Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011 in Words and Pictures

Sweet anticipation.

Joyful surprise.

Warm day dreams.

[Working on] Rejoicing over the blessings of another.

Snow White aspirations.

Chip off the old block.

Perfect fit.

Kitchen test drives.

First Christmas bliss.

 Helping hands.

Grateful hearts.

Precious moments.

Sweet sleep.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men." 
(Luke 2:14).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Six Months Old!

Charlie, you are six months old and about to celebrate your very first Christmas!

You are our busy boy!

You are sitting, rolling, and on your way to crawling!

This month you have done so many of our family Christmas traditions for the first time...

You've been to see Santa Clause, and you grinned from ear to ear (wonder what next year will be like :-) ...

 You listened to Christmas music with us while we decorated our tree...

You giggled and cooed your way through our annual Smith Family Christmas weekend...

You ran out with your brothers and sister to greet Santa on the fire truck on his annual Christmas ride through our neighborhood...

You sat in your high chair while Chloe and I baked peanut butter kisses and the chocolate mint cookies that Daddy loves so much...

... and you snoozed through the Lessons and Carols service at our church that I love so much.

You came with us to Phipps and saw the beautiful winter flowers and the super cool train room...

You sat on my lap while Daddy read the second chapter of Luke and we talked about donkeys and stables and angels and Bethlehem...

...and tomorrow you will get all dressed up and come with all of us to church to celebrate the birth of the baby who came to save the world. Nana will save us seats like always, and we'll be late and rushing in with Aunt Cici and Uncle Paul, like always.

We'll sit hip to hip and shoulder to shoulder. There will be stars on the ceiling and beautiful music and second-grade shepherds walking down the aisle. There will be a cradle up front, all lit up, reminding us why we are there.

In time, the room will grow dark and the light of a single candle will be passed from one person to the next, until the whole room is illuminated and rejoicing that Christ, the Savior, was born.

And of course, the next morning there will be laughter and joy and racing down the stairs. There will be presents ripped open and too much junk food consumed. But what I hope you remember some day as you're reading this is that it all is because of the silent night - that holy night - when Christ the Savior was born.

Happy first Christmas sweet six-month-old boy. You are so very loved.

"And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him."
Luke 2:40

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

...ev'ry where you go.

 There's a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well,
The sturdy kind that doesn't mind the snow. 

 It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,  

  And the thing that will make them ring
is the carol that you sing

  Right within your heart!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Redux

It's December 19th and I'm just getting Thanksgiving on the blog... sigh. Life has been full around the Smith home these past few weeks. We're squeezing learning in around lots of parties, baking, family visits, and general Christmas merriment. Lots of joy here lately.

Our sweet friends the Oberdicks hosted our second annual homeschool Thanksgiving celebration this year, and it was so much fun. Sharon outdid herself orchestrating a creative craft, great food, wild fun, and an activity to enable our kids to bless others as God has so richly blessed us this year.

First, the kids made thankfulness trees and wrote down the names of all the people they're grateful for this year.  Chloe's was adorable, and the boys barely glued down a leaf before they abandoned the project in favor of Andy's super cool playset outside. Nothing unusual there.

Our sweet Jamesy was invited, and had loads of fun playing a raucous game of peek-a-boo with his cousins.

After delicious food and lots of time catching up, we assembled a Christmas box. We all had brought little toys, treats, school supplies, and hygiene items, and we had the kids put them in the box. They learned that a little boy somewhere in the world who would otherwise have nothing on Christmas morning will instead get to open this box, and feel loved and special and that he matters to someone, despite his circumstances.

As I watched all those little hands helping to pack up the box and snapped away with my camera, I couldn't help thinking of the shiny bicycles my kids are going to race down to on Christmas morning, and the tables overflowing with food and treats that they will sit at all day. How I pray that this simple box will bring joy to some sweet little guy when he gets it. How thankful I am that God has allowed me to take care of my children with such ease. I know He hasn't blessed me with so much so that I can hoard that blessing for myself... I just  hope that I can be a good steward of all that He has given to me. 

 As always, it was a wonderful time of fellowship with sweet friends. I am thankful this year for each one of them.

"Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department."    Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove."
James 2:14-17 (The Message)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book It!

We are doing the Pizza Hut Book It program this year with Chloe, Max, and Sam, and it is such a fun way to encourage reading. As a home educator I get to set the goal for my kids each month, and when they've achieved their individual goals we head to our local Pizza Hut for free pizza - hooray!

Last month we went with our sweet friends Megan and Katie. Megan is one of Chloe's besties, and they had a delightful time sharing pizza and fellowship.

For Chloe's December goal, she's decided to finish a chapter book from the library. Max and Sam are each doing a Bob book. Mama is reading Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. I have to pay for my pizza, but I don't mind :-).

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."
— Frederick Douglass

Friday, December 2, 2011

How Big is Charlie?

Our little guy is eating pears and squash and carrots, oh my! Here he is tasting food for the first time...

How big is Charlie?
SO big!!