Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols


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Loveliest of Christmases 

WOW! What a Christmas! Some Christmases stand out in your mind as the greatest ever, and next to Christmas 1986, Christmas 2015 was absolutely the best yet!  

 We kicked off the festivities with a wonderful dinner with the entire family at Firestone Pizza on December 23. My parents, my sister, my brother, my fine husband, our beautiful children, and our dear friends that are indeed family all sat around one table and talked and laughed and basically had an amazing time! We had an absolute blast, and I hope that we make this a new tradition!  

 Adam, Banks, and Jud went to see Star Wars on Christmas Eve, and they all enjoyed it immensely. While the boys were enjoying a guys day, Weston was absolutely and completely off the chain with Christmas Eve delirium and excitement in anticipation of the main event. 

 For months he told everyone that all he wanted for Christmas was “a hot Jeep.” Well, his hopes and dreams came true when he unwrapped his very own hot Jeep down at Granny’s house. He was absolutely thrilled, and he was ready to drive immediately!  

   After a wonderful time with family at Granny’s house, the boys went to bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. Adam and I were awoken by a shout of exclamation by Weston at 6:30am. He proclaimed, “Santa brought me a bike and bubba a bike too!” As I’ve mentioned before, our boys both receive three gifts from Santa. Banks received Beats by Dr. Dre, a mountain bike, and Rayban Sunglasses. Weston was thrilled with his bike, new shoes, and new bedding. The magic and thrill of a child’s wishes coming true is one of the most magnificent moments as a parent. Adam and I are both extremely blessed by being able to provide not only our children’s needs but a few of their wants as well. 

    
 I’m 34 years old, and I still look forward to Christmas morning at my parents’ house. The gifts are great, but the company is phenomenal! Every gift, hug, book, letter, and word spoken is heart-felt and genuine. Banks is thrilled to have a star-gazing date with his Pops. He is fascinated with the sky and the ancient astronomers. Weston is absolutely set with modes of transportation, Thomas the Train gear, and his newest obsession…Ninja Turtles! Following our home renovation, Adam mentioned that our old tv was not proportional to new amount of wall space. He and I were blessed with a new 58″ Samsung SmartTV, and Adam is in love. This TV does everything! Needless to say, we are so extremely blessed, and while the gifts are nice, the people are the real treasure! 

   Speaking of treasured people, we set out Christmas afternoon for a weekend visit with Adam’s Nanny in Auburn. She was going to be alone on Christmas, and no one should spend Christmas alone. We had a blast, and it’s always wonderful to spend time talking to and listening to such a wise and kind woman. We always leave her house feeling loved, and we hope she feels the same from us. 
I hope you all had an amazing holiday and were surrounded with people that love you exactly the way you are. I pray for a prosperous and happy new year for you and those you treasure most. Come back next week and see how my manclan and I ring in the New Year!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The countdown is officially on, literally. Judy even made Weston a Christmas countdown construction paper chain. He wakes up every morning wanting to know if Uncle Jud is home for Christmas yet. 

    
   While Judy has kept Weston busy with all sorts of shinanigans…snowball fights with Santa, reminding Weston to eat his citrus, and watching Christmas movies in the middle of the night…Adam and I had a week full of Christmas parties to attend!  
 Adam’s company held a beautiful Christmas party in the meeting space at Courtyard by Marriott. The meal was delicious. Dirty Santa was hilarious, and no one stood a chance at a game of Christmas trivia with Adam and me there. We are so thankful for this wonderful company and the provision it brings for our family. It was also fun to get dressed up for such an occasion. My little black dress came from my favorite store in town, Primrose Hill Boutique. We had a blast and can’t wait for many more years of celebrating with our LBA family. 

   
Things got real Friday night! Our Sunday school class had a tacky Christmas sweater party, and it was epic! Adam meant he wasn’t wearing a Christmas sweater, so he went as everyone’s favorite cousin…Eddie! Thankfully, my granny is a Christmas sweater master, so simply pairing her sweater and turtleneck with my own sequin mini and Christmas cat socks, my ensemble was complete. While the attire and games were hilarious, the real treat came in delivering Christmas to a hard-working, Latin-American family within our church. This family was so deserving and so overcome with emotion and gratitude that it made our Christmas. Being able to selflessly give to others without expecting or needing anything in return is truly a beautiful thing. 

 My precious Banks finished up his semester exams on Friday, and the amount of time, effort, and dedication that he and his classmates put into their school work is the difference between Houston Academy and every other school. He had five exams, and he studied for approximately 40 hours and answered nearly 1000 exam questions in three days. He finished up the semester with all A’s and 1 B. We are so proud of all the hard work and dedication that he puts in on a daily basis. He is a gift to our family, and watch! He’s going to do amazing things in life! 

 As you all go into the next few days, my prayer is that all of my readers have a very Merry Christmas, and if you’re reading this and have just finished celebrating Chanukah or some other celebratory holiday, Happiest of Holidays to you and your family. Personally, I’m so thankful that my Savior chose to come in the most humble of births to live on this earth in preparation of a death for us and our transgressions. His gift was truly the greatest gift of all! 


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Candles, Cantatas, and One Crazy Elf

Another year has passed, and I’m officially 34. Age has never been a big deal to me. Life is what you make it, and I can’t wait to grow older! My day was spent absolutely alone, and it was WONDERFUL! I got my nails polished, went shopping, had lunch with girlfriends, and my sweet husband took me to dinner, and we finished up some shopping.  My boys were super sweet wishing me a happy birthday, and Weston couldn’t understand why I didn’t have any birthday cake or a party. Bless him!  

 Saturday was extremely busy with the entire family playing at least one role in our church’s Christmas Cantata. Adam and Banks played the role of shepherds coming to see baby Jesus. I sang with the choir, the ladies ensemble, and had a small speaking part as Cindy Johnson, the manager at the local Macy’s. Weston brought down the house with the role of child Jesus. The play required major dedication and many, many, many practices, but it was totally worth it to see a full sanctuary of people from our community.  

 Judy is still crazy as ever! I’m not really sure what we are going to do every night at 9:30 once Christmas is over, although I’m sure we will think of something.😉 

   She has written on the bathroom mirror with toothpaste, which is no easy task! I was worried about how difficult it would be to clean, but the toothpaste came right off with a damp paper towel, and the mirror shined right up after using window/glass cleaner. Judy has also hidden in the dog food container. This trick made for a very dramatic morning, because Weston couldn’t find her, and he burst into our room proclaiming that she had lost her magic and was gone forever!!!!!!! Thank goodness we found her!!!! I assure you the struggle was real! 
   
  Amidst the unharacteristically warm weather we’ve been experiencing, Judy was forced to make M&M Angels. Snow is rarely an option down in South Alabama, so she better start liking M&M’s. Sunday night, she was hungry when she got back from the North Pole, and we caught her cooking some breakfast Monday morning. Weston loves to play kitchen and pretended to eat whatever was in the pan. I’m certain that he’s made the nice list! 
   

Ok, so Monday night was an absolute last minute thrown together idea of simply hanging her upside down from the kitchen cabinets. Tuesday night, Judy got a bit more creative and finally sat on Santa’s lap to tell him what she wants for Christmas. Judy’s a pretty great elf, and she has brought many laughs and much joy to our family, so I’m certain that she will join Weston and Banks on the nice list. 

Beginning tomorrow, we have five straight days of Christmas parties to attend, and Monday begins a week filled with laughter, family time, baking, Christmas movies, late night toy assembly by flashlight in our shed, and most importantly, the celebration of the birth of our Savior. I absolutely cannot wait! I love Christmas more than anyone, and I’m so excited to share it with a manclan that I love so much!  
I hope you all have an amazing week and find a way to enjoy every Christmas carol, baked good, Christmas greeting, and Message of Good News! It really is the most wonderful time of the year!


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Peace, Love, and Judy

We have been so extremely busy since Thanksgiving!!! With Adam working, me working, school, church Christmas program practice, meetings, parties, etc…, I haven’t even had time to pick out and order our Chrsitmas cards this year. I usually send them out this week, every year, but this year, our friends and family might not get it until the new year. LOL! Thankfully, this is my last week of working until January, so hopefully I will be able to get some things checked off of my to-do list and enjoy all that this most wonderful season has to offer.

  Sunday night, we had a Hanging of the Greens service at church, and that’s the first time I’ve ever heard the explanation for these Christmas decorations that I love so very much. As I mentioned in my last post, I love the glow of Christmas lights, but nothing compares to the glow of two, ten foot tall Christmas trees, two twelve foot tall Christmas trees, three strands of garland, and ten candles illuminating a sanctuary full of people singing Christmas carols. I’ve decided that I don’t care what time of the year it is when I die, I want Christmas trees and nothing but Christmas carols at my funeral…Seriously!!!!!! This service was such a nice treat amidst all of the craziness the past two weeks has thrown our way. I hope our church continues to do this service every year from here on out. If you, like myself, have never heard the reason we decorate with wreaths, garland, candles, and poinsettias, I urge you to look it up. It’s fascinating and makes the TRUE meaning for this season so much more beautiful than it already was.

   
  Judy has also been keeping us extremely busy! This week, she drew a picture of Weston and herself, which Weston loved so much that he took it to show his babysitter the next morning. She also made a snowman out of powdered doughnuts! Weston had never had powdered doughnuts before, and he loved them and has asked to go to “the doughnut store” everyday since trying them. 
   
 She also dove head first into the boys’ new cookie jar that their TG brought them, and Monday morning, she was found in my room playing dress up with my Mam’s jewelry. Just like any girl, Judy surely does love her some chocolate and accessories!
  Now, this morning, Weston found Judy with her skirt down! 😳 It’s not surprising that all that refined sugar in those cookies and doughnuts results in peppermint elf poop!!!! We can’t wait to see what she does tonight!!!!!

Well, I’m going to go switch over our laundry and see if I can find a Christmas card that fits my expectations on Shutterfly. I hope you all have an amazing week, and be sure to check back next week for more Nichols Family Fun!


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Eat Some Turkey, Deck the Halls, and Remember…to Move the Elf????

I hope that your Thanksgiving was as lovely as ours. Due to Adam’s promotion, he ended up having to work for a few hours in the morning, but we had a beautiful lunch with my family. My mom asked Adam to bless the food, and the words he expressed to our Heavenly Father were so beautiful, kind, and heartfelt. It brought tears to my eyes. Time spent with my manclan and family that loves us tops my list of things I treasure.   
   
The day after Thanksgiving is one of the greatest days of the year!!!! I spent all morning decorating the house for Christmas, and when Adam got home from work, we went to pick out our Christmas tree. We always love doing this as a family! We got it decorated, and it is so beautiful! There are few things as wonderful as sitting in a room solely illuminated by the lights of a Christmas tree. 

  
Every year, friends have given me different items to place in my yard or in my house at Christmastime, but this year, my yard decorations are dedicated to my brave and courageous neighbors, David and Carolyn. Since I was about 10 years old, Mr. David has covered every inch of his house and yard with lights and ornamentation, but due to his fight with cancer, he didn’t decorate this year, and he graciously gave us some of his yard decorations. As we set them up, I was praying for Mr. David and Mrs. Carolyn. They have meant so incredibly much to our family for over 20 years. I’m so thankful that he can enjoy the decorations from across the street. They are truly two people that I love and treasure. 

 
Saturday morning, we opened the front door to find a visitor trying to zipline into our house from the roof. Her name is Judy, and she’s our elf!  

 Now, it goes without saying that Weston is completely obsessed with her, but Adam and I have had the most fun coming up with exciting things for her to do each day. She has played trains, made coffee, hung out in Weston’s stocking, and eaten Go-Gurt in the refrigerator! She is so silly and wonderful! I’m so thankful Santa sent her to us this year! She even brought Weston a pair of Elf on the Shelf pajamas! Hearing his sweet little laugh every morning when he finds her, simply brings a happiness to our entire day! 

    
    
 
As this month continues, I will surely talk more about Judy’s adventures. I hope and pray you all are enjoying this most wonderful time of the year as much as we are!!!! My advice to those that dread this time of year would be to find Christmas spirit in the small things and allow that to drive you throughout the entire season! Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!