Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December ~ Pre-Christmas

For the kids Advent calendar this year I decided to use a mini-muffin pan.  I found the idea on Pinterest of course.  My original plan was to buy scrapbooking paper and cut out cute circles and make numbers with my Cricut machine and use them as the covers for the openings.  But then I came across a link that had these pre-made number squares that suited me just fine.  I printed them out in a smaller size and they worked perfectly, and so much faster and easier!

I knew I wanted to have a Christmas verse printed on the back of each number that we could read each day, and I had thought that I would have to type out the verses on my own (another time sucker), but then fortunately I came across another link that had a printable Advent verse calendar.  I just cut out each square and attached it to the back of each number and I was done!  Quick and easy.  And I really liked that the verses were short and simple and appropriate for their age level.  Some of the calendars I came across had much longer and more involved verses.

Halie read the verse each day, and then on Christmas Eve after a family breakfast we separated them out and each took turns reading a verse until we had read through them again 1 to 24.  I think that may be a new part of our Advent calendar tradition.

Another new thing we did this year (and another Pinterest idea) was unwrapping and reading a "new" Christmas book each night before bed.  A couple of months before December I started searching thrift stores every time I went and came up with a collection of about 17 Christmas books.  My mom sent me a few more and we had more than enough.  The kids really had fun taking turns choosing a package and opening one each night.  It didn't matter to them that they weren't brand spankin' new books.  They were new to them and that's all that mattered.  It was fun and a few of the books are really special and we'll keep for next year.  Most will be donated back to the thrift store and we'll start another hunt for "new" ones for next year.  

A pretty dress from Meemaw and Papaw Cantrell, worn on the first Sunday of December.

Our church has an annual Christmas potluck dinner and one of the things I made was Triple Chocolate Cheesecake.  It was only the 2nd cheesecake I've ever made, but it turned out delicious!  I'll definitely be making it again.

This was her dress the 2nd Sunday in December.  We found this one at Goodwill.  But she wasn't too thrilled that everyone kept calling her Mrs. Claus.  She was convinced they would forget that her name was really Halie.  :)

The kids at church did a little Christmas play and Halie was a yellow star.

She did a good job singing the songs with everyone.

We all chipped in and had fun making lots of Christmas goodies.

Halie and I made Christmas candy.

Here it is hot out of the pan and poured out to cool.

And here's the final result.  The green was peppermint flavored, and the red was cherry.

We took some of our goodies to a cookie exchange at the monthly Women of Worth meeting.

I gave them their Christmas jammies early this year.  I didn't want to wait for Christmas Eve and then they only get to wear them for one night and then Christmas is over.  So I let them have them earlier in the month so they could wear them a few times.

I got Halie's at Kohls, it was the only Black Friday shopping I did.  With a sale and promotional coupon, I got the set for $1.80!  And it even came with a matching gown for her doll.  She loved that!

One Saturday after Burl laid down for his nap, Robert, Halie and I worked on making sugar cookies.

Halie really loves baking, so she had a lot of fun with these.

Fred the Elf was still up to his tricks.  One morning the kids found him leading a parade of toy vehicles.

We woke up to snow one morning and found Fred already outside making snow angels on the back deck.

The kids bundled up and went outside right after breakfast to play.

Our Christmas tree star topper that we've had for 9 years quit working and Robert had taken it off the tree to try and fix it.  I guess Fred decided he needed to be the tree topper on this morning.

Robert's school session ended for Christmas break and so he got to stay home with us one Thursday morning.  We took the kids to the mall to see Santa.  Being a weekday morning there was no line at all which was SO very nice.

I expected Burl to be scared of him, but he wasn't at all.  He loved him.  He went right up to him and talked to him and gave him a big hug.

The Saturday night before Christmas Sunday I put Halie's hair up in curlers.  The next morning they found Fred playing with the curlers too.

Christmas Sunday

With some VERY curly hair!  :)

My two sweet kiddos.

It's almost impossible to get a good picture of a natural smile of Burl.  You generally have to just take a bunch of pictures and choose the best one, lol!

I LOVE this picture!  My 3 favorite people in all the world!

I love these two so very much!

By this time they were getting tired of picture time (since we had to take a kazillion pictures of little wild man there) so we had to end on a happy note and do silly face time.

I was more in the Christmas spirit this year than I have been in a very long time.  I think it partly had to do with having my shopping done in good time and not running around stressing at the last minute, but it also had to do with having two very excited kiddos. Seeing the magic of it all through their eyes brought magic to my heart as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fred, Our Elf on the Shelf

 If you haven't already heard, we've had a new house guest the past couple of weeks.  He's here visiting from the North Pole and his name is Fred.  He's our Elf on the Shelf.  

The traditional way of doing an Elf on the Shelf is to read the book that comes with him, which says that the elf is here to watch the kids behavior and report back to the North Pole each night.  So each morning he's found in a new place since he's leaving and coming back each night.  

But I decided to do ours a little different.  I didn't want their behavior to be a result of Santa watching.  In our home we teach that Jesus is watching and good behavior is always expected, not just at Christmas time, and I happened upon another idea on Pinterest that fit with that a lot better.  Our elf came in a box from the North Pole, but instead of the book he had a letter from Santa with him.

In short, the letter said that Santa had been trying to teach this elf about Jesus love and about making good choices, and he thought that since Halie and Burl were learning those things too that maybe they could help teach the elf for a few weeks until Christmas.  The catch is that he's very good and very still all day, but he loves to play and be a stinker at night.  

So, instead of the elf being here to make sure they have good behavior, he is here for them to teach him about Jesus love and how he can make good choices and not be such a stinker.

The box was waiting on the porch for them one morning when they woke up.

Even Gretchen had to check it all out.

Thinking of what to name him.  She finally decided on Fred.

The first morning they found him hiding behind the recliner with the blocks all over the floor and building a castle.

Another morning he had unraveled the toilet paper in the bathroom!

What a stinker!

Naughty Fred got into the M&M's!!

Coloring a picture.  He even drew an elf hat on her!

Uh-oh!  He got into the toothpaste.  Halie was not happy about having to clean up this mess, but it turned into a good teaching moment and we talked about responsibility and taking care of and loving someone even if they don't make good choices.

On this particular morning he had Halie's doll house out of the closet and all set up, and apparently took a potty break.

Whoa!  This hog has bad breath!

Under the kitchen table playing with the kids' Christmas train.

Hiding in the kitchen cabinet.  They looked EVERYWHERE for him that morning and could not find him.  Finally, when Burl went to get Gretchen a treat he discovered him.

This one made Halie laugh the hardest.  He replaced the stockings with their undies!  
And did you see him hiding nearby behind the topiary?

Watching a movie and having a snack.

This one deserves some explanation.  Robert loves to tease Halie that her beloved Alex the Lion eats people and she is VERY insistent that he does NOT.  So on this morning she found Fred hanging on for dear life to the stair railing, wielding a toddler's butter knife for protection from the vicious Alex.

Trying to pretend to be as innocent as Mary.  I think not!

I guess he had some last minute shopping to do because on this morning he was found digging through Mommy's purse with cards and money askew!

Some mornings he's been found just hiding in a new spot, not being mischievous or naughty at all, but sometimes he forgets that's he's supposed to be making good choices.

He sure has a been a fun new tradition this year.  We have a few more fun ones planned until Santa comes to get him in a few days, so I'll be sure to share those later as well as some other Christmas happenings.


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