Graham Cracker House Decorating with OMA

While visiting with my grandmother at the beginning of December, she reminded me that she used to decorate elaborate gingerbread houses with my great-aunt every year when their kids were growing up.  I'd been thinking about doing graham cracker houses with my kids this year, so I asked her if she'd want to join us and she did.  The following Saturday night, I enlisted the other adults' help and Suz and I assembled the houses while the Bens made boards for us (and the kids watched "The Santa Clause").  On Sunday, Oma came over for dinner and graham cracker house decorating and it was really great.  I thought I had tons of candy but when all was said and done, there was hardly any left, haha.  We had fun seeing what everyone came up with, and of course sneaking gum drops and red hots when we thought nobody was looking.

A Pretty Great Work Christmas Party

Ben's work Christmas party was held at the Provo Beach Resort, an indoor family fun center with a carousel, arcade games, laser tag, bowling, miniature croquet, an enormous playground, a high ropes course, and SURFING.  We loved every minute, starting with the dinner catered by Chick-fil-A.  The kids played lots of arcade games and got enough tickets to load up on candy.  Some of us bowled, some of us surfed/boogie boarded, some of us high ropesed, and all of us laser tagged.  Since all of the activities were included, we did whatever we wanted to and even stayed out past the kids' bedtimes and let the kids sleep in and go to school late the next morning.  We considered it our big Christmas hurrah, since we have so many other things keeping us busy this month, and it worked out great.

Jack and Eliza were the water babies at the party.  They boogie boarded over and over again, then tried surfing a couple of times.  I tried surfing once but after wiping out almost immediately, hurting my arm, and have a wardrobe malfunction, I decided I didn't need to take any more turns.

Luke loved being Ben's laser tag buddy.  It was pretty cute to see
them sneaking around together.

The Disco Tree

We went straight from Cat's last basketball game of the season to go choose a Christmas tree.  Luke was really excited about one, and we planned to buy it, until we found it was $10 more than a bunch of other trees.  In the end, we went with a cheaper one.  And Luke is still disappointed.

We got to work setting up and decorating the tree as soon as we got home, and it turned out pretty great.  Jack misses the train we used to have that went around the bottom of the tree (it died after a couple of years) so he decided to get out the Thomas toys and set a train up around the tree just because.  Luke jumped on board right away and was more interested in the train than the ornaments.

When you tell your tweenager to look happy while she's putting an ornament on the tree...
this is what you get.  Tree-hugger.

When Luke and I were out recently we saw a bunch of stuff labeled FREE on the side of the road.  We stopped to check it out and Luke spotted three bags of gold ball ornaments and really wanted to bring them home for our tree.  We finally put some of the balls on the tree the other day, and Luke was so glad.  His comment when we were finished was something to the effect of, "It looks like a little disco!"  I think he was trying to compare a sparkly ball ornament to a disco ball, but it was still completely unexpected and so cute.

Two Santas

The first Saturday in December meant not just ONE fun Christmas activity, but TWO.  And the first one helped us get Christmas-y starting bright and early (8:30am) with our annual ward Christmas breakfast.  It was fun to visit with friends in the ward, hear a festive message, sing some songs, and meet one of Santa's helpers (who happens to be the same helper who, when Eliza said she wanted a dog for Christmas, asked, "How about a St. Bernard?").

Luke didn't really want to see Santa by himself,
and it was pretty cute to see Cat helping him.

"Jack, see if Santa will dab with you?"


In other news, Jack and Eliza took it upon themselves to keep the little kids
from going on to the stage during the message and music.

Later in the day we rode on the Polar Express and loved it once again.  Cat had a babysitting gig so she didn't join us, but the rest of us loved this lovely little train ride.  It starts with "Polar Express" music, stops at Santa's Workshop, then continues back to the station with a beautiful medley of Christ-centered music (arranged and performed by our friend Candice) while riding past paintings and scenes from Christ's life (see the video below).

Notice Luke wasn't as shy the second time around.

There were cards out for us to sign for servicemen and women and for
missionaries, and Luke and Eliza enjoyed signing a couple.

(Polar Express return trip music & pictures.)