Between work at school, two babies at home, household tasks, spending time with my husband and taking time for kitchen fun or DIY projects, writing sometimes gets pushed to the back burner. Hence the six weeks have have passed since my last blog update. Any time I normally would have spent writing either went to extra work, or preparing Christmas.
Christmas comes but once a year… so it’s worth preparing for. Even though both of us work and the little ones keep us on our toes, I wanted it to be as much of a “homemade” Christmas as possible. We are in the same home for two years in a row for the first time in several years. This made it possible for me to focus a little more on decorating and gift preparation. For the last few years, it’s been the most we could do to run around and find some Christmas essentials – i.e. a tree and nativity scene, while settling into a new country. This year, we could happily pull the tree, ornaments and nativity scene out of storage, and we already know our way around the city and where to find what, so we could go a little further in our decorating endeavors. Here in Iraq, we don’t have access to all the same supplies as in the U.S., but with a little ribbon, felt, tissue paper, ornaments and a few other things from around the house, we managed to transform the room a bit. If we still find ourselves here next year, I’m hoping to tackle wreaths, garlands and an advent calendar.
I wanted as many of the gifts to be homemade as possible. By starting a couple months in advance and using as much spare time as possible, I managed to make homemade scarfs, slippers, personalized mugs, natural body scrub, DIY lip balm, and Nativity plaques. Unfortunately, in the joy and hubbub of the gift exchange, I completely forgot to take photos, which I had hoped to use for a DIY gift guide. Maybe next year…
I DID get plenty of photos of the kids, though, so it was hard to go through them and pick only a few for Facebook and the blog! It was Paul’s first Christmas, and we were delighted to have him with us. Both he and Charbel threw themselves into the fun of unwrapping gifts, throwing the wrapping paper all over the place, trying out all of their presents.
They opened their gifts shortly before bedtime on Christmas Eve. After the kids were in bed, Eddy and I, with my parents and a friend that joined us, enjoyed homemade pizza, popcorn and chocolate truffles while watching The Bells of St. Mary’s, and then had our own gift exchange. We then parted for several hours, to join together again early Christmas morning for Mass, followed by several hours of cooking and a delicious Christmas meal at my parents house. We still had an extra turkey left over from Thanksgiving, so it became the center of Christmas lunch, accompanied by baked potatoes, candied yams, salad and green beans, friend onions and applesauce, followed by a desert of mint-chocolate cake and left over truffles from the night before. There were also some toddler-friendly banana muffins in the kitchen that Charbel could have for desert. As you can see, Charbel thoroughly enjoyed his Christmas meal! Paul happily stuffed himself as well, from his throne on grandpa’s lap, on the plainer, softer elements of the meal.
We spent today, the day after Christmas, happily doing nothing. No work responsibilities, no commitments. Just time to play with the kids, cuddle on the couch and eat leftovers. I also spent lots of time scrolling through my Facebook feed – I loved seeing all the different Christmas pictures of friends and their families, and got a little nostalgic for a “white Christmas” when I saw that many of the States had snow… It’s chilly here in Iraq, but the most precipitation we get is cold rain.
We haven’t had more than three days off in a row since early September, so our two week Christmas break is a long-awaited treat. In addition to enjoying the pleasant sensation of being able to go to bed without setting the alarm, waking up at will, catching up on movie watching, paying some Christmas visits and updating the blog, I hope to use this break to sort through and organize the kids’ toys – new and old, re-organize their closets and store everything they’ve outgrown for whenever baby #3 comes along, and organize all my craft and decorating supplies. My wonderful husband gave me a craft closet as my Christmas gift; I can’t wait to fill it with all the markers, papers, strings, glues and other DIY stuff that currently covers the floor of our “everything room.”
We hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends, and wish you a very happy New Years, full of many blessings.
Finally, here are a few more pictures of the kids from the last month – too much cuteness to leave them out, even though they were taken before Christmas!