New Family Traditions

As the kids get older we've started thinking about Christmas traditions.  We both have great memories as kids of things we always did growing up... John's family opening PJ's on Christmas Eve and eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  My family having a big fancy dinner and then heading out to a movie.  We figured we should have some Christmas time traditions of our own.

Last year was the first year we loaded up Aaron and headed out on a Christmas light tour.  There is this awesome website that divides the metro up and gives you a tour guide on houses and displays to go see for free.  We had such a great time last year that we went out twice and took Matt and Jenny with us the 2nd time.  With the addition of Eman this year, our car was full with just us!  All of us dressed in warm jammies, we made Aaron some hot chocolate and picked up Dunkin Donuts coffee and donuts while we were out.  We had a blast!  The best one was in Prairie Village in the Shawnee Mission East parking lot.  It was about a 15 min show and both the boys sat on our laps in the front seat playing with jingle bells that we made and cheering at the lights.  We even let Aaron poke his head out the sunroof.  He thought it was great!  At about 9:00 they both finally passed out and we headed home. 

Backing up a little, earlier that day we made a gingerbread house.  Now I know a lot of people make gingerbread houses around this time of year.  We both did when we were little too.  I can remember using milk cartons and graham crackers.  But we, and I really mean I, decided to follow in our friends the Heintzlemans footsteps and make our own from scratch.  I saw all the kits out there that are ready to put together but I thought, "surely it can't be THAT hard right?" Well when  you see our final product you would think it was simple.  That's just because I have an AWESOME hubby who felt so bad at how hard I worked to make the gingerbread that he would NOT let it be a failure!

This is our gingerbread story:
 I started out by finding a gingerbread recipe which I was surprised to learn it is one of the only "hot dough" cookie recipes.  You actually have to make the dough on the stove top much like play dough is made and then work with it while it is still warm.  If you let it cool it is not roll-able.  I made 4 cookie sheets worth.  I cut out patterns from paper to make the walls and roof for the house but my measurements weren't quite exact...  Plus the gingerbread was so hard that I let John cut the pieces - he had to SAW them!  We weren't able to make the notches like I had originally planned which proved to be problematic later on.
 We used a special recipe for the "glue" which was supposed to be stronger than just plain frosting.
 Opps... remember those wrong measurements...
 Meanwhile Aaron helped himself to the decorations. : )
 At this point I swore we would buy a kit next year.  The house completely collapsed from the weight of the gingerbread.
 John to the rescue!!!  He worked hard to put the house back together and patch the roof up which would later be covered with "snow drifts!"  Aaron helped daddy start to put the decorations up.  One for the house, two for his mouth...
 Happy that my house is not a TOTAL disaster and starting to feel like maybe we CAN do this next year.  It was only my first time after all.  Eman doesn't look that thrilled in this pic.  I think he was tired of sitting in his chair and watching Aaron eat the candy while he ate crackers.
 Santa and his reindeer!  John is soooo creative!!
 The finished house.
 Notice all the candy.
Not even a week later...  Someone has been stealing candy! : )  That little house next to it is the milk carton gingerbread house we made with Mom's club.

So Christmas lights and gingerbread houses.  Yes.  I think that sounds like good traditions to have.  I LOVE family time in the Christmas season!