3 Days of Christmas

We are still recovering from Christmas.
It was a good one, that's for sure.
Our Christmas celebrations started on Christmas Eve.
Every year, we go to the Christmas Eve Service at our church & then head to my parents house to open gifts. Growing up, we opened all our presents on Christmas Eve.
Of course, we had to have the obligatory pictures on the porch before we went to church.
It was a beautiful & warm California Christmas Eve (which is good because I forgot to bring their sweaters with us)
The past few years they only lasted 15-20 minutes in the church service.
This year, the girls lasted 45 minutes which was a record for them!
The sermon was about to start & the pastor was talking about how the Shephard's have a great job because their robes are so comfortable, it's like they are wearing pajamas.
Well, Claire hears him mention pajamas and then yells, "I want my jammies. Let's go home so I can put my jammies on. I want to go home!"
Kevin and I were trying not to laugh.....I guess I shouldn't have declared every day last week a Pajama Day. I think Claire got a little TOO used to wearing her jammies. Ooops.
Then it was off to Mimi & Jimmy's for presents. Kate tried to organize all of them.
The girls couldn't wait to open presents...but we made them eat dinner first.
Claire kept trying to sneak open some presents before it was time to open them (I wonder who she got that from....surely, I never did that as a kid....!!!)
Our attempt at a family photo to document Christmas Eve 2010
It's not Christmas without our annual sister picture!
Rebecca & Jason:
My Mom & Dad:
Kate with Auntie Bots & (almost) Uncle Jason
Auntie El & her 2 crazy nieces!
Present time!
Claire got bored after one present & went to the toy closet to get Mimi's stroller.
Meanwhile, Kate opened up a Tag Reader from Mimi.
Claire just wanted to sit in the stroller.
Kate loves her new purple jacket (Thanks, Auntie Bots!)
Claire finally opened a present...a Stawberry Shortcake Backpack!
Kate was thrilled about her new Cinderella Doll.
Claire got a Belle doll (she has slept with it every night)
Jimmy sporting his new Georgia sweatshirt!
The girls trying to fit into Auntie Bots' new luggage.
After opening presents at my parents house, we headed home to put the girls to bed & get things ready for Santa's arrival. The girls put out cookies & their letters to Santa.
Just like last year, Kate suggested we leave Santa wine instead of milk.
I was horrified, yet proud at the same time.
A few hours later (2 am to be exact) Santa had arrived at our house.
Kate got a mini-kitchen (only $12 at Wal-Mart, score!) and Claire got a PBK chair.
Santa was thankful for the wine & cookies.
Sidenote: It is Kevin's tradition on Christmas Eve night to sleep with our TV on so that he can watch A Christmas Story on PBS all night long. Anyone else do that?

The girls woke up around 7:30 and were anxious to see what Santa brought.
Kevin & I were tired from staying up until 2 am, so we made the girls wait until 8 to go downstairs.
Claire was super excited about her Dora backpack.
And, Toy Story 3!
So excited about a new Fancy Nancy book!
A new book for Claire also....Knuffle Bunny Free.
Kevin got me coupons...A night off, a car detailing, getting to sleep in & more. Thank you Kevin!
Then we headed over to my parents for Jimmy's 3 meat Breakfast.
Every Christmas morning my Dad makes an amazing breakfast of bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, hash browns & I make Monkey Bread.
This is Jason's plate...the amount of food he can put down is AMAZING.
Santa came to Mimi & Jimmy's house also!
The group shot:
After the 3 meat breakfast, it was time for us to head back to our house so that we could get ready for Christmas Dinner.
Yep, I hosted it this year....for the first time, ever!
We hosted my family AND Kevin's family for one big Christmas dinner.
And, for the first time.....I made a TURKEY!
I couldn't have done it without my mom, who came over and helped me prep the bird.
Thanks, Mom!
Thankfully the girls were worn out from Christmas events & they both took 3 hour naps on Christmas afternoon. That allowed me to get organized for the big Christmas Feast & Kevin was able to get things around the house cleaned up & organized.

Here are my tables set up....with my wedding China!
After 8.5 years of marriage, this is the first time we have used our China, EVER!
We set up an additional table in the Living Room to fit everyone.
And, by 4:30, when everyone was coming over....we were ready!
No stress, no rushing around...just waiting for our guests to arrive!
(That is a first for me....I am usually rushing around like a chicken with it's head cut off before parties!)
Claire & Kevin waiting for our guests to arrive:
There was SO much food.
Whenever I have a party, I over-estimate....I would rather have too much food than not enough.
Here is the appetizer table, which included:
  • Crab cakes
  • Egg rolls
  • Brie with cranberries & apples
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • and, of course....Blue Cheese Crack
Kevin set up Ping Pong in our garage
Kevin & my brother in law Mike dominated the Ping Pong Tourney. The even switched off holding Claire to give themselves a handicap, but they still won :)
And, Kevin turned the Loft/Office area of our bedroom into a game room/lounge & hooked up a Wii. It was fun!
Here I am posing with my very first Turkey! I am officially a grown up....I made my first pie this past September and now I made a turkey! And, I used my wedding china. Not bad for 31 years old :)
My mom & I posing with the Turkey....I couldn't have done it with out her! She is a pro...and the turkey turned out AMAZING. I couldn't believe it!
Another huge thanks goes to our next door neighbors (who were at their son's house for Christmas) They gave me the key to their house so I could use their double ovens, so that I could heat up all the side dishes. And, side dishes there were!
I made: Sausage Corn Bread Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole & my sister made Baked Corn.
My mom made Broccoli Salad:
My sister in law made a Mixed Green Salad with Pomegranates & Balsamic Vinaigrette.
(Not pictured, my mother in law's awesome Party Potatoes)
We had a Ham:
And, of course the Turkey! (with fresh homemade cranberry sauce)
The Big Kids Table (my nieces & nephews)
The Little Kids Table (Kate & Claire)
Adult Table #1
Adult Table #2
As if we didn't have enough food for dinner....next came dessert.
So many choices:
Kate & I made red velvet cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting....hey, It's Jesus' Birthday...we need cupcakes! (And, cupcake toppers, of course)
And various treats that the girls and I made during the week...
I didn't get a picture of the Main dessert...my mother in law's famous Peppermint Ice Cream Cake. It was still in the freezer when I took the pictures...I need to blog that recipe. It is my top 5 favorite desserts.

Kate & I at the end of the night....we were EXHAUSTED! She stayed up until midnight playing with her new toys while Kevin and I cleaned up.
It was SO much fun hosting both families....it was a wonderful Christmas...but, it wore me out! I could have slept all day on December 26th...but I couldn't because at 9 am we had to be at Kevin's parents for Larson Family Christmas. (Kevin's mom has Christmas on a separate day for their side of the family).
So, on day 3 of Christmas...we headed to my in-laws (and stopped at Starbucks...we needed coffee!)

Guess what?!? Santa came to their house also!
When we sat down for breakfast, all the kids had a luggage tag with a piece of paper rolled up in it.
Kevin's mom had all the Grandkids open their scroll of paper at the same time...
And, this is what they saw:
She is taking ALL 16 of us on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas & Disney World this summer!
Oh my goodness, I can't wait!
I have never been on a cruise...so excited.
We haven't even taken the girls to Disneyland before....they are going to FREAK out.
I am going to FREAK out! :)
Other highlights from Larson Christmas included:
Claire getting a bassinet that was once Kevin's sister's and my mother in law refurbished herself for Claire.
and a suitcase for the cruise:
Kate got a Princess tent & sleeping bag....
Kevin's mom gave Kevin (& I) the Gift of Sleep....
She is going to watch the girls over night every other Tuesday for the next few months so that Kevin and I can actually get a whole night of sleep. Our girls are terrible sleepers and wake up several times a night. They are 2 and almost 4....but for the past 6 months they have been sleeping terrible...we feel like we have infants! The Gift of Sleep truly is a priceless gift!

And, as of yesterday, Christmas 2010 is in the books.
The decorations are put away, the lights are down, the tree is on the curb.
Christmas 2010....it was a good one.
We ate, we drank, we cooked, we baked, we gave gifts, we used wedding China, we gathered as a family & most importantly we celebrated the best gift of all...the birth of Christ.

I hope your Christmas was memorable as well!


  1. That looks like an amazing Christmas!! Your dinner looks fabulous! And all the gifts are thoughtful and fun! Especially love your happy birthday Jesus cupcakes!

  2. You mean you're going to miss music class to go on a cruise? Hello! That is AWESOME!

  3. Glad you had such a great Christmas! Can't wait to see what 2011 holds for you and your family!

  4. Love all the pictures! You are going to have the BEST time on the cruise!!!

  5. I'm so jealous you guys get to go on the new Disney Dream. I've seen and heard a lot about the new ship and it looks INCREDIBLE! It should be fun for everyone!!! That's exciting about Disney World too. One thing I've grown to love working here is the excitement for all the kids. Let me know if you need any tips; I feel like I know the place inside and out!

  6. that's awesome!!!! everything looks perfect! and you guys got amazing gifts too!

  7. Looks like an absolutely amazing three days of Christmas! I think I need a nap now just reading about all of it. :)

  8. What a celebration Mel!
    A cruise!!! How fun! You are going to love it.
    Great job on the turkey!
    A pie and a turkey... you are a grown up now.
    And red wine for Santa? oh I love it. I bet Santa loved it too. :)

    It's fun but so exhausting to pack so much into such a short weekend (or month really!) Hope you are rested!!

  9. What a celebration Mel!
    A cruise!!! How fun! You are going to love it.
    Great job on the turkey!
    A pie and a turkey... you are a grown up now.
    And red wine for Santa? oh I love it. I bet Santa loved it too. :)

    It's fun but so exhausting to pack so much into such a short weekend (or month really!) Hope you are rested!!

  10. Your Christmas sounds fantastic!!!! I absolutely love that Kate suggested leaving Santa some wine instead of milk, she's one smart girl!

  11. What an AWESOME Christmas!! Love all the pictures. I'm kinda tired just reading about how busy you guys were. :)

  12. As soon as I saw your post, I had to laugh.. My daughters (who are 2 and 3) wore the SAME exact thing on Christmas as your girls! Red polka dot dresses from The Gap, white tights, black shoes and a red bow in their hair! So funny. :)

    PS: Can you share the recipe for the broccoli salad? I'd love to make some!

  13. disney cruise is fun. we went on it w/my family when I was in junior high. you'll love it!

  14. I love it! It looks like you had a fabulous Christmas and your girls are absolutely precious. You did a great job capturing all the festivities, half of my pictures are on my iPHone because I did not have my camera! I am very impressed by your cooking, everything looks wonderful and delicious.

    A Disney Cruise, awesome! Great minds think alike because we just booked ours this weekend. It sounds like the exact same one we are taking too but we are not going to be able to go until Summer 2012 because my son does not have long school vacas and summer 2011 was already booked. They fill up fast!

    It looks like your girls are into princesses like Alexa. We had a Disney Princess Christmas, ha!

  15. It looks like your first time hosting Christmas went off without a hitch! That turkey does like divine.

  16. busy christmas.. can't wait to see the pictures from your vacation. I love that you leave wine for Santa,maybe we should do that next year.

  17. What a wonderful Christmas you guys had! I love the wine idea! My daughter insisted that we leave Santa a coke because he's got to be sick of milk by the time he comes down South :)

  18. We had 3 days of Christmas too. I STILL need to get the pictures uploaded and get that post up!

    You look SUPER hot on Christmas Day! Nice job with dinner and hosting everyone at your house. :)

    And omg, that cruise is going to be amazing!!! The gift of sleep though... priceless.

  19. What a wonderful Christmas! The dinner looks amazing!

  20. Looks like a beautiful and fun Christmas at your house. And what a fun summer to look forward too...WOW!



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