Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

We started our Christmas Eve celebrating a day early.

On Friday, since Ben had the day off work, we got donuts (from Legendary Donuts) for breakfast. Yum. It was a hit and a great surprise for the kids!

At naptime for the twins, Ben took the big kids to the cheap theatre to see "Puss in Boots." This was their second surprise this day and they were thrilled.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, I took the big kids to a local LDS bookstore to see Santa again. Mitch asked for "Cars 2" DVD again. This Santa had no idea what that was (I could totally tell), but gave Mitch a cute ornament and some chocolate.

Chloe then told Santa, (again) that she wants a Barbie Dream House.

And they got a quick picture together.

Back home, we had a fun day just being together. The kids love to wrestle with Ben, and many times throughout the day, he was being jumped on by 4 kids at the same time.

Isn't that why there is dad's? I got down on the floor for a second to join the fun and with even 2 bodies on me, I was done. Not my thing.

We played LOTS of Mario Kart Wii. It is so fun now that they kids can play it. Mitch is hilarious- he is definitely improving, but still finishes last 95% of the time. But he is so excited if he ever gets any points.

He concentrates really hard!

We do our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve (so we don't have to do any big cooking on Christmas Day). Ben used one of his Christmas gifts early to make our Christmas ham- his new Traeger grill. It was delicious.

Dinner was yummy!

After dinner, Ben read the nativity story in Luke. We have talked about the nativity story and Jesus' birth a lot this month and I am amazed at how much my kids know, and that they really do understand the real meaning of Christmas. Sure, they love Santa and I think he is a fun and wonderful part of the magic of Christmas, but they know that we celebrate Christmas to remember the birth and life of our Savior. We have Nativity puppets and the big kids put on a number of puppet shows for us this month. Amazing to hear my 4 year old tell about the journey to Bethlehem and the angel announcing the Savior's birth.

After, I played the piano and we sang lots of Christmas songs/hymns.

4 happy kids waiting for their next surprise!

We pulled out our Christmas eve package and they were all anxious to see what was in it.

First their was a DVD. It was "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Then came new snowman pajamas for everyone.

I have never seen those kids change into pj's so fast- they were all so excited.

Next we hauled in all the presents from the garage to put under the Christmas tree. We couldn't put gifts under the tree until tonight, as we have two 2 year olds who would likely unwrap everything early). Here is Lexi telling me this gift is "heavy!" One handed, too- no wonder it's so heavy!

Andros Family- Christmas Eve 2011

Everyone settled down to watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" while I washed dishes (Leah helped).

Lexi clutching a nativity puzzle piece in one hand, and clutching Mitch's hand (fingers laced) in the other.

After the movie, everyone grabbed a quick treat before bed. Thanks to all the many, many treats brought over by friends and neighbors, we had LOTS of yummy things to choose from.

Then we got cookies and milk out for Santa, and the kids told me what to write in a note for Santa.


Our Santa note

The kids all told our elf Nicky goodbye as they headed up the stairs- this was his last night here until next year. We sure appreciate his diligent, watchful eye all month. He didn't make ALL the bad behaviors stay away, but he definitely helped.

Love the shot of our lit up tree. One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is seeing a Christmas tree lit up in a dark room. It looked extra beautiful last night and I was sad to know that it would soon be put away for the season.

Ben read the kids "Twas the Night Before Christmas" as they got into bed. The babies had a hard time settling down to go to sleep. They kept asking if "Santa eat cookies? And milkies?" They asked me that at least 30 times each. After shutting their door, I heard them talking about Santa and the cookies to each other. It is so fun to have them starting to get into all of the Christmas fun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

1st Grade Christmas Musical

Monday night was Chloe's first grade Christmas Musical performance. These little first graders must have been working really hard at school- I was amazed that 100+ first graders could sing and do choreography in sync so well. It was quite impressive. And downright adorable, too.

Each first grade class was a different animal. Chloe's class was bears. She's on the top row, right in the middle of this shot.

This did some homemade sign language during the songs.

This is my favorite shot of the whole night- Chloe signing her little heart out. Every one of those first graders did, actually. Love it.

The grand finale song! It was a great performance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend Get Away

We don't normally travel anywhere in the weeks before Christmas. But this year was a special treat, as we were invited by Ben's sister and her family to join them on a weekend get away to Discovery Bay, near Port Towsend, Washington. We have never been to that part of the state and were excited to see it. It was just a short 2 hour drive for us and we enjoyed gorgeous views and scenery all weekend, and spectacular company.

We stayed in 2 fantastic little "apartments" all weekend- our family in one, the Taylor family in the other. Each place had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, laundry room and living room/dining room area. Our rooms were right next door to each other and we were just steps away from the pool, so the kids were in heaven.

When we arrived Thursday night, it was too dark to see anything. But this is the view off our back balcony that we got to enjoy early the next morning.

The Sound, right outside our window. Gorgeous! (As the babies called it- "The beach!"

There were 7 kids between the 2 families and all of the kids are usually early risers, so our fun together started before 8:00 most mornings. Who gets to see and play with cousins at 7:30 a.m.? It was so fun.

Our poor upstairs neighbors probably did not love our early risers.... The 7 of them were not quiet. Oh well.

With full kitchens, we cooked and ate every meal at our condos. The kids were all good eaters and loved eating with their cousins. Chloe loved to ask multiple times a day, "Are we going over to Dave and Meredith's to eat, or are they coming here?" Not living in the same town as any cousins, this weekend of having some right next door was a real treat for us.

Our first adventure we went on was to a place called Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, WA. Sequim was just a short 30 minute drive and the Game Farm was so fun. It's a drive through zoo where you stay in your car and literally drive through a farm. For the first half of the tour, the animals are loose and walk right up to your car. You are allowed to throw bread to the animals and the kids loved that.

You are driving really slowly (you have to with 8 different animals crowded around your car), so we let the kids out of their seats- a baby on each lap- so they could enjoy it more.

So when I say there was animals right by you, I wasn't kidding. The llamas were the most friendly and would stick their head as far into your car as you would let them (well, as far in as you had your window rolled down). The llamas were hilarious- they tried to force their way into the windows constantly and would even run after the car when we drove away.

Here is Dave and Meredith's van- completely surrounded by animals. And that is a yak heading straight for our our van, head on.

This zebra was quite taken with us and tried desperately to get in.

The most aggressive, and annoying animals, were the birds. There were hundreds of them flying around and they would sit all over our van. We could hear them on the roof of the car constantly, and we had one sitting on our hood almost the entire tour. They were very aggressive with the bread we would throw and if you didn't throw it fast enough, they would swoop in and eat it right out of your outstretched hand. It caught a few of us off guard a number of times.

Lexi was one of the unsuspecting victims of the birds, and she was totally innocent. She had her hand resting on the window at one point, just watching everything, and a bird must have thought her cute little white hand was a piece of bread because it swooped in and bit her hand, leaving scratch marks on her fingers and hand. It scared her pretty badly and her cut up little hand looked painful. Poor baby.

They had beautiful peacocks all over the farm and they loved the bread too. I fed one and it snatched the bread out of my hand almost faster than we could get a picture.

Group shot of the kiddos- 4 two year olds, 2 four year olds and a 7 year old.

Leah is notoriously known for taking her sweet time warming up to people. But she has come a looooong way in the past few months, and this weekend proved that. Upon arriving Thursday night, she would not even look at Meredith or Dave and would cry when either of them would talk to her. But Friday morning, she instantly bonded with both of them, especially Uncle Dave. She went from not wanting anything to do with him to obsessed with him in 12 hours. She would barely leave his side for the rest of the weekend and would cry when he would put her down or leave a room. She rode on his lap during our second drive through the farm.

The Kodiak bears were hilarious- this one sat down like he was human, and another one would wave at us and make silly tongue expressions.

When it was time to go, Leah didn't want to leave Dave's side, so we let her ride with them back to the condos. We did a twin swap- they took one of our twins, we took one of theirs. John and Leah in one van...

Henry and Lexi in the other van. They held hands the entire way home.

This was our view in the daylight- and we had a gorgeous weekend with lots of sun.

These two 4 year olds were a hoot together- they loved making forts, swimming, eating and mostly playing on the iPad any minute their parents would let them.

The kids' favorite weekend activity was swimming at the indoor pool. They would have went 4 times a day if the adults had been up for it, but it's exhausting watching 7 kids 7 and under in a pool for more than a few hours a day. And it was freezing cold outside, but Leah, sporting just a swimsuit, had no issues with the coldness. She was just excited to be going swimming!

The babies did not love the pool the first night, but after that they loved it. It has given me hope that I may be able to sign them up for a swimming class this summer with the older kids and I could finally enjoy swimming lessons solo on the sidelines!

Swimming with Daddy is fun!

Dave and Meredith pack quite a fun pool bag- lots of water toys and supplies. My kids loved their collection of goggles.

When Ben was busy, Leah begged for Dave in the pool. With a set of twins of his own, Dave always has at least one kid in his hand and more often than not 2 in his hands and one on his back or shoulders. He never hesitated to pick one or both of my twins up when they were begging for him, even if he had a few kids of his own in his arms. (Lexi was equally as obsessed with him, but I didn't happen to snap any pictures of her with him). Thanks, Uncle Dave for all the love and attention you gave my kids this weekend. They love you!

Our Christmas Elf, Nicky, surprised us and showed up at the condo Friday morning, and the next 2 mornings we were there as well. The kids were thrilled!

On Saturday, we headed into Port Townsend. I was told what a cute little town it is, and as we drove through it I could already tell that I would love to spend more time here, probably without kids- there was lots of cute little shops that were calling my name, but taking any children in there would have been death.

We went to Fort Worden State Park instead. It was cold, cold, cold but we had fun anyway.

We saw a light house in the distance and decided to walk along the beach to get to it.

Ben drew a line in the stand and had the kids stand behind it for a rock throwing contest.

When we reached the light house, there was a spectacular overlook of the Sound. Perfect place for a family picture.

Me and Leah in front of the light house.

Light houses are so neat to look at. So historic looking.

We were all frozen through after walking to the light house, so we left the state park and decided to get some ice cream to warm us up. ha ha. We found a cute little ice cream shop in downtown Port Townsend. It was a hit.

Sunday was checkout day and time to go home. But to extend the fun, we decided to take a ferry part of the way home. We drove to Bremerton and took the ferry from there over to Seattle. Here we are waiting in line to drive on to the ferry.

After you drive your car onto the ferry, you can get out and go up top and walk around.

The kids loved looking out at the water. It was cold outside and with the wind blowing, it was down right bone chilling. Staying behind these windows helped protect us from the cold.

Andros Family

Taylor Family

It was really neat to look over the railing directly into the water. Also kind of scary, especially with young kids with us.

We could spot Seattle from miles away. I snapped this shot of Chloe with the Space Needle in the distance.

We docked at the water front in downtown Seattle and drove our cars off the ferry. Back home and back to reality. We had such a wonderful time and it sure was fun to have a weekend get away with the Taylor's. It was great to get away from the hustle and bustle of planning for Christmas and relax for a few days. Being with family sure helped me remember the true meaning of Christmas and how wonderful and important it is to be with family, especially at this time of year. Thanks for inviting us and for a great weekend. It was the perfect pre-Christmas present!