Friday, December 20, 2013

Charlotte's Preschool Program

Monday night was Charlotte's preschool program. It was super cute!
If you know us well, you know that we don't celebrate Christmas as a "special time" for the birth of Christ. We believe that we should celebrate this all year long and that if God had wanted us to put a special emphasis on this day then he would have told us when it is. Celebrating Christmas as Jesus Birthday is just not something we believe that we need to do -- it's no where in the Bible. So, our kids know nothing about Christmas being celebrated by many as a religious holiday. Well, Charlotte goes to the Baptist church for school and, of course, they do celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. So, the class before Charlotte's sings "Happy Birthday to Jesus." Right in the middle of this Harrison (who is naturally LOUD and says anything) busts out with why are they singing Happy Birthday to Jesus!!?? That's weird!!  Nice, huh. :) I'm sure the entire place thought we were heathens. Ha!
The rest of the program was cute. They sang some religious songs, but also Feliz Navidad and Twinkle Little Star. Very cute. Charlotte was so excited! She was dressed early that night and ready to go -- she kept talking about how Daddy was going to video her. She was proud of that! She ended up wearing a long robe that kept tripping her and I think it upset her and worried her. So, she was soooo slow walking in and not very happy about it. But, she didn't cry -- she was just quiet.
She was excited that her friend Whitney would be there that night since they go on opposite days to school! Here they are in their sweet little dresses. 

She did a great job! And, I'm proud of her for learning all her songs and singing them that night. I can't believe that she is this big!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Elf Antics

Hermie has been up to his old tricks this year! I haven't been as good at taking pictures as Matt has been, and I still have some on my phone, but here are a few of the fun things he's been doing this year!
Found him reading to the toy story gang and Rudolph one morning.
He markered on a picture of the kids. 

He was fighting the "bad" guys one morning.

He was wrapped up in TP after stringing a roll of it down the hall.
He led a parade of cars around the living room. 
He played some tic tac toe with our toy elf.
Can't wait to see what he'll be up to next!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snow Day Fun

We had our first snow of winter the first week in December. It's kind of unusual to have snow this early in winter for us, but we were so excited! It actually was freezing rain, then sleet, then 6ish inches of snow on top. And, it was COLD!
We woke up Thursday morning to no school! Woohoo! But the crazy part is that when they cancelled school there wasn't even anything on the ground yet. It was cold, but just cloudy. While the kids and I stuck around the house that morning, Matt had to head off to work. He left early afternoon, made a quick Walmart and Lowes stop for supplies and then got home just as it was getting bad. By the time he pulled in the garage, there was a sheet of solid ice on his car!
I spent most of Thursday cleaning and cooking and getting ready to be stuck in the house for a couple of days.....which ended up being almost a week! We had so much sleet on Thursday, everything was covered in sleet -- I've never seen anything like it! We went to bed and woke up to our house looking like this. 
It snowed all morning on Friday. After lunch we ventured out to try out the new sleds that Dad brought home on Thursday. It was sooo cold and still snowing a little bit, and we didn't last too long that day. We headed home to warm up with some good hot chocolate!

Saturday we had a much better day sledding! We have a great hill on the golf course just a few houses down and it's perfect for sledding! We were out there with lots of other families having a blast. Poor Charlotte didn't stay very long -- on her second sled a lot of ice flew up in her face and she was done. She and I headed home and then Matt & I took turns with the big kids. Sledding is fun! The kids begged to go back out every day and we were happy to let them!

Harrison wore his Lowes building goggles the whole time! Ha! We were not at all prepared for cold/wet weather this early and didn't have the right boots or gloves. We were so getto out there -- the kids had one layer of gloves, then plastic baggies, then 2 pairs of socks over them on both their hands and feet! Haha! But it worked great! And, they came home with warm hands and feet even after being out for a long time.

We ended up staying in Thurs, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Nowhere had church around here and the roads were so bad still. By Monday I really needed to go to the grocery store and so we got out and made a Walmart run. It was empty there! I thought it might be packed because people were needing to get out, but it wasn't. I ended up doing my shopping for the whole week which was good because we ended up being in for 2 more days. I really thought we might have school on Wednesday, but it was cancelled again. That made for an entire week out of school -- with a weekend in there! I know that we will be struggling come spring semester when we have to make these days up, but it was so so fun to have a week at home before Christmas with all of us here!

Even though Matt worked a ton of the time, we still managed to have some fun. I cooked a lot of goodies and put some things in the freezer for Christmas. We played loads of games! Charlotte has discovered Uno and is quite a pro at it now. We spent hours around the table playing Uno, Sorry, Memory and more! I know that a lot of parents were ready for their kids to get out of the house and go back to school, and I was a little bit too. I had lots of things that I needed to finish up for the following week, but honestly, I loved every moment of being home! I'm a homebody and my happiest time is when we are all home together!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Baking Fun

While we were snowed in we made homemade play dough one day. We did both peppermint and gingerbread and they made the house smell wonderful! The kids have had the best time with this stuff-- it lasts so much longer than regular play dough and the consistency is much better. 

A random picture of Harrison decorating the tree this year.
The kids helped me unwrap caramels while I made turtles this year -- I think they only snuck a few. :)
We made thumbprints -- some with and some without nuts! They were quite a hit and the kids kept calling them "fingerprints." Made me laugh every time!

After all that gingerbread play dough -- they started asking for "real" gingerbread cookies. I gave them a try for the first time and, surprisingly, they loved them. Especially Charlotte. She is not at all my sweet eater -- she pretty much only likes ice cream -- but she loved these! They will definitely be made again!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Joy of Giving

One of the things we try to teach our kids -- not only at Christmas, but during the year as well -- is the joy of giving. We started a tradition just after Harrison was born that the kids would pick out gifts for each other, which we let them exchange on Christmas Eve. We chose to let them open these gifts early so that they can focus more on what they have been given and the gifts aren't lost in the sea of other presents.
We used some time over Thanksgiving break to take the kids shopping for their gifts to each other. We generally give them each a little bit of a "budget" to spend. This year, both Harrison and Madeleine came out ready to leave with their own money in had to spend on each other. Melted my heart! I love that they were willing to spend their very hard earned money on gifts for their siblings. Maybe we are doing something right after all. :) We ended up telling them that we had money set aside for them to spend, but I love that they were both standing there will all the money that they had in the world ready to be generous with it.
It took awhile to pick out gifts. They are all very choosy when it comes to gifts for each other. They all want to give a gift that the other will LOVE.
{On a side note -- Madeleine picked out a gift for Charlotte that she knew Charlotte would love, but that Madeleine also really wanted too. When it came Harrison's turn, he chose the same gift for Madeleine. So sweet! He knows his sister well!}
In our process of shopping, we discovered $1 little rolls of paper, bows and tags at Target. So they each also chose their own wrapping paper and bows as well this year which excited them!
As soon as we got home {and changed into our jammies, of course} they started wrapping. Madeleine was first and she's gotten to be quite the wrapper. :) She did almost all of it herself this year -- I'm so proud of her!

 Harrison. Oh, this sweet boy. He was the most particular about how his gifts were wrapped. I never thought he took much notice of how gifts were wrapped, but he wanted his ribbon put on certain ways and he wanted certain tags. It's so sweet that he cared so much about how his gifts were wrapped and he wanted them to look a certain way.

 I helped Charlotte do most of hers but she was able to do the tags herself. And, my was she proud of those gifts under the tree!
This is probably my very favorite tradition that we do with the kids. While we give to others during the holiday season, we don't generally get to see them open those gifts. This lets the kids see someone they love, opening the special gift that is just from them and they get to see their face and excitement. When Christmas Eve rolls around, they are always more excited about seeing their gift being opened, than actually opening a gift themselves. And, that is just the way that it should be.

Friday, December 6, 2013

3rd Annual North Pole Breakfast

The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become our annual North Pole Breakfast day -- the day that our elf arrives {in style, might I add!}.
We found this package on our doorstep the night before -- straight from the North Pole and the big man himself! 
 The kids were sooo excited to go to bed that night and see what might be there in the morning. They woke up to a fun table set and some surprises.

Hermie {our elf} had made his traditional snowmen donuts for the kids. He'd also left books and an ornament to paint for each of them, along with a letter from him. They each also got a "big gift" from the north pole to help them count down to Christmas.

Charlotte got a new Max and Ruby Christmas book that we've read almost daily since then.  She also got Christmas set of Melissa and Doug cookies. She plays with her M&D cookies that she has all the time and it's such fun to have a special set just for Christmas. {And, I have to add that they are too, too cute!}.
 Madeleine got 2 new books as well -- A Laura Ingles Christmas stories book and an AG Kit Christmas book. She also got a Lego Friends Advent Calendar to count down the days until Christmas.
 Harrison got an Arthur Christmas book and an Elf on the Shelf activity book as well as a Lego City Advent Calendar. These are the cutest advent calendars -- every day they open a little door and get a new person or something cute to build!

 This little guy was watching over it all.

 They had to paint their ornaments right away! They are proudly hanging on the tree right now.

This is one of my favorite traditions and such a fun way to kick off our Christmas season!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Week

I don't have a ton of pictures from the start of our Thanksgiving week -- the screen on my phone went out and I had to send off for a new one (but, I was very thankful this Thanksgiving that we'd bought the insurance on it!) and I didn't get it back until later in the week.
Our Thanksgiving week was different this year. I have to admit, that it never really felt like Thanksgiving to me. We had tons of fun, but it just wasn't quite the same. We spent the first couple of days of the week at home -- Matt is trying to finish his lit review for his dissertation and I was doing some baking to get ready for later in the week.
We actually celebrated Thanksgiving on Wednesday this year. It was our year to be with Matt's family and some of his family couldn't be there on Thursday, so we all met on Wednesday to have our Thanksgiving dinner. Like I said, it was tons of fun to be with everyone! We had a great time with Grammy and Pops and sweet Uncle Cameron spent the afternoon chasing our kids around the backyard! They are still talking about the fun that they had with him!
We headed home late Wednesday. We got up Thursday morning and did some fun things to try and make our day special. I'll admit that I did have myself a good cry that morning -- to me the biggest part of Thanksgiving is being with your family and I was so sad that we didn't get to be with any of our family that day. My biggest consolation in all of this is that Matt has promised me that from this point on we will be spending the real Thanksgiving day with at least one of our families. So, we tried to make the best of this year. I made a HUGE thanksgiving breakfast. We knew that we wanted to stay in Searcy as long as possible and that would make it impossible for me to get home and prepare a thanksgiving meal for us on Thursday (all that prep that goes into it would be too much) so I decided to do a big ol' breakfast. And, what a feast we had! We had omelet casserole, cinnamon rolls, paris puffins, fruit, bacon, sausage and biscuits. It was quite a feast!

 We followed up breakfast with some family fun. We watched the end of the Macy's Parade which the kids actually loved! I was surprised that it kept their attention but we all had a great time watching it! Then, we played games for a couple of hours and had such a good time! One of the things we like to do as a family -- and do a LOT -- is play games and we are getting pretty competitive. :)

 Then later that afternoon we headed to the movie to see Frozen. I was the one that was really pushing to go see the movie because I thought it was something that we would all enjoy and it didn't disappoint! It was sooooo good! We got a huge bowl of popcorn and candy and that was our "thanksgiving dinner." Ha!

The kids have been singing the songs from Frozen all week and I've put them on my phone and we can jam to them all the time!
It was a very unconventional thanksgiving for sure. But, we made the best of it and we taught our kids a big lesson in the process -- that sometimes we do things that are hard on us because they are important to someone else. And, we do it with a smile and a good attitude. I'm thankful this year that we had the opportunity to teach them this lesson and I know that next year I'll be doubly thankful to get to spend thanksgiving day with family.