THIS is why I went home for the holidays

On Christmas Eve, my son, Jason, drove down to my daughter, Jessica's house and spent the night so we were all together except for Jim.

The morning of Christmas we called Jim up on Skype so he could be in on all the excitement of Lily opening her gifts.

We gave Lily one of those books from Hallmark where you can record your own voice reading the book.  This was her reaction to hearing Grandpa's voice when she opened the book!

I had a heck of a time recording the darn book! It took me FOUR tries to record the FIRST page! You are only allowed so much time, and I guess I was reading too slow. C'mon, you've GOT to put some ENTHUSIASM into it, right? You don't want it to sound like, "TwasthenightbeforeChristmasandallthroughthehouse" but that's almost the pace I had to read it at. Jim and I alternated reading the pages. Of course, he was able to record his page in one session! Bah! I guess this just proves I'm more, ahem, "colorful" and "full of excitement" then him. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! We bought one of these books for our other granddaughter, Lauren, and it was a LOT easier to record with experience under our belts!

Lily is really into ELMO from Sesame Street. She is sitting at the table that Grandma and Grandpa got her for Christmas. She was so excited to see Elmo. Here she is looking at an Elmo book,

and holding Elmo, both courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa!

What is that saying, how the apple doesn't fall far from the tree? When my daughter, Jessica (Lily's Mom) was growing up, she liked Elmo, too. I would imitate Elmo's voice and talk to her. I continued to do this as a joke, even through her high school and college years. One day I called her at her dorm.

A girl answered, whom I THOUGHT was Jessica.

I said in my BEST Elmo voice, "Is Jessica there?"

Waiting for a response of, "Hi Mom!"

Uh, no.

What I heard was, "Jessica, it's your MOTHER!"

To this day I'm wondering, how the heck did she recognize my voice?

Jessica found this great train book at a craft show. It comes with a little wind-up train. One page has several small stories about a train, and the next page has train "tracks", or grooves cut out in the page for the train to follow. Jessica wound up the little train and put it down on the book and when the train ran all over the track, Lily exclaimed, "WoW!" Then she put her little hands up and said, "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!"

I bought Lily this Elmo ornament.

I asked her to hang it on the tree. She kind of had a hard time since it didn't come with a hook; just a small string. But I took a picture for posterity sake.

This is Lily when Mommy tried to take the ornament from her and REALLY hang it on the tree.

Lily is used to her Grandma constantly taking pictures of her. I don't know if that's where she got this idea, but for the past couple of months, she's walked around with a block that has a cut out arch, holds it up to her face, looks through the open space and says, "Cheese!" and pretends to take your picture. She'll say, "Dada - Cheese!" or "Mama - Cheese!" She's even gone so far as to try to get Venus, a.k.a. "Me-ma", the dog, to smile, by lifting up the dog's lip and saying, "Me-ma, Cheese!" So Santa thought it would be an EXCELLENT idea to bring Lily a camera. This is an actual camera and can hold up to 400 shots. She got such a kick out of the sound it made when taking a picture. The camera is a little heavy for her, and it seems to be easier for her to hold it backwards, so there are currently a LOT of pictures of her stomach and face, but we'll work on that!

Lily saying "cheese" for Grandma.

I realize that I didn't take any photos of my son. Huh. I guess it's all about Lily.

Later that day we all drove up to my sister, Linda's house for Christmas dinner, where there was a total of 26 of us, 9 of those were kids!

And here's another reason why I came home. Besides seeing Lily, I wanted to see

the newest addition to our family, Gage, 2 months old:

Next comes Max at 4 months,

Then there's Taliah at 8 months,

Gracie Mae, 17 months,

Brooklyn, 2 1/2 years, and a REAL pistol,

Kaleb 4 1/2 years old

Arielle 7 1/2 years old

and Riley 10 1/2 years old.

Missing from the party Christmas Day were Tabitha (6) and Samantha (4):

Now I ask you, how could I POSSIBLY miss out on seeing all these lovely little children?
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