The Christmas season went too fast for me this year. I love everything about the month of December-- I love the snow, the infusions of red in my wardrobe (and those of my children), the opportunities to think of the Savior so constantly, the merry music wherever I go, that driving around neighborhoods to look at lights is so full of wonder and magic, that there are so many excuses to bake up something delicious. And, I may be the only person that feels this way, but I also really love the hustle and bustle of it all. I know so many people who lament the crowded malls and feverish shoppers at this time of year (my husband is one of them), but I love all of that. I honestly delight in the mall parking lot being so full and busy because it means there will be many people inside buying gifts and the crowds really do just add to my jolliness. My husband does not understand this, but it is true. I just love every little detail about this season and I love taking it all in and rolling with it rather than fighting against it. It is fun for me to be pushing my way down the aisles of Toys-R-Us along with 107 other people because it feels like we are all united in this special little club of craziness and mayhem to find the right gift to give someone you love. I know, it's a little weird.
All of that just to say that I love December and Christmas and, while not all-inclusive, this post will hopefully give me a little taste of that happiness to look back on and remember how glorious this season was and how happy Christmas is when you have a 3 year old boy named George and a 9 month old girl named Pearl.
One of the traditions that I have come to love is the annual party we have with some of our dearest friends from high school. I feel so grateful to still know and love these people that I share so many memories with. Getting together doesn't happen often enough, but when it does we have so much fun. I love that John is friends with all of these people, too. This year Matt and Sadie hosted and it was such a perfect night. Here is a picture of us all crowded together in the corner of Matt's living room :).
While we were at Matt's house some of the boys started talking about playing basketball (they all used to play Jr. Jazz together in junior high and high school), and I had the thought to have whoever could make it come up to my parents' house the next day (which happened to be Christmas Eve) and play. I am thinking this should also become a tradition. It was so much fun to sit and watch all these boys play together again. Fond memories for me, for sure.
Pearl and I watching Daddy and the others play from the window above the sport court.
Excuse the blur. The subjects did not really hold still and the light was pretty bad.
After the basketball players left (except for my husband, he stayed) we began making preparations for our annual Christmas Eve party with my mom's side of the family. This is definitely one of my most favorite things about Christmas. I am never disappointed by this party :). So much laughing that our tummies hurt and our eyes water. Also, delectable food.
And just because this is what I can pretty much be found doing at some point during each and every event that we attend:
I believe this was just after a leg lamp (a la A Christmas Story) was opened.
And my favorite photo from the party is this one of George and Parke with what they opened during our gift exchange. Mustaches and a blow up tongue, respectively.
After all the guests left we had our Christmas Eve traditions with my family. We opened our jammies and the present we got from the person who had our name this year. These blurry pictures of George opening his Superman shirt may be my favorites from the whole season. He was SO excited he could barely stand it. This is something that he had seen and wanted months ago, and when he saw what it was he could not contain himself. He squinted his eyes shut, clutched the shirt to his chest and squealed, "This is what I wanted for my WHOLE LIFE!" It was pretty much to die for. Thank you Madeline, for this very happy surprise.
Pearl wasn't quite as entertaining to watch, but she was pretty darn sweet. She was so sleepy (it was late) that she was kind of in slow motion and not totally herself. Little cutie. Her face in this first photo makes me smile, and I love the ones of her daddy giving his tired girl some lovin'.
She did manage a few smiles.
Adam had Pearl's name and I love so much that he went to Gymboree all by himself and picked her out a pair of baby jeans and a shirt. Melts my heart, I tell you. He also got her some Jazz and BYU gear, of course. Here she is opening them up.
We took our exhausted littles home to bed and woke up to our baby girl chirping happily from her crib, announcing her readiness to experience her very first Christmas. Ohhh, how I love being a mama. So much delight on days like Christmas that I can hardly stand it. We brought our little Penguin into our room with us for a bit. Daddy changed her diaper and she just smiled and smiled. She is joy, this little girl of ours.
After a few minutes of playing with Pearl, John and I decided to wake George up to go get started-- we had a busy day ahead of us. Poor little sleepy boy was not quite ready to get up (notice how he slept in his Superman shirt).
Pearl was most happy to help us wake her brother. She is very good at climbing all over people who are trying to sleep.
Once we roused him enough that he understood that it was Christmas morning he perked right up and was all smiles, ready to go see if Santa had come.
We went into Pearl's room for a few quick pictures of the babes in their Christmas jammies.
And then they were off. In fashion very typical of my children, busybody Pearl led the way while her sweet big brother followed.
His reaction when he saw presents under the tree and realized that Santa had indeed been to our home.
George was in charge of "reading" the names on the tags and passing out the presents. He was so careful to examine all of the letters on the tags and was pretty delighted to find his name on the majority of the presents. Pearl just wanted to eat the garland.
A close second to the Superman shirt for Delightful Reactions to Gifts was his "flying, orange, furry, dinosaur Pillow Pet." He had asked Santa for that exact thing (very specific, this little boy-- no mistaking what he wanted :)), and he was thrilled to find that Santa had totally delivered.
These two boys are best friends. Really, they love each other so much and their relationship brings me such deep joy. I don't even mind that I am a distant second place in the quest to be the favorite parent :). It is funny because when people see just me with George they comment on how he must be a mama's boy (he really does love me and is constantly cuddling up to me and telling me he loves me for no reason), but I just tell them that is because they haven't seen him with his daddy. Oh how I adore my boys,
Opening stockings. Pearl was pretty happy about the clementines that Santa put inside.
Pearl crawled all around, content to watch her brother open presents and happy to get a spare piece of wrapping paper here or there to chew on.
Aside from a little teething rattle that George picked out for her, we didn't buy Pearl a single present. I was feeling a little bad about it so I decided to wrap up some of the little baby food pouches that I had bought to bring along to The Beach with us. We don't really do baby food at our house (she gets bits of whatever we are eating if it is appropriate, but she still mostly just nurses), so this really was a treat for her. Even though her face in this photo would lead you to believe that she wasn't happy about this present, trust me, she was :). Holy cow, this picture cracks me up.
See, she liked them, I promise.
And this "life saver" was a hit, as well.
John and I had pretty much decided not to get each other anything real impressive. It was a pretty low key Christmas all around, and we thought it would be wise to save our pennies for other things down the road. I followed this plan, John did not. I was shocked to open up a pretty little wide angle lens for my camera. It was love at first sight. Here is a shot of our messy, Christmas-morning living room with our new lens.
A happy Christmas morning was had by all :).
We left our house in a hurricane of crinkled wrapping paper and strewn-about boxes and rushed up to my parents' house for Christmas Morning Take Two. I love having a big family and younger siblings who are still so excited about Christmas. Here is a wide angle shot of the living room before we got started on stockings.
George was so excited about his new chair and some Playmobile toys (among other things).
And although she didn't say so, I am positive Pearl was pleased as punch to be among the family members with Jazz jerseys. (We are big Jazz fans, what can I say?) How freakishly cute is the little onesie style of this jersey?
Just for kicks and giggles, check out the fantastic frog lamp that my pretty mom got from my dad. My mom and I had seen these a few months ago at a furniture store and thought they were so cool. I secretly passed this information on to my dad and he delivered (like he always does-- he is the King Gift Giver. Just ask John what my dad got him).
Christmas afternoon was spent at John's sister's house with his family and we sadly totally forgot the camera. I was bummed not to have pictures of Logan and George playing "Don't Break the Ice" together and of all of us eating a lovely lunch. Luckily we left for The Beach with all of them that night and I have plenty of pictures of that :).
Here is one:
Are you a fan of the wide angle? Mmm, I am. More to come.