Thursday, December 29, 2016

How about a ton of Christmas photos?

We were once again overwhelmingly blessed this Christmas season. Our parents are so generous and set an example for how I hope to be as our children grow up and move out. I tease the kids and say that we had so many kids so they will take care of us when we get older...but in reality I hope that we can be a blessing to them for many decades to come. Our holiday has been mostly quiet and relaxing.

As I approached gift-giving this year, I tried to follow the same theme that we did last year: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. It was a helpful guide, though I didn't really get something for everyone in the "something you need" category. Some kids (like Josh) had a bag full of clothes, while other kids (like Micah) only had a couple things...I guess that was based more on what they needed or what they asked for. I am pleased that we were able to get something for each kid that they really wanted.

Christmas has only fallen on Sunday two other times in our marriage, so we don't have a lot of experience with that situation. The last time Christmas was on Sunday, we opened a special set of presents before church, went to church, then opened the "fun" presents after church. That worked out ok. But this year I thought it would be fun to open presents on Christmas Eve instead, so that's what we planned to do. Then Christmas Day was more like a normal Sunday, with the exception that we had a special dinner after church and we had our advent reading Sunday night. I made one mistake--I forgot to put out baby Jesus in the manger for the kids to find on Christmas morning. Oh well, next year we will be back to the regular routine! ;)

 We had our traditional Christmas pancakes on Christmas Eve morning instead. Then Christmas morning we had cinnamon rolls. Treats two days in a row?? Score!

 Even if we gave each child 4 presents, that would be 40 presents under the! And there were more than that. As always I try to shop for the best prices, and I also buy used. We never go into debt to buy Christmas presents. I set a budget, and stick to it. Thanks to the generosity of grandparents, my budget expanded significantly. But this year we received blessings from other families too (that's what's hiding under the blankets).

 I loved having my Christmas tree up and out of the way again this year. We have a huge tree that we didn't put up. Instead, we picked this smaller one up at Menard's. 

 Aren't we so cute? Thanks to Eden for thinking this was a photo-worthy moment. Well, it probably is...Mitch is almost always doing something photo-worthy. ::grin::

 Mercy LOVES clothes, especially dresses. One of the things she wanted was a "spinny" dress...a dress that she could twirl in. Would you believe that I had a difficult time finding something that will twirl? Several times I almost set down to make her a dress, but I just didn't feel confident that I could do a good job (or that I had time to do it). While we were wrapping gifts, Mercy came into our room and saw a box of clothes that I had bought for Genna. I decided not to wrap them all, because Genna wouldn't understand anyway (I wrapped only the shirt you see below). Mercy ooohed and ahhhhed over Genna's "new" clothes and said, "Mommy when am I going to be a baby again?" LOL Once she opened her new clothes, she wanted to put one of her dresses on immediately. So of course, I said yes!

 Caleb approved of the plaid fleece pants I found. They were the last ones on the rack in that color, and they happened to be his size. The colors were the right colors for his clan in Brigadoon. I didn't even know until this moment...I just liked them!

 Well, I don't think those shoes fit Genna. Maybe they will fit Eden?

 Tirzah had lip gloss and a watch in her "something to wear" bag. Caleb commented, "Isn't that a bit of a stretch, Mom?" Haha. In my defense, there were clothes in her bag.

 Obi didn't really need any new clothes. So I got him something fun instead. We also got him a shield to complete his costume. He asked for some Legos, so I got a couple really small sets for him. Later Grandma and Papa brought over a really cool set, too.

 Genna loves books. It has been a good substitute for nursing to fall asleep. I bought her a new ABC book, because her vocabulary is expanding. She loves to repeat words after us.

 Malachi got a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, and started reading least until it was his turn for a present again. I didn't get a picture of it, but Malachi also got a ripstik for Christmas. Ever since Zeke got one for his birthday, Malachi has been researching them. We have one, but its wheels are worn down. He has been looking into replacing the wheels or saving up to buy a new one. I feel bad that he can't use his new toy right away, but he was super excited.

 Tirzah is so proud of her new puppy books, too. Tirzah is my art-lover, so we picked up a plethora of art supplies for her, including a Spirograph set. 

 I think Caleb was pretty sure I was getting him this book. He already borrowed it from the library and read it, but he wanted his own copy for his collection. He might have mentioned it four or five times. 

 Josh seems to be suited to this kind of book. He declared he would build the things in the book a thousand times. I wonder if that was an exaggeration? We also got Josh a Harry Potter Lego Dimensions add-on that he had been wanting for many months. At one point, he was even enlisting the help of his brothers and sisters trying to pool money together to buy it. But Josh has been saving his money to go on youth retreats, and couldn't afford both. A bonus blessing: Josh also received cash towards the next trip.

 Mercy and Genna received some special gifts from "Grandma" Marlene. They got an adorable baby doll and some sweet stuffed animals.

 I was so excited about Eden's gift. This semester she has been really into photography, and I was worried that it would be her new love. But I couldn't afford to buy her camera equipment. Instead I wanted to invest in recording equipment. She has an electric keyboard and a mac mini desktop computer with Garage Band (ie: the expensive parts). After being in Portable Audio at our local Youth for Christ, she knows the ins and outs of the recording program. She just didn't have everything she needs to record at home. I did some research and got her a microphone, phantom power, and the usb cable she needed to hook up her piano. I could.not.wait. for Christmas. It was right before Christmas that I received a late-night text from her with a picture of the first stanza of a new song that she was writing. I am SO thrilled that she is still writing music. I knew the gift would be perfect. Within a day she had her room rearranged and her "studio" set up and recording. Yay! Only problem now: it isn't sound proof. Ha! At least it's a start, right? 

It was the year of music because we also got Caleb a padded gig bag for the acoustic guitar and a distortion petal for his electric guitar. I didn't do as well with the research on his equipment--he needs a cord that didn't come with the petal. 

Zeke wanted some new Lego minifigures. I searched for small sets that had as many figures in it as possible. We got him two Star Wars sets that are perfect for "battling" in some games that he and Josh play together. 

Micah asked for very little for Christmas. One thing he wanted was a specific hat from Mills Fleet Farm, my dad's favorite store here. :) I was happy to comply. He also asked for some candy...he said one bag of each kind of m&m's. I think I picked up 5 bags. Other than that, he got what any young college student loves--cash.

 Mercy will never be bored again.


 What could be under here??

A kitchen and a dollhouse--gifts from the Emersons (hand-me-downs that we were so grateful to receive...they even stored them for us a few extra months so that we didn't have to hide them). Mercy is in heaven!

One of the neatest things I found for the middle 5 children was base layer clothes. They had these boxed sets of shirts and pants at Sam's Club and they were marked down to $2.81. I bought one for each kid. I wasn't sure what they would think of them. As they opened their gifts, the kids disappeared one at a time and reappeared wearing their new base layers. Maybe I should have bought 2 sets for each kid at that price! They loved them.

 Eden and her friend Rachel
 Handsome Micah

 Dinner time! Dad is carving the ham.

 Josh graciously volunteered to wash all those lunch dishes!

 Micah stole my camera and took some surprise photos for me to





 This puppy has had several names the past few days, I think we've settled on one finally but here are some that we've tried out on her: Guess, Goldie, Belle, Bella, Nala, Mocha, and Eevee. I think Eevee is going to be it. Or will we spell it Evie? Hmmm...I am not putting anything official down yet!

 Eden: Seriously, Mom? I'm too old for this. You better not put this on your blog!


 Genna: Ditto what Eden said.


I might not have put this photo up, but Caleb has a really great smile!!

 Last night of reading Jotham's Journey. I'm going to miss our nightly readings, and the kids are too!

Christmas with Grandma and Papa
 Grandma and Papa came over on Wednesday for some Christmas celebration with the kids. They enjoyed meeting our new puppy, too.

 Lego for hours!

Eden loves taking the dog (and Zeke) to her room to do training for tricks. They have worked on sit, down, stay, and shake (or give paw). She is a super fast learner!

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