Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Longest Christmas Celebration Ever!

We had such a great experience this holiday! It JUST ended though! I have so many pictures to post that I don't know that I can write very much about all we did. Bur of course, I'll try. =) But it was very special, and Jonah was such a sweetheart through it all. Our first family Christmas celebration was with my mom's side of the family. My aunts, uncle, cousins and their kids all met in Athens for our usual wacky get-together. Really, it gets a little loud and crazy, and I wouldn't want it any other way. It's one of my favorite days of the year! We play crazy games and just laugh a whole lot. Jonah just loves my cousin's kids from Lufkin and is so excited to play with them. We played this game where there were four teams, and one person from each team was the reindeer. The reindeer wore on their head a pair of pantyhose with a hole cut in between the legs, and his team members raced to blow up balloons and stuff it into the pantyhose legs to make antlers. As you can tell below, Jonah was the reindeer for his team.

Sweet Reese and her cutie-pie belly:

Following games, a delicious meal, and a gift exchange, my aunt Joy and Joe presented all the kids with their Christmas gift, which was a horse-drawn trailer ride around the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights. It was such a special treat! We bundled up and went for a ride:

My cousin Lacey and her boyfriend Ben:

The next day, Jonah and I rode with my parents to Lufkin to spend Christmas Eve afternoon with my dad's side of the family. It had been a number of years since I'd been to a family gathering there, so it was a good time. But it was quite a scary night. My cousin Melody had a seizure and fell out of a barstool and hit the hard floor with her face. Thankfully, she is ok. At the time, we had no idea what had happened, figured it was a seizure, but since she hadn't had one before, you wondered if it could be a stroke. But all tests and brain scans came back clear. It was just one of those reminders of how quickly things can change. One second, everything is ok, and the next, everything has changed. I couldn't stop thinking about how blessed I am every second that things are ok! I certainly was reminded to take time to appreciate every dear person I was with this Christmas and to value those relationships above any activity of the holidays. Joel was busy at church with Christmas Eve services, and next year, we will be joining him there. But this year, I decided it would be a good opportunity to see the Luces, since childcare wasn't available for the church services and I was a little scared of how Jonah would act in a quiet, worshipful setting at this age!

Then, we had our first Christmas morning to not travel anywhere after doing our own little family celebration. Jonah had fun with what Santa brought him. It was a sweet experience with the two boys I love...I treasure the memories of what Jonah's little attitude was like that day. He was precious, not even knowing how to really be greedy or selfish at this point. I'm sure it will never be quite like that again! But it ministered to me, and it's always humbling when God uses your two-year old to model for you what you should be living but aren't! It was a perfect day together.

Following our own time opening gifts at home, we went over to my parent's house and celebrated with them. We ate waffles for dinner that my mom made with her new Belgian waffle maker, and Jonah graced us with the original performance of "the waffle dance" which he will happily do any time he thinks he might get to eat waffles in return. My parents' main gift to Jonah was a couple sets of these cardboard "brick" boxes. These were one of my favorite toys I never had from childhood! My friend Drew Pierce had them, and we used to always build cool forts and play all kinds of "war" games with them, so I was really excited about Jonah getting these. Later that night, my aunt and uncle Joy and Joe and my cousin Lacey came over. Joe and Joy competed against each other in making the tallest block towers ever - thanks for setting the bar so high for us in playing with these, guys!

A couple days later, we took off to Oklahoma and spent several days at Joel's mom's. That Saturday, all of Joel's family gathered together to celebrate, where we found ourselves blessed like crazy. My sweet sister-in-law Jen treated me to a manicure and pedicure at this great new place in Bartlesville (wish it had been there when I lived there!) and there's no better time that's appreciated than when you're pregnant! Too bad the girl doing my pedicure had to deal with my unshaven legs. I did feel bad about that. But it was incredibly relaxing and such a sweet gift. I think the place is called Stranded - for any of you Bville girls who may care to know. It's really cute. If I'm wrong, maybe Jen will feel compelled to comment on here and let you know what it is really called. =) We also had a celebratory dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant there in honor of Joel completing the last of his hours towards his seminary degree. I'm so proud of my husband for this accomplishment. Also while in Bartlesville, we went over to Courtney's house and let Jonah and Jackson play together. They played so well together and are really quite funny! At one point it was quiet in the bedroom, so we went back to check and found them in the bathroom with the door closed, playing quietly in the bathtub. When they realized we had found them, they laughed so big like they had been playing a trick on us and considered themselves pretty funny. Too short of a visit, but it was good to see that sweet family.

Jonah and his cousin McKenna:

We came back in town on Tuesday night about five minutes after my brother and his family arrived at my parents' house. It was such a fun time with those kiddos. They are really changing and growing so much. Joel and I were talking tonight about how encouraging it is to see how they have grown up in so many ways....we've always respected Blake and Amy's parenting and discipline strategies, but it's great to see their work really pay off as their kids get older. It's just very encouraging to those of us who are still in the season of toddler tantrums! We celebrated Christmas with them on Wednesday, and Jonah had so much fun with his cousins. He cried this morning when they left. He was trying to hold in the emotion and be brave, but it was obvious that he was just heartbroken. Good-byes are getting much harder for him now that he actually understands that they live far away and realizes he won't see them for a long time. We're hoping he and I can go to Kentucky in March and meet the new little baby that's due next month - praying that that works out. But if it doesn't, it may be June before we see them again, and that's the longest we've ever gone between seeing them. I'd be one sad aunt if that happened. Good thing they have me praying for them to move back to Texas. =) Oh yes, speaking of their baby, Amy looks adorable. And tiny. It makes me just a little sick. Good thing she's sweet and I love her because now would be the perfect time to not like her! She makes one gorgeous pregnant woman. It's really fun when one of your family members points out that you look almost just as pregnant as your sister-in-law who's due three months before you. Yep. Fun times.

Sweet Maggie turned three on Friday, and it was fun to be able to be with her on her birthday. It involved going out for donuts, going to the Discovery Science Place where I had to put some mean little unsupervised kids in their place and make them wait their turn for things instead of stealing toys from my son, and eating cake and watching her open presents. Three year old girl toys really are cool. I'm a little jealous of her baby doll that turns her head to Maggie's voice when she holds her, makes sleeping sounds, and cries real tears. It was incredible! Anyway, that Mag Pie is really funny. Her personality has blossomed so much, and she just kept me laughing the whole week. She and Jonah really got along well this time. Nathan is changing really fast. He is still so intentional with Jonah though, loving him and playing sweetly with him as the big cousin. They left this morning, and we already are missing them a bunch.

We are looking forward to having a few days of nothingness going on. My house is a wreck from all of our travels and spending most of our waking hours at my parent's house the last week. So we need to get reorganized at this house and rest up. Tomorrow is our doctor's appointment and sonogram (20 weeks!), and later in the week, Jonah and I are making a trip to Houston to see my friend Angela and my cousin Lacey. So we just have a few days to re-energize, but starting next week, it will really slow back down for quite a while, which is what we need right now. I have had lots I've wanted to write about during the last few weeks, so hopefully soon there will be time for more blogging. For now, loads and loads of laundry are calling.


Courtney said...

yeah fun pics and we loved having you all over! come again :)

the melton's said...

Wow...that was a busy Christmas. I'm glad Jonah had so much fun. Can't wait to hear about your sonogram! :)

Christa said...

I need to find out what that doll is called. Sounds really cool and little Becca will be 3 in April.

Your holiday sounds even more exhausting than mine and you are pregnant on top of that. You and you Christmas energy have amazed me from the get-go. I don't think I could have squeezed one more thing into our holiday season.