Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Eve and Day

We had a whirlwind of family time... in 24 hours we went down to St. Petersburg, back home to Bushnell, over to Tarrytown, then off to Umatilla and back home. We were blessed with more gifts than we could imagine. The girls were in tears as they reflected on their day and just were overwhelmed by all the love.

Grandparents gave the girls a laptop... we had been making it with one and some days of school we just needed more than one!

We all were made vests by Mickie. We did pose nice, but we also had to get in a Gansta pose!

Vinyl and satin vests! Bet it was not on your Christmas list!

Our dear friends here from North Carolina wanted to get in on the action of the vests. Good times!

Take that! Someone got too much stuff! (me! Thanks honey!)

First thing out! I had turned their clocks back so we got an extra hour of sleep! Did not work, we were up at seven! Turkey in and into the presents!

Our annual photo of the how they have grown!

Teddy pretended we were not there... too much hoopla!

Next was Finn world! The house was full of people and food! We had a blast. Everyone was surprised at their gifts! Besides the "picture" controversy, it was a super time!

Conrad and his TV!

Steph and her new camera!

Liv and her Ipod touch!

Then birthday!

The day after! Vests and guns...nice hair dudes! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celebrating Family Style

This is what keeps me on task during a month like December. I used to make my own countdown every year, but my sister saved me from that this year and sent me this cute knitted mitten to fill count down. I fill each day with an activity of some sort, caroling, baking, calling someone you love, writing a letter to King Herod, the Christmas story from someone or some thing's perspective (like the sheep or the donkey), go see The Gift, just to name a few... we have had a blast! Good traditions!

This house in Fruitland Park set the lights to music, and it was amazing. The owners came out after we sat there for a little too long, I think they were wondering if we were stalkers! Steve got the info on how it all happens. It was really cool!

Every year a group of us who have been friends long before marriages and kids get together for some good food and time to catch up! We are never disappointed by the display of food and we try to get a pic so we can see the kids change from year to year. This year the oldest (Kelley) is 20 and the youngest (Maddie) is 7. We won't give away any of the adults years, too many to count! All I know is that this group of people are living flesh of the scriptures where we are told that He provides for all our needs. These friends have done that for me again and again. Good times!

They drew for gifts this year, and it was fun.

Olivia ended up with a cup of candy! Big smiles.

Another generation of friends that are family.

The Warehouse Church aka Vineyard, had their annual Christmas program and it was centered around ministries of the church. Each department had a part. The girls danced a "Nutcracker" performance, and were wonderful as always. They told jokes and sang "Do you hear what I hear?". It was nice to take time to honor Jesus for His birthday.

This was our family Christmas card we sent out this year. This phrase had been running through my mind for weeks, so I thought we should use it. The girls insisted we had a real card this year, no photo card, so I gave in.

The inside. It is a photo taken in the Atlantis, in the Bahamas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bethlehem Live

This year we again traveled to High Springs to visit Bethlehem. There is a church up there who put on a whole town display and it feels like traveling back in time. Between the markplace, the Roman soldiers and the sheep out in the fields, it was just perfect.

Between Charlie Brown (Olivia's new favorite) and all of the celebrating of the Miracle of Christmas... we have filled up our days of December. What a wonderful and memorable time we have had.


What an absolute privilege we had to spend the day learning about the Jewish traditions of Hanukkah. We were taken back in time to the struggle for freedom of worship of the Jewish people. The horrific battles, the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem and the hiding of the Torah that had to be done by God's chosen people. We were caught up in the miracle of oil lasting eight days... we were ready to celebrate with the lighting of the candles and feasting on fried foods. It was a life altering morning as we felt God's presence in our midst as we sought after the truth of the holiday.

The kids learned the real reason of the dreidel. The education of the Torah and how the children had to hid their parchments and play the game... a life lesson for even today... that sometimes we get half, sometimes we get it all, sometimes we get none, and sometimes we have to pay it all...but everyday we spend the dreidel in life and we see what may come.

The goodies.

Ms. Mela.

Our home now has one. We will light our menorah each night of Hanukkah to be a witness of our faith.

Christmas baking

We set a Friday aside for some serious Christmas baking. There were 7 of us around here because Kay Kay and Marisela came and did the hard part! The girls were super busy, making most of it themselves.
Puppy Chow

Santa hat brownie bites

Rolo Turtles

Brownies in cookie cutters

Our stash to eat and give away!

Christmas crafts

The girls and I crafted it up a few times this month. Here are just a few ideas...
Shatterproof ornaments with magnets for the frig.

Oranges with cloves. I have always wanted to do this with the girls.. we also read Oranges for Frankie by Patrica Polacco.

This was the last of many years using handprints in their crafts... their hands are so big, but still cute!

We made good use of the pinecones that are everywhere this time of the year... they make great branch stuffers when you have a hole to fill in near the trunk in the christmas tree.

I also made a hanging for the kitchen window. Lots of fun!

Dade Battlefield and Wahoo Swamp

Our field trip in December included battles that took place in Sumter County. The Battle of Wahoo Swamp was just one of many, but significant because of the road that is still used today... it is just now covered in pavement rather than be dirt. Records have shown that DeSoto traveled this road as well. The swamp was not accessible to the kids (thank goodness) but Mr. Tim made the story even more real with his descriptions and details.

We also went to Dade Battlefield. Ranger George was dressed up in frontier clothes and shared with us many details of life. He was great at including the kids in the conversations and questions.

Super cool...and loud!

Behind where we were sitting is where the soldiers made a small encampment and surrounded themselves after they had been attacked by ambush of the Indians. It put them at greater risk, and only two survived. It is a great park to visit and there is a re-enactment in early January if you are in the area!