Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas 2011

Our Christmas turned into one of the longest holidays ever! It lasted a week with not one but two visits from Santa! Such spoiled children. 
Our first Christmas happened at Grandmere's house on the 21st, where Santa made an early visit.
Sterling had a blast banging on the drums when we went to Mississippi in November, so Santa decided he needed his own drum set. This also meant that Santa's little elf (clearing throat), was up until 4-stinking-A-M putting this drum kit together. 
The kids have spent the past month asking for every toy they see in every store. I kept saying "make sure you tell Santa that's what you want for Christmas." After a while Ella moved on to asking for things for her birthday (in March). On of the things Ella had wanted "for her birthday" was Light Sprites. When she opened to box she said, "I wanted these for my birthday, but Santa brought them for me instead!" She was thrilled!
Uncle Billy helping Sterling to unwrap a gift. 
I love his sweet little feet poking out from under his new toy. 
The tree, *almost* cleared of it's gifts. 
Working together to get the job done...also known as Ella had torn through all of her packages and had moved onto "assisting" Sterling in opening his. 
We spent Christmas at home this year for the first time since we bought this house a couple years ago. 
Santa had come and gone, and the house sat silently waiting for our two sleepy heads to finally wake up. 
The stockings which were hung by the chimney with care, were overflowing and could no longer hang they were so heavy! It goes without saying that Santa overbought for the stockings this year.
Santa left a variety of wrapped and unwrapped gifts. Michael grew up in a house where Santa left gifts opened under the tree, versus I grew up in a household where the only gifts left unwrapped were the oversized gifts. So, this is our compromise. Some things are wrapped, some things are unwrapped with batteries in place and ready to play. 
Our greatest Christmas surprise of all this year was Michael joining us. He flew in from Texas where he has been working on the 23rd. He had to fly back out on the 26th, but we were all so grateful to have him home for the holidays. 
Ella examining her loot. 
Sterling was thrilled with every. single. item he pulled out of his stocking. Each new thing was met with plenty of "oh wow", "cool", "oh my gosh"!
He's been wanting a trailer for his tractor...just like Granddaddy! 
This Crayon Maker has turned out to be a really cool gift!

The gifts from Santa were plentiful at our house too. I'm telling you, these two were s-p-o-i-l-e-d this year! 

Showing mommy a new Cars book.
So happy to have daddy home for Christmas! A Merry Christmas indeed.
Seriously? It looked like a war zone here with the wrapping paper strewn everywhere! 

The most surprising gift Santa brought this year was a pair of parakeets. The kids love them and immediately named them "Ella & Sterling". Shocking, I know. 
Getting ready to head to the church for service on Christmas morning after all the presents were opened.
When we got home from church, Grandmother and Granddaddy arrived for a Christmas visit, bringing you guessed it, more gifts! We had a lovely lunch with them and enjoyed seeing them. 
Christmas evening we headed to Grammy's house for Christmas with Maddox and Lucy. 
Amy had all the children singing a round of "Jingle Bells" and "Away in a Manger". They loved it!
Of course, there was an abundance of gifts awaiting us at Grammy's house too. Truly, next year we may have to trim down the number of gifts they receive, or we're going to have to expand the playroom! 
We truly had a fantastic and blessed Christmas this year, and hope that everyone else had just as nice of a holiday! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

December 2011

As promised, since last month was so slim on pics, this month is over flowing with pics! We stayed busy, busy, busy for almost all of December. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this Christmas season, and celebrated with a variety of fun activities, but man was it tiring! In looking back, I'm really not sure how we made it threw it all! Phew! 
 We attended a living nativity with Lucy and Maddox in Decatur, AL.

 Yes, this was a living nativity unlike any I've ever seen. There were princesses and cartoon characters galore, along with the more traditional holy family, wise men, and livestock. The kids absolutely enjoyed it, even if at times it felt more like a Disney production than the telling of the Christmas story.
Last year we made gingerbread house with our bud, Ollie. This year we made a reindeer snack with him. 

Ta-da! The finished product. A yummy reindeer treat! 
We managed to squeeze in a trip to have Christmas pictures made this year. No, this did not result in actually sending out Christmas cards, but perhaps I'll find time in the new year to send out some new pictures to family!
I love this picture. It so typifies their relationship. 

This picture is so special to me. Two years ago, we had virtually this same picture made. Each child sat in the same place, although they were slightly smaller! At that point it was 3 two-year-olds and a one-year-old. Now they're 3 four-year-olds and a three-year-old. Try saying that fast! Anyhow, it was immediately following Christmas that Sterling began his battle with epilepsy and Doose syndrome. I have looked at the original picture over the last two years with a bit of melancholy. In my head it was most directly linked to the world "before" epilepsy. I associated it with the last fleeting days before my world came crashing down around me. Before I knew about seizures. Before I knew that little boys could wake up one morning and be forever changed. Before I would watch my child suffer thousands of seizures only to be lost into a world where I wasn't sure we'd ever find him again. Looking at the original picture I felt, I don't know, cheated? Maybe a little bitter at the mom I was "before"? The mom who thought making it through a twin pregnancy and NICU stay was the worst it would ever get for her children? So now, seeing this picture gives me a sense of coming full circle. To see the light back on in his eyes. To know that he's been through some of the very darkest hours, but he's triumphing makes my heart swell. He's almost that little boy he was "before", but I don't think I'll ever be that mom I was "before". 
Okay, how incredibly sweet is this picture? 
This year the day school hosted a breakfast with Santa. I'm so glad we had the chance to visit with jolly old Saint Nick, it was the only visit we managed to squeeze in this year!
 There's trouble. Just look at that smug mug.

Having fun at our MOPS Family Christmas Party making ornaments and enjoying time with friends. 
Ella had her Christmas performance at school one evening. The children were all precious and sang beautifully. I love how she's walking holding up her skirt in the above picture, don't you? 

I know this is one thing I'll miss next year when they go to kindergarten, these sweet little preschool programs. I still vaguely remember my own preschool programs at Norcross FUMC. I hope Ella will look back one day, and remember fondly this evening. 
They combined the preK 4 & 5 classes for the performance. 

 Ella and Maria have been such good little friends during their time at the day school.
 It actually makes me really sad to think that these little girls will all go their separate ways next year with the start of kindergarten.
 Chilling like villains.

Ella with one of her much beloved teachers, Ms. Regina. 
 With a little help from classmate, Sydney, Sterling builds a gingerbread house at his holiday party at school.

 So proud (of the boy and his house)!
 Sterling's masterpiece! Fully loaded with TONS of candy.
 One of the things that makes me happiest about Sterling's class this year is the fact that he has several children in his class whom he has known since we moved back to the states two years ago. He and his buddy Henry spend lots of time building train tracks for Thomas and his friends.
 Another one of Sterling's besties, Ollie. How would you like to have these two goof balls in your class? Argh, matey.
Ella's dance studio put on a special mini recital for Christmas. No fancy costumes, but the girls still loved the chance to preform! 
So, Ella has a habit of messing with her skirt in ballet class. She often will pull it up around her chest, and look like a fool. So before dropping her off backstage, I made sure to tell her to "leave her skirt down", and off I went to find a seat. Well, the curtain opened, and there stood my child with her skirt nearly around her knees! Oh boy, I guess she was doing what I told her to do. Perhaps I just needed to be more specific? That's my little sugar plum fairy! 

Ella is also taking Jazz & Tap this year.
Their teacher calls this "sugar hands". 

 Doing the candy cane twist.
 The divas post-performance.
 Immediately following the dance recital, we rushed as fast as we could to the church (okay, so it was only a block away) for the children's first attempt at being part of the Christmas pageant. This year there were 32 angels to include Ella and Sterling.

My little angel waiting to go "on stage". 
Can you pick out Ella making that cheese face? 
Oh boy, angelic he is not. Thankfully, my wild child made it through with very little disruption. 
He refused to wear his halo. He wore it for rehearsal, but then flat refused to wear it for the actual performance. That was simply one of those battles I couldn't bring myself to fight. So, an angel with no halo he was. 
 Post Christmas we decided to have a Willy Wonka viewing party at Becky's house. Look at this candy table! Isn't it incredible? You know the kids were wild about this idea. Serious sugar overload here.
 Truly two peas in a pod.
 Willy Wonka was surprisingly a hit. Of course it was the old school version (although, who doesn't love Johnny Depp?), and yes, we fast forwarded through the boring or scary scenes. Grandpa Joe getting out of bed and dancing? Boring! Slugworth stalking Charlie? Way too scary for this crowd. There's just something to be said for Gene Wilder and the Wonka we were raised on.
 The mamas/aunts/ in our pj's.
And of course, a group shot with the kiddletts. 
This group of kiddos spent time last Christmas together, so we had to get a picture of them all together again this year. Won't it be fun to watch them grow over the years? 
 And this is just a random post-Christmas picture for your viewing pleasure. This is how Ella dressed herself for a quick Target run. Gotta love a girl in a fur coat and bunny boats!
And this would be how we rang in the New Year. Wild and crazy times at our house I tell you! Pizza, fizzy apple cider, a fire and a movie. Nothing spectacular, but just the same, I want to remember the night. Happy New Year to all!