There was lots of laughter, lots of good healthy food, and lots of dirty dishes (thankful for a dishwasher!)
We did not take many pictures of the things we did together…choosing instead to savor the moments as we shared them instead of having to look back at pictures to see what happened.
Our two youngest grandkids (both two years old) were a joy to watch interacting. Last time they were together in the spring they did not get along very well. But after months of Facetime sessions on the phone, they were best buds this trip. Miss Tickles cried when her cousin left.
Our family loves musicals. Well, actually, to be honest, most of the family likes musicals once in a while. The grandkids LOVE musicals all the time (if we’d let them.) Their favorites include Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, Sound of Music, Oklahoma, White Christmas, and several other classics. My two year old granddaughter we call Songbird (for this blog) has the musicals all memorized. Besides watching my husband (Pa) perform in the Dicken’s Christmas Carol at Silver Dollar City and watching the dance recital in which Melinda (ballet & tap), Ninja Boy (tap) and My Princess (ballet & tap) performed, we watched a few musicals until our brains are playing a continuous replay of the songs!
We tried to keep gift giving to a minimum this year. Small gifts were given to the kids. The adults in the family (including my siblings and mom) who wanted to participate, exchanged names and gave a gift to the charity of the person’s choice in their name. We decided to make a change after reaching the point of just exchanging gift cards with each other year after year.
Gallons of the best coffee ever were consumed the past two weeks, compliments of my son-in-law and his coffee company. You too can drink the best coffee ever when you visit one of New York city’s three Birch Coffee locations or order the special blends online to make at home.
We shared with you our plan to have a stocking filled with fun family activities in a post before everyone arrived. After they got here the adults filled the stocking with lots of ideas of things to do…and we never drew out any of the slips of paper! We had planned to have the kids draw out an activity slip whenever they were bored and needed something fun to do. They never got bored, and we actually did a lot of the things that were written in there any way, spontaneously. I think this is still a great idea for any time of the year (just use a different container).
Ninja Boy and his uncle spent some time nearly every day setting up scenes to draw together. Ninja Boy’s drawing skills increase every time he gets to “do art” with his uncle. Songbird got to paint three masterpieces on the easel for the first time. I think her daddy is going to be on the lookout for an easy to store in a small apartment type easel very soon!
Melinda planned a scavenger hunt for the kids on Christmas Day using the nativity figurines from the kid’s nativity set. The figures were hidden all over the house. When one was found, she read off the clue for the next one and all four kids went hunting together. They had a great time.
We opened glow sticks on New Year’s Eve and had a glow stick dance party in the living room. The kids love dancing anyway, and adding glow sticks makes it crazy fun. It’s a good way to get the wiggles out before bed!
Sleeping arrangements included some mattresses on the floor which meant there were four little monkeys frequently jumping on the bed.
Since our family has members with various food allergies as well as some preferring vegetarian diets, Melinda and I tried to plan out meals ahead of time that would allow for individual options. It worked out very well and meal preparations went much smoother than in past gatherings when we did not pre-plan.
Here are some of the meals we planned:
Tacos- with many options of fillings.
Chili- made one crockpot with meat and one without.
Spaghetti Squash- made an alfredo sauce and a tomato based sauce with meat in a separate bowl.
Stir Fry- cooked meat separately to be added on individual plates
Potato Soup- made two pots, one with a vegetable broth base and one with a turkey broth base.
Pizza- lots of different topping combinations on several homemade pizza crusts
Our pasty dinner on Christmas day was a big hit. We made the dough using a healthy pie dough recipe and let each person put together their own pasty with the fillings of their choice. All of the left over cut up vegetables and meat were thrown into the crock pot for a stew for the next day.
Melinda’s Unprocessed Corn Casserole went great with the chili.
A couple of mornings we enjoyed homemade waffles and also chocolate gravy!
Melinda brought over her bread machines and we enjoyed lots of her homemade bread.
Well, enough reflecting. Now we are excitedly looking forward to 2014 and the new changes to our family the next time we are all together. Both of my daughters are pregnant, one due in March and one in June. Fun times ahead!
No matter what the previous year brought your way, we pray that 2014 will be a wonderful year for each of you. We plan to continue finding ways to encourage you to grow creatively. With the new babies on the way (and Grandma helping with both arrivals) and Melinda’s family launching their new ministry this winter, Melinda and I are seeking out creative ways to continue to grow at in a Tickle.
Happy New year!