Ever since Ryan and I were engaged, we've spent Christmas Eve with his family. We eat lots of German food and visit with each other. Then the kids sing, play piano, violin, guitar, etc. followed by the traditional reading of Luke in the German family bible that is generations old (while another reads in English for the grandkids and us non-Germans). Here the kids are performing Rudolph (ever so quietly I might add) and then Jingle Bells with a few other cousins.
AND of course Christmas morning is always a whirlwind of chaos, but I love it. Especially when it comes with squeals of "Oh My GOODNESS!" and "What the HECK?!" Yep, that must have meant it was good. So I guess staying up until 4 am assembling beds was totally worth it. We presented the kids with their new rooms in the basement as part of their Christmas. Now I get to spend this next week moving their clothes, toys, and other furniture downstairs. Lucky me!
(yes, this means that the basement is 90% finished. Once the bathroom tile gets fixed, the toilet put in, and the sink attached it will be all done! Woo hoo! So be on the look-out for before and after pics.)
I love our ward. I really do. Yesterday as I was vacuuming the carpet, the doorbell rang. I hesitated answering the door as I looked a fright. But I did, and outside the cutest little old man was standing on our porch holding out a plate of goodies. His wife is one of our Primary Teachers and is amazing in so many ways. She made these cute little critters. I am thinking I'll have to make some next year.
oreo cookies - halves separated
maraschino cherries with stems
Here's how I think they are done ... melt some of the chocolate. Dip maraschino cherries in melted chocolate and place on oreo half. Add hershey kiss head & chocolate chip ears while melted chocolate is still hot.
it started feeling like Christmas around here. And as of yesterday (Saturday) it finally does! Due to basement remodel chaos (augh) we'd been putting off getting the tree up and the decorations out. But I'd had enough, so with 90% of the basement done I had Ryan bring in the tree Friday afternoon. I moved the toys down into the new toy room this weekend.
Finley was ecstatic beyond belief - he's been begging for the tree since Thanksgiving. But we weren't able to decorate until Saturday morning as we had the Birth Christmas Party (all Ryan's extended family). Here Berlin is wearing her little German dress. I wish I could say I made it, but no. I bought it on etsy from a fabulous gal in Germany. It's a little big so yay! for getting to wear it next year again!
On Saturday the kids were able to decorate their little hearts out. And I must say that the 4 branches they overloaded with ornaments looked great! I will admit to re-arranging them after they went to bed as the weight of 12 ornaments on one branch was a bit too much for the tree to handle. But they did a great job.
Tonight we wrote our letters to Santa and hung them on the tree in their little felt envelopes so Santa can read them when he comes down the chimney. Finley asked Santa for Star Wars toys (galactic heroes, legos & bobble heads), a big playhouse for him & Berlin to share, a new leapster and new games, and a polka-dotted reindeer for mom. Berlin asked Santa for a Cinderella princess with mice, a big prince-charming, a princess Barbie car, a princess Barbie bike, and lots & lots of princesses. Here's to hoping Santa delivers :)
Tonight we took the kids to see the ZOO Lights up at Hogle Zoo. Finley has been asking to go there for the past couple days and tonight was the night. It was our 2nd year going to the zoo lights display and I have to say that it is my favorite light display in Salt Lake - make that in all of Utah. The lights are animated, some have music, they are silly (Finn's fave is the skunk spraying the curious bear) and just darn cute. The best part was watching the 3 tiger cubs and their mom playing, wrestling, and teasing each other in their habitat. It was so cute; we could have watched them for hours except a certain 4 1/2 year old boy was whining about some soft pretzel he thought he deserved, and a certain mom had had enough. So we moved along so as not to disturb the tigers and the large crowd gathering to watch them.
After riding the carousel we headed over to Shiver's for some yummy dinner. My favorite thing there is the tomato basil soup and the fried pickles. The kids love the corn dogs and the cool choo-choo train they get to eat on.
to the gloriousness of naptime. Berlin has been fighting naps for a while now. But until recently, she had to endure naptime - for her sanity and mine (and her brother's too). She is a beast when she doesn't take an afternoon nap. But she hates them because she knows she is missing out on something, and she can't stand that. I even tried letting her take naps in my bed.
That happened once, and it was the last time she agreed to nap. After that one nap, she realized she could defy my wishes and climb out of my bed. So when I started putting her back in her crib (yes, crib. I know, I know, she's almost 3 and should be in a big girl bed - it's her hearts greatest desire ... But that's a whole other rant about our basement remodel and how it's now over 2 months behind and not looking like it will be done by Christmas). Anyhow, back to the crib. She has decided that if she can climb out of mommy's bed, she can surely escape from her own. Here she is caught in the act. Luckily, she has never fallen out of the crib or gotten hurt, but then again, if she did, maybe she would stop escaping. Hmmm. Doubt it.
We joined some friends down at Temple Square to see the lights. It was cold, VERY COLD. Luckily I had over-bundled the kids (Ryan mocked me for doing so - but HA! They didn't get cold. Victory point for me.) I forgot my camera of course but here's a picture my friend took of the kids (Thanks J!)
(Boo, K, L, Finn, J)
The sad part was Finley losing his hat. I loved his Charlie Brown style cap. Here's to hoping someone turned it in and that the Conference Center lost & found will call me back soon.
The lights were pretty, but a little disappointing as none of the big trees on Temple Square have lights on. Apparently they alter even & odd years, and being and odd year, the lights on big trees are off so as not to kill them. Oh well. Afterwards we all went to Spaghetti Factory - one of our kids favorite places to eat. It was a great night.
Ryan hadn't seen all the new baby animals that were born over the summer, and we knew that weather would be changing for the worse (Darn Winter!). So, last Saturday we took the kids to the zoo. The kids and I go often, but it's always a fun treat to go with Ryan. The tiger cubs were awesome, the baby elephant was adorably cute & funny, the toddler orangutan was hyper as can be, the baby giraffe was shy and just wanted to be left alone to lick his applesauce off his enrichment toy. But then came the Gorilla. She (or he, not really sure) was sitting right up to the glass, within a few inches of our faces - probably the closest that I've ever been to a gorilla. We were a little in awe, until that is, she decided to turn sideways, poo in her hand, and proceed to eat it like an apple. We bolted out of there gagging and dry-heaving amidst the laughter of the 2 teenage zoo volunteers. I dry-heaved all morning every time I thought about it. Luckily it was on the latter part of our zoo day so we had no qualms about leaving. And what was probably one of the best days at the zoo, was now one of the grossest days.
On a brighter subject, here's some cute pics of the kids and animals that didn't gross us out.