Christmas Break Pictures (Better Late Than Never)

The Christmas decorations have been down for a few weeks now, the tree has been picked up from the curb, and the lights are all tucked away in the attic for next year. We are back to our pre-Christmas routine: school, ballet, and basketball. We took a long Christmas break -- stopping school a week earlier than we usually do -- and I had lots of big plans and good intentions. I had planned to give the house a thorough cleaning out and give away and throw out junk that had accumulated. I had lots of little household fix-it projects that needed to be done. I wanted to do more Christmas baking and crafts. And I wanted to be finished with everything so that in the week or so leading up to Christmas we could slow down -- watch movies, play games, sit in the glow of the tree, and drink hot chocolate.  Well, how does the verse go? "Man makes plans, but God directs his steps."

I didn't really get any of my household projects done. And the Christmas baking and crafts -- didn't do much of that either. And as far as slowing down goes ... well, we have four kids in the house and one in college so even when we're not busy with school and activities there is still a lot going on. And the fact that I'm writing this Christmas post three weeks after Christmas shows just how behind I am. But that's OK. We had a good Christmas break. It was Oliver's first Christmas, and instead of cleaning out closets and doing things that I "needed" to do, I enjoyed our last "first Christmas." It only comes once and it's gone in a blink.

Here are lots of pictures of our break that I meant to post throughout December:

Jack Henry was a shepherd in our church's Christmas pageant. There are lots of things I love about our church. One of them is that our choir leader can put on a beautiful program with all the kids and only have two rehearsals.

My dad has come down for many years between Thanksgiving and Christmas to help the kids hang our Christmas lights. This is a huge blessing and also almost always includes a trip to Ron's Hamburgers for lunch.

The Christmas after Anne Marie died, my dad brought this nativity scene that he had made. I won't ever forget that Christmas -- in the midst of our deep sadness there were bright spots as well. Every year when I put this out I remember.

We spent lots of Christmas break just sitting around watching Oliver, getting excited over every little thing he did -- like chewing on his toes!

We played with him on the bed ...

... and snuggled him while he slept.

And we loved having Lincoln home for almost a month.

Jack Henry was hoping for snow this year, but we had lots of mild days and we enjoyed being outside.

Lille and Oliver cuddled up together while we visited grandparents in Bartlesville.

Oliver loved seeing his Aunt Christy -- she's used to big, chunky babies.

Oliver also had fun exploring the ranch.

And of course we didn't forget our sweet baby girl. While I was out and about I would see things I wanted to get her for Christmas -- little girl dresses and bows, and cute little things to stick in her stocking. The tears seemed to come often this Christmas -- sometimes when I least expected it, sometimes when I rocked Oliver, sometimes late at night while I was wrapping gifts. I missed her and kept thinking, "If only ..."

My favorite thing about Christmas break was just all of us being together.

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