Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

Christmas Eve 2012 is always the highlight of my year. 

Since I was tiny, we have celebrated Christmas Eve with my Mac and Meme as well as with my cousins on the Brown side of the family.  I can't even being to describe how much fun we have together.  The laughter, the anticipation of the "girls gift" and "guys gift," the loud screams of delight, the equalizer, the togetherness over dinner, the conversations, the kids, the holiday decorations, the new babies, and just being in the moment with each of is our most priceless treasure.  We have more hilarious memories from Christmas Eve than I can even list and so many of these moments are recorded in pictures over the years. We have laughed and laughed about Christmas' past.  My heart is so very thankful for such a tight family.  We truly love one another and stand together through the good times and bad. 

Since I was iddy biddy, the tradition has always been the same.  We go to early church and then we gather together for a delicious Christmas dinner - Chicken Spaghetti, salad, rolls, and green beans.  Then all the grand kids and great grand kids stand next to Mac as we all sing "Happy Birthday Jesus."  We have a nativity scene on a Banana sheet cake and there are TONS of pies to choose from too.  I am not sure how we got hooked on Chicken Spaghetti and Banana cake, but that is the funny thing about traditions.  They just evolve.  I cannot imagine my Christmas Eve any other way!

As we have grown up, married and had babies of our own, Christmas Eve has become bigger, louder and a lot more crazy!  There are now 8 great grandchildren under 9 years old.  Mac and Meme are in their 90s and us grand kids are all grown up!  But one thing will never change.

How we adore Christmas Eve.

Once we've all finished dinner, we head for the living room where all the presents are in piles according to family members.  Before the 9 great grand kids, Christmas Eve was rather calm, easy going and orderly.  We'd all go around the room and each one a gift and proudly show it to everyone.  This was helpful because the night lasted longer and Mac and Meme could really revel in the joy and excitement that the gifts gave us.  It was also a time for Mac to distribute the "girl gift" and "boy gift."  These are always the matching gifts.  Over the years, we've seen fur coats, leather jackets, malt machines, scarves, "coats on the nail," sweaters, tote bags, towel wraps, etc.  We get such a kick out of this part of the night.....especially the year that the boys got fur jackets.  Yep.

This year, the boys all got cowboys hats.  I absolutely love this picture.  I realize what a gift it is to have my 93 year old grandparents.  This photo of Mac with the guys embodies all the pride he has for his "kids."  My Mac is beyond awesome.  He's one of kind and simply fantastic. 

The great grand kids all received matching monogrammed sweaters and hats.

As I was saying, years past were very calm and orderly.  Well now that we have 8 great grand kids and 3 of them are toddlers, you can imagine how wild our Christmas Eve has gotten!  We all sat down and an orderly opening of gifts went out the window. 

All the little people started tearing into their presents.  There were squeals of delight, kids hollering "WOW! THANK YOU SO MUCH!" parents frantically asking "who gave you that? where's the card?," paper flying around, high pitched laughter and pure joy echoed the room.

And then we all just looked at each other and said, "What just happened?"  It was over so fast!

We had an absolute ball together.  Though we celebrated together with happiness and rejoiced in our Savior's birth, there was still an emptiness in our hearts.  Aunt Ranell isn't here and it hurts.  It really, really hurts.

She is forever our angel - head chef of our Christmas Eve feast, a perfect hostess with a house full of decorations and an intense love for all things Christmas, tradition and family.  We miss her so much but find comfort in the glory of our Lord during the holiday season.  I know she is with me everyday.  I have felt her presence specific times during the last 2 years.  I am sure she was sitting there laughing along side us as we opened gifts and sang to Jesus. 

I am so thankful for my family. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A visit with Jack and Clara

Cousins Jack and Clara came to OKC on their way to Texas. William loves Jack to pieces and this visit was the highlight of his weekend.

We met up at The Renaissance Hotel in downtown OKC so the kids would have a place to swim and we could show their family OKC's downtown.

The kids love riding in the hotel limo! It took us to Toby Keith's for dinner and brought us back to the hotel afterwards.

Then the kids changed their clothes and we hit the pool. I brought along a new swim device for Adeline. She is desperate to swim like the big kids but she is certainly not ready for that! So I borrowed Bebe's froggie floaties. Dan and I had to wrestle her to the ground in order to get Adeline to wear the floaties, but I knew that once she understood the concept, she would love it.

I mean, she LOVED it.

"Adeline swimming! Adeline swimming!" She beamed from ear to ear and kept repeating that chant the entire time we were in the pool. She laughed, splashed and kicked her feet like crazy. I am thrilled she loves the floatie because it makes it more relaxing for me to take the kids swimming.

William and Jack had so much fun with their dads and challenged each other to chicken fights and canon balls!

The next morning we all went to the Omniplex. We stayed 4 hours! Adeline took a nap in the car while Dan and William saw the IMAX movie with the cousins. Then we all met up to run around the museum. The kids had such a great time and it was lots of fun to catch up with Brent and Susan.

William misses Jack terribly. I know he is gonna be thrilled to see him this summer at camp.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas with Bebe and Pops

We celebrated a "Johnston family" Christmas with Bebe and Pops on December 23rd.  Our family gathered at Johnnies for a casual and easy dinner before heading to their house for presents.  This year, the Johnston kids decided that we'd buy for just the grand kids and not the parents.  We gave each other suggestions for what to get our kids, and the end results yielded lots of "so awesome, thanks!" and "oh CUTTTTEEEE!" expressions. 

William received a wallet from Rachel and jumped for joy shouting "Oh Rachie!  This is so great! I love it", and he got an ant farm from Ryan and Jessica.  Adeline was SO thrilled with her dog inside a purple dog purse and it came with a grooming kit.  She hugged and squeezed that puppy all night long.  Ryan and Jessica got Adeline a wooden shape shorter.  Anna received bath toys from Rachel and a pretty engraved grooming set from Ryan and Jessica.  We gave Elin a Cinderella doll and Reece got two large books all about trucks. 

Once we opened all the gifts under the tree, it was time for "The Big Reveal." Over the last few days, Bebe and Pops banned everyone from entering their bedroom.  They were very busy setting up the Christmas Extravaganza for all of us.  Since I was a baby, Santa left our gifts unwrapped and in distinct areas of the living room.  Every time my siblings and I ran down the stairs and into the room, we knew exactly where to look for our Santa gifts.  The tradition is steadfast and true.  Inside Bebe and Pops' bedroom were 7 Santa displays, one for each of us.  Before Pops opened up the doors, each child was told where to look for their pile.  You could feel the excitement and the kids were jumping up and down just busting at the seams.....OPEN THOSE DOORS POPS! 

The expressions on the kids' faces was priceless.  EXACTLY what Christmas with Santa Claus should be like.  The kids were screaming, the toys were flying, the joy in their faces said it all. 

William was thrilled with his race track, snow shovel, new blocks, art supplies and airplanes. 

Adeline got a darling table and chairs, tea set, snow globe, coat, shoes, toothbrush and clothes. 

Dan and I received a wet vac, snow shovel, phone chargers, facials (me!), a few things for the new house and a few books. 

Anna got some sparkle shoes, a few new hats, bath toys and a snow globe.

Elin and Reece raked it in with a gymnastics mat, blocks, clothes, a train table, books, and a tent.

Aunt Rachie scored a TV and a few things on her new house wish list!

The funniest part of whole event was when Elin stood up and shouted, "YEA FOR REECE'S TENT!  YEA FOR ADELINE'S TEA SET! YEA FOR WILLIAM'S RACE CARS! YEA FOR RACHIE'S TV! YEA FOR DAN'S BOOK!  YEA FOR ANNA'S SHOES!"  and it went on and on.  If you know how shy Elin is, you will understand why we were all shouting with her and echoing her cheers of delight. 

After the big reveal, we headed to the living room for our final tradition - reading "The Night Before Christmas."  But it isn't your typical story time.  In our house, everyone sits in a circle and holds a gift card for different places around town. One person holds the golden goose which holds a coveted $50 bill. Pops reads the story out loud and every time we hear the word "the," all the gift cards along with the goose pass to the right.  When the story is over, whatever gift card you are holding becomes your prize.  If you are holding the golden goose, you win $50.

Well guess who won the golden goose this year........

YEP!  ANNA!  Miss Money Bags Barron.

Our family ended up with cards to Best Buy, Chick Filet and Barnes and Noble. 

The night was SO MUCH FUN and kicked off our Christmas weekend perfectly.  There is nothing more special than time with family and I so very grateful to have my brother, sister, and my parents.  We have thousands of family memories in the record books and I can't imagine being anywhere else.  I am blessed beyond belief and just so thankful that my own little family has Bebe and Pops to love them. 

Thank you Mom and Dad.  My life has been incredible because of you.

Anna Elizabeth is 3 months old

Anna, you turned 3 months old on Christmas day.  What a celebration!

I forgot to take you to the doctor for a 2 month check up, so we went last week for a 2.5/3 month check up.  You are 12 lbs 6 ounces (61%) and 23 3/4 inches long (74%).  Your eyes are still a beautiful blue color and your skin is quite pale.  I think it is so pretty.  Your hair has lost some of the reddish tint, and it appears to be blonder in a few places and dark in others.  Your face is round and your legs are long.  You wear a size 3-6 month clothing and sometimes a 6-9 month one piece to accommodate your long legs.  You wear a size 2 diaper and drink 5-6 ounce bottles every 4 hours or so.

This month has been so much fun because you LOVE LOVE LOVE to talk.  Your eyes get really big and you smile from ear to ear.  When you lock eyes with us, you coo and screech for a long, long time.  If we stick out our tongues, you immediately stick your tongue out too.  Sometimes, you will even start your conversations with your tongue out and then when we do it, you laugh out loud and smile really big!  It's kinda like your own way of talking to us.  Your conversations are the most lengthy in the late evenings after William and Adeline go to bed.  I treasure our chats and every time we visit, I want to remember how you sounded at this age.  I have tried to capture your smiles and voices on the video camera, but when you see the camera, you are less chatty.  So I am counting on my heart to remind me of these precious late night conversations. 

You tolerate your car seat but you really prefer to be in my arms so you can see what is going on around you.  When I stick you in the car seat, you sometime strain your neck upward like you are really trying to sit up and see the world.  It bothers you to be strapped down under the buckles!  I have put you in the body carrier facing outward and you LOVE the ride.  I can get a lot done if I "wear you" on my body and have my hands free! 

Anna, you are such a love.  I can kiss your checks and hold you in the nook of my arm forever.  3 months seems like 2 days.....oh the time is just flying by!  I go to bed every night looking forward to seeing you in the early morning darkness.  And every morning I wake up so thankful for you. 



At 3 months old, you sleep most of the night.  Your current pattern is that you snooze in the evening around 8pm and wake up around 9pm.  You stay up and we play or chat before you go to bed for the night.  This can be anywhere from 9:30-11pm.  You sleep all night until I hear you around 5am.  Sometimes you are hungry and I will give you 2 ounces of milk and then you will go back to sleep until 7:30 am.  Other times, I don't feed you at all and instead, I just hold you on my chest.  You hunker down in the crack of my elbow and sleep there until 7:30 am or when you hear William and Adeline.  I love holding you while you sleep.  I don't care if I create a habit for your sleep pattern.  I just love that time with you and covet every single second of every single day with you.

Dada has taught you to stand on his legs while he holds your hands.  You really, really like this.  In fact, you will talk and smile to the person who helps you stand up.  If you are sitting on my lap, I can feel your legs straighten and your head bob forward which lets me know that you want to stand up for awhile.  It's a great workout and seems to tire you!

Oh Anna baby, you are so loved.  William and Adeline think you hung the moon.  William loves to hold you in his lap and Adeline likes to find your pacifier and shove it in your mouth!  It makes me happy to see the 3 of you together.  I pray that you guys have a bond of friendship that far surpasses just being brother and sister.  I believe you all have a language all your own and it's a complete joy for me to watch.

We love you sweet girl.  You are the delight of our heart!
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