(The calm before the Christmas storm...Cruz chillin' in his pirate shirt)
Before our Christmases began, however, my family made a quick stop at the McLeod Center to watch me receive my MASTERS DIPLOMA! Since I've been finished with my degree since last summer, I wasn't sure if I wanted to walk in the ceremony. After all, I remembered all too well having to arrive at the Dome hours before the ceremony began, only to be forced to sit for an hour and a half wearing the world's dumbest ensemble (whoever invented the square hat anyways?). But a part of me wanted the closure, a chance to celebrate the accomplishment of earning a Masters degree within the first two years of my profession. As I worked hard to write papers amidst lesson plans, read textbooks amidst students' essays, and pull 16 hour days of school, planning, and night classes, I wanted one morning to sit back and reflect on the feat I had conquered.
And after the near, two-hour ceremony, I'd say I had enough time to reflect!
It was pretty amazing to look up in the stands of the McLeod Center and not only see my family there to celebrate, but my own nine week old baby. Life is crazy isn't it? While the hundreds of undergrads, in their trendy high heels and perfect hair-dos, text messaged their friends about the parties they would attend that night, I text messaged my husband to see if he remembered to put socks on Cruz. I spent more time picking out his little UNI outfit for today's festivities, and chose to spend the extra minutes playing with him in his room instead of putting the finishing touches on my hair. It's incredible what a few years and a little person can do to a life. They change ya, that's for sure. And although I loved college, loved my wardrobe, and cared immensely about my hair, I wouldn't go back in a second.
It was torture sitting in those folding chairs for two hours when I had a perfect view of my little boy.
And I couldn't wait for this.
After dinner at Bourbon Street, we ran home to mix a broccoli salad, locate a couple of presents under the tree, and give Cruz a quick bottle before heading to Allison to the Henrichs family Christmas. With five kids and spouses, 18 grand-kids and spouses, and 22 great grand-kids (with no spouses), this Christmas is loud, a little wild, but incredibly cute. There are big people and little people, brown eyes and blue eyes, locals and travelers. And in the middle of it all, there is one, 88 year old woman who had a hand in starting it all.
Beau fell in love with our little cousin, Maddie, I ate way too much chicken wing dip, and Cruz loved his Care Bear book from his great grandma. For being the newest baby there, Cruz held his own and was good as gold. It was fun to have a little person to add to the mix of little ones...I wonder if there will be any new babies next Christmas...
(Cruz was more interested in his presents than I thought he'd be)
Yesterday, we traveled to Hampton to Aunt Becky's to celebrate with Beau's mom's side of the family. Although the Sanders family is less of a herd than the Henrichs side, with three kids and spouses, seven grand-kids and spouses, and seven great grand-kids (with no spouses), this didn't stop them from creating a 'vibrant' environment that appealed to all of Cruz's senses: the sights of the toddlers fighting over toys, the smell of Duncan the Dog's breath as he checked out the family's newest addition, and the sound of Brody's adorably cute rendition of the 'Pants on the Ground' song. We munched on delicious food, sipped Gina's pomegranate vodka and 7up, and exchanged white elephant gifts. I don't know how I managed to snag my very first Scentsy out of a white elephant exchange, but now my kitchen smells of cinnamon and cloves and I'm thinking I made out pretty good.
(This is how Cruz looked most of the night...I've never seen his eyes that big!)