Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Around Here

It's only fitting that I'm drinking peppermint hot chocolate as I'm writing about Christmas around here :)  

I had this great idea that I would have all of my Christmas shopping done and gifts wrapped by December 1st.  Let's just say that didn't happen.  Between birthday parties, Gracie cutting her own hair, being the Mystery Reader in Maggie's class, small group, and a super fun Thanksmas party, I'm still finishing up.

And, I'm okay with that!  

I'm slowly learning that things don't have to be perfect to be meaningful or special.  I'm not one of those women who compare themselves to the perfection they think they see on pinterest or in magazines, etc.  Rather, I compare myself to the idealized version of myself and family experiences that I store in my brain.  I'll go ahead and say that it's equally unhealthy.  

So, here's what Christmas is looking like at our house this year!

Our Christmas season always gets started the weekend after Thanksgiving when we go to a hotel with my family. 

As always, we had a great time!  I got a jump on my Christmas shopping (before abandoning my efforts for a couple of weeks), and Aaron and the girls swam their little hearts out!

I also took pictures of the girls sleeping at the hotel, because I just can't help myself.

Perhaps I could consider this a Christmas tradition? 

On a side note, the bed Gracie is in is amazing.  It's a blow up toddler bed and has really come in handy!  

Once we got back, we started Advent...a couple days late.

We are doing something really special for Advent this year that I have affectionately titled "Advent by the Seat of My Pants."  No, there will not be an e-book coming out detailing my strategies ;)

We got the beautiful advent calendar cards from Naptime Diaries, and I hung them up all fancy-like on twine.

Not pictured: the 4 extra holes I put in the wall because I had a really hard time getting things level.

To achieve Advent by the Seat of My Pants excellence, you basically wait until the last possible second to figure out what activity you are doing for the day and then somehow manage to sneak a post it note with the aforementioned activity on the back of the Advent card while your children aren't looking.  This takes skillz, my friends, skillz.  Yes, skillz with a z.

We also read a short verse or 2 each day before our activity.  I get the verses from here.  Leah reads the verse from her Bible and sometimes we talk about the verse more than others.  It's fun talking about why the shepherds were afraid of the angels or how it's significant that Jesus was born in a barn.  We really desire for the girls not to take the details of Jesus coming to earth for granted! 

I'm not going to pretend that our Advent activities are particularly spiritual or full of hard hitting Gospel truths.  They aren't.  But, I'm letting go of the pressure to put meaning into every little thing we do.  I don't make Christmas Gospel-centered; it already is!

For one of our Advent activities, the girls got their Christmas dresses 

right before we decorated the tree.

Thankfully our tree went up without incident this year...unlike last year.

Like always, Gracie got to compare her hand to Aaron's hand when he was little.

Like always, Gracie made a silly face :)

While we were decorating the tree, I realized that we have another tradition which is me making snarky comments about our ornaments.  

Before you become appalled at my snarky comments, please consider 2 things:
  1. I appreciate the ornaments and the people who gave them to us.  
  2. I fully expect that our daughters will be making fun of the ornaments we got them.  I'd actually be a little disappointed if they didn't.
That being said, take a gander at these lovelies...

I can't help but say things like:
  1. Nothing spreads holiday cheer like a one-eyed nut with mop hair.
  2. A ping pong playing Santa really helps me reflect on the real reason for the season.
  3. Clearly a red-eyed blue dinosaur wielding a candy cane reminds us all how Jesus was born to be our Rescuer. 
  4. "Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing...ruh roh, Shaggy!" 
  5. Clearly my love for all things chalkboard began with this ornament purchased at a craft fair in 1989. I especially appreciate the un-centered Christmas sentiment written just this side of legible.  
But, really, look at these little lovelies <3

We also just celebrated our 2nd annual Thanksmas!

We had such a fun time celebrating with friends!  We had an awesome meal which incidentally has moved me totally over to Team Ham.  I am bidding a whole turkey a fond farewell.  We visited, played games, and had a fun gift exchange.  

Here are the ladies <3

Becca ,Steph, Jenny, me, Bri, Hannah
Seriously some of my very favorites!

After the girls went bed, the ladies decorated sugar cookies!

I don't love making sugar cookie cut outs or royal icing, but it's always more than worth it.  I think decorating with royal icing is so relaxing and fun.  This is the 3rd year that Steph and I have been decorating them together, and I hope we don't stop any time soon!  I use (and love) the recipes here.

That's some of what's been going on in the Christmas department around here!  We are still looking forward to decorating cookies with the girls (after I push through the pain of baking them), driving around and looking at lights, reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, eating a meal by candlelight, etc. etc. etc.  

Ultimately, I love most of all that this is a time of year that begs us to slow down and celebrate Jesus.  Jesus coming not just to earth, but to a simple, stinky stable.  He came in the most humble of ways to live a simply remarkable life that led to His redeeming death on the cross.  Our Emmanuel living the life we couldn't live to die the death we couldn't die.  That's why angels sang and kings bowed down...our hearts should do the same.

How are all things Christmas going with you?  And, please, I can't be the only one making snarky comments about ornaments!  What are some of yours?

I'm linking up to Share My Christmas with Kristi et al...

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