Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Day 2016

Finally it was Christmas! We used the boys' genius "wake up" clock again and told them under no circumstances could they leave their room before the light turned green! And then set our clock for 15 minutes earlier so we could be in place when they came downstairs. Gram and Pop got their coffee and I was ready with the camera for the first look!

I love how they always automatically beeline towards their individual presents, even though Santa doesn't put any tags on the gifts he leaves! A hot wheels race track for Jackson, a monster truck set for Andrew, Little People set and ball popper for Ben and Magna Tiles for everyone to share. Oh boy! Andrew and Jackson equally enjoyed each other's presents though!

Stockings came next and I have to say that Santa knocked it out of the park with stocking stuffers this year. Take all the other gifts back because the whoopee cushions were the hit of the morning! It doesn't get any funnier than a whoopee cushion when you're a 4 or 6 year old boy. Pop has a mallard duck beanie baby that Andrew attaches himself to every time we are at their house. Well what do you know, Santa brought him his very own Mr. Quackers! He was so excited! And a Cardinal (like Jackson's school mascot) for Jackson and a little lamb for Ben. Plus lots of other fun stuff!

 New this year was that Jackson read all the tags and distributed all the gifts!

Benjamin was also quite the active participant in the present opening compared to last year. Though big brothers were still quite eager to "help" him!

There are now hexbugs crawling all over the house...

And I've tripped over new Paw Patrol dogs more than a few times!

Oh boy a new mohawk helmet! Maybe this will inspire Jackson to finally take the plunge to learning how to ride that two-wheeler bike!

Quick! Take the requisite pictures with all the loot before it gets strewn all around the house!

The big boys were eager to get dressed so they could go outside to use their silly string. Their favorite target is Pop!

As an additional example of our unseasonable temperatures, Jackson captured a butterfly on Christmas Day. I know better than to dream of a White Christmas, but seriously?

The boys put the finishing touches on Jesus' birthday cake just before lunch. They couldn't agree on the type of sprinkles to use, so they each got to decorate half. I'm sure Jesus didn't mind, he had brothers afterall so I'm sure he understands!

We ate a delicious lunch that was prepared by lots of helping hands and cake of course for dessert!

The rest of our day was really just peaceful and easy. We pretty much didn't leave the living room for the rest of the day. Gram and Pop headed out after lunch for their next stop and we settled in for our traditional viewing of A Christmas Story. The boys played with all of their new toys until bedtime. It was a perfect day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was a whirlwind of activity of the very best kind!

After Alfie's treasure hunt, we got right to work making the birthday cake for Jesus. Jackson read all the directions and is really a big help. Andrew is a very eager helper as well!

We prepared lunch and then Grammy and Pop arrived! The boys squealed with excitement and pounced on them as soon as they pulled into the driveway as if we hadn't just seen them 17 hours earlier! After nap, we headed to the early Christmas Eve service at church. It was 80 degrees, but we tried our best to look festive!

We loved having Gram and Pop with us for Christmas!

17 Christmases together with my love! This year marks the year that I have spent half of my life's Christmases with him. Isn't that crazy?

The church service was's always one of my favorite nights of the year. We came home to a simple dinner and then headed out to see the lights at Central Park. We had only gone there this year during the rainy Christmas at the Park event and the boys had been asking to go back when we could walk around. 

Andrew said his little legs were tired. =)

The purple tree is always a highlight of Christmas at the Park. It is best viewed from inside of it, looking up. Andrew has a unique approach to this (and yes, he's wearing shorts...on Christmas Eve...Merry Texas Christmas y'all!).

It is popular to stand underneath and spin to really appreciate the dizzying effect. Pop also has a unique approach to this!

We made it home to whip up some cookies for Santa. Jackson decided that this year the reindeer didn't need carrots...they would prefer deer corn so he asked Pop to bring some. I wanted to put the deer corn in a bowl, but he insisted that we should just leave them in the container Pop brought it in so Santa could take it with him. Because clearly the reindeer don't come down the chimney with Santa so it needed to be in a portable container. Duh, mom.

We read The Night Before Christmas while the boys sampled Santa's cookies.

Finally, these three precious boys were headed to bed, with ears peeled for the sound of Santa's sleigh bells!

And with the children nestled all snug in their beds, Santa came!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Alfie's Last Week & Grand Farewell

Alfie kicked off his last week with us by seeing the boys off for their last two days at school.

The next day was the boys' last day of school, so he brought them a special breakfast...their favorite snownuts!

That night we headed to Grammy and Pop's house and who do you think was there to greet us when we arrived?

The next morning we found him on the dessert table, sampling the snickerdoodles the boys made with Grammy!

The last morning at Grammy and Pop's he had some quality time with his cousin elves.

We made it home for Christmas Eve, which is Alfie's last day with us. He left the boys a letter and one last trick.
The letter said: 

Dear Jackson, Andrew & Benjamin,

What a blast we have had together over the last few weeks! The weeks I spend with you three boys are definitely the best part of my year.  I often boast to all of the other scout elves that I have the BEST family!

Tomorrow is Christmas Day! 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 all the fun. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday! Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and he loves you more than anyone in the whole world—even more than your mommy and daddy (and they love you a whole lot!) Show God how thankful you are for sending his son by being kind, generous, and your very best selves 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! Since it’s my last day and tonight I will fly back to the North Pole in Santa’s sleigh, I won’t need magic to fly. So you know what that means! Today you can touch me, hug me, and play with me. Before you go to bed tonight just put me by the Christmas tree so Santa can find me when he comes to visit your house! I smelled all the goodies Mrs. Clause was preparing for our Christmas Party tonight and I do not want to miss it!

I didnt forget how much you love my treasure hunts! I hope you have your thinking caps on because my clues are a little harder this year!

I can’t wait to see you next year!

Love, Alfie

They were eager to get started on their treasure hunt. I did my best to keep up with them as they ran up and down the stairs and out the door! The first clue that Alfie was holding said:

Clue #1
Rudolph is the lead reindeer
because his nose can always be seen.
For your first clue,

check where our clothes go to get clean.

The laundry room, of course!

Clue #2
The best part of this time of year
is spending time with family, from far and near.
Gram and Pop will be here today!

Can you find something in the room where they stay?
Quick, up the stairs to the guest bedroom!

Clue #3
After a long day of Christmas joy,
and playing with all those great new toys,
It must be time to sleep on a bed,

Look in the place where your mommy rests her head.

Clue #4 
At Christmastime, we find joy in the gifts we give.
For clue number four,

look where your clothes live.

Clue #5
Time to get ready for this special day,
Wash your body and hair I do say.
You take a bath, but sometimes a shower

Hope your clue didn’t get wet from all that water power!
Is it in this shower? Nope!

Mom and Dad's bathroom!

Clue #6
We’ve had so much fun with an activity each day
Spending time together while we wait for Santa’s sleigh.
Around the tree outside we had our snowball fight,

Perhaps a clue is there, much to our delight!

Out to the front yard, look in the tree!

Clue #7
In this room used for cooking, lots of holiday treats we will bake
In fact, in just a little while we will make a cake!
Look in the oven where we’ll put the whole lot,

Just check to make sure that clue is not hot!
The oven!

Clue #8
I hope youve had fun
Finding all the clues
You can find the special gift

Where we keep our shoes!

Inside the box they found our Night Before Christmas book, the supplies to make the birthday cake for Jesus and a barrel of monkeys (because that's how much fun Alfie is, of course!)

After playing their new game, we got right to work on the cake while Alfie looked on.

And of course if you help make the cake, you get to lick the beaters. Alfie watched, but unfortunately was not offered even a lick!

Alfie went everywhere with us during the day and ended the night reading The Night Before Christmas.

Goodbye Alfie! We will miss the excitement and giggles you bring each day! Until next year...