CHRISTMASTIME IS SO HERE.

Monday, December 14, 2015
It's in the air, all around my house, and swirled up in my heart. Seriously, I've never fallen so hard for a Christmas season before. We aren't going home for the actual holiday - my parents and sister and brother are coming here (!!!) - so I've been investing a lot of heart into everything this year. My house is decked, and I have custom gifts lined up for my whole crew. Feeling like I've got to make it a jolly holiday for my family has driven me to some great lengths, like dreaming up and designing a precious set of blocks for the girls, and helping Olivia hand-make gifts of her own - for every one in our family, actually - from Grandpa down to Claire. 

I've been occupied with giving, really. Hence the happy.

Now I am so happy. Last week, actually, even in the midst of trying to give,  I was not happy. I was ornery. Totally frustrated with finals. Finals Month sucks Ryan out of our lives better than a super Dirt Devil does dirt. Look - Dad's there! - then vroom. Vanished. Sad feelings from being Single Mom and Forgotten Wife always get me and they alllllways turn angry. But you know, you can't be angry for forever. You just can't. Holding angry feelings becomes more painful than whatever you're feeling angry about. Part-way through last week, I prayed hard for my burdened-sad-angry feelings to high-tail it outta here, and also for my heart to feel a joy from working so hard for our family. And you know, I've been happy (also divulged these feelings here). It was our family's first Christmas miracle, because really, I was that ornery and we are all suddenly pure smiles around here (when Mom ain't happy, nobody's happy -- that is TRUTH).

I so believe in prayer, friends. I really really do. 

Anyway, on to the photos of this lil post. In between all the special Christmas prep, we visited Santa atop Carter Mountain with friends (what we don't do with Dads during Finals Month we do do with our girlfriends and baby friends, so you know, it all balances out :) ). As mentioned, Olivia and I have been making presents (partay)! And (not pictured), we had a sugar cookie party here with more friends. See? Life's always good! Don't let me get cranky next finals round.

First, our Carter Mountain Saturday. I knew the mash up with Santa and my girls'd go down like so...
Hahah. Thankfully we recovered with a little pancake breakfast overlooking the valley...(heyyy Charlottesville!!)
And then we went back to the sleigh for more pics - sans Santa - to spare Claire Bear. The dads that belong to the babes in this photo started law school together (except we're missing a couple more - Rainy and boys we missed for this shot!!) We're a knit little bunch - a family of our own right - and we're going to bawl our eyes out come graduation. 
Mmm love these bundles so!
Coupla shots from our Christmas workshop today. We went to town, Olivia and I, while Claire played at our friend's. Three-year-olds are such a creative, willing-to-serve dream (when they've slept, been fed, and listened to). IE, Olivia couldn't sit still - "Hey what can I do next, Mom??" And those two presents backed there LOADED with bows was all her doing. If I had an incredible stash of bows I would've kept them all there, but (sadly!) I had to explain that we have to be frugal (boring!) and just do one per gift. She was honest at how boring the gifts would be with only one bow, but cool with it. 
That angel girl. I love Olivia!
Olivia's idea: to paint some balls for Claire for Christmas. Balls = paper mache ornaments that we de-strung, painted (in colors of Olivia's choice), and then covered in glue and glitter. "Claire's gonna love 'em," she's been saying. Amen, sister. So thrilled we've got a couple weeks left of this whole Christmas thing. THRILLED!

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