Monday, November 29, 2010

Countdown to Christmas




As we prepare for Christmas day, we are taking every opportunity possible to teach the kids about why we celebrate Christmas. In a day when Christmas has become very commercialized, we believe it is so very important to stay focused on the reason for Christmas. Not that there won't be the watching of Polar Express or the singing of Jingle Bells, but our focus will be on Jesus over these next few weeks. At least, that is our goal!

One way that we are hoping to do that this year is by taking a few moments each morning to remember an important event leading up to Christ's birth. To do this, I have created our own advent "calendar".



Each pocket has in it an important part of the story that ultimately leads up to the day Jesus was born, along with the Scripture reference that tells us of that event. So, starting December 1st, we will go through the Christmas story, chronologically. While there are many different "countdowns" out there, I have chosen to use this one for this year. It is simple, and only focuses on 1-2 verses each day. Perfect for our little ones. We will be able to retell the story of Christmas, one event and one day at a time.

This was fun to make, and I actually laminated the pocket envelopes so that they will hopefully hold up for years to come.



Each year, depending on the ages of the kids, we might end up using a different countdown. I have come across lots of different advent ideas for each day, and may try something new next year. Other countdowns I have found include activities, recipes, or crafts for each day. Some include service projects that can be incorporated as well. As long as the pockets hold up, we can continue to use those and just fill them with whatever things we choose.

For us, for this year, we are keeping it simple. We will have 1-2 verses to read each day that will hopefully draw our hearts to an important event leading up to that very special first Christmas. Oh, and there will also be a little "treat" in each day's pocket...either a small piece of candy or a sticker. Just like most traditional advent calendars have.



Caleb actually made his own advent calendar in preschool. Though you probably can't tell from the photo, the surface is made of bubble wrap. He'll get to "pop" each day until Christmas! So fun!


The excitement of Christmas is definitely in the air at our house. The tree is decorated, and there are presents beneath it. Christmas music plays. Christmas crafts are made. Christmas movies are watched. Christmas cookies are eaten. But at the end of the day, we hope and pray that the joy we experience over this next month is the joy that can only be found in the Lord.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

O Christmas Tree


We put up and decorated our tree today. This is just our 2nd year having a real tree, and I am really hoping that I can keep it alive through Christmas!

Caleb really had a great time decorating this year. He loved looking at each ornament, especially the ones that he made last year, or the ones that have his name on it. He enjoyed finding spots for them on the tree, even if a lot of them ended up in one small section! His favorite part, just like last year, was getting on Daddy's shoulders to put the star on top.

Meredith enjoyed it a bit, but preferred to play most of the time! Understandable. =)

After the tree was decorated, we drank hot chocolate and watched our first Christmas movie of the year: The Very First Noel. If you have little ones, I really recommend this movie, by the way! While Meredith didn't have any hot chocolate, she did enjoy (really enjoy!) some mini marshmallows!

Caleb and Aunt Heidi reading earlier today...


Uncle Kyle helping Kris secure the tree...


Meredith testing out the branches...


His favorite...


All done!


The ornaments that the kiddos picked out this year...

Caleb's...


Meredith's...


What's better than hot chocolate and a movie?


She really liked the marshmallows...


We are all looking forward to taking the next weeks to celebrate God's greatest gift to us - His Son!

Thanksgiving and the Day After


I didn't take a ton of photos over these past couple of days, but here are a few...

Mashed potatoes...her favorite!


A little sleepy still....he just woke up from his nap...


Crazy girl...


Grocery shopping...


Relaxing...


Yesterday (Friday), Brandy and Shawna (& familes) came by for a quick visit...

L-R: Caleb, Meredith, Owen, Haley, Ozzy, Sydney, Jensen, Lawsen (2 more coming soon!)...


Playing "Ring Around the Rosy"...


I've titled this picture: "Skinny Girl Sandwich"!


As is tradition, we went to William's Christmas Tree Farm on Friday....it was so cold, we didn't spend much time outside!

All bundled up...


Showing off the rock that he found (although it is "hiding" in his mitten!)...


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gobble, Gobble!


I had planned to do a turkey craft (or 2) with Caleb sometime this past week, but when I realized that he was going to be getting his fill of turkey-crafting in elsewhere, I figured that we were good to go!

These first 3 are pictures of projects he did at preschool...





And, this last picture shows what we did at playgroup today (thanks to Lisa for hosting and organizing the craft!)...


*Caleb's is on the left and Meredith's is on the right.*

Monday, November 22, 2010

Genesis 17:1


Caleb's memory verse for November...

Genesis 17:1(b)
"I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless."

video

34 Weeks


We've hit the 34 week mark! I had a doctor's appointment this morning, and all my and baby's vitals are looking good. I go back in 2 more weeks, and then every week after that...until Baby Boy arrives. Yikes, this is going by so fast. I also have an ultrasound scheduled in about 2.5 weeks, so they can check the baby's size and position one more time before birth. While they are assuming he won't be as big as Caleb, they want to have a better idea of what we are all working with here!

I am feeling pretty good. Typical discomfort, and my eczema is acting up, but other than that, everything is going well. Although, I have had some strong cravings for donuts these past few days. Kris, being the wonderful husband that he is, went out on Saturday morning to get me some. And today, on my way to the doctor, I may have reached an "all-time-low" when it comes to my pregnancy cravings. I was driving along, and noticed a Dunkin' Donuts truck. I was not aware of where an actual shop in that area might be, so what did I do? What every rational pregnant (do those two words even go together?) lady would do.



Yep, I followed the truck (it was already pulling into a parking lot, so I figured that the Dunkin' Donuts was in the strip mall somewhere!) , hoping that it would lead me to a store.

And it did. And I bought. And I ate. It was wonderful. (Don't worry....I didn't eat as many donuts as shown in the picture above!)

Here's my 34 week belly shot (before the donuts!)...


And, inside that belly? Apparently, Baby Boy is the size of a cantaloupe!



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Am I One of "Those" People?


Usually we wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving to begin any Christmas decorating. But this weekend, I have to admit, I was a wee bit anxious and just a tad eager to get going a little early. =)

So, while we will still not get our tree and decorate it until this coming weekend, we have officially started decorating our home...

I know, I know....I am so one of those people. =)

We don't have a fireplace, so the stairway will have to do for the stockings....


Nativity set....


Friday, November 19, 2010

What's In a Name?


Before I had kids, before I was even married actually, I had the "perfect" names picked out for my future children. I had my list of boys' names and girls' names. And I was certain that those would be THE names.

Then I got married. And I actually started having children for real. And I had to start considering something other than just how cute a name sounded. Did anyone ever watch the show "Hey, Dude" when they were younger? I did. And one of the main characters (a girl) was named Brad. I loved it and was so certain that when I had a daughter of my own someday, I would name her Brad.

My, how things change over time!

Many of you know that Kris and I have a very hard time agreeing on names. Thankfully, it was easy with Caleb. Once we knew we were having a boy, we agreed that his name would be one of two options. After some honest opinions from my family, we decided against option #1 and went with Caleb! And that was it. Easy. We loved the name Caleb. It is a Hebrew name, meaning faithful and brave. His middle name is Kristopher (after Daddy of course), which means bearer of Christ, or follower of Christ.
Caleb Kristopher - faithful and brave follower of Christ



Then came Baby #2. Once we found out that she was a girl, we were on the hunt for the perfect girl's name. I came up with the perfect list. =) I had a handful of girls' names that I just loved. And of course Kris was going to agree, right? Wrong! That started a very long process for us...we could not agree on anything! I was dead set on 2 names. I loved them. The only problem was that my husband (who was just as much a parent to this baby as I was!) did NOT love them. In fact, he didn't even like them very much! So, after a lot of trying to change one another's mind,
we realized that we needed to go back to square one. Open up that baby book and search. We did that, and came up with a new list of names that we "agreed on". And, while Kris allowed those 2 names that I loved to still be on the list, I knew he wasn't going to change his mind. Eventually, those names had to go and we were left with a few that we agreed on, but didn't necessarily love. Meredith was on that list, along with a couple of others. Obviously, we finally settled on Meredith, and while it was not originally my 1st choice, I can't imagine my little girl being named anything else! I now love her name, and she is definitely a Meredith. While we were unable to find a great meaning for her name, our church told us that Meredith means Blessed by God. Her middle name is Grace.
Meredith Grace - blessed by God's grace


Fast forward to the next pregnancy. This one. I think that if we found out that this baby was a girl, we would be set. We still had a couple of names from last time around that we would have strongly considered using for this next baby. But, as you know, we are not having a girl! So, those names were not acceptable. Back to the drawing board. Once again, I made a list. And Kris had a list. Somehow, these names did not match. Surprise, surprise. About a month ago, I actually started to become concerned that we might not come to any agreement. And, while I know we still have plenty of weeks to go, I was eager to give our little boy his name. Last week, we sat down and went through the baby book again. We spent 2 hours looking through names. Laughing at many of the options, but considering others. We ended up putting 8 names on the list. 8 names that we both agreed on. Although, we still each had "favorites" from that list and those favorites did not necessarily mesh!

So here we are. We have spent some more time narrowing down the list, and we officially have 3 names left. Out of those 3, Kris has a favorite and I have a favorite. But we have concluded that we would both be happy with any of the 3 names. We like how they sound, and they all mean something wonderful. And, coincidentally, they all have the same number of letters, which I think is pretty funny! Anyway, while we haven't yet officially decided, I am so excited to be closer to giving our precious boy his name! Hooray!

Oh, and in case you are wondering, we are planning to keep his name a secret until he is born. =)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Paper Bag Puppets


Caleb and I made these puppets this morning. We have been talking about the 1st Thanksgiving, and I thought this would be a fun way to help retell the story as well as give him a tangible visual of the people involved.

They're so cute!


Working hard...


He thought it was so fun to put them on his hands!


We are letting them dry a little bit more and then he'll be able to play more with them. Not sure how long they'll last, as they are just paper after all!

(This idea was inspired by teacherhelp.org)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Conversation in the Car


Yesterday, as we were driving around running some errands, I was talking to Caleb about Christmas. Specifically, we were talking about why we celebrate Christmas...that God sent His Son, Jesus, as a gift for us.

But, for some reason, I used the word "present" instead of "gift".

So, when I mentioned that Jesus was a present to us from God, he said....

"No, Barack Obama is the president!"

Yes, I suppose the word "present" does sound a lot like the word "president"!

And yes, Caleb, you are very right! Barack Obama IS our president!

I explained to him that, while Barack Obama is indeed our president, God sent His only Son - Jesus - as a present, or a gift, for us.

Our conversation did not end there.

We talked almost the entire way home about the true Christmas story. And, my little guy got it right again when he said "so that we can live in Heaven one day" in response to the question of why God sent Jesus to earth.

He asked me a lot of questions, about Jesus and Heaven. I pray that the answers I gave him were Biblical yet understandable to his 3-year old mind.

I love my little boy, and his eagerness to know more.

Lord, give us the wisdom to always know how to point him to your Truth.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pregnancy Brain


Yesterday I planned to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart before taking the kids for their flu shots. It truly needed to be a quick trip, and I only had 1 (okay, maybe 2) things I needed to get. There was a Wal-Mart on the way to the doctor's office, so I figured that this plan would be a great way to be efficient with our time.

This particular Wal-Mart is under construction, which I knew before going there, so I was prepared to deal with a bit of chaos in the parking lot and even in the store.

So, when I found a nice parking spot, I was pleasantly surprised.

Then, when I noticed that the carts had double seats in front, again I was pleasantly surprised. And, Caleb was really happy, as that meant that both kids could sit "up front". (Since Meredith is still a bit small, she always sits in the front seat of the cart and Caleb sits in the back, and he often makes it very clear that he doesn't like that arrangement.) Once again, a pleasant surprise when I noticed that all the carts had double seats in front. When did Wal-Mart get those? Must be part of their "new look", I thought...



So, I wheeled the kiddos through the front door and was greeted by an employee. As I looked around, I noticed everything looked a bit different, and I assumed that was just an effect of the construction. I asked that employee where the toy section was, and she pointed me in the right direction and said, "we just have a very small section." That seemed weird to me, as Wal-Marts always seem to have a decent-sized toy section, but again I just assumed that everything had been scaled down due to construction.

I began walking around, and headed in the direction she gave me, a little bit in shock at how significantly different everything looked. I had all sorts of thoughts in my head about how the construction must really be causing them to lose money, as their inventory seemed so low in every department.

After about 10 minutes of mulling around and feeling really disoriented, I realized a very important truth.

I was not in Wal-Mart.

Even once I realized that, I was still confused. Well, if I am not in Wal-Mart, where am I then?

Finally, after what seemed like minutes but was in reality probably only seconds, I realized that I was in Sam's Club.

Granted, the two stores are right next to one another, but still....

Unfortunately, because of construction fences that were set up, there was no way for me to just walk next store to Wal-Mart. I would have had to put the kids back in the car, drive around the huge fences to get to the other side of the lot, find another parking spot, get the kids out and into another cart (which probably only had 1 seat in front!) and frankly, I didn't have the time. Or the energy.

So, no quick Wal-Mart trip for me.

*********************************************************

Flashback to last summer (2009) when I was very pregnant with Meredith....

Caleb and I went grocery shopping, and it was actually quite a successful trip. We managed to get through the store, get everything on my list (plus more, I would imagine), and with no meltdowns from my son. Success.

After paying for my groceries, I pushed the cart outside. I remember feeling thankful that the grocery shopping was taken care of, and that Caleb was so well-behaved during the process.

I found my car, took Caleb out of the cart, and buckled him into his car seat.

Then I turned to the grocery cart to get all the bags and put them in my trunk.

Only to realize that there was not 1 single bag in my cart.

Yup, sure enough, I had left every bag of groceries at the end of the check-out line. I had walked out of the store with absolutely no groceries. Who does that?!

And I didn't realize it until I got out to my car. Although, I guess that's better than not realizing until I got home!



I got Caleb back out and into the cart again. Embarrassed, I walked back into the store where someone told me that my bags could be found at Customer Service. I can only assume that the people working there thought I might seriously be nuts.

*********************************************************

Currently, I have misplaced my phone.
After talking on it just 30 minutes ago.
In my house.

I have looked everywhere. Seriously, I just had it!

*********************************************************

Please tell me I am not the only one who does things like this........=)

Some interesting reading:

Pregnancy Brain: Myth or Reality?

I am going to go eat some chocolate now. Maybe my next post will be on pregnancy cravings.

What do you think? Pregnancy Cravings: Myth or Reality? =)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our Family at the Fall Frenzy


Here is a photo taken of our little family at the Fall Frenzy this past weekend. Thanks to Lisa's sister, Tricia, who was our official photographer for the day!



To see our initial FF post, look below!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall Frenzy




Many weeks ago, my friend Lisa had this great idea to plan a Fall-themed party for the families in our playgroup, as well as the families of another playgroup we know! And, being the party-fan that I am, I couldn't say no when she asked if I would be interested in helping her put it together. So the two of us, along with another friend and craft extraordinaire, Prudence, decided to give it a go.

So, after weeks of planning, and positive RSVPs from every family we invited (so great!), we had our first "Fall Frenzy" this past Saturday...

We rented a cabin nearby, had lunch for all and crafts for the kids (22 children, ages 3 and under!).

Meredith loved coloring and worked very hard on her craft (with Mommy's help, of course!). Caleb was not at all interested in any of the crafts, but had a great time playing outside (thankfully, the weather was very nice). Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of their outside time, as I was inside while the kids played outside with Daddy.

It was a ton of work to put together, but a lot of fun!

Food (desserts not pictured!)...


Here are a few photos of the craft "stations" (obviously before any of the kids came!)

Coloring...


Tissue Paper Leaf craft...


Pumpkin Painting!


Prudence made these very cute take home gifts for each family...


Prior to the party, we made t-shirts for the kiddos...they are tie-dyed with our "official" Fall Frenzy 2010 logo ironed on....=)

Here is Caleb, modeling his cool new shirt, which he was so excited to wear...



And, Meredith modeling hers...


Coloring...


Working with Mommy to make her leaf...


After she finished, she loved carrying it around!


The finished product hanging up at home...


Caleb's friend Jack (and the rest of the Friend fam) came up for the day!


Trying to get a photo of all the little ones in our playgroup!


Our theme verse for this event was Ecclesiastes 3:11..."He has made everything beautiful in its time." While we hope to remember this truth throughout the year, there is something about Fall that reminds us of the beauty of His creation.

Hopefully, amidst the myriads of children, gobs of paint, and bowls of chili, we were all reminded this past weekend of His goodness to us in His blessings of creation, warm food, wonderful family, and treasured friends.



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