Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009

Sit back, boys and girls, because this is going to be a long one... it's the story of the Carroll/Ware/Kinney family Christmas extravaganza!

As we all know, this year in Texas, we all got to experience a white Christmas. For many, it was the first in their lifetime. For others, the first that could be remembered for years and years. On Christmas Eve morning, after a breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls and coffee, the loading of the Christmas gifts and gear commenced. I mostly packed and wrapped stuff in trash bags, and Kyle did all the loading. This, of course, is when the precipitation first started falling. Let's just say it put Kyle in a festive holiday spirit.

By the time we were on the road to Cleburne, the rain had started freezing, and by the time we arrived at Nanny's, it had turned in to snow. It wasn't long before the view out the back windows started looking like Christmas:

We were able to unload and relax a little before the official start of the ca-razy Christmas 24-hour marathon of festivities, flurries, and fun: Christmas Eve service at Kyle's family's church.

Carols at the Carroll's

Kyle rests by the tree, already surrounded by gifts

A trifle compared to after Santa arrives

The overflow area

Audrey watches as snow falls and sticks for the first time in her life

Once the time came, we all got dressed and headed out into the increasingly unpleasant weather to attend the Christmas Eve service wherein Nanny did a beautiful job with the hand bell choir, and we saw lots of family friends.

As tradition dictates, the next move was to Mimmy and Pappy's for their Christmas celebration. The roads were quite slippery by the time we headed out of town, and the 7-minute drive outside the city limits was quite stressful (we didn't worry about it, though, since all the weather people had assured us that none of the frozen precipitation would stick, so we were just imagining things...). We were greeted at the gate with warm hugs, smiles, and the smell of beef stroganoff cooking away.

Audrey inspects the beginning of a new tradition: buying a live tree WITH root ball to be planted after Christmas

Mimmy shares an appetizer with Audrey

A full shot of Audrey's church outfit

Artsy Christmas centerpiece #1

We do stockings first, and Audrey figures out how fun it is to squish Mama's soft oatmeal cookies, so she squishes every one

Audrey helps Dada with his stocking

Audrey seemed to have more fun with the stocking itself than the stuff inside... the soft cookies being the exception

Opening presents

Our makeshift high chair at Mimmy's

After dinner and gifts, we had to high-tail it from Mimmy's back to Nanny's. It was way past Audrey's bed time, and the roads were getting worse. As we drove back in to town, we passed 2 wrecks, one of which had CareFlite on the scene. We were relieved to get back into a warm home with hot coffee and more family. We arrived just in time for the ceremonial hanging of the stockings.

Robert, Kim, and the kids go first- each hangs their own stocking, and many photos are taken

The paparazzi

A Kodak moment

Alas, on Christmas morning, I discovered that my camera battery was almost dead, and I thus missed the frenetic opening at sunrise. A new approach was taken this year, though: after the Santa gifts were inspected, there was a more controlled distribution and opening of gifts, and we actually got to watch everyone open and enjoy their treasures.

The aftermath

Grammy and Gramps play with Audrey while Mama and Dada load the car

Nanny making lunch in her new Christmas apron

Back at home, we unloaded all our Christmas loot, and we moved on to the last phase of our Christmas celebration: Christmas dinner. This year was the second year of a new tradition we've started; after the wrapping paper and tinsel settles on Christmas day, we head home and prepare a Christmas feast, and stretch out the family togetherness one more night. This year, we chose to do a Victorian Christmas theme, complete with goose and plum pudding.

Mimmy and Pappy came up first, and helped with the cooking and preparation. Grammy, Gramps, and Aunt KK joined later, and after gorging once again, we all hung out by the fire, and concluded the holiday with one more family sleepover.

Pajama jammie jam Santa, hanging out


Kyle and Katy lounging by the fire

Mimmy reads her new Southern Living cookbook and sips coffee

Our Christmas fire

After-dinner snacks

The trivia game we kinda played

Katy reading the amazing hand-made alphabet book Mimmy made for Audrey

Christmas centerpiece #2

Dessert anyone? How about desserts?

The demise of the Christmas goose: goose stock

Audrey's Christmas treasures (actually about 40% of them)

This year's Christmas was an excellent one, filled with friends, family, food, and an amazing sense of peace and contentment. The most surreal part was watching Audrey walk around the tree, name people and objects around her, and dance to Christmas carols. Last year, it was impossible to imagine the squishy blob in red pajamas on her second Christmas. This year, it's even harder to imagine what she'll be doing another year from now, but we are truly looking forward to it. We are so blessed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas

Christmas is coming, the goose is in the fridge... um, what rhymes with fridge? We are getting ready for Christmas over here! The house is decorated, the shopping is done, and the wrapping is complete! This past weekend, the baking was also crossed off the list. Yep, things are starting to seem a little holiday-ey!

The view as you walk in the front door

The living room, where we spend most of our family time

Hung with care

Our downstairs Christmas tree

Spritz cookies

More spritz cookies

Audrey's first cookie all to herself

She tries to share with Mama

The cookie staging area

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving and Decorating

What a whirlwind week it as been. Are we already over with the first week of December? Impossible. I can't believe only a month ago, we were gearing up for Thanksgiving, which seemed so far away. NOW, it's but a distant memory (and a few extra pounds), the house and halls are decked, and we're polishing off our Christmas shopping!

Thanksgiving for us ended up being quite a marathon. We decided this year to spend the night with Kyle's grandparents the night of Thanksgiving, to allow for the most time with family. A bonus was the morning after- we were around to help Nanny decorate for Christmas.

The first meal of the day was lunch at Nanny's, and we wrapped up the day with dinner at Mimmy and Pappy's. What a day!

Traveling to Nanny's Thanksgiving morning

Audrey enjoys Nanny's famous dressing

The overwhelming spread at Nanny's

Lounging after gorging

Audrey plays at Mimmy's after Thanksgiving #2

The aftermath at Mimmy's

Audrey listens in on Uncle Nate and Dada discussing photography tech

The spread at Mimmy's

Uncle Nate


Audrey lets her pie settle

The morning after, decorating Nanny's

Aunt KK and Ellie untangle lights

Playing with box blocks before lunch

Robert lights the tree

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Kyle's family came over with boxes of childhood slides, and we revisited the past with hors d'ouvers, wine, and Taco Bueno

Audrey walks through the evening with a bread chewie

Aunt KK with Audrey... and the bread chewie... still