Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent Day 15- Candy Cane Day!


Candy Cane day is well established in my kids minds, so it was kind of fun to simply put a picture int the Advent box today.  We get Candy canes after breakfast and lunch and a special candy cane dessert at dinner.   I'd planned a fancier dessert but though I am feeling gobs better, I'm still a little behind in the energy department, so store bought ruled the day.

Who knew Betty Crocker does candy cane cookies...I don't know if I've every purchased box cookie mix.  The upside is is makes a really small batch;)

My kiddos really don't like peppermint (lol;)  So we have multiple kinds of candy canes to chose from much to their obvious delight!

All the extra's get added to the tree;)

Every Monday we have Milkshake Monday on the way to swimming lessons (Steak and Shake Happy Hour- half off milk shakes every day from 2-5 people;).  Today was no different, except I ordered them all candy cane chocolate chip milk shakes.  They are YUMMY...and quite like a shamrock shake with chocolate chips for all you Shamrock diehards!

And yes...we always, read The Legend of the Candy Cane;)

and yes for anyone keeping track, I just officially caught up on Advent blogging and I am patting myself on my to catch up on my laundry!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Advent 14- Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

12/14/14- Good Things come to those who wait...It's time to take all that Christmas Cheer burning inside you and DECORATE!  Let's get that Christmas Tree up!!

Mama still was pretty under the weather but It's 9 days until Christmas!  The tree couldn't wait for health to arrive.  Couches are comfy and I am a good observer.  I have to admit...I couldn't help but feel a bit better as our ornaments that each mean something so special came out of storage and took their rightful place.

This years "new" ornaments that they picked which in Philly for vacation...

Yes, this is real and somehow we permitted this precarious ornament judgement must have been stunted by my foggy head.

I wasn't really feelin' up to crawling down and getting the Christmas tree skirt in place so my little gentleman did the honors.;)

I was so thankful I"d purchased these silly cookies on a whim while a Target.  I wasn't feelin' up to any silly supperness, but the kids were thrilled which store bought goodness.

It's been a weird Advent over here and finally feels normal now that our tree gives our evening their warm Christmas glow.  Is there anything cozier than drinking tea in a room lit only by a Christmas tree- indeed not.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent Day 13- A no go for me;P

12/13/14- Jesus is the Light of the World.  He shines brightly in the darkest places.  Let's celebrate by going on a Pajama Ride to see Christmas lights!

Ah- another one of my favorites.  Little kids in Christmas jammies out past their bedtime, getting thrilled to have hot chocolate in cups like mom and papa and driving to see Christmas lights that excite them EVERY time.  Unfortunately...I was in bed all of the day and I missed the fun.  I was sick sick sick and I was dead asleep which my super hero husband took over and didn't miss a beat in Advent fun.  I heard it was great...;{

Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent 12- Friends and Snow

12/12/14- It's SNOW DAY!  "What? There's no snow today!" you say.  That's okay!  We still will PLAY!

Marc and I were invited to a Christmas party.  My dear friend Nancy (seriously, I feel so bad for anyone who doesn't have her for a friend) suggested we get our kiddos together while we were at the party and share a sitter so they'd have a bit of a party themselves;)  There could not be a better day to share with friends than SNOW day;)

We had a kids against adults snow ball fight.  I hope my kids never outgrow this one...I LOVE it;)  And yes, my little Haitian chose to throw a beach ball too...

It's seriously amazingly fun to have an in door snowball fight.  You can buy super soft and amazing snowballs like we have here or just wad up paper.  

Our super healthy dinner....

Sugar 'em up and leave 'em with a sitter...we are "those" parents

Please, Lord, may she not outgrow my silliness too soon...

These two are two peas in a pod.

After dinner we headed off to our adult shindig and left the kids with the perfect Snow Day movie....and popcorn in a FROSTY tin (who could resist buying it?!)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent Day 11-

12/11/14- It's Red and Green day. Let's learn why those are the colors that represent Christmas! We will eat red and green snacks and color Christmas pictures using ONLY red and green.

So anyone else ever wonder why red and Green are associated with Christmas?  I did and the kids have asked in the past, so I incorporated it into Advent this year so that they (and I!) actually remember what they represent!

Interestingly in Europe in the middle ages, Passion plays were often performed on Christmas eve.  Because many people couldn't read the bible for themselves, they told bible stories through the play.  Because it was winter, the "paradise" tree in the garden of Eden was normally a evergreen tree with red apples tied onto it.

Evergreen plants, in general, have been used throughout history to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long winter.  Some felt evergreens were a reminder that spring would come again.  Romans exchanged evergreen branches in January as a sign of good luck.  Egyptians brought palm branches into their homes to decorate during mid winter festivals.

Red holly berries have been used by Christians for centuries as a symbol of the blood of Christ.  They actually predate Christmas- the Romans celebrated Saturnalia in December and gave wreaths of Holly as gifts.  In the 4th century, the leaders of the Catholic church moved the celebration of Christmas to December 25 to usurp Saturnalia and it's pagan celebrations.  Christians began take the holly and berries and make them into crosses to represent the blood of Christ and the life offered in him.

Red is also the color of bishops robes and would have been the color Saint Nicholas wore...hence why Santa Claus wears red.

There are much more facts and details to be found...give it a look, it's quite fascinating!

Some Christians struggle with Christmas being celebrated on December 25 as it isn't Christ's actual birthday and because it was originally a pagan holiday, but I find something so redemptive in usurping pagan traditions to glorify Christ.  I love that Christians took Holly and Berries and made crosses!  I love that green and red are found through out winter, from berries and evergreen trees to cardinals that don't migrate like other birds.  I love the stark contrast of red in the bleak of winter, it reminds me of the powerful intrusion Christ's blood has made into my bleak life.

For those curious about my red and green snacks- We had Dannon Danimals yogurt smoothies christmas edition and Pepperidge farm red and green goldfish.  YAY! for companies that naturally color their foods!!!

My very favorite Christmas picture was Phin's...I still laugh looking at it.  He drew Santa Claus, but because he's red and green he looks a bit a lot like the Grinch.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent Day 10- No two snowflakes are alike

12/10/14- It's snowflake day!  Let's look up facts about snowflakes and then let's make some ourselves!

Snowflakes have six sides, but no two are alike.  The largest snowflake on record was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick...what other snowflake facts do you know?

We had a good friend, good snowflake snacks, and in the end some really cool handmade snowflakes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent Day 9- The freedom of PURGING

12/9/14- We have far too much.  There are kids in the world that don't have the basic things they need and we have more than we could even want.  Today we need to go through our toys and get rid of ones we aren't playing with anymore.  We will give them to kids who WILL play with them.  If something is sitting aroudn taking up space, what good is it?  If we aren't using it, we get rid of it, got it?

This gets easier every year...I was surprised Chloe even got rid of an Elsa and Anna!  She smartly realized she plays with the barbie size but the doll ones stay in her toy box.  We still have too much stuff...way too much stuff.  But I see the kids growing each year in letting go, giving, realizing they don't need half of what they have...that makes me proud.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Day 8- Sleep in Heavenly Peace

12/8/14- One of our favorite Christmas carols is Silent Night.  How blessed are we that we sleep in peace every night because God is watching over us!  Let's make some happy Christmas pillowcases to sleep upon!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Advent Day 7- maybe will happen next year?

I think there's been a bust of a day every year.  This year was no different.  On Thursday I had a vendor fair at our house.  Friday we were up late for our RACK night.  Saturday night Marc and I had my niece watch the kids and Christian's been struggling with some regression since we traveled for Thanksgiving.  He was a wreck at bedtime for my poor niece and kept all the other kids up with his antics.  Three nights in a row of being up far too late took it's toll on all of us.  The kids were just as mess and Marc and I weren't much better.  We scrapped the days plan to put up the tree, postponing to until a time we were in better form.  It's too good of a day to mess up with fighting and grumpy peeps.  We all took a nap and watch some Christmas shows.

They say you can't win 'em was a loss on the books, but a win to all our mental health.  A good pastor friend of our Bill Shereos said to us once, "sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap'  today we say, "AMEN TO THAT!"

Saturday, December 6, 2014


12/6/14- Time to have a bit of fun!  Bundle up everyone.  We all have tickets, come on let's go.  Time to ride a train with Santa.  Ho-Ho-Ho.

The kids loved our Park District's Polar Express ride last year and we were fortunate enough to get tickets again.  We love the book/movie and it's a great day of fun with our community.

Mr. Santa himself was there to greet us at the train station. 

When he visited us on the train, I transformed my little children into reindeer (I just can't resist light up noses- thank you Target)

I love that my big girl is not too cool to have fun...

and that my big guy enjoys getting into character and hammin' it up for the camera...

and that my sweet baby girl feel everything with every part of her being, including excitement....

and that my baby boy could not stop trying to figure out what made his nose blink.

The train took us to Gino's pizza in Wheaton where we had lunch and Santa read us Polar Express.

On the walk back to the train their was a french market and we stopped to browse...and we found Santa's Wife there making balloon animals!

Life can get crazy and it's easy to loose perspective, but a glimpse at these faces reminds me how stinkin' blessed I am.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent Day 5- Random Act of Kindness

Advent Day 5-  Tomorrow is Saint Nicholas Day.  Let's read a book about who Saint Nicholas was and then spend a night doing secret acts of kindness just like he did.

We love to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.  He was a man who was generous in using what he had to care for others and spread the love of Christ through his unexpected gifts.  I put a bunch of random acts of kindness in a cup and each member of our family drew one.  It was SO much fun!

I printed off Random Acts of Christmas Kindness cards from this site.

We went to Potbelly's first for dinner.  Marc's Random act of kindness got scrapped cuz there was a man performing at Potbelly's and Marc felt prompted to give to him instead so he put a very large tip in the man's money jar folded up in the RACK note.

I drew "Leave a treat in a shopping cart for the next customer to find".  I LOVE Potbelly's cookies, so I choose to buy a dozen mini cookies and I left them in the top part of a shopping cart at Target.

Ava's RACK was "Tape $1.00 bills in the dollar spot at Target for other kids to find."  She LOVED placing them.

Phin's drew "Buy a gift card and give it to the person behind you in line."  Phin wanted to buy one at TJ Maxx;)  He was so cute walking up to a middle aged woman and saying, "This is for you!"

Chloe's RACK was "Bring hot chocolate to a Salvation Army bell ringer".  Unfortunately all the salvation army buckets near us were absent bell ringers as we were out and about.  It was a blustery even and we saw a young kid collected the carts at Jewel so we gave it to him.  He seemed totally confused...which is half the fun;)

Oh that I could have taken a picture of Christian's.  Christian drew "Buy a poinsettia and give it to a stranger of your choice."  We bought a poinsettia while at Target and he chose the women directly behind us in line.  She was so touched, she teared up.  We kind of had to explain because she was confused, but so touched that he chose her, she took a picture of him with her phone.  The best part of the night was walking away and being told by the friend shopping with her, "you have no idea how perfect his choice was idea."  They seemed deeply touched and blessed.  Christian can't completely process it all, but he seemed to walk a bit prouder.  He seemed to know he just did something really special.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent Day 4- Window Cling Day

Advent Day 4-  It's Window Cling Day!

Window Cling day is one of the easiest for me and yet one of the kids favorites.  They each got a ton to decorate with this year (yay for 90% of clearance from last year!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent Day 3- Squeaky Clean

You know what's awesome.  It's 12/15....and my best intentions for Advent blogging went out the window and was replaced with sickness and parenting a my trauma kiddo who is apparently having some regression since traveling and coming home to this Advent thing that he loves but subconsciously sabotages.  So it's catch up day...(maybe next year that will be the Advent Theme of a day mid December...)

Advent day 3-

Jesus came to earth so that he could die to pay the penalty for all of our sins.  He rose again conquering sin.  Because of his death and resurrection, our sins are washed white as snow when we put our trust in him.  Let's celebrate by taking a Christmas Bath!

My bigger kiddos are getting a bit big for bath pictures so none to post.  We used our fancy schmancy nativity rubber ducks.  I ordered a second set this year so we could have girls in one tub and the boys in another.

And we used our Christmas confetti....all of it.  I usually just put in a couple sprinkles of each kind, but I forgot to explain that to Marc, who was doing bath duty.  He dumped in the entire amount from all three containers...our house will smell of Christmas until next year, I am sure.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent Day 2- Packages to our Special Friends

12/2- We have so much.  Sometimes it is easy to look around at people who have more than us and think we need more stuff, when really we are spoiled and have more than we'd ever need.  When we focus on things, we can forget what is really important- relationships.  Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we could ever have and at Christmas we celebrate that Jesus came to earth to make that relationship possible.  We also cherish the relationships we have with one another and our friends.  Today, let's remember four very special relationships- the ones we have with our world vision kids.  Let's go shopping and send them a Christmas envelope hoping we communicate how much we care about them and want them to share in our joy this season.

We sponsor four kids through world vision- each one shares a birthday with one of our kids.  Phin and Christian are the exact same age as the kiddos with their birthdays.  Chloe and Ava's boys are considerably older.  We love the privilege of getting letters and pictures from our kiddos around the world and hope someday to meet each one!  We are restricted to sending only what fits in a 9in by 5in envelope so we have to be creative about what to stuff in there...but every year we find a couple new items.

We always send a pad of paper and colored pencils or markers.  This year for the older boys we sent yoyos with instructions and brain teazer games with instructions.  We sent all four kids harmonica's and parachute christmas snowman (like those parachute army men you can get).  We put in socks  and mini magnafying glasses and a small bit of candy.  For the little kids we put in stickers and little books.  We fit a little handmade doll into the three year old little girl's envelope.  It's fun to see what we can cram in there;)

Writing our notes and packing our envelopes

Some of our stash

All stuffed and ready to send, just as soon as I add this year's family picture tomorrow....