Wednesday, December 31, 2014

East Texas Christmas

After a few lovely days at home, we headed to Nacogdoches for the second half of our Christmases to celebrate with the DuFrenes and the Malnars. 

The festivities at the Cabin in the Woods began with a hay ride and caroling. 

After singing every Christmas song we knew, we went inside to warm up with hot cocoa, Polar Express for the little kids and good conversation for the grown-ups.

The next morning, Santa had come (again)!

Jackson and Evie acted out the nativity story while Scarlette read the traditional scriptures.

Then Pop read the Cajun Night Before Christmas while Andrew didn't want to miss any of the pictures. =)

All of the grandkids got a picture with Santa Pop before the presents were passed out!

This is the only picture I managed to snap during the present opening...there was just too much going on. But Andrew insisted on putting on his new rain boots right away! He can already put them on all by himself (and does often). 

Jackson got a hot wheels race track that all the kids wanted to play with.

Later that night we put on our more festive clothes and stuffed our faces (again). With no agenda for the night, we just ate and talked and ate and played some games and ate some more. Yes, it was a good night just enjoying each other's company. 

The next night we celebrated with Papa John and Granny. Papa even managed to get a picture with two smiling boys! Lucky Papa--that doesn't happen often!

We are so fortunate to be able to spend time with all of those we love during the holiday. Yes, it was a very Merry Christmas, indeed!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jackson is 4 and a HALF

During all of the Christmas fun, we also observed Jackson's half birthday on the 16th. We told him "tomorrow is your half birthday buddy! You will be four and a half!" He replied by asking if we could have cupcakes for his half birthday. A funny side story about Jackson and his love for cake....while we were in DFW, we also went to my brother's 40th birthday. There were a few other treats but no cake. Jackson indignantly declared, "When I'm a big man and turn 40, there WILL BE CAKE at my party!"

So we had cake. =)

Four has been just as much fun as I suspected it would be. Jackson is a funny, articulate, expressive and smart boy. He keeps us laughing with the intelligent and wise beyond his years things that he says. He is a master negotiator, using all of those big words, handsome blue eyes and a flash of his dimple to charm his way through sticky situations. He can read about 40 sight words and I suspect he will be reading to us by his 5th birthday.

He has fully embraced his big brother role and he and Andrew play well together, mostly because Andrew is a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of guy. Jackson revels in bossing his brother around honing his leadership skills with his brother. He also asks and prays regularly for a baby sister. Haha we'll see, buddy.

He is the slowest eater in the whole world--unless it is one of his four favorite foods--pizza, quesadillas, sandwiches, or hot dogs. Those things he scarfs down in a hurry. Some of the slowness can be attributed to his tendency to admire his own reflection in any mirrored surfaces, whether that be the mirror in our china cabinet or a window at a restaurant. "Stop looking at yourself and take a bite!" is said in our house at least 10 times a day. He's pretty handsome though, so you can't hardly blame him!

At four, he can be a tad dramatic and prone to bouts of moodiness, but it's usually nothing that a few snuggles and reassurance can't solve. His primary love language continues to be physical touch.  As he's drifting off to sleep he has to be touching/rubbing mine or Justin's arm. This compulsion is both hilarious and uncanny because I did the exact same thing at his age. As such, he hates it when we wear long sleeves. =) Speaking of sleep, he has decided to start skipping some naps, though his evening behavior makes it painfully obvious the days when he has made that choice.

He is the best snuggler, a fun and funny companion, and thinks mommy is the prettiest lady in the world. 4 1/2 might just be my favorite!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Finally, Christmas Day!

I'm not sure if the boys had trouble sleeping the night before Christmas but I sure did! I knew what was waiting for them and I knew they would love it!

Is this not the best Christmas morning "first look" picture ever? =D

Waiting for them was a scooter for Andrew, a marble ramp for Jackson and a fire house/police station for them to share. What I loved is that they both initially made a beeline for their gift. Santa did well! Each boy got exactly what they had been wanting.

To say that Andrew was excited about a scooter of his very own (not one that he has to borrow from a begrudging brother) is an understatement!

The shared, unexpected gift was a hit too!

Lots of wonderful little treasures were found inside stockings...

And many wonderful things got unwrapped too! Pretty much everything Jackson opened he declared "this is just what I wanted!" I love his exuberant, grateful heart! Except clothes. The clothes he tossed aside and said "Ick! Double nuggets (the worst insult he can come up with)! Clothes!" Mommy was grateful for the clothes, anyway.

Once every gift had been unwrapped, we had our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of monkey bread and a delicious casserole.

After we stuffed our faces, we headed outside to try out that new scooter and burn off some energy/calories. Granted, Andrew has had the advantage of being able to practice on Jackson's scooter from the time he was big enough to reach the handlebars (around 18 months). But he is a 2 year old pro on the scooter!

He was SO proud of himself for getting to ride with big brother.

The path we took around the neighborhood is a little over a mile so Andrew needed a push from Pop by the end, but he did great!

Even Gracie had a very merry Christmas with some new catnip mice.

She was high as a kite and loving it. =)

While the boys napped, we prepared the feast and then had a lovely Christmas dinner. The presents and excitement of the day is fun, but it was the people we were able to share it with that made it the happiest of Christmases.

Throughout the day, we made sure that the reason for the celebration was not lost.

Jackson and Andrew led us all in the sweetest rendition of "Happy Birthday Jesus" and eagerly helped blow out the candles.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Twas the Night(s) before Christmas...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Happy twenty-third day of Christmas Jackson & Andrew! Santa will be here in just 2 days! Let’s do one more Christmas craft! Get out the paints and help mommy make a Christmas memory of your precious hands that she will treasure forever.

They helped me make this Christmas tree canvas with their little hands. Love it! I think we are still going to go back and add some thumbprint "ornaments", but you get the idea!

We also finally got to paint our salt dough ornaments!

Nana had arrived and got to help too!

I love how these turned out!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
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 a birthday cake for Jesus and then get ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at church. When you get home, make some cookies to leave for Santa and don’t forget the carrots for the reindeer!

The morning of Christmas Eve started out with our special scavenger brought to us by Alfie, followed by Gram and Pop's arrival. The boys had fun just playing with Gram and Pop (and Alfie). See if you can spot Alfie in each of these pictures....he went pretty much everywhere with Jackson that day except for church (he would have gone there too if we had let him!)

When Jackson woke up from his nap, he helped me make the cake. He is really a great helper. He loves to crack eggs and he is really good at it!

Later in the evening we went to church for the Christmas Eve service at our church and it was fantastic. We took advantage of actually being out of our PJs for a change and took a few pictures before we walked out the door.

A yummy dinner of taco soup was waiting for us in the crock pot when we came home. Jackson and Andrew got baths while the cookies for Santa were baking and then had a little snack while we read The Night Before Christmas and Gaston the Green Nosed Alligator.

The boys didn't forget the carrots for the reindeer and gave Alfie some final hugs and kisses before they went to bed.

And then Santa came! No, really, Santa came!!!

Eeeeek! Christmas was fun as a kid, but it's even more fun as a parent!