Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

All the kids are tucked in bed, trying to fight the excitement and drift off to sleep.  The turkey has been eaten and leftovers packed away, guests have come and gone, and the house is settling down.  We're still an hour or two away from laying out the Santa gifts, and it's just... quiet.  It's hard to believe, as it is every Christmas Eve, that the year is winding down to just a few remaining days, and Christmas will be over in a blink.  By this time tomorrow, wrapping paper will clutter the floors, bellies will be full of Christmas dinner, and hopefully what will linger will be the warmth of The Reason in our hearts.

My hubby is watching a movie, while I sit listening to my I-Pod Shuffle (thank you baby!)  and puttering on the computer.  I'm not sure Brian is truly happy he got me the Shuffle.  My rendition of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" and "Don't Be Cruel" has earned me a "white girls can't rap" from him.  Whatever...  

But I digress...  

Somehow if I can capture here the magic of Christmas so far, I'm hopeful it just might last a  *bit* longer.  

My sassy kids before church last week.  I swear, my kids are so beautiful, I don't know how I got so lucky.  I love that there's no question with my kids about the true meaning of Christmas.  They get it, they really do, and I am proud of their small budding testimonies.
Brian cooked what may become our new traditional Christmas Eve breakfast this morning. Sausage, egg and cheese stuffed croissants - so yummy!!

Shaped like dolphins for his kids, too.  Too cute!
The boys played outside all morning.  They don't care that it's 34 degrees outside - Jake didn't even wear a coat.  They just love being outside.
Petunia chowed down on Dad's creation before it even made it into the croissants.  She is pure carnivore, I swear.
Jake set the table all by himself....
and Dad corralled The Littles.  The hat says "ho-ho-ho", the smirk says "quit taking my picture".     

We roasted a turkey this year, and had some friends over for dinner.  As much as I dearly love family and spending time with them at Christmas, I have been looking forward to just this kind of Christmas for years.  No where to go, nowhere to be, just at home.

The kids got to open their gifts from the Mendozas, a fun new game for the boys, and Dora slippers for Petunia.

She also got to take some pictures with her "boyfriend".  You've never seen a happier girl.
After our dinner guests headed out, we settled in to our Christmas Eve traditions: ornament gifts, the Nativity story, and preparing Santa's goodies.  

All three of their ornaments are the same this year.  I saw these and just knew that for this year, these were right in more ways than my kids may ever know.  This may be the last year they all believe together in the mystery and magic of Santa.  I want them to always believe in their Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Believing is what has sustained us this year.
Each year, Dad reads Luke chapter 2 aloud.  It's one of my favorite traditions from my own childhood, and is a perfect way to send the kids off to bed.

"For unto you is born this day... a Saviour".
Goodies for Santa, which Jake baked himself yesterday.  The kids are always mindful of the reindeer, and tonight ran outside to pick them some grass, and left them a bowl of water.

Tomorrow will be a whirlwind, I know.  These sweet babies will be crazy with excitement and there will probably be a meltdown or two.  But there will be family, and love, joy and appreciation for all that we have been blessed with.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Days 15-21

Yes, I'm just slightly behind.  It always seems as if the last week or so before Christmas things start to snowball, with shopping to finish, gifts to wrap and complete, parties, advent activities, and oh yeah, that thing called day to day life.  Things around here have been busy, in a good way, and while we have mostly kept upon our advent activities, I have not kept up on the blogging.

Day 15 - make reindeer, which we did on our play date with Ethan, courtesy of a cute little foam reindeer kit from Michaels.  Almost a week later we are still picking tiny brown foam squares off of EVERYTHING in the house.

Day 16 - watch A Christmas Story, which would have happened had I actually made arrangements to either rent or DVR it.

Day 17 -  attend Live Nativity, which we did, and it was amazing!  It came at the end of an uber-long, busy holiday season day, and was just the perfect thing to kick off the last week before Christmas.

Day 18 -  watch Mr. Kruegers Christmas.  Again, lack of preparation on my part = epic failure.  At one time we owned this movie, but when we went to watch it, for the love of money I couldn't find it anywhere.

Day 19 - sing Christmas carols.  This one we didn't make a big deal out of, because we have been singing   NON STOP to our John Denver/Muppets Christmas CD.  All. Weekend. Long.

Day 20 -  read a Christmas book.  This has been in our list earlier in the month, and is a nice no-brainer activity that the kids still love.

Day 21 -  make Christmas trees.  Alas, another snafu.  This was supposed to be on the 22nd, as the 21st was Brian's night with the kids and he is not much of a crafter.  The 21st was supposed to be watch Rudolph, which we did, and we'll hopefully do the trees tonight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Days 13-14

I'm fairly amazed at how un-stressed I am by the fact that there are just 11 days left until Christmas, especially when you consider the fact that I still have 3 Prayer Pillows left to sew.  

 Around here in the winter time, we drink this stuff by the gallons.  The best is when Dad makes it,half water half milk with peppermint syrup thrown in.  So creamy yummy good.

 No I don't know why he has no shirt on

Day 13 - write letters to Santa, which I totally forgot we had already done several weeks ago,so we basically skipped this night
Day 14 - Dad's night, so a fairly easy activity... eat a candy cane.  They managed to pull it off with great success.

These are some pictures from our  "draw a Christmas picture night"

 Jake's Santa sleigh with reindeer
 Austin's Santa and Rudolph
 Random note - if you have kids who like to do a lot of "art-ing" (as my kids call it) this is the best $9.95 you will ever spend... battery operated pencil sharpener, I love you.
 My kids are so used to my constant picture snapping, especially during craft time, that they are unfazed by it and continue on as if I am not constantly in their face with a camera.  Brian, well, not so much...  this is his "what the crap are you doing" while I was shooting pictures of him helping Leah draw.

 Random cuteness

Monday, December 12, 2011

Days 9-12

Day   9 - read a Christmas book, which was just almost magical in front of the fireplace with the tree lights aglow.

Day 10 - go see Christmas lights, which I had originally planned to do up big-time, by going to the Keizer Parade of Lights with some friends.  When time came to go, Brian had the coziest fire going in the fireplace, we had been lazy all afternoon, and the last thing I wanted to do was bundle everyone up to go stand outside and look at lights.  So, we went for a short 15 minute cruise through the neighborhoods around our house, singing at the top of our lungs to John Denver and the Muppets' "12 Days of Christmas".  Everyone loved it just fine.

Day 11 - draw a Christmas picture, which was kind of a lame wimp out on my part, strategically planted in the middle of things to give Mom a semi-break.  My little artists were in 7th heaven.

Day 12 - make Christmas cookies, which consisted of popping open a package of Nestle "pre-printed" sugar cookies.  Jacob actually took over and baked almost all of them himself.  All Austin and Leah are truly concerned with is consuming the finished product.  I truly had great plans to make cookie cutter dough and let them do the whole cookie cutter thing, but ya' know...  at the end of the day, I'm a pre-packaged cookie kind of girl.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Santa Baby

Day 6 - we went to the library to get Christmas books.   We missed the tiny two foot shelf of actual Christmas books, but loaded up on enough books to carry the kids through the upcoming school break.

Day 7 - was supposed to be drinking hot chocolate with Dad, but between Jake's Cub Scout meeting and a last minute emergency brake job for a friend, they ran out of time.

Day 8 - today's activity was taking silly Santa hat pictures, along with drinking the missed hot chocolate.  I was worried this would be one of the activities my kids just wouldn't get into, because it seemed rather simple, but they got into it just fine.

Monday, December 5, 2011

O Christmas Tree

20 days left!  It definitely makes the countdown go faster when I have to keep up with my own self imposed list of activities from now until Christmas.

This weekends activities, very strategically, included getting our Christmas tree Saturday, and decorating it Sunday.  The hilarious details of the weekend could fill their own post entirely, so suffice it to say that after one very late start, one toddler meltdown, and one wasted trip across town, we got our tree at a church 3 blocks from our house about 8:30 Saturday night.

Sunday after church we brought the tree in to decorate it.  
It's a lovely sculpted Grand Fir that we scored for $20.  As soon as Brian brought it in, the whole house was filled with the smell of pine, one of my FAVORITE things about the holidays. 

Unfortunately, it was followed not too long after by the smell of burning plastic. 

Again, long story short, but after one melted Hot Wheel and some flames shooting out of places on the wood stove that they shouldn't, we postponed decorating until Monday.

Some adorable father-son time.  Brian taught Jake how to safely start a wood fire this weekend. The plastic aroma and flames are not attributed to him.

They are, however, very much attributed to her:
Yes, she is lounging in a box.  I'm not sure why I bought her Christmas presents.  She's happiest with things like this.
Random cuteness.  My boys would have me take their pictures all day long if I was willing. Sometimes I just throw them in because they're cute, if not story related.

The lovely fire, pre-stinkout.  It was so nice and snuggly laying on the couch in front of it, until the smoke alarm went off.
Our tree, finally "decorated".  Lights and the angel, that's all it's getting this year. 
She's my favorite part, so it's okay.


Today's activity was making homemade Christmas cards to send to loved ones.  Thanks to some craft paint and cute Christmas stamps (which I remembered last minute that I had) this activity was far less stressful than the weekend's events.