Project 365: Days 348 – 354

BRACE YOURSELF – I have been so busy this past week, I have not really taken any pictures! Which is really a shame, because Ava and I have put together some Christmas goodies that would have made nice photographs, but I did not have time to take them! So, to fulfill project 365, and to provide you with something nice to look at, I will pepper this entry about our 25 Days of Christmas with pictures from my Christmas mini-shoots. Enjoy!

December 13 – Ava and I prepared our gift for Maybelin, our World Vision sponsor child in El Salvador. Ava first “met” Maybelin on her birthday – not only does Maybelin share Ava’s birthday, but she was born on the EXACT same day that Ava was, so they are the same age! We are limited to only sending her things that fit in a 6×9 inch envelope, but we put together a little package of paper, stickers, and crayons, along with one of our personalized Christmas cards! I know she probably won’t get it until well after Christmas, but I’m sure it will still be appreciated. (On this day, I also stayed up late making a wild rice nut cake with maple whipped cream for Josh’s work Christmas party. And then we stayed up even later glueing Christmas cards together.)

(This was my first mini-shoot family, so they were my guinea pigs! I met the Wingers when they visited our church about a year ago, they saw my note about the shoot on facebook, and decided they wanted to come! Although we took a few classic pictures with everyone looking at the camera and smiling, this one, with everyone looking in a different direction, is my favorite!)

December 14 – We started working on our Christmas goody tins! For all of our out-of-town family and friends that we wanted to send gifts to this year, we have taken the edible route. On this day, Ava and I made snowballs (basically Danish wedding cookies!) Josh and I also stayed up super late adding pictures to cards, addressing envelopes, and printing and folding newsletters.

(This is Mike and Mary An, our friends from church! I convinced them at the last minute that they really, really needed their pictures taken since they had not had pictures made since their wedding 3 years ago! I had a great time doing their shoot, and they were even game for some romantic poses!)

December 15 – CRAZY busy day! First, Ava and I made malted bon bons for our edible gifts. (These cookies, as well as the snowballs, ended up being very age appropriate for preschoolers to help with! Score!) That afternoon, I was scheduled to have an engagement shoot and consultation with a couple who is having a New Year’s wedding…yep, more on my last minute wedding later! My friend Melanie was golden and came to watch my kids so that I could take the engagement pictures without dragging my kids along. After the consultation, I was pretty much an exhausted basket case with way too much to do, but fortunately, Josh has jumped on board our crazy Christmas train and is helping us make it through! Ava and I made gingerbread and cranberry & pecan muffins as a gift for her preschool teachers. After she went to bed, Josh and I stayed up making puppy chow for our edible gifts, and we filled tins, found and labelled boxes, and in the end had eight packages ready to go to the post office! My goal was to have our Christmas cards ready, too, but finally decided that was not meant to be. We would be out of town Thursday through Sunday for Josh’s extended family’s Christmas celebration, so I finally concluded I would take the Christmas cards with me, finish them, and mail them from wherever we were at the time. USPS, after all, goes pretty much everywhere. In the US, that is.

(This is the one family that I photographed that I had not met previously – they responded to an ad I put up about the mini-shoots on Craigslist. I had never, ever incorporated pets into a photo shoot before, so I was a little nervous about the outcome…but it worked out great! I am also excited to build a relationship with this family – they are expecting their first child, and we have already started discussing maternity photos!)

December 16 – Ava went to preschool with baskets of muffin goodness, and Izzy and I got to packing for our trip! (OK, so Izzy didn’t pack, but fortunately, he allowed me to!) I had a one page to-do list and a 2 page packing list (yes, I am one of those people!), so I had my work cut out for me. I picked up Ava from preschool and continued to work diligently. Thanks to hubby taking the afternoon off, we were able to get out the door in time! Our first stop was our friends’ house, Jay and Kristy. They live on the way to where the big Christmas gathering was going to be, so we decided to break up our trip by staying with them, which also gave us a chance to visit with them!

(Even though my pastor, Don, is not at all excited about having his picture taken – ever – he and his wife came out and did a shoot in the name of missions! I must note here that his wife, Kathy, is incredibly gorgeous, so I have no idea why he wouldn’t be jumping at the opportunity to have a photo taken with her. )

December 17 – We re-packed the car and continued our journey “up north.” We decided that taking our time on our drive, although it might make the trip much longer, it would also make it more bearable. And we were right. Instead of just stopping for fast food for lunch, we found a mall, ate at the food court, and let the kids burn some energy by walking around the mall admiring Christmas decorations. I had discovered the night before that, despite my lists, I had forgotten to pack Ava pajamas, which, if you know her, you know how horrible of an oversight this was, so we did the very unusual for us and went to Sears to find her a pair of pajamas. In the process, not only did we find a cheap, nice pajamas set, but we found Izzy a winter coat that actually had a good price! (I have been looking for a coat for him since the beginning of the month, but I’m just not willing to invest much in a coat that will be worn a maximum of 2 years.) Continuing our journey, we also opted to take back roads instead of the interstate (our GPS always says the back roads will be faster, but we tend to want to stick with what we know,) which resulted in getting to see a lot of Georgia that we have never seen before! Finally that evening, we arrived at Josh’s aunt’s house, who is sweet/crazy enough to let our family stay there for a weekend! That night, we FINALLY finished stuffing and stamping all the Christmas cards!!!

(These are our friends, Brad and Melanie, and their boys, Daylon and Jack. They had an awesome shoot! I don’t know what they picked for their official Christmas picture, but this one is my favorite!)

December 18 – We ran by a tiny, random post office to mail our Christmas cards, and then headed to the big family Christmas gathering. This is a big annual tradition for Josh’s mom’s family; she has six living sisters and a brother, and pretty much everyone now has kids (and grandkids!) of their own, and once a year at Christmas everyone gets together at Mawmaw’s little farmhouse in the country for lots of food and present opening and visiting and the occassional game of tackle football for the guy cousins. It’s always a little bit crazy, but I think it means a lot to the family to have this time they can count on everyone being together.

(You saw the feet of these darlings in my last post! These are Tiffany’s older girls – as I edited their pictures, I kept feeling nostalgic thinking how much they have grown! And, although Tiffany was a little embarrassed that they chose to wear pink and black for their Christmas pictures, I absolutely love the color palette and the change of pace from all the red and green!)

December 19 – We packed up the car one more time, and then headed back home. First, we went to Josh’s aunt’s church for their Christmas service/cantata. (We decided that, even though we couldn’t be at OUR church, it was still important for us to be at church the Sunday before Christmas!) Because we didn’t get to the church early enough to check out their childcare, we kept both kids with us in the service, which could have been absolutely disastrous, but turned out to be absolutely wonderful because they were angels! So many people approached me afterwards to tell me how good they were, to which I felt extremely greatful, because that is certainly not always the case! After church, we started our return trip. A few activities we threw in there to try to make the trip a little more bearable: getting the kids apple turnovers to eat in the car after lunch, window shopping the toy section at a random Wal-Mart where we had stopped to use the bathroom, and, once we got back to our own town, walking through a Christmas light display at a city park. Despite all of this, the kids did start to get a little crazy at the end of the trip, but we did the best we could and I think that we came through OK!

(I actually had to do Bobby and Cynthia’s Christmas card shoot on a different day at a different place and everyone in their family was sick, but the pictures turned out nice! This picture of Gage is my favorite – and of course I could not resist a little selective color with the Santa hat!)

So here we are back home, with less than a week before Christmas! I definitely have that “so-much-to-do-so-little-time” feeling, but you know, what gets done, gets done, and what don’t, don’t! Either way, I’m not going to let my to-do list ruin my week!

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