Saturday, December 24, 2011


It's Christmas!  The anticipation has been realized.  The joy is overflowing.  It's been a lovely morning and the perfect climax to our Advent season.

We started off  by finishing the Advent book...the kids were so excited to open all the doors.  Ava was thrilled because she knows the verse that is contained in the very last door, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life."

First we open the most precious gift of all...

 our "baby Jesus" wrapped in swaddling clothes

We laid him in the manger on the bed of hay we have been preparing for him. 

We then talked about the three gifts the Magi brought the baby King.  We talked about what each meant.  The kids each received three present from us.  The first one the opened represented "Frankincense"-which was an incense, but also used as an ointment and had many other practical purposes.  This was a practical gift, something they each needed.  For Ava- undies and footless tights, for Phin- more pants with an elastic wasteband (a necessity now that he is going potty on his own; buttons and zippers just get in the way;), for Chloe- clothes...which she actually desperately needed.  I've borrowed out so many clothes somehow I only got pants back in 2T;)...she needs shirts too;)

Myrrh was an embalming material and signified that Jesus was born to die.  That was the call God had place on this life.  We don't yet know what God has called each of our children too, but the "myrrh" gift is a gift with spiritual significance- something that will help them grow in their faith and discover what God leads them to.  Ava- a girls devotional bible, Phin- the Jesus Storybook Bible (Ava has one, but we wanted him to have his veyr own), and Chloe- a book of bible stories and accompanying songs on CD

My favorite "kid" gift- Ava shopped for almost an hour in Target, meticulously comparing and trying to decide on the perfect gift for each person.  For Marc, these "straw" glasses where the end result...hilarious;)

Phinny's gift to me?  The banagram game...I've heard it is fun, I just think it is funny that this is what caught his eye for me;)

We had some gifts to open from Marc's dad.  Once Chloe opened her "ball" machine- all the kids could have been done, I think;0)  What fun!

Ava's "gold"- the American girl doll she's wanted for two years.  We told her she had to wait until her 6th birthday, so getting it a few month before that was a total surprise...a priceless one;)

I am so very glad we made her wait for this.  She was so excited and has big plans to "really take care of it" because she's seen many friends dolls in disrepair. 
Phin's "gold" was the Toy Story Garbage Dump play set;)

Little miss Mama got a sturdy wooden high chair for her babies;) 

Happy playtime...Phin acting out Toy Story three complete with actual movie lines and Ava introducing Felicity to her other dolls;)

Merry Christmas!  Thanks for journeying through Advent with me as I make memories with my children.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Advent day 23- Precious Moments

Marc is fortunate enough to work for a company that was closed today in honor of Christmas.  It was precious to have a full day as a family with little to do but be together and anticipate the arrival of Christmas.

We had postponed Monday's "snow day" and today the postponement felt like a gift.  We would have had a snowball fight with Styrofoam balls on Monday because there wasn't any snow on the ground.  Today we had snow.  I couldn't find the words to describe how special it is to see my husband rolling around in the snow with my children.
 I know!  ADORABLE!  My little Marshmallow- LOVED the snow:)

Ava received a handy dandy snow ball maker from her teacher and it worked GREAT yesterday but today the snow was too powdery;) She still had fun throwing it, even though the balls didn't stay together;)  

 Getting little miss to stop for a picture proved nearly impossible;)

We painted snow with water colored with food coloring. 

Marc took the kids on a winter hike through our woods...even Chloe walked the entire way.  Snow is breath taking no matter your age and the stillness in the woods felt as if time had stopped and only we existed.

Today's Advent message read:
It's Christmas Eve.  Tonight we will eat by candlelight and sleep under the Christmas tree.  Jesus is the light of the world and the world is dark without him.

(note- Yes, I know it is not really Christmas Eve.  Because we are traveling on Christmas day and since our children don't really keep track of the date yet, we moved Christmas Eve and Christmas up a tomorrow will be OUR Christmas morning- I can hardly wait!)

It was very hard to get pictures without the flash...most are with the flash and you'll just have to take the above candle picture as "evidence" that is was wonderfully peaceful and dark 'round here.

Matching PJ's for Christmas! 

Here is evidence that Chloe was indeed present and dressed to match- she just doesn't like to sit still for anything;) 

Chloe is sleeping in her room, the poor little thing was exhasuted, but the rest of us are bunkin' down here.  (Marc and I called the Sectional;) 

One photo minus the flash....

I bid you adieu and goodnight.  I am going to cuddle with my littles and enjoy the soft and magical glow of our Christmas tree.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Advent Day 22- Ch-Ch-Ch-Chocolate

Today's advent message read:
"'s cold outside.  Let's go out for Hot Chocolate as family. Mmmm"

Someone felt very grown up;)
Little Miss Chloe had Chocolate milk for the first time....

and she was HAPPY! 
(I know, I know, the picture is out of focus, but I still happen to love it;)

 My boys;)


Christmas is sooo close....our manger is pretty full of hay awaiting the Saviors arrival and we are getting so close to the end of the Advent book.  Excitement and anticipation are at their peak 'round here to celebrate the birthday of our King!

Advent Day 21- "Purge-itory"

Advent Day 21's message read:

We have many blessings in our life.  Today we will show appreciate to God and to one another.  First, we will go through or toys and take ones we don't use or don't really need and donate them to kids who don't have very many toys.  Then tonight at dinner we will make a list of all the things we love about one another and about God.

The Toy purging has started but we didn't get a chance to finish it yesterday.  We will finish it today.  My children have way too many toys and Christmas will bring another round of bounty.  With grandparents, aunt and uncles, and parents...they receive much more in a year that many children do in a lifetime.  Surprisingly, Ava, especially is starting to realize that stuff she rarely uses could be much appreciated by a child who doesn't have anything.  Instead of sitting in a toy box here, it could be getting used.  She is being very careful about her purging and I didn't want to rush her process.  Truth be told, I'd love to give everything away;)  Less clutter=happy mama;)  Phin has had a harder time understanding and has mostly purged McDonalds toys.  I decided not to push to hard because I want them to learn to give joyfully and not make it feel like I am robbing them of something.  I trust with time, he too will understand and appreciate the opportunity to bless others.

The list of warm fuzzies for one another was fun to do.  Marc was not home for dinner so unfortunately he did not participate, but here is a few of the things mentioned last night. 

Ava's thoughts re:
Chloe- I love that Chloe is my sister.  I love to play with her and I am very happy that she uses some of my old things like clothes and shoes.  I like that she gets really happy when we play books or dolls.
Phin-  I love to play Toy Story with him.  I also am very proud of Phin for his potty training.
Papa-  I love playing tackle with papa.  My favorite is that papa puts me to bed every night and I am glad he works hard to pay for our house.
Mom-  I am glad mom brings me home from school.  I really am thankful that she helps me with lots of stuff and cooks for us.
I am really glad I have parents.
God-  I'm thankful he give me good days and good things and helps me when I feel scared.

Phins thoughts re:
Ava-  Ava plays with me and she shares her toys with me and that is special.
Chloe-  I think she is funny when she spits.
Papa-  I love tackling with Papa too!  and my papa makes me really good breakfast.
God-  He loves me.

My thoughts:
Ava-  I love Ava's artistic ability and I am thankful that she blesses us with Art!  Ava is smart and she know rules.  I am also thankful she uses her brain to help the whole family learn about things like owls or tornadoes.
Phin-  I love that Phin lives life to the fullest and he gives the most wonderful cuddles!
Chloe-  I love Chloe's laugh and her silly side.  I love that she enjoys tickles and playing hide and seek.
Marc-  I am so thankful that he loves Jesus, loves and serves our family and works hard to provide for us.
God-  He is everything to me.  My source of peace, joy, and strength.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent Day 20- He makes us Clean

Today's Advent message read:
Today you get to take a bath (pause for stunned effect)...."What?" you say, "we always take baths."  Don't you worry!  This won't be any bath, because today we have special CHRISTMAS BATH CONFETTI!  Let's celebrate that Jesus washes our sins away when we trust in Him!

I fully know this is probably the last year my kids will ALL become jubilant over a special bath, but they are 1, 3, and 5.  They have never used bath confetti.  They rarely get bubble baths because Ava has skin issues; they got excited and it was fun.  I was glad for the simple day.  I had to bath them anyway and being a little tired, I was so glad they still are tickled as can be with "little things".

(Side note-These moments always make me stop and wonder what little things I take for granted.  I'm trying to stop doing that and celebrate those things if you see me doing a happy dance over fudge covered Oreos in the grocery aisle look away or join in, I am just trying to live in the moment and celebrate the little things that make me happy.  Try it, at the very least you get a good laugh at yourself and a happy moment in the middle of busyness;)

They each got one to sprinkle in (and we used so little, I think these babies will last us 10 Christmas seasons;) and they loved watching them "disappear" and become bubbles.  Mom loved the scents!

I LOVE our big bath tub...rub a dub dub three kiddos fit in the tub;) 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Day 19...or maybe not;)

We DID open the door and it's supposed to be SNOW day...which is by far one of the most fun days, I've planned, but it has been postponed.  My kids are crankier than cranky so instead of rigidly following my plan- we are postponing snow day so we actually enjoy it and they are instead watching Polar Express and I ordered pizza.  It's just an "off" day and instead of fighting it- we're going to go with the flow and count the moments until bedtime.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent Day 18- Bethlehem Dinner!

Today's advent message read:

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a Shepherd keeping watch over their flocks by night?  What did they wear?  What did they eat?  Today we will find out a little about the Shepherds and then we will go to Corrigans for a special Bethlehem dinner where we will eat some food the people may have eaten back in days of Jesus' birth.

My friend Summar is responsible for the way we have celebrated Advent by "special days".  I loved the idea of making each day a day of anticipation and celebration.  She has given me so many ideas.  She's a gem.  Her children are growing up so their Advent season has changed some.  She called me a while ago and thought it would be nice to have a Bethlehem dinner together.  Her children are a bit old for it, but could enjoy doing it FOR my kids.  It was so sweet of her, of her children...and yes, my kids loved it.

Here I am making Spinach Pies in preparation...

 Me and My kiddos....Ava and  I were angels, Phin (and Marc- not pictured) were shepherds, and little Chloe was a sheep

 Have you ever seen a more adorable sheep?

Our little shepherd liked his staff a litte too much and tried to control Chloe the sheep with it...BOYS! 

 Summar and Janan preppin' food when we arrived.

Green Blankets on the floor served as "the fields";)

The food;)  (Popcorn was "sheeps wool", and the rest is different types of Middle Eastern fare (Summar is Lebanese like Marc, so the food comes easy to us;) 

 Neda made the kids sheep cupcakes;)

Summar had a recording of a "real shepherd" telling us what it was like the night Jesus was born and the angels appeared to them

Chloe wasn't to crazy about the Middle Eastern food, but the cupcake....that suited her just fine;) 

Neda and Chloe switched hats;)

Thank you Corrigan family for living life with us and giving my kids a really special evening.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent Days 16 and 17

Advent Day 16's message read:
We made all those Christmas Cookies.  Let's go share them!  Tonight we are going to take a Pajama RIDE!  We get some popcorn and hot coca and load up into the car.  We'll drive around, look at lights and deliver some cookies to our friends and neighbors.

This has been one of our traditions since Ava was born.  It is one of my favorite nights.  Unfortunately, I don't have any was dark, afterall;)  It was one of those times I was so "into" the moments that a camera was the farthest thing from my mind;)

Advent Day 17:
It's...GINGERBREAD DAY!  Today we will go see the Gingerbread Houses on display at the Waelderhaus in Kohler and then we will come home and make our own!

The Waelderhaus is a really neat Austrian Chalet...a really cool setting for a Gingerbread display.  I think the kids thought IT was a Gingerbread house at first;)

 Phin found his favorite right away;)  A CARS themed Gingerbread house:)

 I think the rest of us were most impressed with this windmill.

 My babies and me;)

 Mommy laid out some supplies (we used a basic kit and then a ton of candy and other crackers/cookies, etc.)

 It was Marc's first time doing it with us...and I think he had the most fun of all of us;)

Chloe didn't do very much assembly but she sure enjoyed sampling the supplies;)

 Here is the boys finished scene.

 Here is Ava and Mommy's (ours is better, right?;)