Merry Christmas to our Kids!

***This is the post that we'll appreciate next year, when we realize how much our kids have grown and when we remember the toys they loved at these ages.  Nothing too profound here, mostly just pictures, but feel free to peek in and enjoy the night we gave gifts to our kids, before we left for Christmas in Iowa!***
The stash waiting for one cute little girl and one handsome little boy.
We decided to do gifts at home with the kids so that we wouldn't have to bring them all to Iowa.  They don't really have any idea about Christmas traditions yet or when most families open presents so it was fun to just surprise them one night after their baths and let them enjoy the things we picked out for them.  They were quite thrilled to wander into the living room and find some piles waiting for each of them :)
Green gifts for Carty...
...and red gifts for Ava.
Once she realized these were for her and we weren't going to stop her from opening them, she took all of 2 seconds to dig right in!
She chose her first gift well...
...a new baby Stella!  She had a baby Stella already that she loves, so we now refer to this doll as "big girl Stella" because she has longer hair :) I thought she'd like her but it was so cute to see how excited she was about it!  She kept telling us, "This is great!"  "She's so cute!!"
Carty watched Ava tear into one gift then decided he could do that too.
A new truck, part 1 of another gift to come...
And a new "finding" book for Ava!
Carter got his first pair of Nike's  :)
And Ava got some cute boots, which she thought were pretty cool too.
Ava has a leapfrog Violet dog that Carter loves, so we got him Scout!  In true Christmas form, after he opened this one, we quickly realized it was defective.  Lots of fun.  Thankfully Daddy made a quick trip to the store to exchange it for a new one. 
This lion was a last minute purchase when I felt guilty and thought Carter's pile was a little smaller than Ava's :) But it must have been a good choice because it drew the first smile from him!
A floor puzzle for Carter to race his cars on...which of course Ava decided she LOVED and couldn't live without :)
Ava got the CUTEST little sweater with her name monogrammed on it from Aunt Katy...
...and an alphabet "alphie" from her Aunt Shaye!
(Which she loved so much she tucked in bed that night, ha ha!)
Gotta love when your presents are as tall as you are!
Our first "real" boy toy!
So in awe of the awesome presents their parents gave???
Mostly just excited to start playing, I think!
The Stella doll was a big hit for Miss Ava, I think her favorite of the night...
And the last minute lion won Carter's heart :)
Christmas is never about presents or how much money you do or do not spend, but I think delighting your kids with gifts is one of the joys of parenting.  Every year it makes me think of the verse about the Father delighting to give good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11) too.  It was a fun little night for all of us!


O Christmas Tree...

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!
For ev'ry year the Christmas tree,
Brings to us all both joy and glee.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...
How lovely are your branches!
Not only green when summer's here...
But in the coldest time of year.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...
How lovely are your branches!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...
How sturdy God hath made thee!
Thou bidd'st us all place faithfully...
Our trust in God, unchangingly!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...
How sturdy God hath made thee!

I have no special love for that song, although it did seem like a good way to post a lot of pictures we took in front of the tree this year  :) Ha ha, hope you enjoy those little elves under the tree as much as we have this year! 

Spreading Christmas Cheer

One thing I really wanted to do this year with the kids, was make some treats for our sweet neighbors so the kids could deliver them.  We live in a condo association with lots of older people (and a few families like us) and I'm realizing that most of them are grandparents.  So even though we're always paranoid that our kids are being too loud or wild, our neighbors really love them and get a kick out of seeing them.  I wanted to give them each a little gift and I knew it would be a win-win for the kids to knock on their doors to deliver them. 
I asked Ava if she'd like to make some cookies with me and she said yes.  I love when she says yes. 
I decided to make a whole bunch of them at once, but I saved a few for Ava to decorate.  She was all about the sprinkles and did a good job of telling me exactly what colors she wanted for icing and for sprinkles.  When it comes to giving her opinion, my girl is not shy.  I wonder who she gets that from??
I think she was having a good time.  It's hard to tell though, she's pretty good at concealing her emotions :)
Sweet girl. 
She did such a great job!  Her cookies were beautiful and her biggest fans loved them.  I was one of them.
The pastry chef always gets the first bite, right??
We had a tough crowd, but Thing 2 gave us "mad props" for our hard work! 
And so did Thing 1??  Carter was a fan.  He enjoyed every single sprinkle on his cookie.
Every. Single. One.
And here are some of the cookies we ended up with...
Took these to Ava's Bible study teachers : )
And these to Carter's teachers.
And the neighbors got lots of traditional cookies. 
It was fun to do a night of baking and delivering with Ava and Carter.  They loved knocking on the doors and both tried to walk right in several people's homes on more than one occasion.  We might need to work on some boundary setting, ha ha!  I know that Buddy the Elf says the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing carols for all to hear, but in our family we spread Christmas cheer through sugar!  Lots and lots of sugar :)  I nearly burned myself out with 80 some cookies that I decorated, but I suppose I'll be back in the mood by Valentine's Day!