Sunday, January 1, 2012

Our Tender Tennessee Christmas

I've always wanted a Tennessee Christmas ~ Ever since Amy Grant sang about it all those years ago, I had a picture in my mind of snow covered rolling hills, twinkling lights, peace.  

OK, so it wasn't exactly like that.  We had mist instead of snow, 50 degrees instead of icy cold, and a houseful of people, but it was totally perfect to me.  My whole family was together for Christmas in Tennessee and that made it just right.

Natalie and David's home was decorated so pretty for Christmas.  Our gifts pretty much took over the living room.  Loving it!
After the stockings were opened on Christmas morning,  Harper dug into her gifts!  Lots of squeals from that little Sweet Pea!
 Papa Diddy and Gigi pre-recorded The Nativity and The Night Before Christmas for Harper to "read".  She loved listening to it!
 Katie's happy!
 Ella Kate slept through most of her first Christmas ~ Santa gave her the owl bubby...
 Mom and David looking over something he opened...???
Bows, headbands ~ woo hoo!
 Carol put some humor into my gift!
(I loved my clothes and Starbucks G.C. and beans!!)
 This was part of the gift from Carol/Sid and David/me for our mama.  The rest of her gift had to wait until the following Tuesday when they celebrated Christmas with Bill's sons.  Ron gave her a Keurig coffee maker and we got her the big box of assorted coffees/teas/etc.  So we made her wait so not to spoil Ron's surprise!

They loved the ear warmers from us.
Sleepy Girl ~

I could just gaze at Ella Kate forever.
I seriously love this girl with my entire heart.

AND ~ I love these girls just as much!  Beautiful!

 Getting goofy~

GREAT picture of Mom and Bill!
I love my new bag from Katie ~ good taste, I must say so myself...

The one thing I wanted more than anything this trip was a good family picture so I could attempt to do a late Christmas/New Year's card to our friends.  It just didn't happen.  Sorry friends!  So here was our attempt to at least get in a picture of all of us, minus Ms. Harper who was fast asleep.

We did manage to get the four generation pictures while my mama was still there.  I'll treasure these!
 First, with Natalie and Ella Kate ~
then with Lindsey and Harper.
Four generations of loving hands.  
Don't you LOVE how Ella Kate wrapped her little hand around her mama's thumb? PRECIOUS.

Finding out what 'cousin time' means!
Too cute

Play time with Harper's new blocks...

 Building with Harper's mama and Aunt Katie ~
and with her Grandpa Diddy ~ who, by the way, she started calling "Papa".  So "Papa" it is!

Cuddle time with Leslie Jordan
The girls had their sparkling Merry Christmas toast.

We got out to the mall ~ Can.You.Believe.It? ~ the day after Christmas to do a little shopping.
 The stroller brigade.
Gigi and Papa attempting a brain freeze on our little Harper.

 and Buffalo Wild Wings squeals at lunch.
Lookout Cowboys

And to finish off this long picture-filled blog, I leave you with our Santa Baby...
who is our newest Christmas blessing.

God has truly blessed our family beyond belief in 2011.  We've had some really crazy ups and downs, but the 'ups' are so wonderful that we can't let the 'downs' overshadow them.  It's been a year of growing in faith ~ learning to live with what we know to be true and not worry about what may never be.  David is in his 2nd round of chemo and tolerating this round a little better than the first.  We pray that he will be completely free of ALL cancer and the chemo will be successful.  We look ahead to 2012 knowing that God is already there, ready to walk through another 365 days of highs and lows, but He is our steady guide.
God bless your family, also, in 2012.  

Happy 2012

Meeting Ella Kate and her Dedication Day!

Five days after I landed back in Tulsa, we loaded the car and set out on our return trip to Tennessee for Christmas.  It was like sucking in your stomach all the way to the spine to get all the luggage and gifts into the trunk.  But we did it!  5 a.m. ~ Tennessee here we come!

We met Lindsey, Brian, and Harper at a Cracker Barrel in Arkansas for breakfast and then followed each other the rest of the way to Natalie's house.  It rained almost all the way through Arkansas and Tennessee so there wasn't much to see except spray from behind all the cars and truck. Blah.
Ms. Harper loves her books!

But good news!  We got there safe and sound ~ Katie and Seymore arrived 2 days earlier, so she already got some good Ella Kate bonding time in.  So sweet!
Even Seymore got in some sweetness with our baby girl.
But the BEST thing was that Grandpa Diddy got to meet his little grandbaby for the first time.  L.O.V.E.

We just relaxed and enjoyed our family.  Perfect!
And to make Christmas over-the-top wonderful, my mama and Bill came to spend Christmas with us from Indiana!  They got to meet Ella Kate for the first time and become buddies with Ms. Harper again!

Lovin' that Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa time!

Seymore had to leave bright and early on Christmas Eve to make it to Shawnee, Oklahoma to spend Christmas time with his son, Ray.  So he got to open his gifts on Friday night.  

Then WHOA!  The unexpected ~ Poor Harper got the stomach bug Friday night and had to leave early. I felt so badly for her!  Natalie quarantined herself and Ella Kate and I started praying hard that no one else, especially David would come down with it.  Prayers were answered.  Well, Brian's stomach wasn't doing too great, but he attributed that to a lousy coney dog at lunch and deadly hot chicken wings...haha.

Christmas Eve will forever be one of my most favorite Christmas memories EVER.  We all met at Journey Church for their Christmas Eve service.  David and his singing buddy, Leslie Jordan, (All Sons & Daughters) led worship ~ A.MAZ.ING!!!  But the best part was Ella Kate's dedication.  There's a video somewhere, I just haven't laid my hands on it yet...

But here's the BEST part.  She was laying there all quiet and sleepy.  When their pastor said, "Let's pray", Ella Kate immediately stretched out her hand to the sky and just left it there!  Everyone laughed so hard!  He said she was praising God!  PRICELESS!  It meant so much to have our entire family there to see our grandbaby dedicated to the Lord.

Can you see her little hand lifted up?
Here's her Dedication Day photo op:

She has stolen our hearts!

This was the beginning of a fabulous Tennessee Christmas!  Keep reading to find out about our Christmas!

Still Praising God in Tennessee!