Christmas Day 2010

Merry Christmas from the Armstrongs!
So fun to be waking up with 2 kiddos this year :) 
Especially when one of those kiddos has a wild holiday faux hawk!
 Daddy and Carter
 Mommy and Ava
 Merry 1st Christmas Carter!
Don't look so worried buddy, this will be fun :) 
 Getting ready for the marathon morning...
 It took Ava all of 2 seconds to immediately get into her presents!  Definitely into the unwrapping process this year, she opened every present in sight with very little help.
 90% of my pictures of Ava this year, are of her eyelids.  
She was much too busy to look up and smile :) 
 And 90% of my pictures of Carter, are just like this one :) 
He did lots of chill-laxin all morning!
 My Mom and her baby, Oliver
 The annual debut of Christmas morning Monkey Bread!
 Carter hit the monogrammed jackpot this year!  He got all of my favorite monogrammed gifts from Ava's first year...a beach towel, a pottery barn blanket, and a duffel bag :) Love to see his name on everything!
 Our kids and their adoring public!
  Christmas morning with my love and a hot cup of coffee.
Perfect way to start the day!
 Pagey playing with my new bottle of hand soap.  
An appropriate thing to play with of course, ha ha!
 Carter hanging with his fun uncles.  
I'm sure this will be a recurring theme as he grows up!
 Taking a water break in between presents, with her new princess cup :) 
 Back to the grind...
 I win the award for the WORST present of the year!  I bought her this learning/musical lawnmower thing because it was so cute and played lots of cute songs.  I thought I tested it well in the store, to make sure it wasn't annoying, but boy did I get it wrong!  It's so incredibly loud and we all hate it.  Which naturally means that Ava LOVES it :) Here's hoping we "forget" this toy on our way home!!
 Snuggling with sweet Carter.  
I can only imagine how busy he'll be next year!  2 little cuties ripping into one present after another!
 Grampy and Grammy with their Christmas Grandbabies
 Our traditional "Christmas morning in our jammies" picture!  
Right out of bed, gotta love it :) 
 Ava opening her presents from Aunt Stacie and Uncle Jesse...
 And Carter sleeping through his :) 
Ava was happy to help and open them for him!
 That little cabinet was one of our favorite things when we were little girls.  My parents brought it out for Ava and she has loved playing with it all week!  Especially since she got so many kitchen themed gifts this year :) 
 Carter, apparently happy with his gift haul when we he finally woke up!
 Ava, all dressed up for dinner with our family.
 I love getting the house all ready for Christmas!  
I always get put in charge of the tables and I love that :) 

 Love all those details!

 Opening more presents with Aunt Jennie...
 A new baby to love :) 

 Stacie and Jesse
 Jennie and Dave
 Love having a new baby at Christmas time!  
Makes everything new and sweet to see it through a little set of brand new eyes.
 Ava's new favorite activity is to help my Mom feed the dog!  She loves it, but mostly because she likes dumping the food all over the floor :) 
 Yep, more presents.
Food for her cupboards!
Christmas was such a fun day, in a totally new way this year.  Giving gifts to our kids made us just as excited as they were (well, Ava anyway!)  I can't imagine how much we'll continue to love that as their excitement grows from year to year.  Of course, gifts aren't the focus of our Christmas though.  Taking time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to be with family, means more to us than any gift could.  We missed the rest of family who are scattered all over the country, but were happy to know that everyone was celebrating somewhere :) It's been nice to slow down and relax this week and we are soaking up all the time we have left to enjoy the remaining days of 2010.  

Merry Christmas from our little family to yours!  

Christmas Eve 2010

Reunited and it feels so good :) 
The story of our Christmas Eve this year is SNOW!!
 Just after we arrived on Thursday night, a big snow storm came through northeast Iowa and left 10.5" fresh inches of beautiful snow!  
 When we woke up on Christmas Eve, it was quite a beautiful sight outside!  Ava was glued to the windows, taking it all in :) 
 But we couldn't keep her in for long, she was dying to go out and see it for herself.
 It was almost waist deep on her!
 She and Daddy played and played in the cold, while Carter and I watched in the warmth of inside.
What a perfect way to spend Christmas Eve!
 Trying to make a snow angel, but not really understanding how :) 
 Travis is already trying to get some work out of her! Ha Ha!
 My sisters and I decided it was the perfect backdrop for a winter photo op.
 Merry Christmas to our parents!  
They are loving having all of us home again :) 
 After all that playing, a nap was in store :) 
 Like Father, like son :) 
 Cutting out some sugar cookies with Stacie
 I found a new recipe and I couldn't wait to try it.  I typically don't do sugar cookies, but I got inspired to do something fun for the kids...a new tradition :)
 Aunt Stacie loves to cuddle with Carter!
 The boys
 Uncle Jesse
 Happy to be spending our first day of vacation together :)
 Slaving away!

 Ava was very curious about what I was doing in Grandma's kitchen...
Our little Christmas cuties :) 

 The cookie slaves :)
 Finally doing the fun part!
 By the time it was all said and done, it was quite a process!  But, my parents always did lots of fun traditions with us as we grew up and I wanted to start some new ones with our kids.
 So we had a little "Happy Birthday Jesus" party :) 
And this is what we made!  
Aren't they adorable???  I loved them :) 
I think the bells are my favorite though!
Stacie and Jesse brought jammies for Carter's first Christmas.
 And he looked so handsome in them.
 Ava put her Christmas jammies on too :) 
 We all got settled in...
 And Trav read us the story about Jesus' birth from our favorite, kids Bible storybook :)
Ava didn't exactly sit still for the whole story... 
...but clearly Carter was riveted!  
We kept our expectations pretty low this year, but loved doing something that hopefully will be part of our Christmas Eve celebrations for years to come :) 
 Grammy and Carter 
After we put the littles to bed, I wrapped presents with lots of help from my sister :) 
Yes, I saved all of it for the last minute!

 Can't wait to give gifts to our babies in the morning!
 It was Carter's first Christmas Eve and I think he got a pretty great one!  We spent all day cuddled up inside with family while we watched the beautiful snow fall outside.  How fun to have experienced 2 Christmases in a row, for the first time with our kids :) I love Christmas Eve and all the anticipation that goes along with it.  Although we stayed in all day, Travis and I did sneak out for a midnight drive to look at lights and all of the fresh snow.  We literally blazed new trails on streets that had yet to be plowed, but more importantly, we got a few minutes to soak up the nostalgia of this year.  Such fun memories already...I feel a little bit like Mary, treasuring all these things in my heart :)