The day before Christmas Eve I worked hard all day long making sure everything was caught up.  Especially the laundry.  And vowed to keep it that way for the entire holiday.  HEY!  13 people use a LOT of towels.  Anyway, I also started a "list".  I know, I know...But I made one anyway.  With all of the things that I needed to do on Christmas Eve in order to make the holiday less chaotic.  On that list I had:
1.  Get cornbread made for dressing in the morning.
2.  Get pizza bread made up for after Christmas Eve Service.
3.  Make 2 breakfast casseroles for Christmas morning.
4.  Make another batch of cinnamon rolls (to give to the friends who didn't get them in the first batch).
5.  Prepare for Family Cookie Cook-Off after Christmas Eve Service
6.  Go to the early Christmas Eve Service (at 4 p.m.) so we would be able to bake cookies

You get the idea, don't you?  Well, Caitlin, Kevin and Holli were a little late coming in that evening due to delays with their flights but they finally made it in around 10 p.m.  We all went to bed pretty tired but excited and ready for the next day.

Christmas Eve was the new Grand's due date but the "real plan" was to put Sarah on a monitor that morning early and schedule an induction for the 26th if she hadn't had the baby by then.  So, as I sat around in my robe, sipping coffee that morning, Justin and Sarah dropped Parker Ann off around 8 a.m. and headed out to the doctor's office.  As I said, I was just having a little bit of a lazy morning when Justin called Robby to say that Sarah was in Labor and Delivery at the hospital.  And she was 4 1/2 cm. dilated.  WHAT?!  OH.  MY.  GOSH.  We were actually going to have a "Christmas Eve Baby"!!  And, although I was really excited, I wasn't in any hurry to get down to the hospital because Sarah's labor with Parker Ann was about 20 hours.  Or close to it.  Well, it seemed that long anyway.  So, I began to move toward my room to get dressed while Robby and the guys headed over to a friend's house for a little traditional guys' Christmas get together.  That's when my phone started to blow up with text messages!

It hadn't been but maybe 15 mins. from when we discovered that Sarah was 4 1/2 cm. dilated when Justin send a message that she was 7.  The doctor didn't want to break her water because she had not gotten her epidural yet.  Believe me...Natural childbirth was NOT part of the delivery plan.  But THAT text got me to moving a little faster!  I sent Robby a message because apparently the guys were having too much of a good time to answer any of my calls.  Then I ran to get some clothes on, myself.  That's when I got the next text:  "Her water just broke".  OH NO!!!  We're not going to make it...And then, "The baby is here!"
                                  And so, Lila Kate, 8 lbs., 8 oz. was born on Christmas Eve.   
                                 (Natural childbirth was not planned, but it happened anyway.)                         
                        Parker Ann Couldn't WAIT to get her hands on her new baby sister!
                                        (That she said she had waited over 100 days for.)
                                                             Sarah with her 2 Girlies.
                                                                  And "Baby Makes 4

                                                          YaYa with "Grand Number 4".
  Poppi saying, "Hello" to his 3rd Grand Daughter.
                                                            Aunt CaCa with Lila Kate.
                Uncle Ryan Poo and Aunt Ally practicing for when Olivia arrives in a couple of months.

And then after all the excitement...We changed our "plans" for the day.  We took Parker with us to Outback for lunch.  Yes, on Christmas Eve.  Definitely a "first" and not in "the plan".  Then we all regrouped and decided to go to the later Christmas Eve Church Service.
                                               The little ones, of course, looked adorable!
And this picture is just priceless.  You have to wonder what Beckett is thinking...Perhaps, "Another GIRL?!"
In all the hustle and bustle, there was no traditional family photo around the church Christmas tree.  Caitlin wanted one of us with Holli so here it is.

And then when we got home afterwards I got to face "the rest of the list".  That hadn't gotten done.  And the fact that my house now looked like a bomb had gone off inside of it (sigh...).  Well, there was only one thing to do.  Prioritize and get to work!

I made the pizza bread because everybody was hungry and had to be fed.  While that was baking (and Ryan was making gingerbread cookies), I started on the breakfast casseroles.  Because we had to eat on Christmas morning and I sure didn't want to be cooking during all of the gift opening.  Next, I tackled the cornbread dressing.  They ate the pizza bread.  I put my casseroles and dressing in the refrigerator, decided to postpone making the cinnamon rolls and then... remembered the stockings...(yawn...).
I stuffed all of the stockings and finally made it to bed around midnight.  It had been a busy day.  A full day.  And the next day would hold more of the same.  I closed my eyes and thought about Lila Kate.  Our little Christmas Eve Baby.  Our little miracle.  And how very blessed we are to have her join our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY.  Oh, how full my heart was right then and there. 
                                                 For Christmas is about a baby, after all...
                                                    A baby who came to save the world.


Christmas Time and the Important Things...

Often times we get so caught up in the trappings of the season that we forget to simply slow down and enjoy the moment.  Oh, it's an easy thing to do I am guilty of the same thing.  This year, for some reason (and it will most likely never happen again), I got caught up early on everything.  My presents are wrapped and under the tree so I am able to get up in the mornings and enjoy those sparkling lights.  I've already made the grocery store run and actually put away 6...Yes, 6!...casseroles in the freezer.  This was yet another attempt at making things easier when our "13" are here for the holidays.  Most of the time we spend SO much of our time in the kitchen so I decided to make ahead and freeze so we can sit and enjoy our family more this year.  The Hubby and I even finished a HUGE project I started a couple of months back...purging the attic of all its useless junk and organizing everything else.  Ummm...yea, if you are asking WHY would I choose to do this during the holidays well you are not alone...I asked myself that every day while doing it!  But now that it's done I am so glad we did it and the Hubs can breathe easily knowing that the ceiling isn't going to fall down upon his head while watching television.

 Not only are my presents under the tree, but Sarah has already brought theirs.  You should see it when they ALL are under there!
                      I LOVE my NEW, CLEAN ATTIC!  You can actually walk in there now.
The closet leading to the attic is clean as well.  And now Baby Bed Number 2 is placed there for Beckett to sleep in during the holiday.
The upstairs room is finally cleaned up too!  This is where everything had to go as it came out of the attic.  I thought we would never see the floor in there again!

I've already made my first batch of home made cinnamon rolls and delivered some them to some special friends around town and about to start on Batch Number 2 for my BIG, FAT FAMILY.  I finished knitting all of Lila Kate's hats and am almost finished knitting Olivia's blanket.  OH...and I have also started a FUN NEW PROJECT (I know...as Hubby would say, "Just what you need...another project!").  I am keeping an ART JOURNAL!  I'm actually not stressed out right now and I must say it feels good.  Now, saying that, things could change at any moment, especially with 13 people staying at the same house AND a new baby to be born any time between now and the 26th.  That's the UPDATE, y'all:  Sarah's due date if the 24th (That's TOMORROW!!).  She will go in to be put on a monitor to make sure the baby is OK and not under any stress.  If everything is OK and she does not go into labor by herself, the doctors will induce the morning of the 26th at 5:30 a.m.
Here are the pans of Home Made Cinnamon Rolls about to go in the oven; SO YUMMY!  It's the Pioneer Woman's Recipe.  You should definitely TRY IT!
             I'm having LOT of FUN with the ART JOURNAL!  Hope I'm able to keep it up...
                                          This is my NEW FAVORITE BABY HAT pattern!
   Sarah liked it a lot too and asked if I could "whip another one up" before Lila Kate got here.

This new blanket pattern is so pretty and easy.  Knitted in Lilac, which will be one of the colors in Olivia's nursery.  I better get to knitting faster if I want to get it done by her January baby shower!

Tonight Caitlin, Kevin and Holli will be getting in and tomorrow the FUN WILL BEGIN!  Everyone else will filter in throughout the day and early afternoon will find us attending a Christmas Eve Service at our church, followed by our Annual Cookie Cook-Off.  I know that this time is going to fly by so quickly that it will simply take my breath away.  And that is why I am determined to STOP.  Take a deep breath.  RELAX.  And ENJOY THE MOMENT.  Because these times are what is important in life.  When everything is all stripped away FAMILY and the MEMORIES made with them is what is really important in life.  I hope you enjoy your time during the holidays and make the very most of it.
                                                             MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Visiting Ace at Doggie School

Ace, our black lab puppy has gotten REALLY BIG already.  As all puppies are, he is full of energy and likes to jump and play a lot.  There's only one problem with that...He doesn't realize his size and when he jumps, sometimes it hurts.  So, like Simba, our yellow lab who passed away a few years ago, off to school it was for Ace!

Ace will not only be a pet but also a duck hunting dog for Hubby.  Either way,  he needs to learn a little obedience.  However, finding the right trainer is important.  We wanted one who only trains a puppy in stages.  Ace will be at school for a couple months and then come home for a while before he goes back again.  This is so that he keeps his relationship with us.  The other thing that was important to us was to have a trainer who is gentle with the dog.  Our trainer is just that!  Yes, he is teaching Ace obedience by responding to hand signals and voice commands but he is just so patient with him.  The day after we took him to school, he called to let us know that Ace had done well overnight and that all of the dogs he trains are kept in separate kennels inside a heated and air conditioned building.  WOW...he will be spoiled by the time he gets home!

Last week, Hubby stopped by to watch him train a little bit, having been at school for a month already.  He told me how good he was doing and sent me a couple of photos of him.  But I got a nice surprise on Saturday, when on our way home from Baton Rouge, he decided to swing by and let me see Ace myself!
                                            Here's Ace showing Robby how he can fetch now.

Having grown so much that he outgrew his collar, we stopped at a little store on our way there and bought him a brand new red one...a Christmas present of sorts.  Whenever we arrived and the trainer let him out, Ace was SO EXCITED to see us that he ran all over the place.  Soon enough, however, he settled right down and showed me all of the tricks he had been learning.  I was even able to tell him to "sit" while using a hand signal and he obeyed me!

We played for a while and I got Hubby to take a few pictures of me with Ace before we left.  I can't wait to have him back home around the middle of January!
                                                             "Look, Mom...I can sit!"

Although we miss having him at home, we know that Ace is in good hands...
                                                                    See ya in a month!


A Christmas Wedding in the South

I originally wanted a December wedding, myself.  That didn't work out and we ended up getting married in May.  Which for our family is just as busy as the Christmas season.  However, if there is anything that could come in second to Christmas for me, it would be a wedding.  And a CHRISTMAS WEDDING?!  STOP.  I love this idea way too much!

The wedding we attended this past weekend was not actually ON Christmas but it was close enough to Christmas for me to classify it as a "Christmas Wedding".  My friend (and workout coach), Karol's, oldest daughter got married in Baton Rouge and being only a couple of hours away, we decided what better way to spend a Friday night than helping her celebrate the nuptials.

The wedding ceremony, a traditional catholic one, was absolutely beautiful.  The music was lovely.  The bridesmaids all wore floor length gowns in shades of gold; none were alike.  That, I really liked.  Some were beaded, some were not but all, I'm sure reflected the young women's personalities.  When the bride came down the aisle, I, of course, noticed her beautiful gown and veil, however, what I really liked was the fact that she was wearing a deep red lipstick.  How striking this bride was with her dark brown hair and those red lips.  After the ceremony we set off for the reception.  I love wedding receptions for here is where the bride can really show off her style preferences.

The reception was held at White Oak Plantation owned by Chef John Folse.  From the moment we drove up, I knew that this wedding reception was one I had to share with my readers.

This...is what we drove up to.  And that...is when I became very excited and super happy I had decided to charge my cell phone battery.  I was definitely going to be taking some photos.
        I didn't get a great picture of the car the couple drove, but it was a white, vintage Bentley.
When we entered the house, I snapped this photo of the bride because I know how busy brides are at receptions and I knew that I might not get another chance to get a photo of her.
I loved the fact that there were so many beautiful antique pieces of furniture in the house being used to display items for the reception.
And with a Christmas wedding, of course, there were several Christmas trees on display.  This one was in the main sitting room upon entering the house.  It was where the cakes, dessert bar and coffee bar would later be displayed.
                                     Behind the staircase was a table for presents and cards.
                   A breezeway connected the main house to the reception hall and grounds.
The outdoor seating was beautifully set up around old, brick fireplaces that were cozy on this cool night and set the mood perfectly for a Christmas wedding in the south.
 The tables outside were decorated simply with white table cloths and candle light that had a vintage feel.

                                          Food service tables could be found inside and out.
                                                                   Along with a bar.
 Upon entering the main reception hall, guests had the opportunity to help the new couple make memories by taking a white ornament and writing their name with a gold pen on it and placing it on a Christmas tree.
 Hubby and I were lucky enough to secure a table inside and from there I moved about throughout the evening snapping photos.  The tables inside held these lovely flower arrangements.
Another Christmas tree could be found in the corner of the room and look at that black and white tile floor.
We made our way back up to the front of the house where the wedding cake had been cut and other desserts and drinks were being offered.
Keeping with the theme of gold, the Bride's Cake was simple and elegant with each layer being a different flavor.
           The groom's cake, a King Cake, sat among other desserts on a table across the room.
I loved the many little canvases with quotes placed strategically throughout the reception that were also in keeping with the gold theme of the wedding.
                                Next, was one of my favorite things...This hot beverage bar.
Set upon an antique buffet, covered with a white table cloth, this bar had beautiful silver pots that served the hot beverages and crystal martini glasses that held the condiments.

As the evening came to a close, I was really happy that this sweet couple had invited us to attend their wedding.  It was beautiful, elegant and a magical event that was just perfect in every way for this time of the year.