So after our action packed day of fun in London on the 23rd, Christmas Eve was a much more chilled affair! We had a lazy morning, and then a chilly walk around a lake and nature reserve near where we were staying in Bedford with Byron's dad and brothers.
We found this awesome swing...
and Ella loved getting a push from Uncle Ja!
If only they had fun swings like this near where we live!
She also played train driver...
and we couldn't leave without a pic by the totem pole! to relive memories of our fave place, Vancouver!
I spent most of the evening whipping up this Chocolate Orange Brownie Trifle for our Christmas Day dessert!
Layer upon layer of brownie chunks...and chocolate orange...and milk chocolate orange mousse...and white chocolate orange mousse...and more chocolate orange...and more brownie! Yeah it was a bit of a beast! with a lot of cream to finish it off!
Before I knew it, Ella's bath time and bedtime had snuck around and we hadn't even done any of the preparations for Santa yet! So, we wrapped her up in a blanket once out of the bath and brought her downstairs to do them all. I was a bit apprehensive because generally on any normal night once out the bath she becomes grumpy pretty quick as she is just ready for her cot already! but to my surprise she was all smiles and seemed to know something exciting was about to happen!!
We read 'The Night Before Christmas' together, it was the copy she had been given by Santa himself when she'd visited a few days before!
We also got the 'magical' reindeer food we had made up at our grotto visit, and took it outside to sprinkle it in front of the house so Santa knew just where to land his reindeer!
Then it was time to leave out the 'Santa key'! My lovely friend in Scotland Eilidh made this for Ella. Since we didn't have a chimney for Santa to come down, you leave the key outside your front door and he uses it to just let himself in!
Ella was loving the whole thing!
All ready for Santa to pick up!
Finally it was time to hang up the beautiful stocking that my school friend Alice made for us.
Isn't it amazing! Again, since there was no mantlepiece we had to make do with hanging it on this drawer! and then it was time for little Ella to go to sleep and to dream of sugarplums and Rudolph and Elves filling up Santa's sleigh!
When Christmas morning rolled around, we ran downstairs to see if Santa had been! Yes he had!
We had some time just the three of us before the rest of the house woke up!
Of course, Ella already had the best present of all! Meowy the cat! He was definitely her favourite thing about staying at Byron's Mom's house!!
Getting festive with Daddy during breakfast!
and then the rest of the presents arrived, and as everyone else woke up it was time to open them!
Look at her little face! She clearly knew something good was about to happen!
Prezzies overtaking the house!
Ella's 'main' prezzie from Santa was this Chimpanzee puppet which she thought was the best thing ever, she gave him a great big hug when she got him out of the wrapper! it was too cute!
She also got her first 'pet'! A hamster in a ball! which she loved chasing around - sadly when we got it out the ball at a later date it chased her around my parents house and now she's petrified of the thing! but on Christmas day she was still a fan!
She got these lovely animal letters spelling her name all the way from Tanzania thanks to her Granny!
and her whole stocking consisted of little Hello Kitty musical instruments - she has enough to start a band now! and she's super musical so she was loving them!
The trumpet is a fave instrument of hers! she can't operate it herself but loves it when we play it for her!
She needs to learn what way up to hold her drumsticks, otherwise she did pretty good beating out a little rhythm!
and cymbals and maracas were clearly too exciting!!
Daddy tested out his new prezzie - by trying it out for size with Ella inside!
and Ella also got this DJ table from her uncles! We'll see if she's got the Braithwaite gene for mixing!
Our stepsister Ashleigh sent us lots of yummy goodies from Canada like mint m&m's - I was excited!
As were Ja and Cam, we love goodies from the other side of the pond!
Ella loved her snowman story book from our other stepsister Jen and her husband Rob.
Once they arrived, it was time for more present opening!
Smiles all round!
Ella got to pull her first cracker! and wear her first cracker hat!
We had a delicious feast prepared by Kathy with some of the yummiest stuffing ever!
and Ella had her first taste of pigs in blankets and all the trimmings!
She relaxed with Grandad at the table while we let the food go down, and then we went on a nice after lunch walk!
We tested out our new backpack for real and Ella was loving it! and keeping nice and cosy in her new booties from Granny and her gloves from Grandad!
This was the only picture I got of the three of us on the day...our first Christmas as a little family!
It was a great one! and Ella loved every minute of the exciting day...and we loved watching her enjoy it all! It was also nice to all be together as the Braithwaite extended family on Christmas day - someone's always been in a different country at all the other times!
I didn't get one of her in her Christmas get up so here she is just before bed time...all partied out and ready to do the whole Christmas thing again the very next day as we travelled to my parents!
Ella will come to learn that multiple Christmas' are always a good thing!