We drove home from Branson on Christmas Eve after a yummy breakfast at Denny’s. The kids were so excited to get home and I was so grateful for the DVD player in the car!
Not long after we got home, we got ready for the Christmas Eve service at church. The kids looked so precious in their Christmas outfits.
They (of course) made me work pretty hard to get decent pictures. We went from this…
in a matter of seconds.
You know how things play out so much differently in your head than they do in real life? Mothers imagine a Christmas Eve service of beautiful music with angelic children. We imagine singing Silent Night by candlelight as we gaze at our little angels and consider that we have the miraculous experience of motherhood in common with Mary. We imagine sweet faces gazing back at us knowing that we love them so much that we would never dream of not sharing the majestic experience of a Christmas Eve church service with them.
Here’s a rundown of our Christmas Eve service…
Made it to church with a little time to spare. (wow!) Chose seats toward the back so the kids wouldn’t bother people if they were a little wiggly. Nola was up. Nola was down. Caleb wiggled, sprawled across a few chairs, sat up, sat down, and wiggled some more. We took kids to the bathroom. We squeezed back into our row. (God bless the people sitting between us and the end of the aisle.) I snuck Nola out to an empty space behind the chairs where she could move around a little. As a guest vocalist was performing a phenomenal rendition of O Holy Night, Nola decided to break out her ballet moves. She spun and twirled like a pro with a a scattering of loudly whispered, “Mom, watch this!” When she was finished, we apologetically went back to our seats. We hadn’t been back for 5 seconds when Caleb audibly passed gas during a prayer. I barely noticed it, but I couldn’t ignore the giggling that followed. Nor could I ignore the shaking of Rudy’s shoulders as he tried to maintain composure. It was then that I realized the people behind us – who happened to the be principal at the high school and his family – were also cracking up laughing. I really wasn’t sure we were going to make it through the service and I wish I could tell you one single thing that was said, but I can’t – other than the repeated “shhhh!” that came from Rudy and me.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get much better, they started lighting the candles. Nola was intrigued and insisted on having her own. She did great with it until it came time to blow it out. The hot wax dripped on her fingers and the crying began. It’s nothing short of a Christmas miracle that we managed to get a decent family picture after the service…
I think I’m starting to understand why we never went to Christmas Eve services when I was a child. Come to think of it, I didn’t know that Christmas Eve services existed until I was at least in high school. Coincidence? I think not. My mom knew better!
Spring break is a perfect time to write about Christmas, right?
On the 22nd, we took a trip up north for a little pre-Christmas fun at Silver Dollar City. We bought our season passes last Christmas before we knew we were moving, so we thought we’d go up for a Christmas trip while the passes were still good. We have really grown to love Christmas at SDC. It’s such a fun tradition with the kids.
On the way up, though, we stopped at The Catfish Hole in Fayetteville for a Christmas lunch with the Villines family. It was so fun to see everyone. We ate until we were almost sick because it’s just so good and then we sat for a long time just visiting and enjoying each other’s company. Before we left, we had to get one picture of the whole family. What? Your family doesn’t take pictures in front of a huge inflatable hog? Well, too bad for you!
After we left the Catfish Hole, we headed on up to Branson and checked in at our hotel. We did a little last-minute shopping at the outlet mall and then went to a late dinner. Just as we sat down to order, Nola started crying and saying her ear hurt. We ate and went back to the hotel, mentally preparing for a long night. The next morning, I took her to the urgent care clinic while the boys enjoyed the indoor pool at the hotel. One quick look in her ear and the doctor wrote a prescription for an antibiotic. I asked if it would be okay to take her to SDC and he said she should be okay. Whew… After lunch, we went to the park and made Nola promise to keep her hat on over her ears.
Nola was excited that she was finally tall enough to ride some new rides, but still wanted to ride the frogs and butterflies. She even convinced Caleb to ride with her a couple of times. (Doesn’t he look thrilled about it?)
Rudy was Superdaddy and rode the rides with her while Caleb and I went to ride a few of the big rides. Caleb decided he was ready to try to ride the Powderkeg again. (He had a not-so-happy experience last summer.) We got in line with a warning that it would be well over an hour before we got on and he chose to ride anyway. We passed our time in line joking and talking and really enjoying having some time between just the two of us. He was so patient and so much fun. And, then…we got almost to the front of the line and the line stopped moving. The ride broke down and we were told it would be quite a while before it was repaired. I fully expected Caleb to be really disappointed, but he chose to throw in the towel and go find Rudy and Nola. I was so proud of him! He handled it so well.
After that disappointment, we enjoyed the rest of the day together. We watched the Frosty show and rode the train, complete with the beautiful telling of the Christmas story and the sing-along through the lights. It was really a fun day and night. We had a little difficulty shuffling through the mass of people as usual, but in the end – a great day with the family enjoying Christmas lights and sharing some fun experiences is worth the price you pay. Nola and I even had time to take a few self-portraits as we rode the children’s carousel together…
Whew – almost caught up!!!
2nd – We were honored to be asked to light the first Advent candle at church. The kids looked so sweet in their Christmas outfits.
That evening, we went to the Advent fair at church, where they made all kinds of crafts and listened to a Christmas book. Look at my cuties snuggled up and listening so intently. You’d never know that 5 seconds later, they were rolling around on the floor distracting everyone in the room.
A Nolaism: 9:15 – After almost 2 hours in bed, Nola comes to the living room & sits down beside me. Me: “Whatcha’ doing, Nola?” N: “I’m just going to chill out here for a little bit.”
3rd – Caleb rode in the the Cub Scout float in the Hot Springs Christmas parade. Rudy had to walk with the band, so it was up to me to stay with Caleb. Nola and I rode in the back of the truck that pulled the trailer. Caleb loved being in the parade!
6th – We took the kids to see Santa at Garvan Gardens! Nola told him that she wants “3 Barbies and a present.” Caleb keeps asking for a skateboard, even though he knows he’s not going to get one!
Since we don’t pretend that Santa is real, we talked to the kids before we went just to remind them that Santa is fun, but he’s not really the one who brings us presents. We really try to encourage them to understand that they don’t get Christmas gifts because they are “good” or “bad,” but because we love them and want to celebrate the birth of Jesus with them.
7th – After school, Mom and Mr. L took the kids and I to see the gingerbread house and Santa at the Arlington Hotel. Nola was excited to see Santa again, which surprised me.
8th – Rudy and I went to a Christmas party at the Laytons’ house.
9th – Rudy’s band had their Christmas concert and it was great! That evening, he played in the church Christmas concert as well. Busy day!
12/12/12 Tweet: no poopy pants kids, I had time for lunch, and a tube-fed child pulled a spoon to her mouth for a bite for the 1st time #luckyday
13th - Caleb: “Mama, I didn’t want to have to tell you this, but I have a girlfriend. Her name is Stormie. She’s in kindergarten and she rides my bus. I just asked her and she said yes.” Oh my…”
14th – A horrible day. A sick person entered an elementary school in Connecticut and killed 26 people, including 20 kindergarteners and first graders. I spent the better part of the night in absolute shock, outrage and mourning for those babies and the adults who were killed while trying to protect them.
15th – My kitchen assistant and I made Christmas cookies for our neighbors!
17th – FB status: I was NOT prepared for my sweet 6-yr-old to ask me, “Mama, is it okay to kiss a girl right after she starts being your girlfriend?” I bet y’all can guess my answer!”
18th – Nola: ”Mama, why your hair turning chocolate?”
19th – I got my hair cut & colored. (Coincidence?)
20th – Major 1st grade mom drama: I am mor-ti-fied!!! I showed up at Caleb’s party with 4 great games planned for the kids. I even had prizes. Turns out I was supposed to bring drinks. I am in charge of games for Valentine’s and Easter…NOT Christmas. The room mom rolled her eyes at me and texted her husband who showed up with 2 boxes of Capri Suns. Minor in the big scheme of problems, but embarrassing nonetheless.
Oh, well…Caleb’s party was fun anyway.
After that was Nola’s Christmas program. She was so excited about seeing her friends outside of school and getting to sing her songs. Her favorite part was the jingle bells that she got to ring the whole time.
Nola was excited to have fans in the audience for her big performance!
21st – Nola’s Christmas party at school.
I’m so proud of Caleb this year. He has really proven to be a rock star first grader. Here’s his sweet school picture:
And…he made the honor roll for the first nine weeks!
He earned a 99% in word study/phonic spelling and a 95% in math! He also got a 97% in conduct! On his STAR Reading assessment, he was in the 43rd percentile, which is “at or above benchmark”! Yay, Caleb!!! We are SO proud of you!!!
3rd – The boys went to deer camp for the weekend. Nola and I enjoyed a little girly spa time!
6th – Election Day! This was a particularly nasty election and I found myself biting my tongue a lot to keep from turning friends into enemies. It seems that I’ve managed to amass a number of friends whose politics are a complete 180 from mine. Nevertheless, politics are simply politics. I was happy with the outcome of the election and I’m excited to see what President Obama’s 2nd term brings us.
A middle-of-the-night Nolaism…
N: The big bad wolf is gonna blow our house down.
Me: The big bad wolf isn’t real. He’s pretend.
N: (with an expression of complete shock) He’s not? For real? That is amazing.
9th – The boys were at deer camp (again!), so Mom, Nola, and I drove over to LR for the Holiday House. We shopped ’til we dropped and then shopped some more. But…we made a big dent in our Christmas shopping!
10th – Mom, Nola and I drove down to deer camp for some outdoor fun. We sat by the campfire, watched some football and just relaxed. Here are my hunters…
Nola just wanted to play outside!
16th – I got the ultimate Mom gift: a weekend alone at home! The boys went back to camp and Mom took Nola for the weekend. I spent the weekend crafting and getting things done that I needed to get done. It was awesome.
18th – Nola blew me away with this:
22nd – Thanksgiving! We were in Rogers for Thanksgiving this year. We stayed in a hotel because the house was so full of people, but it worked out great because there was an indoor pool for the kids. Jan & Bill, Kathy, Nana, Doug & Lisa, Chris & Josh, Rudy, the kids and I had a really great traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m so thankful for these two turkeys. What are they thankful for? Well, I asked them…
Caleb: “I’m thankful for God.”
Nola: “I’m thank you for Halloween, milk, and goats.”
The day after Thanksgiving, Rudy, Bill & Caleb went to the Hogs vs. LSU game. Nola and I met my sweet friend Kerrie for lunch.
Whew…almost caught up. On to December!
Ahh…Halloween. I chose an 80′s prep costume this year. Rad, huh?
After work, I high-tailed it to Nola’s daycare to catch the end of her party. They had games on the front lawn and then went inside for snacks. Caleb’s class had their party the day before and I couldn’t be there, but he said that was okay.
We love Nola’s teachers! Mrs. Bre left after Halloween, so she’s not with us, but she still works with Mrs. Jamie and Mrs. Chris every day. They have been so patient and loving with her and we know they are the reason that she amazes us with her knowledge so often!
After Nola’s party, Caleb arrived for after school care, so we all left from there. We weren’t sure how Halloween would play out in Hot Springs. We LOVED trick-or-treating in our Rogers neighborhood! We decided that since we don’t really live in a neighborhood and my parents don’t really live in a neighborhood that we would take our t-or-t party over to Pepapa & Anna Joyce’s house. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to get some fall pictures of the kids before we went trick-or-treating.
And a couple of shots of the kids with their grandparents and great-grandparents…
After holding the idea of trick-or-treating over their heads to get just a few decent shots (okay, I bribed them!), we stripped the kids out of their pictures clothes and put on their costumes. Even with the pitiful Razorback football season, the kids were super cute as a football player and a cheerleader. (We only briefly contemplated putting paper bags over their heads to be funny.)
Thanks to Anna Joyce and Pepapa for hosting a hauntingly good time…
After the kids t-or-t’d in their neighborhood for a little while, I took Caleb to another neighborhood where I thought there would be a lot of activity. We hit the jackpot! It was a great night, I have to admit I’m looking forward to the day that we live in an actual neighborhood where we can stay home!
After my grandfather’s health scare in September, I was bound and determined to get to New York to see him. It cost a fortune for all 4 of us to fly up there and back, but the trip itself was priceless. We left on October 25th with two of the cutest little travelers in the airport.
We flew from LR -> ATL -> DET -> Elmyra, NY. The first let from LIT -> ATL was awesome! Both kids had fun and were intrigued by the idea of flying. After that, things got a little rougher. Nola got bored, nobody napped, the airports were crowded and our gates were far apart. It was just an exhausting day. Caleb did great. He was entertained by his technology and his toys and was a happy camper for the most part. Nola wanted to get up and move. I spent the majority of my day trying to keep her from bothering other people.
The first day that we were there, Uncle Ron took Rudy, the kids and I to nearby Watkins Glen State Park. It was great to get outside and move around after being cooped up inside planes and airports the day before. We took the kids for pizza, a hike at the park, a little time in a local shop and then ice cream.
The second day we were there, we went to a nearby pumpkin patch, where we chose some great pumpkins to carve and took a hayride!
The kids enjoyed carving our pumpkins, which we left on the front porch for Halloween…
One afternoon, we went to the Corning Museum of Glass, where we saw some pretty amazing pieces of art, then Caleb and I made suncatchers in the glass studio.
And, of course – we spent lots of time visiting with Memmie and Poppie!
We came home on the 28th, with a little bit easier flight schedule. We were glad to be home, but it sure was a great trip. We were so grateful to Ron, Mary, Memmie and Poppie for opening their home to us and showing us a great time.
** We were glad to find out in the days after we left that Hurricane Sandy did not affect the Hatch family other than some heavy rain. That was a scary forecast to see as we were packing our bags!