Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sights and sounds of Christmas

What a wonderful December. I am curled up in my chair right now watching my children play with their toys. My husband is making reindeer shaped pancakes and I am still basking in the warmth of our church's beautiful candlelight service last night. We will be traveling to see family members in just a few hours, but I wanted to post some pictures of our month. I can honestly say that it is has been such a blessed one and my heart is so full with gratitude for all of our blessings.

 We spent a lot of time this month baking. In addition to the cookies in my previous post we made reindeer cupcakes, candy cane cookies, and haystacks. And we spent all day yesterday making peanut butter balls, dill pretzels, and bread for our neighbors and postman. I love it!
Bennett had her Christmas program at school. I will post video of that later, but here are a few shots of her singing and then with her sweet friends. I'm not going to lie. I cried. I even cried when I saw her name in the program. She's got a rough road ahead of her with her weepy Mom.

And the homeroom Moms in Bennett's class kind of rock. They organized a cookie making party on one day when the kids were out of school for Christmas.
Here are my kids with their best friends after the Advent service at our church. Bennett and Will with Levi, Crosby, Ridley, and Walker.
 We went to see Santa, of course. The kids were great this year and both were so happy to see him.

We spent an evening in the town of Parkville, Missouri. I can't believe that we didn't take our camera, because this is the greatest little town and it looked gorgeous at Christmas. Sigh.... I'll learn next year. Here are some shots from Union Station and the Crown Center. We spent an entire day there a few weeks ago and will definitely do it again next year. Kansas City is so wonderful at Christmas time.
We loved going out to look at lights and we had fun stopping off at Panera Bread for gingerbread men and hot chocolate. That was something new we started this year which I think will become an annual tradition. Our favorite lights this year were at Longview Lake (of course) Candy Card Lane, and the Plaza lights are a must. We hit them all and loved every second.

We also spent a lot of time at home spending time together as a family. Here are Rob and the kids watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. We try to have computer/iphone free evenings where we really watch things with the kids. They love our undivided attention.
Here are a few more shots of life around our house during the Christmas season. The first shot is of Will having his very first taste of hot chocolate.

On Christmas Eve eve we went to the candlelight service at our church. Bennett wanted to come in to "big church" to sing the carols with us. What a sweet little girl.

We looked at more lights afterwards and then it was time to come home and get ready for Santa Claus. We set out the reindeer food. Each had their own bag. I was hoping the reindeer were literate. As it turned out, they were!
Rob read the Christmas story with the kids. We started out reading out of Daddy's Bible, but they both insisted on getting their own. This was the sweetest part of the evening and one I will always cherish.

The kids set out the milk and cookies and then were jumping up and down in excitement.

This morning Bennett ran into our room. I asked her if she knew what happened last night and she started to tear up and she sniffed, "Did Santa not bring me any presents?" So sweet. We informed her that he did and then we went to get up her sleepy brother. The came down the stairs and immediately Bennett ran to the horses and Will flew to the trains. It was a wonderful morning.

Despite all of the lights, cookies, and presents the best part of our Christmas has been teaching the children the real meaning of Christmas. We have had lots of outings, but my favorite was the night we delivered angel tree presents to the homes of children who have fathers in prison. More than buying gifts, I loved watching my kids drop coins in the Salvation Army buckets on their way into the stores. I loved hearing Bennett ask to hear Christmas carols on the radio instead of Frosty. I loved it this morning when we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

I pray each of you has a wonderful Christmas with your family. And I hope each of you know about the best Christmas gift we will ever receive.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

 That is the ultimate gift. Delivered by the king of king who come to the earth in the most humble form imaginable. In the form of a helpless infant. Born to people of no importance. In a place where barn animals sleep. Born to save us from our sins. To give us the gifts of grace, peace, hope, and life. It is almost unthinkable in its scope and value. But I am grateful. So so grateful.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cookies 2011

Why add the year to the title of this post? Because it has become a fabulous annual tradition, that's why. And when my kids are in their 30's are they are being forced begging to read posts about their childhood, I want to have the years straight.

Here's last years post in case any of you are really bored or just have a lot of time on your hands.

So on to cookiepalooza 2011. First we rolled out the dough. It was homemade, but store bought is just as good. I'm just a nerd who is weird about always baking from scratch. I know I'll get over it one of these days.
Then we just grabbed everything we could out of our pantry.
  The kids were so excited to pick out their favorite cookie cutters and go to town.
 We mixed egg yolks with food coloring so we could paint the raw dough.
 And you can use the egg whites to paint the dough as well. This is great for holding sprinkles and other goodies.
  The kids (both big and small) had fun painting their masterpieces.
 Voila! Using egg whites really helps it to stick.
 And the egg yolk with food coloring is fun for painting as well.
  Batch 1 is ready to go in the oven.
 So then we decorate some cooked ones that I had already made for the kids. I normally make my own frosting, but we had already used it all up when we had some friends over earlier in the month to make cookies. This worked just as well.
 Not making as much of a mess as I had anticipated. I have some serious decorators on my hands.
Dancing with Daddy is a great way to pass the time while we wait for the cookies to come out of the oven.
 We set some aside for Santa....
....and the rest are left just for us. Bon appetit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bennett explains it all

My sweet 3 year old explaining the Christmas story. Two notes of interest-

1. She has a terrible cold. But it just makes her sound like she has a thick southern accent.

2. Yes, she is always this dramatic. Hand gestures and all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Every Christmas I am reminded of the one we had 4 years ago. I am so thankful that is behind us and grateful still to this day that we were able to catch the DVT so early.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


The Place: Our swagger wagon
The Scene: Driving around to look at lights

Bennett: Happy Hanukkah, Mom!
Me: Thanks, Bennett. But you don't really need to say that to me.
Bennett: Why? Are those not nice words?
Me: Oh, no. They are very nice words. But we say Merry Christmas in our family.
Bennett: But it's the season of Christmas! We have to say Happy Hanukkah!
Me: Sure. That's a wonderful thing to say, but I like it when you tell me Merry Christmas.
Bennett: Why?
Me: (taking a deep breath) Well, we tell our Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah.
Bennett: Who is Jewish?
Me: Mrs. Lori is Jewish so it would be nice to say Happy Hanukkah to her.
Bennett: But I WANT to say it to you!!!
Me: You are more than welcome to say it to me, but I like Merry Christmas better.
Bennett: WHY?
Me: Because I believe in Jesus.
Me: Well, if you are Jewish you believe in God, but not Jesus. However, we are Christians so we believe in Jesus.
Bennett: (starting to get hysterical) So we don't believe IN GOD?????
Me: Oh, yes, honey. We believe in both. We believe they are one in the same.
Will: (piping up from his car seat) YESH WE DO BEWEEVE IN GOD!
**Both children are now crying**
Me: Ummm.... hey look at those lights! Pretty reindeer! Stop crying! Anyone want a piece of candy? (Muffled sounds of sobs from the back seat) Ummm.... Chick-fil-A anyone?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's on your Chistmas tree?

A few years ago Rob and I attended a Christmas party at the very elegant home of some friends of ours. We had never been to their home at Christmas before. We were both immediately drawn to all of the Nutcrackers in their home. They had beautiful Nutcrackers of all shapes and sizes. They adorned the house so perfectly and I could only imagine how they had been collected over the years. I thought that perhaps some of the smaller more unique ones had been purchased on trips overseas and that maybe some were gifts from friends. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Rob commented to the hostess that he loved her vast collection and she laughed and said, "Oh, those aren't ours. Nutcrackers are the theme my decorator picked this year and he designed the room. I'm sure they will all go back into a box of his after Christmas."

I have thought about that so many times over the years. And how many of you have been to homes where the trees had themes? Trees that could only have silver ornaments or were only decorated with angels. Did you know that forest green is so out this year? Kelly Green is supposedly the green of 2011. If the ribbon on your tree isn't that shade of green, then I don't even know what to say to you.

Fortunately, I love my crazy tree that has no theme whatsoever and is filled with hand prints of my kids, ornaments from friends, terrible paint on glass ornaments, and other knick knacks. I love it and I truly feel as if our tree has just begun. Rob and I have only been married 6 years and we didn't bring many ornaments into our marriage with us. I can't wait to watch our tree grow and watch the ornaments that are placed on it tell the story of our lives.

This year has been particularly sentimental. I have shed many tears looking at our tree.

We bought this for our American Fox hound 4 years ago. This is our first Christmas without him, but we will always keep his ornament on our tree. What a reminder of such a special pet.

We went on a trip to Disney World in 2007. I was 18 weeks pregnant and had just found out I was having a girl. We bought this ornament on our trip that fall. It was the first thing we bought for our baby girl. I have been so sentimental looking at this particular ornament this year and knowing that the unknown baby turned out to be my precocious, redheaded, and creative almost 4 year old. Oh, and Ariel happens to be her very favorite princess.

We moved to Kansas City in January of 2009. A dear friend of mine had a brunch for me right before I moved. I was pregnant with Will and very scared. She gave me this ornament of the Montgomery skyline and told me to always think of home whenever I hung it on our tree. I have been particularly homesick this Fall. I want to be with my cousin Elliot badly. I want to be there to cook her a meal, watch her kids, or just curl up and watch a chick flick while eating Goobers. Seeing this ornament makes me think of her and how happy I will be to go home and see her and the rest of my family.
And finally...... my favorite. I have cried a lot over these two ornaments this year. These were the very first Christmas ornaments Rob and I received as a couple. They were from my beloved Grandmother who passed away this summer. She told us that they were two lovebirds and to always hang them on the same branch of our tree. I didn't want to burst her bubble and tell her that they were snowmen and not lovebirds. She would just laugh and tell me that she knew that and to let her have her fun. These snowmen will always have a special place on our tree.

Who needs a Nutcracker theme when you have a story. A narrative. A timeline of your life waiting to be rediscovered every year. I can't wait to see what our tree looks like 30 years from now. I hope it will be filled with even more hand prints, tacky ornaments, and memories of loved ones who helped us fill our tree.