Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Christmas to Remember

Here it is nearing mid-January and I am finally putting up a Christmas 2015 blog post. It has taken me a while to get this post done but even so, it needed to written.

So here it is, albeit, delayed. Come to think of it, it is much like just about everything about our Christmas...somehow fitting!  

Oh my what a Christmas it has been! One for the memory books, that is for sure!

It began with the selection of a *real* Christmas tree for the first time in 15 years! Annah longed for a real tree as she has only known us to have an artificial tree. It was 15 years ago that we went the way of a fake tree because we had our house up for sale and decided that *if* we had to move it would be way easier to move an imposture tree than the real deal. It turned out that it was a good choice because we sold the house and moved to our then new house 1 week before Christmas. Taking down the tree, throwing it in a box and moving it was easy peasy and it's been an artificial tree for us ever since. This year Annah wanted the experience of a real tree for her and for our exchange student, Marta, who also had never had a real tree. So we went real tree shopping.

Annah and Marta picked a lovely tree :)


The tree went up and it actually was kind of nice to have a live tree again and life moved on. I tried to keep a positive attitude about the dropping of the needles... and the drooping branches that made ornaments slide off the tree... and the sap that started dripping on the presents under the tree. 

Yeah, I was losing my enthusiasm quickly. 

We had to move the presents out from under the tree and put a sheet under it to keep any sap from dripping on the rug. Of course that didn't help the sap that was dripping on the ornaments... and on the strands of lights. 

Did I mention that I was losing my enthusiasm for a real tree?

Fast forward to Christmas Eve day.... 

We had been having intermittent Internet problems for a few weeks. The day before it just stopped working altogether so we had the repairman from Time Warner coming to check it out at about 11 that day. I began my morning by bringing the vacuum cleaner to the living room to suck up some more needles from the tree. As I went toward the tree and looked down I saw little black spots on the rug and on the floor in the entry way. There were hundreds of black spots. I thought something got spilled but as I stood staring, the black spots were moving! My next thought was they were little black spiders....then I thought maybe they were ticks! Moving in for a close up look I saw they had 6 legs so I knew they they were not spiders or ticks. I began sucking up everyone of those bugs, just anxious to have them gone!! We did a Google search to see what it was we were looking at (our Internet was still down so thank goodness for our phones!) and found out that what we had was a kind of aphid that can infest fir trees. UGH! I have seen aphids before but these were bigger than any aphids I have ever seen! 

Okay, it can't be that bad, right? It's the day before Christmas and surely we can live with a few bugs for 24 hours then we can get the tree down and out of the house. Well, that was easier said than done. Almost as soon as we would vacuum up the aphids, more would make their way out of the tree and onto the rug. Every 10 minutes or so I would vacuum up more bugs. I began think that we might have to keep bug watch through the night and just keep sucking them up!

By 2 o'clock we were all pretty discouraged. 

Time Warner declared our Internet fixed after running a new cable in the back yard. Turns out that that wasn't true because after they left it still wasn't working right. With an hour to spare before the Time Warner store closed (because it was Christmas eve day), Tim had to go swap out our old modem for a new one since they now thought that was the issue. That swap didn't cost us anything because it's their modem but that wasn't the case when we also needed a new router. :( 

On top of that we were getting text messages from the airline saying that Abigail's flight out of Phoenix was delayed...first by an hour and 45 minutes, then by 2 hours and 11 minutes. It wasn't looking good because she had a 2 hour layover in Atlanta so if she was anymore delayed leaving Phoenix she would miss her connecting flight into Lexington. Our plan to pick her up from the airport on Christmas Eve at 11:30 pm was starting to shift.

In the midst of all of that the bugs kept coming and finally I gave into what I didn't want to have to do.....

We UN-DECORATED THE TREE and took it down and out of the house! We just couldn't live with creepy bugs coming out of the Christmas tree one more day! As Tim took the tree from the house he could see even more of those bugs scurrying up and down the tree truck! YUK!

We had a choice of using our regular big fake tree or to use a scrawny, small fake tree. We took the path of least resistance and used the scrawny, small tree and it never looked so good to us after experiencing all those bugs!  

After the tree was up and decorated we learned that there was no way Abigail could make it home on Christmas Eve. The earliest flight out of Phoenix was the next morning, Christmas morning. If she flew into Lexington (where her ticket was to) she wouldn't arrive until 10:30 pm Christmas night but if she flew into Louisville she would get in at 1:30 Christmas afternoon. We opted for her to go to Louisville even though it meant an hour and a half drive one way to get her verses the 20 minute drive if she was coming into Lexington. But at least we would get her for most of Christmas Day so Louisville it was.

With all the commotion of Christmas Eve and Abigail not coming in, we decided at  the last minute to go see Star Wars since we hadn't seen it and we weren't making a trip to the airport after all. The theater was so full that we couldn't get seats that let us sit together so we were split up. Annah and Marta got the only two seats together and Tim, Jacob and I had seats in the same row but not near each other. By the start of the movie some very kind people, seeing that we were all together but not able to sit together, had offered to trade seats so that at least the girls and Jacob and I could all sit together. :) 

Christmas morning we had Jacob open his stocking and presents because he had to work later in the day and wouldn't be around once we got Abigail and made the trip back home. Tim and I and Annah and Marta opened our stocking but wanted to wait for Abigail for presents. 

Andrew stopped by to have his Christmas the day before because he left to go to Texas on Christmas Eve day. He arrived in Texas on Christmas morning just in time for a BLIZZARD to hit Lubbock where they got 1-2 inches of ice and 10-12 inches of snow!!! 

We met Abigail at the airport on Christmas Day dressed in our Santa hats. Annah and Marta brought a matching Ninja Turtles Christmas shirt for Abigail! (I wore that shirt to school and everybody was pretty sure I won the "ugly sweater contest"!! The kids all thought it was pretty awesome though!!)

Finally home we opened presents and enjoyed the rest of the day, minus Christmas dinner. 

We also got to Skype with Tim, Lisa, August and Tim's brother, Jeff. We also talked to Jordan and McKenna on the phone as they were in Utah with McKenna's family.

My sweetest gift this year was from August.... :)
Tim got a t-shirt like this too!

Tim wasn't sure why I was opting to do our Christmas dinner the day after Christmas instead of on Christmas Day. I felt like I didn't have much time to fit in all the preparations of a ham dinner and all the trimmings with the delay of everything.

To that Tim said, "It won't take *that* long...all you have to do is heat up the ham!"  

I know, you are saying, "Did he REALLY say that?" Yes he did! BWHAHAHAHA!

We ended up having Christmas dinner the day after Christmas during halftime of the UK basketball game! HA! That was our only option because after the game we had to leave to take Marta to Sparta, Kentucky to the home of an exchange host family who was taking her to Florida with them for 2 weeks where she would spend a week in St. Augustine and a week in Disney World! The drive took an hour and a half in the pouring down rain accompanied with thunder and lightening -- quite a sight to see on December 26th! We have never seen Kentucky so green in December!

Before the fiasco of the aphids, delayed flights and dinners, we did do a few things leading up to the holidays. A few days before Christmas we went the Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park to see all the lights. We walked around, took pictures and shared a funnel cake. :) 

Annah and Marta at Southern Lights

Christmas cuteness!

The exchange students had a Christmas party that we attended with Marta. 

Marta (from Spain), Annah, Nutcha (from Thailand) 
and Linda (From Netherlands) 

We made a gingerbread house (a Christmas tradition for the Valentas!)

It's Ella our dog!

And the Christmas elves delivered LOTS of Christmas cookies! :)

With Christmas behind us we packed up the decorations and hide them away for another year (hopefully another less stressful year!) and rang in the New Year at home with Abigail and Annah.

Even with things all askew this Christmas we have been most grateful for the things that matter most -- our family. We are looking forward to another year of finding the good things in each other and in our life together!