Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a joyous, peace-filled day with your families!

"For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

I'll finish up the last 9 Days of Joy before the New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Day 15: Family Movie Night, Christmas Edition

We actually had family movie afternoon, which was a fun treat. Daddy is officially on vacay, which means we get to watch movies and eat popcorn in the midde of the afternoon - hooray! We chose The Sound of Music because we knew the kids would love it, and they did - particularly Chloe. Any movie featuring a whole slew of brothers and sisters singing and dancing together is guaranteed to be a hit with her. We put Charlie down for a snooze and snuggled up together with the fire on. Ever since it ended, the hills have been alive at the Smith home with the sound of Chloe yodeling about lonely goatherds.

Cheers, friends! Christmas is almost here!

Day 14: Peppermint Bark

This is a repeat from last year because it was a success all around. There was enough hammering and chopping to keep the boys interested, everyone in our family loves chocolate, and we did not need to turn the stove on. Perfect.

A little bit of smashing:

A little bit of melting:

A little bit of spreading:

A little bit of sprinkling:

And wala!

A whole lotta joy.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Day 13: Shepherds, Sheep & A Savior

Oh dear. I'm behind, aren't I? Looks like I'm going to have to triple post every day until Christmas Eve. And that will be no problem, because three days before Christmas I have oodles of time and nothing to do! Anyhoo. Our joy for day 13 was the kids' very first Christmas  pageant. Our church put on an awesome Christmas play, and the kids have been practicing once a week since September.

Max and Sam were super impressive as sheep. Ignore the bored looks, that's part of their acting prowess.

Chloe dazzled as a shepherd with mad dancing skills.

She only had one line, but she said it with gusto...

and Charlie spent his time wooing his nursery buddy Rena.

 Do Greg and I believe in arranged marriages? Why, yes. Yes we do.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Day 12: Santa in the Square

New tradition this year! We visited Santa in the square in the village. We're not a huge "Santa" family and don't spend a lot of time talking him up and creating elaborate schemes to make the kids believe in him, but we've always made it a special tradition to go and visit him each year. The kids really loved the new Fairport Santa.

Highlights this year included Sam asking Santa for handsoap and shower soap and Charlie cooperating like a champ so that he could have a cookie. I was actually a little alarmed at his complete comfort being plopped in the lap of a strange man in a bizarre outfit as long as he got food for it... I guess that's a concern for another day.

The kids all got hot cocoa and candy, and because it was a downright balmy 40 degrees, they took the opportunity to run around and have fun in the dark.

Chloe wasn't sure she wanted to get within ten feet of Mr. Clause this year. I think she thought the whole idea was a little silly, to be honest, and I didn't push her. But as we lingered over hot chocolate in the gazebo and watched the boys race around, she changed her mind and walked back over by herself and got in line. I'm biased... but I think that Fairport Santa thought she was the sweetest thing for coming back and asking in her little voice if she could have a picture with him after all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Day 11: Of Mice and Butterflies

Our Chloe debuted this past weekend in her very first performance of The Nutcracker. When we moved to Rochester she decided to drop jazz and focus only on ballet, so we found a classical ballet school in the city and she's been taking there since the early fall. They put on a performance of excerpts from the Nutcracker, and Chloe danced the roles of mouse and a butterfly, much to her delight.

She is becoming quite a lovely ballerina. We are proud of our girl!

Nana and Pop braved a winter squall to be able to watch Chloe perform!

Chloe would say that she was definitely the most excited about Nana and Pop's visit, but a tiny towhead would probably disagree...

The love between a boy and his Pop just can't be denied.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 10: Good Reads

Every year we get out a few trusty old favorites from a big green box I keep holiday books in, and every year we add a few new ones to our collection. I prop them up on the top of our book shelves in the school room and long to keep them there, making the room look so cute and Pinterest-worthy.

They stay there about 2.5 minutes, and then they are scattered throughout the house for the next 45 days until I gather them together and put them back in the green box for another year. Today I found one under the couch cushions, one at the foot of Max's bed, two in the kitchen, one under the microphone on the stage in the basement (don't ask), and one in the boys' bathroom (I don't even want to know). Oh well. Pinterest aside, I suppose I should be glad. Books are meant to be read and cherished and carried around.

Here are some of our favorites this year, in no particular order:

A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Jacob's Gift by Max Lucado
Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas by Russell Hoban
The Night Before Christmas Book and Audio CD by Clement Moore and Peter, Paul & Mary
Home for Christmas by Jan Brett
The Magical Christmas Horse by Mary Higgins Clark
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day 9: Gingerbread Architects!

We celebrated our last week before Christmas at Classical Conversations with a pizza and gingerbread house building party. It was brilliant! The kids enjoyed all the fun of making sticky, candy-coated houses, and the mess was not in my kitchen - hurray!! 

The older they get, the more fun this is. This year we built our house the night before, and I would highly recommend this. The icing had plenty of time to dry, so there was no risk of structural damage as we decorated the next day. 

Plus, it's nice to break things up a bit. If you don't have uber-crafty kids who love to sit at the table and create for several hours, the make-ahead house is a great idea. No one got bored or frustrated this year. 

This is what Charlie spent his time doing:

When our candy was gone, he charmed the friends at nearby tables into giving him their spare gummy bears and runts. That's my boy!

Here's Chloe with one of her new CC besties:

And one last shot of the kids with some sweet friends. 

Okay, time to close out this post. The fam is waiting to do our Advent devotional. Or, as Charlie calls it, "Read God and eat chocolate." Peace!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 8: Homemade Gift Wrap

With an Everest-sized pile of laundry to get through and a house that is quite a mess, I wanted to do a project with the kids today that was minimally messy. With four kids, "minimally messy" is a relative term. I decided we would try our hand at homemade wrapping paper.

Picasso said that every child is an artist.

Each one of my little artists is a bit different in their creativity. It's interesting to watch.

I'm looking forward to wrapping our gifts in this paper in a few days, maybe finding some cool ribbon to accent the different packages.

This was a fun one - a keeper for sure! Put your toddlers down for a nap and then spread out a roll of brown craft paper, tape it to the floor, and let them paint and color to their hearts' content. Hooray for easy projects that look a lot harder than they really are!