A Very Merry Christmas

Christmas is my very favorite time of the year! Not only do we get to celebrate a Jesus’ birth, decorate and give gifts, I get to see the joy of the season through halls eyes and it is magical!

Christmas started a little early this year. Since we planned to go to Jackson for Thanksgiving, we decided to pick out a Christmas tree before we left town so that we could get first pick of the best one (since we buy a real tree every year). we went to the “Christmas Tree Patch” as Hayley calls it (probably carried over from the pumpkin patch 😄) to pick out the tallest and most full tree we could find! We successfully found a beautiful one, even though the weather was pretty warm no didn’t feel much like Christmas. You two also had so much fun looking at lol of the decorations at the store! Such a fun time of year!

Right before Thanksgiving was also a very busy and sad time. Sad, because Daddy’s grandmother (Grammie’s mother) Mimi passed away. She had been battling cancer for about 6 months and had taken a turn for the worse a few weeks before. Grammie and PawPaw had been in Florida with her and Daddy flew out right after Thanksgiving to go to her funeral.

It was a busy time because I had a HUGE order for Nativity sets for Christmas. Three years ago, when Hayley was a baby, I painted a 12 piece nativity block set for her to play with. Then last year I painted Aunt DeeDee a set when she was pregnant with Samuel. aunt DeeDee’s sister, Meier, wanted a set this year, so I decided that if I was going to paint her a set, I might as well paint t and sell them. I began to paint them and posted a picture to my Facebook to see if anyone was interested in buying the extra sets I was making. I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to sell 5 sets. I had over FIFTY requests for them! I was blown away and so humbled that so many people would want to buy my artwork. Knowing that I could not paint that many sets, the wheels began to turn in my head and I started thinking about how I could reproduce them in large numbers. I went to bed that night brainstorming how I could make this happen and set off the next morning to buy test materials after I dropped you guys off at Mother’s Day Out. As soon a I was out looking for materials, Gappy called me to ask if he could help me do it. (He is always looking for a project and is so selfless in willing to help me and my crazy big ideas). I knew that I could scan in the painted images, print them out and adhere them to the wooden blocks, but I just needed to find out where to get all of these wooden blocks for cheap. He suggested a cabinet shop and they were willing to cut all the blocks for me and build all of the boxes for the stables. I am amazed how God provided for every aspect of this project. So I posted the blocks for sale on Facebook and Instagram and I sold out of 50 sets that I had plan to make and had requests for more! I couldn’t believe it! So now it was time to get to work! A week later I picked up the blocks and Gappy came over one Saturday morning while Daddy was at the hunting camp and helped me sand and spray paint 550 blocks and 50 stable boxes! And you two kiddos helped too. Y’all helped move and stack the blocks as we needed them. I spent many hours cutting the images of my art and modge podging them to the blocks. Y’all were so patient and sweet while I worked. I had my little sweat shop (ha!) set up in the garage and y’all played outside as I worked. Finally I had insisted all 600 blocks and Daddy and I wrapped and packaged them all. You two helped add the “hay” to the boxes and then they were ready! What a huge relief and sense of accomplishment to complete such a huge task. If you haven’t noticed yet, I have wild, big ideas. Go big or go home! And I already have orders for next year 😀

Picture of some of my customers enjoying their nativity sets!

And the decorating begins! As you know, I absolutely love to decorate for the holidays and Christmas is my favorite! And my favorite decoration this year is Hayley’s stocking! Lots and lots of time and work in that one little piece and I hope you treasure it forever! Will, you will have one next year.

One night we went to the Natchitoches Christmas festival with Gappy, Grandma, uncle Ryan and Aunt Jessi (daddy was at the duck camp). We went and played on the jumpys by the riverfront, it even “snowed” on Main Street. Then went to go eat. It was a disaster. We sat for two hours waiting on our food and when we got some of it, it was not cooked right. You two kiddos were restless, whining and hungry and we were all over it! Ha! I spent most of the time walking y’all around outside so everyone else could enjoy what food we got. I never even got a meal, but I was just ready to get out of there and get you kiddos home.

Y’all love seeing Christmas decorations at the store! Hayley, you hug everything you can get your hands on and you say “I love Christmas! Thank you mommy for Christmas!” Haha! Y’all are too funny!

I just want one cute picture of y’all sitting together in your Christmas outfits….just one.

The first weekend of December, Daddy and I went to Memphis with some friends to run the St. Jude half marathon. I have been wanting to run one for a long time now, and a while back I bit the bullet and signed up! (And I signed your daddy up to do it with me 😉) I trained for several months, alternating my shorts runs and long runs. I battled through my knee problems only to get bronchitis before and had to rest and recover closer to the race. I felt unprepared, but I was determined. Daddy didn’t train at all and when we got there he said he wasn’t going to run the half. But I wound up talking him into it. We ate a big pasta dinner the night before and tried to get some good rest (although our hotel neighbors were up all night 😡). The morning of the race the temperatures were in the low 40’s and it was supposed to rain. We were so excited in our corral waiting for the race to start. What an amazing experience with thousands of other people there all waiting to start. We decided that the girls (Heather and I) would run together and the boys (Bill and Jordan) would do the same. Finally we were at the starting line and it was go time! This was the most fun race I have ever done and for such an amazing cause (St. Jude research hospital) The toughest part was not running 13.1 miles, but running through the St. Jude campus on mile 5 and seeing all of those sick, precious children. I was crying and running all at the same time. I thank the Lord for my healthy babies! We ran until mile 8 and walked about a quarter of a mile and I ran the rest of it to the finish line (it started to rain on the last mile). WHAT AN AMAZING SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT! We did it! I ran it in just over 2 hours and your daddy finished 7 minutes before me. Don’t even get me started…he didn’t even train. ha! But we did it and spent the rest of our time in Memphis celebrating with our friends! I cannot wait to do it again (knee willing).  We even got an ornament to hang on our tree to remember the race by.

Joy the Elf is back! She came to make sure we are spreading Christmas cheer and completing acts of kindness to spread Christmas joy, then reporting back to Santa every night. some of the things she asked us to do included bringing donuts to your friends at school for breakfast, leaving juice and candy canes with thank you notes for the trash men and mail man, make Christmas cards for people in the hospital, bring treats to our friends at school for your Christmas party, bring gifts to your teachers for Christmas, get gifts for rescue mission Christmas tree requests, go make memories at the Gaylord with our family, donate money to the Salvation Army red kettles, bake cookies for Santa and leave carrots for the reindeer and much more! Hayley, you were so eager to help others and it makes my heart smile! Will, you are a little too young to understand this year.

You two are learning to play with each other so well! I pray you two always have a strong bond!

Mommy made decorated Santa cookies for your teachers and friends in your class for your Christmas parties.

Mommy also head her friend Christmas party at our house. My “supper club” girls all came over for dinner and hot chocolate and we played stocking exchange game that were filled with some of our favorite things.

Hayley you love sweeping up all the pine needles from under the tree. I just adore your helpful spirit!

Will, you love pots and pans! Wether it be mine in the kitchen, or Hayley’s in her play kitchen, you are always “cooking” something up!

Getting cold weather ready! Your smile is infectious!

Nothing better than snuggling my baby by the fire! You kiddos are loving this cold weather and making fires in the fireplace. Will, you even point and grunt to tell us all of the steps we need to do to actually light the fire; running to the side door where the wood is, pretending to throw wood in the fireplace as we put it in there, pointing to the lighter and the gas key, and finally clapping in excitement when it is finally lit. It is the funniest! You don’t say anything, but you are an excellent communicator.

We made our annual Christmas trip to the Gaylord! We had so much fun. This year, Claire, Nico and Elena came in from California to go with us. they came into Bossier a few days before we went to the Gaylord and since Elena is your age Hayley, y’all played together for two days before we left for the Gaylord. When we headed to Dallas, our first stop was the Polar Express train in Grapevine. that was so neat! We boarded the Polar Express to go to the North Pole and Mrs. Claus even came aboard with elves to pass out bells! We finally came to the North Pole, walked through the “snow” and went into Santas workshop to see the elves put on a show! We went to dinner that night and it didn’t go so well. Both of y’all were so tired that y’all whined and pitched fits in the restaurant. We wound up pulling you both out of there and taking you straight to the room to go to bed. It was pure chaos and your daddy and I were so embarrassed. 😔 But you two were so tired from traveling and a fun day and we know you just needed rest.

The next day at the Gaylord, we went to see Santa and sit on his lap! Hayley, you told Santa you wanted a little bunny house (a Callico critter house). You both loved sitting on Santas lap. Later that day, all the girls went and saw a Christmas musical and you loved it! Later that night we went to eat at a steakhouse in the Gaylord to celebrate Grammie’s birthday and were able to get a private room for all of us so it wouldn’t matter what kind of mood y’all were in. Ha!

The next morning we went to see ICE! Will, you got cold and did not like staying in there very long. Hayley, you had a blast and loved he ice slide. You loved looking at all of the fun, beautiful ice sculptures and running around. After the exhibit, we went snow tubing and Hayley, you must have gone 15 times you loved it so much! Will, you were not tall enough to go. It was a fun trip and we cannot wait to go back next year!

The lemons on our lemon tree were finally ripe! We had so ,u h fin making yummy lemonade and lemon tarts with them all  we had about 20 lemons this year, and since it was the first time the tree made fruit, I was SO excited!

Hayley, you, daddy and I went to ride around and look at Christmas lights with our friends. We all met at a friends house to eat pizza and then boarded a tour bus and went our to look at lights! You loved playing with Lillie and seeing all of the yard decorations. We even went to a house that had a light show timed with music. it was so much fun but at the end of it, you were so exhausted and feel asleep! You never fall asleep anywhere except for your bed, so i was so surprised!

Hayley, your Mother’s Day Out class had a Christmas party. You and your friends were so cute and sweet! I love to see you playing with them.

Christmas pajama pictures at school were the cutest!

Family Christmas card pictures! I love yall so much!

Or 2016 Christmas card.

Front
Back

I want to stitch and ornament every year so that when you kiddos are grow we will have a collection of them over the years  this Santa is the one I stitched this year  I think he turned out pretty cute!

And I couldn’t wait to hang this cute ornament on our traditional tree! A precious little ornament that was made for you at school. 😄

Mommy, daddy, Grammie and PawPaw went to the Natalie Grant and Danny Gokie Christmas concert at church. It was SOOOO good and I am now a huge Natalie grant fan! We listen to her music all of the time now.

Playing around with you kiddos is the most fun! I love every second time of it! One day we went to the park and I forgot to check the forecast. It was freezing cold with gusty winds, but we made the most of it and ran around to warm up.

On night you wanted daddy to lay down with you. Normally we lay with you for a few minutes and then leave. When daddy never came back out, I went to check on him and both of you were sound asleep in your bed. The sweetest!

The sweetest and prettiest reindeer I’ve ever seen!

Hayley, you love to help mommy in the kitchen! The best sous chef ever!

Will, you love to pester Dixie. You pull her tail  ears and hair. She gives you little growls and it doesn’t seem to bother you one bit  this day, you were so sweet! I fought you getting pieces of dog food out of her bowl and feeding her one by one. Adorable!

Peopl ask me, how do you get things done during the day? Well, I try and do some work while y’all are awake and this is what my art studio and the playroom look like only after a short period of time. Y’all love to pull everything out and playing with it, especially my paints and brushes. No matter how much I clean, things are always a mess. But that’s ok. I am blessed to have this mess!

One afternoon, Nana, PaPaw and MaJean drove over to spend time with us and “do Christmas” with them. we ate lunch and opened fun presents. Hayley, you even decorated a gingerbread house with Nana.

On Christmas Eve we made chocolate chip cookies for Santa! You two also got your Christmas Eve box, with cookie ingredients, Christmas pajamas, Christmas Eve church service outfits and a book.

For Christmas Eve, we went to Christmas Eve candlelight service at church and then back to Grammie and PawPaws for dinner to celebrate Uncle Bobby’s birthday! Will, you loved your pecan pie so much! After that, we came home to put out cookies, and milk and carrots for Santa and the reindeer. We got in our pajamas and read the night before Christmas. Hayley, you even heard sleigh bells outside your window when I was tucking you in! How exciting!

Finally! Christmas morning had arrived! Grammies, PawPaw, Grandma and Gappy, along with Aunt DeeDee, Uncle Bobby and Samuel all came over to be here when y’all woke up. You two were so excited when you came out to see everyone there and what Santa had brought! Y’all must have been good all year long because Santa brought you both a ton of stuff! Will, you got a John Deer hot wheels, play trucks, a toy riffle, and much more. Hayley you got the Callico critter house, A wellie wisher doll, books, more toys and clothes! It was such a fun morning.  We had a big breakfast after that with everyone.

After that, we all got dressed and went over to Grammie and PawPaw’s for more gifts and fun! We had a delicious early dinner with Aunt Maredia and had so much fun playing with cousin Samuel! It was a wonderful Christmas Day!

The day after Christmas, we went to Gappy and Grandmas to have Christmas with Uncle Ryan and Aunt Jessi. you two got even more toys! Including an art set, a Barbie that you fix her hair, a giant piano you run on, and a tool bench. It was a fun night!

You kiddos are having a blast playing with ALL of the toys you got for Christmas. You even got so much stuff that I put up toys in the closet because we had SOOO MANY!

On New Year’s Eve, we left Will with Grammie and PawPaw (sorry, your not old enough) and went up to daddy’s duck camp to stay the night with all of the families of the people who are members of the camp. We took ranger rides to see cows, pumped blinds, and even roasted s’mores on the fire! It was a fun little getaway!

What a wonderful holiday we had full of fun and lots of memories made! I cherish every second I get to spend with you two and it is the joy of my life to live seeing the world;d through your childlike eyes! I pray I have made every second of these holidays ones you will remember and love looking back on. I love you both so much!

Mommy