Saturday, January 5, 2013

Our Simple Christmas

Christmas (and the whole holiday season really) was pretty simple for us this year.  It's not that I planned it that way (or even necessarily wanted it that way) but that's just about all I could do.  Some days I barely feel functional and can't get through the normal routine of the adding in a lot of extra holiday activities was hard.  So simple it was.  We still did most of our traditional Christmas traditions.  We still cut down our own Christmas tree (though pickings were quite slim this year) and decorated it...I just didn't take any pictures (shocking, I know)!  We still decorated the house (well, most of it)...even if it took us four days to do it!  We still did our advent calenders and counted down the days until the birth of Jesus...and the kids barely noticed that the first 10 days were filled with Halloween candy because I couldn't drag myself out to the store!  We even managed to fit in just a couple of Christmas crafts- we made homemade snow globes and a felt Christmas tree with felt ornaments that the kids could decorate and redecorate with.  We were able to do these only because they were ideas that I had last Christmas (and had already bought everything for) that we never found time for last year!  And our homemade Christmas ornament this year was a simple salt dough circle stamped with a snowflake- and the kids were able to do almost all of it themselves!  The ornaments were the only thing in our giving basket though this year because this mama just couldn't do much baking.  Lily was in her first Christmas concert this year through the library program she was a part of and it was so sweet to watch her sing out at the tree lighting (though I am sad that I didn't get any pictures of it).  And so we did manage just a little bit of preparing and celebrating each day (though in many cases it was the only thing I did that day)!
And then my parents came!  Oh, I can't even tell you how excited I was to have my parents join us for Christmas this year- not only did it give me more opportunity to rest, but I also just knew that mom would make everything a little extra special for the kids when I couldn't!
So a day or two after they arrived we made gingerbread houses!  I have never done this before and I have to say that it was SO MUCH FUN (and I finally managed to start taking some pictures)!

Christmas (1 of 1) Assembling the houses! Christmas2 (1 of 1) Christmas3 (1 of 1) Sampling the "glue" while we waited for the houses to dry! Christmas4 (1 of 1) Christmas5 (1 of 1) 
Mom and Eli did one gingerbread house and Lily and I did the other. Christmas6 (1 of 1) Christmas7 (1 of 1) Christmas8 (1 of 1) 
Lily was quite good at decorating! Christmas9 (1 of 1) Christmas10 (1 of 1) Christmas11 (1 of 1) Christmas12 (1 of 1) Christmas13 (1 of 1) Christmas14 (1 of 1) All told we probably worked on them for a couple of hours...I couldn't believe how long it held their attention! Christmas15 (1 of 1) Christmas16 (1 of 1) 
Here is Lily with her finished gingerbread house! Isn't it beautiful?! Christmas21 (1 of 1) 
My favorite parts were the Hello Kitty looking through the window, the wreath my mom made, and the gummy bears ice skating on the rink in the back (which was all Lily's idea)! Christmas22 (1 of 1) Christmas23 (1 of 1) Christmas17 (1 of 1) Christmas18 (1 of 1) 
And Eli did so great on his gingerbread house...he really loved decorating with the colorful candy balls (they were everywhere)! Christmas19 (1 of 1) Eli chose all the decorations himself and we all loved the driveway with the cars in it! Christmas20 (1 of 1) I really loved doing the gingerbread houses (even if I did feel very sick the rest of the day) and I think it's a tradition we'll keep! Lily's gingerbread house survived for a few days until a day or two before Christmas when Bubba (my dad) accidentally knocked it off the shelf it was on. Lily was a little sad until she realized that she could then eat it!:) Eli's lasted only a bit longer because on Christmas Eve while we were at church Indy ate the roof off of his! The day after we made gingerbread houses we drove down to the Boothbay Railroad Museum to ride the "Polar Express!" We rode a different "Polar Express" last year and this once was shorter and more simple, but was still really sweet. Christmas33 (1 of 1) Christmas24 (1 of 1) Christmas25 (1 of 1) Christmas26 (1 of 1) Eli, holding his ticket here, really loved it and was especially interested in the real steam engine and all of the steam it made as we rode! Christmas27 (1 of 1) Christmas28 (1 of 1) Christmas29 (1 of 1) Christmas30 (1 of 1) After riding the train for a bit we stopped for a break where we got hot cocoa, cookies, a Christmas story... Christmas31 (1 of 1) 
Christmas32 (1 of 1) And a quick visit from Santa!  What a fun little Christmas outing! Christmas34 (1 of 1) And after our train ride my parents treated us all to an overnight stay in Freeport at the Haraseeket Inn. I didn't take any pictures, but it was such a lovely Inn and the kids loved staying there right in the heart of Freeport. We enjoyed a scavenger hunt, a full afternoon tea, tasty meals including a beautiful brunch, a swim in the pool, and even milk and cookies before bed. That evening we went down to LL Bean to watch their outdoor light show which was really fun and do a little bit of shopping. The next day I ended up feeling pretty sick and stayed in the room while everybody else roamed about Freeport. Despite that it was a fun little trip! After our trip to Freeport we stopped to visit with Joe's parents and do a little early Christmas celebration! We arrived home the night before Christmas Eve and began to get ready. Christmas38 (1 of 1) This year we did Elf on the Shelf and while we didn't emphasize the naughty or nice thing too much our kids had a blast searching for our Elf "Marco" each morning! Every now and then through December I found the energy to get a little creative with him, but when my mom arrived she took over elf duties and did a great job finding creative things for Marco to do! This one on Christmas Eve was my favorite...Marco have a marshmallow snowball fight with his angel friend!:) Christmas39 (1 of 1) Christmas36 (1 of 1) 
And one of my very favorite parts of Christmas is Christmas Eve service at our Lily is all ready to go. And this year we almost made it through the whole service with the whole family. But alas, Eli started to loose patience the last 10 minutes, and for the 3rd year in a row Joe missed singing Silent Night by candlelight because he was in the nursery with Eli. Well, at least we got closer this year!:) Christmas37 (1 of 1) Christmas35 (1 of 1) 
Christmas40 (1 of 1) Christmas41 (1 of 1) And then there was Christmas day. I might dare say it was a wonderful day. We decided to keep things simple this year and stay home all day! With my parents we opened stocking and presents at our leisure. We enjoyed mom's homemade cinnamon roles and saved the big meal for later in the afternoon- and even that was actually quite simple. It was a simple and relaxed day. In the afternoon Joe took the kids ice skating while I stayed home and rested. There was a lot of playing with new toys and just enjoying being together. And for me? Well, Christmas day was probably the best I felt in about two fact I didn't start feeling really sick that day until right before the kids went to bed and I just can't help but believe that it was God's special little Christmas gift for me! I didn't take too many, but here's a little glimpse... Christmas42 (1 of 1) Christmas43 (1 of 1) Christmas44 (1 of 1) Christmas45 (1 of 1) Christmas46 (1 of 1) Christmas47 (1 of 1) Christmas48 (1 of 1) Christmas49 (1 of 1) Christmas50 (1 of 1) Christmas51 (1 of 1) Christmas54 (1 of 1) Christmas55 (1 of 1) Christmas56 (1 of 1) Christmas58 (1 of 1) Christmas59 (1 of 1) Christmas60 (1 of 1) Christmas57 (1 of 1)
Our Christmas was pretty simple and I missed doing some of the extra little things, but two of my favorite Christmas memories centered around the One who makes Christmas what it is. The first was on Christmas Eve. I was trying to get Eli to go down for a nap because I knew we would be out late at church. Eli has been having a hard time napping lately and that afternoon he was insisting that somebody stay in his room with him (Lily had been sleeping in his room while my parents were visiting and he had gotten used to is). I explained to him that I couldn't stay with him, but that he didn't need to be afraid because God was with him. Honestly I didn't really think he would understand, but right away he got the sweetest smile on his face. I explained a little more that God was with him, that He loved him, and that He would protect him and not leave him. Right away Eli seemed at peace and took a nice little nap without any other concerns. Quite often since that afternoon Eli now asks if God is with him in his room and each time I reply yes he gets that same sweet little smile that spreads over his face! My other favorite Christmas memory came Christmas day. It's been my family's tradition since I can remember that baby Jesus isn't placed in the nativity until Christmas Eve or Christmas day. We've done the same thing here with one of our nativity sets- it's just a simple thing to remind us of what we are really celebrating. Well, Christmas day I looked over at the nativity and noticed that baby Jesus had carefully been placed there. I assumed that my mom did it. She assumed that I did it. Really it was Lily who had remembered before anybody else that Jesus had been born and that he needed to be placed in the manger and she did it all on her own without anybody else knowing. I am so thankful that God used our beautiful children so remind us so beautifully of the real meaning of Christmas! So whether it was simple or elaborate we hope that you had a wonderful Christmas too!

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