Advent

Advent is such a great time of the year. It’s filled with the anticipation of Christmas, warm kitchens overflowing with delicious smells, Christmas crafts, Christmas music playing in the background, parties, friends… (and it’s unfortunately also filled with busyness, usually mostly my own doing!).

Our Advent and Christmas celebrations started early in December with a lot of baking and preparations for the annual co-op entrepreneurial fair, where Marica and Esther both sold things. Marica sold gingerbread men, popcorn and marshmallows with chocolate and brownies. She made everything herself, but I helped a bit with the gingerbread men. Esther sold cards that she had made, and a few that the rest of us had made. They were very pretty! Both girls did quite well out of it.

We also had our usual tradition of giving the girls an Advent gift on each Sunday leading up to Christmas. We do it with our Sunday night dinner, which is usually a pretty simple affair after a busy day at church. But even simple food is fun with candles, right?

One of the cuter highlights of the month of December was the concert Laurelin’s preschool put on. The kids went up the front and sang a few songs — simple but cute. It was a little hard to get good photos, as you can see. We were at the back and I had a hard time shooting through the parent paparazzi. I took a photo of them to humour you guys.

I love Christmas parties… except the fact that they always seem to happen during the busiest month of the year, ha! I’m so glad I went to my friends Sonya and Shannon’s Christmas party this year — she hosted an ugly sweater party — and we all had a blast. Great food, company, a fun gift game all in a warm and beautiful apartment. Lovely!

The weather has been pretty mild here in January, but we had a couple of really cold weeks in December. We got snow a couple of times (never more than about 3 inches, though), and the water that accumulated on our little sandpit cover froze over, much to Marica’s delight.

The Sunday before Christmas there was a beautiful presentation put on by some of the children and the choir. Marica and Esther did a reading each (and did very well!), and Marica sang in the choir as well. Shannon, who is our music director at church, did a fantastic job coordinating it all and everyone involved did a great job.

It was a little difficult getting a good Christmas photo this year. The one that everyone turned out best  in didn’t have a great background, but this was a fun alternative, even if we all look goofy. Which, in reality, is still an improvement on our everyday selves.

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Christmas Eve is when we usually do most of our celebrations of gift giving and remembering, reading, and singing about the birth of Christ, all enjoyed over a lovely finger food snacky dinner.

 

Christmas Day started with sleepy eyed children delightedly digging into their stockings. Then it was off to church, and then home for a Christmas dinner of roast beef and a bunch of other stuff I don’t remember (oops). I remember the roast beef because it turned out baaad. Pity big roasts aren’t more affordable so I can practice making them more. The flaming Christmas pudding made up for it, I think. I was pretty nervous because although I have imbibed the stuff plenty of times, I’ve never set alcohol on fire before. I think I might start making a habit of it. We hosted three lovely girls from our church who made for a great evening of visiting, laughing and eating far too much.

And now it’s January. That strange month where you wake up somewhere during its second week and realise the valiant fight you just fought and won (making it through another year) suddenly counts for nothing as you stand before another year looming large. Am I the only person who finds Januarys daunting and dismal? Everyone else seems so excited about the new year and their resolutions and all the cool things they’ll do… I get around to that maybe around March or April. But for those of you who aren’t as Eeyore-ish about the new year as I am: Happy New Year!! If you vote for Pedro, all your wildest dreams will come true.

;-)

The Greatest Gift

A couple of years ago, I really enjoyed reading through The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp for Advent. This year I’m trying to be organized enough to remind you that if this is something you’d like to buy, now’s a good time, with Advent being just two weeks away and all! This is not a sponsored post or anything, I just really loved to book and wanted to share it with you guys!

I don’t have the ornaments that go with the devotional, nor will I have time in the foreseeable future to make any, but that doesn’t detract from the book at all, in case any of you were wondering!

Visit to New Zealand, part 3

I know this isn’t technically part of our trip to New Zealand, but I didn’t really want to make a whole separate post for these photos I took before we left. December was unseasonably warm, so one evening while Ben worked late, I took the kids on a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the lights on people’s houses. I love our new neighborhood — lots of friendly people, and people really seem to take pride in keeping their properties looking nice and tidy (or decorating for the season!).

Marica took part in our homeschool co-op’s Entrepreneurial Fair again last year, expanding a bit on our inventory from the previous year, and made about double the amount of money we made last year. Well done, girl!

Back to New Zealand, now. :-)

It was really great to be able to spend Christmas with family. As is my family’s custom, we did our gift-giving celebrations on Christmas Eve, after going to church with my parents. Marica and Esther shared the handing out of gifts, and it was a joy to see people open their gifts, especially the kids’ eager excitement.

On Christmas Day we went to church in the morning and after that to Ben’s parents’ place along with a whole bunch of other family to celebrate. The weather was nice and warm, so the barbecue and salad lunch and the water balloon volleyball in the park after lunch worked well! (Everyone here in the States who I told about our Christmas just couldn’t believe that you could have a barbecue for Christmas!)

Again, it was such a delight to be able to spend the day with people we love.

Next week will be the last post on our trip to NZ. I know you’re all waiting with bated breath. :-)

Christmas 2014

This year was the first year I hosted all of Christmas (meaning both our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations), and it was fun!  We had my parents with us, which was very special, and we also hosted James and Laura Williams and Laura’s friend, Ella.

Traditionally, my side of the family have our main gift-giving on Christmas Eve, along with a finger food dinner. We start our celebration with Bible reading and carol singing and then proceed to open the presents. There’s the job of official ‘present hander-outer’, which this year was shared by Marica and Esther. We try to take the time to watch people open their gifts, to appreciate it with them, and for the recipient to thank the giver. We don’t want a mob swarming the gift pile! :-)

On Christmas Day, we started off with some coffee and monkey bread. We were keen to attend a church service, but the church we normally attend in Manhattan didn’t have a Christmas Day service, so we thought about it and decided to try out the local Catholic church, which was a new experience for most of us. There church is a block from our house and is very large and beautiful. The singing was pretty good and the hymns all familiar; the message was sound, but we all thought that he was onto something really good and when he finished what we thought was the intro, we were just settling into our seats waiting for him to dig deeper into what he had started. Unfortunately the intro was all of it!

After church, we came home and got ready for our Christmas Dinner. Rather delicious, even if I say so myself. :-)

Another Christmas over, another big year at an end.