Monday, January 2, 2012

The Mother of all Christmas Posts

Fasten your seat belts ... I think this is gonna be a long one. :)

Chad has started a tradition over the past couple years of taking the kids on a Christmas Eve morning hike.  I love this because it's something special that they can look forward to ... and it affords me a little quiet time to get last minute cooking/wrapping/etc. done.  This is the first year that Chloe participated!

 Throwing rocks into water is an integral part of hiking according to the kids.
 I love how Chloe can barely see out of her hat. :)

Chad said that at one point they were all singing Christmas carols as they hiked along.
Wish I could've heard that.
 That evening we went to church and the kids sang in the service.  
Chloe did so with her finger up her nose the entire time.
Luckily when you're 2 you can get away with that and it is still "cute":)
 After church we tried to get a nice family photo.
For some reason Chloe was intent on doing this weird flippy move.
What can you do?  Once again - she IS two!

Looks like Santa came!
See?  He DID come. :)
 Christmas morning in the Christmas jammies
 Opening stockings.
When Carter saw this picture, he said (and I quote):  "Look at me!  I look so cute!"
I happen to agree.
 Audrey was VERY happy with what "Santa" brought!
 So was Carter!
(So was Chloe - she got a Bitty Baby - but I didn't get a picture of her with it on Christmas morning.)
 As you can tell, she was also happy with this princess dress.
Around lunchtime we headed over to my parents' house to exchange gifts and have dinner together.
 Chloe really got into opening gifts.  She decided Uncle Andy needed a little help. :)
 It would not be Christmas if Chad did not receive a humongous bag of Jelly Bellies.
 Carter discovered the game "Sorry" on vacation this summer and was WAY excited to get this.  
He kept saying "I'm so lucky!!"
 My Dad made two special gifts this Christmas.  The first is this bed (with trundle!) for Audrey's American Girls.  My Mom made all the bedding for it too.
 He also made this adorable crib for Chloe's bitty baby.  Again my  mom made the bumper and crocheted some little blankets for her baby.  Chloe got right to work putting her baby to bed. :)
Everyone got new PJ's for Christmas.  They put them on for the ride home later that night.
The day after Christmas we got busy packing and cleaning up for our trip to NY.  To keep the kids occupied we finally broke out the gingerbread house.  Somehow we kind of overlooked doing it before Christmas and they had a lot of fun decorating it with Daddy.

The next day we headed up to Buffalo to celebrate Christmas with Chad's family ... the kids were so excited!
 This is the kid table...minus one kid who is not old enough to sit up yet. :)
Yes, ladies & gentleman, we had 17 people under one roof.
My sister in law and brother in law are saints for hosting us year after year!
 Grandpa with the "big" girls.
 Grandpa & Uncle Josh with all the kids piled on the couch.
 Meet Nate.  He is my newest nephew!  Isn't he a cutie?  He just smiled and smiled for me while I took his picture.
 One of the days we headed to the Museum of Play in Rochester.  Audrey & Carolyn rode together in our van with their lookalike dolls.
 One of my favorite exhibits there was the grocery store.  Every kid got a cart, picked out 5 items, and then took them to checkout.  They got to scan them and print out their receipt.  Then they had to "restock" their items.  They loved it!
 Audrey was working the bakery and cheese section for awhile.
 The whole gang on Sesame Street!
 Another day we took the big kids bowling.  Carter was in heaven - he loves bowling.
 Before we left, we had a mini birthday party for Carter (whose birthday is in January).  He got to open his presents from Grandma & Grandpa and his cousins.
Shortly after this, we had to go. :(
 On our way home.
We always stop at this rest area ... it is a big lodge with scenic overlooks.

Since 7 hours in the car was not a full enough day for us (ha) - after a brief stop at home to drop off luggage - we headed straight to Chuck E. Cheese to do our annual New Years Eve celebration with our neighbors.  The kids were very happy to see all their friends. 
Chloe wanted to climb in the tubes but her little legs could not make it up this beginning part.
Guess who got to climb in and help out?
I asked my neighbor Karen to watch my camera and she decided to take a few pictures of me climbing in here. ;P
It was all worth it to see her happily sliding down the tubes with her big sister! ;)

It has been such a busy, fun, blessed, wonderful Christmas season.
As usual, I am a little sad to see it go. :(
I wonder what 2012 will hold though!

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