Christmas 2013: The Whole Shebang

Time for me to catch up on things. We had a great Christmas. We missed seeing quite a few family members, but it was still good. Steve says it's the first holiday season that I haven't cried. Probably because I bawled all of my tears out earlier in the month when I was emotionally unbalanced. (More on that later. . . )

Our list of preparations gets bigger and bigger every year. (Christmas cards, teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, employee gifts, home teaching gifts, "Santa" gifts, "mom" gifts, stockings, gifts for our siblings, gifts for our parents, a gift for the mailman, a gift for the UPS guy (he's at our house four times a week and patiently puts up with my kids fighting over who gets to sign for the packages), a gift for our piano teacher, cousin gifts (not sure if it was a good idea to add those this year), and then help the kids (mostly Adam) coordinate and prepare their gifts. I absolutely love picking out gifts for people; it's just a lot to do all at once.

We hosted Christmas dinner, so I also had to clean my house and get the turkey, rolls, potatoes, new beaters to make the potatoes, pies, etc. Steve kept asking me what was left to do. . . he was totally preparing for a meltdown, but I did a good job staying on top of things.

The deal was if we could get everything ready by December 23rd, then we would go skiing on December 24th. So I stayed up till 3:30 am on December 23rd to wrap things up (literally and figuratively). On December 24th, Steve took the girls to Snowbasin early in the morning, and I stayed home with Adam to clean the house and finish a few last-minute things. I got Adam there just in time for a 1:00 pm ski lesson. 

And then I sat down and enjoyed this view out the window of Earl's Lodge for a couple of hours:  

It was beautiful, but maybe not quite as magical as the view Steve and the girls enjoyed from up top

Seriously incredible. Even if you aren't a skier, you should still go up to Snowbasin sometime. You can ride the gondola to Needles Lodge as a foot passenger for $10. . . it's like a whole other world up there. I don't plan on skiing this year, so I'll even go with you.  

Steve let me open my gift early so I could use it on Christmas Eve. It was a new camera lens. . . with a zoom! I walked a little ways up Little Cat and was able to zoom in far enough to get these pictures: 

This was supposed to be a picture of just Adam. But Lucy sped ahead of him for the ultimate photobomb:

Lucy loves the camera:

Here's Adam:

Adam was just a little ornery. Partly because learning how to ski makes you ornery. And partly because he had skipped lunch. But mostly because he couldn't use his new ski poles. (They don't let little kids use poles in classes.) He just didn't get why everyone else got to use them but him.

I asked his instructor how he was doing, and she told me he was doing okay. . . which clearly meant he wasn't. I apologized and asked if I needed to say anything about his behavior the next time I signed him up for a class. "Does your husband ski?" she asked me. I said yes, and then she told me Adam would probably be better off just skiing with him. Apparently, he wasn't very willing to wait for anyone and just wanted to go, go, go. (A big improvement over last year, when he could only turn one direction, so you had to stay right close and help him down the hill.) She suggested we take him on Becker, even though it would be a challenge for him.

Steve had taken off his boots and was ready to be finished for the day: 

But I told him to go gear up because he needed to go take his boy on Becker. 

Look at how bright and sunny it was: 

When the sun goes down behind the mountain, it gets cold fast.

Becker didn't work out too well. Rachel and Lucy came back, but no Steve and Adam. I finally got a call from Steve saying that Adam had completely lost it. He was leaving Adam's skis on the mountain and carrying him down.  (We've had meltdowns before, but never had to carry a kid.)

The lifts closed, and they were probably some of the last skiers on the mountain. Adam was cold, hungry, and tired. So he sat by the fireplace in the lodge for ten minutes, had a snack, and he was good to go. Steve, however, was completely exhausted (mostly his arms) from skiing with Adam.

We had decided to stay at Snowbasin for the Christmas Eve dinner, even though we didn't really know what to expect. They don't take reservations, so things are done first-come, first-serve. Luckily, we had a great table. . . which happened to be adjacent to Sam & Kacie's next door neighbor's table. I was scoping things out and ended up exactly where I needed to be, so I was the very first person in line. (Dinner was served cafeteria-style. Most of the people behind us waited in line for 45 minutes to an hour.)

We ate roasted turkey, glazed ham, cornbread stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy. I should have asked for a giant plate of the mashed potatoes and gravy because that was everyone's favorite. Then we got to chose from pecan pie, berry cobbler or Christmas spice cake. The serving sizes for the kids were humongous, and we all ate until we were stuffed full.

Adam kept telling us that Santa was going to ski down the mountain on "candy cane skis", but he arrived on a sled. The kids ran out on the patio not so much to see him, but to check out the sled. (We hadn't yet realized that we'd left Adam's shoes over at the ski school, so Adam was running around shoeless.) Santa went into the lodge, where an insanely long line for pictures immediately formed. (If we had been after pictures, I would have made sure I was in the right place at the right time to be first in line again.) The pictures were free and it was a very authentic-looking Santa, but nobody was interested in pictures. . . or waiting in line.

We planned to stay for the "torchlight parade down City Hill" and the fireworks, but Steve was exhausted. There were still lots of people waiting in line for dinner/tables, so we decided it was probably best to give up our table and go home.

Once the kids were showered and ready for bed, we read the three new Christmas books we got this year.

And then Steve let them open his gift. . . such excitement over a box of cereal!

I gave the kids their present from me (pajamas for the girls and a new church sweater for Adam), and then I gave Steve his MyPublisher book. Mostly because I wanted him to have time to appreciate it before he was bombarded with other more-exciting gifts. It was perfect:

And then we tried to get set up to watch the movie, Elf, projected on our living room wall. Steve had left an important cord at the restaurant, so we ended up opening a our present from Steve's parents (Apple TV). And then Steve said something about how he wished he had a speaker, so then Rachel and Adam gave Steve their gift (a speaker). It worked out perfectly. 

During the movie, Adam laughed so hard he almost peed his pants, and I took a little nap. 

We started the movie a little too late, but we finally got the kids to bed so we could start on Santa stuff. 

Santa presents and stockings for three kids is a whole lot easier than five kids, so the final wrapping and set-up went pretty fast. 

Before we knew it, these kids were awake and knocking on our door, eager to see what Santa brought them:

I love the look of excitement on Lucy's face (even though I was struggling to operate the new camera lens).

Rachel went through her stocking like she was competing in a contest. She was so fast that I didn't even get a picture of her finding her big surprise. . . an iPhone 5c. 

Steve took this great shot of Lucy with his phone. (He gets super excited when pictures he took make it on my blog.)

Adam says that this book, Eye-Popping 3-D Pets: Phantogram Animals You Can Practically Pet! was his favorite gift. But I'm pretty sure he's just saying that because it was a "bonus present" from me. It was given with an apology that we had to tell Santa no pets for Christmas. 

Rachel got these ottoman poufs for her room. She has major issues with people sitting on her bed, so these will provide people with somewhere to sit in her room:

Lucy loves Guinness World Record books and spent half the morning reading the 2014 edition:

Adam's big present from Santa was Legos: 

We are finally a Lego family!

Another favorite gift of the day was this Furby, from Rachel and Lucy. It speaks in Furbish and makes all sorts of weird burping noises. (We are hoping it continues to serve as a good transition from stuffed animals.)

Last year, Santa brought each kid three gifts. This year, I considered doing four gifts and following "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read", but I didn't want to have to try to fit their gifts into each of those categories, so I just went with four gifts. 

Rachel's four wrapped gifts from Santa were: two ottoman poufs, a bag of dark chocolate covered acai blueberries from Costco, and a tin of Pepperidge Farms pirouettes. 

Lucy's four wrapped gifts were: a pair of purple Patagonia capilene thermals, a purple alarm clock, the Guinness World Records book, and a ukelele. (I followed the something you want, something you need thing with Lucy. . . and I also spent twice as much money on her as I did on the others. That's what happens when you do that.)

Adam's four gifts were: a big tub of Legos, two Lego sets, Lego boards, and three Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. (They were wrapped as four gifts, realistically just two gifts, but technically more than four gifts. . . sometimes I don't know how to follow the rules, so I just make things up as I go.)

In their stockings, Rachel found her new iPhone, Lucy found Rachel's old iPhone, and Adam found Lucy's old iPod. . . Santa is a genius! They also got new CamelBak water bottles, cases for their iPhones/iPods, battery powered toothbrushes, some treats, and the girls got necklaces to remind them of our Shoes for South Africa project. 

Unless you get every single kid the same thing, it really is hard to try to make things equal. Rachel started to catch on to how much money Christmas cost, and she told me next year I can just give her $100 and she will pick everything out. I think that's a great plan, and I will be excited to see what she buys. 

In addition to the Apple TV, we also got the Just Dance 2014 Wii game with our Christmas money from Steve's parents. My parents gave our family a big box of Christmas books and DVDs that we enjoyed the entire month. It was a really great gift. 

We are always trying to recall what we gave/got for Christmas, so I'm just going to go ahead and record everything while I can still remember. I was super impressed with the kids' interest in giving gifts this year. They were all very thoughtful and generous. 

Rachel gave me a book called I am Malala that I can't wait to read. 
Rachel gave Steve a gift card to Chick-Fil-A and a really neat speaker that hooks into his iPhone
Rachel gave Lucy a case of Ramen noodles. (Two or three years ago, I decided we were going to be healthy, so I don't buy them anymore. Instead we eat even healthier things, like Burger King.) Rachel also gave Lucy a drawing of an ostrich because that's what Lucy asked for. (We should probably frame it.) 
Rachel and Lucy gave Adam the Party Rocker Furby. (It's the $20 one, and it comes with an app where you can learn Furbish and translate what he says into English.)

Lucy gave Steve a new wallet. 
Lucy gave me microwave popcorn and Swedish Fish. . . my favorite!
Lucy gave Rachel one of those bracelet loom sets. 
And then she saw how cool they were and ended up having to buy one for herself too.

Adam gave me a pretty picture he made at school. 
Adam gave Rachel a new pack of Crayola Twistables
Adam gave Lucy some mini Furbies that go on top of your pencils. 
And Rachel let Adam in on the gifts she got for Steve, since there were two of them. 

I gave Steve a GoPro camera (we've wanted one for years). In addition to the camera lens, Steve also got me a fancy lady purse (technically a camera bag). I think it's my very first official purse. 

Everything seemed just about perfect. Except it felt like we were missing someone. It was noticeably quieter without Mykaeleigh. . . and definitely less exuberant. 

We bought Mykaeleigh four new pairs of slippers (she wears slippers at her Montessori school) and an old fashioned music grinder that plays "I Am a Child of God". We didn't see her on Christmas. . . or any of the days after Christmas. . . so we went and gave her the gifts today. She loved the music grinder, which was special since I used to sing that song to her every night when I put her to bed. 

Anyhow, back to Christmas Day because this post is way too long. 

One of the most exciting events of the day was that Steve hung up the curtains in our kitchen. (The curtain rod had been in its box, sitting on the floor in our kitchen for a full year). And then we leisurely got ready for dinner:

Our kitchen seems big. . . until there are ten kids in there!

Here's the turkey. And I love how Talmage is patiently raising his hand in the background. (That meant he wanted one of the drumsticks.)

Steve, the master carver. (And you can check out my new curtains, which I've decided are actually going to go in the living room.)

We fed the kids first and then sent them downstairs to play so we could have a quieter dinner with the adults. (Rebecca brought shrimp and all sorts of other appetizers to snack on while we waited for our turn to eat.)

I think everyone enjoyed the dinner, but Rebecca was the most enthusiastic eater. She declared it the very best turkey she had ever had; Steve told her she was just really hungry. We should have sent everyone home with leftover mashed potatoes. . . we ended up eating them for days.

After dinner, we exchanged gifts.

We gave Sam & Kacie and Rebecca their own copies of the MyPublisher book I made a few years ago of my Grandpa's Garden.

So embarrassing. . . I had to call Kacie before Christmas and make sure we hadn't given it to them yet. We thought about getting one for them when we had their name a few years ago, and as I was wrapping it up, I suddenly had this feeling that we had already given them a copy. We hadn't. . . but clearly you see why I need to do a better job keeping track of my present giving.

My mom gave me and my siblings a really special gift. . . a paper that shows our genealogy all the way to Adam. (The one from the Garden of Eden.)

The kids all exchanged their gifts. . . and then it was time for desert. My mom baked a delicious homemade pumpkin pie, and I think Adam might have eaten two-thirds of it himself. Kacie brought these incredible little candy bar cookies in the shape of a mini cupcakes. . . I need to get the recipe. We bought two pies from Pretty Smitty Pie Company. Here's the pecan pie (my favorite):

Everyone went home, and I guess the good part about having a smaller house is that it's really fast to clean up: 

P. S. Rachel wrapped the kitchen cupboards with Christmas paper and I loved it. Such an easy way to decorate for Christmas, and it made everything feel so festive. We finally took down the wrapping paper tonight, and now our kitchen looks plain and boring. I'll definitely let her wrap them every year.

P. P. S. Our Christmas lights and tree finally came down tonight too, now that the Twelve Days of Christmas are officially over. Next year we'll celebrate with a feast of Epiphany.

P. P. P. S. Our sibling gift from Steve's sister, Angela Wirick, arrived in the mail a few days after Christmas. She sent us a gigantic box with iTunes gift cards, a nice framed Family Proclamation, candy, and these three beards, so the kids can dress up like Uncle Mike:


Rebecca said...

It really was the best turkey I have ever had! And, I nearly threw up when I got home from all the mashed potatoes and gravy...but man oh man it was worth it! So delicious!

Gloria said...

Thanks for sharing, I love seeing it all and hearing all the details! Glad you are doing better Emily. Love to all. I love the cupboards too.