But back to the anticipation... Christmas to me is the biggest moment of the year to look forward to. Sure we've been to a bunch of wonderful places this year and I don't regret a single one - I loved every moment. But there is something about the leading up to Christmas that I love - it's the unknown in a sense. Not just about what will be received (which at my age is not something I focus on, we're talking about the kids here) but seeing the looks on the kids faces when they get up in the morning and see that Santa has come. I know that I only have maybe a few more years of the magic of Santa and so I'm trying to appreciate every moment that comes with it.
Josh worked on Thursday after we got back from our trip to the Christmas markets in France, Germany and Switzerland. It was a trip that definitely put us in the mood for the holidays. I think that snow had something to do with it. Not that I miss the cold weather of New England for a moment, but there is something about a cold, snowy Christmas that just feels right. Christmas in Barcelona is festive, but it was also 60 degrees and it's not a huge holiday here (Three Kings or Tres Reyes is the big one in January). Papa Noel doesn't come down a chimney but thru your balcony doors. We're fortunate and we have a patio and so that's how he gets into our apartment and we put out reindeer food to lead the way.
The kids got their caga tio gifts in the morning of Christmas Eve which worked out better this year. Last year as they looked away for a moment I tried to slip their overly large gifts under the caga tio blanket and wasn't super successful at it. Thankfully they still believed. So this year we left them out the night before Christmas Eve so that when they woke up they would have to beat them with a stick (ahhh Spain) to get their presents. Aidan got a few Bakugan which he was much happier about than "that stupid tiddlywinks game from last year" and Liam got some new cars from CARS 2. All was good in the world.
Putting their caga tios out the night before with a few snacks
Christmas Eve morning
Yes! I got a bakugan instead of a game!!
The video I took of the kids hitting their caga tios didn't come out great - it seems to skip a bit but the camera was just bought the other day and apparently I didn't set the video quite right... live and learn. But you'll get the gist.
Some traditions we've been able to keep despite being so far away from home. I still did things with the kids such as making Christmas cookies, making reindeer food (oats with sparkles for those wanting to know how you make reindeer food), writing notes to Santa to go with the cookies, listening to Christmas music and things like that.
Liam making his reindeer food
Aidan shaking up his reindeer food
Liam starting to make his cookies - this year the dough actually made it into the cookies
(for the most part)
Soooo very focused
I love his tongue sticking out in concentration!
Aidan actually did a great job this year - he focused on making a design instead of just blobbing it on
Oh am I not supposed to eat this one?? Santa can just have two cookies right?
Last year we attempted to go out for a casual dinner on Christmas Eve and it just didn't feel right doing something other than Chinese food... just a part of the traditions that we miss from home I guess. So it was a simple dinner of chicken and hash browns...nothing fancy.
Aidan was a bit cranky during the day which was annoying to say the least. I was trying so hard to make it a good day for them and I felt like he was pushing me on everything. Could this mean the end for Santa for him? Did he just not have the "magic" in his heart any more? No, it turns out that he was just really missing home and it wasn't til bedtime that this came out. It broke my heart and I felt terrible. And all the thoughts I've been having about staying in BCN longer drifted away and I thought, how can I do this to him?? But then the moment passed and we talked it thru and we said that we all need to do much better about staying in touch with friends from home and that while I know he doesn't like to talk on the phone or skype, that he needs to do that in order to stay in touch and then maybe he won't miss everyone as much.
Tossing reindeer food so Santa will know where to go
A lot of reindeer food!
Writing a letter to put with the cookies
Again, progress from last year's letters!
Christmas morning Aidan woke at 6AM. Now a few years ago that time wouldn't have surprised me, that was the boys usual wakeup time no matter what the day. But in the last few years if given the chance, they usually will sleep til 8 or even 9. So to me that meant that Aidan was super excited about the prospect of Santa coming. During our talk the night before I reinforced that while we'd had a rough day, he had been a really good boy this year, much better than last year (last year was a REALLY rough year for / with him) and that I had no doubt Santa would come.
I had actually been up since around 5 and was just cozy in bed so I heard him get up and tiptoe downstairs...then RUN right back up the stairs to jump in our bed to announce that Santa had in fact been there....and could he PLEASE wake up Liam to tell him. We told him that he was up even earlier than he gets up for school (which is 6:30) and that no, he couldn't wake Liam til at least a little while. He made it 15 minutes. Then he woke him. However, I think that while Liam gets the whole concept of Santa and was super excited about him coming, at that moment he was much happier sleeping and he snuggled right in with Josh and I. Aidan was in constant motion and we told him at 7:00 we would go downstairs. He barely made it... I think it was the longest hour of the poor kid's life! So he and I went downstairs while Josh and Liam slept. I let him open one small gift so that he wouldn't burst from waiting. Then a few minutes later the troops came down and the present opening began!
Soooo excited! I let him open one gift while we waited... a small set of Ninjago legos.
We had Josh open his gift first since it was a Nespresso machine (which somehow has already been damaged) and I figured that was probably essential this early in the morning!!
Finally Liam comes down stairs!!
Daddy opening his first gift, a Nespresso machine, complete with all the fixings and enough coffee to last a short lifetime
The kids tore open their gifts with unbelievable superhero type speed. About halfway through they finally calmed down a bit. The highlight of their gifts this year??? They both got itouches from their grandparents back at home. Already loaded with music, apps and pictures for them. I'm pretty sure that they have not left their sides for more than 5 mins in the 36 hours since they were received and today Josh added videos to them for our drive up to France tomorrow - we may not hear a peep on the drive unlike the normal arguing over the ipad or the iphone... ahhhh serenity!
Anything from CARS was a hit with Liam!
A HUGE Ninjago lego set... took us the better part of the day to put this one together!
Yes, the Razor Sparks scooter!!!
Finally we have something that Liam is into that Aidan never was (which means we don't already own a million of) - dinosaurs!
Awww thanks Uncle Jay and Auntie Katie... I can't wait til you guys have kids :)
Aidan even more excited because Uncle Jay and Auntie Katie bought him not one but two seasons of the Simpsons... oh joy! (and yes, I know Josh told you to buy them and that Aidan wanted it, but it doesn't mean I have to like it :))
Liam looks so damn cute in those pjs!
A Luigi backpack from Uncle Jay and Auntie Katie - he wore it for the rest of the time that they opened presents, a definite winner... ok this makes up for the Simpsons :)
The big lego Ninjago set and some dinosaurs...he's still wearing the backpack
Reading some of their new books during a "break"
Still wearing the backpack...
The boys last present of the day was their new itouches from our parents. They had no idea that they were coming and were so beyond excited. As I said before, they have barely left their hands since! Here is the video of them getting them!
Liam and Jake with his itouch
Ahhh can you hear the silence?? That's content children!
Totally exhausted... yes!
Christmas day overall was nice and mellow. Josh made a nice tenderloin type of meat (we still aren't 100% sure on what it was but it was good) for a late lunch with mashed potatoes, gravy and brocoli, yum!! The kids played all day with their new toys and were so content. Aidan and I spent hours working on his new Ninjago lego playset that came with 3 separate instruction booklets and 7 large bags of legos. Today was the Harry Potter small Hogwarts set... at least that one only took about 2 hours!
Finally at the end of the day we took to our street with Aidan's new Razor Spark scooter and Liam's scooter (from last xmas) and they rode up and down the street so content. I realized that we really have very little traffic on our street and I have no idea why we haven't just gone out there to ride up and down the street... we did it again today. Only took 2 years to make that connection, kind of pathetic!
Trying out the scooter on our patio
Liam happy to be outside
Video of the scooter and the sparks that ensue... http://youtu.be/ukjvwIUkYic
It was a very Merry Christmas for all of us! I think we were all pretty happy with our gifts and the quality time we got to spend with each other just relaxing was wonderful. I feel like we don't decompress to that point nearly enough. We're heading out on vacation (again, I know) tomorrow to go skiing. It will be the kids' first time on skis so we're really excited to see how they do. I have no doubt you'll be seeing some posts from me while we are away, assuming the internet works where we are going of course!