Just chillin'. He's not letting the extreme cold get to him!
And then he did a happy dance when his school's automated system called and announced another day off from school!
My family doesn't mess around. Presents come first.
(But big thank you to my fellow throwdown chef, my sister Ana, for prepping the meal and dipping into the wine before my M-O-M and Larry arrived!)
James is super polite. He hugged and thanked each person after he opened each gift. I didn't even tell him to do that!
Oh no... Is that a regifted Gnome Chia Pet?
Tia Kiki and Tio Berto sent a present for James. It rained money! He was so thrilled! (Jim not so much the next day when he cut each bill out.. Ha!)
Those are $$$ hanging from the umbrella! James was so thrilled!
And then he got a small box full of money from Grandma and Grandpa. Good thing it was clearly labeled "For College!" And a wad from Uncle Rich and Tia ChaCha!
And a super large water gun? This kid wants for nothing!
Apps- cheese and meat plates, keeping with our French theme..
Coq au Vin for dinner. It might look like a mess on a plate but it was divine chicken and mushrooms cooked and soaked in wine!
After dinner we played a board game that Tia ChaCha and Uncle Rich gave to James. It was really fun! A lot of "would you rather..." questions, giving you a choice between two and guessing what the others would say. Also, some cards had some fun challenges, or dares.
James chose one of those cards and he opted to come up with his own challenge rather than what was suggested on the card. He is creative like that. But he had to think for a minute about what exactly he would do...
He chose to be wild and crazy and shout out to the world...!
That's how we roll!!
Merry Christmas to the Koldens and Hulletts! And to the Esteves family- far away but so close to our hearts! Awwwww...
We met Grandpa Roger for breakfast after we opened presents. Linda was sick. I hope she's well by now!
Guess who else was at Carole's Restaurant? Santa! We had to explain that Santa must be taking a break from delivering around the world.
Later, at our house... presents!
James was in charge of buying presents for his family. He chose this "snowman hat" for Grandpa Roger. Roger was a good sport and wore it proudly (:
Grandpa Roger stayed for quite a while and played pretty well with James. They went up to his room for a bit and sounded like they had a great time!
Later, Grandma Laura, Uncle Joe, and Lisa came over for dinner and celebrating Christmas.
James really liked this gift from Grandma Laura...until Uncle Joe tormented all of us with it. It is a microphone that transforms your voice to sound like an amplified elf.
I love the twinkle in his eye! Merry Christmas to the Tauers!
We do Christmas early around here. With so many family members to see we prepare for Santa on Christmas Eve Eve. Jim and James get the milk, cookies, anc carrot ready for Santa and his reindeer.
We're all set for James to wake up. Hopefully not at 3am like last year, and hopefully we're not waking up to the sound of James ripping through any present he can put his hands on (including presents not for him!)
He made it until 6ish. We made him wait for us to come down with him, and we settled in. He's looking at us expectedly- now? Now can I open my presents??
His stocking was ridiculously full. Sometimes I can't help myself when I'm browsing through Target. And then Jim added a few things to the stocking, so he had plenty. Plenty!
A new digital watch! Cool!
A letter from Sneaky saying James can touch and hug him for one minute.
A calendar from Sneaky.
And the big present... A Wii U! It was on his list. Santa makes dreams come true!
And a letter from Santa in the box! It thanked James for being a good boy and it informed him that the Wii U was all set up in the basement! Updated, hooked up to the internet, and ready to go! Santa is a tech wiz!
Yes, there were presents for other people too :)
Dad (Jim) got a pillowcase. Looks plain and white, huh?
No, it was ordered from Etsy! It's a Star Wars pun. Jim loved it! It is perfect for napping in the Man Cave.
There was also a Black Series 6" Sandtrooper. It now sits on Jim's work desk.
James also had a present for us. He carried it home from school and put it under the tree days before Christmas. He kept telling us it was for both of us, "but Dad might like it more".
He read his Christmas card to us, in Spanish.
Our gift was a beautiful penguin ornament! Handmade and now a treasure!
There was just a bit of time after our Christmas Eve presents and before we met Grandpa Roger and Linda for breakfast. James headed down to the basement to try out his new Wii U!
This picture is from later in the week but it shows MY main present from Santa Jim. I received a new Chromebook laptop! But guess who loves it just as much?
Santa was very good to us! And he knows just what we like! Merry Christmas to us!
Jim is always doing nice things for his family. This time he arranged for us to spend some time together in Duluth- to enjoy a little Christmas fun before Christmas.
We checked into the hotel and James made himself right at home!
And Sneaky followed us!
We caught a shuttle from Canal Park to the Bentleyville area- a Christmas wonderland!
We were there slightly early so we stood and waited.
James played on a big pile of snow, because that's what kids do I guess.
And then at 5pm exactly, and after a quick countdown by the Bentleyville staff, the whole place lights up! I don't remember how many thousands or maybe millions of lights make up the entire place, but it was a sight to see.
You walk through several tunnels like this to get to different areas of light arrangements. Most of them were kid friendly- like Thomas, snowmen, or other characters.
We even found an Eiffel Tower in there!
We hurried our way to the Santa area, because we heard that the line gets long.
Yup, the line was pretty long but we waited with the others in a somewhat heated area. I was glad that Jim suggested snow pants and heavy winter gear. I was warm enough except for my toes. I should have doubled up on socks. But once we started walking (and not just standing in lines) I was fine.
And then, finally, Santa!
James made sure to remind Santa of the things he wrote on his Christmas list.
A high-five goodbye!
Each kid received a free Bentleyville hat and a bag of cookies! James has proudly worn his hat since he got it that day.
After we located Santa we were able to explore a bit more leisurely. I wasn't a Mom on a mission and leading her boys to a destination anymore.
James doesn't look too happy here. He just had a fall, slipped on the ice and smacked his head. He was fine. We minimized the crying and he was fine within a few minutes.
Sesame Street was my favorite.
As we were leaving we spied an ice rink. No skates but James wanted to slip around on the ice. I think I was the only one brave enough to risk falling, so on to the ice we went..
We fell a little bit, but mostly because James jumped on me. It was a good time.
It was a late dinner for us. We took the shuttle back to Canal Park and walked from our hotel to Grandma's Saloon. You can't go to a saloon without having some beer! James was curious and took a sniff. "Yuck!" It's what he says about soda too, so we're good!
Thank you Jimmy for always thinking of your family. It was a nice, festive thing to do! We would recommend Bentleyville to any family. It could be a lot of walking, and it can be cold, but it was pretty. I don't think my pictures did the lights any justice!