Taylor Christmas Letter 2016

Well, my Friends, I am back again for anther edition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. For those of you just tuning in, I am the much Beloved Christmas Moose, back again to update you on the Taylor Family Happenings from this memorable year. Ready? Here we go…

(The pictures you will see were all taken from the Taylors’ afternoon-long, pathetic attempt at a family picture. I say pathetic because they did not get one successful shot, and because they accidentally pointed the camera too low to include me. I was on top of the fireplace mantel. Ah well. Family pictures with four Little Ones are literally impossible.)

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Would you believe I woke up to meet another little Moose-calf in the Taylor household? They never even told me they were expecting! But out I come, out of my box in the closet to join the family in putting up Christmas decorations, and there was the most adorable little Baby just nestled up in Justine’s arms! If you’ve seen pictures, maybe caught a glimpse of the Little Guy snuggled up and sleeping…you have seen nothing. He is SO cute. Just wait until you see him with his little eyes open wide. Adorable.

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Along with writing a traditional Christmas letter, this year I have been delegated with the task of including an update of Elijah’s first month, because yesterday was indeed his first month birthday. Lij, as the family most frequently calls him (pronounced as the middle portion of E-Lij-ah) was born on November 20, bright and early. He flew through his tests and procedures and was happily discharged and sent home two days later, November 22, two days before Thanksgiving and four days before I came out of my box (Yes, they got me out a day late this year). However, Taylors like to break the medical odds and in true Taylor fashion, Lij tested positive for borderline congenital hypothyroidism. It sounds worse than it is. While hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland) can be very serious, Elijah has a very mild case and is already taking special medicine to keep everything right where it needs to be. As long as he takes his medicine, like the good baby he is, he shouldn’t have any symptoms.

Elijah weighed five pounds and eleven ounces when he was born, and at his latest appointment was up to six pounds, ten ounces. The first couple of weeks were slow going because he was just too sleepy to eat very much. Most parents want their babies to sleep more. Justine was trying earnestly to wake him up. Elijah even sleeps at night, much to Dan and Justine’s surprise and delight. Sure, he gets up every 1-3 hours, but three out of every four nights he’ll go right back to sleep after a diaper change or a snack. He is a content Little Boy and everybody in the home loves snuggling him.

And, I might be speaking too early, but as I was writing this update I saw the Little Guy roll over for the very first time. (Although he was sort of on his side to begin with.) Way to go Little Man!

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Well, as adorable as Elijah is, I just can’t spend my whole time writing about him. Next up is P-Man. That is: Bud, Buster, Buddy, Butch, Butchems, Butchcake, Stinker, Rascal. Paul. He’s a cutie too, and always up to something. This year Paul set a new record for the family by taking his first steps at 16 months old. He spoke his very first words during one of Dan’s softball games this spring, “Hi Daddy!”. Aww. Some of his other words are: baseball, Mama, Daddy, baby, Leeya (Lydia), Lijah, no, and sock. He loves wearing his shoes everywhere he goes, except in the car, where he loves to take them off. He still needs two naps a day, sucks his fingers when he gets sleepy, and enjoys being held by his Mommy. He loves to be outside in the warm weather and hates being outside when it’s cold. He will hold his little brother and give him kisses and sing him songs. He absolutely loves to wrestle anyone, but especially his Dad. Recently he found the drawer where Justine keeps her oven mitts, and now he likes to dig those out and put them on before finding Dan and punching his legs. He is all boy and super sweet all at the same time.

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Then there’s Abigail. Abby, Abster, Abs. She’s a little fireball and whatever she does she does ALL THE WAY. If she’s happy, she’s irresistibly sweet. If she’s angry, everyone from here to Detroit knows about it. She doesn’t let her big sister push her around. They are the very best of friends, even if they don’t realize it yet. Together they love to play house, wedding, and princesses. Lydia is always the bride or bridesmaid and Abby is the “Wedding Girl” (we don’t know what that is yet). She is three, but if you hold up your three middle fingers she will tell you that she is not that three. She is the pinky-ring finger-middle finger three. Abby always calls Paul by his nick-name “P-man”. She thinks Elijah is “so, so cute”. She likes to do school with Lydia, which involves coloring in a coloring book or tracing in her special tracing book which she calls her “cat book” because of the cat on the cover. She is learning that napkins are not called “Backins”, but she still calls toilet paper “paper toilet”. Abby is funny and sweet and learning and growing a lot this year.

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Lydia (Lyds, Lydnacious, Munchkin) started school this year and loves it. Her favorite parts are probably math and art, but everything else comes in a close second. Lydia is almost always pretending: pretending to be a mom, pretending to be a grown up with a sister that she is always visiting, pretending to be a princess, or pretending to get married (to Dan). She is incredibly creative with her outfits (regular or dress up) and becoming more and more aware of what she likes and doesn’t like. Today she was sharing her list of foods she doesn’t like (spicy peppers, onions, celery, mushrooms, and sort of baby carrots) and does (tomatoes, cucumbers, burgers, pizza, cheesy noodles, ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, and chocolate). If you ever are lonely, you could use a Lydia in your life. She loves to be together, loves to snuggle, and can always find something to talk about with lots of questions included. She has an insatiable desire to play with her Daddy; read stories; and, at Christmas time, make tea, turn off the lights, and snuggle in the living room by the Christmas tree. She is quick to love, quick to forgive, and learning how to be a Big Helper to her Mommy and a Loving Sister to all three of her siblings.

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Justine has her hands full this year, as strangers love to tell her. She likes to think that full hands and full days make for a full heart, and she has been basking in the joy of it all this Christmas. This summer felt like one big, long wait for Baby. Now that he is here, Justine is soaking up his Little Newbornness as much as she can (while still taking care of the rest of the pack). She also loves teaching Lydia. All year she has focused on being a Good Mom and being grateful. She finally found a satisfying healthified toffee bar recipe, an accomplishment that can only be trumped by successfully taking all four kids to Elijah’s doctor’s appointment last week. (They are a handful!) Other than homeschool and Baby, the highlight of Justine’s year has been spending more one-on-one time with Dan. She, like Lydia, loves to spend time together.

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Dan started a new job working as an Artificial Intelligence Computer Scientist on the Autonomous Vehicle for GM this year. So far he has been enjoying the challenging problems at work, despite a longer commute and even earlier mornings. He still loves to work out in his (unheated) garage gym, even on the coldest and windiest winter days. This spring he joined several young men from church on a Softball team, and this summer he spent many Sunday afternoons playing baseball and soccer. Dan has also tackled several home repair projects this year including roofing his garage and rebuilding his old shed. He can’t wait until Paul and Elijah can tag along on his projects, in his gym, and on the baseball field.

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As for me, it was a good year snuggled up in my box. I have never had the privilege of seeing a Taylor Baby so freshly born, and, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, he sure is cute. The others are too, and even more so this year as more of them can say my name and give me hugs. I just love when they suck on my antlers.

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Well Friends, so wraps up another year for the Taylor Family. They, and I, wish you a blessed Christmas season and a very happy new year.

Yours Truly,

Christmas Moose.

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Our Up North Christmas

The very first Christmas present I opened this year was a new camera from Dan. My last camera stopped working several months ago and I was so excited to have something better than Dan’s phone to take pictures on. Sadly, as I was playing around with it one night, I deleted all of my pictures.

:'(

But my brilliant husband suggested, “There must be a way to get them back”. And he was right. I’m in the process of retrieving those pictures now so that’s why there aren’t any pictures from Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Sorry friends. Check my Facebook page in a few days (or weeks or months since I never have time to upload pictures with the three Little People running around).

🙂

The Taylor family (us) celebrated a rushed Christmas on Christmas Eve morning before packing the car and driving up North for an extended family Christmas Celebration (on both sides). Lydia didn’t sleep the night before Christmas Eve because she was SO excited to go up North and to open presents. Remembering those feelings myself, I was sympathetic, but we were exhausted because we couldn’t sleep either and when we did doze off for fifteen minutes we’d wake up to Lydia yelling, “CAN I GET OUT OF BED YET AND OPEN PRESENTS. I’VE BEEN ASLEEP A LONG TIME!”

So began our Christmas adventure.

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Christmas Eve we showed up just in time at my grandparent’s house for a traditional Matson family Swedish Christmas feast, followed by carols and presents. It was a sweet time and fun to catch up with cousins and watch the kids run around together.

Christmas morning we woke up after ANOTHER sleepless night (I only told her she might get to open a present from Grandma and Grandpa but someone must have let the cat out of the bag because this night wasn’t much better than the first!) We enjoyed breakfast with my parents and brother, took a quick walk around the block and then waited for the rest of my siblings to come with their families. All of the kids, and grandkids were together for the first time in a long time (ever?) and it was such fun. Oh, and there were presents, lots of presents (much to Lydia’s great joy). As much as we enjoyed the gifts, it was the time with my family that we cherished the most. The day went by all to fast and the next morning it was already time to pack up and head over to Dan’s parent’s house for the other Taylor Christmas.

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There was good food, lots of visiting, a bit of Euchre, and, of course, presents. Abby was so cute when she realized she got to open some too.

“Presents? Me?!? Presents? Me! Me!”

Among other goodies, the girls got a collection of kitchen food and gadgets. They love them. And so did I. (Until we got home and the 100 piece collection scattered itself all over our house three days in a row. It may have disappeared after that. Good thing Grandma also got us some toy storage!)

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Is this picture overload? I can’t help it. She was so cute sitting there so absorbed in her toys.

As you’ve already seen, there was a little bit of Wii playing. We even let Lydia have a turn.

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Paul got in lots of snuggle time. With everyone.

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And Lydia and Abby got to make some special Christmas cookies with Grandma Taylor.

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After a few days, we braved the bad weather and drove home with a few days left in Dan’s break. So, we took Lydia ice skating. She has been asking to go since she found out winter was on its way. It almost turned out to be a failure when we got out on the ice and she couldn’t stand up. Someone gave us on of those “pushers” (anybody know what those are actually called?) and that helped, a little. Dan got out on the ice with Lydia and helped her figure it out. Soon she was holding onto that pusher with all her little might enjoying the ride, frequently reminding us, “Not too fast!”

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In the end I think ice skating was a smashing success.

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Finally, we rang in the new year with a quiet night at home, the kids sleeping in their own beds. Daddy and Mommy stayed up until midnight, just barely. We snapped a quick “new year” picture while we washed cloth diapers. I know, I know, doesn’t sound like much of a party, but some quiet time at home with Dan was just the way to wrap up 2015.

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Happy New Year everyone. And a special thanks to our parents for hosting us for Christmas and the days after. Traveling with the Littles isn’t easy, but you all help a lot. And I know we created memories in our and their little minds that will never be forgotten.

The Funniest Moment of Our Christmas Week

The kids and I are busy enjoying a WHOLE week with Dan home from work so I’m not taking time to write much of a post. But I will give you a small glimpse of our Christmas vacation up North, and a funny one at that.

The “kids” spent some time using Mom and Dad Taylor’s Wii, and we even convinced Dan and Bob to a “Just Dance” brother face-off. Bob, as the more experienced video gamer was dominating and then…

This.

(Wait for it).

Overwhelmingly Blessed

Growing up, I always thought it was weird when my classmates would celebrate Christmas on any day other than Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But now that Dan and I live four and a half hours away from most of our family, we’ve joined the club. Dan’s parents came down the weekend before Christmas, in part, to celebrate Dan’s brother’s graduation, and in part, to celebrate Christmas as a family.

Lydia enjoyed new additions to her dress up closet, and Abby loved her new little piano. The gift opening was a lot of fun.

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Oh, and the food in Abby’s stocking was also a big hit.

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Just a couple of days later, my parents came down for another Christmas celebration. They made one of my favorite Christmas treats with Lydia and we enjoyed the afternoon together before opening presents. Abby got a little ball she loves to chase around and Lydia opened a new baby doll which she now carries with her everywhere.

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It was such a blessing to be able to see both sets of parents. We weren’t sure if they would be able to come this year, and we weren’t really able to travel at this point in my pregnancy. So it was exciting when things came together at the last minute and we got to do our family Christmases after all.

And then…Christmas Eve came, and we scrambled (ok, I scrambled) to get last minute preparations done. Between my overdoing it and Abby’s decision to almost choke on some plastic, things sort of fell apart at the end of the night. We threw some spaghetti in a pot and decided to keep things a little simpler next year.

But the girls were finally put to bed, the living room cleaned, and the presents wrapped. The advent calendar was filled. Lydia finally got to put on the sticker of Baby Jesus in the manger. The stockings were stuffed, and the food was prepared. Dan and I headed off to sleep before midnight.

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Then…Christmas morning.

I have an unwritten rule that I don’t take any pictures Christmas morning during the gift opening. We just enjoy our time together, technology set aside. Lydia got a toy doll stroller, perfect for her new baby doll. Abby got a toy train that we all love playing with. And, even though there’s no snow right now, the girls got a sled. It turned out that sleds do work(ish) on grass and carpet.

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After gift-opening, everyone enjoyed breakfast and got dressed. Dan read us the Christmas story. Then, we all played inside for a while, then the kids went outside with Dan to play on their new sled while I cleaned up from breakfast and worked on lunch. After a snacky sort of lunch, the Taylor girls got in some nice naps.

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Soon enough, it was dinner time. After dinner, we decided to give Lydia real treat and let her watch her very first video: A Charlie Brown Christmas. She also got to eat dessert in the living room. It was epic. Abby was unimpressed.

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And then it was time for bed. All day long Dan and I just felt overwhelmingly blessed. Our hearts were full. It was such a happy day. And then we got Dan home for three more days. Needless to day, it was a happy weekend. I hope you all enjoyed Christmases as happy as ours was, celebrating Jesus Birth with the ones you love the most.

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Taylor Christmas Letter 2014

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Hullo again Friends, it’s Mr. Christmas Moose here, returning for another addition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. I must have done a good job last year because they invited me back to write their letter again this year. Can’t say I’m too surprised. English has always been my strong point.

Well I better start off with the most important news. Thanks to your kind and generous comments on my last post, my time out of the box has been extended. I now get to come out of hibernation from the day after Thanksgiving (and yes, I’m pleased to say they actually woke me up on time this year!) through Fur Rendezvous. That’s the third Friday in February, thank you very much. And, in case you missed it, our little Abigail had her movie world premier at Fur Rondy last year. If you didn’t watch it then (or even if you did) check it out here. She’s a cutie.

Now after all of the madness of last year, I wasn’t sure the Taylors would give me much to write about this time around. But I guess they don’t like to be uneventful because this year was just as action-packed as the last.

January started off with the new little munchkin getting settled into our home. It had been a long hospital stay and the joy of bringing her home was not short-lived. Our routine was interrupted, though, when Dan’s work ran out of work for him to do and he spent two months at home looking for a new job. During that time, some inconsiderate neighbors were causing some environmental issues for our littlest munchkin and her doctor told us it would be best to move. Again.

Now, as much as I enjoy being out of my box, I really do need the sleep I get during those other 9 months of the year. So, I wasn’t too happy when I was placed in a bag and hauled off to live under some ping pong table for the next 5 months. I guess it was good that Dan found another job at that point. A moose has got to eat! But the ping pong table wasn’t my favorite. I can’t tell you how many dreams I had about woodpeckers, jackhammers, and balls bouncing over my head. It turns out a very generous family from church had opened up their home to the Taylors and gave them a roof over their heads (and a ping pong table over mine) while they began their hunt for a more permanent home.

I thought the day would never come. It seemed like every evening the Taylors would leave me to go look at houses only to come back and tell me that they hadn’t found the right one yet. If it was me, I would have given up and gone to live in a cave, but, it’s not my family after all. Some exciting things happened that summer, though…

Abby became the smiliest baby in the world. She is so cute and she loves, loves, loves to eat. Lydia remains the cute and animated little munchkin I’ve always known she is. She loves to help her Mommy in any way she can, even though her help sometimes isn’t extremely helpful (if you know what I mean). No offense intended toward the little one, she is a sweet heart. Toward the end of the summer, Dan got another new job. That was good for everyone because he liked it a lot better, it payed more, and they feed him lunch every single day. You can read more about that story here.

And, though they didn’t break the news for months, in August the Taylors found out another little calf…er…baby was on the way. I can hardly wait to find out if it’s a boy or girl, and what they’ll choose for a name. But we’re all hoping this Baby doesn’t come until after Fur Rondy this year. Wouldn’t want to get put back in my box early, you know!

In September, I got pulled out from under the ping pong table and hauled off in a truck to a nice, clean coat closet with the other Christmas decorations, lights, and our beautiful tree. I could hardly wait to come out of the box to see the new home the Taylors had finally chosen. It was quite a story, how they ended up here, and when I finally got the tour I wasn’t at all disappointed.

Now I’m out on my new home, the fireplace mantel. I have a great view of the tree, the front yard, and the area where the biggest munchkin likes to play dress-up. As I write this she’s dancing around in tights, a swimsuit, a scarf, and she’s singing a most beautiful made-up munchkin song. Lovely. The other munchkin is crawling around eating everything she can get her hands on (my kind of kid!), and the smallest one is nestled snuggly right where s/he should be, in Mommy’s belly.

Sometimes they bring me down for the munchkins to play with. Oh how I love the hugs and kisses, the dancing and giggles. But watch out if the little one ever gets a hold of you. She’s sweet, but she likes to nibble on your antlers if your not careful and she’s getting some mean molars back in that mouth of hers.

Well, we plan to lie low this Christmas and spend the day at home as a family opening gifts, eating good food, and celebrating the most important gift: the coming of our Savior, Jesus, as a little Baby. I sure have enjoyed hearing the Christmas story over and over this year as Justine teaches it to Lydia. She’s getting it down pretty well and if you tune in later this week maybe she’ll even share it on here.

Until Christmas, stay warm and well-fed and make sure everyone gets a good nap (that’s what we’re all learning around here these days). Merry Christmas everyone and enjoy the special moments you get to spend with the ones you love most.

Yours truly,

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Mr. Christmas Moose

Preparing for a NICU Baby

This Monday I reached 20 weeks in my pregnancy, halfway for most people. However, as we have a history of preemies, Dan and I wanted to be well-prepared for another long NICU stay, if that’s what ends up happening. By the time I reached 20 weeks, I was told I would need to limit my activity a little bit, so those preparations all had to be done by Monday, and I’m happy to say that they were. The last few weeks have been crazy with all the things we’ve been trying to get done, but now I get to rest and I’m sure in a few months, the preparations will pay off.

So what kind of preparations did we do? The first task was to unpack. What a relief it is to finally be unpacked and moved in. The closets may be messy, and I have piles and piles of the girls’ clothing to sort through (someday), but the bulk of the work is done and everything else can wait or be done when we have spare time. I’ll try to post pictures of our unpacked home soon.

The second major task was freezing meals. Life with a NICU baby is very busy, so cooking is always an issue. Sure, you can eat out, but that gets expensive and unhealthy. Since we’re expecting some amount of a NICU stay this time around, I made a meal plan that would last 12 weeks (that’s how long Abby was in the hospital). As things became overwhelming I cut back, cancelled meals, and recalculated. As of today we have three freezers full or half-full of food ready-to-eat when Baby comes. Once I reach 23 weeks, Dan will go on a mega shopping trip to stock up on all sorts of nonperishables to complement our meals along with some more items to freeze. For now we have 34 breakfasts, and 88 lunches/dinners frozen and waiting to be enjoyed.

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The final task was to get our Christmas decorations up. This was so fun. It really didn’t take very long, and the girls stayed up to help with the tree. Then they headed off to bed while we finished with the lights, ornaments, and a few other festive items. I am loving the decorations every night as I curl up by our fire place, work on Christmas presents, and sip some tea.

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As far as the pregnancy goes, things have continued on as expected, for the most part. Last Wednesday I had some concerning contractions, but we’ve sorted out the root of the problem and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. The “big” ultrasound screening is Friday morning and we’ll find out how Baby’s doing as well as how much I will be allowed to continue to do. Any signs that Baby is on the way and I’ll probably be stuck in bed. For now we’re just taking it easy, soaking up this season, and enjoying our cozy Christmas lights.

…To Grandmother’s House We Go!

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Thursday morning we all got up early, packed our bags, and headed North. I wasn’t very faithful in my picture taking throughout the trip (completely missed Aunt Christina and the cousins, Uncle Nate and Aunt Steph, and Lydia’s great grandparents on my mom’s side), but here’s a glimpse into the good time we had.

A long drive, a fussy baby, some delicious burritos, a visit with Aunt Christina and her boys, and more driving brought us FINALLY to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Lydia loved a special toy from Grandma: an old purse stuffed with sunglasses and a broken cell phone.

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There was a lot of reading.

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And it should be noted that a significant portion of this trip was spent trying to keep Abby from staring at bright lights. You’ll notice in the picture above that she was succeeding.

Lydia gorged herself on homemade guacamole.

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During the Carlson Christmas celebration, Uncle Tim serenaded Abigail with his guitar.

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Lydia got a piano and played us some tunes. The poor piano didn’t fit in our car so we’re waiting for the next visit to bring it home.

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Then Lydia tried her hand at Uncle Tim’s guitar.

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Nana and Papa got in some seriously needed snuggle time with Abby.

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And Nana read more Lydia more books.

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Lydia gorged herself on blueberries too.

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And the great grandparents finally got to meet Abigail.

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It was so good to finally, finally make it up to see everybody and let them see (and read to, play with, and snuggle) the girls. Now we’re all home again, safe and sound. There was a lot of laundry to catch up on and we all needed some good long naps. Traveling with kiddos is no easy task, but the memories will last a lifetime.

Over the River and through the Woods

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The bags are packed. The Christmas presents are finally wrapped. The snow has come, but we are going North to Grandma’s (and Grandpa’s and Nana’s and Papa’s)!

This is our 7th attempt to get together with my family to celebrate Christmas, and introduce everyone to Abby…outside an isolette. All week Lydia has woken up from every nap and bedtime yelling, “Grandpa Grandma’s House!” and we’ve had to remind her, “yep, in three days…two days…tomorrow”.

To prepare for the trip, Lydia dressed up in her “going North outfit”, my fancy schmancy raincoat (from the time I went to Africa), a small purse from a dear friend (containing her toy cell phone and a hair bow), and Mom’s high heels (which Mom never wears, but Lydia puts to good use).

There is a long car ride in store. Fun to be had. Pictures to come.

We are ready.

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