Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 - Wonderfully Simple

(I know I'm biased, but is this not the sweetest thing? He genuinely loves his little sister. What I couldn't get to stay on this blog entry is him singing "Twinkle, twinkle little star" to her while they laid on the couch together right after this. Best Christmas present ever!)

This Christmas was wonderfully simple. Josh has been insanely busy with work and putting in 15 hour days 7 days a week. Christmas came and we got 2 whole days with him. It was wonderful. We played in our pajamas all morning, ate too many sweets, went shopping, napped, and more. Again, it was wonderful. Christmas morning my parents came over in their pajamas and we opened presents while eating Josh's homemade donuts. We played with new toys, watched Christmas movies, napped here and there, ate dinner with more family, and ended the day watching my 2 year old run in the falling snow in his pajamas with carhartt overalls over top and a santa hat on. A wonderfully simple holiday.

Riley asleep before the festivities even began Christmas morning.

Dean pointing out which donut he wants to eat first

Riley has a smile that could make anyone join in. Who couldn't smile at those cheeks!

Wearing her Christmas outfit from Uncle Bill and Aunt Ruth

Dean in the snow Christmas night.

We awoke the next day to over 6 inches of fluffy, white snow. In Erie, PA this would have been normal. In Raleigh, NC this is a treat! It continued to snow most of the day. Josh had to return to work, but Dean and I were able to run around the backyard throwing snowballs for the dogs to catch and making snow angels. We never got out of our pjs that day. A wonderfully simple day.
Our house
Dean cleaning off the cars

I had to teach Dean about "yellow snow"

Hard to walk in rubber boots and carhartts that are 2 sizes too big
Reflections on Christmas 2010
This year my family decided not to exchange gifts, but instead take a weekend trip together in mid-January. At the same time, Josh and I decided not to exchange gifts either. I was very happy to not be searching for gifts for everyone, especially with 2 small children in tow, but I also found that it left me a little "off" this season. I didn't realize how much gift-giving really got me into the spirit of the season. I think I was a little caught off guard by it. Without that search, that anticipation of exchange, I found that Christmas kind of snuck up on me. I put up the decorations, turned on the music, and even made Christmas cookies, but I never really got into it. Those that know me, know that I LOVE Christmas. I've even been dubbed the Christmas Nazi by some family members. Traditions, rituals, routines...these are essential to me in this season. I thought changing the gift-giving would help free me up to enjoy these things more, not realizing that the giving is itself one of the biggest routines. It helped me to really think about family and their individual likes, dislikes, and little quirks. This is a good thing. I'm not saying that gift-giving has to be a $20 present swap or that there should ever be pressure to do so because it's the "ritual" of the holiday. I just think that however we celebrate, the thing to remember is the individuals in our lives - their likes, dislikes, and little quirks - and how blessed we are to have a God that loves us enough to place each of them in our worlds. I love my family and I love my friends. I'm thinking of you all (and thankful that I'm not giving you gifts) and sending my love to you where ever you are.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fall Festivities

10 weeks under my belt and I think I'm flailing a little less. It has been a BUSY ten weeks with many relatives visiting, Josh's business booming (meaning long hours and lots of traveling), seasons changing, and the usual day-to-day craziness that is our lives.

Doesn't Dean look happy? Poor guy had bronchitis.

This Halloween Josh and I took the kids to a "pumpkin patch". This was no ordinary pumpkin patch. Actually, it wasn't a pumpkin patch at all. It was a fall theme park that just happened to be on someone's farm. There were bouncy castles, a petting zoo, huge tunnels through hay, barns with hay 5 feet deep to play in, and 2 story slides on potato sacks. There was a tractor ride that took you to a field where there were hundreds of pumpkins spread out and every person got to pick their own (I guess that justifies calling it a pumpkin patch). We had a great time.

When the actual day came around Dean dressed up as a dinosaur/dragon and went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, with Jess and Cooper in tow as Batman and Robin. He LOVED the idea of everyone giving him candy. Who wouldn't. Josh and I made sure to ease him into the sugar high capital of the year, by consuming the majority of his earnings ourselves. A sacrifice we took very seriously. The hard part now is getting Dean to understand that you only go trick-or-treating once a year.

We traveled up to Michigan this year for Thanksgiving to be with Josh's family. The original plan was that Dean and Josh would drive up with all our stuff, accompanied by Uncle Zach and Aunt Elizabeth (and Bowser her bulldog of course), while Riley and I flew (we weren't ready to attempt a drive that long with a 2-month-old). Josh ended up traveling all week on business and rather than fly back to NC just to leave that same day to drive 13 hours, he opted to fly directly to Michigan, leaving his brother and sister to drive the 13 hours up with our 2-year-old. Thankfully he is a really good traveler and Uncle Zach and Aunt EB are very patient people!

We had a great week with almost everyone from the immediate family there. Joel's new fiance Catherine and Elizabeth's boyfriend Michael were out of the country and could not attend. They were both greatly missed.

Josh and his Uncle Kim carving the turkeys.

It was SUPER cold most of the time we were there, but that didn't stop Josh, Dean, and Bronwyn from getting out in the kayaks for a spin around the lake.

It was a full house with 8-9 adults (depending on the day), a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old, a newborn, and 4 big dogs. We had great time visiting, playing with the kids, and eating to our hearts content...DAILY. My mother-in-law, Bronwyn, sent my sister-in-law and I off to the masseuse while we were there - a pampering for mothers in need. And the grandparents babysat a few times to let us "kids" go out together and have a few drinks. It was really nice to have that adult time, not to mention all the help with the kids.

One day that everyone seemed to be working or have other plans, my sister-in-law Lauren and me took our 3 small children an hour away to the Ann Arbor Children's Museum. We were optimistic that we could get everyone there, have fun, and back home with no big upsets...and we were RIGHT! It was great fun and 4 out of 5 of us (because I was driving) even managed long naps on the way home! Sadly, we managed the whole day without taking a single picture though .

Dean and my nephew Noah watching the sun rise over the lake.
Noah and Aunt EB's dog Bowser. GG got him pjs with bulldogs on them because they act and look so much alike.

Greatgrandma Barricklow and Riley

Noni and Riley

GG and Riley

Pop and Riley

Aunt EB with Dean and Bowser

With Christmas coming and Josh's business still incredibly busy the chaos of the season seems to be upon us. We managed to get a Christmas tree and put up decorations inside, although our lights for the outside are still in a heap in the living room. Laundry goes undone, floors go unswept, and faces go unwiped, but we're happy and healthy with so much to be thankful for. It's been quite an amazing 11 months and I'm sure this last month of 2010 will not disappoint!