Tuesday, December 31, 2013

7 Swans a Swimming

I feel rather delinquent in not sharing any photos of our family Christmas celebrations yet, but I am here to say—to myself as well as you—Christmas is not over yet!!

I find myself so frustrated with how quickly the world moves on from Christmas after Dec. 25. Even the Christian radio station stopped playing Christmas music at 5 pm on the 25th! They couldn't even wait until midnight?! Dec. 25 is just the beginning, the first day of Christmas. We could be enjoying twelve days, people! (Count them: Dec. 25 to Jan. 5; Jan. 6 is Epiphany, the start of the next season in the church year.)

I wrote a post about this several years ago called "Christmas Is the New Advent," saying essentially that the twelve days of Christmas are actually a better time for reflection and celebration of Emmanuel, God with us, precisely because most of society has already moved on. Without the pressure of "getting ready" for Christmas, buying and wrapping and baking and all (all of which I love), now is the best time to simply enjoy the season and think about what it means for Christ to have come as an infant, even when the festivities are done and we're back to the old grind of work and school.

Like so many families, we have our practices during Advent to help the kids (and us) to countdown and prepare for Christmas—Advent calendars, nativity scenes, keeping the baby Jesus figurine out of the manger until Christmas Eve, etc.—but how do we help the kids celebrate Christmas even after all the gifts are opened?

I started by telling the kids about the twelve days of Christmas, singing the song to introduce the concept and then announcing each day what day of Christmas it is. (Today is the Seventh Day of Christmas!) Kate has been keeping track even better than we have! Then, I transformed our Advent wreath into a Christmas wreath. Well, we just had a plate this year, no greenery, but in any case, out went the four purple candles and in went twelve tea lights. We light the Christ candle that was first lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize Christ's presence with us, and then light the appropriate number of tea lights.

Last year, we had a Twelfth Day of Christmas party to take down our decorations, drag out the tree, and demolish our gingerbread house. It's a fun way to mark the changing of the seasons, having carried our celebration of Jesus' birth beyond the gifts and big meals, back into everyday life.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Captain Fun Trap

Did your family watch the live television version of Sound of Music a few weeks ago, with Carrie Underwood? We let the girls stay up late to watch, and though Carrie's acting might have left something to be desired, we enjoyed it and I've especially loved how it introduced my kids to another great musical. (Kate is already a huge Phantom of the Opera fan.)

Since the airing of that live TV special, we've watched it OnDemand a few times (for free), paid to watch the Julie Andrews version OnDemand (only to find that it expired after 24 hours, so we only got through part of it in that time), and watched part of the Julie Andrews version when it aired on ABC last night (only to have our cable go out just before the party scene).

Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you
Kate and Claire now love to sing and act out the songs from Sound of Music, especially "My Favorite Things," and "The Lonely Goatherd" (my favorite). They like the children's line-up too. Kate will hold her hands behind her back, step forward and say "Liesl!" and Claire will do the same thing, saying "He-drick!" (Friedrich). They do this over and over.

Kate has also been saying we need to have seven kids—no, wait, seven more kids—so that we can name them Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl. She says she wants to play Gretl on stage, since Gretl is five and she is almost five. 

Some of the lyrics are "beyond her ken," so to speak, so we've heard some funny twists on the original wording. For example. . .

Captain Fun Trap

Tea, a drink with John and Brett

and my personal favorite,
Meat, a name I call myself.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Traditions

I can't believe it's December 20th, already. The season is flying by, but we've been having a lot of holiday fun. Our favorite things are some of the same things we do every year.

A few of our traditions:

Making a gingerbread house
The girls go bake cookies with Granna, too. This year, they combined it with a slumber party at Granna and Opa's, so Matt and I had a nice date night!

Kate's preschool Christmas program is special every year too. The pre-K kids have the biggest part, with costumes. Kate was an angel, and any time a song mentioned an angel, she pointed to herself excitedly :)
One of my personal favorites: our annual jammies Christmas light drive!

We did it last night, and always have to visit "the crazy house," the most decorated house around!

Another thing we've been doing in recent years is having friends over for dinner a few days before Christmas. It's fun to share such a family-oriented holiday with friends as well, so tonight's the night for that! I better press "post" so I can get cooking. They'll be here in 50 minutes!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Decking the Halls

I'm linking up today with Kelly Stamps' Holiday Home Tour, and looking back at my post for that link-up two years ago, I see what a creature of habit I am. So many things are in exactly the same place! I've changed a few things, and some things I changed last year, but now they're just like the before that!

In any case, welcome to our lovely abode, all decked out for the holidays.

Lots of nativities around the hearth--advent calendars, play nativity, and the shiny metal one on the mantle.
There are still a few gifts to arrive, but I've wrapped what we have. I love to wrap gifts!
I did the dining room table differently this year, with a tray I found at a thrift store, filled with candles, ornaments, angels, and greenery, and ornaments hanging from beads on the light fixture.

A simpler Advent wreath on the kitchen table this year (since I hung the actual wreath above the mantle!)
My favorite holly jollies: the kiddos, decorating our gingerbread house!
Welcome to any visitors, and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Catch-Up: Advent Begins!

Playing blog-catch-up once again, let me tell you a little about our early December activities. I'm a stickler for holding off until after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music or decorate, but by that weekend, I jump in with both feet. Though we value Advent as a liturgical season, and as such, should maybe keep things more austere until the actual Christmas season (Dec. 25-Jan. 5) I consider getting ready for Christmas in the popular sense to be part of Advent expectation. We're getting ready for and getting excited about Jesus' birthday party, as I tell the girls.

So, since Dec. 1, we've . . .

gotten our tree (Kate had fun running between all the trees on the lot)
decorated the tree and the rest of the house
Matt and Kate baked a Derby pie with some pecans a church member gifted him

I made a list of fun stuff I want to do between now and Jan. 5
(I definitely don't want the fun to end on Dec. 25!)

We let the girls stay up to watch the "Sound of Music LIVE" on TV.
Kate has watched it several times OnDemand since then!
We celebrated St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6 with pancakes in the shape of Santa hats and stockings, and talked about the real St. Nick.

St. Nick brought Christmas pjs for the girls and a Phantom of the Opera ornament for Kate, who is obsessed with the show right now. It plays "Think of Me," which she loves to sing.

St. Nick also brought light-up necklaces!

We went to Breakfast with Santa with Granna and Opa and saw St. Nick
and got fun balloon creations!

Pretty BGC with her Christmas dress on
We decorated our gingerbread house the other night

The church choir has been getting ready for our cantata
(this pic was taken during worship last Sunday)

I kept the nursery, and led Kate and the two kindergarteners in a Merry Christmas acrostic, coming up with words starting with each letter that have to do with Christmas. The girls' list included things like "angels" and "sausage balls," and "elephant," since they couldn't come up with a Christmas word for E.

What's something fun your family has been up to so far this season?

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Playing Catch-Up: Thanksgiving

I don't know why I've been blog-averse lately. Averse to posting on my own blog, that is. I still love checking my reader and seeing what's up with everybody else!

It is such a wonderful, fun-filled time of year, though, I've got to share a bit of what we've been up to, even if I don't feel up to sharing anything insightful! So, here's Thanksgiving and the week or so before it.

 Made these little turkey sweets by frosting mini-brownie bites and sticking the last of the candy corn in them. The eyes are Nerds :0)

One morning in late November, we made waffles for breakfast, and I don't know why I was compelled to take pictures, but I managed to catch some of Kate's kooky antics.

For some reason, these pictures make a line from Miley Cyrus' recent appearance on SNL come to mind. Someone asks her, "What's up with sticking your tongue out like that all the time?" Miley responds, "I'm having a bunch of tiny strokes, yo."

For Thanksgiving, we went up to my parents' in Louisville. Popi made pine cone bird feeders with the girls, and we played with Legos (Duplos) a lot, and tried to avoid their mean cat who seems to resent my family for making ourselves at home in "her" space. I was around wayyy before you, Cali-Cat. 

Mom made a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, of course, though right about the time it was ready, Kate conked out on the couch.
"What should we do with Big Sister, Mommy?"
We managed to get her up to eat a bit of dinner, and then the pumpkin pie she'd been talking about for weeks. We weren't quite sure she'd ever tried pumpkin pie, so the enthusiasm seemed premature, and sure enough, she did not like it.

BGC did not care for much of Thanksgiving dinner, either. Her feeding therapist suggested we try some of the creamy table foods that would be at Thanksgiving dinner, since she gags at any minor chunkiness to her food. She's 14 months old and still mainly eats Stage 2 baby food, thus the feeding therapy (among her many other therapies and doctor appointments—she has the busiest calendar of any one year old I know!) She did okay with the sweet potato casserole, but didn't just gag on mashed potatoes and corn pudding—she barfed all down her bib, twice.

Friday, Popi and I took Kate and Claire to see "Free Birds," which was very cute. Kate didn't like it because it didn't have any princesses. (Arggghh! It's like I'm fighting a losing battle against this Disney-girl culture!) Actually, though I intentionally chose "Free Birds" over "Frozen," I hear the latter is actually very good, so maybe we'll see that around Christmas. There was also a teeny bit of shopping on Black Friday, at about 5 pm, so it hardly counts.

Saturday, we helped Nala and Popi decorate their Christmas tree!

And then we toasted marshmallows and made s'mores around the firebowl before heading back to Nashville!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving too, and that your Christmas (Advent) season is off to a beautiful start!


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