I love scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and seeing everyone's festive Christmas pictures and activities. Presents and kids and food and fancy clothes and twinkling lights and cookies and bows and sooooo much glitter and new toys, trips, and surprises. It brings out both the designer and the nesting side of me, seeing everyone's decorations and Christmas outfits and activities and edibles and then (maayyyybeee) silently critiquing or coveting other people's decor, fashion, and food choices. Mostly coveting the food choices, let's be honest here.
Knowing, of course, that behind it all are parents and people who are sleep-deprived, who actually feel absolutely out of ideas and energy, and have spent way too much time just trying to find the time to get everything done, with real relationships and family to navigate, love on, and/or avoid. So we chug some more coffee, close up the social media and work on getting our own presents and houses ready and cozy for our families, and maybe even call it GOOD E-FREAKING-NOUGH and take a little break before the chaos to put our feet up and drink a glass of wine or hot chocolate by the fire.
And hey, some of our pictures look dang good.
Or even downright delicious. A good cookie plate might be one of the most beautiful sights of the holidays. Chewy gingersnaps, M&M pretzel melts, caramels, and festive chocolate bark. (Easiest "recipe" ever. Melt some good dark chocolate bars down (30 second increments in the microwave if you want to make it even easier, and stir, stir, stir between each one.) Pour chocolate out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and spread in a thin layer that is roughly the same thickness throughout. Sprinkle liberally with toppings of your choice. I used cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and a healthy dose of sea salt. Refrigerate the entire tray until chocolate is set and then break it all up into small pieces. Voila! Ridiculously easy homemade chocolate bark.)
(It admittedly makes me a little emotional to see beautifully wrapped gifts torn to pieces. #realdesignerproblems)
Caden and Brooklyn absolutely lost their freaking MINDS on Christmas Eve when my parents showed up for our small family celebration. Brooklyn was SHRIEKING with delight as they ran back and forth from the door to the tree, helping to haul presents inside. "Presents! Presents! Presents!!!"
As you can see, there were absolutely no presents.
(Professional present inspector.)
(One making weird faces. One twirling. One completely oblivious. We're going to call it a success.)
(Two destroying. One still oblivious. Also a success.)
Not really pictured: a whirlwind of present opening, followed by...
Jammies. Christmas jammies.
"Dear Santa, Define 'good'." If there is a more appropriate set of Christmas pajamas for these three I'm not sure what it is. The older two look a little guilty just standing there. ;)
(Fun fact: on Christmas Eve, usually later in the evening, I end up decorating a bucket for one lucky recipient the next day. A bucket? Yes, seriously, a bucket. We draw names on my mom's side of the family and one year my dad drew a name and they needed a bucket, apparently? for some reason? and my dad took the idea and RAN with it and now whichever name he draws each year receives a bucket. A themed bucket. One year it was bedazzled with rhinestones for my fashionable cousin (who literally took it to the bar with her as a "purse" on New Year's Eve), another year we stepped our production up a notch and used COLORED sharpies instead of just black ones. And there's a letter with it and everything with the bucket company's name and instructions for your bucket and things to do with your bucket (i.e. take your bucket for a walk, portable bathroom, as a companion at the bar which apparently my cousin ACTUALLY DID) and I don't even know anymore but it is seriously a family tradition around here. Ten years strong. If that's not a tradition I don't know what is. It's like not even weird to us anymore except that now I'm typing this out and it makes NO SENSE except really, it totally does. People, THIS is why I have a design degree.)
One last round of playing with their new goodies before a reading of The Night Before Christmas...
...and then it was off to bed.
Which sounds so simple, but a peek behind the scenes would have revealed a little baby who has had issues falling/staying asleep lately (he's stopped sucking those middle two fingers *sob* so now apparently has no other way to sooth himself now) and a couple of bigger kids whose frequent and multiple bed escapes may have elicited a threat of "if you don't stay in your beds I'm going to tell Santa not to come". And apparently it worked, because...
It was hard to tear them away from the dollhouse to open any other presents. Which was slightly unfortunate, as I had wrapped up the dollhouse people as a separate gift and after making his initial inspection of all things dollhouse Caden realized that "there no people! I need people!" and ran off to the playroom to find...I don't know. Lego people, maybe? And it was all we could do to get him to come back to the Christmas tree to unwrap another present because "maybe Santa left you the people as a separate present why don't you try unwrapping THIS VERY SPECIFIC ONE here and let's see". (Spoiler alert: it totally was the dollhouse people.) Then Brooklyn opened up the set of pets for the dollhouse and was literally SHAKING with excitement. (Spoiler alert again: we've already lost the cat and the rabbit. Looked high and low and in every conceivable nook and cranny. #reallifewithtoddlers) (UPDATE: we found them IN THE BRANCHES of the Christmas tree. Of course.)
(Gifts unwrapped. Aka daddy's naptime.)
I am so thrilled with this dollhouse. It's big enough for two to play with, came with most of the sets of furniture, and is beautiful. Even with only a girl, I would prefer a gender-neutral house anyway (Just...enough with the pink and sparkles already. I don't need bedazzled shingles.), and this one has so many great features.
(Enjoying his first Christmas.)
The only thing Caden requested for Christmas was a doctors kit. I'm happy to report that Santa came through on that one.
(Be still my heart. Gorgeous clothes and new dollhouses, curly hair and twinkle lights nearby are what Christmas is all about.)
Tyson more or less has most of this week off now. It used to be such a letdown - could anything be more disappointing to a child than the day after Christmas? - but now it's one of my favorite times of year. The wind is literally howling outside (hello, wind advisory) some snowflakes are swirling, and we are settling into a week of pajamas, comfort food, cozy blankets, new toys, and family time. I mean, we'll be going slightly stir-crazy by the end of the week, but hey.
Sometimes that's okay.