Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Alabama with Anna's Family

After arriving in the middle of the night on the Saturday before Christmas, we were blessed to spend until Friday with my (Anna's) family in central Alabama. It was amazing to have 25 of us together, all staying in my parent's house and guest house!

It wasn't without challenges... getting over jet lag while staying with Hadassah in the same room and trying to get her back to sleep when she wanted to get up and play (which we did plenty of in the middle of the night those first nights!) without waking up all of the others sleeping in the same house was difficult. Thankfully, everyone was understanding. And I survived 36 hours of travel and arriving with just 1 hour of sleep, when Hadassah woke up an hour after I finally got to bed in the middle of the night we arrived. The 24 hour stomach bug also hit the family on Christmas Eve, making its way through, and hitting Ryan the day we left and Hadassah later on - who then spread it to other friends and family members. There were times, usually in the middle of the night, that I thought "I can't do this - I don't want to do this ever again!" I have a new respect to those who travel cross time zones as a way of life, especially with kids! But, looking back it was definitely worth it. The pictures can attest to the memories made...

 Hadassah got to be a part of cousin caroling...

Since my parents often sang her "Hallelu, hallelu... praise ye the Lord!" on skype, with clapping and arm raising, she started clapping her hands and raising her arms each time she saw a picture of them. So, finally, she got to do it with them in person!

 Polka dots and playing with Grandma :)

 We got to see SO many friends, at a party some friends had on Sunday afternoon and at a stop-and-go party my parents hosted on Monday. I was jet lagged and often busy chasing a toddler, but it was good to see so many familiar faces and get and give tons of hugs!

 Brothers-in-law and both former employees of Rockwell Collins sporting their Rockwell jackets

 When our family goes out for Mexican, it takes a LONG table!

 Pictures with Grandpa, comforted by Nigh-night lamb while Mommy's away

 Sweet Daddy-daughter time while Ryan gave me a morning out to go thrift store shopping. I found 8 shirts for just 60 cents a piece plus shoes, kids books, a sweater and friend's baby gifts... only spent about $30 for everything and it felt SO amazing to be on the bargain hunt again :)

 Seeing Hadassah and Tabitha (3 months younger) play together was one of my favorite parts :)

 All the girl cousins! So far girls have guys beat 7 to 5 in the grandchildren count.

Conversation with siblings is such a blessing. Especially when we have ones that are steps ahead of us in this journey of life. So great to learn from them and laugh together.

 A very very dear friend drove over for an evening. So wonderful to see her and spend time as couples as she came with her man. :) From 5 year old friends to email penpals to duo bloggers to married women... we've come a long way!

 We opened gifts Christmas Eve, and my sister knitted these cute little slippers for Hadassah!

Hadassah absolutely positively LOVED playing with a cat and dog she was allowed to touch. She said "Meow" and "Woof!" so many times... :)

 Christmas morning sunshine and swinging with my little sweetie... the weather was beautiful and the air so clear and fresh!

 Hard to get cuter than these two! We gave them each a doll for pictures, but of course they each kept taking the same doll from each other ;)

 Family picture, Christmas 2014!

 Conversation in the car with sisters on the way to a movie!

 Our little Christmas star :)

 Bath time with a cousin! I can't wait to see these girls become great friends as they get older! And a lot of fun to have a girl the same age as my older sister's daughter... amazing how time changes things!

After being super clingy to Mama all week, Hadassah finally warmed up to others Friday morning...

  ...especially when they took her on a wagon ride! She didn't want to leave it even when she saw me! (and my sister and sis-in-law were great in taking care of her so I could pack!)

The gang was all together for Christmas... 

Grandparents and grandkids, with one showing off the back of the shirt my sister designed for us. It had outlines of states and countries (Alabama, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennesee, China, and Eastern Europe) with little stick figures for each person in the family. Tons of fun.

It was a Christmas to not forget, and the time with family felt the sweetest ever, knowing we'd not been with anyone for 7 months and wouldn't be with them again for months to a year more...

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