No one woke up very early on Christmas morning and we're not upset about this. All the kids were in the basement snoozing away. Alexander woke us up around 8:30 (and then he had to nurse, of course) and then we went downstairs to fetch the children. They quickly lined up in age order for the Christmas train, which Alexander so proudly led. He crawled up the stairs with the big kids tromping up behind him and then he just kept on crawling down the hallway and through the kitchen, pleased as punch to be the leader.
He did eventually stand up (and then was like, "Oh, we're in the dining room? Let's just stop and have some breakfast!" and everyone was like, "No! Presents!"):
I led them around the kitchen a couple of times and into the movie room where they were like, "Hey! There are no presents in here!" and then we went into the music room and through the sheet of secrecy (a tradition the kids insisted upon even though they were all sleeping in the basement...down a flight of stairs and behind a closed door...so it's not like they would've just stumbled into Christmas in the middle of the night) to see what Santa had left us.
A sweet secret Santa had mailed the kids a whole bunch of Harry Potter stuff (Alexander quickly adopted Hedwig as his own, which I figured he would do (and I figured the kids would let him)) and were rather excited about doing fun potion experiments and turning themselves invisible. Oh, and also there was the "Switch" (guys, I'm still not quite sure how to call this thing; is it "The Switch" or "the Switch" do we all know what we're talking about? Because I'm not sure that I am. When I was looking at our present stash and worrying aloud that we didn't seem to have very much Andrew reminded me that we also had the switch and I was like, "Switch. Switch. Switch. Like...who wanted a switch? And I thought we already replaced all our light switches...").
Sweet Zoë was ready to be excited about anything. Here she is with the little Frozen necklace-making kit that Santa left:
Here's Alexander, who was so happy with that owl that he couldn't see any point in opening anything else:
I finally convinced him to look inside his stocking and the first thing he pulled out was a little candy tree. "Can I eat it?" he asked, so I let him eat it (right there in the music room—it was Christmas, after all).
After he stuffed it in his mouth he picked up his owl and was once again completely satisfied.
Then he pulled out a Lego set and said, "We should build it! Can we build it?"
I told him to wait a second because there were more presents to discover, like the play dough he found at the bottom of his stocking. "Can we play play dough?" he asked, trying to force the lids open (he can do it, too, if given enough time).
Everything he touched was the best thing ever and he wanted to immediately open it and enjoy it. Zoë was the same. Here she is asking me to open her chapstick so she can use it:
And here's Benjamin bouncing up and down with glee over...whatever is in his hands (I can't even tell; it's a blur):
Here's Alexander with his haul of presents:
He opened some t-shirts from Naanii and Bumpa first and said, "We should put them on! Can I wear it?" He picked out the yellow shirt because it didn't have any tags on it (in the picture below he is lamenting the fact that, "This still has tags on!").
So he finished opening his presents wearing one of his new t-shirts:
I found a label with birds on it to use on Auntie Kelli's present (my family lovingly sent gifts...but I did all the wrapping), so here he is admiring the gift tag:
Unfortunately, after wrapping Kelli's presents I got lazy and just used a sharpie to write directly on the wrapping paper (which is fine, but there were other gift tags that he would have enjoyed this year—a few with owls on them—but maybe he'll be one of those kids who remains obsessed by the same animal for years at a time and the gift tags will still be appreciated next year).
If you ask him how Christmas was this year, he'd likely tell you (if he decided to tell you anything at all): "Santa brought me toys! Santa is the mailman!"
Here's Zoë with her stack of presents:
She also loved everything and wanted to play with them right away. Here she is holding up her new dress from Naanii (who found it online in, like, July, and loved it so bought it and sent it and it's been sitting in my closet ever since and I am to be congratulated for keeping it hidden and remembering where I had hid it all these months later, thank you very much):
Here she is opening Auntie Kelli's present—a unicorn head with hair you can style:
It was very well received and she spent quite a bit of time playing with it while the big kids opened their gifts (she did some beautiful twists and even managed to put hair elastics in).
This little ornament from Grandma Pat was also a good distraction to have on hand while everyone else was opening their gifts (like eating, colouring in the music room is also a forbidden activity...but it's Christmas, so):
I liked, for some reason, that behind her you can see glimpses of the toy nativity scene, as well as the tray with milk and cookies for Santa (he ate some but not all), so I tried to get a shot featuring all of that a little better and it just turned out like an ordinary blah-photo, but here you go anyway:
She got scented markers for Christmas as well and is completely fascinated by them. Last night I asked her to put away her clothes, which were folded nicely into easily-put-away-able piles (you know: shirts all together, pants all together) so she literally just had to pick up a pile and put it in its respective drawer, but it was taking her quite a while to accomplish anyway. I asked her what was going on and she said, "I'm rewarding myself! So every time I put away a pile of clothes I get to smell all my markers! I'm coming back for my pants now!"
Here's Benjamin's haul (I am not sure why he's pouting):
The first thing I took a picture of him opening was a Timeline game (a family present (we had a lot of those this year and just divvied them out among the kids so they had more things to open)):
I'm not really sure what he has here:
Here he is examining my childhood rock collection (he slept with this collection on Christmas night):
And hugging the hand-me-down Star Wars jammies from Miriam:
On this gift I'd written, "Just what you always wanted," and he had assumed it was going to have a TIE fighter inside but it was actually a toothbrush (but he was not disappointed because he's been wanting an electric toothbrush for quite sometime (and, frankly, with his dental genes the way they are, it's not a bad investment)):
Here he is opening his action figures (that Daddy definitely got for Benjamin to play with and not for himself):
Here he is with another family present—Pandemic (we played this on Christmas evening and it was quite a lot of fun):
And, finally, reading the card from Grandma Pat:
And here's Alexander distracting me from paying attention to gift-opening by begging me to let him have his Kinder Surprise egg (I told him no to this one; those things are messy).
You can see Miriam is keenly interested in what Benjamin's doing though:
I'm not sure why Andrew is making that funny face. Here he is with a better face on:
And here's Rachel making a funny face (note that Andrew is holding incredibly sharp scissors open):
Miriam was excited for it to finally be her turn, though we did have a chat with the girls on Christmas Eve about how growing up sometimes means your present pile shrinks a bit (but also telling them that they could probably pop on Amazon and pick out, for example, a new Sunday dress (Rachel needs a new one because she will only wear the one she picked out for herself last Christmas and it shows (in being well-worn and a little bit too small), but I can't pick one out or she won't wear it). They handled their sparse piles well (with the reminder that the "Switch" was more for them than for the little kids and that was a big gift).
Anyway, here's Miriam opening things other than dirty socks. She was very excited about this world map tunic from Naanii:
Here's Alexander distracting me by asking me to open the sidewalk chalk, which I also said no to. Note to self: be sure to get him something next year that he can do while everyone is opening gifts.
Miriam is very good at being excited about things:
This Harry Potter Lego set was for the family:
As was the game Tsuro:
She was over the moon about these music staff books:
Auntie Kelli got her a kalimba and I took a video of Miriam playing around on it...but I think it's on my phone. I'll have to find it. She loved that, too.
Here are the boys distracting me by being cute while discussing the Avengers:
And here's Miriam opening a geode kit:
Rachel was very excited about her new slippers (I was very relieved that they fit her):
And she really liked this science shirt from Naanii:
She was very excited by her new duvet cover (to match the one that Miriam has, which is our old one). They feel like they've been suffering because they're back in bunk beds but have had non-coordinating blankets. They were both excited for this present because now their room will look more complete.
They also asked for a door but Santa couldn't figure out how to install one so we waited on that one...
And here's Andrew opening one of the presents I made for him. I've been putting together a calendar for him for years, so when he unwrapped an orange Shutterfly envelope he said, "Hmmm...I wonder what could be in here..." and then laughed because...
...that's exactly what I had written on the envelope!
Surprise! It's a calendar! He likes them for his office wall.
And here he is opening his actual surprise:
It's a normal distribution pillow! I made it all by myself!
Here's Rachel dying of giggles because I said it looks a teeny bit like a uterus...so Andrew flipped it upside down, but he'll be displaying it right side up, I'm sure.
You can't tell in these pictures, but it has the lines of standard deviations stitched on there, too. Here's a better shot that Andrew took with his phone (he was pretty excited for Mr. Normal Distribution):
It was a pretty good Christmas, even though I didn't get any gifts (aside from the dress and skirt my mom sent me). What I got were projects, which we'll reveal later...because we're not quite finished with them. And you can't open a project on Christmas morning so it looks like you're not getting anything.
The kids felt a little guilty about not thinking about me at all. Benjamin was sobbing in his bed when I went to sing to him on Christmas evening (cradling my old rock collection). When I asked him what was wrong he sniffled, "Please don't sing to me tonight!"
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because you're always doing nice thing for me and I didn't do anything for you for Christmas! I don't deserve a lullaby!"
So I explained that I sing to him because I love him and it doesn't have anything to do with whether or not he deserves a lullaby. He just automatically gets one on account of I love him. And I like singing, too, so taking away singing time isn't really a gift for me, anyway. That would just make me sad!
"Then what can I do?" he wailed.
So I explained that my very favourite thing about the day was that the kids got along together so well! They didn't fight the entire day and they played together nicely and were sweet and kind. That was a very good gift and if he could just repeat a day like that, it would make me very happy.
He agreed to try and overall it's been a pretty great winter break.
Yesterday Miriam came up to me and said, "Can you think of anything that lasts 16 chapters of the Book of Mormon?"
I probed her for more information because...ummm...wut?
"I made a goal to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the year," she explained, "But I got off track. I had a reading schedule but I had to recalculate the whole thing and I need to do some catch-up reading so I thought that if I did chores while listening to 16 chapters of the Book of Mormon that I wouldn't get bored or distracted while I listened."
"Oh, you want 16 chapters worth of chores?" I asked. "I can come up with that! The basement needs to be cleaned, you could organize your room, deep clean a bathroom, the floors haven't been mopped in a while (of course, that would involve a very thorough sweeping job as well), and..."
So she swept and mopped the dining room while listening to the scriptures this morning (and did a good job, too). She may have done a few other things that I haven't noticed yet. Right now she's helping Andrew rip out the carpet (and then the linoleum) in the downstairs bathroom.
Why the previous renovator of that bathroom decided to put that garish carpet over perfectly groovy linoleum is beyond me, but I'm glad we're redoing the floor in there because Benjamin has been banned from using that toilet (due to the fact that he has terrible aim and it's carpet and you can't just wipe up a misfire) and it would be nice to just keep him down there sometimes (instead of having him thunder up the stairs to use the bathroom, a rule he's been weirdly militant about obeying (though his sisters might be the ones reminding him since it's "their" bathroom and they don't want it smelling like pee) and then getting distracted from his play and then getting into mischief instead).
Anyway, that's one of the projects we've been up to...but there are others..