Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The 3rd (and last) of My Christmas Thoughts

One thing that I appreciate about my family is that holidays are not the only time we all get together. There are a lot of us and a lot of different personalities, but we can all happily spend a day together. Granted, I think that all of us are happy that we don't live under the same roof!
Some of the children wanted to sit at the adult table. Maybe we'll have to figure out how to connect the "children's" table to the "adult" table in an L shape because there is not much more floor space to lengthen the table!
This year we had our meal before presents. Before giving gifts, we sing a carol and listen to my Dad read the Christmas story. This year Dad had an extra spiritual gift to give us this year. It's worth sharing! You may be familiar with the parable of the prodigal son. There are two sons in the story, one older and one younger. The younger son squanders his early inheritance in wild living and comes home to his Father asking only to be a servant. The Father, however, opens his arms and welcomes his son home and orders a welcome home party to be thrown. This makes the older son, who has stayed with his Father and "followed the rules", angry.

Now many in my family, including me, identify with the older brother and what Dad wanted to show us was the Father's response to the older brother's anger. In the message, "Son, you don't understand, "You're with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours." (Luke 15:14-15). Everything the Father (God) has is ours. God has salvation, peace, joy, health, healing, prosperity. God stands ready to give. It is up to us to open our arms and receive. Dad continued, "And this is how God showed us that everything is ours in the most significant way... and he read the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2.

And this is what the children looked like. Maybe I looked that way on the outside too, but I've remembered--Everything God has is mine.
Then just like that we move to presents! Aunt Meghan gave Isaiah cookies. He at the entire container for supper. It was Christmas...that's my Mommy justification. lol.
There were lots of smiles!
We honor Great Gramma by getting her picture of all the kiddos lined up with their gift from her. (Isaiah was sleeping.)
After the children have received all of their gifts, we send them off with their new toys and the adults give gifts. Ezra found his way back to the living room when we were almost finished and he enthusiastically helped Grandad and Great Gramma open their gifts. We were all laughing so hard. Grandad opened a gift card and Great Gramma opened a skirt. Ezra was not particularly impressed at all.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The 2nd of My Christmas Thoughts

Christmas in WV was actually our "first" Christmas and with it some very excited and crazy kids.

At some point in populating his wishlist, Josiah came across a Nintendo 3DS. It was want at first sight and he never let up. His entire Christmas hinged on getting a Nintendo 3DS. He told me he was going to cry if he didn't get one and he was going to cry if he got one. A new one was not a possibility so Jeremy and I started to try to figure out what to do. It turned out that Uncle Joel had an older model that he was willing to part with and give Josiah. Josiah had NO IDEA that he would get this from Uncle Joel.
And he cried.

And then I cried and next thing we knew there was not a dry eye in the room.
Aliza was a still a little teary eyed when she opened her Ever After High dolls. She had convinced herself that she would not be given any so she was pretty happy.
Anna made a couple cards for Aunt Brandi.

Isaiah thought climbing on the box was more fun than opening it.

Brandi made this collage for me through Shutterfly. I love it and need to get it up on my wall.
Josiah has repeatedly told me that "he feels like an adult" now that he has his own device because "only adults have devices." I just let him believe it. He's feeling responsible and so far he has taken very good care of it.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The 1st of My Christmas Thoughts

Our own Christmas was actually the last of our Christmas celebrations which worked out quite nicely. Apparently a few of the children were worn out, two slept until 8:00! Jeremy slept longer while I made breakfast. I wasn't expecting to make breakfast before presents, but that's how it worked out. Everyone was happy and content. They were excited, but not being obnoxious begging for their presents. It is much more fun to give gift to children who are not begging for them anyway!

The word that kept rolling around in my head all day was "extravagance." Not the commercialized Christmas extravagance that makes all of our heads spin, but the extravagant love of a God who sends his Son to earth as a baby to save us (ME!) from our sins so that we can have a relationship with Him. This is a love so extravagant that our human, earthly minds cannot even fathom the purity and depth of that love. Our advent readings describe this love as "unbeatable, uncontainable, unconditional, unwrappable love.

As we gave our children gifts that were extravagant within our means I wanted them to know that God gives them good gifts--He is a good Father and that God's love for them is extravagant. Our children did nothing to deserve the gifts we gave them for Christmas. We gave them gifts because we love them beyond what they can imagine--a metaphor for our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father.

We were seriously sweating as we opened gifts! Our house was so warm. It was 72 and super humid outside.

Anna had one thing that she consistently said that she wanted. She is still young enough that she had no idea that we would actually get it for her.

You'll hear more about Josiah's Christmas in later posts since I'm writing about our "last" Christmas first. Suffice to say, this was just the icing on his Christmas cake.
The best thing I did this year was have Aliza make an Amazon wishlist. Even with a wishlist, we surprised her and I got a hug for it.

After we got the toys assembled we were all truly sweating so we just took the toys outside to play with on the porch. Strange as it was, I'm not complaining at all!

Isaiah. I love him to pieces. Fortunately for me, he was the recipient of my most epic Christmas fail. I thought I had ordered him a kid sized wagon to pull around the house this winter and the yard this summer. Josiah had one and loved the thing. I watched my shipping history and knew it was delivered, but I didn't actually open the Amazon boxes until I was ready to wrap--for obvious reasons when you have four excited littles in your house. When I opened the box I found that I had ordered a miniature version of the wagon. It's so little that if he tries to pull it while walking the front wheels are off the ground.
My Dad came over for supper. I made a turkey roast. Mom came over when she got off work. The children were excited to show her their toys and we caroled for our neighbors. They really appreciated it and it's fun to do! I'm feeling very relaxed today--almost like it's a holiday! ha. Holidays are a lot of work for Moms.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Community Dinner

One of our Christmas traditions is to attend the community potluck hosted by our local Lions Club. This happens to be the only tradition that includes Santa and there is always a mixture of reactions among my children.

Santa did an outstanding job this year. It was the most fun we've had with Santa. He was totally into the role, egged the children on with their Christmas lists, joked with them and even had this truck decorated to be an "Eastern Shore sleigh."
Isaiah walked right over to check Santa out:
Anna was the apprehensive one this year:
We opted for a family visit with Santa.
Santa is getting Josiah's request right...A Nintendo 3DS not a 3DX. There was a bit of a communication issue. lol.

Isaiah made himself right at home and went for the candy.
We went out to see Santa's truck and see him off.

Josiah decided he made the wrong request--he wanted Santa's truck!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I Remain Seasonally Confused

I have no problem with this confusion I'm feeling. I've heard things come out of my mouth like, "Go play outside. We'll do schoolwork when it is dark" and "I would be a horrible mom if I let you look at a screen instead of sending you outside when it is so warm in December."

This morning Anna and I attended Laura and John's Christmas choir program. I put on a short sleeve, knee length dress and boots. I decided that it just wasn't appropriate to have bare knees in December so I added tights. When Anna and I got home we grabbed some lunch and headed outside to soak up the 70 degree sun. Anna brought out a bowl of ice cream and I didn't even shiver thinking about ice cream!
Josiah was climbing trees and wanted me to watch him. He was behind the garage in an area that, in spring and summer, is tick and poison ivy infested. I don't poke around much back there. Today I took a look around. I've lived on this property for 14.5 years. I can't believe what I didn't know was back here. I first noticed one large plastic container sitting in the ground. I dug it out and noticed more plastic containers.
Curiosity got the best of me and I continued digging out plastic containers. I told the kids I was digging out ancient treasure. Besides wondering just how many plastic containers were under this massive pile of 14 years of pine needles, I became very curious as to why every single container was full of dirt. Whatever was in the pots had clearly never been planted.
Josiah helped a little. He has declared this this new area to dig.
An hour later, I had excavated this pile of containers.
Yes, I counted them. 90. 90!!! That is crazy! Jeremy thought I was crazy. I was having fun! I should have/could have been inside baking Christmas cookies, but instead I was digging in the dirt and sweaty. He thought it was hilarious that I claimed to be stressed out and this project was no where on my radar, let alone a list, and here I was all proud of myself and no longer stressed out about Christmas.
We happen to personally know the last two owners of our house so, naturally, I immediately sent a facebook message to the previous owner asking if this was his ancient treasure that I unearthed. His response: "We got a huge bunch of free azaleas that were going to be dumped by Chesapeake Nursery that they couldn't sell. Probably 150 of them. Tried to keep them alive in the pots until we could plant them down here but only got about forty moved before the winter killed the ones that were left." Now I know! (It's not lost on me that there are 20 pots unaccounted for. lol.)

And now I have 90 plastic containers stacked neatly in the garage. haha.  It's interesting how some activities that are not considered restful can still be soul refreshing on the Sabbath.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Weekend in Ohio

It had been two years since I had seen my Grandma. Mom was planning to drive to Ohio for her family's Christmas gathering and I approached Jeremy about the possibility of me riding with her. It didn't take Jeremy long to decide he would rather have a long weekend taking care of the children than driving 12 hours one way with our children!

I very much looked forward to this trip. The time away and the time with my Mom along with seeing my Grandma and extended family were good for my soul. Going out to Ohio we split the trip. Neither day on the road seemed very long and we arrived ready to visit. I really cherished that first afternoon sitting around the table with my Mom, Grandma and two aunts.
Sunday morning we went to chapel at the retirement community where Grandma lives. In the afternoon we visited my Great Aunt whose memory is failing. She is my Grandpa's sister and is 97 years old. I think we all felt a little teary after visiting her.
I'm so glad I get to claim these two ladies as my Aunts.
This is my treasured picture of the weekend. My Grandma and I. It had been many years since I could spend some time in her apartment just being with her. Sometimes the conversation is secondary to just being with someone.
Sunday evening my four uncles and their wives along with some of my cousins and their families gathered for the evening meal. I took the picture when I realized that we had broken up in to our men table and women table. I really enjoyed reconnecting with some of my cousins. I think there were around 35 people there and that was a "small" group as it represented a little less than half of my Mom's family!
Sunday was a big day. I was super tired and was missing my family. Mom and I were on the road at 7:10am Monday morning. We switched drivers about every 2 hours and kept our stops short. I was hugging my children and husband at 6:00pm. It was a long drive. The joke is always that I have so much to say, but I think I ran out of words on the way home. However, today I thought of a couple things that I wished I had remembered on Monday. I think my brain turned to mush after so many hours on the road!