Our first Christmas celebration took place on Saturday, Dec. 19th at my mom and Kent's house, which is about 40 minutes from where we live. As I've mentioned before, I really enjoy cooking and baking, so this Christmas gathering was the perfect opportunity to do just that. I spent the previous night making homemade Chex mix, two dutch apple pies, and a cheese ball. I also tore 1 1/2 loaves of white bread into small pieces in order to make Ryan's Mama's dressing for the first time. Sidenote - I have NEVER liked stuffing or dressing. It honestly grossed me out when I was a kid. Ryan and I have been together for almost 9 years now, and each year, I love Mama's dressing more and more and more. The craving for her dressing began in October this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if I get the urge to eat it again starting in September. This brings about another good point - if I like these foods so much, why don't I make them year round? Great question! I have no idea. I guess maybe because I'm afraid it will lose its special luster if it becomes a "typical" food rather than a holiday food. I don't know...
Anyway, we went to bed that night and had an early start to the next morning. I started thawing the shrimp coctail and threw together the green bean casserole. Then, I started putting together Mama's dressing. The recipe is really simple with few ingrediants. The tricky part is that when Mama made it, she didn't write down any measurements for ingrediants. So although her recipe calls for white bread, eggs, chicken broth, sage, onion, celery, sage, salt, and maybe pepper (I can't remember), she doesn't really have any measurements for these items. The question is do I use 2 stalks of celery or 4...a 1/2 cup of onions or 1 1/2 cups? I was told to just judge by looking at it and tasting it, so that's exactly what I did. The key to the dressing is not letting it dry out, so you end up adding almost an entire carton of chicken broth to the mixture overtime. Try as I might, I still think it could have used a little more chicken broth. I'll get it right next year!
We loaded up the gifts, food, and Noah into our SUVs (driving separate so that Ryan could leave for band practice at church for our Saturday night service), and off we went! We go to my mom and Kent's house, unloaded all the goodies, and immediately began watering at the mouth. Everything looked so good, and my mom had baked all different kinds of delicious cookies! Soon after, Dan and Kristen (my brother and his wife) arrived, and we all had a blast together! Don't you love getting together with family and being able to relax and just be yourself? It was glorious. Noah had a bite to eat, and then it was time for presents!
My mom has a little Christmas toy where you push the snowman's hand, and he dances around while a song plays. Noah loves it! This is a great shot of my mom and Noah playing together.
Noah was given some really wonderful gifts this year! Mom and Kent got him the Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Set and Pizza Set. They are so cute! The pizza one breaks into six slices of pizza that are connected with velcro. When you use the pizza slicer, it sounds like you are cutting pizza. Plus, there are mushroom, pepperoni, and peppers for toppings that also velcro onto the pizza. It is so cute! The ice cream one is magnetized so that you can use a scooper to actually pick up the ice cream and place it on the cone. Then is "sticks" to the cone by magnets.
We Noah loves playing with it!
Next up, Noah opened a little basketball hoop for the bathtub. He seriously loves this toy! In fact, it's hard to get him to sit down in the tub because he's trying to play basketball all of the time. Kent found this beautiful glass ornament for Noah in Nashville, IN. As soon as he saw it, Noah started yelling, "Choo choo! Choo choo!" It was really sweet. Ryan captured the moment perfectly.
As Noah opened his gifts, he became progressively funnier and funnier. There were so many cameras out snapping pictures of him that he was just walking around saying, "Cheese!" "Cheese!" "Cheese!" everytime he'd see a camera. When my mom brought out the big gift (below), Noah climbed on it, put his hands in the air, and said, "Cheese!" He was being such a ham! When he finally opened the gift, he saw that it was a Little Tykes basketball hoop. Although my mom and Kent bought it for Noah, I think it might be one of Ryan's favorite gifts this year.
Dan and Kristen spoiled Noah with a big hit present again this year - The Little People Amusement Park. It comes fully loaded with a roller coaster, ferris wheel, ticket booth, guess your weight game, and swings. He has played with this toy a ton since our get together!
After Noah went down for his nap, the rest of us sat down for our first Christmas meal. We had ham, green bean casserole, carrots, mashed potatoes, rolls, and dressing. It was delicious! After lunch we opened our gifts. My favorite part of Christmas (other than the food) is picking out the perfect gifts for everyone. I honestly start planning these gifts as early as July. This year, Ryan and I got Dan and Kristen tickets to see Beauty and the Beast off Broadway in April. If it's half as good as The Lion King, it will be amazing! We bought my mom a beautiful necklace - "we went to Jared!" Because Kent wasn't quick enough with his wish list this year, we ended up getting him a gift card for Mike's Car Wash. It doesn't have all the frills of the kinds of gifts I like to buy, but it is a practical one, right?! :) Sidenote - I'm going to wait and save sharing the gifts I received this year for another post. I love hearing about what other people have on their wish lists and what they ended up receiving! It always gives me good ideas for the future, so I thought I'd share my wonderful gifts with you in a future blog.
After opening gifts, we enjoyed the delicious Dutch Apple Pie I had made the night before. Ryan had to scoot out the door in order to make it to practice on time. Shortly after he left, Noah woke up from his nap and played with his toys while I got to visit with everyone. It was a really relaxing, wonderful day! At about 4:30 p.m., it was time for Noah and I to leave. We had lots to do to prepare for the next stop in our Christmas Tour 2009...