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Friday, January 10, 2014

Glad Tidings of Comfort and Joy

 We had an amazing Christmas season together with lots of fun events and family time. Riley enjoyed helping decorate this gingerbread house and when we mentioned the idea of making a cake for Jesus' birthday--he jumped right on the idea! We asked him what kind of cake he thought we should make (expecting him to say something like chocolate or vanilla), and he adamantly stated he wanted to to make him a dinosaur cake. It just so happens that Riley also would like a dinosaur cake for his next birthday. :) Aunt Penny happened to have a dinosaur pan to lend us and though it turned out looking a little more like a scary zombie, I think Jesus still appreciated our effort. It the sweetest thing was listening to Riley sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus on Christmas Day.
 I "Mustache" You A Question....Do we look funny or what???

 We began our Christmas journey on Thursday, Dec. 19th (Chris was able to leave school a little early to give us a head start on traffic). We made it to Charleston, WV and stayed the night before continuing on to Tim and Jen's house in Toledo, Ohio. We arrived around 2 and the rest of the gang trickled in later that same day. The kids had a great time playing together. Pap read them a cute Christmas story.

 Riley loved having his cousin AC to pal around with!

 We celebrated Tim and Lucy's birthday that weekend as well. The kids loved the cake and the adults loved going out that night to a local pub "just 800 feet away" while Nan and Pap held down the fort.

 On Saturday, we had our big Christmas gift-opening and various exchanges (local beers, homemade gifts, White Elephant).  We added a few new games to the mix--like the paper plate drawing on your head and Left-Right-Center. Despite Tim's best attempts to play the "Lucky Chicken" song each time he rolled the dice, Chris was the winner of the game and took home all the moo-lah! It was exciting to have Aunt Charla, Chelsea, Aunt Penny, and Emily join us for the evening festivities as well. Tim cooked up a scrumptious dinner of beef tenderloin, green beans, hashbrown casserole, salad, and rolls.

 This is the best I could do for getting a group shot. It was like trying to herd cats to get all the kids to stay near the tree much less look and smile in the same direction!
 On Sunday we packed up and road on down to Greenfield to visit Grandpa and Grandma Condra. Riley was ecstatic to get a Hot Wheels stunt loop and toy car and Maggie really liked taking care of her baby doll.

We had to make the long trek home on Monday and the kids truly did a wonderful job in the car for the 11 hours.  Tuesday was Christmas Eve and we were able to enjoy a special kid-friendly service at 4 pm that day at our church. Grandmama, Papa, Kelly, Joel, Mommaw, Poppaw, and Connie were able to join us for this as well.  Then we headed off to our traditional Asian meal at a nearby restaurant (Red Bowl this year, but Chris says it has to be Wan Fu next year because it's so much better). And afterwards, we drove around to look at the lights. This time both kiddos were awake enough to know what was going on. Maggie's favorite houses were anything with "Santa" on them (as that is the one item she figured out how to recognize this year). Riley liked anything with lots of colors! 

 This house in Stafford Park has won 1st place for several years in a row. We love going through this neighborhood and seeing all the many displays.
 Christmas morning Riley and Maggie woke about 6:30 and were delighted with the toys that Santa brought them. Riley has put his imagination to work as he rescues people in his "city" as he calls it. Maggie loves pushing her grocery cart and stroller around and playing with anything that makes music.

 Ready to go shopping? --Maggie is!
I'm the biggest sucker for traditions. We have a sausage and egg casserole and this candy cane pastry every year. Many thanks to my mom for making the pastry for us this year---it was delicious as always and brings back many childhood memories! 

 We headed over to Grandma and Papa's house for Christmas lunch with Kelly, Joel, and Connie. It was delicious medley of Beef Bourguignon, ham, mac and cheese, rolls, collards, 7 layer coconut cake (both vanilla AND chocolate), and lots of other tasty sweets and treats. We came back 2 days later to celebrate Christmas again with Edward and his family. We drew names this year and Chris was thrilled to receive his GPS running watch from his Secret Santa (Joel) and some help from the merry elves (Bonnie and Ed). I had a great time making traveling memory notebooks for both Joel and Edward and my Secret Santa (Amanda) surprised me with a beautiful turquoise Infinity scarf and ceramic coffee mug, several bottles of Bath & Body Works lotions and shower gels, and some exotic Chai-flavored marshmallows. We had a good time playing Reverse Charades together that evening and sitting out by the fire pit together.
 Kelly loved her Secret Santa's (Edward) gift to her of art supplies so that she can keep on creating!
 Amanda received some homemade clay family ornaments courtesy of Kelly.
The gifts were all wonderful, but the time spent laughing and being in each other's presence this holiday season is what I am glad about the most. It is of much comfort to me to be surrounded by so many loving people in our families and hear the house fill with sounds of joy!

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