Our Christmas celebrations started on Sunday the 23rd with a very successful dinner at my place. I cooked up a ham with potato gratin and roasted carrots. It was all a success. My entire family complimented me and they can be tough critics! Afterwards, we opened gifts, and I was surprised to see how very generous and thoughtful everyone was this year. Anne got tons of clothes and Elmo paraphernalia! She loved it! She got 2 little Elmo dolls, an Elmo chair, 4 Elmo movies, 2 Elmo books, and an Elmo sweatshirt. Phew! It was for sure an Elmo Christmas! John and I received several gift cards to various places, books, DVDs, and lots of other goodies. Thank you everyone, Mom, Dad, Doreen, Shellie and Tom for your overwhelming generosity-especially to Anne!
Opening one of the first gifts...
Playing with the fun toy Auntie Shellie got her!
More gifts...Hmm...what's inside?
Hanging an ornament Auntie Shellie got her! As soon as I told her what it was, she headed right to the tree and knew what to do with it! Good girl!
The next day continued the celebration with breakfast with my oldest friend, her boyfriend and her parents at a yummy pancake house in Oak Park. Then it was off to the zoo for our second annual trip. Even though it's cold, it is so worth it and so fun to go to the zoo in the dead of winter. Being Christmas Eve, there were not that many people there. We had most of the houses to ourself, and Anne really had a good time. She didn't get the things we thought she would; for example, she didn't care at all about the seals, otters and dolphins, but loved the desert cat the looked surprisingly like a house cat. Actually, that was about the only thing she really got...she looked at all the animals we pointed out but that was the only one she got excited about. Still, we had a fun time!
Looking at tigers (they are out-just not in this picture. See below for a cute "then and now" of the same pose last year.)
Anne measuring herself up against a newborn dolphin.
Now measuring herself against the tape measure and daddy...so cute! When we tried to do this at the pumpkin farm 2 months ago it was a disaster, but now she can do it!
A blurry picture of Anne with mama looking at monkeys.
Mama monkey nursing her baby...right before we snapped this shot the baby was nursing on the other side and mama must have decided he was done because she scooped him off and whisked him off to the other breast. Baby didn't care, he settled right in and kept on nursing. I learned at the zoo that orangutans will nurse for 5+ years and are the primates that stay with their parents the longest after humans. Cool!
Trying to get Anne to pose with the buffalo. She errupted into hysterics of crying, kicking and screaming when I tried to put her on the buffalo, hence me holding her. (Another "then and now below")
Last year looking at tigers with Dada.
Last year happily posing on the buffalo. Maybe next year...
That night we finished the evening off with a Christmas Eve service at the church which was lovely. We did not do our walk around the neighborhood with hot chocolate 1. because it was very cold, 2. Anne had a really full day and wanted to be home and 3. Anne wouldn't have understood why we were dragging her out in the cold to look at lights. Next year maybe we can start that tradition because she'll actually be old enough to understand and enjoy what we are doing!
Christmas day was very fun. John and I opened our stockings while Anne was still asleep. I made a maze out of ribbon for John to find his stocking presents with. I think he enjoyed it.
Then we got Anne up and opened gifts with her. She had a lot of fun and was soon a complete pro at opening and looking at her gifts! After the second gift, as she was opening it but before she could see what was inside, I asked her what it was, and she confidently answered "Elmo". Guess the girl caught on! We tried to keep the gifts down as to not overwhelm and spoil her, so we got her several Elmo and Sesame Street books, 2 bath toys, and a rocking horse. She had lots of fun!
Anne with her stocking. She wanted to read each and every one of the books in there-there were 12 tiny books so we read them all before going to the living room and opening presents there.
Thanks Auntie Brenda!
Can you tell it's another Elmo toy?
A new bath toy
Anne's new rocking "horse".
John and I also had a great Christmas to each other. We decided to keep it simple since we aren't made of money and we had bought a brand new recliner and kitchen table for ourselves a few weeks back. We set a 20 dollar limit, which John did a great job sticking to. He got me a book I've been wanting and a CD. I, however, decided to purposefully stray from the $20 limit and got him a DVD set that he's been wanting. It was very pricey, but I wanted to make a statement to him that he is worth it. He's been an amazing husband, picking up the slack with Anne any and every time I ask him, he's very understanding of me and my moods and my need for space and time. He "let's" me go workout and encourages it whenever I need or want to because he knows it helps de-stress me and keep me sane. If I slack off on dinner or the housework one day, he doesn't care. He never mentions it and even when I mention it, he tells me it's ok-that I work hard and I don't have to spend all my time cleaning or cooking or being that 50's wife. I am an extremely high-maintenance and highly emotional girl-often crying at the drop of a hat, being sad for extended periods, or just being plain irritated at things I shouldn't be, and he's always supportive and more than that, he does whatever he can to help me get out of my funk. John is honestly one of the best husbands, I think, in the world. I'm really lucky to have him and that's why I spent that little extra on him, because he's worth it. Merry Christmas, John!
Merry Christmas everyone!
John, April and Anne