It seems that most people are writing reflective posts today about 2007. Makes sense, but that's not what I'm doing, at least not in this post.
Callaway Gardens was absolutely wonderful. It was a trip down nostalgia lane for me. Some things were better, some were worse, and some, amazingly, were exactly the same.
Callaway is located in Pine Mountain, GA, about one hour south of Atlanta. I went to third grade through eighth grade there. I absolutely loved living there. I just deleted the rest of this paragraph as I'm realizing it's a post of its own. This one is about this year.
In November 2006, my youngest sister gave birth to her first child, Josie. They were living in the San Francisco area then, so didn't make it to our family Christmas. Well, actually, our family Christmas is usually every other year, so none of us made it there. Between Josie, Sera, and my other new niece, Ava, we had three new grandchildren this year. For the first time there was a grandchild for every sister in my family. There are four of us. This year we had eight grandchildren at Christmas: four boys and four girls.
The time went too fast. I felt like I didn't really get to sit down and talk to anyone. Christmas morning was chaos, fun, but chaos as the paper went flying. My oldest nephew, Brantley, was a huge help to us as he made himself Sera's number one assistant. She rewarded him by calling him T by the end of our visit. It started as B, but became T.
She raked in the gifts, all of which were huge hits. Granddaddy and Grandma Nora gave her a refrigerator magnet game as did Grandma. She also got bath toys and an Aquadoodle from Granddaddy and Grandma Nora. The Aquadoodle is especially popular this week. She also received an Asian Bitty Baby from American Girl, a Sit 'n Spin, Backyardigan plates, the Beijing Olympic stuffed mascots, two sets of Asian pajamas, one set of Nick & Nora Noel pajamas, three Mandarin/English picture books, and more I can't even remember from her Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. Santa brought her Elmo, a ladybug constellation light, a dress-me doll, Asian play food, an easel, and a bathtub bubble maker. After Christmas, daddy found a Little Einstein rocket with all four characters playset that is totally awesome. It's a huge hit.
When we left Callaway, we headed to my sister's house in the Atlanta area. We had one more day with Jessica, Jeremy, and Josie before they headed home to Texas. It wasn't until after 10:30 on my last night that I felt like I had a chance to sit down and visit with a family member. Marcia and I looked at her photos from their trip last month to China. We talked for a couple of hours before heading off to bed.
On Friday morning, we got up to pouring rain. Jim loaded the car and we hit the road. Thirteen hours, and multiple stops later, we were home. Jim drove the entire way, which was really good because I was exhausted from too many late nights with my sisters and too many early mornings with my daughter.
We stayed in five different cottages all next door to each other. Sera loved walking on the paths and through the trees to visit. Here she's making sure doggie is okay.
Granddaddy reading Twas The Night Before Christmas on an iPhone. Isn't that how everyone does it now? Sera had crashed and was sleeping in the guest room.
Marcia helping Ava unwrap her Bitty Baby. All three new nieces got one, and it was a very popular gift for all three girls.
Sera and her assistant, Brantley, getting into this unwrapping thing.
When Sera got her Bitty Baby, she crawled under the table and was done. It was all about the new baby from this point.
It was impossible to get everyone in one shot, but here are the rest of the grandchildren, except Brantley and Sera as they were to my side.
Forgive all the photos. They're all out of focus. It's amazing how kids won't keep still long enough for a picture on Christmas morning, isn't it?
This is it for my camera. Jim also took pictures, but I still need to get them from him.
This was the most amazing Christmas ever for me. I was able to see my family and spend some time (though not enough) with them, but most importantly, I was able to spend it with my loving husband and our amazing daughter. She weathered each transition like a trooper. She handled the drive down and back and all the people and all the chaos like a pro. She hadn't seen them since July, but she warmed up fairly quickly. We did have a few toddler moments with three toddlers in the family, but it was all good. Let me just say that if Sera owned a toy, touched a toy, saw a toy, or even thought about a toy...it was hers. When I made her share, many tears ensued. Life is difficult indeed.
As 2007 wraps up in a few hours, I look forward to 2008. I know it's only going to get better. I know this year was a pretty incredible one. I hope that 2008 is wonderful for you all, too.