The past couple of weeks have been very busy for our family, but we have enjoyed every minute! We were able to go to North Alabama the Tuesday before the week of Christmas and stayed for six days. It was so nice to have extra time to spend with the family. I wish we could have stayed longer, but at least it wasn't a rushed 3 day weekend, like usual. While we were there, I believe we did Christmas with someone every day. Katie didn't know what to think! I don't think she ever dreamed she would be opening as many gifts as she did...especially since she was also helping to open Austin's gifts, too. She really enjoyed her time with the family, even if she wasn't giving away as many hugs and kisses as normal...we'll blame it on her two-year-old stage! ;)
While we were in North Alabama, Heather and Kyle wanted to take us to Huntsville so Katie could meet Hermie. I wasn't sure how she would react...and I had NO idea just how big he really would be! But she loved it! Here's a picture of her giving Hermie a big hug. She thought it was really funny that Hermie kept knocking over ornaments and wrapped Christmas gifts over with his big tail. I give the person inside Hermie major kudos...that had to be hard!!
Here is a snapshot of Katie patiently waiting to open gifts at Mimi's house...gotta love that grin :)
Me and Mark...I'm so blessed to have him as the love of my life!
Austin grinning at Papa Ricky
Katie opening some of her Christmas surprises...
Austin sitting in his new Bumbo seat and watching Katie open gifts
Katie and I found the pickle on the tree and got a special surprise...she wanted to pose with the pickle ;) She was hilarious...after finding the pickle, Mom just had it laying on the table. Katie would sporadically pick it up and yell "I found the pickle"! I guess she thought she'd get another prize, even if it wasn't in the tree to be found anymore. :)
Katie is sharing the wagon that Papa and Mawmaw Rikard got for her and Austin with Missy...Papa's baby ;)
Our family picture at Mawmaw Rikard's house...if you look closely and you can see baby Sydney proudly showing in Heather's baby bump now :)
Katie "building a castle" with the presents at Dad's house
Mark had to take pictures of how packed we were coming home this time. We actually ended up buying a hitch and cargo carrier to be able to bring everything back. The car was completely piled down...not even foot room for me! I squeezed into the back seat in between two carseats...oh, the fun we had travelling! ;) No, really, it wasn't as bad as I was thinking it would be. The kids were as good as can be expected on a trip that long...but we were all VERY glad to be out of the car!
We had Christmas with Mark's family Tuesday...the eve of Christmas Eve. We had a great time seeing them. I know they were glad to see Katie and Austin after our long trip to North Alabama. Katie playing her piano from Nana and PawPaw Greg...she had to have Mark's flag stuck in her shirt while she played and sang songs to us all night.
Mawmaw Barton enjoying some time with Austin :)
Okay, so here is where we SHOULD have pictures of Christmas at our house with the kids...we DID have Christmas. Unfortunately, we failed to take ANY pictures...it's all on video. It was such sweet family time, though. Mark baked muffins for us, and before the kids woke up, we made a "picnic" in the living room floor. When Katie and Austin woke up, we brought them to the blanket to hear the Christmas story and to pray. Then we let Katie blow out the candle in her muffin and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. And then we all enjoyed opening our gifts to each other.
The kids had a GREAT Christmas. And all I can say is that they are two VERY VERY loved children who have more than enough of everything they need or want. God has blessed us so richly with our little ones. They have brought such joy to us this Christmas...what more could we ask for?
To complete our Christmas vacation time with family, we went to Bellingrath Gardens last night with Mark's Mom and also our good friends Jon and Amber Cline (and their precious newborn, Ethan). We had a great time. Katie really enjoyed seeing all of the Christmas lights!
Me and Austin getting ready to see the lights. He didn't stay awake long...he slept most of the way through the gardens, which worked out great!
Our "family" picture at Bellingrath
Just a few snapshots of the beautiful lights we saw!
It has been a wonderful Christmas for us. We are so blessed! We are now looking forward to beginning our new year with God's guidance and grace in our hearts and lives. We hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas season, too.
Until next time...