On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve Morning 2009

Santa came to our house early this year.  Christmas Eve morning to be exact.

It may look like he arrived early because his sleigh was too full with all of the gifts, but in reality, Daddy has a special "in" with Santa and made arrangements for an alternate delivery date due to the fact that he had to work on Christmas day, and we couldn't very well open presents without Daddy. Originally, Santa was going to postpone delivery until the 27th - really very nice of him since he is supposed to be on vacation by then.  However, Daddy was blessed with the whole day off on December 24 so he made a last minute call to Santa and delivery was arranged.  Of course, Caedmon and Libby weren't aware of all of this Daddy/Santa communication.  It was done in secret - phone calls? texts? emails?  Who knows?  However, we did hear the sleigh bells in the early hours of December 24th and were excited to awake to a houseful of gifts.  Santa even moved the tree from the foyer to the living room.

We enjoyed a relaxing morning of opening and playing with presents.  In our household, Santa brings one special gift and he delivers gifts from our family who are spread out around the country.  This year, Caedmon requested a teddy bear from Santa...and boy did his elves come through!  "New Bear" is big and soft and extra cozy to cuddle with and he brought along a Monkey friend for Libby.

Here are some other fun glimpses of our Christmas morning:

Oh...and one more gift that Caedmon asked for and received (sorry to all of you who weren't blessed by this one!):

Preparing Young Hearts for Christmas, Part II

Each morning, Caedmon awoke with anticipation of taking another ring off our advent activity chain. The "curriculum" I used provided a Bible verse, a recommended book (and/or Bible reading) and a craft/activity for each day of December. I had gathered the books and art supplies prior to December 1st, and I tried to stay on top of prepping the night before - unfortunately, that didn't always happen.

I will admit that my enthusiasm waned in the last week and the activities were somewhat sparse. It didn't help that several of the books were out of print and cost too much to make it worthwhile to buy. (I know, I should have checked the library. That is something I have yet to do well...but perhaps a goal for the coming year.) Caedmon didn't notice too much since that last week included a visitor - Aunt Heather - and all of the holiday hoopla (i.e., a visit from Santa and lots of gifts). And, despite my less than enthusiastic ending, we probably did more crafty things in the first 3 weeks than we have in Caedmon's first 3 1/2 years of life (not including art group).

I tried to use The Message to read the Bible passages that corresponded with each day. That was probably the most challenging part of the month. Caedmon was super excited about the picture books and the crafts, but it was really hard to keep his attention at Bible time. Granted, we already read to him from 3 different children's Bibles throughout the day (during morning wake-up, before nap and before bed). Still, I tried to be persistent in reading and asking some comprehension questions...and I reminded myself that he is ONLY 3. I'm sure he got something from it, right?

The picture book time was a definite highlight. We tried to include Libby as much as possible but some of the books were too long to keep her attention. Her favorite was Ezra Jack Keats' version of The Little Drummer Boy . She still asks for it to be read at least once a day. She calls it "Little Drum" and pats her legs on that "rum pa pum pum" parts. Caedmon's two favorites were Mary's First Christmas by Walter Wangerin Jr. and The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walberg. Mary's First Christmas could probably be considered Caedmon's first read aloud chapter book. It was 4 chapters that was read over 5 days of lessons. It is a sweet retelling of Jesus' birth from the perspective of Mary, who is telling a young Jesus about it. I think it will be a Christmas favorite of ours for years to come. We're building quite a Christmas library, and I look forward to pulling these books off the shelves each Advent and adding to our collection.

Some of Caedmon's crafts are displayed above his bed in his room (they are pictured at the top of the post). He and I also made Christmas cookies, both sugar and gingerbread, which he enjoyed decorating! They were supposed to be delivered to friends but we ate most of them. We did send a plate home with one family and several to "daddy's work friends."

He also really enjoyed making a "gingerbread" nativity with Pappy. The lesson plans offered a print out of a nativity to build or a crafty construction paper picture of the nativity but I opted to try to find something else. I had been contemplating gingerbread house decorating this season so when I found these graham cracker mangers on Mom's Toolbox, it was the perfect compromise...made even better by a creative grandfather who helped with design. Note: Baby Jesus is a green peanut M&M. I figured Jesus would understand that as a little love from C, since his favorite color is green.

Another fun activity was our card making. We used strips of paper to make a Christmas tree and then decorated it with a pencil eraser dipped in paint. The painting is what made it a highlight for Big C. He also worked hard to write his name on each card and dictated the message to be written in each. They were really precious, and I hope the recipients enjoyed them as much as he enjoyed making them.

Although it wasn't directly related to our Advent homeschool, one other Advent activity we did this month is What God Wants For Christmas. We did it over the course of 7 days with the 7th day being Christmas. Each day there is a box to open and a poem to read and it tells the Christmas story. There is also a nativity scene which is filled up over the course of the 7 days, using the gifts in each box. I think Caedmon will "get it" more in the years to come but it was another good way to direct our focus on Jesus.

Overall, Caedmon and I really enjoyed our month of Advent homeschool. We will definitely do some version of it next year. I'm not sure if I'll do use the same lessons or look for something new. I enjoyed glancing at The Crafty Crow and their Christmas Picture Book Advent and I may use that next year, at least to grab a few new books and a craft idea or two. It will be fun to see how much more involved Libby will be next year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Traditions 2009, Part II

I had great intentions of journaling our Christmas preparations and celebrations throughout the season.  Instead, I find myself trying to squeeze in a few minutes post-Christmas to share all of the hours of fun we've had.  December was packed full of fun!  More Christmas Traditions include...

Decorating our live tree:
Yes, that crazy live tree adventure did end with a beautifully decorated tree!  We enlisted the help of Pappy and are quite pleased with the result:

The North Pole Express:
A nearby town hosts an annual Christmas train ride on their vintage railroad.  I took Caedmon on a similar style Thomas the Tank Engine ride their earlier this year.  Ever since my dad, a train buff, heard about the Christmas train ride he has wanted to take his fellow train lover on the ride.  This year he planned a trip to Texas to coincide with the annual event.  Thus, our whole family, including Pappy, enjoyed a ride on the North Pole Express.  The advertisement literature encouraged kids to come in their PJs but since it was quite chilly that morning, we opted to dress warm.  It was fun time, and something I'm sure we'll do again in the future...although probably not every year.

Moms and Kids Pajama Brunch:
This was our 2nd annual event.  It was quite a houseful.  I think we had over 50 people in our kitchen and living area.  It was well-controlled chaos, though, and I think most people had a great time.  We had plenty of yummy food and lots of pajama-clad kids running around.  The mommies, too, were in comfy clothes and enjoyed bits of conversation amidst keeping an eye on the kids.

A Birthday Party for Jesus:
Caedmon and Libby helped me bake a cake for Jesus.  My sister and I decorated it during naptime.  Then, after dinner on Christmas Day, we sang Happy Birthday (candle and all) and celebrated Jesus's Birthday because, after all, a birthday isn't a birthday without cake!!

Gaylord Texan ICE:
Dare I include our failed attempt to see ICE?  My sister has been wanting to see this amazing ICE sculpture exhibit since I first talked about it 4 Christmases ago.  Last year, the timing of her visit didn't allow for it, but this year it was on her "MUST DO" list.  We bought tickets for the morning of Christmas since Tom was working and we figured everyone else would be home opening gifts.  Alas, the weather was snowy and icy on Christmas eve and the roads were predicted to be nasty in the morning.  We called the Gaylord Texan and they assured us that our tickets were good for the entire day and we should just plan to arrive later.  Unfortunately, when we arrived later that afternoon, half of the Dallas-Fort Worth population had also arrived and it would be at least an hour wait - not a good idea with two small children.  Instead, we wondered around the train display for a while and headed home with a disappointed Aunt Heather and equally so, Caedmon.  Maybe next year...just not on Christmas day!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The First (& maybe ONLY) snow of Winter

I knew it was going to be a good day when my alarm clock (aka, my children) didn't go off until 6:30...but we were excited to have an extra special treat when we looked outside after breakfast and saw SNOW! Okay, I know you northerners are wondering what my breakfast was laced with, but snow in Texas is a rare occurrence. We're talking once a year, if we're lucky, and we usually have to wait until February, at least. On top of that, snow, here, never lasts more than a few hours - long enough to enjoy the beauty without the travel nightmare. So here it is, our Texas snowfall...

Tom teaching Caedmon to make a snowball:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Traditions 2009, part I

I can't believe it's December! Another year has passed and we're diving into the holiday craziness again. Last year, I really enjoyed starting some traditions with Caedmon, especially since he was beginning to really "get it." This year, we're adding to our list. We started yesterday with a fun outing to North Park Mall with the main objective of seeing the trains. Last year, everyone talked about the trains but I just didn't have the energy or even desire, to drag a 5 month old and a 2 1/2 year old across town to a mall in the middle of the Christmas shopping chaos. I either have more energy or have lost more of my marbles, because this year it sounded like lots of fun.

My friend Erin and I decided that perhaps a Monday, early in the season, would be less busy...and we were right! We had a fantastic time. We started with Santa story time.

Then, we enjoyed a p b & j lunch with the added benefit of a puppet show, followed by time to run off some energy.

After the story time, we inquired about visits with Santa. This mall has a very popular Santa (he's been working there for more than 20 years) so they have this whole number system set up. You get your number and they give you a rough estimate of when to return. Then, when you return you're supposed to have a 15 minute or less wait. Well, there system did not work out so well...or at least we ran into a day that had more than the usual interruptions. Originally, we were told it would be about an hour. We returned a few times and were told it wasn't our turn yet. Finally, almost 2 hours later, we returned only to be told that a news station had been filming & interviewing kids and slowed the lines so the wait would still be 30 minutes. We decided to tough it out. 30 minutes later, Santa needed a potty break and we still had a 15 minute wait ahead of us. Finally, I took the older to kids to see the trains, while Erin waited with the little ones. We got less than 10 minutes with the trains and it was our turn. Caedmon was a little wary about sitting on Santa's lap, but when it was time, he rose to the occasion. (Apparently, he told Santa that he wants a new teddy bear for Christmas...at least that's what he's told us at least 10 times since yesterday!) Libby was not as enthused by the man in the red suit as her big brother was...

Despite the frustrating Santa wait, we really enjoyed the day with our good friends. On the way home, Caedmon said, "That was the most fun lunch ever." I was kind of confused since it was peanut butter and jelly and pears, but when I asked him to explain, he said he had so much fun with Emery and Santa and the puppets and the trains. Christmas at North Park Mall is definitely a tradition we will continue.
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