Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas with the Pearsall's

Our last Christmas celebration was on the night of the 26th. We gathered at on Spring Valley in Donelson. Walking into Grandmother's house since August has been a gentle reminder that things are different here too. Granddaddy's chair is empty, but his presence is strong in that room.
Grandmother wasn't sure how many to expect and had set up places for 24 people. We could tell that she was excited about having everyone at her house. She looked tired, but smiled just the same. The back sunroom has been known to us as Granddaddy's office for many years. The last few months, it has been Aunt Sallie and Grandmother's goal to turn it back into a sunroom. The grand reveal was a few weeks ago. With a Christmas tree in the corner, a sitting area, and a table up it looked perfect. She had 12 places set in the back room and 12 places set up in the front of the house. It looked perfect. It was great seeing the kids enjoy the goodies. Great Uncle Tim and Aunt Debbie decided to spoil the kids with gifts. A new tradition is the HESS truck. The boys loved opening their Hess trucks last year. Hunter was missing on the action due to his fever, but watching the younger boys open their new Hess truck was fun. This year, it wasn't a truck but a helicopter with a truck. It is perfect! Mackenzie got a cute little doll, a tent, and a Christmas book (which we all know I was thrilled over).
Christmas is officially over. Now time to get Christmas down at mom's, visit with my BFF's in Nashville, pack the 4runner full of our gifts and head south. Nannie is going to be joining us on our trip south and we hope to keep her there for a few weeks. Great Christmas, but very exhausted.

Santa @ the Boyd's

Santa decided to stop at the Boyd's. The kids were so excited to see Aunt Wendy. We arrived around 8:40 and started passing out Santa's gifts. Every year Santa blows us away at the presents he leaves us at the Boyds. The kids were surrounded by a sea of gifts. They had a blast tearing into each of the gifts. Afterwards we put up one of the coolest gifts, a car race track. We sat and enjoyed our time together. The kids love being with our families and hate that we aren't there more. However, our time there is short, but precious. We enjoy each moment and soak it all up.
Afterwards, we headed out to Aunt Virginia's house to visit with Pops' brothers and sisters. They always enjoy seeing the kids run around and play. After some yummy food and good treats, we had to load up and take Adam to the airport. We hated to rush out, but that seems to have been the theme this year "on the go". We loved every minute of seeing everyone.

Santa Came!!!!

Santa didn't forget we were staying at Nannie's. The kids were excited about getting out, but Hunter was turned down a few notches due to a little fever. I had them pose for a few pictures prior to going in and discovering their Santa gifts. The kids were surprised to see their gifts from Santa. Hunter had been asking for the Lego City Mine was pumped to see it!!! Mackenzie got a cute princess tent and some dress up shoes. There were several other little gifts that the kids enjoyed before emptying our stockings. I love the magic of Christmas and the excitement of little ones this time of year.

Christmas Eve Happenings

Christmas Eve started out with Adam's annual last minute shopping. This time he took Hunter with him. While he was shopping, Mackenzie and I decided to go by and see Mawmaw. She was feeling weak, but was glad to see us. Mom went with us. As we pulled into the parking lot, I thanked God that I was pulling in to go and see her. I really didn't think that I was going to get to see her again. Every visit is a blessing from above. She is ready to go to her heavenly home. Our visit was short, but sweet. She enjoyed watching Mackenzie jump around. I will miss her once she is gone, but am glad to spend anytime I can with her.
Later that afternoon we were able to get together with my dad's side of the family. Mawmaw wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it. Mom was visiting with Dad at the Hearth. Everything seemed a little different. However, we still enjoyed playing with the cousins and visiting with family.
Afterwards we headed over to the Hearth to visit with Dad. He was so excited to see us. They had just finished dinner and were sitting down to play a game. Hunter and Mackenzie joined in on the fun. It was great to see him interact with the kids. We are so blessed that he still recognizes them and knows how special they are. He has regressed so much since this summer and it is hard to see him struggle through sentences. Seeing him in the Hearth was difficult for me. I have been before, but having to leave him there instead of taking him home was hard. He did fine and didn't even realize we had left, but leaving him was definitely one of the hardest things I have done. He is happy there and they are able to keep up with him and his needs. It just won't ever be the same when we visit. Love my dad and hate seeing this disease take over his actions and words. However, it will never change his heart and all of the things that he has instilled in me. I am who I am due to my amazing parents.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas at Nannie's

This year has been a different year. Gathering at Nannie's house has been exciting for the little ones, but sad for those of us who realize how different it is without Papa and Grandaddy. Thank goodness for the busy-ness of the kids for keeping our chins up and smiles all the way around. Sunday, we gathered at Nannies's house after church. Mom had said that she was not cooking. I suggested that we order platters from Publix. These platters where a hit. Sara put together some fabulous appetizers. We sat and enjoyed the kids and visited until after dark. Grandmother was able to join us for a few hours. She quietly sat and enjoyed the sites around her.
Hunter was so excited about opening gifts he couldn't help but ask every 10 minutes if it was time to open gifts. Finally, after lunch, Adam (aka Santa) started having the little ones pass out gifts. It was so cute to see him interact with them and try to orchestrate the process of handing out the gifts. The little ones looked like busy little elves. Hunter was the head elf trying to keep control of the situation, which was impossible at times. Once all of the gifts were open, we began to tear into them. Each of them had 5 gifts from Nannie. We also exchanged names. Sara bought for Hunter and Mackenzie this year. She found "My Little Ponies" for Mackenzie and a Lego game for Hunter. Nannie found a few special items for the kids. One in particular has a big significance.
As Mackenzie tore into one of the packages, I spotted a light blue box with "Madame Alexandre" posted all over it. Nannie gave her Mackenzie her first "Madame Alexandre" doll, Puddin'. Here is a little history of the significance...growing up, I was given a collector's doll every birthday. However, every Christmas Eve, I would go to bed and wake up with a new Madame Alexandre doll at the end of my bed. I ALWAYS looked forward to seeing what doll I would be blessed with that year. Thanks to Nannie, I still have them all and am ready to share them. Now Mackenzie has her own to play with.
She was also given a microphone, a Dora microphone to be exact and a tutu. With the doll in under her arm, the skirt on, and microphone in hand, we had a concert to blow all other concerts away. Evan had also received a microphone. They had a few duets.
Hunter was given additions for his Lego City. He went right to work. I love watching him work on these projects. It amazes me how he can follow those step by step instructions without any help from us. Putting puzzles and Lego creations together, reading, and writing have really become a talent of his this year. I am so proud of him.
Even though the room seemed different without the two men who meant most to us growing up, we all still enjoyed each other's company and made some new memories to begin this chapter of our lives.

I have so many pictures because so many cameras where going. Thanks to everyone for capturing these moments.

Christmas with the Hunter/Boyd Families

Christmas is here! We rushed up to Tennessee as fast as we could to get the festivities started. We arrived Saturday morning at 3 am. The kids were super excited, but we were able to get 1, Mackenzie, back to sleep. Hunter was so excited, he couldn't dream of going back to sleep. Annmother was just as excited and ended up staying up with him. I rolled out of bed around 7:30. We spent the morning enjoying being back in Ashland City. Annmother had her family and a few from the Boyd family come over and celebrate the season.
Adam's great-aunts were also able to make an appearance. Ruby and Blanche are 2 women we will always remember. They come together and leave together. They have lived in East Nashville for many decades. Sitting and listening to them makes you smile. They are too cute for words.
Mackenzie and Hunter, despite no naps, did really well. They laughed and brought a lot of other smiles into the room. Love being with family.

Favorite, Busiest Day of the Year

I LOVE the 2nd weekend of December. It all starts Friday night with Eagle's Nest Christmas production. (see prior post) Saturday morning we begin the magical day with breakfast with Santa. We enjoyed some pancakes and captured our annual Santa picture. Mackenzie wasn't sure about Santa again this year. She did cry, but I love those pictures. We then rushed home and tied up some loose ends before our annual Christmas Book Exchange began.
After about 5 years of doing this, I have finally gotten the preparation down to the tee. I drive Adam crazy the week before, but it is well worth the work. Once the first guest arrives until the last guest leaves, I'm not as much a hostess as I am a mom.
This year we had the following activities set up:
1. Ornaments - Last year, I found plastic bulbs for sale the week after Thanksgiving. I picked them up and it was a hit with the kids. This year, I did the same. Several of my friends made the comment that as they hung their ornaments on their tree from last year, they started getting excited about the party this year. This activity is a keeper for sure. They had a choice of paint,tinsel, glitter, beads, and a few other items to decorate their ornaments.
2. Gingerbread Men - I found the cutest foam gingerbread men. I couldn't help but think that the kids would have a blast decorating them with foam stickers. The little ones truly enjoyed using the stickers and bringing their gingerbread man to life.
3. Letters to Santa - I had a letter station set up for the kids to write their letters to Santa, complete with address labels and mailbox. Lots of writers this year. I have done this activity for 3 years. I have kept their letters over the years and love comparing them from one year to the next. These kids are getting big fast.
4. Coloring for Santa - Coloring a picture page for Santa is an option for the little ones who have not begun writing just yet.
5. Reindeer Food Bar - (Thanks to Loren Finger for recommending a blog that had this idea.) On the patio, we had a collection of items that kids could throw into a bag for reindeer food: oats, raisins, glitter, and powdered sugar.
Along with the kids enjoying these activities with their moms, they played their little hearts out. LOVE Florida this time of year!!! LITTLE CHANCE OF RAIN. I left the back door open for kids to run out and play on the swing set or the bounce house. I did lock Hunter's room and put up as much toys as I could. I have learned that keeping the kids entertained with Christmasy activities, no toys are needed.
Of course, the reason for our gathering is to gather around the Christmas tree and unwrap a new Christmas book. The kids all brought in their books ready and wrapped. They each drew a number and went up to choose their gift. Then, once everyone had chosen their gift, we open the gift and spend a quiet moment (a brief moment) to enjoy a new book.
The only "hostessing" I did was to get the food out and gather everyone for the book exchange. We even had a Peanut Butter Bar set up with Nutella, Fluff, and Jelly. YUMMY!!!! Several of my friends decided to bring goodies to share. The counter was filled with sweet treats for everyone to enjoy. 24 kids went home with a bag full of yummies, crafts, and good memories. Success!!!

Our Little Lamb

Mackenzie's Christmas performance was so cute. I am a little biased, but her costume was the cutest! She sang every song and was one of the only ones in her class to keep the whole costume on during the performance. We were able to get a video of the performance and are excited about showing it to the family.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Enjoying the Season

Adam can't help but to be pulled into the holiday spirit. Tonight I asked Mackenzie if she wanted to unwrap a Christmas book and let me read it. She said that she wanted "daddy do it". It was cute watching her get him involved in unwrapping the gift.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Beginning of the Season

I LOVE decorating for Christmas!!! I spend a little time each day adding little details. It has been 7 days and I am still not 100% finished. I have several projects on my list and look forward to tackling some of them tomorrow. Below are pictures of the kids decorating the tree, Adam putting on his 1 annual ornament, and the kids unwrapping the book "The Night Before Christmas" recorded reading by Papa. More pics to come.

They're Back

Snowflake and Jingle, our elves, have returned. So far, they have wrapped all of our Christmas books (which has been fun to unwrap 1 each day) and gone fishing!!! They are fun to watch move around the house. They tend to be taking it pretty easy on the week nights, but getting a little crazy on Fridays and Saturdays. Lots of fun!!!!

Perfect Potatoes

Thanksgiving this year took a different route than normal. This year, we have seen such a decline in daddy's health. His decline since July has been rapid. It was strongly suggested that mom place him in full time care ASAP. This was a very difficult decision for her, the hardest of her life. However, we (the girls) knew that this was the right decision in the end. I decided to fly up to TN solo for Thanksgiving. It was hard leaving Adam and the kids, but I needed to be a daughter/sister and nothing else during my visit.
I arrived on Tuesday night and Martha picked me up from the airport. Daddy was asleep on the couch when I got home. He was so surprised to see me, his reaction was of that of a child's....genuine excitement. Wednesday was spent getting ready for our Thanksgiving meal and catching up with my sisters. Wednesday night I witnessed several incidents that confirmed his decline for me. We just smiled and enjoyed each other.
Thanksgiving day was spent relaxing, cooking, watching the Thanksgiving parade (which I haven't just watched it in years), laughing, watching old family videos (which daddy cried during some of them saying, "those were the best days."), and visiting. To keep everything simple, we girls had decided to not have husbands or children around. It was a beautiful day. Daddy knew that it was special and tried to talk about his disease several times. This is not something he has done since being diagnosed. He was not successful in completing any of his thoughts, but we all knew what he was trying to get across. I was in charge of cooking. Everyone volunteered to help, but I declined. It was good therapy for me to enjoy cooking the feast of the year without little ones demanding attention. As I was getting the potatoes ready, I found the perfect potato. It was in the shape of a heart. God is good in so many ways. That meal was made out of a lot of love and was enjoyed by so much more love. It was the best Thanksgiving meal I have ever cooked!!! Everything was cooked perfectly.
Friday morning I went in and sat at the bottom of my parents bed, which is something I have done for as long as I can remember. Mom and I decided homemade pancakes would be a good breakfast to start this hard day. Pancakes was always daddy's specialty. I haven't mastered them yet, but have discovered a secret ingredient that makes them pretty comparable. I still can't get them to be as fluffy as daddy's. Sara was able to join us and we had a family breakfast. To keep daddy on his regular schedule, mom went ahead and took him to the Hearth. Seeing them pull out of the driveway was by far the saddest moment for us. Mom refused to let any of us go with her. She is an amazingly strong woman. When she returned, we sat for a bit and then started to pull down the Christmas decorations. We spent the day listening to Christmas music and decorating. Mom seemed to be holding it together, but this is going to be a very hard adjustment for her.
I had to head back to Florida on Saturday. I missed my family terribly and was ready to be surrounded by their hugs and kisses. My heart had a hard time leaving though. I am anxious to head back up in a few weeks, but have so many good things happening until then. I am so blessed.