I wanted to post a few pictures of the happy activities that we did during our Christmas week.

One thing that we did for the first time this year was to ride on the Santa Train. My friend had been telling me about it for the past couple of years and this year I got us some tickets. Basically, it's about a 15 minute ride on some old (ancient, really) train cars to see the big man. There were decorations hung down the cars and the kids were so excited to be on a "real" train. Our pals, Tori and Cooper, joined us for the fun adventure. (Really, Tori saved our bacon by hauling bags and kids along with her own sweet boy.)

First, we got there early and hung on the trees for a while. Certain young boys started fencing with branches which had to be halted. No need to poke an eye out on the big day.

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The conductor was a riot. He led some singing and gave some interesting facts as we rode along.

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Of course, I forgot my flash when we went to see Santa and that room was absolutely DARK. So take my word for it. We had a short visit, during which the boys listed off for Santa a whole host of toys that we had no idea that they wanted.

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Cookies and hot chocolate. Yay!

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On the way back, we had one cranky baby who howled along when Santa himself walked into our traincar and sat with us to sing a song or two. Good times.

I have a load of Christmas books and have loved seeing the kids paging through them. Just the cozy things like movies, hot chocolate and reading together in December have been so fun!

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One of the highlights of the Kasteel Christmas each year is croquette night! This is the recipe that both my Oma and my Nana used and Ruby and I make up a quadruple batch each year. We both have a meal and then my parents and Kelly and Dano get to cart a box of frozen croquettes home with them. Pork roast minced, rolled in a creamy roux, breaded and deep fried and served with mustard. Lekker! It's a Dutch treat indeed. When my family came down for our early Christmas, my mum was sent to the garage to be the deep fryer. I think we cooked about 60 and there were two left over. They're that good!

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The next day, we went to Hyak Snow Park to go sledding with the whole gang. It was just hovering at freezing and was perfect for us to be out. It was so fun to see the crazies go flying down on the sleds and to have races too.

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Thanks to the nice lady who took our group shot!

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Christmas Dinner

Theo was ready to eat, donned in his Christmas sweater vest!

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Have no fear, Quinny was not folding her hands and drinking champagne. It was sparkling cider.

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Apparently, nothing else on my table appealed to her as she started sucking on her tights.

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Kelly, Dano and Quinny pushed and shoved all their goodies into their car and headed back north for Christmas with Dano's family.

We got to head to church on the 24th for a beautiful Christmas Ever service to celebrate Jesus. How grateful we are that He came to earth!

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We got to keep Oma and Opa through the 25th. We started out the day in our pajamas. Auntie Meghan sent the coolest set of family pajamas ever! Thanks, Auntie. We actually all wore them all day. It was one relaxed Christmas day.

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One more bit of news. On my Cassandra Hamilton Photography facebook page I will be having a "2011 Picture of the Year" contest, starting Sunday. I am taking a whackload of my favorites from this year for you to vote on. Prizes will be fun. I've decided to do a first, second, and third prize including session credit for 2012 and canvases (plural :) ). I'd love for there to be a few winners as my way of saying THANK YOU to the people who have given me the blessing of photographing you and the ones you love this year.

Thank you for all your support and love for our family. I feel immeasurably thankful.

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