It's amazing how much can change in just two years.
This is dinner with friends 2 years ago at Christmastime:
This is dinner with the same friends this Christmastime:
One child is not pictured.
I can't believe how different those kids look. I love getting together with these friends. Even though we live in different states now and obviously we can't get together as often as when we lived across the grass from each other at BYU, we are still all so comfortable with each other and the kids just love each other to pieces. Lifelong friends. Aren't they the greatest?
It's not just any train, it's the Polar Express. One of our Christmas traditions is drinking hot chocolate while watching the movie, "The Polar Express."
We got some yummy flavors of hot chocolate to try out this year. The kids had some packets of rich milk chocolate (with giant marshmallows and whipped topping), but Jeremy and I pulled out a couple cans of Stephen's. Raspberry Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Cup. Yummmmmm. Hot chocolate and The Polar Express is a fun tradition and it was so cute a few days later when the kids decided to make their own train. Nichole and Jr. put chairs in front of Jr. Jr. as he was already in his booster in the kitchen. They took turns being the conductor.
Jr. Jr. loved playing along with his brother and sister.
Boy, Christmastime is a busy time, isn't it? This year I decided to sew Christmas stockings for each of us, so we wouldn't be using impersonal Dollar Store stockings anymore. We each got to pick out which fabric we wanted then picked tops from the leftover scraps. I think they turned out pretty well. And they were pretty quick to do.
click on the picture to see it bigger
From left to right- Jeremy, Kristin, Nichole, Jr., Jr. Jr.
Phew. Now I can put away the sewing machine and ironing board to make room for our balloon Christmas tree.
Awww. Sipping hot chocolate while listening to Daddy read a story. What a great way to celebrate Cocoa Day, December 13th.
Other ways we've celebrated recently:
Jr. wasn't able to make it to a friend's birthday party, so he, Jr. Jr., and I made a special trip to a fast food place for lunch and for Jr. to play on the play area. It was so nice to have that time together.
We finally got around to breaking the wishbone from our Thanksgiving turkey. I kept forgetting it was there. I think this is the first year that Nichole and Jr. actually got to break the wishbone.
The kids decided to get creative with a bunch of pipe cleaners and made Christmas "ornaments."
In general we've just been having a great time as a family.
What is this? A Christmas tradition? I don't think it was this way last year, but two years ago, we missed church due to colds, but we got to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional that night. This year, it was something a little worse than colds. I stayed home, due to being sick to my stomach (lasted all day long and I'm not going to go into more details- you can guess). Jr. Jr. stayed with me because he was asleep when the others left and Jeremy had to be available to teach in Elder's Quorum in case the person teaching wasn't there (he was there, but Jeremy had a good lesson prepared- good for discussion in our own home). So once again I missed church, but did get to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. It was great and the kids did a great job answering questions about it for our advent calendar discussion.
We all stayed awake during the devotional and I only missed the closing song and prayer due to running to the bathroom. Hooray for little blessings. Today I'm feeling better (not much energy, I still need to recuperate) but Jr. is taking his turn with this bug. Poor little guy. Wish us luck.
It's that time of year again. Time for our advent calendar/countdown to Christmas. Last year it worked so well focusing our countdown on family scripture study about the Savior's birth. It was so nice to put so much more focus on Christ (the real meaning of Christmas) the whole month of December that we didn't feel guilty about enjoying the Santa parts and presents on Christmas morning. Those weren't the emphasis that season. That month of daily scripture study and discussion got us in a good habit that has continued and we have done so well with these daily gospel discussions for all of 2011 so far. And here we are in December. Hooray.
We let the kids know that we would be doing the advent calendar with the M&Ms again this year. Nichole let us know that she didn't want a certain color M&M because it tasted different than the others. We assured her they were all mint M&Ms and tasted the same. But you know how kids are. So to kick off our countdown, last night for Family Home Evening, we had a taste test to see if there was a difference in taste. One at a time as we (Nichole, Jr., and I) closed our eyes, Jeremy put a mint M&M in our mouth. We wrote down what color we thought it was and what it tasted like.
Needless to say, they all tasted the same.
We decided to get the kids up earlier than usual in the mornings so we can do scripture study before Nichole goes to school. That way we will make sure everyone is there and no parent misses it as sometimes happens later in the day. This morning- no grumbling from the kids. Have I mentioned how awesome they are?
Scripture study went well and I believe it was a great start to our day.
I am excited that this year, Christmas Day is a Sunday. That will again give us a good start to our day. I do wonder how hard it will be getting out the door early to church, though. Oh well. We'll find out. Happy Holidays, everyone.
I've mentioned before that I'm trying to work on finding balance. Part of finding balance is prioritizing, deciding what things need to be put first and what things can be sacrificed. Sister Beck, the General Relief Society President for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, talked about essential things, necessary things, and nice to do things (see my link above). There are times when some of those nice to do things must be sacrificed. As much as I like blogging, that is one of those things that has to be sacrificed from time to time. So do a lot of other things on the computer. Yesterday, I sacrificed some of the necessary things, like laundry, in order to focus on something very essential- my relationship with my children. It's vacation- Thanksgiving Break. Jeremy was out of town working all day so the kids and I had a day for us. Luckily, lunch and dinner were taken care of since we have plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers. Making meals is one of those necessaries that takes up a lot of time for me, but not yesterday. After we got ready for the day, including scripture study and family prayer, we took turns picking activities to do together (although I admit during some of the activities the kids didn't need me for, I did some dishes), and had a full day of fun.
We painted mini pumpkins.
Before and After
Jr. Jr. really wanted to do what his brother and sister were doing so he got a dry paint brush and pumpkin and enjoyed getting to do the same thing.
We played Disney Junior, Wii, and Game Cube.
We read books.
We watched a movie.
There were other activities we did as well but I didn't get pictures of everything. And there were times between activities or when I was taking care of the baby that the older two kept themselves occupied.
At the end of the day, Nichole and Jr. fell asleep in my bed. Jr. Jr. had kind of a rough night, so I spent some time in my bed with the kids and some time holding the baby, trying to help him sleep.
It was a good family day (though we missed Jeremy).
This Mayflower idea came from the November 2011 issue of FamilyFun Magazine. We didn't have a pint carton. We had a 64 oz carton. I couldn't find the black tissue paper. I could find the brown construction paper. This is what we came up with.
Craft paper and crayons and imagination.
FOOD! and lots of it.
A baby who ate more in this one meal than he did in the last few days since he hasn't been feeling well.
The pilgrims in the Mayflower and the monster truck from the future.
A family Thankful Book (also from the November 2011 issue of FamilyFun Magazine).
Not getting a chance to blog on Thanksgiving because I was having a great time with my family.
And many many more blessings that I get to experience EVERY day.