Photobucket Photobucket  photo M1_zpsmeajs2i9.png  photo hs_zpsjdypdbbd.png Photobucket


Christmas Part 1 : Hazel's First Christmas

I'm feeling this week between Christmas and the New Year is one of the best of the year!  It's slow and relaxed and I am loving every bit of it right now.

We had a great Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, we all got dressed up to go to a Christmas Eve church service.

christmas 2014

My last-minute/late night nightgown and pajamas sewing left my laundry pile dangerously neglected.   It may have been a record, in fact, of most-laundry-ever.  So I dug through a mountain of clothing in search of tights and Christmas dresses.  Then I immediately threw them in the wash.  I pulled them out of the dryer without a minute to spare (literally).

christmas 2014

Afterward, I insisted on taking our obligatory family photo.  Man, it is very very hard to get a family photo where everyone is looking or not making a silly expression.  For instance, this seems to be a new favorite of Tia's.

christmas 2014

She just looks kind of skeptical of the whole thing.  And here she is with it again!

my girls

She's so funny!  She made up for it with this one, though.

my girlies

She is the sweetest girl!  I read a quote on adoption last month and it really resonated with me.  "A child born to another woman calls me Mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me."  Yes.  I feel that so acutely, especially at this time of year.  Tarikua is such a loving and gentle soul!  I am crazy about her and we are so lucky to have her in our family! 

iris and me

Recently Tia discovered my name is Rachel and has experimented with calling me Rachel.  I told her that anyone in the world can call me Rachel but only 5 people can call me Mom, so I'd really prefer that she stick with 'Mom'.  ;)

This year was Hazel's first Christmas, which made it extra special.

hazel's first Christmas

We went to a Christmas Eve children's church service in the afternoon, but the kids really wanted to go back for the candlelight service late that evening. I couldn't resist taking a few iphone photos of my Christmas elf, fast asleep on Dan's shoulder as we were settling into our pew in the very back row.

christmas elf 

  christmas elf 

She finally woke up, just as it was time to leave. 

hazel's first christmas 

She is a love!  I really can't even put into words how thankful I am for her... and for each of our children.  I was telling Dan just today how my heart is overflowing with gratitude.


And look at how strong Hazel is getting already.

She is 4 1/2 months old and I think she will be crawling soon(ish).


Today is Dan and my anniversary. (11 years!)

Usually we call it our un-iversary because it always gets supremely overshadowed by Christmas.

anniversary mug  

But not this year. My cousin, Kayla, flew in from Wisconsin on Christmas day and is staying with us for a few days. She made it the most special anniversary yet. She kicked Dan and me out of the house (with Hazel) and took all four kids grocery shopping(!). She went on to prepare the most amazing, surprise meal in the world!  She bought me a bouquet of roses that were nearly identical to my wedding bouquet. Then she bought a deck of cards and had each of the four older kids write something (or tell her something so she could write it) that they loved about us on each of the cards, giving each child a suit (hearts, spades, etc). And she's only 25 years old!  What a capable, creative and thoughtful young woman!   We were so amazed... and so very grateful.

anniversary mugs


  1. Merry Christmas and happy anniversary!! You have us beat by a month and change, our 11 year is coming up at the end of January! The gratitude was strong in my heart this Christmas, too. Those little people, they're just so special. Christmas is the best. :)

  2. Wow. So much love in your heart and I don't see a wrinkle or grey hair anywhere! The kids should be calling you super mum!
    Best wishes for s happy new year

  3. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family! Great photos and what a special gift from your cousin, so thoughtful. I love this slow paced time after Christmas Day too. Well done on whipping up the pajamas too. I had a sewing frenzy happening before Christmas which left me feeling stressed and a bit sick! I have vowed that next year I will be more organised.
    Does everyone tell you that you look like Amy Adams? I hope you think that this is a compliment :)

  4. My parents were also married on 12/26. I had never heard anyone else married on that day, until now. Happy Anniversary!!

  5. Love the pictures. Happy Anniversary!! May you be blessed with many many more. My husband asked me to marry him 28 years ago today :-)

  6. Oh, happy anniversary!! So glad that you took time this year to celebrate - as life just gets busier and busier, it becomes more important to celebrate the love that originally brought you together. And your cousin pretty much gets cousin-of-the-year award! Fantastically creative, helpful and all-around super sweet girl!
    As always, I love your thoughts on the privilege of adoption. I had not heard that quote - it really resonates with me. Your Tia has the best expressions ever, and it's great that you're capturing each one of them, from the spunky to the sweet. And of course Miss Hazel is not far behind in the great expression category - look at the delightful smile she's giving you as she wakes up at the end of the service! I can certainly understand why you feel so very blessed, Rachel:)

  7. Beautiful photos and words, enjoy these last few days of the year with your lovely family!! And happy 11 years!!

  8. You are a beautiful family. Also, you look too young to have so many children! They do keep us young though ; )
    Blessings on your new year

  9. That quote about adoption is so poignant. Thanks for sharing. Happy anniversary! I agree - this in between week has been so peaceful. I am feeling very well rested and also getting some sewing done - the best combo!

  10. What a sweet post! This week between holidays is one of my favorite all year, too. No homeschool, no traveling this year, and nice family and sewing time. Thanks for sharing! I've been following you for a few months since I came across your infant nightgown tutorial.

  11. Hazel in the santa hat? There is nothing cuter!
    And that has to be the nicest, most thoughtful 25 year old that I've ever heard of. Good for her for giving you both a treat that you deserve!
    And I love that quote about adoption. It's beautiful.

  12. Beautiful post, and gorgeous photos as always! Hazel just seems to get cuter by the day (I have this personal theory that cuteness increases until it hits a maximum, probably sometime around Iris's age, and then they morph into more "kids", but it should be noted that I still think Joe is a-DOR-able). And I love the shot of Tia looking at you, and Iris looking at Tia. <3

    My wedding anniversary is December 28th, yesterday. As I said to Steve, "we were such crazy kids; who has the energy to get married that soon after Christmas?" We don't have the energy to celebrate it much most years, but we did go out to dinner last night. A rare date night!

  13. happy anniversary , Richard and I also have cdelebrated 11 years together this september.
    I am so glad you had a good time for Christmas and the whole family looks happy ! Lov Tia's faces!!
    you look awesome with your hair like that!

    and happy new year's eve!!
    write to you soon

  14. sweet photos of your family! why is it that you get to look like you could be your kids' sister?!


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! I generally respond to comments via email. If your profile does not link to your email account, I try to respond here. :)