We have an amazing ward, we get so many neighbor gifts every year around Christmas time. It's not because Travis is the bishop or anything, from the first year we moved I felt like everyone in the ward came by to drop something sweet off. I took a few pictures of a lot of the treats and sweet things because this is always a fun time of year and the kids just love answering the door during December. One night we literally had 10 neighbor gifts/treats dropped off, the kids thought it was so much fun.
We did about 28 neighbor gifts which I thought was pretty good but I was talking to Michelle Allen and every year she does 87 neighbor gifts with the names and the driving route all printed out. Impressive right?!?!
I don't think neighbor gifts should be stressful but it can be at times just because I worry about people feeling left out and I keep wishing I could do more because as we were driving to drop them off we kept driving past families homes we missed. Maybe one year I will aspire to Michelle Allen's ability but very doubtful.
Chan gave sent everyone one of these perpetual calendars, I have wanted one but I didn't know what they were called. I love it, Chan is always so thoughtful!
This is Ryan Loose Jr., he is the youngest of one of Travis's counselors (Ryan Loose). Travis said he doesn't know if he's ever seen someone so ready to be baptized when he interviewed him. Ryan was the happiest and most excited little thing, he is so adorable!
I took the kids ice skating and Kesler actually let go of the sides, even though he crawled out into the middle and then stood up and was able to skate around a little.
We got to go to the First Presidencies Christmas devotional this year with Andrea and McKenzie! Jesse works for the church as an electrician and he was on call for this and got us great seats, it was such a great experience.
My grandma and grandpa could not stop talking about how adorable to production was. Grant was baby Jesus and his little pot belly was poking through his shirt the whole time. He let the girls drag him around as part of the pay. Grant snatched Megan's bowl of ice cream while she was distracted (acting out one of the wise men). He was sitting on Marley's (Mary's) lap while eating his ice cream and when the wise men came to kneel before him Megan noticed he took her ice cream! Travis told her to look at it as her gift to the baby Jesus. The kids love to act out the nativity and we always have a lot of fun with it.
Megan is such a fun little drama queen!
It was so good this year! The Thorpes (a new family that just moved in our ward) were in charge of it. They had everything centered on the Savior. Beautiful musical numbers, one with the primary kids, presentation on the characters from the nativity, and an INCREDIBLE closing speaker... my husband :)
Kesler asked for candy.
I always look forward to this dinner out with these great people!
Marley and Kaydence were running a little late one morning on their way to school and Marley slipped on the ice and fell on her face. She got a scab just under her nose. The next morning as I was doing her hair she was frowning in the mirror and started to tear up a little. When I asked her what is wrong she said that she is ugly now with the sore on her face! She told me that Robert, the boy who always looks at her and smiles, looked at her after her accident and didn't smile. Which to her was more proof that she was now ugly. She is my sunshine girl because her beauty really come from within and shines so much brighter than any scab could ever obstruct. I told her the scab really isn't as bad as she thinks it is, I took a picture to show her. She is so beautiful inside and out.
Gingerbread houses are always so fun!!!
We have not had snow like this in YEARS! I cannot even remember a year where we got this much, in Idaho they've had about 7 days out of school (most in the next month, January). We really haven't been having as much snow in Utah, it's been melting and raining then snowing again but definitely more this December than in any previous since we've lived here.
My parents came down the weekend before Christmas weekend and we celebrated with them. We started it off with going downtown to see the Christmas lights (it just happened to be the coldest day of the year).
Saturday morning my dad made his famous biscuits and gravy (Christmas morning tradition). Then my parents gave the kids all their Christmas presents from them! The kids were in HEAVEN!
Grandma and Grandpa got Kesler this Superman and two boxes of these magnetic building pieces that are really fun.
They got Marley a beautiful locket, 4 barbie dolls (Ever After High & Monster High), and a canteen bottle you can decorate.
Grandma and Grandpa got Kaydence two awesome wigs, a locket, and a canteen to decorate.
Grant got this remote truck, a cute dog that wags it's tail, barks, and walks across the floor.
Travis and my dad surprised us with tickets to the Broadway show, The Lion King!!! I'm so excited!!!
My mom and I went shopping! It was so much fun... I had to record my findings.
While Travis was at the gym after work we snuck away and got our pictures taken by Hannah Atkinson. She is just starting out wanting to get into photography so it was only $20, pretty sweet. And I loved how a few of them turned out. I used these pictures for a gift I made for Travis for Christmas. A frame that had, "and this is my JOY". I also had these wooden plates that had little pictures on them and plaques that read "Dad's #1 Fan Club".
Dates with Dad
These were their choices of what they wanted to do with dad this year.
Our Christmas Eve
We played some games as a family.
Christmas Eve Dinner, our young men have a deep fry night every summer where they put tons of things in the deep fryer and I thought maybe this could be a unique Christmas Eve tradition. Well it was a bust. We had deep fried Doritos crusted chicken, corn dogs, and tater tots... yeah it wasn't awesome or pretty.
But we had our candle lit fondue dessert and where we make goals for the next year and chose our gifts for the Savior. That tradition will remain. If you have any ideas for a great unique Christmas eve dinner please leave it in the comments (we've done roasts, hams, turkeys, steak, or ribs in the past but those are things we have on Sundays, so not as special).
That night it was raining and I still wanted to go on a walk to go see the lights again. No one else really wanted to go and Travis and the kids were setting up their Christmas Eve Fort to sleep in, so I took Grant and we walked around it, got our "RootDeers", and came back home. The lights are so magical, I would walk around looking at lights every evening if I could, I love it.
Then we came home and opened our Christmas Eve gifts, pajamas, and beanies babies. I just love how much our kids get excited for these gifts every year. Grants were too tight, they were for a baby that is much skinner than our Granster.
Once again I was one of the first one awake (and last asleep). I get so excited it's so hard for me to sleep and Kaydence was having the same kind of night. She woke up at midnight, at 4 am, and then just before 6 am. She has been asking if Santa Claus is real and she was wanting to see if she could see him. When she's asked me in the past if he's real I always respond with, "well what do you think" and last year after I said that she asked, but no I want to know what you believe. I told her I would tell her if she asked me later alone without the kids around. She never asked me and I could tell she still wanted to believe. This year was different, she wanted to know and started putting things together. Travis and I don't like to play up the whole Santa Claus thing, we pull away from that and try to teach them that the true magic and wonder of Christmas is Christ. So we don't do cookies, letters, or anything like that (although the kids like to leave him notes sometimes). We were a little worried that when we told Kaydence the truth it might take away some of the magic but I really didn't think it would. Just before the Christmas when I was in first grade my sister Kathleen was talking to my older brother Taylor in the bathroom. I overheard their conversation and I was so surprised I said, "There's no Santa Clause!" My sister confirmed it and acted like everyone knew that.
So I knew when I was six and I feel like I'm one of the biggest Christmas nuts and I have always felt like it is the most magical and special time of the year and Santa doesn't have to be part of that.
Anyway, after Christmas we sat Kaydence down in our room and had a good talk with her. I could tell she was disappointed but not surprised, I'm not going to lie it made me feel sad. She is growing up and I feel like her childhood belief in everything is changing dramatically right now.
Later her and I went and had some one on one time and I shared the book, "I believe in Santa Claus" with her. It was super simple but it said what is Santa like, he wears red, has white hair, loves children, comes in the night, gives gifts, etc. Santa is a symbol of Christ.This was one of my porcelain dolls that I had when I was young and she was one of my favorites and she reminds me of Kaydence when she was a toddler (big brown eyes, pig tails, and chubby cherub cheeks).
Gifts to each other. They worked so hard to earn the money to buy each other these things for Christmas, each additional chore (on top of their daily chores) would earn them one coin/quarter. Kaydence spent six dollars, Marley spent nine, and Kesler spent four dollars. I love how invested they get in these gifts to each other... some day I'll need to increase their wages. I had them open these gifts first. They have been so excited to give each other their gifts (Marley's gift to Kaydence didn't come until after Christmas, it was two packets of magic sand but she made them both things for Christmas too).
These are the gifts I made for the kids this year.
I actually made them swim tops to go with their tails too. They were fun to make, Kim has a surger that she let me use over the Thanksgiving break.
Grant woke up just after 8am and started opening his gifts.
The boys got nerf guns, Travis wants to make this a Christmas tradition as well - Nerf fight!
These are the gifts the kids made for us at school.(this is actually the ornament she made two years ago but I already put the cute sleigh with her picture on it away before I took pictures).
The big gift this year, a WiiU! We are definitely getting JustDance as our next game.
Grant fell asleep as he was calling for me in his high chair.
The kids played out in the snow for hours!
We had a big snow storm Christmas Eve night, we got so much snow church was cancelled. We were disappointed, we would have enjoyed a Christmas program. We got dumped on though, and we were going to go up to Idaho after church but with the storm we didn't go up until the end of the week.
Travis and I watched, "It's a Wonderful Life". I thought I had seen it all before but I didn't see the first quarter of the movie and it was so long ago. Travis had never seen it before. It is such a great movie, we thought it was one of the best movies ever made.
We played the next few days, Travis did his dates with the kids at this time. I got to visit my great friend Kate, visit my grandparents with the kids, and other fun stuff. I love this break.
Then we went up to Idaho Thursday and played at grammy and papa's house. Papa got the kids all kinds of fun treats and they were loving the donuts!
For Christmas's and birthday's Kim and Monte have set up these bank accounts for the kids where they'll put money in and it will gain more interest until they become adults. Then they can use the money to help with college, a mission, a car, but it's up to them.
Monte made this wood horse stick for Kesler for Christmas.
Grammy got the girls these special necklaces.
Everyone got bundled up and played out in the snow. Grandpa pulled the kids behind the tractor, they had such a great time. Kaydence couldn't get enough of it!
By the time Kaydence finally came in her cheeks were like freezer burned.
Cousins time at grandma and grandpa Petersen's house.
Biscuits and gravy
We went crawdad fishing and it was beautiful but we got "skunked".
My dads auger is getting fixed so we had to cut holes the manual way.
New Year's Eve PAR-TAY
Big delicious ham dinner, tons of treats and yummy snacks, games, photobooth, kids putting on plays for us, lots of noise, a toast to the new year!
2017 HERE WE COME!