Making of the rockets.
My pops and my husband - rocker launchers
Cousins with loose front teeth
Sometimes I wonder if by the time my kids are grown if they will remember the days when cousins were almost like siblings.
My brother and my oldest sister
My sister Katie
All the cousins and the grandparents.
At the Zoo Lights our tickets included a chance to slide down the "Polar Slide." Annie was tall enough. Leta was not. But when we went to the line to have them measure the kids - they saw Leta and Annie were twins so they only measured Annie and just figured Leta was the same height. Score! The girls loved riding the big slide by themselves.
(I hastily took the picture too soon and couldn't click another before they went down)
Then I had preschool parties, a drop-in babysitting day, and I helped Lucy and Elsa make candy trains at their school. This is why I sent them to public school - for all the fun things they get to do with their friends.
Then on the day that people thought the world would end because the Mayan calendar ended, I had my nephews over to spend the night (nieces had their chance in the summer - although Mallory came too because she kinda would have been the only one left out in her family). At one point in the night, my nephew exclaimed with excitement, "It feels like we live in an orphanage!" It was a lot of kids - but they all did good. At one point there were about 18 kids here. 15 kids spent the night. Ryan stayed in the security of our bedroom most of the time for good reason.
Then we had a date night with my siblings and parents. It's always fun to actually get time to visit.
The Sunday before Christmas we dressed up in our Sunday best. Lucy and Elsa had grown out of their other dresses and basically only had the skirts I made them last Christmas - they were in need of new ones, though it proved a little tough. Note: buy early next year (and I obviously learned, because I already got their Easter dresses before Costco ran out). Ryan got a new suit because they were on sale and he has lost almost 40 pounds in the last few years and now needs to wear a suit every week, and Leta and Annie got new dresses because they were on sale and I knew they would just love the fluffiness to pieces. But, the Sunday was so hectic with trying to tailor Lucy and Elsa's dresses, trying to find a way to cover Leta and Annie's shoulders, getting everyone ready, finishing everything with sharing time, that pictures did not happen. My mom was right - you should never sew on Sunday.
I did manage these after church....
And then this one weeks later.
We made it to church and then Annie started coughing more and more and I knew she couldn't stay in sacrament meeting, but thankfully my sister Katie also attends church in our building. I flagged down Katie in the parking lot and sent Annie home with her so I could still focus on teaching in Primary. Sometimes I have to catch myself from crying when I think about all that my family does for me.
That evening we headed to my grandma's for her Christmas party. It is always a treat to be around my cousins. And of course Grandma always spoils us. Her Christmas money went towards buying me the Blendtec blender I've been wanting for the last 3 years! We love it and use it several times a day.
On Christmas Eve we had our special family dinner. We got all the girls bathed, dressed in their jams, and I braided their hair (for easy Christmas hair). We decided to eat food that Jesus maybe would have eaten during his lifetime - lentils, cheese, olives, dried fruit (we couldn't find figs), and sparkling juice instead of wine. We ate by Santa candlelight (thanks Kari), had star crowns and talked about how we can be excited for Santa to come, but that Jesus is the most exciting part about Christmas.
Then we went to the Melzer's for riding in the back of Grandpa's truck to look at lights, eating donuts and hot chocolate and opening a few presents.
We gave James and Lilly a present. This year we had the girls wrap them. It was the best Christmas decision I made. I hate wrapping and the girls' job turned out too fantastic with those stars and the writing, "To Games, Frum the Melzer Famule"
Of course getting the kids to bed Christmas Eve was no sweet moment. We all needed a good night's rest.
As usual, Ryan was the first to wake up on Christmas morning and we headed to Lucy and Elsa's room to wake them up. Lucy had just woken up and sat up in bed and said, "Yay!" (We had given them a lecture to not come out of their rooms until we came and got them and if they had to wait for an hour, then they had to wait. She was excited she didn't have to wait.) My favorite part about getting them out of bed was that they were so excited to finally give Ryan and I the presents they made at school. I actually think that was my favorite moment of Christmas. They weren't thinking about getting their gifts first, they were just excited to give.
Ryan and I carried Lucy and Elsa (with their eyes closed) to Leta and Annie's room for the great big entrance to the Christmas tree. And it was great. The girls loved it all. Grateful, excited, happy kids is all I could ask for. It made the extra babysitting days, and the months of searching for awesome deals worth it (yep, Santa got a few things off Mesa Consign, Craigslist, and too good to be true price matching). Everyone was happy and we stayed at home and played with our treasures until noon.
Tulip's goodbye letter- and pistachios that Santa brought. Leta would have been content to sit and crack these for hours. There were shells all over our red room.
One of my favorite pictures of all time. Too bad it's a little blurry.
Already trying out the tooth brushes.
The girls got new scooters, a gumball machine, a Wii (seeing all four trying out Just Dance is the cutest), dream light pillow pets, robes for the olders, My Little Pony figurines for the youngers, and a cardboard playhouse for all . The olders got the youngers flip flops and the youngers got the olders Battleship (having them pick out presents for each other was an adventure - they aren't quite at the age where they enjoy spending their money on their sisters - well at least Lucy is not. She is more of a money hog.) Then this year I tried something new. Each girl got one personalized gift (that did not come in duplicate). It may sound weird to a normal family, but almost every Christmas is filled with presents times 2 or presents times 4 or presents that are just for the group, because they usually all want the same thing anyways. This time, Lucy got a wallet that is just like mine (she's been begging for a year), Elsa got a Barbie car, Leta got a mechanical dog, and Annie got a microphone. They loved these gifts and have done a fantastic job sharing. I worried for nothing. No one complained about not having their own dog or wallet or car or microphone, everyone loved it.
Then we enjoyed the rest of the day at the Melzer's until we came home that evening for the Christmas dinner Ryan made. It really was a fantastic Christmas. And we looked so dog-gone cute.
Ryan said we didn't need a family picture - tsk tsk. Got him anyways. (Leta inherited Ryan's distaste for pictures. Eek)