Sunday, December 16, 2012

Santa's Biggest Gift Ever!!!

You might remember from last year, that we are never in our own home during actual Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so we do Christmas the weekend before we head home to Pittsburgh.  Brady has never known anything different as we moved before he had his very first Christmas.  So, all he knows is that Santa takes care of the little boys and girls who visit family during the holidays a little early so he doesn't have to worry about finding them somewhere else.  We will head home this coming Friday so this past Friday was our "Christmas Eve."

We had a very busy day on Friday.  Brady had gymnastics in the morning, then we headed up to our friends, the Reeses' house so Bethany could watch Brady while I went to Andy's work Christmas party.  We had fun bowling with Andy's co-workers and then had some fun chatting with the Reeses when we went to pick up Brady.  We got home around 8PM and couldn't start any prep until Brady was in bed, which happened around 9:30PM.

Brady put on his Christmas pj's and prepared to do what most kids do on Christmas Eve.  He got his stocking ready and gathered together a plate of cookies and carrots, including a side glass of milk for Santa.

We haven't had an actual mantle since we left Pittsburgh, so Brady had the chance to hang his stocking on the fireplace for the first time.  You can see Izzie B's stocking hanging next to his (although it won't be filled until next year).

Big boy carrying the plate of cookies and carrots all by himself to lay upon the fireplace.  We hung our Santa key on the outside of our door, so Santa could get in much easier than coming down the chimney.

Headed up the stairs to go to sleep and dream of what Santa might bring him.

Getting all tucked in and saying goodnight.  He has no idea this will be his last time sleeping in this room or in this crib.

As soon as he was secured in his room (there is a child-proof knob on the inside of his door for his safety), the elves went to work.  For those who didn't know, his big gift from Santa this year was a big boy bedroom decorated in Disney's Cars.  It's been an idea I've had in my head for over a year and I have been bookmarking decorations and painting ideas ever since.  As long as we were in a house, that's what his main present would be.  We are very fortunate to be in a beautiful house and it was decided early on that he'd get a twin over double bunk bed (as we had no idea at the time what our future children would be), so he'd need the biggest extra room.  This room is directly across the hall from his current room and they share a wall.

Getting this room together has been a huge stressor for us and a lot of work for Andy.  We had to get the beds early enough for my family to come for Thanksgiving.  The beds arrived about 10 days before Thanksgiving, and fortunately, my friend, Dunny, was visiting and could help Andy carry the boxes upstairs.  With 10 days left, we had to buy mattresses and Andy had to paint the room.  We picked out the colors based on the wall border I had bought in August.  Those colors ended up being a yellow above the border and a bright blue below the border.  We bought the paint and Andy only had time available after work to paint the room a week before Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately for us, the previous owners had two daughters, so the extra rooms were very girly.  The big room that Brady would receive had been painted bright purple and bright green.  Andy had to put four coats over a three day period to cover up with the old paint with yellow.  We never imagined that only painting half the room would take go long.  By the Friday night before Thanksgiving, the blue hadn't even been put on.  That Saturday, we went out and bought the mattresses, and Andy started building the beds (with a little help from a work friend to get the top bunk up).

Andy came down Sunday afternoon, asking how many packages of border I had bought.  I told him only two and he said it wasn't going to be enough.  I started to panic because we had bought them on clearance and the package said they were exclusive to only one store.  We started frantically searching online and came across only one on Amazon.  We bought it and sighed in relief.  Too bad, the story didn't end there.  The room was ready enough (walls painted and bed put together) for my brothers to sleep in there over Thanksgiving.  The Saturday after, we had all gone out to dinner and Andy picked up the mail upon arriving home.  We noticed him staring at something for a long time in the kitchen and asked if everything was alright.  He said, "No."  I immediately assumed that we had been shipped the wrong border.  He walks into the room and shows us the packaging.  There is a label for the US postal service with his name on one side and on the opposite side a UPS label with another person's name.  Both were from Amazon fulfillment services, but it had been shipped through the post office, so Andy is the one who got it, regardless of the two labels.  He turned the package upside down, and out comes a package of women's panties.  We all burst into laughter (except Andy of course).  What made it funnier was that the woman they were to be shipped to was named Patty, so the alliteration of Patty's panties had us laughing over and over again (while Andy is on the phone arguing with Amazon).  In the end, Amazon had to refund his money (as there was only one in stock and it got shipped elsewhere), and we were lucky enough to find another on eBay.  We will never forget all that went into preparing this room.

After Thanksgiving, I began to order all the decorations that would make the room unforgettable for Brady.  He's in LOVE with both of the Cars movies and pretty much has them both memorized.  His second birthday was Cars themed due to the second movie having taken place throughout Europe and that's where we were living when he turned two.  If I let him, he'd watch either movie every single day.  He has so many of the characters in various car forms and I think his favorite is Mater.

So, as soon as Brady was in bed, Andy went into the room and began putting everything together.  We had sheets for both beds and a comforter for the bottom double bed.  There were decals placed all over the wall and Brady's personalized birth record and name art hung on the wall.  There were also various items placed around the room.  While Andy was doing this, I started wrapping the door and printing out a message from Santa so Brady would know to go upstairs and find the room.  I then went downstairs and wrapped any presents that still needed wrapped (including Andy's).  By the time we were done with that, it was about midnight.  There were a few larger items from us and my mom that needed assembly (as they came in brown boxes with no pictures and just the pieces inside).  At 1AM, I couldn't stay up any longer and headed for bed.  Andy had only finished one of the large items and was up until 3AM completing the other.  We knew it would be worth all the hard work when we would see Brady's reaction in only a few short hours.

All the stockings filled.

We now have two trees.  This one is the kids' tree with non-breakable ornaments.  It's where Santa places his gifts.  You can see there are only about five small things as the room was such a huge deal.

This is our bigger tree that we bought last year after Christmas.  It has all of our breakable ornaments and is where we place all gifts from us to the kids and to each other.  I think it's great to have two trees, no only to have the ability to use more ornaments, but so that there is a differentiation between the gifts Santa brings and the ones they get from mom and dad.  The items wrapped in the bright green Toy Story paper were sent from other family and friends.  We spoil him a little, but it would be a little excessive if we were the ones who got him all of these in addition to the room.

Santa had left a note by the half eaten cookies and carrots, telling Brady that his big surprise was upstairs.  It was Andy's idea to leave a trail of cars to lead him there.

You can see the wrapped door on the left and Brady was sleeping in the room on the right.  He walked out of his room and was very concerned that Mater was on the floor (he's very good about picking up all his toys before bed).

Running up to see if Santa ate the milk and cookies.

Look at that smile and he hasn't even opened any gifts yet.  Christmas is so magical for kids, and I wish we could keep it that way for him forever.

The half eaten plate of food, empty milk glass, the key returned, and the special note for Brady from Santa.  Brady used this opportunity to eat the rest of the cookie that was left behind.

Ready to follow the cars to find his big surprise.

Following the cars upstairs.  He ran down the hallway, saying, "Nuh uh Ho Ho.  No cars on the stairs."  This kid is such a stickler for the rules and was even trying to pick up the cars on his way up the stairs.

Waiting in the hallway for the all clear from Andy who went in first to videotape.

He was so overwhelmed by what he saw when he opened the door.  He did initially say cool, but wouldn't go more than a few steps inside without me coming in too.

Checking out the Cars light up traffic light.

A view of the top bunk and some wall decorations.

Climbing up to the top bunk.  Initially when he came in, he was telling us the bed was too high.  We have removed the ladder to keep him safe when he's in the room without supervision.  There won't be much use for it unless we have guests.  Two small kids could easily sleep together on the bottom bunk.

Checking to make sure the bed is nice and comfy.

Playing with the racetrack floor mat.

Finally up on the top bunk.

After he was done scoping out his room, it was time to come downstairs to check out what Santa had left under the tree.

A fire truck!  He did ask Santa for cars and trucks, so he must have been listening.

A Cars basketball hoop for the bath.  He'd also gotten a set of Cars kids plates.

And a helicopter.  This kid was so happy.

Time for the big presents.  This one is from Nana and Dubby.  They had the foresight to send it straight to us as it would be difficult to get home in our car after Christmas.  They were right as it came in two boxes, each twice the size of Brady.

Also, from Nana and Dubby a set of play food for the kitchen.

His Aunt Dunny sent him a Little People Buzz Lightyear with his rocket ship.  He was so excited he wouldn't even look up when I took pictures.

Now time for the presents from mom and dad.  First up : Candy Land and a digital camera.

The poor boy is so neat that every time he ripped off a piece of wrapping paper, he walked over to the pile to keep it together.

A huge car track!

The biggest gift from us was a Bosch workbench.  Bosch toys were plentiful in Europe and we did get him a set of tools while we were there as we figured it was our only opportunity.  One day I decided to search Bosch on Toys R Us and was lucky enough to find a few things that were sold online only.

Opening presents from his stocking.

The aftermath.  In addition to the gifts you saw him open, he also got a shopping cart, a few little wheelies cars for that track, and two wooden trains to play with on the Brio tracks that are on loan from his Uncle Alex.  It seems like a lot, but I'm a bargain shopper, so I didn't pay full price for anything.  The room was a large expense, but that was something he'd need regardless.

Andy was so pleased, saying it sounded like Christmas morning, as all we heard were the sounds of the toys being played with.  He's so funny.  He thanked Andy for the bedroom and thought the small monster truck that Andy bought him was from Santa.  I guess he figures Santa only brought those items he'd asked him for.

Brady couldn't wait to have Andy put together the car track and played with it most of the day.

He stayed in his pj's all day.  He only changed after his bath into a fresh pair of pj's.

We had exchanged gifts with the Reese kids the night before while they were watching Brady for us.  Brady got Sam some emergency trucks that made noise and lit up, and he got Ainsley a princess sticker maker.  They got him a cool Cars sitting pillow and an amazing book about Santa coming to Michigan!

Last year, Andy and I didn't exchange gifts for almost any occasion.  For Christmas, we had gone to Disney, and we celebrated all birthdays and anniversaries in Europe by taking trips.  This Christmas, we didn't want to spend a ton of money, but it's still hard to buy for each other, as there aren't many things that we really need.  I had initially thought of getting Andy a Keurig coffee maker, but he started making comments about how much he disliked them.  Instead I settled on the soda stream so he could make pop at home.  He was really happy with it and couldn't wait to test it out.  It came with multiple sample flavors, and I bought him some extra bottles and a few larger flavor mixes.  It's really nice because we have a can and bottle deposit in Michigan which is really a pain.  What's great for me is that the diet mixes don't contain aspertame, which I'm not allowed to have during pregnancy.  Andy bought me two charms for my bracelet.  The first was an Eiffel Tower charm as we traveled to Paris earlier this year and I have no idea of the second as it's still on it's way.

We each took Brady to the store to buy a present for the other parent.  It wasn't anything big and we told each other not to let him go crazy.  For Andy, he picked out a Starbucks package of coffee grounds that came with a hot thermal mug.  He also picked out a cold coffee cup with a straw as Andy loves iced coffee and often drinks it in a regular drinking glass.  For me, he picked out a little girl's Minnie Mouse watch (which I'll save for Izzie someday), and some European chocolates.  I can't wait until next year when I can take him to the toy store to pick out a gift for Izzie.

We had an amazing Christmas at home and it's still only the 16th!  We have so many more family and friends to see.  The best part about working in the auto industry in Detroit is that the auto unions shut down, so we get off the whole week between Christmas and New Years.  This year we will have off from this coming Friday the 21st until New Years Day.  We spend some time in Pittsburgh and some time in NYC visiting my Oma.  There are so many people to see and it never feels like enough time.

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