Our Christmas 2014

Well, it happened and it happened fiercely.

Christmas 2014.

I will remember it as the Christmas I almost didn’t get the tree up.

The Christmas I almost didn’t get the presents wrapped.

The Christmas I thought would be a bit skimpy, but lo and behold, it turned out as plump and magical as always.

We did our traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service with IHOP for dinner after.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

As beautiful as it was, I think we should have just stopped there. IHOP ended up being packed. The girls were in absolute distress to be late back to their mom’s.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

It was actually our year for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but we had traded it to their Mom and just borrowed them Christmas Eve. I thought this might be Bridget’s last “Santa” year and I wanted their Mom to have it. In the end, as happy as I was to have my family together on Christmas Eve, it was just too tense and I felt really bad about the late thing, even though it wasn’t exactly our fault. It still was and…it wasn’t fun. Not for anyone. I did enjoy Averey’s great-grandparents who joined us at IHOP. I do hope that becomes a new tradition.

When Christmas afternoon came, we received the gift of two stress-free happy girls ready for a wonderful Christmas Day.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

I didn’t mind at all waiting until Christmas Day to open presents. It was nice to have a relaxed time of opening gifts and having some time to enjoy them.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

Of course, we dressed the dogs up. Of course, we did.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

Bridget’s first gift was the new Kindle we got to replace the one the thieves stole a few months ago. The tag said: To Bridget From: Someone who is sorry.

I doubt they are sorry at all, but it was a nice thought. Maybe, if they knew they took an eight-year-old’s Kindle they would feel sorry. Maybe? Nah.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

Molly got a cool cat shirt. And many, many other things.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

And then, the big gift they had to open last. The iPod Touch we trekked out on Black Friday to retrieve at a decent price. Oh yes, we did!

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

It was worth it.

The smiles. The enchantment. The surprise. Every second of blood, sweat, and tears worth it.

Okay, maybe there wasn’t any blood or tears, but I sweated to get those presents all wrapped. Phew!

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

The grand baby was more fun, too. Oh, she doesn’t “get” it. But it is still fun to watch her surprise. Next year, I have no doubt, she will most certainly “get” it.

© Angelia's Photography 2014

© Angelia's Photography 2014

One of the gifts was a set of Speed Bumper cars. Those were a big hit and just as I predicted, the big kids (including Jason) liked them just as much as the girls.

© Angelia's Photography 2014
There was another surprise for me. Jason and I had promised not to exchange gifts, but out of the tree, he pulled a little box. Inside the little box, a beautiful set of diamond earrings. Earrings I have wanted a long time. I was surprised, thrilled, and humbled. What an enormously sweet gesture.

So, Christmas 2014 was an amazing day!

And now, the fun really begins….

© Angelia's Photography 2014

Merry Christmas 2012

I can’t believe Christmas is here already. This is the alternate year where we have the little girls Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. It is such a blast to see all the excitement. It is also the first time in about five years that Sydney is home for Christmas. Normally, she goes to her Dad’s in Mississippi. But guess what? Her Dad moved back to Texas. Squeee!

This year, we are doing the Christmas tradition that I grew up with. That is the one where you open ALL the presents under the tree on Christmas EVE (today!). Then, Christmas morning Santa brings the “big” gift with more presents. The girls seem a little concerned. I think it must feel a little like cheating to open the presents Christmas Eve. But this is how I grew up and Sydney grew up, and honestly, it makes the most sense. The girls will be going to their Mom’s at Noon Christmas Day until the New Year’s Eve. This way gives them a little more time to play.

I have tons of photos and Christmas(y) things to post about, but I simply ran out of time this month. Too busy going, doing, and working.

So, I have decided to post my favorite photos in a slide show for you.

    (Click on any image to enlarge and display)

These are from our Christmas card shoot, St. Matthews children’s program, visit with my Mom in Oklahoma, and Hot Springs, Arkansas. All taken this month.

I’ve been busy!

Now, I need to clear a few memory cards to prepare for Christmas.

I just wanted to wish each and every one of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. I know I don’t do well with the awards, links, and ping-backs. But I promise, I am deeply grateful for every one. I hope you know how much I appreciate you all. This year hasn’t been easy for me, and you have brightened it in more ways than you know.

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Making the List

It’s been quite a while since I had little kids on Christmas morning.

For the last several years, Sydney “the typical teenager” sleeps in until 1-2pm. Our reign of Santa ended when she stopped believing, and of course, in recent years her Christmas mornings have been in Mississippi with her dad.

Christmas morning has been just another morning. No joyful moments of waking up before the sun to see what Santa brought. Hey, it happens. Children grow up. The magic grows up with them and that’s the end. Unless…..

You become a step-mom of two little girls ages four and six who still believe in Santa Claus.


Enchantment returns…….and let me tell you something, it is a treasure trove of goodness to have it back.

Christmas Eve in my family was the night you opened EVERY present under the tree that was wrapped. The next morning Santa would leave his unwrapped gifts around the tree.

That was our tradition.

Jason’s family has different traditions. They open everything Christmas morning, including the wrapped Santa presents.

So that is what we did, except I let them open two presents Christmas Eve (in honor of my tradition).

Bridget, age four, has been my absolute favorite this year. She believes in Santa Claus 100%. She takes everything Santa related with absolute gravity. She got shy and nervous when we took her to see the Santa at Santa Land. She wouldn’t even sit on his lap.

When we told her he wouldn’t bring her anything if she didn’t tell him what she wanted. She got brave enough to stand at the edge of the platform nervously wringing her hands and telling him in a loud clear voice her Christmas wishes. It was the sweetest thing to witness that earnest belief in all it’s sincerity.

Because Santa…..is real to a four-year old.

Molly, age 6 (and a HALF), is quite different. She knows the Santas in Santa Land are the “fakes”. But she also knows the real Santa sees EVERYTHING..especially when you are bad. I can not even tell you how great that is. Every mis-behavior is reprimanded with an, “Oh my GOSH, Santa sees you! He is going to bring you NOTHING!” Followed by a look of how could you let Santa down like that.

I mean it works……for a few minutes anyway.

I think that’s part of the magic of Christmas. Santa might not come. He might skip your house. Did you really make the list?

Then, there is my favorite ruse.

“Does he know you are HERE? What if he goes to your mom’s house?!?

I was assured Santa got a very detailed letter explaining where the children would be and on what night. He was making two stops one at dad’s and the next night at mom’s. And, didn’t you know? He sees everything and knows where you are.

Oh yeah.

Santa came!

I had fun this year and fun with the new traditions. Coming from a family that never wrapped Santa presents, I used special Santa wrapping paper. I had Jason go out on Christmas Eve to buy labels to use. They couldn’t be like the other presents, right? I mean, we have a six-year old sniffing out fakes. Let’s be real.

I must say, I was impressed. Jason added an empty milk glass and cookie crumbs along with a letter from Santa, in the same writing as the Santa tags. It was genius. I don’t think I ever got a letter from Santa on Christmas day. Apparently, that is another tradition in their family.

I went to bed more excited than the kids. I couldn’t wait to see their lit up faces and their happy grins. Surprisingly enough, they waited until the sun came up.

Christmas Morning. Upper left, Jason and Molly reading Santa's letter. Lower right, the pile of shredded wrap reaches the height of one of our big dogs. Not sure where little Brownie is...

I woke immediately upon hearing their door open (and I’m a heavy sleeper). I heard them enter the living room with whispered excitement. It was a flat two seconds later that they crashed open the bedroom door.

Dad, dad, dad, dad! Come look!

We didn’t move. They ran back to the living room and we listened. Molly was saying, “Oh MY! Oh MY!” Bridget, I couldn’t quite understand. She was saying something over and over in an excited rush.

What she said?

“We made the list! We made the list! We weren’t too bad!”


Before they could tear the presents to bits, we got up to witness the carnage of my all-day wrapping.

It was brutal. It was savage. It was perfect.

I got many hugs and kisses from both girls. They hugged daddy. They hugged puppies. They even hugged each other.

Those were the happiest children in the world…because? They made the list!

Now, hopefully, they will make the list next year.

Santa is watching….