Friday, December 26, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas Festivities

Austin made it home from New Zealand 2 weeks before Christmas and Oliver and I about died of happiness! It was just enough time to cram in a bunch of really fun activities, pick a Christmas tree, decorate the house together, etc. We made the most of our time and had an absolute blast! This was probably one of the most special and memorable Christmases we have ever had (and this was our 6th Christmas as a married couple)! 

Some of the things we did: visited Frankenmuth, MI (a really charming town that is decked out at Christmas time and is home to the world's largest Christmas store... it really is a magical place!), took Oliver to see a movie at the movie theater which was a super big deal to him, we had the Wallins over to play games with us one night, we had brunch on Christmas Eve with the Joseph family, attended a surprise baby shower that my really good friend, Samantha, threw for me, made lots of delicious pastries and food, cuddled a lot... you get the idea. 

Besides being in my 9th month of pregnancy and dealing with all the uncomfortable-ness of that, it was a truly amazing Christmas!

Watching the fudge being made at a fudge shop in Frankenmuth, MI.

My handsome guys! 

Oliver loved the "HOT FIRE!"

Getting our Christmas tree home and decorated.

Putting up the star.

He loved hanging out by the presents under the tree.

Oliver's first taste of egg nog. Oliver loved it and Austin was so proud!

Cookies and egg nog after a long evening of Christmas decorating!

I love puzzling during Christmas break and the guys even helped me this year!

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we have a tradition of going to a beautiful, historic church in downtown Ann Arbor that has a live nativity performance every year. They reinact Christ's birth with scriptures from Luke and the congregation joins in singing traditional Christmas hymns. They even bring live animals into the church during the performance. It is really fun and family friendly and also a spiritual experience. We love it!

Afterwards we head home and have a "Dinner in Bethlehem". We eat a simple meal of fattoush, lentil soup, homemade pita, grapes, nuts, cheese, etc. While we eat we read about Christ's birth from The Bible. We have really loved this tradition!

After dinner we leave our special cookies (pinwheels... Austin's favorite cookie in the world) and milk out for Santa and some carrots and such for the reindeer. Then we read Oliver "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and sent him to bed. 

Christmas Eve at a beautiful live nativity performance

Oliver loved seeing all the animals walk through the church! Donkeys, sheep, goats... etc.

Seeing the camel outside after the pageant. This is one of our favorite traditions!

Oliver couldn't help but steal one of Santa's cookies! 

Christmas Day

On Christmas morning Oliver woke up really excited!! He LOVED discovering the marble race that Santa left him by the tree. He didn't even care about all the presents to be opened. He just wanted to play with the race all morning. haha! So, we let him play and we had breakfast "picnic style" on the floor by the tree. I made cranberry-walnut cream scones and bacon and eggs. 

After eating and playing for a while Oliver was finally ready for all the present opening! Boy.... we were sure spoiled this year. We only bought Oliver a few wooden puzzles (from the used kids store too... haha). But, he still ended up with a mound of toys from his Grammy and Grampy, Mimi and Papa, Grandpa Ron and Grandma Jan and even our neighbor brought by a few presents later that day! We couldn't believe how generous and thoughtful everyone was! We are truly blessed to have so many amazing family members and friends. 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, playing with all of Oliver's new toys and making loads of food for Christmas dinner. Austin is so amazing... he insisted on taking care of most of the dinner this year. He made the honey and mustard glazed ham, the pomegranate-balsamic glazed carrots and the kale with crispy pancetta. I made the dill poppyseed bread, the potatoes and brussels sprout gruyere au gratin and the dessert, which was a dark chocolate raspberry roulade (we decided to have a Christmas yule log this year and start a new tradition).

Everything turned out great! Our good friends, the La Croix family, came over to have the yule log with us for dessert. We spent the whole evening together eating and talking while the kids played. It was really fun and relaxing. We will be sad when they move to Tanzania next month.... :( I guess we will just have to try to visit them soon! 

Santa left Oliver a marble race on Christmas morning!

Oliver wearing Grammy's homemade slippers!

Being lazy after opening all our presents! 

Oliver loves his marble race!

Oliver wouldn't eat Christmas dinner.... the little stinker!

Sitting down to Christmas day dinner

Honey glazed ham, pomegranate-balsamic glazed carrots, kale with crispy pancetta, potatoes and brussels sprouts au gratin, and dill poppyseed bread (not pictured). Austin made most of the food this year! What a sweetheart!

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