I love that Christmas feeling…it does my heart so much good

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That’s a line from a fun Christmas song on a Bing Crosby CD I have (Here it is on youtube “That Christmas Feeling”) 🙂  So now I’ve got some Christmas feeling making me all tingly and happy because, even though it’s January 3, I’m just about to post some Christmas pictures, so that brings it all back. 🙂  Or it could be the Single Serving Mocha Mug Cake that I just made in two minutes in the microwave that is giving me this huge grin….Not fifteen minutes ago I felt like throwing my computer through the window because something was either slowing it down or messing up the internet — and then I tried to use the time wisely by practicing my chanter as I waited for the websites to load – but the real trouble was that I needed a snack PRONTO since I had recently nursed Daniel, and the recipe was trapped at the bottom of the page down which I could not scroll!!! Argghh!!! Practicing the chanter wasn’t working either, because my hands were shaking a bit, and focus was severely lacking, so I was messing up left and right.  Finally, the coveted recipe was obtained, and I rushed into the kitchen to concoct this little gem.  It’s from Chocolate Covered Katie’s healthy dessert blog, so it had some stevia in it to replace a bit of the sugar, as well as coconut oil for the fat, and no eggs in it.  I doubled it and am having trouble eating the whole “two servings,” but perhaps as the evening comes to its close and I sit here with hot tea, my laptop to blog, my electronic practice chanter to work on memorizing tunes, and John’s laptop next to me for watching the “Call the Midwife” Christmas Special, I just may be able to polish it off. 🙂

So to recap, I can’t go back very far because it is all sort of foggy 🙂  I know on the 2oth there was a cookie exchange at my house for the ladies from a homeschooling email group in the area, and then we spent a few days anticipating the arrival of my parents and cleaning things up a bit.  They fly standby (because my mother retired from an airline after 22 years), and on Friday night the 21st they were so close to making the flight from Houston, that their bags arrived safely and Gabriel and I picked them up on our way home from a Costco run.  I feel like something went on after that for which I was a bit late….what was it….a babysitter for something.  That’s what it was!  But for what….?  I think John and I must have gone out to a movie?  Ah HA!! John tells me it was The Hobbit. 🙂  That was a fun movie, and one which we had eagerly awaited.  We are big fans of Tolkien and have even given our children middle names from his works.  Really.

Saturday was spent expecting them to arrive the morning of Christmas Eve.  I have no idea what else we did, but probably it involved Christmas shopping?  My goodness, my memory is so blurry!!  On Sunday we all wore tartan to church and took this picture with our new friend Carrie and her daughter because they were both in kilts as well.  Only in a Presbyterian church!! 🙂

Daniel enjoying his thumb

Daniel enjoying his thumb

Later that afternoon – perhaps around 2:30pm – I happened to call my parents to see how the flights were shaping up.  Lo, and behold, they were at the airport in Houston, about to [hopefully] hop on a flight to Charleston!!! Needless to say, we were super-excited to pick them up a whole day earlier, and the kids were all so cute with their greetings.  I picked them up with just one or two children in the car (no idea whom), so when we arrived home, Greer came screaming out the door, shouting, “Grandma! Grandpa!!!”  It was SO CUTE.  Especially since she’s only just turned 2 four months ago – so nice to see her recognizing them so well.  Definitely it is from all the “facetime” on our iphones!! Claire ran out to say, “Oh!! I missed you SO MUCH!!” (She had, of course, seen them as recently as late September.)  That night we had some delicious black bean soup from the freezer. (I was so thankful to have things ready to go for feeding a crowd!)

My mom and I went out during the day on the 24th to Whole Foods for a few last minute items, thoroughly enjoying the coffee bar and the samples throughout the store. 🙂

Later that night, we started our present opening, following our pattern (my newest attempt at reducing the number of gifts the children receive – still need to work on buying fewer presents, though) of opening gifts for three days instead of one, in reference to the “three” wise men (yes, I know, there is not any evidence of three wise men, just the three gifts which are mentioned.)   This first night was for opening things from Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles.  John’s parents sent us some homemade biscotti (made by his father), some wonderful gift cards for the children from Barnes & Noble, and handmade gifts for us from his mom – a hat for John, and an infinity scarf for me.

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My Aunt Helen had sent a few sweet bracelets and hair things – for the girls – an ornament for Daniel and one for us, and a wallet for Gabriel which fastens with velcro around his wrist.  I think I’ve seen it off of his wrist for only a few hours since Christmas Eve.  Then it was on to my parents’ gifts, some of which we modeled:

My mom made hats for all the girls.

My mom made hats for all the girls.

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There were some other nice things – the Polly Pocket set in Claire’s hand above is one of them, a light-up tracing board for Patience, and a Lego set with moving parts (using rubber bands) for Gabriel.  They gave us some lovely gift cards as well as a purse for me and a gift I can’t display for John.  It’s a huge towel (you could call it a beach towel, but it’s purpose if for use when getting out of the shower) that looks like a kilt.  When he wears it, there is even a sporran and a belt in front.  Very funny. 🙂  Greer’s present was a HUGE hit with her – a set with two tiny baby dolls, a tiny booster seat with a tray, and a little pottie.  She knew just what to do with those right away!!

Greer opening her baby doll set

Greer opening her baby doll set

Aww. Tears.  From watching “Call the Midwife.”  So touching.  So much.  If you haven’t picked up the books yet that I gushed about months ago, you can at least catch an outstanding film version online.  I watched the episodes on the PBS website (They aired originally in England while we lived there on the BBC) a few months back, so I’m not sure how much is still available on the web, other than this Christmas special.  There were several episodes and then this Christmas special.  Wonderful stuff.

Back to the Armstrong Christmas special now 🙂  We ate the traditional Christmas Eve dinner after our presents – which for my family growing up was kielbasa, heated up and inside a yummy loaf of French bread.  Sausage sandwiches, we call it.  It’s fun now that my brother and I carry on the tradition in our own ways.  At our house it’s with spicy brown mustard and the healthiest loaves we can find or make.  Not sure how my brother does it.  Growing up, the sandwiches always followed our return from the candlelight 10pm service, and we’d eat them while opening our gifts.  French’s yellow mustard and soft but crusty Italian loaves.

I’m not going to finish off the Christmas post just yet, as Christmas Day was a big event this year and very full for us.  Definitely deserving of its own post, and I’m tired now from a day full of busy nothings. 🙂  I did ride another 20 miles on the stationary bike – and yesterday, too – so my legs are a bit tired.  Now that Christmas has come and gone and the house has been in good enough shape for guests (don’t get me wrong, there are still a TON of boxes in the garage and two of the bedrooms upstairs, and bare walls everywhere but in the downstairs – meaning weeks and weeks more of working on the house) I have been starting to concentrate on memorizing the new tunes for my pipe band.  Perhaps some day soon I will stop looking like an imbecile at practice and will really show them that I do belong in the group. 🙂  On that “note” I am going to put in a bit more time on the chanter before heading off to sleep, in the hopes of sounding better than I did a few hours ago. 🙂  I will leave you with one sneak peek of Christmas Day:

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