Looking Back at Christmas

I just had to chronicle our 2011 Christmas before too much time passed.   I think we've finally gotten the hang of a stress-free, CHRIST CENTERED Christmas.   My husband and I give each of the children one gift.  By the time they receive things from other relatives, they are blessed beyond measure.  We don't indulge in a lot of gift buying, either.  This year we gave a gift to Love Without Boundaries instead of buying lots of presents.  

This was the scene on the day of Christmas Eve... I was in the kitchen baking, and G was playing Legos at the kitchen table.   Notice on my iPad I have Plan to Eat (which I LOVE and it has helped me become very organized!)... the recipe is for a Meyer Lemon Cranberry Bundt Cake.   I think it's the best cake I've ever eaten.  No joke.  

Brother and sister ready to go for Christmas Eve service.  Each year I take their picture by the tree... it struck me this year how big they are getting.

Miss B and her good friend at church.   We have been blessed by the friendship of this little girl and her family this year - it is one of the things I'm grateful for as I look back on 2011.

The photo is a bit blurry (I think the waitress just wanted us to get out because we were the last ones there!).   We enjoyed a relaxing dinner with some good friends after church.

In Christmas PJs and ready for bed - it was nearly 11 p.m. at this time.  Everyone was tired!  

We did a little present opening on Christmas morning - with more to come later in the day at Granddaddy's house.  Our dog, Gizmo, seemed to be anxious to see what was in his stocking.

The Christ Candle on Christmas morning.   We had a leisurely breakfast and sat around the candle.   The gift of Jesus Christ amazes me - there are no words.  

The table Christmas morning.  In years past I have been concerned about using the fancy dishes and having everything just perfect.  This year, I used paper plates and napkins and it was JUST AS NICE.   I think the Christ Candle in the middle of the table is what really matters.  

I just had to include a picture of that cake I talked about earlier.   There was a cranberry filling inside, and when the cake was warm I had poked holes in it and poured a lemon juice/sugar mixture inside.   Oh, it was so good!

On to granddaddy's house for gifts and dinner.   My children are so blessed to have a grandfather that cares so much about them and is so interested in their lives.   He lost his wife almost seven years ago, and I'm always amazed at the little things he does for my children, in addition to babysitting, taking them for haircuts, etc...  

He knows Miss B is into baking... so he got her a Whoopie Pie Kit from Williams Sonoma - complete with the pan and everything.  What an AWESOME GIFT!!  

Here's Aunt Julie and Uncle David with daddy -- opening a very special present from Granddaddy...

a goat from Heifer International.   Each of the three children received this gift.  

Next it was GMan's turn.   I knew ahead of time what this was going to be and I KNEW he would LOVE IT!   What little boy wouldn't enjoy a huge Erector set?

It inspired a BIG HUG and I'm sure it will provide a lot of education and fun.  

Other highlights included the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter.  This one is actually a puppet, too!   Did I mention her big gift from dad and I was an iPod touch?   Now, I know this is a controversial gift, but we have seen the educational value in it.  She loves playing word games, texting with her friends, and listening to her music.   She's wanted one for nearly a year and I was so happy to see her excited!  

Check out this Lego game... I had no idea Lego made games that were so simple and fun.  We have been playing this one a lot!

And every child needs a pair of spy glasses so they can see who's sneaking up behind them.  (Way to go dad - great stocking stuffer idea!)

The Lego Apple Tree House was a huge hit, too.   Oh, how we love Legos.

Now we are off to North Carolina for a post Christmas vacation. I've been putting homeschool plans together for the New Year and every SPECK OF LAUNDRY IS DONE.  

How was your Christmas?  Are you ready to start the New Year??