I've really done it this time--going almost 2 months with nary a post! Yikes!
Suffice it to say, we are well.
We had a wonderful, joy-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas, complete with family (mine at T-giving, Geoff's and my parents at Christmas!), good food, and cheer. It seemed like one holiday rolled right into the other, which meant despite my best anticipation, I was still very busy right up until the end.
Thanksgiving: My sister and her family traveled from Ohio and my parents from Florida to all be together under one roof for four days. It was so great and we all reveled in time with one another. Everyone had his own space, so we thankfully didn't feel on top of one another and the kids had a blast. Turkey started off with the annual Turkey Bowl, held across the street from our house in an open field. Afterward we cleaned up and headed over to GG's parents' house, where we feasted and merried and rolled home many hours later. We can't wait to do it again. ;) Talk is already underway about making Virginia the permanent T-giving location. Yahoo!! Bring it!
Advent: We blinked and it was Advent. Then we blinked again and it was almost Christmas! One fun tradition we started this year was taking all the girls to see our city ballet's Nutcracker performance. MG, Mimi, and I dolled ourselves up and went to have lunch beforehand at a fancy hotel. The show afterward was so fun and MG did great and surprisingly did not wiggle too much or fall asleep! I always have such fun with GG's mom--she is a gift to our whole family ;). Love you, Mimi! We can't wait to bring V along with us one of these years. We thought we'd make it a girls-only tradition, but then T asked me why he didn't get to go? Oops! Maybe we'll allow the boys to come once or twice ;).
Birthdays: Mimi and GG both celebrated birthdays on December 22nd, which meant we had the fun of going out to dinner to celebrate them. This year we had the added bonus of having GG's bro, C, and my new SIL, M, with us. They are so thoughtful, warm, and loving toward one another and all around them. It was a real treat to have us all together.
Christmas Whirlwind: We headed to Mass Christmas Eve at 4:15 for a 6pm service. Yow! It was beautiful, though, and worth the wait. My girls were also pretty well-behaved, which meant I was able to enjoy the whole Mass. Thank you, baby Jesus! Mimi made a delicious dinner and the kids performed a most tear-jerking Christmas Eve performance that night. It had been M's idea as a gift for GG and me. He conspired with Papa and the two of them put together the re-enactment. The boys processed out in shepherd costumes while Uncle C read scripture and Mimi played piano. The rest of us sang along with carols. GG and I had no idea what to expect, but as my sweet boys processed out to the tune of Angels We Have Heard On High, I didn't know whether to cry my eyes out or laugh at how precious they looked. I think I ended up doing a lot of both… It was so precious and a true gift to us. Someday if my sons are reading this, you really did a fantastic job and stole our hearts. We love you and thank you for making us feel so loved.
Christmas morning began at our house at 6:20am *sharp! The kids were not allowed to be out of their beds until then (we had to make this rule hard and fast after hearing the boys conspiring to wake each other up at 2am!!!) They were allowed to come wake us up no earlier than 7am and then we were all to open stockings at 8am after the family Christmas photo. Mimi, Papa, C, and M were to arrive at 8:30am sharp when the opening would begin… and for the most part, that's how it went. The excitement was palpable and the kids were pumped too ;). They really make the day so fun. We ate ourselves silly all day and had a Christmas feast that night. Many thanks to my mom for all her help in preparation! We had such a nice time cooking together as mom and daughter. Even though she doesn't love to cook, hopefully our time spent together made it just a little bit more enjoyable;)!
New Years: On a whim we drove to DC for the new year to see friends of ours from our law school days. They were opening their home to our whole family. It was grand fun for all of us and we had the surprise of seeing another dear family we love that night too. I drank it in, it was so heartwarming. Seeing all of our oldest children together who had once been in a baby playgroup was totally surreal and amazing. Gosh, I love those families! R family in Alabama--we are Fedex'ing you all to the next gathering. I think I would fall over from happiness. :) We all stayed up way too late playing a fun game, woke up early the next day, and headed to Mass. Our drive back was joyful because we had such a nice time. What a wonderful way to usher in 2014!
Since then, we've been cherishing our final days before school started. We've had some really great family moments of late, where I stop and say, "I think we really like each other." lol. One of our recent goals has been to get through the big Disney classic movies so that the kids are more familiar with them when we trek to Disney in Feb. Snow White and Beauty And The Beast are next on the list. All the kids are now enjoying listening to the Tangled soundtrack at bedtime. Very sweet. ;) That's a whole other post to get to...
For now, thank you, Lord, for blessing us with all the moments, all the in-betweens that shape our life and remind us to always look to you.