Friday, December 21, 2012

Advent festivities and decor

Well, I am almost done with our Christmas prep. The presents are bought and in piles and bags and boxes in our closet. Lots of sorting and wrapping to do still (and one more homemade project for me) but it's coming together. The house needs a major cleaning (top to bottom) and then I will feel ready. My parents are making an unexpected visit this year (I asked them sorta last minute) and we couldn't be happier. We are so excited to have them with us for our loud and crazy Christmas morning. They are in for some fun - and lots of laughter and screaming (we are a loud bunch). Shh...don't tell the kids but there will be lots of games under the tree this lots of gaming will be going on here.

The elf on our shelf has been busy - not in creative ways like one sees all over the internet - but I actually haven't missed a day of hiding him in a new ("Mom, these aren't so hard") spots. My secret? My phone alarms at 6:15 each day to remind me in case I forgot the night before. I need to do tooth fairy alarms next time she's needed. I stink at tooth fairy-ing.

The Christmas cards are out. This has been a tradition that I have been slowly giving up. We get so few cards anymore and most years it is just a stress to get the right picture, pick the right card, and get them all addressed and out.

I do enjoy seeing my friends' pictures each year and watching their families grow and grow up, so I am torn about giving up the whole card thing.

We have always just sent long distance cards, and now with Facebook, I feel less motivated to do the whole card thing. Most years I use coupons to get a deal on the cards but end up spending my savings on expedited shipping since I have procrastinated so long and am so late...haha. Last year we took off from doing cards to save the money. This year we sent the cards to announce our adoption.

The Santas are out...

The Nutcrackers are out...

The tree is up with all our sweet handmade-by-our-kids ornaments and all the others that are so sentimental...

sorry for the blurry effect

Jesus is prominent - I hope. Each year I put less and less decorations out and more and more out that point to  "Jesus." This year a friend even gave us an extra sign she had (I had commented on hers). For years I have wanted a sign or something outside that just said "Jesus." After all, wreaths and greenery, and lights and all the colorful outdoor decor - really don't directly celebrate the reason we even have Christmas. They are pretty and wintery, but not about Jesus.

So this year we have a Jesus sign in the yard (even spotlighted - John's idea)! I am so happy about it. We live at the front of a large circle so everyone drives by our house. Praying that it will give neighbors (and myself each day) a gentle reminder to remember the reason we celebrate, decorate, and give our gifts.

Christmas music is playing here all day and school is sorta out for my homeschooled kids. College classes and exams are over for Drew (he rocks - his hard work paid off!). We had planned to do school all week but the little girls were home sick on Monday so we lounged around with them. We will do a few schooling items as the week draws to a close but mostly I will get all the wrapping and cleaning done so we can enjoy being together doing some of the family traditions - a drive through town to look at lights, making yummy Christmas cookies and sharing some with neighbors, and making a gingerbread house.
Last year's cookies

Last year's gingerbread house

We had a Christmas party here last Sunday with our lifegroup and, luckily, we haven't been inundated with lots of holiday gatherings and parties this year to fill up the schedule. It is a more peaceful December than ever before (last year we had Nutcracker practices and performances all through December). I'm loving it. We have even had the chance this year to do a weekly advent candle lighting during our family night - reading parts of the first Christmas story from the Bible, and watching pieces of The Nativity Story movie. Lovin' that too...

As the year draws closer to a close, I realize that through the stress of parenting and schooling, the exhaustion of days of teaching and driving all over and what seems like non-stop disciplining, that I am living my dream. I am blessed and in love with my life. I am "expecting" another blessing in the next year and can hardly believe the exciting path that the Lord has led our family to. Lest you think things are perfect around here (and I realize that some of my writing might lead you to think that), please know that things here are never perfect. Days are often chaotic and messy and noisy and hard. Our kids are normal kids (if Santa really did the coal thing, some might find that on Christmas morning). We fail miserably at times around here - both the parents and the kids. We need to be constantly reminded how to love each other - and how we need a Savior. There are disappointments, tears, and trials, but through it all, I still see the blessing that this life is.

Merry CHRISTmas to all!

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