It was the best Christmas EVER!!!

We started off Christmas Eve at my parent’s house. We exchanged gifts then headed to Rosary Cathedral for 4pm Christmas Mass.  After Mass the children wanted to take photographs of the nativity with their new cameras, we have future photographers in our family.

My little photographer

And in support of their new-found interest I will be adding a new installment to the blog titled, Kids Click and Pic, coming soon. After Mass we took a slight detour back to Nana and Papa’s so we could listen to Christmas music and look at Christmas lights.  I so enjoyed the Chorus of “Wows” from the backseat, especially our little 16 month-old who just learned the word a few days ago.

Once at Nana and Papa’s the kiddos joined the rest of the family and grabbed a plate and started munching on some yummy hors d’oeuves.

After hors d’oeuves we had dinner, lasagna from Spaghetti Warehouse, garlic bread, and Salad. We all sat and toasted to an exciting announcement, my grandfather is officially cancer free (he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer five years ago and has under gone surgeries, radiation, and has a permanent colostomy bag), the best news ever!   After dinner we all made our way into the Family Room where the smell of pine from the Christmas tree and a warm fire in the fireplace greeted us.  Once everyone found a cozy spot Papa Joe began to recite Twas the Night before Christmas, a family tradition.

The girls wanted a closer look at the pictures.

After Papa Joe has finished reading we begin to sing Christmas Carols. We always starting with Santa Claus is coming to Town, and low and behold, guess who shows up? Santa Claus!! He has been showing up for Christmas Eve at my parents’ house since I was two, I think they have his direct line. 

The kiddos were so excited to see Santa, well, almost all the kiddos.  The youngest was not a fan.

Not everyone was a huge fan of Santa.

Once Santa left we began singing again and at the end of Twelve days of Christmas we received a great surprise. My cousin called, he is a Marine stationed in Afghanistan and this is the first Christmas he has not been with family.  My Aunt passed the phone around and we all had an opportunity to say Merry Christmas.  It was an incredible way to end the best Christmas Eve ever.

Christmas morning…..

It seems like Christmas morning comes earlier and earlier each year. The kiddos became overwhelmed with excitement at 6am when they saw that Santa arrived and he ate their Christmas cookies.

I popped some Cinnamon rolls into the over, made some coffee, and then it was GAME ON!

Each child took turns opening their gift and our eldest was so eager to give us, my hubby and I, our gifts that she purchased from her school’s Santa Shop. She gave my hubby a beautiful Santa ornament which he instantly jumped up and placed on the tree.  While she gave me, a woman who is, and comes from a long line of individuals who have graduated from and/or are huge fans of Ohio State, a Michigan state ornament. Seriously!?! I wasn’t sure if I should disown her or hug her?  So hug her I did, and graciously thanked her for the lovely gift.

Future American Idol

The kiddos all seemed to really enjoy their gifts. We keep it small, each child receives four gifts, and it is perfect.  We figure their birthdays are their big celebrations and Christmas is more about spending time together and giving. 

This does not taste like chocolate chip.

Oh, and our four-legged friends also received treats from Santa which our toddler had mistaken for human food, yuck!

All three kiddos now have a table for Family Movie Night.

After we opened our gifts we packed up the car and headed over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house (and grandpa’s, my hubby and I are very fortunate that our parents are both still married, that means we only have two houses to visit).

Looks like someone else wants a Vtech
I love my new Vtech game!

Once there we opened gifts, ate dinner, and enjoyed spending time together. Then it was home for a long winters nap (until the 26th when we headed to Sauders Village for a Christmas gathering with extended family).

Then it was time to settle in for a long winters nap in matching PJs

How was your Christmas?  Any funny moments? ….Sad moments? …..Crazy gifts? Please share.

Tuesday’s Treasures: Christmas Cards Past and Present

Christmas pictures, just hearing the words make me cringe.  B.C. (Before Children), I would always admire the Christmas cards we would get in the mail of our family and friends’ adorable children.  Even once, or twice, I caught myself daydreaming about my future children’s Christmas pictures and how adorable and perfect they would appear. I would take them to some fancy photography studio and get extraordinary pictures, with them in a sleigh, or on a horse, or something grandiose.

Fast-forward to A.D. (After the delusions) and I realize that those fancy photography studios are extremely expensive.  So much so that it almost boils down to a Christmas photograph of the children, or Christmas with gifts under the tree.  No surprise, my husband and I decided the children would find more joy in the gifts than a picture of themselves.  So, we decided that with our savvy, my savvy skills, we would save the money and take the Christmas Photographs ourselves.

Well the first year was a breeze.  All we had was our little one month old to photo and she was still in that new-born phase where they sleep all day.  She was the perfect little model.

Following year she is one and refuses to sit still for one minute.  Thus, every picture I took was a blur since she kept moving.  So, I went where no mommy like to admit to going, bribery. I told her if she sits still she will get some crackers and it worked, all-be-it for a minute, but it worked. And in that minute I just kept clicking that button as fast as it would let me.  Out of 50 takes 1 was solid.

The next year we added to our brood.  We had a two-year old and a six month old.  The baby was perfect but again, the two-year old did not want to sit still.  Thus more bribery, that year was M & M.

The next year was more of the same, except the bribery kept increase. What was once just a couple of crackers had turned into cupcakes.

The following year a trip to Chuck E. Cheese was promised for the cute little smile ( how can we top that? A trip to Disney? That is one expensive photo).

But no more. No more will mommy be clearing her entire day in hopes of bribing her way to a semi-decent Christmas photo. The bribery stops this year (almost, I did bring some fruit chew snacks to reward good behavior after the pictures were taken).

This year Shuttery sponsored a Family Picture Day for our Playgroup.  We had one of our talented moms photograph everyone’s families.  We met at the Art Museum around 10am and by 6pm that evening our family’s Christmas card was ordered.  Thanks to
the help of our skilled photographer the pictures were exceptional.  The process was so easy; our photographer mom added a professional’s touches to the photos and then uploaded them to shutterfly.  Once they were uploaded she notified us, we looked through the amazing collections of photos she took, selected our favorite, perused the variety of Christmas card options Shutterfly offers, made our selection, and ordered our cards, and it was that easy.  We also saved a bundle.  The competitors’ usually only allow customers to enter one promotional code but shutterfly accepted all the codes.  We save 40% on the cards, got free shipping, and since Shutterfly sponsored the event each family received a $10 off coupon. This was a breeze compared to the past five years of whining, screaming crying (and that’s just me), and bribing.

This is the start of a beautiful family tradition.  Thanks you Allie and Shutterfly for making Christmas photos stress free.

I am off to get started on my photography books through shutterfly, they make great Christmas presents for family and friends. http://www.shutterfly.com/store/index.jsp