Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Night Dinner

Another family tradition of ours is to host a family Christmas Dinner for both sides of our family. This includes most of my mom's extended family as well as my brothers and their families. Whew! We had a total of 36 people here this year, and a joyous, fun, chaotic evening celebrating Christ's birth. My only living grandparent is my mom's mother, Mimi, and we usually spend this time allowing her to pass out gifts to everyone! Including the 19 GREAT-grandchildren. She is so generous and giving to all of us and we had a great time together.

The TWEEN table! Aren't they cute?

The kids all 6 and under, Whew!

Half of the adult table. Aren't they cute too?

The newly engaged couple, they are planning a wedding for July 4, 2009!

Nana and Papa are always faithful guests, they are a big help with washing the dishes too!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Morning!-It's Finally Here!

Christmas morning was filled with lots of surprises for the kids. They couldn't believe it yet again, that Santa had come! Just experience their excitement below!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve Celebration

The kiddos in their Christmas finest (this was even after they ate)

Our family traditions are many, but for Christmas Eve, our plan has never changed. We all travel to church, then gather at J's parents house for a feast like no other. Nana always creates an appetizer party that leaves me more stuffed than any meal I have ever been to.

The kids always open one special gift, miraculously each year, the gift is matching PJ's. This year the PJ's had a reindeer theme, and everyone squealed and laughed with delight when they saw them.

What a fun night, leading up to Christmas morning. . the excitement was uncontainable, but captured in a few photos!

The kids with J's parents, our fearless hosts every Christmas Eve!

The kids with my parents, who fearlessly dared to spend an evening with 11 excited children!

What could it be?

Now they're all ready for Bed!

The Beauty of Christmas

On Christmas Eve, we were busy, busy, finishing our preparations for Christmas Day. The last presents were being wrapped, the table was set, R graciously had collected bags of fresh greenery to place around our home, and the children were anxiously awaiting the next morning. J continuously told me thank you for making our home so "christmasy" for the kids and that everything looked great. Of course I was grateful, but in my pregnant state, I knew of all the details that had gone undone this year. . .even in all that, the details completed and those undone. . I found the beauty of Christmas this year. Each year, I find God shows me another way to see it. I had been praying all December that I would not "miss" Christmas and that I would see His glory this year.

Each Christmas Eve, we attend a beautiful, quaint, candlelight service at church. We then travel with all of our family over to my MIL's house for a delicious appetizer party. . . It was there during that service I saw it this year. . the beauty of Christmas. During the lighting of the candles and our commission to take the Good News of Christ out to the world. . the congregation, children, and choir, joined voices to sing my all time favorite Christmas song. . "Silent Night". As I sat between my brother R, who has had a hard year, my dad on the other side, and looked down the row at my beautiful children, and down from the balcony onto the ground floor to my husband below ushering for the service. . I choked back the tears. It was a Silent Night, Humble moment where God showed me a Holy Night. HE is the beauty of Christmas, not the fancy table set above, not the presents wrapped so tediously, nor all the cookies carefully decorated by the children, but in HIM, in the moment of Christmas, I felt His Glory.

No matter what happened the next morning, even if Santa didn't come. . I knew I had felt and seen the beauty of Christmas in that special moment.

Santa sends an early Christmas package

On December 23, we received a scroll from Santa in our mailbox. It explained that one of our Christmas presents was being delivered early as it was not a good idea to bring it on his sleigh. . . It further explained that the kids' mom or dad should go to the airport on Christmas Eve morning and wait in Air Cargo to see what the package was. So, Christmas Eve morning, J rose early to drive to our nearest international airport, an hour and a half away, signed in at Air Cargo and was told the plane with our delivery was of course delayed due to weather concerns across America.

The kids back at home with me had me call him anxiously every 30 minutes to see what the package was. . they guessed away all morning. . something breakable? an animal? a game for the family? What could it be? Once the package was delivered into J's hands, he sent word to me he had the package but was not going to reveal the surprise until he arrived back home.

Shortly after lunch, he called to say he was minutes away. . to gather the kids in the den. . and be ready for pictures. . this is what we got:

A sleepy and drowsy, tired traveler. . a German Shorthair Pointer, all brown with a white cross on her chest! What an angel and a fun addition to the family! Thank you Santa!

J sings at School

Little J sang with his preschool friends the week before school got out. (sorry this one is out of order) I loved the photos we captured and his excitement when singing "We Wish you a Merry Christmas". I just love a good preschool performance, don't you?

Just a little glance over at Mom and Dad!

Just a little wave this time!

When I asked J what he was doing in this picture he said, "Oh. . I was trying to make everyone laugh". Sounds like his daddy, doesn't it.

Christmas Baking Crew in the Kitchen

Each Christmas the kids and I embark on quite a task, we make homemade candy, cookies, and well. . just about any other Christmas treat you can imagine. It takes every child doing some task to complete the work. I think we worked solid for about 3 days on:
-Chocolate peanut butter cups
-peppermint bark
-Martha Washington balls
-decorated cookies
-M and M cookies
-Christmas cupcakes
-Crispix Jingle Mix
-Christmas trail mix
-Spicy Christmas crakcers
-Cheese wafer crackers
-chocolate covered pretzels
And Sausage balls!

What an undertaking. . we are still eating around here!
These were taken during the cookie phase over the weekend before Christmas:

K and A turn 9 and 17!

K and A are biological sisters that have lived with us for 5 1/2 years. Little K was just a mere 3 years old when she came and has changed so much. A was a meek, mild, shy 11 year old that has blossomed, grown, and come out of her shell. They have both found a special place in our family and share December birthdays only 4 days apart. We always try to fit in a special "separate" family dinner to celebrate their birthdays apart from the Christmas season.

K's big wish this year was a bike and Ashley's was a pair of Clark shoes. We had a great time celebrating. Enjoy the photos! Happy Birthday girls!

I must back up a little

So sorry that I haven't posted in so long, but the Christmas season has been quite eventful around our home. (as it has in yours as well I am sure) We actually have quite a few birthdays during the month as well as the normal excitment Christmas brings to our household. I have just not had a chance to catch up on my posts. . so enjoy the views, stories, and photos as we close out 2008!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Need a Perspective Check?

For those of you that are as stressed out as I am, Click Here and read:

Mary Beth Chapman's Chrismas Letter

Many of you may know her as she is married to Christian Singer, Steven Curtis Chapman. Last May, they lost their daughter in a tragic car accident at their home. I definitely needed to read this!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Season is Upon US!

As I go about my busy days, hustling and bustling (literally) from one place to the next, I am suddenly surprised that Christmas is HERE. It's not that I haven't been shopping, noticing the tinsel at the grocery store, nor the decorations in my own home. . but for some reason, it is hitting me. . . It's Here. Christ is coming, the King. I have nine days left to prepare my family for a glorious day of celebration, but am I preparing my own heart? Am I ready for Jesus' birth to once again radiate into my deepest parts and remember why it is we celebrate His birth. HE is the reason we do all of this, am I missing it?

At my Bible Study this morning, our leader reminded us of the inn keeper. Although, it is not specifically stated in scripture, we do wonder about the person that told Mary and Joseph there is no room, but a stable was offered. Did he miss it? Did he, the inn keeper, we so often see in children's nativity productions actually miss the birth of the Messiah? The long expected one foretold in prophecies passed down through generations? Am I missing it?

The truth is, it's hard NOT to be busy at Christmas, remember we have 11 children, there are a lot of actitivites, teacher gifts, school parties, not mention shopping for the kids and they must shop for one another. So, it's impossible NOT to be busy, but as we hustle and bustle, we must be reminded DAILY, why we are doing this. It is to celebrate the birth of the long awaited Messiah, foretold to even US through generations upon generations. It has also been presented to us in God's word in such a special fashion, a simple message, for all people, the lowest to the highest kings, a simple birth, a simple plan, but are we missing out? HE IS COMING AGAIN for us, let's not miss out as the inn keeper did. Let's totally immerse ourselves in the reason we do this season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Night Before Christmas!

Twas the month before Christmas and all through the town. . .
little ballerinas were planning to dance in their gowns. . .
The family was ready to view quite a show. .
All the girls, their dances did know. .
Papa was ready for his theatrical debut. . .
The dancers were ready, awaiting their cue. . .

Okay, okay, that is my best attempt at poetry, I know, pitiful. Last month, our dance centre put on quite an early Christmas show. I love the idea of having our show every other year as well as the weekend before Thanksgiving to give everyone a break during the busy month of December. This year, we have 5 performers as well as J's dad serving as "papa" in the show. The show was fabulous and put us all in the Christmas spirit. I just had to add as many photos as I could of the girls. They all did a great job and we were so proud of their hard work. Their numbers included an elf, a snow fairy, a penguin, a "nightgown" girl, a rag doll, and a Chinese Tea dancer from the Nutcracker. Enjoy the photos, they all looked beautiful.

K as an elf. What a beautiful girl. I thought this shot of her turned out great!

M. E. in action, she had a ball doing this dance.

M. E. as a precious rag doll. Priceless.

S danced like an angel and looked like one too.

This one was actually taken at the Dress Rehearsal, there was something fun for the girls about learning how to come out on stage and take a bow.

Little T was the best little Chinese tea dancer I had EVER seen. I thought this captured her in action!

When Little T did this step in her dance, she literally stole the show!

M as a penguin dancing to "Happy Holidays"

M as a snow fairy, dancing to "Silent Night" sung by Josh Groban. Absolutely beautiful.

Simply. Beautiful. I loved this dance, especially when the snow fell on stage.

Papa was a great sport and even wore his flannel nightgown on stage. Thanks again Papa!

Thank you Lord for our beautiful gifted dancers. Thank you for giving them the joy of sharing dance, especially in songs of praise here at home. What precious gifts you have given the world in ALL of our girls.

Monday, December 8, 2008

High School Masquerade

Several weeks ago, the high schoolers went to a dance at school and were "required" to wear a mask for entrance. It was their first experience to have a true masquerade party. They enjoyed planning for the party and even participated 100% in their fun masks.

I thought they all looked so nice and wanted to go back in time a few weeks to include the night.

A all in black, what a beauty!

M all in brown, this turned out to be a great color for her and she looked beautiful!

T all in gold, what a shining star!