Saturday, December 29, 2012

What a Guy!

As if waking up with the boys this morning and feeding them breakfast so I could get a couple extra hours of sleep wasn't enough, Riley then offered to take them to Barnes and Noble to let them play with the trains so I could have a quiet morning to myself catching up on housework and preparing for another little trip to Lynchburg! 

What a guy! ♥

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

"Good Christian men rejoice
with heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say,
Jesus Christ is born today!"



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Stories

"...And there they were all safe and warm,
All together in that ancient barn
When hail--the first wail of a newborn babe reached the night
Where one great star was burning bright
And shepherds with their sheep
Are come to watch Him sleep.

What child is this who is born here
Where the oxen stomp and peer,
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
What child is this who lays down His sweet head?..."

-Excerpt from Christmas in the Barn, Margaret Wise Brown

This book is one I hadn't heard of before this season, but we found it at our local library and it's quickly become one of my favorites.

It's beautifully written, and gives me chills when I'm reading it to my children.
Children's books do this often to me. Is that odd?

Christmas stories are one of the best parts of the Christmas season.
It's so cozy to snuggle up and read tales of Christmas trees and snowmen, shepherds and angels, mistletoe and  holly with my children.

Another favorite book of ours is actually a sing-along book. It's the first verse of Silent Night, beautifully illustrated by Darcy May.

Asher always makes me sing and read it.  :)

The Christmas story is one of the greatest stories ever told on this earth.
Jesus, God, coming to earth as a baby.
Angels lighting up the night sky, bursting with song.
A star so unique that it sent wise men from the East all the way to bethlehem to worship a little child.
An evil King Herod, reminding us of why Jesus had to come.
Visions and inspired dreams.
A virgin mother, and a caring husband, and barn animals.
Prophesies fulfilled in a way that absolutely baffled the world.

This story is bursting with magic and wonder.

It's impossible to beat the story that God told on this earth that Christmas morning over two thousand years ago.  But, that said, we do enjoy all sorts of Christmas tales this time of year! 

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Jammies

It's the third Sunday of Advent! The boys got advent jammies today...

I bought the red shirts at Walmart for just $3 each.
I made the fleece pajama bottoms... in a frantic scurry last night.
(Classic me!)
They're cute little snowmen in red and green scarves.

It was my first attempt at sewing any kind of clothing. I did it without a pattern, and somehow they turned out! Amazing!

I am so thankful for these boys of mine. God has been very gracious to us. I've held them a little tighter this weekend, having been reminded of the blessing the breath of life truly is. 

We enjoyed a lovely worship service this morning in a new church building, the boys took nice long naps, and we devoured a delicious slow-cooked roast for dinner.
Warm pudding (chocolate, not figgy...) topped us off, and now we're winding down for the evening.
(And Mommy is winding up for another evening packed with projects! Tis the season!)

Wishing you all a blessed advent Sunday!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas: This is No Time to Whisper

Our house is officially bursting with Christmas. I love seeing little festive reminders of the most wonderful season of the year gracing each room. A bouquet of evergreens in the bedroom, a pine scented candle in the bathroom, advent candles on the table, and of course the beautiful Christmas tree as the focal point of our living area; they all cry out,


Our little decorations loudly declare the glories of Christmas, and Christmas is a good thing to shout about! Christmas is about more than a baby being born in a barn. It is about God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, becoming human. The incarnation. God the infinite, reducing Himself to finite man. The spiritual becoming material, flesh and blood.

To quote Doug Wilson, "The one who spoke the galaxies consented to have His diapers changed."

And through His birth, death, and resurrection, He redeemed His creation.
Without His birth, there would be nothing in which to rest our faith and our hope.
But He was born. In a stable. And the Word became flesh.

This is huge.

So, it is good and well that we make a big deal out of this holiday! It is fitting to have material reminders of the most material happening in the history of our world. God becoming flesh. Something that could be touched, held, seen.

So, we decorate our house, and do so robustly. And we eat chocolate. Lots of chocolate. And we sing at the top of our lungs.


The Christmas gospel has been declared in our home for awhile now. Since I hosted the brunch on the first of December, we took full advantage of the excuse to get ready a little earlier than normal! (Although, if you knew how early I used to decorate for Christmas in high school, you'd think the week after Thanksgiving is pretty good for me! My parents actually made a rule that I wasn't allowed to decorate until after my birthday.... which is in the middle of October. haha!)

Since we've been enjoying the decor for a few weeks, the tree has definitely started showing signs of... shall we call it love?
My bead garland is a bit wonky, and the majority of ornaments have migrated up (or made their way into the basket of "ornaments awaiting repair")but for the most part it's managed to withstand running jumps, couch cushion warfare, and rambunctious children crawling beneath it and around it. It's still a festive centerpiece in our home, and is absolutely magical at night.

Christmas cheer can be found all over the house! 
I made my very first fresh garland...

I still haven't taken the pom-poms down from the brunch, and while I originally planned to, they're a fun addition to the decor, and coordinate nicely with the lovely advent calendar Grammie sent the boys...

A splash of red in the kitchen...

Nativity on the short bookshelf...

The boys love to play with it! It's ceramic, and I'm shocked at how gently they pick up the pieces. It's like they know it's something special.

Then there's my lovely blue mason jar gracing my desk in my room, displaying a bunch of arborvitae and a red ribbon...

The boys' room features a decorated garland this year... 

Last year I had a miniature tree set up with all of our childhood ornaments Riley and I had collected over the years. This year, since the boys often love to play in (read: destroy) their room by themselves, I draped this garland above their closet door, so they can still have the cheerful blinking lights without the risk of breaking ornaments. (Or, more importantly, the risk of Mommy having to re-hang them all every single day!!)

And lastly, the living room is very festive, especially when it's actually picked up!

The cork board you see hanging to the left of the front door usually hosts colorings the boys draw or the most recent batch of birthday cards, but it will be packed full of Christmas cards by the end of the season! (How fun!)

But, while it's peaceful and cheery when the room is tidy, there's a real sense of wonder and joy that comes from boys and toys sprawled out on the floor...

Christmas with children old enough to get giddy about it is so much fun.

We're shouting the joys of Christmas loudly over here. I hope to hear you joining in the chorus!
Happy Christmas!


Advent is the season of anticipation, looking forward to the coming of the Christ to Earth as a baby.
We like to celebrate advent in a way that builds Christmas up. We like to think of it as a foretaste of the explosion of joy that will happen at the climax of this season: Christmas Day.

Ready for church! 2nd Sunday of Advent, and lookin' good!

It's been so fun to see our Advent traditions slowly develop and grow richer over the last few years.
For starters, I like to make extra nice Sunday dinners during Advent, and I set the table with festive linens.

Each night during advent we follow a little liturgy our family has developed, and it's lots of fun!
When we sit down to the table, we turn all the lights off in the house, and then light the candles on the advent wreath as we sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

The boys absolutely love it, and I have to admit there's something magical and powerful about singing in the dim candlelight. (Thank you to the Coopers for the idea!) Since tonight was the second Sunday of Advent, we lit two of the candles on the wreath, and the room shone just a little bit brighter than last week.

Think how bright they will shine on Christmas, when we change our hymn to Joy to the World

We pray over the food in the candlelight, and then flip the lights on and enjoy the feast. 

Tonight's meal featured Alfredo Penne with Italian Diced Chicken!
It was delicious!

As dinner winds down, Riley reads from the Bible. We ordered some Advent readings but they still haven't arrived. We'll switch to those when they do finally come in! When he finishes reading we sing a Christmas carol from our hymn books, Riley prays again, and we sing the Doxology with hands lifted high (Asher stands on his chair so his can be the highest). Then the boys take turns blowing the candles out!
And then we have treats. (Of course!)

On Sundays, the boys get a little gift to open after dinner. Tonight they each received a canvas bag with their names embroidered on them (Thank you Lands End Black Friday sales!), to use as travel totes on our trips to Lynchburg. Inside they found a fun book to read!

And lastly, each morning the boys find a miniature stocking hanging on the tree, stuffed with a little surprise waiting for them. They come downstairs bleary eyed, squinting in the brightness of the lights (because they're always up long before the sun!), giddy and dancing as they take their stocking down to find a couple M&Ms or some other sweet treat hiding inside. 

I sewed these stockings, which are miniatures of their normal-sized stockings, to use for advent this year. One year I'd like to make an advent calendar filled with notes describing fun activities or privileges they will enjoy each day, but for right now the M&Ms really hit the spot.

I pulled out the Christmas train for the first time this season!
It was a big hit.

We sure love making our celebration of  Christmas as big as it can get. Our little family will continue to develop new traditions, rich and full and sweet. And it's fun to think about how our Advent celebrations will look years from now. 

We'll probably be really good at partying by then!

Happy second Sunday of Advent!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Beautiful Mess


Ironically, as Asher was creating this masterpiece in the middle of the living room floor, he exclaimed excitedly, "Mama! I building you a beautiful house!" I have to admit, it made me laugh.

His idea of beauty differs slightly from mine... *wink*

But, as we all know, messes tend to prompt lots of fun. 
Before I knew it, this was happening:

And some of this:

And then, Child-at-Heart-Daddy joined in on the fun:

That picture makes me laugh every time I see it.

Then, they didn't want Gray to feel left out, so he jumped in, too:

Way to whoop it up, boys.
And the house got back to Mommy's idea of "beautiful" in no time.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Brunch

To kick off the Advent season (which begins tomorrow!) I hosted a Christmas Brunch with some of my very sweet friends from Providence Church in Lynchburg. They very kindly drove all the way to my home to spend the morning with me!

Food Table


Miniature Crustless Quiches
Ham with Praline Sauce
Miniature Yogurt Parfaits
Shortbreads with Strawberries Devonshire
Chocolate Ricotta Muffins
Citrus Fruit Platter

Beverages: Coffee, Hot Cocoa, & Cranberry Mimosas

Drinks Table

Kiwi and Pomegranate Yogurt Parfaits
Shortbreads and chocolate muffins

I also made some after-brunch treats!
Peppermint Bon-Bons and Vanilla Meringues

We played a Christmas game, sang carols, and shared our families' advent traditions. 
It was a lovely time of friendship and fellowship.
I expected nothing less... :)

 These ladies are really so dear to me. I've been blessed beyond measure to rub shoulders with such godly, inspiring Christian women.
(And they helped provide a great deal of the food, too!)

Tamara, Elizabeth, Meg, Matthew, Megan, Toni, Katie, Holly
It was a treat to have them in my home!

Happy Advent!

* * *

p.s... I posted the recipes I used for my Peppermint Bon Bons and the Peppermint Fudge I gave as a door prize over on my church's recipe blog, Providence Table. Hop on over and enjoy some peppermint goodness this holiday season!