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Bedtime was fast approaching and the kids could not be happier about it. They look forward to bedtime on Christmas Eve. We have our bedtime traditions and they want to go to bed so Santa can visit.

I remember one year as a kid that my dad kept coming up with things to do late into the night. He thought it would be nice for us to stay up late. Maybe he thought if we were tired enough we would fall asleep faster. Maybe he thought morning would come faster for us that way. All I remember was wishing I could just go to bed already.

One Christmas Eve was a late one for my own kids. I could see myself in them. They wanted nothing more than to just go to bed. It’s part of the routine. Why mess with it?

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It’s always a joy to open the Christmas pajamas Grandma makes every year. I love the picture of Gwen. She is sharing her enthusiasm with her fairy.

This year Grandma wrapped the pajamas in Christmas pillowcases with each child’s name embroidered on the side. Sugarplums were definitely dancing in heads this Christmas Eve.

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Gwen got another nightgown. Could life be any better? Gwen loves any garment with a large opening in the bottom for both her legs to fit through. Dresses, skirts, nightgowns. It doesn’t matter. As long as it is made for girls she is all over it. Ah but this nightgown was truly special. It’s silky and shiny with ruffles on the sleeves!

“It’s so beautiful! It makes me feel like a princess! I’m going to find my crown to wear with my princess pajamas!”

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And she did.

The boys felt manly in green camouflage and Gwen felt like a beautiful princess. Everyone showered before putting on their new pajamas. Then I read the last chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We completely forgot to put out cookies and milk for Santa before the kids happily skipped off to bed. They were reminded of our number one rule: No getting up before Mom and Dad. If you have to pee, don’t peek over the railing.

I really wished I could just go to bed too. I was exhausted but there was too much to do. Gwen’s gifts were already wrapped but they needed a special tag from Santa. The boys needed a special envelope to hold their crisp $100 bills Santa was giving them for bikes.

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They turned out great. While Heath was finishing up with the envelopes I stuffed stockings with the Monterey Bay Aquarium stuff Santa left with us. He must have been as tired as I was because he only took off one price tag! Sometimes I think Santa is a pretty lazy guy. Today we went to a sporting goods store to look at bikes. Heath called Santa a cheapskate for only giving each boy $100. Santa really needs to plan ahead next year!

Regardless of my exhaustion level, I still couldn’t sleep. I got a couple hours in before I woke up at 2:30 and never completely went back to sleep. Just before 6:00 am I heard a door squeak. Reflexes kicked in and thoughts came later. I smacked Heath and told him to get up because the kids were up. I didn’t see anyone when I walked by our door. Gwen’s light was still off so I knew it wasn’t her.

I went into the bathroom to put on enough clothes and arrange my bedhead well enough to not crack the camera lens should I happen to be photographed.

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At least I changed out of my free Victoria’s Secret sparkly t-shirt from 2011. I would hate to have that peeking through my robe making me look bad. (heavy sarcasm)

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As soon as we opened the boys door Parker sat right up ready to go. He admitted he was the one who broke the number one rule. After Gavin said that Parker woke him up suggesting they wake up Mom and Dad. Hmm. Parker claimed he only went to the bathroom and did not peek. All we can do is trust him. Gwen on the other hand, was not easy to wake up. She was too happy sleeping. As soon as Heath said that Santa came she shot up like a rocket.

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Tantalizing tensions mounted. Gavin always tries to play it cool. He even went so far as to say he didn’t feel excited at all on Christmas Eve. But you can see it in his eyes. He was excited. Even for someone who Gwen claims is “almost a man!”

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Normally Santa gifts are opened last. Since the boys had envelopes on either side of the plate of cookies I remembered to set out for Santa, we let the kids open Santa gifts first. Parker was pretty stoked about the money.

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Gwen got a ton of scrapbook supplies. She squealed with delight while jumping up and down. She is the queen of paper crafts and Santa knew she deserved some nicer paper.

My last day volunteering before winter break, the first graders were rotating through classrooms for different activities. In one class they did a writing activity. First they were discussing New Year’s Resolutions and how to set measurable goals for themselves. The teacher had the kids share some ideas before turning them loose to write. Gwen rose her hand and said she wanted to be better at art.

Mrs. H: How can you be a better artist? What art skills do you want to improve?
Gwen: I’m good with paper crafts. I can ask Santa for more paper.

It was a cute response even though it didn’t really answer how Gwen could improve. Mrs. H helped her understand that practicing cutting and gluing and stuff would help her improve those skills. I just loved the unfiltered faith that Santa would bring more paper if she only asked.

And this has nothing to do with anything but Mrs. H was visibly surprised to see me walk into her classroom. She co-taught with Mrs. M when Gavin was in first grade and she remembered me! We talked about Gavin later and how he is loving middle school. I also pointed out that Gwen is mine. I think she was a little sad that she didn’t get to teach Parker. Mrs. M taught all my kids but Mrs. H only taught Gavin.

The next day I freaked Mrs. H out again. She didn’t realize I know her student teacher Eric T. When I asked how his kids were doing her head flipped back so fast I thought she might get whiplash! She thought we were just having a polite conversation until I named his kids specifically. “How do you two know each other?” We both told her we met at church. I didn’t tell her I have pictures of his family at their baptism.

Anyway, back to Christmas. Gwen loved the scrapbooking supplies. All the kids were excited to get their favorite items from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in their stockings.

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The only toys, not counting Lego sets, came from the boys. They both knew Gwen wanted a Ken doll. Parker said he couldn’t decide between Ken or a Barbie car. We suggested the boys work together and get both. We found this Mini Cooper Barbie car that came with not only Ken but Barbie too. Gwen screeched her head off and gave many hugs. Her first scrapbook page was about her favorite gift from her boys.

Two gifts were not delivered in time for Christmas. One was Parker’s gift to his dad. The other was Gavin’s gift to me. We have no idea why my gift was late since it was shipped to Oakland and sat there for two days! Today both gifts came. Heath got a Dr. Who t-shirt. Parker is obsessed with Dr. Who right now. The shirt has a picture of the tartus with the words “wibbly wobbly timey wimey bits” surrounding it. It’s a line from one of the episodes.

Gavin gave me a book called The Family Tree Problem Solver. I was pleasantly surprised. As soon as I said a sincere thank you I realized this book puts a lot of pressure on me to actually work on my family history. So I had to say a sarcastic thank you. No, I’m excited. It’s just a little scary. It was so much easier to say I wanted to fill out the Clarke side of my family fan but I didn’t know the names. Now I have a binder full of information that has helped me feel connected to my family. What a blessing but now I have to do something about it. And Gavin took away even more excuses with his gift!

We had a fun Christmas playing, building, scrapbooking, and laughing together as a family. And true to tradition, three of us never changed out of our pajamas all day long.

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