Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Although he's only been alive less than four years, Luke has managed to master the art of chameleon-like hair changes. I have lost count of the numerous ways he has been able to change his appearance with the mere flick of a brush, wearing of a hat, or night's sleep on the wrong side of the bed.

A few examples ...

Sweaty helmet hair

Alfalfa hair
Pat Riley hair
And the always popular I-do-it-myself hair
A regular James Bond, that Luke. Who knew such trickery could be performed by someone so young?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We hope you are all blessed with love, laughter, family, friends, and joy this season!

Friday, December 21, 2012






Can't believe my babies are one whole hand old! Happy Birthday Peyton, Sam, and Adah!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


We've been going strong with our Advent calendar activities these past couple of weeks. Surprisingly, we've done pretty well accomplishing most of the activities we plan for each day. Here are a few highlights of how we celebrated the Advent season ...

We read the Christmas story from the book of Luke in the Bible. Although the kids listened (well, mostly listened), I think they prefer their version from the Jesus Storybook Bible. That's ok, at least we know they understand the story.

We went to breakfast with Santa at the kids' preschool and we also visited a live nativity at one of our local churches. The goats were a hit.

We also got a bit crafy and made some Christmas tree crafts. Johnny came to visit with elf donuts one morning and we got to make snowmen donuts of our own later that afternoon.

Other fun activities included spending time with grandparents, watching some Christmas movies, shopping for food to take to the local food pantry, and a Christmas scavenger hunt that spanned the entire campus at Daddy's work! In the last few days, we've gotten to make our gingerbread houses too.

Tonight we're off to volunteer at Christmas for the City in downtown Winston Salem. We had a great get together with our small group a few days ago to make cookies for the event. The kids are excited to get into the Christmas spirit tonight (if it's even possible to be more into the spirit than they are now) and share some fun and fellowship with people from all over the city.

As a side note, I wanted to express how saddened I am by the tragedy of the school shooting last week in Connecticut. I know we are all constantly lifting up prayers for those who are suffering, and I pray that we will continue to remember them once all of the media attention has died down and they are all still left with empty holes in their hearts. I truly cannot imagine their pain, but I know that  we live in a world where love and hope can overcome all evil. As if I should even need a reminder, Friday's events have me hugging my kids tighter and savoring moments with them than much more.

Hug someone you love today, you won't regret it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Picture of the Week - December 17

Shorter days this time of year mean more opportunities to watch the sun set.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Christmas Balancing Act

 *Disclaimer - I am not for or against elves or Santa. I think it's an individual decision that each family needs to make. This is simply my view on why our family believes what we believe at Christmastime.

Recently, I've seen lots of articles and blog posts about the actual celebration practices surrounding Christmas. Things like Santa and Elf on the Shelf all have their supporters and adversaries. I recently read an article by a woman that gave several reasons why her family does not have an Elf on the Shelf. Some of the reasons (using bribery to get good behavior, refusal to jump on the bandwagon) I could understand. Others (not having time to move the elf every night, telling lies to your kids), I couldn't really agree with.

Well, I figured there were so may opinions out there on this topic that I would weigh in with my own. Our family celebrates Christmas with Santa and we do own an elf (Johnny) that my children believe in. I am also a Christian who understands and believes that the real reason for celebrating Christmas is bound to my Lord and Savior coming to earth as a baby so that 33 years later he could die for my sins. Do I believe that Jesus is the true reason for the season? Yes. Do I teach this truth to my children? Yes. Do they know that Christmas is Jesus' birthday? Of course.

I believe. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the simplicity of Christmas. I believe that Christmas has been tremendously commercialized over the last 2000 years. I believe that love, family, truth, and joy are to be lauded and emphasized during this time.

BUT ...

I also believe in childhood. I believe in innocence, awe, and wonder. I believe in magic and fairy tales. I believe in thinking happy thoughts and pixie dust. I believe in elves and a magical land where snow blankets the earth and snowmen come to life.

Does this mean I decide to lie to my kids when I tell them about Santa? Well, yes, I guess it does. I don't buy the argument that "I don't believe in lying to my kids about a man in a red suit who brings presents." I don't remember feeling anger towards my parents when I found out the truth about Santa, but I remember feeling sad. Sad that the magic was over and that a piece of my childhood was gone. Sad that I would no longer get butterflies at Christmas Eve service. Sad that I wouldn't be straining my ears all night to hear the bells of Santa's reindeer. Looking back, I think I knew I was growing up and that made me long for some of those simpler days when belief was simple and easy.

Children are born with wonder in their hearts. Our belief in magic and the impossible is so fleeting, something only alive for 5, 6, or 7 years of our lifetime. Why would I squelch that? Why would I limit their imaginations and ability to truly believe in something with all of their hearts? I wouldn't do that, so I don't. I let them believe and I let them wonder. I contribute to the magic because watching it through their eyes makes me feel alive. It gives me FAITH, and it awakens my faith in Jesus as well. Faith in a Savior that provides me with joy, awe, and wonder. A Savior who smiles at the wonderment in my own eyes when he see that I believe in Him, the same way that I smile at the wonderment in my own kids' eyes when they truly BELIEVE.

Christmas is meant to be magical. Magic sent through the gift of a Savior and commercially perpetuated by things like Santa and elves. My family chooses to embrace the magic while also embracing the truth of the most precious gift God could ever give us, His son.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breakfast With Santa

This past weekend was our 3rd annual Breakfast With Santa at the kids' preschool. Luckily we will still be able to attend next yeat because Luke will still be going there, but what are we going to do the year after that? I may have Santa withdrawal ... the mall Santa just won't cut it. As my kids know, the Santa that comes to school is the REAL Santa, all those other guys dressed up as Santa are just his happy helpers.

I thought it would be fun to see the Santa pictures from our last three years at the breakfast, so here they are:



I love love love that we see the same Santa every year. I think it makes things more real for the kids. We didn't get the greatest picture this year, but that's ok. Santa was trying to get all the kids to look at the camera so he was trying the waving tactic. Good idea, but people waving doesn't exactly lend itself to a good picture.

The kids had fun sharing their lists. Santa also made sure to let them know exactly what to leave for him when he comes on Christmas Eve. In case you were wondering, it's cookies, milk, carrots for the reindeer, and an apple for Rudolph (he totally improvised on that last one).

They even got to see Santa's super cool watch that plays "Jingle Bells" on cue.

After our visit, it was time for fun crafts, activities, and (my favorite part) the breakfast treats!

 As always, we had such a great time. The preschool does such a wonderful job with this event and I will be so sad when my kids will have aged out of it. But, for now, we still get to go and experience a little bit of Christmas magic (with a side helping of sausage balls and donuts)!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Picture of the Week - December 9

Girl already knows how to accessorize ...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent for Preschoolers

We've had an advent calendar for a couple of years now, but it's basically served as a countdown to Christmas and nothing more. This year, I felt like the kids were old enough to start grasping the real meaning of the Advent season and have tried to incorporate these teachings into our Advent calendar.

Each morning, they open up another door in our Advent calendar to see what the activity of the day will be. I've tried to mix things up and make them a combinations of fun family activities, Christmas memory activities, and ways to help and serve others. We wanted to put an emphasis on joy, family, love, and giving during this season, so that is what we are trying to cover through each day's activity.

So far this month, we've written a letter to Santa, gone to the Children's Home to celebrate their Christmas tree lighting, made peppermint play dough and taken it to school to share with our classmates, made salt dough ornaments to decorate our tree, and learned about St. Nicolas (who also left us some goodies in our shoes this morning on St. Nicolas Day!). So far, it had been a lot of fun. I've tried to mix things up so we're doing something new every day but nothing too stressful or involved. So far, so good!

Making our salt dough ornaments

Tonight we're off to one of our favorite Christmas traditions, the Tanglewood Festival of Lights! I'll be sure to fill everyone in on the rest of our Advent activities as they happen (and so I can remember for future years!). Let me know if you have any good Advent activities or teachings, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


A few weeks ago ...

Me: "So, what do you guys want for breakfast? There's cereal, pancakes, eggs ..."

Sam: "I want pancakes!"

Me: "Ok. Luke, what about you?"

Luke: "I don't want any of dose (translation: those)."

Me: "Well, that's all we have. What do you want instead?"

Luke: "I don't want pancakes. I want awfuls!"

Who knew waffles were so "awful"?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Picture of the Week - December 2

Sugar  C

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Christmas Tree Farm

Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, has already come and gone. I still find it hard to believe that we insist on cramming all that eating into just one day. Wouldn't it make more sense to have four full days of feasting since everyone has that time off? But I lost that battle and we had to limit the eating to just one day.

The days after Thanksgiving were spent prepping for the big one ... Christmas. The kids have really gotten into decorating this year and by the time the weekend was over, we had two big trees, two little trees, a train, and a myriad of Christmas decorations adorning both the inside and outside of our house. And all of it began on Friay at the Christmas tree farm.

We have never cut down our own Christmas tree, but it's something we knew we wanted to start as a family tradition once the kids were old enough. Well, this year was the year and we all piled in the car on Friday for the quick hour trip up to Motsinger Farms. This time of the year just re-emphasizes to me what a great part of the country we live in. Getting to watch the beautiful colors and weather of fall and then being able to head up to the mountains to pick our own tree are just a few of the things that living in North Carolina affords us.

Thanksgiving was jam packed, so the boys saved their Thanksgiving day naps for on the way to the farm.

 The kids were ready to go as soon as we arrived. They wanted a BIG tree, something we were able to do this year with higher ceilings in the new house.

So we headed out on our hunt. We knew what type of tree we wanted ...

Looking ...

... and looking ...

They thought they had found it, but it was a bit small.

Found it!

Then we had to cut it (with some help, the felt saws the kids brought didn't make much of a dent), haul it, net it, and tie it to the top of the car.

We had so much fun! Everyone got to enjoy some apple cider and candy canes at the end as well. What a fun way to get our tree and something that we intend to make a tradition from year to year.

One the way back, we stopped at an overlook to take in the view.

What a great place to live ...

And what a great bunch that I'm blessed to live with!

Merry Christmas!