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My favorite Christmas gift and my biggest surprise ever!

11 years ago, I decided it would "fun" to surprise my husband with TWINS. I knew I was pregnant (found out at Thanksgiving) and thought.... I'll keep it from Read and surprise him for Christmas with a baby! It seemed like a good idea at the time. As I got sicker and sicker, I kept it from him and then went for my first ultrasound with a dear friend. She came for support and to video my reaction of finding a heartbeat so Read wouldn't feel left out. Well... the surprise was on me. My doctor found TWO heartbeats and from that moment on, my heart would beat for three. We all cried and I got to work on how to give Read the surprise of a lifetime.

Well here's how the story went... Read and I have a tradition of trading off from year to year and compiling photos and home movies of our kids into a video set to music for the year. This year it was my turn. I had three days to put together a movie that would tell one of the most beautiful stories of our lives. I rented out a movie theater for Christmas Eve morning. Our local theater allowed you to rent a theater for birthday parties etc, so I did! I told Read, we were taking Graham to see Christmas movies Christmas Eve morning for a festive new tradition. He didn't find it strange that we were the only ones there buying popcorn and Twizzlers. I was a nervous wreck and not feeling so hot, but I acted like Claymation Rudolph was going to make for the best morning ever!

We settled into our seats and the big screen lit up with the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. It recapped 2005 in what Graham (then three years old) deemed "The Grammy Movie". At the end of the movie, it cuts to me in my doctor's appointment and my doctor's discovery of TWO heartbeats. We watched it with tears streaming down our faces. Read looked at me and said: TWINS? and then he just sobbed. The movie ends with Graham in a "I'm a big sister" shirt and she shouts (in precious pig tails): "MERRY CHRISTMAS DADDY!"

While this is a tough gift to top, I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. My children by far, are the best gift given to me by God (with the exception of His son on Christmas Day), but I recently received a favorite gift from my husband last Christmas.

Last year, I fell in love with artist Sarah Helser's work. She shows her pieces through Hidell Brooks in Charlotte, NC. Her style is edgy yet somehow slightly traditional, which compliments my home and my own personal style. I decided to have her do all three children because her boy portraits were handsome and stunning. Read commissioned her last Christmas to paint our children and she finished them this past Summer. I called to thank her for capturing my children and I sobbed. Brace yourself, they are not your "typical" portraits.

I chose a 24"x24" square, because it's unconventional and I could hang them together but substantial enough to split them.

Sarah pours a resin on top so it looks like glass, but with a hand blown or organic look.

I had a hard time photographing them without a reflection because of the resin.

Her attention to detail is somehow so realistic, but has a painterly effect. They almost look ethereal to me.

I simply adore them. Each one expresses their souls in the depths of their eyes.

Thank you Sarah for creating these masterpieces for me. Next to my children, they are the best Christmas gift I have ever gotten.

Merry Christmas, may you find meaning in the spirit of gift giving this holiday season...

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