Tuesday, December 27, 2011

visions of sugarplums

christmas has come and gone, once again.  as a kid...i would fight post advent depression every year.  you could find me, on the curb...caressing the dried up branches of our tree...whispering words of encouragement, like, "you've been a great tree and i'll miss you so much."  i would feel all blue inside because it was over.  i still get the "let down"...but have also learned to appreciate the promise of a new year.  a fresh start.  the hope of possibility.


if we would have shelled out the money to do christmas cards...this would have been the picture used.

we have a december family picture taken every year.  it's important to chronicle growth.

christmas eve morning started off with the kids opening their secret sibling santa presents.

this went better than i even dreamed it would.  since they were the first gifts opened, they were beyond excited.  which gave way to excitement for the person giving the gift.  it's always more fun to give a gift that someone is truly excited about.  this will be a tradition that we continue.

and i loved having them open them on christmas eve morning, instead of that night because they got to play with them all day, while i frantically tied up loose ends.

colton drew aiden's name.

annslee had chase.

chase had colton.

chad had to leave by 11:30 to get to the first service. 
miraculously, i got the food prepared, the house picked up, the rest of the loose ends tied up, myself and the kids ready for the 4:00 church service.

we pulled up to the christmas eve service just in time for her to finally give in to the exhaustion from the toll that the week's events had taken.

if only she would have stayed asleep in my arms...maybe she would not have gotten herself in so much trouble.  she instantly insisted on her own seat in the service and began throwing a bloody tantrum when she was forced to sit in my laugh to make room for daddy.  she was a hot mess by the time the first carol began and bought herself a golden ticket to the nursery.

it was nothin a little twirling in the lobby couldn't fix afterwards.

by the time we made it back to the house for the celebration...i wasn't too proud to partake in the sauce.  holiday sangria cures whatever ales you.

we took time out to get a picture of the whole lot of us.

and bonus...

we officially named the cat...since he is officially one of us now.

introducing the first full-family picture, complete with trout the dog and george bailey the cat.

yeah...so we watched it's a wonderful life and george bailey just seemed appropriate.

trout could not be convinced that because it was christmas eve...he should be a gentleman and not insist on his evening walk.

so...we all went together and surveyed the lights.

it ended up being a great walk.


once the kids were all nestled in their beds...i longed to be in my kerchief, and chad in his cap...but we had work left to do.

santa came for colton...

and chase...

and aiden...

and annslee...

and even trout and george bailey.

i have been waiting for this christmas ever since i found out that i was having my first daughter.  when i was 5...my paw paw made me this doll house for christmas.  he made it from scratch, to match the house that we lived in, cutting out each tiny shingle...one by one.  honey crocheted the rugs and sewed the curtains.  it sat in my room my entire childhood.

and it was time to pass it down.

honey gave it to the girls this year.

this is the stuff that dreams are made of.

colton was surprised by granna and grandaddy with an itouch.

chase's wish came true when he opened the johnny cash poster from uk.

and the girls showed delight with every turn.

santa enjoyed the milk and cookies...and fed the reindeer the snack that we left for them.

the proof is in the pudding.


last night...the elves snuck away and made their way back to the north pole.

they new that aiden was going to be devastated and left a sweet note.

my girl was heart-broken...just as her elf knew she would be.  there were tears this morning.

but the promise of a new year awaits...and all good things must eventually become a memory.  and that's ok.  the elves will return someday...just as december will.  and the magic will resume.

until then...

the magic of our every day will sufficiently suffice.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Let Earth Receive Her King

i am sitting down for the first time today.  and technically...it's not even today anymore.  it's 12:25 am and i can honestly say that we are ready.  the last present has been bought; the food has been prepared; the crafts are complete; the house is clean; and the gifts are wrapped and under the tree.

i feel satisfied. 

christmas eve is my favorite day of the year.  i love the anticipation and the laughter and the excitement...and most of all...the celebration.  on the evening of christmas eve...we celebrate Jesus' birth.  and it is absolutely wondrous.

when i was a little girl...i remember i would have such a hard time falling asleep on christmas eve...and as a mother, the excitement is still there.  i re-live it through all four kids.  i re-live it when i see the sparkle in their eyes and the wide smiles on their faces.  tonight...i let chad tuck in the boys while i grabbed the christmas dresses, tights, and christmas gowns from the girl's rooms.  i wanted everything ready for tomorrow.  i got about half way down the stairs when i remembered that i had not said goodnight to the boys.  i thought for a second about just continuing down the stairs to get to the presents that were waiting to be wrapped and the last load of laundry that needed folding...but i just couldn't let them go to sleep without kissing their heads...so i put the laundry basket down and headed back up to their rooms.  and i'm so glad i did.  i peeked into chase's room and saw him, laying in his bed, looking up at the ceiling, and smiling the biggest smile i have seen on him in a while.  both dimples were out and showing off.  when he heard me, he looked over and giggled.  i smiled and said, "what?"  and he just giggled more and said, "mom...what do you think my secret santa is giving me?"  i'm not sure if i've mentioned before that the kids drew names this year.  we are calling it "secret sibling santa."  it has been really fun to watch them get excited about what they wanted to get their brother or sister and try to guess who had whom.  and there he was...sugar plums all a-dancin, while thinking about it.  so, so wondrous.

tomorrow, we will listen to true carols of our King's birth all day.  i have been thinking a lot lately about christmas carols and how...as fun as songs, like baby, it's cold outside and rockin around the christmas tree are...there is just nothing more beautiful and worshipful than a traditional christmas carol.  the words are woven together to praise and adore Him in a way that leaves me breathless.  this season...i have been really paying attention to the words that sometimes get lost in the noise of it all.

Joy to the world...the Lord has come, let Earth receive her King.*

Whom angels greet
with anthems sweet
while shepherds watch are keeping.
This, this is Christ the King...
whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste...to bring him praise...
the babe, the son of Mary.
The King of Kings, salvation brings
let loving hearts enthrone him.**

Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel.***

To save us all from Satan's power when we have gone astray.
Tidings of comfort and joy.
That in Bethlehem was born the son of God by name
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.****

Joy to the world, for Christ the lord has finally come
let every heart receive the new born king...
oh come all of heaven and nature SING.*****

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining
till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth.
a thrill of hope
the weary world rejoices
Fall on your knees
oh hear the angel voices
oh night divine
oh night when Christ was born.******

i heard the bells on christmas day
their old familiar carols play
and wild and sweet the words repeat
of peace on earth, goodwill to men.
and in despair
i bowed my head...
there is no peace on earth, i said
for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men
then feel the bells, more loud and deep
God is not dead...nor does he sleep
the wrong shall fail
the right prevail
of peace on earth goodwill to men
i can hear you
i can hear you.*******


i heard the bells on christmas day has never been one of my favorite christmas carols until this year.  it's been on my i pod for several years now and for whatever reason...it has become my song of praise this season.  you can find me...eyes closed...hands raised...singing my little heart out in the kitchen while we make cookies when it rolls around on the playlist.  i recommend the MercyMe version.  you won't be disappointed.  i promise.

i look forward to talking to you again after christmas.  have yourselves a merry little christmas.  let your hearts be light.  joy to the world.  the Lord has come.  let earth receive her King!!

* Joy To the World
** What Child is This
*** Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel
**** God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
***** Addendum to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (MercyMe)
****** Oh Holy Night
******* I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Friday, December 23, 2011

it's almost here...


i'd be lying if i said i longed for the wrapping of the presents.  i really should do it as they come in...instead of waiting and doing them all in one night.  the hallmark channel helps.  but still.  you know it's bad when you start tossing things for the kids into the "santa" pile...just so you don't have to wrap it.

so i took a little break.


we finally made good on our "make cookies for the neighbors" advent.

these are my favorite.

this one liked them too.  would you believe that colton hates peanut butter?  so...he was totally not thrilled about them.  chase likes peanut butter...but not chocolate.  so he wasn't thrilled either.  aiden tolerates peanut butter...but, for some reason only ate the kiss off the top.  so...thankfully...i can count on my baby girl to take after her momma when it comes to sweets.

isn't this just like chase?  i mean...you can't get more like chase than this.

i don't even know what he was doing...but houdini ended up stuck in the basketball goal.  we were headed out to see santa...and we were sorta in a hurry...and they were supposed to be getting buckled in the car...and this is what i walk out to.

chase says, "uh-oh"...a lot.

chad went to the mall straight from work in order to get in line for us.  he waited an hour and 45 minutes.  i got the kids ready at home and then we waltzed on in right as he was getting to the front.  this is the way to do it, folks.

our visit with santa went ok. annslee cried as soon as i sat her down.  so chad and i had to be in the picture again.  there have only been 2 years that chad and i didn't have to be in the picture.  there is just usually someone who is under 2 and completely unwilling to do this thing.  we have seen the same santa, every year, since colton's very first christmas.  we have so many memories of standing in line...dressing the kids in their christmas outfits, chronicling the stages and ages.  it's the same every year...and i've come to absolutely love it.  santa is as real as you can get, and his gentleness with the kids is tangible.  he is quick to listen and slow to speak...and he has watched our kids grow over the years.  i would think that there is no way...with all the kids he sees every day...that he couldn't possibly remember us.  but, i swear...he does.

i will never forget the year that i was pregnant with aiden.  it was the day before christmas eve, and chad had taken me to an ultrasound place who specialized in finding out the baby's sex.  hours before we went to see santa...i heard the words, "it's a girl" while watching her dance on the ultrasound screen.  we were not telling our family until christmas eve...so i wore a pink shirt in our picture with santa.  i wanted to always remember that.  it was the magic that only chad and i knew.  well...and santa, of course.

tonight, we gathered and had dinner and then watched the nativity story together.  i absolutely love this movie.  it is a beautiful depiction of Jesus' birth story...my favorite by far.

i also love national lampoon's christmas vacation, elf, and it's a wonderful life.

but...if you are looking for a worshipful experience during the holiday...don't miss out on the nativity story.

little miss is now refusing to sit in her high chair.  that's super great.  today she dumped her entire bowl of soup on my good table cloth.

we made sugar cookies for the first time ever.  i was sort of pre-occupied with keeping aiden's cast clean and out of the dough...

but other than that...it was a win.

tune in next time.  and remind me to tell you about mine and trout's bike accident.  it's a winner of a story.

i better get back to it.  these presents aren't gonna wrap themselves!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the park and the gingerbread house

i really wish that i enjoyed going to the park.  i just don't.  it's not that i absolutely hate it...i just don't find myself wanting to go exactly.  i can't really put my finger on why.  it may have to do with the fact that i used to be too wrapped up in worrying about the germs on the equipment to enjoy myself...or it may be that i don't like to run around, playing and i feel guilty if i'm just sitting on a bench watching.  i'm usually not a lazy person...but the park makes me feel lazy.  maybe that's why i don't like it.

the point is...chad suggested that we go to the park the other day and i just couldn't stand the thought of being left out.

so i went.

the kids and i walked...and chad rode the bike and let trout run behind him on the leash.

it was trout's first trip to the park.

chad suggested that we let him off his leash to run a little.


he immediately found a candy bar and all of us ended up looking like idiots...chasing him all over the place...trying to catch him before he swallowed it.

at some point, chad yelled..."we are not paying to remove whatever that is from his stomach if he swallows it!!"

we finally caught him and fished the full chocolate bar out of his mouth.  gross.

after that...he went back on his leash for the duration.

i sat on the bench and kept trout out of trouble.  that was a win-win.  i got to just sit on the bench, but actually have a good reason to do so.  it had nothing to do with laziness.

i was also all-time base for the hide and seek game.

that means...i got to count with the seeker.

again...look at me not being lazy.

i love this picture.  somehow...the sun caught her dark blue eyes and turned them this vampire shade of amber.

chase took his job as counter very seriously.

meanwhile...annslee found someone to stalk.

she followed her around everywhere.

i can totally hear what she is thinking here.

"you two look like you have a good thing goin...do you need a third?  cuz...between you and me...these folks that i am with???  well...they are all nut jobs."

she actually followed them to their car in the parking lot.

i'm gonna try to not take that personally.

trout and boo radley are getting along quite nicely. (that's his name right now.  however i'm trying to convince the kids to name him something like mozart...or mr. tumnus...or after a famous author.)  actually, i'll just be glad if chad stops calling him "that cat."

honey made this little dress for me when i was little.  mom found the perfect, little peter paned collared onsie to go under it.

i love taking pictures of this one while she's not looking.  she reminds me of a storybook character...like alice in wonderland or sleeping beauty or something.  she has that gentle/graceful thing going that all of those storybook girls possess.

one of these things does not belong here...

(i really just sang that in my head...like the clip from sesame street from the old days...)

just 30 minutes ago...the whole thing hit the floor.  no joke.  at least it's not the big one.


the elves have been a little boring lately.  i kept forgetting to move them...so i had to make up some story about how they are just so warm in their stockings that they just wanted to stay there for a while and rest.

plus...chase's elf, houdini, split his pants doing somersaults out of the tree and needed to be sewn up.

i finally got that done.

and i finally remembered to get some super glue for the ornaments that have been in "ornament triage" for the last several years.

the gingerbread house actually got done without any tantrums or arguing.

so...that was a plus.

and mr. big man was so sweet to help his baby sister.

he might as well be the pied-piper, as far as she's concerned.

she looks at him with stars in her eyes every time he looks her way.

i'm well aware that i am entirely too old to be wearing anything from aeropostal.  let me explain.  i was shopping for my 5th grade niece in there and found these sweats for 12 bucks.  plus they fit really good.  so...i convinced myself that, since 30 is the new 20...then i am only...like...27, which is a totally acceptable age to be still be wearing the tweeny, teeny brand.  so there.  don't judge me.

look at these faces.


annslee insists on bubbles.  every night.

hey annslee...you got a little sumpin in your eye there girl.


and there's nothin like a gingerbread house to get the elves hoppin.

i wonder how many days they will be there?  surely this is good placement for a while.

and what is it with these people who do these elaborate elf mischief spectacles every night?  like...getting smearing toothpaste everywhere...or icing...or glitter?


it is very clear to me that any elf that lives in our house is gonna have to fall in line.  and if they add more work for me...

they are out on their cans.

i don't care if they are from the north pole.