Thursday, January 30, 2014

All Things Christmas 2013

Wow...Christmas was over a month ago and I'm just barely getting these in during the month of January!  But our Christmas season was good and thus I still want to share even if it is quite late (what can I say...January wasn't our best month)!

I was so excited for Christmas this year- not just because it was Liam's first, but also because I really felt like I could enjoy it this year and do all of the fun things that we love (unlike last year when I was so very sick and found doing anything difficult).  So this year I tried to do one "Christmasy" thing each day with the kids.  We didn't do every day of course, but most days we managed to find some time together to do a Christmas craft or activity or some baking!  I didn't get pictures each day (because, I'm finding, that it can be rather challenging to take pictures while holding a sweet, squirmy little baby)!  But here are some of them...

The very first thing we did the day after Thanksgiving was bake Chai Spice Boys and Girls with Joe's mom! These are turning out to be one of my favorite Christmas cookies! When we got home we decorated them. I even decided to let the kids use icing bags for the first time to decorate! Sadly I made the icing a little too runny and all three of us ended up with icing overflowing out of our bags!:) But they were still yummy!  
This year it was very cold the day we went to pick out our Christmas tree. This meant that we spent about 10 minutes total getting our tree. If it were up to me and the weather allowed I would probably choose to wander around until we found just the right one...but that kind of cold weather meant we all agreed on one 
pretty quickly!
My favorite present! And shortly after Thanksgiving our elf, Marco, returned! We had lots of fun with him again this year, except that a few times Marco "decided" to stay in the same place for more than one day (like when he was duck taped underneath the kitchen table, or trapped outside the window looking in, or hanging out with Jesus inside the manger)! Yes, let's just say that he "decided" to stay and extra night in those spots and not that Joe and I were so tired at night that we forgot to move the elf (multiple times)! The morning of St. Nicholas Day. What I will always remember most about this is how when Lily and Eli went to get their shoes to leave out for St. Nic. that Eli came running back with both of his shoes (one for him and one for Liam)! It was so sweet on his part to be thinking of his baby brother without even be asked (and reminds me of the thoughtful heart Eli has for others).  
This year both Lily and Eli got beaver ornaments. Eli had broken the tail off of his before it even made it to the tree that morning (but thankfully it was easily fixed)!
And one of the crafts that we did this year was snow globes (a repeat of last year because it was such a hit)! 
We also did hand print wreaths, beaded candy canes, and vintage winterberry containers- but I didn't get 
any pictures of those.
The cutest little elf ever!
And these glittery stick trees were my very favorite craft this year... and I think they will make a repeat performance (in various sizes) for next year because they were so easy and turned out so beautiful!  
Such concentration!
Marco again...this time making snow angels in the kitchen...silly elf! And this was Lily's school Christmas pageant! One of the many great things about her school is that it celebrates the real meaning of Christmas. They acted out the nativity and everything and Lily was the barn 
And I couldn't resist taking this picture of one of our friend's boys! Singing the barn yard song!  
One of our annual favorites...chocolate covered pretzels...  
Maybe next year Liam can get covered in chocolate too...this year he was content to watch!  
Beading garland for our little Christmas trees...  
Except after just a few minutes Eli decided it was much more fun to roll the beads down his race track!    
And this was the aftermath! We got enough for one tree. Oh well (you win some and loose some)! And these beauties were from Lily's school Christmas party! Yes, you read that right! Lily's teacher (the wonderful Mrs. Sedgewick) lives on a little farm and she invited her whole class and their families to her house for the party! The kids loved seeing the cows and chickens!  
Yes, the girl with half her body inside with the cows would be my girl! I think this trip solidified for us that we need to have cows someday (soon, hopefully)! Once inside they had snacks (even for these little brothers, who Mrs. Sedgewick so thoughtfully included). And read the Christmas story together! Please take notice here of my little Lily's hair. Yes, that's hay in her hair. I think she got a little too over zealous with the feeding of the animals!:) And she even had gifts for them...a homemade Christmas playdough kit! Which they played with right away! What a fun party! What an amazing teacher! And what you see here are the kids working on their gifts for this years "giving basket." This year we made pom pom necklaces, cinnamon applesauce ornaments, and chocolate krinkle cookies for the kids to give away throughout the Christmas season. Here they are working on making pom poms. And yes, Eli's ear is bleeding a bit...earlier in the season his ear was wind burned or frost bitten and it was pretty sore for a bit.  A few days before Christmas we spent the day having a birthday party for Jesus. A new thing we did this year was to make birthday cards for Jesus sharing with Him one thing about Him that we really love.   Lots of love for Jesus!  
And we made a simple birthday cake.  
And we had our yearly birthday dinner by candlelight. And this year we celebrated Advent and the coming of Jesus each night before bed by reading our Advent book and lighting our new Advent candles. I'm certain this will be a tradition we look forward to for many years to come. And the night of Jesus' party we tried (as we do every year) to read "An Angels Story." And half way through the story this year we decided that this book is just a little too much for our young children. Next year I think we'll have to choose a new special story that we read each year (other than all of our regular Christmas books) and we'll come back to this one when the kids are all a little older! But this Advent candle wreath was a huge hit each night with our kids. And it made our nightly Advent reading (and the reading of other Christmas books each night) feel even more special.  
Just a few shots of some Christmas cuties!:) And then on Christmas Eve we had a little surprise for the children... We have been thinking about getting the kids a small fish tank for a while now. And this seemed like just the right time! We let them open this one present a little early so that they could go that afternoon to each pick out a fish. And, I might add, that while they were fish shopping Liam took a nap and I had the most lovely, peaceful afternoon at home (enjoying a quiet lunch by myself for the first time probably in years)!:) Let me introduce you to Goldy (Lily's fish) and Blub Blub (Eli's fish)... A couple weeks later we added two more fish (Heidi and Lightning)! And then while we waited to celebrate Christmas on Skype with my family Eli decided to build a car ramp/track with some of the presents! Little did he know that my parents bought him pieces to make his own Hot Wheels race track (that was and continues to be a big hit)! And after celebrating with my parents we made and left food out for Santa's reindeer...  
It was a beautiful, icy day...  
Then after our favorite "all appetizers" dinner we went to church for my very favorite Christmas Eve service. And that's where our own little Christmas miracle occurred. For the first time EVER our whole family made it all the way through the service. That's right...3 young children, near bed time, fueled by appetizers, and a baby who didn't even nap that evening made it all the way through the service!! As we sang Silent Night with our candles lit (and held onto so sweetly and carefully by the children) Joe and I couldn't help but look on in 
And then we came home to discover Santa's sack left for us filled with Christmas pajamas for all!  
Christmas jammies were changed into, milk and cookies were left, "Twas The Night Before Christmas" was
read and all headed off to bed... 
And then Santa's elves got to work... Homemade tents and campfire! And once all of the gifts were out and the stockings were stuffed we ALL went to sleep and the baby (oh that sweet baby) slept for 7 hours straight for the first time in months (Merry Christmas to me)! And then it was Christmas morning... And I was so relieved that Lily was SO happy with her Santa gift (an art set and easel) because it's not at all what she asked Santa for (because apparently the fairy doll she did ask for was on back order). I guess her mama (I mean Santa) knows her pretty well!  
And that girl got right to work making a picture of the Nativity (reminding us all what we were really 
And Eli enjoyed his remote controlled rattlesnake from Santa...  
And so did Sadie...  
Flying monkeys!  
And all tried to wait patiently for their turn!:)
I think he liked the paper as much as the gift! Adorable! Originally we thought that we would have to rush through Christmas morning a bit in order to get down to Joe's family for Christmas lunch (lunch this year because his sister had to work later that afternoon). But as it turned out the ice storm we got a few days earlier left Joe's family without power for many days including Christmas day! So we postponed our Christmas with Joe's family until the next day and instead we spent a very leisurely Christmas day at home. It was quite lovely actually.  
I put together a little scavenger hunt for them to find their last gift (sand buckets for our trip to Florida)! Such unexpected and laid back fun for Christmas day! And this beautiful picture of Christmas day was taken by Lily- my little budding photographer! And it was just so beautiful outside with the ice coating the trees that we had to go outside for a little walk in the woods (pictures mostly taken by Lily)... So beautiful! We finished our hike with a little sliding! And we went home and enjoyed some leftover appetizers (because we significantly underestimated the size of the turkey we took out to defrost the night before and it didn't finish cooking until around 9 p.m.that night)!:) And that's how this Christmas and centered around Christ and family and even a little bit more laid back than we were expecting. A Merry Christmas indeed!

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