Thursday, December 31, 2015

More Christmas in Conway

Aaron's mom was gracious enough to wait until well after Christmas to celebrate with our family.  I think it was a great idea!

All of the grandchildren were available to come on Tuesday, and we enjoyed a slow day of eating yummy food, playing games, and visiting together.

I'm so grateful for this lady who raised my awesome husband and helped mold him into the man he is today.

What a fun bunch of cousins!

Our Christmas celebrations keep extending and growing, and we're so grateful for the opportunity to be in the same country so we can hug necks and share space.  We don't take this time together with family for granted.

More Christmas Celebrations

I have some of the neatest family members ever.  We just love hanging out with my aunt and uncle and any of their adult children who are available to come over.
One of my favorite things about their home on this visit (besides the people) is this beautiful Christmas tree.  I can't even imagine how many hours my aunt spent cutting out the intricate ornaments and garlands.

Monday morning, we drove down to visit them.
We played Apples to Apples, Pit, and lots of basketball.

My uncle can put some air under those shoes!

We enjoyed such a sweet visit, like we always do:  discussing everything from theology to recipes to homeschool books, laughing together, encouraging one another.

We're so grateful to be related to these amazing people, and we're thankful they opened their home to us once again!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Williams Christmas

After Christmas morning at our house, we drove (and Benjamin biked) over to my parents house for a Williams' Christmas.

Four of my five siblings made the trip to Arkansas from far-away places like Minnesota,


and Kansas.  I got to spend time with both of my grandmothers, too!

We played outside,

spent time with a Williams cousin,

and took lots of family pictures.

We decided that our family has the best "outlaws" ever.  These four have married into quite an interesting family and have embraced us crazy people to the fullest.

In fact, my youngest brother said that these awesome in-laws of his would make it difficult to find a wife who could match their reputation.

Friday's celebration spilled over into Saturday,

My nephew, Shannon, got some Transformers for Christmas, and it took a whole couch of grownups to figure out how to make the vehicles change into robots.

And Sarah was the best cousin ever to play Transformers with Shannon.  Between the two of them, we heard lots and lots of exciting sound effects!

The Googly Eyes game went down to an exciting finish!

Sunday morning, those of us who were still in town went to church together,

then came over to our house for lunch and one last round of hugs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas morning

On Christmas Eve, Aaron and I had the honor of playing our cellos as a part of the service at church.  It was a sweet time of worship, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy playing my cello in praise to the Lord (especially when I'm making music alongside my awesome hubby).  I'm still pretty rusty, but God doesn't care if I miss a note here and there!  My parents and two sets of siblings' families joined us for the service, then we all went to my parents' home for some yummy potato soup.

Christmas morning at our house has always been slow and sweet.  I love that the focus is on Jesus and the gifts He gives us, not the gifts under the tree.

Gingerbread waffles on the breakfast table is one of the traditions we can take with us, no matter where we live.

And this year, the table was extra beautiful because of the depression glass berry bowls and serving dish we found on sale at an antique store downtown.  My awesome family went together and bought me a set as my Christmas present.

Watching the kids give gifts to each other is a joy.  The gifts ranged from Katherine dancing to one of Benjamin's favorite songs, to Benjamin writing a parody of "Mary Did You Know?" (except it was "Sarah Did You Know?") for Sarah, to Sarah crocheting a pair of lovely mittens for Katherine.

Each gift was heartfelt and personal and beautiful reflection of the giver.  Just like God's good gifts that He lavishes upon us.

"So the Word became human and made his home among us.  He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son....From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another." 
John 1:14, 16 NLT

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in Memphis

We have some really great neighbors in our section of town.  The houses are old and full of character, but not so old and fancy that you feel like you have to tiptoe around.  And the families that live in these houses are full of character, too!  Some of our sweet neighbors threw a neighborhood Christmas party last Monday night, and we thoroughly enjoying getting to know our neighbors better (and discovering who was really good at Pictionary!).

Tuesday morning, we left early for Christmas with the Choate side of the family.  One of our family traditions is to read Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" out loud.  This year, we took advantage of our library's audio books and listened to a recording as we drove down Interstate 40.

We knew that some rough weather was headed our way, so soon after our arrival and some lunch, we headed outside to play ball with the cousins and get some wiggles out before we were stuck inside with all of the Christmas goodies.

Darkness drove us inside where we helped cook and worked on the traditional Christmas puzzle.  Oma always keeps us very well fed when we're at her house.

Wednesday morning, Aaron and his brother-in-law left early to go pick up Gran Choate before the speedy line of storms reached Memphis.  Pop stayed in the nursing home, which was really hard for all of us.  But we were so grateful that Gran was willing to come over and celebrate with us.

While we still had some sunshine, I took our kids and a cousin over to a local park to run around and play outside.

This girls loves her Pittsburg Steelers.  She does a good job of monitoring the players on her fantasy football team.  Our beloved SITAG and Aaron's brother make up our league, so it's ton of fun to play along.

Aaron and his brother-in-law made it back to Memphis with Gran in plenty of time to beat the storms.

We watched the Christmas movie marathon,

enjoyed a Christmas feast,

and opened presents (with a little help from a cousin sitting on Benjamin's belly).

Thursday morning came quickly and Oma cooked another big breakfast to fuel us up for the drive home.

And we hugged necks and were grateful for the time we got to spend with family who is usually spread all over the globe.

Next to Jesus, family is one of God's best gifts!