Christmas 2019

The Christmas season was a whirlwind.  We started Christmas early with Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights opening night. We put our tree up in mid-November and slowly decorated it slowly over the following month... so slowly that we actually never finished hanging up all our ornaments this year. Over the years, I've learned that starting things early allows us to enjoy all of our favorite things about this season without becoming too exhausted and cranky. Ben and I both work full time and with both the girls in school, we already have a lot of things going on even before adding in the crazy holiday activities.

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the opportunity to DIY easy things and creating a handmade holiday in our home. A couple years ago, I purchased a bunch of clear plastic ornaments from Michaels and we decorate a couple each year to gift and hang on our tree. We start by painting them, followed by drawing designs with paint pen, and finish off with a clear coat. It is fun to watch the girls' styles evolve over the years. Cora used to end up finger painting her ornaments and now that is something Ida does. I also love making sculpey handprint Santas each year and I can't wait until my tree is full of them.

Every couple years, I like to add some handmade gifts to our list. When Cora was 3, she painted a nutcracker for my dad... so this year it was Ida's turn. She had so much fun having painting time with mommy and was so focused on covering every single spot of that nutcracker. I don't think I took any after pictures (oops), but here is the step-by-step of how I did this with Cora.
Ida's school has a Breakfast with Santa fundraiser every year. Cora had plans to see Frozen 2 with my Aunt and Uncle, so Ida and I had a little date. We ran into Cora's friends (that Ida loves) so we ended up spending the whole time with them getting face painted, crafting, and snacking. Ida surprisingly liked seeing Santa and ran straight up to give him a hug. It was nice to get extra time with just Ida and I know Cora loved getting spoiled hanging with our extended family.
Over the last couple years, we have made it a tradition to decorate gingerbread houses as a family. It is nice to get together, have a little project, and snack on candy. 
Every year, our extended family makes potato sausage together. Cora was really interested in the process this year and loved diving in to help during each stage.
Christmas Eve and Christmas were both full with lots of family time. Our extended family celebrates on Christmas Eve with church, dinner, and exchanging presents. The girls were wound up on all the together time and treats and loved running around with cousins. We didn't make it home until close to midnight. Cora ran in the house to set up cookies and milk for Santa and went to bed so fast so she wouldn't be awake when Santa arrived.

On Christmas Day, both girls slept in until around 9:30, so we had a lazy morning opening presents and hanging out. My parents stopped by for a bit and then we went over to visit my Aunt and Uncle. We spent the afternoon being lazy, making Indian food, watching tv, and napping. In the evening, my extended family got back together and enjoyed food and games and hanging out. 

I had the week between Christmas and New Years off of work. I had a to-do list of projects and outings I wanted to do, but we totally ignored the list and spent most of the week in our jammies hanging around the house. Cora insisted that we make a trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum, so we stopped by for a little bit one weekend morning. Overall it was a really great/relaxing holiday. We enjoyed all the extra time we got to spend as a family and activities we got to attend... but boy were we excited to get back into our regular routines.

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