(Aunt Michel- from Florida, me, Sara, Aunt Char, and Amanda)
Once again, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. Although we didn't have as many able to come as last year, we still had a wonderful time together! Starting later than we have in the past, we had an evening meal and thoroughly enjoyed the food and fellowship. As always with this group, we did plenty of laughing to burn off all of those Thanksgiving calories! :)
(Gage and Josh)
(Justin, Landen, Mylee, Ashley, Xander, Cade, and Charlie)
One Sunday afternoon in mid-December, a group of my good friends and I gathered together with our children to make Christmas cookies. We met at Dawn's house after church and began a tradition that we hope to continue for many years to come. For obvious reasons (just take a look at the rest of the pictures on Facebook to find out why :), the girls and boys separated into groups and took turns rolling out dough, cutting the cookies out, making cards, frosting the baked cookies, and then decorating them with sprinkles. It was a fun-filled afternoon that will be remembered for years to come (well, especially by Dawn who is probably STILL cleaning up "stray flour" and sprinkles in places she didn't even know EXISTED in her kitchen!). The next evening, our husbands joined us, and we traveled around town caroling to many of the "older" couples that have come to mean alot to all of us over the years, presenting them with the homemade cookies, cards, and plenty of hugs. It was such a wonderful way to teach the children that it really is more enjoyable to GIVE of yourself during this special time of the year!
Oh, if you only knew what it took to get these boys to this program in one piece and looking decent! Yes, I knew this event was coming and that they would need the proper attire for it; however, I did not realize that they did not have the "proper attire" for such an occassion. My children are not ones that really "dress up" for church (polo shirts and khakis are the best we do, I'm afraid); so when I went into their closet to dress them for the evening, I was seriously alarmed to find their one dress shirt WAY too small, as were their dress pants. Since Shane was working late and was planning to meet us at the concert, I was in a complete panic. After calling my two closest friends who were in a similar dilemma and unable to assist me, I called Shane. He promised to meet me at Sears as soon as possible; so I grabbed the boys and an iron and ran out the door. We tore through Sears (by the way, we chose Sears because we knew it wouldn't be as busy as other places at this time of year...no offense if you're a big Sears shopper. :) and finally settled on a shirt/tie combo and dress pants. With only time enough to get to school and iron the shirts and pants on Shane's office floor, we were dismayed (okay, HORRIFIED) to arrive there only to find that we had SOMEHOW purchased the wrong size pants for Xander. Shane grabbed the pants and bolted back to Sears setting the record at 7 minutes round trip! What a man! Looking like I had just been through a tornado myself, I was pleased to escort my handsome (and appropriately dressed) children to their classrooms...on time too!
Every year, we get together for our annual Christmas cookie night. Because I am the type who loves the "ritual" of making Christmas cookies rather than the "actual" cookie making process, Sara is in charge of the yearly event. She's the resident "baker" of the family, so I am more than happy to take orders, snap photos, and basically take care of crowd control. And as you can see from the below pictures, it's actually the ADULTS we have the most trouble controlling! :)
Golden Family Christmas
For the Golden Family Christmas this year, we gathered at Josh and Sara's house. With each passing year, these events become more and more festive as the children multiply and grow older! Someone is certainly going to have to get a much larger house if we expect to contain these "active young boys" in the years to come! After eating our "appetizer" dinner (everyone brought appetizers and desserts), we all exchanged gifts. Because of the aforementioned ever-expanding family, we exchanged names this Christmas among the adults but still bought for all of the children. The highlight for my boys, of course, would have to be the bike Cade received from the combined effort of Josh/Sara/Aunt Char/Uncle Vincent; and Xander's Lazer-tag game from the same group. However, I think the "big boys" (Josh and Shane) enjoyed the Lazer-tag game the most.
Sara and me
Jeff and Amanda
Uncle Vincent and Aunt Char
Cade and Uncle Josh
By far, the highlight of the night for me was a surprise gift master-minded by my unbelievable sister-in-law, Sara, and assisted by Aunt Char, Amanda, and Jeff. When handed the package, I was extremely confused, because I had already received the gifts from Amanda who had drawn my name; but when I tore off the paper, I was even MORE confused! Staring back at me were my very own children, dressed in matching shirts I had not bought them and framed in pictures I had not arranged to have taken. It was a very surreal moment! After the initial shock, I just burst into tears probably startling everyone watching. You have to understand what a huge thing this was to me. The fact that I was forced to cancel their appointments back in October and had been unable to find another time to reschedule because of how busy we were was such a sore spot with me! Once I was able to compose myself, Sara explained how they had been able to pull this off without us finding out! When she found out that Char was watching the boys for us the previous week, she had gotten the shirts and made an appointment. After we left for the Christmas party, she, Amanda, and Jeff joined Char and carted the boys off to the sudio and had ONLY gotten them home and into pajamas before we arrived back home! The amazing thing was that the boys never said a WORD about where they had been all evening! Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of that studio! Once they described how they were jumping all around trying to get them all smile at the same time, I could only imagine what it would have looked like! :) I STILL can't believe it all; but every time I look at those beautiful pictures, I think of how fortunate I am to have people like that in my life!