Thursday, December 25, 2008

God Bless Us, Every One!

*Disclaimer: In the following post, I am even more long-winded and picture happy than usual, so you may want to pace yourself or even make a snack before you start this. Sorry, but I am full of Christmas Cheer!! :>)

So this is Christmas. I was sort of half dreading this year since it was without David. No matter how thrilled I am about his coming home very soon, it is still hard to face a holiday without him. A family holiday where everyone enjoys being together is missing something without my David.

But here it is Christmas Day Night, and we had a really nice Christmas - complete with a few phone calls and a short web cam session with David. Don't get me wrong, I missed him every single second. He is supposed to be HERE with US. But despite his absence, we had a nice day with sweet parents and grandparents, adorable children, and near perfect pets.

The kids both have yucky colds. We have even had some fever off and on from Spencer. Poor guy, last Christmas he had a bad stomach virus and missed everything. And now this snot and coughing is impeding his holiday fun. Plus, having a new dog in the house, and with Daddy here with his Abby, I was not sure how it all would go. I needn't have worried. Things have just been so NICE.

Daddy and Abby's arrival was a big deal around here. We were all very excited! It is a 9 hour drive for him from Scott AFB, so all day long every 3 minutes Jessa would ask, "Is Bay here yet?" He did call us when he was close, so we did not have to wait by the window all day long - whew!
Watching for BAY

The first official gift of Christmas -
HUGE Gator Pillows from Bay.
Once Bay arrived, he did present them these pretty big alligator pillows. They were a big hit. They both slept with them that night. I asked Spencer what his was named, and he replied, "Spencer." Very creative, right? So I asked Jessa what hers was named. She thought for a minute and said, "Hannah Montana." And I said, "Won't that get confusing since you already have a fish named Hannah Montana?" (Mom, the smart aleck said, yeah, when she calls them they will both come running - ha!) She decided I made a good point. So she smiled and said, "I know! My fish is Hannah Montana and my gator can be Miley Cyrus!" She cracks me up!

We spent Christmas Eve at Mimi and Poppy's house, as we have done every year since I was born. We had a great time. The kids were sweet and precious. They both were so excited about Christmas and seeing everyone. They were polite and appreciative and made a Momma so proud!
Spencer loves opening presents and his Poppy!
Jessa had fun playing and was even pretty patient waiting her turn.

Bay complained of a stiff neck with some soreness-
I cannot imagine why, can you?

I gave everyone matching shirts that read,
"Home of the Free Courtesy of the Brave"
and we took a group picture to send to David!
My handsome HEALTHY brother -
Another Christmas Cancer-Free!!

My tired puppies - 3 AM after helping Santa
(Max and Dunken -even harder to tell apart after Max's visit to the groomer!)

I know I have mentioned the kids being so funny about "ordering" things from Santa. So Santa was sort of stumped about what they really wanted. I can tell you that Santa seemed to have enjoyed his shopping for the Key children! The most fun they seemed to have was with a foot locker aka "treasure chest" filled with dress-up clothes for BOTH of them. This was an attempt on Santa's part to encourage Spencer to branch out a bit from his tendency to always wear dresses and plastic high heels when they dress-up together. I thought Santa had chosen some manly alternatives to his favorite Sleeping Beauty Gown, for example, a cowboy, a policeman, a fireman, a construction worker, etc. My other smart aleck parent Daddy's comment was "Oh, you mean like the Village People??" Whatever he says, Santa tried!

Luckily, we got home late, so the kiddos were up late. So my precious sleepy babes did not wake up until after 10! We all loved that. . .
Quite a haul, huh??

Jessa loves her Barbie House and her dress-up clothes!
Did I mention she really liked her dress up clothes??
Spencer was so polite and asked permission to open each of his presents.
(We have been telling him "no" and "wait a few more days" for so long, he wanted to be sure it was ok!)

Spencer enjoyed his dress up clothes, too ,Argh!! He also enjoyed his hot wheels!
And throughout it all (even being covered in tissue paper)
all the dogs were quiet and nice and just about perfect!
Stewart is the "downstairs cat" mainly because
he escapes through the doggie door, but today he was a nice boy, too!
We missed David ever so much, but we managed to have a wonderful holiday anyway. Of course it does help that we are anticipating a New Year's Day Reunion with him! Yep, that's right, only one more week! Holy Cow! Merry Christmas!
And God Bless Us All:
From the sickly, snotty babies who were always coughing to a new dog in the family to all the pets who were patient during crazy holiday times to Momma and Daddy who allow us to invade their home when it suits us to all of our family who got to be together for our old traditions to our David and ALL the soldiers far away from home this holiday and all the families who are missing them,
God Bless Us - Every One!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bittersweet Christmas Parties

My Christmas Party Animals

One of my favorite things about church preschool is that you REALLY celebrate Christmas! No "Happy Holidays" or "Winter Vacation" here. No, ma'am!

As with many schools, Friday was Christmas Party Day and the last day of school before Christmas Vacation. This is usually a fun day filled with cookies and presents and jingle bells and stories. This year, it was also a sad day because it was our last day at SMPK. I have mentioned MANY times how much I love this school, so it was especially sad to leave. Jessa refuses to discuss ever going to another school. And Spencer is so IN LOVE with Miss Georgia that when he talks about who he wants to have over for a slumber party, it is always her. He even named his pretend horsey Miss Georgia. (SO CUTE watching him run around the house yelling, "Whoa, Miss Georgia!"

We are so happy to be reunited with David in our new home after Christmas. We are so glad that another deployment is almost behind us. BUT this school was really something special. The short time that we spent there has been so wonderful. We love the atmosphere and the caring people and the creativity and imagination. I tried to tell everyone to pretend like it was another day to keep me from crying. We all tried, but tears were shed. Miss Georgia lost it every time she looked at Spencer! Even though it was a short stay at SMPK, it was very meaningful, and we will always treasure the friends and memories that we made.

OK, back to the parties. . .

Of course, both parties were at the exact same time on opposite sides of the building. I spent most of the time running in between. There was food at both parties and lots of decorations. The BEST part was all of the awesome hand made gifts that I got from each child.

Jessa made me several ornaments, cards, and a welcome mat. It is a piece of carpet with finished edges. In the center are her bare foot prints in white paint that she painted to look like snowmen - so cute!

And she wrapped it herself and wrote the card, too. The best gifts ever! She was most excited to give all the things she made.

Jessa and her friends eating at their party.

Jessa and her Miss Penny

At Spencer's party, there were also lots of goodies. Spencer was slow to warm up to the partying at first, but by the end he was with it! He made me lots of goodies, too. He even painted the box that all my ornaments were in. He was also very proud to give it to me. He finally opened it all for me because I was going too slow to suit him! His big gift was a precious towel hanging from a dowel. On it, there was a picture of his face in the middle, a glitter halo over his head, and his golden hand prints for wings! And lots of unique ornaments for the tree, too.

My angel

Spencer chows down at his party.

Spencer and his Miss Georgia

At the end of Jessa's party, Miss Penny read my copy of Santa and the Christ Child, my all time favorite Christmas Story. A perfect way to tie together Jesus's birthday and Old St. Nick and a perfect ending to a special party. Such a wonderful day! And you should see our tree - covered with priceless, glitter-covered, special, homemade ornaments that we can look back at each year as they grow and change (far too fast for my taste). Even though they each made 5 or 6 ornaments, there were no duplicates. Amazing, right? And what a great start to our Christmas Week!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome Home, MAXWELL KEY

After 12 days of daily trips to the Humane Society to visit Max, I am happy to announce that we were finally able to welcome the newest Key home (to May's house.)

As I mentioned in my "Meet Max" post, the moment my eyes met his at Dr. Koby's office, I was hooked. I was in love. And he was already in my heart. But today we made it official.

The Humane Society here is very cautious about who they place pets with. They want to be sure that where the pet is going is better than where they were. There is an application, an application fee, a vet recommendation, and even a home visit. All of this was fine with me, as long as the end result was little Max becoming a permanent part of our family.

In Max's case, the awesome folks at the Humane Society also wanted to spend a little while longer nursing him back to health. He also had to get all of his vaccinations up to date. He is healthier, but he still came home with several prescriptions, including his daily eye drops. But we are up to the challenge!

One of the wonderful gals from the Humane Society brought Mr. Max here this afternoon. We were all waiting out front when they pulled up. We had a sign on the door, his stocking hanging with the others, a new bed, bowls, and he was already wearing his red jingle bell collar (to match Dunken, Cooper, and Abby) because I took it to him at the Humane Society.

Dunken, Me, MAX
Our home was deemed safe and appropriate after minimal inspection. Besides the fact that everyone at the HS thinks Max is in the perfect home (since we know the breed and are not phased by medications), she said it was a great sign when the first thing she saw when she walked in the front door was 3 dog beds.
Max has had an exciting day. Bless his heart, he hardly stopped moving all day long. He was checking it all out, you know, learning the ropes.

Max and Dunken on the deck.

Max discovers the plethora of toys here.

This is where all the animals sit when someone
fixes their supper. It did not take Max long to
figure this out. (Dunken, Max, Cooper)

His first supper! He LOVED it - he was the first
one finished!

We are so honored to be able to provide Max with not only a new home, but a new life. We are looking forward to getting to know his little quirks and his unique personality. And I cannot wait to introduce him to his Daddy in January.

A couch full of Westies!
(Dunken and Max)

At about 10 o'clock, he FINALLY rested
from his day of exploration.
Now we are off to bed - Max is curled up at the foot of my bed! Cooper and Dunken are sleeping with Mom tonight to give Max a chance to really rest. Bless his heart! He needs it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Toys for Tots

I love to buy "prizes" for the kids. I love it when I can have a new outfit or DVD waiting on them when they get home from school. A few weeks ago, I realized that I was spoiling them too much. It took the fun out of surprising them when Jessa would ask when I picked her up, "Did you buy us anything?" So I put myself on buying restriction until after the new year (Christmas does not count, right??)
In an effort to make them a little more thankful for the "prizes" and everything else they have in their lives, I decided to have them participate in Toys for Tots. My parents are very generous people, and we grew up watching them donate to many causes and charities that they believe in. So Toys for Tots is nothing new for me, and it was time to introduce Jess and Spence.

We always say our prayers and talk about being thankful for things. But the past few weeks, I have really dialed the talk up. I have talked to them about how blessed and lucky we all are. And I told them that there are children in the world with nothing. Jessa took this very seriously and asked a lot of questions. "Do they have parents?" "Can we get them parents?" "Can we buy them a Christmas Tree?" "Or I know! Let's go to the forest and get them some trees!" "Should we get them some clothes?" "Can we buy 1,000 presents?"
Spencer had less to say. He is a bit young, so he still may not get it. BUT he cooperated and went right along, so I will take it!
We went to Toys R Us to shop, but not for us. . .

I was somewhat worried that at the last minute they would back out of the deal, but I thought it was important to try. And I have never been more proud of my sweetest babies! They embraced the idea, and I only had to remind them once that we were not shopping for them this trip. They took choosing the perfect gifts very seriously. They wanted very much to buy things that they liked because then they knew the children would like them.

Spencer chooses carefully

She thinks this is cute.

Jessa checks out Hannah Montana.

So many things to choose from. . . LOOK AT THE LOOT!

My heart was so warm and full! They totally rose to the occasion, and I cried on the way home because I was so touched. I think we have started a new holiday tradition.


Making the drop and bidding Hannah Montana farewell!

YAY, a full box!

My little humanitarians!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"I'm invited" and other stories.

Jessa, Spencer, Dunken, and I had to drive to Ft. Stewart last night. The Directv dude was coming this morning to get us all hooked up with a new dish and the ability to finally watch TV at the new house. (I have felt so isolated and cut off from the world until now. I never know what the weather will bring or what Nancy Grace has to say. . .)

We left about 2 on Friday and were home by 4:30 on Saturday (with about 7 hours in the car round trip!). I was trying hard not to get into too much because of our limited time. I was just doing a little organizing, and the kiddos were having a blast playing with all of their newly unpacked toys. Jess found her small picnic basket and packed it with dishes. She was having a picnic tea party in the den. She spread out a blanket and set up some stuffed friends and was all set up for her tea party. Spencer was elsewhere during all the party prep.
I passed through the room a little while later and Spencer had joined the group sitting on the blanket on the floor. I watched them for a minute and Spencer looked up and with the sweetest smile on his face said, "Mommy, look! I'm invited!" Bless his heart! He was just so happy to be included in her fun!

LATER. . .
I walked through the den again and found this:

They were calling to Santa. Oh to be a kid again!

TODAY. . .
When Jessa was a little more than 2, David and I got her a Little People Nativity Set. We are huge fans of Little People and both kids LOVE to play with them (we have a TON). So I decided that this year, Spencer was ready for his own. So when we got home from Ft. Stewart (and I had retrieved hers), I wrapped his set for Jessa to give to him as an early present. She was most pleased with being able to give him a special gift. AND he was so happy to get to open one (about 10 times a day, he looks under the tree and says, "Can I open presents now?")

They were SO precious. He was so excited and she was, too! She was saying, "I wonder what it could be?!" When he opened it, he screamed, "It's Little People!" And he hugged her to tell her thank you. And they got right into playing with their nativities. A few minutes later, he looked up at me with the sweetest look on his face and said quietly, "Merry Christmas, Mommy."

LATER. . .
Spencer put on his winter coat, a Santa hat, his black loafers, his gloves, and walked around the house telling us "I Santa!" And we had "Fa-La-La-La-Lifetime" on the TV playing lots of holiday movies. Every time a Santa would be on TV, Spencer, in his deep Santa voice would say, "Hey, look, there's me."

I love my sweet babies!