January 5, 2012

Wrapping up the Holidays

...and where we were for the past week, wrapping up the holidays and bringing in the new year with my family in Tennessee! Hadn't seen my family, or been across the mighty Mississippi River for that matter, since April! This visit was long over due!

You are about to be subjected to what is probably an overload of family pictures you probably care nothing about. But I'm also posting, not just to share with you, but to share with family members who were unable to join us. All the silly family shots are for them. But your welcome to come along for the visit.

Malcolm and I got to Chattanooga, TN on Wednesday night (last), and after a visit with Mom and Dad, we all went to bed. A big weekend ahead of us! Thursday, Mom and I packed up, stopped in to say hi to Grandma and Grandpa, and then hit the road for Nashville!

As many of you may know, my sister and her family live in the Nashville area. What you don't know, or might not anyway, is that Meagan is very pregnant. Ava Grace is due any day now!
Well, as if Christmas wasn't hectic enough on it's own, add pregnancy to it, and on top of that, Meagan and her husband, Chris, finally found a house! They'd been looking for the perfect place and hoping to be moved in and settled before Christmas, but definitly before Ava Grace was born!
 I honestly don't now how Meagan has coped. I would have lost my mind trying to do all this at once! And then, to put icing on the cake, the day before moving day, Meagan's doctor gave her strict orders to park herself in bed or on the couch and stay put until delivery! So there they were with a new house, lots of boxes, and lots of holiday expectations to fulfill!

They got through Christmas just fine with lots of fun and the regular hoopla. But because she was on bed rest and unable to travel, our family Christmas (which we've started doing on New Years Eve) had to come to her. And since she was going to have a house full, Mom and I went up early to unpack boxes, and put things away, and set up sleeping arrangements, etc. We arrived Thursday evening, and got lots of visiting and laughing done amid the unpacking and decorating, and by Saturday afternoon, Meagan and Chris's house looked like a home! It was a big team effort, with Meagan directing from various perches, and Mom, Chris, and I putting things in place.
 After that, the real festivities could begin! Dad and Malcolm arrived Saturday afternoon and we all visited and played games like Boggle and Operation with Lily, and watched TV and on and on. And then Saturday evening, while we waited for my brother, Ken, and his family to arrive, Lily made "cakepops,"...
 ...or I should say Meagan and Chris did. You can see Lily in the background playing, after she got distracted from her cake pop project. However, she was quick to return and do her part when the decorating needed done.
 And they all turned out beautiful! She's a great cake pop decorator and Meagan and Chris are great cooks! They were quite yummy for dessert later that evening.
 Unpacking, cooking, decorating...the weekend was all about team effort!
Finally, the rest of our party arrived! Ken had been working all day at the restaurant and they were busy, so he hadn't had a chance to eat. So we made that our first order of business! We had decided to keep it simple, pannini sandwiches and Ken's wife, Sarah (and yes that can get confusing having 2 Sarahs in the family) had brought chips and dip! It was all yummy! After that, it was time to visit and play and wait for 2011 to come to an end!
 Ken and Sarah's youngest daughter, Kenslee, will be 2 in May. She stole the show all evening. I don't know how they keep up with her!
While Kenslee investigated the toys that were present, her sister, Bentlee, and Lily got on the computer with Granmommy to shop for more American Girl Doll stuff. These three are American Girl Doll addicts! It's their #1 favorite thing to play with when they are together, and they love shopping for new stuff together too!
 Papaw got in on some snuggle time with all his girls, though it was hard to get Kenslee to stay close for more than a few seconds at a time.
 My brother, Ken, didn't get left out either. I think those three girls were every where at once, spreading love and holiday excitement!
 As you can see, Paris got in on the action too! She wanted to be involved in every step of the cake pop making, thought that it was a truly wonderful thing to be doing! I had to restrain her through most of the process, but we allowed her to be in charge of crumb patrol during clean up, something she is extremely efficient at doing!
 Ella and Carlie Jean had to stay with my mom's dog's groomer back in Chattanooga, but I didn't want anyone else to have to be responsible for Paris and her broken leg. So she got to be the only dog member of the family in attendance, and believe me, she new she was special!

We all finished letting our dinner settle...
...and then it was time for the big event of the evening.
With me and my siblings getting married and the arrival of children in our midst, it's become too complicated to get all the Christmas-ing done on Christmas! So a few years ago, to take some of the strain off, my family started having our Christmas gift exchanging on New Years Eve. And then we all stay up and bring in the new year together. This is the first year that Malcolm and I were able to be there on New Years since this has become tradition. I really liked it, plus it just prolongs the fun of Christmas! 

Our New Years Eve elves handed out all the gifts and the fun began. We have a tradition in our family that each person takes turns opening one gift at a time. Even the little ones participate in this, and we keep going around the circle until all the gifts are open. In this way, we all get to see each gift and no one misses anything, AND it makes the fun last!
There were some creative gifts this year, and some creative packaging too! I think the box Mom made for Malcolm's gift took the prize though!
Aunt Meagan and Uncle Chris gave Kenslee a "Band in a Box," a gift Meagan said would come back to bite her one day. We'll see. In the mean time, Kenslee loved it and all three girls got in on the music making!
Kenslee knew exactly what to do with all the instruments and soon had turned herself into a one man band!
And her big sister, Bentlee, was just as eager to show off her musical and dancing talents!
The last gifts of the evening were from my sister-in-law, Sarah. She has carried over one of the traditions from her childhood, and on Christmas, the girls get a new pair of PJ's. I think this is a neat tradition and fun too. This year's PJ's were perfect, as we were about to have one big family slumber party!
We rang in the New Year in style, toasting with champagne and sparkling grape juice! And then the little girls were packed off to bed while the grown ups stayed up into the wee hours of the morning laughing and catching up!

Our greatest accomplishment of the weekend....
The first family photograph taken in a long time! Seems like there is always someone missing! But not this year! We were all there at the same time and took advantage of the moment. Mom set the timer on her camera and we all squished together. And what a miracle! The littlest one looked right at the camera just in time! This was the first, and ONLY, picture we took! The whole family photo project was successfully completed in less than 5 minutes!

You'll notice the space between me and Meagan. I had hoped Ava Grace would make an appearance while I was in town, but it was not to be. She is due Jan. 13 and neither me nor her mother were going to complain about an early arrival! But she apparently is a schedule keeper. So we have to wait. BUT though she's not visibly present in this picture, we will always look at it and know she is with us in it. Meagan and I were just about as close to each other as Ava Grace would allow!

Malcolm and I had to hit the road on Tuesday morning. We had such a good time visiting our loved ones and it was rather hard to leave because it felt like such a short visit! However, we'll see them all again in a few weeks! We'll be back the first week of February to welcome Ava Grace into the world...

...and for another special event for Malcolm's family. But I'll tell you all about that.....in February!


TexWisGirl said...

really glad you had important family time together! and your sister and her husband must have appreciated the quick house set-up help! i hope ava grace's arrival goes well!

Badlands said...

February? We have to wait?

MTWaggin said...

What a blessedly lovely post Sarah and your family photos ROCK! Have a safe trip back West!

Jake said...

Glad you got to spend the holidays with family. Looks like you all had a great time.

Shirley said...

I enjoyed your Christmas/New Year family tour. One big happy family! And I bet that Band in a Box gift will haunt them- at least it wasn't a drum set!
Stay safe trucking!

Dreaming said...

I loved reading your post and seeing all of the family pictures. How wonderful that you all were there and could unpack for Meagan and get everything settled.
The new PJs were my favorite as it brought back fond memories of my childhood. My mom always gave us new PJ's on Christmas Eve and I looked forward to that!

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe New Year... and easy delivery for Ava Grace!

Meagan said...

YAY! Love the post and all the pictures! I still can't get over that family shot - I can't believe we got it in one take... now that's a Christmas miracle! :-)

small farm girl said...

What a nice looking family. Looks like everyone had fun.

Janice said...

I loved your Family photos it was kinda like spending New Years with you and your family. Excellent family photo.It was great that you guys got the team going and got Meagan and Chris's house put together for them...you guys are a very nice family.Happy New Year. Safe Trucking.