December 23rd...early dismissal for Connor and I. He had his classroom "winter celebration", a.k.a. Christmas party. Not allowed to call it that anymore...but there's a huge Christmas tree in the foyer of the school and a parent reads "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" over the school intercom system, go figure. That night, my mom helped me wrap almost all of the gifts and then when Carl got home from his indoor game, we finished up. I think we were up until like 2 a.m.
Christmas Eve...went to one of Carl's brother's (Steve and Roxanne) for the Heil family gathering. Since he has seven siblings and there are 19 neices/nephews, we only do a kids polyanna and a "wrap up something from your house that you don't want" gift exchange (the item has to be unused). I love the kids polyanna because, well...let's face it, it would be insane to buy for 16 kids. And I love the adult gift exchange because it gives us the oppourtunity to get rid of something that we have never used, and probably don't like or want. There's a lot of laughing during that...you should see some of the stuff that people get rid of. This year someone became the proud owner of our frog cookie jar. We scored because Carl chose a great gift (they are all wrapped when you choose). He got his sister Diane's gift, which was full of cd's. She works for Sony and gets one free cd a month...she has to take whatever it is and many of them she doesn't like. She stuck about 10 in a gift bag...Kenny Chesney, John Mayer, Kings of Leon, Mercy Me, Carrie Underwood, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra...not bad!
Cousin polyanna exchange
Christmas Day...kids got up around 8:15. They were excited, even about each other's gifts. Connor could have gotten through his in about five minutes but we were taking turns (because when am I not neat and orderly) and the girls were holding up the process. They wanted to open and play with every gift. Well, Em did and Camryn just wanted to play with Em's gifts. I think we ended up skipping over Cam a few times but they were all done by about 10 a.m. and ready for breakfast. I was going to make pancakes but didn't realize we were out of mix until it was time to make them. I looked up the "pancake from scratch" recipe in my cookbook and immediately thought, "yeah...um...no" so knowing the kids wouldn't eat eggs I came up with the only logical 3rd option...french toast! After breakfast and clean-up, the kids played with their toys, the girls napped, we got ourselves together, and then I started to make dinner. My dad, stepmom Jane, sister Amy and stepmom's parents were coming over at 3:30. Carl had to work, which sucked actually...but I knew that he would have four days off in a row Sunday through Wednesday so that made it better. Dinner turned out great and the kids had fun visiting with Grandpop, Mom Mom, Aunt Amy, Great Pop Pop and Great Mom Mom...and opening more gifts of course.
December 27th...gathering at our house. My extended family (cousin Danielle, Jeff and the girls; Aunt Pat and Uncle Gary; Granny Wilson) came over. The kids had fun with Cambelle and Chloe and enjoyed more gifts. It's always great when we can all get together, which is rare these days with our different obligations and schedules.
December 28th...my sister Dawn flew in from Ohio and brother Ken drove from Pittsburgh so we got to hang for a few hours and have a nice dinner. I miss them being around so it was a great visit.
The 28th through New Year's Eve, we didn't do much...a lot of hangin' around, playing with the kids and their toys/games. It was so nice for Carl to have off 4 days in a row. We even squeezed in a trip to IKEA, which is always fun and productive! We bought Emily her "big girl bed" and some more shelves for the playroom. The room is seriously out of control. I need another week off to go through it and get rid of some stuff. So, a few more days and then back to reality for me...back to work on Monday the 4th. January to March always seems to go the slowest at work. It's not slow in terms of the workload, but there are no major holidays or breaks coming up. I know, sad story right? I'll just have to settle for my next day off, January 18th for Martin Luther King day! Gotta love working in a school district.
I could have posted many, many more pics from our holiday gatherings but so many are just candids of the kids opening gifts. This one above, of the girls dressed up in the princess dress-up trunk clothes that Emily received from Santa, is one of my favorites. They have literally been rotating between princess outifts everyday since Christmas. Their faces say it all...it really was a joyful Christmas.