Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Counting Down to Christmas - A Journey to Jesus

 Last year, I put together this "Christmas Countdown" as a way to go through the Christmas story with the kids and to help all of us over here keep our hearts and minds on the reason we make such a big deal out of this time of year!

 This year, we'll be using this same countdown, though I added another little element to it (inspiration from here).  The kids helped create a "game board" (more like a sticker chart) that will serve as a simple visual of the events leading up to Jesus' birth. 

While there's a lot you could do with this, we are keeping it simple once again.  Each day, after we read that day's part of the Christmas story, the kids will put a sticker in one of the each day goes on, and another square is filled, the kids will see how each event brings us closer to Jesus' birth.

Last night, as Caleb was explaining to Kris how this "game" will work, he used the term "journey" to describe what Mary & Joseph were doing.  So, we'll call this "A Journey to Jesus".

We'll start at the top, near the picture of Joseph and still-pregnant Mary riding on the donkey.  As the kids were coloring today, we talked about why Mary's belly was so big ("because there's a baby in her tummy!") and who that baby was ("Jesus!").

On Christmas Day, we will end at the picture of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.  Oh - and the sheep.  Can't forget about him.

Hopefully, as each day of December ticks by, the kids will have a greater understanding and appreciation of all that led up to the birth of Christ.  Most importantly, we hope that their hearts are softened to the great love that God has for them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vroom, Vroom!

In the last few days, Shane has been playing "cars" a lot.  He crawls around, pushing the toy cars along the floor with him.  It's so fun!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Dad

 My dad is amazing.  He is committed, dedicated, loving, fun, smart, wise, forgiving, hard-working.  To name just a few of the many.  I am so thankful for him.  I feel very blessed to have been raised by him, and blessed that my kids have him for a Grandpa.

This past Friday was his __th birthday (let's just say that it's a milestone year!). =)  We did some minor celebrating that day, with cake and presents, though we saved most of our energy and resources for the SURPRISE party we threw for him on Saturday.  While we wanted him to feel celebrated on his actual birthday, our primary goal was to throw him off from any idea he might have that there would be a party on the following day...

Yesterday, was the day of the big party.  My mom did a great job putting it all together.  While it is always a bit tricky to plan a surprise party for the person you live with, she managed to pull it off!

He was successfully surprised!

The kiddos loved the party hats, noisemakers, and balloons!


While the party itself was a huge surprise to my dad, an even greater surprise was the gift that my mom got him...seriously, this was fun!  Really fun.  Really really really fun.

I love this picture.  It took many minutes and many people to figure out how to turn the hazards off!

Caleb wanted to go for a "ride".

The originals.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  We love you very very much!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our Tree

Today, we took our traditional trip to William's Tree Farm with my parents.  Kir, Jon and their kiddos are also in town, so they came as well!  The weather was great, which made the time there even better.

 Looking for The Perfect tree...

We picked one!

The kids enjoyed watching Daddy cut it down with the big saw.

Carrying it away...

Ready to go home!

Taking a quick train ride before heading home...

Ready to decorate!

The kids had fun decorating.  This is the first year we are using colored lights on the tree.  In previous years, we've decorated with white lights, but Caleb requested color this year.  How could I say no? =) 

Caleb and Meredith did a really great job hanging the ornaments.  They loved looking through the box and finding all the ornament-treasures.  They remembered some from last year, and loved finding the ones with their names on them.  And, while they did a fair amount of "ornament clumping", I love it.  I have officially resisted the urge to spread the ornaments out a bit, because they worked so hard and had such fun.  I imagine that at some point when they are older and potentially as, ahem...particular as I am, I'll wish that they were little again, clumping them all together in the most beautiful way ever.

Candy Cane Clumping...

Shane had a great time playing with these candy canes...

Caleb's favorite part...
Last year, we started the tradition of each kid getting a new ornament every year.  Here are this year's picks...

Caleb found this snowman with his name on it.  It lights up and changes colors!

Meredith picked out this little "jingle piggy".  It has a bell inside and rings when you shake it.

I picked this one out for Shane.  I thought it was fairly fitting, since his month-by-month pictures are taken with a sock monkey.

Our finished tree...

 Another tradition....after the tree was decorated, the kids drank hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course) and watched The Very First Noel.

5 stockings this year!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Acts 16:31

The monthly memory verse for November:

Acts 16:31
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."

Sunday, November 20, 2011


 What's that?  Shane's 11 months?  That. Can't. Be.  
He was just born the other day, wasn't he?

"It's true, Momma.  I'm growing up."

Sigh.  My little baby boy is growing so fast.  We put up some Christmas decorations today, and I couldn't help but think about this time last year.  Shane was with us, but in a much different capacity. I was really large and so excited to meet this little guy and I just knew that I would love him like crazy forever.  As much as I enjoyed having him in my belly, feeling his little kicks and hiccups and somersaults and having him all to myself all the time, I am ever so grateful to have him "out here" with us!  

As has been the case lately, we didn't get any really great pictures today.  This boy does not like to sit still for photos and I can't seem to get my camera settings right - the photos are really blurry, obviously.  But, here's our official "11-month" birthday pics.  Enjoy!


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