It's 72 degrees today, the windows are open, I'm waiting for water to boil for my tea, and I am filled with gratitude for the wonderful Christmas we had in Cincinnati. We drove there last Saturday, and stayed with my parents till the following Saturday.
We got there with all of our Christmas preparations already finished, and nothing to do but relax and enjoy my parents' hospitality and one another's company. We enjoyed Anna and Robert's hospitality quite a bit too, with them being right around the corner. The weather was nice all the week, and the kids jumped on the trampoline. We sat on the front porch with tea and coffee, and no jackets. We all had dinner there once, and most nights we'd stay there till it was time for everyone to go to bed. We had so many laughs (and beers) in their living room.
A few months ago, Anna found this raggedy little dog on the street and took him home. She made a token effort to reunite him with his owners, but she and Monty Don (named after a famous British gardener) quickly became inseparable. I couldn't help but laugh the first time I saw him, with those wiry tufts of fur sticking out of his head and entirely absent from three quarters of his scrawny little body. Their best guess is he's a Chinese Crested mix. He was not treated well wherever he came from, so he was very skittish around us. He followed Anna everywhere and curled up next to her whenever she sat; but he also tolerated being carried around the house by three-year-old Lizzie. In spite of, or maybe because of his grizzled, threadbare appearance, along with those soulful eyes, I was so charmed by him. A sweeter and gentler creature I had never laid eyes on. I tried so hard to win him over! He would sometimes come to sniff my hands, but when I tried to pet him he'd back away. Better luck next time.
The babies are growing quickly. The reigning youngest is Sophie's little David, pictured above. He'll be a year in February. Sophie lives about 40 minutes away now, so nobody sees them as often as they'd like, but he and his two older brothers stayed at Mom and Dad's one day for a few hours.
Then there was this young lady, Anna's youngest, Evangeline or "Evvie", who turned one last week. She is the cutest, happiest little thing who would toddle out of the room and then back in, just to see our eyes light up at her.
Tim took the Big 3 to see the newest Star Wars movie the day before Christmas Eve. Delaney said it was the, but Tim, Timmy and Annie were kind of meh about it.
On Christmas Eve we went to Mass and then Scotty and Faith's. We ate delicious food, prayed a Rosary and sang Christmas carols by candlelight, opened presents, and took lots of pictures.
We had a peaceful, slow start to Christmas Day, and then after everyone had gotten to enjoy their presents (iPads, among other things) for a little while, we took them to the lake trail down the street for fresh air and sunshine. Who needs a white Christmas?
The next day, we drove about an hour south to Falmouth, KY, to see Scotty and Faith's farm that they have been working hard to fix up since they bought it two years ago. It was a wasteland when they first saw it, an erstwhile tobacco farm with trash everywhere and a house inhabited by a tobacco juice-spewing old man who, to put it nicely, did not like to clean up after himself. But they had been searching for a couple years for a few acres of land on a river, and they had a vision. Now it is a getaway for hunting, fishing, canoeing, or four-wheeling; and they are generously sharing it with the whole family. It is a real curiosity to the neighbors who, not to disrespect, have couches on their porches and lots of lawn ornaments because in a place like that, it just doesn't matter. I'm sure they appreciate how much Scotty and Faith have cleaned up the property. It's been a labor of love for them, their kids, my dad, assorted siblings, and whoever else they could get to help--and they're not done with it yet. I love the farmhouse! When they get a fire going in there, it's going to be dreamy. It's so Chip and Joanna of them, the way they incorporated "junk" from the property into the finishing details. Stuff like old barn wood, temperature gauges, posted signs, and tobacco sticks all got a new lease on life here, and they give the place so much character. I might have been drooling at the sight of it all.
I was so sad to leave Saturday morning, but also a little relieved because it seemed like the longer we stayed, the less sleep we were getting. To make matters worse, Annie and Joey caught a crud that gave them runny noses sometimes, stuffy noses other times, and coughs all night long. Annie still has it, and Joey might too, although I think he just milks it so he can have another cough drop. Mom taught Annie to use a neti pot while we were there, and it gave her some relief, so now she's got her own on the way from Amazon.
I hope everyone had the best Christmas. I'm going to be peeking between my fingers to see what 2020 will be bringing us, with Tim's retirement this summer, moving away from my beloved North Carolina, and beginning a new life in Massachusetts. I've been the worst about documenting things these past several months, but I'll try to remember to share when I can if for no other reason, it will be a lot of fun to look back on one day.