Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pella Firsts!

Pella has had many firsts in her little life already, like Thanksgiving before she even turned a day old and sleeping through the night (yep 7 uninterrupted hours totally counts) when she was just a few days old. But her first official bath (not counting the one she was born in) wasn't until she was 3 and a half weeks old. She just didn't get that dirty doing nothing. She hadn't even had a diaper blow out yet. She loved the water! Maybe she had fond memories of it from the last time she was in there.
After the bath, she had her first Opal back massage and loved it. She doesn't really look like it here, but she never cried and eventually fell asleep.
Getting sleepier.
Who can resist a good Opie rub? They make everyone smile. (First smile - that I've seen.)
That evening on Dec. 17th, she had her first Jasper and Pella only photo shoot. She's all ready to see her big brothers and sisters perform their Christmas pageant later that night.

Gingerbread Day!

Our gingerbread Bethlehem was all ready to decorate for the big Gingerbread Day on December 13th - the day after we finished putting them together. It always take 3 days to do this ordeal - one for making the gingerbread and making the patterns, one for cutting out the patterns, baking them and securing them together with frosting, and one for decorating them. The last couple of years we've been able to do this part at our friend's house. Shari hosted this years again - yeah! It's a big, messy thing. I load up the van with all the kids, houses, frosting and candy (that I've been stock piling from all the past holidays) in only 14 trips back and forth from the house to the van. It's a lot of effort but I really like it for some reason. That's why when evaluating all we do for Christmas, and ridding some of the fluff to keep the more meaningful traditions I decided to make our gingerbread houses into gingerbread Bethlehem. I really thought the kids would argue over who got to build the stable and manger, but surprisingly no one did. Kivi asked if she could build the stable and everyone okayed it. Opal was just fine building one of the houses in town.
Jasper wanted to build the inn and Eben decided to design the "gates of Bethlehem" and the hills for the shepherds. I made one extra house for our city in case Berg wanted to join us, but quickly realized that wasn't a good idea. He went straight down for a nap and didn't even know candy was happening.
After the decorating we listened and sang along with the What God Wants for Christmas set - an awesome little interactive storytelling kit that we do many times in December.
Then my sweet friend Shari fed all my kids lunch because between all the trips to the van I completely forgot to bring my children food that wasn't candy. Here are of all the kids and their creations.
Our little town of Bethlehem sat on our "white shelves" and the aroma of gingerbread made me smile every time I went up or down the stairs. Well, my smile might also have been brought on by our newly carpeted stairs too! Our Mama and Dada Christmas present to ourselves!
Baby gingerbread Jesus lying in a manger. A super sweet way to enjoy God's gift to the world!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December Days 1-12

December is so full of activity. This year it seems especially full. Maybe because we just had a new baby. Maybe because we are a family of eight living in a 2 bedroom home. Maybe because the days go by so fast and there is so much exciting stuff to do before the big celebration day! So before I forget all of this fun I better write down all we've done this year to celebrate the name of Jesus!

December 1 - We went to Journey to Bethlehem. We've done this for the past four years now. It's an awesome living nativity. And I didn't get any pictures of it. So here's our cool nativity that sits on our mantle. It was Grandma's that she had when she was little and every year she would get a new piece for it. So it's a mix and match collection of animals and shepherds. I love it!

December 2 - Dada put up the outside Christmas lights. Eben helped him and entertained Berg through the window at the same time. Then Dada left for fun guys get-a-way overnight. And my sister came and spent the night with us.

December 3 - Shmee and I went to our church's beautiful Ladies Christmas Luncheon and later that day we made Christmas sugar cookies.

December 4 - We were at church all day for church, the kid's pageant practice and our adult musical dress rehearsal.

December 5 - Opal's day to go shopping with Dada.

December 6 - Mama went to MOPS (I'm actually done with MOPS because of homeschooling and I've pretty much heard every mom related topic out there my nine years of doing MOPS, but I wanted to see my MOPS friends and go with Pella since Peter was still on maternity leave.) Kivi had her shopping day with Dada.
December 7 - We had our final Dress Rehearsal for the Adult Christmas Musical.

December 8 - Jasper went Christmas shopping with Dada and Dada made rootbeer with the kids.

Peter has fond memories of making rootbeer as a kid and wanted to share that with our family too. The kids had a fun time helping him. We have yet to taste it, I guess it takes a while to be ready.

December 9 - My friend Lindy came to visit for a couple hours and see our new baby Pella.Eben had his day to go shopping with Dada. (He's actually designing his gingerbread gate to Bethlehem here which we did on the 12th.)

December 10 & 11 - Peter and Eben and I performed in our church's Adult Christmas Musical.

The talented Mr. Evarts put this whole thing together and why he wanted us to be in it, I have no clue, but it was a blast to be in. It was a not your usual Christmas play. And yes, this is my Peter! He played the part of Don Holly, my dad! And he was fantastic! Although I now know that I never want him to grow a mustache.

Eben even had a little part as my son. I love this picture because my hair looks red like his!
Later that Sunday we also made our candy cane wreaths. The kids did it all by themselves this year! Eben worked the glue gun for the boys.

And Kivi glued the girl's while Opal almost got burned multiple times putting on the candy, but never did.

Bergie also walked this day, better than any of his other attempts, of which there have not been many. And Dada made a huge batch of gingerbread for the next day. It was a busy Sunday!

December 12 - We designed our gingerbread Bethlehem - a new twist we tried this year on the traditional gingerbread house building.
The kids did an awesome job designing, rolling, and cutting out their patterns. We ended up with a manger, 2 houses, the inn, some hills for the shepherds and the gates of Bethlehem.

Afterward the kids had a fun impromptu performance for us of the Nutcracker:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Gift Failure.

After giving away way too much honey last year as Christmas presents, and having to buy honey from the store, (something we thought we were done with now that we have bees) I decided to make everyone a trio preserves! That way we could still give away our honey, but have some left for us too. And since a baby food size jar of honey is not much, a sampling of other homemade little spreads would be cute. It sounded like a great idea and a lot of fun to do.

This summer we picked berries, pears, and in the fall spent a whole day cooking up pumpkin. We made blackberry jam, pear butter and pumpkin butter far ahead of time to be ready for our Christmas presents. They tasted great and looked so cute in the baby food jars. Since I couldn't figure out how to make them seal I used canning wax to seal them. They sat perfectly fine for a month while I waited until the lids were spray painted in beautiful green, red and yellow. I put on the lids and hand painted lovely little labels for the cute little jars.

They turned out so cute and I thought were going to make a great little gift. However, come the day before we were going to give them away, I opened one to see how it faired. Not well. On the top of the wax seal - mold!! I opened more and they were all the same. I guess I have a lot to learn about preserving. All of that work and time in the trash. Good thing you don't have to can honey! Everyone is just going to have to be okay with one tiny little yellow jar.
Or a cute picture of us. It doesn't taste as good - but it doesn't go bad either.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pickin' a Tree!

We usually go Christmas tree hunting with a big group of our friends the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year, however, because we really didn't know how I would feel after the birth, we didn't plan a big group outing. It was different, but still special and fun. Poppie and Nonnie were able to come and Miss Kim, Reagan and Pippa joined us too.
After searching for a bit we all picked out the 2011 tree:

The kids all took turns helping Dada chop it down. And we took a very lonely "Man and the Tree" picture.
So the rest of the "men" joined him and held up branches so Dada wouldn't have to feel alone.
It was definitely the fastest amount of time we've ever spent at Hunter's picking out a tree. Also, since we went on a Monday, they don't have all the fun extras like hot cocoa or Santa or the tractor ride out to the forest of trees. Afterward, sneaky Miss Kim treated us to pizza at Farrelli's and we found out that with a much smaller group of people it's way faster to get pizza!
Our tiny, little tree hunting posse: