December! Slowly but surely, I will catch up.
The first Wednesday of December, I took the kids downtown to the most awesome bookstore, “Book People” for story time. The story time ended up being so-so, but we sure had fun exploring the kids section that was vast and well-stocked. I could spend way too much money in there. Amazon.com likes me. After the bookstore, we walked across the street to Whole Foods that was having a “National Geographic Kids” special event. They had an enormous computer screen the projected all sorts of wild animals on it while at the same time showing a projection of all of us walking/moving in front of the screen. So it looked like we could reach out and pet the dolphin, nearly swallowed by a T-rex, or stampeded by wildebeests. It was awesome, particularly watching the kids figure out what was happening.
They were a bit unsure and nervous at first. We enjoyed the rooftop playground a picnic before heading back home.
I absolutely adored this! During our small group meetings for the last few months, the nursery workers organized various art projects the kids worked on to have a collection we parents could then buy at their “Winter Market Place”. The proceeds went to Harvest of Hope and the kids decided how they wanted to “spend” the money. For several countries, they bought a pair of goats; clean water for a family in Indonesia; counseling and support for a victim of human trafficking in Moldova; and Bibles.
We got to go around and buy these special goods from these cuties selling them.
This girl and I picked out our Christmas tree, lugged it back home and got it all set up to surprise our boys. Now, when you see it, you’ll notice that it’s a wee bit small. I was <this> close to not getting a Christmas tree at all. The whole decorating process for the holidays overwhelms me. It stresses me out, and I end up being very grumpy. It’s almost not worth it to me, except that if you remember my kids’ faces next to the penguin, then you’ll understand that really, I do it for them. They light up with excitement and the wonder of all the twinkly lights. So I pray. I pray a lot that I don’t just grin and bear it, but that I have a heart of joy. Having a smaller tree makes it feel less of a feat <grin>.
I do this way too often. And I’m not sure why because it’s a huge fear of mine to run out of gas. And look…it’s cold here in Texas. The coldest December I remember!
These next pictures with the kids made the whole tree decorating process for me worth it. They were mesmerized.
The days we stay around home are never boring!
Our first hot chocolate party of the season.
Our annual gingerbread house decorating.
These little fingers quickly discovered the tastiness of the icing.
December 7th…our St. Nicholas Day celebration. If you want a more eloquent description of what this ideally looks like for our family, you can read this. Generally, we read books about St. Nicholas and Scripture about giving and serving; we have an international fare for dinner that varies each year (and I’m sad to say I don’t even remember what we did this past December); and we pick a service project to put our hands and hearts to.
Matt and I toyed, debated, mulled over, prayed about, and finally settled upon going out to a farm of one of Matt’s colleague’s to help process the chickens they raise. Matt was confident and excited about showing the kids where our food really comes from; to appreciate the life sacrificed for us to eat and be nourished; and to thoughtfully recognize that as we eat our dinner what it means in terms of the cost of life as well as the hard work that goes into raising, caring for and processing the animals.
But wait, the kids are 4 and 2. Would we totally scar them for life!? I’ve had to kill a chicken to eat it…a story for another time, but I was 15 years old. I wasn’t so sure about introducing this visual to the kids, and I grappled with it. But we did it. Despite the literal freezing cold temperatures that Saturday, our family trekked out to the country.
When we arrived, we took a great tour of the farm and got to see the many animals they have: horses, roosters, hens (we collected some eggs), bunnies, and pigs. They had been hard at work since first thing in the morning processing the chickens, something that went more slowly for them that day because of the cold. I thought we’d be able to have more control over what the kids saw, but when we pulled up, it was clear to me that wasn’t going to be the case. You know who this was the hardest for? ME! The kids did amazing! I didn’t hear one complaint over the cold; there wasn’t one tear, awkwardness or fear; and they worked hard. Kensie even helped catch the chickens. I was glad I was stationed inside where it was warm. But the reality of what I was doing was clearly before me as I had the job of cleaning out any organ and feather remnants. I had to mentally block out what was happening so as not to embarrass myself. But we did it! We learned a lot and I added some extra helping hands.
We brought home two chickens to eat, and truly, they were some of the best chickens I’ve eaten! So fresh and tender, and we ate with enlivened thankful hearts for those chickens and the farmers who raised them.
He’s become a Lego fan, particularly Legos from Star Wars IV-VI. He can put most of them together by himself, but his daddy likes to take part in it.
Grocery shopping is a usual Monday ritual. And looking at this girl makes it more fun.
After a visit to the library, the kids and I took a picnic to our city’s plaza where a high school band was playing Christmas music.
Our small group roared with laughter during our Christmas party and white elephant gift exchange! We had all sorts of interesting gifts. Matt scored some lottery tickets that we hoped would bring in some big bucks.
This was one of the most fun things I’ve done with Kensie! My friend, Amy, discovered Foodie Kids, a precious place to cook and bake with little ones. It is awesome! Amy and I felt like we were kids in a candy store and had smiles on our faces the whole time. The girls loved it just as much as we did <grin>. We ended up being the only ones in a cooking decorating class.
A boy who got too hot in his PJs after running around so he stripped down before helping me tag our friend/neighbor Christmas gifts.
On December 17th, Brennan had his Christmas program at pre-school…his last one. It was also momentous because it was the first one Popsie was in town for and got to see!
Brennan had a speaking line: “Her name was Mary.”
These two crack me up. Sometimes they pretend like they’re married (hence the “wedding rings”). They have a baby to take care of, which sometimes leads to squabbles as to who will feed and rock the baby. The only thing missing from this picture are smiles…I think they’re happily married.
For their Christmas presents, Papa and Nana gave the kids cowboy boots. She felt pretty spiffy.
One cowgirl princess ready to go!
On December 21st, Matt and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary! I can hardly believe it. My parents took the kids for a night while I enjoyed some pre-Christmas pampering and a night out on the town with my husband. I think we were in bed by 9 p.m. The next day we met my parents at a party we were all invited to of friends we’ve had our whole lives. Some of them were at the hospital with my parents the day I was born with champagne in hand to celebrate. Some my brother and I went to school with from pre-k to high school and now go to church with! Three generations of friends who have known each other 30+ years under one roof! It’s that sort of collision of time, relationship, and memories that makes my mind and heart explode with nostalgia and thanksgiving.
Christmas…right around the corner!