Christmas 2013 as well as the weeks leading up to it was a whirlwind.  Every moment of every day swallowed up by stuff to do.  Work. Preparation. Work. Preparation. Try to eek out a few family moments here and there….

Well those eeked out moments are the ones I really care to remember so here goes…the final memories of Christmas Season 2013:

1st Stop: Bass Pro Santa

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(While it looks like Luke is trying to take a poop on Santa’s lap I assure you that is not the case…)

In case you’ve never been or are wondering if it’s all it’s cracked up to be let me assure you – IT’S THE BEST! We have gone every year for the past 4 years and it never disappoints.  Our brood has certainly grown, here’s just half of the kids:

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Notice how Jack gives Auntie Joy an adorable smile but when I ask him to smile for me it looks like this:

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Hmmmmm…anywho.

Bass Pro (so wisely) has you come in and get a pass for your time slot.  Meanwhile, they have plenty of other activities for the kids including a cool remote control train, a Merry Go Round…

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And of course there’s always the crazy cool fish tank that the kids go bananas over

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Not that fish have anything to do with Santa but hey, any distraction while waiting your turn is a blessing!

And of course finally, Santa just seems to be in his element here.  He’s jolly, he’s patient and best of all he reminds your children to be good for goodness sake!

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Next up was Grace’s role as Jangle the Elf in The Polar Express

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Did you spot her?  In the photo above she’s third form the left in green tights and a red skirt.

She rocked it

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Her favorite part is getting flowers and signing autographs after the performance 🙂

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Then began Operation Hippopotamus

We scored an incredible Black Friday deal on a trampoline for the kids for Christmas. There was a lot of planning to figure out how we were going to pull of the surprise so we dubbed it ‘Operation Hippopotamus’ after Grace learned the song “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” in school.

2 days before Christmas Uncle Randy brought the trampoline over and helped Jared set it up in the backyard. We closed all of the blinds hoping that our children wouldn’t notice as they began construction.

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My idea was to keep them busy building the gingerbread house that our neighbors brought over (thanks guys!) but let’s just say I underestimated the skills I would need to construct the house before decorating could commence.

Meanwhile Gracie sniffed out something exciting going on behind closed curtains and ran into the living room screaming ‘Jack there’s a trampoline in the backyard!!!!’

Sigh.

Operation Hippopotamus was a bust.  Luckily Jack wasn’t really paying attention and was oblivious but I fumbled to recover with Grace and let’s just say it wasn’t my finest parenting moment.

We ‘gave it’ to the kids the next morning as their “Something you Want” (read about how we give Christmas gifts to our kids in this post) and they’ve been jumping every day since.

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 The only ‘craftiness’ I could muster

Once upon a time I was all about crafting at Christmas.  Making decorations, homemade wreaths, delicious treats for gifts…but these days I have a bit of a time management issue (read: 3 busy kids) so my crafting has gone to the wayside.  We did however finally get to decorate the Gingerbread house and cousins Danny and Tommy happened to be here for the festivities.

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The beauty of the finished product definitely does it’s best to disguise any of my construction flaws.

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Once everyone else was done the cutest dang thing happened.  Luke crawled up into the chair next to me and started decorating the back of the house.

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I think he did a pretty good job don’t you?

I also managed to make some of these cute little Santa’s for Jack’s preschool class

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Grace loves to give

Perhaps one of the most special memories I have is taking Grace to the Dollar Store to do some Christmas shopping of her own.  We decided who she was going to buy for (brothers, daddy, grandmas grandpas and Tete and Randy) and she picked out a gift for each of them. She brought money from her own piggy bank and handed it over to the cashier herself.

The next day she wrapped them

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She wrote everyone’s name on the tags herself (oh I forgot to mention she even included our fur babies Maggie and Charlie)

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Jack knew something good was going on behind the closed door…he was bursting with anticipation

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The Big Shabang

Years ago we started a family tradition on Christmas Eve where my parents and brothers and sisters would get together for dinner and celebration. Our families have multiplied several times over since then and now that we host this celebration at our house his family is now part of the tradition. That being said, we had somewhere between 50-60 people at our house this year!

Talk about filling your house with loved ones, literally.

It’s hard to get everyone to settle down enough to read the story of the birth of Christ but we did it, and Grace and Delaney read us the true meaning of Christmas as we put up the nativity above on the mirror, character by character.

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After the kids tore through their presents it was time to do our ‘white elephant’ swap.

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Of course stealing is the most fun part…so ‘Christmas Spirit’ of us 🙂

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After everyone funneled out, we set out a cookie and some milk for Santa and finally got our overstimulated children to bed.  And in the quiet of the night, Santa made his delivery…

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And just like that Christmas Morning was here.

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Here’s Grace wearing everything new that she got for Christmas.

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And that’s a wrap folks.

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We hope you have a blessed New Year.

-The Faris Family