Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve wasn’t at all like normal this year, but we still wanted to make it special and memorable. We started out with Jake’s family’s traditional Christmas Eve breakfast: sausage cheese balls, blueberry muffins, eggs, and fruit.

It was delicious!

Then we got dressed and loaded up all our presents in Jake’s truck to make our deliveries. We made our rounds, staying only on porches or in yards, but it was fun to get to visit with everyone for just a little bit (it was FREEZING outside!) The kids opened their gifts at Shshr and Ta’s.

After our deliveries, we came home and let the kiddos open presents from all the various family that sent them theirs, and we opened our presents from Mama Judy.

Then we had a long, lazy day together. Jack put together a lot of his new Legos and Josie loved looking at her new Hamilton posters and stickers for her room. We all watched the movie Inception together at some point in the afternoon. (yes, we know, definitely not a Christmas movie, LOL)

That evening Josie and I went together to pick up our favorite Japanese food for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was delicious! And, it snowed on our way home!! And even stuck a bit. Magical, for sure!

After dinner we read through the Christmas story out of all the gospels. Then we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” and ate yummy dessert. (Between my students, Nana, Mama Judy, Ta, and our gingerbread making, we have SO MANY DESSERTS right now!) Jack put together more of his Lego sets while we were watching. πŸ™‚ He said, “This is a good movie to just listen to.” LOL

We ended the night with me trying to get a quick family picture in front of the tree. This is how most of our family picture sessions go, LOL.

After the kiddos went to bed, Jake and I set out Christmas, and then stayed up way too late watching another movie. Which was kind of nice, because normally we are WIPED out by Christmas Eve night, because of all the day’s activities. We missed being with our families, but there was something nice about just being home, too.

Pre-Christmas Festivities

Christmas looked a lot different this year than normal. We found out on the Saturday after school let out that a lot of people at school had come down with Covid, and many were too close to comfort for us to feel okay not quarantining. So, the Fentress family has been on quarantine, and will continue to be, until Jan. 1. Thankfully, though, none of us have any symptoms, and have not felt sick at all. Hopefully, at this point, we are in the clear, but we are still being cautious, just because we don’t want to be the cause of anybody else getting sick.

Anyways, we have still had a lot of Christmas fun, even being on quarantine. Break was a bit different this year, because we had a whole week off before Christmas even happened, which was actually really nice.

The week before school let out was fun for the kids. I made homemade wreaths with my class, and then on our half day we had a party day. I’m not going to share many pics of that, though, since I didn’t get any of just Jack (#momfail), and don’t want to post pics of all my students on here. On the half day before Christmas all the students were really excited because we had a casual day, so everyone could wear jeans and Christmas shirts. It was a lot of fun to see all my kids out of their uniforms! Josie’s class had a white elephant ornament exchange, and she made a felt Baby Yoda ornament to take.

Earlier that week, we also celebrated Mama Judy’s birthday! We had her over for dinner and dessert and the kiddos made her some cards.

One night we went for a drive in Jake’s truck to test out his new radio system, and we stumbled upon the coolest Charlie Brown light display-so fun!

Our sweet, sweet neighbor came over with the sweetest Christmas basket-new Christmas dishes, a gingerbread house kit for the kids, oranges, peppermints, homemade pickles and banana bread! We love our neighbors so much.

I prepped sausage balls for Christmas Eve breakfast, and we kept yummy smell good stuff going on the stove for days.

One night we went to Golly G’s for drinks (hot chocolate for Jake, egg nog coffee for me, and iced coffees for the kids-LOL-They get coffee anytime we allow them to, which isn’t very often!) and then went light looking. Travis Price Park had a whole drive through light display, which was really cool.

One day our sweet youth group leaders came by and dropped off a “quarantine” basket for our family, filled with all kinds of sweet goodies. I love our church. They are the best. I miss, so much, getting to gather with our church family every Sunday…but I know this is only a season. And it will be that much sweeter when we get to again.

When we knew we were going to (literally) be home for the holidays, we made a big list of things we wanted to do to fill our time and make Christmas special. One thing Josie wanted to do was to make and decorate homemade gingerbread cookies. This is something we’d never done before, so I had to look up a recipe and borrow some cookie cutters from Nana (I can’t find my stash! I’m afraid I got rid of them at some point.). I am SO glad, though, that Josie suggested this! She and I had a great time rolling them out together and decorating them, and Jack even decorated a few when he saw how much fun we were having. And, they were DELICIOUS, and we had a great time doing some “cookie drop offs” for some friends and family. I think this is definitely something we will be repeating in future years!

Family Pictures, 2020

Once a year I set up a tripod and we snap some family pictures. This year it was just in our back yard, in under 30 minutes, but I like what we got. πŸ™‚

While I was setting up my camera, the cat decided to join in. πŸ™‚

The many, many faces of Jack. It takes a looonnnnggg time to get a decent picture of him right now, because he is in SUCH an awkward smiling phase. The last one is definitely my favorite, though, because that is HIM.

Love these two goof balls

Why does she keep looking so old??

December so far

December has had its ups and downs, but we are half way through, and only one more week before break!

Here are some miscellaneous things for the month:

The first of the month we had two virtual days, right after Thanksgiving, to make sure everyone was well/not infected before we came back to school. The first day I took the kids with me to my classroom and taught from there, but the second day we just stayed home. And it was nice! It went so much more smoothly than in the spring, because everyone is more used to doing so many things virtually.

Jake got a much deserved new truck! We bought it from Chad, who was getting something else. It is SO nice. We are excited to take a trip in it, because it has so much more room in the cab.

Normally the first Friday in December is our school’s Christmas Vespers performance. However, because of Covid, it was not a live performance. Instead, we filmed it beforehand and had a simulcast the night that it would normally be on, so everyone could watch at the same time at home. It was actually pretty cool to watch! Ta sent me a picture of Jack she took while she was watching, and a friend took a picture of Josie while she was watching. πŸ™‚

Craft projects are keeping me sane here lately on the weekends. I’ve made jelly, painted a plaque for a baby gift, and worked on some other random Christmas gift crafts.

Here’s to this week going smoothly and quickly!

be still

A couple of weeks ago it was finally time for something I had been waiting for for a couple of months-my tattoo appointment. This is something I had been contemplating for a couple of years, and a phrase God had laid on my heart a couple of years ago that I’ve been mulling over for some time. (Not that he laid on my heart to get a tattoo, but he definitely did some speaking to me through this phrase.) And this year has been hard. And I felt like the time was right.

A couple of my dear friends went with me, right after school one day.

It did hurt a bit…..but really not too bad, and it was totally, totally worth it. It turned out exactly I had envisioned in my head. Not sure if I shared this or not, but I had my mom write it…so this is her handwriting, which makes it even more special.

be still……a good and much needed reminder.

Christmas Decorations!

I was not looking forward to decorating for Christmas this year. To be truthful, I really never look forward to decorating for Christmas. But, the kids were pumped, so we got them out on Friday. I put up less than normal, even, but I was please with how they turned out, initially. Then, Jake found a cool website that showed how to make homemade garland out of fresh cedar. So on Sunday, we went over to the farm, and I cut a bunch of cedar boughs, and tried my hand at it-and I LOVED how they turned out! It didn’t take long at all, and made such a big impact! The fresh cedar just added such a POP to all of our Christmas decor, with pretty minimal effort. Definitely will be doing it again. πŸ™‚

We found this awesome antique nativity set in Mama Judy’s attic!

And then, on November 30th, it snowed! So decor in (a little bit) of snow:

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was certainly different this year. Covid sucks. Period.

We all decided it would be best to break up our normal Thanksgiving routine, for safety purposes. So instead of all going to Nana’s, she had Ta and her family and Shshr there, and Casey/Chad/their families and us went down to Mom and Dad’s.

Mom and Dad set up the cabin for dinner so that we would be able to spread out more, and we opened doors and windows for ventilation. We also pretty much stayed outside except for while we were eating. It was nice to be with everyone, though, no matter how we had to do it. πŸ™‚ and the food was delicious!

Josie and Jack Facetimed with Nana before we left. πŸ™‚

Jake and I went on a hike.

Shshr dropped by to see the kiddos for a bit.

You might be a redneck if….you go sledding down a hill in a flat bottom boat when there isn’t any snow on the ground. LOL.

Friday we had a mostly lazy day at home together, and ended up putting up our Christmas decorations. After everyone else left Mama Judy’s, we went over to eat dinner with her. We just weren’t comfortable being in the house when everyone was there. BLEH COVID. Dinner was delicious, of course!

Hopefully next year will be back to normal!

Random November Tidbits

Here’s a catch up of November.

This is Jack at school-perk of having your own kid in class is getting to take pictures of him. πŸ™‚ He was partner working with one of the students that was quarantined at home. 2020 at its finest right here.

I voted! So glad that the election is over and done with.

This girl has very specific opinions about her hair. She wanted to sleep in curlers for school picture day, and she wanted to sleep in braids for our Vespers day at school so her hair would be “crinkly.”

Yep. The Psalms are my jam right now.

Found this cool stool while we were helping Mama Judy clean out her garage, and I redid it to take to school!

Another classic 2020 image: online church. I wanted to remember these song lyrics. They were timely.

I love this cat. And my porch. And sweatpants. And the sun.

These kiddos. They created their very own zip line out of some rope in the back yard, and spent hours out there, multiple days. I love their creativity. This particular activity may have been inspired by our family viewing of “The World’s Toughest Race” LOL.

This girl had to quarantine for two weeks at the beginning of November because one of her classmates was Covid positive. (The whole 7th grade had to quarantine.) So she had virtual school. She was dreading it, but then really ended up enjoying herself. She enjoyed being home with her daddy all by herself.

I absolutely love catching these two curled up on the couch reading. Jack has really started getting interested in reading on his own. He is into the “Wings of Fire” series. And Josie absolutely DEVOURS any book she lays her hands on.

Jake cooked a deer roast in the smoker, and it was DELICIOUS. He also did some chicken in the smoker on another time, and it was ALSO delicious.

Fire night with awesome friends…..we have loved our fire pit this year- a very good investment, especially for the craziness of 2020!

This boy loves board games SO much….and pajamas. He is ALWAYS in pajamas. One day he was playing checkers with himself. LOL.

The day before Thanksgiving break, the upper schoolers got to have JECA’s first ever “casual” day at school. These girls were PUMPED. Middle schoolers are funny.

Maybe the earliest I have EVER had Christmas presents bought AND wrapped. That pile is a whole lot bigger now! I was completely done with my shopping BEFORE December!

Another craft project- I made this pillow out of an old jacket of my Pop’s….I love the way it turned out.

Big news-I am getting a tattoo!! Tomorrow!! And I had my mom write it. So she wrote “be still” about a million times for me, and then I picked the one on the right.

Josie and I tried out some Color Street nails-they are great! I’m trying to stop biting my nails..but Josie has BEAUTIFUL nails, that are just begging for polish always.

Jake got me this weighted blanket this month. It is gorgeous and SO fantastic. I love it.

November, all in all, has been a hard month for several reasons. But looking back like this is helpful, because it helps me focus on the bright spots and the positive instead of dwelling on the hard and dark.