So. It's December 30 and Christmas was great. It's not over, of course, until "Little Christmas" on January 7 and for that, I am very thankful. I have no idea what Little Christmas actually is, or what you're supposed to do, but ever since I heard about it around Paul's parents' house sometime during our first few years of marriage, I have happily co-opted that little tradition as a way to avoid having to take down my tree for an extra week. Yeah! Below I have helpfully broken up our photos into chapters.
CHAPTER 1: PREPARATIONS
Speaking of trees...we got ours on our way home from the ball. We waited on purpose, because live trees get really cheap in the days before Christmas. We won't do it next year, though, because our house just doesn't reach an appropriate level of festiveness without a giant tree. Like that 13.5 foot monster next to Paul. I have to admit I sort of wanted it, even though it would have taken up most of our living room. It's so pretty! And we have the ceilings for it. =)
Instead, we brought home this 9.5 foot beauty and Paul proceeded to nearly kill himself climbing all over the living room tying it to various hooks because we couldn't get the darn thing to stand straight in the stand on its own. It's a Frasier fir, btw, and it smells divine.
Gingerbread houses were a big success! We used stage plank gingerbread from a recipe my aunt sent us and it worked beautifully. My advice is this: roll out the gingerbread on upside-down cookie sheets (put damp kitchen towels underneath the cookie sheets so they don't scoot all over and drive you nuts) and instead of breaking the corners off all the pieces (see Carly's house) as you try to pry them up with a spatula, just flex the cookie sheet a little and they'll pop right off. ALSO, pirouline cookies make excellent interior corner supports in case you're like me and end up with pieces that don't exactly line up, and cake stands are much cuter than cardboard for display purposes. =)
Our card circle. I love seeing all our friends and family's faces - it's so neat to look through and see who we met in California, friends from Louisiana, people we met in Quantico, friends I've had since junior high...it's easily my favorite holiday decoration.
CHAPTER 2: CHRISTMAS EVE
Ready for church! My crazies did pretty well during the mass even though they were all a little sleepy and sneezy. Carly sang all the carols and Bree even piped up for a couple of them - very sweet.
We got back home and let the girls watch the cartoon version of the Grinch while we began our annual Feast of Somewhere Around Seven, Give or Take, Fishes. Every year is a little different, but this years menu was:
Smoked Salmon Toasts with dill cream cheese and cucumber
Emeril's Clam Chowder*
Crab Stuffed Salmon Roll
Crab Cake Bites
Sauteed Bay Scallops with lemon butter*
*didn't get eaten that night
About halfway through the meal (Paul: it's a marathon, not a sprint!) we tucked our children snug in their beds and the real fun began! As always, we turned on National Lampoon's Holiday Vacation, opened a bottle of wine and started setting up for the morning. SO fun! My favorite!
Getting into elf mode. =)
Over many protestations, I went with a silver and white tree this year. December has been so, so hectic, I was craving simplicity. I love the way it turned out.
CHAPTER 3: CHRISTMAS DAY
Christmas morning is my favorite mess. Yes I know it's a shallow, consumeristic glut, but it's fun. I say it every year, but it's about a hundred times better as a parent than it is as a child. As they opened all their wonderful gifts from us and that had been shipped from my side of the family (the ones from Paul's side of our family were delivered by his parents a couple of days later), we heard lots of "oh WOW look at THIS!" It was super fun and tough to pick a favorite.
The weather was absolutely perfect, so while we waited for the grill to warm up, we took a walk down to the sound. That sort of looks like snow in the background of this picture, but it's just the water of the sound.
Our menu for Christmas Day:
Brie and Crackers with fig preserves
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Pioneer Woman Mashed Potatoes
PW Burgundy Mushrooms
Orange and Ginger Glazed Grilled Ham
Homemade Pies: Buttermilk, Pecan
CHAPTER 4: GUESTS!
My sister came down a couple of days before Christmas, then drove six hours to my Grandad's, and back up again, returning to us on Christmas night. She had to be back up north to move, so we only got her for one day after that, but we were so happy to see her! I cannot wait until we live closer to family, seriously. This being most of a day's drive away from anyone is for the birds. =)
MomMom and PopPop arrived the day after we had to say goodbye to Auntie K and they brought our second Christmas with them! Then we proceeded to force them to complete more craft projects in one afternoon than they've done in their entire lives to date. =)
Like duct tape bracelets. (SO COOL!)
Or adorable awesome fashion paper dolls.
CHAPTER 5: THE RECOVERY
We had to say goodbye to MomMom and PopPop last night after dinner because they left straight from their hotel this morning. Bree proceeded to sleep most of the day, which would ordinarily have me in a fit of panic sure that she was down with some horrible virus, but she really just needed to sleep. Fortunately for her, Paul needed to sleep a lot, too, and when he finally emerged at noon, I was ready to tag in for a nice lazy afternoon of reading fairy tales from his Kindle and snoozing in between making a huge tray of macaroni and cheese and a couple more pies for a neighborhood party that Bree and I did not attend.
We stayed in not because I think she's really all that sick but because, honestly, if I were at a party and someone was like, yeah my four year old over there with the slight cough was sleeping like ALL day and she didn't even get hungry until about 4, I would want to punch that person in the face and/or shake some sense into them. So, since I like to not be a big jerk when it comes to kids and communicable diseases, we stayed home and drank tea and watched Brave. Again.
Here are the bookends with me and Sleeping Beauty sometime around 4pm today.
So that's about it!
We have a low-key New Year's Eve and day planned and hopefully I'll get that posted in a more timely manner. If you need me I will be at the gym - I can feel the flab reverberating as I type, which is not a condition I enjoy very much and will need to change ASAP. =)