My family all left a few hours after the baptism, but Ryan's parents and Janelle's family were staying with us overnight. The girls had never been to the strip, so we of course had to go check it out! We took them to the Bellagio Gardens which always look absolutely beautiful at Christmas time. The kids especially loved the polar bears, the gigantic stockings hanging from the ceiling, and the huge Christmas tree. The gardens have a train that goes around one section and the boys had fun watching a video screen in one part of the gardens and using visual clues to try to find the train. We also got to watch the fountain show--our first time seeing it at night--and went out to dinner. The kids ended the night by having a sleepover and watching Harry Potter in the boys' room. They were up later than we were!
The church has a new initiative for Christmas: to light the world with service, in 25 ways for 25 days. We haven't served every day, but we have incorporated a lot of service into our December so far! Here are some of the things we've done: made cards and treats for three church friends, donated food to a food drive, helped a friend with his service project--cleaning trash out of the wash near our house, volunteered at school, made blankets to donate, prayed for others, shared our favorite scriptures, etc. On the day before Reed's baptism, I asked Lila if she wanted to serve by helping me make all the treats and food. She immediately said, "YES!!!" then cheerfully helped--no complaining--for three hours! A few days later, she was cleaning up her spilled blocks and I bent down to help her. She told me, "Mom, you are serving me! That shows me you love me!" It was so sweet. And a note on the treats--Asher chose his friend Landon to take treats to. After we dropped the treats off, Landon's mom texted me and said their kids were just asking about dessert but they didn't have any! Their day was made. Lila chose to give her treats to her nursery teacher, Bro. Cooke. She LOVES him. His wife recently passed away, and it felt really good to do something (no matter how small) for him. He was happy to see her and gave her a big hug. Reed chose to give his treats to his friends Isaac and Sophie. They were visiting a sick friend and got to come home to treats on their doorstep! Serving has been great for our family.
We've bought our tree at Star Nursery for the past few years--ever since we realized there's nowhere close to cut a tree. This year we were planning to go pick up our tree after we spent the morning riding our bikes around Craig Ranch Park--an absolutely gigantic park across town. But, when we went to Star Nursery, we found out that their truck had been delayed and they wouldn't have trees until the next day. Bummer summer. Instead of setting up our tree, though, we got our other decorations out and worked on getting our lights up. We had all forgotten that last year, we bought cute big lights, a blow up Santa, and a light up star on clearance, so those were fun surprises to find in the decoration box! The next day, we went to Star Nursery and picked out our tree. We literally only touched one tree because the first tree we picked out was perfect! We got it set up and gave it a night to "relax." On Sunday afternoon, the kids tested lights for us and Ryan and I wrapped the tree in lights. After that, we all had fun pulling out our ornaments and decorating.
Another fun thing we got on clearance last year was a tree for the boys' room. It's 6 feet but super scrawny--but they love it! They decorated it with most of my Crayola ornaments, our few Star Wars ornaments, and some homemade ornaments. Lila has a tree that fits on her night stand. She had the best time decorating her tiny tree, too! We also put Christmas lights in the kids' windows. Lila keeps telling us that Santa is going to love coming to see her decorations. Our house looks pretty festive!
Our tree. Almost as big as the Bellagio tree ;)
Volunteering at school!
Reed's cards--he made separate cards for Sophie and Isaac
Lila's card for Bro. Cooke
Asher's card for Landon
Helping me make fluff!