Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Here we are, in that space between counting our blessings and celebrating our Savior's birth. The weeks loaded down with things-to-do, recipes to test, articles to be read, concepts to be taught, gifts to be bought, and that oh, so wonderful word--anticipation!! These last few weeks were also full of one other thing--the stomach bug.

I was testing camera settings when this little Santa popped up in my shot.

One of a zillion Christmas card photo outtakes!

Finally settled on this spontaneous post-church picture exemplifying the JOY of the season!
I thought we had gotten the worst behind us after Thanksgiving. But then Jack woke us up in the middle of the night yelling "Mom! I puked three times!! Three times!!!" And so it began. One by one they fell.

A few days later, Julia woke up screaming. By the time I got to her room it was too late. And suddenly I had some serious regrets about my children sleeping in bunk beds.

In between illnesses, we were able to attend the neighborhood children's Christmas party, complete with visit from Santa!

In addition to one very shaken daughter, our other girl's sleep was also seriously interrupted. After stripping the sheets, bathing Julia, and getting her bedded down on the floor of our room, Joci was still fighting sleep. I finally left her to figure things out on her own. She had just drifted off, and me too, when Jude bounded out of his bed and ran for the door.

A different point of view.

Jack and Santa are tight!
He also was a moment too late and and I reached his room just in time to watch his floor get covered in regurgitated dinner. Jon graciously volunteered to clean up the floor while I bathed Jude and made him a place to sleep on our bedroom floor. Meanwhile, Joci was up and screaming yet again. And so that's how it went the rest of the night. Julia and Jude alternating puking, Jon and I alternating clean-up duty, and Joci waking up with every gag or creak of the floor. Jon ended up taking Jude and Julia downstairs at 5:30 in the morning and I moved Joci to our bed, where she promptly threw-up all over me and the bed, again.

Gingerbread cookies! 

... a.k.a gingerbread buttons ALL OVER my kitchen
And it carried on all the next day as well. The poor darlings couldn't keep a thing down until bedtime. By Thursday, it appeared to have just been a 24 hour thing. Or at least the barfing aspect of it, (the other aspect of the stomach bug was taking its toll as well.) So we decided to get out of the house on Friday and celebrate Jon's birthday at a new restaurant in town. It was our second time visiting. The first visit had been so good, we were looking forward to sampling more of the menu.

Yay for being healthy enough to sing in the preschool Christmas pageant!

We got there early, always a good idea when you're eating out with little kids. I had even packed stuff for the littles to do--notepads, pens, crayons, dolls, games. We were busy keep them entertained, reminding Julia to stay in her seat, rebuckling Joci into her highchair each time she managed to snake out, taking kids to the bathroom one at a time since they never have to go all at once ...

Right about the time our food came out, Jude started complaining that this tummy hurt. We had just enough time to dump out a cup and thrust it under his chin before he filled both the cup and the tabletop. So Jon rushes Jude to the bathroom, I'm trying to calm a screaming Joci (it's a new phase, she screams when she doesn't get her way and then unleashes a stream of syllables that sound an awful lot like she's cussing you out), and Julia decides to race off after the boys. Except she didn't see where they went. So she's running around the restaurant, Joci is still putting up a fight in my arms, Jack is somewhere under the table, and Jon is cleaning up a sick kid.

Another accomplishment, Jack and Daddy made gingerbread houses with his Kindergarten class.

Jon came back with stories of spending an hour with 15 Kindergarteners, all a little too excited about the season!
We exited the restaurant as fast as we could (after leaving an extra tip for our poor waitress.) Naturally, as soon as we get out to the car, Jack has to pee. There was no way we were going back in, so Jon let him water the parking lot.

Tea party with the princesses.

Forget the tea cups, this girl goes straight for the carton!
Jude seemed to be doing better and we wanted to redeem Jon's birthday dinner night, so we decided to move forward with our plan to view Christmas lights. We'd barely made it past the first red light when Julia had fallen fast asleep. Joci was only a few minutes behind her. Jude looked like he was headed in the same direction, but then woke up with a jolt and started moaning about his tummy again.

One of my favorite evenings this month, our MOPS Couples Christmas Party!
(And since so many people have asked, that's a $4 dress from Goodwill.)

Now there's a couple who appreciates free food and babysitting!
We had just gotten in line for the drive-thru display at a local state park. We could see the twinkling lights just a few yards ahead, but the anticipation wasn't enough to keep the barfs at bay. I mean, the restaurant debacle was NOTHING compared to what happened in the back seat of our minivan. And the smell! Oh, the smell! I was gagging the whole way home. Because we did go home at that point. I'm all about persevering, finding ways to make merry during the Christmas season, but I also know when to say enough is enough. And clearly that point was way behind us.

My sweet husband set to work scrubbing out the van while I kept the laundry going (it hasn't stopped all week) and got the kids ready for bed. By now, just the thought of being sick gets Jude all worked up, so he slept in our room again.

What you see: three sweet babies enjoying hot cocoa by the fire. What you don't see (a moment later): muffins smashed under children's bottoms and a baby dumping hot cocoa all over the floor and rug.
On Saturday, we celebrated our Christmas. Jon is working 12 hour days this week so it was the only time we were all home to celebrate. The kids were positively giddy ... and up at 6am. But I guess that's all right. I mean, if a kid can't be excited on Christmas, when can they? It was a fun morning. Jack is FINALLY at the age where he really understands what's going on. And his attitude rubs off on the rest of the kids. So we had children asking us to open presents starting at 6am.

You may be wondering where Jude is ... 
... cuddling with the barf bucket, of course.
Jon and I were exhausted and unprepared to start the festivities. The house couldn't shake the smell of vomit and poop. And there's a barf bucket in the background of many of our pictures. But according to Jack, it was "the best Christmas EVER!"

This little sweetie! She just loved her gifts!

The "umbrellas" were a huge hit. We've had plenty of opportunities to use them this week too. :(

He was so excited! Jude's been asking for a Snackeez! for months. Darn you TV commercials that target innocent young children!

You know, Advent didn't really turn out the way I had in mind. We never got to my adorable children's craft devotional. Even the simple paper chain countdown to Christmas that I we put together barely survived one week. We got one batch of cookies made, ONE. And we devoured them in two days because gingerbread was one of the few things the kids' tummies could handle. The fancy Christmas lights display is not going to happen, and it will probably be a while before we can drive down that road without me gagging again. And Jon's birthday dinner was a huge (and very expensive) flop.

She finally gets her own piggy bank. 

And if you need a last minute gift idea, this Melissa and Doug castle is excellent!

But the good news is Christmas isn't over yet. According to the Lego Advent Calendar (which was a huge success, by the way), there's still one more door to go. There's so much I love about this season--the hope of His coming, the joy of our Savior, Christ's love that so many of us are putting in to practice this week, the peace that comes with His reign, and the rest (that intentional, satisfying pause  that I can relate to so well since having babies). Tomorrow, the celebration begins. But today? Today we rest.

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