Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Days of Advent

Our last days of Advent and Christmas were FAST. I admit, I wish they would have lingered... I'm not quite ready for a whole new year!

Truth in the Tinsel turned out to be a fantastic learning experience for both Grace Louise and me! I thought deeper and made connections with parts of the nativity story that I had never before noticed. Our last ornaments were wise men, gifts, and a beaded cross. I love the way this daily exercise ended. The babe in the manger grew up to be a man who willingly gave His life on the cross for the redemption of my soul. Wow. I loved reminding Grace Louise of this amazing truth as we beaded a simple cross for our tree.

 (Smelling her "gift"- sprayed with perfume- reminding us of the gifts brought to King Jesus from the wise men.)

Our last few Advent countdown activities involved reenacting the nativity scene, spending Christmas Eve with cousins, and participating in "Gifts for Jesus", a church service dedicated to glorifying Jesus with the gifts/talents that He has given us. Grace Louise and her friend sang and signed Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent: Week 3

My Advent weekly review is getting more and more scant each week. A sign that I was overzealous in my blogging intentions for such a busy time! lol! Plus, Grace Louise kept telling me to "put the camera down" one day. So I did :-)

Day 15
Advent Activity: Go with Granny and Papa Coates to see Christmas lights at Fly Wheelers
Ornament: manger

Day 16
Advent Activity: Serve lunch at the Care Center soup kitchen
Ornament: baby Jesus in swaddling cloths

Day 17
Advent Activity: Deliver gifts and food to families in need
Ornament: sheep

Day 18
Advent Activity: Shop for a toy for a child in need 
Ornament: angels

Day 19
Advent Activity: Make paper snowflakes
Ornament: shepherds

Day 20
Advent Activity: Bake cookies for our mailman and neighbors.
Ornament: temple

Day 21
Advent Activity: Shop for Christmas gifts for a few of the special people we love :-)
Ornament: star

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas card and annual family pics

Our friend and fabulous photography, Ginger, came to the house a few weeks ago to take our annual family picture. The sun was no where to be found, Jamesy was fussy, and Jimmy had all of five minutes before he had to leave for work. Considering all of that, these pictures turned out GREAT! I wanted Ginger to capture me and the kids in our natural element- doing something we actually do. So we threw out a blanket, read a book, and had a Kombucha tea party! The baby needed to eat during the shoot so she also captured some intimate moments of me with my precious boy at the breast. Not sure what I'm going to do with those pictures, but at the very least, cherish them.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Layla and other friends

If you know my little girl, you know "Layla".

Grace Louise's beloved imaginary friend who has been part of our play time for almost a year. I admit, I wasn't sure what to think about my child's vivid imagination, resulting in pretend people, but I've heard it's a sign of genius... I'll go with that!

We talk about how Layla and other characters are pretend. She totally gets it, but has so much fun incorporating these friends into her play time. I snapped these pics of her carrying some "bunnies" around the yard.

Neenee, Nonny, and Teely. Not sure if I have the spelling right, but these are their names.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent Week 2

Another great week of Christmas time! Reading our Advent board book every evening, magic in the little white boxes hanging from the mantle, loads of precious family time, and keeping up with our Truth in the Tinsel crafts/ornaments each day. No doubt this has been a busy season for our family, but very meaningful and joyous too!

Day 8
Advent Activity: Christmas parade and serving chili to the community- an AWESOME event! Our small church body fed 300 people! God is good and bellies were full :-) And I love having Grace Louise involved in every opportunity to serve, never too young to be the hands and feet of Christ!
Truth in the Tinsel ornament: sun, Jesus is the called the Rising Sun

Jimmy walked beside our float handing out tickets to the chili event, so the kiddos and I watched solo. Some youngsters generously gave up their front row seats to us so we were up close and personal to all the sights and sounds of the parade. Jamesy lounged cozily in the stroller and didn't seem to be bothered a bit by the sirens.

Day 9
Advent Activity: Learn a new Christmas song and light our candle reminding us of the Peace only Jesus can bring!
Truth in the Tinsel ornament: Joseph, a man who obeyed God

Day 10
Advent Activity: Help Lala decorate her Christmas tree
Truth in the Tinsel ornament: pillow, representing Joseph's dream

Day 11
Advent Activity: Make a gingerbread house with BeBe and Aunt Lindsey
Truth in the Tinsel ornament: Celebrating the name of Jesus

I know this picture looks cruel, but it makes me laugh every time I see it! She kept stealing candy from her gingerbread house so here she is weeping over its new home (on top of the refrigerator, out of her reach). Life is hard.

Day 12
Advent Activity: Build a fire and roast marshmallows as a family
Truth in the Tinsel ornament: "I Spy" Mary and Joseph ornament, learning about the census

These pics aren't great quality because I snapped them at night with my iphone. Grace Louise has shown more interest in holding and caring for her baby brother recently (even though he's clearly half her size!) She wanted to hold him in her camping chair by the fire... he just goes right along with our silly plans! Like most kids (and adults) they were enamored by the flames and could watch for hours.

Day 13
Advent Activity: Watch a special Christmas movie-- Veggie Tales: It's A Meaningful Life-- and have a Christmas cookie treat!
Truth in the Tinsel ornament: Bethlehem

Day 14
Advent Activity: Journey to Bethlehem program at High Point- A church in our community put on a live Nativity scene and Bethlehem town/culture. This event was perfect for bringing the story of Jesus' birth to life for Grace Louise... paying taxes to Ceasar, being counted in the census, experiencing the sounds, sights, and tastes of the times, and even seeing live animals, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus!
Truth in the Tinsel ornament: stable

Enjoying hot chocolate while waiting for our group to tour Journey to Bethlehem.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sweet Baby James: 4 months

Our baby is four months old today! Can I be a bit cliche and say, "where did the time go?" Really? Jamesy is growing so quickly and we are loving the role he already plays in our family! He is rolling over- belly to back and back to belly... after all, isn't that what four month olds do?? He grabs at toys and is becoming coordinated in getting these objects of his affection into his hands and mouth. He smiles and giggles easily and enjoys his Sissy so much! He's really starting to study her, watch her, play back with her. And most worthy to write in this monthly update, is his new high pitch squeals and screams! I guess he's discovering all the notes in his sweet voice. Eeeek!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jimmy's Trophy

Does this even count as one-upping me? Ridiculous.

Play Park

Just me and my babies at the play park last week. They were both so incredibly happy, smiling and giggling. Grace Louise doing what she loves to do... swing! And her new favorite game, tag you're it! Jamesy loving his Sophie teething giraffe. These are the moments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Week 1

Our first week of Advent, pointing our heart and mind toward the birth and sacrifice of Jesus, was wonderful, meaningful, and excites me for the rest of the Christmas season! We are continuing with the Advent candle tradition, something we first started last year, and are reading from The Advent Book each evening.  I hope the prophesies leading up to and the story of the birth of Jesus are very familiar to our children and at the forefront of their holiday memories.

This year I made an Advent countdown calendar with small favor boxes, each containing a Christmas themed activity and a clue for the daily Truth in the Tinsel ornament. I even threw a small prize in a few of the boxes, something as simple as a new stamp or sticker.  Oh the little joys!

I love that we don't have to celebrate Advent, but that we get to! We get to spend more than just Christmas day thinking about our Savior. We spend weeks celebrating, focusing, learning, and giving. 

I'm trying to snap a shot every day. Here is our first week! 

Day 1
Countdown Activity: Tea Party at the Chalet
Truth in the Tinsel Ornament: Candle- Jesus is Light

"Pinkies" up at the tea party... like Fancy Nancy.

Day 2
Countdown Activity: Pick out a Christmas tree and decorate the house for Christmas
Truth in the Tinsel Ornament: Crown- Jesus is King

Day 3
Countdown Activity: Decorate the Christmas Tree
Truth in the Tinsel Ornament: Zachariah- We must believe what God says!

Day 4
Countdown Activity: Make pine cone ornaments to share with Granny and her friends at the nursing home
Truth in the Tinsel Ornament: Angel- Mary believed the angel. He was a messenger from God.

Day 5
Countdown Activity: Learn and sing Christmas carols
Truth in the Tinsel Ornament: Mary- She believed that what God said would happen really would!

Day 6
Countdown Activity: Celebrate St. Nicholas Day! Veggie Tales St. Nicholas Movie and "secret" giving with Samaritan's Purse catalog 
Truth in the Tinsel Ornament: Elizabeth and Mary- both were pregnant with special sons

Grace Louise chose "medicine" to secretly give to somone in need.  She even signed the check! (duplicate copy :-)

 Day 7
Countdown Activity: Make a Christmas card for a soldier
Truth in the Tinsel Ornament: Decorated CD- Mary sang a beautiful song to the Lord!