December, you are a most beloved month. The lights, the music, the festivity, the colors, the gifts, the food, the snow, the merry-making, the traditions, the anticipation...
It was the best Christmas to date and I'm so grateful we get to share it with our growing littles who squeal with delight over unopened parcels, shout for joy when we make treats, and reflect Christmas tree light in their shining eyes with wonder and amazement. We had so much fun choosing and making presents for our loved ones, and even celebrated advent for the first time.
Another year enjoyed to the fullest and another year ushered in.
Here's a glimpse into our December...
Alice the Climber
Playtime at dusk in Elmwood Park while Mama wraps up a photoshoot.
Joerz Family Great Grands
Milo's face! My heart is just bursting!!! Milo, Alice, Nina, Dani, Sawyer, Charlie, Mila.
Thank you, Rachel, for the new photos! Got a stash of good ones to use for my other baby, Heather Hall Photography.
Got to hop on a plane with a college bestie and photograph the wedding of our dear friend outside of Chicago.
Thank you, Rebecca, for my knock-em-dead locks! I am lamentably deficient in wielding a curling iron myself, so I cherish these rare moments of flowing tresses.
ensuing adorable Milo photos...
The boy head-butts on command.
For advent this year, every morning brought us a "new" book to read. I've been collecting them for the last few years so as a new tradition, every day we came down the stairs and were greeted by a new Christmas story next to our advent activity. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our collection! (Can you tell we like Jan Brett?) Post on advent to come!
"brown paper packages tied up with string..."
We like to use the packing paper we get in our Amazon orders for wrapping gifts - easy peasy!
The night before we hosted the Kahnk Family Christmas we finally got to lay out our gifts. This boy of ours would have destroyed them if we laid them out sooner.
And what a day we had! My mom started a new tradition of wearing new pajamas for Christmas, so we all donned our comfy gear and proceeded to lounge in style. All four of my grandparents, Lyn, mom and dad, my cousin Christie, in addition to our small clan were present and we thoroughly enjoyed the festivities. We sat down to a brunch of cheesy ham and hash brown casserole, Darlene Harper's sticky pecan rolls, fruit, wassail, butterbeer...and then in the afternoon some bacon candy, mom's homemade rolls with spiral ham and wine and chips and...so. Much. Food! It was sublime.
Christmas Eve in Ogallala
Made the trek for a Hall family gathering and again ate so. Much. FOOD. Might be my favorite part of Christmas. And the goodies...did you know my mother in law can make cookies? Well she can. My hips attest. Thank you, Ahri, for the beautiful dress! We accessorized it with tights and golden kitty ears...naturally ;)
Alice the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Antlers courtesy of Aunt Tarah and light-up nose from Grandma Linda - perfectly unplanned combo :D
Hall Family Stocking Extravaganza
The box was his favorite...of course.
Milo the Wild Thing
Thank you, Aunt Sarah, for Milo's new hooded blanket! As you all know, Alice is in love with her Marty the Zebra blanket Aunt Sarah made - it's hands down her most beloved possession. The big question now: will Milo be Alex or Melman? Or maybe a Wild Thing? Or Max?? Important stuff, the identity of your blanket-self.
I got spoiled. My mom gave me this gorgeous pedestal and cover and my mother in law gave us goodies to put inside...which lasted about a day and then disappeared into our bellies. (Yes, Linda, they're already gone.) I felt a lot like Gollum concerning those almond cookie sticks. My preciousessss. Thanks, moms!
Lyn made this adorable little soccer ball out of scrap fabric and batting. So cute! And Milo can chuck it as hard as he wants and he really can't do a whole lot of damage - score!!!
Wooden Rainbow Toy by Little Sapling
Aunt Lynnie finds the most awesome wooden toys, and this is a new favorite. With no instructions from us, Alice built this tower. We've got an engineer on our hands. (I kind of think she's brilliant.)
Thank you, Papa Bear and Gramma Jo, for the new workbench and mini Bosch power tools. We love power :)
...and cooking/baking/mixing/tea partying!!! Thank you for our new play kitchen!!! We also got a few new plates/cups/food/utensils from Grandma Linda. Our pretend pantry is well-stocked now.
Milo the Master Chef & Alice the Carpenter
(Notice how the boy is already in the refrigerator...)
JD and I went beyond our four-gift-rule and had to get this cute little camera for the kiddos - on sale at Baby Junk! (We got that and a tiny yellow wind-up mouse for $10 - couldn't pass it up.)
Grandma Linda found this darling wooden puppy for Milo to pull and swivel.
Why on earth are there so many adorable toys in the world???
Gramma Alice finished our quilt in time for Christmas! She makes one for each grandchild who gets married - better late than never!! Full post to come. (Are you drooling? Please, let me get you a bucket...)
A local lady named Rose makes these gorgeous wooden puzzles and sells them at farmer's markets. I asked if she made butterflies, and this is what she came up with - exquisite. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be the "Want" for Alice's Christmas presents.
(The four presents in question? "Something you want, something you need; something to wear, something to read.")
Volumes of Anne
JD acquired the seventh book - the Chronicles of Avonlea - for me this Christmas. I've been slowly gathering antique copies and leisurely frolicking through the world that L.M. Montgomery created. Whenever I need to feel centered and whole and get familiar with beautiful language, I go to her.
white + gold
Alice + Jack
A coloring break for these two on a cold morning. Thanks for the fun new stick coloring pencils, Libby!
Aunt Lynnie made a perfect little pan collar (or two) for Lady Alice. (The underside is uber-soft flannel.) Perhaps there will be some in her Etsy shop soon ;) Grey/silver Target sweater dress from Gramma Jo
So many sweet gifts and memories. I hope you know, I don't share all of this to boast, but to give genuine thanks to the givers. We are showered with thoughtful generosity and are beyond grateful. Sharing pictures of the kids' joy is a small way we can display our appreciation and love :)
And by no means is this all, but the rest will be sprinkled throughout the year in other posts as we continue to pull out toys and puzzles and games not yet used. We keep some in a closet to pull them out when everything they are familiar with feels stale. (Hard to imagine!)
I hope your Christmas season was joy-filled and that you could see/hear/hug those you love most in the world. For those who lost someone this last year and had to endure the bittersweet first Christmas without your loved one, I'm so sorry. I've been thinking about you and praying God wraps you in comfort while you're hurting. I'm sure there are a lot of beautiful memories as you reminisced but also painful realizations that they don't get to be a part of your life going forward. May the new year continue to bring you healing and love from those around you.
Thank you, God, for the ultimate gift of your Son - the reason we give at all. Your thoughtfulness and generosity are unmatched in every way and...thank you.
2015 is in the books.
Cheers to 2016!