Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Most Unusual Holiday... Christmas 2008

This is my 200th post... and it is very fitting that it falls on my last post for the year 2008 - CHRISTMAS.

This holiday season was a year of many firsts...

This was the first Christmas for Sara with our family. We were so excited to watch as she soaked in each aspect of the holiday season!

This was also the first year we have had so MANY different celebrations! We celebrated Christmas with Mamoo and Papoo on the 14th of December, Christmas Eve was spent with Papa and Deedee in Stamping Ground, Christmas Day we were home... and Pop and Nini came up 2 days after Christmas and stayed with us for 4 days!

This was also the first Christmas in my 42 years... that I was not with my Mother on Christmas Day. It very nearly brought me to tears for the entire month before Christmas - and still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

This was also the first Christmas that we actually stayed HOME for the entire day on Christmas Day. Jamie, Chuck and Briana came out to our house... and we had Christmas with them here. Not once since I have left home have I ever had Christmas Day at my own house... where our children could actually open and then play with the toys that they received. It was a little surreal... and a little sad... but it was actually kind of nice to have a low key day with the family. We have so few of those.

Despite the fact that our holiday season lasted well over 3 1/2 weeks... it seems that it went by so fast!! I wonder if Sara will expect a 3 1/2 week holiday next year??? She truly enjoyed the holidays - but even with all the fun and activity... there were times she would become quiet and almost melancholy. I know that she still has so many memories of Guatemala and her life there... and while we only talked about it briefly... her thoughts turned to that life many times. She spoke of it only a few times - and only when we were alone. We continue to pray for Sara and her adjustments to home. It has been only 8 months - and she has done so well!

Tim and I have been so blessed. We are blessed with wonderful families, wonderful friends - and four very precious and incredible children. God has been so good and so faithful to us... and we are forever grateful! As 2008 winds to a close... we are reminded of how much our life has changed over the past year! There have been so many blessings added - so many burdens lifted - so many prayers answered! We are thankful for each and every one... and we look forward to 2009 with great anticipation! God Bless you and yours!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cookies, Candy, A Letter To Santa and The Parade

We had an extra day of baking and candy making. The kids LOVE baking day. We sample the cookies and candy until we are very nearly sick...and then we lay around and watch Christmas movies. I like to call it "FAT DAY". It's one of my personal favorites.
The kids divided up into teams - and Tim was in charge of "Grandma's Secret Chocolate Fudge".

Ali and McCaleb made Tollhouse Cookies... and they did a great job!

Sara and Rachel were in charge of butterscotch haystacks. Once we got enough wax paper put down... they whipped out an enormous batch of the best haystacks ever!

After the cooking... the kids sat down to write their letters to Santa. This is always Tim's special time with the kids. I usually remain in a neutral location... but this year there was soooo much activity - while taking pictures I had to help answer some basic questions. "Mommy... how do you spell helicopter?" "Mommy...I asked Santa for a new puppy." and my personal favorite... "Mommy...can Santa bring JD back to us??" ahhhh... they are so sweet.

At the end of the day - we headed into Paris for our first ever Christmas Parade. It was cold and rainy... but the kids had a BLAST! A local church served hot chocolate, and homemade cookies... usually the way to my heart. But after we had already eaten so many cookies, candy and fudge...ewwwww. However, it was especially fun for the kids, as we knew several people that were IN the parade, and as the floats would go by - the kids would hear people shout... "THERE ARE THE HANKS KIDS!!" They are such rock stars in our little town... or at least that's what they think. All they know is that parades are fun! You get hot chocolate, cookies... and people throw candy at you! What more could you ask for??

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting Ready For Christmas

There was sooooo much going on this year as we got ready for the holidays... I am still trying to get "caught up" on my sleep. However, somehow during the months of November and December I managed to take almost 2000 photos! I am serious!

Since it was Sara's first holiday decorating the tree and making cookies... and since Mom and Dad moved to Arizona and we had so many different Christmas celebrations... and things were so disorganized and out-of-order... here are just a few photos of the tree decorating and the cookie baking (that were obviously not on the same day.)

Sara completely enjoyed the entire holiday experience. Sadly for Sara... her very first time seeing Santa Claus occurred when she and I made a quick shopping trip to TSC in Georgetown. For those of you that are "city folk" out there - that is the local TRACTOR SUPPLY COMPANY. Yes, that's right... you wait for 2 years to come home to your forever family, you are 9 years old, this is your very first "real" Christmas season... and you get your very first glimpse of ol' Santa right there in the local Tractor Supply. And no... she didn't get to sit on his lap and tell him what she wanted. It was "bring your pet to TSC" day! When we saw him he had a small terrier mix sitting in his lap!

So there you have it! A story to always remember and tell her own children some day! :)

At the end of the day... the kids really enjoyed kicking back to watch "Polar Express."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Seventh Heaven!!!

My mind is still spinning when I think of it... but ALI IS NOW SEVEN YEARS OLD! I know... when did it happen?? Where did the time go?

I think back on the first time we saw her face. Those haunting eyes... so sad... almost a very old soul in a tiny little body. And then a year later, meeting her for the first time. Her little cherub face...and how she was so slow to warm up... and even harder to get her to dmile. I never realized at that time that she had an ounce of fat... but when you look back at pictures... she has these sweet little chubby cheeks. (I think they were always overshadowed by Rachel's much LARGER chubby cheeks...)

As much as Ali pushed me away those first few months... she also clung to me with a fierceness that took my breath away... and still does to this day.

Time has gone by so quickly. I sometimes don't know if things will ever slow down!!!

We really try to have a special day for each of the kids on their birthdays...and we let them choose what the activity will be. For Ali's day - she wanted to go to lunch at Ruby Tuesday. (Actually, she calls it Ruby's Tuesdays... and I include that so she and I never forget it.)

She also asked for a LEMON CAKE with YELLOW ICING. UGH!!! OK... let's just keep in mind that this is the child that always wants purple. Thank goodness I had ONE can of white icing on hand... and I was able to color it yellow and add flavoring to it to pass it off as lemon icing. (Read: sigh of relief!)

Ali also picked Poppy Chicken for dinner... she loves to eat and I honestly don't think I have ever cooked anything that she hasn't liked. She is very easy to please... and always willing to try new things. She helped with her cake... and she helped with dinner.

We had presents - which is always a big hit! Ali spent a lot of time reading each card sent to her, and the ones that her brother and sisters made for her. Her other big request for the day was that she was able to cut her own cake and serve everyone. That is her new big thing... she loves to set the table and serve food.

Ali has really matured so much this year!! You can't imagine the difference the past year has made. You can read more about it on the post prior to this... but suffice it to say that this year we have so much to be thankful for.

Ali had a wonderful day!

We celebrated a few days later with Mamoo, Papoo and Briana in Lexington. Daddy had to fly to Florida... so it was just Mommy and the kids. But we had lots of fun!

I can't believe how quickly time is going by... I am amazed and in awe of this precious, sweet child... and cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for her!