December 31, 2010

Taking Down

We took down our Christmas tree today. I find it refreshing to put the house back in order, since Christmas decor disrupts the normal flow of things for a few weeks. Our tree this year made a huge mess that took many devices to clean up, and we ended up with more needles on the floor than on the tree limbs by the time the tree was finally out of the house.

Mr. Morgan was dismayed and disappointed that none of our three vacuums could adequately pick up the debris. He begrudgingly resorted to manual cleaning with a broom and dustpan to remove the bulk of the needles. We did finally get everything cleaned up, and I'm happy to have my house back to normal.

December 30, 2010

Great Christmas Gift

Uncle Travis gave our family a one-year membership to the Aquarium; and our pass includes any two guests, making it great for visiting family. We went this morning with Grandma Judy and Papa Joe. The last time Hamilton and I visited, he wasn't yet able to walk. This visit he enjoyed exploring the exhibits and seeing all the animals up close. He played on this ship replica for several minutes while Claire explored the touch tank.
Claire took lots of pictures of the animals with her camera.
We snapped a family shot in front of the Cooper River Bridge; it's too bad I can't keep my eyes open.
Hamilton enjoyed playing hide-and-seek using the octopus cut-out because he was able to climb up wooden steps to see through the hole in the octopus.
The giant tank with big fish enthralled Hamilton for a while.
Claire continued to take many pictures during the day, so maybe our budding artist will try her hand at photography.

Holiday Festival of Lights

Last night we drove to James Island to see the Christmas lights at the county park. We saw a few light displays on the way into the park, and we stopped in Santa's Village to see the other festive attractions. We rode the carousel first, about which Claire was super excited. Hamilton was a little uneasy at first, especially since the horse we chose moved up and down as it went around. I held onto him tightly so he'd feel safe, and he seemed to like it by the end.
Hamilton's favorite light display was the big firetruck to which he could stand close. There were even buttons controlling the lights where Hamilton could make the "water" come out of the firehose
The highlight of our time in Santa's Village was the 10-minute train ride through many of the light displays. Claire sat in the back of our train car with Grandma Judy and Papa Joe.
Hamilton sat between Mr. Morgan and me, and he kept saying "whoo-whoo" the whole train ride.
The "engine" of our train, which pulled golf-cart-like cars, didn't have a train whistle, but the driver did ring a bell that sounded authentic. Hamilton enjoyed the "a-choo" ride despite the cold.

Fun with Grandma Judy

Wednesday morning Claire and Grandma Judy worked on a gingerbread house. Claire was excited to make her creation, though her refusal to consult the directions produced an unstable dwelling. Later that day it looked like a tornado had hit it. Mr. Morgan and Claire debated today about running the remains over with the car, since the gingerbread house had given her such a hard time.
Hamilton was excited to show Grandma Judy his favorite, new Christmas book. He loves the felt characters of the Christmas story, and lately he enjoys taking the felt pieces out of the plastic holder on the front of the book and putting them away again.

December 29, 2010

Photo Wrap Up

I successfully completed my December Photo Project, and I had a great time documenting the first 25 days of December with a photo. Since I actually heard about and started my project on the 2nd, my last DPP post was the 26th.

Posting a photo every day made me blog more, which I enjoyed, but a photo a day also made me want a new and better camera--badly! I've put Mr. Morgan to researching the best DSLR and HD video camera for us, since he's so skilled at Internet researching. Maybe once I have a better camera, I'll feel up to attempting the 365 Project.

December 28, 2010

More Christmas Celebrating

Papa Joe and Grandma Judy arrived this evening, so we had a big dinner and opened presents afterward. It's such a long drive from Paris, Tenn., and we're so thankful they did the driving this Christmas. Mr. Morgan often talks about learning to fly a helicopter, buying one, and flying it to Paris when we want to visit. Joe and Judy have an empty field next to their house that would be a perfect landing spot. Somehow I don't think a helicopter will ever be in our budget.

Claire and Hamilton were both excited to open more gifts from Grandma Judy and Papa Joe. In a short time we made a big mess on the floor that Mr. Morgan so diligently vacuumed and mopped today.
Claire gave Grandma Judy some potholders with her art printed on them. Every year Claire's school has a fundraiser where we can order different items with Claire's best piece of artwork printed on them. The art-inspired items make good gifts for grandmothers, and Claire is always so proud of her artwork.
The Welches are here for several days, and we have many fun things planned. I'll post pictures of our other family events in the days to come. Next time I'll make sure to get Papa Joe in a picture or two.

Christmas with Claire

Claire came back to our house on Monday, so she, of course, immediately asked when we'd be opening presents. We opened gifts that night--after making Claire wait all day. Claire has been most excited about the hot-pink Snuggie we gave her. She'd been asking for the "blanket with sleeves" for several weeks, and she's hardly taken it off since she opened it. I've decided Claire really would like a house-coat because she likes to wear the Snuggie as if it's clothing and not just an improved blanket. Sadly, I don't think they make old-lady-style house-coats for children.
This particular Snuggie also came with fuzzy socks. Claire said they were the first socks she'd seen with grippers on the bottoms. I'm not sure how it's possible she's never seen non-slip socks before, but so it goes with Claire.
Hamilton remembered the excitement of opening gifts from a few days prior, so he was eager to help Sissy open her presents. With no toys for him inside the wrapped packages, Hamilton improvised with the empty box.
He walked around for several minutes with the box on his head, peeking every few steps to see where he was going.

December 26, 2010

December 26

Christmas night the snow started falling at the farm, and we woke today to a beautiful, white dusting. I snapped this picture of the copse in front of Mom and Dad's house while we were on our way up the driveway to church this morning. As is typical in South Carolina, the accumulated snow lasted less than 24 hours.

December 25, 2010

December 25

The new dinosaurs came straight out of the stocking and into Hamilton's ready mouth. He wasn't accustomed to opening presents, but he soon got used to it. By the end of the morning, needing no encouragement from us, Hamilton was going back under the tree to find more gifts wrapped in his recognizable paper.

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I've gotten more Christmas cards this year than ever before, and I've loved receiving them and seeing all the changing families! I decided early in the season that I wouldn't send any out this year--not a huge shock since I've only sent them once in our whole married life. I can be pretty slack sometimes.

So here's our Christmas card for 2010:

Merry Christmas from the Morgans
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
No more let sins and sorrows grow
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found

December 24

Sometimes playing with trucks and trains can be so exhausting that one must recline on the floor so as to exert as little energy as possible.


With the economy not recovering like everyone hoped, it's easy to be dismayed or disheartened at the close of the year. Victor Davis Hanson offers a little perspective on where our country is compared with 30 years ago. I especially like the portion about "instant information at [our] fingertips on almost any topic imaginable." I've contributed little if any to the Internet's vast information resources, yet I can search for and find information to any question quickly, easily, and cheaply.

Live Nativity

We took Hamilton to the live nativity at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton last night. He was "memorized," as Claire would say, by the braying donkey. The night was also way too cold for him to want to be anywhere else but Mimi's warm lap during the program.
After the short production, Hamilton got to view the donkey up close. After a few seconds, he tentatively reached out to pet him.

I wrote a vignette about Christmas Eve with the Taylors, which includes a reference to the same live nativity we took Hamilton to last night.

Christmas Eve Then and Now

Though the physical manifestations of Christmas Eve’s excitement have lessened as I’ve gotten older—the fluttery stomach and too-fast chatting, I’m reminded by the chilly air, the layers of warm clothing, the early arrival of night’s darkness, and the time together with friends and family of my childhood anticipation for the holiday.

Our family has attended a Christmas Eve service most years. How exciting it was a child to hold the small, white candle surrounded by the wax-catching, paper ring as Dad lit my wick from his flame. We’d sing Silent Night, Holy Night as everyone’s candle was lit illuminating the whole church. I still enjoy the candlelight portion of the service; however, holding fire in my hands is not the most exciting thing I do now as it was when I was nine.

After the service, we usually head to the live nativity production at the local Presbyterian church where the youth group tells the Christmas story in costume while the audience freezes on cold, metal bleachers. I never paid much attention to the requisite sheep or donkey at the live nativity, but I knew live animals were somewhere.

As a child, on the way home was when I’d usually ask if we could open just one present. Dad would always say, “Open as many as you want tonight. But then you won’t have any left to open tomorrow.” We never did open any presents on Christmas Eve. After pondering the alternatives of opening gifts now or anticipating opening them later, we always saved them all for Christmas Day. Nowadays Dad’s the one who jokes about opening all our presents on Christmas Eve and “getting it over with.”

As children Travis and I would wake up on Christmas morning and discuss how much longer we needed to wait before we could go wake up Mom and Dad. As the minutes slowly ticked by, we’d finally hear them stirring; or Dad’s preapproved time for wake-up would arrive, and we’d run in their room to greet them. With the pretense of Santa, Travis and I would wait upstairs before Dad would holler up to us, giving us the all-clear to come down and see what Santa brought. We’d rush to our stockings and other unwrapped gifts, exploring the bounty and exclaiming over everything.

Now we wake to Mom and Dad’s banging around in the kitchen as they prepare a delicious Christmas-morning brunch served on Mom’s best china. We enjoy a big brunch of eggs, cheese grits, and sausage, cleaning up before the first stocking is even opened. We spend lots of time opening presents one by one, and we spend the afternoon napping, watching TV, or playing games.

December 23, 2010

Christmas with Friends

Our dear family friends the Trammells and Frenches came over for a lunch party today, which included a playdate with all the kids. We hadn't had all the families together at Christmas in three years, and it was so good to see everyone's growing family.

Andrew sat at the kids' table with Hamilton. They swapped dance moves and disc-jockey skills.
Here are all the mamas and kiddos.
Hamilton was a great, little host sharing all his toys with his friends.
Between the three families, we have four kids and four babies on the way--two girls and two boys. We're all due in April and May within three weeks of each other. The race is on to see who will deliver first.

December 23

When I was young, maybe 7 or 8 years old, Dad supplied a Christmas tree to the governor's mansion. I skipped school one day in December to accompany Dad to Columbia to deliver the tree. Gov. Carroll Campbell's wife took me on a tour of the mansion where I saw many other Christmas trees and festive decorations. I also got to peek in the kitchen where the chef was making a gigantic gingerbread house. Before we left the mansion, the First Lady told me I could choose any ornament off one of the mansion's trees to take home. I chose this corn-husk doll, and every year I fondly remember my experience when I see the delicate ornament hanging on Mom's tree.

December 22, 2010

A Dirty Afternoon

Pops and Hamilton stayed at the farm this afternoon while the rest of us went shopping for some last-minute gifts. While Hamilton napped, Pops worked to fix his wood stove that's been cracked for nearly 20 years. Once Hamilton woke up, he played outside while Pops worked with the black, soot-soaked stove. We came home this evening to find Hamilton and his clothes in a dirty state.

Tractor Riding

Pops took Hamilton for a tractor ride around the yard today. Hamilton thoroughly enjoyed this new experience, though he still loves riding in the golf cart and in the wagon.
Here's another "Oh-ho-oh" face from Hamilton, who's obviously having a great time just sitting on the tractor and holding the steering wheel.

GOP Contenders

I enjoyed this article about the Republican presidential contenders. My favorite senator DeMint is mentioned, and I'd love to see him run. And, if not for our governor's stupid, personal decisions, he would surely be mentioned for a 2012 run for the White House.

December 22

From last night's small tractors to this morning's full-sized one, Hamilton loves the farm vehicles. Once Pops takes him for a ride, I think he'll be hooked.

December 21, 2010

December 21

Mr. Morgan bought Hamilton new tractors while he and Dad were out shopping today. Of course, Mr. Morgan couldn't wait long to give them to Hamilton, so tonight Hamilton is enjoying his John Deere tractors. One of them is the clean and shiny version, and the other is a muddy edition. Both are such fun for Hamilton, as this picture indicates with his "Oh-ho-oh" face.

RPC's Christmas Party

For our church's annual Christmas party, the school-age kids gave a special performance that involved singing, dancing, and costumes. Claire was so excited to participate. She had a speaking part, and she danced with all the girls during Silent Night, Holy Night.

The kids all did so well, and the Archers (RPC's "actors-in-residence") entertained us with the humorous play they'd written especially for our kids, which displayed our kids' many talents.
Claire played one verse of Away in a Manger by herself; then she accompanied the kids for a second verse. She practiced so hard over the last few weeks, and we were so proud of how well she played.
The sheep in the play were the cutest, especially Leigh who wore white socks on her pigtails for her sheep's ears.
Claire (far left) was a sweet angel in the heavenly host that praised God saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

December 20, 2010

December 20

The snowy, wintry vignette in our dining room reflects the below-normal, cold temperatures we've been having here in Charleston during the last week or two. The chilly weather makes me want to warm myself by the fire, sip hot cocoa, bundle up in scarves, and anticipate Christmas.

December 19, 2010

December 19

Redeemer looked so festive tonight for our annual Christmas party. The neighbors hung the garlands and wreaths on the wrought-iron gates last week which really made the church look beautiful.