Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Have you forgotten about Christmas already? Is this post too late?

Merry Christmas and welcome to 2015!  I know everyone is saying it, but I can't believe it's 2015.  I told my kids I was born in 1978 and Ella just stared at me in shock.  Apparently being born in a different century is unfathomable.

Growing up, we had three Christmases each year.  On Christmas day we celebrated at home with our immediate family, but we also had celebrations at both grandparents' houses with those cousins, aunts, uncles, the whole nine yards.  It was wonderful.

Now, we have four Christmases.  Four.  We added our Lewis celebration to what was already a crazy amount of celebration and I love every. single. minute. of it.  Christmas is my favorite holiday, hands down, and the more celebration the better!  I'm all in.  Seriously, ask me how my pants are fitting.

I decided the best way to go about this Christmas review is to go chronologically.  I think it will all make more sense that way.

We started the week off the right way, with my sister and brother-in-law coming into town from NYC with their firecracker, Elijah.

I could not love that child more.  They spent the night with us before going down to my parents' house.

We trekked down to my parents' house for the Woodard family Christmas {my mom's side}.  She had set up this little table in the kitchen for the littles to eat in view.  We also had them eat before the adults and then put a movie on so that we could eat like civilized adult people.  Let's just say we learned from Thanksgiving.

My sister and I with my grandmother, who is in her nineties and as feisty as they come.

I haven't been in a bloggy frame of mind, so my pictures are very sporadic, but at least I took pictures this year.  Woo hoo, me.

This is my Aunt Janet and Uncle R.J.'s family.  These are the cousins we grew up with the most because they're closest to our ages.

This is my family, minus my brother.  Though the Lewis men in the picture don't show it, we really did have a good time.

After a great day of much food and talking and food and presents and food and singing and food, it was back to our house for a few days before more partying ensued.  That kind of rhymed.

One of the highlights of this year for me was that Ella is finally old enough to take to see the Nutcracker.  I didn't want to take her before she was old enough to remember it, but I think she's finally there.  We got all dolled up {apparently I only have one dolling up dress} and got our pitcher took by that thar tree, and headed into downtown for the show.

The only thing was, we went on Sunday and the show, well, the show wasn't until Tuesday.

blissfully unaware

Handsome Hero and I BOTH read the tickets wrong, but it all worked out.  Handsome Hero actually took her on Tuesday, and on Sunday after our failed attempt, we took advantage of our cuteness to go out to dinner together and walk around old town Knoxville.  Ella really made out pretty well with a dress up date with mom and dad each in one week!

I took the boys and went back to mom and dad's so my sister and I could go shopping for my mom's presents with dad.  It's our second annual Daddy-Daughter-Christmas-Shopping-For-Mom trip and we are loving it.  We need a better title, though.  The DDCSFM?  We didn't actually go, however, until the next day.  Jack suddenly got really sick, as in 104 fever and just miserable.  He always scares me when he gets sick - it's always severe.  On thing you can say for Jack, he doesn't do anything halfway.

Jack was feeling better on Christmas Eve, so the DDCSFM could commence!  It was awesome, as we knew it would be.  My dad LOVES shopping for my mom, and it has long been a tradition for him to show his girls all his gifts for my mom on Christmas Eve, though I'm pretty sure that's so that we'll help him wrap. I'm on to you, Dad.

The worst part of my Christmas was missing the Christmas Eve service at my parents' church.  It is a highlight of my year, not to mention of this season, so to miss it was really terrible, but I had begun to feel sick myself and I couldn't let Jack go.  Handsome Hero would have stayed with Jack if he had been there, but he and Ella didn't get in until later.  The service was wonderful, I heard, as always, and while I'm sad I missed it, I'm already looking forward to next year.

We started the day out like this.

Stockings in our house are BIG DEALS.  This year was no exception.  We had all collected things for them throughout the year, and the kids' stockings were overflowing into separate bags.  We don't even try to hang them up.  They'd just rip.  Why, yes, we do go overboard with stockings,and no, I'm not apologetic at all.  Why do you ask?

My mom made all of our stockings, and they are awesome because they stretch so far.  You would not believe what you can fit in those things {though the kids' are smaller and don't fit as much}.  Our always have socks, a toothbrush, toiletry things like emery boards, nail polish, lotions, and fun kitchen stuff like cute cookie cutters or places card holders.  And thank you cards.  We always get thank you cards.  A wee hint, if you will.

Above is Ella's pose du season. For this post I had to look for pictures that didn't have her striking this pose.  As she looked through the pictures with me, she said, "I do not like how my arms are always up,"  She hasn't done it since.

We take a high/low approach to kid stockings.  There are some things in there that are nicer, but most things are needed and/or come from the dollar spot at Target or Dollar Tree or something like that. Not happy meal stuff but little coloring books and such.  Underwear and socks are always in there, which are some of the only clothes I don't buy on consignment.

Nate still hasn't finished this candy cane.

The adults mostly just watched the kids and then opened our stockings more slowly while the kids were playing with their loot.

I'm wearing these same pj's as I type this post.  I am so comfy right now.

Elijah loves Jack.  Loves him.  He calls Nate "baby" but wants to play with Jack.  Jack is officially flattered.  And a wee bit battered.  There I go rhyming again.

My brother and Ella have this bond.  I think it's that they are both so weird.  

I should probably add here that Ella had an eye infection and she didn't want to chance touching her eye and spreading it so she found a pair of Handsome Hero's safety glasses and wore them all day, every day, until the infection was gone. It was really cute and thoughtful!

A neighbor came by to take our picture.  It was a great idea, and one I think we'll continue.  It's so nice to have everyone in one shot!

After stockings and getting dressed, it was time for breakfast.  After breakfast, it was time to go into the living room where the big presents were {as in, these won't fit in the stretchy stockings}.  Growing up, the presents were hidden behind closed doors until time to open.  Then there was a grand reveal. Mom and dad's house now has no doors to open, and they didn't have a tree this year, anyway. 

Oh, but don't worry.  We still had the glow of Christmas lights.

My mom decorated my sister's senior art show piece, which is a huge sculpture of a woman, with lights and Nate's Christmas hat.  She's a card, that lady.  My mom, I mean.  I don't know if the clay lady is a card.  She doesn't say much.

Before we opened gifts, we listened to the Christmas story.

Nate illustrated using this wooden nativity.  See Mary riding the camel?

Jack thought the sheep were very acrobatic.  And apparently the wise men brought them gifts, too.

And Elijah listened while crawling through the furniture.

Then it was time for presents!  We open one gift at a time, from youngest to oldest.

Ella got a doll she promptly named Lucy.

This doggy received several nice things, also.

Nate could not understand how a mitten could turn your hand green.

This year my grandmother got all of her grandsons plaid lounge pants.  My brother, David, is showing how an incredibly fashionable a mountain hippie in high waters can be.

side note - I am so thankful for a family where there is no difference between the kids born to you and the ones married in.  Once you're here, you're truly family. I love that.

On Christmas night, we kept with another tradition by going to the Electric Power Board in downtown Chattanooga, where they have magical Christmas window displays.

Of course, I have no pictures of the displays themselves - only the people looking at them.

The little guys, especially, loved it.

I mean, Nate thought it was cool, but Elijah kept licking the windows to show his delight.  He's part canine.

My sister really didn't just let him do that, like the picture above looks - she noticed what he was doing right as I took the picture.  

Jack gets giddy about things like this.  I hope he stays that way for a long time.

Such a cute profile.  Nate would just stand in front of a window and take it all in.

Ella didn't want to miss a thing.  So, she brought her "monoclears."

It was a great time.

We headed home earlier than we had planned, missing out on Christmas number three, the Phillips side, because we were too sick to be there.  All but Handsome Hero had some level of sickness.  We got home and rested and waited until we felt better to have our own family's Christmas.  It was very relaxed.  I have no clue why Nate was crying in this picture.  Is it wrong that I think it's funny?  It's just so iconic to have the youngest crying.

We had some visitors who were very excited to see what we got for Christmas.

We started off with a package of stocking stuffers Handsome Hero's parents had sent.  It was fun getting to open "stockings" again.

After those, we had breakfast.  I had grand plans of making a homemade pastry, but still didn't have any energy back from being sick, and Handsome Hero rescued me by coming home with these cheese danishes.  I love him.

Then it was on to PRESENTS!!  AGAIN!!!

 These pictures are hysterical to me.  Nate can be very stoic.  Even when opening gifts.

He's not excited.

He plods along.

Note:  all of this time is for one gift.

There we are!  Excitement!  Or, perhaps he's yodeling?

This one, on the other hand, got very excited about everything, especially this snow globe given to her by her aunt.  It replaces one that met an untimely death at the hands of her younger brothers.

I will say there is a great side to Nate's stoicism.

He's able to keep those fake mustaches on for a really long time.

No smiling and disturbing the glue.

He's hard core.

The next days were spent recovering, relaxing, and enjoying having Handsome Hero home.  I, especially, reaped the benefits of his vacation days.  He had me sleep in every day because I was not sleeping at night due to coughing.  You know, there are days when you have to get up and make it through on no sleep.  That's life.  But having a spouse who makes it his mission to make this time easier, well, that's divine right there.

My sister and nephew came back to stay with us for a new days.  My brother-in-law had to go back early, but we got to keep these two for a bit.  It's always crazy when you add another kiddo.

Sometimes, crazy isn't sufficient.

Of course, these things happen at our house with or without additional children.  We loved having them for a few extra days!  It was a wonderful end to the season before getting back to normal.

As I said, normal.