Christmas Eve, Will & I celebrated our 8th anniversary at home w/our precious daughter. For Christmas, Laurance & Kimberly gave us a gift card to Logan's and an offer to keep Ella so we could celebrate later by ourselves. How sweet!
Christmas morning, Ella was so excited to find her presents under the tree! When opening each one, she'd gasp in amazement. And this year, she could actually unwrap the gifts herself. Ella received her beloved Katie and Emma books, a Radio flyer wagon, and Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls. We got the ATW wagon w/the wood stake sides and it does wonderfully on our dirt road. She also received many other items from her relatives-enough to last her for several years, I think.
After a great breakfast, we left for our trip to the lake to have Christmas dinner w/Mom & Ken. Ella was also able to see her Mema for a little while and my sisters Karen & Donna, and Donna's 3 kids. Kenny & I took Ella for a short ride in Kenny's garden wagon and she loved it. Mom read her Dimity Duck and Kenny read her Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale (both highly recommended). One of the gifts Ella got from her Ganma and Ganpa was a dry erase board. She drew an "E" on it all by herself and of course I have the pic to prove it. :-) My other sister Marna went to Mexico to visit her husband's family, so we're having a late Christmas get together for her this coming weekend. That's when I'll see my dad too.
When we arrived back home, I greatly enjoyed making Christmas cookies w/my Little Helper. She helped me roll the dough, cut the shapes, and put the sprinkles on (her favorite part). And I loved seeing the flour on her sleeves and face.
We had our get together at Mama's on Friday night and I know Mom enjoyed having her newest grandson there. Mama got her waffle iron and Ella got a play-doh set from Mama-yay! She's been playing w/it every day! Laurance & Emily entertained us w/music and all the kiddos were great. Some even took naps (not mine, of course.)
Now I interrupt this Christmas summary to let you in on Ella's latest "conversations."
Ella: "Mandy tickles, tickled arm, right arm."
Me: "She tickled your right arm?" "Which one is that?"
And she pointed to the correct one.
Me: (To chickens), "Night-night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite."
Me: (To dogs) "Night-Night."
Ella continues: "Sleep tight."
(Thinking hard about what comes next)
"Bugs get you!"
Ella's prayers every night: Granpa, Granma (she's says this twice, so I'm assuming it's to cover both sets?), Mama, Taylor, Laura, Play Play-doh...and just recently, "Broder, Sister" :-)
Ella was amazingly gentle w/her cousin "Ben-jin" which gives me great hope for when we have another one. She handed her Aunt "Em-ly" wipes and diapers and lovingly patted Benjamin's head.
It was wonderfully refreshing to spend time w/Em and Jeff-I just wish we lived closer to each other. After they left, Will & I said that if they do ever move to NC, we may just have to join them. Em and I have even more in common now that we're both Moms, and it was so nice to hear someone else say, "Yes, I've thought that, done that too, etc." And they read more books than anyone I know. It's just refreshing to be around people who are not only constantly learning but also putting into practice things they've learned and who you know are truly seeking to glorify God. I greatly respect my sister-in-law and her hubby-they're friends first, relatives second. We can discuss anything and everything-there aren't many people with whom that comes naturally. And of course, as Em says, we can also be complete dorks around each other. :-)
Today, my maid of honor and her hubby left after spending one night w/us. It was so wonderful to catch up w/her and she also sharpens me as "iron sharpeneth iron." But of course that doesn't always feel good. It's much easier, isn't it, when someone just agrees w/you rather than telling you that you're wrong about something and/or you need to change something. As her hubby said, "God never said it was going to feel good to be changed into His image. Iron sharpening iron, gold being refined in the fire, the clay being fashioned by the potter's hands. Those aren't things that feel good, but they are necessary if we're to grow more like Christ."
One struggle Will and I have been having is w/church. Basically we don't have one yet. And visiting is getting old. I'm reading The Purpose Driven Life right now and just finished the "Place to Belong" chapter. That's so what we want and so what we don't have. God designed us for fellowship and we're not getting it. My problem is looking for the perfect church, though now I'd settle for a church which had 70% of what I'm looking for. But as Rick Warrren says in his book,
"God wants you to love real people, not ideal people. You can spend a lifetime searching for the perfect church, but you will never find it. You are called to love imperfect sinners, just as God does."
So now Will & I are actually praying together about the church God would have us in and trusting that He will direct us soon because afterall He desires it. As Sarah said, "It's amazing how much time we spend talking about our problems to each other, but we don't spend even half that time praying about them to God."
So, the best Christmas presents I received this year were several brain facials from my dear family & friends. I'm very thankful.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well and...Happy New Year!