Thursday, December 22, 2011

Advent Thoughts

Last weekend I just got to feeling that the Christmas season was sneaking by and my focus was too much on last minute shopping, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, putting together teacher goodies, etc....the list is never ending.  So I decided the other day that I was going to spend the afternoon taking "off" from Christmas.
I made myself some peppermint hot cocoa and sat by the tree and just read over the Christmas story again.  I talked to God.  Lately I have been feeling very discouraged with myself.  I just poured it all out to God and sat back and "listened."  The earth did not move, lightning did not strike, I did not get some special revelation from God .... but I felt at peace.  And I felt like my focus was shifted in the right direction.
Each year we try to remember the advent season with the children by doing this advent wreath with them.  One of the reasons I was especially discouraged is because we had failed to do the wreath this year.  I feel like it got squeezed out amongst all the activities which seemed to be falling on Sunday nights.  And I was so mad at myself because to me - this is what Christmas is and should be about more than anything. 

Anyhow, after my time with God that afternoon, I decided that we could still do it.  There were four days leading up to Christmas, and our evenings were free this week.  So I was determined.  We did the first one last night and have plans to finish the others in the coming evenings.  I want to add - it was not perfect.  Chloe left the table before we even really got started.  An argument broke out about who gets to blow out the candle.  One child decided not to sing the Christmas carol with us. 


Audrey and Carter both read the Scriptures by themselves.  At the end Carter insisted on praying.  AND, most importantly, the kids were reminded of what Christmas is really all about.
As I took this picture of the advent wreath, I started to clear off the table so the picture would be "nicer".  But then I decided to let it stand as is ... because this is our life.  It is messy and filled with distractions and the kids don't always cooperate with "our" plans and things are just not perfect.  (Ha, understatement of the year.)


In the middle of it all, just like that advent wreath on the table - among all our mess and chaos and craziness --- 

Immanuel ....GOD IS WITH US.  

And if we can just grasp a glimpse of that this season .... then it is a good Christmas indeed.

Christmas Fun, Part 2

Merry Christmas one and all!
My Carter is not much of an artsy dude.  In fact, most of his coloring and crafts appear to be an attempt to finish ASAP so that he can get on to something that he really wants to do.  But yesterday he sat down and colored this picture with only a little help from his mama.  (I showed him how to draw presents with bows.)   We had  a lot of fun working on it together!

Speaking of Carter .... last week he had his preschool Christmas concert.  He was very excited to go to school that day and sing.  Until he found out that it would involve dressing up.  Which means that I made him wear a sweater and cargo pants.  :)  Anyhow, he quickly moved on to being excited again and sang with great gusto.

 The only problem with being one of the tallest in your class is that you are stuck in the back row where it is hard for Mom & Dad to see you very clearly.  :)
 And here he is "recessing" (his friend Rebecca is in front of him).  It cracks me up that he walks around with his hands in his pockets like an old man.   He is probably smiling real big because he knows that after the concert is the cookie reception! 
 Chad and I went to his company party last weekend.  
Yes, this is one of the few times of the year that I dress up.  I even painted my nails and had time to do an "updo".  We had a great time - now that he has been at his company long enough I actually enjoy going and meeting up with some of his co-workers and their wives/husbands.

 On Tuesday night we hosted our small group's Christmas party.  We had one out-of-town couple and one sick husband so this picture isn't "complete" but these are some of the people that we love the most!
Every year we have a white elephant gift exchange.  Chad (not my Chad, but the one in the back row on the left) is modeling some of his white elephant "gifts"... that rockin' sweater AND the peel-n-stick  mustache!
 Of course, then all the guys wanted to try on the mustaches....
 ....then we girls decided to get in on the fun. 
Yes, we're weird.  It was one of those 'you had to be there' moments. :)

My white elephant "win" was this Noah's Ark latch hook rug.
I'm not a huge fan but Diesel seems to love sitting on it...

Just to add to the fun around here I am now potty-training Chloe. :-/
I didn't really want to start yet but she keeps asking to wear "unduh-pants" so I felt like I should go along with it.  We are about a week in but not  real consistent yet.  Probably because Mommy here is too busy to be very consistent yet....anyhow, I am anxiously awaiting the end of my diaper-changing days!

We are all excited about all the fun still to come - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day... and then a trip to Buffalo NY to see all the cousins!!  The kids are WAAAAY excited.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Fun this week

Phew!  We have had a ton of fun this week!

Last Monday evening we took the kids to Koziar's Christmas Village.  Christmas Village is a cute place about an hour from here that is just .... well, a zillion Christmas lights and displays.  We tried to go last year with my parents but we made the mistake of going on a Saturday evening a few weeks before Christmas.  We got about 4 miles away and there was bumper to bumper cars waiting to get in (and crawling along at a snail's pace).  So we ended up just turning around and coming home .... my mom calls it "The Christmas Village Disaster of 2010" :)

Well, we did not make the same mistake this year.  We went on a week night .... 3 weeks before Christmas ... and got there right after it opened.  It was a great night to go.

 They had a bunch of displays and little decorated windows to look in. 
This is the nativity scene.
But the kids proclaimed that some of the displays were "creepy".
I kind of have to agree ... there were some oversized Raggedy Anns and some scary looking Santas in some of the windows!
 Had to stop for some hot chocolate.  Although Audrey burned her tongue and then wouldn't look at the camera.
 Carter could have spent the whole entire night watching the trains going around.
Definitely his favorite display. 
We kept the kids out a little too late on a school night but it was worth it!

Then on Saturday Audrey, my mom and I went up to NYC to visit American Girl Place!
Boy, was Audrey excited (and was I.) :)
 We took a tour bus up there so all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride!
We walked right by Rockefeller Center.
 It was busy at 10 am... but let me tell you - at 5 pm (when we left) this place was an absolute zoo.  You could hardly walk.  It was like a sea of people.  Anyhow...
 The first thing we did was take Rebecca to the doll salon.
 I know, totally obnoxious.
 But it was WAY fun ...
 And I have to say that by the end of the hair styling, her semi-nappy hair was looking MUCH better.
 After the salon we did  a lot of browsing, and then had lunch in the cafe.
Even Rebecca had her own seat.
Audrey with my Mom.
It was a great girl bonding day.
Audrey had saved her birthday money and after completely studying the store (and catalog) top to bottom, she finally bought herself a few goodies.
And Santa just might be bringing a few more goodies too!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Parade

So we have lived in Phoenixville for what, 6 years now?  And we have never taken advantage of this little gem of a parade.  Well, there's a first time for everything.  I keep saying, it is getting easier and easier to do stuff like this as the kids are getting older.  They can stay out later and no baby is needing to get to bed early.
All the kids lined up and waiting for the parade to start.
Chloe and I staying warm together.
Audrey and friends (and the ever-present American Girl dolls)
The main feature of this parade seemed to be lit-up fire trucks
(and a lot of dressed up characters .... Elmo, Mickey Mouse, etc .... only they were really scary-looking costumes....)
Chloe taking it all in
and the big finale .... Santa Claus is coming through town!

It lasted maybe 10-15 minutes and it was over.  Which was fine because guess what?  
Baby, it's cold outside.
We came home and had hot chocolate and everyone even went to bed on time! 
Thanks Phoenixville for a fun little evening out!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Yes, I have been MIA the past few weeks.  There has been some sickness ... and busyness... and holidays came and went ....

... or maybe this is my problem:

It is a full-time job trying to get Chloe to keep her clothes on!
 I find little piles like this....
...all over the house!

Did she not get the memo that it is DECEMBER??  
(Although it WAS 70 degrees the other day ....)

Anyhow, this is her new thing to do.
Yesterday I took the kids to the dentist and while she was waiting for her brother and sister, she occupied herself by trying to take her pants off. Right in the middle of the office.

(It is getting rather embarrassing....)

Moving on, guess what is here?
My FAVORITE time of the year -- Christmas.

I am particularly excited about the season this year, because Chloe is old enough to "get" what is going on and she is loving all the lights and decorations (and turning on every musical Christmas snowglobe/decoration we have simultaneously....)  We have been reading the Christmas story to her and she is getting the hang of who Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are (AND the animals ... don't forget the animals in the manger scene!)  

See?  She couldn't even decorate the house with her clothes on!
Tonight I took the kids to the mall to see Santa.
The poor guy taking pictures couldn't get Chloe to smile for anything!  
She wasn't scared but I think she was a little overwhelmed by all the dressed-up people.
I am  loving spending my evenings next to the tree.

I am looking forward to many more fun memories this December ...
and trying to make time to slow down and celebrate the true reason for the season.