Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here we come a caroling...

The calendar still says December and the tree is still up in our living room, so videos of Jackson singing Christmas Carols are still seasonally relevant, right?

He wanted to make a video--but only if he could "see himself" while singing. Thank goodness for iPhones reverse camera feature. I think he does pretty well for a three and a half year old! Enjoy!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Day!

After a month of anticipation, Christmas morning had finally arrived! And I don't know who was more excited--the kids or us! When I was a kid, I of course loved Christmas. But the fun I experienced then pales in comparison to the joy I feel now being a parent on Christmas morning. Seeing their delight and getting to create the magic is unbeatable!

Jackson was thrilled with his big boy bike and Andrew was pretty pleased with his shopping cart! And both boys are going to enjoy their kitchen so much!

We were so glad to have my parents there with us, but for the grandparents unable to be with us that morning, here's the video of their "first look". My favorite part is that Jackson was a little whiny (daddy was having to stall him so that I could get in place with the cameras) until he rounded the corner and saw what was happening, and then the little skip in his step when he saw his bike!

We moved on to stockings, and Andrew was just delighted to get a big boy flashlight, just like his brother!

The boys got to open a few other little presents too. In mid-December, Jackson started saying that he wanted a BIG snake for Christmas. No idea where he got that idea, but he wrote it in his letter at school and even told Santa when we saw him. When we questioned him about it, he said he wanted a BIG fluffy snake. Thank goodness I was able to find a BIG (50 inches!), FLUFFY snake! He was so happy! Jackson gave Andrew a t-ball set, and Andrew gave Jackson a golf set, something else he had been asking for for months. Way to go baby brother! I know they will both enjoy playing with both of those.

We ate a delicious breakfast and then while the kids played with their new toys, the sleepies hit. Daddy liked the big snake too!

We got up and moving by heading out to the backyard to try out all of those new toys!

And later, we took the new bike for a spin down to the park. Jackson is doing really well riding it and insisted on parking it in the bike rack at the park. =)

Nap time was spent preparing for our yummy dinner. We made a ham, baked macaroni and cheese, a spinach salad with toasted almonds and cranberries and green beans. And the boys helped with the birthday cake for Jesus!

We let our stomachs make some room for dessert by driving out to look at Christmas lights, and then sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

Yes, it was a very Merry Christmas, indeed!

p.s. The next morning, Jackson walked downstairs and saw the leftover cake sitting on the cake plate, just as we had left it, and exclaimed, "Jesus didn't eat his cake?!" (Afterall, Santa had eaten the cookies we had left for him!)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

23rd and 24th Days of Christmas

We returned home from East Texas 2 days before Christmas. We scurried to make our last minute preparations and then just enjoyed being together. There really is no place like home for the holidays!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy twenty-third day of Christmas Jackson & Andrew! Santa will be here in just 2 days! You don't have to wait much longer...the big day is almost here! You got to see the World's Largest Gingerbread House. Now, let's make one of our very own! 

As was the case last year, I think Jackson ate more candies than he put on the house itself, but that's part of the fun, right?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Happy twenty-fourth day of Christmas Jackson & Andrew! Santa will be here in just 1 DAY! Today will be a busy day preparing for Santa's arrival and Jesus' birthday! First, make some cookies to leave for Santa and then get ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at church.

Grammy and Pop also arrived on Christmas Eve so the afternoon was spent having fun with them. My little helper had a short attention span, but he did enjoy assisting with the clean-up!

We sneaked in some pictures before we left for the Christmas Eve service at church. And my my, those boys were looking handsome!

We were all delighted to have Grammy and Pop join us for Christmas!

We actually arrived at church early enough to take advantage of the photo booth! I absolutely love these!

My absolute favorite moment of Christmas this year was hearing Jackson singing "Away in a Manger" with all of his heart during the Christmas Eve service. Perhaps he also attracted the attention of fellow churchgoers in the surrounding rows, but it was the sweetest sound to this mama's ears. =)

We returned home after the service, ate a little supper and then sampled those cookies we made earlier.

Jackson made sure that Alfie and Santa wouldn't go hungry, and then we convinced him that Santa was waiting for him to go to bed so that he could visit our house!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Elf on the Shelf--Final Week and Goodbye

Alfie got a little tired near the end of his visit and/or we forgot to take a picture of his antics. Here's how he wrapped up at our house...

Hanging out on the little tree in Jackson's room.
Not pictured: Riding the dinosaurs and admiring the snow globe Jackson made us at his school. We decided that Alfie is not a travelling elf, so he did not make the trip with us to the cabin in the woods.

On Christmas Eve, Alfie pulled one more prank...crepe papering Jackson's bedroom door while he was sleeping! Jackson was not at all pleased with his prank. Of course this would be the day that Jackson decided to wake up in the middle of the night to come to our room, so he was more frustrated than amused. When I went upstairs the next morning, I found that he had painstaking pulled down all of the crepe paper, and even pulled off all of the tape that he could reach. I can just picture him there in the middle of the night indignantly cleaning up Alfie's mess. When I asked him about it, he said "That naughty Alfie trapped me in my room! That was very bad." Poor Alfie.

But since it was Christmas Eve and therefore his last day with us, he left a special goodbye letter.

The letter said:

Dear Jackson & Andrew,

I have had so much fun being a part of your family for the last month! You guys sure have a lot of fun around here.

As much fun as my visit has been and as much fun as tomorrow morning will be, I hope that you remember the true reason for the season. Christmas is Jesus birthday! Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and he loves you more than anyone in the whole worldeven more than your mommy and daddy (and they love you a whole lot!) Show God how thankful you are for sending us his son by being kind and generous all year long.

Today is my last day with you. When you wake up tomorrow, I will be gone but there will be presents from Santa under the tree!

But since its my last day and tonight I will be flying back to the North Pole in Santas sleigh, I wont need magic to fly. So that means for today only, its okay to touch me, hug me, and play with me. Before you go to bed tonight though, be sure to put me by the Christmas tree so Santa can find me when he comes to visit your house!

I cant wait to see you next year!


Thanks to Alfie's last prank, Jackson wasn't too keen on playing with him, but did give him a goodbye hug and insisted that he, too, needed to be left with cookies. 

Goodbye, Alfie! We had so much fun with you and look forward to seeing you next year!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

East Texas Christmas

Friday, December 20, 2013
Happy twentieth day of Christmas Jackson & Andrew! Santa will be here in just 5 days! Over the rivers and through the woods—to Grammy and Pop’s house we go! 

We worked all the way through Friday afternoon, so we arrived in Nac around dinner time where the Dufrene family Christmas was happening the next morning! Good thing we didn't have to wait long--there were at least two little people who couldn't wait for Christmas to start.

We woke up the next morning and Santa had come!

We ate a little breakfast and enjoyed the whole family being in one place!

You would think that you could get at least a little smile out of a couple of boys who were about to open about a dozen presents each....

All of Santa's Helpers had to get ready to pass out all of the presents...

We began with the traditional reading of the birth of Jesus, acted out by all of the kiddos. Even sweet Andrew got to play a part this year!

And then the present opening commenced!

While the boys both got spoiled with so many wonderful gifts, Uncle Matt wins the prize for coolest present...a chain saw, oh boy! 

Jackson tormented everyone with it carried it around for the rest of the day, and even brought it to bed with him that night!

Christmas is exhausting!

We napped and then prepped for our traditional Christmas dinner. Our menu is always a little bit different, but the spirit of it can be traced back to Christmas Eve at my Grandmother's house where she would cook for days to prepare a spread of richly delicious appetizers and sweets.

After we stuffed ourselves (and popped a few Tums!) we went on our hayride, my favorite new family tradition! We snuggled under blankets as we sang every Christmas carol we could remember.

After the hayride, the kids put on their festive Christmas outfits Grammy had given them and we sipped hot chocolate as we snapped pictures of each family. 

We do silly pretty well! =)

This is what happens when you ask Jackson to hug his brother....Jackson knocked Andrew over but Andrew quickly got the upper hand!

Grammy, Pop, and all their grands...well, we tried to get a good picture anyways! =)

The next day, we did our snow activity for all of the kids. I ran out of cornstarch and had added too much shaving cream, so the mixture didn't turn out quite right. But we made the most of it!

And later that night, we traveled just a little ways over the river and through the woods (only about 2 miles) to have Christmas with Papa John and Granny at their house! 

We are so blessed to get to spend time with all of our family during the holiday season.  I love that our boys have the opportunity to make so many wonderful memories during the holidays, and will surely never doubt how much they are loved!