we've checked everything off of our christmas lists (except wrapping all those darn presents) and all we have left to do is count down the last few days until christmas. with three birthdays in the month before christmas i always feel like the month is packed with crazy. i feel sort of bad for the kids having their birthday so close to the holidays so we try and decorate and make it as special as we can while still doing all the christmas things, too. it makes for a really fun month but always leaves me very ready for the calm of january.
i actually don't think we did too many activities this year at all. mostly we celebrated at home, together by reading christmas books and watching christmas movies, baking cookies and making ornaments. the kids have loved having the decorations up and really love when we're out after dark and they get to see everyone else's lights, too. the one activity we did was to take the kids to see the zoo lights. we hadn't been since ellie was a tiny baby (less than a month old!) and it was much more fun this time since she could actually appreciate it and i didn't find myself breastfeeding her on the floor of the lion house. we've celebrated with some friends too which is always nice because i feel like this time of year can get so busy that we don't see people as often as we usually do.
avery's birthday was a hit. she got a few presents that she really liked (dolls and legos and a necklace were her favorites). we went out to dinner at a japanese steakhouse the night before to celebrate charlie's birthday and her birthday. this is sort of our yearly tradition and the kids love watching the 'show' and eating a huge amount of friend rice. the day of her birthday we opened her presents, went to ellie's gymnastics class and then to the bookstore. avery had been talking about going since i took ellie one day when she was at preschool and i hope it lived up to her expectations. we made tacos for dinner (her favorite) and sang happy birthday to her after dinner. she had requested a strawberry cake, which i found a little tricky since it's nether strawberry season nor could i find a good recipe for one. instead i made her a vanilla cake with chocolate icing and added sliced strawberries to the top and she seemed happy enough with it.
we'll have a really low key christmas this year. it's just going to be our little family all day. we have plans to have french toast for breakfast in between present opening. i'm really looking forward to setting everything up with charlie on christmas eve and watching the kids open everything in the morning. ellie is still at the slow and sweet stage of present opening. she likes to open something and play with it for a bit before moving on to the next present. avery's a bit faster but i'm hoping they take their time on christmas so we can savor it, too. this is the first year that we're actually doing stockings. i actually bought them and remembered to buy things for them. the dollar spot at target had some great stuff that i know they'll actually use: chalk, bath finger paints, coloring books, and necklaces. we got them each a 'big' present. ellie's is a teepee and avery's is a scooter. and then a few other little things like books, art supplies, and some clothes. i'm hoping they like everything and they also have quite a lot of presents that family members have sent, too. we're planning on making a roast turkey for dinner and hoping for a bit of snow. it's always such a fun day and the kids make it doubly fun since their excitement is contagious.