We had a fabulous Christmas that, wouldn't you know, lasted right up 'til New Year's Day. I'm cheating by backdating this so that the Christmas events stay under 2011.
We had a great week leading up to Christmas, and even managed to squeeze in some Christmas cookie making on the 21st. Marin was a great help with the mixing and the taste testing. Natch, we wore our matching aprons, compliments of Molly. Emilie bopped along side us in her excersaucer the whole time, happy as could be.
Marin and I had a fun playdate at her friend Olivia's house on the 22nd where the kids frosted cookies and afterward, we all sung Christmas carols in their living room around their grand piano. The kids danced and had a ball. Marin didn't want it to end!
Marin and Daddy had a special fancy lunch date the first day that he was off of work for the break. Marin got all dressed up and Daddy reported that she was very well behaved. And, about two minutes into lunch she told him what she got him for Christmas. And then she told him that Mommy said it was a secret.
On the 23rd I hosted the First Annual Christmas Tea for a few of my girlfriends from college. The kids came too, and we drew names ahead of time so that they could open a gift. Logan brought Marin a princess dress up dress complete with matching wand and crown. I didn't think she'd ever take it off. The tea was so much fun, and a special time to spend with my girlfriends as we kicked off the Christmas festivities. We decided to make it an annual event. My mom joined us this year, which was fun as well, and she gave all of the children an adorable bear benefiting St. Jude's. I loved when we piled all of the kids on the couch to take a picture. By now you know that I love to entertain and I love to celebrate a special occasion. To me, there is just nothing better than the laughter of loved ones gathered around your table.
That evening we went to Jason's Aunt and Uncle's house in Woodridge for a Christmas dinner. Jason's Uncle Jim and Lindsay were there as well, and as always it is a treat to be together. Marin said the dinner prayer, asking God to bless, "Baby Jesus, Mary, Jofess and all the cows." Dinner was delicious and the company was wonderful. Aunt Jean and Uncle Don gave Marin and Emilie darling gifts that they love and we had dessert before it was time to head to my parent's house to begin our Christmas celebrations.
Every year, my mom gives everyone new Christmas PJ's and we all have a sleepover together. Even though we have our own house 1.4 miles away, it's just not the same as waking up all under one roof. We had a beautiful Christmas brunch together and then exchanged gifts. Everyone was spoiled- Marin and Emilie definitely no exception. Marin's favorite was a princess castle with furniture and people. She's played with it nonstop. Emilie received lovely things as well and she's chewed on them all. After our gifts were exchanged we went home, where Lindsay met us before we all drove into the city for a beautiful and meaningful Christmas mass. After mass we went back to my parent's house where we had a delicious Christmas Eve fondue dinner and then played games. Lindsay learned very quickly who does not like to lose (not pointing any fingers, mom).
Once the winners and the losers were sorted out, we headed back to our house where we left cookies and a note for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Then we sprinkled reindeer food on our front lawn so they wouldn't have any trouble finding our house. While we were outside sprinkling the food, Marin spotted Santa in the sky, and knew that he wouldn't come to her house until she was snug in her bed fast asleep. We quickly got into bed and Jason read The Night Before Christmas before we turned out the lights on one very excited little girl.
Marin woke up first on Christmas morning, although you could argue that Aunt Lindsay was really the one up since she slept with Marin in her bed and really never went to sleep. We'll have to adjust the sleeping arrangements for next year for sure. Marin came down the stairs to find that Santa had in fact come during the night and that he'd left lots of presents for both she and her sister. Marin didn't waste any time getting started with the unwrapping Emilie woke up after a little while and waited very patiently to open her presents. Everyone loved everything and there was a flurry of organized Christmas chaos. I read a quote somewhere that day from Andy Rooney that said something like, "It's a wonderful mess that's created in the living room on Christmas morning. Don't be too quick to clean it all up." I really love this quote. I hope I remember that every year.
We had mimosas and cinnamon rolls for breakfast after the gifts were opened, and then I did try to gain some organization to our house once I realized the the cleaning lady was coming in two days and that we were leaving in the morning for Jason's parent's house. But organized or not, we all headed back to my parent's house a few hours later for Christmas dinner. My grandparents and my Uncle John were there as well as Jason's Uncle Jim. Lindsay joined us again as well, and we were delighted to be celebrating with a few new additions to our Christmas table this year. What a special treat!
The next morning we headed to Jason's parent's house to celebrate with his family. Marin had a great time playing with her cousins, Brady and Cammi and Emilie hung around the big kids just content to be in their company. Brandon and Holly made a great dinner for everyone, and then we exchanged gifts. Everyone got great gifts again and the kids opened their toys right then and there to play together. Marin and Cammi took a bath together before getting into their new matching Minnie Mouse Christmas PJ's and calling it a night. After all the kids were down, Debbie and Derek agreed to watch them all so that the big kids and Bill could try out a new bar in Jason's home town. We had a good time but we headed home after a little while to finish catching up and snack on all the leftovers.
Marin was sad to say goodbye to her cousins the next day, but she sure was excited to see baby Calvin at Aunt Vee's the very next day! We headed out to the farm that afternoon and enjoyed another great dinner together and exchanged more presents. Marin got a Cinderella princess dress which she put on immediately and kept on even as she played with her second present, a toy tractor. Emilie got a handmade blanket from Nicole just as Marin did on her first Christmas. It's sure to become a favorite. Marin and Emilie both loved baby Calvin. I think it will be especially fun to watch he and Emilie grow up together. Calvin is a strong little guy and he's growing so very well. I can't get enough of him. After Aunt Vee's feast, we all settled in played a game that if points were awarded for laughing, I would have won for sure. Of course we woke up the next morning to another Aunt Vee feast. And after spending the first part of the day together we arrived back in Geneva with a full car and new memories.
The next day Jason and I took both girls to see The Muppets, their first movie in the theater. Marin loved it, she even bopped along to tall the songs in her seat. She said that her favorite part was "Hermit" but I think she meant Kermit. Emilie was so good and made it through the whole movie. That evening Jason and I enjoyed dinner at our favorite restaurant in town with two friends who came out from the city. Grandma and Grandpa watched the girls, and they had a blast watching movies.
To repay them, we have my parents over for dinner the next night, and we played a fun new card game. You guessed it, Miss can't-stand-to-lose won again. Drats!
The next day, New Year's Eve, we woke up to find that Santa had come to our house again! He delivered a special present for Marin that she waited so patiently for, as his elves needed a little extra time. Marin was so excited to get this sleeping bag that she had asked Santa for all season long. It matched the sleeping bag Santa brought her for Pinkie on Christmas Day.
That evening, we went to some friends house for a low key night of fun. We played with the kids and ordered Chinese food, and after the kids went to bed we played catch phrase until literally I almost wet my pants. The girls lost miserably. When I talked to my mom at midnight, she claimed it must have been since she wasn't there to win it for girls.
On New Year's Day, we had our final Christmas celebration. We all headed to my Aunt and Uncle's home on Lake Holiday for the Martin Christmas. With seven little kids, it was fun for everyone. Marin loved running around with Skylar and Avery- playing ring around the rosie, and dancing to Christmas Carols she sang herself. Emilie loved meeting Andrew, her little cousin who is just one month older than she. At dinner, my Uncle Reed gave all the kids sparkling cider in a fancy glass, and that made Marin's night. She even asked him for seconds. Amy taught us a new game that the kids played also, and when it was time to go, Marin cried saying she didn't want to leave. A true sign of a good time (okay, and an exhausted baby girl).
The next day was Jason's last day of his glorious two week vacation with us. We decided to have a family day with just he four of us, and we took the girls to the DuPage Children's Museum. It was so wonderful. Marin just loved all that there was to do there. She played with sound and light sticks, she wrote on the wall with a black light, she made giant bubbles, she played at the enormous water table. She even got to go with Daddy to hammer real nails into wood! Then we went upstairs where they had shapes and counting and a huge train set and train car where she got to be the conductor! We had such a great time.
It was a wonderful first Christmas for Emilie. And it was a wonderful two weeks together visiting family and spending time together. There is just nothing better in the world. We hope that you had a fantastic holiday with your families as well. And we wish you a very happy New Year. Can't wait to see what 2012 has in store!