Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Comes Early This Year.....

This year Christmas came early to our house! We have been "patiently" waiting for the referral for our baby from Ethiopia! By "patiently" I mean carrying around both the home phone and my cell phone, compulsively checking my emails and just generally driving everyone crazy. I had just about resigned myself to not getting a call until after the holidays when a miracle happened. A email popped into my inbox and in that email were four of the best pictures I have ever seen! Beautiful pictures of our new son/brother......he is awesome! He is 3 1/2 months old, born on August 31. He will be named Jaxson Timothy Dawit and I love him already!! You can check out his pictures at my main blog, Thank you Santa for the best Christmas present ever!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Our Traditions.....

When I was thinking about the Christmas traditions and what to write, I only had one thing pop into my head. Then the more I started thinking about it, the more things I realize that we do that could be call a tradition. Instead of writing a nice post about our traditions and for the sake of time....because I think there are only 3,000,295 presents left to wrap I am going to make a list of them.

1. I always buy my Christmas cards early, come home and stamp and address them, then I lose interest and they don't get mailed out.

2. We always make Christmas cookies with the idea of having enough to make care packages for friends and family, and then we eat them all ourselves.

3. We always put our tree up right after Thanksgiving because we are so excited and then by Christmas I am really ready to take it down and get my house back together.

4. We always make a big breakfast after we open presents on Christmas morning.

5. The kids always open one present each on Christmas Eve.

6. I always set a budget and then by the end I have doubled it.

7. But my number one favorite of all time tradition that has been going on since my dad was a kid is that we always go to the movies on Christmas day.

Happy Holidays to everyone!!


With Christmas quickly approaching, I wanted to share a cute little cartoon with you. Wishes for a warm and wonderful Christmas to all of our Christian friends, and a special and peaceful December 25th for everyone.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We're continuing to make some changes to the system, which includes a "default" avatar so our bloggers can post even when they are not at their own computers. Remember that all postings also include the name of the blogger, so you can still see who is posting. We'll try to update the avatars from the "generic" to the blogger pic at the earliest possible.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow Day!

Last night the weathermen said that today we would be under a winter storm warning from 3:00 am-3:00 pm. They were predicting an ice storm with that, saying we would get 1/4-1/2" of ice on the roads.

This morning school was cancelled. Freezing rain was coming down for quite a while. Around 9:30 or 10:00 this morning it changed to snow. Some sort of precipitation has been coming down all day without stopping. It's absolutely GORGEOUS outside! There is no wind, so the snow is coming down pretty straight. It looks like God has a big sifter in the sky and is sifting powdered sugar down on us.

When I went out to get the mail this afternoon, I was surprised at how much snow had fallen. We've gotten about 6" so far ... and still counting. We've gotten more snow in December this year that we have in recent years. This is about the 4th time this month we've gotten measurable snow, and what we've gotten hasn't melted away. It looks like we're going to have a white Christmas this year! We haven't had one in a while!

The 4 older kids went sledding behind DH's school for a while this morning with our neighbor kids. They were over there over an hour and a half before coming home for lunch and hot chocolate.

This afternoon, since the kids don't have school, we put together and decorated the gingerbread house I'd bought. (We tried this last year, but last year's kit wasn't as nice as this one, and I got the side walls and roof pieces mixed up, and the walls wouldn't stay together, so we just ate it instead.) The kit I bought this year has a plastic tray with grooves in it for the house's walls. The walls and roof have imprinted lines on them so that you know which pieces are which. I piped all the frosting on and put the pieces together. Then the kids decorated the pieces with candy. I made sure to take a picture of the finished masterpiece! (I'd post a pic, but I don't have a digital camera, only a 35mm.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas in our House

I love Christmas, I always have. I have very fond memories of Christmas as a child. My Aunt and Uncle and my three cousins would come down from the coast and stay with us. We would all squash into our small house on Christmas Eve and wake up together on Christmas morning. Before everyone was properly awake we would all be ripping into our presents from Santa and would have pulled every toy from it's packaging before breakfast. The rest of the family would arrive around 9am and there would be more present opening, playing, lunch and then more playing while most of the adults had an afternoon nap.

Naturally things have changed over the years, all of us kids have grown up but now I have my own kids and I want them to experience the same kind of magic that I felt around Christmas time. My partner and I have kept some of the traditions of our childhood and have adapted others to fit in with our family as well as picked up some new traditions all of our own.

I send out Christmas Cards to family and friends during December, over the last couple of years I have also sent out a Christmas letter letting everyone know what we have all been up to during the year.

We generally put up our Christmas tree and decorations on the last weekend in November or the first weekend in December. We also put up some lights on the outside of house, we have icicle lights this year which is a little strange I guess because it's summer here in Australia and there is no snow in sight.

The kids have one of those chocolate advent calenders each, the ones where you open up the little cardboard window and there is a chocolate inside.

Each of the kids has a stocking which we hang on their bedroom doors. When they get Christmas cards from their friends they stick them on their wardrobe doors an cards that we receive from family get stuck on the pantry doors.

The weekend before Christmas there is a huge Carols by Candlelight concert in Sydney which they show on the tv and we all stay up to watch it. We all get our pillows and blankets and curl up in the lounge room and watch it together.

This year each of the kids is going to draw one of the other kids names out of a hat and they will pick a gift for them. This is the first time we have done this, but I think it's important for them to think about others rather than just themselves at this time of the year.

We get together with my Aunt and her family before Christmas day, but we all exchange gifts and have lunch together.

On Christmas Eve I plan to have the family around for dinner and then Christmas day after the kids have opened their presents from Santa (which is usually all over before 7am) we will all go to my parents where we exchange gifts and have a big Christmas lunch together.

On Boxing Day we go to my Dh's Aunts to have lunch with his side of the family.

Christmas to me is all about getting together with friends and family, not just about receiving gifts!

Christmas Traditions

Our family has quite a few traditions we follow every year around Christmastime. Here are some of them:

Advent Calendars
We have a wooden Advent calendar that hangs on our wall in December. It is made to look like a stable with wooden figures on it of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in the manger. The manger is 3-D. Inside of the manger are wooden stars numbered 1-25 that the kids take turns hanging on the small nails on the stable roof to count down the days until Christmas. We also usually have a paper Advent calendar with a picture on it with windows that are opened every day from December 1st til Christmas.

Advent Wreath
Our Advent wreath sits on our kitchen table. Every night at suppertime, we light the appropriate candle(s). Then, when we're done eating, DH or I read Bible passages or stories from the Bible about the promise of the Savior and his birth. Some years we've read devotions from a book that are specifically for Advent.

Christmas Cookies
As many families do, I bake cookies at Christmastime. I usually bake about a dozen different types of cookies. They are kinds I don't usually make at any other time during the year. (This year I'm making peanut butter kiss cookies, spritz, cut-out cookies, lemon dreams, pecan meltaways, cappuccino flats, triple chocolate caramel cookies, dipped gingersnaps, peanut butter balls, cherry snowballs, holiday hideaways, and chocolate mint cookies.) After I bake each kind, I freeze them. Then, when we go to visit friends and relatives over the holidays, I make up a plate of cookies with all of the different kinds on it to take along. I make up cookie plates for the kids to give as Christmas gifts for their teachers and for DH to take along to school and put in the faculty lounge as our gift to his school's faculty and staff from our family. I'm always sure to make up a plate of cookies for our family to eat at home, too!

Church Services
Church services are a big part of our Christmas celebrations. We attend Advent services on the 3 Wednesdays of Advent. Different groups at our church host Advent suppers on those nights for which we usually stay. Our school-aged kids take part in the children's Christmas service at church. Sometimes the children's service is on Christmas Eve; sometimes it's on the Sunday before Christmas. When it's not on Christmas Eve, we also attend the separate service on Christmas Eve. Then we go on Christmas morning, too. I just love to hear the Christmas story and sing the Christmas carols!

Christmas Lights
I think we inadvertently fell into the tradition of driving around to look at the Christmas lights on other people's houses. It started one year after an Advent service when I asked DH if he would take a round-about way home from church so that we could see some lights. Since then, we usually drive around a bit looking at lights before going home from Advent services.

Birthday Muffins
We have muffins for breakfast on Christmas morning. Everyone gets one with a candle in it. We light the candles, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, and then everyone blows out the candle in their muffin. I learned the hard way to make the muffins the night before. The first year we did this, I baked the muffins that morning. They weren't cool enough when we put the candles in, and the candles started to melt! Muffins are better without the wax mixed in! LOL

Gifts and Stockings
We don't do Santa gifts at our house, so the presents are usually under the tree as soon as the tree is decorated and the gifts are wrapped. The kids exchange names with each other, too. We open presents on Christmas Eve after church. On Christmas morning the kids have one or two more little presents they find in their stockings.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Testing my new avatar...

It has been quite busy around here lately. Dh has been out of work for well over 6 weeks now. It is tough keeping up with things, but things are going well anyway. Dh is home all of the time.

We had an interesting Turkey Day, but we are thrilled that it is Advent. I love the time of waiting. I love to hear O Come O Come Emmanuel during this liturgical season at Mass. I like my kids to hear the prayers during Advent as we light Advent candles. This is my most favorite time of year. In the next few days, I will decorate my house for the wait for Jesus to come. I hope that my children will remember this time and pass it on to their children.