Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December - Week 1

The first week of December is filled with fun adventures, traditions and outings to look forward to. This year, along with all of the advents we do each day, we also finished up our Madagascar books and continued doing school (we didn't take a break until the 20th), but we also had a lot of fun. 

On the first we all got our jammies on and headed over to our friends' the Norquists for a White Christmas movie, cider and popcorn tradition. They have let us share Jon's family's tradition with them for the past four years. 

Starting on the second, Dada took all of the kids on their own one-on-one. They look forward to this special time with Dada each year. 

On the fifth Eben and Kivi were invited to go see the Nutcracker in Seattle with our friends the Wrights and their homeschool group! They loved it! Eben talked about the sets for a long time.

On the sixth, we headed to Auburn for Journey to Bethlehem! This must have been the coldest night ever and I forgot jackets for both Berg and Pella! Thankfully Mr. Steve shared his blanket and carried Berg through the whole thing although he whimpered his way along most of the time. He was also very afraid of the Roman soldiers. Kivi also shared her head covering she had brought so she could be a nativity character while going through so I could wrap up Pella. She was much tougher than Berg and didn't cry as much.

We enjoyed seeing all the live animals, even through the freezing temperatures.

 We've been doing this for so many years now and have gotten quite a collection of shekels from the marketplace that Kivi brought 5 with her and tried to buy a basket, but was told they weren't really for sale. That's the first time we've seen them break character. I think she really caught them off guard, or they thought she was stealing shekels!

Jasper and Dodie trying to get warm before going in to see Caesar. On the way to J2B we hadn't had dinner and so seeing a little, old couple on the side of the road selling tamales we stopped and bought $20 worth. They were the best-tasting, warm tamales, so at least we had those warm in our bellies for our traveling in the cold. Grandma and Grandpa and the Raykovitz' travelled in our group too and afterward while enjoying hot cider and cookies we saw the VanderPols and the Schocks!

On the seventh, we enjoyed a beautiful Women's Christmas Luncheon at Lake City. The day before Kivi and I went to set up our Humble Stable Table. Our advent wreath became the centerpiece surrounded by one of our nativity sets, burlap and Shari's grandma's china. It was a truly a symbol of how simply Christ came into the world. Simple, not big and flashy. 

We had a wonderful time with some of our friends and Kivi and Grace were able to come too!

Right after the luncheon we went down to Olympia with our realtor, Barb, who was sitting next to me at the luncheon. The house was amazing, huge and right on the Black River! We had fun exploring and checking out the big 14 acre property, which 2 other creeks run through. We actually weren't looking for a new house, but our friends found this one and as an act of obedience to God we went and checked it out. Although it was great, it wasn't for us. We both felt very sure this was not God's plan for our family.

While we were there, we decided to see the Mima mounds. They were only about 5 minutes away and we'd never been before. Again, it was freezing, so we didn't stay long. We all walked over and let the big kids run over some of the mounds. Then Dada and a tired, slipped on the ice Berg went back to the van while we all read about what caused them. (No one really knows, so we didn't really learn anything except that they've been there ever since people can remember.) They were beautiful as the sun was setting over them.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Purposeful Christmas Tree

After I wrapped the lights, garland and ribbon around the tree, the kids took over the decorating. They can do everything else now because they're tall enough to reach the top on chairs and nothing on our tree is breakable!
They did a beautiful job! Once our tree was all decked out I explained that this year everything we do at Christmas time was going to have a purpose and meaning, including our tree. We put a lot of effort into getting a tree, decorating it and turning on the lights each morning. It seems like we make such a big deal about the tree that it should have a purpose and special meaning that relates to Christ too. I asked the kids why they thought we had the decorations on our tree that we did and on their own (except for the pinecones) they came up with a symbolic meaning for each one. 

The tree itself is wood so it reminds us that Jesus came into the world humbly, laid in a manger and then later died for our sin and pride on a cross.
The lights are because Jesus tells us to be the light of the world and let your light shine before men.
The red ribbon reminds us of the blood He shed for us. 
The icicles are symbolic of the nails that pierced His hands and feet for us.
The fruit all over our tree represents the fruit of the spirit. Apples, pears, peaches, cranberries, currants, raspberries are all we have so far, so we still need three more types I guess.
The raffia bows represent the straw in the manger.
The pinecones represent our spiritual walk. As we mature in Christ we become more like Him, our lives are open and our fruit is easy for others to see.

The star represents the star of Bethlehem that led the wisemen to worship Jesus and bring Him gifts, which we put under our tree! 
Each year a different child gets to put on the star. This year was Berg's turn!

We actually didn't pick these decorations for their spiritual symbolism, I just liked they way it all looked together, but now we love it even more because everything we put on our tree reminds us of Christ!

After we discussed our tree we got out What God Wants for Christmas and we all sang the songs, took turns opening the little boxes and put the pieces in the stable, while Eben and Kivi danced in the background.

Sweet girl worshipping our Lord with carols.

Pella holds baby Jesus while sucking her thumb. She calls Him "Baby King".

Thursday, December 19, 2013


On November 30th we set up the tree and the littles "helped" by unwinding the lights and making sure they worked. Mama always puts up all the lights on the tree, the cranberry garland and the red ribbon first, but all we had time to do this night was get the lights put up. Their helping actually made it go much slower than normal, but they were having a great time lighting each other, making light crowns and getting them even more tangled in the process. Eben, Kivi and Jasper were busy Heelying down the driveway in the freezing cold with Dada.

I stayed up too late that night getting all the advents ready for the next morning. This year we have five advents because Pella is now old enough to take part in our little tradition which meant we had to add one more. So every morning the kids take turns doing a different advent activity. We made up a calendar so everyone knows what to do on what day.

Here are all of our 2013 advents:

Lighting the Advent candles and reading the scriptures:
 This is the second year we've done Advent with our family for Christmas. We use the book A Family Advent and love it. It keeps all the kids attention, has scripture to read each day, a fun fact about Christmas, a little devotion and activity suggestions.

Putting a nativity character on the calendar:

 Picking a candy cane off the candy cane wreath:

Picking a sock, which is filled with candy, (this is the favorite) from the railing:

Turing on the Christmas tree lights:

Waiting and being happy for your siblings who get to do an advent activity:
 The first day of December Opal had to wait and she did an amazing job! It's been a little harder for Berg and Pella to take their turns waiting.

Monday, December 16, 2013


 We "traveled" to Madagascar via our blanket and chair ship on October 30 and were there all the way until December 6th. We learned a lot about the Malagasy people, tasted some of their food (none of us really liked it) learned about the hundreds of unique animals, wore the traditional lambas for a whole week and played their game of fanarona. Jasper really loved building a different animal sculpture in the living room each week.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Tree Hunting at The Family Farm

On November 30th, we headed to Graham to try out a new christmas tree farm, The Family Farm. We decided to give them a try after many years of going to Hunter's Tree Farm because they are a non-profit, family-run farm who give all their proceeds to feed the hungry here and around the world. We went with our friends, the Norquists, and loved it! The first thing we did was check out the Cow Barn. It's a barn filled with cute cows that you can feed and a super fast, tube slide with hay bales as steps.
The Family Farm - Cow Barn

After our fun in the barn we headed over to the tractor-pulled wagon that took us for a sweet short ride over to the Christmas trees while we sang Jingle Bells. After a group shot, the kids took off in all directions on the search for the perfect tree. I don't even think they look for a tree. I think they just love to run around and hide and chase each other.

Berg is so in love with this little girl. I love it.

Handsome Jasper poses by our "perfect tree"! Yes, we found it! Mwaaa Haa Haa Haa! 

Everyone gets a turn "helping" Dada chop it down... and getting muddy, because the tree does grow in dirt and we live in Washington where it is always wet. Ahh, fun, dirty, memory moments. 

Our family pic with the "perfect tree" which the Family Farm guys lovingly unloaded from the wagon so we could get our traditional picture. They were so nice! They even took our pictures, let the kids "ride" on the tractors and gave us free hot cocoa, coffee and doughnuts while they shook the needles off, and bound it up. It was a great morning!

We'll definitely go back again next year! If anyone wants to get a great tree and give to the needy at the same time here's the info:
The Family Farm
27901 86th Ave. E
Graham WA, 98338
(253) 961-3379

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Driving to Auntie Tonya's House for Thanksgiving, we noticed huge piles of leaves at Wright park so we went on a little walk down to the park to play in them before the dinner festivities began.

They were a little wet, but still good to throw.

Then, since we were at the park anyway, we all ran over to the big playground and played for a while. 

And of course every opportunity I get to take my kid's picture, I take it.

Pella has this thing right now where she has to peel her own oranges. She won't even let us start it for her. It's great! It keeps her busy for a long time and I don't have to get my fingers messy.

I've been saving wish bones all year from chickens and turkey dinners, so that when Thanksgiving came, each kid would get a wishbone and get to choose a partner to break it with.

Kivi vs. Madison = Kivi, Opal vs. Dada = Opal, Berg vs. Emma = Emma, Pella vs. Mama = Pella. Eben vs. Grandma and Jasper vs. Auntie Tonya  = no one won, the end flew off into the air leaving them both with stubs! 

We feasted on delicious turkey and ham! Dinner was amazing and all we had to do was bring the Martinelli's! Yeah for Uncle Chris!

We're thankful for crazy cousins!