It's so hard to believe that Christmas has been and gone. Here is just a quick post about our Christmas this year. Before Christmas, we took part in The Stable Trail 2015 at our local parish church.
It cost £1 per child and we were guided through an interactive nativity, meeting characters from the Christmas Story and following the star to find a very special baby.
Along the way, we did some craft, such as decorating our King Crowns.
Together, we learnt the true meaning of Christmas.
At last we reached the Inn...
...and then the Stable, where we found Mary, Joseph and a very gorgeous baby Jesus.
We even met some Grandparents who taught us what Christmas means to them today. The girls were all given a Handmade Star Ornament from Nepal to remind them of the meaning of Christmas.
Our trail ended too late for us to take part in the donkey rides but we really enjoyed the nativity so it was a lovely morning anyway. There were also drinks and refreshments.
It was a very special Christmas activity and I hope it takes place again.
We also made our gingerbread house.
We watched our videos from Santa's Portable North Pole (PNP).
We read our letters from Santa- they were so lovely and personal as always. Our Town Hall does a good job organising Santa's post each year.
On Christmas Eve, we went to the crib service. Sadly, as the weather was bad it took place inside Church (we prefer it outside in the stable). My girls were chosen to carry up the sheep and Cerys carried up Joseph. Izzy said that she really wanted to carry Baby Jesus. I did worry that there would be tears, but thankfully, she carried her sheep with pride. She looked so sweet leading all of the older kids up the aisle.
We then ate a Christmas tea, put together by Dave and Danny while we were at the Crib Service- thank you to the men of the house!
The kids opened up their Christmas Eve Pyjamas and Lavender Bath Bombs (in the hope that it would help them sleep!). I noticed that Lush didn't sell their "Christmas Eve" bath bombs this year- they were amazing and always helped the kids (and me) sleep well.
We then put out a mug of milk, a mince pie and some gingerbread for Santa and also water and a carrot for Rudolph.
In bed, we read one of everyone's favourite Christmas stories and ended with "A Visit From St Nicholas" (T'was the Night Before Christmas).
In the morning we woke to find that these were gone! Actually, there was a teeny bit of carrot left but Izzy finished it off! Fancy sharing a carrot with a reindeer! Hmm...
Then the kids entered the room full of presents. It's so magical, even for the grown ups. it just all comes together somehow.
A wobbly toothed Caitlyn approaching her presents.
Rebecca, finds her pile, sack and stocking ( I love Danny's expression).
Lastly, Danny gets to his presents.
The kids open all their presents. There are excited cries as each one is opened, a pile of wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, presents to be taken out of the box, a flurry of screwdrivers and batteries, then a quick play. We then encourage the kids to get dressed so we can go to our first visit of the day, Nanny's house!
Four excited kids and a mummy on their way!
On the way, we met Nanny and Ceri and went to Dad's grave. He loved Christmas and would have loved it with his Grandchildren even more. It's so sad that the only way we can spend Christmas with him is to visit him here. Our last Christmas we had with him, we had no idea was the last. It's a timely reminder to treasure everyone that you know and love and spend Christmas with. We know that he'd want us to be happy and enjoy Christmas so that's what we go on and do, with our late Dad forever in our hearts.
At Nanny's there are more sacks full of presents to open - even for the adults too (which still surprises me every year).
There were even some big presents to share (a Playstation).
There were lots of cuddles and family love.
I love how Izzy checks that her Christmas sack is empty by practically getting inside it!
Then it was time for Christmas Dinner. Even though I'm vegetarian, I will always love Christmas Dinner (although minus the goose-fat and Turkey of course). I asked the kids on Christmas Eve what they were most looking forward to on Christmas Day. They said things like, seeing family and playing games together. I agreed with those reasons but added that I was really looking forward to Nanny's Duchess Potatoes! They were worth the wait!
I bought some Frozen "Wine" for the kids (very classy, I'm sure you'll agree!).
On every recent visit to Home Bargains, the kids had asked for it, so I had to sneak back late at night and pick some up as a treat for them!
One of my favourite things about the Christmas holidays is watching how the sibling relationships grow and develop. My older two have been through a lot together (including operations and hospital stays). Sometimes they argue a lot (mainly about One Direction, tidying toys up and anything perceived as "too girly") but at the end of the day they are best friends and always there for each other which I love to see.
The annual Christmas Day dinner pictures. We have these for every Christmas dinner since we've been old enough to take the photos. One day, I will have to put them all together.
One of the kids took this photo of Lexy!
Next we walked (as I'd had Christmas drinks- hiccup) up the hill to see Great Granny and Grampy, Granny and Grampy, Uncle Andy, Uncle Keith and John.
The middle girls laughed all of the way there, so sweet to see.
There were more presents to open. We are so lucky. Just the company of our lovely family would be enough but we are blessed with so many gifts too (as a random note: My dad built Dave's Grandparent's conservatory. So I always think of him when I am here too as well as when I am at Mum's house, which of course he also built).
I love this photo of Dave sitting by the hatch, making LEGO. I'm sure this was also a familiar sight at his grandparents many years ago too.
Rebecca loved her nail and tattoo set- she painted all our nails and glitter tattooed quite a few of us! We also got some group photos of the kids with their Great Grandparents (who definitely live up to the definition of "Great". Hopefully, I can share them when I get a copy.
It was then back to Nanny's for our Christmas evening. We usually walk back but Uncle Andy kindly gave us lifts in shifts (there are so many of us!).
Danny played his game with Ceri. It was the traditional game, "Shut The Box". Great, simple (mathematical) fun.
Rebecca continued tattooing everyone.
The kids then went to bed. Dave, Ceri, Lexy and I then played "Card's Against Humanity" which was both shocking and hilarious in equal measures. We laughed so hard, we could not breath- what a game!
The next day, Boxing Day, the kids wanted to go out on Danny's Stunt Mini BMX. They did "Rock, Paper, Scissors" to decide the first go.
They practised pedalling this mini sized bike, jumping and going down steps. I'm sure they'll be throwing stunts in no time.
Dave and I then drove (while I was still sober!) to Great Granny's to pick up all of our presents and then back to Nanny's for our Boxing Day Dinner and Tea.
Lots of games were played (with sweets and Christmas drinks). Christmas TV and films were enjoyed. Mum and I watched The Little Match Girl, which has always been a childhood favourite of mine. I cried my eyes out too much, I could barely sing the songs.
My favourite family game this Christmas was the Kazoo Game. Pick a card, play the tune and get points if your team can guess it. This was a hit with all.
Izzy then wandered in and tried to add guitar and vocals to the mix! She's so funny!
She also added dances to the mix too! I did worry that Izzy wouldn't be able to join in the game but she guessed some of the songs- especially the Pop Songs and TV Theme Tunes. I think that sometimes as my youngest, I really do forget how she is growing up so quickly and getting oh so clever. She will never fail to surprise me.
It was such a lovely Christmas, for which I will always be grateful as other years have not been so easy.
Now we're nearly onto New Years and then 2016 (which still sounds like a year "in the future" to me).
If I don't see you before then (hopefully I will), I hope you had a lovely Christmas and wish you all the best for the New Year!
with lots of love,