Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We Wish You a Merry Christmas...

Here are some pictures from our Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

We spent Christmas Eve with my folks at their house and got a surprise visit from a dear friend who completely blew me away with an unexpected gift...he gave me the Bosch mixer and Nutrimill grain mill his wife, my friend, had purchased before discovering her cancer had come back. I had to work very hard at not crying...I was so touched.

Later, we exchanged gifts with the grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, then we dined on excellent homemade crock pot soups (baked potato soup and hamburger soup), warm biscuits, and delicious desserts (strawberry pretzel cheescake and banana split pudding). We love the crock pot for Christmas Eve meals since it reduces the kitchen time for the ladies...and they soups are always delicious! Later, Nanny played the piano and we enjoyed singing a few of our favorite carols...we all especially appreciated the sweet voices of the children raised in praise.

My nephew loved the trains and track we gave him.
I am so glad. One of my faavorite parts of Christmas is
trying to find something that perfectly suits all of my favorite people.

Would you believe that my mom got my brother a
Redskins pillow pet?? What's even funnier is that
we almost got him the same thing!!

On Christmas morning, the little ones loved finding some small things in their stockings (we usually don't do stockings,  but I found some treats I had hiding in my spontaneous surprise drawer and spontaneously decided to put them out for Christmas).

Then we read the Christmas story and hung up our handmade Jesse Tree ornaments while discussing what each one represents. After breakfast, we opened our one gift per each family member together. You may recall from other posts that we had a family meeting and the kids all agreed to receive just one small gift per person so we could save the usualy Christmas savings money to help build a fence around the play area part of the yard to keep Boo from going places he shouldn't. Every child received one gift that reflected their interests or giftings and they were ever so appreciative...and happy to be a part of helping to keep their brother safe.

While the kids enjoyed with their new treasures, I prepared our traditional Christmas meal of spiral-cut Smithfield ham, scalloped potatoes, dressing, sweet potatoes (with loads of marshmallows), green bean casserole, pineapple slices, and rolls. Nanny and Poppy & Bubba and his sweet lady came by to join us for supper. We listened to some carols while Bubba's lady opened her gifts from us, then we finished off the celebration with coffee, banana cream pi,e and chocolate fudge pie.

 Random pictures for the grandparents to enjoy...

All tuckered out...

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas--Family Photos

One big, happy family--Christmas 2011
Top: Tex, me, Bubba, Poppy
Middle: Hubby, Ladybug, Papa Bear (my brother)
Bottom: Boo, Little Bear (my nephew), Mama Bear (my SIL),
 Brother Bear (my nephew), Firefly, Nanny, and Cowboy

Thanks to my brother and SIL for providing some of these pictures since my camera broke.

Our Family--Christmas 2011
Hubby, Bubba, Tex, Me, Firefly, Boo, Cowboy, and Ladybug

Christmas 2011
Another shot; this time Boo and Firefly are looking at the camera,
but Hubby's not cooperating...
Is he trying to tell someone how to take the picture,
Or is he saying, "Gouda" instead of "Sinky Cheese!" like the rest of us?

Ladybug, Cowboy, Tex, Firefly, and Boo

Bubba and his lovely lady.
They make a great team.
My brother and SIL.
My adorable nephews,
Little Bear and Brother Bear.

Merry Christmas to all of you!!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Free Christmas Activities...Don't Miss Out on the Goodies!

Please check out my previous Christmas post with Songs of His Birth, a collection of  Christmas songs that tell the story of Jesus...our favorite is Mary Did You Know?, but Breath of Heaven is a close second.

Free Advent Activities  for all ages...from Jesse Tree ornaments to coloring pages and online Christmas Carols. We used these links to make our Jesse Tree Ornament set last year. It was a rewarding way to spend a day, and kept us all happily occupied in spite of the cold outside. The kids got a real kick out of finding them again this year, and remember what each ornament symbolizes.

Free Christmas Digital Issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine...check it out if you have time to relax. Who knows what fun stuff you might discover??

Dr. David Jeremiah speaks on Why There Must Be Christmas

Hulu for the Holidays...listings of FREE streaming Christmas (and Thanksgiving) programs, from movies to cooking shows. I haven't screened them all, for obvious reasons (lack of time and motivation??), so make sure you check each show out before sharing with the family. I wrote about some of the movies in a post HERE. If you are looking for Christmas movies and subscribe to Netflix instant streaming, two we enjoyed there were Christmas With a Capital C and The Christmas Bunny has FREE videos, games, recipes, and more...all with a Christmas theme. It's a little silly at times, but good-natured. Check out the Food Court Flash mob Hallelujah Chorus on the video page. Now that looks like fun! Even more fun, is the Silent Monks Singing the Hallelujah Chorus. For a grand finale, check out the Do-Re-Mi Flash Mob in Antwerp, Belgium. It makes me smile every time I see it.

Here is my mom's Christmas Candy recipe from last year's Cookie Exchange. This recipe is delicious, and very rich...three ingredients, fifteen minutes, and people will be begging you for more. Hide some, or you won't get any!

Don't forget to check out our Christmas Dinner Crafts post. We made napkin rings and placemats for our table in no time at all. The kids really enjoyed it, and so did I.

An old post with videos for the kids that tell the real story of Jesus, and why we need him. A good one for while mom wraps gifts in secret...

A neat, click-through site with an easily readable version of the REAL Christmas Story...start HERE. Then check out the rest of this site and read more about the Good News...Finally, scroll down to see an extensive collection of Old Testament Bible stories.

Christmas Coloring Pages for the kids...More Christmas Coloring Pages for you to try... and even  More Bible coloring pages, just in case those aren't enough!!

Print out these characters on card stock, color them, then attach them to popsicle sticks to make a puppet re-enactment of the Nativity Story.

The REAL Santa site, with information and activities about St. Nicholas. Stories, games, puzzles, coloring pages...I haven't checked this one out much yet, but it was recommended to me. My kids know the low-down on Santa (he's a fun symbol of giving, but Jesus is the real reason for Christmas, and only God can know all about who is naughty and nice...).

Lastly, check out HP Photo Creations to get a free download for making single and multiple page holiday-themed calendars for last minute gifts. Laminate them (or use self-laminating sheets or contact paper) to make them more durable. I had the kids color a picture of themselves for the back of each one. We printed on cardstock. Choose Single-Page Calendars for the easiest project, then choose holiday themes. The download is simple and FREE, and the grandmothers will love having a photo calendar!

To see the photo we used for our calendars, check out our Homemade Christmas post with the kids' holiday photo (and to see some of our decorations...the kids helped make a lot of them this year, and helped put them out. It has been wonderful.)

I'd love to hear about sites you have found this Christmas season that have added new experiences to your family's traditions. Please leave a comment to share!

Have a blessed Christmas!!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Homemade Christmas---Pictures of the Kids and Their Decorating

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying the fruits of your labors to make whatever constitutes a Christmas celebration at your home special for your family...and that you are getting to slow down and appreciate all the many blessings that surround us all.

We are finally finished with all "necessary" things, such as the trip to WalMart for dinner supplies, decorating, mailing out cards and gifts, wrapping, and such, and now there is just the fun stuff seeing how many kinds cookies we can bake over the next few days, snuggling on the couch with cocoa while watching a favorite Christmas movie, driving around to see the Christmas light displays, or singing carols around the piano while mom does her best to play them (out of her easy arrangement books!)

I took a picture of the kids the other day sitting around the piano and I wanted to share it with you. 

Merry Christmas from Blessing Farm!

That's Cowboy up top (age 6) and Tex to his right (age 14), with Boo on his lap (age 2)
Then Ladybug is on the left (age 8) next to Firefly (age 4) in the center

Here's a separate one of Bubba and his young lady, Miss A.
They are at my parents' house.

I thought I would share a few photos of the house and how we've decorated this year. If you read my previous post about the Christmas Dinner Table Crafts, you will know that we only found one box of Christmas decor this ornaments for the tree, no Christmas cds (I miss the James Taylor one the most), and so on.  We did, however, find just enough of the important things to not really mind at all that Christmas will be understated this year. 

We found the manger scene, the Jesse Tree ornaments we made last year, the kids' advent calendar (just not the one my Grandma made...sigh), and some cute felt Snowmen and a stuffed Santa (my kids know the secret that Santa is just a symbol of giving and that Jesus' birth is the reason we have Christmas) who keep managing to migrate all over the house, having adventures with the angels and the reindeer. The usually all make it back to the base of the tree by nightfall, so they can go out again and have more fun the next day.

You can see that the plastic candy canes I bought at the Dollar Tree keep winding up on my chandelier. (I spent about twenty dollars and got colored balls, hooks, bows, tinsel, candy canes, stockings, and a few crafting supplies to make some ornaments and napkin rings for the table) 

The cat also keeps winding up on my table, tempted by the tinsel and dangly things...silly Molly. The stockings are from the Dollar Tree, too. We usually have the traditional red ones for decoration, but we don't fill them up. We always did that when I was a kid, but after Ladybug was born, then Cowboy less than two years later, and so got to be too much (time AND money). 

Usually, we generally do three gifts per child: one to develop a gift they have (this usually costs the most), one symbolically cuddly gift (blanket, pj's, stuffed animal, coat, show we are loving them always), and a book (any reason to give a book around here...right?). This year we agreed to do just one bought gift per child at a lower amount than usual, to use the extra savings to put up a fence around part of the yard so Boo will be safer when he plays outside. I have, however made a few gifts for the kids. What do you do in regards to gifting at your house?

This is our manger scene, the most important part of the decor. The shepherds regularly move their sheep around, and the wise men are traveling...(the kids know they didn't arrive the night Jesus was born, but they love the camels and don't want to give the traditional wise men up.) I found a bunch of these older pieces at a flea market years ago. This year, Joseph, from the set my folks used when I was a child, is getting to be a shepherd (one of our shepherds was broken). He likes it, I think.

This is a hoot. I thought Cowboy stuffed poor jolly Santa upside down in the chimney of the tissue holder house my grandpa made, but it turns out it was Tex who had the sense of humor...This is the reading corner. Thankfully, our Christmas books were in the box we found! Yay!!

The kids made snowflakes at their homeschool 4-H meeting last Friday. I think they make fantastic decorations, don't you?

This is what has traditionally been the kids' advent calendar. The pieces are fluffy and it is made of sturdy cloth. They play with the pieces all the time, so it had better be! Jesus is still waiting to be placed in the manger...

Here's the piano with all the random other stuff that was in the box: the light up tree, some angels, a random angel snowman ornament...since I have so many helpers this year, I am not surprised when I find any of these things (well, not the glass stuff...they do know to leave that alone) elsewhere in the house, visiting Santa or the snowmen under the tree.

We were happy to find our Christmas carol music in the box, too, plus my mom found the best hardcover Christmas carol book with classical Christian art masterpieces on the facing pages at the library for a DOLLAR!! I just love it, and the arrangements are easy enough for me to play (thanks Mom!!). I have one book that is pretty, but every arrangement uses tons of flats or sharps and I just can't keep up with it. You have to keep it simple for me. The kids have been practicing Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and Carol of the Bells. That is sure nice to hear. They don't seem to mind my less than perfect playing, or singing, for that matter. ;-)


Here are our favorite homemade placemats that we love to use every year. Taking them out and using them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner really makes the kids aware that Christmas is on its way. You can also see one of the napkin rings we made with our crafting supplies. You can check out my post on how to make both the placemats and the napkin rings/ornaments (see picture below), if you have time to fit in one more Christmas craft. They are easy and fun to do.

This is the green tinsel wreath Ladybug made the other night. She was very proud of herself, and so am I! She did a great job, and I think our simple tree looks fabulous!

Last of all is the primitive wooden manger set on top of the kids' easy reader bookcase...and yes, this one gets a lot of play time, too. Well, I think that is just fantastic because Jesus is the reason for Christmas, and the more the kids think about him, the more they will appreciate the meaning of the special day when it finally arrives...and the more likely they are to make Christmas an EVERY day thing, which would be good for us all. 

Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men...
Love God, Love Each Other...
and above all Praise Him!!!

Blessings to you and yours, and a very Merry Christmas to you all!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...