This Christmas season I had a hard time feeling the spirit of it all. It just didn't seem as fun for some reason, and I didn't spend a whole lot of time pondering the real reason for Christmas, so it just seemed kind of empty. We read a chaotic Christmas story to the kids on Christmas Eve and then told them to hurry and get to bed so that Santa could come, with hardly a second thought of the birth of our Savior. Christmas morning I finally felt it. We had a lot of fun opening all of our presents and of course got much more than any person really should, but the best part of Christmas came after the wrapping paper was thrown away. It came when Isaac took the time to sit down beside me and tell me how much he was thankful for the things he had been given and when he took the time to write a "thank you" note to Santa without any prompting from anyone else. It came when Carter told me what an "awesome job" I did on his army outfit and picking out his army hat. It came when my boys were happy for each other and their gifts and freely shared them (not a usual case!). It came while I was watching my family enjoy time together. It came as I finally pondered the gift of a loving Heavenly Father who sent His Son to earth for us. It came as I pondered Christ's gifts to us - His love, His example, His mercy, His forgiveness, and ultimately, His atonement. I'm so glad it came because I had a wonderful Christmas! Here are a few of my favorite pictures from Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
(Who needs a dollhouse from Santa when he brings great things like toothbrushes, toothpastes, and slim jims?)
After the tree was finally empty and the kids thought they had got all they could get, Uncle Mickey arrived with two new sets of golf clubs for the boys and a beautiful little rocking chair for Ashlyn. He took the boys outside to try them out and I'm not sure who had more fun! He's starting them early so that they are ready for a grudge match between his friend's grandchildren and our boys in fifteen years! :) It was great watching them play together and I appreciated Mickey taking the extra time to show them how it was done. Ashlyn loves her rocking chair, now. She wouldn't have a thing to do with it with a stranger watching her!
It was also a lot of fun watching Isaac try out his new bow. He really got the hang of it fast and will be quite the competition for his Dad soon!
I decided I'd like to take a shot, too, but one was one too many. I released just as Eric started to say, "You're aiming way too high." We'll always remember my shot that went a good hundred yards past the target and hit the back of the garage. We tugged and pulled, but that arrow is now a permanent fixture. Everyone had a good laugh over it except for Eric. He was too busy mourning the loss of his new arrow. Poor thing!
It has really surprised me as Ashlyn has gotten older the huge differences between boys and girls. It's funny to me how early the "mothering" kicks in. She fusses over her brothers, likes everything and everyone to be taken care of and in order, and she makes sure that our ornaments have clean pants. Not only is this reindeer getting a fresh diaper, but... (laugh...take picture...go back to what I was doing...walk by the couch...)
...what is that white stuff? Yes, that's right. No diaper rash on our reindeer!
Remind me to potty train our reindeer ornament before next Christmas!
Saturday, Santa took time out of his busy Christmas preparations to come and visit Temple First Ward. Hooray! Ashlyn wouldn't have anything to do with him - no surprise, but the boys sure were excited to see him! Before it was Carter's turn, he told me he didn't want to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, but as soon as he got on his lap he couldn't help but unload! Isaac told Santa that all he wanted for Christmas was a "happy" Christmas. He later had the same sort of conversation with Eric to which he said the same thing, but then quickly added "and a robot" at the end - just in case we needed something else to go on!
. Ashlyn got a sucker from Santa and this is where she sat the whole rest of the party. Candy has its perks. Is it really THAT bad for you???
Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas season as much as we are! The countdown is on!
Saturday I ran another 5k. Hooray! Amanda and I had talked our husbands into joining us this time, but Eric ended up having an interview in Pennsylvania. He was HEARTBROKEN he had to miss it! Right.... This one was a bit different than the last one. First of all, COLD, which I really was hoping it wouldn't be! Last year it was 70 degrees for this race, but this year it was in the 40s with a slight wind. I've decided I'm a warm weather gal. We've had several cold fronts come through earlier than usual and I'm freezing! Why exactly was Eric interviewing in Pennsylvania? Second, I didn't train as much for this one. With Thanksgiving and neverending family sickness, I didn't find my way to the gym as much as I would have liked to - plus I was just recovering from the barfs myself. With that being said, it was still great fun! I had been hoping to improve my time, but fell short by 4 secs. Not to worry, though. There's another one in March! I am definitely not a diehard runner, but I have really enjoyed having something to work for. It's something just for me and it makes me feel like I have accomplished something! Since Amanda is 5 months pregnant, she decided to take it easy and only came in second in our age group. Can you believe what a slacker she is? :) This was David's first 5K and he did awesome with a second place in his age division also. Go Team Galloway! As we were running along, it was fun to see other friends who had entered the race. Rachelle and Hayley were rockin' too! Can't wait until March!
Sunday we had Stake Conference in Killeen (30 min. away). We were 1 minute away from the parking lot when Ashlyn decided to lose her breakfast all over herself. So we pulled up, I pushed out Eric and the boys and poor Starla who was sitting next to her, cleaned Ashlyn up with wipies as best I could and headed back home. She had been showing some signs of tummy trouble in the wee hours of the morning, but I had thought it had to do with her choice of dinner the night before and my superb mother skills! Last week when we left her with my in-laws, she puked in the car for them, so then I thought maybe she's starting to get really car sick, or perhaps my mother-in-law talked her into paybacks! But alas, that wasn't the case either. At least she only threw up one more time and was a really happy girl most of the day. If only she would have kept it to herself!
Yesterday I took Ashlyn and Carter to Wal-Mart to do some grocery shopping. Halfway through (at the point where you're going to finish, even if it kills you) Ashlyn starts screaming and holding her ears, yelling "I hurts!" "I hurts!" while Carter starts moaning that his tummy doesn't feel good. They were happy all morning long, couldn't they have let me know sooner? By the time we got to the check out line, Ashlyn was under control, but Carter's moaning was increasing with a few tears attached. I grabbed a Wal-Mart bag and handed it to him - just in case. I was really hoping that he wouldn't need it, but of course he did. Luckily (for the Wal-Mart employees and other vulnerable shoppers who accidently picked the wrong line), he had good aim and the bag caught it all. I finished up and headed out the door with a cart loaded with groceries, balancing Ashlyn with the hand I'm pushing the cart with, and Carter slung over my shoulder. No, there wasn't a "Ma'am, would you like help out with your groceries today?" That's okay. I can handle anything! :) That's why when I got to the car and everyone and everything was loaded I called Eric and said, "I need help!" Okay, so it wasn't so much an exclamation mark urgent call, more of a whiny, I'm tired with no sleep call. Being the good husband that he his, he ended his golf game (4th year is finally paying off) and headed straight home. He unloaded the groceries from the car while I played nursemaid. Isn't he great?
Carter had it much worse then Ashlyn. He threw up several times yesterday. He was so thirsty, but every time he took a sip, up it came. He finally turned a corner that evening and was sneaking upstairs to "go to the bathroom" so that he could drink water out of the sink. I wasn't about to give him anymore!
Isaac has been avoiding the younger two's illnesses so far, but not this time! At about 4:45 this morning I hear, "Moooommm!" Yep, all over his bed. He seems to be handling it more like Ashlyn, but poor Carter had an attack of "sneaky poo" this morning and has already vomitted again.
So, previously when I said that we were all healthy and happy, I forgot to knock on wood. But we sure did enjoy Friday and Saturday while they lasted!
That's right! Christmas tree picking time! Friday we bundled up and headed to Salado to their Christmas tree farm. See how excited Ashlyn is? Every good tree farm has a hay ride. They took us around to see all of the trees and down a nature trail equipped with "rare bats" (baseball bats hanging in the trees) and "lost souls" (shoes hanging from the trees). Every strawberry patch, pumpkin patch, or tree farm that I've been to has had at least one of those jokes. It was pretty funny trying to explain the "lost soles" to Isaac. He just didn't get it. Maybe it will be funnier the next time? They had a haystack that the boys had a lot of fun jumping and sliding on.
Eric and Ashlyn weren't quite as successful as the boys were!
We finally found the perfect tree! It's a fairly new farm, so they didn't have many trees to choose from for cutting, so we had to resort to a pre-cut one. It's a winner! They also had hot cider, hot chocolate, and popcorn for us to enjoy. Perfect ending!
(Note: Family picture and Ashlyn doesn't have her fingers in her mouth!)
The boys were very patient while we got the tree inside and strung with lights and cranberries. Unfortunately, Ashlyn didn't last and missed out on all of the ornament hanging festivities.
Most of this week was spent tending sick kids. Carter and Ashlyn both got a really bad cold that has been going around. They were MISERABLE! High fevers, snotty noses, ear infections, the works.
Ashlyn kept this pose for a whole day, just in various places around the house. She'd try to take a few steps, and then collapse in a new heap. She was too sad looking to ever take any more pictures. Carter often has funny sleeping poses, but I thought this was great. Look at his face and you can tell he doesn't feel good, but other than that it looks like he's just chillin'.
Thankfully nobody else got the bug and everyone is healthy again! I just about crumbled in a heap of joy when Ashlyn finally woke up and smiled at me...after sleeping the whole night through, along with her brother! Sleep, oh precious sleep!
We've all had several conversations of "Remember whens?". "Remember when their was no internet?" "Remember when we had to do research in a library and use a card catalog?" "Remember when 'Saved By the Bell' was the most important thing in our lives?" "Remember when gas was affordable?" (Thank goodness we don't have to have that last conversation too often anymore!) Our "remember whens" are usually pretty telling of our age. I was riding with my mother-in-law a long time ago and was laughing at her when her "remember when" was 40 or 50 years ago, and then cried when my following one was already 10-20 years ago. This morning Carter was watching morning cartoons and looked at me with a very thoughtful gaze and said "Mom, remember when 'Super Why' wasn't even ON pbs kids?" Can you believe that was so long ago? I think, maybe February? Kind of funny!
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had as wonderful of a holiday as we did! We spent the holiday in Lexington with my in-laws and they were gracious enough to let us invite a few friends for lunch, too. Our crowd consisted of us, the Hadley's, the Cervantes', the Walkers', Eric's parents, Meemaw, Aunt Elaine with Angie and Jordan, and Uncle Roger. It was a houseful, but that's what Thanksgiving is all about!
Ashlyn did an excellent job of supervising the morning preparations.
Here are a few of the kids. I didn't do a great job with taking pictures this year.
Jordan and Isaac taking down there Thanksgiving dessert!
Claudia showed us all up shooting. Her husband, Glenn, said that now she's been offically Americanized! There's no place like Texas! It's hard for me to give up the wishbone to the next generation, but I decided to be the bigger person and let the kids do it. Deep breath... Hooray for Carter! (I'm sure the second hand on his side had nothing to do with his victory!)
Ashlyn was content all weekend as long as she had a book and was often chasing us around with big armfuls of them, so we decided to leave her with Nana and Papa and take the boys for some real fun....Sea World!
The 4-D theater was showing a portion of "The Polar Express." The snowflakes and spurts of Hot Chocolate flavored air was enough to get anyone in the spirit!
The boys didn't want their picture taken with "Shamu" Claus, so Eric and I had Isaac take OUR picture. Someone had to have one!
When we went to Sea World in May it was only a few more dollars to get a two-day pass, so we went this time to use the second day. Since it was paid for so long ago, it felt like a free trip, so we splurged a little and got some fish for the boys to feed the dolphins.
We were watching a scuba diver feed the manta rays, when Santa thought that he'd like to take a dive! I love the glow around the boys' heads as they went to say "hello."
Eric won't ride roller coasters with me, so I have to get my thrills on the kid rides with the kids. I'm not embarrassing Isaac, am I?
Carter just being cute!
We liked the Christmas Shamu show better than the regular season. It was the highlight for Isaac and Carter and Eric, too!
We love Ashlyn to pieces, but it sure was a different experience without her! It was great not fighting a baby or pushing a stroller or changing diapers, or, or, or....
After Sea World, we stopped off at IHOP for some pancakes, then headed back to Lexington to rest and relax for another day. I had such a FABULOUS weekend and loved taking the time to reflect on all of my many blessings, especially with all of my favorite ones surrounding me!