Monday, December 26, 2011

Oh, By Gosh, By Golly

Christmas was so much fun! The toddler is officially a professional present opener; he doesn't care if the present is his or not, he'll still open it for you. What a fine young gentleman, huh?

The fun (and occasionally stressful) thing about Christmas is trying to cram twelve million family traditions into a twenty-four-hour time span.

The first order of the day on Christmas Eve is making sure that the cookies are decorated for Santa. The poor guy has to go around the world in one night! The least we can do is to make sure he has some milk and delicious cookies to reward his effort.

And then we scramble desperately (the only other time we try our hardest to get out the door on time is Easter) to get three people showered, clothed, photographed, and out the door in time to get good seats in church.

I love the Christmas Eve service. We get to celebrate the birth of Jesus as a whole family! Having both my guys sitting next to me in church warms my heart like nothing else. I kept glancing over at my sweet son, mesmerized by the singing, with his blonde curls and his little hands stuffing goldfish into his mouth. Mushy, gushy puddle of momma. Yep. And getting to all hold hands while we pray in church, and then singing together--well, I love, love, love it.

And then, we get together as a big-ole'-happy family and stuff our faces with food, share joy and laughter with one another, and open our presents. (And yes, I did stick a headband on my head with enormous peppermints on it. And yes, I did feel fabulous wearing it.)

The toddler was soooo excited because Aunt "Caffy" got him some "ayuh-planes" and "heli-caws." The boy was over-the-dadgum-moon excited. He stood in the middle of all of the cousins making zooming airplane noises, and then he and Pops went and played in the living room. Be still my beating heart.

And then, when we got home, it was time for all of our family night-before-Christmas traditions! First, we got in our jammies! Then, we put out the milk and cookies for Santa.

Please notice that my son is wearing 'Twas the Night Before Christmas jammies. Oh, by gosh, by golly, it's enough to make my heart burst!

After we put out the cookies for Santa, the hubbs always reads the Christmas story from the Bible. This year, as he was reading the story, the toddler was busy reading his new Dog book (another gift from Aunt "Caffy"--yes, my son is spoiled rotten from a million different people), and I have to say that the video turned out hilarious! The hubbs is reading about the wise men, the manger, the decree from Caesar Augustus, and the toddler is running around screaming, "Woof! Woof! Doggies! Puppies! Woof! Woof!"

After the hubbs read the Christmas story, the little one snuggled up in my lap and I read--as I do every year--Mary Engelbreit's The Night Before Christmas.

 And then, we read our Christmas letters, and it was time for bed! When Christmas morning came, I shot out of bed! First, I peered into the living room to see if Santa had come. He had!

Then, I made some cinnamon rolls, sausage pinwheels, and hot cider!

And after doing a bit of tidying up (Santa can be messy sometimes when he's tracking in all that soot), I lit some Christmas candles, and put on some Christmas music,

and waited. And waited. And waited. And laughed that the one morning of my sweet child's 18 months that he chooses to sleep in is Christmas morning! So finally, at 8:45 (you read that right--this is my son that wakes up at 6:30 every morning), the hubbs and I went and woke little man up. We just couldn't wait anymore!

And then the house was full of things that make this momma happy. Laughter. Excitement. Tearing wrapping paper. Playing with toys. Chowing down on "cake" as my son declared the cinnamon rolls to be. And what an enormous mess my living room turned into--but the best kind of mess! It looked like Christmas had exploded in my house!

After lots of cleaning, it was time to head over to Pops' and BeeGee's house to open more presents! We stayed over there all day and ate dinner together. The little one got an enormous craft table from his grandparents, books galore, and--the present that he undoubtedly had the greatest reaction with--Rock N' Roll Elmo. Oh my. It was the sweetest thing in the world. It was like he thought Elmo had appeared in real life and wanted to play with him. He kept picking Elmo up and covering him with kisses and hugs. And this morning, he came in the playroom, picked Elmo up, and said, "Baby." So, I'm pretty sure they're buddies. Maybe best buddies. :)

After consuming thousands of calories, playing Taboo (which involved some pretty hilarious moments with the siblings), and enjoying a day full of laughter and family, we all got to admire one of the most beautiful sunsets we'd ever seen.

Each year, I say, "This was the best Christmas ever!" But really, Christmas with a child--for me, at least--is the best ever. The Christmas story took on an entirely more gut-wrenching, heart-aching meaning after I became a mom. I cannot fathom how much God loves us that He sent His only Son into the world to die for us who sin daily. What great, enormous, full love!

I enjoy sharing days like this with my family. I especially love watching my son as he is getting older and discovering things like opening presents and leaving out cookies for Santa. It is so much fun. Every day I love being a mom, and I feel so blessed to be this kiddo's mom. My poor child is probably sick of all the snuggles, kisses, and near rib-cracking hugs he gets all the time. Okay, I won't wander into Mommy Land where I could go on and on about my child for hours on end (I might save that for a blog post about having an 18 month old--get excited), but I will say that we had a wonderful Christmas, and that every day I am grateful for the blessing of family and the greatest blessing of all, Jesus Christ!

Friday, December 23, 2011


We skip a few letters, but you get the point. :)

Christmas Letters

Every Christmas Eve, my husband and I write Christmas letters. These letters are recaps of our year and things that we are looking forward to. On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story, drink egg nog, and then read our Christmas letters. There is usually lots of laughter and a few tears as we reflect and dream.

Christmas 2009

"...Now, at the "ripe old age" of twenty-two, as an expecting mom, Christmas has never meant more to me. Our Heavenly Father sent his only Son to earth two-thousand years ago. When I think of Mary, and her fear and willingness to trust in the Lord, I am brought to tears. There is nothing holier and more meaningful than carrying life inside of you. My sweet child consumes my precious thoughts, even when I am sleeping..."

Christmas 2010

"...What a wonderful year we have had! I am so grateful this year for the birth of our sweet firstborn son. He came into the world on June 29th, and he makes me laugh every day! Who would have ever thought that we would have a calm son? Crazy! I can't believe how fast he is growing up. He will be crawling soon!..."

Christmas 2011

"...Little man has gone from being a baby to being a running chatterbox in a year! Last December, things like waking up in the middle of the night and mixing formula constantly seemed normal. This December, kicking the soccer ball, watching Fireman Sam, and time-outs seem to be the new norm. The toddler has changed so very, very much in the last year. He is such a sweetie, and surprised us all by being the most talkative little guy you ever did meet! 21 words by a year, over 100 by his 15 month checkup, and now we're practically discussing politics with our 18 month old!..."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Big Cedar Lodge

Sixteen years--that's how long I've been vacationing at Big Cedar Lodge.

Now that I'm a mommy myself, I get the privilege of taking a fun trip with my mom to Big Cedar in December. We do lots of shopping, lots of walking around and admiring the familiar beauty that I was surrounded by in my childhood summers, and lots (lots, lots) of wining and dining. :)

The view from our balcony.

Hot apple cider on a cold winter afternoon? I think so.

The best place in the entire universe to get breakfast.

I look forward all year to our trip to Big Cedar. My mom and I are best friends, and so we cherish the time together and the memories made.

Memories--this place is rich with them. Memories of tubing around Table Rock Lake with my three siblings: sunburned, freckle-faced, wearing braces, carefree. Memories of being the loudest table in Devil's Pool Restaurant. Memories of believing we were at the greatest place in the world with the greatest people in the world.

Thank God some things never change.