This Christmas: 1st Year at Home, 1st Non Disaster Story

I guess you know which stocking is mine.

This might have been the easiest Christmas in 14 years of April and Alan family Christmases. We only had to travel two hours, and we woke up on Christmas morning IN OUR OWN HOUSE. Have you ever??? I mean, we had almost never!! Do you do this? Do other people do this every year??  It was so nice!

I mean have you read my other Christmas stories???

Our Nightmare Before Christmas

The Funeral, Christmas Trip

New Years in San Francisco

Well, I’m happy to tell you this is NOT one of those stories. We did go and see our families, but we were able to do all of that and still be at our own house on Christmas morning.

Around 7 or so a.m., we heard Boy #1 begin talking to Boy #2. They simply chatted calmly in bed. Some of the boys woke up the other boys. I don’t remember who got up first, but a miracle happened…..

No one came and jumped on us…..

They gathered themselves in the living room, just the four of them in the living room to patiently wait for their parents to get up.

Whaaa???? We were so pleased with all this that we didn’t make them wait. We went ahead and joined them.

My heart brimmed over with awe at the fact that they were all sitting in the living room, waiting patiently.

I love watching my children open their presents. Christmas is a whole other level of special for children. When is it that we lose that? Let’s get that back.

Caleb, opening a present they WEREN’T expecting: Lego Dimensions

Yes, he’s actually CLAPPING. He’s so excited. There were a few To: Caleb and Daniel presents this year. They may look ages apart, but it’s actually only a 3 year gap. Some kids are tall. Some kids are shorter.


Be sure to see the 50 second JD video on Facebook, and share in the excitement.

We all went to church together. It was nice, though nothing topped the Christmas Eve service.

Christmas Eve service

There was something about the meaning in lighting these candles and taking communion with so many fellow believers that made Christmas more real to me this year. We sang Silent Night, and I wanted this moment to never end.

Too quickly, we were all headed back to our houses when so often I just want to curl up at the altar and soak it all in…

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”       Luke 2:10-12

…But it was back to Christmas as usual, and I can’t help but wonder. Are we entering a new phase of our lives?  There simply isn’t a BABY anymore. JD is 3 1/2 now. No one is a baby. Life is c-a-l-m-i-n-g down. No one wore a diaper, no one carried a sippy cup, and no one got out of their seat. No one even colored on himself.


I think I might cry!

No one was sick this Christmas either. JD caught a cold, accompanied by a very pink eye, but even that ended in two days.

OH, and guess what! Once Christmas day was over, Alan took my minivan to the shop, and I now have a clean minivan, with a heater that heats, and a functioning defroster! Somebody get this man a trophy!!

I feel like we just had the perfect Christmas. I can safely say that because Christmas is fully over. Saying Christmas was perfect can’t possibly jinx it now.

Of course, I did find one baby to hold.

Ah, sparkling pretty lights. I may never take my Christmas tree down. Plus, I’m hoping Alan will do it for me. Hmmm…I wonder if Alan is hoping that I will do it. I seriously don’t even want it taken down. Let’s just leave it up until next Christmas!

Hallelujah! And may we never forget what it’s all about. This is an incredible excerpt from the Passion of the Christ. You do have to click the link to YouTube to watch, but it’s so worth it:


Wishing you all a blessed 2017! May your kids behave. May your rain be snow, and may all your prayers be answered.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”        Luke 2:13-14

Year-End Christmas Card Letter 2016

Merry Christmas from Monterey! (No, we aren’t actually in Monterey anymore. We took this in April. Man, that was a nice place.) We wanted to have a pretty beach family photo for our Christmas card. It didn’t work out.

Want a good laugh? It was INSANELY windy.

It was a year of big changes for us. I didn’t have any more babies, but we did move across the country, change schools, give up home-schooling, and we switched brands of paper towels…

Graduation day. John David kept saying, “I want cake. Can we have cake now? Where’s the cake?”

Alan got his engineering masters, which was exciting. So we said good-bye to the full-time student life and my beloved whales and sea otters and moved back down south to Georgia.

Alan took the older two boys on an action-packed road trip on his way.


As for me, I took my first part-time job since 2005, believe it or not, but I still get to work from home. I’m writing for as well as for Stories of Our Boys. I’m ridiculously relieved to not be home-schooling anymore. I just can’t even tell you!


Joshua is still Mr. Basketball. He loves it so much. He also had his first zit this fall. Times they are a changin’. Next year he will officially be a middle-schooler. I think this is the part where it pays off that they are 4 male children instead of 4 female children. Yes!!


Caleb is patiently waiting for baseball season. He is also honing his art skills. He’s as friendly as ever, and despite having no close-proximity little boys his age to play with, he managed to find kids on the next streets over. They have formed a Nerf Club, and our house is quickly becoming Grand Central Pre-Teen Station again.

Daniel is a kindergartener now. I can’t believe it either, and you’ve never seen a more serious little conscientious student. When he walks quietly through the hall, he does it like a well-trained soldier, and it is adorable. He also told us the other night at the dinner table, “I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!”  (Yes. We’ve been watching Elf.)

He said he made Bullseye into a pirate.

John David is 3 1/2 now. Markers are his favorite thing in the world. Instead of drawing all over himself as all of his brothers did, he draws all over his toys. We are so tired. It’s been 11 years of toddlers now. As in, there has always been at least one toddler/baby/pre-schooler in the house for 11 years. We just don’t even care about stuff like that anymore.

Draw on your toys? Sure. Here’s a marker. They are your toys.

Play in the water hose? Why stop him? He looks so happy.

Wear pajamas all day? Well, they are cozy. I get it.


Best events from 2016:

And read the story of Caleb’s salvation if you haven’t. Caleb chooses Jesus.

-Caleb got baptized.

Alan, Joshua, and Caleb went to the Grand Canyon (That’s a link you can click on to read the whole story.)

-Joshua earned the TNT Clubber of the Year Trophy, a hard-earned award that he got for memorizing a book and a half worth of AWANA verses.

Happiest day of John David’s life. He tried so hard to get that car door to open.

-We went to Disney World WITH our good friends Sean, Amy, Xavier, and Zoe!!

-The boys started a new school, and they are all happy there.

-Daniel learned how to swim and jump off the diving board.

Monterey, photo by Aunt Janet

We do miss Monterey: the people, the waves, and the weather! But we are loving being closer to family too.

If Uncle Keith could take all our pictures, maybe our smiles would always be this genuine! Thank you, Keith!

So, you know, all’s well that ends well, right? Happy New Year, y’all! May God bless all of you. Thank you for reading!


Numbers 6:24-26

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Merry Christmas!! 



We’re getting better at enjoying paradise.

Caleb and Daniel are BEYOND hilarious. They’ve been having a ball with costumes lately, and it is so much adorableness.

Batman and Green Lantern   Caleb finally figured out that in some combinations, he IS the oldest brother.

I’ve enjoyed watching them have fun lately. It’s been a nice change of pace. I have heard my fill of complaining since we moved across country.

“We hate California.”

“I don’t want to go. No one there talks to me.”

“I hate homeschool. I hate all schools.” (Our boys are the very classic ‘boy’ type that think they do not like school work. They do seem to enjoy some of it, though, just not all the work sheets I give them!)


I take partial responsibility for this because:

1. I am not a very fun teacher.

2. In the beginning, I tried to squeeze a ton of work into each school day.


But then there are other factors:

1. We were new here.

2. We were terribly isolated.

That’s where the GOOD NEWS comes in about 2015. This is the happy post that I have been promising you. 🙂 Hurray!

Last semester, we were still transitioning to home school, and we were involved in absolutely ZERO extracurricular activities.

They NEEDED more sports training and acceptance. I think basketball season and golf lessons are exactly what the doctor ordered.

Did I say GOLF lessons!??  Why yes! Yes, I did. Caleb started golf lessons last week, and he is LOVING it.


Caleb, in 2013 We have always LOVED mini-golf. The key to keeping it fun, when you are taking three small boys, is this: 1. Do not even attempt to keep score. Leave all little pencils behind. 2. Forget the rules. There are no rules. Just try to get the little ball in the little hole. Rules will come later.



Cute story:

Caleb went for his first lesson this past week: picture about 7 boys, ages 7-9, on a little field of grass, whacking tennis balls with large putters. What could be more fun? Caleb dashed in, and made a new friend in the first 2 minutes.

Alan could hear him talking to his new friend, “Hey! My name is Caleb too! I home school too! Do you want to come to my house sometime?”

I’m so glad he made a new friend, but the coolest part of it all is that I’m already friends with Caleb’s new friend’s mother. That’s right. Only Alan didn’t know that.

He was standing at the playground, with Daniel and JD, when new Caleb’s grandma pointed to Daniel and said, “Hey! I know this little boy.”

Alan was like, “This little boy? Daniel? Do you know my wife, April, with long red hair?”

It took them a while to connect all the dots, but eventually Alan did meet new Caleb’s mom. We’ll call her K. Oh, and get this: She is about to deliver her fourth baby! Sounds like a good excuse to bring at least one or two of her kids over here for a play date, don’t you think?

This was all super exciting for our little Caleb, who is an extremely social little fella.

Oh, and this really sweetens the deal:  The golf lessons are free! Plus, we get a discount at the golf course. Awesome!

Caleb came home and showed us what he’d learned too.

“You hold the golf club with your hands like this. If you want to knock the ball up in the air, you hit it from the bottom. If you want to knock it straight forward, you hit it straight on.”

I was impressed, anyway!

By the way, Caleb, who has yearned to be the leader around here, finally seems to realize that he can play with Daniel and boss HIM around and get him to do just about anything.

This week Caleb has been giving Daniel golf lessons and dressing him up in all sorts of super hero costumes. Daniel loves all this attention. But then, they’ve always had rather interesting adventures together, those two. Here’s a humorous story from Christmas vacation:

For some reason, over the holidays, I ended up sitting in the back of the rental mini-van between……Caleb and Daniel.  Close quarters. This is what traveling at Christmas is all about, right? I was trying to listen to what the adults in the front seat were saying, because that’s just the kind of person I am…..when I suddenly noticed all kinds of commotion right in front of my space.

Caleb was wearing a grimace as he said to Dan, “No, it’s mine.” He didn’t really look mad though.

Dan was equally serious, “NO, Caweb! Mine!!”




Like any mom, I intervened. After all, they were all up in my space.

“What are ya’ll talking about?”

“It’s my ball,” Caleb replied, “and Daniel threw it over there. Give it back to me.”

“NO, no, It’s mine!” Daniel said.

“Would ya’ll please just share and stop fighting??”

“Mom, it’s pretend. It’s an imaginary ball. It’s an imaginary fight, you know, for fun.” Caleb calmly “explained.”

………..What. But. What??? Fighting for fun– ‘if that don’t beat all.’

Have a great weekend ya’ll!!!  I’ll be home, recovering from bronchitis, hopefully sleeping, and google-ing how to be a more fun teacher…