Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve

We had a great Christmas Eve.  We went to church and participated in the program they had there.  The whole family, even my brother.  It was wet and dreary but still very nice.

We came home and had an appetizer dinner and turned on A Christmas Story.  We just relaxed and chatted and ate.  We had this great idea (thanks Pinterest) to make a Christmas Eve basket filled with hot chocolate, popcorn, a movie and wrapped PJs.

When it got to be that time, the kids opened up their PJs, put them on, watched It's a Wonderful Life, popped popcorn and drank hot chocolate.  EG fell asleep on the couch, the big kids stayed up until about 11.

Sissy, Grandma and I stayed up for quite awhile watching Duck Dynasty.  Then we played Santa Clause. . .

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Countdown to Christmas

I have to admit, even though I have two sick children today, I think I did OK this year.  I am a little apprehensive because I have a few gifts to wrap and I have to go to the grocery store for all of our food for the next few days.  But, other than that, I think I am golden!

We did some baking today.  Melted snowman cookies, thanks to Pinterest.  And then these really great rice crispy, peanut butter, oats and honey granola balls.  They are addicting.  I have a couple of other baking things I want to do.  But, it can happen tomorrow or even Monday morning.

About 3 months out, I downloaded a holiday organizer and I stuck to it for about 6 weeks.  And, it was enough to really help me accomplish some of the things I wanted to do.  Like bake for the workers at one of my hubby's details.  I am still going to bring bake goods to our dentist and doctor but we have appointments right after the holidays so I thought I would bring them then.

We have been doing a few extra "service projects."  Some planned, most not.  I had a really, really long list of special things I wanted to do.  But, I set my goals real high so I would at least do one or two!!

Even though I have a house of sicklies, I am feeling pretty good about the next few days.  Maybe it is a reflection of our efforts to focus on the real reason for the season. . . .

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Traditions

In an attempt to focus on gratefulness and thanksgiving this holiday season, we have instituted a few new holiday traditions.  (Thanks to A Holy Experience and Pinterest)  First, was a thanksgiving tree.  We were able to print off pretty colored leaves that had Scripture verses already on them.  Every day one of us would read a verse on thanksgiving or gratefulness.  There were even a couple of blank leaves to write what we were thankful for.  The kids found a bunch of sticks in the backyard, I placed them in a beautiful vase and we hung the leaves on it.  It graced the center of our table through the Thanksgiving holiday.

There are sooooo many fabulous ideas on Pinterest and a mom could really go crazy trying to do them all.  But, the other day at book club someone mentioned reindeer pancakes and I knew I could do that!  Most of the ingredients we all ready had.  And pancakes for dinner are usually on the menu.  So, here it is.  A new Christmas tradition.  My brother was here for dinner that night.  Not sure what he thought!

In an effort to really focus on the birth of Christ and anticipating and celebrating his birth, we decided to do a Jesse Tree (again, thanks to A Holy Experience.)  It has been a great daily devotion that we do together as a family.  Each story from the Old Testament points to a Savior and the lineage of Jesus and we all have been learning a little something.

Of course I had to throw in a picture of our tree.  It is so pretty.  We went to Lowe's one day and it was the first tree we saw and everyone agreed on it.  I don't think we have ever found a tree that fast! Almost all of our decorations mean something.  It has been our tradition, that when we travel, we get an ornament.  There is also one of a dog for our Angel.  There is a saddle that was for Shorty.  There are two pregnant bears.  And numerous ornaments that have shown our growing family.

The last tradition I added, which I am certain we will do every year, is ornaments with all the different names of Jesus on them.  I bought a bunch of red, green and silver glass ornaments and Little Mama and I have written 24 different names of Jesus on each one, with the matching Scripture.  It has been really neat to see the references to Jesus through out the whole Bible.  Some names I had never heard of before.  The list I had of the names of Jesus had about 50 if not more.  Some time during the day, one of the kids will grab an ornament, read the verse and then place the ornament on the tree. 

Amidst the hustle and bustle this year, I just felt we needed to do a little less stressing and a lot more reflecting.  We still enjoy all the activities and excitement that this season brings, but I hope we have been taking more than a few minutes to really be thoughtful about the reason for the season. . . 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Full Circle

Today EG had her first ballet "recital."  Every year at Christmas time all the girls' ballet classes have a mini-recital.  It gives the parents an opportunity to see what the girls have been doing through out the semester.  And, for the little ones, it gives them an idea of what it feels like to be on stage.  With a room full of people watching.

It is one of my most favorite things I love about being a ballet mom.  Eight years ago I watched my very first beautiful ballerina take the stage for her very first time.  I cried and I cried and I cried when I watched my graceful beauty do her dance.

I have cried every year since, when each one of them has gotten up there for the very first time.  And today was no exception.  The three year old dance is highly anticipated by all who have ever watched three year olds do ballet.  They are so awesome.  And they try so hard.  And some just do what they do.  And it all comes together for such a wonderful experience.

The bigger girls have done some of their dances already on Monday and it is such a gift to see how much they have grown in their talents.  I am so proud of each of them.  NG so graceful and LM so joyful.  (I tear up with them as well.)

Today was a special memory maker.  My baby girl was up there for the very first time.  And my oldest girl was up there teaching/helping for the very first time. (LM getting it all on video.) It seems we have come full circle.

I know I am partial and certainly very proud.  But, this really is one of my most favorite parts about being a mom. . . .

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Forum

I could post on Facebook but I won't.  Too much sadness, too much tragedy, too much pain and suffering already.

I had to do a little Christmas shopping late yesterday afternoon and my heart was heavy.  So sad that I would cry while driving.  It was hard to smile at the cashiers and the people walking by.

We live in a world full of evil.  No amount of legislation and laws is going to take away the evil in the world or create a world with sinless people.  The world screams of sin of brokenness.  This is just another horrible, horrible, heartbreaking, life altering event.

Honestly, I am thankful I homeschool.  Come Monday morning I don't have to send my babies out there.  But, I cannot rest in that fact.  There is evil everywhere.  And I can only do so much.  I can choose to not drink or take drugs or carry a hand gun but evil is still out there.  We can make laws that ban alcohol, drugs and guns.  But broken, sinful people are still out there.  Everywhere.

These tragedies don't scream of more legislation.  They scream for the need of a Savior in a very broken and twisted world.

As I drove around yesterday wondering how those parents were going to deal with the loss of an only child, an oldest child, the middle baby, I kept on trying to focus on that God says there is hope.  To remember my hope lies in the fact that I am in this world for only a brief moment for the rest of eternity.  That some day I will be rejoicing with those children in Heaven.

Where there is no tears, no sadness and no evil . . .

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Market Days

One of our holiday "traditions" is participating in Market Days.  Market Days is a big deal around here for crafters from all of the Southeast.  They gather at the fair grounds for two days and sell their products.  The event benefits our local natural history museum.  Kind of win win all the way around.

At Market Days they have a Junior Exhibitors tent and for the past three years (maybe four) we have participated and it has been something we look forward to every year.  One of my good friends told us about it.  She and her kids had been doing it for quite awhile.  Anyway, this year Boop participated and the kids had a great time.  Not to mentioned learned a lot about salesmanship, money, and patience.

This year NG made decorated bobbypins.  She took bobbypins and painted them with different colored nail polish and they hot glued buttons and beads on the ends.  They were really cool.  But, she had a little harder time selling them then she thought she would.  I guess not everyone uses bobby pins.

Little Mama made bookmarks out of large paperclips and ribbons.  I loved the idea.  She did a little better selling those.  I think part of our problem was we did not think through display and pricing very well.  We had to adjust the pricing as the day went on.  Sunday we totally forgot to bring any type of table topper like a table cloth and I really think it made a difference.

Anyway, Boop made candle holders out of tree branches.  Daddy helped him cut them and drill holes in them and I helped him tie ribbon around them.  He sold out both days within an hour!  Granted he had only made about 25.  My sister said they sell them at Pottery Barn for $15 and Boop was selling them for $2-$4 dollars.  He will be making those again next year!

It really is a great time.  We all enjoy looking at all the other kid vendors and enjoy walking around looking at all the professionals.  The kids are already making plans for next year.

I am so, so glad this is something we have the opportunity to do.  It makes the holidays even more special . . .

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Club

We have got a great group of peeps that we gather with for book club.  I think we are in year three and our little group has grown.  Nine families and like 20 plus kids.  In our little homeschool we don't have many opportunities to write reports or get up and talk in front of others.  So, when I noticed that deficiency a couple of years ago, I created the Book Club to fill in the gap.  Plus, I love each and every family and their children. So, it has also become quality time with friends!

Anyway, this past book club's book was Men of Iron written by Pyle, the author of Robinhood.  It wasn't an easy book.  A lot of "methinks" and other such words.  But the story was fabulous.  I think it is a must read for all elementary age boys.  The main topic of the book is honor and loyalty and chivalry.  At least that is what I got from it!!

In an attempt to really do a little bit more with book club each kid has been filling out a passport with the "places we have been" through the books.  We also have this great Felix book and it has different activities that the kids can do based on a place or time period.  Things like word searches and missing pieces puzzles. More work book type stuff.

This time, when I first started reading the book to the kids, I had an idea to build a sugar cube castle.  I like to say I was divinely inspired because honestly I am not all that creative.  And another thing we don't do a lot of is busy work or hands on stuff.  Anyway, I googled a "how to" and then the day before book club we stopped at the grocery store and got a bunch of boxes of sugar cubes.

We all helped, even EG.  When we were done it didn't look like anything I saw on Google but it was ours and we did it together.  I hope it helps the kids remember a little something about the book . . .

Thursday, December 6, 2012

EG's Birthday Parties

At last count EG has three, maybe four, birthday parties last month.  On her actual birthday we were going to be in Jax.  There was going to be a little celebration with some other folks who had  a birthday that month.  But, we were sick and were unable to travel that day.  We had a little celebration at home.  We did go the following day and her aunt and uncle and two cousins gave her a couple of gifts.

That Saturday I had a little tea party with two of her bestest buddies.  I broke out my wedding china and a real tea pot and they had finger sandwiches and scones.  The big girls helped them decorate clay pots and plant some pretty flowers.

Then Sunday we had our family birthday party with all the family that lives in town.   Two aunts and uncle and four cousins, my brother and my sister's boyfriend.  Lots of laughing and playing.  We had daddy's fabulous hamburgers, cake and a bonfire.

Pretty sure she thinks this is going to happen every year. . . .

Pictures from her actual birthday date.

NG fixed up an old "American Girl" doll for her.

Pictures from her friends birthday party.  A tea party with real china.

The big girls had service duty to the little girls.

Spa time.

Story time with LM.

Pictures from family birthday party.

The only kind of dog we are going to have for awhile.  It was all she wanted was the toy dog.  Now named Charlie.