Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011

Paul, Clara and I flew in to the SLC airport at 1:00 a.m. on December 24th.  The 23rd was hectic and crazy for me at work but Paul had the day off so he stayed home with Clara and got the car loaded and the house cleaned so we could leave right at 5:30 when I got home.  Our flight from Oakland was delayed so Clara just stayed awake and played and when an announcement came over the loudspeaker that Santa was at Gate 22 taking pictures with kids for free I told Paul to stay with our things and I hustled over with Clara and had our photo taken.  Clara kept trying to squirm off this Santa's lap and wasn't exactly being the most cooperative little gal (it was 9:00 p.m. and way past her bedtime by this point so you can't exactly blame her) but as soon as I got in the picture with her and Santa, she flashed her grin and we had our shot. 

We spent Christmas Eve wrapping presents at my parents' house and playing with the kids.  Emma and Lily, Clara's cousins, are so darling and so much fun and we had fun holding them and watching Emma run around.  Clara decided she is a big fan of our family dog, Sally, and squealed and chased her whenever Sally was nearby.  Sally is 15 years old and completely deaf and doesn't particularly want anything to do with kids so she would just look annoyed and walk away anytime Clara got close. 

My mom ordered pizza for dinner and my aunts, uncle, and grandparents came over to visit, eat, and watch us open our traditional Christmas Eve present from my mom - new pajamas.  Clara wasn't as interested in pajamas as she was with the little musical LeapFrog table that is the perfect size for her to practice standing.  She loves that thing and stood and bounced and danced all night long, entranced by the colors, the music (banjo appears to be her favorite instrument as she dances the most energetically whenever she hears those twangy sounds), and the flashing lights.

Lily is 4 months old and weighs 15 pounds.  Clara is three months older than her but only weighs 2 pounds more.  Little Lily is darling and smiley and very responsive when she is being talked to.  I loved holding her and smelling her fresh, sweet scent. 

Emma was so good with Clara and kept giving her kisses and playing with her.  I think that Clara loved being able to stand up with Emma to the little table or the tin of caramel corn that somebody brought to share.  Emma and Clara were given matching pink pajamas with Christmas stockings all over them and they looked so darling together.

We tried to get a shot of the three cousins but it didn't work out so well.  Clara was distracted by the ribbons on presents most of the time, Emma didn't quite grasp the concept of holding Lily in a sitting position and even pushed her over one time (Lily didn't fall - she got stuck bent in half because her stomach is so round that it prevented her from actually toppling - but it made her mad), and we didn't get a single shot of the three of them looking at the camera at the same time.  They still look so sweet together though and it was so fun having these three girls around for Christmas, especially since last year it was just Emma and she had just barely turned 1.  This year, Emma is a big, potty-trained 2 year old who entertained us all with her very own mash-up of "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells," and the "Hello Song" from primary. 

Paul and I got new pajamas too, so we took a family pajama photo.  It may not be the most flattering shot of any of us, but hey, it's Christmas so who cares, right?

The next morning my dad spoke at church and he did an amazing job.  I still want to get a copy of his talk from my parents' computer before we head back to California.  I actually love when Christmas falls on a Sunday and we can start the day off by getting dressed up, singing the sacred Christmas hymns, and remembering our Savior's birth before getting into the frenzy of present-opening.  My grandparents and aunts came to church with us and then we all opened presents in my presents basement where the entertainment room is since that has the best space for 16 of us.  My grandpa wears his Santa hat every year on Christmas and I love this photo of Grandpa and Grandma Johnson together.  My grandma has had a difficult year and struggles to remember a lot of things (she probably asked me 15 times how old Clara is, but at least this visit she didn't keep asking me whose baby she was like last time).

After church, we ate a big breakfast of biscuits, macaroni & eggs (my favorite breakfast food), and bacon.  Then while we were waiting for everyone to finish and change and get ready to open presents, Clara played with the LeapFrog table some more.

The presents were laid out in all their glory and were a beautiful sight before the carnage began.  It looks like a lot, but there were 16 of us after all.  Every year on Christmas Eve my dad looks at the piles of wrapped gifts and exclaims to the room in general, "This isn't nearly enough presents!"  He is usually only sort of joking.

Paul and I had already let Clara play with her presents from us back in California so that we had a few less things to pack back with us on our return flight.  We gave her a little piano, a knot toy with lots of mirrors and squeakers and interesting things to chew, and an elephant that I sewed for her.  My parents played Santa though and set up a pile of unwrapped toys for her to discover on Christmas morning, including her very own Learn & Groove LeapFrog table like the one that she obsessed over on Christmas Eve.  She also got books, a puzzle, a beach towel, a spinning highchair toy that suctions onto her tray, and some blocks.

All the girls (minus Lily who was sleeping) waited together at the top of the stairs before going down to see what Santa brought.  Emma said that night before that she didn't want Santa to come to our house but once morning rolled around and we told her that there were presents there for her from him, she seemed curious about it but didn't totally understand yet.  Clara looked pretty excited about the idea of presents though.  (Or maybe she was just smiling for her daddy who was taking our pictures.)

At first, Clarabelle wasn't quite sure what to think of all the packages and toys that were covering the floor of the room.  But she eventually got into it with mommy's help and started playing with her new things.

After about 15 minutes of watching Clara and Emma enjoy their things from Santa, we started pulling out the wrapped gifts and distributing them to the intended recipients.  Clara was in heaven crawling through the maze of brightly wrapped boxes and sucking at any ribbons she could get her grasping little fingers on.

Just before we came to Utah (like maybe December 22nd-ish) Clara discovered that she could pull herself up into a standing position by grabbing onto stable objects and pushing off her knees.  Presents stacked two or three high made the perfect platform for her to get to her feet and she was showing off all morning for Grandma Cici and Grandpa Russ.

Some people are dainty gift-unwrappers who delicately slide their fingers through taped seams and unfold the paper in a refined manner, but I am more of the tear-it-open-with-reckless-abandon types.  We are teaching Clara to be the same way, and so far she does a pretty good job of grabbing onto a scrap of paper and holding it while we twist the box until the present is uncovered.

Clara received beautiful books from her Aunt Jennie's family, a toy lantern from her Uncle Ryan, and a stuffed giraffe from her Aunt Jessica.  Clarabelle also receive many cute clothes from her grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-aunts.  One of our favorite outfits that she received is a puffy blue coat with snowflakes on it along with matching leggings, a shirt, and a creamy knit beret.

I am not sure how I only ended up with one photo of Emma on Christmas morning.  I think it is because she got focused on one gift and then didn't want to open any others and then maybe she went down for a nap or something at some point.  But I am sure that Jennie will post lots of photos of Emma and Lily on her blog soon.

The best moment of the day though was when my dad had each of the boys (Paul, Ryan, and Ry) open matching gifts of Nerf missile guns.  As they struggled to pull their guns out and load up to be the first one to shoot the others, my dad snuck out of the room and walked back in with a gun twice the size of any of theirs, already primed and loaded, and unleashed a rain of foam darts on the boys.  I think my dad's smile is the best and says it all about how much fun we have at Christmas time in my family.

After all the gifts were given and received, Paul, Clara and I rushed off to the airport to pick up Kayli, who was flying in from Texas.  We were almost late getting there since her plane landed early, but after dashing through the parking lot, we got to baggage with about a minute to catch our breath before she walked down the corridor.  It was wonderful to be with her again and we had fun catching up while waiting for her bags and then while we drove down to Alpine for Christmas dinner with Paul's family.

At Paul's parents' house, we played with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents.  Paul's brother John had just returned from study abroad in Jordan two days before and had just met his one month old son who was born while John was gone.  We had a nice dinner and then took a family photo outside in the freezing cold, even though none of us had dressed up for the photos, since Paul's older brother Bobby wouldn't be around for the rest of the week and we wouldn't have everyone together again.

Kayli fed Clara her dinner before it was time to start unwrapping presents from the Nash side of our family.  It was so nice having everyone around - seeing the four brothers with their small children who crawl and toddle all over the place.

Once the kids were in their jammies, they had fun playing with the new toys that had been received.  Clara especially liked a ball that lit up and shook and she chased it around on the floor in fascination for a while as her dad and uncles looked on.  The raptor puppet that Paul and I gave Paul's dad was a big hit too.

Just before Paul and I left with Clara and Kayli to head back north, we took a quick photo with each of the boys with their kids (except Bobby's Elizabeth who wouldn't join the picture) and then one of each of the wives with the kids.

Meet Vaughn - the youngest and newest addition to the Nash family. 

It was another beautiful Christmas and so different from last Christmas when Jessica was on her mission and Clara, Lily, and Vaughn were still making their way to our families.  We feel so blessed to have each other and to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, with those we love. 


  1. I'm glad you had a wonderful Christmas! I'm excited to meet all of you tomorrow!

  2. this was the best Christmas I've ever had!


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