Wednesday, January 01, 2014

And so it was Christmas

And so it was Christmas!  And a beautiful Christmas it was!  In spite of a horrible stomach virus that invaded our house at the beginning of December and is STILL HERE and in spite of just being tired from a long, busy year, this Christmas was everything I wanted it to be and more!  I think it's one of my favorites!
Our Christmas vacation began in the kitchen.  One thing I really wanted to do this year that I hadn't done in years was bake some sweets and treats.  This is something I always remember my mom doing.  We never had a Christmas without pralines, divinity and fruit cake (none of which I eat, by the way, but still).  Year after year Mama would make these treats and store them in the big, beautiful decorative tins.  I don't have any of those big, beautiful decorative tins, but I knew exactly what treats I wanted to bake.  My favorite part about this day was having my husband and children in the kitchen with me.  They unwrapped all of the caramels for the sea turtles.
And this plate of delicious-ness was well worth it (including the calories)!  Starting at the top, we made peanut butter stuffed ritz covered in chocolate (I even stuffed some of them with cookie butter, and they were so yummy!  If you don't know what cookie butter is, you need to make your way to the nearest Trader Joe's tomorrow!), fudge (which has always been my personal favorite), pralines (which I still do not eat, but I made them because I felt like I had to) and sea turtles (which was a little time consuming but so totally worth it, especially with the sea salt sprinkled on top).  And the balls you see are butter nut truffles (made with Butterfinger . . . need I say more?!).  Mama got here in time to help me with the chocolate covered ritz and truffles.
On Christmas Eve we made a gingerbread house.  I really enjoyed doing it with Mason and Hannah Kate.  Mason said he wants that to be our new tradition for every Christmas Eve.  I love that idea; I'm a sucker for tradition!

And here they are with the finished product!  It turned out really cute (and, yes, they decorated it pretty much just like the picture on the box).  And, just in case you're wondering, it came from Trader Joe's, too.

We decided to open a few presents on Christmas Eve night.  But first I wanted to get a quick picture of the kids in front of the tree.  These next few pictures require no explanation.

To say the littlest one was not in the mood is an understatement!  First of all . . . no, she isn't wearing a dress.  Her britches were an unfortunate casualty of the nasty stomach virus she was on the tail end (literally) of.  And I just didn't bother to wash them or find a new pair.  So between the stomach virus and lack of a nap that afternoon, Ellie was pretty much unwilling to cooperate with anything or anyone!

Mason and Hannah Kate were eager beavers to open gifts!  They'd made it a habit of checking the gifts under the tree each day to see if any had been added with their names on them.  And, just so you know, I didn't label all of their gifts, only one.  When Pop and Mimi came from Georgia, they also brought with them a lot of gifts from family who always lavish us so sweetly.
One of Mason's gifts from Pop and Mimi was this pair of binoculars.  His daddy told him that he could take those fishing and use them to spy on other boats to see if they were catching fish.  And if Mason did that, I can tell you that his daddy would duck and hide for cover in the bottom of the boat!

Now this would be the loveliest of pictures of my children with their gifts in front of the tree.  Oh.  But wait.  One of my children is missing!
I love the expression on Mason's face in this picture.  He was so surprised!  A few weeks earlier I found a pair of really cool Nike tennis shoes on sale for half off.  That never happens.  Cool and sale at the same time.  So I sent a picture to Seth to be sure they would be okay.  Because his idea of cool is usually different from mine!  He approved.  So I bought them and decided to wrap them up as one of Mason's Christmas gifts.  When I got home that day, time just got away from me, and I forgot to hide them before Mason got home from school.  And the first thing he did was go to that orange box laying on the table and lift the lid.  When he did, his eyes got really big.  And then he slowly exhaled before putting the lid back down and walking away.  I heard him mumble, "Those must be for dad."  That day was Seth's birthday.  Not that Seth and Mason wear anywhere close to the same size of shoe.  But these Nike's were different from the ones Mason has always had.  These have the air bubble thingy for the sole.  So I guess that's why he thought they were for Seth.  Anyway, I quickly hid them, and he never mentioned them again.  So when he opened that box and saw those tennis shoes, he was thrilled!
Since Hannah Kate is all about having her nails done, she got an Orbeez spa for one of her gifts.  It was a hit, too.
I was really curious to see how Ellie would react to opening her gifts.  Of course, I expected her to be all over it!  Since nothing else would do, Mimi helped her open her first little gift.
And then she was ready to open gifts all by herself!  The numbers that you see on the floor are the cutest ever little wooden magnets for the refrigerator.  She loves them, but Mason and Hannah Kate might love them more!
This big, chunky puzzle was one of her favorite gifts that night.  She loves puzzles!
And, of course, big sister had to help her open presents, too.
The next morning, Christmas Day, we woke up, ate a quick breakfast and went to church.  When we got back home, it was time to open gifts again!  But, first, I was hoping for a picture.  Ellie was already not in the best of moods.  And it was only 9:00.  I thought it might help if I put her big gift, her pink anywhere chair, in front of the tree and let her sit in that.  I'll just let the pictures tell you what she thought about that!

And . . . she's outta there!  But this is a great picture of Mason and Hannah Kate!
This would be the best picture I could get of all three this Christmas.  It makes me laugh. It really does.
And I just can't help but show off these two again . . . be still my heart!
Finally.  Presents.  Mason and Hannah Kate decided to dig through their stockings first.
And Ellie?  Well, here's what she thought about her stocking.
I mean, seriously, who wants to dig down into a super cute stocking with an ice skating girl on it filled with goodies?  Not Ellie!
If Ellie could talk, she's screaming, "GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!!!"
She finally calmed down and was willing to see what was in her stocking.  She wasn't thrilled.  But at least she wasn't screaming anymore!
After they unloaded their stockings (which were filled with mostly practical things like socks and undies!), they opened more gifts.  This was their "big" gift this year.  We give them three gifts each since the Magi presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
This year their "big" gift was a Kindle Fire.  They have argued over their MawMaw's Kindle for a year, and now they each have their own.  They were so excited and so surprised.  It wasn't even something they asked for.
And this girl?  I mean, who wants to open that mountain of presents when you can be eating cheerios out of a plastic baggie?!?
Because, apparently, the cheerios in the plastic baggie are, as Aunt April would say, MO' BETTER!
So with that plastic baggie of cheerios firmly gripped in her left hand, she decided to take a peek once I got it started for her.
And now she's realized the presents might be better than the plastic baggie!
But . . . wait!  What?!?  More than one?!?  I HAVE TO OPEN MORE THAN ONE?!?  Surely you jest!  It's too much!  I just can't take it!
So somewhere between that picture and this one, we came to a book.  Ellie loves books. So now we're nearing our happy place again.
But there are still MORE presents to open.  So I had to call in the troops to help!
Pop and Mimi gave Ellie her very first Bitty Baby.  Now she and Hannah Kate do not have to argue over Hannah Kate's baby!
Ellie loves baby dolls!  And I'm pretty sure she loves this one!
And then it was time to go to PawPaw and MawMaw's for lunch and more presents!  But before we left, I really wanted a picture of the five of us together.  And the only way we could make that happen was with the paci.  That's something we never let Mason and Hannah Kate do!  They were both done with theirs shortly after their first birthday.  Actually, Mason never liked his to begin with so he was done with it at six months old.  And Hannah Kate thought it would be really funny one day to keep throwing hers on the floor at the grocery store.  I kept telling her to stop, and she would look at me, grin and throw it again.  So when we got home that day, I gathered them all up and threw them in the garbage.  She was 14 months old.  But Ellie is very attached to hers.  That didn't happen until I weaned her from nursing.  She was one.  I let her have it because she really did not want to be weaned.  She'd walk around with that thing in her mouth all day if I let her.  And some days I have because I just don't want to hear the whining!  But one of the things we're going to work on now is getting rid of it, especially since she's talking a lot now.  She's still giving the evil eye in this picture, but at least she isn't screaming and squirming!  
We got a picture with Pop and Mimi, too.  Mason and Hannah Kate were really excited that they were here to spend Christmas with us.
 When we got to MawMaw's, we took a picture with Abbie.
And then we ate.  The food . . . seriously, I'm not sure who all we thought we were feeding!  But it was SO. GOOD. 
We took one more picture in front of the tree before opening presents.  Avery and Beau didn't come until the following day so that's why they aren't in any of these pictures.
These kids were excited to open more presents.
But this kid?  I guess she was tired of presents by this point!
But she did find something she likes!  Since the big kids got Kindles, the little one got a Leap Pad.  So hopefully she'll be content with her own Leap Pad and leave the others alone.  We'll see.
The big kids ended the day riding around on Abbie's new toy.
And as for me . . . well, I got the BEST gifts this year, none of which I asked for!  Okay, except for the new decor that my mom got me upon my request.  I was super excited about the new clutch my bestie sent me!  At the top of my list this year was a new purse.  I haven't had a new purse since Mason was born!  I've always carried a diaper bag.  And because I don't like keeping up with a bunch of big, bulky bags, I just put my phone and my wallet in the diaper bag.  My plan was to go shopping after Christmas for my gift from Seth and the kids.  But we all know that he did his Christmas shopping way early this year and without my permission.  So no new purse.  Imagine my surprise when I opened this!  I was being silly, and Mason wanted to take my picture.
And . . . in case you haven't heard . . . Seth got me THE. BEST. GIFT. EVER!!!!  And he did it ALL. BY. HIMSELF!!!!  Rarely ever am I speechless!  But I. WAS. SPEECHLESS!!!!  I'll be honest though.  I was a little nervous when I opened my gift from him!  I had no idea what it was.  I knew he was excited about it so I knew I needed to be excited about it regardless of how I really felt about it.  I had two gifts, a "little" one and a "big" one.  He made me open the "big" one first.  It was Chef Peter Sclafani's cookbook.  He's the chef at my favorite restaurant in Baton Rouge, which also happens to be "our place," the one we go to when we want a special night out, which isn't very often these days.  I love Ruffino's.  I love to cook.  And I love cookbooks!  So far, so good!

And then I opened the "little" one.  It was a gift card to Chef Sclafani's 5-course cooking class!  After I picked my lower lip up off the floor and wiped up the drool, I asked him how in the world he came up that!  His office is located across the street from Ruffino's, and he saw the cooking class advertised on their billboard.  He thought of me, and that's that.  He did tell me that I could "take a friend," but, of course, I am not doing that!  I told him I wasn't going unless he goes with me.  Besides, he won't admit it, but he really wants to go.  The class is offered two nights a month.  We already know that he will be out of town the two nights in January.  So it will be at least February and probably later before we can go.  But I'm hoping we can go sooner rather than later.  I think I kept saying over and over, "I just can't believe it!  I love it!"  I'm sure he got tired of hearing it.  But he did SO. GOOD!!!!
And that . . . was our Christmas!


Harriette Connell said...

Great Christmas!!! I love all the pictures!! I have been sitting her laughing OUT LOUD and Ellie!!! Happy New Year to you all and have fun at your cooking classes!!!

Mama said...

Got so caught up in reading and "re-living" this wonderful time that my Candied Yams (great recipe from the Little New Orleans Cookbook I received this Christmas from Julie's "other parents") I'm preparing for this New Year's Day just simmered away on the stove and came very close to being "pralines" rather than the wonderful glaze for the yams. That's not a bad thing - pralines are MY favorite treat this time of year! A most Thankful and Merry Christmas indeed was had by all!

Ruthie Mae said...

I have laughed and laughed over Ellie! That little mess! As you often say, she was just being "Ellie"! I love it and those a great memories. I love your post and pis. I can't wait to see the post for New Year's Day and hopefully pics of the black-eyed pea cakes!

Kori Page said...

I love reading about your family's memories! Merry Christmas, Julie! And have fun with your cooking class! My husband would definitely buy that for me if he could find it, I don't cook too well, lol. Anyway, I hope you have a blessed New Year! XOXO from Oklahoma!

The Applings said...

I loved seeing all the pictures and reading all the memories that were made - great photos by the way! Thanks for taking the time to post - perhaps you will inspire me to start posting again (nah!) :)