Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas traditions

Have a special stocking (preferably white) that is set aside as Christ's stocking. Each year have every family member go around and write down one gift of service they want to give Christ throughout the next year. For example, smile at five strangers every day, donate to the homeless shelter every month, visit the elderly every week, etc. Then the next year have each member of the family go around and share experiences they had while performing their gift. Then each person add s anew gift into the stocking for the upcoming year. We're starting this with Emma who is 4 and I think that is an appropriate age.

Luminaries were one of my favorite childhood traditions. In Arizona my parents went around to the neighbors and asked them to all have luminaries lining the sidewalks of our streets. It made for such an enchanted sight on Christmas Eve and really added to the spirit of unity. I will be asking the neighbors in our little cul-de-sac to participate this year with us. In Arizona brown paper bags worked great, but here we might have to use mason jars.

Lee's market place is my very favorite grocery store. They are always so great about baking bread specifically for you in any color you need. For every Holiday I like to special order colored bread and make a festive french toast or even just simple sandwiches. I have a buttermilk syrup recipe to go with french toast that is to die for and I like to color that as well.

A few years back my parents gave us all this book and encouraged us to read it by Christmas Eve so we could discuss it for our program. Then they gave us all jars and we started our own little collection of spare change. The next year we had such a great experience with finding just the right family/person to anonymously give it to. I think a mason jar and this book would make a fabulous gift.

The BEST TRADITION ever invented is the elf knock. The story goes that on Christmas Eve Santa sends one of his elves to go up ahead of him and knock on the window to signify that Santa will be there soon. The kids must then DASH off to bed as fast as they can, and if they wake up, or don't go to sleep, Santa will skip their house and not come. Sounds harsh, but we have yet to ever have a child not play along. Of all my nieces and nephews and all of the different personalities we have, we have never had a child get out of bed. I started this when Emma was two and it is just the cutest thing you've ever seen. Be sure to have your video camera out to capture the excitement. The best is that once the kids are down the adult program can start. It's nice to have a spiritual program without having the kids interrupting or worrying they might get up at any second while wrapping last minute gifts.

There wasn't a photo to show this, but this tradition started with my mom's dad, then passed down to my dad, and now this year Ryan will be doing it for our girls. On Christmas morning the kids wake up, etc. But they can't come to the family room where the gifts are until the dad goes to check and see if Santa has come, and if he has then he yells "Good ga'll he's been here!!" That's the signal for the kids to come running down the hall. I doubt anyone copies this tradition, but it was just such a tender part of my childhood and it meant so much knowing it all started from my Grandpa Earl.

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I'm going to try not to write too many words since I am so sick of blogger. I will see it through until the end of the year and then I am switching to a different blogging world. Hopefully my words will match up with the photos....25 minutes later, nope, they don't. They'll be lumped down at the bottom for anyone who cares to read them and match them with the photos. But let's be realistic, people just want photos anyway.

Below is Lydia sporting this year's Christmas pajamas. I'm so glad I gave them to the girls early so they can be enjoying them.

Lydia is obsessed with "ANNIE!! Annie! Annie!"

I can't believe I don't have one single photo of my date night with my sisters and my mom, and a separate one of my sisters and my dad. But Ryan met me and the girls at the hotel after our date with my mom ended so we could take the girls swimming. They loved it, even though this is kind of a bad picture of all of us.

Emma is so good to let me do whatever I want to her hair. I did it up like Cindy-Loo-Hoo and got such a kick out of it.

Lydia is so good when Emma is in bed. She just plays quietly and loves to get into Emma's things knowing she can have free reign over her toys.

My parents had a delayed Thanksgiving dinner so my sisters could go with their in laws. We played some great game and all enjoyed our generous prize of the white elephant game....the kids especially :)

This is Elfie Noel. She lives with us until Christmas morning when she'll return with Santa. She moves through out the house periodically and keeps an eye on everyone. She makes sure there is Christmas spirit, love and service in our home. She reports back to Santa each night. She can only move if nobody is around to see her (like Toy story characters.) She is the best invention ever and I'm so glad we have her.
On December 5th was St.Nicholas Eve. If you leave your shoe outside your door the elves will put a gift in it in honor of St. Nicholas's birthday. Emma was lucky enough to have the "elves" fill the floor of her room with balloons. That meant more to her than anything.

This is such an accurate photo of my girls. Lydia trying to get on the computer to watch Shamu or Amals (animals), and Emma playing with her "friends" as she calls them. I don't know why, but these little girls love to take their pants off. Weird. I swear they are not just copying what they see at home.
Today I went over to my friend Carrie's house and she let me use her studio. She took all the photos for me and now I am green with jealousy that I don't have my own studio. Thanks again Carrie!!