Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Deck the Blog some more . . .

Here are a few of my favorite ornaments. The balsa wood star came from a little touristy town called Leavenworth. Hubby and I bought it early in our marriage. The glass ball is very old, I have a set of six. The balls have a small piece of garland in them and they were made in Germany. These balls came to us from my grandmother's Christmas decorations when she passed away in 1980. The little stained glass house was made by my mother in law. One year for Christmas she made a set of these from a craft kit and gave us this one. She passed away 18 years ago - so this one holds special meaning to me, we have since been given several more from the originals that she made. As you can see, it is not so much the ornament, but the sentiments and memories associated with them that make them special.

It's snowing . . .

Not really, but inside it looks like it.
Here are a few of our new paper snowflakes and also some paper plate snowmen/women that we made a couple of years ago.

Decorate the Blog

Even though I wasn't tagged for this, I liked the idea and so decided to post a few of my favorite ornaments and holiday crafts. This year we haven't really done any crafts outside of our Gingerbread houses. We have had a good couple of weeks of family members being too sick to care . . . My children did decide to make some paper snowflakes last night and put them up on the dining room wall. I think they are beautiful.

Funky gift . . .

Over the weekend we went to two different family functions. On Saturday we celebrated with my husband's family and on Sunday afternoon we celebrated with my side of the family. My step brother always gives the children very unique gifts, everything from toy guns that sling plastic spiders to a brick at the new baseball stadium with their name on it. This year he gave some of the nieces and nephews these funky action figures. Our family was blessed with Einstein, Sherlock Holmes and the Crazy Cat Lady. Two of the other nephews received Houdini and the Albino Bowler. Each year the children look forward to the gifts they receive from this very special uncle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

p.s. to What Happened to the Script?

Even though I lost my temper, our youngest said that decorating the tree and the house is one of his favorite things about Christmas. I guess I didn't totally ruin the evening. Above are some pictures of our tree before and after decorating.

What happened to the script?

Yesterday was carefully scripted in my mind. First a very relaxed morning, brunch and then going to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. After the movie we would come home and smell the Christmas Potpourri, drink Hot Cocoa and decorate the tree and the house for the holidays. We usually decorate earlier in the month, but this year I wanted to wait until after Son#2's birthday party. Well . . . Son #1 was sick, we did make it to the movie and the Christmas Potpourri was simmering. The boys decided to wrestle and then even got their older sister involved. It turns out that I was also coming down with the icky bug and so my temper was flairing. Oh my, when life doesn't go as scripted. My friend the headmistress at the Common Room had some things to say about this topic that really hit home . . . check it out here.

More Birthday Pictures

Super Fast Birthday . . .

Son #2 is going to be twelve on Thursday. We had his birthday party on Sunday - trying to fit it in so that people could attend during this hectic time of year. Our boys are really into racing Hot Wheels right now and so this particular son wanted to have a Hot Wheels Race party. He also wanted Raspberry Cream Pie instead of cake. We invited a few friends and their fathers over for the party. They played wheel launch bowling in the garage and then for the big event, they raced Hot Wheels Cars. My son's best buddy's dad brought over his really cool 1970s vintage Hot Wheels track and they raced a double elimination race. Hubby was in charge of the party and pretty much handled the whole thing. This was a first for us as I usually plan and host all the children's birthday parties. Hubby did a great job! There were 11 men/boys in attendance and I think they all had a great time. This Birthday was a real male bonding time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays?

This has been a season of contemplation for me. How should our family celebrate this season? We have friends who do not celebrate it at all. We know those who do not include Jesus as part of their celebration, after all, December 25th probably wasn't His actual birthday, but they can celebrate using Santa etc.. We have friends who only celebrate Jesus, but none of the other secular traditions. They all have their reasons and must do what works for their families. We need to decide what this season means to us and then be at peace with our decision. I think our problem has been that we never made a conscious decision, we have just floated along with traditions that we grew up with. One problem with that is neither of us grew up in a Christian home that had a purposeful way of celebrating. I was involved in a chat last Tuesday evening in which many people discussed how they celebrate this time of the year and like me there were others trying to decide a more meaningful way to celebrate. Our family has been sucked into the commercial aspect of Christmas and that is a bit shallow - so hubby and I decided this year to explore why we do what we do - it wouldn't necessarily mean we will change our traditions if they have some meaning, but we needed to find out why they had meaning. Some of our traditions include going to get family pictures with Santa, travelling out to a tree farm and cutting a Christmas tree, decorating gingerbread houses, putting up lights on our house, sometimes we make christmas crafts, watch christmas movies, sing christmas carols. We usually get a new jigsaw puzzle and work on it. We did pretend Santa for our children and they would usually get something they asked him for. They also thought that Santa, along with us, put something in our stockings. The Santa tradition got started when I was a child, my family wasn't close and Christmas was a time of year that my mom seemed to really enjoy doing special things for us kids. My parents would go all out and try to get us what we wanted for Christmas - yes there were the Christmas lists straight from the Sears catalog. Because of this, my best memories of childhood center around this time of year. Unfortunately, we got into this materialistic habit with our own children and I am sure that is part of what has made me unsettled about Christmas. We have 4 children ages 9-20, so changing our traditions suddenly could be a big upset to the family. We asked the children what they especially liked about Christmas and they mentioned most of the things that I have listed above. The one thing that I was thrilled with was that they really want to give each other gifts and yes they do get excited about receiving gifts, but they all agreed that it means more to get a gift from someone that knows you well enough that they don't have to ask what you would like - they already know. Hubby suggested that we give gifts without putting who they are from - we can be secret santas. The children, for the most part really liked this idea - it focuses on the person receiving rather than the giver. Last night we also read the history of St. Nicholas and revealed to our youngest that we had been pretending all along. He was disappointed, but he wasn't angry. Hubby read some scriptures to us about Jesus and then talked about how he was VERY different from St. Nicholas. He also talked about how St. Nicholas gave his gifts because he was trying to serve Jesus with all his heart and that he cared for children and the needy. We love the character displayed in St. Nicholas and we will still have stockings and still get our pictures with Santa because of this. I still have mixed feelings about how we handled this with our children - but they all say that they are glad we did it and that they will probably do something of the sort with their families. I have told them that no matter what traditions they choose to have, they should make conscious decisions along with their spouse before their children are born. We decided that we will continue along with most of our traditions because they are fun and seem to fit the season. We choose to put up a tree because it is pretty, smells good and cheers us up. We don't celebrate Christmas as Jesus birth because it is pretty certain that it was not his birthday - we celebrate his birth, life and resurrection every day, but that doesn't mean that we don't acknowledge that others celebrate his birth now and we certainly don't stop talking about him during December. There is only one thing left that I am a little uncomfortable about and that is our dealings with extended family at this time of year. We usually only see hubby's family during the holidays and so it seems a bit superficial to me to exchange gifts - I enjoy seeing them and love to have time of food and fellowship with them, but it almost seems obligatory to exchange gifts. We have done it many different ways, we have drawn names, bought only for the children, bought for everyone, done family gifts and one year we didn't buy anything because we had been on an extended strike right before the holidays. Hubby decided that for our family, we would just purchase gifts for the nieces/nephews that were still in school and that is what we have done for several years now. His family on the other hand not only buys gifts for all of our children, but for us too. This year I know at least one person is giving gift cards, as are we, because we don't know them well enough to know what they would like. We are essentially giving them our money and they are giving us theirs. There are also great nieces and nephews on this side of the family now and their parents, our nieces and nephews have started giving us gifts too. It is getting a bit ridiculous. I come home feeling guilty about it - we come home with a car load of gifts and we have given two, plus a hostess gift. I know that I should feel thankful that they want to give us something - but it is hard to feel good about it, when you know they are in debt and don't really have the funds to do this. On my side of the family it is not quite as bad, we do bring gifts for the children and although, with the exception of my sister, my family doesn't really know my children all that well either. The aunts and uncles do seem to keep the gifts to small items that are unique and fun. My step sister has bought the children polar fleece pullovers for several years and that is really a nice practical gift that the children enjoy. They have given us gifts too, homemade bread etc. Small tokens of appreciation. The gifts don't seem to be the big thing at this gathering. When I was growing up, the aunts and uncles bought us gifts when we were very small, but they stopped as we got older and we just got together to have dinner. I don't want to sound like a poor sport, but I sure would appreciate it if we could do that here. I don't like the fact that the children grow up expecting that aunts and uncles continue to do that and then for the great nieces and nephews etc. etc. I want our children to learn that it is the relationships with their siblings, nieces and nephews that are important and the time and fellowship mean more than any material item. If I can instill anything in my children during this season - that is what I want it to be. To sum it all up, we are at peace with how we celebrate and I have to accept the fact that I cannot control how our extended family chooses to celebrate. For more food for thought on Christmas celebrations, Mrs. Squirrel over at Deweys Treehouse has a great Christmas post here and Headmistress over at Common Room has another great Christmas post here on her Sunday Hymn post. Whatever traditions you choose to hold during this season, may your family be well and happy and may your season be bright!


Doesn't he know where to hang out?

A little bit of Snow

We finally got about an inch of snow and did the boys play out! You would think we had gotten a foot. Here is bouncy boy with the neighbor, James. They did scrape together enough to make this little snowman. We had about an inch on two separate days, just enough to get the boys really excited and hoping for more. Now we are having our more normal weather, rain.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Around the blogosphere

I was just surfing the blogosphere and found an interesting post on a blog that is new to me. The blog is called Journaling Through the Valley and the post is about the history of rooster weather vanes and their relationship to the story of Peter and the cock crowing. I will look at roosters in a new way.

The Headmistress at The Common Room has been posting some beautiful poems from the Child Beautiful and she has an especially touching poem entitled The First Snow-Fall.

One of my new favorite blogs, Whittingshire has a post on why we should remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They also have some wonderful photographs from around Washington State.

Santa Claus has come to town!

Our family tradition has been to get a picture with Santa each year. It started out when our eldest was just a baby. Cruel parents that we are we have insisted on Santa pictures each year, whether the children wanted it or not. Luckily for the younger children, they have always had at least one sibling in the picture. The past several years we decided to do it as a family with hubby and I in the picture too. Santa is great! He has been coming to our little town since before we moved to the area 15 years ago, We have seen him here for about 13 years. He made us promise that we would never get to old to come and have our picture done with him!