Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Whole Lotta Christmas

I have a lot to write about Christmas! So, *Warning*...long post ahead!

We spent Christmas with Ryan's family this year. His parents decided to come down to Utah from Wyoming, since 4 of their 5 children live in the Utah and Salt Lake counties, and Ryan and I invited everyone to celebrate at our house. (The only ones who couldn't make it were Melissa and Seth...we really, really missed you guys and were thinking of you all weekend!) With all the Christmas festivities happening in my own home for the first time ever, Christmas was crazy busy! And fun too, of course. =) Christmas feels long gone now, and I meant to blog about a bunch of this stuff throughout the month of December, but I just found myself with way too much to do! So here I go, finally, with all the highlights...

Santa Baby

When we first busted out all our Christmas gear in early December, Thomas was pretty excited to wear the Santa hat I got him last year. He looked so darn cute and I actually managed to get a good snapshot of him in it! Had I been ambitious enough to actually send out Christmas cards this year this would probably have been our photo!

Decoration Craze

We were really excited to decorate this year, since it was our very first Christmas in our new home. Before this year we've never been super ambitious about doing a lot of Christmas decorating, but this year we were on the total flip side! We got a gorgeous 10-foot Christmas tree for our vaulted greatroom, which turned out beautiful, but was quite the fiasco to decorate! Ryan did lots of climbing on ladders as we decorated the tree and the house, and he even rented a cherry-picker to help him put Christmas lights up outside...the first time we've ever done exterior lights. It was quite a big job and he did awesome, and I'm so mad at myself because, after all his ambition, I failed to take a photo of the finished product! Thomas was pretty fascinated with the big machine daddy was riding on to put up the lights. We let Thomas take one quick ride up in the cherry picker with Daddy...I thought he would freak out, but he loved it! He also loved decorating the Christmas tree, especially putting on lots and lots of bulbs and glittery pinecones! We had a hard time keeping him off the ladders we were using. He always wants to be just like daddy!

I had a lot of fun seeing the inside of my new home thoroughly decorated, for any reason, for the first time. I haven't been really ambitious about decorating it yet (not a single picture is hanging on my walls!), so Christmas was a great excuse to pull out all the stops. For the first 5-6 Christmases of our marriage I used all the decorations from our December wedding reception, which were all white and gold, but this year and last I've started collecting a lot more Christmas things with red and gold, especially anything with poinsettias. I loved how festive all the red was in our new house! It was also wonderful to finally have a fireplace to hang the stockings I made us for Thomas' first Christmas in 2006...my one and only ever sewing project!

Seeing Santa

We went back to the University Mall, where I used to work in the management office, to see Santa again this year. Its fun because they've had the same Santa every year since Thomas has been going. Once again, Thomas was a champ! The last two years he was completely fine with sitting on Santa's lap, and I was really thinking this would be the year he would cry or freak out. But I was surprised again! He was great about it and just very curious about this cool little wonderland Santa got to hang out in. He sat on Santa's lap long enough to get a cute photo, but he was really interested in riding the rocking horse Santa had, or playing with a toy soccer ball of the photographer's. I eventually had to usher him away because he was obviously happy just hanging out there, and there were other kids and parents waiting! But he was pretty pleased with the butterscotch sucker Santa gave him before we left. Its really fun looking at his photos with Santa and seeing how he's grown over the years.

Handsome Lads

The Sunday before Christmas I dressed Thomas up in a special holiday outfit for church, and Ryan wore his black suit with a festive red tie. They both looked so handsome! I had almost decided I was too lazy to look for a Christmas-y church outfit for Tommy, but during some last minute shopping where I was not at all looking for clothing, I happened across this really cute set that was just his size. He looked so dapper! (love that word!)

The Night Before Christmas...

On Christmas Eve, Ryan's mom Kathy made the traditional Laidlaw meal of her clam chowder, apple cider, and some foccacia bread. The food was fabulous! Later we read the Christmas story aloud from the Bible and then opened one gift each, which are traditions in both my family and Ryan's. Thomas didn't understand why he had to stop at just one gift! Then we all hung out and visited until most people went home or to whoever's house they were staying at to sleep. As for myself, I was up very late and didn't get too much sleep at all until it was actually Christmas morning...I had waaaaaaaaay too many things left to do!


Kathy also had the fun idea to have the first-ever "Laidlaw Family Cookie Exchange" on Christmas Eve. Everyone made their own favorite kind of cookies and we all gorged ourselves on them all weekend! I made sugar cookies on my own for the very first time...I always loved eating my Mom's sugar cookies at Christmas when I was growing up, so I finally got around to making some myself! Thomas had a lot of fun helping me...I bought a big ole set of cookie cutters and he helped me cut the dough into stars, bells, trees, trains, candy canes, and teddy bears, and then he went to town helping me decorate them, mostly by dumping on lots and lots and lots of sprinkles! When I was all finished I was happy that the cookies actually ended up turning out pretty good!

Definitely a WHITE Christmas!

November and most of December didn't give us much snow, so I was starting to worry we wouldn't get the White Christmas I was hoping for.....boy, was I wrong! The week before Christmas we were literally dumped on! There was so much snow the city plowers weren't keeping up very well, and family members got stuck several times driving up the hill to our house! Other than that, I was so happy...I don't particularly love winter or the cold, but I always say that I simply must have snow at Christmastime. I was up in the wee hours of Christmas morning, and the sight of the snowy valley in the early morning light was really beautiful. And Christmas day eventually turned into a total whitewash...we couldn't see hardly anything at all! So I definitely got my White Christmas!

Thomas had a great time going out to play the first time after it really snowed. He would have stayed out there all day if I would have let him! He also loved going on a fun four-wheeler ride in the snow with Daddy.

The Big Day

I was really excited about Thomas' Christmas gift from Santa this year...a classic train table with wooden tracks and cars. They have one of these set up that kids can play with at Toys'R'Us and Thomas absolutely loved that thing! Ryan put the table together, but I was the one who set up all the tracks and trains and everything, which took me way longer than it would have for Ryan, but was a lot of fun for me. We had it all set up by the tree for Thomas and I put a big red bow on it...I couldn't wait for him to walk out and see it on Christmas morning. When he came out to see it, he didn't jump up and down or shriek with joy like I had hoped, but he of course rushed right over to it and played with it all morning! Ryan's parents were the only ones sleeping at our house Christmas Eve, and we didn't want to begin opening gifts until everyone arrived later Christmas morning, so that was the only new thing Thomas was playing with for a few hours. I was so happy to see how much he enjoyed it, and he continues to play with it a lot every day!

When everyone arrived we had a delicious breakfast of Kathy's breakfast casseroles (egg/bacon/sausage/hash browns and caramel french toast...mmmm) and then went to town opening the big stack of presents and filling the great room with wrapping paper! It was a lot of fun, but in a way I am always sad when that beautiful pile of wrapped gifts isn't under the tree anymore. Everyone got lots of great stuff and of course Thomas and Julia, the only two Laidlaw grandchildren so far, got more stuff than anyone! It was fun to see them excited about all their new things, although Thomas was so distracted after just a couple of gifts to play with that I really had to open a lot of his for him.

We spent the rest of the day doing lots of cooking, cooking, cooking! Kathy was head chef of the day and everyone else was working incredibly hard too...I am not the most experienced cook in the world, and definitely not with holiday meals, so I was glad to help in whatever ways I could, but was more than happy to turn my kitchen over to more capable hands! The Christmas feast turned out fabulous...we had a giant spread with turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, frog eye casserole, my all time favorite potato rolls, and for later of course, lots of pies: pumpkin, pecan, coconut cream and apple. We ate til we could eat no more and of course had lots of leftovers for the next several days! (That's the great thing about holiday meals...they take a looooong time to prepare, but they often feed you for much longer than one meal or one day!)

After the Big Day

Some people had to work the day after Christmas and Ryan and his brother went snowboarding, while a bunch of the rest of us decided to hit the after-Christmas sales! I got Thomas and I all ready to go out with the shopping party, and then right before we were going to leave, he threw up. Poor little Julia had actually been sick and throwing up the day or two before that, so I was afraid maybe Thomas had caught a bug, and so I decided not to go out shopping after all. So...Tommy and I had a quiet day at home, just the two of us. I was both glad and a little disappointed when he ended up being totally fine and happy the rest of the day...I was glad he wasn't getting full-on sick, but sad that I had missed out on more time with the fam. Oh well!

Ryan's parents had to head home the Saturday after Christmas and the rest of the party departed back to their own houses too...it was so strange being in our quiet house, just us three again! I think Thomas was wondering where all his buddies had gone! We had a great Christmas with everyone. And one thing's for sure...we were left with lots and LOTS of food to eat!

(**Sorry about the ridiculously long, photo-packed post! If you actually read that whole thing, I'm impressed!**)