Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas time

You may notice I took my longest break ever from blogging.  It is just so difficult during the Christmas season to take the time to sit at the computer and blog.  We have so much fun together as a family celebrating the whole reason for the season:  Jesus Christ's birth. We are so excited about Jesus' birth, because without his coming to earth to live a perfect life as a human, he would have not been the perfect sacrificial lamb for our sins.  He is our Redeemer!  That's a lot to celebrate!
We always begin the season by decorating our house, inside and outside in twinkling lights and color. 

And then, shortly after we have decorated, a couple of events take place that have become annual traditions for us:  Follow the Star and Bethlehem Village (at Georgetown Stroll).  Unfortunately though, these both took place on the same rainy weekend and both take place outdoors.  We were able to visit the Follow the Star event though before the rain became torrential.  During the Follow the Star event you get to walk through ten critical scenes of the life of Jesus Christ.  The production includes professional sound, lighting and nearly 300 cast and crew members.  It is distinct from other outdoor Christmas productions because it features, not only the Nativity scene of Jesus, but His death and resurrection as well.

The kids got to sing at a nursing home with their homeschool children's choir in early December:

The song they sang above is a beautiful benediction straight from Numbers 6:24-26.  After praying each week to end choir practice, they sing this song together.  It's great to leave with such a special blessing.

We got a special treat this year together as a family (thanks to Drew's awesome boss) as we saw Rodger and Hammerstein's Cinderella--front and center literally (on the first and second rows).  This has nothing to do with Christmas but I have to mention it because it was such a fun experience as a family.  The kids did so well during the performance (thanks to snacks) and I was amazed at how funny and entertaining the show was.  Afterwards, we ate at one of our favorite pizza places that is nearby, the Backspace, and then checked out the spectacular artwork of gingerbread artists at the Gingerbread Village at the Four seasons hotel.  This year, the theme was fairy tales (which was appropriate after our viewing of Cinderella).

In December, we held our Lego Club at an assisted living facility, building Lego creations with the residents.  I always love seeing the elderly residents and our little kiddos build and interact together.  I also enjoy the conversations that I get to have with the sweet residents.

Then, Mimi and Papa came to visit so they could see Abbey and Luke's first choir concert. We took them to the Austin Trail of Lights on the first night they were in town.  It was a magical evening and so much fun!

I had about 4 layers of clothes packed for the kids, because I wanted to make sure they didn't get too cold.  But, I didn't realize that Abbey had taken her coat off just before we left our house and the coat was left inside the house.  But, thank goodness I packed for a blizzard.  We didn't need many of the layers I packed (thanks to beautiful weather), but I had plenty for Abbey so that the coat wasn't even necessary.  She decided she wanted to wear the batman warm hat though to keep her warm.

Batgirl in the bat cave of lights.

On the next night, the kids had their very first Choir concert.  It was amazing!  I loved listening to all the choirs and hearing the skill level increase as the kids' ages progressed.  Their were some amazing singers in the bunch!  And each song pointed us to the birth of Christ as the reason we celebrate.   Luke and Abbey's choir is the first level beginning choir, made up of 4-7 year old kids.  Although, in watching the video you will notice a sweet little 2 year old (actually she just turned 3) was allowed to sing with them, since she had been coming with her sister to practice and knew all the words.  Luke and Abbey looked so extremely adorable in their little outfits.

Here are the songs they performed:

And at the end of the concert, all choirs combined to leave us with this benediction.  It was beautiful:

When we were at home, we spent some time singing Christmas Carols, but then also just having Christmas music dance parties:

And as a family, we enjoyed going through The Austin Stone Community Church's Family Advent.   It was awesome and brought us back each time that we did it to the whole reason we celebrate this season:  Jesus.

Around mid December all the traveling began.  We love visiting family, but it means a LOT of time in our car.  We spent a lot of time singing Christmas Carols and it helped pass the time away.  We enjoyed visiting with family in both Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and in Sugar Land, Texas.  First, we visited my side of the family in Oklahoma.

We got to hang out with grandpa, cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles and second cousins.  Abbey enjoyed reading to Grandpa:

We got back to our house a few days before Christmas.  Our town had a wonderful "hometown Holiday Land" that we had a lot of fun at one night.

Luke and Abbey went on their first Ferris Wheel ride.  Abbey was excited.  Luke was a little concerned.  Can you tell in that smile?  This was before the ride began.

Here is a video of their first ferris wheel ride.

They had a free light maze, which was a lot of fun.  We managed to find our way out after a few wrong turns.

And they had "sled" races.  I loved this and actually participated in races a few times.  This trike was my size!

At home, we had fun with various Christmas crafts:

The kids visited Santa at the Bass Pro Shops again this year:

They both wrote letters to Santa:

We went to Christmas Eve Service at our church, celebrated Christmas morning at home and then headed that afternoon to Sugar Land, TX to visit Drew's side of the family and celebrate with them.  On the way down there, we made a stop for a hike and the kids got to try out their new hiking backpacks. 

We had a lot of fun with Drew's side of the family--cousins, aunt and uncle and Mimi and Papa.  

Drew scored this mask in the gag gift exchange.

Abbey used the other mask that was part of a gag gift and created her own birthday party.

Luke got to ride along on his first round of golf.  He loved riding the cart with cousin, Mitchell.
Also totally not Christmas related, but we went to Brazos Bend State Park during our visit and got to see beautiful trees and alligators.

Oh, and I forgot to include a few photos I snapped of the kids right before we left for Oklahoma.  My intent was that I would use them to make cards that we could send out.  But, we ended up getting the envelopes only a few days before Christmas and then traveled back to our home, and by the time we arrived home, it was too late for them to arrive in time for Christmas if we mailed them.  So, only a few went out.  Sorry.  But, you can see the photo that was used right here:

I captured a few others as well:


I will save the rest for future posts.  This post is long enough!  Anyway, that blog post caught you up on the highlights of our December.  I am hoping to blog more in the new year.