Sorting the candy. Classic kid shot. It's funny that they wanted to sort it even though they know it goes in to a big communal bowl in the kitchen (in a high cupboard they can't reach :). I was surprised by the amount of candy the kids got this year. We still have most of it left (and plenty of chocolate pieces left). AND we didn't even have Caleb do any trick-or-treating. So from Anna and Ben at the church party, a little downtown, and a few blocks around where we live, they got SO much candy. Fun Halloween festivities. The kids loved it! But enough with the details of Halloween. On to NOVEMBER!!!
I am so, so, so, SO excited for the holiday season to be upon us. (I count the start of November until New Year's as the holiday season, FYI. :) It has been a long time since my little family has had relaxing, low key holiday season, let alone a Christmas in our own home. Let me take a second to recap:
Holiday Season 2007 I was pregnant with Benjamin and doing my fall semester of student teaching until a few weeks before Christmas, at which time I promptly fell in to a pile of exhaustion from the semester and the pregnancy. AND even though we were still living in our cozy little house on Front Street, Ethan, Anna, and I decided to spend the night on Christmas Eve at Chuck and Melissa's since family was in town. So, technically, not in our own home for Christmas.
Holiday Season 2008 and 2009 we drove up from Clio and spent Christmas with the family. It wasn't especially stressful, but it wasn't our own home either. And traveling with little kids is never an easy thing for me. Oh, and since the end of the semester was always crazy, busy for Ethan, there was plenty of stress during that time of year for him, and so also for me. (I swear I used to stress about his tests and papers and projects as much as he did. :)
Holiday Season 2010 saw the kids and I staying long term with my parents, and Ethan back forth on some weekends between clinical placements. I started on hospitalized bedrest the first of November. Caleb was born mid November, which began his six week NICU stay, although we had no idea at the time. The whole season felt like I was going through the motions with the older kids, while my heart was at the NICU with Caleb. I should clarify that it will always be remembered to me as a sacred, special holiday season, even though I'd never want to repeat it. So many precious, touching memories of sitting in a quiet, dark NICU, holding Caleb, rocking him, singing Silent Night and other songs to my baby, praying, and having so much time to think of Mary and the birth of the Savior of the world as I held my own little babe in my arms. And finally,
Holiday Season 2011 was all things "our new house" related. I have a hard time remembering the specifics of last year, it was such a blur. Getting everything in order to close on the house, and working on the house for a month and a half after we finally closed just consumed me. I rarely got to work at the house during the day, so almost every night for the month of December (and first few weeks of January), we would put the kids to bed, and come over to the house from 8-ish to Midnight-ish. Oh, and full days on Saturday too. I was so tired all the time, and so preoccupied with all the work that needed to be done in as short amount of time as possible, that I would often forget that it was even Christmas time at all. Christmas Eve I worked at the house during the day while Ethan had the kids until we had family stuff that evening. We did take Christmas day "off" completely from working at the house (it was the Sabbath too). The day after Christmas, Ethan took a vacation day and we sanded floors from 7am until 9pm at night. So yeah, a very busy, crazy holiday season last year.
That is why I am so, SO excited for this year. Life still feels busy. And things, of course, are never perfect. But we are having the holidays in our own home, and especially compared to the last few years, things are pretty low key. We still have extended family get togethers and traditions (that I love!), but I am so excited to wake up Christmas morning just our own little family, in our own little house. I want to take the time and enjoy the small, beautiful moments this season. To recognize blessings and joy around me, amid the heartaches of life. To bake, to listen to music, to play the piano, to carry out traditions with the kids, to feel the spirit of the season in my heart, to sled, to drink plenty of hot chocolate, to laugh, to hold my kids close. Bring on the holidays...
(And lest we all forget, getting so wrapped up in the holiday season, next week my baby turns two! TWO!! :)