A Christmas Visit
Even though I had two newborn babies to take care of last Christmas, somehow this year felt busier. I think I was able to let go of the excess last season, simply because I had to. There was no getting around with my huge belly and once the babies arrived, I blacked everything else out.
This year I had mobility and a bit of space to create the kind of Christmas traditions I imagined for my kids. I want so badly for them to have all those magical Christmas feels. To get a sense of home when they hear certain songs or see an old ornament on the tree. But sometimes the vast amount of tradition making options is overwhelming. So at some point I prioritized and asked myself where we want the focus.
And out of that "Come to Jesus" moment came our tradition where we essentially "came to Jesus" every night of December. We used an old advent calendar and mobile that Grandma ReJean gave us that highlights different Christian symbols and describes their role in the story of Christmas. It refers to verses of scripture leading up to Christ's birth so we looked those up in our family Bible that Uncle Jim and Aunt Lynda gave us for our wedding (10 years ago...what??!). I love incorporating these meaningful gifts in traditions so we think about family even though they live far away.
Before we read each night, the kids had fun running around the house and turning off all the lights. Then we lit one candle to signify the light of the world.
This ended up as more of a ritual for me than the kids. I had peace come over me as I focused on that one light in a room full of darkness. A lot of my days were spent wondering if I sent so and so a Christmas card, or if I bought an equal number of gifts for each of the kids, or if I should put another set of lights on the front of the house. This nightly habit kept me in check. I love it and I hope we do it for all our future Christmas seasons together.
Another tradition we participated in was a special Christmas Eve service at our church, Ekklesia in Raleigh. One of our pastors, Curtis, reached out and asked if we'd like to have our boys dedicated on this special night. The church made it so meaningful for our family. CJ talked about how he did his first baby dedication seven years ago and that was right around the same time I had my first miscarriage with a set of twins. It felt like a miracle to be standing there with our twin boys and looking out at their two older siblings. I had a hard time holding back tears as I thought about the gifts we've been granted. We are so thankful for this second chance at twins and the journey God has taken us on to get here.
A couple friends snapped some pictures of us during the service. I'm not sure what Curtis is reacting to in the back (with the guitar). Probably one of CJ's bad jokes, haha.
Before you think we're a bunch of saints, we participated in a lot of the other stuff (and I literally mean "stuff") that comes with Christmas too. The first big package that landed in our entryway, or what we now call "Shipping and Receiving" was a trampoline from Grandpa Jack and Grandma Cindy. It came just in time for our Grandparent swap when my parents hopped on a plane going North and Mark's parents came South to stay with us in Durham. Grandpa Richard is a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy so we put him and Mark on the job and it was up in no time. Evy helped a bit too and Levi mostly played around with the materials.
This has already proven to be my favorite gift of Christmas 2017 (Thank you Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Jack!). It provides endless entertainment for the big kids. Seriously, once the twins are old enough to jump on it, I think I can retire from this whole parenting gig.
On Christmas morning, Mark and I had one of those parenting victory moments. The kind where we don't want to celebrate out loud so we just look at each other with wide eyes full of amazement and silently ask "DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN??!!"
This picture below is a reenactment of an earlier hug that that took place between the two. They embraced each other (totally without prompting) after Levi looked at Evy and said "Merry Christmas Evy" and she said "Merry Christmas Levi" back.
I had to ask for this picture just so I could remember that sweet moment of sibling bliss.
After the shock of that Evy and Levi hug, we then moved on to gift opening. It was so fun having Grandma Jean and Grandpa Richard in town for the holiday. Everyone who knows ReJean knows that she is a master gift giver. She loves finding the perfect present for people and she really hit the jackpot with Levi's. I told her he's currently into firefighters so she went to her local fire station and got a real life firefighter t-shirt from Northfield Minnesota.
Because it was too big, she even hemmed it so it would fit him. He's obsessed with it and I have to pry it off of him every three days or so.
Firefighters are to Levi as Princess Elena of Avalor is to Evy. Santa brought her the "EXACT DRESS THAT" she wanted! And mommy and daddy gave her the doll to match.
We received lots of fun gifts from Minnesota, including a set of Mo Willems books from Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Jerry. He is our favorite children's author and we can't get enough of his funny stories. The kids always light up when they see Piggie and Gerald.
Another gift that Levi wanted more than anything was a remote control Grave Digger (monster truck). I had no idea my life would be so filled with monster trucks when I became a mom. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. we have to watch a two minute YouTube video of random people driving around remote control Grave Diggers. It is always astonishing to me how many views some of these videos have, but then I realize it's probably the billionth time I've watched the same one.
All of us parents are a bunch of suckers, really.
So, if there weren't already enough random people driving remote control Grave Diggers on the Internet, I decided we'd add one more. Here's our mini Grave Digger video from Christmas day.
Try watching it thirty times in a row and then you'd get a glimpse into my life.
The kids had lots of piano practice with Grandma Jean. It's the boys' favorite toy these days.
The morning before they left, we attempted to have a picture of the kids with the Schulte Grandparents. I honestly can't decide which one I like best.
We love that both sets of grandparents are willing to commit to longer stays in order to cultivate meaningful time with their grandkids. I think both parties benefit from the visits, even if they are exhausting and usually sickness inducing. (Sorry Grandpa Richard, we live in a germ vector).
We appreciate the help and the company, but most of all the extra dose of love in the house. Our best tradition of all.