*


Saturday, December 31, 2016

End Of The Year

Well, with the year ending, I am hoping that 2017 will be a better year for us. This has been a hard year for our family. We did have one highlight though, and that was the trip Abigail and I made to China to pick up Piper and Tess. That was a blessing and the girls are doing great. We are thankful that trip went so well. I am hoping that this new year will bring hope and healing for our family.

I kept Evelyn and William today while my son, John, was visiting his brother. I realized that they are leaving in a couple of days and decided to try to get a few pictures. William was definitely not in the mood as he ran and hid from the camera - I think he thought it was funny. But, Evelyn was great. I will try William another day before they leave. It could be quite a while before we see them again. So, I have a few pictures of Evelyn to post. 

Oh, and now we have pink eye - at least Bethany does and I am sure she will share.














































































































Thursday, December 29, 2016

What A Day

Today my stepfather had back surgery. One thing I didn't mention when I wrote about our Christmas was that on top of everyone being sick my stepfather broke his back. Right before Christmas. This was definitely a Christmas we will remember. So, today was the day for surgery. My mom, Meredith, Emily, Abigail and I all sat together and waited most of the day as they operated. It was a long day wondering how he was doing and waiting to hear something.

Then while we were sitting there I got a text that Joey was not doing well and Shannon needed to get him to the hospital. My daughter, Anna, ran over to watch the kids and Shannon called an ambulance. Joey was disoriented, feeling awful, out of breath and couldn't even get out of the bed. The ambulance got there and they went to VCU emergency room. He is still there getting fluids and a CT scan and an MRI along with lab work. 

We continued to wait for the surgery at one hospital and Joey was on his way to another hospital. A pretty stressful day. The surgery went very well. My daughter in Georgia actually called us to tell us everything, as the doctor called her instead of talking to us -- because she is a doctor and had been corresponding with him since the Friday before Christmas. So, now he is in ICU for a day or so. Then probably some rehab. We are very thankful that he came through surgery so well. 

It has definitely been stressful here the past few weeks. And my daughter reminded me the other day that I never mentioned that during the Christmas Eve candlelight service, her daughter, Reagan's hat caught on fire. Now that was a panic moment. As we were all holdling candles and singing, I looked over and saw the strings of her hat in flames and heard Reagan say "Mommy, this candle is too hot." I instinctively reached over and slapped the flame and the fire went out pretty easily and it didn't reach her hair - thank goodness. A very scary moment.

Reagan at my house before Christmas. She actually took having her hat on fire very nonchalantly. 

























I kept Evelyn for John the other day and gave her a little snack. She loved it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cousins

Joshua, Joey and Shannon's son, lives 5 minutes up the road from us. William, John's son, lives almost 3,000 miles away. On Christmas you would have thought they were best friends the way they played together. They played and played in the dirt with tools and Joshua's new truck and just sticks. We have all wished that they could see each other a little more frequently.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We had a nice Christmas for what was going on. The sickness we had continued and my daughter from Georgia and her son and my mother ended up sick. My daughter and mother on Christmas day so we could not go to my mom's house as we usually do. Our kids really missed going over as it is what we always do, but it could not be helped. So everyone stayed at our house and we had a pleasant time with the family that could be here. It was different, but at least a lot of us were together. Joey felt well enough by the afternoon to visit and that was really nice, as we were uncertain if he would make it at all. There were good times, but we were all sad that we couldn't all be together.

The sickness has continued and unfortunately Joey ended up with it. We tried so hard to keep him well. But, sometime early this morning he got sick and now can't get his chemo. Hopefully, he will be able to get it next week.

Thought I would post a few pictures from Christmas morning. These were taken early before everyone arrived. Once people started getting here I got busy and didn't take many pictures. 













































































































Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 24

Today was a very nice day considering how much we had to do. Our "special thing" for today was that we went to the candlelight service at church. It was beautiful and special as so much of our family was there. It was a little sad because Joey was not feeling well and so he and his family could not make it and we were so hoping he would be able to enjoy this Christmas. Hopefully, tomorrow he will feel better. Also, the kids were disappointed as their granddad could not make it as he hurt his back and had to stay home - of course, we all missed him, too. 

The service was beautiful and we sang carols by candlelight. Then went home and family came over and we ate and visited a little. It was a nice end to our 24 days and I have enjoyed sharing our "special things" with everyone. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.

Our kids sang in church tonight and so I thought I would post it for this evening. 


Friday, December 23, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 23

Today we gave our Christmas jar away. Every year we put out a large Mason jar sometime the beginning of November, and start dropping our change and bills into. When we buy something and get change we put it in the jar. When we have a few extra dollar bills in our pocket we put them in the jar. Sometimes we just drop in a $5 or $10 bill or even $20 if we feel generous. It slowly fills up and then sometime before Christmas we give it to somebody. So, today was the day to give the jar away and it was nice and full - and heavy. 

There is a woman we pass frequently on the corner not far from where we shop. She holds a sign that says she has three children and is out of work. She is very friendly and always waves to us. She is the one that we felt led to give our jar to this year. She was so extremely thankful and nice and I think it is so good for the kids to realize we need to think about people besides ourselves - it isn't alway about us. Everybody felt really good after giving the jar away and this is a tradition that we will continue for years to come. 



























Granddaughter, Evelyn, visiting from Washington. She won't be here much longer and we have enjoyed seeing her and her brother -- and their dad, of course. Sad part is, with all the sickness, we have had limited time together. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 22

Not much to write about tonight. Late last night the 10th child got sick. It has been really hard to think of something to do that is easy, won't take much time and we won't have to leave the house -- since I have been so busy with sick kids. So, tonight I asked the kids what we could do since the day had gone by and we had done nothing. Our minds seemed blank - even the kids and they usually have lots of ideas. Finally, Bethany said we should look for the Santa plate that we leave cookies on. Sounded easy so that was what they did. Doesn't sound like much, but it was something and Tess was pretty thrilled with the plate. At first she thought it was for one of the kids to use and she wanted it to be her. Then Bethany explained we put cookies on it for Santa and that made her even happier. So, it was a success - though small. Only two more days. Hopefully, everyone will be well tomorrow but since Piper and Jordan haven't been sick I am just waiting. 




Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 21

Today we still had sick kids, but a few of them were better -- some better and others got sick. Anyway, it was hard to figure out what we would do. But, by early evening we had decided to make cookies for Santa. So, we made sugar cookies in the shape of Christmas trees, and bells and gingerbread boys. We got the cookies made, but not decorated. That is something we will probably do tomorrow. 

After we made cookies I read A Full House by Madeleine L'Engle to the kids. It is a favorite here. My husband says it is definitely his favorite. 





Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 20

Today was somewhat of a flop when it came to our "special thing". I have a house full of sick kids so making something or going anywhere was out of the question. The best I could do was read several chapters of The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff. It is a favorite of ours and I truly love reading this book to the kids and today seemed like the perfect day to read -- though we read almost everyday anyway. So I read about two little orphan sisters that only have each other to rely on and the hardships they endure and they joy that unexpectly comes to them. It is a wonderful Christmas book. 

My grandson, William, stood and watched this for several minutes without even touching.




Monday, December 19, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 19

Today we decided we would take the gift cards that were in the gift bags from church yesterday - that their Sunday school teacher gave - and get hot chocolate from McDonald's. So we all headed to McDonald's for hot chocolate. Each child ordered theirs and used their gift card, so I am sure we were annoying, but the guy waiting on us was very patient. After we sat down to drink our drinks, I sent Jordan to the car to get the jars of candy we made for people. Bethany took up two different jars of candy to the guy that so patiently waited on us. Then a few minutes later a woman came over to us and gave toys to all the kids. It was really nice. 

So, we had Christmas hot chocolate together and then my son, John, came with his two kids. It was a nice visit and our "special thing" for day 19. 






























Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 18

Today was a little different. Usually most of my time is spent with my younger kids and they are the ones that I have been doing things with. But, today after church I met my older girls and we went out to lunch and shopping together. It was Meredith, Shannon, Anna, Emily, Katie, Abigail, Zola and myself. It was really nice to spend time together and just sit and talk and laugh. I think we will do it every year if it works out and that has already been suggested to me. 

Because I was gone most of the day, it was hard to do much of anything with my younger kids. But, I did let them watch another Christmas movie and they got Christmas bags from their Sunday School teacher today and I let them go through their bags. I know it was small and I know they watched a movie yesterday, but I am counting the movie and opening their gift bags as our "special thing". I wasn't here for the movie, but I was here to watch them open their gift bags and that was pretty exciting for them. Tess came up to me after they opened their bags and sat on my lap and said, " This is my first Christmas." It was kind of sad and sweet at the same time.

I took a picture of Zola today as she lit the advent candle in church this morning.





























When church was over, Bethany ran up to where Michael was playing the piano as people left the sanctuary. I saw her standing there next to him and grabbed my phone and got about a 6 or 7 second video of them together. Thought I would post that, too.





Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 17

Today we really didn't do much after all we did yesterday. I was tired and needed to get some things done and we also had our triple bunk bed delivered and assembled. I had to get the room ready and then get stuff put back after it was finished. So, today I let the kids watch a Christmas movie. I think this counts as something special even though it didn't take much thought. But, if there is anything that Piper and Tess love, it is watching movies. They were very happy as were all the others. So, we made it to day 17. 

My son John and his little girl, Evelyn.

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas - Day 16

Today we went to see Santa with friends and had lunch afterwards. It was pretty hectic but fun, and every year my kids look forward to this. We have gone with the same friends for so many years I can't even remember going without them. Usually, some of my grown children go with us but this year several couldn't make it. I wanted to get pictures of the kids seeing Santa but they would not allow it - I did get one or two before they told me I couldn't take any. So, I don't really have many to post. 













































































After we ate lunch we all went back to my house to decorate gingerbread houses and large gingerbread men. Piper and Tess were so excited about doing this. They talked about it for weeks. I think everyone had a great time making and decorating the houses. It is a real mess but worth it as the kids enjoy doing this so much. 

























































This is a rather picture heavy post but it was hard to decide what pictures to post. This was an easy day for doing our "special thing". We spent the entire day doing this and my kids are still talking about doing more tomorrow. We will see.
















































































































My two grandchildren from Washington came to visit for Christmas, and they made it over while we were decorating. It was so nice to see them. None of the family has ever met this little girl - Evelyn - and she is such a little doll. That is what my oldest daughter called her. She said she is like a little doll


























Her brother Liam was here for Thanksgiving one year but it has been awhile since we have seen him and now he is talking and talking. We are blessed that they will be here through Christmas.


























It was a nice day and I am tired now but happy that almost all my children are home for Christmas. My daughter, Megan, will be here in about a week with her husband and baby.