This week began with a rough day on Monday (a headache...oh, how that can sap the positive feelings and exciting anticipation completely). However, Tuesday had Mom meeting up with Whitley and I at my house - a therapy session with her that eliminated the pain - and then some shopping for accessories for her to dress her up for the "Festival of Trees Gala" and other holiday outings. Whitley was extra special for her "third grandma" - and it was priceless listening to her from the other room while she changed Whitley from her pajamas (Whitley's favorite time).
We ended up scoring some perfect items for her (a pair of silver shoes she had to try on three different times the next day to admire just how cute they were!) at Kohls and finished our shopping earlier than anticipated. Just a little "pre Black Friday" practice.
On Tuesday evening, Michele and the girls showed up. It was just in time to join Brayden, Mikayla, and I at our third annual "Family Volleyball Scrimmage" evening of practice. Michele was reluctant, feeling like reading her Kindle in front of the fireplace might be a more cozy use of her evening, but ended up enjoying it (as she knew she would). We both played on a team with our girls - along with the Leighton family (Chris, Jonna, Kenady, Annika). There were three other teams rotating around (including an all-boys team with Brayden on board - and the fifth member of the Leighton family, Luke) - and I think it was indeed another successful night, perhaps marking one of the favorite memories we'll have of this volleyball season.
Michele had a scheduled hair appointment at Bello early on Wednesday - perfect timing to create an excuse to hang out and bake together for the rest of the day. The day went right as planned. Because of our family's "Alternative Thanksgiving" plans, there wasn't a whole lot of food prep I had to do besides preparing the crusts for the six pies Michele and I would be jointly preparing. I took care of the Dutch Apple Pie, while Michele whipped out four pumpkin pies and a marionberry pie for her Thanksgiving gathering with Michael's side of the family. (Of course, setting aside pumpkin pies for us to indulge in on Black Friday).
At one point, I felt like I should be "doing more" - productively whipping through holiday prep and organization - and then I realized, "Stephanie, stop....hold Whitley, and just take it all in". So, that's what I did, watching the rest of the Hallmark Channel's "The Christmas Song" with Whitley on my lap. She literally laughed out loud as she watched the movie (not at all a funny part) and it was delightful. (Face it Travis, that girl is a Hallmark Channel fan....forget NASCAR....this is her favorite!) A short while later, Michele snagged Whitley and read a Christmas book to her with Ellie at her side. More pricelessness....
Eventually, the Schilling girls left around 5pm to head home and prepare for their upcoming festivities. As for our family, we went to bed very early. We set up a slumber party in the bedroom, watching "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and by 8:30, I was the last one awake. A beautiful thing as EVERYONE in the family would be needing all the sleep they could get for the abundantly crazy 48 hours to come. =)