Christmas Day 2015

I LOVE Christmas!  The joy of the season…the anticipation… the traditions… the lights… the food… the family… our dear Savior’s birth!  Coziness.

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One of our newest (3rd year) traditions… Christmas coal (Minty Mallows) in the stockings, along with a poem about our sin and need for a savior.

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Christmas traditional breakfast: Brundy casserole, fruit, and stollen bread.

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No time to waste… as soon as breakfast is over, the “elves” get straight to organizing gifts while the adults linger at the table with their coffee.

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We had so many homemade gifts form the kids this year.  I think it was the highlight of my Christmas!  Poems, papers, books, coupons, and crafts galore!

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I think my husband likes having a son… and helping him open gifts…

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In the middle of opening gifts, we got a huge surprise: my brother and sister-in-law showed up from Northern California!

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They had fun opening and reading Allison’s “Dogs and Wolves” paper she wrote for the boys this year.

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A head lamp so I can keep up my early morning runs in the new year!

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Daniel worked so hard cooking all day…. beef tenderloin, Thai grilled salmon with red curry pepper paste, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, cranberry bread.  Thanks, babe!

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Daniel’s brother, sister-in-law, and our nephews joined us for dinner and more play.

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Our little nephew creamed us all on Connect 4.  Brilliant little guy!

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We ended the night with a fun round of stair ball.

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Until Next Year!

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Christmas Eve 2015

For the first time in 10 years, Daniel will be home both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!  Hoorah!

Christmas Eve… Reading to Grandpa, quiche breakfast, paper doll play, checkers with Grandpa, playing Christmas carols on the piano, making a box train, an awesome Christmas Eve service at church, Swedish meatball dinner, and a relaxing evening while the kids dreamt of Santa…

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Feeling so blessed and thankful!

One Week

My mom has been with us for a week now.  I am using less hand lotion because the dishes are magically done for me.  Exercise and errands mean alone time.  Can I just say it is glorious?  Meanwhile, and most importantly, the kids are loving the family time with Grandma… whether it is a coloring date, building fairy houses, reading stories, making s’mores, playing in the rain, or doing string art.. everything is more fun with Grandma!

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Wildcat Party!

Natalie turned 9!  Happy birthday, my sweet girl!

When you requested a wildcat birthday, I was at a total loss for what to do!  I made you give me a back-up theme in case I couldn’t find any ideas, but alas Pinterest came through with some fun ideas and God sparked a few in my mind just in the nick of time, as well.

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Food is always one of the most exciting parts for the kids.  Some of the favorites this time were “tiger tots,” “tiger tails,” “tiger brownie favors,” “lion mane veggies,” “cheetah paw cupcakes,” and “lemony lion cake.”

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The kids are getting older… **sniff, sniff** I am certain they would still enjoy coloring, but I am trying to find other activities for when the guests first arrive and we are waiting for everyone to arrive.  I found a really cute website that had how to draw a lion, cheetah, jaguar, and leopard.

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For the second activity, I wanted to use animal print little jewel stick-ons I got on clearance from Oriental Trading.  I literally had no idea what we would do until the morning the kids arrived.  I searched my craft cupboard and found a lot of little wooden pieces, some paint, some magnets, and some clothespins.  They made either ornaments or magnets.  Praise God for last-minute ideas and an art supply closet!

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Planning for the wildcat trivia was fascinating.  Now I know why Natalie enjoys reading about them so much!

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Natalie requested lemon cake.  I used this recipe, and it was a hit — I think I’ll have to use it every year for Natalie.

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So many sweet presents… so many sweet friends…

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 Love you, Christmas Baby!

The Arboretum

For years, I have wanted to do an Advent calendar, but never got around to it.  (I blame Pinterest for this desire!)  What kept me from it?  Mostly, I didn’t want to feel the pressure of having to do big activities every day.  And, I really wanted to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  Plus, where would I find time to make an Advent calendar?

Well, at the end of the season last year, I found one at Target for super cheap.  And, it fit our decor perfectly.  Each day there is a verse and a piece of candy inside.  Then, once in a while, there is a “special paper” with activities.  (These are usually aded the night before!)  And, some of the “special activities” are quite simple, like “Tell Christmas jokes,” or, “Cut out snowflakes.”  And then there are ones like, “Dress in layers and get ready for a special field trip.”  Basically, I took an activity we would have planned anyway, and stuck it in the advent calendar.  Let me just say, it has been soooo much fun!  And, we were blessed with the perfect day to go to the Arboretum!  I took our 140 photos and narrowed them down to a mere 30 for you…

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I made the kids simple journals out of 3 sheets of paper and a brown paper bag.  I have done this in the past with little success, but it was really fun to watch the older ones take it seriously this time.  Watching them journal is precious!

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Peacocks were everywhere!  The kids were bummed to not find any of their special feathers.

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We probably spent the most time here at the White Karee tree.  It was such a fun jungle gym, and the kids now want one in their back yard.

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Lunch… then more climbing!

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Our last stop before heading home was the waterfall.

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Sierra loved that one “special duck,” so we couldn’t go until I got a picture!  It was such a special day.  The Arboretum has a free entrance day once a month, and the kids are already asking to go back next month to hang out in the Karee.  We also have a lot more ground to explore.  Let me know if you want to come!

Not Days, but Moments

Tell me this has happened to you.  Your kid is having an awesome day.  All is well in the world.  Then, something silly happens and, BAM!  They completely forget everything good that they experienced, and all you hear is, “This is the WORST day ever!”

It’s happened with all my children at some point, (and one child in particular almost every day.)  But, it got me thinking.. in some ways, my mind works the same way.  How quickly I forget the good and cling to the bad!  Let’s face it; there are difficult parts in each day.  Sometimes, when I am in the middle of those difficult moments, my brain just wants to write the day off…. but it only takes a few precious moments to realize what a gift each day is!  I shouldn’t be needing to quantify how many good and bad moments took place to make my judgement on what type of day it was.  I just need to look at the precious moments and treasure them for what they are!

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Friday we had a beautiful start to the school day.  I took a few pictures and I’m so glad I did, because attitudes from tired children soon went south.  But, these moments were precious, and such a gift!  I found Natalie cuddled up with her journal doing her devotions by the Christmas tree…

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And, these two have a new current favorite activity — dancing and goofing off to their Sunday School cd.  My heart jumps every time I hear it. Not only are they singing out God’s truth and praising Him, but having fun as siblings while doing it.  Often, I just have to jump in and dance myself!  (Somebody tell me when these two got to be so old?  Weren’t they just toddlers?)

Yes, each day is a gift from God.  But, so is each and every moment!

Doughnuts and a Date

Even after almost 12 years of being married, I still get super excited when my husband plans a date.  Despite all the daily chores, and the fact that we’re together mod of the day anyway, I still feel like a single girl looking forward to her evening date.  
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Last night was date night.  We got to go see Phil Wickham and Shane and Shane preform their awesome Christmas concert at our church.  It was beautiful.  But even more beautiful was the fact that my husband took all the kids for a date in the morning to get their Krispy Kreme buy 12 get 12 free on 12/12 day.

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I’m thinking this should be a new rule for all married men.   Before taking your wife out on a date in the evening, take the kids out for a date in the morning to give your wife some alone time.  Brilliant.

Thanks for a wonderful date, honey!