Well, Christmas Eve didn't start out exactly as I had planned, but then what day does when you have four children? I should have known something was up when Caroline slept in VERY late. She finally awoke at 10:30 and was burning up with a fever. She was also pointing to her ear and crying, "Owie!" That, combined with copious amounts of snot, pretty much pointed to an ear infection. I madly called our doctor's office, only to be told that they were triple-booked for the morning and that if I had only called a little earlier, they would have been able to get me in. GRRRRRR! I was so bummed that Caroline was sick on Christmas Eve. It was her FIRST Christmas, and we were so excited to share the holidays with her for the first time! I must admit I had a good cry, but then God reminded me that she was home where she could be loved and cared for, and that was the best Christmas gift I could give her.
We finally decided to take her to Minute Clinic at CVS. We waited almost an hour, but a very kind lady gave me her seat, and Caroline slept in my arms through the entire wait. She came screaming out of her sleep, though, when the nurse stuck the otoscope in her ear, crying, "AH DONE! AH DONE! AH DONE!" I panicked for a quick moment when the nurse said the first ear was impacted with wax and that we would have to be sent "somewhere else" to have it removed (which would likely mean a lot more time and money), but thankfully she got a good enough look at the other ear to determine it was an infection. I almost cried with relief! By the time we got the medicine and headed home, I was really behind on last-minute holiday preparations.
The girls pitched in, though, and while Caroline slept on the sofa, we whipped out some more of the holiday baking. One of our traditions is to prepare Candy Cane Cookies for Santa...and then have some for breakfast on Christmas morning. When I said that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull them off since I was so behind, Mindy kicked into high gear and said, "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Candy Cane Cookies!" As yummy as they are, they're a bit time-consuming to make, but Mindy had the dough mixed up and the dough balls rolled before I knew it! Abby helped, too, and before I knew it, the cookies were baked and the kitchen was fairly well cleaned up. The kids made reindeer dust, and we straightened up a bit. Then it was time to change clothes for church.
Our Christmas Eve tradition is to go to church with Dotty and Jon's brother and his family (his sisters are usually with the other side of their families). Then we go back to Grandma's house and open gifts. Jon's sister, Linda, and her family were able to be with us this year! It's a fun, but late, night. It's usually well past midnight when we scurry the kids to bed so Santa can come! Tonight was no exception. We scooted into church just before the service started, and we enjoyed, once again, the lovely traditions of the Lutheran service. Dotty sang with the choir, and Caroline perked up enough to be able to pick her out of the crowd! Then it was back to Grandma's house to open gifts. The first gift the kids open is their Christmas pajamas from Mommy! It's so funny...some kids would find that incredibly boring, but my kids LOVE IT! As soon as they rip the packages open, they disappear to put their new pajamas on.
Caroline, as you can see from the photos I took on our way out of church, livened up quite a bit, thanks to the Motrin and the antibiotic. We all had fun watching her open gifts for the first time. She was so funny, the way she methodically pulled each piece of paper off. She played and played with her new "awake/asleep" dolly and the handmade "mini gulla", just like her favorite blanket. She also loved her new farm...our old one bit the dust. The animals are so much cuter now. The horse has an actual yarn mane! The big kids had a pretty good time, too. They really enjoyed watching Caroline and "helping" her open gifts. I think they had as much fun doing that as opening their own gifts!
As the evening wore on, it was time to head home, a little earlier than usual! We prepared the plate for Santa and sprinkled...more like hurtled...the reindeer dust on the front lawn. Then we read "The Night Before Christmas" and got the younger two to bed. It was short-lived on Caroline's behalf. Her Motrin wore off, and she had a rough night. At one point, Mindy sat up with her and watched "Little People" so I could finish some last minute stuff for Christmas morning. Needless to say, I was wiped out after such a tiring day, and I was glad the kids slept in a bit. More on Christmas morning and Christmas day in the next post...