"Behold, I Bring You Good Tidings..."

Christmas was all about slowing down for us. After the past months of getting the house on the market, pregnancy, adjusting to the idea of twins, and trying to make big decisions about the future year, the last couple weeks have been heaven just being together and slowing down.

A highlight was having the Mains family over to act out the Nativity with our girls.

This year I did something very different. Before the sickness set in, I carefully planned some special gifts for each girl that I wanted to make for them. I bought the materials well in advance in hopes to finish everything well before Christmas. Needless to say, I enjoyed spending the evenings right before Christmas making painting and sewing into the night.

It was really an experiment to see what it would feel like giving almost everything handmade, and their mother's hands, at that.

I was actually nervous as they opened the gifts to see if they'd be as excited opening a non-electronic, possibly wooden, painted, sewn, or non-descript gift.

This was Caroline's special diaper bag with quilted blanket, pillow and burp cloth that was intended for the water baby I heard Santa might be bringing.

Her reaction was all a mother needed.

Of course, not so excited about a shirt, I made myself feel better by convincing Caroline to wear it that day. Hey, some day she'll appreciate it.

Johanna opened the baby blocks I made her months ago, with a photo of herself to find on each block.

I think this is an excited expression. Too bad she's seen these blocks over and over again the last couple weeks to be totally surprised.

These are some simple little critters I found unfinished and well, finished them. They're perfect for the bag that goes to church.

I just had to put this photo in the line up: not a homemade gift, but the most meaningful gift to Caroline from her father-- another miniature Mercedes Benz. I honestly think she believes that's the only toy car out there, due to her Daddy's indoctrination. He was thrilled by her reaction.

I realize how blessed we are to live close to both families and to spend time with both. There is no greater definition of joy than these relationships. How grateful I am for that every time I think of this new year, this new life we're embarking on, which in a year will grant us two little 7 months-old wee ones to only magnify that joy.