Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve and Micah's first Christmas!

This was taken last night on Christmas Eve!  I made up my own rendition of Cheeseburger soup and it came out really good so everyone promptly ate it right up!  We invited a couple over from church but they couldn't come so we spent the evening with each other.  Our tradition is to open one gift on Christmas Eve and since I made most of the kids pajamas this year it made the most sense to open their home-made gifts.  

I've never sewed at Christmas time and I can't say that I'll do it again but it was fun to see them open these gifts this year.  I made the boys matching pants and then ran out of fabric so I bought them tops to go with.  I did have enough fabric to make Olivia the whole deal and she loved hers!  Julia did not need more pajamas so I attempted to make her a corduroy jumper. 

She asked if she could wear her new dress to bed since the others were wearing their pajamas!  she is holding a pencil with a Christmas tree eraser in case your wondering. After we sang some carols I read to them from a book that we read every year.  It's called One Wintery Night written by Ruth Graham Bell and it goes through the whole Bible telling the Christmas story.  We got about half-way through and hope to finish it today.

This is today, Christmas morning!  My mom sent money this year and I chose to buy all the kids their own blanket.  They love to wrap up in the early morning and read their Bibles when it's cold outside.

This is Micah's first Christmas!  He took a nap in the middle of it but then joined us again after breakfast just in time to open a few gifts himself!

This was a really funny moment!  The kids all bought gifts for each other this year and A.J. got confused when he wrapped up Julia's and Olivia's gifts.  He switched them on accident and Julia opened Olivia's!  It was a journal with a big "O" on the front.

So this is A.J. laughing at his mistake and the girls thought it was pretty funny too!  Olivia got to open Julia's gift which was a journal with a big "J" on the cover.

Sweet picture of Julia giving Reece a harmonica for Christmas.  They had so much fun giving each other gifts this year.

One of Micah's first gifts.  He seemed to like the box and gift wrap the most, of course!

This gift is from his Auntie Lisa shipped all the way from California.  He's peeking inside and trying to eat the wrapping!

And here is a smiling Micah in his new outfit from his crazy Auntie.  I'd say he is having a good day!

Thanks everyone for sending all the gifts you did for us for Christmas!  They helped make our day special.  The turkey is in the oven and the kids are all playing Monopoly together.  We picked out our gifts to help spread the Gospel to those in Asia from the GFA Christmas catalog this morning.  That was fun to see the kids really get into giving to help others.  Reece said, "Are there any animals that lay money?"  It's was pretty funny.  

We will be packing tonight to go to San Antonio for the the weekend!  We have lived here for 6 years and have never been there before.  They supposedly have a river-walk that is all decorated for Christmas and of course we will be visiting the Alamo. We are looking forward to a family vacation!  I will post pictures when we get back!
Have a wonderful Christmas!

Spreading some Holiday Cheer

Making Christmas cookies was something I was going to nix if I got too busy this year.  But. . . since our plans changed with friends canceling their trip to see us, we made time to do this.  I'm glad we did because it is so much fun for the kids!  Since they are older it's not as messy as usual but it's still quite a job to clean up afterwards and not make a total disastrous kitchen!  

Our goal was to make enough cookies to share with our neighbors plus have some leftover to enjoy ourselves.  I think plain ol sugar cookies with a little bit of almond flavored icing and some sprinkles are still my all time favorite!

Have you ever noticed how children seem to break the ice with neighbors and have no inhibitions in meeting new people?  We have found our neighborhood here is Texas to be much more private (for lack of a better word).  It's not that our neighbors are unfriendly but just busy and no one seems to go out of their way to strike up conversations with each other, except for Rich.  He is the most out-going person I think I've ever met.  There is something, though, to having driveways and garages in the front of houses verses in the back.  In our town everyone has alleys and so we come and go out the back of the house and don't run into our neighbors ever unless we are all doing front-yard work at the same time.  This only happens seasonally which doesn't foster much relationships with each other.

Our children have been playing in the alley a lot these past few months and have met our next door neighbors a few times.  They stand outside with their dog and talk with our kids.  Julia, especially has made a friend with the gal next door.  So with an excuse to knock on doors and sing carols, pass out cookies, and make contact with people who live near-by, we took advantage of the Christmas season. 

This is a Texas shaped cookie and Julia is decorating it with our flag colors using LOTS of icing as usual!  She loves sugar and can never seem to get enough of it.  Every kid's dream, right!

A.J. kind of spear headed this whole project!  He knew I was not as excited about the extent of it than he was.  He and Olivia made the cookie dough one day and let it chill and then we spent the entire next day baking and decorating. I do not know how women make more than one kind!  Two friends of ours made up a variety of cookies and gave them to us!  Now that's a lot of planning, shopping and darn hard work!

Personalities really come out when decorating cookies.  This is our first born perfectionist girl.  She took so long on this cookie!  She would rather have one nice one than 10 sloppy cookies.

Now Reece would rather have 10 sloppy ones then waste time on one cookie!  He was on a mission to decorate as many as possible!

This is just a few of the cookies we made!

The kids had a blast handing all the cookies out.  They really wanted to bless our neighbors this Christmas and we had plenty left over.  We even had enough to bless a friend who stopped by unexpectedly! I wish I had picture of us all bundled up with cookies plates in our hands ready to meet the neighbors but you'll just have to trust that we did not eat these all ourselves!  It really is fun to give at Christmas time!  

Our next goal will be to organize a block party in the Spring!  I'll keep you posted if we get up the nerve to pull it off!

Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Moving into the "baby" stage

Micah is 4 months old now and is not an infant anymore.  He is cuter than ever, although we hate to say goodbye to the newborn stage of life.  Everything goes into his mouth at this new stage of babyhood . . . his fingers, fists, collars, burp rags, blankets, you name it!  The other night on the way home from Gospel for Asia, he was bundled up in his car seat sucking away on his blanket.  I could hear him sucking so hard that it sounded like he was getting lots of juice out of the fabric!  You would have thought he had a popsicle! 

This is one of my favorite sleepers on him.  It's a classic pooh bear outfit with faces of Winnie the Pooh on his feet.  I also loves the stripes.

This is called a "Bumbo" seat.  They are the latest and greatest invention for babies who can't sit up yet on their own.  They retail for about $40 but I got mine at a second hand sale for $10!  It looks like it's plastic but it's really a very smooth spongy material with lots of give to it.  It's heavy too so he can't tip over.  I love it because he can look around better than laying flat on a blanket and he can't go anywhere when he is in it.  This is an everyday sight when I put him in the middle of the room and go off to do the dishes or work in the kitchen.  When I look over to check on him, I find him staring back at me like this!

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Christmas traditions

This is our second year observing Advent.  Last year I was on a hunt to start some Christmas traditions that would help us to focus on Jesus, the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  I'd heard of Advent but didn't really know what it was all about.  After reading some books on the subject from the library, I found that you can celebrate Advent in all kinds of ways.  The definition of Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event!  

That person is Jesus!  He is notable because he is our Savior and was born . . . to die for me! The event we are leading up to is his birth and that encompasses Christmas!  We chose last year and are continuing this tradition this year to celebrate every Sunday in Dec. leading up to Christmas by lighting a candle on our Advent wreath.  We read a prophesy from the Old Testament predicting the coming of Jesus and discuss it with the children.  It's really fun and the kids love to light the candle and watch it flicker as Rich reads.  It's a time of praise and peace as we stop running and think about the miracle of Jesus. 

There are three candles lit in this picture since yesterday was the third Sunday of the month.  The 4th candle will be lit next Sunday and then the white one in the middle will be lit either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  This is an easy tradition to start.  I simply bought a styrofoam base at Michaels Craft store and stuck the foliage in it along with 5 candles.  

Another tradition we started last year was memorizing the Christmas story directly from Matthew 1: 18-25.  We try to do this every night but sometimes miss because of our schedules. I separated the verse out onto 25 strips of construction paper, each strip stated a few words from the passage. Save these for next year so you don't have to go to the work of writing it out every year. We repeat them everyday, cutting another link as the days go by, adding more of the passage to complete the story.  Since today is the 15th, we should have 11 more links left (we haven't done today's yet) but there are 12 in the picture because we are behind a day.  Not to worry since we did this last year, the kids are picking it up again real fast so stuffing two days into one is no big deal.  I really like this tradition too since it helps us to hide God's word in our hearts.

The next few pictures are of our day yesterday at church.  Maybe this will be a tradition to perform in our church's Christmas musical each year?  This was the first year that our family has participated in something like this.  The children were so excited about it all and even loved to attend all the practices.  A.J. smiled the entire hour he was up there!  Our church only has about 75 people in it but there is a lot of talent in this small group!  Many can play multiple instruments, sing, and yesterday we found their acting abilities are quite good also!  Even little Reece had the courage to sing in a trio.  He almost always chickens out at the last minute!

Here is a picture of Reece in the red being his goofy self with all his friends!

Little Micah was all dressed up for the occasion in his new dress clothes.  Arthur begged to hold him for a picture.  He really loves babies!

This is the oldest member of our church, Mrs. Neesie Adams.  I don't say "old" to be insulting but complimentary! Our culture has made it a bad thing to get old or we speak of the elderly in hushed tones so they won't hear us calling them old.  But the Bible esteems the elderly and honors them because they are wise!  Mrs. Neesie comes to church every week and sits right up front so she can hear.  She loves babies and seeing Micah brightens her day.  She wasn't so sure she could hold Micah for this picture since one arm is paralyzed but she did it.  She proceeded to tell me that she was raised with 7 brothers and 2 sisters!  She is the oldest of her siblings and so has had lots of practice holding babies!

This is Landry and Micah together.  Landry's whole family was in the musical so he asked if he could sit with Micah and I.  He has the most adorable face and looks like an angel but he keeps up with his brothers, sword fighting, wrestling, and all the things little boys are made of!  He is only 3 yrs old but he has a big "roar" when he gets mad!

Well, I hope you have some family traditions at this time of year that help keep Christ the center of Christmas.  It's way too easy to leave Him behind trying to keep up with all that we think is expected of us.  Shopping, Christmas cards, cookies, parties, decorating, and so much more keep us from giving Jesus the honor he deserves.  

And really . . . what is most important?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pioneer girl at Thanksgiving

This is the dress that I told you about that Olivia was working on last week.  She finished it just in time for Thanksgiving and isn't it appropriate!
Look out!  This is a modern day Squanto with a bow and arrow that A.J. hand crafted!
Our children think Thanksgiving is a time to dress up like pilgrims and indians.  We were getting ready to spend the day with our church family.  One of the girls from church called before we left and asked our kids to bring any costumes they might have because they were planning to do a skit!  We were already prepared!
Who is this "turkey"?  Oh, it's Rich!  Guess he wanted his picture taken too and didn't want to miss out on all the fun!

"More turkey please!"  Micah looks like a bird waiting for papa bird to drop something yummy in his mouth!
We gathered at our church for a big feast.  This is after the feast when we are all full and happy!  This is Faith Rohlin and my friend, Jenna.  We were about ready to break out the games!
This is Tenecha and Akeem (I hope I'm spelling their names correct).  They  just moved here from New York and are enjoying a warmer Thanksgiving than they are used too.  We had fun teaching them how to play Skip-Bo and Uno Spin.  Although we never did figure out how to play Uno-spin!  Akeem is from Nigeria originally.
Ok, I have no idea what this game was all about but the guys seem to like it.  I think it's a game that tests your logic skills.  Landry (little blond boy) probably could beat them both! Matt and Rich work together at Gospel for Asia.  Matt and Jenna have 3 boys and are waiting to adopt a little girl soon.
This was the skit that we dressed up for.  The kids reenacted the first Thanksgiving.  
A.J. played Captain Standish and Julia was a pilgrim girl.  A.J. is getting into acting these days and is becoming uninhibited up front.  He will be in two separate plays this Christmas too.
This is Arthur Rohlin and Reece Lodi.  Arthur is a "ham" just like Reece!
Olivia and Grace Rohlin playing Monopoly.  
This is Hope Rohlin, Julia, and Harmony Rohlin.  If you haven't noticed, the Rohlin's have 8 kids and so there are at least 4 that are the same ages as ours!  
Meet Christianna, the youngest Rohlin.  She can talk your ear off and is always full of questions!  She and I have great conversations every Sunday.  Last week she asked me why Micah was wearing his "house shoes" to church?  I had to explain that babies wear slippers when they wear shoes since they don't walk yet. She seemed pretty perplexed by this and just didn't think it was right that he had his "house shoes" on at church!
Olivia really wanted me to get a picture of her and Hope Rohlin together. This is a new budding relationship.  Hope is 11 and Olivia is 13 but you'd never know they were 2 years apart.  

Our Thanksgiving was very special this year.  We have a new church family to celebrate with and appreciate them very much.  I only wish I had more photos of them to show you.  We have been blessed and honored to fellowship with this little Baptist Church for the past 3 months.  

Happy Thanksgiving!