We returned to Arkansas to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with friends and family from December 24-January 3. When we arrived at my Dad and Linda’s house in Greenwood on the evening of the 24th we received a wonderful surprise…SNOW!! No dreaming about it…we had a white and beautiful Christmas!!
We also made it in time to put out some milk and cookies for Santa. It must seem like torture to an almost two-year old to put out milk and cookies and then not get to eat them. However, Ben was completely delighted when he woke up the next morning to find an empty cup and plate where the milk and cookies once were. He exclaimed, “Santa eat cookies!!”
We spent the rest of Christmas morning lounging around the house in our pajamas while opening gifts and playing games. It was some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Last Christmas we bought a board book for Ben called The Story of Christmas. I think it explains gift giving at Christmas so sweetly, “We give gifts at Christmas to show our love and to say, “Happy birthday, Baby Jesus.”” So after Ben and Laci woke up from their afternoon naps we decided to do just that…have a party for Jesus. We sang happy birthday and enjoyed some delicious cupcakes!!
A few days later we made our way back to Fayetteville where we celebrated my sister Jill’s 34th birthday on December 27th. (I love how all the kids are staring at the cake in this pic!)
The following day we celebrated Christmas again with my step-dad, Bill. It was so hard to celebrate Christmas without my mom this year. I kept thinking about how last Christmas we didn’t even know she was sick. It was a reminder to me just how sweet and precious life really is and that we shouldn’t take a single moment for granted. My mom just had this way about her, especially during the holidays. She always had such a bubbly spirit and a way of making everyone feel comfortable…from the yummy smelling candle burning on the table to the delicious food we’d all enjoy together. Oh, and I certainly can’t forget all the card games we’d play…with my mom winning most hands!! We just never knew what kind of tricks she had up her sleeve or what funny/crazy things she was going to say next. We missed her.
Ben loves his new John Deere tractor and trailer from Grandpa! It didn’t take him long to learn how to hook up the trailer to the tractor. Now each time he hooks it up he runs to me and says, “I did it, I did it. Yea, Ben!” (All while clapping and grinning from ear to ear!)
On New Year’s Eve we drove down to Mena for my cousin Annie’s baby shower. Baby Chloe will be here soon…on February 16th or 17th!! (You can read more about their exciting adoption story here.) Ben was not exactly thrilled to be in the car traveling again so thankfully we had my nephew, Hunter, along for part of the ride. He brought lots of his trucks and literally saved the day. Once he joined us on the drive, Ben was HAPPY to play with all the “cool trucks”.
Later that evening we rang in the New Year with about 25 people at my Uncle Steve and Aunt Kathy’s house. My cousin, Sarah, summed it up nicely, “We ate yummy food, played Beatles Rockband & Guitar Hero and watched the ball drop. Then we all made a beeline for bed at 12:01.” Thank you for being such wonderful hosts. We had a great time!
Ben turned 22 months old the day after Christmas. While we were in Mena over New Year’s, Sarah took lots of great pictures of him and of “the cousins” kids so I thought I’d share a few of them here in honor of Ben’s 22nd month. Thank you for the pictures, Sarah!! I’ve had so much fun looking at them! It really was wonderful to all be together again!!
Ben enjoying the wide open spaces while playing with leaves and sticks! What more could a little boy ask for!
Ben and Jackson riding in the wagon! New Year’s weekend was the first time they met. They were great pals…they played with trains and trucks, danced, and oh, how they LOVED to wrestle! They were great entertainment!
Asher, Ben, Audrey, Laci and Jackson. Trying for a group shot was no easy task. I wish I had a picture of all the chaos going on behind the scenes here with everyone trying to get the kids to look and smile at the camera. Sarah managed to snap this one before any child sustained injuries from another!!
Sarah, Jackson, Ben and me. This was not only the first time that Ben and Jackson got to meet, but it was also the first time that Sarah got to meet Ben and I got to meet sweet Audrey! Fun times!
In keeping with the holiday spirit, here are some funny things…
From the mouth of Ben:
All throughout the Christmas season Ben loved to tell anyone he met (at the grocery store, library, etc…), “Santa’s coming, santa’s coming!”
A few days before we left for Arkansas we had a small get together with a group of friends here in the neighborhood. We ate a delicious meal together and then exchanged gifts among the families. One of the gifts Ben received was a Mr. Potato Head. He referred to him as “Mr. Tomato Head!”
Every time we are at Baby Laci’s house in Arkansas, Ben loves to read the book called Jonah and the Big Fish…the Bible story about Jonah and the whale. Anyway, some neighbors down the street from our house had a large air-filled helicopter complete with Santa Claus pilot in their yard over Christmas. Each time we passed by it Ben would call out, “Jonah ride the hel-copper!”
We were praying one day and I told Ben that Santa Claus ends his prayers by saying, “Ho, ho, ho, Amen.” Ben thought that was really cool and began repeating, “Ho, ho, ho, Amen,” after our prayers too!
One night at dinner Jake and I were telling Ben that Santa lives at the North Pole. We asked him a little bit later where Santa lived and he exclaimed, “North Hole!”
Just about every day (or every other day) since we returned home in January Ben tells me, “Ben get on airplane today, fly to Arkansas.”