The other night, Craig was listing all the things we've done in the last month...concerts, movies (Star Wars was AMAZING,) parties, dances, ICE at the Gaylord Texan, and a million other things... And while all of those things were definitely great, what I loved most about this break were the things that drew my kids out of their rooms and Craig out of his office, and that connected us to each other and to other people.
Games. We played Killer Bunnies for the first half of the break, until the kids started getting a little too aggressive and none of my bunnies stood a chance of staying alive for very long. It's discouraging for me to lose bunnies...
For Christmas we got the kids Ticket to Ride (both the US and the European versions) and we've pretty much had to just clear off the kitchen table and have this game semi-permanently live there because we've loved playing it so much. Best purchase ever!
Fitbits. It was a technology Christmas for us this year. Craig thought matching Fitbits would be a great motivator for healthier choices in 2016. So now we're both finding creative ways to get our 10,000 steps in everyday. On Thursday, McKay wanted to fly his new drone, so Craig and I took all the kids to Celebration Park and while McKay tested his new toys, Craig and I walked around and around the park. And when Craig was done, I kept walking...and I ended the day with more steps than he did. (That's the one and only time since Christmas that that's happened.) What beautiful weather we've had over the break and how grateful I am for the opportunity and the desire to be outside enjoying it.
Service. On New Year's Eve, there was an organized group of people from our church who took shifts to clean up nearby tornado-damaged areas. Craig took all the kids with him and they spent a fulfilling morning doing service for people they didn't even know. No one was very excited about getting up at 7:00 and going to do hard work for four hours, but when they got home, every one of them said it was the best thing they had done all week! How grateful I am for opportunities for my kids to get out of their rooms and out of their abundance for awhile and do something worthwhile.
Good friends. I can't even tell you how much these people in Allen mean to me. I have been grumpy since July and difficult to live with, I'm sure. I have mentally checked out and then checked back in several times over the last six months as we've waited to move to Birmingham and then didn't actually move. And through all of that, my friends have been patient and kind and they have continued to say yes every time I've managed to make a feeble attempt to connect with the outside world. We had a few of them over for NYE and it was such a great night. I'm amazed at how uplifting it is to invite people over. I don't really know how to "hostess" a party. I don't plan enough games or have themed decorations. I don't actually know how to move people from one place in my house to another, so sometimes they all get stuck in the kitchen. But I do know that making a little food and opening my door are the keys to happy and fulfilling connections that I personally thrive on. We didn't even play any games on NYE. I barely took any pictures. We all just sat around the dining room table and talked until we realized it was 11:45 and we should probably move toward a countdown. And then, to my great delight, no one left until 1:30! I LOVE when people linger in my home.
While the over 40 crowd and the 12 year olds gathered at our house, the youth went to a multi stake NYE dance which my girls loved as much as we loved our celebration.
I am immensely grateful for the many opportunities we've had to connect with friends and neighbors and as a family throughout this holiday season. We are abundantly blessed to be surrounded by kind, thoughtful, encouraging, and inspiring people. How grateful I am for all of them.