Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas #3 - Santa's Visit *Collage Style*

We came back home to Nashville on Christmas Eve and had Jake's Mom and Dad and my family come and stay. So, JV, Vicki, my sister Ginny, her hubs Jason, my Mom and Dad, my sister Leslie, and her boyfriend Shawn were all around for Christmas cheer! Isn't family fun over the holidays? Although chaotic at times, its sure is lonely now that they've left (and yes I'm serious!)

JV, Vicki and Jules with her new American girl doll - Jason and Josh playing on the ipad - we love our new baby "Emma"! - Josh though, loves her too - Rock Star Josh - new train table - playing with an octopus - Trains - more trains - fun Yo Gabba Gabba toys - Foofa and Broobee! - Jules - Foofa - More trains

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Christmas #2 - A Small Town Christmas *Collage Style*

Christmas #2 took place in Waverly, TN, the small town where Jake is from. usually we come here on Christmas Eve, but not this year, because we wanted the babes to be home on Christmas morning for Santa's visit :) So, we moved it up a day. Christmas Eve is met with Jake's mom and dad, his sister Jen, and her hubs Scott. We drink champagne and open all of our family's presents and end the night by watching Darlene Love perform "Baby Come Home" on the David Letterman Show. (it's her 25th year performing, and our fifth making it a tradition)

The next day we welcome Jake's aunts and MeMaw and Grandad and cousins. We exchange names for presents and eat a fab lunch, then on to home. A quick but super fun trip!

Julesy posing (she figured out she can pose, then see herself on my camera afterwards, so we did this about 10 times) - Jules and cousin Sherry - Josh and a large present - opening many, many more - Sweet Charlie - J.V. and his new favorite headband - Jules! - more presents - Josh and granddad - Vicki and Jules - JV and Josh on our new powerwheels! - Whee! - Traffic jam!

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Christmas Recap #1 - Dysfunctional Family Christmas *Collage Style*

Merry Christmas, and all that bag of chips! I apologize so much for my lack of blogging, but I needed a blogging vacation/break. It has a been a wonderful week of family, holidays and traveling! I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season so far!!! The Stribling fam traveled three times over the holidays: once to Knoxville, once to Waverly, and then back home to Nashville. So, I am breaking up my recap into three posts. We are doing it collage style because there are LOTS of pictures, and lemme tell ya, these are just tipping the camera. I have many many more, lol. I don't  know why I take so many, because I dread editing so many, many of these pictures!!

Christmas #1 - what we in the Prater house call the "Dysfunctional Family Christmas". We meet at my Aunt Clara's house in Knoxville (Farragut). My cousins come up and its a big family tree of dysfunctional fun! We eat a big dinner and have a wonderful time of talking, laughing and boozing :)

Some fun things:

- My Aunt Clara is a pianist. So every year after dinner, we sit in the living room and she plays Christmas music on the piano and we all sing along. Its a life long memory we cherish.
- When we were younger, My Uncle Everett would dress up as Santa Claus for us kiddos. This year, my cousin Benjamin dressed up for "now" our kids! It was super funny and super special. My cousin Seth has two kids as well.
- We had people that came in from Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Colorado, and Texas. A big gathering!

Ella was the best babysitter ever - Aunt Clara and Jules on the piano - Me and Josh - Jake, Jules, and Santa! - Josh wasn't too sure of this "Santa" - the three sistas with Santy and the babes - Me, Les, and cousin Melly - ths three crazy boy cousins: Benjamin, Jonathan, and Seth - les and the elf - Ginny and Jules - Dad and Josh - Josh finally making friends - The annual pic - the three girls and the three boys :)

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

25 Days of Christmas - (21) - WW - Decorating Your Children

I mean, come on, this is basically the only way I get anything done around here*.

*No babies were harmed in the taking of these photos :)

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

25 Days of Christmas (20) - Christmas Traditions

When you have young children, it's kind of hard as parents to come together on what types of Christmas Tradition ton instill upon your kids. Jake and I grew up very similar, but very different all at the same time. We grew up with different traditions, so its nice now that they are kind of old enough to be able to start our own as a family. So, here are some traditions I would like to start:

Yearly Ornaments
I did footprint and handprint ornaments last year. This year, I attempted to do this fabulous ornament from asortoffairytale, but it was a complete disaster. Next on my list in the snowman one. I am going to attempt to do an ornament with the kids every year. Next year they will have their "own tree", so this is where we will put on all their special ornaments.

The Read-Aloud Advent Calendar
I did it this year, and LOVED it. I loved that they got to open up  a Christmas book each day leading up to Christmas. Plus, they learned about it, and we read that boy that day. It has been wonderful!

Other Advent Calendar
My friend Maggie also did another advent calendar this year where each day held a craft, charitable act, or Christmas related activity to do. Loved it!!

Opryland Hotel
This will be a yearly tradition as well for us. I went while pregnant. I then went last year when the babies were almost one, and we went again this year. I can totally see this being a yearly thing. Plus, next year they will be old enough to see the ICE exhibit, and do some other"older" kid things.

Christmas Cards
We will always sen these out every year, of course, but I read about another neat thing to do. Each year, their parents send a Christmas Card to the children. I love this because I hardly ever keep all of mine. This way they have their own Christmas Card with a special note from their parents. They as they grow up, they will have each year's card to keep forever. May start this one next year!

I see myself really getting into baking. I would love to do gingerbread houses and decorate cookies with the kids. My mom always made fudge and chex mix growing up.

Riding the Polar Express
I am going to do this next year. We have a train that runs from Nashville to Lebanon and back. The kids will love this story, and Santa is on the train and the read the book, and it's a very magical experience!

Okay, so we haven't done it this year, but I remember always receiving a new pair of Christmas PJs from my grandmother every year. I think its neat to get a new pair every year for Christmas :)

My kids will learn to love Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and of course, The Sound of Music (because it always come son at Christmastime!)

We usually do a couple of Angel Tree children every year. One thing I will absolutely instill upon my children is the gift of charitable giving. My kids are, what I assume, spoiled. I can only say that because they have more now that I ever did my entire childhood. Are they really spoiled? No. But, they have and never will go without. I think its very important for them to know how very blessed and lucky they are. And how so many families aren't as fortunate. We will always do Angel Tree. I would even like to take it a step further and go through another organization to "adopt" a family, so they know the kids and know how much they are helping that family have a wonderful Christmas. There are many charitable organization out there during this time of year. Every little bit helps, and its humbling to know that I could always do more. Other things include going to local nursing homes and delivering cookies or cards, and/or doing the same for the Children's Hospital.

I would like to start going to Christmas Eve service at church. We went when I was pregnant, only because we were here and I wasn't allowed to travel. There is a possibility of us going this year, but it's still up in the air. Jake's family always went growing up. And there is something so magical and spiritual about Christmas Music on Christmas Eve

We are absolutely doing Santa. I think that is the magic of the season, the ability to believe in magic. I love the tradition, and love Santa. I am kind of sad that I don't believe in Santa anymore :(

Other gifts
Some friends of mine do three gifts from Mom and Dad to the kids. No more. They tie it into the Nativity Story because the wise men only brought three presents to the birth of Jesus. I really like that, and it's a good way to separate the birth of Jesus from Santa and for them to learn about both, and see the importance of Christmas. We may even open these "special" presents on Christmas Eve. Nothing big, of course, just small, meaningful things.

Elf on a Shelf.
Love this little guy. He will be coming back for sure :)

What traditions are you doing/or want to start? Would love anymore ideas you have!!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

25 Days of Christmas (19) - We met Rudolph!

Oh, how I love our sweet little town of Brentwood, TN. Its is beyond precious. One of the fun little things it did this past weekend was host a Santa/Reindeer gathering. Kids could come and get their picture made with Santa for free, and he also had two live reindeer there! Woohoo! Although we did NOT partake ion yet another Santa picture (that would be 4), we did hang out and look at the reindeer, or "Rooroff" if you will. The babes were SO EXCITED. They were just beside themselves! At first I was kind of like "Aww, why won't they let them pet them"? Then realized it probably because they would probably trample people with their aggresiveness. Hmmm, that wouldn't make for a Happy Christmas. Good decision on their part, I suppose. Yay for Christmas Fun!!

Oh dear. Yes, I am the mom with the child who had her dress stuffed into her tights, and didn't realize it until I was editing pictures. Sigh...

And I am also the mom with the sin who is carrying around a balloon that is just dirty looking to me (how did he get out of the car with it??) But...aren't they the sweetest?? They had the best time!

Jake and Josh. Aww :)

Rooroff!!! And I suppose his friend...Rooroff!!

Me and the babes! Josh is really happy!!

Jake and Josh

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

25 Days of Christmas (18) - Stepping Out to a Brunch with Santa!

Christmas is so much fun this year!! It's so much different than last year, and I know next year is going to be even better. Saturday was yet another meeting with Santa Claus. (this is number 3 for those that are counting). Our Country Club, Old Natchez hosted a breakfast with Santa. They have a big brunch, a Santa Claus with a photographer, arts and crafts, and balloon animals. The babes had a blast and were wild the entire time (I know, you are shocked). It was a super fun morning. They also got to meet Rudolph afterwards, but I'll save that for another post :)

Later that night, we also "stepped out" to Jake's company's Christmas party. Jake's Mom came up and her and his sister babysat while we went. It was super fun as well. Have I mentioned that I love this time of year??

Standing in line at the balloon animal station. Then wearing our creations - Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears, lol!!!

Their sweet friend, Sarah Grace showing Santa her wish list :)

Jules giving Sarah Grace a hug for letting her play with her Barbie.

Josh looking out on the golf course. Its like he already knows his Daddy will have him out there as soon as he can remotely hold a club.

On Josh: Shirt: Ralph Lauren//Vest: Osh Kosh//Pants: Old Navy//Shoes: Madison Avenue
On Jules: Dress: Kmart (really, no joke!)//Tights: Janie and Jack//Shoes: Kid Express//Barbie: Borrowed :)

Jake and the babes at the craft station

Moi, attemping a picture with the kiddos, unsuccessfully...

On Moi: Top: Cabi//Cardigan; Macys//Jeans: Target//Flats: Nine West//Necklace: Ann Taylor
On Jake: Boy Clothes
Please pay no attention to the balloon in Josh's mouth. I am well aware how vulger it is, but if you tried to take it away from him for the picture, you will understand why it's in there.

And...drum roll...this is a winner, winner, chicken dinner. The funny thing is that jake and I got in for a few pictures outselves, but this one was just too perfect not to purchase, no?

Attemping a family picture before heading out to our Christmas Party.

Little bit better one...yoohoo Josh, over here!! Bonus points for peeping our Elf on a Shelf!!
On Moi (again): Top: JC Penney//Pants: Victoria's Secret (the best pants on the planet, promise - I have them in several colors)//Shoes: although you can't see them, black peep toe Nine West heels//Necklace: White House Black Market//Watch: Michele

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

25 Days of Christmas - Santa's Little Elf

She loves her Santa hat. She wears it constantly. The funny thing is she like sto wear it like this, over her eyes, and it looks like a dunce cap. Lol. Silly Jules.

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The Paper Mama

Friday, December 16, 2011

25 Days of Christmas - (16) The "other" Christmas Card and Outtakes

Like I mentioned before, I had some issues this year with the Christmas Card, and couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. What I originally wanted was to have the kids hold a mirror up in front of the tree. Then, I was going to photoshop the mirror part out, and write "Merry" in one, and "Christmas" in the other. I had one really good little child who was so good about holding the mirror. (in fact, he still does, and poses with it still in front of the tree, because we were so excited when he did it the first time, he gets a kick out of it!!).

And then....we had another bad little child who absolutely refused to to any such a thing. And she only did it because she is as stubborn as an ox. Wow. We bribed her with bananas, juice, a cookie, etc. No go.Eventually, I decided just to photoshop her face off and use a nice pretty face of hers, lol. But, then I decided to just go with the picture of the kids in front of the tree. Anywho, thought I would bless you readers with some outtakes from the disastrous photoshoot. Enjoy!!

He was a pro

This one I photoshopped a new face on her from the previous picture, lol

Little Monkey

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