Ok I’m still trying to come up for breath over here after all those Christmas things mooshed together in the midst of all our family togetherness. Oh boy. I’m so glad for this little part of the Internet where I can come and make some semblance of all the strands of memories I want to weave into place. There was so much leading up to Christmas including my parent’s visit, Elle’s engagement, the kids all coming home (with some surprises!). And then it was off to all the Christmas festivities. And a lot of family togetherness.
Oh it was grand to have all those kids lined up at the bar, hanging in the kitchen, talking and laughing, sitting at the dinner table…even the squabbling was A-OK in my book, give it all to me! Nothing in the world like that. The bliss came, to be sure, paired with frustrating times of course. The “herding cats” times. The Lucy-mood-shifting-everyone-into-bad-mood times. The so-tired-from-lack-of-sleep-the-whole-world-is-blury times. One day en route home from volleyball I flipped out at Claire who was being a little snippy. But I love that gift of repentance and starting again. Oh God of second (and hundredth) chances, here I am again.
There are some memories I want so much to remember:
–Lar’s surprising Elle one morning after Dave picked him up from his red-eye flight. We thought about getting him here after Christmas but wanted him to be here some of the time when Max and Abby were here too so Dave worked his flight magic and figured out a way to change his ticket and get him here early. He hid behind the fridge door just like Elle did when she surprised her sisters her first time home from college and made her SO happy when she realized what was happening (video back HERE). Elle is definitely twitter-pated with that guy and was on the top of the world the whole time he was here. So was Lucy, who affectionately calls him Larson. He’s a pretty easy-going guy and so easy to fit in and love.
–Traipsing in to TeamFit (our workout place) with all FIVE of our college kids, filling that class right up.
–hot tub, steam rising from our bodies, and polar plunges, hyperventilating clamoring for the hot tub, safe again.
–everyone was supposed to have a day to be the “directors of activities” but like most things do, that idea got jumbled up, but we did do Lucy’s firm plan for gingerbread houses after much insistence. I’m right with her, gingerbread house decorating is right up there with Easter egg painting in my book, love them both.
(Elle lives in an A-frame house in Hawaii and she and Carson got engaged on the porch roof that comes out from it, so they made a little model of that which I thought was kind of clever.)
–tennis at our neighbor’s house, feeling my Dad’s proud love for kids who start to “get” the beauty of that game whacking away at that ball in the winter sun.
–sitting around our table. Whether for dinner or games, extra chairs pulled up for all the extras. Fullness. One dinner in particular where we all sat there and talked about growing up memories, a lot of which included moments the kids remembered when I turned into “mean mom,” which I’m glad we can all laugh about now. The kids (mostly Elle and Lar) taught us a game called “Secret Hitler” that I’ve been wanting to learn. It was like pulling teeth to get Lu to branch out from her beloved card games to try it. “Just try it at least once,” we begged. And of course, after the first game she was hooked. And begged to play it again every night. But lots of cards were played too, sometimes with extra cousins or friends who happened to be around. I love that big round table and the discussions and laughter and games it’s held over the years.
–the top of Camelback mountain after some grumbling from my girls to get to the top, but everyone so proud of their accomplishment as we looked out over that vista I have come to adore so much and have hiked so many times.
It was Max and Abby’s first anniversary that day…so happy we got to celebrate with them.
Grace and I had to switch shoes near the top since she had no grip on hers and we were scaling that mountain. Ha!
–I decided I may as well stick up all the pictures we had printed for Max and Abby’s wedding to help us celebrate that big anniversary.
–And we re-watched this awesome video I LOVE from that big day:
It was a good one.
–I was so proud of Lucy and Claire who worked their tails off for finals in the midst of all this hoopla. It was fun to have a few days with just the college kids while those two were at school, but poor girls, they were a little stressed with all those finals, especially Lucy trying to catch up after traveling a few days before to visit her doctors in Wisconsin. See Claire trying to study her heart over there on the couch in the middle of all that hoopla?
–Grace had the grand idea to do a tough puzzle together:
–We started the wedding dress search right here at home with my old puffed-sleeve wonder:
Oh yeah, baby, that one is my pick!
–The girls and I went on a little shopping trip to this famous bargain place to see if by chance we could find a real wedding dress…and some last-minute Christmas gifts:
–overwhelmed with love for Nana who put so much work into her annual teenager party that every one of my kids was the right age for…Dave and I spying on them after our own party and feeling the love .
–Dave and I had a work dinner one night so these kids took matters into their own hands and made up their own dinner plans:
— Dave’s “activity of choice” was going to a shooting range, definitely not my thing, but it was fun to do something different:
–a dinner at our favorite spot (Oreganos) complete with a visit from Santa, and loved having the small reclining-chair theater all to ourselves to go see “Knives Out,” (which we all loved).
–We all went to Walmart where everyone split up to gather items for our refugee family. Someone from here on the blog told me about this organization in the city that would match us up with a family to help for Christmas (thank you whoever that was!) and it was an interesting experience for us all after our Africa experience this last summer. Lots of thoughts about that maybe another day. Because we loved dropping that stuff off but couldn’t help but try to think of additional ways to “help” and what kind of “help” is most advantageous in that type of situation. We had the opportunity to get to know that mother and three of her six kids in that apartment in the city.
–choreographing an impromptu family dance in front of Nana and Papa’s since we got there early for the annual talent show after that Christmas drop-off. I have been sworn to secrecy on the real footage, but here is an outtake shot:
–filled so heavily with the spirit while narrating our Christmas program at church. (Yes, they somehow thought it was a good idea to ask the lady who doesn’t speak so clearly and her husband to narrate, but we did it without messing it up too much, hallelujah!!)
As we narrated I was aware of some deep issues some friends and families are involved in, and so overcome with the true reason for that baby in the manger so long ago. He came to save them. He came to save me. And the singing and music just swept me away with the beauty of that thought.
This was our Sunday Christmas picture:
All nine. Right before Carson left to be with his own family for Christmas.
I was extra grateful for all the togetherness this year since next year is the year the married kids will be with their “other sides.” Gotta get used to this sharing thing!
And with all that pre-Christmas togetherness, ready or not, Christmas Eve was around the corner.