These next couple of pics are one one of the additions to my Christmas decor collection. My mom and dad had tons of pine cones fall from their trees this year. My mom gathered them and we had an all day pine cone craft day at her house. We made these cute jute and pine cone garlands, as well as the glitter and scented pine cones in the little basket under the tree in the photo above. The above photo doesn't do them justice, you can't see how sparkly they really are. They catch the light from the Christmas tree and look sooo pretty!!
This was the other addition to my decor this year. I got the idea from my little Sister Marianne. There are 24 bags to represent the 12 days of Christmas for Bradley and Elli. It was fun for them to wake up each day and see what their surprise was. The main thing I gave them was a 10 piece nativity. By Christmas Eve they had every piece set out on a little table downstairs. The others were little treats and a couple of puzzles. It was a lot of fun, and I think it is something we will do every year.
This is our 13' tree in the living room. It's the only room on the house where the tree fits (other than the storage room). It's a good thing we have one room that is has such high ceilings.
Wayne went out the weekend before Thanksgiving and cut down a beautiful tree for us. We had it decorated for Thanksgiving, so we've been able to enjoy it for a month now. We had this one downstairs, and this is the tree Santa left everything under.
My sister Marnie and her family came down for Christmas. We hadn't finished decorating the castle yet, so we took it up to my mom's and had the cousins help finish it. They all had a great time, and they all ended on sugar highs from all the candy they ate while they decorated. From left to right is Elise, Elli, Paige, Ian, Bradley and Isaac.
On Christmas Eve we had lunch at my mom's. She decided on lunch this year so that we could all be home to do our own thing on Christmas Eve. We had 4 different soups to choose from: chicken and wild rice, hamburger, clam chowder, and homemade tomato. They were all delicious! We also had our traditional Swedish rice pudding, and a plethora of other desserts and snack foods. After we ate, we had a Christmas recital. All of Kim's kids, Marnie's 2 oldest and Bradley played songs on the piano. They all did a great job. The really nice thing about these recitals is that it builds their confidence a lot! Bradley was really proud of himself, and so was I!! (in the photo above is Marianne, Noah, and Joel)
Here is Ian, Elise, Eric, Paige and Marnie. I am so glad we get to have them for a week and a half. Ian and Elli have really bonded. All the kids get along really well.
Grandpa Stocking. As he left he was sure to tell me that he's planning on sticking around for another Christmas. I said I was going to hold him to it!
This is Josh. He is Kim's oldest, and the oldest cousin. He is really talented, and if you can't find him in with everyone, it's because he snuck away to play the piano. I think it's awesome that he loves it as much as he does! He's only 15, but has been called as their ward organist.
This was Noah's performance. He was singing a song with his mom, but he didn't want us to see him doing it, so he covered his eyes. What a cutie!
My cousin Abbey was able to join us. He husband is doing his residency, and had to work. Abbey's mom (my aunt Joan) is my mom's twin sister, and they live out of state. So we love being able to fill in the family gap when we can. Abbey's son Ben recited a Robert Frost poem for us. He is 5 years old, and impressed us all with his poem. Her 2nd son, sitting on her lap, is sweet little Max. We love that they live so close now!!
Silly Noah! After the program we all passed out gifts from Grandma and Grandpa, as well as the family gifts. Mom gave all the kids new pajamas, and even though it was the middle of the afternoon, most of the kids ran to the bathroom or bedrooms to change into them. Bradley put his on and they didn't come off until December 26th in the morning when I made him finally get dressed. I put together a book on my publisher for my brother. He is an excellent photographer, so I thought it would be fun to take some of his best photos and put them in a book for him. He loved it! Marianne gave us a movie. It's from the Book, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey. It was really well done, and is mow a Holiday favorite of mine.
Christmas morning for us starts a little later than many households. Bradley thought he would wake up early, so he took our little DVD player into his room in case he would need something to keep his mind off of what Santa left downstairs for him. You see, we can't look at the tree until after we have eaten our traditional breakfast. I got up at 6 to put it in the oven. We have a yummy sausage breakfast casserole with some of breakfast bread. Bradley woke up at about 7:20, so we ate around 7:30 and then woke Elli up. She normally sleeps until 9, but Bradley would have died if we would have made him wait that long. He was so anxious to see if Santa brought what he wanted him to.
Santa brought Elli the stuffed pig from If You Give A Pic A Pancake, and the mouse from If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.
Santa brought Bradley a new BB/pellet gun, 2 Wii games, a new backpack and a few backpack supplies. The family did get what Bradley had been longing for, it is in the next photo.
This is what Bradley wanted more than anything else. He has been having so much fun playing games with Wayne and his cousins. He has been pretty good to get all his chores done first too. I think it will be something that we will all be able to enjoy.
Here they all coming down to see what Santa brought.......
Bradley dove to the ground too fast for me to capture on film when he saw the Wii. He was smiling from ear to ear though.
This is how the morning was for little Elli. She was pretty tired since we woke her up, so it took her a good 20 minutes to get into the whole Christmas morning experience.
They were reading the specs on the gun.
She started to get into a little here.
For a few weeks now Elli has been able to tell people that Santa brings toys. But on Christmas Eve someone asked her what toys she wanted Santa to give her and she kept saying ducks. Well Santa wasn't prepared for that little surprise, but thanks to Alan and Crystal, he pulled it off anyway. She got her little duck. I have no idea where the duck idea originated.
Dad got a couple of candles for his office. (he keeps a candle warmer in his office) Elli loves to smell them, and bring them over to us often to open them up for her.
Elli gave Bradley a Snakes Eyes GI Joe action figure.
Bradley gave Elli one of the strawberry shortcake dolls to use in her dollhouse that I did for her. This is the lemon doll. She now has Strawberry, Lemon and Plum.
Bradley got a signed copy of Rupunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale. It's a really fun adventure book. He has almost finished it.
Wayne got a massage chair to sit in after his long tax season days. We have all been enjoying it!
Elli got a few more strawberry shortcake dolls and accessories to play with in her doll house.
Here she is giving Strawberry Shortcake a kiss.
After we opened all the gifts, we watched UP. Elli had to have her new friends right next to her for the movie.
Sunday afternoon we drove down to Wayne's parents for our Christmas party with them. Elli slept the whole way down. She was pretty tired because we woke her up to go to 9:00 church where Wayne was speaking. It was a good practice run, because we will be switching next Sunday to 9:00 church- HOORAY!!!
After a yummy lunch, we all gathered to exchange gifts. It takes about 2 hours to do this because there are so many people, and Wayne's mom does it one at a time to make sure that everyone sees what everyone gets. Even though it takes a long time, I like it this way. It's fun to watch the kids open their presents and hold them up with huge grins on their faces for all to see. It's always a fun time!
Here is Grandma handing out one of the gifts.
Here is Elli playing with Amberli. All the little girls loved Elli. This is Elli's first time being able to come down with this side of the family. Her first Chritmas was in the hospital, and last Christmas we were still too worried about her little immune system to have her around this many people, so everyone was excited to have Elli there! Especiallly us!!
Here is Elli playing with the oldest granddaughters, Heidi on the left, and Loni in the middle.
Braldey got a box of life cereal, just kidding, he got another GI Joe character and a brand new homemade pillowcase from his Aunt Crystal. Thanks Crytal!!
Here you can see 18 or so of the 52 people we had together in this room. Now you know why it takes 2 hours to pass out and open the gifts. :)
Look at those sweet eyes, isn't she just soooo cute!!
Bradley had so much fun with his cousins. He spent the night at Grandma's house while Wayne, Elli and I went back to Sharmi's for the night. We went back down on Monday and all the cousins went sledding, even though it was only about 7 degrees outside. They had such a great time. They always do! I am always amazed how even the older cousins will get down and play with the little cousins. They all make sure they everyone is involved and having a good time. They are great kids!!
Our family had Heidi's name this year, and this is what I madeher. It can be used on this side for the holidays, and she can turn the blocks to the other side for the rest of the year. It was a fun project to make.
This is how we all felt on Monday afternoon after days of playing with family. We have had a marvelous Christmas break so far!
We are grateful for the reason behind the Christmas season. Just as the angel pronounced to the shepherds to fear not, we too have no need to fear. We know what the good tiding of great joy are! We know the plan of salvation, we know that Christ is our Savior, and we are happy and have hope in the future because we know these things!
Merry Chritmas and Happy New Year!