Sunday, December 27, 2009

Twins turn 88, Phat stockings, Santa, & Sightseeing

OK, so our little guys turned 8. They get really excited about their birthday coming around, and even though they are Christmas Eve babies that open presents two days in a row, they never feel jipped. They feel doubly blessed and that's exactly what they are to us. A double blessing!

Their older siblings get extremely excited for them and they remember that in just one day, they'll have presents of their own to open.

Look at these cutie patooties!
I made a cake with vanilla pudding and bananas on top. Once the candles are blown out, and the cake is cut, the whipped cream is put on top. I had made two cakes for them in late November when we had their birthday party. It's the first time we ever celebrated them that early so that their friends could be there. Birthdays so close to Christmas are challenging, but we make it work.

Happy 8th Birthday, Grant and Cooper!

One day before we celebrated our twins, my Aunt Judy and "Aunt" Betsy arrived from New Jersey. I say "Aunt" because she is my mom's cousin. I'd rather show respect by calling her Aunt Betsy and she doesn't seem to mind. :-)

On the night of Christmas Eve, we traditionally open one gift and it's new pajamas! It's so much fun to get new ones.

And you just have to get a photo in front of the Christmas tree with them on.

On Christmas morning, this is what the kids woke up to...

Filled stockings,

and lots of presents.
The kids each buy a small gift for each other and Mommy & Daddy. They really love giving gifts to everyone.

Austin received this "Manchester United" mug.

My morning coffee and a gift from one of the children.

Braaten & Austin

Shawn was totally posing for this one as Melanie gave him his gift from Germany.

Braaten loving on the boys. She is a wonderful big sister.

Cooper is keeping track of all the great gifts he is receiving.

And Grant is rocking it out with his new guitar.

Fletch just loves to be in the middle of it all.

After the lengthy process of opening presents, we had ham strada for breakfast. Later on in the day, we baked a ham and had roasted potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, and carrots. We each had a Christmas cracker which is a small gift that pops when you pull it. Inside each of them is a paper crown that everyone wears along with a little cheesy prize. It's traditional for the English to have these.

My Aunt Betsy is sitting next to me and Aunt Judy is across from me. They like the idea of the Christmas crackers and love being around the children as the magic of Christmas happens. We love being around them, too, as they share memories of days gone by. Their presence reminds me so much of my mom and gets me talking fondly of her. Some of the phrases they use are exactly what my mom used to say and it brings a tear to my eye and joy in my heart. Both my parents are missed incredibly.

Melanie was reading the joke & brain teaser found in each of the crackers.

The day after Christmas, we took the aunts to Wales. As they sat in the car at one particular point, they nervously watched Braaten pose as though she was falling down the side of mountain. Calm down, Aunt Jude, it's just a good photo op.

Beautiful Llangollen, Wales

Aunt Judy is smiling from afar as she sees Shawn capture her in this photo.

I love seeing her smiling and happy. It wasn't long ago that my Uncle Lenny passed away (in February of this year) and the holidays always make us reflect on those we love that have gone before us. She is strong and is doing really well.

Smile, Aunt Betsy. Both aunts don't like their pictures taken, but we love to take pictures. We win!

Melanie asked me to take a video with her new video camera.

Today both aunts took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland for a couple of days. They'll be back to help us ring in the New Year and will continue their European adventures on January 2nd.


chili pepper said...

It looks like an amazing Christmas all around.

We have a number of birthdays around Christmas, 3 actually, and our anniversary so we always work hard to make each one special. My hubby says that the Christmas season starts when we return from vacation in October because from then on it is a constant string of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays in our family until the second week of January.

I like the two candle idea. Our daughter and nephew always celebrate their birthdays together, since they are on the same day and Emma and my mom, and Nathaniel and Allen... I might have to adopt this idea.

Each of the kids always get a gift for each other and it is such a huge deal to them on Christmas. To keep it from being too overwhelming, they each take a day following Christmas to pass out their gifts to each other. Their all hurry to get dibs on going first. I love that they prefer to give gifts over getting them.

We do crackers and crowns on New Years Day with our brunch. My mom started this years ago and we all get a kick out of the tradition.

The pictures of Whales are gorgeous... but you know that!



Andrea said...

You guys look like you had a blast. I am like your aunts...I don't like my picture taken...that is why I stay behind the camera.
Blessings, andrea

Rachel said...

That looks like you all had an awesome time!! It's amazing how many visitors you get...If I moved to England would I have that many visitors?

Merry Christmas!!

He & Me + 3 said...

Happy Birthday late to the twins. They are adorable and the two candles is so cute. That cake sounds so good too.
Great pictures from Whales and how nice to have "Aunts" there to help you celebrate Christmas and ring in the new year. Looks like everyone had a wonderful time.
I love your stockings BTW

momstheword said...

When my son was younger he wanted a summer birthday party so we did a half-birthday party in the summer, lol! He loved it.

Great family shots and the scenery is gorgeous. Happy New Year!

Darcie said...

Looked like a wonderful couple of days, birthdays, Christmas, tours, company. Could it get any better?

Happy 8th Birthday to your adorable boys!

Eyeglasses & Endzones said...

Wow!!! That is a couple of busy days! The boys look SOOOO happy to be having a birthday and your Christmas looks splendid!!! ;)

Joyce said...

How fun to see you all in your crowns...we all wore them too : ) I somehow had three boxes of crackers in my shipment but there are a few places around here you can get them now. How nice you had family visiting too!

My sisters birthday is the day after Christmas...she makes certain we know to make a fuss...Happy Birthday to your boys!

I'd love to see some pics of your pottery...sounds pretty. I have Portmerion Christmas and also the Pomona for my everyday dishes.

Heart2Heart said...


I felt as if I have just visited you for the Christmas holidays! WOW so much love and warmth can be found in each and every single picture you have shared with all of us. I love it and thank you so much for being a part of my family this year.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

E @ Scottsville said...

Wow, your Christmas morning looked awesome! I love all the hugs and smiles on everyone's faces. Great crowns, too! Never heard of it, but what a neat thing?!

And then on to the scenery pictures? WOW! One of my favorites it the shot of you taking the video. That's such a neat perspective!

Glad y'all had a Merry Christmas with lots of love!

Miss Mustard Seed said...

What a lovely family! Those are some great travel pics as well. It looks like you are having a great time.

Five Moms & A Blog said...

Just had to pop back on in my Five Mom's persona and say thanks for entering our giveaway!

~ Nan

Tina said...

I really enjoy all the European photos. It always takes me back to my traveling college years.Just recieved your Christmas card yesterday. Loved the Gilligan poem! smiled the whole way through. Enjoy your New Year. Maybe when you get back to MI you can teach me some blogging tips :)I feel like such a slow learner.
Blessings, Tina

steffenboysmom said...

I'm glad you can tell them apart, cuz I can't! Woa.

Your pictures are beautiful! Of course you have a wonderful subject! Whales! I'm so jealous!

Glad you were blessed this Christmas!