Sunday, January 13, 2008

Catching Up!

This is going to be one long post capturing our highlights from this past month. We were busy (as most of you were) with holiday parties, visits with family and friends, school programs, church programs, as well as a trip to Atlanta for the National Conference on Youth Ministries.

Both girls heartily enjoyed decorating the Christmas tree two days after Thanksgiving, putting us all in the Christmas spirit right away. Avery would exclaim, "Ah, this one is so cute!" each time she pulled an ornament out of the box. Now, I know you all have ornaments that you like better than others, and so generally you hang those for all to see in the front of the tree. Then, there are those other, not so attractive ornaments, that get hung in the back of the tree. Well, obviously Avery has a different taste in this area than Wes and I. She thought all of the ornaments were equally "cute" and wanted to hang each one front and center for all to see. Wes, thinking he was being quite sneaky, moved one of those not so appealing ornaments that Avery had placed in the front towards the back. She didn't notice at first, but then a few minutes later with tears welling up in her eyes cried,"Hey, who moved this ornament back here!" Wes tried to cover up by saying that some ornaments were just made for the back of the tree, and this particular ornament was one of those. Good try, Wes. She was not too thrilled about this news!

Around this time, Abby cracked me up one day while we were at the lunch table. She was just being silly and I asked her, "Abby, who made you so cute?" She thought for a moment..."Mommy!" I told her that she did come out of my tummy, but I wasn't the one who made her. She quickly responded, "God...Jesus...Body Language!" Ha! She loves to say "body language" the way Ursula does in Little Mermaid.

The Christmas season also began with a trip to see Santa Claus. Granny found out that he was going to be at a Christmas store in Arlington. It was a great visit with the jolly old man. No long lines or crying! Both girls were able to sit on Santa's lap for quite a while telling him what they wanted for Christmas as well as listening to a few of his stories.

The girl's preschool Christmas program was a joy to watch. Avery could be heard loud and clear and loved performing for everyone. Abby had a special performance of her own most of the show, while she had her fingers in her mouth making a funny face we had never seen her make before. We think she was mimicking the teacher pointing to the edges of her own smiling mouth (encouraging the students to smile). She made us all laugh whatever the reason for the face.

Abby recently made an amazingly smooth transition to her "big girl bed". She had just started climbing out of her crib, so we decided to it was time. Honestly we are surprised she lasted that long in a crib. We kept the girls out of Abby's room as Wes put it together and we made it up. Then we called Abby in there to see it. She immediately ran to it, gasped, and said, "Ooooooo...thank you!". It feels weird to have two children in real beds. I don't have a "baby" anymore. Sniff, sniff... Thanks again Nana and Granny for her bed. She loves it!

While we were at our friend's house for the middle school Christmas party Avery asked, "Why do they have presents under their Christmas tree?" I responded with,"Because they don't have a two year old who would open them before Christmas." My answer seemed to satisfy her. At that party we did an ornament Chinese gift exchange. We let our girls play for us. When it came to Avery's turn, she decided to steal a huge (about a foot in diameter) obnoxious ornament that a teen had already opened. Thankfully, that was soon stolen from her. Unfortunately, she stole another huge obnoxious ornament (about 8 inches in diameter) from someone else. As soon as we got home she insisted that she be able to put the thing smack in the middle of the front of the tree. How can you say "no" to that. As I was taking the ornaments down after Christmas, I honestly thought of quietly disposing of the thing in hopes that Avery would forget about it. I didn't in the end because I am sure Avery will remember her precious ornament come next Christmas. WAY TO GO - MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!

We celebrated Christmas with the Encalade family first. We did our normal tradition of singing Christmas songs together and talking about the birth of Jesus. Then we opened all the goodies. We also brought a Wii to their house. We had lots of fun bowling, playing tennis, and boxing. Wes and his Dad brought us excitement as they boxed against each other. The two of them really took it seriously - sweat dripped from their brows and at one point Ernie had to shed his shirt, leaving him in a "wife beater" which added to the hilarity of it all. I wish we would have taken pictures. We all woke up the next day feeling sore from playing the Wii. How sad is that?

On Christmas Eve our church held a special candlelight service. Wes and the other ministers and all our minister's children sang a medley of Away in the Manger and Some Children See Him. We have a unique group of minister's children - two are adopted from Brazil, two are adopted from China, two were born in the United States, and then Avery and Abby are born from someone who was born in Kenya. Some See Him was a fitting song for the group. At the end of the service we all circled around the auditorium and gathered in the isles holding candles. As the flame passed from candle to candle lighting up the auditorium it was a reminder to spread God's word throughout all the earth.

After our service at church we came home and had dinner with Dad. Right before bedtime we sprinkled "Reindeer Dust" outside on our front lawn. Two of our sweet gals in the youth group who are sisters were kind enough to bring some over for Avery and Abby. We were told to sprinkle it on the lawn for Santa's reindeer to eat, turn around three times and run and jump into bed. The girls really got into it! Avery ran down the hall turning around only to state, " You and Daddy have to go to bed now too!"

On Christmas morning we woke up to Avery bursting excitingly into our room, "Santa did bring me a bike. And it's a princess bike!" It was a cold morning so we let her ride it in the house. She would ride through the living room, the kitchen, and then the game room, making a complete circle. Later in the morning she wanted to brave the bitter cold, so we bundled her up to ride outside. Knowing we needed to get on the rode eventually to celebrate Christmas with Aaron and Janet we had to wake up Abby around 9:00 to come see what Santa brought her. I am sure there won't be many Christmas mornings in her life when she will sleep that late again. She was elated to see the Dora castle. The Dora Mega Tent was a big hit for both of them. We set it up in Avery's room with her kitchen, table and chairs and another chair and lamp inside to make it like a real home. They have had lots of fun playing "house" in there.

We headed to Aaron and Janet's house right away to spend the rest of Christmas with them. We had a great time opening presents, eating some delicious food, playing the Wii, and watching all the cousins interact with each other and share their new toys(okay, not always). Little Aivlyn had no idea what was going on, but enjoyed being held by everyone.

Just a few days later, Heather, David, and Caleb joined the rest of my family all the way from Nashville. We had several more days of laughing, playing card games, playing the Wii, catching up, and watching all the cousins have a ball together. One day, we all rode the Dart together to downtown Dallas where we went to the Dallas World Aquarium and then strolled over to Spaghetti Warehouse for a delicious lunch. Thanks again Dad for a memorable outing!!

Stopping for a sweet pose while walking through the rain forest.

Abby loved being held by Grandpa.

Abby thought it was too loud!

Caleb and Avery sat like this for quite some time watching all the huge fish and turtles in the gigantic aquarium.

Avery admiring the flamingos through the fence.

Heather, the talented photographer, at work!

Wes and Abby stop for a sweet kiss.

Heather's beautiful photography on a keepsake box for Dad.

Sweet Caleb feeding his cousin Aivlyn.

Uncle David and Uncle Aaron watching an important football game.

Janet and Mylen. Too cute!

Avery and Aivlyn. Yeah! A girl cousin!

While we had an awesome Christmas season it is nice to be back to a regular routine. The girls are back in preschool, which means I have been subbing too. This past Wednesday I got to sub in Abby's class for the first time. It was neat to see her with all her little classmates. It warmed my heart when she was the only one to volunteer to say the prayer before they ate their snack.

I'll end with a cute little story that happened the other night on the way back from our friend's house. We had just spent a nice evening eating, visiting, and playing with some friends from church who have a daughter Abby's age. Avery was upset that we were leaving. She normally doesn't get upset when it is time to leave, but she was having the best time playing with her friend and her toys. It was bedtime, which didn't help her emotions either - I am sure you all know how that is. Anyways, she was crying on the way home in our car and we hear Abby whispering, "Avery, get control... Avery, get control." Even though we were frustrated with Avery - Wes and I couldn't help but smile at each other and let out a little laugh at Abby's words.

As I read over the events of this past month, I can't help but feel truly blessed with a loving family, wonderful friends, and a great church family. THANK YOU, GOD!