Christmas at home...

We spent Christmas Eve just our little family of 5 until late afternoon.  We played lots of games in our pajamas (memory, Spot It, Candy Land and Crazy 8's), had the fire going and ate more cookies for snacks than normally allowed :).  Then late afternoon Papa, Nana and Great Grandma Olive came over to help us with our Gingerbread Houses (which were a near fail because I forgot I normally hot glue the houses together).  We ended up with 4 houses fairly well standing and a little less candy on them then we started with (I heard some went into bellies).  After decorating, we got dressed up and ready to go to our candlelit service at church.  It was a nice service which highlighted the real reason we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior.  So thankful for His precious gift that we are made right with God when we accept his invitation of salvation.  Praying our children accept Jesus as their savior when they are ready.  No greater gift offered but the reason we share gifts with one another, because he first gave!

We had some hungry and present-ready munchkins when we got home but first I had to capture the annual picture in front of the tree...
...and good thing we got a sweet kissing picture because this was the "smile" photo :)  They are all mine folks and I love them to bits and pieces!  And loved their coordinating outfits!!!

While the appetizers were heating up, we let the kids open their gifts to each other.  They were so excited to open and share their gifts.  They each helped Lucy open hers...she was quite intrigued by the wrapping paper and would have happily eaten it had we let her.
This year they gifted Lucy bath toys and bibs from Vera and fleece pajamas from Solon, Vera got mini twin babies and bunk beds from Solon and a doll house pool from Lucy.  Solon got a remote control helicopter from Lucy and a lego truck and porta potty set from Vera (which got lots of laughs :).  They all loved the gifts, they know each other well and asked for no help from mom and dad.  Lucy is a whiz with amazon one-click shopping (kids these days :).

After dinner and before bed Scott read the Nativity story and Twas the Night before Christmas before setting out a generous portion of cookies and carrots for Santa and the reindeer.  Then off to bed they went...with some reminders :).

We woke up the next morning at 7am on the dot (after a 4:42 am attempt and mommy saying it was still the middle of the night :).  We had gifted Solon a lego alarm clock for Christmas so they knew what to look for on the clock to come and get us but apparently playing in Solon's room was okay at 4:42 am :).   We woke up to frost covered trees and a beautiful white Christmas.  Beautiful.

Santa found us and the kids got the items they wished for (lego police set, Elsa karaoke machine and Lucy got a walker toy) and a few extra fun things for the whole family (play kitchen and basketball game).

Solon even requested this photo this year -- yes its a yearly tradition (I did it as a kid too).  Christmas morning and matching jammies, my heart :).

Scott's brother and sister-in-law and our new niece Ella arrived late on Christmas Eve so the two little lady cousins met on Christmas morning before they headed out for Scott's parents.  We hung low at home all morning, having our traditional reindeer and snowman doughnuts as well as eggs and sausage and copious amounts of coffee.
Solon got a pair of inflatable boxing gloves...what was Santa thinking ;)

We headed to Scott's parents for a late afternoon Christmas meal and hanging out before we came home as the kids were exhausted from their EARLY morning and so was mommy!

The next day Scott's sister's family came from MN and we had his uncle and cousins from West Branch over for a meal.  Lucy enjoyed some more lap time with Great Grandma (95 years young).
We had the meal at their clubhouse so the kids and Uncle Scott came up with a fun exercise game of knock the kids over...
That night we exchanged all the gifts and gave Scott's parents a book Raquel masterminded and we contributed to honoring their childhood home that Scott's parents sold this year.  There were lots and lots of pictures of the architecture and times gone by and then everyone contributed memories of our time at the house.  They were very touched and it is a very neat momento from the time spent at BuckRidge!
We had one more day together with everyone before a snow storm shortened Scott's brother Paul's trip.  We enjoyed pancakes by Papa and then went bowling at Bass Pro Shop and had Brown Bottle Lasagna (Cedar Falls specialty) for a late lunch before saying goodbyes to Great Grandma and Paul's family.
Great Grandma enjoyed more Lucy time and even got a sleep and cuddle out of her :)
Auntie Raquel gifted Lucy with this cute outfit -- :)
Grace, Vera and Lucy
We had a blast having chips and cheese and sprite while bowling.  Grace and Lance are so good with my kids and helped Vera out (so much so that she won!).

Solon just loves his LANCE!

We had two more days with the Malins and a blizzard in the mix so we stayed close to home and played lots of games including charades, Wii bowling and Wii Just Dance as well as some adult table games of Catan and Ticket to Ride Asia!  And ate.  We ate a lot :).

What a fun way to spend Christmas.  We are so glad to be with cousins and celebrate Christmas with them!  Next we were off to MN to ring in the New Year on the lake :).