December was a whirlwind. Looking back it seriously is a blur. A fun blur, but still a blur. I know it happened and I have the extra 10 lbs. I gained to prove it…But, I’m sure thankful for all the pictures on our camera, our cell phones and my I-Pad so that I can look back and remember it all.
For memory’s sake, of course, I have to blog about it, too.
- We kicked off the Christmas Season with our annual breakfast and tree buying. Cracker Barrel is always a family fave on Saturday mornings.
Once we arrived to the tree lot, it took us a few minutes to find our perfect tree, but we did!
It was AB’s job all month long to help Daddy keep the tree watered. She loved helping! And I loved watching them every other night. I love how patient DW is with her and how he takes the time to TEACH her. So many times I am in a hurry and instead of slowing down and letting her help, I just do things myself. In doing that, I totally miss the bigger picture, too. This was about so much more than watering the tree…she was learning about responsibility and taking care of things, patience, self-value, confidence, and probably a list of other things, too. This is definitely something I want to work on in the New Year…
We enjoyed Elf-Elf and all his antics for the whole month…
- We had an ornament date one night. We ate dinner at Steak & Shake…I know we’ve never taken the girls there, and I can’t remember a time when DW and I have eaten inside there, so it was fun to do something different. After dinner, we took the girls to Hallmark to get ornaments for their trees. We’ve done this every year since Cooper was a baby and I LOVE that we have a special ornament for each of them every year. AB picked the Mickey Mouse tractor for Cooper’s tree, the Barbie for her and we picked the snow globe for Mamie (to commemorate her Winter One-derland first birthday). :)The girls got their trees decorated in our foyer that night when we got home.
- We celebrated Christmas with my FIL’s sisters and their families the second weekend in December. We had a great lunch and this year, like last year, instead of doing a gift exchange, we all brought food items for our local food pantry. I didn’t take any pictures, except the picture I texted my Mom of my red velvet cake that nearly FELL APART while I was icing it. It was humbling to say the least to carry a cake that was fixing to fall apart at any moment up to lunch with my in-laws. My mom makes the best red velvet, so I made her recipe for the first time last year and it turned out great. My pride needs to be kept in check from time to time, so I’m sure that’s why these things happen… :) It did taste pretty good, though. :) We had a great time visiting with the family and had a few good laughs around the fire pit before the afternoon was over. **(And for the sake of my pride- I baked two more red velvet cakes during December- one for our church’s family night and the other for DW’s mom’s Christmas and both of them turned out beautifully and didn’t need dowel rods to hold them together! Ha…) :)
- Do Art is a Christmas tradition with our BFF’s. Our first try was a strike out – but we did get to have lunch and do a little shopping together. Annabelle & Allie Claire were upset we didn’t get to paint, so I stopped at Michaels and got AB a pottery painting kit so she could paint when we got home. It was only $1.00 and was a HUGE hit! We tried again a week later, and Do Art (AB calls it ‘Art Do’) was still out of plates, so we opted to paint tiles this year. At least we got something! :)
- AB was an angel in our church’s Children’s Christmas pageant. It was precious. She has really been into the Christmas story this year and getting to “be a part of it” was a huge deal. I know next year will be, too.
- We went through close to 20 lbs of butter in the month of December.
EVERY time I turned around I was needing (& GAINING) another pound. We did lots of baking – the two biggest baking days were for Mamie’s party and then for the uncles and a few other employees who work with DW. I love to bake for the holidays and I can’t wait for the girls to be old enough to really join in and love it, too.
- We had another dinner date one night and went to visit “Ho Ho” afterward.
- My Mom & I took AB to dinner and to see a Gainesville Christmas tradition- Cinderella. AB LOVED seeing the ballerinas! The show was pretty long and I was so proud of how good she did. It didn’t get over until close to 10:00 that night! When we asked her what her favorite thing was, she said, “EVERY-FANG!” I’m pretty sure it will be a new tradition of ours now, too! DW’s cousin’s daughter was in the show, and danced the part of the Fairy Godmother – she was AMAZING. She is beautiful and is such a talented dancer. I was so glad we got to see her dance.
Our own little ballerina had her last dance class of the year and for the first time this semester, the momma’s got to go in the room and watch the girls dance! They did a little number to “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”- adorable! I can’t wait for the recital in June!
- We went to our town’s annual Christmas parade and tree lighting.
- Carrie & I hosted our annual girls’ Christmas gathering. For the past three years, we’ve done a Cookie swap, but this year opted for a “Favorite Things” party. It was a fun night and I enjoyed the company at my table so much, that I didn’t move soon enough to get to visit with any of the other girls! I was a terrible hostess, (I didn’t even take a picture of the girls at the other two tables!) but loved getting to see everyone who was there! Lauren was at the dinner, too, so while we were both out, DW & Uncle Adam took the girls riding around looking at Christmas lights. So sweet.
- We took our (what has turned out to be annual) trip to the Stephen Foster state park to see the Christmas lights. Grammy & Pop were with us again, too. The park was PACKED, but we loved seeing all the new things they added this year, including a train and snow! So fun! Mamie was having a terrible night (teething), but it was still a fun time.
- AB and I met my Mom in Archer one Wednesday morning to see the Jordan Glen School’s history groups perform “A Christmas Carol” – those kids were amazing. They not only memorized their parts (written in old English), but also added British accents, too! One of DW’s cousin’s daughter was in it, so that’s why we wanted to go to see her. The kids were all dressed the part, too and it was really neat to see. The community center was beautiful, too. We had lunch at “Mexico” afterward.
- We had a couple shopping days during the month, but the week of Christmas we still had a lot to do. My Mom and I went one night and got a huge chunk knocked out while DW stayed home with the girls. Then on Thursday of that week, we had a girls day with Nie-Nie & Kels. Not sure they’ll ever want to go shopping with us again (Ha!). It was a fun day and I was so thankful for their help that day! It’s so much easier to get things done when I have someone else with me…
- Daddy & AB saw Santa Albert at one of the UF Basketball games. They had a dinner date with Uncle Adam & Aunt Nen and had a fun time at the game, too!
- I finally managed to get a Christmas card mailed out… I took the picture the week of Christmas, added a message in PhotoShop, printed them one-hour at Wal-mart and mailed them out the next day! Talk about last minute! I am sure most of our family and friends got them on Christmas Eve! I am going to be more prepared next year. Maybe…
- We enjoyed a little mistletoe! I laughed so hard one afternoon when I pulled up to our garage and hanging on the light above it was this big branch of mistletoe! DW was sending me a hint. :) It really had been a crazy few weeks and I am the worst about getting wrapped up in everything else and missing the sweet little things. My sweetheart is the best about reminding me of them, though. The girls and I had been gone at lunch and the mistletoe had fallen out of the tree in our yard, so he tied up for me to find when we got home. It still makes me smile when I think about it. :) The end of the year is always a busy, stressful time of year at work for DW and yet he still makes time and finds little ways to make ME feel loved and special. He is the best of the best…hard to believe it, but Christmas Eve marked the 10th anniversary from when he asked me to be his wife. Crazy how time flies.
- We celebrated Christmas with my mother-in-law at her house in Georgia the weekend before Christmas. We all headed up on Saturday the 22nd. It was a fun day with lots of great food! One of George’s (DW’s step-dad) sons and his family were able to join us, too. The kids all had so much fun playing together. AB LOVED getting to play with the twins. They all got new baby dolls from “Grandma & G-Pa” for Christmas, so they played with those all afternoon. We all brought something for the meal…my contributions were the peas, hashbrown casserole, a red velvet cake and a pecan pie. It was my first attempt at a pecan pie. I’ve always left that up to my Granny and my Momma…but decided it was finally time for me to grow-up a little and make one myself. :) It turned out pretty good, too! I made it just like my Granny always did.
I did a lot of thinking about and missing my Granny this Christmas. She loved the season- she loved sparkly ornaments (“ointments”), colored lights, fudge, and nativity scenes. It seemed like every store I went in this year, I’d see something that she would love… This was our first Christmas without her, but I can’t begin to imagine Christmas in Heaven…and I think it goes without saying to know she was with my Coopie makes me smile, too.
After Christmas lunch at Devin’s mom’s, the grandparents gathered all the kids outside and decorated the live tree out front with big ornaments. It was really sweet and a cute idea. After that it was present time! A favorite for all the kids, of course!
The cotton field across from Grandma’s had been harvested and the bales were still in the field. I have always wanted to jump on one of the bales, and DW is big on making my dreams come true…(ahhhh) :) so he sure did haul Grandma’s ladder across the road and we all jumped on the cotton bale. It was bouncy, but not as soft as I thought it would be. Definitely a highlight of the weekend. Another highlight was eating at Benton Lee’s for the first time. It’s just down the road from Ms. Teresa’s and Adam & DW decided this would be the trip they’d take Lauren and I for the first time.
We drove home from Georgia on Sunday the 23rd. We made it home that afternoon in time for a quick nap for the girls, then planned some more fun with Adam & Lauren. AB has been wanting to do a Gingerbread house all season. I’ve never done one (that I remember), so I bought a kit the week of Christmas in case we had time to squeeze it in. It was the best – the kit came with a house that was already assembled and all we had to do was decorate it! I did the icing, while Lauren and AB laid out the patterns and put the candy on. Adam had the hardest job, which was making the windows and the wreath out of gum drops. (DW was back and forth between checking on us inside and cleaning his truck outside….)We’re totally going to make it a yearly tradition! Next year we’re going to all do one though and have a whole village! Ha. Dinner was pizza at our favorite place, Blue Highway. Then it was time to look at Christmas lights.
Aunt Nen was the resident “Cheermesiter” who even WORE Christmas lights… She let AB have a turn and before the night was over, she’d strung them up in the car, too! We’ve got big plans for next year’s light looking- including decorating the car with lights before we go.
Adam drove and DW navigated us through Gainesville to all the stops on the Sun’s Best display list.
Lauren printed out a scavenger hunt and it was a huge hit for AB! Somehow we managed to find everything on it except for a dolphin (?) and THE GRINCH, of all things!??!?! We saw some pretty crazy things – a dinosaur, a pig, a cow, YODA, even a hippopotamus wearing a Santa hat and didn’t see the Grinch. Crazy. We ended the night with Krispy Kreme and yes, Praise be to the Lord, the Hot Light was on.
- Christmas Eve we had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel and ran a few last minute errands. Our church has a candlelight service and we always love to try to make it to that. Mames and I made it halfway through the service. She’s such a busy body these days and it’s just about impossible to keep her in church. Afterward, we came back to our house for low country boil. Peanut butter pie and Key lime pie topped with homemade whipped cream was the perfect ending to a wonderful day and a wonderful prelude to the following day!
It was also sweet to do our last night of our Christmas countdown with some of our family who was here. We so enjoy all of the fun things the holidays bring, but we also want to make sure our children know WHY we’re celebrating and WHO we’re celebrating. We’ve enjoyed the countdown that I got from DaySpring back in the fall. Its made to use at Thanksgiving, then Christmas and then at Easter, too. I have loved seeing AB get so excited about her Nativity set this year and to hear her re-tell the Christmas story. She’s a doll when she tells the three gifts that the wisemen brought to Jesus “GO-OLD, Franken-sense & mu-er” :) – She also calls the nativity an “Activia scene” (yes, like the yogurt). I am certain it makes God’s heart smile to hear her say it, as much as it does mine.
AB in her Christmas jammies ready for bed on Christmas Eve! (Mamie didn’t make it through dinner before she had to go to bed, so no jammie pic of her… :(