Saturday, December 18, 2010

These are a few of my favorite (Christmas) things

Okay, so I'm feeling Scroogish, and I hate to shop, so here are a few of my favorite Christmasy things (off the top of my sleep-deprived head). I'm trying to feel the Christmas spirit here! :^)

  • candlelight church services
  • getting to wear my jingle bell earrings
  • little girls in velvet with poinsettias in their hair
  • the Nutcracker
  • dressing up
  • our Jesus' Birthday party
  • the glow of Christmas tree lights
  • my nativity on the piano
  • the Little People's nativity which Bella presses to play "Away in a Manger" over and over
  • gingerbread creamer - and chocolate mint
  • The Polar Express and The Nativity Story - especially the scene where Elizabeth greets Mary

What are some of your favorite things?

graphic was a free sample from Dover Publications

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bella Gracie is a helper!

I came in from a freeeezing cold run to the store last night to a verrry hungry Bella. I said to everyone that I needed help unloading the Walmart bags and then we could eat. Brian got up to help, and I don't recall much help from the other children, but Bella astonished us. My petite 19 month old dragged each Walmart bag - probably about ten of them - through the living room to the kitchen one at a time. She also helped unload them. My favorite was turning around to see her standing on a step stool manhandling the loaf of bread up onto the counter above her head. What a good helper!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Daddy's Strong Today!

This was Anna's joyful deduction as she watched Brian and Bella dance around the living room to his new favorite song. He lasted a few rounds on this cold day in December, and that is certainly reason to rejoice!

Ethan's back!

Visit his blog here.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Believer

Ethan: "Mom, doesn't Santa only deliver to children?"
Anna: "No! He delivers to believers. People who don't believe get coal. I don't get coal; I'm a believer...(quickly turns into the Monkees melody)."

Santa's friends

Friday, December 03, 2010

Free Family Christmas Activites

There are so many nice things to do. The Nutcracker, Christmas living history events and activities, school performances of Christmas plays, parties.... But inevitably most come with a small price tag. A $5 or $10 very good price tag. But times 3 or 4 kids and a few different activities and the price tag about equals the cost of their Christmas gifts.

So this year I'm being very choosy about where I spend those $5 or $10, and I'm going to focus on all of the free activities, some that we've done before and maybe some that we haven't.

  1. Make an Advent Jesse Tree. Use Ann's free devotional. Make a paper tree - I used a big sheet of brown packing paper, use a little Christmas tree, use a branch from the burn pile. Your kids will love it, I promise.
  2. A Christmas nature walk. We're planning to do this with our nature club (if anyone else is willing to part with some time this month to join us.) We'll be looking for holly, mistletoe, fir trees and other things that remind us of the season. And I'm hoping that we might find a nice location where we might even be able to collect and bring some of our finds home.
  3. Christmas parades. Sure the big city ones are nice, but there's something about a small town atmosphere - and the ability to actually see the parade, that's left us happier with the smaller ones around.
  4. A living nativity. I think that most areas have these if you look for them. Our area actually has drive through nativities as well as two walk-through-Bethlehem events. One of them is new this year and much closer than the other one. We thought we were going to miss the one we've been going to because the children have choir performances both nights, so I'm glad to have found another one. They are all free church-sponsored events and one of the highlights of Christmas for my kids.
  5. Surprise Pajama Christmas Lights. Instead of just driving past neighborhood light displays, put your kids to bed a little early, if possible, then, after everyone's in bed, but before they have a chance to fall asleep, yell, "Christmas lights! Christmas lights!" and pile into the van for a tour of the best neighborhoods. Travel mugs of hot chocolate are a nice touch.
  6. Christmas Carolling. This is becoming a lost art. I think people are just too busy to organize it. If you can grab some friends, do, but we usually just go as a family. One year we just stopped at a small neighborhood we were driving past on the way home from practice and sang at about ten houses, another year we chose a few friends to serenade as part of our pajama Christmas light run, and another year we shared a short Christmas program version of Bible verses and carols with our closest neighbors around us on every side.
  7. Christmas Books. We have a couple of boxes of these in the attic that we swap out with regular books. We like to read longer books together as well as storybooks. This year, Brian's reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe at bedtime. I know Father Christmas makes an appearance, but I'm still not sure it qualifies as a Christmas book, but it's making them happy. But we've enjoyed The Bird's Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol, and many other longer holiday stories. Don't forget Christmas books on tape or CD from the library. We'll be listening to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on our Christmas trip this year - can you believe I've never read that?!
  8. Christmas Movies. We have a bit of a movie collection, so we have lots to choose from. I like to watch as many as possible during the season. Sing a long videos are a great way to learn Christmas songs and carols. Don't have a collection? Your library probably does. If you don't have tv or cable. Hulu has a bunch of movies online. The Hallmark channel posts free holiday movies at Christmastime too. And YouTube? You never know what you'll find there, but making Christmas playlists of music videos is really fun.

That should get you started, but don't forget simple Christmas crafts, baking, church Christmas programs and candlelight Christmas Eve services. Simple activities with nativities. I'll share some more ideas sometime. Click on the Christmas label for other Christmas ideas, 'kay?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas Tea

I know it sounds kind of weird, but, oh, yum.
Eggnogg'n Tea is a blend of black and green tea with all those delicious sweet spices that give eggnog that fabulous smell.
The only complaint I have is that it's not caffeine free. I prefer caffeine free teas because, well, I like it better when the kids I send to bed actually fall asleep. Call me crazy.
Our favorite teas right now are some very relaxing caffeine free chamomile blends by Celestial Seasonings - Sweet Apple Chamomile and Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea. And this from a girl that's never been a big fan of chamomile tea, but everyone loves these, and I really do think that the kids go to bed relaxed and fall asleep faster.
Next up? Ginger Snappish. I'll let you know.