Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

What a wonderful time Christmas is!! A time for reflecting on our Savior's birth and how He came as a baby, lived as a man, and died for our sins so that we may have eternal life!! There is no greater gift than that!
We had a very special Christmas this year as once again. The highlight was Dave being able to come home from Texas and celebrate with us. It was an even shorter visit than at Thanksgiving but we were thrilled none the less.
The best gift was that we got happened on the Friday before Christmas. Dave was not supposed to get in until late Friday night but he found out at the last minute that GFA was closing the office early on Friday. So after morning prayer, he called Delta to see if there was any way he could switch his flight. This was at 10am - they said they had a flight scheduled to leave at 11am and they could get him on that flight meaning he would arrive 7-1/2 hours earlier than scheduled!! Now this was all God because GFA is over 20 minutes away from the airport and he still had to have our friend Jeff drive him there, go through security, get his new boarding pass, and get on the flight all within an hour. He made it and we got the most wonderful surprise of all this Christmas by having him here for longer than we had thought. Yes, Samson has missed Dave too! (don't ya just love his Christmas "bone" tie??)
He arrived just in time for dinner and we had a good southern BBQ dinner at a local homemade BBQ place near our house - Kelly's. It was super yummy. After that we came home to relax. We got in our PJ's and just hung out watching movies and spending time together!!
Christmas Eve was a wonderful day. We got up and had a yummy breakfast and just enjoyed some time together!

Dave decided he wanted us to open the gifts that he had gotten us from Texas. Of course, there were no complaints about that! Kira got a true Stetson Cowboy hat,

Andrew was thrilled to get an Angry birds shirt and "Animal" shirt,

and I was in love with the special boots he got me as well as a wonderful new book written by one of our friends at GFA.
There was also one more gift we had wanted the kids to open before Christmas that they could use on Christmas day! It was their brand new Bibles!!

They were thrilled. They both had been asking for a new Bible for a while now. They read it every morning and Kira had grown out of her kids Bible. They both also wanted the same version that Dave and I had so when we would read together as a family, they could follow along easier. They both got the new ESV Student study Bible and love it. It has great little notes and as Dave and I were looking through it, we had even learned some new things too.
On Christmas morning, we awoke to a beautiful day and got up and ready for church. We did let the kids open their stockings which to be honest I have never done before (we don't do the whole Santa thing, I understand that many do and that is ok but we have chosen not to). Sometime through the years we had all been given a stocking with our name on it (well mine's a hat but who cares ;)).
I filled it with the necessities that I knew they all needed plus a little treat - yes, everyone got new underwear and socks in their stockings but they loved it anyway :).

I must say that I don't remember ever going to church on Christmas because it's usually the Christmas Eve service that churches have but we were thrilled!! What an amazing way to start the day that we celebrate Jesus's birth!! Our service was beautiful and our praise band even did an amazing version on Trans Siberian Orchestra's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - it was awesome and if you know me, you know I love the Trans Siberian Orchestra and was the first to introduce my family to them many years ago :).
We came home and while the Christmas dinner was finishing up cooking, we opened the rest of the gifts from the grandparents and each other :). We always get leary of how many gifts the kids get and taking away from the true meaning of Christmas wasting money on toys that are thrown in the toy box just a week later. I was very proud of our kids this year. They asked for very minimal and I knew they would use everything they asked for -- still too much in my opinion but I was grateful.
Kira got some body spray -yes, she is growing up :(. She got a diary, some earrings, a worship CD, a scarf, a baby duck that you feen - no, it's not real-hehe, and some games.

Andrew is utterly still addicted to legos and K'nex and plays with them all the time so his big gifts this year were Bionicles or now known as Hero Factory as well as a Narnia movie, and some games.

Dave got some new PJ/lounge pants and a journal to write down the things God is teaching him!

The best part of the day was when we ordered from the GFA Christmas catalog together. It's amazing that the best part of Christmas is still the giving!!
After that , we settled down to a yummy homemade dinner complete with my first homemade apple pie. I have made fresh fruit pies before but never apple. If you can't tell from the picture, it was hard to wait until Christmas to have it so it's a half eaten pie that we enjoyed on Christmas Eve too :)
Samson was wiped from a wonderful Christmas but he wanted to me to wish you all a very Merry CHRISTmas and a very good night ;)

Christmas Happenings

Of course getting ready for Christmas is just as fun as the day itself! We decorated although no tree this year as we kinda needed a new one and I was thinking we would be in Texas this year and I would get one there but it didn't work out as I had thought. Oh well, we still loved our decorations!!
The church was the first Christmas decoration that Dave ever bought me!

Forgive the messy table in the background. We were cleaning and baking that day :P

One of our favorite things to do is to do our advent calendar which is quite unique. It is a beautiful Fontanini set and each day you hang a new piece on the nativity with the last piece being baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Our kids get so excited to do this every year!
We also enjoyed some baking this year as well. Well, Kira and I enjoyed baking, Andrew just enjoyed licking the beaters :).

One of the most fun things that we were able to do this year was that Dave was able to Skype with us through his phone and allow us to be a part of the GFA staff Christmas party. We don't have any pictures but the memories remain as he carried his phone to just about every table and allowed us to say Hi and Merry Christmas to everyone. It was wonderful because I was having a really hard time that day not being there and just missing Dave. It truly made my night!!
And then there is Samson who just enjoyed lounging on the couch with the remote in his paw without a care in the world ;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Photo Shoot

I love taking pictures of the kids and Christmas time is no exception. I love finding new places to take their Christmas pictures too :) Last year was the park and this year was the beach. I figured this was the last Christmas we would live close to a beach so it would be fun to capture some fun photos of the kids. They really have a hard time at first getting in the mood but by the end of the pictures, they are all into it and telling me to take a picture here or let's try here - they really are amazing children and I love them with all my heart!! So without any further anticipation, here is their 2011 Christmas photo shoot :)

Festival of Lights

Usually the first few nights after Dave leaves for Texas are the hardest for all of us. In order to help with this, I decided to take the kids to the Holiday Festival of Lights for a fun time together.
We took Andrew's best friend, James with us and we all had a blast!
Every other year we have gone, we have gone during a day that was closer to Christmas. This year we went right after Thanksgiving and it was great. We also went early on in the night. We drove through with literally no traffic at all.
After driving and seeing the lights, I surprised the kids and took the train ride through the county park for a closer look at all the lights.

It was a ton of fun but I must say the most fun was stopping and roasting marshmallows and making smores.

Yum, Yum, Yummy!!
If you look real close, you can see the flame on Andrew's marshmallow ;)