Oops, I found these photos sitting in my Unposted Blog Post Galleries folder (which sadly is rather massive). These are from December 2016, when a very excited little Emily and very excited slightly bigger Jessica were eagerly counting down the days to Christmas on mom’s mouse moving advent calendar.
Our usual shenanigans of opening Christmas presents up on the evening of the 24th involved supper at our house, all the grandparents (and uncles/aunts who could make it), some wine from Saronsberg, and of course a sneaky plan of distracting the girls by making them take out food for Santa via the back door while we secretly brought in presents through the front.
It was a great success.
On that note, Christmas lunch was at our house for a change as well, meaning that the next day the feasting got even bigger and better. Which is never really a bad thing now is it? ;)
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See, I wasn’t lying when I said said I was looking forward to Christmas 2016.
A full year ago today, I was bound to a couch, my leg locked straight in a brace following a successful operation to repair my ruptured quadriceps tendon. It was a hot summer, everything was sweaty, and I couldn’t do anything other than sit in my chair and watch the world go by.
So despite the successful Santa surprise and gift unwrapping that came with Christmas Eve 2015 (once again we were joined by Ryan and both sets of our parents for the celebration – with Ryan and Dad taking over my role in our yearly Santa at the backdoor while the presents sneak in through the front orchestration), thanks to my rather depressing physical predicament, I didn’t exactly enjoy it to the fullest 100%.
Similarly, I didn’t fully get to enjoy the delightful Christmas 2015 lunch that we shared with Cheryl and Monty at the Holmes’ place in Cape Town either – all thanks to that blasted lack of mobility which had me feeling properly depressed for probably the first time in my life ever!
However, fast forward a year and things couldn’t be more different. I’ve enjoyed a fantastic year (no seriously, 2016 has been great), everyone is fit and healthy during the holidays thus far, and the girls have been an absolute joy during this first week of my nearly 3 week long vacation.
I finished wrapping all the presents at 01:00 last night (talk about leaving it to the last minute), with them now safely tucked away in Chantelle’s car boot, ready for their surprise appearance this evening.
In a couple of hours my mom and dad, Chantelle’s folks and Ryan will all arrive, Chantelle will get back from work, and we’ll sit down and enjoy a decadent homemade meal together. Then the girls will set out their banana muffins and milk for Father Christmas (hopefully they’ll still be awake – though I’ll be surprised if those super excited two aren’t!), before being led outside to spot a mysteriously vanished Santa in the sky whilst Christmas presents are magically spirited under the tree through the front.
Even better, tomorrow, we’ll do it all over again (well, not the Santa bit), when Robert and Tarryn join Monty and Cheryl at our place for an even bigger and more decadent Christmas 2015 lunch.
So yes, I’m very much looking forward to this Christmas 2016 now. After all, it’s already 100% more exciting than what last year’s edition was! ;)
Although I’ve mentioned the 2013 Christmas Eve celebrations on this blog before, I’ve never actually shown anything from the day (basically because I took a year off blogging this year – no seriously, check the archives), something which I’ll now rectify by posting all of these great photos my Dad took with his proper full-blown camera (i.e. not a camera phone) on the night. (Don’t ask me about the camera, I know nothing about that field).
As previously mentioned, the feed Father Christmas in exchange for gifts routine didn’t go off perfectly thanks to Jessica’s negative reaction to having someone (I cannot tell a lie, it was I!) eat off her plate which was left at the back door, though, as expected, all was quickly right with the world when the present opening finally started. Lots and lots of little gifts were the order of the night, though for a 3 year old the night was perhaps just that little too long in the end…
As for Chantelle, well she probably wanted this evening to end a lot sooner than what it did – after all, little Emily was little more two weeks away from arriving into this world! :)
With the incredibly enjoyable Christmas Eve present unwrapping event done and dusted, it was on to the main event, Christmas Day itself. This year we opted to join Monty (now a pensioner, so guaranteed to be home every Christmas from here on out), Cheryl, and their brand spanking new kitchen for Christmas lunch at the Montgomery Clan Stronghold, which was a particularly good choice given the fact that all parties attending were to bring some sort of mains – in other words, a LOT of varied food would be on offer! :)
Robert, Peter and Gail joined us for the day, and what followed was a fantastic day of lots of talking, laughing, Christmas crackers, Christmas hats, drinking and of course eating (gammon, lamb, sirloin, pork neck, etc), not to mention the sheer delight that Jessica exuded after learning that there were in fact, lying under Oupa and Ouma’s Christmas Tree, still a few more presents which HAD to be opened.
Oh, and Chantelle capped off a marvellous day with some ice cream and her world famous baked cheesecake (topped with cream and raspberries) for dessert!
All in all, a Christmas day well spent I (and my stomach) would have to say…
As children we used to open up our presents on Christmas Eve. Or at least, I seem to recall that we did, which is why I continue the tradition with my kids. Last year didn’t go so well, as Jessica was still a little too young, meaning that the whole “Santa ate my cookies and drank my milk off from my plate” routine had her in tears, not to mention the sheer volume of gifts simply overwhelmed her, leading to a tired and grumpy daughter not having the best of Christmas Eves.
However, I’m delighted to report that this year was a spectacular success!
With Chantelle working a late shift, it was up to me to handle the evening, and as such I found myself hitting Pick ‘n Pay on the 24th to gather all the necessary supplies for my finger foods evening.
Of course, this was just plain stupid, and I took forever to get out of there! See?
Of course, I did eventually make it out, and with Jessica lending a helping hand (at times), I set about preparing all of the food, which pretty much alternated between slicing things, baking things, and arranging things (so, so many sandwiches were made).
Thankfully, during this rather lengthy process the kids were as good as gold, entertaining themselves in the hope that Dad would soon finish up and come over to play with them! Again, see?
As for the guests, it was a family affair, with Mom, Dad, Ryan, Cheryl, Monty, and Robert all joining us on the night. The kids had magically all had a nap (in fact Jessica remained asleep in the tub chair for at least the first 30 minutes of Mom and Dad’s arrival!), meaning that there was to be no grumpiness from their side on the night.
Eventually all the guests had arrived, the presents sorted and secreted away (without any of the girls, i.e. Jessica, spotting us), and the kids wide awake and bathed, meaning that at last I could break out the food which much to my delight, proved to be a hit. After lots of chatting and nibbling (on the food), Chantelle eventually joined us following her shift at Gordon’s Beach Lodge, and at last, “Operation Father Christmas at the Backdoor” (not the name of a porno) finally kicked into action.
The plan was simple. Mommy and Jessica puts a plate of cookies and a glass of milk outside the back door, whilst Daddy secretly waits alongside the house. When Daddy hears the door close, he silently approaches the door and devours both the cookies and the milk. That is followed by a hard knocking on the door, before sprinting (hah, whom I kidding, a gentle but frantic shuffle) back along the side of the house and in through the front sliding door, just in time to help Ryan distribute Jessica’s presents into her little pink and white playhouse, and the rest under the tree in the lounge. Of course, the knock on the back door elicits a shriek of delight from Jessica, who is then taken outside by Mommy in order to investigate. The investigation takes a super excited Jessica all around the house, desperately scanning for Father Christmas so that she may catch him. A fortuitous plane flying overhead gives us the twinkly lights that we need in order to explain that Father Christmas is already up and away, going on to the next child’s house. At this point, Jessica is prompted to look in her playhouse, where on sight of the bag full of presents, she literally jumps up and down, flapping her arms wildly whilst she shrieks in sheer delight. (Fact. It’s incredibly joyous to behold). Everyone shuffles back into the house, where Jessica then spots all the other presents under the Christmas tree, again completely unable (and rightfully so) to suppress her sheer delight.
Most amazingly of all, this year all of the above did actually play out exactly as planned. Translation… it was awesome!
What followed was a fantastic evening of present unwrapping, laughs of delight, and just a genuinely enjoyable time, which I really, REALLY enjoyed. (Though perhaps not quite as much as Jessica, who was over the moon with her bag full of presents, including Duplo Lego, Frozen dolls, and lots and lots of My Little Pony figurines and playsets!)
In summary, kids make Christmas magical, don’t they? :)
A bit better late than never, but at long last the advent calendar has gone up (Jessica loves moving the mouse along to the next pocket as part of her bedroom routine), and the Christmas tree too stands tall (…ish – it’s a pretty tiny tree).
This year I let Jessica decorate the tree which she was immensely excited about, though she had to do it from the safety of the tub chair because of course Emily was more than just a little curious as to what was going on. (Needless to say, once Jessica was down for the night, some quick rearranging meant that the tree could now stand straight, the balls and tinsel a little more uniformly spread!)
Jessica is now of the age where she enjoys receiving and tearing open presents, meaning that I’m quite looking forward to the evening of the 24th, when the Lötter family traditionally opens the presents. As it is, my folks will be joining us and it should be a fun evening, especially with the whole feed Santa, look for him out back, return to find presents under the tree routine I have worked out for Jess! (Plus, the loads of My Little Pony toys that Chantelle and I got her should help as well)
(For the record, last year the presents reveal plan backfired a little when Jess broke down in tears after discovering that Santa Claus had drunk all the cooldrink and eaten the biscuits off her plate that she had put down at the back of the house for him. The concept of sharing/giving hadn’t quite taken hold with her yet!)
Anyway, as for Christmas lunch, this year we’ll unfortunately skip Christmas lunch with my sister and the rest of my family in favour of spending lunch with the Montgomery clan, which will include Gail and Peter Holmes on the guest list – in other words it should be a blast! I’m already licking my lips at the thought of all the foods that will be on the table, not to mention the dessert that Chantelle will be whipping up!
So yeah, Christmas 2014 is now almost in full swing! :)
So I’m hurtling towards the end of my year-end vacation time (ugh, work starts on Monday again), and overall December and Christmas holiday 2012 has been quite the relaxing and enjoyable time, so I thought I’d better highlight some of it just for reference’s sake.
Other than the passing of Chantelle’s grandfather early December, the period has been an entirely positive one, and it all kicked off with the awesome birthday party celebrating Zandea’s 3rd birthday. Dean and Zania went all out, and I must admit to feeling a tinge of pride when Jessica was the only little one not to run away crying at the appearance of Dean in his traditional Father Christmas suit!
With most of Chantelle’s time being taken up by all the baking for her Sacred Ground Franschhoek deli contract, Jessica and I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time together, spending plenty of time at the beach and in the sea, wandering about the mall or any plastics shop that I could find, or visiting with the grandparents in Bellville, always packing in the swimsuits for just in case! (I even bought an electric pump and gazeebo to make the outside swims for little Jess in her inflatable pool more fun).
We pulled off a brilliant night market at Hathersage Farm to end off the market season, where we were lucky enough to be joined by both sets of parents, making it a proper family night out on what turned out to be a glorious summer’s evening with the most incredible vibe.
We had a stunning picnic at the Helderberg nature reserve with Ryan, Evan, Natasha and little Evalynne (plenty of frisbee was thrown that day), and we entertained Wayne and Candice, first at our place (or more specifically, breakfast at Sunset Spur in Gordon’s Bay), followed by a return visit to Hermanus. (This was particularly awesome because we hadn’t seen Wayne in two years, basically since they moved up to Potchefstroom!). We played host to Retha, enjoyed a rare date night which saw Chantelle and I dine at the fabulous Casa in Willowbridge, followed up by the excellent Skyfall James Bond movie.
In addition to all of that, I played a disastrous, but hugely entertaining, round of golf with Dad, Ryan and Jaco at Bellville Golf Course (thanks lastminutegolf.co.za), and although our New Year’s celebrations fell a little flat (fallen through plans and a frozen bottle of champagne), our Christmas 2012 was pretty damn awesome that to the brilliant Christmas day family get together that Claire and Riley organised.
I’ve been playing Gears of War 2 and FIFA 13 with Ryan at night, and even found myself helping out on a cake one evening, though the only true constant that played itself out each and every night was of course the big clean-up after a day of Jess running around the house! :)
So yeah, despite not going away or being particularly productive in my two and half week long, well deserved break from work, I still managed to make a good thing out of Christmas Vacation 2012 I reckon.
Claire and Riley played host for this year’s big family Christmas get together, and as luck would have it we were blessed with the perfect weather to really enjoy and make the most of a really great day. The venue was awesome, the lunch spectacular, the swim refreshing, and of course, the present opening and Secret Santa shenanigans loads of fun!
And in case you were wondering who all was in attendance, let’s just say that the Carpenter clan, the Montgomery group, and the Lotter horde all made a good showing! :)
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I’ll start off by saying that this was probably the most unfestive Christmas season ever. Neither Chantelle nor I could get into the Christmas spirit, and despite having no excuse whatsoever (unlike last year where Jessie in the NICU was a good excuse to be preoccupied), our house was devoid of anything Christmas related whatsoever!
The lead up to Christmas Day was actually pretty productive, in that Jessica was shipped out to Oupa Monty and Ouma Cheryl who had asked for her to stay over a couple of days, freeing me up to get cracking on the multitude of projects that have been piling up in front of me. The fact that Chantelle was also working over this period meant that I could work uninterrupted, so I made the most of the time available to me (seriously, this is not much of a vacation at the moment – if I’m not looking after Jessie, then I’m working! Bloody workaholic I tell you…).
Anyway, Christmas Eve was a loss, with no Jessie and no wifey, I pretty much wiled it away behind the keyboard, stopping for breaks with a bit of X-Men and Wolverine anime for company. On her late return, wifey and I did exchange presents though, with her surprising me with an awesome package containing t-shirts, lindt chocolate, slip slops and the latest hardcover Terry Pratchett, Snuff. This kind of make it extra sucky when she opened up my gift to her, loving the Annique massage voucher contained inside, but a little sad that the electronic kitchen scale I had gotten for her failed to work out of the box! Oh well, back to Game it goes, especially now that I’ve found an even cooler one for her over at Yuppie Chef! :)
Christmas Day itself was all hands on deck (well mine actually as Chantelle was on duty, and would only be coming home for her lunch time split). This meant getting all the prep done for the big Christmas lunch we were hosting, featuring an array of beef fillet, roast chicken, potatoes, butternut fritters, spicy cheese bread, spanspek and baby peas. Pudding was left in the capable hands of Cheryl, so I didn’t have to worry about that for once.
Chantelle arrived home just in time to finish up the cooking for me, just before the Montgomery Clan pulled in, and I have to say, I was absolutely thrilled to have my little nibble monster back. Seriously, it was like she had grown at least 20 centimetres since I’d seen her last! :P
Presents were exchanged, the wine and champagne cracked open, and soon everyone was in a pretty festive mood as we got the final preparations for lunch in place, cranked the air conditioner and fan up to full, sat down, said a toast, broke open the Christmas crackers and then tucked in to what really was an excellent Christmas lunch!
The overwhelming heat of the day and the richness of the food in our bellies meant a bit of a wait until pudding, but pudding we did eventually have, before Chantelle had to up and return to work, followed by the Montgomery Clan shortly after.
In other words, another successful, warm Summer’s Christmas Celebrations officially over! :)
(The photo gallery of the lunch can be viewed here)