Friday, December 28, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I do love Christmas!  So many fun traditions we continue and begin each year.  We especially had so much fun decorating the house since it was the first time in our new home.  Well fun enjoying it when it was done. As any Griswold Reinberg family Christmas would include a few hiccups, we made it through and only quoted Helen a few times saying, "It's Christmas and we're all in misery."  You can't say you haven't felt that at least once around the holiday season.  In all honesty, the devil must be trying to attack us with crazy drivers, rude cashiers/impatient shoppers, empty grocery/Hobby Lobby decor/Christmas light shelves...the list could go on.  Clearly, we weren't going to let him ruin our celebration of our Savior's birth and what happens to be one of my favorite times of the year!

Our journey on bringing cheer to our home and preparing for Christ's birth began as soon as we arrived home from Thanksgiving at Grandma's.  Katie and Ben graciously agreed to let us leave a night early from the farm so that we could one, see a late night showing of "Lincoln" on a date night and two, so we could get a head start on decorating.  Here were just a few "hiccups" we encountered in the just about three week's time it took to finally have it all ready (weeks as in weekends...we were too tired after school to do anything on the weekdays ha) and might I add that if Andy's team ever goes rounds in the playoffs, our decorations will be scarce as I couldn't have done it without him and am so thankful he was there to help (sorry Ranchview to be glad you didn't go to playoffs...)
  1. Our "pre-lit" tree was hardly that.  We spent about 10 hours total unwidning and un-knotting every single strand of lights off that tree and RE-LIGHTING it!  15+ strands and 3 extension cords later.  Did I mention we were the Griswolds?
    • On another note...those extension cords were later found to be needed after we blew the fuse or whatever you call it on three strands of lights as initially, all 15 strands were plugged in together connecting into one socket - bad idea...oops you live and you learn :)
  2. I used an indoor power strip for the lights outside - we had about 4 extension cords leading to it and oops, didn't think about bringing it inside when it rained.  It blew the fuse and we have yet to find out how to get power back to not only the outside plug but both bathroom plugs UPSTAIRS!  Hooray...
  3. While making and since made my homemade outdoor wreath - quite a few GLASS ornaments have fallen off and shattered. year...plastic ornaments on a wreath people.
  4. FROM NOW ON - get all your decorations AND LIGHTS before December even begins.  On my first Hobby Lobby trip, I got all I needed and more - Eleanor and I needed two carts!  Unfortunately I was shopping blindly and didn't find what I needed exactly and when I went back on December 6th (19 days before Christmas people it wasn't like it was the 22nd?!?!) ALL the lights were gone and most all the ribbon/decor had been stripped from the store - are you kidding me?  Do people really start shopping/decorating in October?  Clearly as indicated in the scarcity of all things Christmas almost 20 days out from the actual day.  I hate to admit that the aisles once adorned in ribbons and wrapping were already being replaced by Valentines supplies - WHAT!? Sorry for my rant...
Onto decorating...

Andy's family has a tradition that he wanted to bring to our family.  Every year, each kid would get a new ornament and his parents would choose one together.  They always would start the tree decoration with 'Nell and Mark hanging the first ornament they had together and kissing.  This was something Andy wanted to carry over to our family and so we did (I had to give in on something...I can't tell you how many other traditions I fought over...colored lights, one tree with a million ornaments, tinsel...the list goes we kept this one).  Eleanor also had SO much fun hanging ornaments this year.   She delighted in finding the many we informed her were hers and was so cute trying to find new spots to hang each ornament

We had two trees this year - I don't know why - I was thinking of going conservative with one but when Andy suggested it, I couldn't resist.  SO neither tree is perfect and 100% to my liking bc the funds ran out on completely redoing two (the maroon and gold had to go...) but I figure we will continue to add!

 Eleanor hanging her first ornament - I LOVE how much she loved this this year!

We were so thankful to receive from some of my parents' friends who were moving, the "prelit" tree which we love now - it is so tall and now completely lit!  We also acquired their icicle lights and net bush lights.  We spent so much on the inside, that we were so thankful to hardly have to purchase anything for the exterior thanks to the Mongers!

Here are a few shots of the house.

Living Room "inherited" tree

 Family Room Tree

 This is some decor in the kitchen and Eleanor's decorative contribution to the tree ha!

To bring in the holiday spirit, we also have a few other traditions:
  • Driving around to look at Christmas lights

    • This year we drove the three of us through Highland Village but Andy and Ben, Katie's boyfriend surprised Katie and I with a date night through HP to look at Christmas lights in the seat of a horse-drawn carriage!  It was a beautiful ride and so much fun!  The weather was perfect!
  • Baking Christmas candies and cookies.  

More of her "decorating" probably went towards scarfing all the candy toppings...

Still she was pretty meticulous in her work!

    • This year as a family just the three of us, we ventured to make and decorate gingerbread cookies!  Not too shabby for our first time - maybe we will try the house next year!  
    • We also with the help of the whole family conquered the following Christmas sweets this year
  • Unwrapping a book a day to count down the days until Christmas - you can see Sally brought Eleanor her first two on our Advent/Elf on a Shelf brunch - since it was on the 2nd and I didn't have them ready on the 1st, she opened the first two that day :)
    • These are not new books, just a collection of Christmas books we have an get excited to see what will be opened next
    • This year was especially fun because Eleanor and her friend Anna were left alone with the tree and decided to unwrap a few of her books ha!
  • A Daily Visit from Sally the Elf.  See her individual posts for more details on our first year with an "Elf on a Shelf"
  •  St. Nicholas
    • On the first week of December, St. Nicholas comes and brings us our Christmas Jammies along with a few other small things.  We talk about how St. Nicholas became a saint and all the generous things he did for his community.  We try to relate this in with Santa and why we give/get gifts at Christmas hopefully focusing mostly on the giving aspect of the holiday...we are trying ha but it is tough with a 2 year old.

  • Advent Calendar

    • I took the idea from this blog posting and LOVED it but didn't have time to sew this year so I made one from paper and found a little $5 foam Christmas tree at none other than Target and was up until 4am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning because I am crazy anal about wanting Christmas to be perfect and it HAD to be finished well started too by the first Sunday of Advent.
    • It is modeled after the Jesse tree and is kind of an advent calendar/Jesse tree combo.  Eleanor didn't get it all - the most she took away from it was the connection to her Noah's Ark little people set while Andy was reading that part from the bible for that day and the day Eve at the apple - she kept talking about how Eve ate the apple ha!  Oh well, we will try again next year
  • Advent Wreath
    • every night at dinner we light the candles for the coordinating advent week we are celebrating and read from a devotional...yes this happens every day on the first week as we are super ambitious and then I hate to say that it does not happen each week following until Christmas (the reading that is) but we try to do more each year!
  • The Christmas Eve Reading of the Polar Express by my Dad 
    • This year was so special because we got to hear it in our own home for the first time!
    • Eleanor was fixated on the Wolves and how they were "Daddy's wolves" (his team is the Ranchview Wolves) along with loving ringing her jingle bells every time the bells from Santa's sleigh were mentioned in the story

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