Friday, January 8, 2016

2015 Christmas Memories

Here are some memories from our 2015 Christmas. Beware this is a very long post!  Apparently we have a lot of Christmas memories and we certainly treasure them and feel very blessed by our loving Savior!  He is the greatest gift of all!

Making Cookies for Calvary Academy Cookie Sale

Some fun decorating.  Bella had the idea of putting fake snow on the ceiling fan blades and then turning on the fan so that it could "snow".  Well, I thought the snow on the fan was a great idea but not the "snowing" part. :)  We also added a blue jay. 

We found this idea on pinterest and it looked really cute.  We did add lights underneath but the plug by here didn't end up working so we never got to see it lit up.

Decorating the tree is always something the kids look forward to.  They each get to put on their own ornaments and then they get to help with all the others.  

Making ornaments.  Leah made Cinnamon Cutout Ornaments.

Sam made Ribbon Christmas  Trees.

Bella made Popsicle Stick Angels.

Maddie made Dough Cutouts.

Jake made Wood Slice Snowmen which we actually sliced last year when we were living in the rental house but didn't end up using them so we found this idea on pinterest.

 Making Christmas Cookies - Christmas Wreaths.

Swedish Thumbprint Jam Cookies that ended up getting overbaked but still turned out OK and are always fun to fill with jam.

Dipping Peanut Butter Balls in dairy free chocolate.
Watching Nutcracker Ballet at a local college.

Celebrating Bella's Birthday.  She chose to decorate 2 Zucchini Bread Loaves instead of cake since her and her siblings do not like cake but do like frosting and love decorating.  She decorated one as a horse field and one as a winter snowman cake.

Christmas Eve
We have a number of Christmas Eve traditions that the kids really look forward to.  One is getting all dressed up to go the Christmas Eve program at church.  In the past they have looked forward to participating in the program but since we moved we don't have a church home yet so they just got to watch this year.

Another tradition is to have Grandpa & Grandma come to church with us and then back to our house to celebrate with us.  We always have slow cooker ham, mashed taters, homemade rolls, veggies, and sparkling cider in champagne glasses.

 Another tradition is to eat supper by candlelight which the kids love.

The kids also get to open an ornament on Christmas Eve.
And they each get a calendar.  A new thing that we did this year was a Christmas tree dice game with presents where each person has to fill up their tree in order from #s1-6 by rolling their die.  Once their tree is full they get to pick a present from the present pile and put it by their spot and they keep rolling to get more.  They also can take someone else's present as well.  A timer is set for an unknown amount of time and when it goes off you get the presents that you have by your spot.  We did talk to the kids ahead of time to explain how taking the presents is for fun and that we shouldn't get upset by it and at the end we made sure everyone got some presents which they all ended up having around the same and Grandpa & Grandma played so they gave their gifts to those who didn't get very many.  I had planned that they would each get a thing of candy.  I also disguised the gifts by wrapping small things in big boxes and adding weight to them etc.  You can also add gag gifts to them like a roll of toilet paper or something which I thought we would save till they are a little older if we do it again.  I didn't get any pictures of it since I was video taping it.  It was a lot of fun though and no one even cried! :)

 Christmas Day
This year we did church at home utilizing Time of Grace online services and then we add in our own hymns etc.  We open presents in order starting with the youngest and Mom & Dad go whenever the kids decide.

Jake's long rifle

Sam's 1828 Webster's Dictionary.  She was so excited about this and uses it all the time.  I am always surprised when a kid loves to read the dictionary!

This year I made some gifts for different kids.  I made this Build Your Own Fort out of foam board and felt covered velcro pieces and even included a window with a curtain.  The kids used a sheet for the roof.  I ran out of velcro (by the way velcro is expensive!  So my velcro strips kept getting smaller and smaller) so I still have some boards to finish but it is usable as is - you just can't build it as big. 
The kids also get gifts for each other.  They either make a gift, regift a gift that is theirs that they know their sibling would really like, or we go to a thrift store and they pick out gifts there.  Here is a "Color By Number" Coloring Book that Leah made.  She made one for Maddie & Bella.  Most of the kids got their siblings' gift at the thrift store except for Sam who made all of hers.  Bella really enjoyed her color by number.  

We had a nice game of basketball on Christmas Day since Bryan put up Jake's basketball hoop in the pole barn.  The rafters do get in the way but it is always fun especially when Daddy plays.  I actually played soccer with Maddie while the rest played.
Another tradition that we love at Christmas are our Advent Devotions.  We usually use "Celebrate Jesus! At Christmas" by Kimberly Ingalls Reese which works great for a wide range of ages and it incorporates an advent wreath and adding/ moving different nativity pieces as you go along with adding Jesus on Christmas Day and singing Happy Birthday!  They also have a number of activities you can choose to do or not to do.   We have used other devotions but this is our favorite.

Christmas at Grandpa & Grandmas
This year for the kid gift exchange we made gifts for each other.  Bella made a Football Ornament, Football Plaque, and Football Mug for her cousin.  Can you tell he likes football?

 Sam & I made these felt paper dolls (which we thought were sooo cute and had a hard time parting with them) for Jake for his exchange gift and also for a godchild gift.  So Jake picked which dolls and which clothes he wanted for his cousin and then I used the other ones for Bryan & I's godchild.  Sam spent a lot of time on these dolls and especially liked decorating the clothing part.

Leah made a chalkboard hanging board for her cousin to write messages etc. on using her cousins love of bright colors along with some chalk markers.  She also made her a soccer ornament just like the one Bella made since she adores soccer.

 Sam was the only one to get one of her own siblings for the exchange and she got Jake.  So she made him a French Foreign Legion hat since he loves dressing up in historical (generally war related) costumes.  She also got him some red masking tape for making his weapons, flags, etc.

 Maddie made a winter sensory bin for Cora with arctic toob animals.  She had a lot of fun making it and she added a lot of glitter to make it look more snow like.

The grandkids opening their presents from Grandpa & Grandma. 

Just like our kids made presents for their cousins, their cousins made gifts for them too.  Maddie, Bella, & Leah all got bulletin boards that were decorated according to the theme of their bedrooms with cute flower pushpins to add pictures, drawings, etc.

Sam's "Frenchy" hat for Jake.

Kyle even made a skirt for his skirt loving cousin!  She loves it!

A digital calendar for Grandpa & Grandma.

The guys washing & drying dishes.  Have to include a picture of that!

Peeling oranges for a healthy snack amidst all the cookies.  Cora loved this - only the peeling part since she doesn't actually like eating them. :)

Watching a movie.
Now my family does not live close by - any of them!  So at Christmas time we generally only see 1 or 2 families if we are lucky.  Almost every year we get to see Jeremie & Molly's family which we love but this year they were blessed with a sweet new little one, Gloria!  But we did have the pleasure of seeing Missy & Tim's family this year for a day.  It was a really nice time and the cousins had a lot of fun playing together.  They even got Uncle Bryan to pull them behind the 4 wheeler on a sled!  Some liked that more than others.:) Some rode with Bryan on the 4 wheeler.

Megan, Bella, & Maddie playing the sleeping game.

Rylee finally got her birthday present!  Our poor godchildren always have to wait for their gifts!

Andrew & Jake after coming in from playing some bball in the pole barn.

 This picture didn't turn out the greatest but the kids were having fun with the handbells.

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