Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Many December Adventures

I am pretty sure I write a blog post each year about why this time of year is truly the "most wonderful time of the year".  So, I won't bore you with that again. But, I may touch on the subject just a tad as I share about all of our December adventures thus far (in the 15 days we have had in the month).  During the month of December here in Austin, the weather is almost always amazing.  By this month, we are truly in the "fall" season.  Trees are changing colors, the temperature is cooling down--really the weather is pretty much perfect!  I absolutely love fall (as many of my posts have indicated).  And, I can hardly stand to be indoors this time of year.  We have made sure to be outside absolutely as much as possible with weather this gorgeous.  Plus, there is just so much to do this time of year locally--and we have gone on multiple adventures each day.  A huge perk of homeschooling is that we can complete our schoolwork during a couple of hours in the morning, and then we have all day to have fun together.  I LOVE it!

We started the month of December with hiking--lots of it.  (All of the photos below (except for the last few) are low quality, taken with my phone camera--sorry).

We also went to the library a lot to check out fun Christmas books and participate in special holiday programs for the month.  Across the street from the library, our town square is decorated with a big tree and a huge ornament.

 And we visited the awesome model train exhibit next door to the plaza, as is tradition for us each year.  You can see a short video by clicking here.

 We've had lots of fun with our homeschool friends as well.  Early in December, we visited Pioneer farms with our little co-op.   
telling silly stories inside the tee-pee
The kids loved playing with the donkeys there.
  But our favorite thing to do while there was play in Walnut creek!  We did that just before we left.  And I didn't want to leave--it was just WAY too gorgeous!

That night, we visited "Follow the Star" which has become an annual tradition for our family.  This production is so well done!  You can walk from scene to scene, each scene depicting a part of the life of Jesus Christ.

This is the first scene--Mary being visited by an angel who is telling her that she will give birth to Jesus!
Each scene has a description like this:

And, it is really cool, because all of the action happens right in front of you.

But, it is very realistic and good acting.  So, Luke was pretty scared of scenes like these:

Jesus was being beaten right in front of us.
And here is another example of scenes that scared him: click here (or see below) for a video of the crucifixion scene.

I think though it is important to try to imagine the pain that Jesus endured as a sacrifice for our sin-.  I mean,, he carried to that cross all of the sin of the world.  That is a heavy weight!  And, it was a great teaching moment for Luke.  Abbey did not seem afraid, but she is a couple of years younger than Luke.

The next morning, we participated in another annual tradition for us:  the Georgetown Stroll and Bethlehem village.  First, we attended the parade:

The kids received lots of "goodies" from the parade participants.  Abbey is showing daddy one of those goodies here.
The Bethlehem village is our favorite part of the stroll each year.  They transform an area of town square into a "village" that was much like Bethlehem when Jesus was born.  You can dye fabrics, grind wheat berries by hand into a flour, make clay pots, receive a baby doll that would have been like what children may have played with back then, and much much more.

Abbey and Luke are rolling out dough here.

And here, a volunteer Bethlehem villager is making a baby Jesus doll for Abbey, while she tells her the story of Jesus' birth.  So Sweet!

On the way back to our car, we found an old beautiful building that had a large, gorgeous door on the side.  I had to snap some photos in front of it using the door as a backdrop!

What a fun weekend!  The next week, we attended "Winnie the Pooh" at the Zach Theater on Monday.  We absolutely loved this theater and presentation.  The theater is very small and intimate, which makes you feel like you are getting your own VIP show.  It was such a cute, smart, musical and interactive performance.  It kept the attention of even the youngest and was an hour long, so that may tell you just how awesome it was!  And, they gave each of the kids study/discussion guides to complete at home afterwards to continue our learning experience. 

We weren't allowed to take photos or videos during the show, of course.  But, I snapped a quick photo before the show.  The row where Abbey was sitting is the front row.  The actors were right where I was standing, taking the photos! My friend there on the left was actually on the stage floor.  So cool!
Here are some of Luke and Abbey's homeschool friends that attended with us (with their silly faces on).  We love these kids!
Abbey tried to take a picture of all of the moms.  But, as you can see, she was not in the best position, and you can't see 3 of the moms on the left side.  Ha!
The next day was another one that brought absolutely spectacular weather!  After completing some of our morning schoolwork, the kids and I took a field trip to Laguna Gloria (an outdoor art exhibit in Austin that offers free admission on Tuesdays).

Abbey wanted so badly to touch this statue that she wasn't allowed to touch.
The trail there is just breathtaking.  Especially with all of the fall color change as we were experiencing.
We liked this gnarly looking tree.
My sweet boy looks so much older here!
They have a really neat interactive foam exhibit at Laguna Gloria now that the kids enjoyed as well.

Since we were next door to Mayfield Park (a gorgeous park with gardens that is always free), we just had to stroll over to there and visit the peacocks:

Hi Mr. Peacock!
Then, our sweet neighbor friends invited us over to make gingerbread cookies, which we then delivered to some neighbors.  We just love our neighbor friends!  They are the best!  We have a gate between our houses and the kids just come and go freely between the two homes.  I love it!

Later in the week, we visited Santa at the Bass Pro Shops in our town.  He was awesome!  He carried on a lengthy conversation with the kids, which Abbey regularly recalls and tells me all about.

Abbey was a little scared at first.  So, Luke took her hand and walked with her up to Santa.  Santa was asking in this photo how Luke injured his arm.

Abbey said she was "shy".  She couldn't look at Santa in the eye. 
The bass pro shop is an awesome place to visit--especially during Christmas.  There are all sorts of free activities for the kids.  They have several carnival-type games--for example, you shoot rifles at pretend animals (and it electronically tallies your score), you can use a kids bow and arrow to shoot down ducks, you can operate slot car racecars, operate the rc monster truck, make christmas bags, make ornaments, color pictures and more!  Plus, you get a free printed photo and digital video with Santa.  They also gave Luke and Abbey stuffed animals and a coupon for a free kids meal at the restaurant.

Here, Abbey is proudly showing her and Luke's Polar bear stuffed animals from Santa.
It was another gorgeous day that day, so we spent the rest of the day in more casual clothes outdoors.

First, with a picnic lunch.
But we later visited the free Austin trail of lights.
Short sleeves on an absolutely perfect night!

The next night, Luke and Abbey chose a family to come over in their jammies and watch "The Polar Express" with us, while enjoying some treats.  We had so much fun!

Then the following day, our church had its annual Christmas FX party for kids.  Again, it was a great party!   Abbey even rode a bucking reindeer this time.  I wanted so badly to ride it, but Drew wouldn't let me.   The operator could make it go as fast as she wanted.  She made it move very slowly for Abbey.  :-)

After the party, we enjoyed pizza with good friends.  Then, we stopped by the Domain to walk around and enjoy the Christmas lights show.  While we were there, we snapped a photo on some 3d artwork that was on the sidewalk.  When you stand in a certain spot and the photographer stands in a certain spot, it appears as if you are inside the snow globe.  A nice lady offered to take a photo of us:

The quality was bad as it was very dark outside. 
Yesterday, we had our monthly Lego club at our house.  It was so much fun to see what Christmas-themed Lego creations the kids came up with.  Luke made a big workshop, complete with elves and toys.  He had two head "elves."  And, he even made an extra wide Santa Chair, with very strong supports.  Luke said, "that way, if Santa gets bigger from all the cookies he eats, the chair will still support him, won't break and won't be too small." That kid is always thinking and planning ahead!

You can see each of the elves are on step stools because they are "little".  They have toys in front of them that they are working one.  The two guys on the right are the "head elves." 
After Lego club, the kids all went to the backyard for an epic Texas-style "snowball" fight.  We used the massive marshmallows as our snowballs.

Abbey looks fierce!
The kids facial expressions are the best!

Wow, I can't believe we managed to fit all that fun in 15 days!  I didn't realize until I sat down to write this how busy we have been.  We sure have enjoyed such a fun first 15 days of December!

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