December 1st is always "gingerbread house" night. I most always have to call in back-up from Dan- my icing engineering skills are sub-par and this year was no different.
December 1st also happened to be my very last day at P&G. I honestly thought it would be YEARS before I uttered "last day at P&G." But, God had different plans for me- and our family. Needless to say I felt more than loved from my P&G family on the days leading up to my leaving, on my actual last day and then again about a week later for my going away party. Honestly, these people- some of my very best friends- and they always will be.
In between by P&G farewell and first day at Compassion I took a week off to spend with my sweet babies. We filled up our time with adventures, more Christmas fun and every little thing in between.
Little bear arranging and re-arranging his Nativity Scene.
When you're thankful for your extra time together you waste no time complaining about "chores" ... you make the ordinary extraordinary- like making impromptu stops for donuts after preschool drop-off or picking up flowers when grocery shopping and if you're a peanut- you look pret-ty good doing it.
The Village Roastery was one fire - I'm not going to lie, it was a little much on the week leading up to Christmas, but once we were able to get every order roasted, packaged and shipped it felt SO GOOD to hit SEND on money for the sweet babies fleeing Syria at the moment. Our efforts in December and January are all geared towards Aleepo in partnership with Preemptive Love Coalition.
We may be a small family-run non-profit but that doesn't mean our employees are always happy!
Although we don't "do" Santa... we focus on Jesus as the reason of the season (you're welcome for the cliche), we still can find magic and fun in The Polar Express. Especially Jonah who loves "choo-choos" right now as every two-year old does.
My week off happened to be one of Dan's "night shift" weeks which was a bummer, but the babies and I had no problem squeezing in even late night adventures- this time we went to see The Cincinnati Boys Choir at The Aronoff followed by ice cream on fountain square during the Downtown Dazzle- fireworks, the Christmas Tree, watching ice skaters... I love Christmas time in the city.
I did have to take a time-out from the festivities for my first week on the new job in Colorado. It is never easy to leave my babies. Not ever. But, there's only so much good you can do inside your comfort zone so I pushed myself with one of the boldest moves to date by leaving P&G and joining Compassion as their Director of Consumer Insights. My first week was full of meeting new people and exploring new places.
Most nights in town I was having dinner or coffee with people on my team, but I did have a couple of nights on my own - I had dinner on my own at a tapas place in Old Colorado City, had dessert at The Broadmoor and walked around to enjoy their Christmas decorations... and stared in awe at the view from my office.
Christmas activities also included driving around to look at lights, lots of hot chocolate, too many showings of The Elf and Home Alone (Audrey now quotes Harry and Marv)... and one night we went shopping for supplies to make Homeless packets and had a little people assembly line. We store them in our car for when we're out and about to hand out.
December also brought the start to Ski season! This year both Audrey and Jackson took to the slopes with Dan. They're all three obsessed and I'm more than impressed with their skills. Jonah and I join them regularly to sip hot chocolate in the lodge.... I'm hoping we're all five out there by next year although I'll probably be the only one stuck on the bunny hills.
We had our annual date to see The Nutcracker with Nanna- the peanut loves the ballet (and so do I).
One of my favorite traditions is baking baby Jesus a birthday cake. These three love any tradition at all involving cake. So it's a win, win. Here's to hoping they'll humor me with singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus when they're teenagers.
Jackson and Audrey's mini trees. (note: Nanna added one for Jonah mid-season- it had been Grandma Nanny's). One night Audrey stripped ALL the ornaments off of her tree and put them on Jackson's. She then took some of her very favorite toys and laid them underneath as gifts- all for her Jackie. There are moments when I'm not the best mom I can be and there are moments when I know I must be doing at least a few things right. This was one of them. #loveinaction
The only downside of beginning my new job was that it meant I didn't get to take the previously planned two weeks off over Christmas and New Year's. Instead, after my trip to Colorado I worked from my new home office which Dan so sweetly helped me get set up. I love it in there... but over the holidays I had a feeeew too many little visitors, if you know what I mean. I loved seeing their faces during the work day. I loved the extra hugs and kisses. But, it made it really hard to focus and it had me feeling less than productive in my new position.
The one other big up-side of my new office is that it cleared space in my "old home office" for a puzzle room for Dan. Because everyone needs a puzzle room. All joking aside, they do use it every day.
As we got closer to Christmas Day we had a lot of family celebrations- I wasn't very good at taking photos at all of them- but here are a few highlights. The babies had the perfect balance of solo attention at Nanna & Pop's house where they are the star of the show and lots (lots) of crazy cousin fun at Mamaw & Papaw's. With cousin V home from Denver we had all 11 grandbabies home. They range in age from one to eight. That's a lot of...
This is how the Engel 11 open gifts...
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were low-key... Christmas Eve Church Service, our annual Pajama Christmas Eve party and then a relaxing Christmas Day at home. The only big - big - thing missing was Dan. He had to work through Christmas and to make it even harder, he was on nights. So, he worked Christmas Eve night- we had catering delivered to his team so they could at least enjoy good food while working- he arrived home around 6am Christmas morning and napped for a couple of hours then woke up for an hour while the babies opened gifts and then went back to sleep before going back into work. Bummer. Thankfully he has just about the best attitude and work ethic I've every known. The best example for our babies, I tell you. And so he never complains- not ever. He may get (really) tired, but he recognizes how blessed we are and fortunate to have jobs to provide everything our little family needs. =perspective