This Christmas was fantastic. I couldn't quite pin point why it seemed so great to me, while discussing with Blake. We were missing our family and sans Caroline, which is always tough during the holidays. Perhaps I was cherishing every moment knowing that next year would be different. This was definitely our last year with 3 children believing. I can feel it. And, it's time.
Christmas Eve actually brought me to tears as I tucked the kids in and we heard Santa & reindeer landing on the roof and bells ringing outside our house. I took a good look around the room and accepted that our family was changing. We have a 10 year old. That 10 year old will join the grown ups next year in preparation for Santa's arrival and will be assembling toys with Blake while his younger siblings sleep. I'm ready for it and I'm not.....all at the same time.
I locked eyes with Carter just before leaving the boys' room and he saw a tear roll down my cheek. We shared a little moment there.......I think he knew why I was crying.....and returned my look with his own, "It's going to be OK, Mom" smile. He's always been our old soul. Love that kid.
A few pictures from the last few days of Christmas at the Starnes house.....
We made Martha Stewart magazine trees with neighbors one morning. Vanessa brought donuts and we spent hours creating decorations and chatting. Such great people.
That's Daryl on the left and her daughter, Vanessa. She and Carter are drinking tea. Another grown up thing to do.
The Davidge family came over Eve Eve for dinner. 7 kids in an 1,100 square foot house? It actually worked!
Holly is super photogenic, which is making me question whether or not I want to expand my friendship any further with her. Love this shot of her and Ainsley.
OK, she's a keeper. I love that baby, too!
Guess who else loves the baby?
Here is Mike with Ainsley. Mike and I went to college together at LSU. So happy to be in touch again and living so close to each other in fabulous San Diego.
Inappropriate. Luckily, Ruby and Stefan left for the North Pole shortly after this dance-off. (pay no attention to the still-not-glued headless wise man)
Fast forward to Christmas Eve night.
Punks pre-mass. Lovely.
This might surprise you, but Jack didn't care for his picture being taken.
So, we threw him in and Blake started acting like an idiot. 2/3 smiles is pretty good for this group!
At the church that evening. Don't you love Carter's outfit? His jacket is from the suit he wore in the 2nd grade for his First Communion. Too small, but he insisted......and put it with his white button down and skinny jeans. So chic.
We returned home to Skype with Caroline as we opened gifts. So fun.
Blake read The Night Before Christmas, as he always does.
Punks tried to pay attention. Lainey was busy brushing her teeth with a new Hello Kitty toothbrush and Jack couldn't put "Snowy Thomas" down.
Outside to spread reindeer food and to look for Santa in the sky.
Jack found a new way to spread the treats. Our little thinker.
Back inside to prepare goodies for Santa!
Sweet Mae Mae lent us her precious Santa plates because one of the children broke the darling one she gave us 10 years ago. We will cherish them!
Santa puts bells on the kids doors just in case they want to come out and peak. You never can be too careful.
Christmas morning greeted us at 2:30am with Carter chanting something about a new phone. We rushed him back to sleep and then finally gave in at 5:00.
Carter was all smiles with his new Ipod from Pa and Mae Mae.
And, his new phone from Santa. Fair warning: If he has your number, he will be calling or texting. Be prepared. (Answer or return his text at your convenience.)
Christmas in California.......not too shabby. Little ones ventured outside at 9am to ride their new bikes. Shortly before, they ran to the windows, asking if it snowed. Blake and I had not even considered that Jack and Lainey had never seen a Christmas without snow. We moved from Texas to Denver when Jack was 5 months old. And, Lainey was born there. So, this was a first for them.
A misty fog rolled in within the hour to remind us of what it was like.
We played and napped and cooked and then joined the Davidges for Christmas dinner with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Lovely.
Mike fried a turkey. It was delish! I learned some new recipes from Holly that I will be adding to our holiday menu in years to come.
Neighbors came out to enjoy a fire pit and the kids rode their bikes again. Here is cute Holly trying to get a picture with Mike. Sometimes, you just have to improvise. Even when there is a kid on your back!
Such an awesome couple. With 4 kids ages 5 and under!
We played games and watched the kids run all afternoon and evening. Austin ended the night by collapsing. I think we all could have joined him at this point!
This week's agenda:
*San Diego Zoo trip! My big brother gave us a family membership for Christmas. So excited!
*Visit with Melissa and kids on Coronado Island.
*Clean out kids' rooms, put away toys and organize closets - dreading all of it.
*Prepare 2011 calendar.
*Celebrate Blake's 36th birthday on Wednesday!
*New Year's Eve.
*Football on Saturday. *****I'd like to formally announce the end of an era here in the Starnes house. We are retiring Blake's 12+ year old bubble TV we've been using since living in Austin. Pa and Mae Mae bought us a flat screen! I think they felt equal parts of embarrassment and pity each time they visited. And, they knew we wouldn't buy one until the TV we had didn't work. We're thrilled!
*Thank You notes.
Can't wait to catch up on everyone's Christmas celebrations. Later!