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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas rewind

Hang on to your hats! Here come the Christmas pictures.

Between two school parties, my incessant baking, organizing teacher gifts, mailing out an abbreviated amount of Christmas cards, socializing and packing to get to Beals Island (oh and having an unprecedented number of clients) the week before Christmas felt a lot like this:

First stop, Beals Island to have Christmas with the Carvers the 23rd-26th. 

Brevan got this awesome shark jaw from his grandparents.  What could be cooler?

Ella wanted a pair of dress shoes and her grandparents got her two to choose from.  She spent a great deal of time deciding which of the two to keep.

She settled on the ones with a heel. Whose surprised?
Sandi wore her elf costume for a third time this season, coming to Christmas morning in an official capacity.   
The girls definitely seemed more mature this year.  They were able to better handle staying up late and Ella even played the game Telustrations (it's like Pictionary meets the telephone game) with a little help from Tia.

Maya mainly doodled and kept a pen in her dress in a very official manner.
We gave Kenna this butterfly/fairy/princess outfit ratcheting up her cuteness factor exponentially.

I'm fairly certain that Trish is just using this picture as an opportunity to flash her engagement ring and who can blame her? 
Patti and Dwight, my parents in-love, who always make Christmas so incredibly special.
It's possible there was some canoodling going on at Christmas:
Then it was back to our house for our family Christmas.  It has never been our tradition to come downstairs and start ripping and tearing so the girls slept in and then ran downstairs to see if Santa had come (and if he had eaten all his heath bar- he had.)  Santa brought Ella the high, high, high top Converse she wanted as well as a kid sewing machine and Maya got a baby doll (yes, another baby doll) and a sled. 

While Ella sewed, Maya did some important work at her new "desk."

We got the girls a train set for under the tree:

After a year of saving up, Sandi finally got her ipad.  The girls took hold of it right away.

We take all day to open presents.  It's not that there are so many, it's just that we open one and play with it for a long time.  We had a nice mid day meal with Tia and Uncle Brock, played some more and then spent the late afternoon snuggled on the couch watching "The Grinch." 

Maya got these cool Converse shoes:
One of the things Ella really wanted was a "pick-up radio" as she called it.  Between the Converse boots, the ability to stream dance music through Pandora and listen through new ear buds and the faux leather jacket she somehow acquired, she will right in style when the 80's (regretfully) return to the fashion world.

Then it was time to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family!

My sister and I had decided this year not to buy gifts for each other and to make gifts for the kids. The idea stemmed from a desire to cut back on expenditure but turned into such a wonderful thing that I'm guessing we will do it every year.  The kids took such pride in giving and such joy in receiving from each other.

Braeden, opening the photo album Maya made for him:
Michaela, opening the pillow case Sandi helped Ella make:
Maya, the only child ever to be this excited to get batteries with a gift my mother gave her:

My mother looks forward to us making her a calender every year.  For the most part we have kept it up, with a couple of years in there where we dropped the ball and she didn't fail to show her disappointment.  It's full of pictures of our family, with quotes and birthday added in.  I think this year was our best one yet (thanks to the ease of Shutterfly) and seeing her joy when she opens it is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. 

Ella used her new potholder kit that we gave her for Christmas and made Aunt Kathryn her very own colorful potholder.  I love the proud look on my sister's face here as she opens it.

The weeks leading up to Christmas this year were an exercise in compacting as much as possible into every breathable space (a skill of mine Sandi loves- insert sarcasm). The lead up and the actual Christmas have been wonderful, fulfilling, connecting, magical and completely and utterly exhausting.

I had all I could do to get us where we needed to be, have food prepared for gatherings, have gifts wrapped and aim to remember the spirit with which is it is all done. As a result I did not sleep enough, did not  exercise enough (which is to say a tad excessively by most standards), and have at times eaten varied groupings of sugar, flour and butter with the vigor of an alcoholic headed for the Betty Ford Clinic in the morning.

So here I am at the cusp of the New Year, looking forward to the year for sure, and feeling a bit out of sorts and out of my normal rhythm.

In the end I know that I just have a love for a good party, serving people homemade food and having to put the leaf in the table to accommodate a table full.   I want to accomplish this and still sleep, actually sit down and have a conversation with Sandi and, oh yeah, take care of two kids.  I have yet to figure out the balance.  This Christmas left me certain that I want to slow it down next year.  The problem is I don't get a warning that I am close approaching too much. I only know it when I'm already there, have crossed the line and am careening down the cliff.

How does one make peace with her want for a house full of fun and the desire to not feel chewed up and spit out when it is all over?  What is the answer?  Catering?  Platters from the grocery store?  A maid?  Perhaps live-in help is the way to go?  I know that it wouldn't be as fun for me if I didn't plan the menu, make the food, lay it out on special patters and have people remark on how they like this or that.  The truth is I don't want to take shortcuts because I revel in the doing.  I just don't know how to not overdo.
Because when it is all said and done, I want to be amongst my family carving the Toferky.

Happy New Year everyone!

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