Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home for the Holiday, Part II--December Festivities

December was a magical month.  There were so many moments and days that felt magical and charmed.   I love Christmas more and more each year.  And my kids love it more and more each year.  Grace loved helping decorate the Christmas tree, Abby loved playing with all the nativities, and Eliza loved showing everyone our stockings.  And James loved that right around the 1st of December he learned how to sit up all by himself.  That was his gift to me--a tiny bit of independence :)

I told Reid, soon after Thanksgiving, that I had but one wish on my wishlist--that he build me two fires in our poor and underused wood-burning fireplace.  And he did not disappoint.  The first week in December we had some very, very cold days.  And our poor furnace just wasn't cuttin' it.  So he got his axe, chopped up some firewood, and built me the first half of my gift.  The girls thought it was so cool, and I loved sitting on the couch and staring at my tree and my fire and my family.  

Grace and Abby wanted to decorate gingerbread houses, which I thought sounded like a lot of work.  So, instead I told them to invite six friends over for a gingerbread making party! (See how my mind works?  yeah, me niether...)

Actually, I'd been wanting to get to know some of Grace's friends from school, so it worked out well.  We played a few Christmasy games (Santa Says, Pass the Ornament, etc.), ate some candy, and attempted to glue graham cracker pieces together with homemade frosting.  The girls had fun, and it didn't feel like that much more work than it would have been with just my girls alone.  (Is that an indication that I have too many kids??? i think so...)  My favorite (and the most surprising) part of the party was seeing Grace be really kind to both of her younger sisters--even around her "grown-up" friends.  

Abby, our resident ballerina, performed in a Nutcracker recital.  She could not have been any cuter.  She was right on with the music (most of the time) and followed her teacher's instructions (the entire time).  She loves music and loves to dance.  And, thanks to Barbie and the Nutcracker, she already knew all of the songs :)

The Sunday morning before Christmas, I was upstairs trying to get ready for church, yelling who-knows-what at who-knows-who (that's just how Sunday morning go around here. It's a new form of worship) and stressing that we were going to be late to church again and how next Sunday we're going to do this and that differently and yada yada.  When all of a sudden I hear silence from the front room, followed by a series of uncontrollable giggles.  Then Grace calls "Mom, come look what we did for you!"  And this is what I see. 

Here's a close-up
These sweet girls had somehow managed to tune out Mom's grumpiness and arrange themselves in a row, in a sweet effort to brighten my day.  I mean seriously?!?  how cute is that?  Needless to say, I joined them in the laughter, changed my mood, and we were even later to church.  This is just one of so many moments this December that was filled with the joy and happiness that the Season brings with it.  It's a time of year when I have more visible reminders around my house: reminders to teach my kids about giving, sharing, how insanely blessed they are, and how grateful I am for Jesus's birth, life, death and resurrection.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Home for the Holidays, Part 1--Thanksgiving

Do you wanna know why this is "Part 1" of my Home for the Holidays series?!?!?!  It's because for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, that's exactly where we were!!  And with our families!!!!!!!!  I don't know how many exclamation points I'm going to use in these posts, but my guess is--it won't be enough to let you know how much we loved spending the Holidays with family here at home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reid's family came for Thanksgiving.  They arrived on the 22nd--his mom's birthday.  So we celebrated...
 with chocolate "lava cakes"--which ended up more like "lava goo."  Turns out that lava goo is still delicious, and even goo can hold a birthday candle.
I am so grateful for my amazing in-laws.  I know that not many people are lucky enough to marry into a family that they truly enjoy being with.  I did.

They were all here for four days, and it was so wonderful!! We finally got to meet Tom and Jana's little Winnie Lou, who is one month younger than James, and is just as cute as her name!!!  We couldn't get enough pictures of the two of them together.

gotta love the seemingly coordinated blank stares

 James, as usual, just wanted to put his fingers in his mouth.  

 And when we kept taking them out?  He just put them in Winnie's mouth
We were amazed at how long we could just do nothing but stare at these two sweet little babies!!!

We also managed to....
 squeeze in some game-playing

make Grandma's cute little candy turkeys

eat a HUGE and AMAZING Thanksgiving feast (Note to future self:  prior to sprinkling ground pepper on the turkey, securely fasten the lid.  Although should you forget, 1 cup of ground pepper doth not a turkey ruin...surprisingly...)

spend every day home from school loving this little brother

and soak in some snuggles and Vitamin D with Grandpa

I also forced Reid, Tom and Mike to go to my gym with me.  I made the mistake of dragging them to a weight-lifting class, where both Reid and Tom nearly died.  Of both cardiac arrest and humiliation.  Their dad is in great shape and made them look like little school girls.  No, in fact, little school girls probably wouldn't have cried as much as they did.

I got an intense 12 hour sore throat on T-day itself, which was a total bummer.  Turns out swallowing is a pretty major part of the feast.  Thankfully there were leftovers the next day.  And my sore throat did get me out of Black Thursday shopping.

We are so grateful that they made the drive (and do it almost every year!) out here to spend this wonderful holiday with us.  Being with the Allreds is always a good time, and it always leaves us with the "why-don't-we-live-closer-to-family?" feeling.

Thanks for such a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!!