Sunday, December 20, 2015

Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations!

Each year we have attempted to simplify more and more when the holidays roll around. It's been very evident this year as I have had time to enjoy my family (well...mostly the kids since Jonathan is working long hours to make up for the 5 days off at Christmas and New Years). We had a great dinner with our Community Group for Thanksgiving, celebrating our friendships and Jill and Stephen who moved to CA. Jill and I had grown quite close recently and I am so grateful for our short but meaningful friendship. And I'm so very grateful for this group of people who encourage and pray for one another, laugh together and care for each other, tangibly and intangibly. 

Who put this random Halloween picture in here? :) 

Beth did it again and hosted another lovely Thanksgiving dinner for us and the Speasmakers. The group seems to rotate every year based on JB's work schedule, us in Northern Virginia or the Speasmaker kids and grandkids in town or now very far away...sniff. We enjoyed a great dinner and conversation. The kids even cooperated and played/ate well for a period of time so we could all be hands-free of little ones! Matt was tasked with making these cute little place cards which were a hit. 
Rachel is a joy to be around. She is always smiling and up for a new adventure. She loves to bring you a book and then back up until she can plop into your lap. She gives big hugs, high fives and loves to say "tickle tickle" while she tickles her own belly. She still loves when I am in the house but she will snuggle with Jonathan like no one else. She will lay out on his chest, so deeply relaxed for 20 minutes without moving. Her favorite toys are my phone and anything from my purse. Current favorite books are: Brown Bear (slide-and-find) and Where's Spot (lift the flap book). She loves shoes, baths and hats that belong to other people.
I had a chance to practice with the camera in their house, which has good lighting for much of the day. This picture really sums up Jackson's last year...action figures and his imagination. He currently loves Ninja Turtles and Rescue Bots and will take them on great adventures with our Little People Farmhouse, in our garden, in the stroller, or even in an Amazon box. Playing with him is interesting, since he loves to dictate how you should play. "Mom, pretend that your guy says this. And then pretend that he goes here. No mom, your guy can't do that. He has to move like this". So, usually I sit with him and do as I am told and we have lots of quality time together. That is, when he actually wants to play with me. JB and I have taken back seat to his friends and TV if he's not on restriction (which is often, as of late).
We love having JB around for the holidays and lucked out. This year he was on call Wednesday which gave him Thanksgiving off! He magically got 3 holidays off this winter (but is working like crazy for the whole month of December). We're going to try to pack in a bunch of Christmas fun in the 5 days he's off! It will all start with watching Die Hard....yes, it's his choice :) We've already seen Love Actually, the Grinch, Mickey's Christmas and Frosty. 
I love that J still plays like he did when he was 15 months old...sprawled out on the floor, level with his trucks and equipment. He's such a sweet boy with both a tender spirit and a heart for adventure. 
Because of JB's wonky schedule, we decorated for Christmas on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. This is one of the many joys of having a FAKE TREE! We love our $50 Black Friday purchase from Lowes several years ago. Our pre-lit beauty is still going strong about 3 years in and I don't know that we will ever be convinced to get a real tree. Jackson loved decorating this year and continues to move ornaments around the tree (and play with them...and break some of them...)
We also hosted our 7th annual Elf and Cookies night! The group has rotated each year since we all have more kids and they are all old enough to help now, which makes it tricky to find enough space for everyone. This year I pre-baked the cookies and we ate pizza while we watched the first part of the movie. We took an intermission to decorate cookies and then ate while we finished the second half. Happy and with full bellies, the kids were all home by 7:30! 

Grand Illumination Parade in Norfolk 

1st annual Byrne Family Turkey Trot in Larchmont! 

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