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Archive for posts tagged with ‘Christmas Time’

Friday five: Christmas quirks

Thoughtfully penned on December 23rd, 2011 and generally concerning Christmas Time

You might have noticed that we’re a little quirky around here. Our Christmas decor definitely reflects that. Here are five of our Christmas quirks:

Sock Monkey Tree Topper

This little sock monkey ornament came along around the time Matt and I got married (or maybe even before). For the last 10 years he has held the place of honor on our tree each Christmas.

No Ornaments on Bottom of Tree

You might think there are no ornaments on the bottom 12″-18″ of our tree to keep little hands off of them. That is not, however, the case. Once upon a time, there were ornaments in that area, but the little hands have moved them higher.

Random Drawings Under Tree

There are no gifts under our tree, but there are these two random pictures that E and J put under there last week. J’s is drawn on monster-print scrapbook paper. E’s is a handprint and leaves.

Hanky Panky the Elf

Yep, his name is Hanky Panky. Nope, I have no clue why. This little guy is a relic of my childhood. He always graced a shelf at my grandparents’ house as well as one at my parents’ house. When Matt and I got married my grandmother made one for us. I like to think of him as the original Elf on the Shelf.

Handmade Stockings

Matt and I came into our marriage each having a handmade stocking (his made by his paternal grandmother, mine made by my paternal grandmother). It was also a tradition in my family that new grandmothers would make stockings for their grandchild’s first Christmas. Therefore, my four children have stockings handmade by my mother (thanks, Mom!). The stockings belong to (top row, l to r) me, S, Matt, (bottom row, l to r) M, J, E. These are one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Now that you’ve glimpsed our Christmas quirkiness, what Christmas quirks do you have at your house?

Christmas cards? Maybe this year…

Thoughtfully penned on November 17th, 2011 and generally concerning Christmas Time

The first several years Matt and I were married we sent Christmas cards every year. Personalized, handwritten notes went to the people we cared about, were thankful for, and wanted to remember each year at the holidays.

Then E came along. Her first Christmas I sent cards, but instead of a lovingly composed note each card got a hastily written greeting and signature.

Then J came along. Christmas cards were purchased, but never composed and mailed. And that is how it has remained. In fact, I might still have those cards around here somewhere.

But this year Tiny Prints has generously offered me an opportunity to choose cards from their lovely holiday greetings collection. Tiny Prints has any type of card you could want; from contemporary to vintage, whimsical to traditional.

So, I will try to get my act together and send out something adorable like this:

(I love the ornament cards; such a cute idea!)

Too bad those children don’t look like my kids. Now I have to try to corral the four of them in one place long enough to get an in-focus picture; don’t expect everyone to be smiling. Or even looking the same direction!

I love to receive Christmas cards, and I love the idea of sending them. This opportunity and some super cute cards just might be the motivation I need.

Keep an eye on your mailboxes…

Tiny Prints provides simple, modern, and unique stationery from Christmas cards, New Years cards, party invitations, and address labels to thank you cards. Once the holidays have come and gone, Tiny Prints will still be here to fill your stationery needs with their exclusive designs from the nation’s top designers. All year round, you’ll find business cards, birth announcements, and even custom wedding invitations. Come try the easy card personalization, a powerful preview engine and top-notch customer service and paper quality for yourself. With Tiny Prints by your side commemorating every holiday and momentous occasion is a cinch!

**I received Christmas cards from Tiny Prints in return for this post. All stories and opinions expressed are purely my own. The italicized portion of this post is text provided by Tiny Prints.

Friday five

Thoughtfully penned on December 3rd, 2010 and generally concerning Christmas Time, J, Life with littles, S

I think I’m going to start using Friday (at least this week) to post 5 random out takes from our week. So, what’s been going on this week?

1. Monday started with a trip to the doctor for Little. She had been running fever off and on (but mainly on) since Thursday night. She ended up having ear infections in both ears.

2. To continue with the sickies, Baby Girl has had a runny nose and congested cough (when she’s laying down) since Tuesday. And now I’ve caught her cold and it looks like Boo probably has as well.

3. Moving on to happier thoughts…we put up our Christmas trees this week. The first one went up Sunday evening; it’s a smallish tree in the kitchen with snowman ornaments on it. The second tree went up last night; it’s our big tree in the living room. I love having the tree lights on!

4. We’ve been in the house A LOT more than usual this week. It’s been both good and bad.

5. We are really enjoying the Jesse Tree the last few days. Little asked several times yesterday about our Bible story, and she took the “stump of Jesse” ornament for show-and-share at school. I hope this becomes a meaningful tradition for the kids.

Happy weekend!

Happy December!

Thoughtfully penned on December 1st, 2010 and generally concerning Christmas Time, Life with littles

The Advent season is upon us again. I’ve been planning in my head for quite a while, but nothing has gone onto paper. Matt and I had a very general idea of what we wanted to do, but we needed to nail some things down. I am nothing if not a procrastinator, so yesterday during nap time I searched my mind and the web to come up with our “plan” for the next 25 days.

This year we will be doing a Jesse Tree for our daily devotionals. Each day we will do a reading and hang a corresponding ornament on a tree (I haven’t decided whether to use one of our regular trees or to devote a small one just to these ornaments). The readings will take us from Genesis through the birth of Jesus. I’m really looking forward to these devotionals and showing the kids how the whole Bible talks about and points to Jesus.

We will also be doing an Advent wreath again this year (we even have the correct candles this time!). The plan is to light the candles and do the weekly devotionals as part of our small group (from church) meeting each Sunday evening. In true procrastinator fashion, we missed the first Sunday of Advent, so we’ll do the first two candles this coming Sunday.

I’ve also planned Christmas related activities for each of the first 24 days of the month. Of course, on the 25th we’ll celebrate Christmas. I’m making (today, again, the procrastinator thing) a paper chain from Christmas scrapbook paper and each “link” will have the day’s corresponding activity written on it. We’ll use the chain as our “calendar”.

Day 1 – make ornaments for Jesse Tree
Day 2 – decorate our Christmas tree
Day 3 – write letters/draw pictures for our sponsored children
Day 4 – make Christmas cards to mail to the grandparents
Day 5 – Advent candles
Day 6 – make footprint reindeer
Day 7 – wrap gifts for the kids’ friends
Day 8 – make/package gifts for teachers, friends, etc
Day 9 – Christmas coloring page
Day 10 – family movie night w/a Christmas movie
Day 11 – Alpine Village (event at a local church)
Day 12 – Advent candles
Day 13 – decorate paper Christmas trees
Day 14 – make paper plate wreaths
Day 15 – read story of candy canes and make candy cane ornaments
Day 16 – Christmas coloring page
Day 17 – drive to look at Christmas lights (and maybe a special treat)
Day 18 – make nativity scenes
Day 19 – Advent candles
Day 20 – Holiday Science Lab & Enchanted Forest
Day 21 – make birthday cards for Jesus
Day 22 – Christmas “party” with friends
Day 23 – decorate “gingerbread” houses
Day 24 – Christmas Eve service, open one gift

You might have noticed that there are quite a few “crafts” in this list. If you know me well, you know that I’m not much into the arts & crafts with the kiddos thing. But I’m sucking it up and hoping to make some good memories with my little people this month.

I’m really looking forward to our devotionals and activities these next few weeks. This is a very special time of year, and I really want to pass that along to my children.

Happy December!

Thoughtfully penned on December 1st, 2009 and generally concerning Christmas Time, God's at Work in My Life

This morning Matt asked me if I realized that this past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent and it was at that moment that I realized that December is upon us. Really, where has the year gone? I know for me, the last few weeks have passed in a haze of illness (for all four of us), Thanksgiving prep and travel, and thinking oh my goodness this baby is coming soon. So here I sit on the first day of December with nothing planned or prepared for our Advent/Christmas traditions that we’ve hoped to start for the last couple of years (nah, I’m not a procrastinator!).

This morning in the time before our play date I did some searching online and planning in my head and decided that I will make our Advent calendar, we will read through the nativity story in Luke multiple times, we will have Advent candles (don’t know yet whether we’ll have a “wreath” or just the candles), and that we’ll do several Christmas themed activities as a family throughout the month.

I’m trying not to be overly ambitious this year since the wee babe is scheduled to make her appearance sometime in the next 5ish weeks, but I do want to make it a joyous and festive time for our family. So, here is our Advent/Christmas season plan (hopefully it will all play out)…

~Advent Calendar – Since I’m making it, it will be sweet and simple, with emphasis on the simple. Something like this is what I have in mind.


I will, however, rely on printed scrapbook paper and a cute paper punch to create the ornaments.

~The Nativity story – I would like to read through the story every evening, but since our children are so young we will probably have to break it up into a few segments over the course of several nights. I do want to read through it multiple times, though, for the sake of repetition (especially with Little).

~Advent candles/wreath – our Advent candles aren’t the right colors (the store I visited didn’t have any purple candles), but we’ll go with what we have. We will light them on the remaining three Sundays preceding Christmas and will catch up the first week’s candle this coming Sunday.

~Christmas themed activities – this weekend (hopefully) we will put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house, next weekend we will attend a community event called Alpine Village at one of the local churches, and the weekend before Christmas we will drive around to view Christmas lights and make a stop for cocoa/coffee. We also have Christmas cookies to bake, goodies to make for gifts, and will probably have a Christmas get together with friends. And, of course, we plan to attend the Christmas Eve service at our church.

Matt and I hope to teach our children that the Christmas season is more than gifts and Santa and reindeer and spending money; that it is about anticipating and celebrating Christ’s birth, about blessing others from the bounty that God has given us, and about spending time with people you love.

What are your favorite family Advent/Christmas traditions?

And now for the “merry” part

Thoughtfully penned on January 6th, 2009 and generally concerning Christmas Time, E, J

As I mentioned in my last post, our Christmas wasn’t all joy and festivities, but it was still a Merry Christmas.

There was no traveling this year (which was wonderful since we all ended up sick), so everyone came to see us.  My parents came in on Christmas day and spent a few days.  The kids enjoyed having Bebe and Grandrad around, and it sure helped me out since Matt was out of commission.  The Friday after Christmas my brother and his family drove down for the day.  And then, the Sunday after Christmas, Matt’s parents came and stayed for a couple of days.

Little was all about the presents this year.  It was the first year she’s really been old enough to understand what was going on, and, boy, did she understand the presents.  We opened a few gifts from friends here and there in the days prior to Christmas, but having several gifts to open on Christmas morning made her day (even though at one point she told me to take her presents back to the store.  whaa??).  Every time someone new came into the house she asked about presents.  She was thrilled when my parents came and brought gifts from them and from my extended family, and again when Matt’s parents showed up bearing gifts.

Baby Buddy was fairly oblivious to the whole thing.  The longer the Christmas tree was up the more interested he became, and he enjoyed the paper and boxes, but Little actually played with his new toys much more than he did.

We (or I, at least) enjoyed spending the holiday with my family.  Since we don’t see my brother and his family very often it was fun to hang out with them for the day, and I’m very thankful that they made the effort to come see us.

By the time Matt’s parents arrived on Sunday he was feeling better and was more able to enjoy the company.  We had a wonderful visit with them and were sad to see them go when they left on Tuesday.  The kids loved seeing Nana and Pops and we’re looking forward to the next time we can get together (whenever that might be).

We had lots of gifts, lots of food, lots of company, and lots of fun during the holidays, but we were, as always, glad to get back into a bit of a “normal” groove afterwards.  I love Christmas, so it’s always a little sad to see it pass, but now we can start the countdown to Christmas 2009, right?

One for the books

Thoughtfully penned on January 5th, 2009 and generally concerning Christmas Time, Plagues and Pestilence

So Christmas around here this year was a little different.  We knew it was going to be different in that we weren’t going to be traveling at all (before, during, or after), and in that we have two kids now, not one, but this was one for the books.

It all started the week before Christmas when we were stricken with something akin to the pneumonic plague.  Matt and I both fought it all week alternating nights spent on the couch coughing.  Finally, on Friday I gave in and went to the doctor.  He diagnosed me with bronchitis and put me on a ten day course of antibiotics and an albuterol inhaler.  With the antibiotics I was feeling better within a couple of days and knew that I would be okay for Christmas.

We thought Matt was getting better as well until he started running a fever late on Tuesday, Christmas Eve eve.  Of course, it wasn’t until late enough in the day that he couldn’t be seen that day, and the offices were closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  I made him an appointment for the day after Christmas and hoped that he would start feeling better and not need it.  Boy was I wrong!  The poor guy spent all day Wednesday and Thursday in bed feeling just terrible.  He had aches and chills and fever and sinus pressure that made his head feel like it would explode.  His doctor’s appointment on Friday resulted in a diagnosis of sinus infection and a treatment of antibiotics and cough medicine.

And on Christmas day, Little started having “goopy” eyes and telling me off and on that her face hurt.  It wasn’t bad enough to take her to minor med, so I called her doc on Friday morning and made an appointment.  She ended up having a sinus and ear infection and was put on antibiotics as well.

So here’s what our Christmas looked like:

Christmas Eve – Jana cooks, Matt lays in bed sick, the kids run wild, we miss Christmas Eve service, Jana eats Christmas Eve dinner (chips, salsa, and cheese dip) alone in the bedroom floor (since Matt was asleep on the couch) and folds laundry

Christmas Day – Matt gets out of bed long enough to watch the kids open their gifts and take a few pictures, Bebe and Grandrad (my parents) arrive and come to my rescue, Jana cooks, the kids run wild, we have a lovely Christmas lunch without Matt

The Day After Christmas – Jana’s brother and his family arrive to do family Christmas, Matt gets out of bed long enough to go to the doctor, Matt gets a shot (a “sinus cocktail” which I hear is a local thing) and begins to feel better later in the day, we open gifts, the kids run wild, Little goes to the doctor in the afternoon, everyone collapses after the kids go to bed

It was a good Christmas even with it’s challenges.  I can’t say that I’d like to have a Christmas exactly like this again, but at least we didn’t have the stomach bug that my best friend and her family had on Christmas day!

Christmas time is here!

Thoughtfully penned on December 23rd, 2008 and generally concerning Christmas Time

Because I am woefully low on original ideas right now, I’m doing this Christmas meme again this year.  It was also posted on December 6, 2007.  Some answers are the same, but not all of them.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? most of the time wrapping paper, but sometimes I’ll use gift bags for oddly shaped gifts or if I’m being lazy

2. Real tree or artificial? growing up we had a real tree downstairs and an artificial tree upstairs; Matt and I have stuck with artificial so far.

3. When do you put up the tree? I like to put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving, this year, it was more like two weeks after Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year’s eve or day

5. Do you like eggnog? yes, but not nearly as much as Matt does

6. Favorite gift received as a child? my Cabbage Patch Kids and my pink and gray 10-speed bike

7. Do you have a nativity scene? no, but I think I’ll try to find the Fisher Price one on sale after Christmas for next year

8. Hardest person to buy for? the dads – mine and Matt’s

9. Easiest person to buy for? Little and Boo; right now I can still get what I want for them

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? everything I can think of would put me in the doghouse with one person or another who reads this blog :-)

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail except that I didn’t do any this year – maybe New Years cards? or Easter?

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? this is really terrible, but I don’t really have one; I guess the closest I get is About a Boy which isn’t about Christmas, per se, but part of it does take place at Chirstmas time

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I always say I’m going to shop throughout the year, but it never happens; I usually start in November

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I do occasionally recycle gifts, but I don’t recall re-giving a Chirstmas gift

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Chex Mix ( I only make it during the holidays) and various Christmas goodies

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? clear, on all 3 or 4 trees (only one of which is up this year)

17. Favorite Christmas song? I don’t have a favorite, I just love Christmas music

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? this year we are staying home and everyone is coming to us!

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? I think so

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? nothing right now; our star is on the mantle…don’t ask

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? we’ll be opening gifts all week

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? the focus on consumerism

23. What I love most about Christmas? everything, it’s the most wonderful time of the year

If you decide to play along let me know so I can check out your answers.

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Just because it makes me happy

Thoughtfully penned on December 15th, 2008 and generally concerning Christmas Time, Family, Friendship, Meme

My wonderful SIL Lu has tagged me for a meme. The rules are really easy: write six things that make you really happy and tag six people.

1. Sweet baby giggles. There’s nothing like hearing my two year old or my eight month old laugh, I mean the big, belly laughs. They make me smile.

2. Great friends (and neighbors). I feel so blessed that God led us to a neighborhood with such great neighbors. My best friend lives two doors down. We have a ton in common and enjoy hanging out all the time (literally, we see each other almost every day); we also do things together as families since our hubbies get along great, too. Then I have my other good SAHM friends, and my best friend that I had to leave behind in Knoxville. I’m quite blessed in this realm.

3. Clean sheets. I love climbing into a bed made with sheets fresh from the dryer. The feel of clean sheets on my skin and the smell of dryer sheets on my pillowcase are delightful.

4. A really good book. Give me a well-written book with a great story and I could read for days on end. Books that meet my “great book” criteria aren’t all that common, but when I find one I relish it.

5. My family. God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and two great kiddos. My life would not be complete without them. Sometimes the kids make me want to pull my hair out, but they bring great joy to my life.

6. Christmas trees. I love Christmas. And my favorite of all Christmas decorations are Christmas trees. I own three (we only have one up this year because of the little man) and would keep them up year round if Matt would let me. I love the ambiance they add to the house, the beauty of the lighted branches, and the way the ornaments look. Just can’t get enough of them!

I’m not going to tag anyone, but if there is anyone still reading after my unintentional blogging sabbatical I would love for you to play along!

More on Christmas from Little

Thoughtfully penned on December 11th, 2008 and generally concerning Christmas Time, E

Little is just a bit confused this Christmas. A couple of weeks ago Matt brought home a two-liter Coke (or Cokey-liter as Little says) with the Christmas label. Matt showed it to Little and asked her who was on the label. Her response…Noah.

She seems to understand the difference now, at least most of the time, but up until a few days ago there was still some confusion.

We were at the mall one day last week and passed the area where Santa sits as we walked to our destination store. While we were in the store Little asked to see Noah. I told her we would go by Santa again on our way out of the mall and she could see him then. We went on about our way and she was content with seeing him as we walked by. Then there was this conversation at dinner:

Matt: What did you do today?
Little: Went to mall.
Matt: Who did you see at the mall? (expecting her to name friends we were with)
Little: Noah…and the ark!