Our whirlwind fall concluded with a tour of the great state of North Carolina -- and beyond! The day after Thanksgiving the girls and Mommy packed the Suburban and headed east to join Meme, Papa, Christa and her friend Bayleigh at the beach. We had a great and quick get away. Aleah loved watching the sea gulls and Alivia and Avery enjoyed chasing the waves. And boy was Avery thrilled when the waves caught her -- new shoes and all! We left Daddy at home to continue the Christmas decorations. By the end of the weekend all but one tree was up, the stockings were hung and the outside garlands, wreaths and lights were ready to celebrate the season.
The following weekend started off with Avery's birthday on Friday with a full breakfast including all her favorites -- birthday pancakes, bacon, eggs and toast --followed by a party at preschool. Mommy and Aleah then attended Great Aunt Lucille's funeral while Daddy surprised Alivia as the mystery reader at preschool. The day ended with a family dinner at home for everyone who could come. The crowd was smaller than usual since Uncle Allen was in the hospital, Granddaddy Mercer was sick, Papa, Granddaddy and David all had to work unexpectedly and Sue and Scott could only stop by for a few minutes. With all the business of the day poor Avery was almost asleep before the party even started. She did perk up for presents and cake and then it was early to bed.
Saturday we continued the celebration with Avery's "Mickey Mouse" birthday party with her friends. She was thrilled that Layla, Danika, Alex, Savanah, Madison and of course her sisters and Christa were all in attendance. We rounded the evening out with a date at the Teddy Bear Ball!
The following week we spent a glorious six days in the Great Smoky Mountains. We had a blast in the cold, cold weather. The girls enjoyed seeing the mountains again.
Our trip was cut short by the news that Granddaddy Mercer and Uncle Allen were not doing well at all. At the time we did not realize the grim reality we would be facing once back in the "real world. "Granddaddy went to the hospital with a broken back and while there had surgery on his bladder and was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Uncle Allen was in a coma in CCU after a series of major strokes. December turned out to be a month full of hospital visits, juggling of schedules and family priorities and ultimately was defined by the sting of death. Uncle Allen went to be with our Lord on December 23. Christmas was difficult at best.
We tried to keep Christmas day special for the girls, but the entire celebration was just not the same.
And in the midst of all the unsettling events, I went back to work from maternity leave! Life is always full of surprises for us.