Sunday, December 25

Friday, December 23

Holiday Visitors

We have some extra-special guests staying with us right now: Aunt Ramona, cousin Christopher, and in-utero baby boy "Nugget"!  Christopher is about 9 months younger than Luke and a year older than Jack, so they stair-step down and have lots of fun together!  Yesterday we made some oatmeal cookies and played around the house, today we had haircuts (by Aunt Stephanie) and went to look at Christmas lights in pajamas.  They are all very anxious for Christmas to be here!









Cousins

Sunday, December 18

Our Christmas Tree

Jack's first year to help hang ornaments.  He enjoying pulling everything out of the box!
Sunday night, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we decorated our tree.  It's not really a tradition for us to decorate it at a certain time, we just hadn't really gotten around to it yet!  It was kind of nice having it empty though- well, with only the lights- because I haven't had to worry about kids or cats pulling ornaments off!  I am now happy with the way our home is decorated this year, it was feeling very empty until we got our tree last weekend.  I bought a lot of fake poinsettias this year and I love them, they add so much color, are so festive, and look so fabulous against our new gray walls.  In fact, they were the inspiration for us to paint our half-bathroom a cranberry-red color!  It's intense but I love it! 

A Birthday Party

Miss Bethany will be celebrating her FIFTH birthday in 9 days, but because of the date we held a birthday party with her friends on Saturday the 17th.  This was her very first "friend" party, all girls, and oh-so-girly. :-)  A long time ago she wanted a Fancy Nancy-themed party, so we made some uber-cute birthday invitations and we took the Fancy Nancy, French, pink and purple theme and ran with it!  We requested each girl wear her most exquisite ensemble and we gave out boas, "pearl" necklaces, and sunglasses (that all broke!) to each of the girls upon her arrival.  We played "Fancy Freeze Dance" where the girls had to make a funny pose when I suddenly would stop the music, and Beth would choose the girl with the silliest pose.  We also played "don't let the balloon touch the ground," a game that every kid I've ever met loves!  After playing and dancing a bit, the girls sat down for a fancy lunch- chicken salad sandwiches, veggies and dip, chocolate-dipped pretzels, cookies, and strawberry lemonade out of champagne glasses!  After lunch the girls played some more until we decided to open gifts.  Beth was, as you can imagine, incredibly excited about this, and waiting for it the entire day!  She received a LOT of Fancy Nancy books and activity books, a small Yorkie in a carrying bag, a Lalaloopsy doll, and a couple of craft kits.  Fabulous gifts!  After presents we sang "Happy Birthday" and had cake, then slowly the girls went home.  Beth absolutely loved her birthday party!  Thank you to all the little girls and their Mommies who made the drive to our home to help us celebrate!

The table, complete with an Eiffel tower in the middle!

Thursday, December 15

Flashcards

"I can see the cat"
We've been trudging along with school here, some days are more organized than others but every day offers so many built-in learning opportunities.  Beth is most excited by numbers and handwriting, and I've got to say her handwriting is already better than Ryan's. ;-)  Recently she's lost interest in continuing her reading lessons so I've stopped using the book because I want her to stay excited about it.  Instead we've been using homemade flashcards (which she LOVES) with sight words that she's familiar with, and I'm introducing new words every week.  The other day she surprised me by grabbing the flashcards and building a sentence, "I can see the cat."  She was so proud of herself, so I had to take a photo!

Here's a video from a week or two ago.  Beth is reciting "Singing Time" by Rose Fyleman.  Ryan set up the playroom to resemble a stage and theater, and of course Luke wanted to participate too...

Wednesday, December 14

St. Nicholas Day

Last week we had a little visit from St. Nicholas!  The kids prepared by writing letters and drawing pictures, and helping me bake some cookies to leave out.  Beth was incredibly excited to see what would happen, and she was amazed to see the goodies he left behind.  We had been reading books, watching the Veggie Tales St. Nicholas DVD, and talking all week about St. Nick.  They knew that he was known to help people out in secret, which is why he'd visit us at night while we were sleeping.  St. Nick left everyone oranges, candy canes, gingersnap cookies, new books for everyone, and some little flying model airplane thingies.  St. Nick wasn't able to find gluten-free gold coins this year. :-(  He'll have to plan better next year!


checking it out when they woke up and came downstairs

the aftermath.  three new books each for the kids, a new book for mommy by kimberly hahn, and daddy got a new grill brush- ha!
After they had some cookies we had planned to feast on a crockpot breakfast casserole I had been cooking all night, but it burned so we had our regular breakfast of oatmeal and frozen waffles! 

Next year, I hope to do things a little differently.  I think I'd like for St. Nick to bring a bigger gift for each child, something they'll get super-excited about...Books are nice but I didn't get the impact I was wanting from them, lol.  I want them to also write a letter to Jesus and ask St. Nick to bring it to him.  Then we'll have a breakfast that hopefully won't be burned, and have a fun morning playing with their new toys- sort of like a mini-Christmas. 

They won't be getting presents from Santa this year, or ever. We've told them that Saint Nicholas brings presents on December 6th to the children who believe in him, and that other children who call him "Santa" will receive gifts on December 25th.  I feel horribly funny "deceiving" my children by telling them someone came into our house to bring presents, but there's the element of childhood fantasy and fun that I don't want them to miss out on either.  I feel like St. Nick is the compromise between reality and fantasy, and after the discussion Beth told me she liked getting her gifts from St. Nick on December 6 instead of on Christmas day since she'll be getting presents from other people on Christmas day anyways.  Ha!  So much for the message of the true meaning of Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things!

Since Christmas is soon and gift buying is well underway, I thought I'd do a silly post about all of the favorite toys we've had around here for the past almost-5 years!  There are several toys in our home that have withstood the test of time, a few have surprised me quite a bit and other "classic" toys were worth the extra money to have a well-made toy.

For Beth's first birthday, a friend of the family gave her a Leapfrog Fridge DJ.  I thought it was dumb and intended to return it but it somehow became Beth's car toy, and she played with that thing every day in her car during all of our drives.  It stayed in the car and she loved it.  As she's gotten older, she now can sing along with all of the songs and the silly thing still entertains her!  Both Luke and Jack love it too, so it's gotten a lot of use!

Saturday, December 3

A tool bench!


Look what Ryan and his dad built today!  A real tool bench!  Actually, for an anniversary gift in JULY, I surprised Ryan by finding online plans and buying all of the materials for him to do this.  However, I don't really need to say that it's too hot to work in the garage in July, and we've been so busy... Well, it's better late than never!  He has a sturdy tool bench now and we're hoping to actually organize the garage a bit now.  Doesn't it look great?!  They worked all day, I'm so proud of him!
 
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