Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Wrap

With the exception that my sister Sarah and her family weren't able to make it home from France this year, I thought Christmas was just perfect. We were able to spread the holiday cheer and gift-giving over 3 relaxing days, which was so much nicer than rushing around and trying to get everywhere and appease everyone in the same day.

Christmas eve we spent the day with John's family and enjoyed a yummy brunch, opened lots of gifts, and then lounged and chatted all afternoon until church. We headed to church with my parents and then went back to their house for their annual Christmas eve party. Eli ran like a maniac and was up way too late until almost 11 pm. Norah opted to miss the festivities in favor of sticking with her usual bedtime of 7pm. She's a lover of schedules, just like her momma. 

My Christmas day started at 2am with the kneading and rolling of my mom's famous granola cinnamon rolls, which I woke up every 2 hours during the night to tend to so that they would be piping hot and oh so delicious to devour for our Christmas breakfast. John and I continued our tradition of exchanging stockings and he totally blew our $20 budget and got me super cool gifts, making me feel like a bit of a schlep. My parents came over to eat with us and watch the kids open their gifts. It was really special to have them come and one of those moments where I truly felt like an official grown-up. 

The day after Christmas my Grandparents arrived from Arizona and we indulged in another fabulous brunch and spent the day celebrating Christmas with them, along with my parents, and my sister Kim and her family. The kids were showered with gifts from Grandma and Grandpa and they spent the rest of the day playing, tackling, and fighting over all the new goods. Us girls were even able to get out and shop for a little while and enjoy the long lines at the mall before returning home to a prime rib feast for dinner. 

I love my family so much. Our kids are beyond blessed to have 2 loving, spoiling sets of grandparents, 3 sets of active, healthy great-grandparents, lots of sweet and caring aunts and uncles, and an army of nieces and nephews to play with. As we were unpacking bags and making room for new toys and putting sleepy kids kept up way too late to bed these past few days, John and I talked about how very thankful we are. We are so undeserving of all of God's grace in our lives and in our family. 

And now, the tree is gone, the decorations are all tucked away in their boxes, and I am ready to take on the new year ahead. And I'm even more ready to be sitting on a beach in Mexico drinking a pina colada in less than 10 days on my anniversary vacation with John!

Here are a few moments from our Christmas this year....

Costello Christmas-Papa reading the Christmas story to the kids

A sleeping bag for Eli

Norah-7 months and cousin Quinton-5 months

Norah's first baby doll

 Christmas Eve night at Grandma Jan and Papa Bob's house

 All the Johnson cousins minus Lily and Zack

Christmas morning reading of the Christmas story with daddy

Eli's new chainsaw, which is turning out to be a hazard to poor Norah

 Day after Christmas Johnson family Christmas (yes, our kids were in their pj's for 2 straight days)

Annual kids pajama picture=annual bribing with fruit snacks

A Radio Flyer scooter from Grandma and Grandpa
 I asked for all cooking related items this year and got several awesome gifts including this cast-iron dutch oven, a sweet salad spinner, a food processor, and a grinder attachment for my kitchen-aid mixer.
Looks like I'd better get cooking!

Oh yeah baby. Mommas gonna buy herself some guilt-free lattes, and I wont even have to pay in dimes!

Monday, December 13, 2010

And breathe....

If you know me at all, you know that I am a teensy-weensy bit of an organizational freak. I take great pleasure in making things look neat and tidy. When my house looks like a tornado hit and we are tripping over piles of messes here and disasters there, you will find me in the pantry lining up the cereal boxes or alphabatizing my spices. I would rather organize my extra stash of toilet paper into a grand paper pyramid than mindlessly pick up stuff laying on the floor. My label maker and I are pretty tight if you know what I mean.

Our house has a lot of great features that I love, but big closets isn't one of them. We have to utilize every last inch of space to make things fit and to achieve that neat and tidy look that helps me sleep easy at night. Our downstairs coat closet is a prime example. Let me just tell you how much I do not love digging through  piles of hats and gloves and scarves to bundle up myself and the kids every time we leave the house. Although my baskets are pretty and are appropriately labled "adult gear" and "kid gear," it still has been driving me nuts. Last week during a play-date at my friend Brittan's house, she showed me her newly and fabulously organized coat closes thanks to an idea she had read in a magazine. It was a total "Ah-Ha!" moment for me. So brilliant, and yet so simple. Just purchase a basic over-the-door shoe organizer and you will never have to dig for those gloves, that clutch, that umbrella, or that anything again. Isn't organization just beautiful? Come on, you know you want one...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Getting into the Christmas spirit this year has been so easy for me. In years past, those years that were pre-having kids, yet post feeling like a kid myself, I had begun to view Christmas as just an unnecessary amount of stress and over-indulgence. I stressed about dragging out all the decorations only to shove them back in their bins a month later. I stressed about fighting the crowds at the mall and trying to find the perfect gifts for the people that are always impossible to shop for. I stressed about how consumerism and greed clouded the story of Jesus' birth and how the quiet wonderment of the manger was drowned out in the hustle-bustle of rushing from one activity to the next unendingly. I guess I had become somewhat of a scrooge in many ways. I was going through the motions with a smile on my face but deep down it all seemed really quite pointless.

And then I had kids. And like so many things tend to do when you're a parent, my whole view of Christmas has changed. And I'm sure a lot of it is the age that Eli is this year being 2, almost 3 years old, and having Norah as well now. Suddenly, the magic of the holiday is back. Suddenly I can't wait to get the tree put up and hang the garland and fire up the Christmas music. Watching Eli as he runs downstairs to turn on the tree lights and shrieks with joy when he realizes that a stocking has his name on it and sitting on Santa's lap for the first time, and shouting as he points out all the "Christmas" houses lit up at night in the neighborhood, and belting out Go Tell It On The Mountain from the backseat is so refreshing. Listening to him tell us about Mary and Joseph and Jesus' birth on the way home from church each Sunday is precious. Knowing that he is at the beginning ages of being able to implement special family traditions that he will begin to look forward  to and depend on each coming year is exciting to me. Hearing his answers to Santa and others who have asked him "What do you want for Christmas" makes me want to cling to his innocence and bottle him up when he replies with things like "snow" and "snowmen" and "snow globes" He is too young to be caught up in the "gimmies" of Christmas, and yet perfectly old enough to take in all the wonder of the season.  I know this is a short phase and I'm sure in a couple quick years my children will be handing me long lists of the "I wants" for Christmas. So this year, I am trying not to miss a single moment. I have come to realize that it is completely possible and perfectly OK to be taken in by the magic and beauty of Christmas, while still keeping our focus on the real reason that we celebrate this season. It is about the baby that was born into poverty, that grew up to die a death He did not deserve, to save us from a debt we could not afford to pay. That is the gift that I am most thankful for this year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Boys will be boys

So it turns out that the stereotypical concept that little boys naturally engage in bizarre behavior such as sticking random objects up their nose is absolutely true and not just something people say....at least not in this house. I can only guess that the dinner conversation went something like this inside Eli's mind:

  Eli to self: Hey look at these peas. They are green like my boogers.
  Self to Eli: Yes! Green and very round, just like the shape of the holes in your nose
  Eli to self: Maybe I should stick one up there and see how far it will fit.
  Self to Eli: Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that.

It turns out he can get it pretty far up there, as in almost to the point of no return.

And with the help of a flashlight, a nasal aspirator, tweezers, and a watermellon lollipop were were able to dislodge that sucker in a mere 15 minutes. To which Eli delightfully exclaimed,"there it is!" and popped that slimy pea right back into his mouth. Mmmm, yummy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy 7 months Norah!

And yes, she is every bit the stinker that this picture implies.