We celebrated Christmas with Mark's folks and sister's family the Saturday before Christmas. With us traveling to Kansas and Mark's family traveling to PA to visit extended family it was the the one time we could all get together to celebrate. A fun tradition in Mark's family is decorating gingerbread men to hang on the tree. I'm told when they were growing up they would decorate them early on in the Advent season and then hang on the tree for awhile. Of course that meant very hard cookies when they finally ate them. The last several years we have decorated only a few days ahead of when we plan on opening presents. And then eat our gingerbread cookies sometime after our gift exchange. This year we decorated Saturday morning and then ate them later that afternoon. So while they didn't grace the tree for long it was still fun to do, and of course eat. :)After cookie decorating Mark and I took Cai and Aiden home for a nap. Ian got to stay with Grandma to bake more cookies. He loved this. (It should be noted that Cai also got an afternoon of baking with Grandma. On Sunday Ian and Mark when with cousin Josiah and Uncle Tex to a Notre Dame Basketball game. Cai got to spend the time with Grandma and Grandpa) After naps we all gathered together to exchange gifts, hang out and eat dinner. We also had a Skype video chat with Mark's brother and his wife who are currently in England.
In fact they sent to oldest three boys soccer shirts. Being that all three are really into sports, was a big hit all around. Ian got a wooden crane from Aunt Rachel and Uncle Tex.
And Cai got a wooden tractor with trailer.
Aiden was given Global Babies. Which is such a wonderful board book with beautiful pictures.
For the adults we always have a gift exchange. I come to really like this tradition. Mark was given Settlers of Catan: Seafarers board game. We have yet to have a chance to play it. Hopefully soon. I was giving a new tea pot, smart wool socks and a gift certificate to a local knitting store. Very exciting. Rachel also gave me a peppermint lip balm and vanilla extract that she made. The lip balm is really nice. I haven't tried the vanilla yet as I had an open bottle in my cupboard. But I'm excited to try it. She had come across a recipe for making vanilla extract in bulk with vanilla beans. The whole idea fascinates me. The finally big gift was tennis rackets for the oldest three boys from Grandma and Grandpa.
It was very exciting and they spent quite alot of time downstairs in the laundry room playing tennis together. It was a good celebration. Good food, loving family and generous gifts.
The final thing I want to share is the gift I made my newest nephew Oliver. I found a discovery box at The Depot (a second hand store run by Mennonite Central Committee here in town). I than sewed little animals to hit inside. Ian was given a toy like this when he was about 15months old and it has been a hit toy for my babies. I added bells inside a few of the animals. I have to say I was pretty proud of the results. And Oliver is at the perfect stage for grabbing and holding. :)