I have just been informed that the McBrides only started going to the midnight service when Jeff and Pam got married. They grew up going to the 7:00 service, then opening presents. Nevertheless, I would still bet they were up way past my bedtime with their Christmas Eve festivities.

Christmas Eve - McBride Style

Warning: More commentary than usual on the next few posts. I'm feeling reflective.
There are not a ton of differences between how our families celebrate Christmas - mine and Mike's. But one difference I enjoyed this year was presents on Christmas Eve! As you have seen from previous posts, we enjoyed a relaxing Eve day with lots of cooking and a trip to the Botanical Garden. Below we were just coming home from Christmas Eve worship at our church. Olivia almost made it through the whole service. The fact that everyone around her had lit candles didn't hurt in the attention department. Mike's family grew up going to the 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service and then they still came home and opened presents! (Or maybe they opened them before...?) Either way, I am positive they were up later than my family ever was. Those McBrides burn the midnight oil for sure. Mike's mom says that, since her dad worked on the railroad, they opened presents whatever time he got home - which could have been 3:00 a.m. I never met Mike's grandma, but these next two pictures of Trish look just like every picture I have seen of her mother. It is the eyes and the smile.

I think Olivia must be an even mix of Mike and me. While she did manage to stay up past 10:00, she was practically mute by the time we put her to bed. She just got quieter and quieter as the evening went on. But she never had a melt down and really tarried on each gift. She seemed to enjoy helping others with their gifts as much as her own.
We finished opening the adult gifts after Olivia went to bed and convened again the next morning to finish with the kids. I LOVED dragging out the gift opening across two days. Partially because it made it last longer - I do love presents. But also because it seemed to keep the focus on the fact that we were together. We could have been doing anything (I am glad we were opening presents :) ), but it could have been anything. What made it meaningful was that we were doing it together. That is also what made it hard - because you knew who wasn't there.

I want to remain flexible - to remember that our tradition may just be in the being together and not necessarily doing things the same way every year. I want our children to know what is really important (even more than being together) - and not in the gimicky Jesus is the reason for the season sort of way - but in the overwhelming, lump in your throat, inexplicable, get quieter and quieter as the night goes on until there is nothing left to say except to just be in it - sort of way.

"Don't try to explain the Incarnation to me. It is further from being explainable than the furthest galaxy. It is love, God's limitless love enfleshing that love into the form of a human being, Jesus, the Christ, fully human and fully divine. Was there a moment, known only to God, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy? Power. Greater power than we can imagine, abandoned, as the Word knew the powerlessness of the unborn child, still unformed, taking up almost no space in the great ocean of amniotic fluid, unseeing,unhearing, unknowing. Slowly growing, as any human embryo grows, arms and legs and a head, eyes, mouth, nose, slowly swimming into life until the ocean in the womb is no longer large enough, and it is time for birth. Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, the Maker of the universe or perhaps many universes, willingly and lovingly leaving all that power and coming to this poor, sin-filled planet to live with us for a few years to show us what we ought to be and could be. Christ came to us as Jesus of Nazareth, wholly human and wholly divine, to show us what it means to be made in God's image."~ Madeliene L'Engle~

(Thanks Linda Green for the reminder

Low Five

The McBride Christmas moved from Kalamazoo to St. Louis this year, minus my dad who ended up having to work the morning of Christmas Eve. We missed you dad!

The location was different, but the gift exchange was about the same. Mom handed out most of the gifts. And there was just enough time to see what everyone else got... if you didn't blink. This is the only video we took with the digital camera, and I have to say I didn't even notice Doug's dual low five until I watched the video.

Our figgy pudding

This was my first time to cook a Christmas dinner. And with the help from my trusted sister-in-law and the support of the rest I think we pulled it off. On the menu:

Onion-Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Roasted Sweet Potatoe Salad with Warm Chutney Dressing (Veerman, you are going to want this recipe.)
Festive Pineapple-Cranberry Salad
Traditional (nice-n-fatty) Green Bean Casserole
Warmed Dinner Rolls

Yum, yum and Merry Christmas!

Last garden installment

Just a few more pictures to show what many of you already know - how hard it is to get a picture of two children at these ages.

And the cheese stands alone.

A few more from the garden

Joseph is looking for his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.
Our children have some oral issues I believe.

Choo Choo Movin'

Olivia is loving trains these days. She loves going to church and while I do believe she is beginning to understand more and more what church is about, it doesn't hurt that we pass a couple of train tracks on the way there each time. The Botanical Garden does a train exhibit each Christmas and we all went today. (Mike's family is in town - except his dad who had to work. We miss you Grandpa!) Here are a few pictures from our field trip.

If you look in the back, almost behind the trees, you will see Doug and Trish on the train scavenger hunt.

Waiting for the train with Aunt Pam. Caution wet floor!

Is this a bad idea?

Olivia has skipped her nap for three days now. I have no idea why. I am hoping it is a fluk and not a new way of life for us. Today's distraction was the big girl panties she found in her drawer. She fussed (despite "the sign") for nearly two hours because she wanted to put them on. I tried promising her she could put them on (despite the fact that she is not actually potty trained) after she took a nap - no success. So she's up. And she has big girl panties on. There is a pair actually under her pants - but the problem with that is that she could not see them, which is apparently the whole point of wearing big girl panties. So I had to put another pair on the she could see them. What would the potty training books say about that?

Practicing for Christmas morning

We told Olivia to hold on to Joseph so he wouldn't fall over. It looks like she's going for a right side up power driver. (It's the next generation of Junkyard Dog and The Ultimate Warrior.)
Thanks, GT, for the Christmas pj's. They are a perfect fit.

Snowflakes or Space Invaders?

So we tried to make those cut out snowflakes the other day to add to our Christmas garland. I could not remember how in the world we used to do that. This was my first one - it looks like it is from that 1980's Atari game Space Invaders. This was the second one. Even after an over the phone tutorial (thanks, Shannon). Not much better. I'm still not sure what I did wrong. I should learn before Olivia is old enough to need me to teach her how to do it.

Decking our Halls

Sorry, sNOw pictures

I am sad to report we have no pictures (yet) of Olivia and Joseph in the first snow of the year. But for those of you who care (grandparents and aunts and uncles...and maybe a few cousins...and the handful of sweet friends who think our life is at least remotely interesting or, like me, just like seeing pictures of our friends' kids grow) I wanted to give a report. Unfortunately the first snow fall coinsided with Mike's last big push for exams so we didn't get much time outside. (I admit it - I am a wimp and didn't want to take them out by myself - but to my credit I have had a bad cold.) But on our way home from church today Mike suggested that we take a few quick runs down a hill in a friend's park - since the snow was likely to be too wet and melted by the time Olivia woke up from her nap. Now, we had to borrow the same friend's sled because when we went to buy one from Target on Friday night - in preparation for the big snow - they were sold out! We got the sled and, in our Sunday clothes, headed to the park. Olivia was a champ in her dress, tights, and (of course) frog boots. The girl is always prepared. Joseph even made a run too! But don't worry, you safety nuts, he was tightly strapped in...his car seat!

Miiiiimiiiii, we have your piiiilllloooow...

What shall the ransom be....?

"Mimi, come back!

They've got the fever!

The holiday fever that is - though we have had colds lately.
Click on the link below.

Saw this on a second blog today and finally had to do it.

Thank you Aunt Sleesa...

...for the snuggle duds! Great job! They fit perfectly! Olivia wore hers all afternoon - in the house - and almost wore Joe's to bed. Apparently their heads are the same size-ish.

Christmas crafts...kind of

Olivia is not quite old enough to appreciate her mother's exceptional craftiness (that is supposed to be funny); however, she is lately in particular need of one on one time. So, we made some garland. Because I am not a perfectionist, the shapes are free-handed and look somewhat like what they were intended to look like. (Well, is there such a thing as an impatient perfectionist? I might be one of those.) I cut and she colored and Joseph tolerated us.
You can't see her favorite one - the gingerbread man - who, sadly enough, looks much better than the cookies we made a few weeks ago.

First meal...kind of

We have tried to feed Joseph cereal a few times in the past and he just didn't seem to get it. Not interested, not coordinated, not yummy. He would make a face like we were trying to feed him dirt. Consequently, he has also not been sleeping through the night...yawn. So we gave it a rest and tried again recently - success! He still isn't terribly coordinated and prefers milk, but I am getting to sleep until at least 4 or 5:30 - and he is going down between 8 and 9. We've turned a small, but much needed corner.

Olivia's first meal? No.
First meal in boots? No.
First meal in pajamas? No.
First meal with friend's birthday hat wrapped around nose? Sure.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Some very dear people to us.

Here's Your Sign

We have a small problem with whining in our household right now. I must admit that sometimes it is my own, but mostly...well, I won't mention any names. But, Mike made "her" a sign. Don't misunderstand. We don't tape it too her and make her walk around with it or anything. But as situations necessitate we simply ask her, "What does the sign say?" "NO FUSSIN'!" she says and it usually brings a smile. Thank you, Daddy! And now it has become part of our Christmas decorations.

The McBrides Cut One

A story in pictures. Stay tuned for sequals.

(P.S. Dear Brother, should you feel the need to comment on my hat, go ahead. Just remember I have seen you in black dress socks and shiney, silver basketball shorts doing the Roger Rabbit on the back porch. Smooches, Bev)