Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas memories

Our Christmas started Tuesday evening at Stinky and Shirley's(aka Ernie's Dad's). Shirley cooked the most fantastic gumbo I have ever tasted. I am not a big fan of gumbo, because I'm not crazy about onions, unless they are cooked to death. But this gumbo was awesome. After supper we opened presents. The kids got tons of nice things. They were pleased! Ernie and I got a rotisserie. I am so excited! I have been crazy about rotisserie chicken ever since Pam brought one over for us right after I had Bella. I am looking forward to trying it out!

Bekah holding Bella, waiting to open presents.

The kids waiting anxiously.

Paw snoozing... the noise doesn't seem to bother him!

Annalee, Hannah and Brad... the first year that the cousins brought boyfriends!

My little man!

Bella didn't know what all of the excitement was about, but she was ready to get started!

Shirley is the best Mammaw God could have chosen for our kids. They love her to death!

Christmas Eve was spent at Willie Mae's(Ernie's grandmother).

Ernie's sweet grandmother Willie Mae

Kinman showing off her new sunglasses, phone and purse.

Bella with her baby.

Annalee leaving reindeer food, so the reindeer know where to stop.

We had Christmas morning at home, then went to my Mom's. We let Bella sleep in while Michael and Annalee opened their gifts. We left some presents under the tree, but did a scavenger hunt for their Nintendo DS and games. That was the new tradition we started this year. My Dad did that for my brother and me with our big gift one year and it was the best Christmas from my childhood. It was such a blast to see them searching for their presents. It made the morning stretch out a little longer. I left a little note on each present that was hidden, telling the kids how important they are to us and how much they are loved. They read the notes before opening the presents, but it was pretty clear that words of affirmation are not their love language! The kids had a blast and said it was their best Christmas ever.

I am looking forward to playing this with the kids!

They found gifts in the pantry, bathroom, living room and our closet!

The gift that has hardly left their side!

My sweet baby!

Giving her baby love

Bella sitting on her new stool.

My Mom and the kids.

It was a difficult Christmas Day. It was the first Christmas without my brother since he was incarcerated. He called while we were over there. We have written each other numerous times, but it was the first time I had heard his voice since April. I know he is where he is supposed to be at this time in his life, but that didn't make it much easier. I miss him terribly. I am praying that he gets his life back together while he is in there this time.

All in all, I would say this probably was the best Christmas ever! The kids were all well. That usually doesn't happen for us at Christmas time! Everyone seemed to be relaxed and really enjoyed each other's company. I could not ask for a better gift. We are extremely blessed to have the family that we have.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday meanderings

As Christmas gets closer, I find myself missing my Dad and that side of my family. Every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I feel like a part of me is missing. I am surrounded by family and friends, but still feel alone. There is so much pressure to find just the right gift for everyone. There seems to be so much anticipation, hoping for just the right gift that will bring you happiness.

We will spend Christmas Eve evening at Ernie's grandmother's old house. She is 89 this year. Every year I wonder if it'll be the last Christmas with her. We will do Christmas with Ernie's Dad and stepMom tomorrow night. The kids are so excited about that one. We love having Christmas with them. I miss staying the night over there on Christmas Eve eve, but Ernie has to work Christmas Eve morning to get Thursday and Friday off, so we decided not to stay this year. Then Christmas Day, we will go to my Mom's for a little while.

Joel preached a great message on the reality of Christmas Sunday morning. I am trying to dwell on some of the things he shared and not get so overwhelmed. I think I'm doing better there than in past years.

I came across this quote today by Alexandra Stoddard. "We can never get it all done, nor should we attempt to do it all. I have learned to leave things undone in order to do other things. . .the important thing is to take time to do what you believe are your top priorities. List them in order; you are in charge of your choices."

How fitting is that for this time of the year? It made me feel great about the things that have been left undone. Maybe those aren't the important things. The important things are being there for my family. The kids had an awkward night at Grandma's last night. Annalee wasn't feeling well and learned a hard lesson about how mean kids can be. She was hurt a little by her grandma, also. There was a lot of talking today and time spent with her to reassure her that she did the right thing and we were proud of her. If I was too busy with other things, I might have missed those lessons that she learned today. I am thankful that we have slowed down this month and have focused on our kids.

We are going to try a couple of new things Christmas Day with the kids. I have an absolute favorite memory of something my Daddy did for my brother and me one Christmas morning. Ernie's Dad actually did the same thing for him with his Easter basket. We are going to incorporate it this year and I am so excited about it! It was my best childhood Christmas memory. I hope the kids are able to say the same thing about this year one day. I cannot reveal what it is, yet, because they will read my blog! I think it is going to be the best Christmas ever! We just need to get Bella well before tomorrow night!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Outreach

Our church had their Christmas outreach today. The kids have been asking for weeks if we were going to go help at the Christmas party. I think they love to give even more than to receive. If not more, it's awfully close! The kids picked out gifts to donate for the outreach. Instead of picking out any old toys, which I probably would have done so I could quickly get out of the store, they both picked toys that they would love to have. It felt so good to see how happy the kids were to be a part of the outreach. They were happy to walk around this neighborhood and knock on doors inviting people for a free fish lunch, a toy for their children and a bag of groceries. The church gave out 200 plates of fish, 175 toys and 75 bags of groceries. It was such a blessing to be a part of this.

Ernie and Jason loading a truck with groceries.

Don, Bookie, Tyler and Tyler knocking on doors, inviting people to the party.

Austin, Tia, Michael and Misty inviting to the party.

Michael, Austin, Annalee and Bekah

Fish fry time!

Cotton candy and popcorn

Basketball time

Bella and Ernie

The kids had a great time!

Santa Ronnie handing out presents.

The line of kids waiting for presents. They were so sweet and so grateful.

The strap on the stroller broke when we got there today! I had to keep a close eye on my little monkey! She kept turning around and I caught her standing in the stroller! I doubt she'll go back in this one!

I was so blessed to be a part of this today. I am so thankful that our church believes in not only supporting missionaries, but also giving back to our community. I believe that it teaches our children to be givers. After church tomorrow the kids will go with Ernie's Mom to shop for kids that are less fortunate than us and go hand them out wherever she sees fit. That activity was started a couple of years ago. It really stretches me. I much prefer doing something in a large group where you can bless more people. The kids absolutely love it, though. They have the sweetest spirits.

We are having such a wonderful Christmas season this year. I usually get very overwhelmed and extremely cranky. We have said no to a lot of extra things this year and have spent more time together as a family. We have baked tons of cookies together, drove around to see Christmas lights and have just relaxed and enjoyed being together as a family. Normally by this time of the year, I'm just ready for it all to be over. Not this year! I wish we had another two weeks left in December to just revel in the holiday spirit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One of my favorite Christmas crafts...

We made a Gingerbread House and Sleigh. Annalee decorated one made out of graham crackers at the homeschool Christmas party. Michael decorated a house and Annalee decorated a sleigh. They both had a great time doing it! I loved watching them and helping them with the icing. It's always fun to watch them decorate things.

A first for Ernie

Ernie tiled our bathroom! Being the indecisive person that I am, we talked about it for a long time before picking out the tile. It took the toilet overflowing and soaking the carpet to make me finally pick out the tile. It took a long time to get it done, but it is beautiful! Ernie did a great job!

The entire bathroom is not done, yet, but we have an area where the concrete is raised. We've got to figure out what to do about that situation. I think it'll have to be sanded down or something. I think the plan is to rent equipment and smooth it out... hopefully soon! Now that it's part of the way done, I want it finished! The next project will be ripping down that nasty wallpaper and painting. I think I know the color I'm going to use. The name is Oyster Bay. It is a cross between grey and blue. It's beautiful!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I feel like a grownup this year!

We did Christmas cards for the first time! I absolutely love them! A couple from the homeschool group took our pictures and had them made. They went out in the mail today, so I'm going to share it.

We our almost completely done with our Christmas shopping! I feel much more relaxed now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

12 shopping days?

Is that really all we have left? Where has December gone?! It shouldn't come as a surprise that I've barely started shopping. Procrastinator that I am! I did manage to knock out a couple of people yesterday. I am waiting on family photos to come in for grandparents. I have one thing for the kids. Only 1 thing! I need to get on the ball! I really don't like ordering online for Christmas gifts. It just doesn't feel the same to me to not buy it in a store. I know that's silly! Maybe I'll get out and shop this weekend. I'm a little scared to unleash the shopping freak. Once I start shopping for people, I don't want to stop. I love to give gifts. I love receiving, too, but there's just something about giving that I love. We'll be shopping for a new stove this weekend and tile for the bathroom. The toilet soaked the carpet this morning! Lovely, huh?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend pictures

We had another great weekend! A lot of weekends we are so busy that I cannot wait for Monday to get here so we can be home more and things will slow down. This was not one of those weekends. It was fairly busy, but not as chaotic as some have been. The cheerleading team had plans to ride in the Christmas parade Saturday afternoon. They spent a couple of hours decorating the float, then enjoyed their time throwing candy. Stacie and Joe from church had several ATVs and a couple of floats right behind Annalee's team's float. Stacie invited Michael to ride with her boys in the trailer. He was so thrilled to be able to ride! Ernie rode with Annalee, so Bella and I came home so she could nap. They enjoyed this parade more than any parade they have ever gotten to see. I enjoyed it more because they were throwing OUT candy and did not come home with a bag of candy each.

We had a great afternoon today at Mom's house. Melanie was in town. She got sick Friday, after driving up, so we didn't see her too much this visit. The kids were happy to see her. We were able to see Johnye for awhile this afternoon. She is usually dancing on Sunday afternoons, so it was great to see her.

Johnye and Bella

Annalee has been asking to get her ears pierced for a couple of weeks, so we went and had them done this afternoon. She is growing up!

We are gearing up for a busy school week this week. I am trying to get a lot in the next couple of weeks, so I don't feel guilty about taking off a couple of weeks for Christmas. I am wondering if my obsessive compulsive tendencies will allow us to be completely school free for 2 weeks!

I am trying to think a lot about Christmas this week, also. I am definitely a procrastinator. I am trying to think of things for the kids that won't only be played with a couple of times this year and pushed to the side. We finally got our play room completely cleared out and I don't want to clutter it back up with toys! At the same time, I want the kids to have some things they will love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Look Ma! No hands!

Bella is getting brave! The past couple of days she's been letting go of the furniture when she's standing. It is so cute because she doesn't seem hesitant about it at all. She lets go and holds something in her hands playing with it or flaps her arms like a bird. It is hilarious! She will be walking before we know it!

I've got to share a picture of Michael and Annalee, also. We've had a fun, laid back week at home this week. We went to see Scrooge yesterday and had a blast. I wish I'd taken my camera to get a picture of the kids with Johnye, but I didn't think about it! She did a wonderful job dancing, as always!

Annalee was being goofy in this picture. She was in a playful mood tonight! They wrestled on the floor awhile after supper. Bella loved watching them. She would squeal and crawl quickly from the playroom. I loved hearing her! I have to say that I am totally sold on chiropractic care for infants after seeing the remarkable changes in her. I was scared to have someone adjusting her neck and back as young as she is, but if there is ever another baby, I think I would take the baby in much sooner! We are loving every waking minute with her!