Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

Another Christmas season has come and passed. I love this season, and every year I reevaluate the way we will celebrate and savor the time. For me, the most important part is for Christmas to be peaceful and focused on Christ. 

Christ came to give. He gave of himself to save our souls. So at Christmastime, as we focus on Christ, my hope is that we will outpour of ourselves into the lives of others. Sophie was wanting to make a doll. So, in September, she began hand sewing a doll that we planned to put in an Operation Christmas Child box. We were so excited when the time came to send the doll and the rest of the goodies and necessities!

Sophie and I talked a lot about why we were doing this and who would be receiving the box.

She worked so hard on her doll, and it makes my Mama heart happy to see her finding joy in giving her time and talents to others. I hope her abilities and heart will grow with each year. We found out last week that our box went to Mexico! This was so neat for us because we have been studying Spanish and reading a book about a little Mexican boy. God is always at work in the smallest and biggest ways <3.

The three older girls participated in the Christmas program at church. Their cousin Braxton sang with them, too. They were all adorable.

They helped me wrap gifts and draw on the paper :)

We made cookies! We made some with my mom and sisters, as we do every year. We always enjoy this baking day!

I decided this year to also do our own cookie baking day. We made a few new kinds and I finally made the Millers famous chewy walnut treasure cookies all on my own. The girls asked me if these were good sizes for their oreo balls :)

Violet mostly helped by eating whatever she could get her hands on. She was a very happy taste tester and very grumpy when she was pulled away from these duties. We definitely hit a wall on sweets after this batch of cookie making!

We went with friends from our homeschool co-op to a live nativity. Afterwards, we walked across the street to a building that housed a display of Christmas trees. Upon learning that you could pay $1 to vote for your favorite tree, Sophie begged me to let her vote. I finally agreed and handed her a dollar, and she voted. I assumed the money went toward the organizations who made the trees (such as the animal shelter, which was the tree Sophie voted for). Imagine my surprise, when a week later, I got a call saying Sophie had won a tree! We shoved it in the back of our van, brought it home, and Sophie was the happiest girl in the world. #thankfullywehaveanupstairs #catsanddogsalloverthetreearenotmything #howboutthattreetopper

This is why we have few decorations and nothing fancy... #children #everythingisatoy

My sister and I both wanted to pierce our daughters' ears, so we took them together :) Fun cousin bonding. 

We also read a lot of Christmas stories. I found a really good book list and began borrowing from the library as soon as Thanksgiving week came! We love books in this family, so every night before bed, we would read a Christmas story together. We also, of course, spent time reading the Christmas story from the Bible, and Sophie put together a little play to do at her Grandpa and Grandma Miller's Christmas gathering. We also read Christmas poems together, and Sophie learned Long Long Ago and recited it for her Grandma Lori who loves the song. And we sang Christmas songs together every day. I taught the girls a few new ones this year, like O Come O Come Emmanuel and Joy to the World. Sophie is taking piano lessons now, so she and I learned Christmas songs together on the piano. Sophie was extremely motivated to learn these piano songs, and she even learned some by heart! I love having a little piano player in the house!

The month of December flew by, and Christmas Eve snuck up on us before we knew it! We spent Christmas Eve with Ben's family and enjoyed our day with family there. I made a lot of gifts this year (*ahem* probably overcommitted myself), so I think that made the month go especially fast. I spent every night the whole month working on a gift!

Christmas morning came, with the gifts nestled under the tree and kitty trying to climb it.

My morning bird buddies, Violet and Sophie (and the kitten), hung out with me and patiently waited for the rest of the family to wake up and for the cinnamon rolls to be ready. (I am not a morning person, but alas, Moms don't get a choice in these things.) We finally woke up our sleepers, Brielle and Lyla (and Dad), at 9am, and the festivities began!

Violet had very few gifts (because fourth child), and most of those that she did get were books... but babies don't care. She got an applesauce squeeze packet, so she was happy.

I'm so glad the girls love books as much as me, because I love buying them new books! Brielle has especially loved the Little House on the Prairie picture books lately, so she was excited to get some new ones :) Sophie's been trying desperately to make one of our chicken eggs turn into a chick, and I keep telling her you have to have a rooster and that keeping it warm with your hands won't turn it into a chick... so I bought her a book that will hopefully help her believe me and understand the process ;) They got other books too, because there's no such thing as too many books :)

Brielle was really excited to get her own stacking doll set (farm animals, painted by me), as her sisters Sophie and Lyla both have a set and she had asked me for one of her own.

Lyla had been asking for me to make something for her that I had made her bigger sisters a couple of years ago, and here she is opening it. I just love this picture of these two sisters. The girls were so good about waiting and being excited as their sisters opened their gifts. They loved seeing what their sisters got just as much as what they got <3

I made each of the girls a doll for Christmas. It was a true labor of love, but something I very much enjoyed doing.

It was such a sweet moment to watch them open this gift and react with joy to seeing their dolls <3

 Their final gift was felt "paper" dolls and felt boards. My grandma had given the girls one of these felt dolls previously, and they loved it. So I bought a doll for each girl (they came on a felt sheet, and I had to cut out the dolls and clothing), and then Ben built flannel boards that they could set up and play with their dolls on.

After enjoying our cinnamon rolls, we packed up and drove through the snow to our Walton Christmas gathering.

It was a good Christmas. We thank the Lord for a season set aside to focus on him and his deep love for us. We thank the Lord for a time to give, of ourselves, of our time, of our finances, and of our abilities. We thank the Lord for a time to receive, from others, and most of all, from God, in His great gift of sending Jesus to us.

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