The weeks leading up to Christmas were busy but wonderful as always. That time of year makes my heart so happy, and experiencing it through the eyes of your kids makes it even more magical.
We continued the Advent calendar tradition, and Ava was so excited to read the card every morning. We had to make some last-minute activity swaps due to weather and/or crazy schedules but managed to complete most of them.
We kicked off the season by picking out the perfect tree.
Then we split the decorating into two phases. First: the lights.
Channeling Joyce Byers ;).
The next night we opened Christmas jammies (from Hanna Andersson) and trimmed the tree.
When I saw this sweet, cross-eyed angel at the store, it was clear she must adorn the top of the Shepherd family tree. Wouldn't want her to end up on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Other activities included....
Writing letters to Santa.
Decorating little trees in the kids' rooms.
Visiting the Trains at Northpark.
And watching The Grinch.
Speaking of The Grinch, this is how you say his name in Spanish...at least according to Ava.
We also read a bunch of Christmas books, including a sweet new one.
Ava made a beautiful gingerbread house for a good cause at Cookies & Castles.
We had a couple other movie nights, including a viewing of the old-school Rudolph that was made even better by this Target dollar-spot find!
The kids also enjoyed hot chocolate and hot apple cider for two of the activities. (I love the Louie and Stella photobomb.)
And they also made sweet cards for their teachers.
For the second year in a row, we took a carriage ride to see the lights in Highland Park. Of course, the night we booked happened to coincide with the first extreme cold front of the season, but we bundled up as much as possible and braved the freezing temperatures.
It was cooooold. But still a lot of fun.
Of course we had to include taking pictures with Santa as one of the activities. After reading a neighborhood Facebook post, we opted to visit the Santa at Half Price Books on Northwest Highway, and I'm so glad we did. The line wasn't bad, Josh and I enjoyed delicious coffee while we waited, the kids each got to pick out a free book, you were allowed to take pictures with your own camera, and the Santa was amazing! They are also pet-friendly if you want to include fur-babies in the photos. We will definitely be back next year.
We made snowmen pizza again this year, which was kind of a disaster. The snowmen definitely weren't the only thing that melted down during our pizza-making adventure.
And, finally, we baked and decorated cookies for Santa. I'm pretty sure we are still cleaning up the sprinkles.