Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Colby the Elf

Christmas brings us a special guest each year... Mr Colby the Elf! He is quite the active little Elf too! Here are some of his antics this year. 

Colby arrived in our home Sunday, December 3. Of course I forgot to take a picture of his arrival. He was waiting and watching from our TV console with his Elf on the Shelf book! Stryker was very excited to see that he had come back and we read his book that night to remind us of what he was here to do (watch Stryker and fly back to the North Pole and report to Santa daily). And during his stay here at the Hearthstone, Colby was very busy doing all kinds of fun mischief!

We found him roasting marshmallows: 

He left Stryker a note on the bathroom mirror:

He spelled out a sweet message in M&Ms:

The crazy Elf replaced our stockings with underwear:

He perched high to watch us during the weekend:

Stryker spent the night with Nana & Poppa and Colby waited in his room for him:

He read The Christmas Story to some of Stryker's friends:

He got into the Christmas cupcakes for a late night snack:

He did a trapeze act one night:

He colored Stryker a very pretty picture & wrote him a note:

He spent a relaxing night in the hot tub:

He got stuck:

He built a really great house with Stryker's legos:

He dyed our milk pink and had some of our Christmas Trees:

He had a Snowman Party:

He was captured by the bad guys:

With only 5 days until Christmas, he caught a nap:

He played Jenga with Bark & Cocky:

He got a little home sick and hung out in the cold freezer:

He got his syrup fix:

Stryker still mentions how much he misses Colby since he's gone. We are excited for him to return next year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Morning 2012

(Warning: Picture overload!)

Merry Christmas Y'all! What a spectacular day and so very blessed! There is nothing that I enjoy more than seeing the excitement and love that radiates through all of us on Christmas day. Thank you God for the blessing you bestow upon us!

This beautiful Christmas morning started out very early as Daddy was up and at 'em quietly anxiously awaiting for Stryker to wake up. A few heavy footsteps and a few toilet flushes later, Stryker finally arose and he was surprised by all that Santa had left him!

To say the jolly old fellow went a little overboard this year may be an understatement...Mommy's going to have to have a talk with him next year. Our little guy was overwhelmed as he saw all of the neat things that were left for him: an IPad, an ImagineNext RC train track, a remote control helicopter and a new grill for his play fort. He wasn't quite sure what to dive into first, but Daddy was quick to help his little guy play with all of his toys!

I think I'm the only one who noticed Santa had eaten his cookies and drank his milk.

After playing with the toys from Santa, Stryker went to work on all the gifts from Mommy & Daddy and from Grandma. Man oh Man, this is one lucky kid!

What a handsome guy!

 I love that silly grin!

Believe it or not, the rest of us had some gifts to exchange too :) Daddy went first. Mommy & Stryker surprised him with a new Kindle, a Kindle cover, some warm socks for his new job & a movie.

 Grandma got to open hers too.

Mommy had some gifts too including a couple beautiful necklaces and some clothes. Luckily, I never give up the camera to be caught on film on Christmas Morning :)

And we even got to watch Uncle Bubba open the gifts we sent him for Christmas too! God bless technology!!

After the we got done with our gifts, it was time to get ready to fix our Christmas breakfast for Nana, Poppa, Aunt Katie & Uncle Logan's arrival! I love that we get to share the morning with my family and a wonderful breakfast as well. We ate and the boys played with Stryker's new toys. Soon it was time to exchange another round of gifts. Again, Stryker was very excited and very blessed. Aunt Katie and Uncle Logan got him some super hero stuff and an awesome Batman piggy bank. Nana & Poppa surprised him with a new Wii!

 Again, we went around the room and shared the gifts we had for each other. I am so happy that we get this time together with family. Our little guy is so lucky to have such wonderful people to be surrounded by that love him so dearly.

 After my family left, we straightened up a bit, got the side dishes for dinner prepared, a nap and then it was time to get ready to head to Granny's house. Each year, all of my family, uncles, aunts, cousins, great aunts & their families, gather at Granny's house for our Christmas dinner & celebration. Before having dinner, Nana, Poppa, Aunt Lorie, Peyton, Maddison and us exchanged gifts with each other. I was very horrible with taking pictures by this time in the day. I only snapped a few of the eight of us... and only ONE of my awesome nephew. BAD Auntie!

Needless to say, everyone was very grateful and loved their gifts. Even my little Miss! It is her very first Christmas. What a beauty! She got her very first set of pearls from Uncle Dan & I. Isn't she beautiful with (or without!) them? :)

We had dinner together (we always prepare way too much food) and shared such great conversation and laughter as an extended family. The kiddos (all 8 of them) waited patiently (mostly) for their turn to open more presents. This year, we instituted a name draw instead of the usual free for all. It worked out lots better this year (for parents and children I do believe) to do it this way. The usual Christmas Chaos became a very enjoyable experience. Everyone played together until it was time to wrap up Christmas and head home.

Christmas 2012 was another fun filled, love filled, beautiful day. I am so grateful for all that I have and all the blessings that continue to be poured upon our family. I'm looking forward to next year as our beautiful children are a year older, Uncle Bubba is with us and we have the opportunity to share in love and laughter again!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

Our Christmas Eve was very nice… and different this year! Usually, we (along with Mammy, Joe, Melissa, Logan & Uncle David) go to Mammy’s church for Christmas Eve services and then back to her house for snacks and gift exchanging. However, this year she wasn’t feeling up to hosting, so we decided to start a new tradition. But first, we went to Mammy’s to visit on Christmas Eve day with Poppa & Nana. We had a nice time visiting and catching up.

Stryker loved helping Mammy open her presents and Mammy really liked the cross bracelet we got her.

After a nice time with Mammy & Joe, we loaded up and headed over to Melissa & Logan’s house to give Logan his presents from us. The boys played for a little bit while we chatted. When it was time to open some gifts, these boys got on it!

Logan went first…

And this guy waited ever so patiently…

And finally it was his turn!

After our second stop, it was time to head home and get ready for Christmas Eve services at church. We all dressed in our Christmas finest and headed to Celebrate the Reason for the Season! We recently started going to St James UMC just around the corner from us. All the members and pastor have been very welcoming and Stryker has been having quite the ball at Children’s Church every Sunday. Anyway, St James had a 5 pm Christmas Eve Communion service that ended with singing Silent Night by candle light. It was very touching and just another reminder of the love from our Lord!

After church, we headed over the Hess home in the Hamlets. We decided to start a new tradition this year by spending Christmas Eve with Dan’s family. What a great time! Big Robert, Renee, Little Robert, Cassie, Cassie’s parents-Tom & Meg, Hunter & Megan along with us and Grandma gathered to eat, chat, enjoy each other and have a Chinese gift exchange. Stryker was SPOILED beyond belief. Robert & Renee really went all out and Stryker was more than excited to play with his new bat & ball, football along with a RC helicopter from Tom & Meg. But most of all, he REALLY enjoyed Renee’s cats! Tigger was most curiously of our 3 ft bundle of energy and didn’t mind being chased all around the house.

Daddy & Mommy with our little Elf!

Lucky little guy being the only kiddo is spoiled rotten!

 And what a fun time the Chinese Gift Exchange was! We all had such a good time! There were practical gifts, there were gag gifts and there was lots of ‘exchanging’!

Three Generations of Cousins!

After a great time with the family, it was time to head home and prepare for Santa! When we arrived home, Stryker found his special goodbye gift from Colby. And Colby left something for Daddy too!

Colby always leaves Stryker a pair of Christmas PJs to wear Christmas Eve and through out the year to remember him by.

Daddy got a new Bible from Colby this year. It even has his name engraved on it. Colby wrote a special note to Daddy and asked him to start a new tradition of reading Luke 2, The Christmas Story to us on Christmas Day. What a great idea Colby! A reminder of the special gift we all receive on Christmas!

Stryker changed into his new pajamas and quickly set out Santa's treats! We tracked Santa's progress on the news and it was time to get to sleep! We had such a wonderful Christmas Eve 2012 and the fun was just beginning!