Merry Christmas!  I hope you all spent a great Christmas Day with your friends and/or family.  Clayton and I spent a quiet day at home with Merlin.  We didn't even have a grand Christmas dinner this year, but we did manage to make ourselves some blueberry waffles.  

You can see from our pictures, though, that on December 8th, we had some awesome Christmas fun with our friends.  We went to Mike's Farm again, hoping to pick out our Christmas trees.  When we got there, we were amazed to see how completely busy the place was!  We waited hours to eat dinner, but we had a great time visiting the animals and walking around the grounds.  There were approximately a half dozen trees left to purchase, which didn't really satisfy Clayton and Dan's need to "pick one out," so we didn't buy our trees there.  After dinner, we went on a Christmas light show hay ride.  It was very pretty and fun, although they laid it on pretty thick with the patriotism.  As the ride ended, we all speculated that, perhaps, back when the owners were our age, that would have constituted exactly the right amount of patriotism (or possibly not enough, even), but these days we like to keep Christmas all Christmas-y, and grand displays of patriotism can be saved for other holidays.  You might find that a little sad, but that's just how it is now.  Anyway, as I said, the lights were gorgeous, and there were a lot more than I'd anticipated.  Do check out the photos of that trip in pictures, they're pretty nice, even if they don't quite do the experience justice.

The rest of the month, I have been working, making Christmas presents, and decorating the house.  My presents still haven't made it to their recipients (forgot to keep track of the mailing deadlines- oops!), but when they do, I'll post pictures of what I made.  For now, though, I'll leave some pictures of our decorations and family photo shoot in front of the tree.  At first I tried to take still shots from a video of us in front of the tree for our Christmas card.  Upon review, however, I decided the pictures were too dark and grainy.  I discovered some great timer features on my camera, though, so we gave ourselves plenty of time to sit down, and I had the camera take ten pictures in a row.  That finally yielded some nice pictures of Clayton and I, but it was really hard to get Merlin to look at the camera!

Christmas Eve, we dressed up and attended double church services, which has become an odd little tradition of ours.  Whenever Clayton and I do spend Christmas together (with the exception of last year when we were still moving in), we usually go to each other's respective Christmas services.  This year the Protestant service was first, which was pleasant, even if the female chaplain did completely botch how Advent wreaths work.  She had the kids throw a little party for Jesus, which was super cute.  After that service, we grabbed some beverages (there had been a lot of singing, and our throats were dry!), and then waited for the Catholic service.  Before the Catholic service, the expanded choir sang us carols, and we were encouraged to sing along with some of the songs.   The performance was stunning, if only because the director has an amazing voice himself, but everyone else was great, too.  The Catholic service was actually a whole mass, so we were a bit tired by the end.  The priest is always super cheerful, though, and this time he was especially psyched.  His attitude was generally "Jeepers, guys, I freaking LOVE Christmas!" so that energy really pulled us through.

That night we got into the matching pajamas Clayton's mother sent us (thanks, Mom!) and crashed in the living room, in front of a fireplace on our T.V., right underneath our stockings.  The next morning, we opened our presents (of course!) and enjoyed helping Merlin open his.  It being his first Christmas, he required a bit of assistance.  Needless to say, our puppy loves his new chew toys!  Sometimes, he loves them so much, he forgets to chase our feet around the house for ten whole minutes.  Yesterday and today have just been spent enjoying each other's gifts and company.  Clayton goes back to work tonight, though, and I go back tomorrow.  We have no idea what we're doing yet for New Year's Eve.  I'd like to throw a party, but Clayton make the excellent point that this should have occurred to me more than a week out.  Either we'll go out and party, or stay home and watch movies and play games.  I know those are total opposites, but that's how we roll.   

Christmas with Friends
Christmas at Home
Yay!  We finally have our computers back from the repair shop.  This morning, I finished uploading the pictures from Erin's wedding.  The rest of the day has been spent making Christmas goodies.  Earlier, we wrangled up our puppy and attempted to take some family pictures in front of our tree.  Later, I'll add more albums of our Christmas decorations and Merlin's baby pictures.  Come back soon!
Click here to see Erin & Shaun's wedding pictures.
I was totally uploading LOTS of pictures to the site- everything from Erin's wedding to Merlin's baby pictures- but then Clayton's computer blew up on him, and he decided to take mine to the computer shop as well, since it had some minor hardware issues we'd been waiting to fix (no sound to the speakers, not charging properly).  However, between our two machines, the repair guys seem to have their hands full, so it's taking longer than I'd hoped to get my computer back.

Anyway, hold tight!  When I finally do get my computer back, there will be SO many new pictures to post!  Not only will you see Merlin's baby pictures and my sister getting hitched to her own Prince Charming, but you'll also get to see our house getting decorated for Christmas.  We're planning on getting our Christmas tree this weekend (hopefully that will go well!), so I insisted we go to one of our favorite thrift stores/consignment shops, where we bought a really nice metal tree stand for $1.98.  I plan on decorating the house really adorably, but that doesn't mean I'm handing over our life savings to Walmart.

At any rate, please come back soon.  I promise, I'll have up lots of pictures as soon as I can.