Thursday, December 22, 2005

It is almost Christmas. For our family, it is our first Christmas in many ways. It is our first Christmas with Michael.

And thus it is our first Christmas as THIS family.

It is also our first real Christmas since the hurricane. We barely celebrated last year; there was too much going on, I couldn't rise to the occasion and we just didn't have room in the tiny place where we were staying. This year, we are in our new home. Everything is new.

Knowing we lost all of our tree ornaments, my Christian Artisan friends got together and made us ornaments for our tree.

I am "blown away" by the kindness, love and talent of these ladies! Wow! Pamela made and sent many of these, including the beads (top), the yarn, the pine cone, the teasel, the angel pin, the walnut, the holly and the carousel horse. Her Christmas tree is our tree topper! The tatted wreath is from Sandra. The felted stars from Beth. The cross stitched snowman is a first prize winning ornament from Amanda. The wool angel is from Cary. The mittens with the neat buttons are from Melissa, who coordinated the ornament makers. And I don't know who made the beautiful mini sock, which I just love. Everything is so wonderful and my family is so touched by the love of these ladies. We have a very beautiful tree this year.

We just added some balls from Sam's Club and Wal Mart, some beads, some lights and some candy canes. It is gorgeous when the lights are on!

I love to sit in the rocking chair by the fire and just look at it.

Christmas has been a little rough for me this year. Between the hurricane and then being pregnant, I still haven't come to terms with my Dad's death two Father's Days ago. My father loved Christmas. He was a big kid. When we were little, he always insisted on doing the Christmas shopping for us. And he always did an amazing job. Well, there was that one year he was on a diet and bought us all food. We were still kids and I think we each got about $100 worth of Hickory Farms sausages and cheese. That was an interesting year.

My favorite Christmas memory is the year my Dad stayed up until 3:00 a.m. assembling presents. (With 10 kids in the family, Christmas was quite a job!) When he finished and everything was under the tree (and around the living room) my Dad couldn't wait until morning. He put a Christmas record on the turntable, cranked up the volume and woke us all up for a very early Christmas morning. Every year I think about that Christmas because I can barely contain myself once I get the presents all wrapped. I can easily imagine doing the same with my own children. Perhaps one year I will.

Two years ago we went "home" to Las Vegas for Christmas. That was the last time I saw my Dad (and my grandmother who died a year after my Dad). He was heavily medicated and quite silly at times. He had many health issues and had become allergic to his own hair. He kept it completely shaved as a result. I remember his nurse shaved his head while I was there, but he couldn't stand the stubble he could still feel on his head. In his drugged up world, he conceived a plan to fix the problem and called my mother. He told her to go to the store and purchase sand paper so he could scrub the stubble off of his head. I suggested a belt sander and offered to buy it. After all a man likes power tools. He realized his idea was silly and lived with the stubble after that.

When we went to Las Vegas 2 years ago, I packed yarn to start on a sweater for Kurt. Well, I finally finished that sweater last night.

It feels really good to be finished with this sweater.

At first Kurt said the sweater was itchy.

But after he put it on for the picture, he left it on saying the sweater was nice and warm. I'm glad.

In addition to sending a beautiful set of ornaments for our tree, Melissa made the most darling apron for Gabrielle.

She will hardly take it off.

I've had Gabrielle help me make dinner every night lately. She loves to cook and it gives us time together. Kurt and Gregory have so much in common with their computer stuff, I worry my now middle child will feel left out - especially with so much of my time being devoted to Michael at present. It has been a challenge for me to get beyond my "I can do it faster by myself" mentality, but so worth it.

This has proved to be one of my better ideas.

Gabrielle has also been helping me a little with Michael.

Gabrielle held Michael on three occasions so I could decorate the Christmas tree.

She is really learning to do a good job with him. I suspect she thinks of him as she does her many dolls. I also suspect he will endure much dressing up and babying when he is old enough to play with her.

Gabrielle and I have been at odds over her hair lately. The longer it got, the less Gabrielle wanted to take care of it. I threatened to cut it off. She still left her hair unkempt. I finally got tired of it and off it came.

Gabrielle loves her new haircut. We even bought her a new hair brush!

She probably saved herself a great deal of hair pulling from Michael too.

Michael is such a smart little guy and has really come to love playing with his toys.

Though barely tall enough for his jumper, it didn't take him very long to figure out how everything works.

We never had to set the lights and music to "continuous". He managed to get everything working within minutes.

I have been completely blessed by his ability to sleep through the night. Only a few weeks ago I asked my friends on Christian Artisans to pray about Michael's fussiness and poor sleep habits. Now he is sleeping around 10 hours a night. God is so good! Of course this means Michael sleeps less during the day.

This is Michael napping.

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