Wednesday, December 31, 2008

our family christmas

The day before we left for Louisiana to visit our families for Christmas, we celebrated our own family Christmas. Even though it was a full week before Christmas Day, we loved being together and celebrating our Savior's birth- just the 4 of us.

We began the evening with a lovely meal. Clay cooked up some yummy baby back ribs. I made loaded mashed potatoes and green beans as sides. Noah LOVED the rib meat. I was shocked.
After dinner we sang "Happy Birthday Jesus" which we did a lot of the whole month of December. Noah was really able to understand a lot of the meaning of Christmas this year. Then Clay told the Christmas story. The only details that we expected Noah to retain this year were that Jesus was born, Mary is his mommy, God is His daddy, and that Jesus loves us very much. We know next year he will be able to grasp much more of this wondrous event.

Finally we had the boys open a few gifts that we got them. Mostly books and a few toys.

Here's Jude "reading" his first book.

Look at Noah's excited face when he opened his dinosaur magnets. It's crazy what a $5 gift can mean to a kid!

10 Days of Christmas

Friday, December 19
We left at 6:30 a.m. on our journey to Louisiana. The boys did super! So super that after Dallas, we didn't stop until Monroe. Jude didn't cry. Noah didn't cry. So we didn't stop. In Monroe we met up with our BCM Director from McNeese- Todd Strain, his wife Megan, and their beautiful girls, Jolie and Sarah. We had a lovely visit. We've missed them so much!
We then continued on our way to Harrisonburg, LA. This is where Clay's mom's family lives. We said a quick hello to Clay's Papaw as he was working at his office (at 85 years old!) and then unloaded our bags at Papaw's house. We got all 4 of us ready (including ironing clothes, nursing a baby, feeding a tired toddler...) and loaded in the car with Clay's parents and Papaw to drive an hour to Natchez, MS. We attended Clay's cousin's rehearsal dinner and then drove back for much needed rest!
Saturday, December 20
Of course there's no sleeping in when you have two little ones, so "up and at 'em" we were before 7 a.m. We hung around the house most of the morning. Noah loved exploring Papaw's big house and playing with his fun toys. After lunch, we got all 4 of us ready again (including ironing clothes, nursing a baby, packing bags...) to drive to Natchez for Brooke's wedding. I was concerned because it was a 2 p.m. wedding, right during nap time, but the boys did great! The church was beautiful all decorated for Christmas. The ceremony and reception were lovely. The best part? Hot chocolate with marshmallows and peppermint sticks for stirring!
Here is our family picture taken at the wedding. I didn't get the 4 of us together at any point before this, so please consider this picture your Christmas card. I'll try and do better next year :)
After the wedding we went back to Harrisonburg to pack up our things. Then we began our trip to Dry Creek. Along the way we picked up Jack in Alexandria. He came and stayed the night with PaPa and Dee, so that he and Noah could play together. We got in pretty late so off to bed we went.
Sunday, December 21
We went to church at Dry Creek Baptist Church. It was so nice to see family and old friends. Noah was in PaPa and Dee's Sunday School class. He got a great report!

We had a delicious gumbo that Mrs. DeDe prepared for lunch. And the weather was cool so the meal fit right in.

Clint and Amanda came to Dry Creek and joined us for lunch. Noah, Jack, and Jude had a great time visiting throughout the day. Amanda and I were able to catch up and Clay and his brothers enjoyed hanging out as well.

This is how Jude has been laying in the floor lately. He looks like he's going to take flight. My mom says this means he might be crawling soon! I wouldn't be surprised. He can take all of his might and scoot his little body to get to a toy he's eyeing.

Sunday evening after the boys went to bed we watched Elf with Clay's parents. I never get tired of that movie. It always cracks me up!

Monday, December 22
Monday morning we had breakfast with Clay's parents, packed up our stuff, and headed to DeQuincy. My dad had prepared a hay-ride (minus the hay) for us. We had so much fun! The weather was cool and we got all bundled up in all Dad's hunting gear. Noah even helped drive the 4-wheeler while the rest of us rode on the trailer.

Monday evening we went to my Aunt Tiger's house to celebrate Christmas. My Mom's mom is no longer living and her dad lives in Washington, so we get together with my aunt, uncle, their 3 kids and their spouses, and their grandchildren. Our familes combined total 21 people and 7 of those are children all under the age of 4! Everyone brings appetizers and desserts. The food is always really yummy. My aunt reads the Christmas story. We don't exchange gifts. It's always crazy with the kiddos running around, but it's good to hear all the laughter. It's a blessing to a part of a family that worships our Savior Jesus Christ.

(For some reason I didn't get any pictures from Monday. If any of my family members send me some I'll do a later post :)

Tuesday, December 23

We had a yummy breakfast of biscuits and sausage with my family and then headed back to Dry Creek to celebrate Christmas with Papa, Dee, Uncle Clint, Aunt Amanda, Jack, Uncle T, Aunt Sara, and MeMe.

Clay's youngest brother, Terry, recently got engaged to Sara. In May Sara will officially be my sis-in-law. It was so good to visit with her several times last week. She made some sugar cookies for our family dinner. Noah and Jack had a great time decorating them...

...and eating them!

I enjoyed helping Mrs. DeDe by setting the table and making fun place cards. For dinner we ate stuffed chicken breasts, hot potato casserole, green beans, fruit salad, and pecan pie.

Aunt Amanda (or as Noah calls her "Aunt Manda") and Jude

Aunt Sara making fishy faces with Noah

Uncle Clint and Aunt Manda reading to Noah and Jack
After dinner we opened gifts. MeMe got Noah and Jack the books Trucks and Trains by Byron Barton. These are some of Noah's favorites. He was so surprised when he opened these packages. Both of these were some of those "can't we keep these and not bring them back to the library?" books.
Noah and Jack entertaining us with a musical melody

After we opened gifts Clay and his brothers led us in a time of family worship as we took communion together. It was a very intimate time and claimed our focus of the cross at Christmas.
Wednesday, December 24- Christmas Eve
During the day on Christmas Eve we hung around my parent's house. My dad made a fantastic gumbo which we ate a lot of. My mom and I ran a few errands while the boys napped. When we got home we all got ready for the Christmas Eve service at Bible Baptist Church. It was a special time as we took communion together as a family. Bro. Fox, my parent's pastor, lit candles and explained their meanings. I was encouraged that not only do we celebrate Christ's birth and death, but we also look forward to his return.
After the service, we took Noah to look at the Christmas lights at the Railroad Museum and returned home for some more gumbo.
Thursday, December 25- Christmas Day
On Christmas morning we celebrated with Pops, Grammie, Uncle Landon, Kaykie, Uncle Jake, Carson, and Nana. We usually open gifts at my mom and dad's house and then go to my Nana's house for lunch. But this year we changed things up a bit. We spent the whole day at my mom and dad's house. Nana came down and celebrated with us. We had a relaxing day and a lovely meal together.
Landon, Noah, and Jude hanging out in Grammie and Pop's bed

Noah playing with Elmo Live that he got from Grammie and Pops

Jude playing with his new bear from Grammie and Pops

Notice how well he's sitting up. He can play so much better now that he can sit!

It was such a joy to have Jude with us this year. Last year at Christmas I didn't know if he was a boy or a girl and was only 3 months along. This year he's already 6 months old. It's hard to imagine he was ever not a part of our family.

Noah playing with drums given by Nana
Sweet Carson playing with a new flashlight. I love this cheesy smile!

Look at this wonderful ensemble. Noah has on his pjs, LSU jersey (Kaykie gave him this jersey. It has his name on the back!), and Mardi Gras beads. Toddlers are hilarious!

After we opened gifts, KK and I set the table for lunch. I enjoyed this once again. We made cute place cards for everyone and used the dishes my Nana gave my mom. We ate ham, pork roast, potato casserole, corn casserole, green beans and crescent rolls. For dessert we ate Brownie Trifle. It was so nice to have such a small gathering for Christmas Day lunch.

Carson and Noah sat at the kids table. They weren't left out though. They had their own place mats and place cards. They also ate off of the plates we made when we were kids. What a fun tradition!

We ended the meal by telling about what Christmas means to us. It was so good to hear people tell fun memories and also tell of the Reason for this special season.

KK, Nana, and I attempted a gingerbread house. It ended up caving in, but we enjoyed spending the time together anyway.
Christmas night we ate leftovers and popped fire works.
Friday, December 26
Noah and I spent the morning at Kaykie's house. Noah and Carson played with Carson's new toys and KK and I got to visit.
Around lunchtime Clay, the boys, and I left for Dry Creek. We spend the remainder of the day visiting with the Iles'. Jack and Noah took turns riding with PaPa on the tractor. Clay and his brothers played football. Mrs. DeDe, Amanda, and I visited and made treats for the extended Iles get-together.
That evening we went to the Old House which has been a part of Clay's family for many generations. We took a family picture on the porch of this house.
Bro. Curt, Mrs. DeDe, Terry, Clay, me, Noah, Jude, Clint, Amanda, and Jack. Next year we'll have one more family member to add when Terry and Sara are married.
our family

clint, amanda, and jack

The attempt at getting PaPa and Dee together with their grandchildren. What are we going to do when their are more than 3?!!
After pictures we went to Clay's Aunt Colleen's for the extended Iles celebration.

She had a cute little table all decorated for the little boys, complete with their names written on the table.
She also had some fun toys for the kids to play with. All the older cousins had a great time playing with Noah and Jack.

Uncle Jody and Noah

Britney and Jude
After dinner, we opened gifts and watched some fun home videos of past Christmases. It was fun watching Clay sing and play the piano when he was a kid.
Noah was wiped out on the way home. He had chocolate on his face, rubber boots on this feet, and a box of Christmas cards in his lap. He slept the whole way back to DeQuincy.
Saturday, December 27
Saturday morning KK and I made food to bring to the extended Mitchell celebration scheduled for noon. She made a yummy spinach/artichoke dip and I made Monster Cookies to give to aunts, uncles, and cousins.

KK attempting to hold all the babies plus Landon. I think Carson was crying, Noah's trying to get down, KK is pleading for help, Landon is trying to distract, and Jude looks like he's having a good 'ole time.
At lunchtime, we went down to my Nana's to celebrate Christmas with her and the rest of the family. This is usually done on Christmas day, but each family is growing so much, it's hard for everyone to get together at the same time. This year proved to work well with us getting together the Saturday after Christmas.

Noah riding on Uncle Landon's shoulders. Actually I guess I can just refer to him as Landon. All attempts have been thrown out the window of Noah calling people by "Uncle". He refers to his uncles as Landon, Jake, Clint, and T.

Each year more and more family members are added to the Mitchell bunch. This year my cousin Neil married Julie. Together they now have 4 children. Baby Grace is their most recent addition. She was born at the end of November. Neil, Julie, Grace, and their 3 year-old Jaedyn were unable to join us this year. Uncle Ray and Aunt Kay brought Jayme and Kyle with them to Nana's. It was so good to get to know them. We look forward to getting to spend time with the rest of their family real soon.

Saturday night KK, Jake, Clay and I went on a double date to Texas Roadhouse. Mom and dad put gift cards in the boys' stockings and told them that mom would watch the babies (dad was working) and we could go out together! It was such a treat to be able to visit and not have to change diapers for an evening.
Sunday, December 28
Sunday morning, we went to Bible Baptist Church with my family. Bro. Fox asked Clay to preach and he was more than happy to. He doesn't get many opportunities to prepare and deliver a sermon. Many people stopped and told him what a great job he did. Bro. Fox said that anytime he comes to town to give him a call and he can preach on a Sunday or a Wednesday. What a blessing to have a church that is willing to give Clay these opportunities!
Afterwards my mom treated us to lunch at Faustos. We said our goodbyes and began our journey back to Fort Worth. Along the way we stopped in Alexandria to see Clint, Amanda, and Jack's new house. It is so beautiful! They moved in the weekend before we were there and Amanda has already sewed and hung curtains. WOW!
It was a long trip back and we didn't get in bed until 1 a.m. I finally finished unpacking all of our things today and it's Thursday, New Years Day!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2nd Annual Progressive Dinner Part 2

Too many pictures to fit in the 1st post. Enjoy!

all the gals: (L to R) Stephanie, Kim, Ashley, Meredith, me, Melissa, and Meg
Our friend, Maron, had already gone home when we took this picture. There were 8 couples and 8 kids- all 2 and under- at each house. It was wild, crazy, and fun!
My nursing buddy Kim. Little Josiah was the youngest baby at the party. He's 5 weeks old and incredibly adorable!

Here are some of the party-goers enjoying turkey, dressing, green bean bundles, salad, homemade maccaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, bread with garlic butter and sweet tea.

Meredith brought a fun craft for the kids to do. They made cute little Christmas trees complete with stickers- a toddler fave.

the beautiful dessert table
Ashley and Meredith were responsible for the desserts and had the best idea- fondue!
It was a huge hit among the adults and kids.
We already look forward to next year's Progressive Dinner. Hopefully none of our friends will move away before then :(

2nd Annual Progressive Dinner

We had our 2nd Annual Progressive Dinner last night. (See the 1st Annual Progressive Dinner here.) We began the night with appetizers at Tommy and Stephanie's house, the main course at Michael and Meg's, and ended the night with desserts at Ashley and Austin's.
The food was great, but the company was even better!

our attempt at a family picture
(believe me- this was the best one :)
Our friend, Austin, continued the tradition of giving gifts to the kiddos. Noah received a blue stegosaurus...

and jude received this snuggly blanket!

lots of lovin' from my boys

clay and jason singing "total eclipse of the heart" on karaoke game
Clay is very proud that he beat Jason, but I do have to mention that they were both rated "tone deaf" on the game!

jude's life

What has Jude been up to?

eating green beans
trying to feed myself (mr. independence)

waiting to eat rice cereal

Have I mentioned I love the Bumbo chair?!