Finally getting this up on the eleventh day of Christmas!
We're going way back to the first Saturday in December, when we went to our town's annual tree lighting. Before bed, Claire and Maggie put their letters to St. Nicholas out by their shoes.
The next morning, they found that he'd left some candy and Christmas books! We celebrated St. Nicholas Day a few days early because of our trip to Florida.
Sunday evening, I took Claire and Maggie to see the Nutcracker. We went to a special one-hour kids' performance with my friend, Libby, and her daughter, Paige.
The girls really love that the dancers come out to meet their fans after the show. They were so excited to meet Clara and the Nutcracker Prince!
The last weekend of Advent was equally eventful. On Friday night, Adam and I had dinner at our favorite French restaurant, Le Pichet, and went to see Handel's Messiah at the Symphony. We'd seen the PNB Nutcracker two years in a row - the last year of the Maurice Sendak version and the first year of Ian Falconer's - so this was a good change of pace. It was was actually our first time seeing Handel's Messiah and it was even more beautiful than we'd expected.
I spent many hours watching The Crown and the Gilmore Girls revival while painting twenty angels for a peg doll nativity swap. I hosted the exchange party on Sunday afternoon while Betsy napped. It was a really fun few hours of chatting and eating delicious holiday treats. During the party, Adam took Claire and Maggie to ride the holiday carousel at the mall, have some hot chocolate, and pick out our tree.
The week before Christmas, our parish had two great events. On Monday, we went to a posada, just like the Tomie dePaola book. The girls' favorite part was the pinata and our favorite part was the tamales! On Tuesday, we went caroling. It was the third year in a row our parish has done this - Claire specifically remembered going last year. Well, she may have really remembered the hot cocoa and cookies in the social hall afterward, but we're glad she thinks of it as an Advent tradition nonetheless.
My parents and little brother, Scott, arrived early on Christmas Eve. That day, we made gingerbread cookies, trimmed the tree, and decorated our cookies. We had cheese and chocolate fondue for dinner, lighting our Advent wreath for the last time.
After dinner, the girls unwrapped the new Christmas pajamas and were immediately forced to pose for pictures by the tree.
The presents under the tree before bed on Christmas Eve!
We actually had to wake the girls up at 7:30 on Christmas morning, so we would have time to open stockings and eat breakfast before Mass.
I made the perfect cinnamon rolls from Mel's Kitchen Cafe for breakfast. They were absolutely gigantic but, of course, very delicious.
We went to 10:00 Mass, which is always beautiful and, most importantly, not insanely crowded.
Claire and Maggie were thrilled with their princess dolls, cash register and tea set. Betsy loved her xylophone and cute little soft dolly. Those were all gifts from both sets of awesome grandparents - we actually just gave them some books that I'd picked out from an Usborne party and the Scholastic book order. We originally ordered a bigger play table for them, but returned it when we decided to go to Disney World. Thankfully, they're not old enough to realize we didn't get them anything exciting. And thankfully they really like books!
We had steak, roasted veggies, and twice baked potatoes for dinner. Those paper crowns are from our traditional Christmas crackers. (Scott, I didn't intentionally leave you out of these pictures! Blame Dad for yours being super blurry.) That evening, my parents and I snuck out to see Jackie. I've been a big admirer of Jackie O. since like fifth grade so it was really fun to see the film with the people who know the full extent of my obsession, ha!
I feel like I've been moderately stressed since the beginning of November with all things Thanksgiving and Christmas. The week after Christmas was soooooo relaxing. At least as relaxing as possible while still caring for three small children. We went out for lunch a lot and had leftovers for dinner. I read The Nightingale in less than twenty-four hours. We went to the aquatic center and tried a couple new indoor playgrounds. On New Year's Eve, we went to the children's museum in Everett with our good friends, the Clarks. On New Year's Day, we had our friend, Linnea, over for dinner and then we left her in charge while we saw the new Star Wars movie. We finally made good on our promise of gingerbread house decorating on Monday, the very last day of Christmas break.
Now it's back to reality. Winter is so boring once Christmas is over, right? Luckily we've got two winter birthdays to liven things up - one of which requires me making a quilt over the next six weeks. I should probably get started on that...