Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Day

I've written about Christmas Eve and I've blogged more in this last week than I have in the last two months (or three?).   So, how about I keep the love coming and write another blog post?  Wowsa!

Christmas morning came way too early, esp. since we had been up insanely late (yeah, still not admitting just how late).  We were able to eke out a bit more sleep by snuggling in bed with Abigail, but couldn't put it off any longer once Bethany joined us.  The little girls were all to ready for stockings and presents and it didn't matter that Mommy and Daddy were freakishly tired.  The tree looked pretty with all of the gifts around it, though.

I made the kids sit on the stairs, even though there wasn't really anything to get ready.  I was sorely tempted to lay down on the couch and doze a bit.... 
Here they are, waiting to come down.  Note that Samuel looks like a zombie.  Or something.

Stockings were first, as usual, before wading into the gifts.  I always like to think we can open gifts up in an orderly fashion, enjoying each other's exclamations and looks of surprise or joy, waiting patiently, but it doesn't seem to work like that.  At least it's not total chaos and the kids do tend to take note when someone is opening something.

The little girls were the biggest focus this year at the start of handing out the presents, with Samuel eagerly handing them his gifts and the big sisters ready to give theirs as well.  Bethany especially seemed excited about her new Cinderella crown (and her new hair do dads from her stocking).  She actually has two soft stretchy headbands criss-crossed on her head in addition to the crown.

The little girls got games, Magna-Tiles, books, stuffed animals and a few princess things, including a 'Sleeping Beauty' (non-Disney variety) dress for Abigail that caused a momentary pout from Bethany, who wanted a dress, too.  Bethany actually gave me a pretty good stink eye when she opened a game instead of a dress-up dress, but got over it fairly quickly (besides, she has a pretty decent Cinderella dress need for another one!).

A highlight of the morning for me was watching the littles open their princess dolls.  Abigail got a Sleeping Beauty and Bethany got an Ariel.  Just kidding.  Bethany got a Cinderella.  As if I could even think about purchasing another princess for her.

Abigail, if you notice in the photo, has her hands on the sides of her face.  She was ecstatic and very enthusiastically ripped the paper from the box once she caught sight of what she was opening.  These were purchased back in October or November, while on a Saturday-in-town shopping trip with the little girls in tow.  Costco had the dolls and I knew that this might be my only chance to purchase them before they disappeared.  So while Abigail was wailing about wanting the doll, I snuck back to buy them.  And believe me, Abigail wailed for about the last half of our trip through Costco, begging me to buy the doll for her.  She remembered that when she opened it and said something to the effect "you tricked me".  Yep, honey, I did...because I love you and wanted to see this exact reaction.

The olders got some good gifts, too.  Samuel and Moriah each got cameras for their upcoming trips, along with books and t-shirts.  Susannah got a Wii game she asked for and some nice markers and a sketch pad for all of the neat designs she draws.  I got my trekking poles I requested (for hikes up the mountain) and Jim got the promise of a bonsai tree shopping trip. I accidentally killed his last one and wanted to get him another.  But if there is one thing Jim is, it's unpredictable about his choices.  I wanted him to be able to choose the one he wanted, not necessarily replace it with the same kind.

Captain Obvious, to the rescue!
Sock Monkey slippers!

Wii game...for me?  Just Dance 2!

Jim also got some cool stamps with the church's picture on them.  They are 'legal' for use on USPS mail!
We had two yummy meals, too.  Brunch with a dear friend that included pumpkin pancakes (YUM) and cinnamon chip bread french toast and dinner with just us that included some of our favorites.  The biggie for me was the twice-baked potatoes, which went with the ham and pineapple pudding quite nicely. 

Potato-y goodness

We also sang Happy Birthday to Jesus (even though December 25 is highly unlikely to be His actual birth date).  Still, Christmas is a celebration of his birth, regardless of the actual date, so a birthday cake is always part of our meal on Christmas.
See those green things at the top?  I tried to make a holly leaf shape.  *giggle*

Jim is working on separating the ham into baggies...

and really hamming it up during the song! (ha? ha?)

There ya have it.  Our Christmas in words and photos.  We had a wonderful day together full of surprises, laughter and song. 

This will be my last December post...Have a happy and safe New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

19 Years

Our family of two was formed 19 years ago today, right around this time (accounting for the four-hour time difference and the fact that our ceremony started at 7:00 pm in Indiana).  Over the years, our family has obviously grown, to this jumble of love and energy and laughter and noise.

My heart swells with joy and bliss and I truly thank God for the gift he gave me all those years ago.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve, continued

I'm sitting here, watching Moriah and Susannah play a new Wii game and offering pointless advice.  Because while I sort of get what to do, the girls really don't need my suggestions.

Anyway!  Between the pageant and the first service at the church, we grabbed a pizza from the "A Bar" (Aurora Lounge) at the hotel and were able to choke down some dinner.  You'd think that there would be plenty of time between a 5:00 service and a 7:30 service to have some dinner, huh?  Well, after the actual pageant is over,  by the time we have to get all of the costumes collected and folded and stored in the bags and bins and the candles put back into a box and the table and advent wreath stowed away and the electric keyboard carried downstairs and finish looking around for any random items that might have been left behind, it's fairly close to 7:00.  And it just doesn't seem to occur to me to have anything going in the crock pot, until around 2:30 and by then it's too late to do anything because we have to be getting ready to go by around 2:55.  (it is my hope that you get a sense of the crazy-ness with how jumbled this last paragraph was)

Between the 7:30 and 11:00 services there is a bit more breathing room, but not much.  We're usually home by around 9:30, after chatting with folks and cleaning up in preparation for the 11:00 service.  We also took a few moments to get a family photo taken:

 Once we got home from the 7:30 service, it was time to open jammies and ornaments.  We take a lot of care in choosing the ornaments for the kids every year, trying to find something that reflects an important event or something they currently are interested in. The girls were fairly easy, while Samuel presented a challenge (because there just aren't that many Debate-themed ornaments out there, if you must know).  In the end, all five kids got an ornament that reflected something special for them and it was a lot of fun to see them open the pjs and find the ornament nestled inside.  In fact, the pjs are the 'wrapping paper' on Christmas Eve, which makes it nice and easy to get each kids' things ready for opening.
Samuel's 'handmade' ornament*, which he loved!
Moriah got a guitar, which was as close to a ukulele** as I could get.

Susannah is making a funny face, but she loves her piggy*** ornament.

Abigail has a Sleeping Beauty**** ornament

Bethany has a Cinderella***** ornament

We got the little girls settled in their new fleecy, warm jammies and put them to bed.  Then off to the 11:00 service went four of us, with Moriah and Susannah sporting their new pjs as well.  That's a plus for this service...the kids are welcome to wear their pjs, esp. since the service ends near or after midnight.

I think that is about it for our Christmas Eve report.  Except maybe to share how pathetically late we were up finishing the wrapping.  Then again, maybe I'll keep that sad information to myself.  Every year I vow that the wrapping will be done well before the 24th and every year, I'm doing it late into the night.

Someday I'll get my act together.  Probably just in time for the little girls' last Christmas before they head off to college.

* Samuel's is a 'tub' with 'folders' and 'paper' inside, meant to represent the Rubbermaid tub full of information that he and his debate partner use for their debates to formulate their cases.

** Moriah won the first annual "Girdwood's Got Talent" back in October.  She sang Hey Soul Sister while accompanying herself on her ukulele.  It was good.

*** Susannah loves pigs and will not eat pork of any kind.  So it was time to get an ornament reflecting this preference of hers.

**** Abigail's affection for Sleeping Beauty is undiminished and still as enthusiastic as ever.

***** Bethany's affection for Cinderella is equally undiminished and she often refers to herself as Cinderella.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Christmas

As my Christmas gift to you, I'm actually writing a third December blog post.  And possibly a fourth, if this one gets too long.  Don't let it go to your head, though.  This burst of generosity won't likely last once classes resume.

Christmas Eve was especially wonderful this year because we were officially in our new church.  But before those two services, we had the annual Christmas Pageant up at the resort.  The little girls were over the moon excited to be in the pageant this year.

Bethany and Abigail, lined up and ready to go!

I had high hopes that they'd do well as angels this year, based on their enthusiasm for their roles. They asked me daily when the pageant was, raring to wear their costumes and be part of the play.   I wrote about our pageant experience last year and I am very happy to report that Abigail was a perfect angel.  Really.  She was an angel.  And a perfect one.  Stood up on stage, on her mark, with her hands folded 'in prayer' and stayed that way the entire time.  What a difference from last year's reluctant donkey, huh?  Bethany did quite well too, but did make a dash down to my seat so she could take off her shoes.

Walking to the stage.

The two services at the church were magical.  The decorations managed to hide the fact that the sheet rock isn't truly finished and painted. (Jim has some great photos of the sanctuary on his blog, in more light, that you can check out here.) There were about 113 chairs set out and they were all nearly full for the 7:30 service.  The service itself was familiar and traditional, but there was something about singing Silent Night at the end, all of us holding candles, with the lights turned low, that made me lose it.  I made it through the first verse and then became rather verklempt and cried for the other three.

Here is Jim singing during Silent Night.  Grainy photo, but it captures the warm, glowy atmosphere.

After the service, Samuel noticed my tears and asked me what was wrong.  I replied that nothing was wrong but that everything was right.  And it was.  Around 100 voices raised in singing about the birth of our Savior (although 'silent' was probably not how that first night was!).   Pretty awesome.  And, to know that all of the things (Bibles, hymnals, chairs, altar, lectern, Christmas tree, etc) that were moved over for this service get to stay.  That's even better.  What a gift God gave to Jim this Christmas season!

I also went to the 11:00 service, thanks to Samuel's generosity.  He stayed home with the little girls, who were sound asleep, and I got to go to the late service for the first time in a few years.  Samuel said he'd use the time wisely and finish wrapping gifts.  Instead he zonked out on the couch.  The late service was not as widely attended but was still magical.  We saw a couple of cool videos, sang a lot of carols, heard the Christmas story through scripture and sang Silent Night in candlelight, welcoming Christmas Day in style.

Between the two later services, the kids opened their pj/ornament packages.  That'll have to be for another blog post because I think this one is long enough.  So, hey, you may get five December blog posts before I'm all done!  No fainting please.  Just come back and visit and read!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We've had about a week off from school, filled with lazy mornings, trips to Anchorage, c-c-c-cold temperatures, housecleaning, cookie baking and anticipation for Christmas.  The little girls seem especially aware of this year's festivities and have gotten very excited at the thought of presents, both received and given. 

This year's Christmas will be extra special because we'll be able to worship in the new church.  The state fire marshal gave the okay for us to be in the space (read: 'legal' but not 'finished') and the Doepkens and many church members have been working diligently to get the sanctuary decorated and as free of sheet rock dust and other areas as cleared out and cleaned as possible.  The little girls have fancy dresses that are partially black...wonder what they'll look like after tonight's lessons and carols service!

Our family is keeping things fairly low key tomorrow, as usual, but it feels almost too low key for me this year.  I think having us all so busy these past few months made it feel like Christmas came up too quickly.  But funny thing about's always in December, on the 25th.  No excuses really work, do they?

Even as I wonder if we've gotten 'enough' for our kids (that horrible battle between materialism and what I want my kids to focus on), I keep reminding myself that this isn't about gifts or cookies or decorations.  It's not any of our birthdays, after all (although the chocolate birthday cake will be tasty).

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior, Emmanuel with us.  Thanks be to God.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My apologies

I will try to get back into the blogging habit. I will. I am sorry that any family and friends who try to follow what's going on with us have been left out of the loop with my lack of posts. Maybe they've given up on me completely...and I don't blame them!

But, once my classes are over, I will attempt to catch up. I promise.

In the meantime, Happy St. Nicholas Day!