Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fun and Family (and presents)

Christmas! It came, it went, it was wonderful. Because I'm a few days late in my posting, you will be blessed with an abbreviated version of our 61-hour holiday tour. We spent Friday sleeping (well, that was just me), packing, and present-wrapping. We left for Papa and Gigi's house at 9 a.m. Saturday morning with a loaded down car and two very excited kids.

First stop- Kingwood. The suburban bubble I called home from 1988-2001 and still call home whenever I drive down my parents' street. We walked in to my familiar home with its ever fancier Christmas decorations (I kind of miss the days of my mom's handmade MOPS crafts) and watched claymation Christmas movies while we prepped dinner and my parents and siblings packed for the lake.

all dolled up in their holiday finery

Dinner was delicious- a medley of family favorites including flank steak, hashbrown potato casserole, asparagus casserole, salad, and rolls- and some very expensive wine my dad got as a present at work. JP, Landon, and Claire remain unconvinced on the merits of asparagus casserole, but the five of us LOVE it. After doing the dishes (my sister and I helped with the china and silver; then she got out of it by going upstairs to "pack"- it was just like old times!), it was time for church.

family foyer picture!

We enjoyed a great church service and I run into lots of old friends and met TWO formerly anonymous blog readers in the foyer. (Frequent commenter, "Patty from TX," saw me walking down the hall from the nursery with Claire and cried out, "Is that Clairebear?!" Patty is very sweet and has fabulous hair. I also met Lori, who recognized Landon first, I think. So crazy that they both go to my old church! I love meeting readers.)

After church, it was a fast change into Christmas jammies and then we all drove the 60 minutes to the lake house in Livingston. We arrived about 9:30 p.m. and put an exhausted Clairebear to bed (which is a shame, her reindeer footed pj's were adorable). Landon was in high spirits and was allowed to stay up for the opening of the presents.


Landon's gift from JP and me was the coolest pop-up super hero book EVER. Of all the presents I bought this year, I think I'm most proud of that one.


And JP was most proud of this one- my "Kate Spade purse basket." I got an iPhone case, purse, and shoes (he broke our specified budget and, appropriately, didn't get me anything for my stocking or from Santa - in his words, "I wanted the credit for it!"). I will admit that I "suggested" the iPhone case (which I adore) and the purse (which was 80% off on the site's cyber Monday sale), though I had no idea that JP bought either, but this part is crazy-- those red shoes are the ones I featured on this site 10 days ago. I had never seen them before that post, never shown them to JP, and he'd purchased them weeks ago! After 10.5 years, I think he finally knows my taste :).


This picture captures Christmas Eve to me. As much as I loved my designer gifts (and I do), what matters the most is the hanging out together, the listening to Raffi, the taking turns to open and exclaim over presents, the drinking wine and eating Christmas cookies -- just being together. That is the best part, and it is my fondest hope that we can raise our children to feel the same way. JP laughs at all of my family's beloved Christmas traditions, mostly because we seem to have a tradition about everything, but it's all rooted in simplicity and love and the fact that we've spent every Christmas for 28 years in the Kingwood house of the lake house. Again, I hope to create such warm memories and feelings of loyalty toward a certain casserole as my siblings and I feel each December.


Christmas morning arrived. As requested, Santa brought Landon a "fighter jet." Santa didn't realize it came in many pieces with 500 decals, but it was some good grandfather-father-son bonding time for them all to put it together.


Claire got a purse filled with accessories that she adores, and both kids got a play kitchen from my parents. Claire mostly just wanted to pet the four dogs (my parents have two; my sister and brother each have one; our two stayed home -- they're all adopted from SNIPSA, get one for yourself!) and dance to the Christmas tunes.


It was cold and wet outside, but we occasionally ventured out for a sword fight or to check the temperature on the smoker for my dad's pork butt (oh, the number of butt jokes that were made that day...)


We ate our traditional Christmas breakfast of tamales and breakfast tacos and then spent the day reading and playing games (Zingo, Left-Right-Center, Sequence) and napping. Finally, it was time for the 10-hour-smoked pork butt to be unveiled. My dad was SO excited. (And the dogs were too!)


We also made time for sitting around the fire pit (it was drizzling, but JP was so proud of the fire he built, we had to go enjoy it with him) and roast marshmallows.

Claire was VERY upset when we put the marshmallow in the fire.


But everyone found the s'mores to be delicious.


We set off a fortune's worth of fireworks that night, which scared the crap out of all dogs and children, but JP, my dad, brother, and I thought they were great (except when JP tried to set a mortar off upside down, that was a little scary as it blew up on the ground). I don't have any photographic evidence of that little event.

All in all, it was a great 2 days. On the 26th we left the lake for Kingwood, then left Kingwood for the Woodlands to visit and aunt and uncle and eat morgan kenveiders (delicious crepe thingies), and then left the Woodlands for Austin, arriving home about 10:30 p.m. I'll report on that later. First, before everyone gives up on this Christmas novel, I have to write down my most special memory of this Christmas. My mom and I had worked behind the scenes to get all of my family's VHS tapes transferred to DVD's. She surprised my dad with the bag of them at the end of the present-opening on Christmas Eve and we spent about 2 hours that night drinking wine, beer, and/or bourbon and watching our family in the 80's and early 90's. It was awesome. Watching my brother's first Christmas (I'm 6, my sister is 3), with our new bikes (my actually got my old bike, but my dad buffed it and cleaned it and added some very cool accessories; Santa is frugal and handy like that) and SO excited to go through our stockings. Seeing my dad holding my 6-month-old brother, saying, "he's going to be my little helper and best friend" and then looking around to see everyone all teary eyed because it's TRUE. It was so much fun and it made me re-committed to taking video at the big and little moments. And not just video clips- just letting the video roll to capture the kids in all their animated cuteness and JP and me in our early 00's glory (because someday, I'm sure, whatever we're wearing now will look silly, just like my mom's Crazy outfits from the 80's). It was a perfect end to a chilly, rainy, wonderful lake house Christmas.

I hope that you and yours had a great holiday as well, and if you ever see me in the church foyer (or wherever), be sure to say hi!


  1. Sounds like a fabulous time! And how fun to run into readers!

    Hope you guys have a great new years!

  2. I hope to run into you soon! What a lovely weekend and lovely traditions! Family is the best!

  3. My daughter had the same pajamas for Christmas. My husband declared that she looked like a boy; I swore they were in the girls' section, but now I see Landon wearing them, and I'm wondering if they were unisex, or if I bought my daughter boy pajamas? It doesn't really matter because she loves wearing them, as she enjoys the "pajama coat."

  4. Hi Wendy! Claire actually had some red footie pj's with white dots and reindeer feet (so cute!), but I think a little girl would look adorable in the flannel plaid ones that Landon was wearing!

  5. Curiosity got the best of me, and I looked them up on the Carters website. They're boys. Oops. Oh well, my hubby will never be told. And she DID look adorable, if I do say so myself. :)

  6. What a wonderful Christmas you had!!! It was so much fun to meet you and your family! You have such a beautiful family...even MORE striking in person!!! Wishing you a wonderful 2012!!! I'll be here reading about your adventures!

    Patty from TX

  7. Claire looks so grown-up in her Christmas dress! What a fun family Christmas....it reminds me I need to get our family VHS tapes onto DVD! Thanks for sharing.

  8. First time commenting and coming out of lurker status. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the photo and quickly realized, "Wow, that's MY church too!". What fun it would have been to meet you and your sweet family in real life.

    I so enjoy reading your blog and hope that you all will have a wonderful and blessed new year.

  9. Loved your family picture, Landon's fighter jet and the ClaireBear eating 'smores. But outside barbecueing and making 'smores at Chrsitmastime ... who would have thunk it?

    You will have to head North for Christmas sometime. I mean waaaaay North. :D
    A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

  10. Ooooh which iPhone case did you get? I too have a white iPhone and am looking for a case. Recommendations would be appreicated! As always, your family is adorbs.

  11. I got this one from Kate Spade. I LOVE it. I had previously spent the same amount on an Otterbox case but found it too bulkly and it didn't seem to fit the phone as snugly. I sent it back and just love my new one. It fits so snugly and perfectly and is very cute to boot :)

  12. Nice! I love how it has a touch of pink but not too much. My only concern is going hard case over silicone not providing as much protection, but sounds like it's working just fine!