Sunday, January 1, 2017

Christmas & New Year's Eve 2016

Is it just me or did this holiday season absolutely fly by!? I still can't believe that Christmas is over even though I spent the day putting our decorations away and vacuuming the last of the tree remnants. In an effort to save time, and since we are nearly a week out from Christmas, I thought I'd recap both Christmas and New Years in one post. So here goes...

As many of you know, December is a crazy time of year for our family with Jake working insane hours and me attempting to keep the tiny humans fed, bathed, and breathing. It didn't seem possible to pull off my previous advent activities this year (mostly due to a busy work schedule and a complete lack of planning on my part due), but we did display the calendar above Taylor's bed to give her room a little extra holiday flare. Although daily activities were out, we still managed to complete plenty of holiday traditions to get us in the Christmas spirit. We covered the house in garland and lights, wore lots of festive outfits, decorated Taylor's little tree with a slew of handmade ornaments, made (and ate) Christmas cookies, watched every Christmas movie on Netflix at least five times, and sang Christmas songs nonstop. Whew, it's exhausting just thinking about it!

A few days before Christmas, Jake was able to get off early enough to join us for a trip to Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro for our annual Santa photo. And wouldn't you know that after three years of failed photos, Taylor walked right up to Santa and sat on his lap without a single tear! I couldn't believe it. Logan was his usual calm and collected self, sitting on the strange man's lap, checking out his beard, and looking everywhere but at the camera. Overall, I was pretty pleased. No smiles but no tears. I'll take it!

Since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, we planned to travel to my parent's house on Christmas Eve which meant that Santa made his visit to our house on Friday night. The kids had a great time opening their gifts Saturday morning while Jake and I drank coffee and continuously pulled wrapping paper out of Logan's mouth. Taylor is one of those kids that takes her sweet time opening presents, and since she did the majority of the unwrapping (since Logan was too little to grasp the concept) it took the entire morning to get through every package. But once they were open the kids went straight to playing, Taylor zipping down the hall on her new scooter and Logan chewing on every animal that came with his Little People barnyard set. But the best sight of all had to be Logan taking his first steps with his new walker! As soon as we gave it to him, he pulled himself up and took off as if he'd done it a hundred times before. 

Later that afternoon, we changed out of our jammies, loaded the car to maximum capacity, and headed south to my hometown. We attended the Christmas Eve service at church that evening then followed it up with our Christmas Eve traditions: making chicken pot pie for dinner, decorating a gingerbread house, and letting the tot open one present before bed.

Christmas happened to fall on a Sunday this year, so we spent the morning at church celebrating the true meaning of the season before heading to my grandmother's house for dinner (which is actually lunch, but everyone in my family refers to the noon meal as "dinner"). We ate until our bellies were full then laid the kids down for a nap so the grown ups could catch up and eat pie. That afternoon when my sister and her family arrived, we begrudgingly took family photos then dove headfirst into more presents (and another slice of pie). We all received entirely too many gifts and are so fortunate to have such a wonderful extended family!

The next morning, we headed to my sister's house for brunch and to have our immediate family Christmas. Taylor is on a-whole-nother level at my sister's house due to the abundance of kids, toys, and attention, so it was no surprise to see her bouncing off the walls as soon as we walked in the door. Logan woke up at 6:30 that morning which meant he was ready for a nap by the time we arrived, so we laid him down and let the kids open presents while he slept. We spent the rest of the morning playing both inside and out, and when Logan awoke from his slumber nearly three hours later, the little kids helped him open his presents as well. He absolutely loved that little rocking horse! We spent the rest of the day being lazy and enjoying each other's company, a welcome break from the busy weekend we had just encountered.

Jake and I were fortunate to have a few days off over Christmas, but we were both due back in the office mid-week. Since our babysitter was closed until after the new year, we left the kids with my parents for a couple of days. I'm certain our time apart was harder on Jake and I than either of the children, because when I went to pick them up on Thursday night Taylor cried and told me she didn't want to leave. I missed you, too. Late Friday morning we finally made our way back home, just in time to get things in order to celebrate New Year's Eve! We spent the evening with friends, enjoying appetizers and a cocktail or two, then headed home around 10:30 to tuck our overly-tired babes into bed. We rang in the new year on our couch watching "The Jungle Book," champagne cocktails in hand. As I get older, my desire to go out on New Year's Eve diminishes with each passing year, so I was perfectly content bringing 2017 in at home with my best friend while our two healthy children were sound asleep. Few things in life will ever top that.

Twenty-sixteen was memorable for so many reasons. We started the year by bringing Logan into the world, making Taylor a big sister, and adding the final piece to our family puzzle. Jake lost over 40 lbs and discovered a love for running, and I took a leap of faith and embarked upon a new career path. Taylor turned three, finally mastered potty training, and gained an enormous amount of independence. Logan said his first word, learned how to crawl, and experienced his first 10 months of life. All in all, I'd say that's pretty extraordinary.

Farewell, 2016. You were an incredible year for our family, one that I will always hold near and dear to my heart.