Emma and Eli: December 2016

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December brings the season of excitement!  If you aren’t careful it can quickly become overwhelming busyness…but I’m so grateful for the perspective of enjoying the excitement!  The season of Advent is meant to be a time of preparing for the coming King.  In the Strange house, we made the most of all 31 days of December!
Emma was helping me with groceries at Aldi one day and spotted a sugar cookie decorating kit.  She promised to do all the work and we bought it for her and Eli to enjoy.  They had a great time!  It even worked out because they spent so long decorating, that they really only wanted a bite or two of the sugar soaked creations!
The first weekend of December, I headed to Auburn with our NCCS Robotics team.  Clint took the kids on that Saturday to visit his mom and his family up in Summerville.  They had a great time catching up with everyone!  That was the official kickoff to Eli’s birthday week.  Eli turned 4 on December 8th…what a treasure to celebrate our little guy!  On Eli’s birthday, we took him Chick-fil-A to celebrate for lunch at school and he picked Poblano’s for dinner.  He doesn’t really even care where we eat usually, but Emma talked him into Poblano’s because they sign to you while you where a sombrero and give you a free dessert.  What’s not to love??!!  We got Eli his first big boy bike and he was so excited.  It was pretty cold that night, but he rode it around and around in the garage for almost an hour!
The following weekend, Clint continued an annual tradition by taking the kids to downtown Dallas (GA) to the theater to see the Classic Christmas cartoons that they show every year.  Emma and Eli look forward to this every year and I’m so glad they have that special time with their awesome Dad!  That Sunday we went up to Summerville to ride the Summerville Santa Train.  The Bitners and Wallaces went with us to join in on the fun!  The Santa himself was an interesting fella, but we always have a great time with that group!
Emma had her Christmas piano recital at school.  I’m so glad that we have these recitals about every 6 months, it’s a great way to hear how much progress Emma is making in learning to play the piano.  She really enjoys music and loves learning more about playing some of her favorite songs.  School activities started winding down as we approached the end of the semester, but that meant the fun was ramping up!  We spent an evening at the new (Emerson, GA) LakePoint Station with the rest of the faculty, staff, and families of NCCS.  What a fun evening!  Our Strange family favorite was the Clip and Climb area.  All four of us tried the climbing walls and other challenges…we can’t wait to go back!
We wrapped up the semester with the Christmas concert at school and class parties.  The kids did great in the program and we loved the activities with their classmates.  After that, we were officially on Christmas Break that Tuesday!  Eli always does well sticking as close as possible to his routine, so we had him to go the daycare he used to go to the first two days we were out of school.  He was glad to see all his old friends and play with all of them!  On Wednesday, Emma and I continued our tradition of a mother/daughter Christmas date.  Emma picks all the spots.  We did some shopping and went out to lunch together.  On Thursday Clint took the day off and joined us so we went ice skating, ate lunch on the Marietta Square, and ran a few more errands.  On Friday, the whole Strange party of Four started our day at the free NCG Theater showing of Polar Express which was a lot of fun and then we just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company.  The weather was beautiful, so we took the kids and their bikes up to school to ride around in the big empty parking lot.  They loved it!
We spent Christmas Eve in Summerville with Clint’s family and had a great time catching up with everyone!  That is always a fun time with lots of cousins and a lot of great food!  We came back home in time in time to help serve at the 5pm Candlelight service at church.  Clint and I were greeters and Emma was super excited to help hand out things for the kids at the services.  As you can imagine, she took her duties very seriously!  We love the Christmas Candlelight services at Cedarcrest and enjoy it even more when we can enjoy it with sweet friends!  It’s been a long time since we’ve been home for Christmas, so this year we started a new tradition of Christmas Eve Waffle House for dinner after church.  We loved it!
Christmas morning was lots of fun as the kids were so excited just to be home and play with their stuff.  It was one of the most laid back days and we loved it!  The weather was beautiful and we stayed outside most of the day.  Emma’s big gift was a guitar and Eli’s was a VTech Leapfrog Desk for his room.  They loved their gifts and dug right in.  Eli also got lots of football things…a kicking tee, padded pants, and mouthpieces for his helmet.  I surprised the family with a drone for everyone to enjoy.  Clint surprised us with two indoor skydiving tickets for Emma and I to go and have fun!  What a day!  We wrapped up by having a wonderful turkey dinner at home and then we made gingerbread houses to close out the day.
We headed to Memphis on December 27th and immediately caught up with family and friends.  When we stay at my sister’s house, it’s always super lively with her 3 year old daughter and twin 2 year old sons in addition to our two…and we wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s total chaos while they are all awake, and then super quiet once bedtime comes.  Emma loves being the oldest because she gets to stay up with the adults and talk.  My mom spent the day with us as we did some Memphis touristy things…Huey’s downtown, the Peabody, Bass Pro Shop, etc.  We had so much fun with her and will look forward to doing that again!  The highlight of that day for Emma and Nora was a sleepover with Mimi!  Not much sleeping…but it was definitely a treat for the girls!  Thursday morning we took all the kids to play on a train out in Collierville and then Clint and Emma spent the afternoon at Graceland…Emma’s Christmas gift to Clint.  They had so much fun!  On Friday, Clint and I took Eli to the Liberty Bowl where we cheered for Georgia since that is our home state.  It was a beautiful day and our football crazy boy loved it!  It was also super fun to catch up with lots of friends from home that had come in town to cheer for UGA!
On New Year’s Eve we drove to Mississippi for Andrew’s wedding.  The Harbors have been dear friends for 25 years since Dyer was my High School Youth Pastor.  We had a great time at the wedding and catching up with the Harbors.  After the wedding we drove to Birmingham for the last fun family activity of 2016…a night at a hotel with an indoor pool.  Our kids just love that!  We ordered pizza and ate it at the pool while they swam for a few hours.  Then…we rung in New Year’s with our East coast friends via the TV and then called it a night.  Happy New Year!  2016 was such a treasure in so many ways and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2017!
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