Thursday, December 26, 2013


One of the books we got from Sister Wood was Santa's Toy Shop. We read it and the girls went to bed wondering if Santa would choose their house as his last stop so he could take some time to play with the toys he was bringing for them. We told them he might.

We put up a sheet in the doorway to the hall so that the girls couldn't peek through to the living room in the morning. They surprised us by playing quietly in their room until we got up (around 8:30) and ready for the day (around 9:00). I sent Andrew back to get the girls (who were busy playing with the toys Brother Brown had brought over the night before) and to wake up Benjamin (who was still sleeping (we got him to bed quite late the night before)).

When Andrew and I had set up their stockings we opened the Lego and made a little Christmas tree scene out of it, on behalf of Santa.

Here's Rachel eagerly waiting behind the sheet, dressed up as Rapunzel:

And here's Miriam (dressed up as Belle) busting her way through the sheet because she was too excited to understand the directive "line up behind the sheet so we can go in together."

Miriam found her stocking right away and pulled out the tambourine. She screamed with joy and showed it to everyone in the family. She shook it. She banged it. She danced around the living room jubilantly.

Rachel couldn't find her stocking for some reason (it was on the couch beside Miriam's). She dashed into the living room, scanned the room with a nervous grin on her face, and ran over to where my and Andrew's stockings were sitting. Our stockings were pitifully empty—we each had just a couple of small things inside—and Rachel's face fell when she noticed how empty "her" stocking was.

"That's not your stocking," I said. "It's mine. Your stocking is on the couch."

"Where?" she asked in desperation, as though she couldn't see the bright red stocking full of goodies, still smarting a little from thinking that Santa had stuffed Miriam's stocking full of surprises and had left her stocking empty and limp.

"Right there!" I said.

"Oh!" she gasped. She rushed over and began sifting through the contents.

Meanwhile Benjamin was like, "Why did you guys wake me up?"

The only things Rachel asked Santa for was "a book and some surprises." She emptied her stocking in about two minutes flat and while she was fairly satisfied with all the "surprises" she was supremely disappointed that she didn't receive a novel. I told her the notebook she got counted as a book—she didn't specify what kind of book she wanted. She said Santa should just know because...Santa. I told her that perhaps Santa was aware of what was already wrapped and under the tree.

I had ordered both Quidditch Through the Ages and Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them for her and I thought about having Santa give them to her only after I'd wrapped them and written, "Love, Mom and Dad" in big, bold letters on the package.

She was so thrilled when she opened them that she forgave Santa right away (though she was a little broody before then).

Miriam, on the other hand, picked one thing out of her stocking a time and over-zealously rejoiced over every. single. item. That picture (above) of Rachel—and that pile of stuff—was taken mere seconds before this picture of Miriam (below) with five things from her stocking:

It took her about an hour to open her stocking. I am not even kidding. She was driving Rachel bonkers.

Rachel had finished with her stocking entirely and was anxious to dig into the tree presents but Miriam was all, "A pencil! I got a pencil! Look at my pencil! It's so beautiful! Oh, and it can change colours! Daddy—look at my pencil! Look, Ben! Look! I got a pencil! I love it so much! It's my Christmas pencil! I'm going to go draw a picture!"

Or: "Snow White! I got Snow White! Rachel—you got a princess and I thought I didn't get a princess but I did get a princess and I'm so happy! Look at my princess, Mom! I'm going to go get the princess stuff right now so I can put Snow White with the princess stuff! I'm so excited to have a Snow White. I never had a Snow White before! I love Snow White!"

Or: "CANDY!!! My very own candy! What kind of candy is this? Snickers!? I love Snickers! Can I eat it now? Can I eat it after breakfast? Can I eat it whenever I want? How did Santa know that I love candy? Did I get any other candy? I don't care! Just this is my favourite! I will save it and eat it later! Maybe I will share it with you, Dad, but not with you, Mom, because Snickers is chocolate and you can't have chocolate but I can have chocolate and I love this candy so much!"

Seriously. It was both painful and endearing. She was so excited about everything.

We had to take several breaks for other activities before she finally finished unloading her stocking. First we stopped to play with the Lego (that the children hadn't even noticed). They were super excited once we pointed it out, though, especially because Santa had stopped to play with it. 

The Lego blocks fit with the Elmo play sets Miriam got for Christmas a few years ago, which is why we got it. Now the Elmo blocks can be used more creatively. This was our big Christmas splurge.

We also took some time to put together the puzzle telling the girls about the swing set in the back yard.

We also took some time to play on the swing set but I'm not even counting any of that time in the total time it took Miriam to open her stocking. We eventually left her in her own corner of happiness and settled in to watch Benjamin open his stocking.

He pulled out a tambourine and a pair of socks.

He peered inside to see if there was anything else.

He pulled out Buckeye, just as Miriam noticed that no one was paying attention to her monologues any more. She rushed over and snatched Buckeye away from Benjamin. Benjamin was not impressed.

Our stockings were filled with some cool things from the Dollar Spot at Target (paint sets for the girls, the tambourines, glow sticks, the snowflake stacking pencil crayons, a pair of socks for the kids, notebooks for the girls and a storybook for Benjamin), Halloween candy that I hid back in November, some Disney toys (from Jacob and Shayla's wedding luncheon) that Grandma sent home with Andrew in October, and a few other things we collected randomly throughout the year.

After opening stockings and playing on the swing set, we came inside for breakfast. I made muffins (from a mix).

This has nothing to do with anything except that it was cute, but Benjamin put on Rachel's winter hat, pulled it down over his face, and wandered around the house blindly. Hilarity ensued.

We finally settled into opening tree presents late in the morning. Here are the girls opening a present from Grandma. She sent a big pop up tent that we tried to open in our living room but couldn't because the tent was too big. We took it out on the back deck and put it up there. It will be so nice in the summer—the kids can eat outside and not worry about being swarmed by bugs (half the tent is just a screened-in area)! They ate lunch outside today (it's freezing in the morning but warm by the afternoon).

Here's Miriam opening a necklace that Rachel made for her at the school babysitting evening:

She loved it!

Here's Rachel opening a gift she picked out for herself last year just after Christmas.

She had a little snow globe that my sister Kelli had given her shortly before Benjamin was born but it got knocked off the dresser and shattered. When she saw this snow globe at target (at some serious percentage off) she knew she had to have it. I told her that she could have it for next Christmas, so I wrapped it up and put a tag on the bag that said, "To: Rachel. From: Your face." She was so confused about the label...until she opened it.

The deal is that we'll put it out every Christmas but then pack it away with the rest of the Christmas stuff when we undecorate but that she can take it with her when she leaves home. This is because (a) it's a nativity snow globe and (b) I don't want a snow globe this big breaking in my house so the less time it's exposed to the children the better.

After we actually let him wake up, Benjamin really got into the Christmas spirit. I think he tried to match Miriam's level of enthusiasm. This picture is blurry but...he got a BOOK!

He was super excited about this train. My friend Kim left it behind when she moved and we couldn't pass it up. Benjamin loves pull toys. He also loves toys with wheels that big enough to treat like a ride-on toy. You'd better believe he's been scooting around the house on this thing. We really ought to find him a real ride-on toy but for now he'll just live with the novelty whenever we visit friends who have them (that way it stays exciting).

He was really excited about this book from Naanii, too. He sat down on a present and kicked his legs while he read it.

Grandma Pat sent a whole set of books about outer space. Rachel was thrilled!

I made an alphabet book of our family and the kids loved it (which will hopefully give me motivation to get their baby books our blog books going).

Benjamin loved the tub toys Naanii sent. The little ducks and alligators are just the right size to play with the barn Brother Brown gave him. He's been treating the big alligator like a baby doll—feeding it from a bottle, putting it in the stroller, etc. It's pretty cute.

My mom (Naanii) sent the girls outfits with a matching outfit for their dolls in their very favourite colours: blue for Rachel, pink for Miriam. They were thrilled.

Rachel actually hadn't wanted to get any clothes for Christmas. When I told her on Christmas Eve that I was so excited for the girls to open Naanii's present because I was sure that they'd love it, Rachel said, "I hope it's not clothes again!" even though Naanii very often sends books (which is all Rachel ever wants). 

"Why not?" I asked. "Don't you need new clothes?"

She does. The past few weeks it seems like nothing fits her anymore. She'll get dressed in the morning and we'll send her back into her room to find something else because her shirt will be inches above her belly button. I don't know when she had her latest growth spurt, but it must've been not too long ago because it seems like we just outfitted her for school!

"I do," she sighed. "But I just want fun stuff for Christmas. You can give me clothes for my New Year present."

"We don't give out presents at the New Year!" I said. 

"Yes, we do!" she insisted.

"No, we don't," I said.

"We do, too! You mailed a New Year present to Auntie Em!"

"Okay, yes, I did," I admitted, "But only because I missed sending it in time for Christmas!"

We just mailed Auntie Emily the baby blanket I finished for her.

Rachel wasn't too disappointed to get clothes for Christmas because she got plenty of books to make up for it. She was beyond thrilled to have a matchy-matchy outfit for herself and Rose. She also got a few outfits from Andrew and me with a message hat said, "Stop growing!"

Oh, and we finally gifted this Sara doll we picked up in Egypt (in 2008). I think we got it for Rachel's first Christmas there but Auntie Em sent her a Cinderella doll and we figured an 18-month-old didn't need to get two Barbie dolls for Christmas so we saved it for later. And then we saved it and saved it and saved it and packed it all around the world with us. We finally wrapped it up and gave it to Miriam (five years after we purchased it) because she's the one who enjoys playing with Barbie dolls the most.

As excited as Miriam was about her own presents—she gushed over each one with gusto—she managed to keep track of other people's presents as well. She still had a few things left to open and Rachel had run out of gifts and stopped to watch Miriam.

"Why don't you finish opening up your presents, Rachel?" Miriam asked.

"I did," Rachel shrugged.

"No, you didn't! You didn't open the book that I got at the doctor that I wrapped up for you!" Miriam pointed out (she's still working on keeping secrets).

We sifted through Rachel's pile and found a few more unopened packages for her to open. Miriam was as excited for Rachel to open the gift from her as she was to open up any present to her. 

So, that's pretty much what we got for Christmas. Some practical things. Some fun things. Some used things. Some new things. Some gifts from far away. Some gifts from close to home.

The kids have been enjoying all their gifts. I need to start enjoying mine (I got an immersion blender and a couple of fun ukulele books)!


  1. I love the matching clothes. Did your mom make those? They are very pretty! I loved reading about Christmas at your house. I'm impressed that your girls played quietly until you were ready. Many people on my Facebook newsfeed posted pictures of opened gifts before eight!

    Can you really not eat chocolate or do you just not like it?

    Miriam's way of enjoying her stocking makes me smile. She really wanted the experience to last. Her gushing comments are sweet.

    And Benjamin looks too cute in his footed PJs...and in the cat hat. I love the photo of him reading his book while sitting on someone's gift.

    1. I do not think I could make matching doll/child outfits as inexpensively as they can be purchased. Just google Dolly and Me. Then...I found that some Dolly and Me clothes are available on Amazon, so I got free shipping to their destination, instead of paying Dolly and Me to ship them! (And of course, Nancy had to be in on it, so she could wrap them.)

    2. Yeah, I guess it is more costly to make things nowadays. Either way, they are very cute outfits! :)

  2. What size is she? Do you want me to look through the bin ;). Wish we were there so we could compare notes. Peach was so excited over every little thing. Capt E wa more practical.

    1. Actually, a friend brought a bag of hand-me-downs to church so we're in pretty good shape now! :)