I hate that I didn't take more pictures of our Christmas dinner with Eric and Amanda. We hadn't been to the Balls in a while, so it was super fun to get the four kids together (don't get excited two of them still have four legs.) For Christmas, Amanda decided to treat Gracie to a day of mani's and pedi's, and treated her with an iTunes card for her new best friend, her mini. Jax was super-charged about his lego set (mommy was excited about his new jeans and adorable magic shirt.) He kind of tossed those aside quickly though in favor of ripping open his new lego set. He and "Ick" got straight to work. Eric hates when we take his picture, so I just had to include this rare snap of the two of them working on their lego creation. Thanks Ick and Amanda, we love you guys.
They made a great team! Below is the finished product. Pretty cool huh!?
On Christmas morning we usually give the kids time to play with Santa's gifts, and Mommy time to clean up, then we head to Granny and Papaw Fords for the second wave. This year, the kids' big gift was waiting for them at Papaw's house. It was actually too big of a gift, and I put up another fight that I lost again. But, since then, I have to say that there has been a string of Silent Nights and peaceful journeys in the car. You'll understand…..
First I should say that Papaw Ford is absolutely the hardest person on the planet to shop for. He is terrible. He has never ever told anyone what he wants, needs, or likes. If he wants something, he has a tendency of running out and getting it himself before anyone has a chance to do it. So, the best thing Kev and I could think of to get him was tickets to a game. Florida vs. UK!! Yes, both tickets are his, but I wonder who he will choose to take. Don't worry, I reminded him of how many nights I slept on the cold sidewalk to get him tickets in college. No pressure, no expectations. :-)
Gracie has been asking for an Easy Bake Oven for years. I have always avoided the subject. I don't like to bake in a real oven, so I was sure that the Easy Bake would be no less fun! Well, when Mommy says no… Not only did Granny and Papaw come through again, but the gift also included baking lessons from Papaw. Their first creation, miniature Whoopie Pies. I'll leave that up to your imagination.
Jax got a monorail straight from Disney World. We had to put it together as soon as we got home. It is getting increasingly difficult to walk through his room. It is covered in tracks, train sets, lego-sets, and such. The monorail definitely fit right in.
And for Mommy: Isn't she beautiful!? I saw this purse in Lexington on my last visit, and had visions of it dancing through my head for days before Christmas. I love it! And it complimented my new blue wardrobe perfectly.
And for the grand finale, both the kids received iPad Mini's. Yes, this is the argument that I lost completely. But, I will eat my words. Car rides have been much more tolerable with both kids having devices in hand and headphones on. The fighting has stopped, for now at a least.
I know that after a while all of these Christmas morning picture look the same, especially when taken by someone who isn't the best behind the camera. But I have learned that the pictures are all we have left in years to come, when babies aren't babies anymore, so just indulge me while! I was a sappy mess on Christmas Eve night when I realized that Gracie no longer wanted to leave carrots out for the reindeer, and she wasn't worried about "catching" Santa Claus anymore. Again I tell ya, I was a mess! My babies aren't babies, and it STINKS!!
I guess that is one more reason why Christmas is so very special to me. It is when the child comes out of all of us. No matter how old we are, we are all kids at heart, especially at Christmastime.
Even Rupp loved his Beggin Strips that the Big Man left him.
I'm sure they taste even better when tied up in shiny ribbon!
Neither one of the kids realized when they opened their headphones, that they were really meant to go with Papaw's gift. (More on that next time.) They are also the gifts that keep on giving in the car! Now Mommy and Daddy do not have to listen to them screaming and fighting nearly as much. When they both have their headphones on, all is quiet in the Mann-mobile.
Gracie is at that weird age where she is still playing with dolls one moment and talking about how HOT the One Direction boys are the next. For that reason, it was actually a joy to get her the EverAfter High Dolls that she wanted. I know that my doll days are numbered, so seeing the joy on her face when she was playing with them on Christmas was just what my sappy heart needed.
Nothing has changed with the little Mann. Everything has to have a motor, wheels, or be put together with legos. This year, however, he did request an Infinity, but I think it had more to do with the commercials that show Lightning McQueen driving through the video game. Below you can see what was probably the biggest hit. It was a Hot Wheels Carcade, which is just like a pinball machine that shoots Hot Wheel cars rather than a ball. The entire family has had a ball with this one.
The one gift that was at the top of Gracie's Christmas list this year was a Nerf Rebelle crossbow. I thought it was a strange request, so I was even more surprised when I saw how much fun she had. I am just happy that Santa didn't leave Jackson unarmed. He got a Duck Dynasty Marshmallow gun. Unfortunately, he has insisted that he needs a Nerf Bow too because he says, "When sissy shoots me, it hurts. When I shoot her she says, mmmmmm and eats the marshmallows!" Santa didn't think that through I guess. I see a late Christmas purchase in our future.
Christmas Eve is such an exciting night at the Mann's. I know that I have shared all of these traditions before, every year to be exact. But it will be fun for the kids to look back and see that although things seem to change so very much, they really do stay exactly the same. We count down the days all year (starting at 365) until the big day. Above, Jax is holding the big fat 0 to show that the day has arrived. Sad part, is that that same happy calendar says 360 days! :-(
On Christmas Eve night the kids all open one present, and due to another Christmas tradition, it is ALWAYS new Pj's. That only means nice pictures on Christmas morning! I couldn't resist Jax's Captain America PJ's! What a hoot!
Cookies for Santa were a little different this year. We usually bake them ourselves, but we got home so late from Grandma and Papaw Mann's this year, that we didn't have time. Good thing is that I got soooo many delicious baked good from students this year, we had plenty of loaners to leave out for Santa. I know that makes many of you really sad. However, you need not worry. My kids are so much like me, they didn't even realize that we didn't bake on Christmas Eve. It's a tradition they didn't miss. I promise you all though, that we will get back in the kitchen next year. (Don't get excited though, it's just the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse bag. Thanks to Pheobe's Great Grandma Tole Houser!)
My little girl is so grown up now that she didn't partake in leaving carrots out for the reindeer. She said it was too cold, and watched brother do it from the door. Party Pooper. One day it will just be Mommy leaving carrots out, but you all know it will happen!
Finally, we sat down to read T'was the Night Before Christmas, and it was off to bed for the Mann's. This is the first year that the kids slept in their own beds on Christmas Eve. We missed them, but they were bouncing in the bed bright and early at 6:00 am the next morning! Boy do the creatures start stirring early around here!!
We usually take TONS of pictures at Kev's parents house on Christmas, but for some strange reason, we just didn't pick up the am era this year. I have no idea why! But, this is one of my favorite moments of the evening. Gracie and Jax both got one of those little Flipeeze hats from Grandma and Grandpa Mann and Papaw Mann got a stunning UK hat to keep his hear warm on the golf course during the winter months! What a terrific threesome!
I live for my children. Everything I do is for them, because of them, and for their benefit. My husband is my soul mate, and my best friend. I am who and what I am because I have the most wonderful parents in the world. My proudest moment was when my little girl was saved at the age of five. Kentucky Basketball is the one thing that EVERYONE in my family agrees on. I spend most of my day hoping to inspire young children to become life-long readers and writers, and develop a love for literacy. My happiest day will be when my family and I go Home hand-in-hand.