Oh the holidays…

It was hard to believe Christmas was just around the corner with the sunny 60s weather a week beforehand.

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But we took advantage of the sunshine, because it was followed by cold rain, snow, and dropping temperatures! The kids’ Santa letters appeared in the paper, thanks Southern Standard.

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Of course, Luke wanted to write him again, because he realized he would rather have Star Wars guys (go figure, Daddy knew that all along) and luckily Santa got word before Christmas Eve.

Well, we talked it over and figured it would be fun to spend all weekend with the family, to try and maximize our time with those visiting from a far. So we loaded the van for our four night/day stay, and I can’t believe how much that entailed!

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I thought since we were bringing some stuff to give away, it would be better on the way home, but it was still tight!

Gratefully, Darin and I got to attend the youth baptism trip Saturday morning to start the weekend off on the right foot. Then the other guests began arriving at Hotel Whitaker, complete with mints on the pillows! It was great getting to be with so much family. Uncle Don came for a few days and Grandpa and Grandma Keck arrived Christmas Eve!

There were foot rubs and movies…

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relaxing, gaming, silliness…

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cuddling…

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(Doesn’t it look like Scott and Marissa watching a movie?! Christina is sandwiched in between!)

All smiles…

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Gingerbread houses, letter from Santa…

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and surprises from Santa…

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and Christmas Eve jammies and lightsaber flashlights!

Just a note to remember… Natalie had been struggling with bedtime and throwing fits for the past few weeks, so Christmas Eve was quite a struggle. We tried all tactics to get the girl to go to asleep but to no avail. Darin drove her around for almost an hour, only to have her wake up the moment he opened the door to get her out! The excitement, not sleeping in her own bed at her own house, and pure exhaustion that leads to a second wind are hard to counter. I’m sure everyone was amazed when the crying finally stopped.  (I am happy to report that we are finally seeing improvement last night and tonight.)

CHRISTMAS!

finding stockings, so excited (oh, there are the new jammies!)…

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Rudolph ring pops…

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surprises from Grandpa and Grandma Payne…

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new tents and sleeping bags!

So here’s a glimpse of the major big preggers belly…

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Santa and Santa’s little helpers…

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excitement and gifts all around…

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hanging out with Great Grandpa…

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a few just ran out of steam…

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treasure hunts led Luke to an AT-AT Walker and General Grievous, Natalie to a Dreamlite and this much candy (raise your hands above your head or let Uncle Nathan measure it by kids)…

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Darin found a tool chest, and Nada, the iphone audio plug in for the van.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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There was also lots of eating, cooking, laughing, eating, cooking, laughing! We had a great time and really appreciate all that Mom and Dad and Marissa did for us to be there.  I know that what my kids will remember most will be the time with family, not the new toys, clothes or treats. I know because that’s what I remember of my childhood Christmases. 

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other December fun…

It seems I’m very good at not keeping up with details of our everyday life.  We have definitely been busy with Christmas fun around here, just no pictures to go along with that! We did celebrate a big birthday for Grandpa…

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and we got him the best gift ever…

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yeah, that’s a signed photo of Judge Judy. just for my dad. Can’t compete!

and the kids have seen Santa a few times already…

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…so when Santa showed up at our ward Christmas party, they both had no desire to say hello. (Doesn’t Luke look so happy? We told him he had to get a picture with Santa to get a cookie (at Darin’s work), so he did it begrudgingly.)

The tree is trimmed, the cookies delivered to the neighbors, the nativity has been played with, rearranged and set right again, the presents wrapped and hidden away, the Christmas cards hung, a few final homemade gifts in final stages, and the countdown mouse is moving everyday. Now if only we could get it cold enough to snow on Christmas!

A Christmas Wreath!

Well, for years I’ve thought about a wreath for the door. I have a little door décor for almost every month of the year, but from the thanksgiving turkey we jump to the snowmen, which is good for January, but not Christmasy enough for me. Wreaths can be expensive and I’m not really sure which look I want.  Then I saw a white feathery one online and thought that might look good against our door and I have feathers!  So here it is…

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Not sure I love it. I might still play with it.

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At least it stand out against our door.

A little Christmas cheer!

Preschool is awesome!

So the kids had Polar Express day. And they were VERY excited to wear their pajamas to school.  They acted out the whole story… got tickets, rode on a train of chairs, got bells, drank hot chocolate and ate cookies, and met Santa—who gave them presents! Notice that was plural– presents…they were excited and I was surprised to say the least. 

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Luke was way excited to get a R/C truck, new army guys and a football. Natalie liked her shape sorter, pony and a stuffed caterpillar, which she said she would give to baby brother because its so soft. However, after further discussion, the kids agreed that he was only a Santa helper, not the real Santa because the real Santa doesn’t come until Christmas. According to Natalie he still needed to bring her lots of candy, because she asked him to!

Christmas in the Park

Last night Main Street McMinnville was all lit up.

Darin exclaimed, “How can you not love this small town!”

Every year a tree is donated for the square. This is the tree for this year.

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Businesses were open and lots of places had free treats and activities. 

Several groups performed including the Primary kids!

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Luke was pretty adamant that he wasn’t going up there, but when it was time, he walked right up! They sang Away in a Manager and Have a Very Merry Christmas.

It was cute!

Hello December!

Well, we decorated for Christmas Saturday after Thanksgiving, and thanks to online shopping packages have been arriving daily. The kids get really bummed at me that I won’t let them open any! We’ve been watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, and working hard on a few Christmas presents. Can you tell I am excited for the holidays?

And today was the Christmas Parade! Here are the kids waving to Santa

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They were really excited to see him and all the other awesome participants. This year the theme was a Disney Christmas. One favorite was the golf cart redesigned as Tow Mater. The kids also loved seeing people they knew, particularly their babysitter Madison dressed up as Tinkerbell!

Yay for Christmas!

(Even though it doesn’t actually feel like it outside, it was 59 degrees at the parade!)