Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Recap

There's lots of Christmas posts to follow. It was exhausitng just trying to seperate things out. It may seem a little backwards since you are reading the most recent thing first, but I wanted to keep it in order. Enjoy!

Maurer Christmas

After Rockdale Christmas we loaded up for the trip back home to Brenham and Maurer Christmas at Mimi's house. The kids slept on the drive and when they woke, we were at Mimi's and ready for another round. It was so fun to get to see all the kids interacting with each other. Popo bought a big life like Santa a few years ago and it dances and sings. It even has a microphone so at one point we were all out in the garage and the kids were singing Christmas song karaoke. The adults enjoyed singing along and we even had a special visit from Santa himself. What a treat!

Kim Schramm & Avery.

Jamie & Kelcie

Christmas in Rockdale

The day after Christmas, there was no rest for the weary. We had a full day scheduled and it started in Rockdale. This year would be significant in that this was the first Christmas without my grandmother. She passed away in October and memories of her passing are still very fresh. To my grandmother Christmas has always been about getting the family together and having a big meal. Truth is, she could care less about the presents. I think she ran to the dollar store the day before we would come over. You know how when you go to most places as a little kid for Christmas and the first thing you want to do is open presents? Well at grandma's, it was like lets eat, let's go play outside, let's do anything besides open presents. We never knew what we were going to get, but you could bet it was usually something we didn't want. Looking back, I know that was not a good thing to be thinking, espeically at Christmas, but it was usually true. When I was about 15, my grandmother started doing the "brown paper bag" gifts. She would fill each of the 5 grandkids a brown paper bag with "gifts" and write our names with a black sharpie and put them under the tree. How festive! When the time came, we'd each get our paper bag and cringe as we dug inside. Here are just a few things that wound up in those bags: 1) A half eaten bag of hot cheetos - why? my grandmother had bought them and didn't realize they were "hot". She didn't like them, but knew that one of my cousins liked hot foods so she put them in her bag! 2) one year my brother got one of those flashlights with an orange cone on the top, like the ones you see the guys use on airplane runways. Oh yeah, we had a lot of fun with that one! 3) bag of pecans - would have been ok if I had any interest in baking 4) porcelin cats - she knew we had a cat at home so thought I might like that?? 5) lots of randome dollar store items.

One year I swear she was just cleaning out her closets. I got an 11X18 picture of my mom from her senior year of high school. I guess she figured I might want to have it one day?? Oh and guess what Wes got one of his first Christmas's in Rockdale... a jackelope! It was a small plaque with a bunny with horns - I cried laughing! He didn't know how to react.

Looking back now, I can only laugh at those gifts and share the memories with my kids. Gifts weren't important to her, but family was. This year I missed walking through the door and seeing her in the kitchen. I missed her sassy remarks. Most of all I missed seeing her sitting in her recliner, right next to grandpa, watching us open our brown bags.

Grandpa Keen got a Snuggie for Christmas! A perfect gift for him!

The end of a long Christmas Day.

Christmas night we came home around 6pm and as we unloaded gift after gift after gift, we wondered where all of it was going to go. Uncle Jason, Mimi and Popo came over for a few hours to check out all of the new toys. We also got a visit from cousin Meghan. We don't get to see her very often, so we were glad she could come and see our house for the first time and visit.
Christmas Day was a day full of fun and family. By the end of the night the kids were on sugar and toy overload. We were glad to see the day come, and ok to see it go.


Christmas at Toppe & Gpa Otto's

After playing for a bit with Santa's toys, we headed over to Toppe and Grandpa Otto's house. Santa had been there too! The kids were so excited to open more presents. By the time we were done, you couldn't see the bottom of the floor. We stayed over there the majority of the day and enjoyed our annual shrimp feast and played cards with Aunt Candice and Uncle Steve.

Santa Came!

The first one to stir on Christmas morning was Avery. She had come into our bed during the night and when she woke Christmas morning, she stood up on the bed and started walking towards the living room. We asked her where she was going and she looked at us and said "Santa." I asked, "Do you think he came?!?" and then she crawled back in bed with us. I think she was scared that he might still be in the room. We suggested she go get Austin and they could go look together to see if Santa had eaten his cookies. She got up and went herself to look at the cookies. Her reaction, "He came!" Then she ran to get Austin who was in a deep sleep. Had it been any other morning he would have fussed and whined for having been woken up, but instead he stretched and moaned as Avery told him about the cookies and his first response in an early morning voice as he rolled out of bed was, "did he bring us lots of presents?" Priceless! We got it on video. They both ran to the living room and saw the presents and cookies and I think that left a permanent smile on their faces all day long.
Next task was to wake Caleb so he could join in the fun. Once he was up, the gift opening began. Austin and Avery loved finding the presents with their names on them and putting them in their pile. Their eyes lit up with every present that they opened. It was so much fun!!!

After all the kids boxes were opened and stocking were checked, the assembling began. Our main projects were Avery's doll house and Austin's train set. The kids went from gift to gift, just taking it all in. Kind of made me feel liek a kid again!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve night, we went to celebrate what the meaning of Christmas is really about - the birth of Jesus. The kids had one of there better times in church - thank goodness because it was crowded. My favorite part of this candle light service is when the congregation sings Silent Night to conclude the service. Everyone is given a candle and when everyone has their candle lit, the lights in the church go off and we sing the song by candle light. With each stanza, we raise the candles higher. It really is a beautiful sight to look up on the last verse and see the church lit by candles.... gives me chills everytime

This pic melts my heart! So beautiful!
After church we made our annual stop at Aunt Bonnie's house. The kids always have a good time playing over there and we enjoy the company. We knew it would be a late night and the kids would fall asleep on the way home so we dressed them in jammies before making the ride home so that they would be ready to see what Santa left under the tree on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve - Round 1

Our 4 days of Christmas started at Mimi & Popo's for lunch. The kids opened their presents and then we nibbled on shrimp and snacks. It was nice to sit around with Uncle Jason and watch the kids open gifts.

Caleb opening one of his favorite gifts - "nanaids"

Austin and Caleb got new UT jerseys! Caleb insisted on wearing his old one to the house that day....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

I have no desire to take out my camera, download pictures and blog about our last 4 days. We are all exhausted, but it's a rewarding exhausted. We spent the last 4 days with family and friends and enjoyed every minute of it. Santa did not disappoint this year. Between his gifts and gifts from family I think we could open a mini toy store. Now the big question is where are we going to put the 4 train sets, 3 large tow trucks, baby doll double stroller, safari animals, large easel, 3 story doll house and numerous other toys?????? We have our work cut out for us.
Though exhausted, we are so blessed to have family to share Christmas with. I will update later in the week with pics and 2009 Maurer Party of Five Christmas stories.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Polar Express

ALL ABOARD... that's right, we loaded our crew onto the Polar Express and took a ride to the North Pole. On the way there we got hot chocolate and watched the servers dance up and down the aisle. The conductor came by and punched our ticket and when we got to the North Pole, Santa was waiting for us. We were so excited when he loaded our car and gave us a special bell... just like the movie. We Believe! We took the special trip with the Scramm Clan and the kids really enjoyed getting to spend some time with cousin Kennedy. It will always be a special Christmas memory!

Our crew in jammies!

The kids waiting patiently, or as patient as 3 year olds can get.

Caleb's little hand reaching out for his bell.

When we got to the "north pole", Austin said, "Mama, where is the snow?"

Avery wasn't so crazy about Santa, but she enjoyed dancing with the "chefs" in the aisles.

If anyone is reading this and is wondering where we really went, we drove to Palestine to the Texas State Railroad. They do train rides around Christmas time that are based off the movie Polar Express. You can look up all the info online. Get tickets early - months in advance. From a parents perspective, I would think 4-5 would be a great age to go do this. Our kids really liked it, but Caleb was probably still a little to young to enjoy it.