christmas in carolina

over the recent holidays i was able to spend ten days in north carolina with my family.  i threw a video together of the highlights here.  in the past, spending such long amounts of time away from home with kids has been challenging but we were really able to settle in and enjoy the time.  i wanted to go down far enough in advance of christmas so that i could actually spend time with my family without the hustle and bustle that come the days immediately before christmas.  we did have such a beautiful christmas and christmas eve, but we also had such a great time leading up to the holiday.  and of course our joy was increased by having two new cousins this year.
eden and florence have become such good playmates.  of course there are the squabbles to work through, as with most 3 year olds, but for the most part they really delight in each other.  and its really sweet for elise and me to watch.  i find myself just staring at them, these two girls, in many ways just mini versions of their mamas.  its so fascinating. 
and of course, both of these girls adore their grandparents.  so more time with them is always a huge incentive.  its such a privilege and i am acutely aware of what a gift it is to have my parents living and around for such special holidays. 
uncle paul was also in town.  talk about a famous person right in our midsts.  eden thinks he about hung the moon and wants all of his attention when he is around.  of course, with a sister and two cousins to compete with, she does not get it all.  but she would take it.
my mother always has the house decorated so beautifully, she could make any place feel like home for the holidays.  this year was no different.
paul took elise and me out for a sibling date a few days before christmas.  it was the first time in a long time that we have just been together, just us.  its a nice reminder that we are all friends and peers and we genuinely value time alone.  and we also genuinely value ramen.  
the days before christmas were full of dressing up and going off to concerts and candlelight services.  nothing says the holidays like little girls in poofy dresses if you ask me.  we snagged these great swan dresses this year for the girls and i just loved them.
it also felt so special to be a family of four this year.  of course we have been a 'real' family since we got married 6.5 years ago.  and we were a family with eden.  but something about having multiple kids realllly makes you feel like your own unit.  when there is at least one kid for each parent to hold maybe?  whatever it is, we really felt like team agaba to me this christmas.  
its really dull, being around these two.  i get so bored.  no personality.  no fun.
elise set a gorgeous table for christmas eve. never mind that a little mishap meant we had to grab indian take out (which was delicious).  elise has been hosting christmas eve for a few years now and she always does it beautifully.
christmas day itself was full of magical gifts and really slow, intentional time together.  we gave eden a handmade doll that i had a dear friend make for her.  coco is the character in her favorite book and eden was delightfully surprised by her gift.

 we also gave her a tutu and told her that she will be in little ballet classes this year.  she was also really excited about that idea.  she adores the nutcracker and dances ballet all over the house.

these two are joining the ranks of some wonderful JAN cousins.  i think they fit right in

 there, got them all in!  phew.