Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve

We thoughtfully started a couple traditions when we got married and then a few more when we had kids. Because we had been together for so long before we got married, we intentionally talked about what traditions we could start once we became a family (of just Mr. Howard and I). The thing we came up with was that each year we would buy one small thing for each other in the form of a penguin. Over the years, we've collected lots of penguins and we always label them with the year and save them as decorations for the following year. I love that it's our tradition and it's something that we share together. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever shared it until now.

Then when Connor joined our family, again we talked about what traditions we did as kids that we wanted to do with our kids. A friend from college told me about how she would bake cookies and decorate them every year with her best friend (this year was their 23rd year doing it ). I loved the idea of that tradition and so even when Connor was only 5 months old, we baked cookies with him on Christmas Eve.

Here is the picture (to the left) of that very first Christmas Eve when we baked cookies! That first year we spent the night at my parents' house, so we baked them there that night. Now, we bake them at our own house (we haven't spent the night there since that first Christmas with Connor).
Three years later and we have baked cookies every year!
(Grandma took pictures for us! Thanks Grandma!)

This was the first year Connor actually understood some of it! He really, really helped (and made a bit of a mess), but he was able to stir the cookies with the mixer, pat down the dough real flat, and even use the cookie cutters to cut out cookies. I wish I could have enjoyed the experience more, but I was a procrastinator (hey! I have three kids 2.5 and younger) and didn't wrap my presents. Needless-to-say, I was a bit eager for Connor to get to bed.

Another tradition we started when Connor was born was hosting Christmas Eve Dinner. This is our third year doing it and we love it! This year we had more people than normal (12 of us, plus little ones). And this year I made tamales from scratch (see THIS post). I hope I can make the tamales a new tradition!

Mom, Nathan, Kathe, Rebecca, Katie, Erin, Debbie (with Aiden), and Dad:
 Uncle Colin, Nova, and Connor:

The Tamales Cooking Away!

 Rebecca and Izzy
 Rebecca and Me Making Rice:
 Everyone Eating Dinner

Connor singing Happy Birthday to Pop Pop:
 Connor helping Mama pass out the Santa's: 
 Enjoying his Santa Treat:

This year because I'm a crazy, ridiculous overachiever who needs to know when to stop taking on projects having fun baking, I also decided to make a Santa treat (above) I had seen online. Connor and I made them by ourselves in the morning (when I should have been wrapping presents, cleaning the house, picking up a tamale pan, taking care of babies). Aiden watched us and Isabella slept.

Thankfully, when I went to pick up stocking stuffers for my mom's stocking (with my sister), Rebecca and Katie offered to take all three babies for me for a few hours so I could finish cleaning, cooking, and running errands without also having to entertain the kiddos. It was unbelievably sweet and just what I needed as there was no way I would have gotten half what I did without the help (Mr. Howard was working all day until 6pm). I'm not great at asking for help, but it's hard to say no when people tell you they're going to help no matter what ask (right, Mamas?).

Next year, I am going to be way more organized, so that I can sit and enjoy the day more. My goal is to have all my Christmas Shopping and Wrapping done before my break starts so I can craft with my kids, bake, and enjoy the holiday! (Maybe if Mr. Howard has a job that works more for our family, too, I could even have a house cleaner come to take that stress off my back!).

Regardless of the craziness and running around, our Christmas Eve was still quite magical as our new family of five!!!


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