Monday, January 4, 2016

The Christmas Epistle

I'm feeling the slightest niggle of blogginess lately, and all the children are sleeping all snug in their beds and the desktop computer yawns yearningly at me to sit down and type.  It sometimes feels that the desktop, my former blogging/photo-editing haven, is constantly busy anymore.  I often look wistfully at all of it's busyness and remember the days when I could sit down and type fervently.  For a long while, my seat-ed-ness has reminded everyone of my lap, and my lap in front of the computer reminds everyone of things they think they must do RIGHT. NOW. on that computer, and by everyone I mean Caroline Baby, who is very dear and precious and lap needy and awfully hard to type around.

Today I journeyed to Walmart; a solo journey armed with a little Christmas money that The Pioneer Woman spoke very convincingly to me from the shelves about.  She is very persuasive, that Pioneer Woman, what with her colorful bowls and mason jars with straws.  Let's just say I came home with more ceramic bowls than when I left.  And four mason jars with colorful lids and interchangeable lids and straws, all delightfully hued.  Merry Christmas to me.

The End Of Christmas Vacation was today.  Tomorrow Life As Normal resumes, in all it's January greyness.  Christmas was nice.  Like my friend Becky said today, Christmas is a season, not a day. It's the most fun to view it that way, I think.

We had Christmas concerts by the boys.

Israel played his guitar along with the rest of his guitar class for a middle school chapel that week.

I got sick during the week before Christmas and missed Gabe's concert and Israel's guitar playing, but I did hear Israel play and sing Go Tell it On the Mountain at home and liked it. :)

The four older kids were all participants in a play that our church did this year called The Christmas Clinic.  Gabe played the doctor,

and Israel, Zion, and Layla were all part of the choir.

Layla, the rapt shepherd.

It was super cute and I was really glad we expended the energy on it!! :)

Layla arranged most of her dolls in the hallway this day because she wanted to put on a ballerina show and needed an audience. ;)
I may or may not have photoshopped the marker off of the wall and some of the crumbs off of the floor.  Whoooo knows???

We had our Christmas Day the Saturday before the week the kids got out of school, (since we were going to be out of state on the 25th) and we like to take a whole day and stretch it out lazily and eat good food and have plenty of toy playing and screen time.

It was a particularly sweet and good Christmas this year.  I was really excited about the presents I had found for the kids.  I found a ton of stuff used and for great prices, and I couldn't WAIT to give it to them!!!  The big present for Layla was a dollhouse I found on Craiglist for $100 cheaper than what it was worth,

and I actually drove to Fredricksburg, VA to get it one day in October, (and had a really good time doing it, my minivan, by myself, all hyped up on Christmas excitement...).  Ironically, her favorite gift was a $10 yellow "vacuum" I found (also used) that is kind of like a big dustbuster but exactly her size, and plugs in and works, much to her joy.

The gift I couldn't wait to give Zion was a $25 used toy Gator I had found!!!  He was really happy about it, but his favorite gift was a Wii game, Just Dance 2015.  He had told me several days before our Christmas that all he really wanted for Christmas was a Just Dance game.  Now how could a mother resist that??  He was SO. HAPPY. for it.

We bought a used XBox 360 for the older boys, and they were THRILLED.  It was their favorite gift of the day for the both of them.

Gabe was also super thrilled about this pocket knife he's been waiting for.
It was greatly treasured.

Baby did not need hardly any help opening her gifts this year.  She had this present thing DOWN, peeps.  Tear the wrapping paper open, eagerly scan for the next present.  ;)

Layla is wearing the Christmas dress she earned recently for staying in her bed all night.

She was earning a sticker a night for 10 nights that she could return to her bed and finish out the night on her own if she woke up.  It took a while to start clicking, but eventually took, and she spends most nights in her bed now, and sometimes doesn't even wake up all night, and is currently earning her third prize, which is a set of Barbie makeup.  Her second prize was a red velvet purse to go along with her dress.  She chose this dress herself from Target, and has worn it a lot over this holiday.  She happily dressed herself in this to open presents.

The aftermath.

After opening gifts we made a yummy breakfast lunch and scarfed it down.

Then we were all lazy and whatnot for the rest of the day.  I made a "snacky supper" of fingerfoods and we watched Elf in the evening.

The next evening we had a candlelight service at church in the evening.  I love those.

I got some red sparkly nail polish to put on the girls for Christmasyness.  Here Caroline is getting her nails dried. :)

She was being a Kling-On while I was trying to get trip prep done due to being sick and not feeling so well, but it was making me grouchy.  Tim cheerfully took her and had her help him wash dishes. The boy knows how to speak my love language, that's fo sho.  I love this picture.

We left for Indiana the next Wednesday, at around 8 AM and arrived in IN around 9 PM.  I actually drove most of the way, because I had a bee in my proverbial bonnet to arrive at our destination ASAP.  :)  We had rain a lot of the way, and it was totally stressful to drive in rain after dark, with wet shiny roads and trailer trucks thundering past and pouring water all over your windshield.  Ick.  The good part was that the kids traveled really well, and there was minimal fussing from Caroline.

Watching The Grinch together.

Carol wanted us to all sing the 12 Days of Christmas before we opened our gifts.  :)
The "Henry" that Carol refers to at the end was my nephew who was Face Timing in from WA, where he was visiting other family.  We missed you, Henry!!

Eating Vietnamese Spring Rolls prepared by my sister-in-law, Lynette.  Deeeelicious!!

Tim with his sisters and his Grandma Polly.

Grandpa Norm with the sleeping baby who fell asleep while he was holding her.  :)  He held her the whole time she napped and then gently woke her up after a while.

Irresistable baby cuteness.

Norm took the girls out to go shopping the day before we left.  The weather had been mild (flowers were blooming in IN!!!) and I thought I wouldn't need my coat, but the weather had changed and I was COLD!! I found a great coat in JcPenney's for $14.99!!!  This is when Lynette flipped my fuzzy hood up while we were in Costco.  Everything sounded muffled in there, for some reason. ;)

Yaaay for cousins!!  The kids all had a great time playing together.  This is Aubrey.

Fondue supper on the porch.

Norm took Gabe and Israel out to shoot BB guns one day while Tyler was visiting someone else.  They were SORELY longing to shoot themselves a "fat squirrel" that was allegedly pestering the bird feeder, but alas, none was to be found.

The boys spent several nights out in the log cabin.  Here they are listening to Grandpa Norm tell stories before bedtime.

We had a great time in IN seeing Tim's family, and drove to VA about 5 days later to see my family.  Again the rain, this time freezing and heavy.  The freezing rain eventually stopped, but it rained a large part of the way to VA.  We left IN around 11 AM and arrived in VA at 12:30 AM.   This time all relevant parties were not so cheery along our traveling way.  It sure was good to arrive!!

Baby Girl eagerly awaiting lunch. :)

There were lots of games of chess between these two.  I think my brother taught them a few years ago.  I have no clue how to play chess!! Layla and Zion didn't play chess, but spent long periods of time carefully arranging (Layla) or flinging (Zion) the pieces.

Helping Granddaddy cut firewood.


Caroline was very very happy with her Frozen bodywash.  So happy that she wanted to use it all up in one fell swoop that night and cried and cried when I wouldn't let her.  Zion came back from his shower with an empty tube that night though.  VERY CLEAN he was, apparently.

Quentin helping Israel with a thing to make string bracelets.



aaaand gone.

All of the boys.  All of 'em.

Layla carefully applying her beloved lipgloss with her beloved compact mirror. :)

We saw both sides of our family.  This was the Heatwole (my mom's) side.

Grandma Lou handing out presents to the great grandchildren.

Despite the poor weather during the trips, they were still totally worth the effort.  I'm really glad we went.  Last night was our first night back and I totally konked out and slept hard, and woke up momentarily disoriented when Caroline woke up once in the middle of the night - where am I this time??! :)

One separate part of our holiday that deserves it's own section was this.

Life is such a bittersweet mixture of joy and sorrow and sometimes, heartbreaking grief.  The Tuesday morning before we left for Christmas, I got a phone call at around 6:30 AM.  It was my mom, who was calling to tell me that my Uncle Dave had died unexpectedly that morning at work after calling to tell my aunt he felt like he was going to pass out.  He was 54, and has 8 surviving children, five of which are still living at home.  He was very kind and good natured, and is so greatly missed.  Love you, Aunt Betty and kids!!!!

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