Our Little Family Christmas 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Do you ever just stare at your kids and just SWOON over how much you adore them? Yeah, me too.

Yesterday was such a very, very special treat.  In a season that is so hurried and full of work (it’s our busy season at the office) and travel to see family, we really wanted to take a day and celebrate Christmas with just our little family. It was simple and quiet and incredibly rejuvenating. It was so refreshing to forget the to do lists, to remember the reason for the season, and to spend time focusing just on each other.

We have been working on our advent activity all month now, attempting to teach Beckett some very basic pieces of the Christmas story. So we started out our morning with coffee & catching up on our advent board. If nothing else, Beckett knows that Christmas is Baby Jesus’ birthday and therefore cause for some serious celebration. We followed up our story review with cinnamon rolls adorned with birthday candles. Thank you baby Jesus, for saving us, and for giving us a semi-valid excuse to indulge in copious amounts of sugar early in the morning. 

After breakfast, we opened presents! My kids are crazy-pants and took a bit of convincing to even be interested in the gift process, but they eventually got on board. After debating for a while whether or not we’d do gifts at all this year, we did the “four gifts” [want, need, wear, read] for the second year in a row, plus stockings full of fun and practical goodies. 

Beckett is totally thrilled with his new hot wheels storage containers. He spent a significant portion of the last two days filling and refilling the neat little slots. This is how I know he is my child. Organization bins for the win!

Charlie was even easier to impress. She just wanted to play with a box. She never actually did get around to opening this last gift. After several attempts at coaxing her to unwrap it, I just did it myself. I would have waited on this one except we needed it to get to the next part of our day!

After gifts, I got my mimosa on while the rest of the crew made breakfast. This is Brian’s Christmas tradition for the family. He makes my personal favorite, Eggs Benedict, while I do whatever I do. I love it so much!

Because we live in East Tennessee, it was in the mid fifties yesterday (woo hoo), so after breakfast we got to head outside to play and hang Charlie’s new swing! This was a highlight of my day for sure. I just don’t spend enough time sitting and watching my kids explore, enjoying their stinkin’ cute little personalities and soaking up the memories. I couldn’t help but think about how much I SERIOUSLY love having two toddlers. They may be exhausting and messy and incredibly high maintenance (actually, that’s just one of them), but I ADORE this stage and find myself hoping I am just obsessed with all the subsequent life stages. 

Next, we got ourselves organized and the whole crew (Doug included!) headed out to Bass Pro. The intention was to see Santa but we naively underestimated the wait time and were not convinced that it was worth it. Beckett confirmed our suspicions when I snuck him around the side to wave at Santa and he was the opposite of interested. Sorry, Santa. Instead we enjoyed the Winter Wonderland and the rest of the store, and headed to their restaurant, where they allow dogs! Whaaat?! Totally made our day!! Because we had Doug, they put us in the back room, which was beautiful and quiet, and had an awesome fireplace. Our waitress was sweet and amazing and even brought a cup of water for Doug to enjoy. New favorite place, for sure!

Finally, we headed over for the last hoo-rah of the day, the lights display at Smokies stadium. We grabbed yummy coffee and loaded the kids in our laps, hoping the 24 bucks we paid to get in wouldn’t be a waste. Guys, it was awesome. Beckett was EN.THRALLED with the lights. Charlie was sufficiently entertained as well. They both loved sitting up front with us, chowing on kettle corn and dancing to the music. Beckett spent half the ride hanging out the passenger side window, giving the rest of us a perfect view of his cute tushie. 

It was the best family day we’ve had in a while. Nothing too elaborate, but definitely memorable and fun. I look forward to many more Christmases with this crew. These are my favorite people.

Is Bay-ee Jeeyus!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mark my words, there will be no shelf elves in this house. Not because you elf moms aren't stinkin' cute, but because I am not the mom who can keep up with the daily adventures of an elf. 

However, this year we decided to hop on the advent bandwagon. And, by the way, it was not a graceful hop. It was more like a rushed, frantic plop onto the bandwagon as it rushed by. But WE'RE ON IT. Actually, we started 2 days late because I ran out of ink and didn't get the cards all printed. There have also been several days already where we've had to catch up on the day before. So I'm really on top of things. 

The number one goal was to do something simple that would remind & teach us all of the true reason for the season. I liked the idea of a book gift a day, because that's something I knew Buck & Chuck would both get excited about. Brian and I wrapped 25 books, most of which we already had. On the front of each I taped a number to correspond with the date, starting with 1. On the back of each number I put a verse. I used this blogger's verse order for reference, and I made my own cards.

Because I am a big teacher-nerd and can't pass up a chance to incorporate some extra tidbit of knowledge, I made Beckett a big calendar to go along with our daily gifts. Each day, we're talking about today's date and then finding the gift that corresponds with the date. We read the verse, talk about it, and use pictures from books to put it in the context of a story. This seems like a long process but really, it's not. After we're done, Beckett tapes the verse on the appropriate date on our calendar. 

We're 15 days in and so far so good(ish)! This is our first year truly introducing the story of Christmas to the kiddos. I worried about doing it justice but I have been so encouraged and pleased with the verse a day idea. I worried that it would be difficult to explain or elaborate on one single verse, but we've actually had nice little interactions based on the verse and corresponding images. Not only do I feel like Beckett is grasping the basic concept of the verses, but I am also deeply enjoying re-experiencing the Christmas story verse by verse. The experience has likely been more meaningful and special for me than for Beckett. 

So far, Beckett can name the "characters" and give their very basic role in the story. He knows the angel Gabriel said, "Don't be afraid!," he knows that Mary has a baby, and he knows that we're working up to Christmas day, which is the day Mary had the baby. Also, if you ask him whose birthday we're celebrating, he'll answer enthusiastically, "Is Bay-ee Jeeyus!" MELT.

Charlie has spent most of her time ripping apart my cute board and opening books before it's time, but whatever man. She's having fun too. 

I hope we continue to do something similar every year!
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