We are now back on the road again, but are remembering the AMAZING time we had celebrating Christmas together! Last week, Brian and Silesia Wellbrock from Montgomery, TX called to offer their house to us for six days while they were out of town. We jumped on the chance to spend a week with no traveling! Their beautiful home sits on Lake Conroe, where the kids were able to roam free, be as loud as they want, and not "bother" anyone. It was such a unifying experience for the whole to be together and just be...us. The kids enjoyed fishing, playing ping-pong and air hockey, and having movie nights with the whole team. All the girls were piled in their "dream room"- a Paris theme with pink and purple decor.
I was determined to cook for the team for the entire week, and I plunged right in on our first night. I don't know that I've ever been more proud of myself! Everyone ate and then asked for seconds, and I discovered that I could do it just like my dad and my grandmother! I could cook for twenty people and enjoy it. That gave me the greatest sense of satisfaction...I've missed cooking so much since we left our house.
There are so many blessings that came out of this week. The kids were on their very best behavior the whole time. There was just this overwhelming feeling of togetherness and family that we often don't get to have because the kids are usually with host families. The kids begged and begged to help me in the kitchen, so they took turns for every meal preparing the food, setting the table, and cleaning up afterward. They played so well together...riding bikes and playing cards and board games.
From the very first day, Ashley and Prava and I set up shop in the master bedroom to wrap presents, with strict instructions that the children were never allowed to enter Uncle Jay and Auntie Taylor's bedroom. We had so much fun shopping for them...we are so thankful to the people who helped contribute to the Children of the World Christmas! We put post-it notes with each child's name on it around the entire room, separating toys into stacks for every child. Santa was very good to them this year! We wrapped for about three days straight, but we finally got it finished, and we could hardly wait to see their faces!
The children have embraced the idea of Santa Claus, and with that comes many, MANY questions. "How does Santa get back up the chimney?" "How do the reindeer fly?" "What does Santa do the rest of the year?" That part was so much fun. On Christmas Eve after we read the Christmas story from the Bible, I said we needed to put out milk and cookies for Santa. "WHAT??!!!" "How do you know he likes milk and cookies?" "Will he really eat them?" The saddest question is when they would ask, "What if he doesn't come?" They were so skeptical on that part. But when we said that Santa came if you believed, they would repeat over and over again, "Oh Auntie, I believe! I believe!" It was amazing seeing Christmas through their eyes.
Christmas morning far exceeded my expectations. Their excitement was so contagious! They stared in awe at the stockings and everything under the tree that Santa brought. Every present was examined with wonder as if they couldn't believe it was really theirs to keep. They opened the gifts slowly, savoring each box and even each piece of candy in the stocking. I was just so content watching them open everything...I never wanted it to end! Not once this Christmas did I think about what I was going to receive. I didn't care at all. All I cared about was that the kids know how much they are treasured and loved. I have never been more thankful than I was that morning. It was completely overwhelming. I think Martin summed it up best when he smile and said, "I don't know if I have ever been this happy."
The kids' first trip to see Santa Claus:
All the aunties and uncles on Christmas Eve:
Before the madness on Christmas morning:
We hope you all had a very blessed Christmas with your loved ones! More to come soon on ice skating, our Christmas Eve visit to Build-a-Bear, and our trip to Six Flags!