Friday, December 31, 2010

Flashback Friday

I still have about five or six Christmas posts to come, but tonight I was reminded of something that I wanted to record in our scrapbook.

When Brent and I were dating, we usually had big plans on New Year's Eve. We went downtown for the first ever Peach drop at Underground with special friends. Several years we ate a really nice dinner out, or hung out with friends waiting for the New Year. When we got married and moved to Tuscaloosa, we discovered that there weren't that many options in town for ringing in the New Year. When 1996 turned into 1997, some friends in T-town had a small party we were invited to. I can't remember how we welcomed 1998, but I'm pretty sure it was a futile effort to stay awake on our couch at home. Adding insult to injury was that since we were in the central time zone, we had to watch the Ball in New York drop at 11:00 pm, instead of midnight. They didn't even replay the event at our midnight, so there wasn't anything exciting to watch on tv to keep us awake. A far cry from a few years earlier.

So as 1998 turned into 1999, I decided to take matters into my own hands. We still didn't really have anywhere to go, but I was undeterred. Another year was not going to go out so unnoticed. Brent was heading up a big project at the tire plant and so he had worked all day on New Year's Eve. He came home exhausted and just wanting to relax. I had figured that's how he'd feel, so I was prepared. I had planned some sort of special dinner for the two of us that escapes my memory now. I also can't remember how I got him to build a fire, but we had one and I'm pretty sure I didn't build it.

While he showered, I scurried around and moved a small round table in front of the fireplace. I set it with our fine china, crystal, sterling, candlesticks, and linens. I put on some music, and a velvet dress from a college formal. I knew how tired he was, and had not even planned on asking him to dress up for dinner. He had been in the habit of getting out of the shower after work, and putting on lounging pants and a t-shirt for the evening. When Brent came out of the shower, he walked through the living room and noticed the set up. He didn't say a word about any of it, but disappeared back down the hall. I called him to come eat, and then started bringing our plates out of the kitchen. I was so proud of my little plan for our quiet celebration, and was excited to see his reaction.

Imagine my surprise to walk out of the kitchen and find him seated at the table, in his lounging pants, t-shirt, and a tie! He was trying very hard not to laugh, and I exploded with giggles.

Tonight we are enjoying a late steak dinner, just the two of us. We're back in the living room, eating on our little trays. No one is dressed up, there are no candles, and no soft music is playing. We're watching the Chick-fil-A bowl with half of the Christmas decorations down, and toys in the floor. Lots has changed since 1998. But I'm still ringing it in with my very favorite yahoo. Happy 2011 everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Day - Part 1

So on Christmas morning, Brent and I got up very early to be sure to be awake before the boys. I figured that even with his repeated reminders to stay in their room when they woke, they would forget that morning. So when we went to bed that night, Brent pulled their door closed all the way, and placed two chairs in front of their door. I guess we thought that would remind them or something.

While Brent was finishing shaving, I started hearing a tell-tale bumping sound from the hall. I ran over there and discovered Coleman trying to get past the chairs. He was clearly still half asleep and was trying to slide under the chair. I put him back in bed, told him Santa Claus might still be here, and sprinted around the house to try and hurry Brent Archer up! (If you have never lived with Brent, you wouldn't know this but he has about one speed - medium. Not too fast, not too slow, just very deliberate about everything he does. Good in most situations, but not good on Christmas morning with waiting yahoos!)

Finally, Brent was ready and so we went and got them out of bed. We let everyone make a pit stop and then they headed into the living room. Here the bigger boys are at their door.

And this is what all they saw in the living room!

Andrew and Coleman have been asking for red and blue lightsabers for MONTHS and so it was no surprise that those were the first things they discovered and that an immediate battle began. I don't know if you can see their grins, but they were lighting up the whole house.

They also got Star Wars helmets. Here's Coleman - aka Captain Rex.

And Andrew - aka Boba Fett. With their mile-too-long Christmas pajamas.

Jonathan got a fun activity cube that he can push around. He really liked it!

Just a little Christmas morning brotherly love.
This was the scene the rest of the day. Stopping only occasionally to eat, use the potty, open another gift, or pull up their pajama pants.
We gave the boys some Christmas oatmeal (regular oatmeal with red and green sugar on top) and then opened our family gifts to each other. Brent and I gave the boys their first rifles and cowboy boots. BIG hits!

Here's Jonathan opening his gift from his brothers. He loves a ball of any kind and was very happy about this one.

The boys and I gave Brent a new novel, and a framed poem - "MD Means My Daddy."

The boys gave me a cabinet for our school things, and Brent really shocked me with a Kindle!

Here we are opening stockings and so thankful to have a rug to sit on this year!

Everyone got a Granny Smith apple (tradition) and a Kit Kat. The boys had other little toys and a Star Wars shirt. Jonathan got a new sippy cup with his name on it. I got a new GT cap,
and Brent got a clicker for our neighborhood gate.
Here are the last few pics of the early morning festivities.

Can you tell JonJon was ready for his nap?

And even though I don't often agree with him, I love this quote from Andy Rooney:
One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don't clean it up too quickly.

More to come. . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve

On the 23rd, we started getting ready for Christmas at our house. We would be gone all day on the 24th, so we used the 23rd to get things cleaned and straightened and cooked so that when we got home on Christmas Eve, we could just wait for Santa.

The night of the 23rd, for our family time, Brent read the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew and as he read, the boys made these sticker pictures. When he would get to another character or event, the boys would find the right sticker and add it to their sheet.

Then we made gingerbread men to leave for Santa. Actually, these seem to have been on different days due to the different pajamas. Anyway, here they are rolling them out.

And cutting them out and putting them on the cookie sheet.

This year they were hilarious while eating their gingerbread boys. They would bite off the heads and say, "Oh no! I can't see! Where's my head?" And then it was the legs. "Oh no! I can't walk! Where's my leg?" Such boys.

So on the 24th, we got up early and opened our chain to find out we were having breakfast at Cracker Barrel! Yummy! We were there by 8:30 (a Christmas miracle!) and everyone enjoyed it. This is the first town we've lived in where we don't have a CB close by, so it is a big treat to get to go. Then we loaded up and headed to Gigi and Papack's for the day. After naptime, we came back home to get ready for Santa. We had our ham, macaroni and cheese, and green beans with gingerbread boys for dessert. The boys opened the last of our chain links and got to open their Christmas pajamas. Bathtime for everyone and into their new pjs.

Once Jon Jon was in bed, Daddy and the big boys tracked Santa on the internet. We found out he was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and headed our way. They decided to get right in bed!
We brushed teeth, read our Jesse Tree devotion, said our prayers, and were giving goodnight kisses, when Andrew said, "Aren't we going to leave any cookies for Santa?" We almost forgot! So they got up, we fixed his plate, put out our reindeer feed, and got back in bed.
Brent explained several times that they were to wait in their room in the morning for us to come get them just in case Santa was still at the house when they woke up. We'd hate to scare him off! They were snuggled in and we said goodnight again. Just a few minutes later, Coleman started calling for us, so I went down the hall to see what he needed. When I got to the door, Andrew said, "Mommy! Why aren't you in your pajamas? Santa can't come until we're all asleep. Hurry up and get in the bed!"
I'm sure you can imagine how exciting the next morning was! More to come. . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Extended Family Christmas

This year we were able to celebrate Christmas with all of my extended family on two different occasions. I uploaded the pictures in reverse order, so first up is the Bell family Christmas on Christmas Eve. I also did a terrible job of documenting our celebrations with photos, so here are the few I did take.

We met at Gigi and Papack's for lunch on Christmas Eve and then opened presents together. Uncle Hugh decided to come to Georgia for Christmas this year, and we were so glad he did! Uncle Steve noted that this was the first time ever that every living Bell was together at Christmas. We had a fun time visiting and exchanging gifts.

The Sunday before Christmas, we met at Gigi and Papack's for the Chandler/Bell Christmas. Uncle Bill, Aunt Rebecca, Will and Chris came over after church for the celebration. We opened gifts, played, and ate a traditional spaghetti supper followed by birthday cake for Jesus. Andrew and Coleman loved playing with Will and Chris, and the bigger cousins were so very patient and kind to our yahoos. It was a fun afternoon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Special Visitors

One day, we opened our chain link in the morning to discover that we were to, "Expect a special visitor after naptime!" Somehow the boys managed to get to sleep, and when they woke up, Aunt Mer Mer and Major were here. They were so excited! She stayed with us for two days and then went to Gigi and Papack's for a few days. The next week, she and Uncle Roger came back to spend the night. Here are some pictures of our adventures.

She spends her life baking, but she still had fun helping the boys make sandies one afternoon. They loved it, and there wasn't too much flour on the floor when they finished! Good job Mer Mer!

She also brought a special craft to do with them another afternoon. They made cool snowglobes!

On Thursday we went to the pharmacy for lunch. This was a big treat for the boys, and Jon Jon really enjoyed his grilled cheese sandwich! I forgot the camera for that outing, but that night, our chain link said to enjoy a peppermint milkshake from Chick-fil-A! Yummy!
On Friday, we went to Monkey Joe's. It was so much fun and we hadn't been since September. We almost had the place to ourselves since the schools weren't out for Christmas yet. Jonathan went down the big slide with me, and then was very glad to get back in his stroller.

She headed back to Gigi and Papack's that afternoon, and then returned with Uncle Roger the next Tuesday. They spent the night with us, which the boys loved. There was much playing of the Wii, and general silliness. They treated us to Chick-fil-A at lunch that day, where Uncle Roger felt a little out of place. He noticed he was the lone male in a restaurant full of mommies and children. We all laughed at his observation and told him that CFA is a huge social event for families with wee ones! Here is the one photo we made with my camera of all five of them together.

More celebrating to come. . .