Christmas 2015

We had a great Christmas celebration this week. It was a full week and we had  lot of things going on. It was great to be able to spend the week with out little family celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

We started out the week with our first attempt at an Arnesen family tradition — story night. We had all of us get our sleeping bags out and put them on the floor in the family room after dinner. We each had a few snacks and treats to eat. While we all lay on our sleeping bags, Sarah read us a few stories. I think we only read  three or four books. That was about all the kiddos had the attention span for! After we finished our books, we put James to bed in his crib and let Eliza sleep on the floor. We fully expect this tradition to get longer and more interesting as the kids get older.

01 Ready for story night
All set up for story night.

Before we had story night, we watched SpaceX launch some satellites to orbit. We had the laptop on the computer and watched the launch live. This launch was the first time that they had flown the first stave back to land and softly landed it using retro-rockets. It was so cool to watch! I was cheering at the end. Eliza loved it too. She has been into rockets since I came back from Kennedy Space Center and she thought the launch was awesome.

00 watching the SpaceX launch
Watching the SpaceX launch.

On Tuesday, Sarah and I went on a date to see Star Wars! We got the kids in bed and had a girl from church come to sit with them while we went to the 9:15pm showing. We got popcorn and too much soda and enjoyed the movie. We didn’t know how long the line was going to be so we got there pretty early and got awesome seats. It was a great movie and brought back good memories of seeing the original movies years ago with my family. We both had a bit too much soda and had to scoot out right at the start of the credits to hit the restroom! It was good to be able to go for a while and have some time to ourselves.

Wednesday evening we took around some goodies to some of our friends. We went late so that we could show Eliza and James the Christmas lights as we drove around. Eliza loved seeing the lights and has been asking where they are every time we go anywhere since then. I also had the whole day off on Wednesday. I played with the kids and finished my last two books for my reading goal for the year. We had a good time playing around the house. Eliza has a boundless imagination and it is fun to play with her.

04 Eliza making cookies
Eliza making cookies
03 James looking at rainbows
James excited about rainbows on the wall.

We spent Christmas Eve at home mostly the whole day. We finished wrapping the last few presents and put them under the tree. The kids have been super cute with wrapping presents. James loved taking them and putting them under the tree (or at least throwing them at the floor by the tree) and Eliza wanted to pile them all up in one place under there. They were both excited about it. Eliza remembered a bit of what happens at Christmas and she was excited about the presents. She had been praying for several days that Santa could come and bring presents after she went to sleep.

05 James depositing presents on the tree
James putting a present in/on/under the tree.
02 Putting the stickers on the advent
Doing stickers on the advent from the Friend magazine.

We made a ham for dinner on Christmas Eve and had our little family meal at 5:00. James, of course, ate everything in sight. Eliza ate a bit more daintily but was great to eat her good food before having jello for dessert. After dinner, we reenacted the journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity with the kids. Eliza needed some coaxing to get dressed up like Mary but eventually she was all ready to go. James hammed it up as Joseph. He kept posing for the camera and making cute faces. Eliza got to ride on “daddy donkey” which she thought was pretty awesome. After doing the Nativity play, we read Luke 2 and had family prayer and put the kids to bed so that Santa could come!

06 James hamming it up
James hamming it up as Joseph.
07 Eliza on the daddy donkey
Riding on the “daddy donkey”
08 Mary and Joseph
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

 

It is nice having kids that don’t want to get up in the middle of the night to open presents. Christmas Day started for us around 7:30 in the morning. Eliza came downstairs in her usual fashion and came into our room. We got James up and looked at what Santa brought. James got a cool car ramp play set and Eliza got a fun tea party set. Sarah got a nice memory foam pillow and I got some new wonderfully light-weight scout pants. After looking at Santa stuff we had a breakfast of ham and cheese crescent rolls and then started opening presents.

09 James on Christmas morming

10 Eliza on Christmas morning

We opened presents until 10:00 when we talked to Uncle Joseph on Skype from his mission. It was fun to talk to him. He is doing great work. It was kind of funny to hear him talk because he totally has the missionary drawl! What a great guy. It is so fun to have Eliza pray for him every night.

After we finished with presents we kind of just lounged around the rest of the day and took it easy. Eliza and James played with their new toys. Eliza actually was really excited about the little Lego set that I got. She was 100% focused when we worked together to build it. It probably took us 30 minutes but she was right there the whole time helping me find pieces and putting them together. I’m excited for when she’s older and we can make huge sets together!

We capped off our week with a late-night game night with our friends the Larsens. They had a few other families over on Saturday to play games and have snacks. There were a bunch of kids that were running around and Eliza and James just played. We put the kids down to sleep while we were there. James went down pretty quick but Eliza had a hard time. She eventually fell asleep. We had a fun time playing games. When we went home, Eliza had a meltdown about everything. She ended up being awake until around 2:00 before she finally fell asleep on our floor. That made for a late morning on Sunday.

All in all we had a great week. Christmas is a wonderful time of year and we had a great little celebration here in Texas. We are so grateful for Jesus Christ and for his life, example and atonement. We know that He lives and that He is real.

Last travel before Christmas

After getting back from our Thanksgiving travel last week, this week I was off again traveling for work. I went to Florida to attend the annual CHREC conference that I’ve been going to for years. At work I’m responsible for managing the research relationship that we have with the lab at BYU that I worked in when I was in graduate school. I have calls with them fairly regularly and I attend meetings in June and in December to see them report on their work and to give some formal direction to what they research in the coming year. This December conference was held at Kennedy Space Center. I was the only person from NI that attended. I had a great time. The conference was actually at the center and we had to get badges and everything to get on site. The room we had the meeting in wasn’t much to look at but it was cool to be there. We had our conference dinner at the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. I was like a little kid in a candy shop there! I spent more time looking around and taking pictures than eating. We had the whole facility to ourselves and I figured that I could eat any time but having the whole place basically to myself probably would never happen again. Being there reignited my childhood excitement for space exploration! I had a great trip.

Space Shuttle Atlantis. What an inspiring site. Visiting here recommitted me to my goal of becoming an astronaut. I was getting chills the whole time I walked around this magnificent machine.
Space Shuttle Atlantis. What an inspiring site. Visiting here recommitted me to my goal of becoming an astronaut. I was getting chills the whole time I walked around this magnificent machine.
Sitting in the space shuttle cockpit mockup at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor complex. We had dinner here as part of the CHREC conference and we had the whole place to ourselves! It was awesome!
Sitting in the space shuttle cockpit mockup at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor complex. We had dinner here as part of the CHREC conference and we had the whole place to ourselves! It was awesome!

While I was gone, Sarah had some adventurous nights with the kids. In fact it kind of started the night before I left for my trip. Eliza started waking up in the middle of the night crying and would end up sleeping in our bed. This happened a few times but she got back out of it and is sleeping in her bed again now.

James and Eliza laughing together
James and Eliza laughing together
We catch James a lot looking at the tree.
We catch James a lot looking at the tree.

Eliza had a few good prayer experiences this week. She lost her special bracelet on Thursday. Sarah helped her pray to find it and she was able to find it. She told me about it when I got home and clearly remembered what had happened. She also got to pray that I made my flight connections (which were kind of tight) and also that Benjamin would be safe during his school lockdown this week. She says the best, most simple little prayers. I love listening to her pray.

Eliza made this arch all by herself
Eliza made this arch all by herself

Sarah waded through mountains of laundry this week. We had a lot to do from our trip to Utah and it seemed like there was a never-ending stream this week.

After getting back very late on Thursday evening (actually Friday morning at 2:00 am) due to some crazy something that the airlines pulled, it was finally good to be home. We’ve had a pretty good time at home these few days too. Friday I just slept in and got to help the kids get up and dressed and ready for the day. I put in a few hours at work and called it good. We had a pretty normal day that day. Eliza and James went to music class with Sis. Fife and Sarah ran some errands.

Us with the missionaries at the ward Christmas breakfast.
Us with the missionaries at the ward Christmas breakfast.
James was less than thrilled about Santa
James was less than thrilled about Santa
Eliza was apprehensive but I think she still liked it.
Eliza was apprehensive but I think she still liked it.

Saturday we had a kind of crazy day again. After many changes, we had finally settled on going to the temple on Saturday. We also had a ward Christmas breakfast in the morning that day. We got up and ready to go pretty well and made it to the breakfast only a few minutes late. Sarah and I were helping with a silly skit of the 12 days of Christmas so we had to send Eliza and James off to sit with a family in the ward while we sang our song. Eliza had been really excited about sitting on Santa’s lap so after we finished eating we went and stood in line. She was excited about it all the way until we were next in line and we were starting to walk up to Santa and then she kind of froze up. She did end up sitting on his lap but didn’t say much and we just basically got a picture. She was cute about the whole thing though. After the breakfast, Sarah and I went straight to the temple and Eliza and James went with home with the Larsens. They stayed at their house until that evening when we got back from the temple. It was great to be able to attend again in San Antonio. We got to go to the temple while we were in Utah last month but it was good to go to our temple.

We put out our shoes for St Niklaus on Saturday night.
We put out our shoes for St Niklaus on Saturday night.
On Sunday morning St Nikluas had filled our shoes with goodies.
On Sunday morning St Nikluas had filled our shoes with goodies.

We’re excited for the Christmas season to truly be upon us now. We watched the First Presidency devotional tonight with the kids and it just brought the spirit so strongly into our home. Eliza and James helped us put up the ornaments on our Christ tree this week (well some of them at least) and Eliza has been so cute and excited about moving Mary and Joseph on our advent calendar. We hope that we can remember Christ this month and keep him as our focus.

Grandma Huggard made this dirndl for Sarah years ago. Now Eliza can wear it.
Grandma Huggard made this dirndl for Sarah years ago. Now Eliza can wear it.
James always looks sharp for church.
James always looks sharp for church.