One Thousand Gifts

Yes, I know it isn't Monday. But does it really matter? I can count my blessings - and blog about them - on any day of the week. Head on over to Ann's blog, Holy Experience, to read how her gift counting began and visit her Gratitude Community. You can read about my decision to begin to count my blessings, at least intentionally and purposefully, here. And by all means, please join in the fun! Leave a comment about the gifts, however large or small, you have received this week.


1. The Holy Experience blog.

2. three little boys sleeping long enough for me to run on the treadmill this afternoon. exercise feels so good!

3. Disney's "Peter Pan" - so good for the imagination. And the "Following the Leader" song that gets my boys up the stairs for naps or bed every time.

4. my incredible husband getting up with the boys so I could sleep-in this morning.

5. the treadmill we "inherited" for free. It's old, makes odd sounds, and smells funny, but it's just what I needed to jump start my exercise regimen.

6. working heat on cold days

7. blogging - such a good outlet for me

8. two loads of clean laundry. unfolded, in a pile on the bed, but clean.

9. a babe sweetly sleeping in my arms, so i can blog.

10. a trip to Texas in the works...

11. frequent flier miles

12. chocolate chips

13. a contented baby, who allowed me to achieve a reasonably clean kitchen this morning.

14. after three weeks of "missing us," the trash men collected our trash this morning. hallelujah!

15. mending friendships

16. orange bell peppers. yum.

17. hot tea and honey. ahhh....


This week has been tough for me. All good reasons for moping about, crying my eyes out, and counting my worries. None of them reasons I need to - or should - go into here. Suffice to say I am grateful my God knows my heart so well, and hears my every cry. He whispers His love to me - His unfathomably deep, incomprehensibly merciful, unshakable Love for me - into and over and throughout my every day. It's just that sometimes I allow my own selfish cries to drown Him out. What a shame, that I allow such pithy, temporal, fleeting circumstances to steal my joy.

I often need reminders. Actually, it probably wouldn't be a bad thing to go back and read my own words from "And if the Devil Doesn't Like It," a post I wrote about choosing to be more joyful.

Yesterday was particularly hard. After an emotional day, I managed to get the boys to bed early, but the baby wouldn't sleep. Wednesdays are our longest days. Kyler leaves early for morning meetings and has teen and college gatherings that night, often not returning home until 2am. Quality time is my primary love language. I often struggle and am at my most vulnerable to frustration, lack of patience, and pitying myself on these days.

But my Father knows this. As I cried out to Him in the darkness of the nursery, where I sat rocking Callan to sleep for what seemed like the fortieth time, He whispered His love to me. I didn't hear Him until I gave up on rocking and returned downstairs, babe in my arms. I sat down in front of the computer, resigned to watch something online. But instead I got sidetracked reading a blog, which led me to another blog, which led to another, where I finally heard that whisper.

Ann at Holy Experience hosts a blog "carnival" every Monday called "One Thousand Gifts." She blogs about the things she is grateful for, the gifts bestowed upon her, down to the tiniest details of her everyday experience. I read this paragraph from her blog and knew instantly this was something I wanted, something I needed, something He was calling me to do:
Too often I miss Him, oblivious, blind. I don't see all the good things that He is giving me, gracing me with, brushing my life with. True, He is everywhere, always. But maybe, before The Gift List, I thought of Him as further off, not so close. When I started to see all the things that I love bestowed upon me, I started to see Him as near, present, everywhere, showering me with good things. Seeing the things I love all around me gives me eyes to see that I am loved, that He loves me.
I'm in. I know some days I'll be more successful than others, but I aim to make this a discipline, just like I intend to be more joyful. And I know that it will be a journey, ebbing and flowing on good days and bad alike.

I want to be more grateful.

Joy and gratitude go hand-in-hand, don't you think? Recognizing the gifts you have, being grateful for them, and responding with joy. I'm so excited about this! It may not be a regular weekly posting, though I hope it is. And it's likely not going to be a Monday posting, but whatever. I just can't wait to share my joys with you, whoever you are. Look for my first post very soon!

In the past five months, I have never been more grateful that Callan would not sleep. Oh, but the whispers I would have missed had I not been through that valley last night. This is why we are to count our trials as joy.

And starting today, I begin counting whispers: His gifts to me.


"Not Me!" Monday


Welcome! Are you feeling guilty for consistently making fun of things your husband says in your "Not Me!" posts? Wondering if your toddler will ever be completely potty trained? "Not Me!" Monday was written just for you. It frees me up to admit my (and I admit, my family's...) many imperfections and vent about the absolutely ridiculous things that are my everyday. Enjoy at my expense, and join in the fun by commenting below!


I have not been a total lazy bum today. And NO, I did not plan on totally ditching "Not Me!" Monday until I read that MckMama was offering a prize for "Not Me!" blogs today...

Yesterday, I did not laugh outright when our five-month-old pooped in my husband's hand. And I didn't laugh more as he carried the babe down the hallway, pitifully whining in disgust. And twenty minutes later the same baby did not throw up all over my cheek. Not my child. Ah well...payback, I guess.

Lately I've been running on our treadmill during the boys' nap time. Baby wouldn't sleep today. So instead of running, I am not sitting at the computer blogging and eating peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Sometimes when I get overwhelmed and anxious about all there is to be done, I make to-do lists. Except I'm terrible about including every task known to mankind on said lists, whether or not any of it is feasible to accomplish before much of the rest of the list is obsolete. Knowing this, I did not still make a ridiculously long list this week. And I definitely didn't go back later and add things I had already done to the list just so I could cross something off. Not me! 

Over the past several weeks, I have not routinely let the kids take absurdly long naps, even though I know it will make putting them to bed on time that night next to impossible. Nope. 

What's that? You noticed that Cam's hands are absolutely covered with blue blotches? Oh, well...it must be marker. Not food coloring. He doesn't find ways to get into every basket and box in the kitchen. And he doesn't find things like food coloring, open all the vials, switch lids, and squirt it all over himself and the kitchen table while I'm nursing the baby. Nope. Not my child!

Moving on. I am currently not so behind on the laundry that it covers the floor in our bedroom and the upstairs hallway, leaving all but what you see below in which to dress my youngest...


"Not Me!" Monday is an incredibly fun blogging carnival started by MckMama. In a nutshell, it's where we all can be open about the ridiculous things that happen in our everyday lives. Head on over to her blog, where you can read heaps of other great "Not Me!" stories. Or, join in the "Not Me!" fun and leave a comment about all of the things you didn't do this week!


Date Night

My husband and I are going on a date tonight! I'm super excited. We're going to see a movie. In a theater. I know. Crazy.

Yeah, we have to take the babe with us. He's still not taking a bottle.

And yeah, there will be 65 teens and adults from our church going with us...

And we have to drive separate vehicles, because Kyler's going on a bus...

But...it's still a date...right?!

We're going to see "To Save A Life." It's a movie that deals with real issues teens are facing today. I'm looking forward to following the movie up with a small group curriculum that goes along with it, and starting to work with the high school teens. I'll see about giving a review of the movie sometime after we see it.

Yay for date nights!


Banana Bread

We've had a busy month. Heck, who am I kidding? All of our months are crazy. So...I'm just now getting around to posting this recipe and pics from over a month ago. Sigh. One of these days we'll fall back into a routine.


Until then, preheat your oven and grab some bananas! I'm craving banana bread.


What You'll Need:

Bananas...lots of them...

but only if you're baking for around twenty people,
like I was when I took this picture...

Otherwise, you only need three.

Also, you'll need flour, sugar, baking soda, butter, eggs, and salt.

And the cookbook where you copied down
your husband's great-grandmother's recipe,
if you can find it.

If not, you can just use this blog.


1-1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 egg
3 bananas

Measuring cups and spoons wouldn't hurt, either.


First, get your kids (or somebody gullible) to do all of the dirty work for you. Chunk a couple of bowls on the table and let them just go to town peeling and breaking up bananas.


No doubt, they'll think you're the coolest for letting them help.


You can even let the dinosaurs watch, if you want.


But I'll warn you, if you let the dinosaurs watch,
then they'll want to bring their friends to watch, too.


This is kinda similar to giving a mouse a cookie.
Or a moose a muffin. Or a pig a pancake.
You get the idea.

(And if you don't, you just need to brush up on your children's literature...)


Next comes mashing.


Banana pulp. Mmmmm....


I usually mix the wet and dry ingredients separately.


Then mix them together.





But don't worry if you get a little messy.

Stop for a second to enjoy all of the snow falling outside...



...and to reassure your two-year-old that the world will not fall apart
just because the mixing part is over.


Pour the batter into loaf pans,
and pour yourself a cup of hot tea.


Put the loaf pans into the oven.
Bake @ 350*F for around 50 minutes,
or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

The edges will brown and may get crispy, but that's okay.
I like crispy edges.

Marvel again at how beautiful snow is,
and how relaxing it is to just watch it fall.


Wonder how birds manage to stay warm in all of that snow.


Gather your oldest and youngest together on the couch for some snuggle time.


Take close-up shots.


Count your blessings.


Take the bread out and cool on a wire rack for five minutes.
Remove from loaf pan and cool completely.

Or eat it warm like we do.

Wonder why I forgot to take pictures of the freshly baked banana bread.

Oh yeah. It's because I was eating it.




How you know it's time to buckle down and get the laundry done...



I'm not much of one for New Year's resolutions. Not because I can't keep them; I tend to think I have pretty decent resolve when it comes to committing to change myself for the better. Maybe it's the way lots of folks poke fun at the lack of resolve of so many who make resolutions? (The way the gyms are packed for the first three weeks of the new year, and then attendance declines sharply thereafter...?) I don't know. Maybe I'm just too lazy to make resolutions. Ha! But all that changed this morning.

I sat down to check my e-mail and was convicted by one of the messages I received. And no, it wasn't one of those ridiculous spams with animated doves, floating bouquets, and spinning crosses, with a sweet inspirational message and then a tagline at the end: "if you love Jesus, you'll pass this on to three hundred of your closest friends, 'cause if you don't, you must be ashamed of Him..." I don't find those so much convicting as I do annoying.


It was an e-mail from Catalyst Monthly. It's kinda like a webzine, and inside was an article by Francis Chan. I could go on and on about Francis Chan, but for now I'll just say that I so appreciate his writing and speaking. It always, always points me back to Jesus and challenges me to make sure He is the focus of all I do.

This article was no different. It was challenging. Motivating. Encouraging. Just what I needed today. It's called "Public Passion vs Private Devotion," and it really challenged me to take a look at my faith life and make sure I haven't forsaken my first love (Revelation 2). To seek an intimate relationship with Him always, and ensure that what others see and believe about that relationship is not a lie.

It's not a hard thing, to forsake my God for ministry. To get so caught up in the busyness of doing ministry, that I forget why I'm doing it in the first place. Well, of course I don't forget God. I forget to love Him. He takes a back seat to me and my ministry. And hence, sigh, I am eventually worshiping the ministry I do, not God Himself, the reason I do it. I am loving my ministry, and forgetting to love God.

I know as a leader, and particularly as a worship leader, I am at my most effective when my faith life is rich, and I am experiencing a deep relationship with my Father. My heart and lips overflow with praises, and they are genuine. When I find myself in a "faith drought," feeling disconnected from God, waiting to hear from Him, and straining under life's burdens, I am grieving a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him. And I can fake that I have one, but what good would that do the people I am leading? My heart and lips still praise Him, but those praises are...not ingenuous, they're just...strained. They don't come as naturally as they do when my heart is overflowing. Why would I want to paint a picture of myself, particularly as relates to my God, that itself isn't true? I may fool others (and sometimes even myself!), but I certainly don't fool my Lord. I'd be much wiser to focus those energies on digging deeper into His Word, turning back to Him, and loving Him.

And now to the resolutions part. The article's title comes from, in my opinion, the best, most convicting, challenging, heartbreaking quote of the entire thing. He quotes a Christian leader as saying, "I refuse to let my public passion exceed my private devotion."

Wow. Just wow. Good stuff.

So now, I'm going to put that resolve to work: I am determined to live this out. I don't ever want anyone to believe I am more devoted to, passionate in, or driven by my faith, by my commitment to and love for God, than God Himself would say I am. I want my public passion for God to flow out of my private devotion to Him.

That is my New Year's resolution.

Their Own Devices

Left to their own devices, a kitchen table becomes a blank canvas...

and a boring old living room, a masterpiece for decorating in a style all their own...


"Not Me!" Monday

Welcome! Are you feeling guilty for quickly sneaking away from the baby food aisle after your toddler had an accident in the grocery store? Wondering if you're ever going to have a wardrobe that contains even one blouse that isn't "decorated" with stains from all of your beloved children? Perhaps you just gave in and let your children watch seven episodes of "Handy Manny"...in a row. No worries! "Not Me!" Monday was written just for you. It frees me up to admit my many imperfections and vent about the absolutely ridiculous things that are my everyday. Enjoy at my expense, and join in the fun by commenting below!


I finally went grocery shopping this week. Hooray for having food! In an effort to fit everything into our fridge, I began cleaning out the leftovers in the back. I reached waaaaaay into the back. I did not discover a Pyrex dish of leftovers from the month after Callan was born (I'll let you do the math on that one). And upon said discovery, I certainly wasn't so disgusted at the slimy sludge and seventeen kinds of mold that I saw growing inside that I just wrapped the whole she-bang in three garbage bags and chunked it in the trash without so much as cracking the lid. I know, the cure for some kind of communicable disease was probably growing in there. And a Pyrex dish?! So wasteful. Thank goodness I'm not so lazy that I won't go to great lengths - even don a hazmat suit - in an effort to save one revolting Pyrex dish. I cherish each one. (Even though Pyrex was apparently the gift of choice the year we were married. And picture frames. Lots of picture frames...) Anyway, not to worry. It wasn't me.

And it definitely isn't me who just realized I allowed myself to become so overwhelmed by the busyness of our "holidays" this year that I completely forgot to give my husband his Christmas present. Jiminy Cricket, would I be embarrassed if that happened to me!

Speaking of Christmas presents and Christmas, I guess I forgot to mention that my parents never made it up from Texas for the holidays like they had originally planned. I have a special needs aunt, and she went into the hospital the day before they were planning to fly out. So did my grandfather - totally unrelated. So, we all thought it best they just delay their visit and take care of things at home. (Both my aunt and grandfather are well and home now.) But boy, did they get the presents they planned to bring with them mailed up here in a jiffy. We had them before New Year's. Surely, theirs aren't still sitting on our dining room table, like the  workers all just up and left the factory in the middle of the assembly line. Nope. Uh-uh.

As I write this, I am not single-handedly demolishing the beef jerky my dad bought for my husband for Christmas. Not me!

My oldest son is very much a typical firstborn; he's a parent-pleaser and rules-follower.  So clearly it was someone else's child who had the brilliant idea yesterday to climb into the infant's gliding bassinet and ride it like a surfboard.

Cam needed a little time away from his brother one morning, so I sat him down at the kitchen table to draw while I did some dishes and cleaned up. Seeing as how I was in the same (very small) room with him, he certainly couldn't have pulled this off (with permanent markers that I didn't give him) without my knowing...

Not my son!

My husband has such a way with words. In fact, check out the sweet little conversation we had just a few days ago:

Me: "Why do I feel like this? I'm so tired and bummed out. What's wrong with me?"

Husband: "You didn't run yesterday."

Me: "Yes, I did."

Husband: "Oh yeah, you did, 'cause it was smelly downstairs."

Me: "Thanks for that, Babe." 

It was not after this conversation that I had the sudden urge to blog all about my husband's verbal faux pas. Nope! I wouldn't poke fun at my husband on my blog for everyone to read. Not me! (Shhhh! And click here to read it.)

My mother-in-law experienced her own "Not Me!" moment yesterday afternoon. Kayden woke up from his nap downstairs, and announced that he needed to use the bathroom. After retrieving like fourteen of his cars (you never do know how long you'll be in there, and well, you have to prepare to be entertained) he headed for the bathroom. About a minute later, my mother-in-law assures me that she did not hear my angelic, potty-trained-since-July three-year-old exclaim from around the corner, "Grammy, I'm just going to stay right here. It's very slippery now." Not my child!

The boys and I made some more delicious cookies this week (click here for our pumpkin-oatmeal-raisin recipe...yum!). They are adorable little bakers and love to get into the kitchen and help. Rest assured though, they aren't the least bit distracting. Nope. Not even when one of them smacks the other on the head, and that one starts screaming his brains out, scaring the baby and causing him to start crying uncontrollably, all happening just as the oven begins beeping loudly, signaling that the cookies need to come out of the oven, like, now. And I can juggle it all. Which is why when the timer went off, I did not hold the older (crying) children out of the way with my foot and my rear end, simultaneously bouncing the (crying) babe in one arm (facing away from the oven, thankyouverymuch) while retrieving cookies with the other arm. And I was in total control, mind you, when, upon turning to close the oven the rest of the way, the (formerly) screaming baby, in a perfect arc that most can only dream of, spit his pacifier directly into the oven. I did not yelp in astonishment, chunk the baby down into a seat, and plunge my mitt-covered hand into the oven to retrieve it. And certainly, I managed to get it out on the first try. I did not have to grab over and over again, finally prying the melting binky off of the heating element. And I know the oven mitt didn't begin to spark and smoke as I touched the element repeatedly in my rescue attempts. And I absolutely didn't wash the now melted pacifier off with dish soap and stick it back in the crying baby's mouth, singe marks and all. Nope. Not me!


"Not Me!" Monday is an incredibly fun blogging carnival started by MckMama. In a nutshell, it's where we all can be open about the ridiculous things that happen in our everyday lives. Head on over to her blog, where you can read heaps of other great "Not Me!" stories. Or, join in the "Not Me!" fun and leave a comment about all of the things you didn't do this week!


He Means Well

Oh, the things our husbands say. Well, at least mine. Sometimes, he just needs a sign that says (in big, red letters), "Help! Someone please pull my foot out of my mouth!" And fast.

He means well. I know he really does. Many times, he's just trying to diffuse an uncomfortable situation or make someone feel better by using humor. Oftentimes it works, and works well. Others...not so much.

For example...

One of Kyler's best friends is a girl. Well, I guess she's a grown woman now, but you get the idea. Growing up, I think maybe in high school, she got a haircut. (Correct me if I'm wrong here, Amy.) She was lamenting the fact that she hated her new cut, and going on about how disappointed she was with the way it looked. Kyler, no doubt trying to cheer her up (and use humor, remember he does that...), responds with, "I'm not sayin' you're ugly, but..."

Gasp. I know. He's brilliant, my husband.

Again when we were dating, I was (clearly) an emotional mess one evening, down on myself and generally put out with life. I was having a pity party, being ridiculously superficial and whining about the things I hate about myself. I know I am not the only one who does this, so I may as well get it out there. Anyway. I mentioned something along the lines of being ugly. Kyler's version of this story says I also said something about a dog, but I really just don't remember that. Maybe he's just trying to cover for himself? I don't know. Whatever. He leans over and tells me, "Yeah. If you're ugly, you're like one of those dogs that's so ugly it's cute."

Ummm...did he just call me a dog?!?!

Yeah. My reaction was...not great. (I get a lot of mileage out of that one!) In fact now, I tell this story often and pretty much can't stop laughing. Maybe because it makes him look like a big jerk, when I know....

He means well.

Today was no exception. I was having a bad day. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed, had a big grumpy face, you know the drill. So finally, I got tired of it this afternoon. I've had a (reasonably) good week, and I just wanted a new attitude. But I wasn't quite through whining about it. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: "Why do I feel like this? I'm so tired and bummed out. What's wrong with me?"

Husband: "You didn't run yesterday."

Me: "Yes, I did."

Husband: "Oh yeah, you did, 'cause it was smelly downstairs."

Me: "Thanks for that, Babe."

Oh, my. The things that come out of his mouth! To his credit, he spoke the truth. I probably was smelly, but he was actually referring to our treadmill. It's a hand-me-down, and it is super old. And a little in disrepair. And I'm not entirely sure it's not going to spontaneously combust and shoot me across the living room one of these days. It makes absurdly loud noises, and when it's running, it does smell funny.

So there you go. He spoke the truth. It just didn't come out quite like he intended. Somewhere in that brilliant brain of his, he's got some wires crossed. Ha! And well, I guess I never really will understand that. Maybe because I'm not a guy. We'll leave it at that. It doesn't matter.

I know he means well.

Love you, Babe!



Be advised, this is totally one of those posts where I recount the minutia of my day. But I'm rejoicing in the little things, because for the past four months I would have found much of this next to impossible to accomplish, especially all in one day. As things have started to improve with Callan, I'm beginning to realize just how debilitating the past few months have been. So hooray for victories, no matter how small! Here we go...


I slept in...because the boys did too.

I unloaded, reloaded, and washed dishes in the dishwasher. Twice!

I called the Virginia Department of Education and navigated a ridiculously complicated call-routing maze about renewing my teaching license. And I managed to talk with an actual person.

I washed a heck of a lot of produce, cut it up, and made six enormous salads, while the boys "helped," (aka: ate all of the cherry tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers I put aside for my lunch).

I shrugged and decided I didn't care if the boys ate my lunch...they were eating vegetables.

Amazingly, I got all three dudes down for a nap at the same time.

I was motivated to run for awhile on our recently-acquired, old-as-the-dinosaurs-but-praise-the-Lord-it-was-free, odd-smelling and funny-noise-making, enormous-and-sitting-in-the-middle-of-our-already-stuffed-to-the-hilt-living-room-because-there-is-nowhere-else-to-put-it treadmill. Go, me!

I called the public school system where I formerly worked...and a person answered. I talked to her, and actually got the answers to my questions. Granted, there's another step involved, but I did not hang up completely frustrated. Woohoo!

I took a shower. And dried my hair. Yes, totally worth mentioning.

I returned a phone call about taking a position as a long-term sub sometime after Easter.

I laughed at the UPS man when he called to ask me for the code to the gate in my grandfather's development so he could deliver the package I sent him. And then I remembered it. I applauded myself for having an awesome memory despite the fact that raising three small children has depleted my memory stores for all but what is needed for the most basic day-to-day tasks. Like eating. Go, me!

I woke the boys up from their nap at 4:30pm, got them dressed, bathroom-ed, changed, bundled, and loaded in the car (along with dinner for myself and my husband), got them to their Grammy's house 25 minutes away and unloaded, drove to church, delivered dinner, and got to my 5:30pm meeting at church. And I was only twelve minutes late. Amazing.

I sat through a 3+ hour meeting at church. And I contributed meaningfully.

I drove back to my in-laws' to pick up the boys. I laughed at Cam, who has begun to hate the cold with a vehement passion, taking one step out the door and then going stiff-as-a-board, refusing to go any further. I swept him up in my arms and into his car seat, his head and hands burrowed in my coat.

I got the boys home and with the help of my husband, through their bedtime routine and into bed.

And now...we calm a fussy baby and snuggle up for the rest of a movie we started last night. Maybe we'll get to bed by 2am??

It was a productive day. Hooray!

Babes In Toyland

When I was growing up, one of my favorite Christmastime movies (and let's face it, I probably watched it throughout the year) was the 1986 made-for-tv version of "Babes In Toyland."Do you know it? Keanu Reeves as the dashing protagonist, Drew Barrymore as the saccharinely sweet little heroine? Super cheesy plot and terrible cinematography? Yep. And absolutely perfect and adored by me. I'll admit it, I'd still watch it, and I'm sure I'd enjoy it, too! 

Fortunately, our Christmas this year was not in peril of being ruined by my Uncle Barnaby and his minions of foul-smelling monsters. The busyness of life and frenzied schedules, maybe, but not droning, glowing-eyed monsters.


The boys had a fantastic Christmas! Actually, I think they had around five. You read that right. Five. We're developing a tradition of spreading the unwrapping out over several days. I think this is more for the parents than the kids. Keeping up with five kids under the age of four tearing through presents faster than you can say, "Jiminy Cricket!" is a little overwhelming.

We began the morning as we have every year since we were married: sitting on the bed, reading through Luke 2:1-20 and praying together. Normally, we'd also open stockings, but we didn't do stocking gifts this year.

After we gathered as a family, and after breakfast, we got dressed and snapped a few pictures. Christmas Eve and afternoon had been so completely hectic that Kyler and I had decided to just keep the boys in their footsie pajamas instead of changing them into their dress clothes. Rehearsal had run way late, we hadn't eaten, and the service began in half an hour, so we just gave up on dressing them up that night and decided to do it on Christmas Day.

They all looked so handsome, if I do say so myself.


The tree and presents were something to behold this year. Gifts for seventeen, arranged beautifully in my in-laws' living room alcove was absolutely staggering. You can't see them, but the window seat and a handmade cradle contributed nicely to the dimension of it all.
 What a sight!

As you can imagine, there was lots of unwrapping to do. Cam was a fantastic delivery boy. (Truth be told, we had to keep him busy delivering the presents, lest he tear them all open himself!) He was just beside himself with joy, and it was fun to watch!





And of course, there were the presents themselves.
We had quite the array...

There were dishes and dinosaurs,


cars and cameras and clothing,



and books and blankies for the babes.


Packages revealed pillows and pelicans,


movies and moose pajamas.


more books and even a bicycle helmet!



Tool sets and taggies (MJ is thrilled, can you tell?)


And later, there were trucks!


And even more to open!
We found sheets, and snacks, and shirts.



Yes, they're shirts.


And finally, there were cookies, cousins, chillin' (and crying), and cow flashlights that mooed (hands-down the prize-winning present...way to go, Ogee!)






 Naturally, the aftermath was almost as fun as the unwrapping!
Who can resist boxes and bubble wrap? It's like getting two presents in one!


The Daddies enjoyed some marathon tickling with their boys, 



Ogee enjoyed some snuggle-time and napping with his only granddaughter,

and Kayden kicked back for a movie.
Who doesn't love a little Wonka on Christmas?

It was a beautiful day. A White Christmas - the first I can remember.
A perfect time to treasure all the things I have been given, and be thankful for so many blessings.