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(A few days ago as the sun was setting, it cast such a beautiful glow on my best friend’s house across the field — kind of off topic, but it was so pretty, I had to share this picture.)

We had a great Christmas — I really, really love this time of year.  We didn’t celebrate Christmas when I was a kid and I am grateful for the memories I am making now with my family.  I love watching Jo’s face as we read the Christmas story and as she plays with her nativity… it’s so real to her.  I also love the precious time we get to spend with our dear friends and family — even though we live near most of them and see them often, it’s special getting to continue family traditions (and start new ones!)  I love traditions.  Plus, it’s just plain fun getting to celebrate Christmas with my kids!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of Christmas Eve with Peter’s family…  Shame on me!  I was too busy laughing and playing with my nieces and nephews.  I promise you some next year.  We always spend Christmas Eve with Peter’s family and have fondue and play games — They are a crazy, fun crew!  Our families are very different.  My sister and I are the only kids in my quiet family, so I didn’t grow up experiencing large-family-craziness!  I feel blessed to have married into a large family, and wouldn’t trade it for the world even though it does get quite loud and chaotic with all the little cousins running around (laughing and arguing!) and ten different conversations around the table and multiple games going and lots of teasing among Peter’s siblings…  It seems we always have some new mishap to laugh at as well — one year it was the tablecloth catching on fire from the fondue fuel!  🙂  

Henry loved all the noise and joined right in.  I can’t even begin to describe how deeply thankful I am to have him home for Christmas… it’s literally a dream come true.  I get choked up when I think about how richly the Lord has blessed us with the gifts of our children.  I ache for those of you that have been waiting so long to bring your kids home and hoped they would be here by the holidays.   

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Christmas Day.  We were at home in the morning and then later at my parents.  (*Note: the traditional opening of our stockings in bed first-thing-in-the-morning-photos are omitted.  I love you guys, but not enough to reveal those pictures!! Ha!)

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Henry’s wearing his Christmas gift from Dotty.  Thanks again, Dot!!

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I think this stuffed monkey was Henry’s favorite gift…

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He kept kissing it and then he wanted to kiss Daddy, too!  🙂

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I know this next one is sad — but I had to include it because he is cute even when he is crying!  (The tears are because he wanted one of Jo’s toys — it has begun!)

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Despite the overwhelming odds against getting a picture where all four of us are looking (and smiling!) at the camera — we actually got a decent photo at my parent’s house Christmas evening.  (What you don’t see is my dad in the background doing acrobatics to get the kid’s attention turned in that general direction! 🙂 )

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Joanna was captivated by the dancing ballerina in the jewelry box! Ahh, timeless gifts!

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Henry loved the little red chair my parent’s have in their living room because it was just his size! He kept climbing in and out of it — looking so proud of himsefl!

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The bow he wasn’t so sure about… (Peter’s doing, of course! 🙂 )

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The highlight of the night for the kids was racing around the house — Jo pulling a doll in her little wagon and Peter chasing her with Henry riding in Jo’s doll stroller.  (Yes, he’s that small! 🙂 ) I wish I’d had the video camera — the giggles and shrieks and squeals were priceless!  These are memories in the making…

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Jo got some special “Poppy and Nonny” time — this always fills her tank up!

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And of course, more empty box fun back at home before bed.  (Peter’s mom made the flannel nightgown for Joanna as a Christmas gift and Jo loved it so much that she ended up wearing it all day yesterday, too!  I figured it’s only Boxing Day once a year, so she might as well celebrate it by wearing her nightgown all day!  Who knows?  It might just become a new tradition!)

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