Saturday, December 25, 2010

Darby Christmas Card 2010

For some reason, I just love Christmas cards! There is something wonderful about opening all of them in the midst of bills and hectic holidays - they just make me happy. Here is our 2010 Christmas card:
Front (click on photos to enlarge)


A special thank you to Rachel Kirkland for the incredible photography and to Erica Wink for helping me put together such a memorable card. It's one of my favorites. I hope they get better every year but this one will be hard to top!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Darby Christmas 2010

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

It was a very Merry Christmas here at the Darby casa. We had the honor of hosting Christmas Eve in our home and I loved every minute of it! We don't get the chance to bring the entire Cottier side of the family together often, so when we do get together, we make it special.

First, I'd love to thank my family for making the hike to Fellowship Church. Nathan had the privilege of singing in the candlelight Christmas Eve service. It was incredible. Our church is amazing and it was special watching him on stage. All of our kids were in the sanctuary and got to watch Daddy/Uncle Nathan sing. It was a highlight.

After church, we all piled up and headed back to our house for dinner. We had the world famous "Cashew Chicken" and it did not disappoint. My dad has got the magic touch. It was divine. I don't think any plate had a bite of food remaining.

After dinner we got a surprise visit from THE ONE AND ONLY SANTA! That's right...Santa came to our house on his busiest night of the year. Pretty amazing, don't you think? Needless to say the kids were freaking out and squealing and in total shock. Alex was awesome with Santa. She was a gracious hostess and offered him a drink. She asked him so many cute questions such as, "Santa, why is your beard all wet (it was raining at the time)? Why didn't you just come down the chimney? Your belly is bigger in real life than in the pictures, did you know that? Why do you send so many other Santas to the mall to take pictures? Santa, can you really know if I am bad or good ALL the time, or just during Christmas?" Ha! I just love our Alex. She brings life to any party.

Santa was a trooper and stayed while the whole family opened presents. It was so much fun to watch the kids tear through their gifts. We all gave Grandma gifts too (she just moved to a nursing home so it was truly special having her with us). One of my personal highlights of the evening was when Grandma asked Nathan to sing to her. There are many things I treasure about my husband but his voice and musical talent is high on the list. We had 18 family members in our living room area when she asked and we all stopped and listened to his fabulous concert. I love that he is bold with his voice, is unafraid to use it, and I loved watching my Grandmother MELT while he sang to her. We all melted to be honest. It's a precious memory that I will cherish forever.

After presents, we watched the kids play with their gifts (and each other). The adults had a wonderful time catching up. I stopped several times during the night to "take it all in." I hope and pray we will have many more Christmases in our home. This was one of the best yet, I believe.

Here are a ton of pictures from our evening:

Alex greeting Santa

Alex leading the way

She was beaming

You can see that Alex was "all in" for Santa!

Santa loved having Alex & Natalee in his lap

Alex took every opportunity possible to get a Santa hug

Alex opening her "Barbie and a Fairy Tale Fashionista" doll. Her reaction was priceless - she said, "Santa, OH MY GOSH! This is the Barbie I have been wanting all of my entire life! Thank you, this is the best day I've ever had!"

Santa giving Thomas his goodies

YaYa and B.B. hit the jackpot - a princess castle! Nice job.

Alex with her new Barbie she got from Santa

Timothy gives Santa a thumbs up for his iTunes gift card

I love this picture! Even Grandma got some love from Santa. Priceless!

Such a sweet picture. Kelley is 37 weeks pregant and in Santa's lap. She was such a trooper coming all this way.

Santa had room for all the ladies :)
(I had a coat on, I just got hot from running all over the place hosting.)

Love this picture of the Cottier sisters

Natalee Grace with her new baby doll and accessories

Alex was giddy that she got "Tangled" hair...and it got very tangled indeed

She pranced around the house and gave us all quite a show

"Rapunzel" had to get a photo with Santa of course

"Rapunzel" with Aunt Genie

Princess Rapunzel with her fairy dog, Macy

Timothy (a senior in high school) is such a good sport. Macy on one shoulder and a barbie on the other.

Adorable parents feeling the holiday love

After everyone left, Alex wrote notes for Santa and the reindeer (he promised to come back and leave even more presents). I wish you could see the notes she made - they were precious. We love this picture of doesn't get better than this!

Chrismas morning: the kids woke up to find a huge ball pit in the middle of our living room. Santa rocks!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Backyard Camp Out

With Alex out of school for Christmas Break, we have been staying busy and enjoying our time together. We love having her home and I know we will all be sad (Carson included) when she returns to kindergarten come January. YaYa (Alex's grandma) has been taking advantage of her Alex time too! She has been over several times this week and has already had one slumber party with us. While she was here, she announced to the family that she wanted to host a camp out in our backyard. What YaYa wants, YaYa gets - therefore, we had a camp out. We got amazingly lucky - the weather was gorgeous and actually even a bit warm. We were also blessed to get the coolest tent ever from Uncle Stuart. The tent sleeps eight and has a doggy door - seriously!

When Daddy came home from work we told Alex we had a big surprise for her. Daddy was wonderful and went outside and took care of the tent assembly (not a minor feat). Meanwhile, Mom and I had to keep Alex occupied. When the tent was ready, we all took her outside and covered her eyes. When she saw the tent, she squealed with excitement and said, "Oh my goodness! It's a for real camp out in my very own yard. This is the best day ever." And we aren't sure what all was said after that, because she went into freak-out-girl-mode and was yelling so loudly and so quickly that we were cracking up. I do remember her telling us how excited she was to tell really scary ghosts stories, make s'mores, read books, and have the puppies join the slumber she clearly had an agenda in her mind. One of my favorite qualities about my mom is that she is a dreamer...and she makes things happen. So, she made sure Alex had everything she wanted on the agenda. They had a ball! They packed up all kinds of flashlights, snacks, toys and and set up camp. The girls also created quite a puppy resort for the three Yorkies. Emmy, Macy and Baylee loved the tent. It was really more like a house. We brought Carson outside to check things out and little did we know, this was an ingenious idea. He was CONTAINED! Ha! He absolutely loved the tent. He ran around in circles and thought crashing into the pillows was the best game ever. We were laughing and having the best time. I had to stop and try to take it all in - we are in such a sweet spot with our kids. I love our family.

Many thanks to the great and wonderful YaYa for being cool enough to want to camp with a 5 year old, loud-mouth, hyper-diaper, at the end of December. You are crazy...crazy cool! Thanks for the awesome memory! We didn't do great about taking pictures, but I got two at least.

Alex and YaYa first thing in the morning. You can see the puppies in the background too.

Check out this tent -pretty amazing, I think.

Alex cried when we had to take it down. If she had it her way, we would all just live out there together in one little tent. Ahh, the mind of a five year old is so innocent and precious. And totally nuts!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa picture

Every year I take the kids to get their picture taken with Santa. I love looking back on each year to see how much the kids have grown and changed. Last year, Carson was throwing a huge fit in Santa's lap. What a difference a year makes! I am so proud of them both. The line was quite long and they were both patient and well minded.

This year, Alex told Santa, "I need you to come to my kindergarten class. There is a girl in my class that is not very nice to me. She really hurts my feelings and I feel left out. Can you come tell her she isn't getting any presents this year. And I really want the Barbie Fashion Fairytale doll that lights up. I've been wanting it my entire life." Needless to say, Alex never ceases to amaze me. You just never know what she is going to say. I love her so much I can hardly stand it! Carson was just along for the ride, but I was glad he wasn't so traumatized this go around.

Christmas 2010
Alex 5 - Carson 2

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Alex's Christmas Tree

Although our family Christmas tree is looking rough this year, Alex got her very own pink tree for her bedroom. How cool is that? When I was five, I would have loved having my very own pink tree. Alex was incredibly excited to decorate the tree but I haven't had the time to buy any decorations. Alex took matters into her own hands and said, "Mommy, I have just the perfect thing." She ran to her playroom and came back with a princess crown. We both agreed that using her jewelry would be a fabulous idea (and a free idea - wink, wink). We immediately got to work. We used her feather boas as garland and decorated the tree with sunglasses, rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. She had wanted to use the crown for the top of the tree, but of course that didn't fit. Mommy had the idea of adding a Barbie at the top for our crowning jewel. We even put her arms up in the "ta da" position. Hilarious. I have to is awesome! Truthfully, I love it a million times more than if we would have gone to Hallmark and spent a fortune on ornaments. I love that it was an idea that just came together...and came together well. This was a special memory and moment for Mommy. I love having a five year old little girl. Sigh. Here are a few pics of her fabulous pink diva Christmas tree:

Alex was very delicate and deliberate with her decorations
As you can see we loaded this tree up with all sorts of goodies
The Island Princess Barbie tree topper
The pictures just don't do it justice. I wonder how we will decorate it next year? I love you Alex Darby!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Happies

2010 Holiday Happies - special edition. Although the holidays are a hectic time of year, there are many things that bring our family joy. This year has been magical with a five year old and a two year old. Alex believes in every special tradition and story we share with her. When Carson sees a Christmas Tree he yells at the top of his lungs, "teeeeeee." I wish we could freeze them both and keep them at this age forever. I really do mean that. Here are a few fun holiday happies that have made this year particularly special:

Criddle, our "Elf on a Shelf" made his yearly appearance. As you can see, Alex was buttering him up with a note to take back to Santa assuring him that she has been an angel this year and she also made Criddle a cup of water and a snack pack filled with broccoli, mac-n-cheese and cashews.
Jaime and I took Alex and Kaitlyn to the Nutcracker at the Performing Arts Center in Plano. The girls had a blast! They were darling and asked the cutest questions. Alex just didn't understand why they couldn't be up on stage with them. It was such a fun day!

Check out out decorated gingerbread Christmas village. Alex loved decorating it and I think she did a remarkable job. She decorated the middle house completely on her own.

Nathan was awarded daddy of the Year (once again) for helping host Alex's kindergarten Christmas party at school. The kids all adored having him there to help and I know Nathan enjoyed getting to participate. Here is a photo of Alex, Mr. Orr and the rest of her classmates.

These two gorgeous men make me soooo HAPPY! How precious is this pic? Carson's shirt says, "Dear Santa, I can explain..."

And finally, the best holiday happy - our ghetto fabulous Christmas Tree! Check this bad boy out. Can you tell we have a two year old boy running around like a wild man? After losing several of our favorite ornaments last year we decided to walk Carson around the tree with his arms extended to find out exactly how high the ornaments should go. Too funny! I love this phase of our lives. I know that someday we will have a beautiful, perfect Christmas Tree....but to be honest, I like this one just the way it is. It describes our stage of life perfectly - a mess, but a fun mess!