Another Christmas has come and gone! Though we had a wonderful holiday, I'm not sad to be leaving 2018 in the rearview tomorrow night. This has been, objectively, one of the worst years ever for me and I'm not sad to see it go! Hoping and planning for a much better 2019!
The season started for us when I temporarily returned to photography by offering a day of christmas mini sessions in our home!
It was fun designing and putting together the set, and my living room looked rather comical as it was transformed into a pop-up photo studio. The results were well worth all of the effort and it was a major upgrade from our usual sit-in-front-of-our-tree annual Christmas portraits.
My little ham of an eldest child had fun posing as well. It was great seeing some of my past clients again and I hope they all enjoyed the photos I was able to create for them in such a limited amount of time.
We had plans early in the month to have Santa photos made, but Jasper came down with an irritating little virus that kept us all at home recovering instead. On December 23rd, we finally made it out to meet the Big Guy! Thanks to Stephanie Richer for the photo!
On Christmas Eve, the kids donned their holiday duds once again and we traveled to northern Georgia to my brother's house.
A large portion of the evening was spent trying to keep the kids from darting upstairs to mess with the other tree. Sigh. Oh, see her pigtails? This is the only time you'll see them. She had ripped those puppies out before I had a chance to get another photo.
Jasper was so excited to finally dig into his first round of Christmas presents.
Nothing like watching your kiddo dig into their gifts on Christmas.
Miss Shelby is an expert present ripper.
Getting a little assistance from Papa opening his big gift from Aunt Amy.
A new Thomas the Train track set!
Another cookie after getting into PJ's for the long drive back to Knoxville, because it's Christmas, and sugar is okay to eat late at night on Christmas!
The next morning the kids needed no coaxing to run out of their rooms to see what Santa left them!
Jasper got to the stockings first while Shelby toddled down the stairs as fast as she could.
Stockings were always my favorite part of Christmas morning as a kid, and our kiddos seem to love them, too.
After a little breakfast, it was time to start in on the presents.
We always end up going way overboard every Christmas, but we buy them toys so rarely at other times of the year that it works out to just spoil the heck out of 'em on Christmas.
We gave Shelby a Pomsies and she loved it way more than we were expecting. It purrs and vibrates, has over 50 different reactions, and its eyes light up. The tail is flexible so she can "wear" it by wrapping it around her arm or attaching it to other things.
She hugged it a million times.
Jasper requested "a toy Daddy's New Truck" for Christmas, and Santa came through with a diecast model that's almost identical to Daddy's real truck!
Nothin' like being a kiddo on Christmas Morning, and nothing like being a parent getting to relive the magic of Christmas through your little ones.
Shelby got "a new tablet", which is actually Jasper's old tablet, reformatted and refreshed and popped into a pretty new purple kitty case. Jasper got his first tablet during the Christmas that he was 2 years old, so we thought it was time for Shelby to get one, too.
I was SO excited to find this magnetic interactive daily calendar and couldn't wait for the kids to open it. Each day, they can help us update the date, days of the week, weather, temperature, emotions, and any special activities happening that day. It's a great learning tool and something they can look forward to doing each morning.
We had sneakily stolen Jasper's old tablet a couple of days before Christmas to get it ready for Shelby, but thankfully he never noticed. He was sure surprised, though, to see his brand new PINK tablet (his favorite color!) on Christmas!
We face the struggle of consistent ways to allow Jasper to exhaust some energy during the cold months when playing outside is not always possible. The Fisher Price SmartCycle is the greatest invention ever!! It's a stationary bike that connects to a tablet via bluetooth. Specialized (and educational!) apps use the pedals, handlebars, and joystick to operate the games. Jasper LOVES it and has been pedaling his brains out. It is the most perfect yucky weather solution ever!! Best $75 investment.
The calm after the storm. You can see the SmartCycle unboxed here. It. Is. So. Cool.
I know folks have opinions about screen time and wee ones, but we feel that we're responsible about it. And there is no denying how much that Jasper has learned from his tablet over the years that puts him way ahead of the curve of the average milestones for his age. It's so fun teaching Shelby how to use hers and she's SO excited to have her own!
Oh, and can we have a moment for my Christmas camper pajamas?? I found them a few months ago at Walmart, of all places.
Not long after, it was time to start preparing our annual Whoville Roast Beast. We start by heating up a dutch oven on the stove and getting a nice sear on all edges of a plump chuck roast. Then the pot gets filled with onions, carrots, beef broth and/or red wine, and some fresh herbs. Into a low 275F oven it goes for 4 hours or so, and you've got the most perfect pot roast on the planet that literally falls apart when you look at it.
We've eaten the same dinner on Christmas Day for years: amazing pot roast with carrots and onions cooked into submission, braised Brussels sprouts garnished with crispy crumbled bacon, homemade mashed potatoes, and THE BEST CHEDDAR SODA BREAD ON THE ENTIRE PLANET. I can't believe I haven't blogged that bread yet, because it is THE. BEST.
Our dinner finished up with helpings of our annual trifle. I create a new trifle every year for Christmas. This year's creation was chocolate turtle, and I'll be posting the recipe in the next few days!