songs from last year). This year, Vaeda and Bella got to perform with the big kids. It was just as entertaining as ever! And Bella totally stole the show. She is a singer and loves all music and dancing. She knows most songs on the radio, some even I have never heard before.
They started out with Blurred Lines. Jackson danced and sang the entire song. Rilee was very shy. And Cameron was just too cool. He leaned against the wall with one leg up and just pretended to sing into his microphone.
Then, Bella and Rilee sang Katy Perry's "Roar". Bella was all about it. They ended the show singing "What Does the Fox Say?" Cathy had even made them all fake fox ears to wear. It was great. I only wish we had gotten a better video of it.
I was worried about how the whole not-believing-in-Santa thing would work this year for Jackson. But to be honest, he was just excited about making cookies, putting out the food for reindeer, writing the letter. He never mentioned it. Instead of cookies, we made pretzels with melted hershey's kisses (no idea what these are called but they are very popular, and VERY easy). The boys did this all by themselves. They wrote their letter together. Jackson was so excited. Josh & I put together Bella's kitchen in our room. When we were done, Jackson came downstairs almost in tears and said, "I'm too excited. My heart is beating fast, and I can't go to sleep." I ended up laying down with him in our bed and fell asleep while Josh took over Santa's role all by himself (which he loves to do anyway).
The next morning, Jack woke up first (although I think Josh might have nudged him awake). He woke up Cam and Bella and we all went downstairs together. Santa had bought Jackson: a new computer and desk for his room, a Seattle Seahawks hoodie and basketball; Cameron : a new pair of Nike Jordans (red for Miami Heat colors), a new basketball, and an Eagles hoodie; Bella: a new kitchen and a Barbie mechanical toothbrush!!!!
Jackson got his rubber band loom kit (these days the kids are making these rubber band bracelets; Jackson has wanted one since baseball season; it was the top selling gift this year). We got the boys football gloves since they are obsessed with playing football these days. Bella got food for her kitchen and a Rapunzel doll (her favorite movie this year is Tangled). Other gifts included: microphone headsets for the boys for their Playstation, new ipods, and leapfrog ipad for Bella. Bella has played with her kitchen and new baby stroller (from Mimi) all weekend long. The boys are now obsessed with making rubber band bracelets. We made one for every one of their favorite teams last night.
Mom, Jodi and her kids came over Christmas afternoon. Mike, JM and Chris even stopped by. We hadn't seen them in a very long time. We had vegetable beef stew for dinner. Then Jodi, Jordan, Josh & I finished off the night watching the last 4 episodes of Breaking Bad, which Jodi had not yet seen.
We had a 24 hour stomach flu that went through the house over the weekend (all except me had it). We watched new movies (Little Mermaid and Despicable Me 2), ate tons of food (real and fake), took naps, played lots of Call of Duty, set up Jackson's new computer, took down the tree and all the decorations, cleaned the kids' rooms from head to toe, washed all the sheets in an attempt to stop the virus, and watched the Eagles beat the Cowboys.
Bring on 2014! This family is ready.