No order to this list. Some are serious, most are not. Each one brings a smile to my face as I remember it.
1. Celebrating God's greatest Gift with these two (numbers 2 and 3 in my book!)
2. My girl started walking. Like, for real.
She started taking a few steps in early December. But they were few and far between. During our week in Michigan, however, she became a walking fool.
She that proud grin? Yeah, she bit it on the sidewalk right after I snapped that. Check out the red mark on her forehead in some of the other pics.
3. Aiydan and Gray (my cousin's son) were so adorable, playing together on Christmas Eve.
Yes, I included a blurry picture on purpose. That's because it's how I remember the two of them.
4. All of us kids got new PJ's.
But Ben's stole the show.
Adult footie jammies. With a back hatch and everything.
Caroline's were too long, but Montoya fixed that with a pony-tail holder.
6. We met Mia, who is the new daughter of Josh's cousin Lacey. Now that we've got a active, often-destructive, big girl on our hands, it's fun to hold little bitty babies that are so sweet and snuggly. Here's Mia, Baylee (Lacey's older girl) and Caroline. And "Lovey Dog," who is Caroline's constant companion.
5. Starting in early December, we attempted to sit down daily as a family and pieces of the story of Jesus, starting with his ancestors. A Jesse Tree devotional. Each day we'd sit down and read a different story - Abraham and Isaac, or Moses, or some other piece to the larger story. We didn't do this perfectly, by a long shot. But it's important to me to build traditions in our family, especially as Caroline gets older. And those times of prayer and remembering and preparation for Christmas were precious to me this year.
7. Caroline loooooved Opa and Oma's Christmas tree. We were lame at our house and didn't put one up. (Don't judge! By the time we got around to it, it was a week before we were scheduled to leave for Michigan. AND now we don't the hassle of taking it down to look forward to.) Anyway. Caroline thought it was way cool.
8. On Christmas night, we went over to my aunt and uncle's house for my cousin Natasha's birthday party. A big group of aunts, uncles, and cousins sat around and told old family stories. Stupid pranks. Grown-up shaving cream fights. Hand stand contests.
What a fun, if slightly dysfunctional, bunch of folks. I'm thankful to be among them.
9. My brother's new girlfriend impressed everyone with her ability to slice the top off of a champagne bottle with a butter knife. She fits into our family real well, that one.
10. Christmas in Grand Rapids is what I grew up with, and on some level just seems right. I so enjoy being at my parents' house, opening presents in the same living room that I did when I was six. The late-night drive through East Grand Rapids (where they put up luminaries) on Christmas Eve is a long-standing tradition. As is having certain cousins over on that night.
Actually, growing up, we used to pile in a minivan, sitting on top of each other, and do the luminary drive. During which time we both sang Christmas carols as loudly as possible and criticized everyone else's light displays. But our numbers have grown and babies make it difficult to all get out late at night. So we kissed that part goodbye for this year. But the cousin part was mostly still there.
A late Merry Christmas to you, Internet. Here are a few more pics of our festivities.