Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

We had a lovely Christmas, and I hope you all did too! Although we missed being with family this year, it was also really, really nice not to have to travel, especially since we were all just sick.  We needed a vacation where we just stayed home!
 We went to the Christmas Eve service at church, and I coerced everyone into a group picture, since we were all dressed up at the same time, a rare occurance indeed.  Unfortunately our church doesn't do a ton of decorating, so there wasn't really a Christmas-y place to take a picture, except in front on one pretty small tree that you wouldn't have even been able to see with all of us in front of it, and it was surrounded by people anyway.  So instead we opted for this lovely wall.

Bob and I stayed up way too late Wednesday night finishing up the wrapping and food preparation, and trying to get the main floor clean.  And it was clean--for one night at least.  My little Christmas miracle!

But our kids aren't the early rising type (whew!).  The girls got up at 8:00, and I got up a little later so I could start breakfast cooking and shower before nursing Verity (she's not an early riser either--yay!).
 Here we all are waiting for Nathan and Luke.  Drew and Micah would have still been sleeping at this point too, if we hadn't woken them up, and Drew did not take very kindly to the intrusion.  The day before, I had gone through the tubs of too-big clothes in Caleb and Jonathan's closet, and we found these big sleepers in there.  Nathan and Luke used to wear them, and Caleb and Jonathan decided they should wear them in a nod to Christmas morning tradition--everyone should open stockings in fleecy footie pajamas on Christmas morning, right?
 Before eating, we took this rather big selfie of all of us.  I saw on facebook that someone's relative had given "selfie poles" to people, and that is definitely what we need to get everyone in!  For breakfast I made cinnamon rolls and a ham/hash brown breakfast casserole.  I was worried about the cinnamon rolls because when I made the dough the night before, the jar I retrieved from the back of the fridge had a "use by" date of May, 2012.  Whoops!  Clearly I have not been doing much bread-baking lately!  It did proof, so I went ahead.  The rolls probably weren't as fluffy as they would have been with fresh yeast, but oh well, they still did rise, and they were yummy.
 While opening presents, we had the present-opener (going from youngest to oldest) sit in this special chair while everyone else sat on the couch and watched (except when they wanted a better look so they crowded around).  Here you can see Anna was totally thrilled to receive a pair of boots again this year--her big wish!

 Actually the system did work pretty well.  With this many people, and still so many young ones, there's really no great way for calm, orderly present-opening that doesn't take an entire day.  I like what my friend Carri, who also has 10 kids, does:  each kid distributes their presents to their siblings on one day (as in one kid per day), so the focus is more on giving than on receiving.  Maybe next year!  Probably the thing I enjoy most about exchanging presents is seeing what the kids choose to get their siblings.  They all love to get gifts for everyone else!  It was so helpful to have Nathan driving this year, so he could ferry some of the kids around.  
 Bob and I were really excited to receive these incredibly neat carved coasters my dad brought back from South Africa with him, as well as carved salad tongs with giraffes as handles.  If we have you over, I'll be sure to serve salad so you can see them, because somehow they didn't make it into the picture!

I actually received my favorite gift last Friday--a new dishwasher!  Yes, it *finally* made its way to Lowes while we were at Great Wolf Lodge, so Bob picked it up Friday afternoon after work.  He stayed up super late Friday night to install it.  I'm so thankful to be married to such a handy guy!  *He* is actually my favorite gift--this year and every year!  The dishwasher, a KitchenAid this time, is working well so far.  Give it a few months of our heavy use though . . .  I definitely do not miss washing all those dishes by hand.  A wonderful Christmas gift indeed!
 After presents, we sent the kids outside to play because it was a lovely 55 degree day.  Bob took them to a nearby field to shoot bows and arrows while I got dinner ready.  As we were waiting for dinner to finish cooking, my brother called--he and his girls were skyping with my parents, and they wanted us to join in on the call!  We got the 3-way skype to work (it's free now--up to 10 lines!), and we had a great visit.  My dad read the portions of Scripture that we always read in our birthday party for Jesus, and we sung the carols together.  Not as good as being together, but better than nothing!  My sister-in-law Melinda was not there.  She was with her brother who had flown out to TX to visit them, along with her parents.  But her brother had to be admitted to the hospital Christmas Eve, and will need surgery there in Texas, it looks like.  We're praying for him, but also for all of them, with all the decisions that need to be made, and with an unfamiliar team of doctors in a different city.
In this somewhat out-of-order picture, Drew and Micah are proudly displaying their gifts from Nathan and Luke.  Back in 2000, the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City.  We were still stationed in Colorado Springs, and for Christmas 2000 we drove to Salt Lake City to spend Christmas with my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, and my Nana and Papa, who were living with them.  My parents drove out from Ohio, and my brother came from CA, and we were all together for such a wonderfully happy Christmas--never to be repeated, since Papa died the next spring.  He and Nana gave Nathan and Luke these bears, with symbols for joy and peace, from the Olympics.  Nathan and Luke loved the bears, but the past few years, they have lived on the top shelf of their closet.  So Nathan and Luke decided Micah and Drew would probably really enjoy them, so they gave the bears to them for Christmas.  The bears have a new life!  I love that Micah and Drew have a connection to the Nana and Papa that they will never meet this side of heaven!
 Verity is modeling a headband from Aunt Ann, who also gave her 2 very adorable hats!  Verity was watching us play a new game for us, Pandemic.  I heard good things about the game on the Well-Trained Mind board, and I really liked it a lot.  The premise is that there are 4 different plagues sweeping the globe, and you have to work with the other players to cure/eradicate the diseases before the outbreaks overtake everywhere and humanity is lost.  So instead of competing directly against the other players, you are all working to defeat the diseases.  It was fun!
And lastly we sang "Happy Birthday" again to Jesus, and ate birthday cake in his honor.  This is a ceremonial picture with our giant spatula.  This spatula was a gift from our friends Jerry and Louise.  Louise actually won the spatula a few months ago because she is an excellent cook and won a chili cook-off at our church.  Alas, they simply could not find a use for this practical utensil, so they generously passed it along to us.  We like to take pictures with it because it is really funny.  Actually, we did finally realize the perfect use for this spatula--flipping over a turkey.  On Thanksgiving, I like to roast the turkey breast-side down for the first while, to keep the white meat moist, and then flip the bird over so the breast isn't a sickly shade of white.  The boys and I struggled to turn the 24-pound bird over, and after we had accomplished the task, albeit not very gracefully, we realized that what we really could have used was a gigantic spatula--AND WE HAD ONE HANGING FROM OUR POT RACK!  So next year, we will be ready.  In the meantime, the giant spatula just gets ceremonial shots.

Merry Christmas!  May you all be able to find places in your house for all the gifts you unwrapped!

No comments: