Friday, January 1, 2016

A merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Another Christmas in the books!

I think we need to hop on the "Christmas jammies" bandwagon. These children are a mess!
We celebrated a day early--redeeming the same restaurant we ate at last year and had the most horrific experience, followed by the drive-thru Christmas lights, which we also attempted to do last year but ended up bailing because, barf. And then having our own little Christmas in the actual morning, instead of squeezed in during a random free evening or afternoon sometime that week.

She was upset because we interrupted "Chaw-cha-chool" to make her open gifts.

And then she was upset because we all laughed at her. This girl!

The boys broke into our room at 2:45am on our unofficial Christmas morning and Jon sent them straight back to bed in his gruffest 2:45am voice. Meanwhile, I rolled over with a smile because our kids are at that age where they're finally, legitimately excited and Christmas actually feels like Christmas and not just any other morning.

If you happen to see a Frozen microphone at Target ...

... turn around and walk away. Trust me on this. You do not need a microphone that plays the same 10 second segment over and over and over.
It's a true milestone. Someday soon we hope to hit the milestone of "celebrating Christmas morning at our own house." But for now, we'll travel to Pennsylvania just because we can and this may be the last year we live close enough to do that. So immediately following our own little family's festivities, we packed up and shipped out for Christmas Eve dinner and gifts with Jon's family.

Kid-safe candlelight service.

Aunt "Ay-chel" is officially that relative that buys the obnoxiously large stuffed animal that your child simply adores!
And then arrived at my parents late that night to sleep and wake up on the "official" Christmas morning.

I love when Marmie busts out the "former Kindergarten teacher" moves. It's borderline miraculous.

I mean, these are my children--actually listening and engaged in the Christmas story!

And it was very good.

And Aunt Kylee is officially the relative that can make you feel all loved and special before you even open the gift!

Doggie Doo - another gift you may want to run far, far away from.

Even J├Ąger got his most favorite gift for Christmas--attention!

As a gift for the entire family, my in-laws took us all to Great Wolf Lodge. We love the Lodge. Well actually, I love that my kids love the Lodge. The whole experience usually leaves my little introverted self curled in a ball in the corner, but the kids are off-the-wall giddy and that makes it totally worth it. Also, Jon's parents treated me to my first-ever facial while we were there. It was heavenly.

Nonnie is so good at Sister Outfits!

Coolest room ever!!

She wasn't as enthusiastic about sleeping on the sofa bed.
I usually try to avoid one-on-one experience like hair cuts, manicures, and dentist visits but I've discovered that one advantage to facials is that you're not expected to hold a conversation. I got to just lay there with my eyes closed, for an hour, in peace and quiet. Pretty sure I haven't done anything remotely similar since Jack was born!

In which someone yelled "Whoever smiles gets a cookie!" Works like a charm.

Central Pennsylvania walks.

And our annual all-you-can-eat-sushi dinner for Jon's birthday!
But now it's Christ's postpartum. The baby has arrived. We exchanged gifts, attended parties, sang and ate and ate and ate ... and now the celebration is over and everyone's gone home. I was telling Jon, during one of our many, many hours in the car this past week, that I love this week--the space between Christmas and New Year's--a chance to play with all these new things, to clean and organize 2015 and then prepare and welcome 2016!

I hate to admit it, but those Black Friday $35 Kindles have positively transformed our road trip experiences!

And now this girl gets the DVD player all to herself!
And then we got home.

We got home with four tired and cranky children and one wild and crazy dog. With oodles and oodles of new gifts that everyone wants to play with all at the same time (with mom's help) and an empty fridge and a Christmas tree surrounded by piles of dead needles. And I'm like, "Who was I kidding? I do not like this week. This week is STRESSFUL!"

Christmas break--in which we let it all hang out.
Jon immediately went back to work while the kids and I stayed home on "break." A "break" that I've almost entirely used on getting the house cleaned up. But thank goodness I'm off work because, even though it's only been 4 months since summer, I'd forgotten what it's like to spend all day, every day with four little people.

Yeah, there are no more diaper changes or nursing schedules. No more middle-of-the-night feedings or long, stretched out moments trying to rock the baby to sleep. Their needs are different these days: watch me sing, watch me dance, watch me do this cool trick! Mom, do you want to see how I craft a diamond sword in Minecraft? Mom, can I gave a drink, a snack, another snack, a treat (that isn't a snack)? Moooom, watch "'chaw-cha-chool (Paw Patrol) downstairs!" (Usually yelled in my face at 5:30am.) Can you play this game, can you paint my nails, can you change my doll's clothes? I'VE GOT BOOGERS!! Why are you wearing that? What's in your hair? Can we make this? Can we make this now? Can we make this later? Mom? Mom? MOOOOOMMMM??


Meanwhile, all this mama wants to do is get this fire hazard of a Christmas tree out of my living room.


This is progress, sadly.

Meanwhile, children don't stop requiring clean clothes.
I tossed that tree to the curb! And no, this is not morning. This was definitely taken in the late-afternoon. Don't let the jammies fool you.
I will say, I'm not feeling quite as overwhelmed with gifts this year as I have in the past. The kids have been doing great playing with their Christmas toys. And thankfully, the new art supplies and Adventures in Odyssey CD collection bought me 20 minutes of peace and quiet that enabled me to finish packing up the ornaments (or repacking, since one child in particular has a propensity for undoing all my doings) and hauling them off to the utility room.

It took 3 whole days but most of the house is cleaned up and whatever isn't was thrown into the guest room in preparation for New Year's Eve guests. We actually made an effort to ring in the new year, along with two other couples and our combined 10 children. It was insane--light up balloons, confetti, whistles and kazoos, and a faux Netflix countdown to midnight. But we managed to have a good time and get the kids in bed before 8:30pm.

And no, we did not make it 'til midnight either. My last memory is of Jon crawling into bed and giving me a new year's kiss at 11:36. Curtain closes. Fade to black. ...Until 7:00am and today's edition of  "watch Chaw-cha-chool downstairs!"

The highlight of her NYE--holding THE BABY! After everyone left for the night, she spent 10 minutes screaming, "I WANT THE BABY! I WANT THE BABY!"
I think everyone is strugglin' this morning. For some, it's the effects of a little too much celebration this past week. For others, it's because we've introduced our husbands to Poldark. And having spent the last few nights staying up way past bedtime to cheer on Ross and Demelza, followed by 2-year-olds with no concept of night and day, are now off our routine. And I just don't do well off my routine. 

I plan to spend the rest of this first day of 2016 trying to get back on it. We'll start with a mundane washing of dishes, followed by a sweeping-up of confetti, and finished off with a tackling of the guest room catch-all. And then I'll tell the kids that they can start off this new year with a sleepover IF they go to bed at 7:00pm. Which means I may finally be able to steal a little time for some setting of goals and mulling over my one word for this year. Yay!

Friends, it truly was a merry Christmas. It was also a happy old year, and I am full of faith that 2016 is going to be a happy new year!

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