Monday, December 27, 2010

A Little Bit of Everything

Wow Christmas has came & went! It was such a whirlwind. I must admit that it was nice having a little extra money this year to shop, but at the same time I had so much to do around the house and shopping-wise, that it wasn't worth it.

I can't stand being behind.

I really can't.

And I'm pretty much behind on everything. Period.

Oh...I remember how easy everything was, when we decided to have Ansley. I was on top of everything. The house looked good, laundry was done, dishes were nothing ever gets done, it seems.

Back to Christmas.

We had a good one. We celebrated with my grandparents on Christmas Eve, and we pushed it up to about 8:00 since this year my dad had to spend it in North Carolina with my stepmother's family. The kids got tons of stuff. My grandmother hasn't been in good health lately, but she had a good night, and we very much enjoyed spending time with her. I have a very special grandmother. She is the sweetest thing ever. And boy does she love my children. I wish I had more time to just spend with her.

We came back here and assembled some things after the kids went to bed, and then finally crashed around 5 AM. Yes, you read that right.

Thank goodness the kids didn't wake us up until 9:40 AM. Bless them. They enjoyed seeing what Santa left them, and of course unwrapping presents. Spencer's big present from us was a cell phone. It was his year. He was very excited! Riley & Talan both got bikes from Santa, Spencer got a Razor scooter, and Ansley got a Barbie Power Wheels thing. So they all got ride-on toys from Santa. Spencer & Riley also got their first pair of Jordan's this year. Spencer has been dying for some. Lucky him. Those suckers were $104. Unbelievable! Riley's were less, thank goodness! Talan got his first DS, which we found out later we should've just went ahead with the DSi, since it was so close in price...but oh well.

And Riley got Michael Jackson: The Experience. It is awesome. Riley is the one who loves to dance and cares nothing about doing it and putting on a show. He is such a laid back, let's-have-a-good-time kind of kid. He is such a joy! He even busted some moves right there at Joe's Crab Shack at Myrtle Beach this year with the workers. LOL! He has some breakdancing moves. Well, I figured he's never too early to learn to dance smoothly, so we got it! And it is so much fun! We had our 2nd annual Christmas dinner here at my house on Christmas, and me, my sis, her bf, and my mom all challenged each other and my mom won! I was like, "What?" LOL it was so much fun! Thriller is so much fun, especially! Talan clearly has gift for dancing--he gets the beat and has an innate ability to "pop" his motions...whether it be his hip or his wrist. He's gooood. Spencer's good too, but he's pretty shy. Riley enjoys it, but he's kind of....barely doing it???? He just barely does all the motions...rather than truly dancing.

I enjoy it, too! And little Ansley gets right in front of the screen and dances with us!

Several times the boys have all 3 lined up like a boy band doing the moves and they are so freaking cute!!!

Every single day of Christmas break, Talan has asked, "How many days until we go back to school?" And every time he would say, "YESSSS!" He feels exactly like me. I don't want to go back! :( I want to stay right here with my favorite people in the world and not feel as overwhelmed all the time! Why can't there be more hours in the day?

And Ansley. What a joy it is to spend the days with her. I get to see what she does all day long, get to spend time with her and get down and play with her babydolls and play food and jewelry with her.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Jury is Out (um...wrong title last time. LOL)

Well, I'm just not so sure how I feel about working. I'm just not sure this is working out for us.

When I was a little girl, I imagined being rich. I really believed I would be. I was raised to be independent. I would be rich all on my own. As I got older, I decided I would become a psyhiatrist. I majored in psychology and completed the pre-med program as well. Having Spencer at 22 was a blessing that made me look at life differently. Obviously, I was not going to apply to med school. Obviously there was no reason to prepare for the MCAT. Obviously I would finish my senior thesis project and rely on my BS in psychology for a job. {laughing}

I kid you not that they paid me around $9/hr. As a child and youth case manager at Peninsula outpatient, a degree was required, and they paid me $9/hr. If that. I don't remember. The first day on the job, I rode around with a lady named Angie, and sooooo very much enjoyed her company. They were real people, not here to impress anyone, tell-it-like-it-is type of people. So Angie and I were talking, and she made the comment of how someone had told her, and she had agreed, that "this is the type of job that you don't do it for the money. You do it from your heart." Heart, shmart. I like nice clothes and now I needed nice clothes for myself and my beautiful little boy. LOL I knew this profession and myself were not going to match up too well. I worked there about a year, and since I worked fairly (?) closely with psychiatrists, I knew that there's no way at all I'd want to be one of them. They hardly spoke to the patients. They were pretty much there to prescribe meds only. I had already worked for years as a transcriptionist/office worker for a psychologist in Cookeville, and knew I didn't want to do his job either. But on the job I also worked with teachers, and remembered my first love. {teaching} Which my mother told me I could not choose, as they did not get paid enough.

Well, I love teaching. I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching. I LOVE kids. LOVE them. I am naturally a child advocate. I love getting to know them. I love teaching them. I love turning Social Studies into one big story that unravels as the year passes by. I love how lazy they are. Well I don't love that, but it is part of what make them them, and I do love it in a strange way. I love their little quarrels over who cut in line and who was or wasn't talking. I love the freedom that being a teacher gives me. I choose what we will learn today. (Well, in sync with the standards, of course) I choose how we will learn it. I choose if we will do centers, and what those centers are. I choose how we will spend our day. I LOVE that. I decide our pace. I plan, and then I readjust my plan. I choose if we do a Christmas craft, and what we will do and how we will do it. I love it. I am able to be as creative as I want to be. I get such a high off of a good day at school. I really do. I never, ever, ever, and I mean never...have dreaded seeing my students. I love them. It's like coming home each day. Twice. Because they are also mine. Now, I hate waking early, don't get me wrong. But I love having my own room and having my students that are always excited to see me in the morning, and I love getting the day started. And if I have had a chance to get a cappuccino that morning, I really love getting the day started. I can't even begin to tell you how much my boys love me being a teacher. That would be a whole 'nother post.

But here's the thing.

Teaching doesn't love my family as much as I had remembered it had. Teaching wears me out at the end of the day, and leaves me with little energy or motivation to do anything around the house. Teaching leaves me very little time with my very little girl. I will admit that I am whining. I am sure that other jobs are also hard. But I just don't know what to do about it. I can't function in a messy house. It does not have to be superclean, but it needs to be decent. I feel like all week long all I can do is get us ready for bed and then get stuff ready for school the next day. Who has time to clean or cook? Not I it seems!

So anyway, that's all I wanted to say. Being a working mommy is tough. And even with the most family friendly job in the world, I'm just not sure it's working out. Let me clarify. It's working out real well at school. It's not working out real well at home. My leftover energy just isn't cutting it. So I'm hoping things get easier, or there may be another change next year.

So, anyway, back to the I have new priorities. I have grown up a bit, and know that "independence" isn't necessarily an asset in a wife. In fact, too much "independence" can start arguments. I might have figured that out in the beginning. LOL I personally think that good wives let the husbands take the lead, and be the head of household that he should be. But I do have trouble with that sometimes.

Although I do love some things that only money can buy, like vacations and nice clothes, I learned while staying at home that cutting corners here and there to save money is pretty smart. I am also very glad that we haven't accumulated a lot of debt. We don't charge anything...I learned that lesson years ago. We have managed to pay things off, and are sitting pretty debt-wise (except for student loans). I have decided that as long as we get a bigger house, it doesn't have to be my dream house. I have decided that having the finer things in life are great, but I'd rather be home with my babies (as long as we still go on vacation though). I have even toyed around the idea of homeschooling, just because they are growing up so darn fast. Just for a year. I know, it would be hilarious. I want to be the best mom I can be to these children of mine, and I'm just not being it right now. I'm hoping that over the course of this year, it will either become easier or more clear to me what I need to do. I have 6 more years until Spencer starts driving. Time is flying by. I want to savor each moment with my kids and enjoy it to the fullest. But I don't want to resign and then hope to get a position later. I would need to stay up to date on things in one way or another, and I am telling you I will never ever take an education class again. Those are the most ridiculous classes I have ever had the pain of sitting through. I'll take science and math anytime. Sock puppets and project after project? Um no thank you. But perhaps that was just my experience. I thought those education classes were kind of out there. LOL So who knows what the future holds. In the meantime, I am enjoying having the opportunity to put my energy wholeheartedly this week {fall break} into my family, the house, and a little photography :) All my other loves get to come first this week, and I'm liking it. :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Sleepover: How it all got started

Ok well it started like this...last year I wanted the boys to have a sleepover. I initially said during fall break. I never got around to doing that, what with photography and just being worn out with having such a little one,etc.

Well, we finally had one. Their birthdays were 8/2 and 8/11, but I wanted to wait until I could somewhat breathe at work, so we waited until last night. I am still crazy busy with work and getting the house under some control, so it was hard to commit to this date. So hard, in fact, that I invited one of Spencer good baseball/football buddies before invites were made, on Sunday, before I could actually commit to it. Then I knew there was no changing it. I invited another one at church on Sunday, and it was a done deal. I planned on staying up Sunday to do invites, because I had handmade some before and just loved loved loved them, but oops who had grading and lesson plans to do late Sunday night? me, me, me. booo.

So Monday night I sat down, at 11 PM, and whipped up some invitations out of card stock. I had no fancy little embellishments like I planned to make, so there was really no point in making them myself at all. Should've just went ahead and bought them. But ah well. They did have a little cute timetable about what all we would be doing that night, so that was pretty cute. And Spencer loved them. Love his heart, he's so good to me :) And we all know Riley loves everything, so it was a success.

They handed out the invites on Tuesday. The sleepover was set for Friday. I thought, well, I'll let them each invite 5. Then 2 or 3 each will come, and it will be great. My biggest fear was that no one would come for one of them. Or just one, and the other would have several. So I sort of wanted to overinvite, in hopes that as long as 2 came each, they would be so happy they wouldn't compare. This is just Spencer and Riley we're talking about, btw.

Well, I know they have more friends that what they could invite, so I asked them if everything went ok and if they had their friends put up their invitations asap, so no one would see. (Well in Riley's case, I had his wonderful teacher take care of it, so as not to cause hurt feelings.)

Spencer said that Jordan unfortunately showed his invitation to 2 boys, who were also good friends of Spencer's. They came up to Spencer during recess and asked why they weren't invited. I thought about it and thought about it, and know that Spencer plays with these boys pretty often. I had to make 2 more invitations. Also, when I asked one dad if they would be able to come (a teacher), he sort of said something about making plans for the other 8 y/o brother, so I went ahead and scooped him up in case no one came for Riley. My boys love them, so I knew it would be great. So that's 3 more than I planned for.

Mrs. Ewing said that one little boy wouldn't be able to come for religous reasons, so I went ahead and made another invite for the other friend that Riley was sad about not getting to invite.

so 3 more invites went out on Wednesday. The RSVPs started coming in on Thursday. yes, yes, yes. The only "no" was one of Riley's friends who had to go to a wedding. Everyone was coming. O. M. G.

The boys were beside themselves with excitement. So was I! I had to clean, clean, clean--clean as though I hadn't clean since school started, clean! LOL But it was worth it. I knew they were going to have so much fun! I was thrilled for them. 12 kids. Plus my 4. 15 boys and a baby. And we're talking all boy boys. But I couldn't help it I was so happy for them to have this experience! I was caught up! I couldn't wait!

We haven't had a big sleepover since Spencer was in Kindergarten, and that one was a HUGE success--I mean I loved loved loved it--maybe 6 or so kids. Plus we had Riley and Talan was about 8 months old. We reserved a baseball field and had them play baseball, a walk in the dark with flashlights, oh wow it was really fun for them all. I enjoyed that experience, and it had been so long ago. We were due. I couldn't wait!

Friday, August 27, 2010

What a Mess!

When I look around the house, I think, "What a mess!" And when I think of my Talan in Kindergarten, I also think, "What a mess!"

Talan has cried several times at Kindergarten. He is currently afraid of the PE teacher "with a mustache." LOL Oddly, that is the "calmer" PE teacher, I'd have to say. I could see him being afraid of the other one, but the "one with the mustache" is really so nice. And he has taken Talan aside and sat him on his lap, fetched him some Kleenex to wipe his tears, and even gotten him early from his classroom to let him play with some balls and other equipment. Talan, well...isn't sold. Riley said he had PE today (this morning while getting ready), and Talan asked anxiously, "Do I have PE today, Mommy?" So odd!

Every morning, he wants me to walk him all the way to his bus line in the morning. I don't--I let the teacher on bus duty or another teacher take over, to help him "let go," but he still asks me along the way if I could walk him there. When I say no, he asks me to ask the teacher to walk him there for him. Apparently he doesn't want to ask himself. Such a shy little thing, he can appear to be....

But he is NOT a shy little thing ;)

Just a few of his mischievous doings....

The first "staggered" week of school, his teacher called some parents in to go over classroom stuff--the parents of the 4 children whom she had that afternoon. My child was of course one of the rambunctious ones. Mine got told on for hitting. Talan said, "I said I was sorry," in his squeaky little voice. When the teacher told the boys not to build guns or weapons out of the LEGOS, mine was the one who brought over a falling tower, pointing one end at all of the parents, waving it from side to side as though he is shooting us all with a machine gun, and said, "I'm a fireman, Mommy. I'm putting out a fire." OK, Talan. One child brought over a drawing to his daddy while we were sitting there. Mine brings over a drawing of what appeared to be a face, but then random drawings on top of it. He brought it over and said, "Here Mommy, I drew you a picture. It's a picture of you.....and your nose....and your booby." Nice. Right there among 5 quiet adults at a kidney table. I said, "Go on, Talan."

Of course the first week that Talan has full days of Kindergarten, who has bus duty? ME of course. One day Jessica told him something...can't remember what...while I was on duty and he and the others were in my classroom, waiting...and he said something to the effect of he "didn't have to," and but he "wanted to." One day he pressed the call button while Kim and me were on bus duty. Kim found that hilarious. Until her daughter told her that he had pressed it in her room. hahahaha. Spencer did say that he just thought it was a light switch, and was trying to turn out the lights. Sydney, Kim's daughter, also cracked up as she told me that Talan said the scratch on his neck was from his granddaughter. LOL. Sydney and Cole both spelled out that Talan had called them "b-i-g-f-a-t-b-u-t-t-s." great. What to do with this child? On top of that, of course I banished them to my room and threatened them with their lives, but when Teresa (another teacher) came to visit my children and say "hi," Talan escaped out the door. When she told Talan that she didn't think he was supposed to be out of the room, he told her that he could do what he wanted. UGH! She said, "Spencer, you can take over!" LOL And then, when I was on bus duty today some of the car riders, who were downstairs outside of my room longer than I was, told me that my child "screamed" really loud, saying "AAAAAAAAAHHHH!" That is his typical scream. Half-opera like.

And then yesterday, his teacher told me that while they were "sharing," Talan had told this....

"My mom.....She had a baby....And we went to the beach....And she dropped her....And the baby died."

His teacher told him that she didn't think that was a true story.

Talan said that it was.

His teacher said that it couldn't be true, because he still has a baby sister.

His smile creeped across his face as he reluctantly agreed that he was lying.

A very very sweet moment was when we had our fundraiser pep rally thing and Talan was out there with his class, and he waved at me like 10 or so times. Each time, like it was the first. He can be such a sweetheart sometimes.

I did have big talks with him and I have been firmer with his fit-pitching, but losing nap has also been rough around here for him. I love him to death and I pray that I am disciplining him the best way possible. He knows there are consequences for his actions. He hates consequences, but he eventually accepts it. We do time out. We have spanked before, but don't anymore as of about a year. Talan is just different. I refuse to beat the life out of a child when he is who he is. Time out and logical consequences are what we do. would be much easier if I didn't find Talan so amusing. He is such a little envelope pusher...and I have to turn my back all the time so he doesn't see me cracking up. I sure hope he does a LOT of changing this year!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ansley Update: July Already???

Is it really July already? How can this be???? Last July I was awaiting my brand new baby girl. Last year I was as big as a house. Last year I was praying that she would be both beautiful and healthy. Last year I was enjoying the last of my paychecks. Last year I was planning on returning to work at Christmas. Last year was...great.

This July is chaotic! LOL Having 4 is hard. I will not sugarcoat it. It is hard. Having 4 all day long during the summer and having a hubby that has put on his coach's hat at 5:30 (most times without coming home) and doesn't put on his daddy/husband cap until 7:15 on a good day is extremely hard. And there were many times he went back on to work after practice, and did not come home until 10 or so. Several times it was like 2am.

Talk about hard. It has been hard. That meant I had to do everything. And on top of it June was a busy month as far as photography, too. I plan to do 0 during July. It's not the sessions that killy's the insanely long editing process that makes me want to kill myself. lol. But I did promote my business quite a bit in May b/c I wanted a lot of business at end of May/beginning of June so that we could go on vacation. I told Kevin I wanted to try to pay for it all with photography money. done :) We leave next week!

So I want to talk about Ansley Elizabeth. Well, I'm trying to instill our little house nickname as "Ansley-cakes." I think that's so sweet and girly and happy sounding. Spencer was called "Spencer-bear" some, but really it never took off. Now "Riley-bug" has been a sure fire winner. He even brought home papers this year, in 1st grade, with his name being "Riley Bug Moore." hahaha! I asked him about it, and he said, "Because that's my middle name." LOL And I said, "'s 'Alexander,'" and he said, "Oh. Well that's my other middle name." Ha! So yes, we do say that a lot. When Talan was born, I specifically named him so that we could call him "TJ," and yes, I do sometimes, but I'm the only one....

So I'm hoping "Ansley-cakes" will take off...Oh, and as far as texting goes, I like texting "ae" for her name. So cute!!!!

Oh yeah...Ansley...she is SOOOOO girly! I can't believe it! Her little squeals are soooooo girly!!!! I love it!!!! All of her little noises are girly now!!!! They are less "baby" and just flat out "girly!" I'm in heaven! She is wonderful. She is a breath of fresh air. She is pure joy to my heart. Seriously. She is pure joy. She is full of complete joy! Her spirit is so full of life and happiness. I cannot really explain it. She is so content, so confident, so...aware that we love her so much. It's just written all over her. Pure Joy. She thinks that her brothers are the best thing since sliced bread, and she just hugs on them with her little short arms... :) She also smacks at them in the face when she doesn't want them and I'm holding her. LOL She wakes me up by pulling my hair [of course] and smacking me in the face [why not] but the sweetest thing in the world that the boys never did was wake me up also by hugging me. She puts her face on mine, cheek to cheek, and just holds me tight around my head/neck, as I begin to wake up. All the while with her paci in her mouth. It still amazes me how she just gets one and plops it right in. Yes, she has been doing that for months but it is so so sooooo cute! She is the only one that has taken a paci, so I do find it a little bit extra adorable.

Because she sleeps in our bed, it has put me in a pickle at naptime. Now she wakes up and can obviously crawl right off. And she doesn't wake up crying. So I really have to listen for her on the monitor. She will talk....:)))))

I have walked in on her many times lying awake in the bed, paci in her mouth, just hanging out...She is just sooooo cute!!!! I just cannot tell you how in love with her I am. My heart just bursts inside and I can't really express it!

She has amazing persistence. Last Monday was the first time she stood up all on her own without pulling up--just straight up from the ground without touching anything--and she was so excited she was cackling in her very girly voice and waving her hands all around, so very excited!!!! She gets really fired up! :) I didn't notice until she made such a commotion over herself! LOL Then she did it again, but didn't last as long. She keeps doing it. Tonight she did it like 10 times in a row. Oh and she loves that praise. She LOVES it. LOVES it!!! She has a great sense of humor, and we are so much like two peas in a pod and all I have to do is look at her a certain way and she will just crack up. That big wide smile behind that paci. :))))

Let me see...what else does she do? She recently mastered the sippy cup. Yes, she began holding her own bottle when I took that trip to Hawaii in May. I sat her in the stroller and reclined her just right to where it was a little easier on her. Still she's only done it like 5 or less times in her whole life. Mommy and daddy happily hold her bottle for her because she is only a baby once! So now she does eat her Graduates and drink her juice all by herself. She loves it! She is such an eater. She will eat anything we eat, and would way rather eat our food than baby food. Kevin just sticks a piece of pizza up to her mouth and she bites a piece right off. No joke. He's not right. lol

She is of course still in the she-drops-it-you-pick-it-up phase, too. That's kinda cute...kinda She has gotten to where she pulls out her hairbow after I put it in. Now she doesn't know what she is messing with there!!! That is not compromisable, as she is finding out. She can take it out 101 times, I will put it back in 102! She understands "No," and that little "Eh!" when she tries to put something in her mouth. What do I mean by tries...does, actually. She says, "Eh." nonchalantly back to us. hahahaha! When Talan naps on the couch, she goes over and over and over again to him to wake him up. She loves him so much :) I can bring her back, and she'll go right back. She's sneaky. And when I see her round that corner, I'll say, "Ansley!" and she will look back with the biggest grin in the world, and do her little laugh at me. She knows she's got me. :)

I have been blessed beyond belief with this child. Yes, the others are true blessings as well. But there's always something about knowing it's your last, and just allowing yourself to be overcome, since you're no longer trying to impress anyone or comparing's really about pure joy and enjoying life together. And yeah, it's a little chaotic around here. And it's all good :)

I have already ordered 2 birthday outfits for her. One from an etsy shop, one from Gap. I don't know what to do with them. I want her pictures in them, and then I also want her in them at her little party. What to do, what to do...

Oh. And it was told to me that I had to return to teaching this year. So no option for taking a 2nd year off after all. I'll deal with it; I'll live. But there have been a lot of changes taking place, and I'm not happy with any of them. So I'm totally bummed out with work right now. :(

Friday, June 11, 2010

Too Busy

Just a note to say that I have been overrun by photography stuff. Hope to blog sometime soon. Ansley is saying "Oh!" with 2 syllables. "O-oh!" in the cutest little girl voice in the world! She is pulling up and letting go [and falling]. She loves to take steps while you are holding onto her.

Riley made All-Stars! Yeah!!! He should have made it last year, but that's another story. He still needs to have his trigger thumb surgery re-done, but he's catching pretty well nonetheless. Just hard to open and close that glove at times. He's an excellent hitter. :)

Poor Spencer didn't make it this year. He moved up to kid-pitch, and moved up to a bigger bat, and the last several games hardly even swung. The pitches were just too hard and fast for him to line up and swing. I felt so bad for him. He got into trouble quite a bit for not swinging. I told him I didn't care if he hit the ball or not, he better swing. He ran a lot of laps for me. LOL. But after we talked, he let it out that it was less embarassing for him to not swing at all than to swing and miss. He just lost all confidence in his hitting, which broke my heart. Kevin stopped pitching with him in the yard long ago because he hits too hard and too far. So, sadly, Kevin never practiced at all with him as far as hitting goes this season. And he needed it. Especially this year, when the pitcher tries to throw it as hard as he can, so that they don't hit it. I practiced a few times with him with a hitting stick, but that just wasn't enough. Our nights have been so busy with church, games, practices, shoots, and oh yeah RAIN, that there were hardly any good nights for Kevin to take him alone to the field to practice hitting. Broke my heart. But, we will hopefully get him all ready for next year. His defense was amazing. He rarely missed a single ball this year--and trust me he got some lousy throws at him. He was definitely their best catcher and thrower--he throws very accurately in a play. :) He pitched, and was their #1 pitcher much of the season. [they were all first year pitchers, so that doesn't exactly mean he was amazing--just really good for 1st year] But his hitting just wasn't there. And it was our fault. KILLS me. :(

Talan is a mess! He's rotten as can be, and I love him to death. Ansley adores him, he adores her, and yet he is always into trouble because he keeps pushing the envelope with her! When she gets bigger she is really going to let him have it! LOL More later. No time for pics. I'll try to get them later.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Merry Christmas with the Moores!

Okay, so we actually got most of our wrapping done before Christmas Eve, which is quite unusual. All but 2 gift cards for presents were purchased 3 days before Christmas, which was even better! I've never been that ahead before. And yes, I consider that ahead! LOL! I have spent many years shopping 'til close on Christmas Eve...unhappily....

So Christmas Eve, Kevin had to work (of course). When he got home, we went to Grandma and Grandpa's for a while and hung out. She had dinner made, and we ate a bit, and just talked and stuff. Then, we left the boys, and took Ansley with us home know...get things "ready." We thought we wouldn't have a lot to do, but actually we did. There was also some picking up that had to be done, so that also put us behind. And I also wanted to take some Christmas studio pics of Ansley, but she was pretty uncooperative, so that didn't last long. So anyway, we head back to Grandma's at about 10:30 or so. We went ahead and opened gifts there, and had a great time. When we were little, Santa would come to Grandma and Grandpa's (we would stay all night there), and then we would come home and see that Santa had been there too. Through the years, the tradition got adjusted to where we opened gifts at midnight, that way everyone could still have a good night's rest in their own home. But this year, we went ahead and did it before midnight, as everyone was getting tired. We just said Santa would only come at our house, and that there wouldn't be a Santa gift at Grandma & Grandpa's. The boys and Ansley got lots of stuff there. Riley was a hit. He was sooooo happy about everything he got, and kept exclaiming every time he opened something, and then would thank whomever the gift was from. He made me pretty proud. I've always said that boy has the most grateful heart :)

Ansley was awake the whole time, and didn't fall asleep until nearly time to get in the car. She looked so very cute in her Christmas pjs.

Then we came home. We weren't "done" with everything, and had to just set everything in the playroom temporarily, so we told the boys to go straight to bed--and to hurry and get to sleep--before Santa came. Well, leave it to Spencer. He somehow snuck in to the living room and noticed that Santa had eaten his cookies and drank his milk, but hadn't left any gifts. Great. Spencer is going to be the end of me, I'm telling you. So Kevin told him we must have scared him off, and he's probably coming back. Talan was absolutely adorable. He was nearly quivering with fear that he wouldn't be asleep when Santa came back, and that he wouldn't get anything. I had to assure him many times. It sort of upset me, actually, how much this "Santa" thing meant to them. I know they're little, but still...Talan was really truly about to have a breakdown it seemed!

The kids ended up falling asleep pretty quickly. We finished what we needed to do, and then happily got into bed and waited for them to wake up. That morning they saw their unwrapped gifts from Santa, and opened the wrapped gifts from Mommy and Daddy. There weren't really any big wish list items this year. Their lists and wants were pretty much little things--nothing big like in years past. So in that respect, we lucked out! Spencer ended up with his DSi, and although I got it before he really really wanted it, he plays with it all the time and loves how it can take pictures. He also got one of those mini claw machines, which Talan seems to love more than he does. We figured Spencer would totally love it, as he is obsessed with them in stores, but...he is way more into the DSi.

Riley's main wish was for a T-Rex, so he got several dinosaurs that he plays with now. And he is a huge Wii fan, so he spends much of his time right now trying out all the new Wii and PS2 games that everyone got. The games are definitely his favorite. He also got a big monster truck that jumps over cars--he just loves the fact that it's so big, though. And one of those huge Nerf guns. It was nice that we didn't have to purchase anything big and electronic for him this year...only games. :)

Talan's fave is probably one of those bop bags, that we have had before. You know, the one where you can punch it down and it comes back up? Yep, that was his favorite gift until he cut a hole in it with scissors. That child, that child....I did tape it with duct tape, and will be checking to see if it keeps it sealed enough to keep that one until I can go get another. I got it from ToysRUs,and not sure if they have them at Wal-Mart or not... He got a 2 Wii games and a PS2 game, but Talan seems so anxious all the time, it's hard for him to stick with something. He gets frustrated and wants to quit. I hope to work more with him on that after the boys get back into school, and it's just us during the day. He also loves his new Thomas pieces and trains...he got a suspension bridge and tunnel, which of course cost a fortune in my opinion.

Ansley didn't get a whole lot...leggings, leg warmers (LOVE), tons of shoes and clothes, a teacup set, a play purse with stuff to go in it....not too too much, we thought we'd try to skimp on her this first year.

Kevin and I kept it simple--jeans for him and a sweater for me. We are soooo on a budget right now. Thank goodness that my parents still spoil me, or it would have been a total bummer. My fave gift is definitely my Coach purse and wallet from my mom. This one is just adorable...totally love it! Oh, and that Love and Luck perfume by Ed Hardy. It smells soooo good! And that LoveSpell lotion by VS. That smells soooo good too! Kevin and I both are loving all of that--perfume for me has been a rarity since I got pregnant with Spencer, and that was nearly 10 years ago! Now that I have found a new scent that I love, I wear it every time I've been out! Thanks to Steph for letting me smell it on her---it's delicious! And I'm soooo not a perfume girl! Well....I was before my first pregnancy....That has officially changed! I love smelling it! And my dad's main gift to me was photoshop. It is more useful than I originally had thought, as it was required by one specific lab that I use.

Okay, but the best thing about Christmas this year was that it was my first Christmas dinner at my house. At the beginning of our marriage, I kid you not that we were shuttling to about 6 different places on the 2 days of Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Now, I know that some say we are so "lucky" and "blessed" and that we should be "thankful," That sooooo wasn't happening! Christmas was a chore! I hated rushing here, rushing there, being starving because we weren't ever there at the time they ate...packing this, packing that. It was a total Christmas ruiner! Hated it. Hated it, hated it, hated it. So we have weeded out people out, and condensed it to just my Grandma & Grandpa's on Christmas Eve night, then mine and his parents on Christmas morning, then that evening at Kimo and Susan's in Farragut (my fave place, mainly bc it's the last stop of the night, and we can relax--the kids have kids to play with, and we usually play board games and have so much fun).

Well, I have been saying to Kevin for years that I want Christmas dinner at my house. And he has always been against it. (The kids get soooooo many gifts from so many different people, and he doesn't want to stress about putting it all up before company comes over)And he has always won. Well, I told him that it was enough, we had had it his way for 7 years, and sorry--but now it's my turn. I am a mother of 4. I obviously LOVE family traditions and anything like that...most people who want large families do...and it was my turn to have a tradition for my family. And so I did!!!!

It was chaotic! LOL! We were so rushed from picking up--we got home from my mom's at about 2:30, and people were coming at 6:00, and no cooking had been done yet! I was totally winging everything, and totally behind. But it got done!!!! (Kevin left all the gifts that weren't from us in the car--great idea!) And I had my Christmas tradition!!!! And it is my hope that when my children get older, they will know that Christmas dinner is at 6 or 7:00 at our house, and that that time slot belongs to me and our family! This tradition of mine excites me more than I can completely express. It is weird, because it's like a small dream come true for me. But, that's how I feel! So now, I hope to own that small piece of Christmas forever in my children's lives. (If they live close enough, of course).

So it was Mom & Jeff and Kimo & Susan and their children who came. It was wonderful. They had so much fun. Dinner was delicious. The only thing that could have made it better would be if my sister had stayed in town. She instead went to Cookeville, with her boyfriend, which kind of stunk. But, you can't win them all. We played a little game to open presents--a competitive game where you win a chance to start opening the gift by rolling a 7, then you try to open it with gloves, a hat, and a scarf on, and the person who actually gets to the gift on his/her turn is actually the winner of the gift--and I look forward to playing that every Christmas now. Very fun!!!! Kevin won us a $40 gift card to Connors/Chop House! Sweet! We got so many restaurant gift cards this year...I can't wait to use them right up!

So that was our Christmas. The first Christmas with our complete family. The first Christmas with our own family dinner at our house. The first Christmas with a little girl to dote on. I am so incredibly thankful....

And so there are the many pics that has been the root of all my slacking!!! And yes, some of them are on here twice, three times, four times. I just don't have the patience to fix it. I never even made it past the pics at my grandma's, so I'll just have to add a little as I go. I have to move on, or I'll miss the next 3 months as well!!! I'm so mad that I took this long and have missed so much! UGH!