Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Eve Service- Advent Calendar Day 23

Eva pulled a little church shrinky dink out of the pocket yesterday, symbolizing one of our favorite Christmas traditions: attending the Christmas Eve (or in this case, Eve Eve) service at our church. This year, Eva got to participate by singing a song with her friends on stage. It was absolutely hysterical. Here is the proof...

Foster & Rowan aren't quite sure what happens next

Eva is equally confused


Foster & Rowan are settling in and feeling more comfortable

Rowan is getting crowded out here and Addie has no idea where she is supposed to go...
Oh, & Eva's dress is clearly too short (oops- should have tried it on).

The kids' clearly did not retain what was learned in their rehearsal.
None have a clue what is going on.

I think maybe one child is singing along with all the adults lined up in front of them.
 Addie still hasn't found a spot to stand on the risers yet.
At least a few of them are smiling...
Oh, and Addie found a spot directly behind Eva, whose feet are now precariously dangling off the front.
A nice test of balance.

Bennett leads the charge- time to sing, folks!

Foster and Eva show us how much fun they are having.

The boys' expressions here could change my foul mood anyday.
I'll be coming back to this photo frequently for a good laugh.

What should I be doing, mom?

Eden steps down- not quite sure when she got up there- and Eva's  test of balance just got a lot harder.
Oh, and Judah, how nice of you to join us :)

Eden is making a run for it- she's probably thinking there is no room for her.
She's got a point- look at Eva's feet...

Foster- "What's she doing?"
Eva- I can stay on these risers- YES I CAN!
Check out the Witmer girls- perfectly behaving and singing. How'd you do that, Kesh??
Judah- I don't think I need to say anything else about him.
Eden's heinie...
Foster- "I still don't know what I should be doing right now?!?!"

Poor guy- I think he just wants this to be over.

Eden has recovered beautifully

In the middle of the song- "I am going to be Mary and hold baby Jesus like this", she says very matter of factly.
What the heck?

Rowan- I promise this will be over soon!!
Does it seem like anyone is singing here?

She's so stinking cute!

Rowan is relieved it's over,
Foster is hoping that it is, &

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Can someone explain the joy of forts?

'Cause I'm always amazed that putting blankets over furniture never fails to bring endless amounts of fun :)
Today, we had a special treat- LUNCH IN THE FORT. Judah was over at our house while Jill went to the grocery store and when I said, "hey guys, wanna have lunch in your fort?", you would have thought I offered them something insanely wonderful. It was turkey, avocado, and cucumbers for Eva/peas for Judah, but they devoured it faster than any lunch I have ever served!

Advent Calendar Day 20, 21/22

So quite a few days went by without "officially" doing our Advent calendar. Here are the activities that were "supposed" to be on those days, but didn't make it because of my unexpected trip to Oklahoma. Some of them Eva did with her daddy anyways, but she didn't draw them out of the pocket (which just makes them a little more special and a little more fun)!

Watch a Christmas movie (The Veggie Tales Christmas movies are fantastic, I think, and Eva loves them)
Learn about St. Nicholas (the real one!)
Buy a gift
Enjoy a School Christmas Party/Performance
Serve someone
Make Christmas ornaments

On day 20, Eva drew a string of lights out of the pocket. On Sunday, Mike and I drove home from our wedding in Virginia and I hadn't seen my kids in almost a week! I was desperate to spend some quality time with them, so I thought it would be the perfect day to get in the car after dinner and baths and take a drive looking for amazingly decorated houses! Since Eva is a sucker for all things sparkly and twinkling, it was the perfect end to a long weekend. Every year, we visit a home on Hopewell Road near my parents house, because their decorations are just completely crazy and over the top, and we love it!

eating a "little treat"

Sam could hardly keep his eyes open for this adventure

the crazy house- this picture doesn't even remotely do it justice...

Eva wanted to get out for a better view of this one

On Day 22, she did both days 21 and 22's activities (day 21 kinda snuck by me)...
She pulled out a can of food and little baker shrinky dinks out of the pockets. The can of food represented donating food to our local food pantry. I explained to her that there are some people who don't have food, and a special way that we can honor Jesus is to serve other people by donating food to help them. She was very excited about this and listened intently to what I was saying. We will do this later tonight.
The little baker represented a day of baking Christmas cookies. Now, I am not much of a baker, and this was supposed to be an activity she would do with Grammie Whitnah (my mom). However, with her being with MY Grammie in Oklahoma indefinitely, this little activity fell squarely on my shoulders- much to my dismay... We made what I had ingredients for- peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses on top- and she thoroughly enjoyed the process and the results. I must say that I am excited for her to enjoy this activity next year with her Grammie- this is as it should be :)
Her are a few pictures:

This is her expression when I was explaining that there are people who don't have food to eat- she was pretty concerned about this.

she takes the unwrapping of the kisses very seriously

like how she lined up the kisses?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Oklahoma I went...

My daily "Advent Calendar" posts quickly took a back seat last week when I got the news that I knew I'd get someday about my mom's mom. It's just that, despite knowing it would come, it was the last thing I wanted to hear.  My dear, precious 95 year old Grammie is sick, and hospice was coming so that she could live out her days in her own home. My mom was with her in Oklahoma when she got sick and went into the hospital. She cared for her along with her brothers and nieces and bore part of the burden to make decisions about what would happen next. She listened to all the doctors and nurses and finally called to tell me that they were going to try to get her home with hospice care so she could be more comfortable. My Grammie has lived alone, independently, in her home for the past 26 years since my Papa died. She just gave up driving a few years ago. She is witty and one of the funniest people you could ever know. She is kind and incredibly generous. She is sincere. She tells it like it is and is not afraid of your reaction; she tells the truth. She has the funniest stories and, even though you've heard them 16 times before, you can't help but crack up every time. And she is BEAUTIFUL. Like, beauty queen beautiful. She was, in fact, a beauty queen- for real (I've seen the pictures)!

Tuesday was one of the most stressful days that I can remember. I was on the phone with my mom throughout the entire day getting updates. There were times when she said she thought Grammie was going to die within a few hours, then a few days, then back to a few hours, then she possibly had a week. I had to make a decision regarding whether I would go or not. Complicating things was the fact that my mom was going to watch my kids last weekend so Mike and I could go to a wedding in Virginia- one that I was also doing the floral arrangements for. My dad got on the first flight that he could that evening and I had made the decision NOT to go- Grammie was looking like she wouldn't make it long enough for me to get out there and I didn't want to go if I wasn't going to see her alive. Within a few more hours it looked like she would hang in, and so we were going (ALL of my siblings).

After an eternity on the phone figuring out the flights (complicating an already complicated process was that I had to get a different flight than everyone else to take me into Norfolk for the wedding on the way home), we all got tickets to fly out at 6:00 am the next morning (Wed)- this, of course, meant we had to leave our house at 3:00am. By the way, American Airlines has a "compassion fare" if your flight is roundtrip to the same destination (my dad, Ran, Sara, and Jill got this rate- still outrageous, but better than most last minute tickets). Apparently they do not have compassion when you have to be at a wedding in another state instead of going home (my ticket was almost as much as we make in a week). My parent's graciously offered to help with the cost of the ticket because they wanted us to have this opportunity- it was really worth any price to all of us.

Anyhow, after figuring out what in the world to do with the kids, talking to Mike about all that needed to happen over the next couple of days (including dealing with the delivery of flowers for the wedding), packing for Oklahoma AND the rehearsal dinner and wedding, I finally got to bed around 12:00am. Jill, Sara, and I left for the airport at 3:00 am. The daddies had to take off work and they were on their own! Ran flew in late that night after missing a flight and losing his computer (which was miraculously held for him at the airport- Praise the Lord!!), so Heather was on her own, too! A special thanks to my sister-in-laws and mother-in-law for their help with the kids. I am not sure I could have gone if it weren't for them, and Mike certainly would not have been able to come to the wedding. You all are amazing!!!

The short time I was in Oklahoma was surreal and totally unforgettable. The 2 days I was there were torturous in some ways- she was so clearly suffering. She looked terrible and was confused most of the time I was there. Her hospice nurse told us that her death was "imminent". Sitting in Grammie's living room having all those conversations with the hospice workers about what to expect, what to do/not do- my word, I didn't think I could take anymore! But, God granted me a very special gift. The night before I had to go (another early flight Friday morning), I spent some time alone in Grammie's room. I told her I just wanted to talk to her and she didn't need to talk back. But, she did. She answered me and asked questions, and just shared with me. She told me that she "never in a million years dreamed I would live this long after my Paul died". She said, "I have had such a great life!" She asked about the kids and I got a chance to tell her what they were up to and how much they would love her if they got to be there. I told her that I was happy that she would see Papa soon, and that I didn't think I would ever see her again on earth. She told me "not to be so sure about that" and said that "there should be a moratorium on being this sick at Christmas". She was confused about the time of day and what day it was and how far Christmas was- I reminded her over and over but she just couldn't seem to retain it. We told each other how much we loved each other. We talked for at least 10 minutes, but that is all I can really remember about our conversation. Even still, I will never forget those moments. She was very alert and was truly "there" with me.

After I left, she started to really come around. My 95 year old Grammie who got pnuemonia on top of pulmonary fibrosis is not dying. We don't necessarily think she has all that much time left, but she is not dying yet! My mom and dad are staying in Oklahoma for Christmas and I know it will be so special for everyone who gets to be there with her. Christmas here at home will be different without them here- we will do our celebration with them sometime after they get home. But, I am so glad that Grammie's last Christmas will be with ALL her kids and most of her grandkids and great-grandkids.

Here is a picture of my dear little Grammie with me on our wedding day (will be 8 years ago in May):

She's one of the best people I know in this world.

I'll get back to the Advent Calendar posts asap :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 11 & 12

Day 11's pocket held a little letter. Today was the day to prepare our Christmas cards to be mailed, and Evangeline got to help! We talked about why we send cards- to let our friends and family know how we are doing and how God has blessed us this year! We also send them to wish all the wonderful people in our lives a Merry Christmas! We hope that our card reminds them of all the blessings in their lives, too!
So, off to address, stamp, and stick! Eva loved it and I didn't even mind that our addresses were crooked, and sometimes double stamped, and our stamps were only sometimes in the upper right corner. She had fun and we spent time together.

I blurred out our street, but you get the idea of what some of our addresses look like!

On day 12, I knew Evangeline would be almost beside herself with excitement. Today was the 2nd annual family Gingerbread House Extravaganza! She drew a little Gingerbread house shrinky dink out of the pocket and asked, "Are we really gonna do them, mom!?!" (I'm not a fan, but lately, at least 50% of the time, my 2 year old calls me "mom"- it's horrible, but I'm trying not to let it get me down!)
We hosted last year's party, and my sister-in-law, Dawn, hosted this year. So, off to Caleb's house we went for an opportunity to inhale more candy than she has consumed in an entire year. She decorated a little; she ate A LOT. And, by "a lot" I mean at least 2 pounds. I thought she was going to vomit at any moment. I almost wish she did. It may have been a stretch, but we talked about how spending time with our family is important, especially at Christmas. We talked about how giving our time to spend with those we love shows them that they are special to us! The party may have been cut short for Evangeline as the result of a tornado of a meltdown, but it was still a lot of fun :)


We're the Wells family. We currently consist of Michael (husband and daddy), Lauren (wife and mama), Evangeline (daughter and princess), and Samuel (son and prince). We live a pretty simple life loving the many blessings that God grants us each and every day.
Mike is a genius carpenter/contractor and works throughout neighboring counties. Lauren stays at home with Eva and Sam most of the time, but works a few days a week as a therapist.
More than anything else, we love being together as a family- trips to the gardens, swimming at Grammie and Papa's house, and bike rides & walks are probably our most frequent activities. We're surrounded by our family (siblings and parents); they all live within 30 minutes of us!
That's us in a nut shell.
We're thankful you dropped by our site!