Christmas 2015: A Look Back

Dear sisters,

It’s only been a few weeks since Christmas, but our trip back East felt so momentous that I had to document it here on the blog. Here’s the headline I give when talking about our trip:

We drove about 55 hours over 16 days and went through 10 states to visit both of our families. On our first day we decided to drive over 1000 miles to get to Alfred, NY. Calvin was pretty much an angel baby in the car and handled the whole trip with minimal fussing (though it helped that I could nurse him in his car seat and sat and read many books to him when he got bored, I’m so thankful that books hold his attention for awhile).

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The stats are impressive. The trip didn’t seem monumental before we got started, but once we were going through it, it felt a bit epic :-). I can’t easily describe all of the meaningful family moments though. I don’t think I realized how much I missed being with all of you, my sisters, until we were together. Whether it was small groups or all 5 of us, being together for about a week was rejuvenating. Letting Calvin play and be squired around by different uncles/grandparents/aunts while I was able to cook delicious food was so lovely. Oh the food. I miss it already. Pulled pork sandwiches. That egg/hash brown/sausage casserole for Christmas breakfast (I’ve already made it again for a Sunday brunch). The sticky buns with the most delicious sticky bun topping ever. The raspberry cheesecake. Oh my. It was so good. The holiday season gifted us with MANY MANY SWEETS. You can see that Kevin and I are thinking about eating more veggies for awhile. I made this big salad for two dinners this week and you must make it. Bacon. Craisins. Feta. Candied Nuts. and veggies. Not sure if it’s a healthy salad, but it’s a start!

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He’s TOO SWEET. Love this adorable face.

I received the wonderful gift of a good camera from Marth and Bradley (more so from Bradley, seeing as he was passing on his very nice Canon camera to me). I’m still just figuring out what it can do, but so far I’m blown away with the improvement in picture quality. This post features photos from my new-to-me camera, though most of them are of the week after our family time, so they only feature my baby, not the whole fam.

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These were some of the first few photos I took and I was hooked!

Getting to see my nieces and nephews again was pretty awesome too. Even though it had been a year since seeing Eve and Miriam and a year and a half since seeing Archer and Era, it felt like not too much had changed. Of course, they were bigger and smarter and able to do more things, but they still felt familiar, like the little babies I used to read to, give baths to, play in the tree house with.

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One joint bath happened and it was adorable!

It was a shock to hear midway through our vacation that Grandma Faith had passed away. We had been looking forward to seeing her the weekend after New Year’s Day but that ended up being the weekend of her funerals. I’m so grateful we were able to be at the NY service. I know she would have loved holding Calvin and seeing us again, but I know she loves being free of her old body and is rejoicing in her new one.

At Bruce and Rose's wedding, one of the few pictures I have online of me and Grandma!
At Bruce and Rose’s wedding, one of the few pictures I have online of me and Grandma!

I was remembering after her service that Grandma’s house often served as a pick-up location after Sunday afternoons spent with Patience. At church Patience would often invite me over to play and we’d spend the afternoon doing something crazy (making our own backdrops for a homemade N*SYNC music video? Wish I had pictures of that…). Patience would go to Grandma and Grandpa’s every Sunday night to watch Sister Sister and 7th Heaven on tv, so I’d come with her and Mom or Dad would come pick me up afterwards. We’d raid Grandpa’s candy dish (which he called his medicine…) and have some popcorn or something wonderful. I can close my eyes and remember their Andover house so vividly. Grandpa sitting in his armchair. Grandma sitting behind a card table with a puzzle ready to go. Running up the stairs to the second floor to play house in the extra rooms up there. Eating meals around their dining room table.

I remember when Grandma was first learning how to use the computer that Dad gave her. It seemed like we’d get phone calls every evening from her asking about some computer issue. Usually they’d be simple things like, “The screen just disappeared because you minimized it Grandma. It’s still there if you look at the bottom of the screen.” I can’t imagine how strange a computer would seem if you hadn’t been exposed to them from a young age like my generation has.

Grandma at Esther and Marcus's wedding in 2014, the last time I saw her.
Grandma at Esther and Marcus’s wedding in 2014, the last time I saw her.

Some of my favorite memories from my “adult” life were from car rides with Grandma. When we lived in NJ we were a little over 2 hours away from Lancaster. We’d drive back to Alfred a few times every year, and every so often I’d offer to [have Kevin do the driving and] go to Lancaster and pick her up on our way home. That way we got to see her and she got to spend some time with the NY contingent of family and friends. The 4 hours from Lancaster to Alfred were filled with stories and comments on things we passed. The car often lulls me to sleep, so Kevin spent the majority of the time chatting with Grandma. It made me so happy that Kevin got to know her well during the 9 years that we’ve been together. He didn’t spend much time with any of his grandmas, so I’m so glad I got to share mine with him. We’ll both miss her.

We gave away our dog, Kelcy, over vacation, so our family got a little smaller in that way. This loss we were ready for. The cold Wisconsin winters, living in the city, having an active high energy infant, Kelcy growing old (13!) all combined to make us realize she would be happiest living with Kevin’s parents at their lovely home in the country. She originally lived with them, so it’s not a weird transition for her.

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I miss her just a bit. We’ll have another pet someday, but probably not til we’re done living far away and having babies.

I think she may have missed us for a second, but not having a baby try and rip her eyeballs out is probably a big step up. Maybe she’ll even get to hang out with Grandpa Aagaard’s other pet, his horse Comanche!

Calvin is amazed!
Such a beautiful horse. Calvin is amazed!

I miss our vacation a lot. i.e. I miss family time a lot. It was wonderful and I can’t wait to do it again sometime (except maybe not drive 16 hours in a day). Here are some more of my favorite pictures.

Kevin loves getting his picture taken...
Kevin loves getting his picture taken…
Hurray! Someone's going to take me for a walk!!
Hurray! Someone’s going to take me for a walk!!
I look so good in flannel. And boots. Boots are the best.

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Boxes are obviously the best toys.

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The look of pure hope and excitement.

 

As you can see, we’re really enjoying Calvin at this age. He’s basically the best. Thanks for making it to the end of this patchwork piece of a post and thanks Christmas/New Year’s 2015 for being a rollercoaster of family time.

Love,
Jewel

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2 thoughts on “Christmas 2015: A Look Back

  1. New camera takes great pics! I need to get our nice camera out more often. It’s too easy to just use my phone all the time but the lighting in these nice camera pics is so much better!

    1. It really does! I didn’t edit any of these photos. Before I always had to do something because I never liked my pics on my old camera. It feels good. I put it in a basket on our bookshelf so that I remember to use it often!

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