From left to right, top to bottom:
1. We decorated the tree on the traditional day after Thanksgiving. Much less stress this year. It just seemed to flow. I gave up perfection and got peace.
2. We went to the Little Rock Big Jingle Christmas parade. We caught “parade air” in our empty cotton candy bags on the windy day.
3. Our tree, our stockings hung, and the “Joy” painted on our wall. I was sitting in my favorite rocking chair on the front porch while the kids played in the mild weather at night.
4. We make ornaments each year for friends and family. This year we used Matt’s mamaw’s old tearing up quilt. The kids helped stitch and pick the buttons for each tree. Pinterest idea.
5. Since my parents are in the midst of a divorce and my dad moved to an old little undecorated house my sister suggested we go decorated a tree for him with my niece.
6. My dad and MyGirl sitting outside chatting on his new porch.
7. My sister with my sweet BabyGirl.
8. Our new church had a kids Christmas choir. Our 4 oldest participated.
9. Our homeschool group had a Christmas party.
10. Pinterest came through again and we made a few button Christmas trees. I loved these.
11. We banned all “screens” and allowed only family screen time after some initial complaints from the kiddos we adjusted. We were much more choosy with our holiday shows. I loved it.
12. Another Pinterest craft. Our neighbor threw away gallon ziplocks of wine corks earlier this year. I did a Pinterest search for wine cork crafts and it turned up these cute trees.
13. One of my favorite pics from the holiday season. LittleBuddy watching out the window as Matt drove off to work. Just sweet to me.
14. Snow ice cream Matt made when we got the unbelievable snow this year.
15. The Jesse Tree book we borrowed from the library and read through the season. We loved this little book. We didn’t read it every day, we would read a few chapters and then miss a few days. It was much more enjoyable when we let go of the legalism of this tradition.
16. Our BabyGirl smiled through the season. What a peaceable baby. Thank you, Father.
17. Starbucks Peppermint Mochas were the indulgence of the year for me. I got them more than I should have and enjoyed them more than I would’ve thought.
18. Elf! One of our favorite Christmas movies. We laugh every time.
19. TheMiddlest sporting my old LOTR t-shirt (“Whatchu Tolkien about?” it says) on The Hobbit opening day. The 2 older boys loved it and I took the three youngest plus our neighbor friend to see Wreck It Ralph. It was a hit!
20. Five year old BigMan lost his first (and second!) tooth this holiday season. After being so scared he was then so excited!
21. We made Christmas cookies with my other sister.
22. That same sister holding my BabyGirl. Love this picture.
23. I printed our Christmas cards this year again. And once again didn’t print enough initially. I ordered new ones. And promptly realized I had nearly cut off TheMiddles from the edge. Good grief. I sent them anyway. Of course I did.
24. We made most of our Christmas gifts for our friends this year. TheMiddlest made this awesome stuffed animal for one of his best friends. I was so proud.
25. Our Christmas card wreath on the wall that I put up each year. And our Jesse Tree we started, but didn’t finish. I just dropped doing it and didn’t worry about not finishing. We did other things and finished the book so we were fine with not finishing.
26. The family candlelight service at our church the Sunday before Christmas. Again, I loved this.
27. MyMiddlest got into a maze making frenzy for his friends inspired by Wendy.
28. Christmas party with our awesome friends (who also happened to be my midwife!) The kids had all made things for one another. So very sweet and fun time.
29. The crazy light house in our city. It was unbelievable. You could even walk through it.
30. Matt built us a fire pit and we had an impromptu Christmas Eve marshmallow roasting. Christmas Eve was sunny and 65 degrees. The next day the ice storm and snow craziness began.
31. Christmas Eve gift! They each got new jammies (or shirts for the oldest 2 boys). Even BabyGirl who isn’t pictured here.
32. The look of our living room with the stockings all stuffed and ready for the kids in the morning. Earliest, easiest, most peaceful Christmas Eve we’d ever had.
33. Matt got me a One Direction t-shirt. That was 3 sizes too small, but oh too funny. I kinda like their music. That’s right.
34. The look of our front yard Christmas night after nearly a foot of snow had fallen. We didn’t lose electricity until nearly 11pm that night.
35. The kids all looking out at the falling snow Christmas night. It was hard to let go of the magic of that day. First white Christmas here in more than 80 years.
36. We spent Christmas day and the next day and night with Matt’s parents and his brother’s family who had come down from Wisconsin because we had lost our electricity and after awhile 52 degrees in the house with falling temps at night is just too much. It turned into an amazing snowy family adventure. One with no sleep and lots of candy highs, but you know. I had to get my attitude right.
37. I ate WAY too much pecan pie this holiday season. Including the day after I had puked all day with a stomach virus. Because pie is just irresistible to me.
38. We played on the grounds of the lit up capitol again this year. The kids love this. It’s too cold for me and Baby, but their joy overrides the cold.
39. The wrapping paper devastation at the end of Christmas morning fun.
40. BigMan striking a pose in his new Christmas Eve jammies. I loved how it just worked in front of the paint command to “Smile”!
We also read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for the first time this year and adored it! We went to our first children’s play as a family and saw Town Mouse, Country Mouse, Christmas House. Santa was never once missed in all the Advent fun we had. What a great year!