Christmas Celebrations

I've typed out a paragraph or 2  and deleted them several times. This Christmas might not be what Luke & I had envisioned years ago when we started planning for a family. I've always asked to just go away on a trip to Hawaii, hang out on the beach or go to NYC and walk around in the snow and just be with us for a few days. I would love to get together with family the week of Christmas and do board games, make cookies, go see a Christmas movie, go to Christmas Eve service together, go work at a soup kitchen together, or go look at lights. I'd love to have a house with a massive dinning room filled with a long table, a lot of food, and family over to celebrate with us.  We've usually tried to squeeze in our Christmas and an extended family Christmas on the 25th. And then we've celebrated Christmas with the other side of in-laws a day or so after Christmas. Last year we tried ( after a few failed attempts previous years) to squeeze in all 3 Christmas celebrations in one day. We drove to and from Nashville in one evening. And we also had family in town from Florida that we celebrated with as well.
Growing up, for me, we did extended family on Christmas Eve night with Christmas dinner and presents and trivial pursuit, and then just stayed at our house all day on Christmas. Sometimes family would come back over Christmas evening for a big Christmas dinner. My mom is from Florida, and some years we would travel down and spend some time there.
 I've been listening to different families talk about all their different traditions. Just now, as I'm typing, Ella is trying to take a morning nap, the kids are upstairs playing, and I have on the Today Show ( THAT IS ALWAYS SO EXCITING TO ME TO HAVE ON A NON-KID SHOW!!!!), Kathie Lee was saying they always did only 3 presents for their kids. I've heard this more and more this year, and am not sure I have heard of it before. She also said at Thanksgiving this year they were sitting around saying what they were most thankful for, and they were all so happy for family. They made a pact that they are doing no presents this year, they are just being together as a family. I hate to say that Luke and I tried to suggest that one year for Christmas(just no gifts or silly gifts with extended family), and were told CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT PRESENTS!!!! It didn't go over so well. Maybe in a few more years.
Luke and I decided before we had kids { maybe even just the months before Landon was born} that we do not want the emphasis to be put on presents. This year the kids went with me to help with some crafts for the KidPower Christmas party at church for the 2nd and 3rd graders. They didn't know they would get to watch the kids rip open gifts that had been donated for them by others. We got a good lesson in there, and they even got to help clean up afterwards.

Our Sunday school class did our rotation at  Room at the Inn at church last week. The kids got to witness and be a part of preparing food, serving food, and eating food with the homeless & seeing where they would spend the night. They see homeless men and women all the time, and there are certain ones we try to take food to on the way to church on Sundays. They look for him at his spot EVERY week. They understand ( the best they can) what it means to help others when they are down. We tried to get in another service lesson there.

Lucy also finally 'understood' the NICU a little more this year. In the past we've taken hats, and this year we took 27 blankets and cards to the babies in the NICU. One of our favorite nurses was working that night, and we got to get in some hugs and take the nurses some snacks too! Lucy has seen her NICU shadowbox hanging in her room, but doesn't get it really. She saw 2 babies and said AWWW THOSE BABIES ARE SO LITTLE! Her nurse Leslie told her she was much smaller than those babies. She got to see other babies sleeping where she use to sleep ( of course we only got to stand at the nurses station because it's RSV season) and put together that she actually lived there--as much as a little 3 year old can. We tried to get in a little lesson there too.

We've tried to emphasize everything BUT presents this year. The other night we asked Landon what Christmas was about, and not one thing was about presents. He said the words 'family' and 'bringing joy' a lot. I've never thought more about this than 3 years ago. We were not all together and it seemed to be the Worst Christmas EVER {click here to read} =(  Luke and my sister had seen me a week before go through a seizure and watch the medical team getting ready to intubate me, Luke had been told his wife would have brain damage, and we had seen and ( I had) held a 2 pound baby and not know her future. I have never been so sad on Christmas before. Nothing mattered more to me but to be with my baby.

While Christmas this year might not be what we had planned months ago or even yesterday afternoon, we are all healthy and together in our house. We are so very thankful for that! We are ready for Luke to be off of work for 3 days (  he's worked since last Friday) and head to church for the Christmas Eve service. They are so excited to go! We are trying to teach our kids so much more than presents on Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I am so excited for them to rip open their presents, they have NO clue what they are getting, and I can't wait to see them! They've also opened 1 present/book every night since the first Sunday in December ( the start of Advent). We have sat together as a family( although Ella has been asleep almost every night, and Luke has been at work a lot) every night and read each book after we open it. We've been thinking of Christmas and getting ready for the Christ child's coming for 23 days now. I hope Christmas is everything you've imagined it to be, but if it isn't, I hope you can still make the most of it & enjoy being with people you love! As Landon would say, " I hope this Christmas season brings you Joy!"
I'm going to add a few other pictures of the past few Christmases! How could I not be happy with these precious gifts?
Landon's 1st Christmas
Landon's 2nd Christmas ( 1 year old)

Christmas 2010 ( Lucy a week old and Landon 2 years)
Our first Christmas together ( Landon 3 & Lucy1)
Christmas 2012 (Landon4, Lucy2, Ella 1 month)

I will be back later to write about as we put the tree up this year, and all the memories were brought back up from all those ornaments. . . . .



Oh sweet Lucy, how much you have changed in the past year. Little by little I've seen worries and fears, that I've had since you worn born, fade away. Your 3 year old check-up last week was the first one we've been to where everything was perfect! Nothing was growing too big, nothing was too little, and there were no developmental delays still showing. Your percentages in height and weight are COMPLETELY average, right under 50%! Mommy has been crying all week. I've been thinking about the day you were born. I've been thinking about ringing the bell to get to see you everyday, and then scrubbing in, and then walking to your bedside. I missed you so much, and just wanted you home with us. I still sometimes get so sad when I think about you not being in our home for almost 8 weeks. I never realized what all I missed out on until I had Ella and got to cuddle and snuggle with her all day long. I love that you snuggle with me every night now. I love that you ask me to rock you. I love that you can just sit still and be with me now. I love that you can talk. I love that you can eat food. I love that you love make-up ( even if you continue to sneak in and ruin mine). I love how you say things are gorgeous and beautiful. I love your voice. I love your soft hair. I love your long little fingers. You are getting such a personality! You love to make up jokes, and the answer is always ' Because he ate baby food'. You are so cute. You are so smart. You love to mimic Landon word for word just about EVERYTHING he says or sings. You love to dance with mommy. You love to play with your babies and animals in your bed. I love how you line them up on your crib rail and make-believe with them. I don't know how you actually fit into your bed because you have so many animals in there! Right now, you love to have your Ariel blanket draped over your bed as a tent. I love getting it ready every nap and bed time. You are an amazing baby girl. You are my baby girl. I am forever grateful for you. I am forever grateful for everyone who loved on us and prayed for you after you were born. I'm so thankful you get to be a big sister. You love Ella so much. You are starting to have friends, and love to play with them. You love to give hugs. I love to watch your eyes light up when you get excited. I love the crazy face you make when you scrunch up one side of your nose and squint that one eye. You make us laugh. You are so sneaky, even when we are watching you, you pretend that we can't see you. You currently are going to marry Holden {at the Y} and Lincoln {at our farm}. We will figure that one out later ;) I love you. More than you will know. You have taught us so many things in the past 3 years. You are amazing. I'm trying my best, and will continue to get better at being your mommy. I will keep trying to see the good, and forget about any bad that we've been through. I will continue to give thanks for answers to the prayers I said over and over before I laid you in bed every night. I have never felt so strongly as I do about never wanting anything bad to ever happen to you. I will do everything I can to protect you. I'm so proud of you. You are becoming an incredible little lady ( but when I call you little lady, you state I AM NOT LITTLE LADY,  I AM LUCY!) You love to help. I can't wait to see how you will bless others as you grow. I know you will do great things! You are so sweet. You make my heart happy. I am so in love with you. I don't know what I would do without you. You are truly a miracle. Please stay little, and don't grow up too quickly.
I love you, Emmy Loo!

First dates

11 years (and a lot of pounds) ago tonight, Luke & I went on our first official date by ourselves. Well, that was OUR plan at least. I KNOW that our friends knew it was supposed to be a real date because they had been asking for weeks when we were going to go on one. But, as we started walking up to Opryland Hotel, they called my phone & said they had just parked ! Yep,they joined us on our first real 'date' ,& then we all went to Waffle House & another friend or 2 joined us.
I guess I never could have imagined all we would go through in the next 11 years. But here we are still together, driving towards Opryland hotel now. We are going to a movie first, and who knows if we will be awake enough to go look at lights after. We had planned to go every year, just us , on December 12th. Then we had kids (all within weeks of this day), we moved & moved again, and life has kept us busy.
We don't get the opportunity often to go out & leave the kids, so we are taking full advantage of our babysitter coming home for winter break!


Skipping months!

I just realized that I skipped posting Ella's 10 & 11 month pictures with the chalkboard! After her party, we've still been going full speed ahead. The other two are having their party tomorrow! We had family pictures taken(I'm so excited to see them!), celebrated Thanksgiving, have been buying gifts to deliver to the NICU, making birthday party invitations, we've gotten the trees up, we've gone to our 3&5 year appointments ( I have a 5 year old now!!!!), and we've been opening a new book every night as part of our Advent celebration. BUT I did take pictures of sweet Ella the last 2 months with her board!


I didn't take a one year one. We did use the chalkboard at her party & then at her 1 year pictures, just like we used it to tell everyone we were expecting at about 17 weeks.
I can't believe how small they were! And I can't believe I have a 1,2, &5 year old right now!
I've got to go work on some more cupcake mermaid tails, a real mermaid tail, and clean up the house before some more company comes in for the party!
(no parties next year!)