So, Christmas...

Like I said in my earlier post, it turned out to be a great weekend.  The girls were good, family drama was nowhere to be seen, and we basically stayed in our pajamas for two days straight. 

We kicked off our Christmas celebrations at my dad's house on Christmas Eve.  We had a yummy breakfast-for-lunch, and spent some time hanging out with him and my stepmom.  Addison and Mackenzie got the cutest bumper cars from them.  They make crashing noises when they bump into something (or one another), and I think the adults had as much fun with them as the girls did!  They have wheels that turn very easily in all directions, which A & M quickly realized would allow them to be flung across the kitchen floor in circles, ending with a light crash into the wall.  Lots of entertainment value there...I highly recommend.  : )

Christmas Eve night, we went to a short service at church.  Though I ended up in the nursery with A & M and Wyatt, soon to be joined by Kelly and Brenna, it was a nice, peaceful way to end the day.  Just sitting in the candlelit sanctuary, remembering what Christmas is all about--a Savior who was born and died for ME (and for YOU)--well, it was a pretty amazing feeling.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, weather forecasters began predicting that we might see a bit of a White Christmas this year.  In north Alabama, snow is pretty rare, especially in December (though apparently not this year...).  There is only one record of snow on Christmas in Alabama, and that is when we got less than half an inch in 1989.  (I vaguely remember snow falling, and I'm not sure we even had a dusting that actually stuck to the ground.)

But this year, forecasters were saying the snow should start falling by mid-afternoon on Christmas, and we might get an inch or two on the ground.

Imagine my surprise and delight when we woke up to this on Christmas morning:

White Christmas


(looking at the snow outside their window)

It was absolutely magical.  The snow just added to the level of excitement in all the right ways.  Magical...that's about all I can say about it.

When the girls woke up, we herded them into the living room to see what Santa had brought.  The funniest moment of my day happened then:  Mackenzie came down the hallway first, and I was waiting with the video camera.  She stopped at the pantry and started signing 'eat', which is typical when they first get up in the morning.  Slowly, though, she realized that something was different around the Christmas tree, and she forgot all about her request for food.  She ran over to her kitchen and immediately started opening doors and turning knobs, checking it all out.  This 'Santa's helper' had a happy heart at that moment.  : )







After spending some time opening gifts and playing with new toys (okay, the new kitchen, because that's all Addison & Mackenzie had eyes for at first), we threw on coats to head to my mom's for breakfast.

This little girl already had her coat on, since she insisted on wearing it the minute she opened the box it came in...

Checking out her kitchen and wearing her new jacket
(a coat that came from Wal-Mart clearance for $4, I might add... Santa can bargain shop too!)

Naturally, we had to stop and check out the snow before we loaded up to go to breakfast.  A & M (especially Miss A!) loved it.  They didn't really want to get in the car, but my tummy was growling, so we promised them more playtime later.

As is our tradition, we had a casual, relaxing breakfast at my mom's, with some more family.  We opened more gifts with my mom, aunt, and cousin.  After more playing with new toys (and new potties!), we all ended up in the front yard having a huge snowball fight.  It was a blast, and the girls absolutely loved it.  They cried when it was time to go in and warm up, and Mackenzie tried to take her snowball inside with her.

(Mackenzie finally took the jacket off, but not the hat)





Later on Christmas afternoon, Jeremy's parents came to our house for an early dinner.  This was a new tradition this year, but it worked out well, and I think it may continue.  (His mom's family gets together at one her sister's homes, which is an hour and a half drive from us.  I have long said that when we have children, we will be spending Christmas at home, where we can relax and enjoy the day with them, rather than being rushed from place to place.  Despite objections from much of the extended family, mostly those whose children are grown and married with their own families, some insist on keeping the gathering on Christmas day.  There was some drama beforehand--surprise!  when is there not drama with the holidays and a large family?--but his mom is very understanding of our position, and I think she enjoyed coming to our house to celebrate.  We are still hoping the family gathering will be moved next year, but we'll see...)

There was a crockpot of potato soup simmering on my countertop, and Jeremy's parents brought ham and rolls to go with it.  Easy for everyone, and so, so good on a snowy Christmas evening.  We filled our bellies, then had present extravaganza number three.  I had already left my good camera at mom's at that point, so no pictures of this one, but trust me, a good time was had by all. 

Oh, yeah, and I got about six inches cut off my hair on Wednesday:

(This was about 2 a.m. on Christmas morning...don't judge!)

And that was Christmas!


We Survived

I am still a little in awe at how amazingly perfect our Christmas turned out to be this year.  I just could not have asked for things to go any more smoothly for our second Christmas as a family of four.  Most of my pictures are on my good camera, which I left at my mom's, so I will have to share those later, but here's a few from Christmas evening that basically exemplifies how our weekend looked:




It might have been obvious in this post that I was getting a little overwhelmed by all the preparations that needed to be done.  My stress level reached a peak last Thursday and Friday, with a couple of very late nights and trying to finish wrapping, last-minute shopping, and cleaning the house for Christmas visitors.  To top it all off, Addison and Mackenzie only got a thirty-minute nap on Friday (Christmas Eve), and I was about to lose it completely.  Thankfully, I have an amazing family nearby and my cousin Lindsey came to rescue me.  She played with the girls while I finished laundry and snuck in a quick nap myself before heading off to the Christmas Eve service at church, which we made it through without a breakdown (from any of us!).

My mom finally told me that I needed to calm down and let go of my ideas that everything had to be perfect.  Luckily, I kind of listened.  After my episode on Friday afternoon, the rest of the weekend was pretty great...and even a little relaxing.

More pictures and a full recap to come...including pictures of my new haircut!  I know you can hardly stand the excitement.  : )


Merry Christmas!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hoping you and your families are having a wonderful and blessed holiday!


Snow, and other randomness

When things get busy, as they usually do this time of year, I have a tendency to go into hibernation mode.  I do what I have to do and go where I am expected to be, but other than that, I like to hide at home with my nose in a book, pretending I shouldn't be doing something else (wrapping gifts, grading papers, addressing Christmas cards, etc., etc....).  I am a classic procrastinator/avoider.

What I am trying to say is that I have been neglecting the blog a little and that my avoidance probably won't end until after the holidays are gone... when I can get back to my regularly scheduled time-wasting habits.

Anyway, on with our update!


We got a little dusting of snow here on Monday, which of course made everyone a little crazy.  Snow!  In Alabama!  In December!  Yes, it is true that we are so ill-prepared for snow that an inch or so can completely shut down our town.  Schools were cancelled and many people got to stay home from work.  Although I had to go to work, Jeremy was off anyway, so he spent the morning hanging out with Addison & Mackenzie.  They got to go outside and play in the snow for the first time ever.  My poor little snow-deprived babies were thrilled with the dusting of white powder that was on the ground.



We had several days when the high temperatures were around 25 degrees, which again, is highly unusual for December in Alabama (and is also contributing to my urge to hibernate).  I am glad to say that it is slightly warmer today, with a whopping 40 degrees expected.

Yesterday we went to the Christmas program for the girls' school.  They won't be participating until next year, but mom and I thought they would enjoy watching the other kids.  They did okay, until they spotted the food table behind our seats and began furiously signing 'eat'.  We snuck a few cookies and stood in the back for the remainder of the performance.

I tried to get some pictures of Addison & Mackenzie in front of our tree before we left for the program.  Mackenzie (in the black turtleneck) was tolerating the picture session; Addison most assuredly was not.  I got one good picture of the two of them (they don't need smiles to be cute, right?), then they snagged an ornament off the tree and five seconds later, the ornament was on the ground in a million pieces.

Christmas girls


Addison looks like I have threatened her to make her stand still.

Do you see Addison over there doing her own thing?

Our two (failed) attempts at a group shot:



Two things might become pretty obvious after looking at these pictures...
First, the Christmas tree love is still going strong in our house.  When the girls get up in the morning, we have to go "wake up" the tree and turn the lights on.  They also have to tell the tree "night-night" about three times each before going to bed.  I am considering keeping it up all year long for the amount of entertainment the tree has provided.

The second thing you might deduce from the pictures is that Mackenzie and Addison are becoming quite the handful these days.  They are constantly on the move, from the time they get up until they finally crash at night.  My poor mom is exhausted most days, and by the end of the evening, I am too!  Bedtime has moved back to between 7:30 and 8:00 each night, and when they go to bed, I have little energy left to do anything but crash on the couch for an hour or two before heading to bed myself.  As exhasting as they are, it is SO fun to watch them grow and change so quickly.  They amaze me with something new every single day.

I might sound like I am complaining in the beginning of this post, but really, I am loving this time of year and all the excitement that goes along with it.  I love wrapping presents and checking gifts off my list, and I love hibernating from daily responsibilities in order to focus on my family.  I can hardly believe that Christmas is only eight days away.  Instead of focusing on all that I have left to do, I am choosing to enjoy the anticipation of seeing my two little girls experience their first taste of Christmas-morning excitement.

We have done some talking about the meaning of the Christmas season, though the girls are still too young to understand.  I came in the other day to find Jeremy leading them in singing 'Happy Birthday', after he explained that Christmas is when we celebrate baby Jesus being born.  My girls have a pretty awesome daddy.  : )

Silly girls with their daddy


A Gift Dilemma

Back at Halloween, the girls' MDO class had a little Halloween party with special snacks and all that good stuff.  I sent the snack we signed up for, and Mackenzie and Addison wore their cute little Halloween shirts.  I thought we had fulfilled all the 'obligations' for the day.

When they got home from school that day, they had little baskets with small treat bags and Halloween books.  I didn't think much about it, just assuming that the teacher had given it out to the class.  Upon closer inspection later that night, I realized that the little treat bags and books were from the other kids in the class, who apparently brought small favors for their classmates.

My kids were the only ones who didn't bring treats for their friends.  MOM FAIL.

I didn't get too bent out of shape about it, as we are new to the whole MDO thing and two of the three others in the class have older siblings so they have done all this before.  I did, however, resolve that Addison and Mackenzie would most certainly be taking Christmas goodies for their friends.

For the most part, those little gifts are taken care of....thank you, Target dollar aisle!

Now my question is--What do I get the teacher? 

I have heard lots of people, teachers included, mention that the best gift for teachers is a gift card in any amount.  After all, four $5 gift cards add up to $20, which comes in pretty handy, right?  And that has to be preferable over ten bottles of smelly lotion that she will never use or specialty coffee she will never drink.  (I actually have no idea if she drinks coffee all, so that one is out anyway.)

What do y'all think?  Gift card?  If so, how much?  I mean, I don't want to spend a ton of money, but I do have two kids in her class...two-fifths of the class.  She deserves more than a $10 gift for putting up with both of them, right?  $20? 

Then there's the question of what type of gift card to get.  I have never heard of anyone who dislikes Target, so that's always an option.  The problem is, there is not one here in our town.  The closest one is about an hour away.  A Wal-Mart card seems a little generic, like I'm suggesting she could spend it on groceries or something (neurotic much?).  There are a few little gift shops in town, but is that too specialized?  What about a restaurant gift card?  Oh, or maybe gift certificate to the local movie theater?

As you can tell, I am probably way over-thinking this, but I need some advice! 

Thoughts, please.


Bodily (Dis)functions

Every school day when the girls and I get home in the afternoon, I look through their lunchboxes for the art project of the day and to find the report from their MDO teacher.  Pretty much every day it looks like this:


Occasionally, if they haven't been feeling well, the note might say they picked at lunch or didn't take a good nap.  Thankfully, for both us and the teacher, those days are very rare. 

However, one part of their daily report is exactly the same, without fail.


My kids have never pooped at school.  Not even once.

Once I started thinking about this phenomenon, I realized how little Addison and Mackenzie actually poop somewhere other than our house or my mom's.  It is not often.  I can easily count on my two hands the number of dirty diapers I have changed in store or restaurant bathrooms.  Granted, we aren't out and about too often, but we aren't exactly homebodies either.

I have gone off without my diaper bag numerous times, but unlike some people I know, I don't freak out and turn around to go get it.  Now I realize why...more than likely, my girls won't have diaper explosions while we are away from home.

It's becoming clear to me that they just might have issues pooping in public.

Now, I don't want to go into too much detail here, but have you ever heard the expression "They get it honestly"?  Around here, we say it when referring to something a child does that is just like their parents.  It's a trait they get 'honestly' from one parent or the other.

Let's just say that Addison & Mackenzie get this poop thing honestly...especially from their dad.  We have had to rearrange plans on more than one occasion to accomodate someone's issues with public restrooms. 

If the girls really have inherited this...quirk...potty training should be lots of fun.  We won't leave the house for months!


'Tis the Season

For the last few weeks, I have been holding back a little on the Christmas spirit/planning/decorating, because I felt like it was too early.  I was trained to get through Thanksgiving before even starting Christmas plans.  Now, all of a sudden, Thanksgiving is gone and it is December.  I have had my first peppermint moccha of the season, and Christmas is officially in full swing.

Our tree went up last weekend, and Addison & Mackenzie absolutely love it.  We did it all in one evening after they went to bed, so it was waiting for them when they got up the next morning.  I turned on the lights, and they just pointed and grinned. 



Addison and the tree

The girls have been really good about not touching the ornaments much...so far.  They get curious of course, but I try to emphasize touching with a single pointed finger, so maybe they won't knock the ornaments off.  This is our first experience with the tree on hardwood floors, and yes, I broke two ornaments while I was decorating.

(Addison is in the green cardigan and Mackenzie in the green shirt/pink pants in all of these.  It was 'green' day at school!)


Mackenzie's ornament

Both girls, but especially Addison, spend a lot of time staring up at the tree...it's almost like she's in awe of the size of it.  I tried to snap some pictures yesterday afternoon to remind me how amazed they are over this first tree (remember, we had one last year, but it was gone before Christmas because we moved).  They (again, especially Addison) have to wave to the tree whenever we are leaving the house or even when going to bed at night.  I just love watching them enjoy it this much.




We have passed a few houses with Christmas lights up, and they have learned to spot them pretty quickly out the windows of the car.  There is a house in our neighborhood that goes WAY overboard on the decorations, but I know my little girls will be amazed by the lights.  We have driven by a couple of evenings on the way home, but I think they must not turn the lights on until after five because we keep missing them.  If it's not too cold, we might have to load them up in the stroller and go check out the lights.

Hope you are enjoying the season as much as Mackenzie & Addison are!