Oh, gosh. Where to begin?
First, I will say this: We have a budget for Christmas each year, because of our Christmas Club account. I rarely exceed it and if I do, it's on rewards cards that we've received, not credit. That being said, in the past, I've tried to get as MUCH (good stuff, though, of course) as I could within that budget. This year, instead, we really wanted to cut back and do things smaller, giving only really meaningful gifts. Extended family members already send so much for the kids that we could skip buying anything altogether, and they would hardly notice!
Another difference we wanted to make this year was, instead of the feeding frenzy that is opening a massive amount of presents, to take time and watch each person open their gift before going on to the next gift. That would give everyone time to really see and enjoy what they were being given, rather than just toss it behind them and scream "NEXT?!" without appreciating a thing.
I have to say, I enjoyed this Christmas so much more because of these two things. Every single thing they were given, by both us and the rest of the family, was a great gift and well appreciated. They are going around very nicely to all of their presents, playing with each and getting much enjoyment out of them. I'm very happy with everything they were given - as much as they are! It has made a world of difference, and I hope we continue it in the coming years.
Now, then. Onto the show, I suppose.
On this day, Rob had to go to work. Barbara was coming, and I had really nowhere to take us out of her way, so I decided to pretend I didn't feel well and stay home, out of her way. It worked out well, because a movie (The Veggie Tales' The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything) had just arrived for the kids from Netflix, so I popped that into the DVD player for them, sat on the couch with my knitting, and kept us well contained.
The woman from Bunco who I can't stand was nice enough to bring me a bunch of brown bananas, some frozen pears, and a bag of cheesy pasta marinara, from her work. She'd seen on Facebook that I was baking banana bread and decided to bring me some food. I really appreciated that; it was very nice of her. I plan to bake up a bunch of bread this weekend and give it to the neighbors in lieu of the cookies I usually bake but haven't this year for various reasons.
Barbara arrived shortly after she left, and then, happily, so did Rob! He was home so early that it was like he'd just been granted a five-day weekend instead of four. Yay! I love nothing more than just having him home and being around him. Seriously. It's like a gift for both of us!
Can't remember the rest of the day, other than to say that after Barbara left, Rob went out shopping, and I tried to feed the kids that pasta we'd been given. Hell, I liked it; it was pretty good! Sophia and Jack wouldn't touch it, though, and Chloë ate it but begrudgingly.
Oh, I know, Rob went out to use the Panera gift card Stim had given us, to buy us a nice lunch! Good stuff as always; I never get tired of their food.
After lunch, we all took naps and slept sooo long that we woke up too late to attend the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church. I was very disappointed, but neither of us had showered yet and wouldn't have had time to get ready. I love that service; it's my favorite for the whole year, and I was bummed. I'd even told the children's pastor that we would see her then, so I felt lousy about that. But, what to do?
We quickly decided to just go ahead and open our stockings then, instead of after church like we usually do on the Eve of Christmas. It was only about 1800 by then, but of course the kids were into it!
The kids were handed their stockings, told to wait until everyone had theirs, and then allowed to dig in!
It's funny - and also cute, and sweet, and endearing - because Jack had gone to that little girl's party the previous Saturday and came home with a goody bag full of small candy and toys. He immediately had Daddy help him distribute all of the goodies into his and his sisters' stockings, telling him Chloë had to get all the gumballs, because he and Sophie aren't allowed to have gum, and so forth. This little noiseblower was one of the toys he allowed himself; Sophie has one, too. I'm thankful that, today when I have yet another migraine, they have gone missing...!
(My Red Eye Corrector doesn't seem to want to work right now, sorry! I'll fix it when I print pictures...) All of the kids were given a Pez dispenser, and some extra Pez. Chloë had spotted them one time at AC Moore, so I'd thought back then that they would make a good stocking stuffer. I always liked having a Pez dispenser. Well, I left that AC Moore bag on the kitchen table, and Some Little Boy got into it and opened his dispenser and candy up in his room. I was livid, but more at myself for leaving it right out! Ah, well. So we were short for the stockings, but the girls shared theirs with him, and all was right with the world again. Things just have a way of working out sometimes, don't they?
Re the Spider-Man toy next to Jack: I'd also picked up these "Water Wow"s at AC Moore, for really cheap for their stockings. Maybe $2.49 each? They are awesome! They come with a little brush that you fill with water and then "paint" the pictures in vivid color. I'm sure you've seen that BUT, the awesome part is, they dry back to plain white again and you can re-color them, over and over! Nifty!!
Sigh. I always put a bunch of sweets in their stockings; it's just a tradition I might have to break. The older two children are good at self-regulating their candy intake, but every two minutes, this is what Sophia looked like. When she finished her own, she kept pillaging her siblings' stockings for theirs, or mine from Rob, or the little bowl I put out in the kitchen... She turned into quite the Candy Girl this Christmas, and we've had a dickens of a time getting her to stop eating it and put healthy things into her body. So, I am definitely not doing that again! Next year, maybe it'll be an orange! ;)
A look at some of the kids' stocking loot. Also for cheap at AC Moore, I picked up a Crayola product for each kid. Sophie got a box of 64 crayons (they're all SO excited about the crayon sharpener in back!), Jack got a pack of washable markers, and Chloë, some glitter glue. She has been making glitter glue pictures, adding beads and other things, ever since. She is definitely my partner-in-crime, crafty-wise. I just know we're going to be crafting together for years to come!
That's it for Christmas Eve. I don't recall what we did with the rest of our evening, but we completely forgot one of our most important traditions (we have a lot of Christmas ones, I guess; do you?): Daddy reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by candlelight, to the little ones before bed! ! ! Gah, I can't believe we totally screwed up the Eve. Darn naps. Oh well, the good thing about Christmas is that it keeps coming back, and you can improve it every year!
I'm going to grab a quick shower and then come back and tell you more about our holiday. That is, if I don't get sucked in by the laundry...