Friday, December 30, 2011

Little Man is Seven

He has now been 7 for over a week! Wow, the time is just flying. We had a very fun day on his birthday. We let him open one gift right after breakfast, and he chose this one.

It was a big hex habitat for all his little hex bugs. Very popular! Those little hex bugs are mesmerizing to watch. I have played with it all by myself a couple times!

Picnic lunch in the family room while watching a movie of his choice.

One set of grandparents came over for dinner that night, and for his birthday dinner he chose homemade waffles. So we had a waffle bar, with lots of different toppings.

Then it was opening the rest of his gifts! An art kit and some color wonder books.

A huge "Cars" blanket and other "cars" things from his grandparents in WA. This was a huge hit! (thanks mom and dad!). He carried the blanket around the house with him for several days before I made him start keeping it on his bed. :-)

Hand made tie dye shirt and some other things from his other grandparents.

And a new wooden sword. A boy cannot have too many swords!

Happy, happy 7th birthday to our little man!

At the end of the evening, some quiet time to enjoy books just he and I. How I love this sweet child!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Old Christmas Tradition

Our Christmas morning tradition is that when the children wake up they find their stockings hanging beside their beds, and then they come onto our bed and we open them all together. This is something my hubby's family did when he was growing up, and we have kept this tradition in our family too.

Here are each of the children with their most favorite item from their stocking. Daughter G was thrilled with a new Rick Riordan book, and an 8 gig mini card along with a note that said our extra cell phone was now officially and exclusively hers!

Son G loved his University of Michigan cap (his favorite college football team).

Sons L and C both got their first watch!

Little Man got a jumping bakugan from his sister.

My fav item was a new pair of gloves, and hubby's was a mini laser pointer (gotta love the dollar store!).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Christmas Tradition

A couple weeks before Christmas we had a family meeting and discussed ways that we could adjust our focus on Christmas Day to the gift of God's Son, and our response to that gift. Hubby and I wanted to add something to our celebration in addition to the Bible reading we do before opening gifts. The children offered a few suggestions, and what we decided on was a gift giving ceremony, where we gave something back to Jesus to show our gratitude for the gift of Himself.

We spent some quiet time leading up to Christmas, each thinking and praying about what we could give. I had to help Little Man with some ideas, as this is somewhat abstract, but he came up with a great one all on his own! After church Sunday morning we came home and had our own family worship time. We thanked God for giving us the gift of His Son, and then we each wrote on a slip of paper what we wanted to give back to God during this next year. Those who wanted to, shared what they wrote (Little Man's was "to obey mommy and daddy right away." ~ one I heartily approved of!). Then we sealed them in an envelope and will pull them out again next Christmas so we can evaluate how we did. I'd like to keep all the envelopes for posterity. It will be fun and hopefully meaningful for the children when they are older, to remember all the gifts they have given to Jesus over the years.

Then we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and had birthday cake for lunch!

What does your family do to help you focus on God's gift at Christmas time?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

Our children on Christmas Eve, before opening presents....

Oh how I love Christmas Eve! The anticipation, the excitement.... I know so well that the meaning of Christmas is not in getting or even giving gifts, but I have to say that as a parent, it is SO FUN to give them anyway!! I was very excited this year, as I thought we had nailed a major desire for each of the children. Years ago we switched nearly all of our gift opening to Christmas Eve, so that Christmas Day was less stressful and more focused on God's gift to us, the coming of Jesus. I have come to really love this arrangement, and we added a new tradition this year to our Christmas Day that I think we are all going to love. More on that later.

Here I am with one of the few things I had asked for.... a dvd of "The Help"! (read the book first, the book is fantastic!)

Daughter G asked for books, clothes, and boots. All of which she got!

Little man and son C both asked for a particular Hero Factory figure named the "witch doctor." It was the number one thing they both wanted. They both made a wish list this year, wrote "The witch doctor" on it, and then filled the rest of the page with stars to show how much they wanted it. :-)

I wasn't crazy about the name, but I have to admit he was a pretty cool looking figure when he was all put together! Very fierce and intimidating, with lots of cool weapons. What's not to love about that? My boys know how frugal I try to be, so they never in a million years expected to both receive one. A couple weeks before Christmas I heard them negotiating with each other how they were going to "share" it if we got one for the both of them together. I smiled to myself when I heard that.... two witch doctors were already hidden away for them! (buy one, get one half off, plus free shipping. Whoo-hoo!)

Son C also received his first leather bound Bible, complete with his name on the cover.

And a very cool lego set. It was the first Christmas that son G has not asked for legos, so hubby and I were very glad that son C asked for some. It will be a sad day for us when no-one is into legos anymore.

What son G did want, was a real football that was his size. He has small hands, so I had to hunt around but finally found one. We also gave him a jersey of his favorite wide receiver (Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, nicknamed "Megatron"). He was sooooo excited and hasn't taken it off since then!

He also wanted an mp3 player. Love that there are so many choices now! (ipod was not gonna happen, but we could make a polaroid version happen!)

Son L was very happy with his Lego Heroica game,

new fedora hat,

and CAMERA!!!

My husband got a new t-shirt from me (among other things). Can't read the fine print?

Is this better? We are huge fans of "The Princess Bride" so when I saw this t-shirt I could not resist getting it!

And at the very end of the evening, the piece de resistance, was.......

.......... a guitar for son G!

Oh my word, he was soooo happy! We have encouraged all our children to learn to play a musical instrument, but he was adament that he did not want his instrument to be the piano. We had a friend at church (guitarist on our worship team) research guitar deals for us, and he even stored this at his house so none of the children would find it before Christmas. Christmas Eve, shortly before gift opening, he and his wife dropped it off and we hid it in the front closet until just the right moment. Son G also got a certificate for guitar lessons from this same friend at church, starting in January!

Meanwhile our daughter had been closely guarding two wrapped gifts that she presented to my husband and I. They were original paintings that she had done: mine was a mountain scene because she knows how much I miss the mountains from my native state of Washington, and hubby's was of him swinging daughter G in the air when she was little. They are both beautifully done, and made us cry!

We dropped into bed close to midnight, happy and content and ready to worship Jesus the next day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

He Came

So much has happened in our household in the last week, as I'm sure it has in yours too.

I could post pics of Little Man's actual birthDAY (and I will, Grandma). :-)

I could post about my wonderful night at the symphony orchestra with dear friends (and probably will).

I could post pics of our Bible reading and gift opening on Christmas Eve (and eventually will).

But right now I am overwhelmed with the incredible gift of Jesus. I took a friend grocery shopping yesterday, on Dec 23 (which was a Friday this year in case that escaped anyone's notice), late in the afternoon. Friday night traffic is bad every week, plus it was rush hour, plus it was the last shopping day before Christmas Eve, and the traffic was TERRIBLE. So, so, so backed up, no matter which road we tried to take. We passed a fender bender, and the expressions on the drivers' faces said it all.

I myself, by some incredible portion of God's grace, was feeling rather patient, but as I sat at yet another red light I pondered..... our culture has made Christmas all about the non essentials. Must. Have. Just. The. Right. Gift. And just the right tree. Must get cards out. Decorate the house. Bake cookies. None of those things are bad, and in fact many of them provide traditions that our family loves. But they are not the essential meaning of Christmas. Seeing first hand all the frazzled shoppers, the crowded parking lots, and the rushing cars just seemed to confirm how off base most of us are about Christmas. How little we are thinking of the fact that Jesus came.

And then it struck me. That first Christmas, they didn't know He was coming then either. People were crowding into Bethlehem so much that there was no room for just one more couple, a young carpenter and his very pregnant wife. The census was in full swing. Stern soldiers, jostling crowds, probably many average citizens disgruntled with having to register for the purpose of paying more taxes. Rushing, rushing, rushing.

Some things have not changed that much in two thousand years.

But into that world, Jesus came. He came! And into our world, he still comes. Bringing peace, and hope and joy and salvation! Knowing our weakness and sin and absolute inability to reach Him, He reached out to US.

I am overcome with the gift.

Lord, let me understand as never before the truth of your coming. What it meant, and what it still means. How it changes everything. What you gave up in order to reach out to us, and what you freely gave us though it cost you everything. Lord, let my response be absolute, pure, undiluted worship. "Thank you" seems so small..... yet my whole heart beats with gratitude for your amazing gift to me. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy, Happy Birthday Little Man!!!

Seven years ago today.....







Happy 7th Birthday to our sweet, energetic, fun-loving, imaginative, all-boy youngest child!