Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jesus vs. Tradition

This Christmas I have had a unique struggle. Unique because I haven't experienced it before. Reconciling the truth that Christmas is really all about Jesus' birth and desiring to instill that truth in our children, while at the same time creating and/or continuing some fun Christmas traditions. We are keenly aware that we may only have 7 or 8 Christmases left with our oldest and the boys aren't far behind. So we are wanting to make the most of our family traditions and build strong, positive memories for our children. But in the "doing of tradition" we don't want it to take center stage and become what Christmas is all about. Has anyone else wrestled with this and come to a happy reconciliation? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Please know I am NOT saying that traditions are wrong. Many of our traditions revolve around Christ and an active celebration of His birth. But many don't. Some are just fun family things. When I think about Christmas, as a mom, those are usually what enters my mind first. Even though I know the meaning of Christmas goes much deeper than that. When our children are grown and look back on their childhood Christmas memories, what are they going to remember? What are they going to think of? What will mean the most to them? I know that family togetherness will be high on the list (as it should be). But where on the list will be the how of celebrating Christ's birth? How can we engage in the traditions without letting the traditions define Christmas? Maybe we need to start some new traditions that focus more on Christ?

Again, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve Night

We went to our church's Christmas Eve service at 4:30, then came home and watched the first half of It's a Wonderful Life while eating dinner in the family room. When everyone was finished eating, we had our own family devotions. My hubby likes to read the entire story of Jesus' first coming, starting with the prophecy of His coming in Isaiah, and finishing with the visit of the Magi. This is always a very special time for me, personally. This year we did something new and instead of just my hubby praying, we went around the room and everyone said outloud what they would say to Jesus if He were visible in our family room. That was very interesting for me, as a parent, to hear what each of the children had to say. Afterwards we dug into our presents!

Here is a delightful picture to start off with. ;-) Son G with the false teeth that one of his siblings gave him!



Little Man gave a sword to son G, and son G gave the very same sword to his brother L without knowing it!


Son G desperately wanted this telescoping stack of 150 crayons. When he grows into more expensive gifts I am going to miss these days!


Son C with his longed for playmobil set!



And son L with his longed for playmobil set.




Sons G and L, falling prostrate with joy on top of their most desired gift. And what would that be you ask?


The Lego "Agent Mobile Command Center". They almost didn't get this. It turned out to be one of the hot sellers this year, and was impossible to find in any store or at Lego.com. There were several on ebay but the auctions were ending at $50 plus over retail price. We finally found one on ebay that was a direct sale (not an auction) and only slightly over retail, so we snatched it up. We were so happy to be able to give this to them! It is really, really cool up close and personal. It does pretty much every single spy related thing you can think of.


Daughter G reading her gift certificate for 8 horse riding lessons!




And last but not least, Little Man with his Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree and velcro letters! We love the book, and he wanted to read it right away while putting the letters on the tree as I read them.


A few highlights for me were......

Little Man, looking around the church and then whispering to me as we sat at the candlelight Christmas Eve service, "God is here."

The huge hug I got from L after he received his playmobil set.

Son G saying, "thank you a million times" for the Lego Agent set he and L received. He said this every 15 minutes for the rest of the evening!

Christmas Eve Morning

The day before Christmas Eve we watched the four children of some dear friends of ours overnight. That was busy but lots of fun! They have 3 boys and 1 girl, and our children have been good friends their whole lives. Our oldest and their oldest were born one day apart! Their 9 year old daughter shared our daughter's room. Their 4 year old shared a room with our newly turned 4 year old. Those two boys are the best of friends and it was SO cute to watch their excitement at having a "sleep over"! Their 2 year old slept in a pack-n-play in our bedroom, leaving their 11 year old son to share a room with our 9, 8 and 6 year old boys. That was quite the experience! It was totally boy world in there. We stood outside the door for a few moments after tucking them all into bed, and smiled as we heard them gleefully exchanging lines from various movies. No grunting or scratching that we were aware of, but lots of boy bravado. :-)

The next morning we got all 9 children bundled up in winter gear and went outside to play and work off some "steam" (aka, energy!).









We didn't have time to go to our favorite sledding slope that day, so the boys improvised and sledded off the big piles of snow on each side of our driveway! It was a fun, fun time and we so appreciate the blessing of friendship.


video

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Overheard....

6 year old C, upon seeing what I was making for dinner: "I LOVE lasagna! It's at the top of my food chain!"

Sad News

Please pray for Sarah's family. Sarah was a 34 year old woman who died this morning after being diagnosed with cancer just weeks ago. She leaves behind a husband and 3 young daughters, as well as both parents and a brother and sister who all dearly love and miss her. I imagine this Christmas will be a blur as they prepare for her funeral, but in the weeks and months ahead as the reality sinks in and they struggle to adjust to their new normal, they will need God's grace and mercy as never before. If you feel so led, please lift this family up to the Lord. Thank you.

Being Nostalgic

I was going to post a few "then and now" pics of our Little Man for his birthday, but I remembered that I had done that last year. So I went and looked and sure enough, last year I was saying the same things I'm saying this year. Where does the time go????!!!?? This last year just FLEW by (remind me of that next time I'm discouraged about a stage one of my children seems to be stuck in, okay?). For your viewing pleasure, here is the link to a photo gallery of our Little Man that I originally posted last year:

http://journeyingwithjoy.blogspot.com/2007/12/happy-third-birthday.html

A cute thing from his birthday two days ago: we had told him the night before that since he had been born early in the morning, when he woke up he would officially already be 4. He seemed excited about that, but when he woke up the next morning and we said, "happy birthday to our 4 year old!" he got very upset and insisted that he wouldn't be 4 until he ate his birthday cake! We didn't eat cake until evening, so he spent the whole day saying he was "almost 4" and after he took one bite of cake he said "now I'm 4." So funny!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday Little Man!!!

Today Little Man turned 4. Unbelievable. I remember what I was doing on this day 4 years ago very vividly!! His was my second longest labor (18 hours) and most difficult delivery. Despite those memories which have not yet begun to dim, his arrival made it all so worth while. How thankful we were to welcome another sweet boy to our family! It is such a joy to be Little Man's mama. He brings our whole family much laughter and fun.

Big sister made him a birthday crown.


Birthday dinner ~ spaghetti!


When you have 4 siblings it means you get more presents!


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's.....superman!!! He was very thrilled with this outfit, and says it's three things in one: costume, pajamas, and regular clothes (I think this is a ploy to wear it ALL the time). In actuality, they are pajamas from the sale rack at Target. When he moves around the "S" on his chest lights up. And there's even a detachable cape!



He asked for a Winnie the Pooh cake for the second year in a row. Notice the lovely asymmetrical ears on this year's version!



We love you Little Man!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

SNOW!

Who are these masked children?


Oh, of course! Here are their lovely smiling faces, so happy to be out playing in the snow!


We were walloped by our first big snow storm yesterday. At our house we got about 8-10". That would be on top of the 4" we already had. In some places the drifts were well over a foot. I was again so grateful for the gift of boots, as the children all went outside to play and stayed out for several hours because their feet were warm and did not hurt. Did I mention that with that same Target gift card we were also able to purchase two pair of new snowpants? I got bigger sizes than we needed so that there is room to grow and so that lower legs have no chance of getting wet. Every time our children wear their new boots and snowpants this winter, I will be reminded of God's love and provision, and the blessing of friendship.



My knight in shining armor, tackling the end of the driveway!


Friday, December 19, 2008

This is what greeted me at breakfast the other morning...


Tae Kwon Do Testing!


Last Saturday our 4 older children all tested for the next belt level. The older 3 tested for their solid yellow belt, and 6 year old C tested for his yellow stripe. They all did a super job and we are very proud of them! Below are some pics of them doing sparring fundamentals.



Daughter G going through her "one steps".


Proudly wearing their new belts!

We are now temporarily done with TKD until hubby gets a new job. It has been such a positive experience for our family, we are hoping this break will not last too long!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Gingerbread Houses

Our 8 and 9 year old sons were invited to a gingerbread house decorating party with the younger brother of our daughter's girlfriend (make sense?). This was the first time they have decorated houses, and they had a blast!



Our younger boys, C and Little Man, were quite sad that they would be the only ones who didn't have a gingerbread house. So while our older boys were gone decorating their houses on Sunday afternoon, C and Little Man and I had our very own house decorating party! My hubby was gone for the entire afternoon, so it was just the 3 of us and we had a marvelous time. I did have to stay up until about 1:30 the night before, putting the house together (note to self: thank my friend who hosts the girl's party PROFUSELY next year!!).

I did have trouble with the roof pieces so we ended up using cardboard instead. In a way that worked out better because we were able to easily lift it off and put a surprise inside! More on that later. Here they are, about to start!


Little Man worked on the roof.


Son C tackled the house.


Of course, decorating gingerbread houses is all about the candy. :-)



Here is the surprise Christmas tree inside the house!


Ta-da!!