Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Preparation and Thanksgiving Fun

I have had this blog on my to-do list for 2 weeks now and my kids won't cooperate...this is an easy facet of my life to neglect.  The rest of my charges make a lot of noise when I ignore them.  

We have had a very eventful couple of weeks, so this will mostly be a picture update!  There's always excessive hustle and bustle that seems to overtake my world beginning at Thanksgiving.  It's a welcome busy.  I love this season! We typically cut our Christmas tree down the weekend after Thanksgiving, but this year we got an early jump because J took the entire week of Thanksgiving off and we knew we would be out of town the weekend we usually take on the task.  So, off we trekked on the day before Thanksgiving to find our perfect tree and I believe we definitely succeeded.

The ONE!

Look how cute he is...and the Swagger Wagon looks pretty good hauling. :)

We got home and decorated.  Another fun year...I always forget how at the ripe age of two, this must feel like the first Christmas in Ella's little mind.  I doubt Ella Forever remembers much if any of last year's celebration.  She was fascinated by a tree indoors and once lights went on, she was hooked.  As always, with 5 kids, a couple of dogs and 2 excited cats parading through the house, our decoration process was a "controlled" chaos. I turned around at one point to find J standing expectantly under the kissing ball he had just placed.  He pulled me in close and I could barely make out his whisper as kids squealed with delight and others fought over ornament placement rights.  His whispered speech to me was something along the lines of, "this is complete craziness, but I wouldn't have it any other way."  Me either...I am so glad we are on the same page.

Ooooooh...Aaaaahhhhh!  It is lacking a star because ours broke, but it has since been replaced. :)

The following day we made the short trip to my Momma's and Stepdad, Jim's and had a fabulous time with his immediate and extended family (who I will claim as MY extended family at this point). Good food, lots of good conversation and plenty of joy.  I had so much fun that I completely neglected my paparazzi duties, so I got a picture of Jillie Bean with her special-occasion-curls and Bitsy, who was Jillie's most favorite companion for the day and a picture of the kids' table.  You will have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks.  

The following day we drove up to J's parents' and had a wonderful time visiting with them and his brother and sister and nieces.  We were planning on driving back on Saturday, so we invited J's Ma and Pa to accompany us on part of our journey for lunch at the Brookville Hotel in Abilene.  J's Mom suggested while in the area we also go to the Museum of Independent Telephony, also in Abilene, so we did just that.  The kids were fascinated by the OLD phones and that they had to be connected by wires, but they could have played with them for hours.  They also had an old carousel that we got to ride on behind the museum as well as several buildings set as a historical perspective of life in the early 1900's.  We visited a very teeny tiny house that would have been comfortable for an average family at the time, an old grocery store, barn and a one room schoolhouse.  It was a neat little trip!

Don't they look adorable...breaking the rules and trying to sneak up the stairs that were NOT to be climbed?
Despite how serious that middle row looks, they are the class clowns!

Our family elf usually appears sometime on the day that our tree arrives in our house, but for some reason this year, he didn't show.  One of the kids pondered out loud about his absence on Saturday after we had returned home and I admitted that the question was valid.  Where WAS that elf?  Thank goodness he showed up the following morning and came bearing the gifts of matching jammies for the whole fam!

Not sure how I scored this one!  They're all looking at the camera...and smiling!!!
And, of course, we have not forgotten the reason for the season.  Our kid-friendly Nativity has had lots of activity this year as Ella Forever has completely fallen in love.  A day or two after it had been on display I came in to find this sweet little scene in the picture below as Ella was tinkering with it.  I was amazed at her understanding of it all and asked her if she had lined up everyone in front of baby Jesus to which I received a resounding, "Yeah!"  I was so impressed...until I was uploading pictures to this blog and X-Man strolled past, chuckled and said, "I set them up like that."  Way to rain on my parade!  It was cute anyway and it has been really fun watching a baby crazy Ella swoon over baby Jesus at every turn.  

Our first lighting of this year's Advent wreath
I have worked hard these last few years to slow down and really focus on the miracle of Christmas...stopping and really taking in the magic as seen through my children's eyes has been the reward.  Our gift giving is a lot slimmer these days and I have let go of the pressure to over-gift and over-commit and in simplicity we have discovered so much joy. And so we continue to prepare for the special day that awaits!  Merry Christmas!!!